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Posts published in “Day: April 3, 2008”

Fire damages rooms in new Highlands Jr. High

By LEWIS SPEARMAN
HIGHLANDS – Local students have been attending the new Highlands Junior High School building for only a week when a fire was apparently set in the Choir Room last Saturday, March 29 at about 11:30 p.m.
According to Harvey Little, Chief of Highlands Volunteer Fire Dept., first responders to the incident, “After about 15 minutes from when the fire was set the sprinkler system went off and slowed the fire’s progress. The smoke alarm was not working correctly, so we did not get an alarm until the sprinkler system went off. I can say that the sprinkler system probably saved the building. We went in and checked for hot spots and did our overhaul. Had it not been for the sprinkler system there would have been a lot more damage. I was very proud of the way our fire department handled the situation. They found the problem and blocked off the sprinklers after we were sure the fire was out. There was a lot of water damage but it could have been a whole lot worse.” adding, “I want to especially thank Channelview, Crosby, Sheldon and Mont Belvieu for their mutual aide assistance with the save of the school.”

James Bolton of the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office reports that “fire were intentionally set to cause damage to the school. It was further determined through interviews of school staff that there was money earned during a fund-raiser in the choir room of the school and this money appeared to be missing.”
A fireman said “We found a trash can that had obviously been set on fire and someone had piled stuff on top of a computer and set it on fire. Someone had broken out a window. ”
Kathy Clausen of Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District stated, “We have been in there for a week and it’s very unfortunate. It is very disappointing, it’s very upsetting but Mr. Herring and his staff are doing the very best they can to enable school to go ahead as usual. Everyone is trying to make the best of the situation. We are really hoping that the individual or individuals that were involved will be caught. We are very saddened that it has happened but we commend Mr. Herring and his staff for taking care of the kids and making sure school goes on as usual.”
The ceiling has been removed due to water damage, the baseboard were damaged while carpet, furniture and computers were completely lost.
There may be an arrest in this case because there are more security features at the new school than the perpetrator may have been aware. Although the Fire Marshal’s Office would only say that the fire is under investigation, surveillance tapes from cameras outside and inside the area are being reviewed.
Anyone with information related to the incident is asked to call Crimestoppers at (713) 222-TIPS.

Courtland Maris named 52nd Highlands Little League Queen

By BOBBY HORN JR.
HIGHLANDS—Play Ball Highlands. The Highlands Little League kicked off their 52nd season this past weekend.
This year the festivities began in Baytown as the Cedar Bayou Junior School was the site of the Highlands Little League Pageant. The pageant began with an opening number choreographed by Sterling Stars Lauren DeLuca and Bethany Roberts. Master of Ceremonies for the pageant was a man whom Highlands will become familiar with in the coming months, Goose Creek Memorial High School Principal Al Richard. He was assisted by Miss highlands Kayla Neathery.
The main portion of the pageant was an optional talent contest. This years winners were: Peewee Division, Cassandra Weber, 1st; Summer Miller, 2nd and Skyla Hernandez, 3rd. In the Junior Division, winners were: Schyler Stockwell, 1st; Jaclyn Holloway, 2nd and Lauren Hendricks, 3rd. In the Senior Division, Diana Singer, 1st; Savannah Pogue, 2nd and Claire Collins, 3rd.

Earlier this year the Little League held a Fun Day and Home Run Derby. Equipment manager Mickey Masterson announced the winners at the pageant. Winners were T-Ball 5 and 6 year olds: Landon Stockwell, John Henry Chapa, Brayden Murph and Blake Owens tied for first place.
In the 7 and 8 year olds, Ty Cook won first followed by Trey Anzaldua and Israel Martinez tying for second place. Juan Rubio won the 9 and 10 year olds, followed by Michael Sims and Lawrence Baggerly tied for second. In the 11 and 12 year olds Tyler Masterson won first, followed by Blake Sanders and Chase Ball.
Each year the teams also compete in fundraising with the top team winning the queen crown. The Major Indians were the top fundraiser with $12,236. However league rules state that a queen can not serve twice so Singer, who was queen in 2003 was given first runner-up. Courtland Maris’ Minor II Yankees raised $5,879, earning her the crown. The second runner-up was Holloway who team, the Major Cardinals, raised $4.063.
The festivities continued on Saturday with a parade which not only included Little league team floats but the Highlands Volunteer Fire Department and Highlands Sports Association softball teams.

Exercising, the body and the phone…

Decided to join the gym while the Mrs. was in Pennsylvania and after eight trips to the gym, I cannot tell any difference. Except it makes me realize that I have muscles in places I did not know I had places. Only go every other morning and give it a good twenty minutes.
In between working out on the exercise machines, I watch the weight lifters who are toward the back of the building and in front of the mirrors. Guess if I looked like some of them, I would want to look at myself too.
Sure hopes this turns out better than the Charles Atlas course I took back when someone kicked sand on me. They never did send me my muscles.
One would think doing yard work and gardening would be enough to keep a person in shape. If you have ever had a stress test, that is what twenty minutes in the gym does to me. Makes one breathe deep and a heap.

Thankfully, Shipley’s Doughnuts is just up the street.
Finally, the end of the month and the end of the quarter rolls around. Back in my finance company days, it was like a race at the end of each month to get the past dues down or lowered.
We made car loans, trailer house loans and personal loans. My job was a CSR and that is a Customer Service Representative also called an Adjuster. Always called it a collector myself because that is what I was always doing.
On any given day, I was assigned up to and sometimes over twenty accounts to go see. Problem was the first call was over 60 miles away down in tobacco country.
Addresses were Routes, for instance, Route 4, Box 478. The hardest part was to find the route and then follow it along to the number – that seemed to go on for miles and miles.
Saw many cases with people down on their luck.
Had one friend who worked back then with G-MAC, down in South Georgia. She did the same thing I did and that was continuous Dialing for Dollars and outside field calls.
Per her recollections, this one account was a disabled vet and his parents were poor poor poor. Said it took every thing he received in disability payments to keep them afloat and he was way past due on his car loan. So far, it was at the point of repossessing or collecting the bucks.
Anyway, she said she left and went home and cried her eyes out over the conditions those people were living in. Even went so far and made a payment for him with her own funds.
Sometimes life is not fair and sometimes a true guardian angel comes along.

Follow a withdrawal strategy that won’t leave you empty

When you’re working, you probably focus on how much you’re putting in to your investment portfolio. But when you retire, how much you take out will be a matter of considerable interest. And that’s why you have to prepare the proper withdrawal strategies.
Specifically, once you retire, you’ll need to decide what percentage of your investment portfolio you can withdraw each year without running out of money. How much can you take out annually?
There’s no one right answer for everyone. However, when you’re considering a suitable withdrawal rate, you’ll need to consider a few different factors – one of which is your age at retirement. Given today’s longer life expectancies, you could easily be around – and incurring a wide variety of expenses – when you are 90 or older. Consequently, the younger you are when you retire, the lower your annual withdrawal rate should be.
But, when determining your ideal withdrawal rate, it isn’t just the sheer number of years that you need to consider – it’s also what’s happening to your purchasing power during those years. Even with a relatively mild annual inflation rate of 3 percent, it would take just 25 years for the cost of living to essentially double. So, if you need, say, $75,000 per year to cover your expenses when you retire, you will need $150,000 per year in 25 years. If we go through a period in which inflation rises significantly, you might have to scale back your annual withdrawals or adjust your investment portfolio to provide more opportunities for growth.
And, speaking of your investment mix, it’s also a key factor in determining your annual withdrawal rate. If you own mostly fixed-rate investments, such as bonds and certificates of deposit (CDs), you will probably have to take smaller withdrawals each year than you would if your portfolio contained a greater percentage of stocks. That’s because stocks, over time, have more growth potential than other types of investments – and you will unquestionably need this growth to combat the two threats to your retirement income described above: longevity and inflation. (Of course, stocks also carry the risk of losing some, or all, of your principal, but if you invest in an array of quality stocks and hold them for the long term, it doesn’t guarantee a profit or protect against loss but you may be able to help reduce the effects of price volatility.)

Another factor behind your annual withdrawal rate is the amount of income you can expect from other sources. If you open a small business or do some consulting, you may be able to withdraw less from your investment portfolio than if you had no earned income during your retirement years. You also may be able to make lower annual withdrawals if you’ve built up a sizable pension or 401(k), supplemented by your monthly Social Security checks.
Your financial advisor can help you develop a withdrawal strategy that is suitable for your individual needs and that can counter the effects of inflation, longevity and market volatility. By making the right moves at the right time, you can go a long way working toward the retirement lifestyle you’ve envisioned.

Suspected Liberty Co. casino raided

By BOBBY HORN JR.
WEST LIBERTY COUNTY– Patrons at the Outlaw Ray’s Saloon has a big surprise last week when members of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, Dayton PD and Texas DPS entered the business to search a search warrant. The business is located in the 7800 block of F.M. 1960, halfway between Huffman and Dayton.
According to the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, 64 gambling machines were seized. These included “eight-liner” machines, video poker and video blackjack machines, an additional $20,000 was also seized.
Christina L. Shrum, of Dayton, was arrested on charges of Gambling Promotion, Keeping a Gambling Place, and Possession of a Gambling Device.  Walter Rohus, of Baytown, was arrested for the offense of Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon.  Ten other patrons were cited, but not arrested, for gambling.
The sheriff’s office said that Outlaw Rays was operating as a “private club.” With the assistance of the DPS’s Criminal Intelligence division, officers were able to conduct the preliminary surveillance which was part of the undercover operation.
Operation of 8-liner devices in Texas is governed by a law commonly referred to as the “Fuzzy Animal Act” which was designed to legalize video arcades which give tickets for prize redemption and crane games that are commonly seen in restaurants and grocery stores and award a winner with a stuffed animal.
The law limits the payout for users of the 8-liners to not more than 10 times the amount charged to play the game or device once, or $5, whichever is less.