Car crashes into Pearland donut shop

Kristi Nix

Kristi Nix

A Pearland donut shop received an unwelcome visitor Friday morning when a car crashed through the front of the store. A driver accidentally pushed the accelerator instead of the brake pedal and slammed into the glass windows and through the front door, crushing a row of tables.

The Pearland Fire Department and Brazoria County Deputies rushed to Best Donuts located at 9430 Broadway around 10 a.m., officials said.

Luckily no customers were inside the store at the time and no injuries were reported.

The car was towed from the scene and no charges have been filed in connection with the crash.

UH student Vanessa Alejandro of Pearland among Glamour Magazine’s ‘Top 10 College Women’

UH PRESS RELEASE

553a63591b361.imageA few days before the winter holiday, University of Houston Honors College student Vanessa Alejandro saw a New York area code on her ringing cell phone. She knew that the caller would either deliver great news or somewhat disappointing information. Nervously, Alejandro took the call and received an unexpected holiday surprise — Glamour magazine named her as one of the country’s “Top 10 College Women.”

Although she received the news in December, the latest issue of the magazine just hit newsstands and features a profile and photo of Alejandro, a junior geology major.

For 58 years, Glamour has recognized students’ accomplishments in the classroom and the community. As one of the magazine’s honorees, Alejandro received a cash prize and attended an awards ceremony sponsored by L’Oreal Paris at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City.

“When I got the call, I couldn’t believe I had been selected for this honor,” Alejandro said. “I ran downstairs and told my parents. Since the magazine has come out, they’ve gone to different stores and bought several copies.”

Alejandro was selected as one of the magazine’s “Top 10 College Women” based on her academic prowess, research initiatives and community-based projects.

One of her projects is Warriors of the Wild, which takes Alejandro and collaborators to schools to deliver fun science-based performances. At the end each performance, Alejandro and her partners introduce various species of live wildlife to audience members. Warriors of the Wild performances incorporate lessons on biodiversity, adaptation, conservation, natural selection and ecology.

Additionally, Alejandro is working to develop an educational playground with fellow UH students Juan Trujillo and Jordan Vasquez and Honors College associate dean Andrew Hamilton. Titled the Exploratorium, the science-based fun zone would be located on campus and available for Houston-area schools.

“We’re very excited about this project,” she said. “It has the potential to do more than teach science. It can address social issues and other topics. Just imagine a regular playground, but it would include interactive learning activities.”

The Exploratorium is still in the developmental stages. During the summer months, Alejandro and colleagues will plan a campaign to raise funds to officially launch this project.

As a researcher, Alejandro has been studying Antarctic and marine geology with guidance from Julia Wellner, an assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Recently, she examined the climate in the Antarctic Peninsula. For her Honors thesis, Alejandro is focusing a project on grain shape analysis.

A Pearland, Texas native, Alejandro has long been fascinated by science. In fact, the roots of the Warriors of the Wild initiative began during her high school years and fully evolved during her freshman year at UH.

In 2012, Alejandro suffered a personal setback when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She didn’t let the illness dampen her determination to share her passion for science with students in the community. Now that she’s fully recovered, she’s on focused teaching and helping others in Houston and beyond. In doing so, she hopes to emulate one of her heroes.

“My dream is to help villages, towns, even countries develop in an environmentally sustainable way,” she said. “I want to advocate for sustainability as a scientist just like Jane Goodall has advocated for animal rights through her primate research. I want to be the Jane Goodall of sustainability research.”

To read about Alejandro and the other “Top 10 College Women,” visit the Glamour website at: http://www.glamour.com/inspired/2015/04/vanessa-alejandro-top-10-college-women-2015.

A video interview with her can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ieu2XbNuwEs.

In the Courtroom: The Verdict

WARNING: Some of the details I discuss in this article are graphic. Reader discretion is advised. I do not reveal these details lightly. The purpose is to illustrate the brutality and selfishness of this crime. No disrespect is meant toward the deceased or her family. These are my opinions and observations and are not affiliated with Houston Community Newspapers and Media Group, Star Communications or 1013 Inc.

It’s all about who you know. That’s what really gets you what you want and/or need in this world. So, be kind to everyone you meet. Not because you may want something from him or her in the future, but because that’s the human thing to do. Plus, you never know what private pain a person is going through at that moment.

Opal Hill’s pain was evident last night in Judge Pat Sebesta’s courtroom as she read her Victim Impact Statement after the man convicted of killing her daughter was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole in 40 years. Of course, that’s if he earns it. Either way, he’ll be 58 years old at that time.

What a waste. Not only of Ryan Matthews’ life, but of Arrijana Hill’s and her two unborn babies. If you’re not familiar with the story, please read THIS. Matthews is barely 18 years old.

The jury was out for a little over five hours yesterday. They returned around 8:40 p.m. It was only through the kindness of a friend that I learned that a verdict would be returned last night. I hauled down to Angleton, getting there literally five minutes before the jury bell rang.

Mr. and Mrs. Hill were there with their support system, as well as Velma Guadiana, Pearland Police Department’s Crime Victims Liaison and Det. Jennifer Page. I thought it both fitting and ironic that it is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. The Hills could be the poster family.

I gave the Hills my package of tissues, which I’d regret not keeping a few later. I smiled encouragement. What else could I do?

Matthews was brought back in the courtroom and then the jury filed in. Judge Sebesta warned the audience against outbursts of any kind and then read the verdicts.

GUILTY of count one – Capital Murder of Arrijana Hill and one of her unborn babies.

GUILTY of count two – Capital Murder of Arrijana Hill and the other unborn baby.

Quietly, most of us lost it. I personally was happy that this man got what was coming to him, but it still didn’t bring Arrijana back. It didn’t undo what was done. But it will ensure that the man who took those three lives will lose most, if not all, of his as well. It’s so sad. I needed my tissues.

Sebesta polled the jury. They all affirmed their guilty verdict.

After sentencing, Mrs. Hill slowly walked to the stand to give her Victim Impact Statement, with Mr. Hill standing behind her in strong support. Matthews kept looking at the floor, as he had when the verdict was read.

Tearfully, she faced Matthews for the first time in over a year, telling him of the, “Breathtaking agony, shattered dreams and seemingly aimless existence,” that they have been living.

“You deserve this for your selfishness and this senseless act and the impact it had on so many lives. You are a true depiction of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. You could have chosen to move on and to do better in life, but you chose the coward’s way out. You get the coward’s reward,” she said.

Hill credited her faith in getting her and her family through this ordeal and finished her statement by reading the poem “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014):

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
 I rise.

Yesterday, God’s people, Opal and David Hill, rose. They held their heads up high as they left the courtroom. Neither looked at Ryan Matthews again.

In Memory of Arrijana Hill (1997 – 2013)

Pearland teen found guilty of Capital Murder

Ryan Matthews

Ryan Matthews

ANGLETON — Ryan Antonio Matthews, 17, was found guilty on two counts of Capital Murder Thursday (April 23) during a late evening delivery.

The jury had requested to deliberate until 10 p.m. after they retired to the Jury Room around 3:15 p.m. in Judge Pat Sebesta’s courtroom at the Brazoria County Courthouse. They came back with a verdict at approximately 8:40 p.m.

Matthews stood accused of killing Pearland resident and Dawson High School student Arrijana Hill, who was pregnant with his twins, on March 21, 2014.

As the verdict was read, Matthews stared down at the floor.

Judge Sebesta polled the jury, and every member responded that he or she found the defendant guilty as charged.

Sebesta then sentenced Matthews to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 40 years, with credit for the 336 days he has already served in the Brazoria County Jail.

Opal Hill read a Victim Impact Statement with her husband by her side. Tearfully, she told Matthews of the, “Breathtaking agony, shattered dreams and seemingly aimless existence,” that they have lived for over a year since their daughter was murdered.

“You deserve this for your selfishness and this senseless act and the impact it had on so many lives. You are a true depiction of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. You could have chosen to move on and to do better in life, but you chose the coward’s way out. You get the coward’s reward,” Hill said.

Hill credited her faith in getting her and her family through this ordeal and finished her statement by reading the poem “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou.

Matthews will appear before Judge Sebesta again on Wednesday (April 29) for his first Appellate Hearing.

Arrijana Hill

Arrijana Hill

Rep. Thompson advocates Texas Armed Services Scholarship Program

PRESS RELEASE

AUSTIN — Nominations for the 2015-2016 Texas Armed Services Scholarship Program (TASSP) have officially opened for next year’s class (Fall 2015/Spring 2016 academic year).

Students are required to enter an agreement requiring a four-year commitment as a member of the Texas Army National Guard, the Texas Air National Guard, the Texas State Guard, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Merchant Marine, or a commissioned officer in any branch of the armed services of the United States. These annual awards of up to $10,000 each may make a difference in the life of high-achieving students.

In order to be considered for the TASSP, a student enrolling in higher education straight from high school must meet two of the following four academic criteria at the time of application: Be on track to graduate, or has graduated high school and complete the curriculum requirements of the Distinguished Level of Achievement Plan, or the International Baccalaureate Program; have a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale; achieve a college readiness score on the SAT (1590) or ACT (23); and/or be ranked in the top one-third of the prospective high school graduating class.

“The TASSP provides an incredible opportunity for students who are dedicated to pursuing a college education and serving our nation through the military,” Rep. Thompson stated. “I have the utmost respect for these young men and women, and I’m grateful to be able to participate in this program for the third consecutive year.”

The Texas Legislature created the Texas Armed Services Scholarship, administered by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), in 2009 to encourage students to participate in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) programs at civilian colleges.

For more information on specific requirements, visit HHLoans.com and click on the “Texas Armed Services Scholarship Program (TASSP)” link.

To be considered for nomination by Rep. Thompson for the TASSP, please email resumes to District29.Thompson@House.State.TX.US no later than June 1.

Pearland CVB’s Top 3 Picks for the Weekend

Pearland-4CP-Logo-Gulf-Coast-300x103

This weekend is filled with a few major festivals in the Pearland area. Here’s our quick pick of top 3 things to do in the Pearland area:

1.  The 41st Annual Frontier Days Celebration kicks off in Downtown Alvin on Thursday, April 23 at 5 p.m. when the carnival opens.  The weekend long celebration continues through Saturday, April 25 with live music, a carnival, art & craft booths, food booths, a car show, and more!
Downtown Alvin, 216 W. Sealy, Alvin 77511
alvinrotary.org

Sylvan Beach Carnival2.  The 59th Annual Sylvan Beach Festival begins 5 p.m. on Friday, April 24 at the historic Sylvan Beach Park on Galveston Bay.  Continuing through Saturday, April 25, the festival features live entertainment, food, a carnival, a cook-off, and more.  La Porte’s Jake Worthington of “The Voice” fame will be on stage at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Sylvan Beach Park, 400 Bay Shore Dr, La Porte, TX 77571
laportechamber.org

3.  Killen’s BBQ of Pearland returns along with 20+ of Houston’s best barbecue joints at the 3rd Annual Houston Barbecue Festival on Sunday, April 26 from 1 to 5 p.m. at NRG Park.  The ticketed event celebrates and recognizes Houston barbecue and more importantly recognizes the talent of the pitmasters who make Houston barbecue so great.
NRG Center, 1 NRG Park, Houston 770054
showclix.com/event/HOUBBQ

And don’t miss The Pearland Old Townsite Farmers Market on Saturday, April 25 from 8 a.m. to noon.  It’s a great way to start a Saturday morning and the perfect place to find locally, grown vegetables and fresh ingredients for healthy eating plus a selection of plants, unique gifts, and local favorites including Pearland Coffee Roasters.
Zychlinski Park, 2243 Grand Blvd., 77581
pearlandoldtownsitefarmersmarket.com

For a list of additional events in the Pearland area, go to visitpearland.com/what-to-do-in-pearland/events-in-pearland/.

Search for missing Kemah girl comes to a tragic end

Fiona "Kitty" Carol

Fiona “Kitty” Carol

KEMAH – Police officials confirmed the search for a missing five-year-old Kemah girl came to an end Thursday (April 23) after a searcher found the child’s body under a dock near her dad’s boat.

The victim, identified as Fiona “Kitty” Carol went missing around 4 p.m. Wednesday (April 22) while her dad was doing some maintenance on his boat. Witnesses last reported seeing the young girl playing nearby on Dock H. Shortly after, it was discovered the child was missing and could not be found.

According to Kemah Police officials, dive team members from the Galveston County Sheriff’s Department and Galveston Police Department searched for over seven hours to no avail. Side scan sonar and hand held sonars were also used to aid in the search. Texas Equusearch also brought in its sonar equipment to help and the Seabrook Police Department and the U.S. Coast Guard also assisted in the search.

Authorities report the girl’s body was located around 9 a.m.

Kemah Police officials expressed gratitude to the agencies that assisted and extended sympathy to family members.

“We extend our sincerest sympathy for her mother, father and other family members,” Kemah Police Chief Greg Rikard said in a press release. “We would like to thank all the police, fire, federal agencies and Texas Equusearch that assisted us during this tragic incident.

Investigators said they do not expect foul play in the case.