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Posts published in September 2009

Crosby ISD votes for property tax increase


CROSBY – The local school board, by a 6 to1 vote, called for an election on Dec. 12 to ratify a tax increase of about $100 per year on $100,000 property.

The increase (from $1.04 to $1.17) is in Maintenance and Operations, the portion of the school budget that deals with salaries, instructional equipment, supplies, fixing roofs but does not deal with existing debt from bond elections or building new facilities. That last portion, the Interest and Sinking, the board voted to decrease from 30¢ to 27¢ per 100 valuation. This was enabled by the increasing property values and increasing numbers of new property owners.

The total overall rate currently is $1.34, and the proposed rate is $1.44 per $100 valuation of property.

At the sparsely attended Sept. 21 meeting of the Crosby ISD School Board, Marley Morris, Principal of Crosby High School, presented a 4 minute video clip that dealt with some of the new instructional equipment that is lacking for students at Crosby High. One of the primary expenses calling for the increase is $2.1 million dollars in new technology equipment and a $300,000 budgeted annually for technology upgrades.

Morris’ video outlined that while SAT scores at Crosby High are now averaging 1027 and over 1000 for the last 10 years, they are behind for example in number of LCD Projectors, (the new equivalent of the chalkboard of 30 years ago. The LCD is a device that can link to information and tools on the Internet and become part of the classroom instruction.)

Superintendent Mike Joseph explained the need for 15 new buses, “we currently have 5 spare buses to accommodate trip requests before our regular routes are completed in the evening. With a growing enrollment, we are adding 1 to 2 new routes a year. At this rate we will not have any spare buses in 2 years. We need to allocate $300,000 per year to replace old buses, at a cost of $100,000 per bus. The tax increase would allow us to do that.”

Joseph said, “We currently need to add two science labs so that all of our students have the opportunity to attend a science class in a lab setting. The state now requires all students to have four years of science to graduate, which has increased our need for the additional science labs. We need to renovate the Instructional Annex to have 11 classrooms available for elementary growth – Crosby is a growing district. Our enrollment as of last Friday was 5039 students. The additional classrooms would allow for the projected growth in the elementary grades for the next 4 to 5 years.”

Then there is security Joseph says, “Security and safety of our students – We need to invest money in a security system at each of our elementary campuses. This system would place cameras in all front offices and outside the building. In addition, the tax increase would allow us to modify the driveway at Barrett Primary School so that we would get all of the pickup traffic on FM 1942 off the road.”

The budget includes $220,590 in fire alarm and intercom systems, renovation of restrooms $220,884, and $175,000 in other new vehicles. Renovations are planned for the roofs of Crosby Middle School and the Administration building. Salaries increase 2.5% midpoint for all professional employees, $1235 for teachers and $43,051 first year salary.

Joseph also said, “The state of Texas will give to the district 60 cents for every dollar of local money raised in a Tax Ratification Election. In a bond election, the state would only give the district 30 cents for every dollar of local money raised.

Gerald Blankenship motioned and Tonya Eagleton Seconded, Jo Ann Crawford voted against the call for election.

“Beat the Heat” thanks Salinas, Jones for help


Sgt. Mike Parson and Bob Ward, long time Beat the Heat members and friends of slain Houston Police Officer Henry Canales, Sr. present Fred Salinas, owner of Friendly Ford of Crosby a plaque at the Crosby/Huffman Chamber Of Commerce Picnic in the Park September 17. Also attending the presentation were HPD auto theft members Lt. Scott Dombrowski, Officer Jim Woods and Officer Louis Garcia. Henry Canales Jr. was able to represent his father by driving his daddy’s racecar in his father’s namesake memorial race in Washington D.C. on Sept. 11 and 12. Salinas offered a Ford F-150 Crew Cab to pull the trailer of the racecar to Washington and back.

Walkin’ the Walk: Goose Creek reaches out to dropouts


BAYTOWN — Goose Creek CISD’s Reach Out to Dropouts Walk seeks to convince students who have left school to return and graduate.

This is achieved through door-to-door conversations between targeted teenagers and district and community volunteers who come with a belief that everyone deserves a second chance — the dropout and the school system.

Here’s how it works: a group of volunteers headed up by San Jacinto Elementary Principal Becky Robins and San Jacinto Family Involvement Coordinator Sara Serrano knocked on a door of a home in old Baytown this past weekend.

A man answered. He was the grandfather of a ninth-grade dropout. He said that no one was home. But after a few follow-up questions, her two sisters — who attend Goose Creek schools — came out the door.

Robins asked them if their sister was home, and they answered yes. She was asleep.

“Go wake her up,” Robins said.

After about five minutes, a sleepy-looking young lady appeared at the door. After a few questions, the young lady said she was interested in returning to school.

But the catch was, she needed a ride. Robins spoke up: “How about if I pick you up on Monday morning?”

The young lady agreed, and the group went on their way.

Robins said she thought about the teen all weekend. “Why would she trust me? Would she be there? I was nervous, and I’m sure she was nervous,” Robins said.

On Monday morning, Robins arrived and the teen — with notebook in hand — was ready to go. She re-enrolled in school that day.

So far, 16 dropouts have re-enrolled because of Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District’s second annual Reach Out to Dropouts Walk on Saturday, Sept. 12.

“I am amazed by the follow up from the volunteers at our walk. We have many calling me to ask about specific students. What could they do to help? If they need to call, etc.,” said Walk coordinator Janci Alexander-Alfaro, Goose Creek’s Director of Guidance and Counseling. “It truly makes the efforts worthwhile to have the kids supported beyond the actual walk itself. It makes me proud of my community.”

As it is billed, Reach Out to Dropouts Walk is a program that recovers students who have not returned to school.

Nearly 300 volunteers turned out for the Reach Out to Dropouts Walk this year. Teachers, administrators, and community volunteers went to the homes of 245 former students and made them aware of after-school programs that could help them finish their education.

Most re-enrolled students will require tutoring. Some will need flexible schedules for work and school. More than a few will need day care for their children. And others will require all of the above.

Whatever the need, Goose Creek will provide as much help as possible. “Knocking on door is to evoke a sense of, we care, we are concerned,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Toby York. “Your education is important to us and we want it to be important to you too. And we also have the opportunity to get the whole family involved and have a conversation with them.”

A 2007 report from Columbia University’s Teachers College found each high school graduate provides a $127,000 net benefit in terms of reduced government spending and increased revenue. And according to the U.S. Education Department, workers with high school diplomas begin their work lives with about $10,000 more in earning power.

Going to the birds…


Me and the Mrs. took a little R & R and a four day weekend down the coast to Port Aransas. We stayed on Mustang Island and spent a couple of days in Rockport, Texas attending the Hummingbird Festival.

A fun trip indeed visiting various homes watching the hummers at people’s numerous feeding stations.

More fun than that was the “Last Chance Forever” live birds of prey show that is dedicated to the rehab of sick, injured and orphaned birds of prey. Hawks, Owls, an Eagle, a Buzzard and a Falcon were on display Friday night and Saturday morning.

The birds were allowed to fly in the school auditorium Friday evening and awesome cannot describe this event. Additionally, vendors had their bird wares available from T-shirts, feeders, blown glass hummer ornaments, high dollar binoculars and scopes were available for purchase. The Mrs. noticed and purchased a 72 ounce sugar water feeder that hopefully will last more than one day without having to be refilled.

They had rain down in that part of the country a week or so ago and the skeets were out in volume. Finally found a place that has the skeets as bad as we do in the back yard. They should name it the Skeeter Festival because they outnumbered the hummers 10 to 1.

This ole Georgia Boy never has been a big fan of chowing down on fish and bait. Back in the Coast Guard in Boston on Fridays they served seafood and lobsters in abundance, back then related to a Catholic requirement of no meat on Fridays. Of course, I never had eaten the big crayfish much less any other seafood, giving mine away and opting for a bologna sandwich.

Time changes all or most anyway. Had my first taste of Mahi-mahi fish and found out just how good tis. Ate it five times and consider the grilled much better than the fried. Speaking of fried fish, the restaurants down there do not serve catfish or at least the six eating places we visited. The Mrs. put two of her shrimp on my plate reciprocating for a piece of the fish yours truly gave her. Later that evening, the shrimp were still swimming and I swear they were cooked in coon oil.

The Mrs. agreed we might move to that part of the country and it sure beats the fire out of the Smokey Mountains that she has wanted. We spent the better part of a day riding around Mustang Island, Rockport, and Fulton looking at homes for sale getting a sampling of the area. The house she wanted was $399K and mine was over a Mil so we have to wait on her to reach retirement age and maybe our ship will come in so we can buy down there.

We are back at the poor house now and it do feel good, peas and cornbread for supper, back to basics.

Flying High


Casey Martin goes up in the air for the catch during the Falcon’s game against Hamshire-Fannett Friday. Martin had seven catches for 101 yards in the Falcon’s 41-14 win.

Casey also scored one touchdown in the game, on a 19-yard catch in the first quarter when gave Hargrave their first points of the night less than three minutes into the contest. Hargrave Quarterback Cole Deberry completed 21 of 25 passes for 373 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

Photo by WordPhotography.com

Awards presented at Chamber Luncheon


Terry Davis Award to Alan Hanagriff

The Highlands-Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce held their Annual Awards Luncheon last Thursday, Sept. 10th, and honored community leaders and public safety officials.

Led by president Phillip Morris, Kristy Stallings, and Jessica Woods, the Chamber made presentations to outstanding citizens “for Service and Commitment in 2008” as follows:

Volunteer Firefighter, TRACY NEATHERY, for service in lifesaving, delivering 11 babies, maning the ambulance, and more;

Deputy Constable, HERMAN EAGLETON, presented by Constable Ken Jones, for work in eliminating drugs in McNair, including a notorious crack house;

Sheriff’s Deputies ROGER SWANEY & RICHARD WAGNER, motorcycle deputies, presented by Sgt. Parker, for conscientious investigation of a hit and run fatality accident, that led to the discovery of a murderer that had committed the crime the night before; for breaking up an auto theft ring in the area; and for keeping the I-10 Freeway open after a bad accident that initially blocked several lanes and looked like it would take all day to clean up;

Business/Organization of the Year, PORTRAITS OF TEXAS, to Ramona Hanagriff for her willingness to always help the Chamber and those in need;

and the Terry Davis Award, to Alan Hanagriff posthumously, for his dedication and love of the community, his willingness to give time and effort to others, and his joy of life that he shared with his family, friends and community members.

The Terry Davis Award was accepted by Alan’s widow and family members, about a dozen who were in attendance.

Open House at Portraits of Texas

As part of a thank you to the community, Ramona Hanagriff and Jennifer Nolan announced that they would have an Open House for the community, on Saturday, Sept. 19th and invited everyone to come.

Crosby Rodeo increases scholarships


The newly elected board of the Crosby Fair & Rodeo raised awarding scholarships from five $3,000 scholarships per year to five $5,000. The board is preparing to host their Annual Membership Feed at the Fairgrounds on Saturday, September 19 at 5:00 p.m. Membership tickets for the 2009– 2010 year will be available in October. Above are the newly elected board members and officers of the Crosby Fair & Rodeo, they are: Tannie Gillespie, Russell Rogers – President, Sonny Armstrong–First Vice President, Bill Busby – Treasurer, Heath Matthews, Doug Hall – Chairman of the Board, Eddie Glover, Jr., Rick Larkin – 2nd Vice President, Billy Nash–General Manager, Ralph Bartholow – Secretary.

Children say the darndest things


As many of you know the Springer’s reside in West Virginia and find our way to Texas via various interstates at least three months of every year, sometimes more. We love Texas (and Crosby).

We had an interesting event here over the past six months that I want to relate to you. I call it:

Out of the mouths…

State officials were adamant about raising the tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike, which is a part of I-77 from Charleston to the Southern border with Virginia. The tolls were $1.25 for each of the three tollbooths along the 100-mile route. The proposed toll would be $2.00 each for a total of $6.00 one way. A hue and cry went up from residents who use the turnpike daily. Much ado was made of this verbal battle. They lost, the state won, and the tolls are now $2.00 times three.

A local Mother was traveling to South Carolina on the turnpike recently with her young son to visit relatives. The third tollbooth sits near the top of one of the highest mountains in the area and has a beautiful view.

As they approached that tollbooth the six-year-old offered, “Mommy, West Virginia is a beautiful state isn’t it?” “Yes,” replied Mommy, pleased that her young son would take notice. As she prepared to pay her toll he commented, “And you have to pay to get out and then pay to get back in.”

I couldn’t have said it better.

The End of an Era!

Linda and I live on a 1-acre tract on the banks of the beautiful Coal River near Charleston. Before ours, and the adjoining subdivision, were developed the land was a large apple orchard, according to a map in my possession that dates back to the early 1900s.

When we bought our property about 38 years ago it had eight or ten of the apple trees remaining. They were about the only apple trees left in the development. Over the years a windstorm took out one or two of the older trees, others died and I removed a couple due to property improvements.

After 35+ years, there remained one apple tree, much younger than the others, that we have nursed along for several years. Over the past three to five years I have had to remove several dead limbs. Earlier this year I had the entire tree cut down as it was about to die. It was the last of hundreds of apple trees that once called the subdivisions acres home. It truly was the end of an era and we miss it.

Such are the people places and things that have touched my life in my home!

Crash call at the doctor’s office?


CROSBY – The staff at Dr. Rob Rosenbaum’s Chiropractic office enjoyed brief rest for the Labor Day Weekend although the entire community glibly romanticized about beloved office manager, Mary Helen, getting married on August 29.

Newlywed Mary Helen Wolf and Jimmy Wolf got a call at about 3:00 a.m. Saturday that the office at which she works was crashed by a pickup truck off FM 2100 and that the entrance glass and part of the wall was smashed into making a security risk.

She was called instead of the chiropractor because Dr. Rob Rosenbaum was on a trip to Africa.


The couple went straight away to see if it could be true. It was, but according to Mary Helen there were good neighbors in abundance, too. She described the damage as “substantial.”

“We are thankful that it didn’t happen when we were open, but you know, surprisingly, it couldn’t have happened at a better time, as it worked out.” said Mrs. Wolf, “God’s timing is better than ours.”

Her husband is a senior supervisor for Tellepsen, builders of hospitals and high rises, he knows a thing or several thousand about buildings. A neighbor, Luke Morgan, owner of Millennium Builders stopped by and he went and got power tools, levels, crowbars even hauled over his trailer to put debris in to haul to his dumpster. He also called his friend, Roy Loggins of Loggins’ Ace Hardware in Highlands and Loggins’ Lumber Yard at 5:30 a.m. to get the materials to seal the gap in the front of the office.

On 09/09/09, the office reopened with minor physical modifications and a restored faith in human goodness.

“It was a terrible experience but we got to find out about wonderful people who support us.”

Mrs. Wolf explained, “The staff all pitched in to do most of the internal clean up ourselves. The people that helped get the job done need to get the credit and we were warmed to find out about so many wonderful people who live about us.”

Somebody got lucky but it was an accident.

Local school reactions mixed over Obama talk


EAST HARRIS COUNTY — This week President Barack Obama held a speech directed at school-age children. In a move unique to the White House the speech was held during school hours.

Many students, however, did not get to see the address live with some districts in the area choosing not to show the address. Crosby ISD was an exception. Superintendent Mike Joseph said the address was broadcast live in campus libraries and auditoriums. Attendance was limited to those students who brought signed permission slips from home allowing them to see the speech.

Joseph said that the district has policies in place to address controversial issues and topics and when the speech was announced he followed that policy.

“This is a parents’ right issue,” he said.

The school district sent home letters to parents as well as posting the letter on their website, which advised parents of their right to stop their child from participating in any school activity they found objectionable. Copies of the address will be provided to social science and history teachers to use in their classes, he added.

The White House provided supplemental material for teachers to use in their lessons related to the speech. Crosby will not use the material, Joseph said.

Huffman ISD’s Superintendent Dr. Dog Killian said that his district would not broadcast the speech live.

Since the speech was held during lunch, Killian said that he did not think teachers should be forced to readjust their schedule to fit the speech.

Goose Creek CISD is also among the districts that did not broadcast the address live.

Superintendent Dr. Toby York said that like Huffman he would not disrupt the regular class schedule to allow for live viewing.

“As I have visited our campuses the past two weeks, it is apparent that students are engaged in learning that has been carefully planned by teachers and staff. I appreciate all of their efforts in utilizing our instructional time so efficiently,” Toby York wrote in letter sent home to parents.

York said that principals and teachers would be provided with a copy of the broadcast for use in social studies classes in the same way they would incorporate other national event broadcasts into relevant instructional activities.

Recognizing the controversial nature of the program, York said that the district would follow its written “opt-out” policy. According to the policy “a parent or guardian wishing to remove a student from a class or activity that conflicts with the parent’s religious or moral beliefs must provide a written statement authorizing the removal,” York said.”

In the letter to parents, they were instructed to inform the respective principals in writing by Sept. 4 if they objected to their child viewing the program.

“Campuses will provide an alternative instructional setting and activity for any student not viewing the broadcast,” he added.

York said that it was apparent that the President chose this particular date because it would coincide with the first day of school for many districts across the nation.