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Posts published in “Day: April 5, 2007

Congressmen say SanJac River filled with dioxins – Future Superfund Site?

HIGHLANDS— Congressman Gene Green (D) and Congressman Ted Poe (R) have called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to clean up a long-forgotten industrial waste site that has poisoned the San Jacinto River for decades.
The contaminated area of the river east of Houston, which serves as a food source and recreation area, sends dioxin-laced sediment all the way to Galveston Bay.
“This mess is threatening the health of Texans and it’s not going to go away by itself,” Green said. “If we don’t take responsibility for cleaning it now, the problem will only get worse.”
Green and Poe both represent areas affected by the contamination.

“The San Jacinto River area has long been a recreational site for families in eastern Harris County,” said Poe. “The pollution caused by the waste site threatens the quality of life and the health of the folks that live along the river and we can not continue to ignore the seriousness of this situation.”
In a letter dated March 23, they asked the EPA to designate the zone a Superfund site “for the health and safety of our constituents.”
The Superfund program was enacted allows the EPA to require responsible parties to clean up contaminated sites. If the parties can not be located or are unable to clean the sites, the EPA may use money from the Superfund Trust Fund to clean up the contaminated areas.
Dioxin levels in the San Jacinto River had been mysteriously high for years in spite of measures designed to reduce pollution from nearby industry. In 2005, scientists discovered that an industrial waste pit operated in the area until about thirty years ago. Over time, the pit became submerged in the river, and the company that operated the pit went out of business.
Dioxin is an organic compound that can cause cancer and other health problems. Children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to its effects.

O’Reilly’s sets records, underdogs win

MONT BELVIEU – On a rainy day you can see Highlands and Crosby residents sloshing in mud, muffling their ears and grinning like a canary stuffed cat at Houston Raceway Park for O’Reilly Spring Nationals.
Stormy weather held the crowd down to about 20,000 for eliminations on Sunday. The devout, however, saw many tight passes. Jason Line won the Pro-Stock by about 23 inches over Allen Johnson.
The fastest race of the day had about 8 feet difference. In the first round of the Top Fuel Dragsters, Sarg. Tony Schumacher of the U.S. Army Racing Team was treed against Brandon Bernstein in the Budweiser Top Fuel Dragster. Brandon was out first with a 0.034 second reaction time, to 0.065. Sarg. passed him but something broke on the Army dragster just before the finish. The pair ended up down the quarter mile in just over 4.5 seconds.
J.R. Todd won the final pass in the Fuel Dragster by defeating record setting new commer, Joe Hartley, by .042 seconds. Todd left first, ran faster and took second place in overall points.

Ron Capps in the Brut Dodge Funny Car edged out Cruz Pedregon in the Monte Carlo although Cruz left earlier – 0.045 against 0.039. This is the second time these two have been in the finals and now each has a win. At the finish, it appeared that Pedregon’s rear brake lights flashed. Capps elapsed time was 4.868 against Cruz’s 5.025.
The most emotional interview witnessed at the finals was Capps dedicating his victory to the now deceased Eric Medlen of John Force Racing. Medlen died in a freak accident on March 23 when his left tire become involved in unprecedented vibrations that caused his Funny Car to swerve left into the wall. J.R. Todd likewise dedicated his Top Fuel Win to Medlen. John Force did not race in Houston Raceway due to the death in his team.
At the end of the race, teary Capps said, “We’re not morning Eric’s loss, we’re celebrating his life today, I miss him so badly. I didn’t even want to race this weekend, but Eric wouldn’t have it any other way. This trophy is going straight to Medlen, and I’m gonna have another one made for his mom.”
Angelle Sampey won for the second year in a row at Houston Raceway Park on her U.S. Army Suzuki by going 188.9 against 145.59 by Graige Treble, although Treble had the best reaction time of 0.015 seconds against Sampey’s 0.084. She just ran faster all day, saying “I wore green underwear today, and now I guess I better wear them every race,”
The Pro-Stock, like stock car dragsters but with big hood scoops, went to Jason Line. Remember that name because he won the third event for his team in the first four events of the day. Line is now second to the legendary Greg Anderson, Pro-Stock great racer, note Pomona and Gainesville. Of course, Line was again up against a great name at the final tree, the Johnson Family– Warren Johnson was six time world champion. He was beaten at the start by .01 to .055 by Alan Johnson and had to make up with fast sprinting.
ProModified went to Joshua Hernandez over Scott Cannon although both rookies finished in just over 6.2 seconds and about six feet different.
Brian Hough in a Chevy beat Cy Chesterman in a Mustang with great reaction times in Alcohol Funny Car.

Living and Working in Paradise – Highlands girl finds adventure in far parts of the world…

LOS CABOS, MEXICO– Its only a job, she says. But when you see photos of the land, sea and homes, you know that Leah Stasney has found something special.
Leah is the daughter of Chester and Marie Stasney of Highlands. She grew up in Highlands, her father a Rotarian known for his “famous chili” at the annual chili fest. Speaking at a recent Rotary luncheon, she told about her studies that led to an unusual and picturesque job.
She attended the University of Houston, where she studied interior and architectural design. After college, her first job was in Africa, working for the Houston architectural firm EDI. There, she was in charge of furnishing interiors of prefabricated houses for an Oil and Gas Company working in Equitorial Guinea, along the west coast of mainland Africa. She had to procure furniture from U.S. firms, and then install it in Africa. She spent 3 months in a housing area near the city of Bata. In all, she received 148 containers of furniture that had to be placed. These went in to 18 homes in the development. They also built an office building and a water plant. The contractor was from Denmark.
While Leah was in Bata, she endured a dangerous situation as a coup attempt was made on the president, but she managed to avoid any personal threats.

After this project was completed, she returned to Houston, expecting to go into traditional office work. However, because of her overseas experience, and some contacts she had made and impressed in the interiors field, she was recommended for a dream job, a luxury new housing community in Mexico on the Baja Peninsula.
This time, she was employed by the developer, to help design, construct, and install interiors to large villas.
Del Mar Development is the owner and developer. This is a firm started about 13 years ago by Kenneth Schnitzer and Ron Hatfield after visiting the beautiful coast at Los Cabos. They decided to form a company to build a vacation housing community. The land is at the very southern tip of Baja peninsula, and definitely a unique opportunity.
What resulted was a new community of about 200 homes when it is finally completed. It is known as Villas Del Mar, and is built around an old famous hotel, the Palmilla.
Here and in the adjacent town of Los Cabos, stars such as John Wayne and Bing Crosby used to come to fish in the 1950s. Today this same charm and beauty draw wealthy Americans for a second home, with famous names such as Jeff Bagwell and Michael Dell.
These villas are available in several models, from 2 to 5 bedrooms, and 3000 sf to 7000 sf. Prices range from $2 million to $9 million, according to Leah. This includes the home and land. Most villas include maid and butler services, too, and a homeowners association and private recreation club and pool.
Leah works for a construction office with about 30 engineers and architects. She purchases materials and designs and supervises the interior installations.
Villa Del Mar is building about 35 new homes a year, and is also developing several adjacent projects with similar characteristics, so Leah pictures her endeavors to continue for at least another 5 years. But we can see this dream job being hard to finish and walk away from in the future.
What other paradise could top this one?

You’re running for what?

Had occasion to visit Grenada, Miss. a few days ago while driving through that state. This was our first visit to that medium size town. Most times when I visit somewhere new one of the first things I do is pick up a local newspaper and read the local happenings.
Bought a copy of the Grenada Star that was a 20-page paper for that issue. There I found several things of interest and I thought I would pass two of them on to you.
Joe Lee III is the publisher and also serves as an editorial writer and columnist. On the “Viewpoint” page I read Lee’s column included the following:
“I’ll be glad when this cat food scare is over. The Boss of the House is making me eat cat food to see if it is dangerous. She says if I don’t die in 24 hours she knows it is safe for Paws, Ears, and Little Bit (their cats).”

One has some problem believing the above but Joe Lee III says it is the truth. So much for writer Joe’s pecking order in that house. I believe somewhere in there I would draw the line.
Mississippi Democrats Problem
The lead front-page story for the above named newspaper said, “Insurance Commissioner George Dale, long-time House member Mary Ann Stevens and perennial candidate Shawn O’Hara filed lawsuits to get back on the Democratic ballot….”
The issue that interested me most was that of Shawn O’Hara. Apparently he is a perennial candidate on the Democrat Party side in most elections. Although the story didn’t say this he must be a perennial loser as well.
Trying to improve his odds for election O’Hara filed for seven statewide offices, two district, two legislative and eight county offices. That is nineteen offices in all. The Party decided that was a bit much and removed his name for every office on the ballot except for that of state treasurer. There were no other candidates on the ballot for that office.
O’Hara is upset with this ruling, which was made on a split vote of the state executive committee. According to the paper, “in his lawsuit, which gives only one side of the legal argument, O’Hara said he was illegally denied his constitutional right to seek public office and denied protections provided in the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1964 Civil Rights Act.”
This was a new issue to me, as I have never heard of anyone running for so many offices in any one election.
The newspaper pointed out current (Mississippi) law does not prohibit a candidate from seeking more than one office on the same day, but legislators are considering a bill to do so. Apparently this has led to a debate in Mississippi as the state’s Democrat Party Chairman has opposed removing the names.
Running for nineteen offices at once hits me as being a bit much but then I don’t live in Mississippi.
The Democrats removed the other two names because both candidates are strong Bush supporters. The courts will decide all three issues.
Such are the people, places and things that have touched my live in my West Virginia home!
Don Springer can be reached at

Time for some financial spring cleaning?

Now that April is here, you might decide to spruce up your home, both inside and out. But you also may want to do a little “spring cleaning” to help keep your financial house in order.
What steps should you take to tidy up your financial situation? Actually, some of the moves are the same as those you’d use to reinvigorate your house and yard. Consider the following:
*Get the clutter out. When you open some of your closets, you probably ask yourself: “Why on earth do I need that?” Strange as it may seem, when you open your investment portfolio up for examination, you might have similar thoughts. Perhaps you’ve had some investments for so long that you no longer remember why you bought them. If you aren’t sure why you own a stock, bond or other type of security, you might want to sell it and use the proceeds to invest in something else that might be more useful in helping you meet your goals.

*Rearrange the furnishings. Over time, and almost without your being aware of it, the furnishings in a room can get “out of balance.” Perhaps you have too many chairs in one corner, or maybe your new entertainment center is crowding out a couch. Usually, with a little rearranging, you can get things back in order. And the same is true with your portfolio: Over time, it might have become unbalanced, with too much of one investment and too little of another. This situation could prove hazardous to your financial situation, especially if the imbalance means you are taking on too much risk or, conversely, if your holdings have become too conservative to provide the growth you need. A well-balanced portfolio can help you achieve your long-term goals and accommodate your individual risk tolerance, but it won’t assure you of a profit or protect against a loss in declining markets.
*Update your home’s “look.” If you’ve lived in a place for a long time, the rooms and even the landscaping can start to look a little “frumpy.” Perhaps the way you lived in 1997 isn’t quite the way you’d like to live in 2007. So, you make some changes. And when you look at your investment portfolio, you might also think that some elements aren’t reflecting new realities of your life, such as marriage, divorce, a new child, a child going off to college or impending retirement. If this is the case, you may need to adjust your holdings.
*Check your security system. It’s always a good idea to check your smoke detectors and alarm systems to make sure they are functioning properly. And, just like your home’s security features, your life insurance needs to be checked periodically. If you’ve moved to a more expensive home, or if you’ve added a child to your family, is your insurance still sufficient? Or, if you have recently remarried or divorced, have you changed your beneficiaries?
As you can see, you can gain a lot of benefit from a financial spring cleaning. Get started soon.

Historical commission acquires new building – Plans made for 175th Anniversary

CHAMBERS COUNTY– The Chambers County Historical Commission met last week in the building recently purchased by Chambers County Commissioners Court.
The building will provide space for the Historical Commission’s Archives, Museum, Office and Meeting Room, as well as storing records for Chambers County. Although renovations are still in process by the Chambers County Maintenance Department, the Meeting Room has been completed to allow meetings to be conducted there.
Following routine business items, various committees reported on activities for the month. The Old House Recognition Signs continue to be rotated throughout the county and are currently located at the Hamilton-Willcox home owned by Warren G. and Cynthia Clark in Anahuac and at the Dr. Morgan Home owned by Danny and Donna Cossey near Hankamer.
The Oral Interview Committee is active interviewing long time residents of the county in order to record past history. Anyone interested in these activities should contact Chair Bob Wheat or call the Commission Office at 409-267-8363.
The upcoming 175th Anniversary Celebration of the Battle of Anahuac was discussed at length. The celebration will be held on June 9 in Fort Anahuac Park. The activities will begin at 9 a.m. with a parade commencing at the County Courthouse and ending in the park. Numerous activities are planned in the park throughout the day. The community is encouraged to participate in the planning process and the celebration as well.
In commemoration of the 175th Anniversary Celebration, the Commission is sponsoring a 48″X60″ tapestry to recognize the history of Chambers County. The tapestries will be available for purchase during the Celebration or pre-orders can be made at any time. To pre-order the tapestry, contact Bob Wheat at 409-267-6599. The pre-order price is $50.00 each.