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Posts published in “Day: January 25, 2007

Rhinopak sold to new investor group

HIGHLANDS– The largest private employer in this community, with a history dating back almost 80 years, has been sold to a new group of investors that intend to run the company with experience and an eye to profit growth.
Sales papers were signed last week which transferred ownership and management from the John Mecom group in Houston, to Ed Davis of Kingwood, and a group of additional investors that are experienced in the blending and packaging business, which is Rhinopak’s core business.
The new company will be known as ZXP Technologies. This is a new business entity, not related to any other existing company, according to officials.

The operation of the company is not expected to change a great deal, except for the experience that the new management team will bring.
Davis’s group is familiar with the blending and packaging business, while the Mecom group was more involved in oil related businesses. The previous president, Hoyt Thomas, has left the company but according to statements at an employee meeting this Monday, most other personnel will be retained.
Rhinopak has seen full employment and continued growth in volume in recent years, and this trend will continue.
Rhinopak, previously known as Hi-Port Inc., Hi-Port Industries, Smith Canning, and Elena Farms Fruit & Cotton, has seen many owners over the years, and its business has changed from fruit canning, to petrochemical and agricultural product blending, packaging, and distribution.
One of its most important products is the blending and packaging of automotive antifreeze. Rhinopak was known for providing most of that product sold in the United States, under many brand names of oil companies.

School Board Appreciation Night at Crosby ISD

Crosby Middle School’s finest voices sang spirituals including “Wade in the Water” and “Swing Low” from their upcoming Black History Program directed by Mrs. Freeman, amply accompanied by her husband Mr. Johnny Freeman on guitar and their son, Johnny, Jr., on keyboard to the Board of Directors of Crosby ISD. Each campus made presentation to the Board both individual and collective for the board volunteer efforts toward education.

‘Highlands Star’ founder pens 3rd book

HIGHLANDS— He was raised on a farm and at age 21 wanted to leave and begin a career as a country newspaper writer and editor. This third of ten siblings didn’t want to move on without his father’s permission so he sat down for a man-to-man talk with “Papa.”
“Son,” his father said. “If you want that job with the little paper, go get it…..But it’s a tough old world out there, and if you can’t make it, come back on the farm. I don’t want you bummin’ round the country, hopping freight, dead broke and going hungry. I don’t want you floating around like ‘a thistle in the wind.’”
So he was off for a newspaper career that lasted more than 40 years—“40 happy years,” and a writing career that went far beyond that. Now retired, this dapper, energetic Highlands man is preparing for a book signing for his third book. It will be from 6 to 8:30 p. m. this evening (January 25) at the Highlands Community Center.

We speak of James Wilson Brazzil, who worked for ten newspapers in his career, the last 20 years as editor and co-publisher of the Highlands Star. Better known as “Jim” to his friends and neighbors, he is now widowed (since May, 2002), continues to reside in Highlands and recently completed his third book “A Thistle in the Wind.”
Back in 1988, he authored his first book, “Owl Creek,” named after his Texas hometown area and followed with another in 1994, “The House of Coot.” He says this will probably be his last. This writer sat down, after completing an interview, and read “A Thistle in the Wind,” It was found to be interesting, enjoyable and a good summation of a man’s life that got printer’s ink on his hands at age 2l. He is now 91 and if you look closely at his hands one would find that ink deeply imbedded there.
He never lacked for desire, ambition and knowledge of what he wanted out of life. He wanted to be a newspaperman. He wanted to write. He persevered through some false starts before finding his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. He found Highlands.
But that gets ahead of the story.
Jim Brazzil took “that job with the little paper,” at The Copperas Cove Crony, near Gatesville, Texas. He wanted to write, and did some writing over the next few years, but most of the time he was on the mechanical side of the newspaper. He became a linotype operator and wrote only when he had time or was given the opportunity.
Those were Depression years, followed by World War II and then the post-war period. During this time Brazzil worked on about nine newspapers, as well as wrote articles in the Army. Some of his articles were done in the Philippines. He writes of working on these mostly small papers and his Air Force experiences in “A Thistle in the Wind.”
Those years saw him marry Bonnie Joe Malone in August 1940, father a son that died shortly after birth and later two daughters and another son. In addition to Owl Creek, Copperas Cove and Gatesville, Brazzil and family lived in Madisonville, Littlefield, Brownfield and a few other well-known Texas towns like those. His military period took him to the Philippines. Bonnie Joe got tired of moving, the kids got tired of moving and Brazzil says he once felt his fathers words “thistle in the wind” described his life but “I never hopped a freight.” Money was not exactly in abundance either.
Brazzil never lost that urge to own and edit his own paper. Over the years his brother-in-law, Alton Neatherlin, was traveling many of these same journalistic roads. At this time the two found themselves at the same places at times working side by side. Neatherlin had that urge also, and the two talked of their own newspaper on occasion.
The next to last stop for both was The Daily Sentinel at Nacogdoches. Here the urge became too much as the pair decided to strike out on their own but had little money to make such a move. Their Sentinel boss knew of their desire, helped as much as he could, and they got a lead about a little town near Houston that had no paper and needed one—Highlands.
Alton and Jim looked the situation over, talked to businessmen in Highlands, searched for used equipment, a building, other supplies and made the plunge. They became co-publishers of the Highlands Star. They had reached their rainbow. Brazzil edited the paper for over 19 years before selling out to Alton and went into semi-retirement. He later ran another business, Jim’s Office Supplies, for eight years.
As co-publishers the two started the Crosby Courier as a separate newspaper. They later found that not to be profitable and merged the two. With this the Star Courier was born.
Brazzil has a great love for Highlands, its people, the changes he has helped bring about and the family that now surrounds him. He authored “A Thistle in the Wind,” but it was a true family happening. Daughter, Bonita, did all the illustrations, daughter Susan, edited the book, granddaughter, Laurie, did the design and typography, and granddaughter Leslie, wrote the foreword and helped Laurie with the book jacket.
During his editing years, Brazzil wrote a front-page column “Star Dust.”
Several of these are printed as the final chapters in his new book. Others, I’m sure, can be found among the clippings friends and subscribers secured down through the years.
These same friends and subscribers can greet Editor Brazzil, once again, January 25 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Highlands Community Center. While there, shake hands with Jim. What’s a little printer’s ink among friends?

Barbers Hill Sports Hall of Honor to induct Class of 2007

MONT BELVIEU—Three Eagles have been selected for induction in the 2007 Class of the Barbers Hill Sports Hall of Honor.
Joining the Hall will be 1960’s football standout Robert Neyland; 1990s basketball Christie Hahn and as an Special Recognition Honoree Norris “Hotshot” Thomas Jr.
The trio will be inducted in the Hall of Honor on Jan. 27 during a dinner at the Barbers Hill High School commons. A reception will held at 6 p.m. followed by the dinner and ceremony at 7 p.m.

Robert Neylan
1965 – 1969

On the gridiron, Neyland was a member of the 1967 District Co-Championship Team and 1968 Bi-District Championship Team (he also served as captain of the squad). He was All-State in 1968; a member of the Texas High School North-South All-Star team in 1969; was All-District 1967 & ’68 and recipient of the Team MVP Award in 1968.
After graduation he went on to play two years at Stephen F. Austin University. Neyland was also a Two-year letterman in basketball, averaging 12 points per game. He was a one year varsity letterman in track.
Christie Tilton Hahn 1989 – 1993

Hahn was a member of the 1990 Bi-District Championship Team; member of the 1992 Bi-District Championship Team; member and captain of the 1993 State Semi-Finalist Team; TGCA North-South All-Star Game 1993; TSWA All-State Team 1993; All-Regional 1992 & 1993; All-District 1990, ’91, ’92, & ’93; District MVP 1992; All-Regional Tournament Team 1993.
In 1993 she had a Field Goal Percentage of 63.3%, averaged 14.5 points per game 14.5, and 8.5 rebounds per game.
She also played four years of basketball at Texas Lutheran University.
Norris “Hotshot” Thomas, Jr. – Special Recognition Honoree

The son of pioneer Chambers County sharecropper parents, Norris Thomas, Jr. attended a one-room school on Hatcherville Road in Mont Belvieu for his elementary education.
Rather than be bused to Liberty County schools, his parents paid a friend to take him to George Washington Carver High School in Baytown, Tx, where he excelled in football and track.
Following graduation in 1949 he married Jester Marie and was drafted into the Korean War where he served honorably.
In 1965, when Barbers Hill desegregated the schools, Norris was a key community leader in assuring a peaceful transition. His children, by their participation and excellence in athletics, also contributed to the successful desegregation of BHISD.
His eldest son, John Henry (’66), was one of the two first black athletes to wear the Eagle blue and white. His daughter, Cynthia (’67), played basketball and tennis at BH, and his other daughter Sheila was a 1972 graduate. His youngest son, Randy (’83), played baseball and was quarterback and MVP in football.
“Hotshot” continues to be a leader in various areas of the community including an active church role and volunteer community service.

Irby named Person of the Year

BEACH CITY—Close to 300 people braved cold wind and rain Tuesday to honor those businesses and individuals that have striven to make the West Chambers County-area a better place to live and work.
This week those volunteers and businesses were honored at the annual awards banquet hosted by the West Chambers County Chamber of Commerce. In a departure from banquets of recent years, this year’s committee went with a different atmosphere for their celebration.

The R.W. Johnson Airport provided the atmosphere in Beach City. The chamber had decorated one of the hangers like an old country barn in keeping with their theme “A County Celebration of Soaring Achievement.”
The top honor the chamber can bestow each year is that of Person of the Year.
This year’s recipient is W.E. “Buddy” Irby. A longtime public servant, Irby served as commissioner on the west side of the county for years guiding the area through a period of unprecedented growth.
The chamber also recognized two area businesses that have stood out in 2006. Without the efforts of businesses, both large and small, many of the projects the chamber hosts each year could not succeed. This year’s corporate Business of the Year went to Enterprise Products, while Barbers Hill Bank was named Small Business of the Year. Year in and year out both businesses have not only donated funds for chamber projects but have encouraged their employees to volunteer and be active in the chamber and community.
Tuesday night each of the cities within West Chambers County had the opportunity to brag about one particular individual who has gone “above and beyond the call of duty” for their community.
John Holloway was named the Cove Volunteer of the Year for his two-plus decades of service to the fire department and EMS.
The Mont Belvieu Volunteer of the Year is Patsy Battle. Battle was honored for her work with the seniors’ center, as well as other local service organizations.
Beach City Mayor Guido Persiani presented Rita Standridge with their town’s Volunteer of the Year award for her work in drawing awareness to the need for a separate ZIP code for West Chambers County.

Steps to take when a loved one dies

After a loved one dies, you’ll have to cope with grief. And yet, if you have even partial responsibility for settling an estate, you have no choice but to focus on some financial matters. By handling these issues as efficiently as possible, you can help ease some of the strain that everyone in your family is feeling.

Ideally, of course, you should learn as much as you can about your loved one’s financial affairs while he or she is still alive. This may not be a comfortable conversation to have, but it’s necessary. If you have a good relationship, you should be able to ask sensitive questions, such as: Do you have a will? What about a living trust? Do you have a safe deposit box? What are the names of your brokerage and bank? The more you know about your loved one’s situation, the better off you will be when it’s time to deal with the estate.
When that day arrives, what steps should you take? Here are a few to keep in mind:
*Find the will. Obviously, it’s a lot easier to locate a will if you learned its location while your loved one was still alive. When you do find the will, you may want to contact an attorney who is experienced in settling estates. Even a well drafted will might offer options that an attorney can help you understand. Although you might want to work with the attorney who drafted the will, you are certainly not required to do so. If you do not have an attorney, ask friends or your financial professional for a referral. If you are the executor, you’ll have to start the process of carrying out the will’s instructions. If you aren’t the executor, contact the person who has been named to this position.
*Inquire about probate. Contact your attorney or the state’s probate court clerk to determine if probate is necessary. If it is, the executor or executrix should initiate proceedings right away, because probate can be time-consuming.
*List assets. Try to find the paperwork for the deceased’s financial assets – bank accounts, securities, real estate, insurance policies, retirement plans, etc. Take special note of who is the beneficiary of these assets; the naming of a beneficiary can even supersede instructions on a will.
*Notify relevant agencies. Notify creditors, banks, the Social Security Administration and other entities about the death of your loved one.
*File life insurance claims. An insurer doesn’t automatically pay benefits upon the death of the insured. Contact the deceased’s insurance company and file any required insurance claims.
*Open a checking account for the estate. It may seem like a strange job to do, but if you are the personal representative or executor, you might want to open a checking account in the estate’s name. Use this account to pay any bills or deposit funds received while the estate is being settled.
*File tax forms. You may have to file state and federal estate and income tax returns. Your attorney and tax advisor can help you in this matter.
Settling the estate of a loved one will never be a happy task. But if done right, it can show respect for the memory of the deceased – and that’s a worthy goal for which to strive.
*Edward Jones, its employees and investment representatives are not estate planners and cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult with a competent attorney for guidance in these areas.

Palais Royal marks discovery of Crosby

The recent announcement that Palais Royal is locating in Crosby hit me in a couple of ways. First, I remember well the rumors that circulated around town last year during my visit. I did some checking at that time and found many willing to spread the rumor, hoping to make it happen, but nothing that would substantiate its arrival. I was a little surprised that after twelve months or more the rumors about town proved to be correct.

Second, the move of Wal-Mart a couple of years ago. While it was an improvement, the building it vacated left a large hole along 2100. Seeing that large vacant space for the first time reminded me of a celestial “black hole” in the midst of many new stars. As I entered town this January and drove along the highway I reacted with, “it’s still there,” referring to that vacant spot.
I think the addition of this department store chain to the Crosby area will be a big boost to the area. As large a boost as Wal-Mart you ask? I believe more so. Wal-Mart made a difference in the shopping habits of local residents but I think Palais Royal’s appearance will be even larger.
Why? To me this will be the beginning of a trend. As I have heard many of you say, “Someday Houston will discover Crosby!” and I think Palais Royal is the Columbus of that discovery. It should be, and I hope will be, the catalyst that begins a number of moves of department stores to this area. It may also bring a number of other types of stores here as well.
I also believe Palais Royal fills a Crosby shopping need. There is nothing like it here now and may there be more!
When contacted by the Star-Courier for a reaction to the Palais Royal announcement, the first word out of his mouth of Crosby-Huffman Chamber of Commerce President, Steve Coon, was “awesome.” He went on to give a more formal quote of his reaction to the addition but I believe “awesome,” says it all. I couldn’t agree more.
I’m a small town boy generally and the small town side of Crosby is vanishing quickly. There is a sadness to that, of course, but sitting as close to Houston as it does, with Houston and Harris County growing as it is, we could expect no less. The country side of Crosby is gone, city life here we come!
Such are the people, places, and things that have touched my life in my home!