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Posts published in August 2004

Crosby’s Stafford defends county in Bible Monument lawsuit

HOUSTON — Harris County Attorney Mike Stafford, a native of Crosby, has been at the forefront of a suit to defend the County Commissioners in a lawsuit brought by a Houston real estate person who wants a monument in front of the Civil Courts building removed, because it contains a copy of the Christian Bible.

Realtor Kay Staley contends that this violates the Constitutional tenet of separation of religion and government.

Staley won a judgement in Houston to have the Bible removed, but Stafford filed a suit and received a “stay,” until the details of the judgment could be reviewed by an appeals court.

The monument was originally installed as a memorial to a donor to the Star of Hope Mission, and attorneys for that organization have argued that it therefore is more secular, not religious in nature.

However, Judge Sim Lake has stated that “neutrality means that Harris County should not be seen as endorsing Christianity.” Both sides continued their efforts as of the press deadline on this matter.

Goose Creek: Committee recommends improvements at Highlands Jr.

HIGHLANDS — Highlands Junior School could see some facilities improvements in the future, if a committee appointed by the school district gets its way.

Last week, a facilities planning subcommittee focusing on the needs of junior high campuses throughout the district named Highlands Junior as one of the sites needing immediate attention.

Donald Dunn, who previously served on the committee which redrew junior high boundary lines, said that a study done of the school by an outside consulting firm found that almost $5 million would be needed to build a new Highlands Junior High. Dunn is the facilitator of the junior high subcommittee.

Approximately 60 community members and district employees make up the committee that are looking at facilities districtwide.

For the past few years, the district has had committees looking into ways to address a growing student population. The current committee was reformed after a previous committee recommended consolidating Lee and Sterling High Schools into one school housed at two campuses. This plan met an almost immediate negative reaction from not only the board of trustees but the community as well.

During the meeting, the committee also discussed requested improvements at Baytown, Gentry, Horace Mann and Cedar Bayou Junior High Schools as well as the Stallworth Stadium.

The committee is expected to meet through November, then make recommendations for a future bond referendum which could come as early as February.

Want a mint?

Had an interesting conversation with the editor this past week about the Two Cents Worth articles.

Complaints have been received about too much food or cooking in the articles. Another was my vocabulary.

He gets the complaints and I’m on the receiving end of compliments. As far as vocabulary and my southern slant on verbs and such, there will be a change. See if you can find it.

It is difficult to please everybody and I place myself as one of those. If you don’t believe it, ask the Mrs.

At least the editor prints the articles as submitted. He too has problems with my vocabulary as does spell check. However, having been told by others, the articles push the limit on occasion.

Ain’t no different than this morning’s burnt bacon. I simply fried up some more and Four Dog didn’t whine a bit.

Watched the DVD JACKASS last night. My goodness that was nasty the things those guys did. Makes one want to call RALPH if you savvy. I got up a couple of times and nearly fell out of the chair laughing at other times.

Moving on. Went to the tooth doctor last week. For a while in my life he had his hand in my mouth as much as he had his hand on my wallet. I place a Dentist on the same level as a Cardiologist as being life savers.

You ever had a tooth that was killing you?

Been a user of a WaterPic now for 15 years or longer and on my second one. A WaterPic is nothing more than a high powered water gun, and it works well in jetting out stuff between my teeth.

Four Dog will stand by the chest of drawers and watch me use the WaterPic. I can see him in the mirror watching and I’ll point the stream towards him. He has gotten to where he can back faster than any dog in the county.

Of course, using the WaterPic does not always eliminate the hint of bad breath. Went to the eye doctor last two times and each time he has had stinky breath. I swore I was going to send him some gum, but never did.

I told the Mrs. of it and after she got back from her visit, she too said she noticed the odor.

Mine was probably ripe last week as one days lunch at THIS IS IT, I had four long green onions with my ox tails.

Had a coworker one time who having smoked and drank coffee; here they come looking over my shoulder at my PC. I got a whiff and dang near past out and fell out of my chair before they backed up and away some.

What do you do when someone you work with has halitosis? You cain’t say, “Eat out of the cat box this morning?”

“Want a mint?”

Desserts? How about a Louisiana Swamp?

Desserts — Those of you who know me are probably thinking I am the last person who should be talking about excellent desserts. The truth is I usually don’t eat a dessert when we eat out but on occasion I weaken. I have come up with some excellent desserts in our local restaurants recently.

Owner of the Teay’s House (about a mile off I-64 at the Winfield exit), Karen Diehl, makes one great chocolate cake. The portion is large enough that two forks are in order. If you are ever passing through on I-64 you might want to try a slice.

Soho’s, a local restaurant at the Farmer’s Market, located under I-64 and I-77 in downtown Charleston has one fine peach short cake. Made with a fine traditional short cake, peach ice cream, fresh peaches and whipped cream, it really gives the taste buds a treat. Here again the portions are large and two forks are frequently part of the order.

So much for desserts in restaurants. Have you ever heard of a dessert called, Louisiana Swamp? If you have, and you’re a chocolate lover, don’t get turned off by the name. I too had to get past that name to even think I might like it. The recipe can be found in the new cookbook, “Beyond Grits and Gravy,” being advertised as “The South’s All-Time Favorite Recipes.”

When I married Linda, I not only married a fine lady but one great cook. She recently bought this book. Why, I do not know as we have one bookcase overflowing with cookbooks now. But, what is one more! I do believe if Noah served it on the Ark, Linda has the recipe.

In their book, Gwen McKee and Barbara Moseley include the words “enter at your own risk,” when talking about this recipe. Copyright laws forbid me to give you the recipe here I do believe. However, I can tell you it starts with German chocolate cake mix and includes such things as marshmallow crème, pecans, chocolate chips, milk chocolate frosting, almond extract and a few other things.

Linda made this in one large pan and we shared it with other family members. It was one fine bit of eating. She cut the pieces rather small so, contrary to those discussed above, one fork is all you need to do the necessary damage.

If you think you are interested and can’t find the book or the recipe be sure to ask Linda to share her good fortune the next time we are in Crosby. Steer in another direction if you don’t like chocolate. You can tell from what I said above it is chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate! By the way the book is a Quail Ridge Press publication.

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

Hometown Heroes… by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson

“The most important thing [in the Olympic Games] is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” – The Olympic Creed

Number Six

We’ve all been inspired by Texas’ athletic stars, hometown heroes to many of us. But there is one star who seems to shine brighter with each summer victory. Lance Armstrong has done it again. He’s accomplished what no other cyclist has done before, winning his sixth straight Tour de France.

The Austin native held up six fingers as he raced to the finish line in Paris, pedaling his way out of Montereau and into history as one of the greatest athletes ever.

Cyclists from all over the world compete along 2,050 miles of road ranging from flat wheat fields to the steep Alps, making the Tour de France known not only for its beautiful terrain, but also as one of the most grueling sporting events of the modern era. Lance Armstrong has been an inspiration through his cycling accomplishments. Yet the headlines and glory fall a distant second behind his victory over cancer.

In October of 1996, while seemingly at the top of his game, the two-time Olympian was stricken with pain and forced off his bike. Armstrong was given less than a 50-50 chance to live after testicular cancer spread to his lungs and brain. As if scripted by Hollywood, the promising athlete fought and persevered to defeat the disease – and then employed that same tenacity to get back on the bike and back on top.

Today, our Texas hometown hero uses his triumphs to serve as a symbol of hope, inspiration and survivorship. He established the non-profit Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF), which has become one of the nation’s preeminent cancer research organizations. This year, the LAF sold yellow bracelets with the words “Live Strong” with a goal of raising $5 million for cancer patients and their families. So far, LAF has sold seven million bracelets, bringing a total of $7 million to the cause already and more on back order.

A Look at Athens

The competitive side of Texas will continue to shine this summer as the country and the world heads to Athens, Greece for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games.

Every four years, the world comes together as one in celebration of the globe’s most prestigious athletic event. All too often our nations are unified only through tragedy, but, for the past 108 years, the Olympic Games have brought us together for friendly competition.
In the first modern Olympic Games, approximately 300 athletes from 13 countries competed in only nine sports. This month, nearly 10,500 athletes from 202 countries will partake in 37 different events.

So who will be next in joining Lance Armstrong and Michael Johnson in Texas Olympic history? Texas is the home state of 29 athletes on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team. We are proud to field more athletes than any other state, except California. Fellow Texans will be cheering on their hometown heroes, including returning Olympians Mia Hamm, Sheryl Swoopes, Laura Wilkinson, Amy Acuff, Glenn Fuller, Connie Schiller Smotek, and Stacy Sykora. Texans are accustomed to being among the biggest and the best, but this competition is world class. Each one of these Lone Stars will be doing their utmost, competing for the gold and fighting to be among the great Texas Olympians.

I congratulate our Texas hometown heroes, Lance Armstrong and our Olympic athletes, in all they have achieved and have yet to accomplish. They make us proud.

To learn more on the Lance Armstrong Foundation visit and, to order a Live Strong bracelet. Keep up to date on the US Olympic team and Olympic events at and

Suspects arrested in Crosby Bank ATM theft

CROSBY – How would a man begin to convince anyone to help him steal a heavy truck, steal construction equipment and bring both to bear on a technically secure, almost two ton automatic teller machine embedded in concrete and steel at a bank on Main Street?

Well, perhaps some sales points to convince someone to come along might be: (a.) starting in the wee hours of the morning no one will be awake (b.) going many miles from base is easier (c.) at over 10 miles distance between the first and final theft no one will suspect what we are going (d.) follow an experience leader, (e.) use the back roads in which to hide, (f.) use your cell phones to call women friends if it gets hot and (g.) ATM’s are easy to open. Apparently, none of those sales points are as valid as convincing.

Precinct 3 Constable Ken Jones indicates some deputies under his command (with the backup from the spectrum of law enforcement) managed to turn all of those would be sales points against three individuals here on August 5 to make arrests in just such a case.

“The big reason for the quick apprehension was the response time. The first response was just under five minutes of being advised of the alarm. Then the quick action by the supervisor to determine the direction of flight and the men coming out in force and searching the highways and back roads. I am very proud of my people all coming together and putting in the extra effort for teamwork,” said Ken Jones speaking at the 14000 block of FM 2100 Crosby State Bank location.

Deputies make charges that Donald Gene Pifer, 55, his son, Donald Gene Pifer, Jr., 30, and Charles Scoot Cody, 31, allegedly loaded the ATM onto a truck stolen out of Mont Belvieu using a tractor loader stolen from the construction site where a proposed new drug store is to be and fled the bank.

According to bank personnel, the original sensory notice went off at about 2:48 a.m. Precinct 3 Constables say they took the full alarm call from the alarm company at about 3:55 a.m. and at 4:00 the first deputy arrived on the scene. Lieutenant Terry Ganey, the evening and night patrol supervisor, arrived on the call at Crosby State Bank’s newest Crosby office at about 4:12 a.m.

According to Ganey, “Well, the first thing I did was check the property and found tire marks and debris leading from where the ATM had gone missing from considerable force. I traced the tracks of the back up tractor from where it had been stolen from Motor State Survey Company. The first thing I did was call Deputy Morgan and the Sheriff’s Office to have an advanced look out on US 90, where tracks and debris indicated someone had cut the fence and headed out. I found the construction equipment with the engine still running. I could see where a dual wheel truck had drove out toward Krenek but the Canal was out. I followed where the truck had gone because of where the dew on the ground indicated. I had dispatch contact the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, Dayton Police Department and all law enforcement that suspects had fled northbound on US 90 Shortly thereafter debris from the ATM was located on US 90. We took our best guess to search the back roads off US 90.”

According to Ganey, Deputy Rob Francis made the next break in the case by finding a truck stolen from Mont Belvieu on a cut off from Lord Rd.

“Once Deputy Francis went down to check on the truck he had spotted he drove up on them. Then of course they scattered like quail. They were trying to cut it open but left it to Deputy Francis running on foot through the woods,” said Constable Jones.

The deputy had apparently found someone had been trying to open the first of several security structures with a blow torch, unsuccessfully and so cooled down the metal. Now he was in possession of the truck, the ATM and the general location of three suspects. The deputies, about 18 in number established a general area of search.

Constable Jones explains, “Once we had a perimeter, TDC from the Hightower Prison Unit came out with their bloodhounds, the Sheriff’s Department came out with their dogs, TDC had the mounted patrol out there, Liberty County S.O., they all came out and helped.”

According to Captain Jones at the Wallisville Substation, “Deputy Tyson was coming in from Dayton to work early that morning to help with this robbery and spotted three men walking toward Dayton at about the Liberty County line. That’s what we call a clue. He apprehended one of the three and noted the flight of two other suspects into the woods.”

By now the Houston Police Helicopter, State Troopers, Mounted Patrols, dogs from state prisons and Harris County Sheriff’s K-9 Corps were joined by agents of the F.B.I.

According to an FBI spokesman, indictments had already been issued for the men. They were suspected of involvement in several other ATM theft’s in Beaumont, Port Arthur, Orange County, and Lake Charles, LA.

According to Captain Hagee this group appears to specialize in such thefts and includes a father and son team along with another man.

FBI Special Agent Robert King from Beaumont arrived on the scene early this morning and talked to one of the suspects on a cell phone and convinced the man to come out and give himself up.

Captain Jones indicates that each of the three men had a cell phone and each was trying to call wives or girlfriends for a ride away from trouble.

Later that morning some women came nearby and were detained by deputies, each claiming to know nothing about a theft of an ATM.

Having just that week spoken to one of the suspects, Agent King was able to identify one of the intercepted cell calls in the area. Later one suspect would attempt to call him back to ask him to get the dogs off of him and he would surrender to agents but not deputies. The agent convinced the suspect to surrender to the deputies and that they would

The last suspect was still running at around 9:30 a.m. this morning when a citizen notified authorities of a white male, with no shirt, who was trying to cross US 90 on foot which led officers to his location where he was arrested.

Officers from just about every law enforcement agency in eastern Harris County and Liberty County participated in the manhunt for the trio until about 9:45 AM Thursday morning when the last of the three was apprehended.

The three were transported to Justice of the Peace Glenn Pruitt’s office in Dayton where they were magistrated and sent on the return trip back to Harris County where they were turned over to Harris County Sheriff’s Department Robbery and Theft Division Detectives.

Stafford dumps Mt. Trashmore with injunction

Harris County Attorney Mike Stafford obtained an injunction against Ricky Gandy and Halco Waste Container, Inc. ordering them to clean-up two illegal waste disposal sites in East Harris County. Gandy, acting through his companies Halco Waste Container, Inc. and Old Orchard.

Trucking and Waste, has been illegally disposing of waste (including demolition debris, household garbage, cardboard, plastic, tires, and wood) at 16120 Market Street and 14807 Garrett Road.

The property at 16120 Market Street, dubbed “Mount Trashmore” by neighborhood residents, is in Channelview. The property at 14807 Garrett Road is in the Sheldon area. Earlier this year, citizens began calling Harris County to complain about odors and rats coming from the Market Street property. Harris County Pollution Control repeatedly cited Mr. Gandy for public endangerment and failure to comply with various environmental laws. The Harris County Fire Marshal issued a Fire Marshal Order against Gandy for numerous fire hazards.

In May 2004, Stafford filed suit against Gandy and Halco. During a two day court hearing, various government investigators testified that both Mr. Gandy’s sites were being operated in violation of Texas law. Phil Rogers, an investigator with the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office, testified that he had personally inspected both sites and had discovered numerous fire hazards. Andy Vance, an investigator with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, testified that both sites were in violation of state environmental law.

On August 4, 2004, Judge Randy Wilson issued a temporary injunction against defendants Gandy and Halco. Judge Wilson found that both 16120 Market Street and 14807 Garrett Road were in violation of state law and that the large quantities of combustible material stored at these sites endangered human health and welfare. The injunction orders the defendants to stop disposing of solid waste at these sites (unless the defendants obtained a permit or registration from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) and to remove all existing waste from the sites.

In discussing today’s court ruling, Stafford stated, “The County Attorney’s Office is delighted with the Court Order. We believe that this ruling protects the public health and safety. It achieves justice for the citizens who have suffered so much.”