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Posts published in March 2007

Highlands Little League celebrates 51 years

HIGHLANDS—The Highlands Little League celebrated over a half-century of bringing baseball to the community this past weekend with their 51st Annual Opening Day.
The celebration began Friday night with the annual queen’s pageant.
Each team is responsible for raising money before the start of the season. During the pageant the team that raises the most money is recognized and their “queen” is named the Little League Queen for that year.
This year the Major Braves raised close to $27,000 earning Madison Bennett the queen’s title. Rebekah Stombaugh, who represented the Tee-ball Astros placed second with her team earning $18,000. Coming in third was Diana Singer, from the Major Indians with $17,000. Singer was the 2003 Little League Queen.
According to League president Grant Slusser, the league raised over $100,000.

This year’s pageant also featured a talent competition in three age groups. In the Peewee class, Hannah Dooley won first for her singing of “Take me Out to The Ball Game.” Anna Keyes placed second, Savannah Pipkins placed third and Cassandra Weber came in fourth.
In the Junior Division, Jaclyn Holloway wowed the judges with her balloon sculpting skills. Briana Pipkins placed second and Savannah Pogue placed third.
Stombaugh also won first in senior talent with a prose selection of the ‘truth behind Mary’s Little Lamb.’ Marlo Lamb came in second and Leigh Ann Thompson placed third.
Before the start of the season, the league had a fun day during which a homerun derby was held. Derby winners were: 5-6 year olds: Colton Belvin and Landon Stockwell 1st; Baylor Doffing, 2nd. 7-8 year olds: Ty Cook, 1st; Andrew Pantoja, 2nd and Zane Weaver, 3rd. 9-10 year olds: Tyler Masterson, 1st; Alex White, 2nd and Kyle Davis and Ethan Lansford, 3rd. 11-12 year olds: Joseph Cross, 1st; John Pantoja and Justin Parker, 2nd and Theron Stockwell and Watson Moore, 3rd.
Activities continued Saturday morning with a parade on Main Street and Opening Day ceremonies at the ball fields.

Crosby ISD, library feel impact of growth

Crosby—Today and Tomorrow, Third in a three-part series.

CROSBY– When populations go up or down some of those most interested in these changes include the school systems and the post office. Particularly the school systems can be dramatically impacted by swings in populations in a short time period. Crosby ISD, the Crosby Library and the local post office have such an interest in Crosby’s growth now and in the future.
To look at this subject the Crosby ISD released a study in late 2006. “The area growing in student enrollment but not as dramatically as some expected,” said Superintendent Dr. Don Hendrix in a recent interview. “Because of the increased businesses along Rt. 2100 a larger impact on our enrollment was expected.”
For the school years of 2000-2001 to 2005-2006 the growth in the five schools in the Crosby ISD showed a growth of zero percent (2001-2002) to a high of four percent for the years 2003-2004 and 2004-2005. Year 2006-2007 were not available from the report.
For K-5th grade the study showed a growth of 1,883 students to 2,169 from 2000 to the current year. Sixth to 8th grades showed an increase from 929 to 1,092 and Crosby High School an increase from 1,167 to 1,436 over the same six years. While these increases may not seem dramatic it does show an increase of over 700 students in the local ISD in these years.

Is it a message for things to come? Probably so, as projections were made for all five schools from 2008 to 2015 and they show the student enrollment at all five schools exceeding the practical capacity of classroom space available. The only difference is in that year school enrollment will exceed the practical capacity.
Barrett Primary has a practical capacity of 675 students and can expect an enrollment exceeding that number by 209 in 2015. In that same time period Newport Elementary and Drew Intermediate will exceed their practical capacity by 382 and 335 students respectfully.
Crosby Middle has a practical capacity of 720 currently and can expect an enrollment of 1,151 by 2015. This is an overage of 431 students.
The four-year Crosby High School will also take a hit. It can expect an enrollment of 2,079 students by 2015 and has a design capacity of 1,435.
Changes in all levels will be necessary over the next few years to accommodate these increases. From the year 2000 to 2015 the Crosby school system will have a total enrollment increase of over 3000 students. In 2000 the enrollment from K-12 was 4,000 and in 2005 is expected to top 7,000. Superintendent Hendrix recently announced his retirement. Thus, the new superintendent, his staff and the ISD board will have an immediate challenge to meet these increases.
Diane Barker, Head Librarian at the Crosby Branch Library, provided the Star-Courier with some revealing growth statistics for the local library. For a five-year period, 2002-2006 the Crosby Branch circulation grew from 78,754 books per year to over 109,294. “The stats would have been higher for 2006 but we were only opened one day in December,” stated Barker. The library was closed from early December to late January for remodeling, rearranging of the collection and the creation of a new adult area. A handsome mural was also added to one interior wall.
Barker said the library has a very supportive community and “is pleased to help…with various needs. The growing children’s programs are important to us and we try to provide a variety of programs and materials to meet their needs and interests.”
The largest growth in circulation for recent years at the Crosby library was from 2003-2004 when the circulation rose by approximately 20,000 in that 12-month period. In 2005-2006, the latest statistics available, showed a circulation increase by approximately 5,000. As mentioned earlier this was really an 11-month period due to the December closure.
The Crosby Post Office perhaps has a lesser problem but has been seeing increases over the past few years and will see more in the future. Local Postmistress Gwendolyn Davis told the Star-Courier the delivery area has grown by over 1,300 boxes since 2003, the oldest year she has available. In 2003 the post office had 7,575 boxes and currently is serving 8,876.
The post office has an Operations Program Office in Houston that deals with delivery growth. In areas such as Crosby routes sometimes become too large and additional routes must be established.
This is occurring in Crosby.
As shown in this and earlier articles in this three-part series future growth will continue to impact the post office. Routes will change, perhaps annually, or even more often. However, postal authorities are committed to meet new delivery demands as required and will continue to strive for the best results available.
Postmistress Davis indicated one of the current local post office challenges is the growing pain caused by the loss of long-term seasoned employees and being replaced by new hires or short-service personnel.
No doubt the Crosby growth will continue and local residents will see more changes as Crosby goes from a small town to a large unincorporated area between now and 2015. More and more houses will be built, more and more businesses will take their places along FM 2100 or Hwy. 90 and be sure the costs of buying land and building will continue to escalate.
One real estate representative estimated the building and land costs have gone up by some 25% since the turn of the century.
Crosby the tide of change will continue to impact you. Sit back and enjoy it!

Doin my chores…

My first wife will be at the house this evening, coming back from a trip above the Mason Dixon Line. She has been up there spoiling the already rotten grandkids and her first son.
Yours truly has been in charge of the cat latrine AKA cat box while she’s out moseying around up Nawth.
In addition to the latrine duty, KP duty was also added to the list of chores during her spring break. Have to pull KP duty as well since there is nobody else to run the scullery. With a one butt kitchen, the scullery is in the kitchen.
If I’m coming out of left field for some of you, the scullery is the place to wash dishes. KP duty is kitchen police.

Normally the chief cook is yours truly while the chief bottle washer is the Mrs. She usually swabs the deck too.
Since she’s gone, I got to swab the deck and did; my way.
She uses one of these wussy Swisher things to clean the floor. I broke out the swab that has to be wrung out as the wringer is attached to the swab. This ain’t no sponge mop now.
Swept the deck first then with bleach and water, the deck was swabbed and scrubbed in places. A rinsed swab was then used to get up excess water and bleach.
Seeing as how it would take a while to dry and didn’t want the felines tracking the deck, I used her Swisher to dry the floor. It is nothing more than a wide, narrow piece of towel that has Velcro to attach to the handle.
Needless to say the floor was clean enough to eat off; ask Four Dog if you don’t believe it.
Anyway, after a dozen or so trips thru the kitchen to the garage and the outdoors, there were bits of grass, dirt and such on the nice clean kitchen floor. Aggrr; no wonder she gets right down mean after she swabs the deck and anyone tracks through there. White floor in the kitchen – No Mas!
Learned a long time ago not to track after my mother mopped; she’d hit you in the rear end with a wet mop and once is all it took.

There are still honest people in the world

Newspapers, TV and radio are full of stories concerning people doing the wrong things. Hardly a day goes by that one does not read front-page stories of people in trouble for criminal acts. One would think the world contains nothing but people out for gain at someone else’s expense.
Here is a story that might brighten your day and perhaps instill a little faith in the humans about us. It’s about one Charles Stevens of Highlands.
As the story unfolds we find one of our senior citizen ladies doing her Saturday morning shopping. She had stopped at the Food Town store in Highlands where she found the parking lot full and customers going and coming. She made her way into the store, made her purchases and went through the checkout. As usual she pushed her cart to her car, unloaded the groceries and headed out of the parking lot.

After leaving the parking lot she realized her purse was missing. Frantically, she turned around, returned to the store to report her loss. While talking to the manager, Raymond Gonzales, he asked her name. When she responded he said, “Your purse is at the customer service counter.”
Like most women her pursed contained her life. “My wallet, my money, about 100 credit cards, well maybe not that many, and a host of other items,” she said. “There were enough credit cards for a dishonest person to enjoy a great shopping spree.”
It seems the above mentioned Charles Stevens is responsible for keeping the Food Town parking lot free of buggies. In the process of making his rounds he found the lady’s purse and returned it to the manager. All of the contents were intact.
The frantic customer was highly pleased and relieved at getting her purse returned. So much so, she wanted to share the honesty of Stevens with others and she told me the story. Now I have relayed it to you.
Certainly Stevens should be complimented for his honesty and he, his manager and all of Food Town can be proud of this Highlands worker. I would like to think all people would follow Stevens’ example but my experience tells me that isn’t the case.
As the customer said in passing on this story, “There are still some honest people in this world?” Yes there are and Stevens is one of them. I offer a tip of my Touch of Life hat to Charles Stevens of Highland’s Food Town.
Such are the people, places and things that have touched my life in my home!
Don Springer can be reached at

Dates set for Dayton Ole Tyme Days

DAYTON— The 15th annual Dayton Ole Tyme Days Festival is here again, April 20-22. Admission is free! New events this year include a 42 tournament and a Youth Bake Off.
The 42 Tournament will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, April 21 at The Cowboy Church located at 310 N. Church Street in Dayton. Donation per person is $10. Registration will begin at 1 p.m. The team that wins the most games out of eight will win the tournament. First and second prize VISA gift cards will be awarded. For more information, contact Jerry Whitney at 936-298-3011, 936-334-4266 or email:
The Youth Bake-Off registration will be between 9 and11 a.m on Saturday at The Kountry Kitchen restaurant located on Main Street in Dayton. Anyone between the ages of K-12 is welcome to enter their baked goods. For cakes and pies, no “ice-box cakes or ice-box pies” will be allowed. For cookies, 24 cookies are needed to qualify.
The first entry is $3. Additional entries are $2 each. To enter your cakes, pies and cookies in the Bake-Off, contact Mindey Psencik at 936-402-0081 or email: or visit to find an entry form on the Bake-Off page.
Helping Scholarships
The Ole Tyme Days Festival is held annually to promote Dayton, Texas and to raise money for local youth scholarships. The festival has grown tremendously over the past fifteen years.
All proceeds benefit the Dayton Ole Tyme Days Youth Scholarship Fund. Thank you to our many sponsors (past and present).
For more festival information and the full schedule of events, go to the festival website
Volunteers sought
Volunteers are always welcome at the Dayton Ole Tyme Festival. Planning meetings will be held April 5, 12 and 19 in the courtroom of the Dayton Police Department.

I-10 traffic stop nets $2.6M drug seizure

EAST HARRIS COUNTY—Two Harris County sheriff’s deputies made an unusual discovery last week when they pulled over a truck that was driving erratically: over 1,000 pounds of marijuana.
According to District Spokesperson Karen Jordan, Deputies C. Kowlis and J. O’Brien were driving on Interstate 10 on March 10 when they saw a white Isuzu pickup with Alabama plates driving in an unsafe manner.
“The deputies stopped the truck after observing it make several unsafe lane changes without signaling and nearly striking another motorist when doing so,” Jordan said. “As the deputies neared the rear of the truck, they immediately smelled a pungent odor of fresh marijuana around the cargo area.”

The driver was identified as Phillip Farley, 34, of Quinton, Alabama. The passenger was Dorothy Lewis, 45, of Beaumont, Texas. “Both seemed extremely nervous and gave conflicting accounts as to why they were in the Houston area” Jordan added.
The deputies called for backup. Deputy Hoyt arrived on the scene with his canine partner “Rocco”. The certified narcotic detecting dog displayed two positive alerts at the rear cargo door of the vehicle to his handler.
Upon opening the cargo door, deputies discovered 14 cardboard boxes containing 58 bundles of marijuana, which totaled 1,085 pounds, as well as $36,000 in cash. Narcotic investigators estimate the street value of the marijuana to exceed $2.6 million. Both Farley and Lewis are each being held in the Harris County Jail on $5 million bonds awaiting trial.
“The professional experience of both Deputies Kowis and O’Brien prevented the distribution of the marijuana to our Harris County streets. Kudos to both on a job well done,” Jordan said.

Little newspapers easy to love

The following is an excerpt from James Brazzil’s “A Thistle in the Wind.” Brazzil is the co-founder of the ‘Highlands Star” newspaper.

To me, little newspapers belong right up there with the other good stuff in life, like apple pie, little kids, and fuzzy puppies.
And a lot of country folks will tell you right off that little newspapers, too, are easy to love.
Reading my hometown newspaper has come to be a sort of habit with me through the years, like putting on my pants, or pouring another cup of coffee.
Nothing like the smell of printer’s ink and newsprint to start my day. Besides that, reporting the news, setting type, and printing papers were part of my life for almost forty years.
I still remember what a thrill it was when I first saw a newspaper coming off the printing press and got my first whiff of printer’s ink. I was in my young teens, and it happened in the little country town of Copperas Cove, Texas. The Cove, as most folks called it back then, is located in the southwestern corner of Coryell County, pretty close to the center of the Lone Star State.

The little weekly newspaper that inspired me to want to be a newspaperman was The Copperas Cove Crony.
On that particular day I was with my grandfather, John Knox Brazzil, who was serving as County Treasurer of Coryell County and had an office in the courthouse in Gatesville. Grandpa was up for re-election, and he often picked me up to keep him company on the campaign trail. He was a big man, about six feet tall, and weighed almost three hundred pounds. He walked with a cane, smiled a lot, and never met a stranger. Newspaper people were at the top of his list of special friends.
When we entered the office of The Crony that day, the man feeding sheets of newsprint through his printing press stopped the press and greeted us both with a handshake and a big grin. He was wearing a bright blue printer’s apron and a green eyeshade, and a big red pencil was sticking out of his shirt pocket.
Grandpa handed the fellow a candidate card bearing his name and the title of his office, and the man glanced at it and handed it back.
“Keep your card, Uncle Knox, you’ve got my vote,” he said with a grin. “Ain’t nobody running against you, and they probably won’t. Folks around here know that you are the right man.”
I had never been in a print shop, so while Grandpa and the printer were talking, I walked around with my hands in my pocket, hoping to learn what newspapers were all about. Over in a corner of the little office, I noticed a man sitting at a big wooden desk, evidently the editor of the paper. Noticing me, he got up out of his chair and motioned for me, to sit down. Standing by my side he rolled a sheet of paper into an old Woodstock typewriter and asked me my name.
I told him that my name was James Wilson Brazzil and that I was named after President Woodrow Wilson,
But my daddy called me “Good Man.” With a long ink-stained finger he punched the typewriter keys and the words “Good Man” appeared on the paper. It was the first typewriter I had ever seen, and I really was impressed. The editor turned around, picked up a little brass tray he called a type stick, and started picking metal letters out of a big wooden tray he called a type case. A minute later he put ink on the type with a little rubber roller, laid a piece of white paper on top of the type, and walked over to a funny looking that he called a proof press. I watched carefully as he a rolled a big roller over the type. Out came the word WILSON, as big as life.
I left Copperas Cove that day with the two pieces of paper bearing my names neatly folded in my pocket, feeling almost as big and as important as Grandpa. And back at the old farm at Flat where I lived with my family, I couldn’t wait to talk to my mama. I had told her a few years earlier that I would be going out west to be a cowboy, or maybe I would run for president, when I got older. That day I told her that I had changed my mind and wanted to become a country editor.
Mama seemed happy to hear that and didn’t appear to be surprised. Many times she had given me a dozen eggs fresh from the farm, to trade for Big Chief tablets and cedar pencils at Clawson’s General Store. And she had figured out that I would be a writer. When the other Brazzil kids went to the store with eggs, they traded them for soda pop and peppermint candy.
During the next few years I pretended that I was a country editor with my own little newspaper and my imagination took over. I filled tablet after tablet with stories about cowboys, Indians, and gunfighters, in addition to writing about happenings at school and in the community. Some of my stuff was based on truth, but most was fiction, but it was mine, and I was proud of it.
Like most writers I know, I didn’t want anyone peeping over my shoulder when I was writing, and my two older sisters were extremely good at that. I certainly didn’t want them giggling and making fun of what 1 had written.
I talked to my mama about that, and Mama fixed it, like she did so often with other problems in the lives of her children. She and I wagged a big milk can made of steel off our back porch to a secluded place in the tall weeds and brush in back of her vegetable garden. The can was three feet tall and had a tight lid that shut out the bugs and kept out the moisture from the dew and the rain. Mama kept my secret, and either she or I would sneak my stories out and put them in the can when no one was looking. This went on for a number of years. Finally I didn’t need the old can anymore because both of my older sisters got married.
My grandfather Brazzil served as County Treasurer of Coryell County for some seventeen years and never had anyone run against him. One day he suffered a heart attack while sitting at his desk and died the same day. John Knox Brazzil was quite a man, and I wish I could have been more like him.
When I visited Copperas Cove that day over 70 years ago, it was a small country town with a few hundred people. Now, I am told, it has a population of about thirty thousand people, many of them military people stationed at Fort Hood.
Big or little, Copperas Cove, Texas, and its people will always have a special place in this old country editor’s heart.

Last minute gardening

Been doing a lot of lawn work this spring and the ole lawn looks pretty good right now. Soon as the weather broke I started the leaf cleanup around the house and in Dave’s extra next door lot. Lots and lots of leaves, about 65 bags in all. Don’t know who got tired of messing with the bags, me or the pick-up crews that had to pick them up and heave them into the truck. At least I spread them out over several pick-ups.
Also, Linda and I did a lot of work around Dave’s house with flowers bushes, etc. It all looks a lot better, at least to us, and should hold most of the greenery in line for several months, except for a small amount of trimming . I think we put down about 50 bags of mulch. Dave teases me about my back-East mumbling of that word. Instead of “mulch” I have a tendency to say “mulsh.” Oh well, I’ve made him the butt of jokes a few times as well.
Soon I will have to give up this visit to Texas, Crosby and Newport and head back east.

When you read this we will still be here but before another issue of the Star-Courier leaves the presses we will be back in the hills, valleys and mountains of the Appalachians. Been here for eleven weeks this time and it is time to be going home to start the spring lawn work again..
Visits are great fun and lots of good things happen but it is always good to return home as well. One of the advantages of going back to the Eastern Mountains at this time of year is that we get to celebrate the arrival of Spring once again. Here the azaleas are out, the tree leaves our out and buds are showing up on many flowers. It is always good to see Spring.
However, back home it is still relatively cold, trees are still bare and the azaleas have not bloomed. All of that will happen soon after we return. Only problem is I have about 550 ft. of riverbank, about 30 feet from yard to river, that will be covered with leaves. So, I will be tackling leaves again. Not a bad job though as it all looks good when completed. And when the sun comes out brightly the ground turns green alongside the blue of the river waters and one notices Spring is truly here.
We made several new Texas friends again this year as we always do. Some are new neighbors of Dave’s, others are members of the Crosby Methodist Church and others are those we simply met on several occasions while doing the business of life in Crosby.
If we did not meet this year, maybe next, and I will be looking forward to that pleasure. Will see you again in a few months—God willing!
Such are the people, places and things that have touched my life in my home!