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Posts published in June 2008

Area July 4th celebrations planned

By BOBBY HORN JR.
CRSBY—Lake Houston-area residents can celebrate their county’s independence with multiple celebrations planned around the Fourth of July.
The celebrations will kick off the weekend before Independence Day with the East Lake Houston 4th of July Celebration on June 28 at the Crosby Fairgrounds.
The celebration will bring together the communities of Barrett Station, Crosby, Highlands and Huffman in an all-day affair.
The activities will begin at 10 p.m. with a parade beginning at the Crosby Fairgrounds. Anyone interested in being in the parade is asked to decorate his or her vehicle with the Red, White and Blue. Lineup will be at 9 a.m.

Following the parade the festivities continue at the fairgrounds with face painting, horses, moon walks, games and food. There will also be live entertainment throughout the day, a craft show, pie baking contest and wiener dog races.
Beginning at 11 a.m. there will be a car show. All entries are welcome. Trophies will be awarded for first and second place in Best in Class, Best of Show and People’s Choice.
Local veterans will be honored for their service to our country with a lunch at the American Legion Hall at 3 p.m. Diane Trautman is scheduled to be the guest speaker.
There will be a karaoke contest from 4 to 8 p.m. at the fairgrounds. The contest will feature three rounds of elimination plus a final round.
A fireworks display will light the sky at dark. For more information call 281-328-7774.
BAYTOWN—The Baytown Parks and Recreation Dept. is planning two days of celebration this year. The celebration starts on July 3 with a free concert at Bicentennial Park. The Coastliners will take the stage at 6 p.m. John Conlee will follow at 8 p.m.
On July 4, the live entertainment continues at the park with J Paul & The Zydeco Nu Breed taking the stage from 4 to 5:30 p.m. The annual Independence Day Parade will be held on Market Street and Lee Drive, next to the park from 5:30 to 6 p.m. The Eli Young Band will perform at 6 p.m. on the main stage.
This year’s festivities will feature a new event: The Mr. and Ms. Firecracker Pageant. The pageant is open to boys and girls up to 12 years of age. There will be free registration on-site until 6 p.m. The pageant will be held from 7:30 to 8 p.m.
At 8 p.m. the feature act of the night will perform. This year Baytown has brought country recording artist Tracy Byrd to the stage.
A fireworks extravaganza will follow at 9:30 p.m.
From 4 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. there will be food booths, arts and crafts vendors, game booths and a children’s area. There is no charge for the concerts and there will be free parking at Lee College.
HUFFMAN—First Baptist Church of Huffman, 25503 FM 2100, will hold their annual Freedom Festival on July 4 from 6 to 9 p.m. In the event of rain it will be moved to July 13.
This year’s activities include carnival games, a car show, clowns and cookie walk. There will be free hot dogs, apple pie and sno-cones as well as live entertainment. The night will conclude with a fireworks display.

10 principles for living in retirement

Retirement isn’t merely a goal you reach — it’s a journey that can be very rewarding. With that in mind, we offer the following principles as a “road map” to serve as a guide along the way.
1. Map out your goals. When preparing for a journey, a map can be invaluable. It can help you avoid wrong turns that can cost precious time. Although the word “retirement” means something different to each person, everyone shares the need to enter retirement with a road map, or strategy, in place.
2. Plan for a long and fulfilling retirement. Retirement should be one of the most rewarding stages of your life. Unfortunately, many people don’t plan for a long retirement and can run the risk of outliving their money.

3. Start smart with your spending. As the saying goes, it’s not how you start but how you finish. But in retirement, how you start is very important. Withdrawing too much in the early years could put you in a difficult position down the road.
4. Inflation doesn’t retire. All of us remember a time when our purchases cost a lot less. That’s inflation at work. Inflation influences what you can spend and how your money is invested, especially in retirement.
5. Prepare for the unexpected. Life is full of uncertainty. Even with a well-designed road map, there can be unexpected events that have the potential to derail your long-term plans. While you can’t predict the future, you can prepare for it.
6. Don’t reach for yield. High-yield bonds or stocks paying an abnormally high dividend often attract investors looking for more income. However, remember the saying, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
7. Maintain a healthy portfolio. Health care costs continue to rise, which can have harmful side effects for your finances. However, there are ways to help deal with rising health care costs.
8. Keep retirement from being taxing. As you consider how much money to withdraw, don’t forget about taxes. Every dollar you pay in taxes is one less dollar you can spend.
9. Define your legacy. Preparing for life in retirement is important. It can be just as important to prepare your legacy. One thing is certain: If you don’t have a strategy for your estate, the courts or government will.
10. Remember your annual checkup. A trip to the doctor each year can provide vital health information and help identify issues before they become more serious. The same can be said for annual financial reviews.
Contact your financial advisor today for your annual financial review.
Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors do not provide tax or legal advice. Clients should review their specific situations with their tax advisor or legal professional for information regarding their particular situation.

Crosby Fair & Rodeo ropes success

By LEWIS SPEARMAN
CROSBY – Whatever the measure the 62nd Crosby Fair & Rodeo has been an unqualified success.
According to Fair board President Russell Rogers, “As of right now the figures are indicating we have had another record year. The auction brought in $241, 000 for the premium sales for kids – that is approximately $10, 000 more than last year. Premium sales are pentacle of all that we do for the kids. The Fair & Rodeo has set a record, we don’t have a final figure yet but it is good. We are very grateful to our buyers and bidders, the old time buyers came back and the new ones stepped up to help us help some local kids. The main thing I want to recognize is the community participation has been fantastic, that and our volunteers. If it were not for the volunteers we just could not get it done and the various vendors that donated equipment. I can’t say enough of our appreciation for everyone’s efforts. The board members came together when it came time and got it done.”
“I think it is a benefit to the community. Community wise, if you go into this old adage, ‘every dollar turns over seven times before it leaves the area,’ then we are probably looking at seven times a quarter million dollars reinvested into the area. We were amazed at how many new and out of town spectators we had, which we know from how many asked us where the bathrooms were as they were handing over their tickets. If you visit often, you know where the fairground’s bathrooms are.”

“The success was phenomenal. Thursday night was record attendance; in fact, we don’t have the final figures– but I think we had more people attend this year. The weather cooperated, we got a little rain on Saturday but the parking lot stayed in great shape. We don’t know how many attended the Friday night Cook-Off Party but we ran out of tickets and we ran out of arm-bands and the parking lot was at capacity. Rick Larkin and his people did a fantastic job again this year, as last.” said Roger tallying the triumphant events.
The plans for next year will be much like this year except Rogers said, “You keep trying to improve, entertainment is apparently a key factor, the rodeo was fast and furious, Classic Bull Rodeo did a fantastic job. The new clown act this year was spectacular, Rockin’ Robby Robbins. This year Crosby businesses and even government entities participating in a western decoration contest was a wonderful boon, it helped us raise awareness.”
Among a plethora of success stories included from pages 4 through 8 of this issue are the Grand Champion Steer that was raised by Dalton Walker and purchased by Centi-Fab for $9,000, The Grand Champion Goat was bought by Owens Specialty for $10, 000 for Jordan French.
Tough Enough to Wear Pink made their $10,000 goal this year, according to Shirley Rogers, “Debbie Holmelin created a raffle, lots of people bought items at the booths, several large outside sponsors contributed. Dynamic Laboratories of La Porte granted a minimum of $1,000 for pink shirt count on Saturday night. The Crosby Fair & Rodeo Directors put up matching funds for the gate count of Tough Enough To Wear Pink Saturday.
Special recognition went to several key participants and volunteers this year. Aubrey Larkin and Cody Ressler were Junior and Senior Top Hands this year, Rogers explains, “Top Hands were here to help us with whatever we needed and they did good.”
Michael Michalsky was Volunteer of the Year for serveral reasons, including; not only did he work the gates each night but he also helped raise and lower the sound equipment for each night’s performers. Pastor Richard Amador did the dedication and prayer each night of the Rodeo.
According to Chairman of the board Douglas Hall, “It was all good. The gate was up, beverage sales were up.”
“We are going to have to pay some debts (we borrowed about $80,000 to build the new overhead and some bills are still coming in but we will determine after some accounting what more we can do for the community,” said Rogers.

Chamber hears of Sterling White Improvements

HIGHLANDS– The Chamber of Commerce luncheon, always lively, always full of surprises for the audience, presented a dual program last week, that spanned from books to coffins.
This range was from two local entities, the Harris County Stratford Library branch, and Highlands oldest business, the White Cemetery dating from 1824. Sterling White Funeral Home & White Cemetery managing partner Mathew Forastiere told the story of major improvements and changes that he has accomplished since taking over about 18 months ago.
These include a full clean-up of the grounds, a new irrigation system, new landscaping, and a new Garden of Honor for veterans. The selection of caskets has now become “virtual,” meaning the choice is made from a computer screen rather than a more limited selection in-house.
Forastiere has hired a new and extremely experienced superintendent of grounds to accomplish much of the work.
In addition, work continues on the Audio-Visual system in the chapel, with flat screen monitors for memorial pictures.
Future plans call for hedged and mausoleum estate areas, for cremation urns, and the development of the north side of the property. Improvements will total about $300,000.
Forastiere urged the audience to take a tour, and to contact the family service department for preplanning of all types.

Highlands Rotary installs Scott as new president

HIGHLANDS– The Highlands Rotary Club held their installation of new officers and board for the upcoming year last week, and installed Patricia Scott in her second term as club president. Scott follows in the footsteps of her father, Dr. W. L Herndon, who was a member and club president in 1956.
Also installed by visiting Assistant District Governor Bob Gebhard were 1st VP/PE Robert Woodall, Secretary Michelle Lomazoff, Treasurer Jeremie Rosenkranz, and Sergeant at Arms Aaron Cole.

Charlie Ward was awarded the Rotarian of the Year for the accomplishment of the club in his year. The presentation was made by past president Johnny Gaeke. Ward reviewed the past year’s activities in his parting remarks.
Activities included hosting an exchange student from Taiwan, helping pay for a defibrilator for the fire department, achieving 100% Paul Harris Fellows in the club, increasing membership from 19 to 25, pledging money to the Rotary Foundation to make Highlands the second highlest per capita in the world, participating in the Crosby 4th of July celebration, including helping serve dinner to the veterans, holding a washer tournament and a chili feast as fund raisers and community events, helping the district with a worldwide book drive, distributing food baskets at the holidays, and awarding 16 scholarships totalling $26,000 to local students for college.
In accepting the challenge of another term as president, Patricia Scott outlined her goals: hands on projects with local schools, bicycle give-away to encourage perfect attendance, bicycle helmet give-away for safety, establishing two new Rotary Interact clubs at Crosby and Memorial High Schools, a blood drive, and a local beautification project in Highlands, as well as continuing the traditional Highlands Rotary events.
The installation dinner, held at the Boat Club, had about 50 Rotarians and guests.

Seeing America’s beauty

Me and the Mrs. took a little R & R last couple weeks and went on the longest vacation ever for the two of us. It was the longest we have been away from home since we eloped 39 years ago.
Took off to South Dakota to look at the stone faces of Mount Rushmore, dodging tornadoes in Nebraska on the way. Managed to get to York, Nebraska on the first day of travel. The Data for Extreme Weather team (Storm Chasers) were there with their equipment and we got some good shots of their tornado vehicle.
Stayed up in Wall, South Dakota the next night and managed to visit Wall Drug if you know what that is.
Got to see and drive the Badlands Loop as they are named properly so and ever so great to see.
Next day we drove to Mount Rushmore and saw the stone faces on the side of the mountain.
On the way back to the main drag, we came upon a park called Bear Country and the girls (The Mrs. and my old sister) said they would like to see it. Dang near choked when the young girl said forty-five dollars but it was worth it after we finished looking at all of the bears, elk, puma, badgers, wolves and otters. Saw a Magpie for the first time as well.

On through Sturgis, South Dakota and stayed over in Spearfish, South Dakota for the night on our way to Billings, Montana.
Detoured the main road and went to the Devil’s Tower, which the girls wanted to see too and it was nice. Drove into rain, sleet, then it started snowing about the time we got up into the clouds thick as Goose Creek fog. Mercy day, I did not like driving in that but managed to come out on the other side of the mountain into a clearing and could see.
There is an Indian tale about Devil’s Tower and they enjoyed the visit in the wet weather.
At the tourist center @ Devil’s Tower, they had all sorts of junk and what knots. On in the back of the store they had a big old cured rattlesnake in a wooden glass box. Got old sister to come back there and look at it. She shuttered and grunted when she saw it.
Asked the store clerk where they got it and she said TEXAS. That made me smile.
On to old cousin’s house for a few days to visit and talk about all the relatives. Her momma and my momma were twins so she and old sister were tight growing up, like Mutt and Jeff if you savvy the drift.
Bird country in that part of Montana and they like the birds as much as we do with feeders and all. More nice shots of some winged friends.
One day we stopped to have lunch (this was preplanned) in a restaurant/casino and just enjoy each other’s company. As we were being seated, I went one server and asked if she will be our server and she was. I told her to bring us an order of Mountain Oysters and just sit them on the table and do not say anything about it. So she did.
Old cousin told me to order them ‘cause she was ‘fraid the girls would get mad at her. I was used to that so I placed the order and they all dug in when the fried morsels arrived.
They were served with a red horseradish sauce and were right tasty.
Hated to leave good company but our trip was ahead of us, so on to Yellowstone National Park from the Northeast entrance though Red Lodge, Montana.
We tried going through Beartooth Pass a couple of days before but it was closed due to an avalanche. After three days, Beartooth Pass reopened and through it, we went. 10,947 feet up and a site to see. Have heard talk of the little or lack of oxygen up that high and trust me, it is a fact. Just crossing the road for a photo opportunity and coming back wore me out. Tuff on a fat boy I tell ya.
They had over a hundred inches of snow up there this year and we rode through where it had been cut out. Talk about a big wow!
Yellow Stone National Park was pretty and populated with lots of grazing buffalo and Yankees.
One can usually tell a Yankee with his Bermuda shorts on with T-shirt and black socks with sandals or tennis shoes. Tacky, Tacky!
One of our twins said, “The old geezer goes to see the old geyser.”
Down through the Teton Mountains and into Jackson Hole, Wyoming where all the rich folk stay, we hung a westerly direction through Idaho just to say we been to Idaho.
Headed down country, we entered Utah and Idaho a couple of times on these side roads, just a looking and looking. Talk about a neck ache.
Drove the loop through the Flaming Gorge Recreational Area and it too was neck ache country.
Antelopes galore and many other animals through out the trip. How ever, the road kill caught my attention and especially the 30 dead skunks on the trip. Eight others were smelt but not seen.
Lots of coons but the three badgers caught my attention too, as did the cougar lying on the side of the road, two pheasants, fox, numerous deer and antelope.
Crossed the 44th parallel and the Continental Divide on occasion, seeing things we will never see again but always remember hopefully!
Highest gas was $4.29 and diesel was @ $5.19.
Bunch of rocks, mountains, snow, and beautiful country but when I saw that pheasant cock stand up in a grain field in Montana that made my day.

Know objectives of mutual funds before investing

With thousands of mutual funds on the market, how can you choose the ones that are right for your individual needs? For starters, you need to know the objective of each mutual fund in which you plan to invest.
Let’s take a look at the investment objectives of some of the most popular types of mutual funds:
Growth funds – These funds invest in the stocks of growing companies, with the goal of providing investors with capital appreciation. In plain English, you invest in these funds for the potential to make your money grow. If you invest in these funds, you will almost certainly experience the “ups and downs” of the market, but if you hold your funds long enough, and they are well managed, you may increase your investment’s potential return.
Growth-and-income funds – As its name suggests, a growth-and-income fund is structured to provide the potential for both growth in value and current income payments, in the form of dividends. Generally speaking, these funds are less risky than growth funds yet offer lower growth potential. But if you are interested in adding an income stream to your portfolio, these funds may be suitable for your long-term investment goals. Dividends can be increased, decreased or totally eliminated at any time without notice.

International funds – You can choose from several types of international funds: global funds, which invest in both U.S. and international stocks; international funds, which invest primarily outside the U.S.; country specific funds, which focus on one country or region; and emerging market funds, which concentrate on small, developing countries. These funds generally invest for growth, but they involve special types of risk, such as currency fluctuations and the prospect of investments being affected by political or economic turmoil.
Bond funds – When you invest in a bond fund, you are seeking current income, in the form of interest payments, and the chance to help stabilize a portfolio that might be heavily weighted toward stocks. You can choose from municipal bond funds, corporate bond funds, mortgage-backed securities funds and U.S. government bond funds. Although bonds funds generally contain less investment risk than stock funds, they carry a different type of risk: purchasing power risk. In other words, the interest payments you receive from your bond funds may not always keep up with inflation. Keep in mind that bond funds are subject to interest rate risk and fund values may decline as interest rates rise.
Money market funds – These funds invest in short-term debt instruments and are managed to maintain a stable net asset value of $1 per share, however the value of fund can fluctuate and it’s possible to lose money. Many people invest in money market funds if they want to “park” funds for a short time before investing it elsewhere. You might also use a money market fund as an “emergency fund” containing six to 12 months’ worth of living expenses. While these types of mutual funds have some obvious differences, they also share two important traits in common. First, financial professionals choose the investments, which is obviously a benefit to you. Second, mutual funds, by owning many different types of securities, offer the advantage of diversification. (Diversification, by itself, cannot guarantee a profit or protect against a loss in a declining market).
A financial advisor can help you choose those mutual funds that are appropriate for your needs. But it’s still your responsibility to know about the funds in which you invest – so, before writing a check, read a fund’s prospectus which can be obtained from your financial advisor. The prospectus contains more complete information, including the funds investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses that should be carefully considered.

Higher tax bills expected from Barbers Hill ISD

By BOBBY HORN JR.
MONT BELVIEU—Property owners in Barbers Hill ISD will likely see their tax bills go up next year, even though the district has no plans to raise the tax rate.
District documents show that while the appraised value of all property will go down, the value of taxable property has risen which will lead to higher tax payments.
During a June 30 meeting of the school board, the district will propose a $1.3299 per $100 valuation tax rate. This is the same rate as last year.
Data from the appraisal district shows that the total taxable value of all property for the current tax year is $2,969,136,140. This is up $68,199,980 from the previous year.

The district has also seen the average taxable value of residences rise from $88,899 to $99,726. Tax on the average residence last year was $1,182.27. If the new rate is approved the average tax bill will come in at $1,326.26 or an annual increase of $143.99.
While keeping the tax rate the same, the district plans to increase its spending on maintenance and operations. This year’s budget represents an 8.59% increase over last year. Like many households, the school district is being forced to adjust their budget in anticipation of higher fuel costs, among others.
The increase in maintenance and operations will be countered by a decrease of 6.16% in the debt service budget.
The district, in creating its budget, will also have to account for lower revenue from the state. The district plans to receive from the state $2,637 per student. This is down from $2,693 last year. To balance this, Barbers Hill will have to increase local revenue from $4,551 per student to $4,607 per student.
The public is invited to a public hearing over the budget on June 30 at the C.T. Joseph Conference Center at 6:30 p.m.