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Posts published in “Day: February 14, 2008”

Cotten seeks another term on Goose Creek school board

By BOBBY HORN JR.
HIGHLANDS– Weston Cotten, who has served over a decade on the Goose Creek CISD Board of Trustees, will seek another term of office
Noami Garcia, who handles election services for the district, said that Cotten filed for a spot on the ballot on Monday. Cotten, who represents District 3, has served on the school board since 1990 when the district moved from at-large representation to single member districts.
District 3 is comprised of Highlands and adjacent areas.
“We still have a lot of things that have to be done,” Cotten said of his reason to seek another term. “I have a vested interest in the district and I want it to be the best it can be.” Cotten’s experience with the district comes from both a parent and a former teacher. Now an attorney, Cotten taught government, economics and sociology for Goose Creek. His wife was also a teacher for the district.
Cotten said that the single biggest issue facing the district is improving the standardized test scores. He said that there needs to be uniformity between schools as the district adjusts to changes in population.
Construction issues will also continue to face the district. While there is no date set yet, Cotten said that another elementary campus is in the district’s future as well as an updated demographic survey.
Candidate filing for the May 10 Goose Creek CISD Board of Trustees election began Feb. 11, at the GCCISD Administration Building, 4544 Interstate 10 East.
Other positions that will be up for election include District 6, currently held by Robert Hoskins; and District 7, currently held by Steve Fischer.
Trustees serve in staggered three-year terms.
Those interested in filing may do so through March 10.
In addition to filing in person at the Administration Building, prospective candidates may visit the web site of the Secretary of State’s office at www.sos.state.tx.us.
Early voting will be held April 28 through May 6.
For more information, call the GCCISD Superintendent’s Office at 281-420-4800.

Pilot Club hosts 10th Community Fair

By BOBBY HORN JR.
HIGHLANDS– The Pilot Club of Highlands will celebrate a milestone this year when they host their 10th Annual Community Fair.
The all-day celebration of arts, food and the community is Feb. 23 at the Highlands Elementary School campus from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Member Betty Michalsky said that this year’s theme is “Red, White and Pilot.”
In keeping with the patriotic theme, the Crosby High School Junior ROTC Color Guard will present the colors. Michalsky said that this is the first year that the JROTC has performed at the event.
Throughout the day there will be arts and crafts tables open with local artisans selling their wares. As in years past the Pilot Club will hold a raffle and an auction.
No fair would be complete without food and the Community Fair is no exception.
Michalsky said that they will be selling barbecue plates that will include sliced brisket, potato salad and red beans.
In addition to good food, arts and crafts and fellowship the Pilot Club is planning a full slate of live entertainment.
Among the groups confirmed to attend is the comedy troupe Cheerful Clown Alley from Houston. Those who have attended past Miss Highlands Pageants will recognize the singing duo of Susie Thompson Garcia and Lorie Lopez, who will perform at the event. The pair also sings at Crosby Church.
Funds raised at the fair will go toward the Pilot Club’s many community enrichment projects.

Remembering ‘Columbia’

For the past five years I have written about this same subject in early February and probably will be doing that for some time to come. February 1st has always been a special day for me as it was my late father’s birthday. He would be 104 if alive today. Then, on that date five years ago, the Columbia shuttle tragedy occurred bringing sadness to this country and especially to the families and friends of the seven astronauts killed in that explosion.
I was doing the man-thing on that fateful Saturday morning of channel-surfing with the remote trying to find something of interest to watch. Suddenly I say a familiar face. It was Kerry Kinsey a former sportscaster on one of the Charleston-Huntington stations back home. He was then a news broadcaster on the 24-hour news station in Houston, now missing from our channels.
Kinsey gave me my first knowledge of problems with the Columbia shuttle that was to be passing over Texas about that time. He said it was missing. The national news channels were ahead of him and I switched to Fox News where I got the rest of the story. We all know it was confirmed the shuttle had exploded and hundreds of pieces of debris were falling from the sky across Texas and into Louisiana. It was truly a sad day.

I had reason to travel to Clear Lake the next day where I found thousands of flower arrangements already assembled at the NASA main gate. I was drawn to stop and become a part of the large group of people assembled there. One of the first persons I met was a minister from Dallas who felt he had been called to the site to assist people with their grieving. He had come with a house trailer and was spending some days there. I talked with him for a few minutes and noticed he became part of a number of people’s lives for a short period who had also stopped to pay respects.
This was the third fatal attempt in the space program. The first was in the Apollo program when a shuttle exploded on the launch pad and took the lives of Virgil “Gus” Grissom, one of the seven original astronauts, and two others. The second was the Challenger flight which had on board the school teacher Christa McAuliffe. Millions of children and adults saw it explode on TV shortly after it was sent into the sky.
The space program was put on hold for a while after the Columbia disaster but now is up and running again. I’m glad, if for no other reason than to support those whose lives had been lost in trying to make it a success. We are better off today for the efforts of all who have been active in our space program over the years.
The space program is moving ahead and will continue for years to come. Oh, yes, there will probably be more accidents, more deaths, and we will memorialize those heroes as well. As I said two years ago in this column, “This, my friends is America, where the strong come forth, the strong sometimes fall and die, the strong rebound, the strong succeed and these astronauts, and those who follow them will always be there lest we forget.
Shall we always remember those who gave so much for our country!
Such are the people, places and thing that have touched my life from my West Virginia home!

When changing jobs, don’t shortchange your 401(k)

Your 401(k) plan can be a major component of your retirement savings. As you know, your 401(k) offers several different investment options and the chance to accumulate tax-deferred earnings. But what will happen to your 401(k) if you leave your job before you retire? You’ve got several choices — and it’s really important that you make the right one, because your decision can have a major impact on your retirement lifestyle.
What are the main options regarding your 401(k)? Let’s take a look.
• You could cash out your plan. If you cash out your plan, your company will likely pay you 80 percent of your account value, withholding the rest for federal taxes. And if you’re younger than 59-1/2, you may well be slapped with a 10 percent penalty tax. Even worse, you’ll have lost a key source of your retirement income. Avoiding this option has its benefits.
•  You could leave the money in your company’s plan. Not all companies offer this option, but many do. If you like the investment choices available in your plan, leaving the money alone may not be a bad idea. On the other hand, since you will no longer be employed by the company, you might fall “out of the loop” as far as 401(k) plan administration, so you might be caught by surprise if the company decides to change investment options.

• You could move the money into your new employer’s plan. If your new employer has a 401(k) and allows transfers, you could roll the money over from your old plan into the new one. This might be an attractive option if you like the investment accounts offered in your new employer’s plan.
• You could roll the money into an IRA. You may find several advantages to rolling your 401(k) into an IRA. First, your money will still have the potential to grow on a tax-deferred basis. Second, you can invest your funds in virtually any investment you choose — stocks, bonds, government securities, certificates of deposit, etc. Third, if you own multiple 401(k) accounts, you might find it advantageous to consolidate them into a single IRA, thereby making it easier to allocate and monitor your retirement assets. And fourth, IRAs give you greater flexibility if you’re considering passing money to your children. In fact, if your children inherit an IRA, they can stretch withdrawals over a long period of time — over their entire life spans, if they choose — rather than take the money as a lump sum. Obviously, this ability can help them control their taxes and income streams.
If you do decide to move your 401(k) to an IRA, make sure to request a “trustee-to-trustee” transfer. The money will then be moved directly to an IRA, minimizing the risk of mistakes and keeping your money invested the entire time.
Before making any moves with your 401(k), consult with your tax and financial advisors. By choosing the right path for your individual needs, you’ll help yourself on your long-term journey toward your important financial goals.

Happy Birthday Chambers County

BY BOBBY HORN JR.
CHAMBERS COUNTY—One hundred and fifty years ago the 7th Texas Legislature carved a section from Liberty and Jefferson Counties and called it Chambers County, in honor of Thomas Jefferson Chambers.
On Monday citizens came together on the courthouse steps in Anahuac to kick off a year-long Sesquicentennial celebration.
County Clerk and Sesquicentennial Co-Chair Heather Hawthorne said that the committee actually began meeting last June to plan activities which included Monday’s Kick Off, a March Birthday Celebration and Fall Trail Ride.
The Kick Off began with an invocation by Old River Baptist Church’s Danny Biddy. The Chambers County Sheriff’s Department’s Color Guard posted the colors while a combined orchestra of the Anahuac, Barbers Hill and East Chambers High School Bands performed the National Anthem. Kelsey Gifford, president of the Barbers Hill FFA Chapter led the crowd that numbered in the hundreds in the Pledge of Allegiance.
County Judge Jimmy Sylvia recounted how the county, in 1958, celebrated its 10th birthday. He compared Chambers County then with Chambers County now. Looking at old Commissioners Court agendas, he said that the county was dealing with the same issues now that it did then. He noted that prices of typical items did go up and “I was three years old and had hair at the time.”

Hawthorn also presented Proclamations from the Governor’s Office and the State Senate recognizing the county’s birthday. State Senator Tommy Williams brought a Texas Flag that had flown over the Capital in honor of the county. State Rep. Craig Eiland said that he wanted to fly a flag in honor of the county but that William’s office had a larger staff and beat him to the punch. He also planned to present a Proclamation from the State House of Representatives, but said that Federal Express failed to deliver it on time to his office.
During the ceremony Bob Wheat, chairman of the Chambers County Historical Commission, presented a history of Chambers County, starting with its “geological birth” 30,000 years ago. He then spoke of the Native Americans who settled in the area prior to the Mexican colonists. It was at Fort Anahuac, he said, that the first shots of the Texas Revolution were fired. Chambers County also played roles in the Civil War and Oil Booms of the early 20th Century.
To celebrate the occasion students at Anahuac Middle, Barbers Hill Middle and East Chambers Junior High competed in an essay contest entitled “Why am proud to be from Chambers County.” The three winning essayists Pasha Hillyard, from Anahuac; Rhett Wilson, from Barbers Hill and Alexandria Extjct, each read their essays.
Audrey Chambliss, from the ESA Sorority, said that over the year a time capsule will be filled with items marking the 2008 and the celebration. The time capsule will be housed in a case built by the Barbers Hill FFA. It will be kept in a fireproof safe in the county museum until 2058 when it will be reopened for the Bicentennial.
The Kick Off closed with the dedication of Live Oak tree donation by Williams on the courthouse grounds to mark the occasion.