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Big donation nets SJC digital church organ course

Written by staff. Posted in Community

SJC OrganDr. B.J. Westbrook recently donated $100,000 to the San Jacinto College Foundation for the purchase of a digital church organ for the College’s music department. Pictured left to right: First row: Ruth Keenan, San Jacinto College Foundation executive director; Dr. B.J. Westbrook; Mickie Westbrook; Renee Ydelle; John Painter; and Kelly Waterman. Second row: Dan Mims, San Jacinto College Board of Trustees chairman; Eric Late, San Jacinto College department chair for music/audio engineering; and Dr. Martha Braswell, San Jacinto College music professor. Third row: Kevin Morris, San Jacinto College dean of business and technology; Rick Bocock, Johannus Organs of Texas; Bill Palko; Dr. James Braswell, San Jacinto College dean of administration; and Dr. Paul Busselberg, San Jacinto College music professor. Photo credit: Amanda Fenwick, San Jacinto College marketing, public relations and government affairs department.

After 12 years in the making and thanks to a $100,000 donation to the San Jacinto College Foundation from Dr. B.J. Westbrook, San Jacinto College has a new instrument to add to its classical music course offerings - a digital church organ.

“I hope this donation will help to continue to bring students to the San Jacinto College music program, especially those who enjoy the iconic sound of pipe organ music,” said Westbook. “I'm happy to be a part of such an endeavor and to be a supporter of this great institution.”

Remaining funds from Westbrook’s donation to purchase the digital organ for the College’s music program will go toward establishing a Westbrook family endowment with the Foundation.

“Dr. Westbrook has taken the initiative to leave the San Jacinto College Foundation in his will,” said Ruth Keenan, SJC foundation executive director. “His planned gift began with this $100,000 donation to provide funding for a family scholarship endowment to purchase a teaching organ, a need that has been pending for the past 12 years. This has been a tremendous boost to both our music and scholarship programs. We are so grateful to Dr. Westbrook and his family for the legacy that this gift will create for generations to come.”

SJC Board of Trustees Chairman Dan Mims also expressed his gratitude to Westbrook. “On behalf of San Jacinto College and its students, I would like to thank Dr. B.J. Westbrook for his generous contribution to the San Jacinto College Foundation,” said Mims. “His donation to the Foundation will allow many students to achieve their educational goals at San Jacinto College, thereby improving their lives. He leads by example in community service as well as other areas of life. Serving with him as a member of the Rotary Club of North Shore has allowed me to witness first hand his generosity and commitment to the community. Dr. Westbrook truly embodies ‘service above self.’”

The digital organ, which is now on display at the San Jacinto College Central Campus Monte Blue Music Building concert hall, is a Johannus Ecclesia D-570 digital church organ. Along with traditional church hymns, the organ also lends itself to iconic musical compositions echoing Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin. Probably one of the more infamous organ compositions heard throughout Hollywood and Broadway is Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D minor,” heard in countless renditions of The Phantom of the Opera.

SJC music professor Dr. Martha Braswell said that organ music is still enjoyed today, more than people think. “There is a great demand not only in the Pasadena area, but around the nation as well, for trained organists to provide service music for traditional church services and to provide great performances of compositions by historical composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Caesar Franck and Marcel Dupre,” said Braswell. “The San Jacinto College music department continues to have one of the most successful community college music transfer student programs in the state. Our students are sought after by major university music education programs in Texas. This is one area that we have been unable to provide education in, and now a dream has come true.”

As a result of this donation and organ purchase, an exciting event awaits music lovers when a world-renowned composer and musician collaborate for a dedicatory concert specifically for the new digital church organ. Internationally acclaimed composer and San Jacinto College alumnus Dr. Wayne Oquin is being commissioned to compose a piece specifically for the opening digital organ concert. Set to perform the composition is the first and only Grammy-winning organist, Paul Jacobs, who has performed concerts across North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Both Oquin and Jacobs serve as department chairs at The Julliard School in New York, for ear training and the organ department, respectively. The San Jacinto College concert will be announced at a later date.

For more information on the San Jacinto College music department, visit

For more information on the San Jacinto College Foundation, planned giving, or how to donate, visit

Library series continues with George Washington presentation

Written by staff. Posted in Community

GeorgeWashington FlyerHe is considered the father of the country, set the standard for leadership in the United States, and set precedents as a President that are still in place today. But how does history view George Washington's military service?

On Friday, July 22, Mark Lardas will speak about the leadership of George Washington from the perspective of military history. The program will begin at 11 a.m. in the library's meeting room.

George Washington's military career began during the French and Indian War when he was in his early 20s. While his actions in that conflict were not entirely successful, he learned a lot from this experience. Washington had no formal military training and still was able to lead the Continental Army to victory. What kind of commander was George Washington? What were his strengths and weaknesses and how did his decisions affect the Revolution?

Lardas is the author of 17 books on maritime, military and naval history. Before working as a technical writer, he worked as a software engineer and a space navigator for the Space Shuttle program.

This presentation is the latest installment in the library's Featured Friday series. These monthly programs offer a variety of lectures, movies and special programs of cultural, historical and local interest.

Refreshments will be provided by the Friends of the Deer Park Public Library. No registration is required and all are welcome to attend. There is no admission fee. The library is located at 3009 Center St.

City honors Parks and Rec with proclamation

Written by Bobby Vasquez. Posted in Community

parksandrecmonth2016Photo by Bobby Vasquez.

At Tuesday's City Council meeting, Mayor Jerry Mouton presented a proclamation for National Parks and Recreation Month. Members of the city's Parks and Recreation Department were on hand to receive the award.

Business Beat: July 2016

Written by Debbie Westbeld. Posted in Community


Business Beat is a monthly column recognizing Deer Park’s newest businesses and giving you other interesting business news from around town. Debbie Westbeld is the Economic Development Administrator for the City of Deer Park, and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 281-478-2042. Visit for more business information.

DPVFD joins in on Monster Trucks for Stevie

Written by staff. Posted in Community

teaser stevieIN OUR COMMUNITY
Representatives and apparatus from the Deer Park Fire Department joined monster trucks, jeeps, motorcycles and other emergency vehicles to salute a young boy with terminal leukemia. What started as a small monster truck drive-by display turned into a full-fledged event at Thursday’s Monster Trucks for Stevie at Royal Purple Raceway.

Letter to the editor: Beep baseball needing assistance

Written by Bobby Vasquez. Posted in Community

The cry of “Play ball!” is being heard across America! It's that time of year again. The Greater Houston Beep Baseball Association, a baseball team made up of blind individuals with a winning spirit, has the same love for competition as our sighted counterparts. The sport of beep baseball is a competitive game similar to softball but modified to suit the needs of the blind and visually impaired. This is done with the use of buzzing bases and beeping balls. We must sometimes count upon our friends in the community, business, and industry for assistance.

Each year our team looks forward to participating in the Beep Baseball World Series, held this year in Ames, Iowa the last week in July. The world series involves our five teams from Texas along with teams from all-over America and Taiwan. Because of the high cost of beepball equipment, uniforms, travel, hotel expenses and the rental of a 15-passenger van during the week of competition, our team has to seek out financial support and sponsors. Our athletes are extremely anxious to compete again this year. Your charitable contribution to the Bayou City Heat will greatly help this dream become a reality.

We will take every opportunity to publicly acknowledge and thank you for your support. I will also be glad to personally meet with anyone to explain beep baseball and answer any questions. Even though we work hard to hold annual fundraisers, without additional financial contributions like yours, our team would not be able to participate in the 2016 Beep Baseball World Series. Thank you in advance for your generosity to encourage local area visually impaired athletes.

Checks can be made out to GHBBA and mailed to 3405 Dalamatian Ln, Deer Park, Texas 77536. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Helen Boudreaux
GHBBA Fundraising Chairperson