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Posts published in “Day: July 15, 2004

Man drowns trying to rescue daughters

HUFFMAN – At about 8:30 p.m. on July 12, Jose Gilberto Martinez saw his young daughters start to drift away on their rubber raft in Lake Houston, according to witness accounts.

The girls were wearing life jackets but became distressed as the wind began to take their raft away from the proximity of their father, according to assessments of Houston Police Department’s Lake Patrol.

Mr. Martinez at that time began swimming out to the girls but went under the water, witnesses say.

The girls were rescued from a pier by a local woman that used pole to pulled them to safety.

“They called out to him, according to the lady, so he tried to swim out to them and just didnÕt have the strength to make it out to where they were at,” said Richard Robinson at the scene.

H.P.D. Lake Patrol Officers White and Fowler answered the call and began to search for Mr. Martinez. HPD Dive Teams arrived shortly thereafter and brought sonar equipment that would find the body of the 38 year old man at about 1:40 a.m. near the 100 block of the Atascocita Exit.

Martinez lived in Porter in the 16000 block of Live Oak Square Drive.

According to Officer Fowler, “It is important to know your limitations when you set out to swim.”

West Nile Virus confirmed in Baytown

BAYTOWN – West Nile Virus, which first showed up in Northeast Houston earlier this summer, has been discovered in Baytown.
The Harris County Health Department has confirmed that West Nile Virus was found in a mosquito trapped in the Chaparral Subdivision in late June.

According to the health department, people who are over 50 or who are compromised immune systems are most vulnerable to the illness. However, they said that only about one percent of cases become severe. Initial symptoms of West Nile virus include swollen lymph glands, low-grade fever and headache. In more sever cases, the illness can cause muscle weakness, disorientation, brain inflammation and in the most extreme cases death. They say that symptoms usually are notices five to 15 days after exposure.

The health department says that the best way to protect oneself is to eliminate breeding grounds such as standing water in potted plant, and rain gutters. They also suggest wearing long sleeves and pants at dusk, when the culex mosquitos are most active and use of a insect repellant.

Mike Lester, Baytown Health Department director, said they have stepped up evening mosquitos spraying schedules in response to the countyÕs discovery.

Bizarre wreck hurts mom, son, charges questioned

CROSBY – A pregnant mother and her two year old son were injured when their van was rear ended by a Dodge pickup truck on June 24 at the intersection of Krenek Rd. and FM 2100.

Harris County Sheriff’s Deputies reports indicate the accident occurred that Thursday at about 4:30 p.m. According to the report, the driver of the van, Danyel Reuter, of Highlands, was sitting at the red light on FM 2100 with her two year old son in back seat when the van was struck by the pickup of Eugene Edward Blake of Crosby.

The report indicates that Blake’s license was suspended. He was charged with Failure to Control Speed and No Proof of Financial Responsibility.

Contributing factors to the accident were cited by Deputy Paul Begley of the Wallisville Substation as failure to control speed and taking medication. The report is indicated as final.

Sources indicate Blake’s license was suspended for medical reasons.

Alleged dognappers going after pit bulls

HIGHLANDS – Harris County Precinct 3 Constables deputies are on the look out for at least two men that allegedly take pit bulls from their local owners possibly for resale in much further south markets.

Two men were reportedly observed bestowing some rough treatment upon five pit bulls near the racetrack in Highlands.

A passerby allegedly bought one of the dogs from the men for $50 to keep it from the rough treatment. The dog purchased was said to be the most tame of the five.

According to the man that bought the dog, the men in possession of the dogs said they were just trying to sell them.

The Pit Bull Samaritan later noticed that the dog had a collar with a tag and returned it to the rightful owner on Grace Lane.

The men were described as black males driving a blue and grey primer old truck and a maroon car. Grace Lane residents said that they had observed the Maroon car driving slowly up and down Grace Lane.

The suspects are not wanted on charges at this time.

Residents are advised to keep special watch over their pets and call Precinct 3 Constable Deputies at 281-427-4791 if they observe any suspicious activity.

Goose Creek hires new RSS, Hopper principals

BAYTOWN – The Goose Creek CISD Board of Trustees, Monday night, unanimously approved the hiring of two new principals for highlands area schools.

Trey Kraemer has been selected as the new principal of Sterling high School, while David davis is expected to take the reins at Hopper Primary School.

Kraemer will replace Sterling principal and longtime district employee Frank Hutchins. Hutchins announced his retirement in June. Davis will step into the spot being vacated by Betty OÕSullivan at Hopper.

According to Goose Creek officials, eight candidates were interviewed for the Sterling post, two of them coming from within the district. In the end, trustees went outside the district for the position.

Kraemer currently serves as principal of Galena ParkÕs ninth and tenth grade high school campus. The campus serves 2,089 students. Sterling has approximately 2,400 students. Hutchins is expected to stay on through the beginning of the fall semester to assist with the transition.

Davis comes to Highlands also from out of district. Goose Creek officials would not elaborate on DavisÕ background before press-time.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen…

Back in the kitchen again so if you ainÕt interested; get out of the kitchen.

Jammed a lot this past week and just about getting tard of it; made some jelly too.

ItÕs like Òeat whatÕs on your plateÓ; so when people give me produce; I do something with it rather than let it go to waste.

Received Cow Horn peppers that ended up in 3 quarts and two pints. Froze a bunch of fresh okra too, and no, I did not blanch it, I washed it and dried it, bagged it then stuck it in the freezer.

The accompanying bell peppers were sliced and placed in the pepper sauce making it colorful as the peppers were red.

A lady at the church gave me a whole bunch of crab apples and I ainÕt talking a gallon.

Never put up any crab apple jelly before but with use of Google and the Internet, I copied six various ways to do the hard little apples with stems that are tuffer than plastic.

Ended up with a nice batch of the pinkish, sweet stuff and the Mrs. has been eyeing my production line to take some to Pennsylvania.

Oh, I did buy several bags of Bing Cherries @ Kroger when they were on sale. Found a cherry pitter in Webster @ Bed Bath and Beyond. Sure wish I had not bought so many cherries as even with the pitting tool, it is most tedious to get the seeds out; itÕs worser than shelling butter beans if you savvy.

The crab apple jelly called for cheese cloth, and it ainÕt in the cheese section of the store. Supermarkets donÕt carry it and if they do, they donÕt know where it is either. I walked the aisles up and down in Wal-Mart: so did the associate.

ÒCLOTHÓ, I thought, and went to where they had the bolts of cloth and shoÕnuff, the lady said, ÒRight over hereÓ. A yard cost me 59¢.

ÒJARS.Ó Lots of people must be doing canning as regular jars have been zilch in two Food Towns and Kroger, so I ended up going to Wal-Mart where the supply was awesome. The manufacturers of jars have discontinued the packaging of jars in cardboard boxes that fold over the top. Now they are using plastic wrap on the top half of the box and eliminated the cardboard jar separator inside. IÕm keeping all of my old fold over boxes.

Wide mouth jars are plentiful in the stores that I visited but IÕm old fashion, I like the regular mouth type. Enough big mouths in the world as it is and they take up more space.

The nicest thing about the future is that it always starts tomorrow.

If you donÕt have a sense of humor, you probably donÕt have any sense at all.

Cypress Creek EMS disagrees with recent coverage

Cypress Creek EMS is concerned that your article of June 10th, 2004 titled “Huffman medics’ CPR investigated” does not accurately portray our treatment of cardiac arrest patients or the “controversy” surrounding the issue. We offer the following to clear up any misunderstandings.

CCEMS has a long history of providing nationally recognized award winning service to the citizens of our community. There is no current, past, or anticipated investigation into our treatment protocols.

On April 12th, 2004, CCEMS Medical Director Levon Vartanian, MD implemented several important changes in the way we perform Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Defibrillation in order to increase the number of lives saved for victims of cardiac arrest.

While CCEMS continues to strongly support the use of Automatic External Defibrillators for victims of cardiac arrest (we have placed over 100 AED’s in our community) we now have our responders perform 90 seconds of chest compressions before using the AED. This has been shown to dramatically enhance survival when response times are greater than 4 minutes. We do not tell responders “not to use the AED” as quoted in your article.

We continue to require that our personnel provide ventilation during cardiac arrest. The only exception to this would be the rare circumstance where one of our single person responders (e.g. law enforcement officer) was “unable to perform ventilations”.

According to Jerry Potts, Director of Science for Emergency Cardiac Care Programs at the American Heart Association, the memo from Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services “misrepresents our policy in such matters”. Dr. Potts goes on to say that the AHA publishes “Guidelines” and that each agency should “develop policies and practices that best accommodate the specific needs of their patient base” exactly as we have done in this instance.

We are not alone in implementing this change. Other leading services like Seattle’s Medic One and the Richmond Ambulance Authority are also seeing positive results. Our long history of being a leader in our field is a result of having methods in place to rapidly deploy advancements in patient care. CCEMS should be applauded for rapidly adopting the latest science to benefit the patients in our community, not be made subject to allegations of controversy and “investigation”. Perhaps a better title to your story would have been “Huffman medics implement new life saving procedures”.

If anyone has questions or would like to be educated on this material we urge you to please contact us at 281.440.9650.

Allen Sims, EMT-P
Director of Operations

Levon Vartanian, MD
Medical Director

Salary raise, policy changes approved for Goose Creek

By Ken Mitchell

BAYTOWN – Most Goose Creek teachers will get a $1,500 raise next year after board members approved the salary increase at MondayÕs meeting. All district employees will get a 3.5 percent raise next year based on a midpoint system, similar to an average salary, designed by the Texas Association of School Boards. With adjustments for some employees for years of experience, the raise will cost the district $3.7 million.

“I do believe we can handle a 3.5 percent pay raise for all of our employees,Ó said Superintendent Barbara Sultis. ÒI think itÕs the right thing to do.Ó

Katie Bowman, director of accounting, told trustees that the raise is possible because the districtÕs tax base will increase by a little more than $3 million next year. District administrators previously suggested a 2.5 or 3percent raise but elevated it to 3.5 percent after about $2 million more in taxes was discovered.

Trustee Rosa Rodriguez, who has voiced a desire to give teachers higher raises at previous meetings, again asked if $1,500 was all the district could do.

ÒI guess we can consider printing money because we only have one source of funds, and that is the taxable value of our district,Ó said trustee Clarence Albus.

Bowman emphasized that the district is in Ògood shapeÓ financially because enrollment ncreases will keep Goose Creek from sending some of its money to other school districts and add about $4 million in state aid.
Last year the state considered Goose Creek a Chapter 41 district, or a district with more than $305,000 in taxable values per student. Bowman is confident that enrollment increases will change this status next year.

Not every teacher will get $1,500. Some who have worked 21-plus years will receive $200 to $600 more, and others could receive less or nothing at all. The midpoint system contains a range of salaries, and employees cannot Òmax out,Ó or receive a salary beyond the rangeÕs high point. For Goose Creek, the maximum base salary is $48,950.

Eighteen employees, including teachers, manual workers and administrators, fall in the category of no raise, and trustee Steve Fischer disliked this idea, saying that these employees Òstill have to meet the needs of their families like every other person in the district.Ó

Fischer suggested giving them 50 percent of the raise to Òsoften the blow,Ó especially since insurance costs will rise by 7 percent next year, and the state will take $500 in health care aid out of paychecks and place it in special accounts.

The board seemed responsive to the idea but did not take any action Monday, asking for the estimated cost of such a raise. Toby York, assistant superintendent of personnel, said it would likely be around $25,000 to $30,000.

Representatives from teachers groups said they were pleased with the raise, but Wilyne Laughlin, president of the Goose Creek Education Federation, said employees are not happy with the wide discrepancy between their raises and SultisÕ raise.

The board recently awarded Sultis a $10,000, or 5.9 percent, raise and will continue to give her this raise the following three years, bringing her salary to a total of $180,000 next year and $210,000 in four years.

Experienced employees who have reached the maximum salary in the pay scale – and who will not receive raises next year – will Òrightly feel offended and unappreciated,Ó Laughlin said.

ÒEducators I have talked to about the superintendentÕs raise have been deeply upset and even angry,Ó Laughlin said. ÒThis adds to severely low employee morale.Ó

In other business, trustees changed the wording of their Òzero toleranceÓ policy so that parents would see a difference between violence and self-defense.

The policy previously stated that violence would not be accepted Òunder any circumstances,Ó but the district struck those words after hearing requests from board members that self-defense not be punished like other violent acts.

Albus, however, was not satisfied with the new wording. He suggested adding Òa self-defense plea will be investigatedÓ to the zero tolerance concepts that will appear in the front of every student handbook, and the board agreed.

Cell phones will be allowed at Goose Creek schools next year after another handbook change. Previously, cell phones were only allowed in studentsÕ vehicles; now they can venture onto school buses and into classrooms as long as they are concealed and turned off during instructional hours.

Trustee Phelitria Barnes started clapping in response to the new policy while Fischer verbally applauded the way it addresses safety concerns for students that the board previously expressed. However, Fischer said, administrators and teachers need to enforce this policy.

ÒEven with our old language you hear of instances where students are just told to put phones away,Ó he said.

Students who break the rules will have their cell phones confiscated. The first time this happens students can pay $15 to get the phone back, but any subsequent violations require that the phone be confiscated for the remainder of the school year.

Even though the board will now allow cell phones at schools, no phones with camera or video devices will be allowed because of a Òvariety of possible legal issues,Ó Sultis said.