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Posts published in “Day: August 12, 2004”

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 www.laf.org and www.livestrong.com, to order a Live Strong bracelet. Keep up to date on the US Olympic team and Olympic events at www.usolympicteam.com and www.athens2004.com.

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.”

Crosby man snatches U.S. power lifting post

CROSBY – A man that established himself as a local student leader here is continuing to establish his leadership internationally in a very straining sport.

David Hammers only weighs about 142.5 lbs. but in a recent Nebraska Competition representing the University of Texas bench pressed 402 lbs. He is now bound for international competition in South Africa.

This year, Hammers qualified for the US Nationals team by winning the 165 lb. class of the the USAPL Junior National Championships. He has lifted 568 lbs., in squat, 557 lbs. in deadlift.

“As I go into this meet, my goals are to do the best I can, achieve new personal records, and gain valuable meet experience. Though I have a good chance of medaling at this meet, it would be naive of me to expect this from my first international competition.”

“I started powerlifting in my sophomore year of high school under Coach Roy Hardy,” answers Hammers. “I worked hard for the next two years, which paid off when I won the regional meet, qualified for the state meet and helped our team tie for the regional title my senior year in the 148 lb. weight class. My teammates play a crucial role in my success, as they have helped me every time I’ve needed it. I now spend a lot of time coaching the team., as well as lifting.”

Hammers mother works for Crosby ISD and his brothers Darren, 16, and Dylan, 12 attend school in Crosby.

Presidential race provides plenty of good speeches

During the past few weeks I have been a good citizen and attended a presidential rally for President Bush and his opponent John Kerry. For one of the few times in the past several moons West Virginia is receiving some attention in the presidential race this year.

With a Democrat voter registration of more than 2-1 in this state we usually are considered the runt of the litter when it comes to national political attention. However, four years ago Bush took West Virginia and our five electoral votes. West Virginia, like some other states said “without those votes in the Bush column we could be talking about President Gore.”

In the Springer family we are divided. Four of us, including the one that lives in your neck-of-the-woods, are rather strong conservative Republicans. The other is a renegade Democrat. The President has been in West Virginia about five times in the past few weeks and Kerry perhaps one trip less. Both are scheduled to return again. A couple of Saturday’s ago both were in Wheeling on the same day.

Daughter Denise and I attended a rally on a recent Sunday for the President at the state capitol. He had some plane difficulties taking off in Washington and missed a scheduled Worship Service in a local church. However, he got to the capitol early and somewhat to my surprise went on early. We were all there in plenty of time so why wait!

The following Thursday, son Don (the Democrat) and I went to the Kerry rally on the campus of the University of Charleston directly across Kanawha River from the capitol building. I was really surprised, although tickets were required, we were not asked to show our tickets or provide identification. We went through a metal detector and that was it. At the Bush rally we were checked a couple of times and had to show a photo identification.

I felt both did a good job in stating positions and I wrote a local column for each. Kerry probably pulled the larger crowd, which usually happens for the Democrat, but it was close. Bush had about 7,000 and Kerry a few hundred more.

A couple of your Texas Democrats from Corpus Christi showed up at the Bush rally wearing anti-Bush shirts and making a little noise.They were arrested by the Charleston Police and ushered out. Later, it was determined the city statute under which they were arrested did not apply to state property and the arrest was withdrawn and an apology sent their way. As you might imagine they were the darlings of the Kerry campaign.

Now they are saying they were treated so well in West Virginia they are leaving Texas and moving here! We have two more Democrats and you have two less.

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

Graffiti… on the trains, on the poles

Roadside graffiti has gotten out of hand with culprits armed with spray paint. Look at the rail cars next time you get stopped by a train.

To make matters worse, one cannot read what is being written. It looks like old tattoos that are no longer legible or chicken scratch. When the culprits are caught, they ought to be required to repaint the damage done and take spelling lessons then move them on to the next markings and repaint it but that would be cruel and unusual punishment. That or let them go to a judge like Ted Poe.

Had a fellow in my office last week saying he bought a pry bar specifically to pull the nails from signs posted on the pole out front of his building on Main Street in Highlands. Told him to look at the telephone pole as you go out of the post office; it is loaded with nails from thousands of signs over the years. Check it out and watch for the poison ivy in the shrub. They grow asp in that shrub too, I’ve seen them. Asps are fuzzy looking caterpillar critters that will sting the living you know what out of you.

Already took down the Purple Martin house for the year and cleaned it out. Boy howdy was it nasty with a dead black bird in it but it’s ready for next year now.

Got a few hummers coming around to the sugar water feeders. It is about the time of the year for the hummingbirds to be coming through on their way south for the winter migration. Expect to have hummers now through mid October. Be making sugar water instead of jelly for a while; change of pace will do me good.

Been in the kitchen most of the day preparing suppers; old brother-in-law is coming over, the good one. Let’s step into the kitchen a minute or two.

Bought six ears of white corn and shucked all of it using my tater washing brush to rinse the silk off the cob under water. Cut the corn off each ear of corn making one slice down the ear rotating as I cut. Then scraping the meat or pulp off the stalk all the way down and still rotating the cob as I cut. I’ve watched my mother cut two slices of corn around each ear then scrape it; then add water, boil down to when it’s rite and add a sliver of butter, cooking until melted. Some use flour and water, some use cornstarch and water, I simply cook mine down, add butter and let it set a bit. The corn don’t need no thickening nor do I. It makes tomatoes taste better too.

Fried up 12 chicken wings earlier and used a drip of oil in the butterbeans as I boiled whole okra in it with the butterbeans.

Old McDonald gave me some deer back strap a while back and I’m frying it up making nice gravy afterwards. I boiled 6 large red taters adding a small can of drained sliced jalapenos to the water as the taters boiled, good too with the gravy and biscuits. Doing that does make the air in the house odorous and a cough or two.

Get this, I was going to do a pan of cornbread but she wants that long loaf of bread claiming to be made over yonder but made here in the USA. Split, buttered, garlicked and toasted.

He just called; I asked him if he like hot dogs.

I was going to have corn on the cob but she insisted I cut it off the cob since he has his front teeth in the dentist shop.