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Posts published in “Day: March 13, 2008

‘Shattered Dreams’ program brings awareness to teenage drinking, driving

By GINA HARVEY Special to the Press
MONT BELVIEU—Fifty three Barbers Hill High School students in conjunction with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and local law enforcement and emergency personnel will be participating in the Shattered Dreams program March 11 and 12 in an attempt to bring about awareness of teenage drinking and driving.
The two-day school-based program promotes responsible decision making by high school students in regards to drinking and driving by showing them how irresponsible actions can end all dreams.
Unique in its design and powerful in its impact, Shattered Dreams is an educational experience that reminds us all of the dangers associated with drinking and driving. It reminds us that too many young lives have already been lost and countless others severely impaired because of the tragic consequences of underage drinking and drinking combined with driving.
The Shattered Dreams program involved a dramatization of an alcohol-related crash near the high school campus at 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday, March 11, complete with police and EMS response from the Mont Belvieu Police Department and Mont Belvieu Fire Department, Cove and Beach City emergency responders, emergency room treatment, family notifications, and the arrest and booking of the driver.
The crash scene drama played out in front of all juniors and seniors at Barbers Hill High School during the school day.
Throughout the day the other elements of the “docu-drama” unfolded. To give students a better understanding of the number of DWI-related deaths, an individual dressed as the “Grim Reaper” or a DPS officer appeared periodically throughout the school day to select a new victim.
The victims were taken out of class, made-up in white faces and dressed in black t-shirts to symbolize death, and then returned to their classrooms to continue their day. Obituaries written previously by parents were read aloud to the students in the room by law enforcement officials. By the end of the day, every student had one or more “dead” classmates present in the classroom or cafeteria with them to show a visual reminder of just how many lives are lost in a single day—one every 30 minutes in America.
On the morning of March 12, a wrap-up assembly and funeral will be held to feature those who played roles in the previous day’s drama, including the “crash” victims, the drunk driver, their parents and participating law enforcement and medical personnel. Impact statements from community members whose lives have been affected by teenage alcohol use and drunk driving will also be presented to bring closure to the program and reinforce its dual message for the teenage audience.
Counselors and other grief professionals will be available to students, parents and staff members as needed the day of the crash scene and the next day after the funeral assembly. The impact of the Shattered Dreams program typically has an emotional impact upon its participants and those who witness the events.

Candidate interest mixed in local races

CHAMBERS/ LIBERTY COUNTY—Interest in local politics was mixed this year as candidates have lined up for races in Mont Belvieu, Old River Winfree and the Barbers Hill ISD.
In Dayton however, it is likely elections will be cancelled since there were no contested races as of press time.
The regular filing period for a spot on the ballot was March 10 at 5 p.m. Candiates still have the option of filing as a write-in candidate until March 17. If there are no contested races, a political entity can cancel the election and declare the registered candidates elected by default.
Due to changes in the state election laws enacted by the last Texas Legislative Session, school districts within an incorporated city will hold their election for trustees on the same ballot at the municipality.
Early voting by personal appearance will be April 28 through May 6. The election will be held on May 10.
To assist voters a combined Mont Belvieu, Barbers Hill ISD, Old River Winfree and Beach City election will be hosted by the school district.

Mont Belvieu Mayor Nick Dixon is being challenged in his reelection bid by Kevin Speer.
Lydia Schneider, who serves in position 2 on the council, will have to defeat Eric Johnson in order to serve another term. Fellow council member Mike Pomykal is unopposed in his reelection bid.
There will be two races for seats on the Barbers Hill ISD Board of Trustees. Incumbent George Barrera is seeking reelection to Position 3. He is opposed by Perry Carrington Sr. In the race for Position 5 Benny May, the incumbent, is running against Lawrence “Elmo” Camp.
Old River Winfree City Secretary Linda Murphy said that four candidates had. Angela Motz has filed on the ballot for Position 1. She is opposed by Kenneth “K.H.” Epperson. Jerron Young, who now holds the seat, chose not to run again.
Jackie Johnson is seeking another term as the Position 2 alderman and Alderman J.S. Steadham is seeking reelection to the Position 5 seat. Both are unopposed.
Only the two incumbents Thomas Payne, in Place 3 and Bob Pickle, in Place 4 have filed for seats on the Dayton ISD Board of Trustees.
There are three at-large spots open on the Dayton City Council. The three highest vote-getters will be elected to the council. Only Council members Felix Skarpa, Bill Gay and Rick Brown have filed for the election.

Breaking News: Fire Damages New Highlands Junior School

A fire in the new Highlands Junior School on Wallisville Road was contained to the Choir Room, according to authorities. The fire occured Saturday evening, March 29 at about 11:45 pm. The Harris County Fire Marshal has been asked to investigate, because multiple ignition points indicated possible arson. Authorities said that money from a choir fund was missing, indicating that robbery might be the possible motive. As of Monday, March 31 school was being held in other parts of the building while the investigation and rebuilding continued in the choir and fine arts areas.

Spring has sprung

Ahh! It is looking a lot like Spring outside. People are cleaning up their yards, planting or otherwise taking care of their flowers or shrubs and some are planting new flowers. My Linda is in the latter group, having planted some small plants about two weeks ago. They looked good for a few days. We went to Corpus Christi for five days and when we came back the squirrels had made short work of her efforts.
Non-the-less she will not be daunted in her gardening and more will emerge. She has had me adding mulch here and there, putting down some fertilizer and digging around a few plants and bushes. The azaleas are blooming nicely in the front yard and are about to break out in the backyard. Dave has beautiful purple ones along the front of the house and white ones in back. The whites will be out in another day or two.
I love the Spring of the year and always spend time in the yard.
Lunch with Brazzil

Dave and I had the pleasure of having lunch with good friend Jim Brazzil a few days ago. If you donÕt remember Jim (James W. Brazzil) was the founder of this newspaper many years ago. At 92 he has been retired for a number of years and has written several books: four I believe. His newspaper career spanned four decades spread over an assortment of Texas locations.
The Highlands resident published his fourth book last year, ÒA Thistle in the Wind.Ó I bought a copy of it right after he released it and thoroughly enjoyed the writings of this fellow newspaper man. Jim tells me the book has sold well over the past year but he still has some copies left. If youÕre interested in reading about the newspaper life of this fourth-estate member give him a call at his home.
A Smile or Two
Do you feel like working today? Tomorrow? The day after? Next week? Next month? Me neither! I just want to party!
So says my good Newport friend Irene Cook. This Canadian native sent the above to me and also told me this joke:
ÒI want you to get checked out to make sure youÕre healthy and will be around longerÉTake these two medical tests. Stare into the CatÕs eyes for 10 secondsÉ.Now stare into the puppyÕs eyes for ten secondsÉYour CAT SCAN and LAB TESTS are now completeÉI couldnÕt resist.Ó
Irene and I pass each other walking our dogs in Newport many mornings. She is going in one direction with her dog and I in another with mine. Koko and Maggie didnÕt see eye to eye the first few times but now are friends. We usually spend two or three minutes discussing important items of the day as we pass.
Such are the people, places and things that have touched my life in my West Virginia home!

Smart moves can help women achieve financial goals

All of us face challenges in our efforts to achieve our long-term financial goals, such as a comfortable retirement. But if youÕre a woman, the unfortunate truth is that you may have more hurdles to overcome than a man. However, knowledge is power, and as long as you are aware of what you are up against, you can take steps to boost your chances for success.
What are the special issues facing women? Here are a few to ponder:
* Longer life expectancies than men – No matter when you were born, your life expectancy is going to be longer than that of your male age-group peers. Obviously, these ÒextraÓ years of life mean more expenses.
* Lower earnings than men – In 2006, women who worked full time earned, on average, 81 percent of what their male counterparts earned, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the future, this gap may narrow, because the earnings of younger women entering the work force today are very close to those of men. But if youÕve been in the workforce for many years, thereÕs a pretty good chance that your earnings trail those of your male peers.

* More time out of the workforce – To raise their families, women spend far more time out of the workforce than men. During those years away, women are not contributing to Social Security, pension plans or 401(k) plans – which means theyÕll have less retirement savings than men.
These figures may seem somewhat depressing, but they donÕt have to lead to gloomy results. You can actually do quite a bit to improve your financial fortunes. Consider these suggestions:
* Take an active interest in your investments. Whether you are single or married, make sure you are familiar with your investment portfolio. Know what you own and why you own it. Work with a financial advisor who understands your goals and risk tolerance and who can help you make the right choices for your individual situation.
* Contribute as much as you can to your retirement plans. Each year, put in as much as you can afford to your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan. And when you get a raise, increase your contributions. Also, if you donÕt have a Traditional or Roth IRA, open one – and try to fully fund it each year.
* Invest for growth. Some evidence suggests that women may be more conservative investors than men. Of course past performance is not an indication of future results, but if youÕre going to achieve your long-term objectives, youÕll need to invest for growth – and that means youÕll need a certain amount of your portfolio devoted to stocks, which have traditionally outperformed all other asset classes. ItÕs true, of course, that you can lose some – or even all – of your principal in stocks. But if you purchase a variety of quality stocks and hold them for the long term, you can potentially reduce the effects of market volatility and inflation and potentially earn a rate of return that can help you make progress toward your objectives.
You may not be able to single-handedly change the social and institutional forces that can create problems for women striving to achieve their long-term goals. But by becoming an informed, active investor, you can better improve your chances to go a long way toward achieving the financial freedom you deserve.