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Posts published in “Day: January 5, 2006”

Highlands Rotary Chili Feast: There may be a new Chevy HHR in your future

HIGHLANDS ROTARIANS are getting ready for their annual Chili Feast, to be held on Saturday, February 4th. This maroon 2006 Chevrolet HHR from John Keating Chevrolet in Crosby will be the first prize in the $100 raffle. Tickets are available from all Rotarians and local businesses. Pictured above are Rotarians Tom Hill, Robert Woodall, Dickie Woods, Patricia Scott, exchange student Lulys Gomez, Westin Cotten, Johnny Gaeke, John Keating, and President Steve Miller. Photo by Rotarian Gil Hoffman.

2005: The Year in Review

JANUARY

The Goose Creek school district disputed claims that there had been complaints about the Triangle Gun Shop, which is located across from Highlands Junior School. The allegations came out in an article printed in the “Houston Press.” Two escapees from the Liberty County Jail were recaptured.

The Highlands Volunteer Fore Department named Bobby Birdsong its Firefighter of the Year. Goose Creek said it would ask voters for $220.5 million in schoolhouse bonds.

FEBRUARY

U.S. Rep. Ted Poe announced that Liberty County would receive a $3 million U.S.D.A. Rural Development Grant.

San Jacinto Methodist Hospital opened a $5.9 million cardiovascular center. The Crosby-Huffman Chamber of Commerce named John Keating Chevrolet its Business of the Year.

MARCH

A project raised by Kasie Myer was named Grand Champion Steer at the Huffman FFA Livestock Auction. The animal sold for $4,800. Two Dayton residents were killed in an explosion at the BP Amoco Plant in Texas City.

Faith Drews was named the Highlands Little League Queen. A Harris County Deputy wounds a suspect who was being pursued by deputies through a Crosby apartment complex after the suspect pointed a pistol at her.

APRIL

Goose Creek voters approved $220 million in schoolhouse bonds. An 18-month old toddler was killed in a drive-by shooting in Huffman.

Miquel Castro was arrested for the shooting death of 18-month old Aiden Naquin in Huffman. In a political coup, several Chambers County officials switched party affiliations to the Republican Party. Among these was Judge Jimmy Sylvia. The ESD#4 in Huffman received four new emergency vehicles thanks to a grant from FEMA.

MAY

Blues legend Bobby “Blue” Bland performed at the Budweiser Southern Blues Festival in Crosby. San Jacinto Methodist Hospital sold its Decker Campus to the Baytown Housing Authority.

A sign was erected on FM 2100 honoring Crosby Medal of Honor recipient David McNerney. Change was in the air at the Dayton City Hall with Andy Helm hired as city manager and Steve Stephens defeating longtime incumbent mayor Larry Harris.

JUNE

An explosion at a natural gas well on Kennings Road forced the evacuation of several Crosby families. The 59th Crosby Fair and Rodeo saw thousands of spectators over the three-day event.

Betty Michalsky was awarded the Highlands Chamber of Commerce’s Terry Davis Award for Community Service, the highest honor the chamber can bestow. A public memorial was held for Beach City resident Army PFC Wesley Riggs, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

JULY

Harris County Sheriff’s Dept. Chief Deputy Ray Vickers was killed in a single-car accident.

A truck, reported stolen in Mont Belvieu, was recovered during a drug bust in Liberty later the same day. Longtime Highlands dentist

Doc Herndon passed away at 83.

AUGUST

Gerlands Food Fair in Highlands became a Food Town. Renovations by the Crosby ISD added 90,000 square feet to Crosby High and Drew Intermediate Schools. Cedar Bluff Energy scrapped plans to build a $200 million powerplant west of Dayton near Eastpoint.

The New Property Owners Association of Newport announced preliminary plans for a fitness center and maintenance fee hike, which brought a negative reaction from some residents. Suzanne Machala and Frances Tisdale were named Crosby ISD’s Teachers of the Year.

SEPTEMBER

After Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, volunteers from East Harris, West Chambers and Southwest Liberty Counties began efforts to aid the hundreds of thousands of Louisiana evacuees who came to the area. Voters overwhelmingly approved a 2-cent sale tax increase to benefit ESD #5 and ESD#80.

Millions of people evacuated the Texas Gulf Coast as Hurricane Rita made its way toward Texas. Rita hits Texas and millions of people are left without power from the Texas-Louisiana border to North-Central Texas.

OCTOBER

Whitney Bell was crowned Miss Highlands and Kayla Neathery was named Junior Miss Highlands. A Katrina evacuee was arrested for murder in Mont Belvieu. This is only the third homicide in the city since 1986.

In a heated election Newport residents voted down a plan to build a fitness center. A move to remember members of the NPOA Board of Directors failed among criticism of voting irregularities. Laron Brady was elected Crosby Homecoming King. Brittany Smalley was named the Sterling Homecoming Queen.

NOVEMBER

Deer Park voters approved $110 million in school bonds. Plans were announced for the Crossing at Highway 90, a new shopping center that would be anchored by a Starbucks Coffee shop.

The NPOA failed to throw out the results of the October election that had been challenged by some property owners. A monument in memory of fallen Beach City soldier Wesley Riggs was dedicated.

DECEMBER

A fire at a Crosby doctor’s office sparked an investigation by the county fire marshal’s office. The Texas Department of Transportation said it would begin letter contracts over a FM 2100 overpass in 2008.

Crosby teen Shane Ballow was killed when an Amtrac train near Lindstrom Road hit him. A Dayton woman survived an assassination attempt.

USPS boosts stamp prices

WASHINGTON D.C. – Beginning Jan. 8, postal customers will find it a little more expensive to mail that letter or package.

The U.S. Postal Service is raising the rate of its first class stamp to 39-cents as part of an across- the-board rate hike. The Governors of the U.S. Postal Service approved the rate increases this past November.

A spokesman for the post office said the increases are necessary to bring the postal service into compliance with a 2003 federal law which requires them to maintain a $3.1 billion escrow account. With Internet and other package delivery service use at an all-time time the newer rates are needed to maintain that account.

Among the other prices to increase are post cards which go up from 23 to 23-cents, Priority mail from a base $3.85 to $4.05 and Express mail from a base of $13.65 to $14.40.

New price-New stamps

To help customers transition into the new rate, two stamps went into circulation last month. These stamps are a 39-cent definitive stamp and a 2-cent makeup stamp that can be used with the older 37-cent stamps.

The 39-cent non-denominated First-Class definitive stamp features an image of the Statue of Liberty and the American flag. Dedicated Oct. 28, 1886, the statue serves as a symbol of political freedom and democracy for millions of people around the world. The stamp will be available in panes and booklets of 20, coils of 100 and coils of 1,000 for business customers.

A reprint of the two-cent definitive issued in 2004, the Navajo Jewelry two-cent stamp features a painted detail of a Navajo silver and turquoise necklace with sand-cast “squash blossoms” set with polished blue turquoise nuggets. The stamp is available in panes of 20.

This month the postal service will release several more stamp series with the new rates on them.

Among the first class offerings with be the Childrens Books set which includes such popular fictional characters was Wilber from “Charlottes Web,” a Wild Thing from “Where the Wild Things Are,” Curious George and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

NPOA Newport clarifies action

CROSBY – Newport has mostly packed away distinctively beautiful holiday decorations that during its season gave the regularly nature adorned subdivision one of the most warm and charming ambiance in the Greater Houston Area as residents again raise issues with New Property Owners Association of Newport (NPOAN) board.

Residents just received their booklets to pay $40 maintenance fees along with the realization that the local sales tax is the same as Houston now and on January 12 there is a board election to be held at Newport Country Club.

Newport is a fantastically idyllic place to live with high quality water, a fire station on the entrance, new bridges, light infrastructure, remedied electrical power supply, sidewalks near the elementary school, beautiful central reflecting pool entrance to Port–O–Call, with more and better on the way. Amenities now fixed are to be the envy of any neighborhood. The dispute seems to come down to doing private business (with all needs of confidence between parties) inside public business (with all demands for disclosure for the public trust.) The entity of the board must walk the tightrope between enforcing property codes without being able to disclose every details of keeping the grass mowed and everything maintained within a budget.

The board publicized its having blocked a strip center from being placed not far inside the subdivision, the lakes and river section was repaired from vandalism and now is completely captivating for family outings. NPOAN announced Rampart Capital Corporation donated playground equipment for the park on Port-O-Call which the board restored and leased the park near the bayou. The NPOAN made changes in their practices since an October 13 election voted down a Fitness Center, attempted to recall board members and the membership tried to limit powers of the board with by-law changes.

Voting amends

The changes implemented in the election process by the board “due to input from several residents,” followed the entire election process being questioned about improprieties by certain residents. The board denied that there were improprieties.

NPOAN board indicates that in the future, proxies or ballots must be mailed or delivered to C.I.A. services or placed in the drop box before 5:00 p.m. the day before the meeting. Only originals will be accepted that have the homeowner’s name, property address and signature. Proxy will be valid for one session only. Each ballot is now to be numbered for tracking purposes. Resident/members will now be registered by signing in at each voting meeting and photo identification will be required to confirm residency.

The board itself and C.I.A. Services, the management company for the NPOAN, reviewed the election process and disclosed that 123 ballots were cast of about 220 attendants on the night of October 13 special called meeting. Eighteen proxy votes were determined invalid that represented 24 votes.

Thirty five votes assigned to the discretion of the President of the Board were not counted due to “a miscommunication between the management company and the President.” The post office returned 87 proxies as not having valid addresses: delinquent and parties not located. In spite of accusations, the board found that 78 builder votes were cast by the builders themselves for their own lots and that no proxies were assigned by builders.

Open Meetings

Brewing now is an old question about secrecy and what is done in closed session. Some of the source of suspicion toward the board and possible source of misunderstandings between board and residents is related to the Open Meetings Act. From a copy of an October 27 minutes, the last minutes currently made available by the board, the Board’s attorney announced that the Texas Open Meetings Act did not apply to Homeowners’ Associations and that the board retains the right to closed meetings.

The Government Code Chapter 552 of the Texas Public Information Act provides certain Property Owners’ Associations are subject to Act if membership is required for owners of private property in a defined geographical area in a county of 2.8 million or more or in a county adjacent to a county with a population of 2.8 million or more. That must be somewhere near Harris County. The act also defines as subject property owners’ associations that have the power to make mandatory special assignments for capital improvements or mandatory regular assessments.

With the exception of emergency, imminent danger to the public, consolations with attorneys, purchase or sale of real property, medical records, public personal records, “every regular, special or called meeting of a government body shall be open to the public.”

Bylaws require quarterly open meetings, according to the minutes. There was a suggestion to move the open sessions to the beginning instead of the end of the meetings. That rearrangement would accomplish an open meeting for about half an hour then go into executive session.

The open meetings act requires that executive sessions be posted prior to the meeting. During previous meetings the board went into executive sessions to hear challenges to the voting procedure and other activities without declaring executive session as the board believes it is not effected by the Open Meetings Act.

Residents/members are invited to tour the changes of Bylaws enacted since the October special meeting. This month on the CIA Services Inc. website: (www.ciaservices.com)then “Select Community” then “Newport” in the list of communities, find “Community Documents” the Old By-Laws were posted as “By-laws” and the newer bylaws as “Seventh Amended By-Laws.”

One change is that the board is now allowed to cast the developer’s property votes that are in transition to builders in an election. This increases the board’s advantage in determining election outcomes including for maintenance dues, deed restrictions, how money is spent and who is ultimately elected to the board.

Sylvia files for reelection

CHAMBERS COUNTY— County Judge Jimmy Sylvia is pleased to announce his candidacy for re-election to another 4-year term.

“I have enjoyed serving the residents of Chambers County as County Judge and will continue to serve you with experience and dedication,” Sylvia.

Among the duties of County Judge, are criminal, civil, juvenile and probate courts.

“I preside over commissioners court, am the budget officer, emergency management director, and appear on behalf of the county before state legislative committees, state boards and commissions, federal congressional committees and agencies & other local government’s governing bodies, “ he added.

“I have served in this position for 9 years and feel I am qualified to serve you. I have completed over 150 hours of administrative and judicial education since I came into office and continue my education each year. It is an honor to work with Chambers County elected officials, department heads and employees, and an honor to work with county residents…my door is always open. I hope you will support me in this next election,” Sylvia said.

Liberty Co., TABC conduct underage liquor sales sweep

LIBERTY COUNTY—Several area businesses are in trouble after employees were videotaped selling alcohol to minors.

On Dec. 16 and 17, agents with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the Liberty County Sheriff’s Department began what they called “Operation Last Call,” designed to catch those businesses who sell alcohol to minors. Following up on complaints, officers set up undercover stings operations at 38 locations in South Liberty County.

In the sting operation on Dec. 16, agents sent into stores a minor, who would attempt to but the alcohol, while an undercover agent videotaped the transaction.

Of the 38 locations visited, 11 cases were made. Agents have filed administrative cases against Lewie’s, Spin In Market 15, MJA Goods, Calhoun’s Country Store, Liberty Food Mart, Thrifty Food Center, Mo To Go Food, Miller’s Food Mart No. 1, Westside Grocery, Toors Food Mart and SB Raceway 5766.

The following night agents targeted bars, restaurants and other establishments were alcohol is served, looking for cases of open saloon violations. These cases, investigators say, consisted mostly of serving alcohol to intoxicated people or violations of private club regulations.

Cases have been filed against Mas Amigos, American Legion Post 0393 and the Cleveland Memorial Post.

Burn ban is serious

This single story, commercial fire on FM 2100 less than a block south of FM 1942 occurred about midday, Monday and due to high winds and dry conditions nearly exhausted the pumper retained at Reidland before the rest of Crosby’s volunteers and pumpers on the North end of the tracks (waiting on trains) could get to Barrett Station. The following day, another fire would find firefighters waiting to cross from South on the tracks. The Governor of Texas Rick Perry has emphasized the vulnerability of the Texas Countryside under current conditions by issuing a Disaster Declaration on Dec. 27. Harris County has placed a burn ban with ban on aerial fireworks into effect. According to Tracy Weaver of Texas Forestry Service, “It is critically, critically dry out there right now.”

Help Rotary Help Highlands

To the communities of
Highlands and Crosby:

Preparations are underway for our 31st Annual Chili Feast Raffle & Auction. Each year the Highlands Rotary Club holds this popular community even to raise funds for college scholarships, Rotary projects and for donations to other local charities and service organizations.

The Feast includes chili dinners cooked by our members, a raffle of a new vehicle plus 11 other items and live and silent auctions. This year’s vehicle is a 2006 Chevrolet HHR purchased from John Keating Chevrolet in Crosby, Tx.

As of June 2005 our Rotary Club has put over $325,000 back into the Highlands community from the proceeds of this one event. This year we increased the number of scholarships to 12 students, organized and completed a community wide hurricane relief drive, and are hosting a Rotary Youth Exchange student from Venezuela.

We also provide continuing support for the Highlands Volunteer Fire Dept., Highlands Food Pantry, the Library’s Summer Reading Program, Boy Scouts, Little League Baseball and a Rotary Interact Club at The Chinquapin School.

Ticket for the raffle may be purchased from any Highlands Rotarian and many Businesses in the Highlands area. Food tickets will also be available at the event. The Chili Feast will be held February 4, 2006 at St. Jude’s Catholic Church, 808 S. Main in Highlands, Tx. Please plan to attend and join in on the fun, food and fellowship. We’ll look forward to seeing you there.

Sincerely,
Johnny Gaeke
Chairman 2006 Chili Feast

NPOA Board is taking away property owners’ rights

Dear Editor:

In the January 12, 2006 election at 7:00 pm at the Newport Golf Club & conference Center voters will have the opportunity to vote for the nominees who consider the interest of the property owners while abiding by the laws that govern our community.

This is not about the increase of the $5.00 in our dues, but the action by the current Board of Directors to take the rights of the property owners away.

The Board of Directors that are up for re-election are Dan Kasprzak, Charley Lenderman, and Walter Kroupa that recently made changes to the Bylaws that directly support the NPOAN Board and limit the rights of its property owners.

As of the Bylaw changes of November 15, 2005, Rampart’s Newport Fund (a developer) is included into the content of our Bylaws allowing all of the votes for undeveloped lots owned by Rampart and the Newport Fund to be controlled by the Board of Directors. This action places the voting advantage of any election in favor of the NPOAN Board and removes the equitable process of the property owners.

Additional bylaws changes also:

1. Limited the property owners input into the Architectural Control and Deed Restriction Committees

2. Remove the property owners right to vote because of the prohibited acts that are stipulation only for the Board of Directors violations in the prior bylaws

3. Remove the property owners right to vote if they have deed restriction violations (before determining if property owners may be legally in violation of the said deed restriction)

4. Give builders voting rights even though they do not pay any maintenance fees for up to 2 years, while the residents are required to be current

5. Remove the property owners right to re-call directors unless they did something illegal or immoral (this could take years to prove and bring to trail before the Directors are found guilty)

6. The President shall control all of the business and affairs of the Corporation (this is unprecedented by any other home owners association) The board is to serve it’s members

The property owners voted down the Fitness Center in the October 13, 2005 election but increased the Grounds Maintenance Contract. The Fitness Center was proposed by Mr. Creek Scott of Spring Golf Venture – the owner of the Newport Golf Club and the contractor for the grounds maintenance of the Newport subdivision. The NPOAN Board accepted this contract a year ago because it was $50,000 less than the next highest bidder. The night that the fitness center was voted down Creek Scott gave notice of his resignation as grounds maintenance contractor. The Board of Directors of the NPOAN voted to give Mr. Creek Scott an additional contract of $4,000 per month and they called it “fuel cost adjustment”. We now are paying an additional $48,000 per year for the grounds maintenance contract, for a total of $198,000 per year. A recent bid that was turned down by the Board of Directors would have reduced our maintenance contract by almost $60,000.

In December 2005 the NPOAN President said it was “against every principal of democracy, law and common sense to allow the ballots to be examined”. It happens to be Texas law that allows the ballots to be examined. The NPOAN Board of directors is breaking the law by refusing to allow the validation of the October 13, 2005 election due to the voting infractions that occurred.

The NPOAN had recently purchased a new tractor to replace the tractor stolen in June 2005 from the Newport Rental storage facility? Since the time of purchase in October, this new tractor has been being kept at a Board member’s home in Newport. Why is the storage lot deemed as a secure location to store paying property owners’ assets but not the assets of the NPOAN? Why is an NPOAN Board of Director allowed to keep the tractor in their driveway for months at a time when the residents of Newport are repeatedly cited for deed restrictions within days of the violations? Is it not illegal for the Board members to receive exceptions to the deed restrictions due to their positions on the Board?

Best Regards;

Kathie Slotter
NPOAN Resident

Gift certificates and resolutions

Did Santa Claus bring want you wanted for Christmas, or something you don’t want or need?

There is going to be a new rule in the house next Christmas, and that is do not get us anything for Christmas. If you have to buy us something, make it a gift certificate or dinner for two.

We already have a house full and you get all that mess piled up, we don’t have enough room for it. The family room is where we spend the majority of our time and the Mrs. has a pile on each side of her chair plus all of her reading material. It is starting to slide over on my side now.

Not sure if that new rule will work or not, but had to get in my two cents worth on the matter; she pays about as much attention to me sometimes as do her cats.

Here tis the first day of the New Year and it’ll be 80° today. I ain’t complaining.

Might as well plant some potatoes, carrots and onions tomorrow morning. Worked on my character this morning by turning the garden over with the pitch fork; soil is ready. Will also trim and straighten up the briar patch too (blackberries).

Speaking of the briar patch, Brer Rabbit left it’s markings in my garden, noticed the pills when turning the soil this morning.

Ain’t too worried about Brer Rabbit but Mr. Squirrel may well be in the tomato patch this year. Anybody want a squirrel or two?

Most New Year resolutions heard are people that are going to drop a few pounds, get in shape. And those that say they are going to stop smoking. You make a resolution or two did you? Several people said they don’t make resolutions because they never keep them.

Didn’t make any myself but have walked two mornings now and hobble the rest of the day. Worked in the garden two days in a row as well, so far so good.

Need to make a trip across the river pretty soon. There is a man who orders his tomato seeds and produces his own plants. He told me last year he planted over 400 tomato plants and has great success at it. Need to find out the name of those seeds. Maybe barter some chowchow for a few tomato plants.

On my early thirty morning trips to Wal-Mart this morning, I saw several packages of Chokes as in Artichoke tubes or roots in the produce section. Ma Pearl used to pickle those things out on the Liberty Hill Rd and I’ve tried them a time or two. They are crunchy as a potato with a bit of heat from the red pepper in the pickling spices. You ever had the any pickled artichokes?