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Highlands Chamber installs new board, officers

The new president of the Greater Highlands/Lynchburg Chamber broke tradition this year, and took the Chamber to an evening banquet for their installation cermony.

Stefe Cochran, of PlastiPak, had the dinner and swearing in ceremony at Luna’s Mexican Restaurant in Baytown, and the event was in the evening instead of the usual luncheon.

About 100 guests, board members, officers, and community leaders gathered to hear opening remarks by Pct. 2 County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia, a recap of events by outgoing president Jessica Woods, a status report by Jim Strouhal on the Highlands Heritage Museum and Preservation Project, the swearing in ceremony by Judge Mike Parrott, and a welcome and look ahead by the new president, Stefe Cochran.

In her review of the status of
the precinct, Commissioner Garcia said that she was participating in meetings to secure part of the federal stimulus money for projects in the precinct. She had spent the day testifying to a committee that is putting together the request, she said. Other subjects that she knows the Highlands area is interested in are the 8-liners problem, and various road projects and traffic flow. She indicated that she was working with Austin legislators and agencies to bring answers to these problems. She also recently dedicated two more history murals, painted on oil storage tanks along Highway 225 in LaPorte, to further her STARS project.

Jessica Woods spoke about her accomplishments in the two years she has been president of the Chamber, saying 2008 had been a good year. In particular, the Highlands Jamboree had been quite successful, and noted the addition of a Childrens’ Pageant, in conjunction with Parents In Education at Hopper School, had helped. Also, the Chamber has been able to increase the hours of operation of the office, and noted that this Installation Banquet was the first one in the last ten years to be held in the evening, with full attendance.

She recounted the honor of presenting the Terry Davis award this year to Jim Brazzil. Also receiving support from the Chamber were the Boy Scouts, the Cub Scouts and the Highlands Heritage Museum, and the Partners in Education at B. P. Hopper School. She distributed letters from students as an example of this last relationship. She also mentioned that the Board was now at full strength, and that the Highlands Flag was available for sale at the office.

Jim Strouhal said that the restoration of the “Highlands” rail car was moving along, with new wood windows due to be installed this month. More display cases have recently been secured, the book on Interurbans with the history and photos of our rail car is now available for purchase at the Chamber office, and bricks have been ordered for the Memorial Wall in front of the office.

Judge Parrott swore in the new board and officers. These
included the following:

President-Stefe Cochran, Plastipak Packaging; 1st V. Pres.-Kristy Stalling, ReMax; 2nd V. Pres.-Jim Strouhal; Secretary- Kim Harris, United Community Credit Union; Treasurer-Tonya Russell, Woodforest National Bank; Ex-Officio Director-Jessica Woods, Rainbow Jewelry & Loan; Executive Administrator-Staci Neathery.

Also, Board Members Kris Barry, United Way of Baytown Area; Betty Brewer, Charter Member; Weston Cotten, Attorney; Sarah Davis, Stratford Library; David Kostka, Kostka Towing; Sheila McDonald, Capitol Bank; Betty Michalsky; Phillip Morris, Restoration House Church; Mike Nebgen, Awards & Engravings; and C. R. “Dickie” Woods, San Jacinto Services.

In his welcoming remarks, president Stefe Cochran said his goals for the coming year included an increase in membership, more community services, including the United Way, support of Partners In Education (He went so far as to be the Santa Claus at Hopper last year), more scholarships from Jamboree proceeds, and a robust 53rd annual Jamboree under the direction of 1st V. President Kristy Stallings.