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Posts published in “Day: February 21, 2008

Highlands Chamber installs new directors

HIGHLANDS– The Greater Highlands-Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce held an installation luncheon last Thursday, to a packed house. On hand were all the board members, and friends and members of various organizations in the community. Featured speaker was Janette Walker, president of the Highlands Pilot Club, who told the audience about the upcoming Community Fair, to be held on Saturday, Feb. 23rd at the Highlands Elementary School. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The dining room at the Highlands Community Center was festively decorated for Valentine’s Day, thanks to Betty Michalsky, Staci Neathery, and Kristi Stallings.
Chamber president Jessica Woods kept the event on a lively note, and after the presentation by the Pilot Club, she asked others in the audience to talk about their upcoming events, too.
Jim Strouhal was complimented for playing “Zero” in a skit at the elementary school. Rodney Walker of ZXP Technologies reminded everyone that Jim will retire from the company this month, and invited everyong to a reception for him at the St. Jude’s Social Hall on Thursday, Feb. 28 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Diane Trautman congratulated the Chamber on it’s robust attendance and programs. Trautman is running for the office of Harris county Tax Assessor-Collector this year.

Annette Forbes of East Houston Regional Medical Center reminded everyone that February is American Heart Month. In recognition of this, the hospital is holding heart health screenings and heart seminars by their cardiologists, at the Crosby clinic location and at the main hospital on I-10 in North Shore. More details are available on this page of the Star-Courier.
Bob Ward announced that Crosby will host another 4th of July event, with a parade, food, and related events at the fairgrounds. He asked for volunteers to help with the organization of the event.
Dale Nevil had a threesome to announce: The Red Stocking Revue in Baytown, Ken Jone’s benefit Golf Tournament March 3rd at River Terrace Golf Club on Wallisville, and the fund drive currently underway for the YMCA in Channelview.
Weston Cotten expressed the appreciation of the Rotary for the support of the Chili Feast, and “oh, by the way, I’m running for re-election to the Goose Creek school board in May.”
Chris Berry of the Baytown United Way campaign announced that this year’s goal had been exceeded, with $2,380,000 pledged. She noted that not many Highlands companies had participated, and said that benefits are distributed in our community, too.
Deputy Dan McCool of the Sheriff’s department mentioned the new Citizens Police Academy starting on Feb. 21, and reminded citizens that they are welcome to join these classes.
Judge Mike Parrott thanked his supporters, and noted that he was running for re-election as Justice of the Peace on the March 3rd ballot. He also reminded everyone that absentee balloting was starting on Feb. 19, through Feb. 29th and this was a good way to avoid lines.

Signs, signs everywhere there’s signs…

Baytown is considering a new tax (they call it a fee) that would require you to have a permit to hold a garage sale. Five bucks for the permit and a deposit of $25.00 for up to five signs. You get the $25 back when you return the signs within 24 hours. The city manager says it will better help manage garage sales.
Drove slowly up and down the main drag in Highlands early this morning, two times actually. It is amazing at the signs and posters tacked and nailed to the utility poles. Some signs have been up so long, the words have faded out. Numerous other signs are nailed high on the pole that can be removed only by using a ladder and pry bar.
You need to look at the utility pole at the exit of the post office. There is enough metal in that pole to make a car. Incredible!
Of course, its time for the politickers to place their signs but most of those are on private property, but some ain’t.
As far as signs are concerned, Jones has the lead with a count of 11 followed by the Pilot Club’s (8 signs) up coming BBQ fundraiser. Then there is a Norwood running against Jones with a count of six signs posted.
Trautman for taxman has four signs with many others too numerous to mention.
Jones will have his signs down come the end of the election as I am told.

Having once been a sales rep for a major tobacco company, our job was to put up advertisement for the company. We put up more signs than the law should allow. From shelf talkers to the hour signs on business doors and posters. The large metal signs had been phased out by time I got there.
Pulled up to a Mom and Pop store back then and the storefront windows would be loaded with signage. It is considered free advertisement for the company, but trash to me this day and time.
Remember Art Linkletter and his “Kids say the darndest thing” on television years ago?
These would qualify: A second grader came home from school and said to her Grandmother, “Grandma, Guess what? We learned how to make babies today.” The Grandmother, more than a little surprised, tried to keep her cool. “That’s interesting.” She said, “How do you make babies?” “Its simple,” replied the little girl, “You change ‘y’ to ‘i’ and add ‘es’.
Teacher: Now, Johnny, tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating? Johnny: No sir, I do not have to, my Mom is a good cook.
My young grandson called the other day to wish me Happy Birthday. He asked me how old I was, and I told him, “62”. He was quiet for a moment and then he said, “Did you start at 1?”
A Grandmother was telling her little granddaughter what her own childhood was like: “We used to skate outside on a pond. I had a swing made from a tire; it hung from a tree in our front yard. We rode our pony. We picked wild raspberries in the woods.” The little girl was wide-eyed, taking this all in. At last, she said, “I sure wish I’d gotten to know you sooner!”

Change at the chamber

“We want to make the Chamber better by bringing in a variety of new businesses while keeping the old.” This is the answer the Star-Courier received from the relatively new Executive Director, Marisa Flanagan.
Not long after arriving in Crosby in early January I visited the Chamber and met, Marisa for the first time. When I left last spring my friend for the past few years, Mitzi Plum, was in that position and she chose to move on in mid-2007. From my view she served the Chamber well during her tenure. I wish her well.
Now it is Marisa’s turn. I’ve been there three times during this visit and she always provides me with a welcome smile as I enter the door. She views the Chamber as a continuing growth organization, just as is the Crosby-Huffman community. She backed that up by telling me the Chamber grew by 30 members in 2007 and the growth is continuing in 2008.
Marisa moved to her current position last June after spending some of her working life in real estate. She lives in Crosby with husband, Joseph, and four off-spring. There is no doubt Marisa will continue to represent the Crosby-Huffman Chamber of Commerce well in the future.
Returning to the previously mentioned, Mitzi Plum, one could easily say she was the one responsible for this column in the Star-Courier. I had asked her how I might make contact with someone at the paper to write a couple of columns expressing what a fine feeling this writer had for Crosby since I first set eyes on the area back in May 2001.
She introduced me to Publisher Gil Hoffman following a Chamber meeting a few weeks later who not only agreed to publish those two columns but invited me to write others. The rest is history.
Mitzi was a great help to me through my visits to her office when I was here and by e-mail conversations at other times. Many of my column subjects and other story subjects were generated by my discussions with her. If she didn’t have the information I wanted she always knew who would. I miss seeing her smiling face at the office.
By the way, in case you didn’t know, the old chamber building, next to the Crosby Fairgrounds, was given away and moved to a site along U.S. 90 where it now serves as offices for other businesses. The building was located on property not owned by the chamber and had to be moved when it ceased to be used for that purpose. Giving it away was a better deal for the chamber than being faced with the cost of tearing it down.
Such are the people, places, and things that have touched my life in my West Virginia home!

Take steps to prevent identity theft

Identity theft is big business. In fact, each year, billions of dollars – that’s billions, with a “b” – is lost to identity theft, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This cumulative figure may not mean that much to you, but if you are victimized for a few hundred dollars, it will be an upsetting and expensive experience. That’s why you’ll want to defend yourself against identity theft – and the best time to take action is before you are victimized.
What can you do to protect yourself? Here are a few suggestions:
* Secure your Social Security number. Identity thieves eagerly seek Social Security numbers – so don’t give out yours to anyone who asks for it. In fact, as a general rule, be reluctant to give it out to anyone at all. Always ask whomever you’re dealing with if they will accept another form of identification, or, at the very least, if they will take just the last four digits of your number. And never carry your Social Security card with you.
* Shred credit card offers and bank statements. If you’re not going to apply for the credit cards offered to you, shred the offers. Identity thieves have been known to rifle through garbage, fill out credit card offers and take advantage of them. At the same time, shred your bank and brokerage statements – and any other statement containing personal or financial information.
* Study your credit card bills and checking account statements. Question any credit card charge or checking account activity you don’t recognize as your own.

* Don’t give out your credit card number unless you’re initiating a purchase. Most of us do at least some shopping online these days. As long as you’re dealing with a reputable merchant who uses a secure site – i.e., one that has “https” in the web address – you should be reasonably confident that your credit card information will be protected. Never give out your credit card number to people or businesses who, unsolicited, try to sell you something over the phone or Internet.
* “Opt out” of credit card offers and other mailings. You can eliminate many of those “pre-approved” credit card offers by calling 1-888-5OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) and following the prompts. You can also greatly reduce the amount of advertising, catalogues and other mailings you receive by going on the Direct Marketing Association’s web site ( and following the “Remove My Name From Those Lists” link.
Even after taking these steps, you could still run into identity theft. That’s why you need to be alert for certain signs, such as the arrival of unexpected credit cards or account statements, denials of credit for no apparent reason, or calls or letters regarding purchases you didn’t make. If any of these things happen to you, you may want to place a “fraud alert” on your credit reports and review them carefully. To place a fraud alert, you just need to contact one of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies: Equifax – 1-800-525-6285; Experian – 1-888-397-3742; or TransUnion – 1-800-680-7289.
It’s unfortunate that identity theft is part of our modern world. But by taking the proper precautions, and by staying alert, you can help yourself avoid becoming a statistic.

Highway 99 opens in Chambers County

CHAMBERS COUNTY—The Grand Parkway, a 180-mile “outer loop of the outer loop” took another step to becoming a reality this week as officials opened a new 9-mile segment of the highway.
The segment, designated I-2 of State Highway 99, goes FM 1405 through West Chambers County and connects with Interstate 10 at Exit# 799.
State and local officials, representatives from the Grand parkway Association, area Chamber of Commerces and local businesses gathered on Tuesday for an official ribbon cutting for the segment.
John Barton, who served as TxDOT’s District Engineer in Beaumont for the past four years before moving to Austin to become an assistant director, was on hand for the ceremony. He said that the segment was a unique accomplishment for TxDOT in that it accomplished all five goals that they set for any road project. These goals are to relieve congestion, enhance safety, improve air quality, enhance economic opportunities and enhance the value of the transportation system.
The I-1 segment, which should open next week, will eventually serve as a toll road.
Marc Shepherd, TxDOT public information officer, said that the highway would remain toll-free until September. Electronic toll booths are being installed along the route at various spots including FM 565. While the final cost has not be determined Shepherd said that it will be similar to Harris County toll rates or abut 14 to 15 cents a mile. Once the tolls are activated the Harris County Toll Road Authority will be responsible for collection. In addition to the EZ tags issued by Harris County, SH 99 will also accept toll tags issued and used in the Dallas and Austin areas.

The I-2 Segment began construction in 2003 under the direction of TxDOT’s Beaumont office. J.D. Abrahams served as contractor for the $48 million project. The segment is a four-lane limited access facility within a 400-foot row of way.
The segment is the second one to open as part of the Grand Parkway. The first segment opened in 1994. This segment connects Hwy 59 near Sugar Land to Interstate 10 West at Katy.
With this section complete the Grand Parkway Association will begin looking at Segments I-1 and G, these segments would start at Interstate 10 and go north through Chambers, Liberty and Harris Counties and connect with Hwy 59 North. Shepherd said that they would like to see these two segments open in 2015.

Pilot Club holds annual gala ‘Under The Big Top’

MONT BELVIEU–The West Chambers County Pilot Club will hold their annual Gala Fundraiser on March 29, 6 to 10 p.m. at Barbers Hill High School, 9696 Eagle Drive, Mont Belvieu, Texas. This year the theme is “Under the Big Top On the Hill”, tickets are $10 each.
There will be a dinner, Circus entertainment (Clowns, a Magician, a Mini Midway), a silent auction, live auction and a drawing for two Clown Quilts, (each quilt comes with a clown pillow sham and a clown tote bag) , tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5.
This annual Gala fundraiser help supports the many different projects of the West Chambers County Pilot Club throughout the year. 
Some of the projects that the Pilot Club has supported in the past includes helping to purchase a wheel chair accessible van for Chambers County, supporting the Barbers Hill High School Anchor Club, presenting the BrainMindertm Buddies program with the Anchor Club to Barbers Hill Primary and Elementary schools, helping the City of Mont Belvieu with the annual City Easter Egg Hunt, Christmas in the City and the Fourth of July Celebration, annual Breakfast with Santa, highlighting textbooks for the Middle school, and donating school supplies to Barbers Hill Primary, and helped purchase playground equipment for the Special Education classes at Barbers Hill Primary. 
The Pilot Club has also made donations to the Winnie Gazebo project, the Bay Area Relay for Life and many other projects.