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Posts published in “Day: February 5, 2009

Dedication of new Memorial HS

EAST HARRIS COUNTY — Drawing on a theme of unity, the staff and students of Goose Creek Memorial High School opened their doors to the community this week for a dedication ceremony.

The third high school in the Goose Creek CISD, Memorial is the first high school to open in 40 years. The ceremony opened with School Board President Carl Burg welcoming guests and elected officials.

Steven Coffey, representing Congressman Gene Green’s office, presented a flag to the school which had flown over the U.S. Capitol in honor of the occasion. At the start of the school year last August, Congressman Ted Poe had sent a flag that he had flown over the Capitol for Memorial.

Dr. Toby York, interim superintendent, read a proclamation signed by Gov. Rick Perry honoring the school’s opening.

Al Richard, Memorial’s principal, said that this occasion marked the pinnacle of his 25 years of service to the school district. Richard spoke about the crash course in construction that he had to take, while learning a most important lesson, “Our greatest asset is our students.”

Megan Adams, class president and the reigning Miss Highlands, spoke of the history-making first year of the school and the many “first accomplishments” the students have achieved. A two-high school district for so many years, Adams said that while the students who attend Memorial will not forget where they came from they will look to the future and unity. “We are young,” she said, “but united together. We are the school that doesn’t give anything less than the best.”

The ceremony closed with the time-honored tradition of Masons laying the cornerstone. A tradition that dates back over 300 years to Scotland, this week Masons conducted the same ceremony that Grand Master Ben Franklin used on the cornerstone at Independence Hall and that Grand Master George Washington used in leveling the cornerstone at the U.S. Capitol.

Using the traditional tools of masonry: the level, the square, the plumb and the trowel, Masons from the Sampson Lodge #231 in Highlands called on the blessings of the “Supreme Architect of the Universe” to keep and protect the building and its inhabitants.

Hit & Run calls for LifeFlight

Detectives seek damaged white truck

CROSBY – Last Saturday at about 7:27 p.m. deputies were told of a man struck by a white pickup truck that just sped up afterward on First St.

The truck described as a newer model Chevy Extended Cab turned from the northbound side of FM 2100 and struck a 29 year old man walking with a woman of the same last name in the opposite direction on the right side of the road.

The truck was reportedly damaged on the front, right side corner, the passenger side mirror was left at the scene and the front right side corner panel was left in the neighborhood yard. The impact was estimated to be in the center right side of the grill.

The woman was not struck by the truck but it was said she had a narrow miss.

Frankly, the hitting of a pedestrian could be done inadvertently by almost anyone, the driving away afterward makes this a crime. It also makes it erasable from the mind of the driver until they come to terms with what they have done. Reportedly, there were neighbors in the front yard at the time of the accident but the description of the truck was given by the woman walking with the victim.

Harris County Sheriff’s Traffic Division Investigators would be interested in more details, they can be reached at (713) 674-5393. Had Harris County Sheriff’s Deputies been given letters or number of the license plate, the gender of the driver or other details – the case might have already been solved.

Crosby VFD and ESD#5 medics were reportedly on the scene a few minutes after 7:15 p.m. and a LifeFlight helicopter took the pedestrian to Hermann Hospital. He was listed in stable condition before the flight.

Rotary Chili Feast on Saturday

Highlands is preparing for its annual tradition of the Rotary Club’s Chili Feast, to be held this Saturday from 11 to 3 at St. Jude’s Catholic Church social hall at 808 S. Main Street in Highlands.

Almost one thousand people will attend, and the Rotarians will cook their famous “Chester’s Chili” under the direction of Johnny Gaeke. This delicious recipe is only one of the delights that folks look forward to annually for the last 34 years. There are great prizes in the raffle, and silent and live auctions with lots of bargains.

One of the secrets of success for this event is the limited draw raffle. Only 600 tickets are made available at a donation of $100, and prizes include a new Chevrolet Silverado Pickup truck and 13 other prizes worth more than the price of the ticket. Other prizes include a digital camera, Gift Cards of $100, $200, and $300, a home theater system, a power tool combo, camcorder, Nintendo Wii Game Station, GPS System, Shotgun, Gas Grille, Laptop computer, and 32” LCD TV.

The Rotary Club uses the proceeds from the Chili Feast to fund their community projects, scholarships, and contributions to Worldwide programs such as Polio Plus through the Rotary Foundation.

Last year, the club was able to award 16 scholarships in the total amount of $26,000 to local students for their college expenses. Other community projects that the club has supported include the Highlands Fire Department,the basketball pavilion, Rotary Foundation programs in health and humanitarian causes, Highlands Sports Association and Little League, Boy Scouts, Stratford Library, Community Center, Senior Citizens, Mother’s Day Out, Highlands Jamboree, Highlands Horizons Pageant, Sheriff ’s storefront, Chinquapin School, FFA/4-H, American Diabetes Association, St. Jude’s Church, Highlands Food Pantry, Hurricane Relief, and many more.

The tradition of the Chili Feast started in 1976, and interest and proceeds built up over the years, but the first auto was not raffled until 1983. In that year, a Cadillac was won by local resident Gladys Burton.

The Chili Feast is a club and community effort, with many groups helping out. This includes the Interact Clubs from Chinquapin and Memorial High School, the Boy Scouts, and all the Club members and their families. The cooking is done by volunteers, including the famous Henderson cooking team, under the watchful eye of senior Rotarian Chester Stasney, who has been in charge of the cooking process for most of the years. Cooking of the chili is done in a special trailer with 4 pots built for the purpose, and rebuilt and replaced over the years.

In addition to local citizens and Rotarians, the event usually brings out politicians and government officials, and others of note in the area. This year, Congressman Ted Poe has agreed to pull the first ticket in the raffle, at 1 pm on Saturday. Also expected to be on hand are Commissioner Sylvia Garcia, Constable Ken Jones, Judge Parrott and Judge Polumbo, and usually some sports figures and school dignitaries, as well as corporate sponsors.

Tickets for the Chili Feast are $7 for lunch, or $100 for the raffle and two lunches. They are available from all Rotarians, and most local businesses such as Woodforest Bank, Crosby Bank, and Foodtown Market.

Participating Rotarians include president Patricia Scott, president elect Robert Woodall, who is the Chili Feast Chair, past president Charlie Ward, and club members Betty Brewer, Aaron Cole, Stefe Cochran, Weston Cotten, Robert Creel, Mathew Forastiere, Johnny Gaeke, Raymond Gonzalez, Teresa Griffith, Tom Hill, Gilbert Hoffman, Michelle Lomazoff, Steve Miller, Alton Neatherlin, Jeremy Rosenkranz, Denise Smith, Chester Stasney, Dr. Larry White, Lisa Vickers.

Police stop alleged drug trafficker

BAYTOWN — On the evening of Jan. 26, a minor traffic violation by a Houston man led Baytown Police Officer Zach Jolly to a large marijuana seizure.

According to Baytown Police, at approximately 11:50 a.m., Jolly was parked on the side of the roadway in the 4100 block of I-10 East, monitoring traffic and checking driver’s speed with radar.

Jolly observed a silver Chevrolet Impala with Mississippi license plates pass him. The vehicle did not have a light that illuminated the rear license plate which is a requirement under Texas law.

Jolly pulled the vehicle over and contacted the driver, an unemployed Houston man identified as John Wesley Aaron Jr, 53.

Aaron could not provide proof of insurance before giving consent to search his vehicle. Upon searching Aaron’s vehicle, Jolly located approximately 100 pounds of marijuana in the trunk. Aaron was arrested and charged with Felony Possession of Marijuana. His bond is set at $200,000.

Aaron was later interviewed by Baytown Police Detectives and admitted his plan to transport the marijuana out of state for distribution.

Law enforcement officers say that Interstate 10 is a popular drug corridor sine it connects Houston directly to Louisiana.

Letha Strouhal’s 30+ years of Rain Reports

Highlands “Rain Lady” provide reports to the Star-Courier

HIGHLANDS — Over the last 35 years Highlands has seen its share of floods, drought and the occasional snowfall—and one lady has been there to document the weather.

Letha Strouhal knows more about weather in Highlands than probably anyone in the community. Since the early 1970s she and her trusty rain gauge have recorded rainfall for the community’s newspaper. Strouhal said that the hobby came in the most unlikely way. “One day I was reading the newspaper when Mr. (Alton) Neatherlin (then-publisher of the Highlands Star) ran a story that we was looking for someone with a rain gauge. I had a six-inch gauge so I called him and he asked me to start doing the reports and I have done them ever since.”

Strouhal, said that she has since retired the original rain gauge. After using that gauge for years, she said, her friend Emil Kaminski gave her official U.S. Government rain gauge that measured up to 12 inches. “Thank goodness I have never had it full,’ she said. Although, she admitted once it got really close. On Oct. 11, 1994 Strouhal recorded 11.375 inches. The following day another 7.67 inches fell. Residents might remember the storms which exposed gas lines under the San Jacinto River, which erupted into fire.

Over the years, Strouhal said there are a few special years that she won’t forget.

“1983 was real bad” she said. “Crosby had two tornadoes, Hurricane Alicia hit and Hi-Port burned.” In June, 1986, one day’s rain hit more than 8”. This was particularly bad, she said, because Spring Gully rose so fast that it flooded many homes.

Hurricane Ike, by comparison, was not that bad, she said. Ike’s heaviest day was 7.6” inches. When Tropical Storm Allison came it dumped 11” over a five day period.

Strouhal is not alone in her weather watching. Two other area residents Lloyd Hargrove and Don Busker also measure rainfall and the three often get together to compare notes.

Over the years Strouhal said that if one thing has been consistent it is that weather is inconsistent. Rather than a seeing steady increase or decrease over the years, she has notice that the rain comes in cycles. Even the heaviest months don’t seem to have an overall impact, because usually they will be followed by months of drought.

In 1994 for example, Strouhal said that October alone had 25” of rain. For the year the total was 68” If one were to take away that one month, she said, 1994 would have been one of the driest years in recent memory.

Then there is the odd year, such as last December’s snow. “How do you measure rainfall when it’s snowing,” she asked with a grin.

How’d you get that name?

This writer, and family, has been doing a lot of running around the past month or so. Have traveled many miles by car and sometimes believe I have put on almost as many miles by foot as I wander around Crosby, Dayton, Baytown and environs since January 1.

Over the past three weeks we have spent a few hours each day working on son David’s lawn and extra lot. We now have it in pretty good shape. This yard worker has been filling those large black contractor’s bags with leaves and twigs. Forty-seven have been hauled away by the trash man since I started. Have a little hedge trimming, weed-eater work and spreading some mulch before I will call his lawn ready for spring.

That kind of work, occasionally doing some housework and writing columns, keeps me out of trouble. Wendell Berry once said, “The soil is the great connector of our lives, the source and destination of all.” Right on!


Driving the three hundred miles through Mississippi (northern border at Memphis to the southern border at Louisiana) I came across a couple of people with what I believe to be unique names. One waitress had a nametag that read, “Myedestiny.” That was a new name to me. I asked her how her parents came up with it but didn’t get much of an answer.

On a later stop in that same state I saw a nametag on a waiter that read, “I. B. Free.” His explanation was that the Free’s chose Ivan, plus a middle name starting with a B that I have forgotten, because they liked what it meant. I don’t think I could hang names like that on a kid. Those names brought smiles to my face.

Was reading the “Greater Houston Weekly” recently and found an article that also intrigued me. It was penned by one Ron Saikowski and concerned the “Purple Possum Winery” out Navasota way. You might be familiar with that winery but the name brought another smile to my face. Where did it originate?

Ron explained the owners told him “One evening a possum got into a pail of purple grape juice and changed the color of his coat. It was months before the possum was no longer purple.” This event named the winery. Makes sense but I am still smiling.

Goldfish training

Every now and then I find myself with time on my hands and look for something to do. However, I have never gotten so desperate that I would follow the suggestion in a recent advertisement of a Houston business. It encourages readers to buy a “Training kit to train goldfish to play basketball.” I have no idea how or why anyone would want to train a goldfish to play basketball. Let me know if you bought the kit and have said trained goldfish. I’m still smiling on that one too.

Such are the people, places and things that have touched my life in my home!

Crosby author tells Rotary of audio book

Highlands Rotary Club recently listened to an update from Crosby author Charles Shafer about his book “The View from the Chinaberry Tree”, which has now been issued as a 4 volume CD set, with the author reading passages from the book.

The book is about his experiences, and in a larger sense all of our experiences, growing up in the small Texas town of Winfield, with a population of 251. The book was first published in 1996, and the CD set in 2008.

Titles give you a sense of this collection of short stories. These include: A Pocketful of Spinach; Hoboes and Gypsies; I Could Have Been a Cowboy; Khaki; Aubrey and the North Koreans; Sittin Nekkid in the Backyard; Television comes to Winfield; Mama’s Gonna Kill Us Both.

Shafer tells these stories as if from a small boy’s perspective, with a sense of wisdom, and a sense of whimsey.

Shafer is a retired English professor, who taught at Lee College for 37 years, and was active in the Convict Education program.

The book is out of print, but the CD set is available by contacting the author, at 281-462-0410 or email