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Posts published in February 2008

Crosby Constable substation opens

By LEWIS SPEARMAN
CROSBY – This area now has a law enforcement station to act as a patrol staging and communications satelite and it did not cost the taxpayers a dime to obtain.
Crosby’s American Legion Post #658 offered to allow deputies to have keys and use of their palacial hall as a satellite station when the hall was completed last September.
“The American Legion offered the room, we definately appreciate it and we intend to take advantage of it. There will be a place for our deputies to make reports and talk to people instead of having to go all the way to Baytown or the North Channel area. This will be a shot in the arm as far as the deputies not having to do a lot of travelling back and forth which pulls them out of the area. Our Crosby, Huffman and Barrett Station deputies can do their paper work in the areas, make secure phone calls to contacts, save time and fuel. We are definately thankful to the American Legion for what they have done here for us and we intend to make it work for the community in terms of keeing patrols in the area. ” explained Constable Jones of what the satelite station will do for the areas.

Retirement time for Jimmie Strouhal

HIGHLANDS– Jim Strouhal is one of the key people that makes this town a great place to live. Since he came here to work at the main packaging plant in 1964, he has been involved in most every aspect of the community.
Now, he feels at 63 years of age that he and his wife should slow down and enjoy life a bit more. He has retired from his work after 43 years on Feb. 15th.
Ed Davis, president and CEO of ZXP Technologies, said that the company will host a farewell party this Thursday, Feb. 28 at St. Jude’s Church, from 4 to 7 p.m. Everyone in the community of Highlands is invited, to express their thanks to Jim and his wife Letha.
Jim is known in Highlands for many community activities. He is vice president of the Chamber of Commerce, co-founder of the Highlands Heritage Museum and Preservation Project, member of the North Channel Local Emergency Planning Committee, board member of the Fire Department’s Emergency Service District #14, and an active member of St. Jude’s church. He also operates Jimmie Strouhal Insurance Agency, which represents RVOS Farm Mutual Insurance and others. Letha is an active participant in this business, as financial secretary of the local lodge.
Other activities have included managing the Jamboree parade each year, and participating in the Harlem Elementary school’s STAR program, a reading program where adults sit with students and read to them each week. Jimm says this has been extremely satisfying.

The Strouhals have lived in Highlands since their marriage in 1966. They met when they both worked at the Decker Drive-In Theater in 1962. They have four boys and six grandchildren, all whom live in the area. Jim is originally from Huffman, and went to Goose Creek schools, including Highlands elementary and Lee High School. Letha is from Cleveland, Texas and later Baytown.
In 1992 the city of Baytown named a day “Letha and Jimmie Strouhal Day, in honor of the work they have done as R.S. Sterling Band parents and other community activities. Even today, Jimmie is the announcer voice at the team’s halftime events.
Jimmie’s career in Highlands started with a phone call in 1964 from Paschal James, plant superintendent at SMS Industries, which had been the food canning plant in Highlands since about 1929. Over the years it had processed rice, vegetables, and figs. It started as the Tyrell & Garth canning plant, and was the main reason for the community of Helena, which became Highlands.
The work at the plant was evolving from food processing to automotive products, and Jim had some chemistry training to help in the lab. Over the years, he would work there under different owners and names, such as SMS Industries, Hi-Port Industries, Hi-Port, RhinoPak, and ZXP Technologies. He would hold positions as lab technician, lab manager, quality assurance manager, production supervisor, bulk materials manager, and manager of lab and environmental programs.
He said, “Serving in these roles, I have had the extreme pleasure to interface with some of the greatest people in the packaging industry–those in our facility and those representing the businesses that we have dealt with.”
In Jim’s early years, the plant focused on packaging food products, including national brands such as Hawaiian Punch, Dole fruit drinks, Sport Ade, QuickKick, Aunt Nellie’s, Cotton Maid Starch, Kitchen Kraft Blackeyed Peas, Top Kick Pet Foods, and General Foods Cycle Pet Foods. Each product line in the plant had its own separate building area, segregated from all the other areas.
As the plant brought on automotive products, such as antifreeze and motor oils, the food products were phased out to allow focus on contract packaging. ZXP is now one of the largest contract packagers in the country. Much of the country’s anti-freeze is packaged here.
Jim said that work at the plant required years of early morning starts, at 5:30 each day. He is not sure he will be able to adjust to a more normal schedule. He and Letha plan to keep busy with the insurance business and their community service activities.

Smart portfolio moves for your retirement years

For most of your working years, your investment strategies, by and large, will probably revolve around achieving sufficient growth to help you meet your long-term goals, such as college for your kids and a comfortable retirement. But once you are retired, you can’t just sit back and put your investment portfolio on “autopilot.”
What types of portfolio moves should you make as a retiree? Here are a few possibilities:
*Generate Your Own Paycheck. When you’re retired, you can collect Social Security and receive distributions from your 401(k) and IRA. But you’ll also probably need to generate some income from your investment portfolio. Consequently, you’ll need to own the appropriate mix of investments, including stocks that have the potential to pay dividends, bonds and Certificates of Deposit (CDs).
*Protect against inflation. Even if you do need some of your investments to provide you with an income stream, you can’t ignore the need for growth – because you’ll have to contend with inflation. Consider this: Everything you buy today will cost about twice as much in 25 years, assuming a 3 percent annual inflation rate. In other words, if you need $75,000 a year to retire comfortably now, you’ll need about $150,000 per year in 25 years to maintain your standard of living. And with advances in medical treatments leading to longer life spans, it’s entirely possible that you could spend 25 years – or more – in retirement.

To fight inflation, then, you will need at least some exposure to stocks, which offer the potential to provide returns greater than the inflation rate. While it’s true that by investing in stocks, you can lose some, or all, of your principal, you may be able to reduce your risk level by buying quality stocks and holding them for the long term. You can also help protect yourself against inflation through other investments. Your financial advisor can help you choose the investments that are appropriate for your needs.
*Leave a legacy. As you may know, the estate tax laws are in flux. In 2008, the estate tax exemption amount – the amount you can pass to your heirs, free of estate taxes – is $2 million. This figure rises to $3.5 million in 2009. Then, in 2010, the estate tax disappears -for one year only. And unless Congress changes the laws before then, in 2011 the exemption amount will revert to $1 million, with a maximum estate tax rate of 55 percent.
How could you help your family cope with a potential estate tax burden? You could make some “tactical” moves, such as rolling over your 401(k) to an IRA, which, when passed on to your heirs, could be “stretched” for years to reduce the tax bite. You could also reduce the size of your taxable estate by making gifts to family members and charitable organizations. Before making either of these moves, though, consult with your tax and legal advisors.
Clearly, there are many portfolio considerations for retirees. So, when you’re nearing retirement, start planning ahead. By making the right moves, you can make your “golden years” considerably brighter.
***Edward Jones does not offer tax or legal advice. You should consult with a competent tax or legal adviser for your specific situation.

Candidates file in city, school board elections

By BOBBY HORN JR.
CHAMBERS/ LIBERTY COUNTY—While much of the attention in politics has been directed towards next week’s Party Primaries, candidates have already began campaigning for races of more local significance.
The filing period is now open for those wishing to run for either a seat on their local school board or their respective city council. Due to changes in the state election laws enacted by the last Texas Legislative Session, school districts within an incorporated city will hold their election for trustees on the same ballot at the municipality.
The election will be held on May 3.
BARBERS HILL
There will be two races for seats on the Barbers Hill ISD Board of Trustees. Incumbent George Barrera is seeking reelection to Position 3. He is opposed by Perry Carrington Sr. In the race for Position 5 Benny May, the incumbent, is running against Lawrence “Elmo” Camp.
OLD RIVER WINFREE
Old River Winfree City Secretary Linda Murphy said that three candidates had filed as of press time. Angela Motz has filed on the ballot for Position 1. Jackie Johnson is seeking another term as the Position 2 alderman and Alderman J.S. Steadham is seeking reelection to the Position 5 seat.
DAYTON ISD
So far, only the two incumbents Thomas Payne, in Place 3 and Bob Pickle, in Place 4 have filed for seats on the Dayton ISD Board of Trustees.
DAYTON
There are three at-large spots open on the Dayton City Council. The three highest vote-getters will be elected to the council. To date, only Council members Felix Skarpa and Rick Brown have filed for the election.
Anyone wishing to have their name added to a ballot or either a city or school board race has until March 10 to file with the respective entity.

Highlands Chamber installs new directors

HIGHLANDS– The Greater Highlands-Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce held an installation luncheon last Thursday, to a packed house. On hand were all the board members, and friends and members of various organizations in the community. Featured speaker was Janette Walker, president of the Highlands Pilot Club, who told the audience about the upcoming Community Fair, to be held on Saturday, Feb. 23rd at the Highlands Elementary School. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The dining room at the Highlands Community Center was festively decorated for Valentine’s Day, thanks to Betty Michalsky, Staci Neathery, and Kristi Stallings.
Chamber president Jessica Woods kept the event on a lively note, and after the presentation by the Pilot Club, she asked others in the audience to talk about their upcoming events, too.
Jim Strouhal was complimented for playing “Zero” in a skit at the elementary school. Rodney Walker of ZXP Technologies reminded everyone that Jim will retire from the company this month, and invited everyong to a reception for him at the St. Jude’s Social Hall on Thursday, Feb. 28 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Diane Trautman congratulated the Chamber on it’s robust attendance and programs. Trautman is running for the office of Harris county Tax Assessor-Collector this year.

Annette Forbes of East Houston Regional Medical Center reminded everyone that February is American Heart Month. In recognition of this, the hospital is holding heart health screenings and heart seminars by their cardiologists, at the Crosby clinic location and at the main hospital on I-10 in North Shore. More details are available on this page of the Star-Courier.
Bob Ward announced that Crosby will host another 4th of July event, with a parade, food, and related events at the fairgrounds. He asked for volunteers to help with the organization of the event.
Dale Nevil had a threesome to announce: The Red Stocking Revue in Baytown, Ken Jone’s benefit Golf Tournament March 3rd at River Terrace Golf Club on Wallisville, and the fund drive currently underway for the YMCA in Channelview.
Weston Cotten expressed the appreciation of the Rotary for the support of the Chili Feast, and “oh, by the way, I’m running for re-election to the Goose Creek school board in May.”
Chris Berry of the Baytown United Way campaign announced that this year’s goal had been exceeded, with $2,380,000 pledged. She noted that not many Highlands companies had participated, and said that benefits are distributed in our community, too.
Deputy Dan McCool of the Sheriff’s department mentioned the new Citizens Police Academy starting on Feb. 21, and reminded citizens that they are welcome to join these classes.
Judge Mike Parrott thanked his supporters, and noted that he was running for re-election as Justice of the Peace on the March 3rd ballot. He also reminded everyone that absentee balloting was starting on Feb. 19, through Feb. 29th and this was a good way to avoid lines.

Signs, signs everywhere there’s signs…

Baytown is considering a new tax (they call it a fee) that would require you to have a permit to hold a garage sale. Five bucks for the permit and a deposit of $25.00 for up to five signs. You get the $25 back when you return the signs within 24 hours. The city manager says it will better help manage garage sales.
Drove slowly up and down the main drag in Highlands early this morning, two times actually. It is amazing at the signs and posters tacked and nailed to the utility poles. Some signs have been up so long, the words have faded out. Numerous other signs are nailed high on the pole that can be removed only by using a ladder and pry bar.
You need to look at the utility pole at the exit of the post office. There is enough metal in that pole to make a car. Incredible!
Of course, its time for the politickers to place their signs but most of those are on private property, but some ain’t.
As far as signs are concerned, Jones has the lead with a count of 11 followed by the Pilot Club’s (8 signs) up coming BBQ fundraiser. Then there is a Norwood running against Jones with a count of six signs posted.
Trautman for taxman has four signs with many others too numerous to mention.
Jones will have his signs down come the end of the election as I am told.

Having once been a sales rep for a major tobacco company, our job was to put up advertisement for the company. We put up more signs than the law should allow. From shelf talkers to the hour signs on business doors and posters. The large metal signs had been phased out by time I got there.
Pulled up to a Mom and Pop store back then and the storefront windows would be loaded with signage. It is considered free advertisement for the company, but trash to me this day and time.
Remember Art Linkletter and his “Kids say the darndest thing” on television years ago?
These would qualify: A second grader came home from school and said to her Grandmother, “Grandma, Guess what? We learned how to make babies today.” The Grandmother, more than a little surprised, tried to keep her cool. “That’s interesting.” She said, “How do you make babies?” “Its simple,” replied the little girl, “You change ‘y’ to ‘i’ and add ‘es’.
Teacher: Now, Johnny, tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating? Johnny: No sir, I do not have to, my Mom is a good cook.
My young grandson called the other day to wish me Happy Birthday. He asked me how old I was, and I told him, “62”. He was quiet for a moment and then he said, “Did you start at 1?”
A Grandmother was telling her little granddaughter what her own childhood was like: “We used to skate outside on a pond. I had a swing made from a tire; it hung from a tree in our front yard. We rode our pony. We picked wild raspberries in the woods.” The little girl was wide-eyed, taking this all in. At last, she said, “I sure wish I’d gotten to know you sooner!”

Change at the chamber

“We want to make the Chamber better by bringing in a variety of new businesses while keeping the old.” This is the answer the Star-Courier received from the relatively new Executive Director, Marisa Flanagan.
Not long after arriving in Crosby in early January I visited the Chamber and met, Marisa for the first time. When I left last spring my friend for the past few years, Mitzi Plum, was in that position and she chose to move on in mid-2007. From my view she served the Chamber well during her tenure. I wish her well.
Now it is Marisa’s turn. I’ve been there three times during this visit and she always provides me with a welcome smile as I enter the door. She views the Chamber as a continuing growth organization, just as is the Crosby-Huffman community. She backed that up by telling me the Chamber grew by 30 members in 2007 and the growth is continuing in 2008.
Marisa moved to her current position last June after spending some of her working life in real estate. She lives in Crosby with husband, Joseph, and four off-spring. There is no doubt Marisa will continue to represent the Crosby-Huffman Chamber of Commerce well in the future.
Returning to the previously mentioned, Mitzi Plum, one could easily say she was the one responsible for this column in the Star-Courier. I had asked her how I might make contact with someone at the paper to write a couple of columns expressing what a fine feeling this writer had for Crosby since I first set eyes on the area back in May 2001.
She introduced me to Publisher Gil Hoffman following a Chamber meeting a few weeks later who not only agreed to publish those two columns but invited me to write others. The rest is history.
Mitzi was a great help to me through my visits to her office when I was here and by e-mail conversations at other times. Many of my column subjects and other story subjects were generated by my discussions with her. If she didn’t have the information I wanted she always knew who would. I miss seeing her smiling face at the office.
By the way, in case you didn’t know, the old chamber building, next to the Crosby Fairgrounds, was given away and moved to a site along U.S. 90 where it now serves as offices for other businesses. The building was located on property not owned by the chamber and had to be moved when it ceased to be used for that purpose. Giving it away was a better deal for the chamber than being faced with the cost of tearing it down.
Such are the people, places, and things that have touched my life in my West Virginia home!