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Posts published in February 2013

Crosby-Huffman Chamber Awards & Installation

Scott Stephens is Citizen of Year

DEER PARK – A gala Award Presentation at the Monument Inne highlighted a successful year for the Crosby-Huffman Chamber of Commerce that has lately launched new endeavors to keep pace with developments in the community.

Glenn Cole, Chairman of the Board gave an introduction and capped the event with comments about local infrastructure and curbing crime.

Dr. Keith Moore, Superintendent of Crosby ISD, introduced and presented Citizen of the Year to Scott Stephens. Stephens lost his son, Cody, to an enlarged heart last year. That loss lead him to the resolution that high school athletes should have an E.K.G. read by a cardiologist to identify symptoms in the cardiopulmonary functions of the body. Some school districts including Huffman ISD had already begun testing for those heart problems and now with the help of Stephens, Crosby ISD has launched a program backed by the Cody Stephens Go Big or Go Home Memorial Foundation, a 501(c) 3 charity. Stephens founded the Memorial at the Crosby Fair & Rodeo Livestock Auction last year.

Stephens has spoken several times to the Texas Legislature and the U.I.L Conference to prompt action on testing students for heart problems. His achievements include getting various school districts outside the local areas to begin testing including Lubbock. House Bill 1379 and Senate Bill 379 have been written but as yet not voted upon. The U.I.L. is reviewing but probably will not mandate the measure certainly this year as the medical infrastructure does not yet exist for the numbers that may be required. However, this year in the October Legislative Council a plan is can be approved such that athletes throughout the State of Texas will receive a letter to take home for their parents to review describing sudden heart arrest, the consequence of that failure and informing them of where they can get tested as locally as possible at a significantly reduced price. Effectively by Spring of 2014 parents can expect to see that form.

School districts throughout the state however, in light of Stephens speaking out on recent incidents, are beginning to take actions independently to begin the testing.

The first presentation of the night was to Chamber Second Vice President Kim Harris of KMCO for Employee of the Year by Justin League of United Community Credit Union, the man that took her place at that Credit Union last year. Harris has headed the Embassador’s Committee and served on the board for several two year terms.

The David H. McNerney American Legion Post 658 was presented Non-Profit of the Year as presented by Board Vice President Macie Schubert of Community Resource Credit Union. The award was accepted by board member, Don Guillory on behalf of the Legion.

Volunteer of the Year was Don Guillory as presented by board Parliamentarian Bob Ward. The board recognized Guillory for his service from youth baseball to the American Legion and volunteer efforts for the Eastside Veteran’s Day Celebration.

Dr. Benny Soileau Superintendent of Huffman ISD presented Business of the Year to Community Resource Credit Union. Chamber Vice Chairperson Macie Shubert accepted the award. Community Resource Credit Unions continued support of local charity functions and the Crosby-Huffman Chamber of Commerce.

Glenn Cole tapped a long standing member of the board and avid supporter for the Chairman’s Award. Venita Smith admitted she had been involved with the Crosby-Huffman Chamber since she was 19 and joked that she was now 34. In a short and humble acceptance, Smith drew four crowd laughs and won the hearts of those that might not have the privilege of working with her. She has served KMCO Chemicals for 25 years.

Don Cox of Century 21 Life Changers lead the committee to put the banquet together.

Rep. Wayne Smith files bill to crack down on local game rooms

AUSTIN – State Rep. Wayne Smith (R-Highlands-Crosby) has filed House Bill 1127 aimed at cracking down on undercover Game Rooms in Harris County that have become a breeding ground for illegal activity and crime. Over the last ten years, game rooms have proliferated across much of incorporated Harris County due to increasing regulations under ordinance by the City of Houston.

To fly under the radar, many of these game rooms have changed their business model where restricted access has now become the norm, where game rooms only allow “members” or “known referrals” access behind darkly tinted windows and locked doors. This restricted access greatly inhibits even undercover investigations.

“Undercover game rooms have become a breeding ground for illegal activity and crime,” said Representative Smith. “It’s time to shine a light on this shady practice by giving the state and law enforcement regulatory authority to crack down on bad operators.”

The cash rich businesses have become an increasing target of criminal activity. Since 2007, Harris County has seen ninety instances where robberies or aggravated assaults took place in game rooms in unincorporated areas. In that same time span, five homicides have also been attributed to these locations, including a pregnant woman who was killed when a worker at a game room discharged a shotgun while trying to stop a robbery. It is estimated that an additional twenty five percent of the crimes go unreported or reported away from the game room due to the refusal of game room operators to allow patrons to call police at their location.

Several years ago a crackdown by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and the Precinct 4 Constable on these locations resulted in large seizures of the coin-operated machines, often referred to as 8-liners, for failure to comply with tax laws. Eighty-five search warrants have been executed in game room investigations in the last five years. The enforcement actions resulted in the arrests of business operators for “Promotion of Gambling” as well as issuance of citations for failing to have current tax permits. These businesses operate under the pretense of providing “entertainment only,” but clearly continue to provide an unsafe environment.

“I am proud to carry this bill on behalf of the families who have fallen victim to the illegal activity and crime, and the law enforcement agencies who need all the tools at their disposal to keep our citizens safe,” said Smith.

House Bill 1127 seeks regulatory authority over Game Rooms to ensure they provide an environment safe for patrons and workers and are open to inspection by law enforcement and proper administrative authority.

Representative Wayne Smith represents Texas House District 128, including Baytown, Deer Park, La Porte, Crosby, Highlands, Morgan’s Point and a portion of Pasadena.

Lessons on Humanity from a Cheetah

By Kristan Hoffman

With the spots of a Dalmatian, the build of a Greyhound, and the paws of a Great Dane, Savanna is clumsily put together but unbelievably cute. She’s also entirely feline — a cheetah cub, about 7 months old and 38 pounds. (Full grown, she could weigh double that.) I met her at the zoo, but not with bars or glass or a moat between us. No, she stood less than an arm’s length away at times, restrained by a simple leash.

This happened at an event for Andy’s work, hosted at the Cincinnati Zoo. As part of their “Ambassador” program, Savanna has been acclimated to a variety of human sights and sounds so that she can attend functions such as our party that night, or more importantly classrooms, to help teach people about wildlife studies and conservation efforts. Savanna stayed with us for nearly an hour, during which time she calmly sat for pictures, climbed on a table to monitor the room, and even nuzzled her 3 handlers like a house cat. With such affectionate gestures, and some of her baby fuzz still visible, it was easy to forget Savanna’s true nature.

Despite her training, Savanna is still a wild animal, ruled mostly by instinct. She was one of two cubs born to the zoo, but her brother didn’t survive. Apparently cheetah mothers won’t raise just one cub, because after 18 months cubs are left to fend for themselves, which would be hard to do on their own without siblings. Thus Savanna’s mother abandoned her, and Savanna became an orphan.

That’s when the zoo stepped in. They hand-raised her, secured her a spot in the Ambassador program, and even partnered her with a puppy of similar age and size to be an adoptive playmate and brother. The two will be best friends until she matures, at which point instinct will kick in again, because female cheetahs live alone. Fortunately one of the handlers is already eager to adopt the black lab, Max, when Savanna outgrows him.

The push and pull between the laws of nature and the intervention of mankind has defined Savanna’s life, and in some ways it defines ours too. Do we let things occur as they may, or should we step in and control when we can? That’s what I kept thinking about later that night, long after Savanna had left our party. It’s a pretty philosophical takeaway from a mere hour with a cheetah cub, but then, hanging out with Savanna was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, one that I both enjoyed and was affected by.

And that, to me, is the mark of a great ambassador.

Crosby Education Foundation hosts successful fundraiser

Crosby – Last Friday the best nightlife around was at the Newport Golf Club and Conference Center where the Crosby Education Foundation Fundraiser was held with food, beverage, music and dancing with a live and silent auction to raise money for various education related causes including classroom wishes by local teachers for better education here.

The brainchild of Earl Boykin and Donna Heinlein the benefit undertook the mission of the 501 (c) 3 charity to enhance and enrich the educational opportunities for students, supports staff’s innovative efforts and recognise staff for exemplarary teaching. The group also supports educational activities not funded by tax revenue. The event displayed requests from various teachers in poster form on the walls then sold items at higher than paid for prices to raise money to fund the requests of the educators.

A wide range of items for sports enthusiasts top the billing. There were numerous items from professional and college football, Guided Half-day Fishing trips and an autographed framed photo of Nolen Ryan.

Items that one absolutely cannot get now include four tickets to see George Strait at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo all the way to a spray in bedliner or deer axis pillows. In fact, the items were donated by a host of folks and businesses mostly local but from as far and wide as Galveston to Burnett, Texas.

The quality of the Lost Cause Band was silky playing a range of favorites mostly old with the finest of new Country & Western crooned by Shane Welch and Cody Kouba and played wonderfully.

The next big event to raise money for the local children is to be deadlined for entry by March 15 and it will include a golf tournament on March 22. The fee is $50 per person or $200 per team. Hole Sponsorship is $100 per hole. For more information contact Richard Amadour at (281) 543-2860.

Contributions to Crosby Education Foundation may be made to CEF, 706 Runneburg Rd., Crosby, Texas 77532.

Crosby ISD delays bond to buy land

CROSBY – The local school board is delaying the details of calling for a new school bond package to handle details of acquiring land.

Details on the expanse of land commissioned by the board of trustees for purchase have yet to be worked out prior to 72 hours before the board meeting on February 18. These details must be in place before the Order Calling for a Bond Election and the necessary actions can be taken to call for the public to vote on the measure.

Representatives of parties for sale of the property were in attendance at the board meeting and were called by the Superintendent into executive session.

Dr. Moore had called for a 23¢ per $100 valuation bond from the board in two possible phases. The single year increase on the average dwelling at fair market value of $107,247 is evaluated at $92,245 after exemptions and the increase would then be $212.16 for the first year of phases one.

With that money a new high school would be built on the land to be purchased. The current high school would become the new Middle School with modifications. A new agriculture barn would be constructed as would a new JROTC building. New tennis courts would be built and as would a stacking drive for parents picking up kids at Newport Elementary. There are 5170 students in Crosby ISD now at a district evaluated capacity of 5203.

Final details and amounts of the bond are expected to be completed before February 28, according to Superintendent Dr. Keith Moore.

The board reviewed contracts with law enforcement and agreed to extension of contracts.

“The district showed some positive signs on the 2012 STAAR Test results. There are areas we are working on but overall our schools are competing well against the rest of the State. In our State’s Efficiency we are about eight or nine months behind but we are excited after monitoring our bench mark data that we are going to have a good 2013 season. We are where we need to be to make our 2013 goals,” said Moore.

“Gentlemen, start your engines”

At least football season is all in, all done for now. Basketball is in and the Mrs. would rather watch Duke play than eat.

Tis the season for, “Gentlemen, start your engines,” as NASCAR cranks up their season run starting in Daytona. See that Danica Patrick has won the pole position — good for her. Reading a book or bending a hook is my thing rather than watching a bunch of television, unless, of course, you get to go to a race in person. The Masters is not for another month or so come April 14th — that I’d like to go to in person.

Mardis Gras is starting and got a dose of the beginnings while in Baton Rouge over the weekend, the Louisiana State Patrol was passing out tickets like food stamps and even the local parishes had their men checking for speeders, etc.

If they see you drive across the solid white line on the roadside to make a turn or move into the lane of traffic or simply cross it, you will get a ticket. $85.00 for an improper turn.

The garden has officially started as potatoes have been planted in two laundry baskets. Additionally heirloom tomatoes were planted as well as the chili pequin plants; these were planted in buckets and hopefully they will produce an abundant supply of tomatoes and peppers this year.

Going to make some super hot chowchow for one of the boys, as he says he likes it hot so we’ll give the chili pequin peppers a try in the chowchow.

My gone but not forgotten buddy Thomas Earl Fabian wanted some hotter chowchow one time so I used the food processor to do a couple jars of pure jalapeños, prepared in the normal manner of chowchow and took one to the slaughter house. Boy howdy did he ever fuss about how hot it was and wanted to know if I was trying to kill him.

The Baytown Shriners have a big Oyster Fry this coming Friday, so a ticket for the fried morsels was pre-purchased from a local Shriner. The Shriners do an awful lot for the Burn Hospital and other hospitals, so support them please.

The oyster is a gout kicker as is any shell fish. Am going to see if the meds the doc prescribed work, as a plate of the fried oysters has my name on it.

Charlie Farrar can be reached via email at: xuscg [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Highlands Chamber installs new board & officers

MONT BELVIEU – Eagle Pointe was the site for an installation banquet for the board and officers of the Highlands-Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce. The event took place last Friday night, Feb. 8.

Jessica Woods was the master of ceremonies, as the new president Jim Wadzinski took office and gave a talk about his goals for the coming year. Jessica thanked outgoing president Phillip Morris for his two years of service, and presented him with a plaque. Morris also was last year’s Terry Davis Award winner, she noted. ZXP Technologies was the 2012 Business of the Year, and that award was given to George Browning of the company.

New officers for 2013 will be president: Jim Wadzinski; 1st VP/Jamboree chair: Jessica Woods; 2nd VP/Heritage Museum: Dickie Woods; Secretary: Judy Culbreath; and Treasurer: Tonya Kostka.

Wadzinski then gave a speech about goals and activities for the coming year. The talk varied from personal commitment, to call for community involvement and support.

Wadzinski pointed out that the greater Baytown area, including Highlands, will experience the effects of huge growth in the refinery industry in the next few years. 22,000 construction jobs, and 3500 permanent refinery and support jobs are promised by Baytown refineries in the next 2 to 5 years. Wadzinski wants to make sure that the Highlands Chamber gets its “fair share” of this growth, he said.

“Highlands will change,” and the Chamber must grow. He noted that in the last 11 years, since he became involved in the chamber, membership has gone from 23 to 103. He projects continued growth. His goal is a 25% increase in members in the next two years.

Wadzinski also thought that the Chamber should sponsor a golf tournament, which could raise major funds for projects such as scholarships and a building fund. His goal was to raise $20,000 and use some of those funds for two major $5000 scholarships for Highlands students.

Wadzinski wanted more effective communication with local government and industry for mutual benefit. He announced that Chevron Phillips had joined the chamber, as a start.

Wadzinski said he is looking for help from each member of the chamber to achieve these goals. He quoted Peter Drucker, “The best way to pre;dict your future is to create it.”

Bras Cause rakes in over $36,000

CROSBY – The Second Annual Bras for the Cause benefit held last Saturday was a stellar success raising about $38,000 before costs to combat breast cancer via the American Cancer Society.

The event was sponsored by the Tough Enough to Wear Pink Committee of the Crosby Fair and Rodeo in conjunction with and at the David H. McNerney American Legion Hut 658. All proceeds from this exciting event will to the American Cancer Society for breast cancer research and education. This event followed last year’s successful venture bring in $30,000 with all the proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.

No more poignant opening speaker could have matched Debbie Holmelin that knows first hand from having lost her husband to breast cancer the pain the disease can cause.

The Master of Ceremonies, Susie Garcia, announced a series of 22 local macho male models for bras designed by 19 artistic designers. Susie was taking the place of local television personality Don Nelson that was coping with rotor cup surgery. Susie is one of those regular Texas women that exude personality and her picture is next to the new dictionary definition of charisma. Garcia’s comments got laughs and audience participation in the fund-raising and was amplified by Chuck Richnow’s spinning out some coordinated music. The models strutted throughout the American Legion Taj Mahal displaying the designs and booting upward the take from tips by the ladies with a few surprises.

Following the display, auctioneer Bill Busby called for the top dollar from the crowd. He managed to get $5,000 for Royce Doskocil’s hard-hat cups becaue the man worked it. Doskocil was dubbed the Entertainer of the Evening partially due to bring in the most in tips – aided by a $100 bill slipped in his bra. Clay Stephens’ outfit by Jamie Fitzgerald, entitled “Saddle Up for a Check Up” not only raised $2,800 by Busby’s auctioneering but then add ons brought it to $5,300 but then his father, Scott Stephens doubled the bids. Two more heroes of the night were Gary and Kim Smith that made sure that at least $1000 was given for each bra displayed.

After the Silent Auction winners were announced the ladies put on a boot scooting performance on the dance floor that brought down the lights.

Later, at Billy’s, the dancing and celebration of a great charity job well done continued.

Local schools win suit against State

CROSBY, HUFFMAN GCCISD– Last Monday, Judge John Dietz ruled in favor of over 600 districts’ petition that the system that Texas uses to fund its schools violates the state’s constitution because it does not provide enough money to schools and it is not fairly distributed.

This is the sixth time Texas has been sued for not meeting constitutional obligations to fund public education as mandated by law and there was a $5.8 Billion budget cut passed by lawmakers in 2011.

One sources indicated that the difference is between $7,000 per student and $5,000 per student per year. About 50% of the Texas budget goes to public education about 60% goes to education in general, said another source, indicating that if budgets are cut, some must be from education.

Lawmakers are already positioning to deal with the matter in extra session after an almost inevitable appeal.

Superintendent of Crosby ISD Dr. Kieth Moore said, “It’s a great day for students in Texas. The teachers and staff across Texas have done a great job of making a broken system work for years. Our legislators have asked for higher standards for years but have failed to provide the funding needed to reach an agreement population of students that is becoming more and more economically disadvantaged. Legislators have touted decreased funding to our schools while the shortfall has been shouldered by the teachers and educators across Texas. This decision is validation to the professional educators across Texas that have worked hard for their students in a broken system. We have won the battle but we are sure that the state will appeal this decision to the Supreme Court. Our parents, educators and community members need to continue to voice their support so that it is clear that our expectation is for the state to live up to their end of the bargain.”

Dietz ruled the state’s funding system is unconstitutional. The state relies on property taxes to fund schools and about 36% of those schools’ funds are redistributed to poorer districts. In 2011 districts organized around the Equity Center sued the state because wealthier district were receiving more funds even if they had lower property tax rates. Then another suit was filed by larger districts saying that the tax rate cap is an illegal state property tax and their funding was inadequate.

David Dewhurst and Governor Perry disagreed with the ruling although Judge Dietz written detailed decision has not been issued but is expected to be issued soon.

Josh Turner representing petitioners summed up the situation by saying “If we expect to do better as a state, we have to make sure we provide school districts with the means to do that.”