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Posts published in “Day: March 22, 2007

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!

Crosby attracts commercial, residential growth

CrosbyÑToday and Tomorrow, Second in a three-part series.

A few issues back the Star-Courier carried a Lewis Spearman article about water service contributions to the growth of Crosby. That article indicated 4,000 home starts are planned in this area by next year. That, and business inquires received by the Crosby-Huffman Chamber of Commerce has chamber officials smiling. Crosby has been discovered and fast growth is here.
Four thousand more homes in this area will mean more changes and certainly more businesses coming to the area. When Palais Royal announced it would open a store here on April 18, 2007, Chamber President Steve Coon said, ÒawesomeÓ and added, Òwe are in a growing area and should embrace this as part of this growth.Ó
In a more recent interview he said, there are more large chains and other businesses moving in and others showing interest. ÒThis reminds me of the Rt. 59, I-610 and Rt. 6 growth to Rosenberg that hit Southwest Houston several years ago. In the 1980Õs that area was mostly fields and now is almost solid with businesses and homes. All of the earmarks are here in Crosby for the same growth.Ó

Palais Royal is committed to move into the old Wal-Mart building but many other businesses have opened along 2100 over the past year or more. This would include the new Wal-Mart, Quiznos, Starbucks and Applebees, to name a few, and several smaller businesses in recently built strip malls.
When asked about other businesses expected to become part of the Crosby scene chamber officials said Òsome interest has been shown but there is nothing firm at present. There is a lot of property available here for homes and businesses.Ó However, the Star-Courier has learned from other sources that at least two of the recent inquiries have come from hotel chains. Interest has been shown in property along 2100 and new Hwy. 90.
The Chamber itself is growing and Executive Director, Mitzi Plumb, said about 25 new memberships have been added in the last few months. The Crosby-Huffman Chamber now has 210 members on its roles. ÒThis small country town is changing,Ó she commented. A look at the chamber membership list shows that some of the members are those from outside the area but Òhave interest in CrosbyÕs future.Ó Members come from as far away as San Antonio.
Upgrade work on FM 2100 should have an impact on CrosbyÕs future growth. This on again, off again, project is now scheduled to begin in early 2008 and should add positively to the traffic patterns and land value along its perimeters.
As for home starts, several tracts are opening up within a two- or three-mile stretch of 2100. Within the past several weeks land moving equipment has been relocating dirt along Kenning Road on the Barrett side of Rt. 90. A few hundred homes should be forthcoming from that site. Another has opened behind the Crosby State Bank building on 2100 and a third has been committed along Hare Road across from the post office.
Businessman and land owner, Bill Murff, owns Ò260 acres behind Wal-MartÓ that he hopes to sell to a developer. ÒI had it sold but the developer and the Crosby MUD could not get together so it is now on hold,Ó he told the Star-Courier. When the situation is right that tract will enter CrosbyÕs growth picture.
His son, Scott Murff, is involved in some dealings of properties along 2100 North of Crosby, but Ònothing is firm and I am not prepared to talk about it,Ó he commented. There are other smaller tracts and individual home sites being developed or sold across the area that will be homes of the future or additional business sites.
One of the major players in most all of these additions is the Crosby MUD, discussed last week. When all, or part, of these subdivisions come into play Crosby MUD will see a dramatic increase in its meter count, not unlike that experienced by the Newport MUD.
Next week: CrosbyÑThird in a three-part series looks at the Crosby Independent School District, the Crosby Branch Library and the Crosby Post Office.

Follies of market timing

Many investors try to “time” the market by “buying low and selling high.” In theory, that’s a great idea – but it’s almost impossible to put into practice.
If you try to outguess the market, you run the substantial risk of guessing wrong – of buying stocks too soon, before they get even cheaper, or of selling stocks too late, after they’ve fallen from their highs. But these are only the most obvious of the problems that can result from market timing. Here are some others to consider:
*You could lose your investment discipline. The best investors are the disciplined investors. They choose quality stocks and hold them for the long term, through good and bad markets. In fact, they have conditioned themselves to ignore short-term price swings in either direction, based on their belief that their patience eventually will be rewarded.

*You could hurt your diversification. To succeed as an investor, you need to build a diversified portfolio. Your exact mix of investments will depend on your individual goals, risk tolerance and time horizon. Over time, as your situation changes – for example, when you move from the working world to retirement – you will need to adjust your portfolio. But if you’re constantly buying and selling in a vain attempt to time the market, you may well end up with a perennially “unbalanced” portfolio. Keep in mind, though, that even a diversified portfolio won’t guarantee a profit, nor will it protect against a loss in a declining market.
*You could run up transaction costs. Stock transactions can be expensive, as you rack up commissions and other fees. Over time, these costs can significantly erode your investment returns. If you are always trying to “buy low” and “sell high you’ll be doing an awful lot of buying and selling.
*You could run up your tax bill. When you sell a stock for a profit, you must pay capital gains taxes. However, if you hold a stock for at least one year before selling, you will be assessed the most favorable capital gains rate, which is 15 percent for most investors. But if you were to pursue a buy low/sell high strategy, you could sell some stocks before a year has lapsed and pay higher capital gains rates. And if you’re repeatedly selling a lot of shares in this accelerated time frame, you could face some unpleasant surprises when it’s time to file your taxes.
Clearly, the buy low/sell high approach has some major drawbacks. So should you ignore the price of a stock when you’re making buy or sell decisions? No – just look at more than the price. If you’re considering buying a stock whose price is low, try to find out why it’s low. If it’s a good company in the grip of a strong “bear” market, then a low price may indeed indicate a good bargain. But if a company’s stock price is low because its products are no longer competitive or the company itself is part of a declining industry, then “buying low” with the hopes of eventually reaping big profits probably doesn’t make much sense.
Make your investment decisions carefully. But until a crystal ball arrives, don’t try to stay one step ahead of the market – or you could fall far behind.