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Posts published in “Day: November 8, 2007”

It happens to the best of us…

Death, sometimes it is unwarranted, unwanted and uncalled for, but it happens to the best of us.
As someone who reads obituary columns daily in three newspapers, I find more and more people I know or remember from back when in the papers now a days.
Read in the Baytown paper a couple weeks back that Bill Kurtz had passed. Having known him for a good while, not close friends you might say but we’d speak when we ran into each other. He was a friendly fellow and not the kind of fellow I’d go down another aisle at the Wal-Mart to avoid. As his obit read, one of the good guys.
Another obituary notice bought back old memories this morning when I read about Jim Adams’ passing away. Jim was the president of Highlands State Bank and hired me to come aboard back in 1981. Then I was slim and trim @ 170 pounds and in my prime @ 35 years old.
Boy howdy does time change things, eh?

An old finance company man, Jim had worked with Dial Finance. From there Jim went on to McGregor Park National Bank and crossed the river to Highlands State Bank.
Employees would come to work early each morning and have coffee in the break room as sections of the Houston Post were passed around.
Came to work one morning and poured a Styrofoam cup of coffee as I sat down and took a quick sip. I spewed the coffee back into the cup as Jim had dumped a salt shaker of salt in the pot.
I sort of paid him back for that prank when the bank had a covered dish dinner for something or somebody. Anyway, I took chicken livers and wrapped them with bacon, browning until the bacon was crisp; then poured BBQ sauce over all the pieces.
Jim looked at my dish and took a couple pieces not knowing what it was. Needless to say he hated liver. I watched as he put one in his mouth and began to chew; he stopped chewing and said, “That’s liver!”
He got up and went to the trash can and spat out the liver and bacon.
Jim was a good guy too. He helped me in my career and introduced me to many things and I do appreciate him for doing that.
Jim enjoyed Rotary and finally got me involved with it as well.
We were going to the valley once to go bird hunting with our sons. Jim said not to hunt next to two particular fellows. Said you will not get any birds as the two guys were expert shots and shot with very expensive .410 double barrel shotguns. I watched them shoot for a bit, they didn’t miss. Sure would like to have one of them high dollar shotguns too.
I don’t think 67 is old, do you?

When choosing mutual funds, look past short-term returns

What’s the most prominent thing you notice about mutual fund advertisements? In most cases, it’s the fund’s return. Quite often, these returns are truly eye-popping. But if you look closer at the ads, you’ll see that many of the highest returns are for short periods of time, such as one year or three years. And a mutual fund’s short-term return is not, by itself, reason enough to buy that fund — so don’t rush to your checkbook.
Actually, a mutual fund’s short-term performance may tell you less about the fund than about what’s been happening in the financial markets. If most stocks rise significantly for a few years, the chances are pretty good that a stock-based mutual fund is going to do well, too.
But more importantly, you shouldn’t evaluate a fund on its short-term return because a mutual fund is a long-term investment. To assess a fund’s long-term performance, you’ll need to look at its annualized return — its return over a period of time other than one year. For example, a two-year return of 10 percent could be stated as an annualized rate of return of five percent. And by comparing annualized returns, you can learn a lot about a fund’s historical performance. If a fund’s annualized return for the last three years is 12 percent, but over 10 years it was just five percent, you could conclude that the results of the past three years are not representative of the fund’s long-term track record.
Apart from its annualized return, what else should you look for when considering a mutual fund? Here are a few suggestions:

*Performance against similar funds — How has the fund you’re considering performed in comparison to other funds with the same investment objective over 10- and 15-year time periods? That is, if you’re evaluating a growth-and-income fund, contrast its performance against the universe of other growth-and-income funds.
*Fund manager’s longevity — Ask your financial advisor how long a fund manager — or a management team — has been responsible for making the investment decisions. Assuming the fund has a superior 10- and 15-year track record to begin with, the longer a manager has been in place, the better.
*Expense level — Different mutual funds have different costs associated with them. All factors being equal, look for those funds with the lower expense levels. The more you pay each year in expenses and fees, the lower your overall return. However, some funds have justifiably higher expenses, and you may want to consider these funds to help diversify your mutual fund holdings.
*Investment “overlap” — Even if a fund has shown consistently good returns and has a talented, experienced manager, it still might not be right for you, particularly if it overlaps with similar funds in your portfolio. You might be better off by purchasing a different kind of mutual fund and thereby broadening your holdings. Your financial advisor can help you create a diversified mutual fund portfolio that fits your risk tolerance and investment objectives.
Finally, ask your financial advisor for a copy of the fund’s prospectus, which contains complete information about the fund, including risks, charges and expenses as well as other important information that should be carefully considered.
By doing some research and learning all you can about a mutual fund, you’ll be prepared to make smart investment decisions.

Alleged ‘Crosby Grinch’ gets pinched

By LEWIS SPEARMAN
CROSBY – Precinct 3 Deputies wrapped up two breaking and entering cases this week and have steadily been working to solve the most prevalent and costly burglary threat for businesses and charities, copper theft.
Ken Jones’ deputies arrested a man on Nov. 2 that closely resembles the burglar videotaped inside B&G Package Store (East of Newport on FM 2100) taking the collection jar money for the Clothe-A-Child program.
Burglaries had been reported at an auto parts store, Shipley’s Donuts, Blockbuster and Ace Hardware and the Cloth-A-Child donation money was taken from collection jars. Thus, the burglar was handled as ‘the Grinch.’
Sergeant Jasen Rabalais (a burglar buster of local note) had found a door to the package store pried open and actually set the alarm off himself attempting to see if the burglar was inside. The burglar was not but had simply absconded with the loot from a charity jar near the doorway.

Captain Gary Jones says “Just a little while ago we ran a felony warrant on a suspect involved in burglary and maybe some other thefts of jars of money that have been setting on some of the counters of different businesses for charity. We took him into custody without incident, the way we always prefer–no injuries, nobody hurt. Now he is on his way to the station and we intent to execute the warrant.”
Acting on several tips from neighbors and at least one Crimestopper tip, the deputies in plain clothes and uniform moved en masse onto a trailer not connected to power or water at Runneburg and Brodt. The suspect was mowing the lawn when deputies surrounded him and when they emerged with pistols drawn the suspect simply lay on the ground as instructed. With acres of open field around and lawmen all around, there was little else to do.
Deputies found “a few items of clothing that he appears to be wearing on the surveillance video. They found some items not taken at the burglary but they are obviously stolen items that do not belong to him.”
Observed were various types of leather and latex gloves and a black overcoat.
One of the items includes a dispatch radio tagged by Houston Police. Captain Jones indicates his department is working with other departments to determine what items found might have been reported stolen in other cases across the Greater Houston Area.
William Michael Stolich, 41, will appear before Judge Susan Brown in the 185 District Court on a third degree felony burglary of a building, according to one of the arresting deputies, Corporal Mike Connor.
The Corporal is quite a boon to Precinct 3 having himself come from the Harris County Prosecutor’s Investigative team to work in Law Enforcement, according to detectives. Connor has already dedicated numerous volunteer hours to undercover stakeouts of various charities around Crosby in quest of the copper burglars.
Deputy Gainey conducted the plainclothes surveillance of the suspect before the uniformed deputies closed for the arrest.
The stolen money would have gone to Clothe-A-Child, still needing contributions under the banner of Crosby Care, which in cooperation with local schools, selects participants from a long list of applicants, and based on need, shops at local department store for clothing and one toy. According to John Satherly of Crosby Church Clothe-A-Child just recently conducted a third annual benefit golf tournament at Sanctuary Golf Resort and Spa in Huffman and raised $10,000 for the program with 100 golfers and various sponsors. J.P. Mike Parrott won the tournament.

Low voter turnout as bonds, amendments pass

Harris County voters didn’t bother to go to the polls this year, with no major issues or candidates on the ballot. The final tally was less than 10% of the eligible voters, according to officials.
Those that did cast ballots approved the 16 state amendments to the constitution. This includes bonds for public works projects such as new roads, jails and parks, and money for repairs to the Battleship Texas in Deer Park and a Cancer Institute at the price of $3 billion. Additionally, Proposition 16 for the Texas Water Development Board is expected to bring water and sewer to some areas of Harris County.
Voters in Baytown approved five out of six proposals. They defeated the bonds to improve Texas Avenue, but approved other improvements for streets, police and fire, parks and recreation, the extension of East Baker Raod, and drainage improvements.
In the City of Houston, Mayor Bill White was re-elected to his final 3rd term by an overwhelming margin of 86%. The popular mayor is expected to run for state or national office after this term. The strongest vote getter appears to be Councilman Peter Brown, with 99% of the vote in his At-large position.
Houston voters also approved the HISD $805 million bond package, for new schools and repairs to existing ones, but by a very narrow margin of 51% for. The issue had met a lot of opposition from minority voters who wanted more for their schools.
Harris County and Port Authority bonds passed by a small margin, with the exception of a bond issue for a new jail, which was defeated. East Harris County is expected to benefit from some of this new bond money.

Crosby train layouts part of city-wide tour

By Gilbert Hoffman
CROSBY– As the holiday season approaches, many families bring out the model train to put under the tree. And every year during November, the model railroaders and clubs around the city of Houston hold open house for the public, to share the fun and information about scale model railroading for anyone that is interested.
About 80 model train layouts are on this year’s tour, and three of them happen to be in Crosby. The Open House for these will be next Saturday, Nov. 10 from 11 am to 5 pm, and the public is welcome to come by and watch.
These layouts are the work of the following modelers:
John Remy, at 15302 Atwood Lane off Runneburg, has a 25 x 40 foot metal building for his trains. The railroad is named the Windber Southern, after his home town in Pennsylvania. The scale is HO, which is 1/87 of the real size. John and his family have been in Crosby about two years working on this layout.
Jeff Clodfelter, 18618-B Miller Wilson Road, is a 30 x 30 foot double level layout, and has features such as a coal mine, war production plant, and wharf as part of the scenery. This is also an HO scale layout, which is the most popular size among modelers. His railroad is names the “Santa Fe Knowcents Division”.
Gordon Bliss, at 2735 Deep Anchor Way off Foley Road, has a large layout in his garage addition next to his house in Lake Shadows. Unlike the other two, it is modeled in N scale, about 1/160th the size of real life, and about half the size of HO. It emulates the real Santa Fe, from Chicago to Los Angeles in 1953, with a lot of steam engines. Completed scenery and buildings show Arizona desert landscapes, as well as forests, rivers, and cities along the way. Besides building his own layout, Bliss also belongs to an active club, the Houston N Crowd that meets at a popular model shop in Rice Village, Papa Bens. Bliss’ train room also features many real life photos he has taken of trains around the U.S., and a collection of 250 locomotives and many cars.

Mont Belvieu voters approve Eagle Dr. bonds

MONT BELVIEU– Voters spoke out in favor of improvements to Eagle Drive, and approved an $11 million dollar bond package. Work will include drainage improvements, water and sewer work. However, this will impact the tax rate, which is expected to increase by 5.8 cents to 44.5 cents per $100 valuation. It is now at 38.7 cents.
The vote tally was 192 votes (62.7%) in favor of the bonds, and 114 (37.3%) against.
In East Chambers ISD, two propositions were approved. These include Proposition 1, a $6 million bond to renovate existing school facilities, and to add new classrooms to the elementary. The vote was 361 For (62.3%) 218 Against (37.7%).
Also, proposition 2 for $3.5 million was approved, for a new gym to replace the existing one, which lacks air conditioning. The vote was 319 For (54.6%), and 265 Against (45.4%).
In Liberty County, Dayton voters approved bonds for 3 propositions. These include $11.92 million for a library, community center and street improvements. The two buildings will probably be built together as one, allowing more meeting space and a senior citizens center. The vote was 310 (60.1%) For, 206 (39.9%) Against.
Proposition 2 is for $795,000 for street and drainage improvements on Lover’s lane and South Cleveland streets. Votes were 300 (58.6%) For, 212 (41.4%) Against.

Proposition 3 is for $1.2 million for utility improvements in the same area. All of these were approved, and the city’s tax rate will increase by 8.89 cents over the present 63.49 cents. The vote was 284 (55.8%) For, 225 (44.2%) Against.
Harris County voters didn’t bother to go to the polls this year, with no major issues or candidates on the ballot. The final tally was less than 10% of the eligible voters, according to officials.
Those that did cast ballots approved the 16 state amendments to the constitution. This includes bonds for public works projects such as new roads, jails and parks, and money for repairs to the Battleship Texas in Deer Park and a statewide Cancer Institute at the price of $3 billion. Additionally, Proposition 16 for the Texas Water Development Board is expected to bring water and sewer to many urban and rural counties such as Harris, Chambers and Liberty.
Voters in Baytown approved five out of six proposals. They defeated the bonds to improve Texas Avenue, but approved other improvements for streets, police and fire, parks and recreation, the extension of East Baker Road, and drainage improvements.
In the City of Houston, Mayor Bill White was re-elected to his final 3rd term by an overwhelming margin of 86%. The popular mayor is expected to run for state or national office after this term. The strongest vote getter appears to be Councilman Peter Brown, with 99% of the vote in his At-large position.
Houston voters also approved the HISD $805 million bond package, for new schools and repairs to existing ones, but by a very narrow margin of 51% For. The issue had met a lot of opposition from minority voters who wanted more money allocated for their schools.
Harris County and Port Authority bonds passed by a small margin, with the exception of a bond issue for a new jail, which was defeated. East Harris County is expected to benefit from some of this new bond money. Commissioner Sylvia Garcia has spoken in favor of a new County Hospital and a library for Highlands as possibilities.

Bicyclist killed in crash

Corrected Version of Story that ran Nov. 8, 2007

HIGHLANDS- An afternoon bike ride turned tragic as a man was killed while riding along the side of the road in south Highlands.
The accident took place on Nov. 2 in the 800 block of South Main, at approximately 4:45 p.m.
According to P.L. Lillibridge, an accident reconstructionist with the Harris County Sheriff’s office, Juan Trevino was traveling south in a 2005 Chevy Malibu went he left the roadway, driving partially on the shoulder on the right of the fog line.
Trevino struck Steven Kline who was riding the shoulder, ejecting him from the bicycle. Kline died at the scene from injuries sustained in the crash.