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Posts published in “Day: July 1, 2004

July 4 – More than a BBQ… by U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson

This Fourth of July weekend, thousands of Texans will gather with family and friends, fire up the grill, ice down some drinks and sit back and enjoy one of our nation’s favorite holidays, Independence Day. In 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed, there were 2.5 million people living in the 13 colonies. Today, there are more than 293 million Americans inhabiting 50 states, who will celebrate the founding of our great nation. And the Declaration that secured our independence still stands as the foundation of our democracy.

This quintessentially American celebration gives each of us an opportunity to commemorate the birth of our country and reflect on the day when dedicated patriots founded a nation based on freedom. Marquis De Lafayette, the Frenchman who was so moved by the American quest for independence, he crossed the Atlantic to join our battle said it this way, “Humanity has won its battle. Liberty now has a country.”

For 228 years now, America has been synonymous with liberty. It is rooted in our heart and soul. It is woven into the fabric of our being. As a current television advertisement states, “‘Don’t fence us in’, is practically our national motto.” We are the embodiment of freedom to people everywhere, which is why thousands of people still arrive from the far reaches of the globe on our shores each year. They come in search of a better life for their families and a greater hope for their future.
So, the Fourth of July is more than a birthday party – it is a celebration of our hard-fought freedom and our God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is also a time to honor those who continue the battle against terror and oppression to keep our freedom secure.

Today we are engaged in a struggle as fierce and as vital as any our nation has faced in its short history. Today’s war on terrorism is a fight for freedom.

American soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq face the modern threat of terrorism. But while the tactics are more violent, the motives more insidious and the means more destructive, this enemy shares the common goal of all enemies throughout history: destroying freedom. We must not – and we will not – let them win.

Last year, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld addressed our troops on the Fourth of July, saying, “You are the men and women who are fighting this new war. Your gallantry and courage in the face of evil has stirred the souls of all Americans. Day after day, week after week, they have seen your faces and read your stories. They have shared your sorrows and celebrated your victories. And in each one of you they see reflected their deeply-felt honor, pride and patriotism. Through your valor and sacrifice, our Republic has been strengthened and renewed.”

I could not agree more. Our troops, many of whom call Texas home, face a difficult and challenging task, yet they do it with bravery and with honor. I have visited them in the battlefields and I have seen their commitment firsthand. They know the gravity of their mission and the importance of their success. These proud patriots serve with distinction and deserve our gratitude.

This year, remember that it’s more than a backyard BBQ, red-white-and-blue streamers, downtown parade or fireworks display – the Fourth of July is a celebration of the freedoms afforded to us as citizens of the United States of America. This year, as you set out to enjoy your holiday take a moment to remember those who are sacrificing their personal safety, and even their lives, so that you may enjoy yours.

God Bless America and Happy Fourth of July.

Church Bloopers…

It is time for a few laughs.

Sometime ago a longtime Union Carbide buddy of mine, also a Methodist Minister, sent me a group of “mistakes” in church bulletins. None from his church I presume!

I have used some “joke” columns for laughter in other papers now and then. Perhaps you Star-Courier readers will enjoy these. Take time out in this hot summer and laugh a little.

…The Rector will preach his farewell message after which the choir will sing “Break Forth into Joy.”
…At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be “What is Hell?” Come early and hear our choir practice.
…Eight new robes are currently needed, due to the addition of several new members and the deterioration of some older ones.
…Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
…Miss Charlene Mason sang, “I Will Not Pass This Way Again,” giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

…Attend and you will hear an excellent speaker and heave a health lunch.
…The sermon this morning: “Jesus Walks on Water.” The sermon tonight: “Searching for Jesus.”
…During the absence of our Pastor, we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when J. F. Stubbs supplied our pulpit.
…The Associate Minister unveiled the church’s new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday, “I Upped My Pledge – Up Yours.”

…Our youth basketball team is back in action Wednesday at 8 p. m. Come out and watch us kill Christ the King.
…The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been canceled due to a conflict.
…Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don’t forget your husbands.
…For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
…Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 at the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
…The Lutheran men’s group will meet at 6 p. m. Steak, mashed potatoes, green beans and dessert will be served for a nominal feel.
…Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. is done.
…Weight Watchers will meet at 7 p. m. at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use the large double doors at the side entrance.

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

Prison escapees captured in Highlands

HIGHLANDS – Three Liberty County inmates who escaped from jail last week were apprehended June 26 at a residence in Highlands.

At approximately 5:45 p.m. federal marshals, acting on a tip, entered a residence in the 800 block of S. Main Street, across from St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church, where they apprehended Lloyd F. Lowe, Daniel J. Redden and Jasper S. Rivera. When they were arrested, the three had shaved their heads and were wearing civilian clothes.

Liberty County Sheriff Greg Arthur said that the three were arrested without incident, although one marshal reportedly sustained a minor injury during the arrest.

Lajoy Ann Soileau, 31, Lowe’s girlfriend, was also arrested for aiding an escape.

When the arrest was made, Arthur said that a 12-guage shotgun was in the escapees’ possession, although the inmates did not fire the weapon.

The trio escaped from the old Liberty County jail on June 23, just after 1 a.m. During the escape, the three overpowered a guard and took his keys. When they were unable to use the keys to escape, it is believed that they were able to gain access to the crawl space about the ceiling and knock out bricks in an exterior wall.

At the time of the escape, Rivera and Redden were being held in the jail as they waiting transfers by U.S. Marshals. Rivera is serving a sentence for armed car jacking and felony possession of a firearm. Redden is serving a 130-month sentence for conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamines.

Lowe was being held on aggravated robbery and burglary charges. He is believed to have been part of an armed robbery that took place on April 6 in Raywood. During the robbery and home invasion, police said that Lowe and two others led Daisetta police on a high speed chase which eventually ended with an officer fatally shooting one of the suspects.

After the escape, it is believed that the trio stole a gray 2002 Ford Mustang in Liberty, which they drove to Harris County. One area residents reported seeing a vehicle matching the license plate of the car on Beltway 8 near Wallisville Road just after 4 p.m. the day of the arrest.

During an interview with police, Lowe said they made numerous location changes over the four-day period and had not been at the Main St. location very long when caught. After the arrest, the three were taken to a federal building in Houston where federal and state escape and assault on a correction officer charges are expected to be filed.

Historic Lynchburg Ferry To Get New Boats

LYNCHBURH – Harris County Precinct Two Commissioner Sylvia R. Garcia announced today that the Commissioners Court has unanimously approved a plan for the purchase of two new boats at the Lynchburg Ferry.

“Since I took office last year, maintaining this historic service has been a priority,” said Commissioner Garcia. “I considered the history of this service, the importance to East Harris County as a transit route and as an engine of economic development.”

The court action will allow Harris County to borrow money for the purchase of the boats after the design and engineering is complete. Precinct Two funds will be used to pay off the loan.

“I have instructed my staff to assemble a design and engineering team to design ferries that will meet the unique transportation needs of Precinct Two while keeping the Lynchburg Ferry’s historical importance in perspective,” Commissioner Garcia said. “The design and construction is expected to take a minimum of 18 months.”

A preliminary estimate of $2.6-million for two new ferries has been used in discussions about this project. That figure comes from a study conducted for the county by Wilbur Smith Associates. The comprehensive study looked at every aspect of ferry operations and usage.

Commissioner Garcia also formed a Community Advisory Committee to ensure that the needs and concerns of area residents would be heard.

The two ferry boats, the Ross S. Sterling and the William P. Hobby, when built, were estimated to have a useful life of 30 years. At more than 40 years old, the two ferries are becoming increasingly more expensive to operate and maintain.

Crosby chooses Flanigan as coach/AD

CROSBY – In an unexpected turn of events, the Crosby ISD chose Orangfield ISD Athletic Director Kevin Flanigan over presumed front-runner Alan Waddell as their next athletic director and head football coach.

The Crosby school board met in executive session for 40 minutes last Friday night before returning to open session, where trustee Earl Boykin made a motion to hire Flanigan for a two-year contract.

The motion passed 4-2, with trustees Joann Crawford and John Victor casting the dissenting votes. Trustee Carla Winfont was out of town and could not attend the meeting. Crawford and Victor said that they were voting against the motion not because of the candidate, but against the selection process.

Crosby utilized a five-person committee made up of a representative from the administration, a girlsÕ sports coach and three members of the community. Hendrix said the committee unanimously recommended Flanigan for the post. Crawford said that she would have preferred if board members would have been part of the interview process and that she didnÕt like voting for a man she had never met.

It was this decision that Crawford said was wrong. Crawford said that the board should have been given the opportunity to meet with each candidate before making a decision. Dr. Don Hendrix, superintendent of the district, reminded Crawford that in his 18 years of service to the district, the board has never hired a person that was not recommended by the administration and that it was not usual for them to bypass the administration by reviewing candidates before voting on their employment.

ÒI came into this blindfolded,Ó Crawford said.
Trustee Dan Kasprzak defended the committee process. ÒAs far as I know, the process was fair.Ó

ÒIf we cannot trust that committee,” added Trustee John Lindsey, Òhow can they trust us?Ó

Hendrix said that he was impressed with Waddell and his credentials, ÒI was bowled over by him both as a coach and a person.Ó However, when parents spoke out at a June 21 school meeting and asked that the district find an AD who would care about all sports, not just football, Hendrix said that the decision to form the committee was made. ÒWe had to have public confidence in the process.Ó

Hendrix said that Flanigan has assured him that female sports would receive the same attention as male sports, an area which some parents had expressed both publicly and in e-mails to him.

Flanigan has served as Orangefield AD and head football coach since 2000. During that time he has been to the 3A state playoffs once (2000), twice been named Orange County Coach of the Year (2002 and 2003) and this past season coached the Bobcats to an 8-4 record and Bi-District championship.

Before coming to Orangfield, he was head coach and AD for the Troup ISD, where they advanced to the state 2A semi-finals (1998) and was District 19-2A runner-up in 1999. He has also served as defensive coordinator and head strength and conditioning coach at Caldwell High School, where his students set three state powerlifting records and in 1997 were Regional Champs.

Going into the meeting, it was believed that Waddell, a former LaMarque Head Coach and Texas A&M University assistant coach, would be the choice. Hendrix said that the committee felt that Flanigan better suited their profile of an AD and coach as someone who was willing to put down roots in the community and who was willing to give equal time to all sports, both boys and girls.

In an ironic twist, Flanigan served as a wide receivers coach under former Crosby Coach Larry Haynes at Clear Lake, He was also considered a front-runner during a recent search for a replacement at Sterling High School.

New officers, board at Highlands Rotary

HIGHLANDS – In continueation of a tradition that started over 50 years ago, the local Rotary Club has installed Patricia Herndon Scott as their new president for 2004-2005. But this year the installation had an added feature – PatriciaÕs father, retired Highlands dentist Dr. W. L. Herndon, who is a past president of the club, participated in the swearing-in ceremony.

Dr. Herndon was in active dental practice in Houston, and a leader in Highlands Rotary, from the late 50Õs until the mid 80Õs. After his retirement, Dr. White and Dr. Sutton continued serving his patients. He was president of the club in 1956-57. Both he and his wife Nell are Paul Harris Fellows.

The festivities were held at Walden on Lake Houston Country Club on June 18th, with installing officials Constable Ken Jones, Judge Mike Parrott, and Judge Tony Polumbo.

In addition to the president, officers and board were installed, and recognition awards were made for service to the club and the community.

New officers are: Pres. Patricia Scott, 1st VP Steve Miller, Sec. Jeremy Rosenkranz, Treas. Charlie Ward, Sergeant-at-Arms Richard Robinson, and Past Pres. Joe Hausberger.

Board members and their areas of responsibility are: Club activities, Johnny Gaeke; International, Raymond Gonzalez; Vocational, Billy Holder; Community, Robert Woodall; Programs, Gilbert Hoffman, Scholarships Dr. Larry White.

The Highlands Rotary Club has distinguished itself by raising over $300,000 for community projects. It is also known throughout the 55 club Houston district 5890 for its Chili Feast and truck raffle, which raised more money per member than most any other district club.

$7.4 Million award to Crosby woman in Metabolife case

HOUSTON – A Crosby woman who sued diet supplement giant Metabolife International after developing brain damage from a stroke, was awarded a $7.4 million judgment by a jury last week.

According to court documents, Rhea McAllister said that in April 2002 she suffered a stroke a month after she began taking Metabolife 356. McAllister, who was 33 at the time, said that Metabolife International knowingly sold a dangerous product whose main ingredient, ephedra, has been named as a cause of heart attacks, stroke and seizures.

The jury awarded her $2.4 for damages and another $5 million in punitive damages.

McAllisterÕs attorney, Edward Blizzard, said that the stroke symptoms occurred over several days that that his client still suffers adverse affects from the incident.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Òthe principal ingredient ephedrine is an amphetamine-like compound that can powerfully stimulate the nervous system and heart.Ó Ephedra is also used in Chinese medicine under the name Ma huang.

Attorneys for Metabolife International said that they never received any complaints that their supplement was dangerous. The FDA disagrees. They said that Metabolife failed to report some 13,000 complaints dealing with health conditions. During the trial, the plaintiffs brought up a prior arrest by Metabolife creator Michael Ellis related to methamphetamines (also known as speed) production. Ellis is a former police officer and San Diego businessman who was arrested in 1992 in connection with a methamphetamine lab near his Rancho Santa Fe estate. During the raid, police seized enough chemical supplies to make 500 pounds of the drug. Ephedra is a main component in the drug.

The same year Ellis launched the ephedra-based herbal supplement Fosslip. Commercially unsuccessful, he reformulated the supplement and released it in 1995 as Metabolife356.

On April 12, the FDA published a final ruling that banned the sale of dietary supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids, like those in Metabolife. Following the ruling, the company pulled their product and released a non-ephedra version.

This is not the first time that Metabolife International has been sued over their product.

In 2002, Connie Thornburg of Fayetteville, Al. was awarded a $4.6 million judgment.

Anyone have a cup of sugar?

The Mrs. asked me to
– make some extra
– blackberry jam so she can take it to the
granddaughters in Pennsylvania next month. Told her I would since that is one little chore I rather enjoy doing. I decided to make two batches instead of one. Mind you, a batch of blackberry jam is five cups of berry juice and six and a half cups of sugar.

Checking the ingredients, I had plenty of blackberries, a lots of sugar and two pouches of Sure Gel along with another case of store bought pint jars with rings and seals; I was ready to start jamming. Got one batch cooked, canned and cooling on the counter which equaled almost six pints. Sieved the next batch of berries and had them in the cooker on the stove. I was measuring sugar for the next batch in a separate bowl and came up about a little over a cup short.

“Horse feathers!” I said, and had to shut everything down and drive to the store for another bag of sugar to complete the process. A bit of inconvenienced and somewhat frustrated, I finished the product with a final tally of ten pints. An incredible amount of sugar is involved in putting up blackberry jam so next time IÕll have an extra bag of sugar set back.

One of my buds from Day Lake called and said the water is at 31 feet level and no telling when it will stop rising. Boy howdy, thatÕs all I need another mud party at the cabin cleaning with no attendees. Sure enough, I got on the computer and checked USGSÕs web site @ ( for the water level for the Trinity River @ Liberty, TX. Water was at 25 feet and a huge sigh of relief was forth coming not to mention a phone call to my friend whose cabin is next to ours down there. Water does not enter the cabin of this old Snake Charmer until it gets to 29 feet then we got waterfront property.

I told the Mrs. that I was thinking of selling the cabin. Somehow or Ônother, I think she likes for me and the Four Dog to go to the cabin so she can have her peace and quiet at times too. Maybe IÕll just keep it.

The Henderson boys are cooking fish for a benefit at the Boat Club on July 10th for Hopelene Johnson. There will be some of my chowchow available at the silent auction as well as a limited supply of blackberry jam so come on down, starts at 11:00.

What did the fish say when it hit the wall? Dam.