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Posts published in March 2011

Suspects chased back to Crosby

By LEWIS SPEARMAN
CROSBY– A chase from the Eastgate area just over the Liberty County Line South on U.S. 90 led law enforcement down Runneburg Rd. at high speed around 1:20 p.m. last Friday.
Liberty County Sheriff’s Office increased patrols near the border after numerous complaints of homes being burglarized and copper thefts recently.
A patrol saw four men in a dark truck leave a house later reported burglarized early morning March 25. A suspicious dark blue pickup spotted around 1 p.m. that day is believed to have been related to that burglary of a home on C.R. 6021.

When the deputy’s top lights came on so did the chase. Harris County Sheriff’s Deputies and Precinct 3 Constables’ Deputies got involved once the county line was breached.
At high speeds past the churches that had their air conditioners stripped for copper, the school administration building that lost air conditioning units to burglars, the kindergarten holding Crosby’s most precious treasure, past the barber shop that had been hit for an air conditioning unit just over a week ago, the stop sign and the dead end sign as Runneburg splits at two homes before hitting the railroad tracks a dark blue crew cab Silverado streaked with sirens and patrol cars right behind.
According to Magarette Wheddon, who was playing and chatting with her granddaughter on her porch, “About the time we sat down I heard sirens coming way down and I thought they are getting louder and louder. By the time I thought that, they were in the yard here. A black, navy blue truck’s doors flew open with the law right behind them. I saw 2 go on one side of my neighbor’s house and the other run past the left side of her house and the law pulled up blocking the way of another. I saw the law pulling their guns so I opened the door and yelled to my granddaughter, ‘Run to Papaw.’ I got the door locked and kept watching as cars went up and down the railroad tracks. We heard helicopters flying nearby and just stop in midair. Finally, I got the attention of one of the officers, he was from Liberty and he said they had got them all.”
When the truck stopped “The doors flew open and they just barreled out. One of the law come out from behind the woods and caught one that ran closest to the woods.” said Wheddon.
The helicopter flew near F.M. 2100 and Live Oak where a man in a black tee-shirt ran into a Precinct 3 Deputy’s Patrol Car. He was the last of four apprehended at 1:40 p.m., according to a neighbor. His description would match the one of the man that ran left of the neighbor’s house.
Another nearby house was being covered with crime scene tape and a detective was approached by the homeowner of the now yellow taped house, “Why are you doing that?” she asked.
“Well, we believe they threw a gun nearby.” said the detective.
“Oh,” she answered, “I though I saw them throw something over here.” and they walked directly up to a pistol, which the detective began to process.
The Liberty County Sheriff’s Office indicates Clyde Perry, 24, William Richardson, 29, Joshua Warthem, 26, and Adolph Ramirez, 28, have been charge with burglary of a habitation and evading arrest. They were booked into Liberty County Jail.
Items like televisions found inside the truck were identified by the homeowner as having been taken from the C.R.6021 home.
Yet, another related local story concerns another truck that left its owner’s presence on Feb. 18 in the company of one of the suspects. It was recovered on March 25 in the Sundown Meadows neighborhood on Misty Way. That morning the truck’s owner states she saw four men get into a navy blue crew cab and drive away, leaving behind the missing truck. As the woman worked with a Precinct 3 Deputy to recover the truck, dispatched called and asked the woman that reported missing the truck if one of the suspects by name had previously been in possession of the missing truck. She said she told dispatch he had, she was told that more patrols were on the way.
Mother and daughter had just returned from the truck recovery to Miller-Wilson Rd. as the truck the four men had gotten into zipped into the dead end area at the end of Runneburg followed by a bevy of law enforcement.
Small world, small town.

TOWN HALL: Huberty fields concerns

By LEWIS SPEARMAN
CROSBY – Representative Dan Huberty, (R-127), addressed local concerns at a meeting at Newport Elementary on March 26.
Although the meeting was not crowded it contained the notably interested in an efficient Crosby ISD. The meeting was opened by Dr. Keith Moore, Superintendent of Crosby ISD.
Huberty is championing efficient schools that spend about $6000 a year per student and getting good results as against schools spending in excess of $8,000 to $12,000 per student a year and getting so-so results.

He was once President of Humble ISD School Board and now is on the Public Education Committee. He also has been named to the powerful State Affairs Committee as a Freshman Representative.
Huberty shows a firm grasp of how the State came to have a shortfall in funding. “Every tax base in the State went down.” and “The $12 Billion dollars that came from the one time Federal Stimulus was applied to the states long term debts.”
Attendants were educated on the financial mistakes of the last session. The new business tax that was to generate $20+ Billion dollars in revenue actually brought in about $3.7 Million. The State passed a tax initiative that was to allow districts to roll back taxes or not with an incentive to be matched by the State for 15% more matching funds if the districts determined they need the taxes for schools. However the state is unable to meet that responsibility. Huberty indicates that by passing House Bills 4 and 275 it will generate about $4 Billion dollars for next year to be divided $2 Billion for education and $2 billion for health and human services.
Now just to make sure everyone is on the same page, Crosby ISD is trimming $3.2 Million from its budget in hopes that will be enough funds that the State will not be able to provide.
“The worst case scenario that Crosby was looking at will not be happening.” said Huberty with a glare of red-faced determination in reference to a reported $5.3 Million shortfall for Crosby.
He laid out a plan to take $3.1 Billion from the “rainy day fund,” get the state to start rewarding districts for efficiency and take the initiative to be more responsible with unfunded mandates such as the S.T.A.A.R. testing. He has authored a bill to put that change in the T.A.K.S. testing off until 2013–2014.
Huberty discussed the varied suggestions to make up for the current shortfall such as closing loop holes and reducing exemptions in the Senate and House budget arguments
Although he contends that the legislative process with regard to the budget is getting better day by day he also states that “education is about $7 Billion on the bi-annum in the hole.”
He focused on Crosby’s situation being that there is low property wealth.
“We are going to change how we fund education on a go forward basis in the State of Texas. The point is that I’m going to fight to make the best deal for these efficient school districts.”
Huberty has authored or coauthored 19 bills. He has filed legislation to repeal duplicate reporting in House Bill 1130, cutting redundancy and inefficiency in reporting the number of special education students in each district. The T.E.A. already files this with the federal government why go through the same expense twice.
House bill 868 would empower entities other than school districts to calculate the benefits of a roll back tax if they can get their constituent citizenry to pass it.

Liberty Co. holds candlelight vigil for Crime Victims

LIBERTY COUNTY— The Office of Liberty County District Attorney Mike Little has issued a county-wide invitation to attend the candlelight vigil for crime victims and child abuse victims which will be held on Tuesday, April 12, 2011, at 6:30 p.m. at the Liberty Center, City of Liberty Municipal Complex, 1829 Sam Houston Ave.
The Liberty County District Attorney’s Office, the Liberty County Attorney’s Office, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Bridgehaven Children’s Advocacy Center, BACA (Bikers Against Child Abuse), MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), and New Horizon Family Center are co-sponsoring the vigil.

The purpose of the vigil is to help the public honor victims of crime, their families and those who serve them and to alert the public to the realities of crime, and express hope for a less violent future.
The vigil is a part of the local observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which is scheduled for the week of April 10 to April 16. The theme of Crime Victims’ Rights Week this year is “Reshaping the Future, Honoring the Past.”
This theme will be observed by the Liberty County District Attorney’s Office, the Liberty County Attorney’s Office, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Bridgehaven Children’s Advocacy Center, BACA (Bikers Against Child Abuse), MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and New Horizon Family Center, along with thousands of victim service and allied professional organizations and agencies across the United States. National Crime Victims’ Rights Week will be observed across our nation by victims and survivors and the professionals and volunteers who assist them
This year’s theme – “Reshaping the Future, Honoring the Past” – evokes victims’ past struggles and our Nation’s duty to help them build stronger lives. The past that we honor points to a future when all victims are respected, the laws to protect them are enforced, and the resources they need are in place and accessible to them. Justice demands no less.
Another very important purpose of the vigil is to commemorate Child Abuse Prevention Month which is the month of April. It is a time to focus on ways not only to protect children but also to prevent abuse from occurring. This is your opportunity to make a difference in young lives. It is hoped that this vigil will impress upon everyone that every child is entitled to be loved, cared for, nurtured, and secure and that preventing child abuse is the responsibility of all citizens. Child Abuse Prevention Month is an opportunity to highlight the role we all can play to support parents and families.
District Attorney Mike Little encourages all people in our area to join all people in America in the commemoration of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and Child Abuse Prevention Month. “Nobody wants to be a victim of violence and, when a crime occurs, those who are victimized need to be aware that they have rights within our criminal justice system and that there are many services to assist them in coping with the victimization,” Little explained.
For additional information call Kathy Lowe at the Liberty County District Attorney’s Office 936/336-4611.

Barbers Hill ISD salutes corporate neighbors

MONT BELVIEU— Industry has played a significant role in Barbers Hill since the oil rush of the early 1900s. In fact, industry is what transformed the Hill from a sparsely populated farming community into a growing Houston suburb of the 20th and 21st centuries.
“Partnerships with local industries are a win-win situation,” said Superintendent Dr. Greg Poole. “So much of what we do in the education sector depends on a solid, supportive community – whether that’s families or businesses. We couldn’t ask for more supportive neighbors in either of those areas.”
Today, Barbers Hill’s largest industries are Enterprise Products and ExxonMobil Plastics. Both companies make vital contributions to public education . . . from the tax dollars they pay, to the Education Foundation donations they make, to the advisory boards on which they serve.

Enterprise Products has formed a unique partnership with Barbers Hill Education Foundation, pledging more than $1 million over the next 10 years. Foundation grants awarded annually to teachers directly support innovative classroom projects that may otherwise go unfunded – projects like the Grow Lab and ProScope Microscope project at Barbers Hill Middle School, or the Turn It In.com software assisting high school students in Language Arts classes.
ExxonMobil has made an impact in tangible ways as well – through volunteer participation in events like Science Day and Robotics Day for Middle School students and in sponsoring Girls in Engineering.
Coordinated by eighth-grade science teacher Denise King, Science Day brought in nearly a dozen volunteers from ExxonMobil for a day of beakers and goggles, measuring, predicting and observing results.
“The day that the engineers of ExxonMobil came to our school was a blast!” said one eighth-grader. “I loved getting to work with acids and bases and had a really great time learning what chemical engineers do for a living. This just might be the career I would like to pursue.”
King offered a broader perspective of industry’s involvement in the teaching process.
“Science Day and Girls in Engineering are essential to the science curriculum at Barbers Hill Middle School,” King said. “Both events provide our students with relevant and fun hands-on experiments in the areas of chemistry and engineering. But even more than that, they provide the unique opportunity for our students to interact with people who have chosen careers in science.
“Students are the future employees of the industry that supports and surrounds our community. Our goal is to grow future scientists by making science exciting and interesting for students today,” King said.
In February, 60 eighth-grade girls from Barbers Hill Middle School participated in ExxonMobil’s Girls in Engineering Day – a time for girls to see first-hand what engineers do and where they work, and how chemistry applies to the real world. It’s also an opportunity for the company to reinforce what’s being taught on a daily basis in classrooms.
“ExxonMobil is committed to math and science education, and we look for ways to positively impact the communities in which we operate,” said Jennifer Chan, Mont Belvieu Plastics Plant Manager. “Introduce A Girl to Engineering Day is just one way in which we try to bring the fun of engineering to young girls who may not have been introduced to the concepts or believed they had real opportunities in this field.
“We aim to encourage the program’s attendees to explore this area of study and to start early to
ensure they are on the right track to enjoy future success,” Chan said.
ExxonMobil also responded quickly last fall to one teacher’s request for a grant that would allow students to construct miniature robots.
Middle School Language Arts teacher Karen Webb saw the opportunity for students to work together and apply concepts they’d discussed while reading the novel, Freak the Mighty.
Not only did ExxonMobil provide part of the funding for the project, they also provided engineers to help students as they began the construction.
“It was an awesome learning opportunity for my students in so many ways – in teamwork, mechanics, creativity and engineering,” said Webb. “I appreciate ExxonMobil’s commitment to education that makes a project like this possible.”

Chambers Co. Recovery Team expands board

ANAHUAC – By expanding its board, the Chambers Recovery Team will be more effective in assisting with implementation of the Long Term Community Recovery Plan for the whole of Chambers County.
The board membership follows the organization’s new bylaws to ensure geographic representation across the county, with two members from each of 5 regions plus one at-large member:
Anahuac-Hankamer-Wallisville: Guy Robert Jackson (Chair); Bob Pascasio; Double Bayou-Oak Island-; Winnie-Stowell: Melissa Hodges (Secretary-Treasurer); Chuck Reddell; Beach City-Cove: Guido Persiani (Vice Chair); Hon. Lee Wiley; Mont Belvieu-Old River Winfree: Scott Neal; Alton Sanders AND At-Large: Mary Beth Stengler.

Chair Guy Robert Jackson noted that, “The board members also represent a diversity of interests and expertise in the county – local government, health services, small business, industry, navigation, tourism, and community involvement.
Implementing the Long Term Community Recovery Plan will need and draw from all of these sectors to be successful.”
The Long Term Community Recovery Plan was created in 2009 during the post-Ike FEMA ESF-14 initiative. The initiative was a community-based process involving hundreds of citizens at workshops and planning meetings. The resulting plan included the identification of more than 100 specific projects to help make the county stronger and more resilient. The original steering committee from that initiative was appointed by Chambers County commissioners and formed the original core of the nonprofit Chambers Recovery Team (or “ChaRT” for short).

Crosby learns of ID theft

By LEWIS SPEARMAN
CROSBY – The local Chamber of Commerce held a festive, although lightly attended, meeting on St. Patrick’s Day in the middle of Spring Break before their “no fooling” April 1 Tee & Tails Golf Tournament and Community Dinner.
The tournament is still forming and there are Sponsorships still available. The Community Dinner will feature a Crawfish and Shrimp Dinner prepared by Dan Meaux of the Crawfish Shak for only $15.00 also a silent auction will be held. Call 281-328-6984 for details.
Ronnie Anderson informs us that Community Resource Credit Union is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year with some 30,000 members. Mostly they reside in the Crosby, Baytown area but they have members throughout the world through their Exxon Association.
He informed attendees that identity theft can be perpetrated on all walks of life, it is when an entity or person’s information is wrongfully used in a crime, usually for monetary gain.

Over the last 5 years, 27.3 million Americans have become victims of identity theft with over 10 million in the last year alone. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that 38% of the victims do not report the crime. Mostly because the victims do not know they are being victimized but many times their are family issues involved.
The home is one of the most ripe areas from which to have information stolen. But to institute protections the victim must be willing to file charges.
It is recommended that each of us know when their bills arrive in the mail. We are told never give out information to people you do not know over the telephone.
The effects of the crime goes all the way to the amount of credit one is given when depositing checks into the bank.
One of the most famous perpetrators of identity theft is a school in Nigeria that trains individuals for various identity theft scams.
Anderson passed out a bundle of scam letters sent to a single elderly person. This person had called a psychic hot-line and was told he was going to get a check in the mail the alleged psychic then sold that person’s name to potential scammers to send checks in the mail that require only a small payment to activate. The small payment being the only true money to change hands.
Some tax fraud schemes and financial instrument frauds can cost the victims up to 500 hours to get cleared up.
Recommendations include never carrying one’s social security card unless it is to be specifically used for an occasion that requires it such as security exchanges and property closings. Each card one carries should be copied and the copy kept in a safe place within the home such as a safe or locked file. The numbers to contact for notifying the business they are associated with is critical to stopping there use by criminals. Secure trash by using a personal shredder (best is a cross cut shredder) for mail that comes in with personal information on it (including junk mail.)
Pickup new check orders at your financial institutions rather than have them mailed.
Individuals can now get their credit report free of charge at least once a year from Equifax, Experian, and Trans-Union. It is recommended that individuals obtain their reports from one of these every four months.
Speed is the most important element in responding to identity theft. Contacting the companies, contacting law enforcement to prosecute and getting credit reports corrected need be done as quickly done as possible.
For debit and credit card fraud law enforcement reports must be filed in order to get your credit corrected, they will then help you file and complete an identity theft affidavit and file with the Federal Trade Commission. It is recommended that one keep accurate and up to date records of transactions.

Man convicted for 2009 Crosby murder

By LEWIS SPEARMAN
CROSBY – A bizarre Sunday night stabbing death of a well-liked employee at Frenz Sports Bar on Nov. 22, 2009 has led to the conviction of Daniel Ray Kendall for murder in 208 District Court on March 15.
Two women await trial on charges stemming from that night when Daniel Kendall, 53, fatally stabbed Jerry Lee Smith, then 36, father of a young girl. Smith was said to be performing his job, trying to stop a confrontation between a group of women at 11:45 p.m. that night when he was stabbed by Kendall. Kendall was said to be walking about with the knife making menacing gestures at other patrons when he had the knife knocked from his hand by a patron with a pool cue and patrons held him until Harris County Sheriff’s Deputies arrived to make an arrest.

According to Smith’s mother, Sandra Gothard, “I would like to thank A.D.A. Haywood Carter for presenting this case to the jury exactly as it should have been. His closing arguments and his arguments for sentencing were wonderful. It was possible for the jury to give Daniel 5 years to life but they gave him 20 years although the District Attorney asked for 42 years, the estimated life span of my son. At first it seemed the jury felt sorry for him because he looks old and frail but even when Kendall was on the stand as the court rolled the video tape he lied about what we were all seeing. His conviction means I have closure now, I can go back to my cabin in New Mexico knowing that justice has been served, although I have no children left having lost one son in a chemical plant accident and my son Jerry to this crime. Jerry’s father, Jack Smith, went with my now husband and I to court all through this. It has been difficult for him also. He was devastated to lose his only other living child. I don’t want any more reprocussions from this, it is closure on a painful time.”
Judge Sandra Gothard recommended that Kendall serve half of the 20 years sentence before becoming eligible for parole. Kendall has been in jail for one year already.
Kendall told the jury during the sentencing phase, “I deeply regret what happened. If I could change it I would. But, I can’t change it and I am willing to take the punishment that the jury is willing to give me.”
Charges are pending later court dates related to the incident.

Crosby hoopster earns District MVP honors

By BOBBY HORN JR.
CROSBY– Postseason honors continue to come in for the Bi-District Champion Crosby Cougars basketball team.
Senior Keynan Willis has been named the District 19-4’s Most Valuable Player.
Teammate TJ Stewart (a sophomore) was voted the district’s Newcomer of the Year and Head Coach Edwin Egans was named Coach of the Year.
Willis led the 24-12 Cougars with 18.1 points per game, and an Area Playoff Appearance. He also scored 434 points this season. Stewart averaged 11.1 points per game.
Joining Stewart on First Team All District was Tenarius Mills.
Kevin Bass, Keldrick Williams, Paul Singleton and LaChad Chatmon were named All District Honorable Mention.
Crosby and C.E. King led the All-District Selections with nine players each.

Highlands Chamber hears York on Goose Creek status

By GILBERT HOFFMAN Star-Courier
HIGHLANDS– Like the football coach that he used to be, Goose Creek school superintendent Toby York was an outspoken booster for his “team,” the teachers and students of Goose Creek CISD, at his talk last Thursday for the Highlands-Lynchburg Chamber.
York has headed the district of 21,000 students for several years, and points to achievements of the students and individual campuses.
However, he cautions that all school districts this year are faced with cuts in their budgets, due to the state and national financial situation, and some programs and personnel may have to be cut from current curriculum.

Although final budget figures will not be known until the state sets their reimbursement amounts in July or August, now York is expecting quite a budget reduction. The state comptroller has indicated an income shortfall of $15 billion, a growing need for another $12 billion due to population growth, for a total shortfall in state funds of as much as $27 billion. Of this amount, he expects a reduction in education funding of as much as $9 billion.
The Goose Creek CISD budget is currently about $169 million, but may fall to as low as $139 million to match income from local and state sources.
The state has several options to help, including using a “Rainy Day” fund which has $9.4 billion available, delaying payments to districts for several months, or hopefully realigning income projects to increased revenue.
York hopes he will not have to fire any teachers or employees, but use retirements and non-hiring to reduce the staff. He stated that the budget has been trimmed where possible to date. Other options include increasing class size, or even going to a 4 day school week. Class sizes in K-4 are now mandated by the state at a student/teacher ratio of 22/1. Most 5 through 11 classes try to stay at 25/1, and 12 grade at 30/1. However, some of these might be increased.
There are 3000 employees and 1500 teachers in the district, York said. They have helped achieve a “Recognized” rating for the district from the state, and in fact there are 9 “Exemplary” campuses.
York’s approach to his job is to build relatioonships with his students. He wants to know them, and be able to see how successful they will be in 10 or 20 years from now. They are currently testing well on state TAKS tests, he said.
The ethnicity of GC CISD is white 27%, African-American 17%, and Hispanic 56%. Economically disadvantaged children make up 65% of the student population.
One advantage the Goose Creek district has is a robust tax base. Due to the petrochemical industries, the area is 83rd in the state out of about 1000 districts.
Because of the importance of maintaining state funding for the district, York asked citizens to talk with their state representatives and senators, and asked that education funding not be cut. He said that Goose Creek CISD covers 6 state senators and 6 state representatives in its service area.
York thanked past school board member Weston Cotten for vigorously representing the Highlands area on the board and helping bring new schools and teaching programs to Highlands.
Jessica Woods spoke about the Goose Creek Education Foundation, the need for financial aid for this group that supports special projects for students in the classrooms, including field trips, drug awareness progams, and science projects that they otherwise would not be able to afford.