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Star-Courier News

2-alarm blaze burns four homes in Crosby

CROSBY – According to the Crosby Volunteer Fire Department they were called to the Crosby Plaza Apartments at 4:47 a.m. on Tuesday.

Upon arrival flames shot from the apartment office, the laundry room and adjacent apartments.

It seems that at least four apartment homes were destroyed by the blaze in addition to the office and laundry room. As fire fighters arrived several gas lines exploded.

A second alarm raised fire fighters from Highlands, Huffman, Sheldon and Channelview

Indications are that the most burned area was the laundry room where live powerlines entered the building. The fire fighters had to have CenterPoint Energy come out and shut down the gas to the laundry room before effective fire fighting could begin.

Harris County Fire Marshals arrived sometime after 5:30 a.m. and were still conducting investigations at the scene until about 11:30 a.m. They say the fire is still under investigation.

Witnesses say there had been a man shouting that he would burn the place down if they did not put him up somewhere on Monday. But, authorities have yet to confirm that information or that the man had been living in a unit for two weeks.

Neighbors and fire fighters took as their first task to evacuate those in the path of the fire. Due to those efforts, no one was hurt.

Crosby ISD had expressed concern for the children living in the apartments even before the fire, “Many families have lost their homes. We have been in contact with many of the families affected by this morning’s fire. The Red Cross has also been on site to assist the families temporarily. Many others have asked how to help. At this time, we are asking that donations be taken to CUIC here in Crosby, located on Church Street so that we have a central location for donation collection and distribution.

Thank you for your concern and generosity as we’ve had many students directly affected.”

Easter Bunny Arrival Event at San Jacinto Mall March 25

Face Painting & Balloon Art from 12pm-1:30pm

BAYTOWN, Texas (March 23, 2017) … Children can visit the Easter Bunny in his springtime garden at San Jacinto Mall March 25 through April 15. Festive face painting and balloon art will be available March 25 from 12pm to 1:30pm near Bath & Body Works. Photo packages start at $24.99. Kids will receive a complimentary activity book for visiting the Bunny! The Easter Bunny’s hours are available on the mall’s website.

In addition, kids can visit www.SanJacintoMall to experience “Bunnyville,” featuring interactive games and educational activities centered around the Easter Bunny’s village, which includes a workshop, library, post office, school, art studio, train station, boutique, clubhouse, photo studio, internet café, weather station and candy shop.

San Jacinto Mall is located at I-10 at Garth Road in Baytown, Texas. For more information, call (281) 421-3908 or visit www.sanjacintomall.com.

About San Jacinto Mall

San Jacinto Mall, located in Baytown, Texas, is owned by Fidelis Realty Partners. The shopping center is anchored by Macy’s, JCPenney and Sears. Guests have more than 80 retailers and restaurants to enjoy, including Bath & Body Works, Journeys, Champs, Foot Locker, Footaction, Icing, Visible Changes, Zales, Payless Shoe Source and Merle Norman. Entertainment options include Bungee Jump, Power Play Arcade, Premiere Cinemas 11 and South Mountain Kiddie Rides. The shopping center hosts various community events throughout the year. For more information and a complete list of stores and restaurants, please visit www.sanjacintomall.com.

Forum to probe efforts to reduce crime

The Crosby-Huffman Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Community Awareness Meeting at the David H. McNerney American Legion Hall on March 23 from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Focus is on how to make crime less profitable in local communities and neighborhoods.

Three types of crime will be targeted: burglary, robbery and identity theft. These are property crimes but their impact can be staggering. Local perception is that with a spike in burglary that began in September escalating through December that locally Crosby was beginning to have a problem especially with car burglary and grand theft auto increased.

Sometime in November Crosby and Highlands had an increase in robberies begin. December throughout the Greater Houston Area saw excessive crime sprees, as always. When residents complained to the Crosby-Huffman Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber took action to host this event and board members began to actively promote it.

Property crimes are crimes of opportunity and when opportunity diminishes the criminals tend to move to more inviting environments. The idea is don’t go away mad, criminals, just go away.

March 23, community leaders, law enforcement and special guests will try to help focus on curbing local burglary, robbery and identity theft in our communities. Some solutions that will make it harder to do criminal business here and better ways to work together to make criminal business less profitable locally can be learned.

Thus far speakers are to include Welcome and Prayer by Dr. Larry Koslovsky, introduction and focus by Lewis Spearman, Velma Ellison on local development and concerns, Precinct 3 Constable Sherman Eagleton and his command staff on statistics and implications of local crime, Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Lieutenant Nathan Douglas of District 3 concerning Crime Prevention and Dan Webb, President Newport Property Owners Association and Security Director of Public Safety in Newport to speak of neighborhood crime interdiction and combatting identity theft.

It is important to keep in mind that this is not for the purpose of bemoaning the impact of crimes in the past. It is not to point fingers and complain that government has not stopped crime for us. It is to be the point at which local residents become tired of these crime and begin to act in concert to make crime more difficult to get away with and therefore less profitable locally.

Highlands man stuns Florida deputies

DeFuniak Springs, Fla. – A Highlands man gained national attention through his alleged antics here on March 3.

A vehicle fire on Interstate 10 in Walton County led to an unprecedented chain of events, including two stolen vehicles and a handcuffed suspect stealing a third car, a patrol car.

Early that Friday morning at about 9:50 a.m. Walton County Sheriffs Deputies responded to a vehicle fire near mile marker 85 on I-10. After the fire was extinguished it was discovered the vehicle was stolen out of DeFuniak Springs and was purposely set on fire following a crash.

Shortly after, a resident on Bob Sykes Road noticed a man sitting inside a Jeep he had rented. It looked as if an attempt to steal the Jeep was in progress. The suspect was detained at gunpoint until deputies arrived.

The suspect, identified as Cody Dwayne Hynum, 30, with a Highlands, Texas driver’s license, was cuffed and put in the back of a patrol car.

Normally that is the end of the story. It is really where this one begins.

Following his arrest it was determined Hynum had also burglarized a carport and stolen a Ford F-150 truck, which was abandoned nearby after an apparent wreck rendered it disabled.

While deputies were working both crime scenes, Hynum kicked out the rear driver’s side window and, still cuffed, was able to get out of the vehicle and gain access to the driver’s seat.

Down Woodyard Road the suspect fled. Driving without hands and in a patrol car. Hynum then hit a private citizen’s fence, punched through, drove down a driveway and struck a barrier at the road. Another vehicle disabled.

The suspect fled from the patrol vehicle into the nearby woods. The deputies were not thrown off the trail by this however as they watched him bunny hop into the wooded area. Hynum was tased during his apprehension by deputies after a short foot pursuit.

Hynum was charged with escape, two counts of grand theft auto with damages over $1,000, two counts of burglary, larceny over a $1,000, criminal mischief over $1,000, resisting arrest with violence, and fleeing and eluding.

He was taken to a local hospital to be evaluated and later booked into the Walton County Jail. Additional charges may be forthcoming. He has made statements to Walton County Sheriff’s Deputies that he was on “meth” and “flakka.”

A native of Mississippi, it may be some time before Hynum returns.

County will test additional wells

Harris County has announced that they will test additional private water wells in Highlands and Channelview. The project is named Phase II Drinking Water Well Sampling Project, and is a joint collaboration between Pct. 2, Pollution Control, and Public Health departments of the county.

It is being paid for by funds from the settlement obtained from the PRP (Potential Responsibile Parties) in the Waste Pits lawsuit. Private wells in the 77530 and 77562 zip codes are eligible, if they meet other criteria listed below. (SEE MAP BELOW FOR PURPLE AREAS). If you are qualified, you must call 713-274-0911 before March 10 to register. Calls will be returned with an acknowledgement.

Testing will be performed at no cost to homeowners, and results will be provided to each.

Qualification Criteria:

— Property Owner must sign a consent form;

— Property must be located in areas shown on the map;

— Drinking water on property must be provided from a single family, privately owned residential well, with no other water source;

— Properties that were previously sampled in Phase I are not eligible for resampling.

DA won’t prosecute minor marijuana cases

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Thursday a new program to deal with cases of low amounts of marijuana that she described as part of a new era in the county’s criminal justice system.

Under Texas law, having four ounces or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor.

Starting March 1st, people caught with that amount, or lower, will get a second chance before going to jail.

“You will be offered a chance to sign an acknowledgement form promising to take a decision making class, a cognitive decision making class. Takes four hours and costs $150. You’ll be required to do that within 90 days,” Ogg explained during a press conference held at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center, located in downtown Houston.

One of the arguments Ogg made was the high cost of arrests and prosecutions for these types of cases.

The District Attorney estimated the county spends about $26 million per year on misdemeanor marijuana cases.

She also said the program is in accordance with Texas law because of the discretion prosecutors have.

Kevin Buckler, an associate professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Houston-Downtown, agrees with the District Attorney’s reasoning.

“Prosecutors have tremendous discretion in terms of filing charges, police have tremendous street-level discretion in terms of how they handle cases,” Buckler said.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez praised the initiative and, on behalf of the City of Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner and the Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo did the same.

Acevedo thinks it can help his department improve public safety.

“What matters most to the people of Houston isn’t somebody with a baggy of marijuana, what matters most to them is what’s going on with burglaries of our residences, burglaries of our vehicles, armed robbery, sexual assaults. We are going to focus on being smart on crime, focused on crime,” Acevedo commented at the end of the press conference referring to the possibility the program will help HPD use its resources more effectively.

However, some members of the regional law enforcement community have expressed their opposition to the initiative.

Brett Ligon, District Attorney for Montgomery County, criticized Ogg’s program and said in a news release that his county wouldn’t implement a similar program to avoid becoming “a sanctuary for dope smokers.”

“BRAS” RAISES $145,000 TO BATTLE CANCER

The Crosby community once again rallied and showed their overwhelming generosity and support of Crosby Fair and Rodeo’s TETWP event on Saturday, February 11, 2017 at the Crosby American Legion Hall.

Preliminary reports show over $145,000 was raised at the 6th annual event. The committee chose a theme of “Together We Can Make a Difference” with all cancer recognized throughout the room with different awareness cancer colors. The theme was continued by the BFC committee ladies who chose a colored scarf to represent a cancer that has touched their lives in some way, through family, friends, etc.

100% of proceeds will benefit people in our community and surrounding areas that are fighting cancer.

19 male celebrity models participated in a fashion show modeling bras designed by family and friends. Some of the themes included, the perfect little Barbie Girl (aka Jeffrey Sparks). Tyler Forrest was the “Lone Ranger” and Shannon Wilkes modeled in a gorilla suit with a theme of ‘Bananas for Boobies’. RD Burnside of Baytown, modeled a “Bubble Bra,” which was bought by Hotchkiss Disposal. Even CHS High School Teacher of the Year, Yancey Price joined in the fun and modeled “The Luck of the Irish “ Bra. Teaque Schexnayder modeled in his Daisy Dukes , which brought over $10,000. Teaque’s bra was bought by Oilwell Tubular. His cousin, Jacob Schexnayder, really got the party going with a Mardi Gras theme. Jacob’s bra was bought by Johnathan Bohannon and Jeanne Shipp, co-founders/managing partners of Patients ER. They bought Jacob’s bra for $25, 000 and Oilwell Tubular added another $10,000 on top of that!

Charles Adams, Attorney/Partner and Host of “Pursuit of Texas” Radio, served as MC. DJ Jeff provided the music and Bill Busby served as auctioneer. Gary Clifton welcomed the sold out crowd, and David Bernard from Houston Methodist San Jacinto explained how Pink Heals funds have helped local people in the past year with day to day living expenses while receiving treatment for various types of cancer. Jennifer Loggins and Michele Eaglin served as photographers, and Demeris Catering provided the meal.

Kay Schexnayder, of Crosby, describes the BFC event from Saturday night as……”A special group of amazing men who came out of their comfort zone by wearing bras decorated in a wide variety of themes. These awesome men had the courage to model their bra in front of hundreds of people, all in an effort to raise money in support of those with Cancer! Together they raised over $100,000!!!! This was the 4th year I attended the annual event and it was the most emotional. The night and the cause is not about any one person, or any one type of Cancer. It is about helping people in the community that need help when they are going through such a difficult time in their lives. I am so thankful for every model that participated and for the committee members, volunteers, and everyone who attended that helped make the night a success. I am especially proud of my entire family.”

The BFC committee is overwhelmed each year by the generous support of the Crosby Community and the willingness of men in our community to step up and model bras in support of local cancer patients. We feel blessed and very lucky to live in the community of Crosby. The stories that we receive about patients who have been helped through the proceeds of this event warms our hearts and confirms our drive to continue this great service for anyone in need. There were lots of smiles on Saturday night! Thank you Crosby Community!

Young Farmers score with Donkey Ball

A DONKEY PLAYER scores a second basket as Crosby Fair & Rodeo members, like Coy Hearn, try to distract in an attempt to win a game without cooperative mounts. Donkey Basketball is like Polo is to soccer only with donkeys and no dribbling. Except the donkey’s dribble a little. The quest is to make baskets and stay mounted. According to Chairman Wilton Schexnader, “Our goal is to support Crosby F.F.A., teaching students Ag. Science, welding, mechanics, group involvement in numerous learning activities and basics in building knowledge, character and professionalism.

Crosby Firefighter heroes recognized

KEMAH – The Crosby Volunteer Fire Dept. Annual Firefighter’s Banquet was held Jan. 28 and this year especially recognized the bravery of the people that rush in to confront danger when everyone else is rushing out.

Guest speakers include the General Sales Manger of Turner Chevrolet, David Mendez, recounting his own experience in having his life saved by first responders.

Randy Foster, ESD#80 Commissioer spoke of the progress and future development of CVFD.

At Landry’s Restaurant in Kemah at the Annual Firefighter’s Banquet Kevin Barker was recognized for heroism. The award was presented by Russell White, who at the time had believed he was first at the scene when he saw Barker emerging with a man surrounded by smoke.

Firefighter Kevin Barker may well have saved a resident Saturday, August 6, when he braved a fence, a dog and a locked door to get the man out of his smoking house.

On his way to work the Crosby Volunteer Fireman saw a neighbor’s house smoking at about 4:28 p.m. on August 6. Barker was bitten three time by the dog and had to knock down the door to get a man out of a house that was about to erupt into flames.

Neighbors say Jerome Ulrich had lived at the residence for decades.

Harris County Fire Marshals investigated the blaze and determined that there was cause to do an extensive investigation, but it is safe to say if Kevin Barker had not come along on his way to work and been brave enough to withstand all the obstacles the result would probably have been tragic.

The fire may have restarted in as many as three locations. An arrest for trespassing was done by Harris County Sheriff’s Deputies of a couple found to be dwelling nearby behind the residence. The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office were going to interview the couple however the initial contact Sunday morning found the two incapacitated.

Lifesaving was the repeated theme of the banquet and the repeated service of the Ladies Auxilary went noticed early and long during the ceremony.

“When they give you a water, you better drink it.” mused Russell White.

Making America Great T-shirts cause controversy

CROSBY – A free speech controversy arose on Inauguration Day in the form of teacher’s expressions of ideology on t-shirts.

On Jan. 20, the day Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as the President of the United States, some teachers wore T-shirts that said, “Make America Great Again.”

They were asked by principals to go home and change the t-shirts.

According to Dr. Keith Moore Superintendent of Crosby ISD a few teachers were asked to go home and change their shirts, they complied and continued to work.

Before the day, Dr. Keith Moore had made the following statements to principals in Crosby ISD, “Please note, I do not want our campuses to ever become a political platform. I am respectful of everyone’s opinion and who they do or do not support. But politics has become too divisive and visibly expressing those opinions, particularly on clothing does no good in educating our children. Conversely, it’s main affect is to divide our staff, parents and even students. I know that people get excited about their candidates, I do too. But our Priority is educating all of our children. Therefore, please ensure that we do not have political signs, clothing etc. on our campuses. This includes slogans associated with various politicians.

I also believe it is okay to watch this and all inaugurations as long as we do so in a neutral manner. ”

Some parties that wish to remain unanimous had stated that 8 years ago Obama supporters were allowed to wear “Hope and Change” Tee-shirts. And ay that many teachers did not return to work that day.

Dr. Moore disagrees with that statement. “I recall always having the same stance regardless of party affiliation.

Ruben Lopez Jr. named Highlands Firefighter of the Year

HIGHLANDS– The Volunteer Fire Department held their 2017 Installation Banquet and Awards ceremony Saturday night, January 14th at the Monument Inn.

Named to the top award as Firefighter of the Year by popular vote of the firemen, was Firefighter Ruben Lopez, Jr. The award was presented by Jim Strouhal, president of the ESD#14 board.

This award is given in memory of Cecil Kelly, who volunteered with the Highlands VFD for over 42 years before retiring in 1996. The recipient chosen by vote of the membership is a firefighter who performed above and beyond the call of duty.

A large crowd of firemen and families, friends, community supporters, and board members attended the dinner. Fire Chief Harvey Little emceed the ceremony, introducing awards, guests, and honorees.

Chief Little also reviewed the department accomplishments and history of service calls for 2016. Some remodeling in Station 17 was accomplished, and construction started on Station 27 on E. Wallisville Road in March.

Chief Little reported on accomplishments in the training of new members, and training and certification of existing firefighters. Currently 21 members have a SFFMA certificate.

The Chief also reported on EMS accomplishments for 2016. There were 227 major trauma calls, including heart attacks and strokes. The department success rate was 55% in getting a return to circulation enroute to the hospital. This department now has 22 part time paid crew. One ambulance is manned 24 hours, 7 days a week, every day of the year. The other ambulance runs at Peak Hours, 8 am to 6 pm. Response time averages 6 minutes.

Chief Little reviewed the history of the department for 2016. He noted that there were 2553 calls for service, compared with last year’s 2489. 1870 EMS calls of which 941 required transport to a hospital, and 738 fire responses, about the same as last year. Life Flight was called 25 times, compared with 20 last year. The department responded to 188 Motor Vehicle Accidents.

Membership in the HVFD stands at 71: 40 regular, 7 apprentices, 2 juniors, 18 retirees (not in the total), 22 EMS part-time.

Service Awards were presented to members of the department. Other awards presented by Chief Little included Citizen of the Year, to Leslie Selph, and Business of the Year, to David Sellers Full Service Auto Repair.

Junior Firefighter of the Year went to Ryan Lopez, and Rookie of the Year t