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Posts published in “Day: August 4, 2011”

Area judge ready to call it a career

A fixture in the Chambers County legal system plans to tap his gavel for the last time, as 344th District Court Judge Carroll Wilborn, 65, has announced he will not seek re-election to his bench.
Wilborn made his announcement during a Commissioners Court meeting on July 26.
Throughout the years, Wilborn has held numerous posts within Chambers County. Originating as an assistant county attorney, he was also the assistant district attorney before becoming the county’s district attorney, an office he held from 1977 to 1983. He has held his current position from then until now.
Wilborn also served more than 12 years on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Judicial Advisory Council, as the Governor’s chairman on the state’s Criminal Procedure Revision Committee and as chairman of the Criminal Law section of the Texas State Bar.
Wilborn will serve until the end of 2010, which is the end of his seventh four-year term.
For more information on Judge Wilborn and the 344th District Court, visit www.co.chambers.tx.us.

Liberty lawmen locate drugs, guns, rocket launcher

Deputies from the Liberty County Sheriff’s office discovered a huge cache of illegal items while acting on a Crimestoppers tip last Wednesday.
According to reports, late at night on July 27, the deputies headed to a location on County Road 389 near the Pebble Creek area of Liberty County. The officers intended to respond to reports of suspected drug deals, fighting and loud noises from the area, with individuals coming to and leaving the area at all hours.
When the deputies arrived, they discovered evidence of drug trafficking, including an undisclosed amount of methamphetamine, a marijuana growing operation, narcotics paraphernalia and currency.
Located also were a number of possibly stolen items, such as four-wheelers, motor vehicle parts and electronic devices.
The officers also found a stash of firearms, which included shotguns, semi-automatic shotguns, rifles, handguns, and a rocket launcher.
Authorities believe that this location was a place where criminals would trade and sell items for drugs and other items.

Al Pyle of Highlands dead at 85

A well-known former Highlands citizen passed away recently, leaving behind a legacy of service and a love for music.
Albert Pyle was born Sept. 21, 1921 in Kansas City, Missouri and passed away July 25 in Georgetown, Texas, but spent many of the years in between as a Highlands resident.
Pyle was a drummer with a love for Dixieland Jazz music, and played for much of his life, until age 85.
Pyle was an active member of the Masonic Order for more than 65 years, including membership in the Scottish Rite. Pyle was also a longtime Shriner, serving as the leader of the Shrine Band.
Pyle was also known for his dedication to the community, and was a president of the Highlands Chamber of Commerce.
Pyle was preceded in death by two siblings, Bill Pyle and Elvie Williams. He is survived by his spouse, Lou Ellen Pyle, as well as his children, Dixie Tolbert, Cheryl Ivy, and Roxy Mize. He leaves behind also eight grand-children and 10 great-grandchildren.
A funeral for Pyle was held on Saturday, July 30, at Forest Park Lawndale Funeral Home in Houston.

County Attorney Ryan updates Rotary on San Jacinto Waste Pits

Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan came to visit the Highlands Rotary Club Tuesday, and gave members an update on one of the most pressing issues at hand in the community — the remediation of the waste pits on the San Jacinto River.
“One reason I love coming out to Highlands is I grew up in Clear Lake Shores before NASA came in, and Highlands reminds of the way Clear Lake used to be,” Ryan said.
Ryan was cordial but to the point, and got to the update on the situation quickly.
“I just checked today, and the containment part is over with,” Ryan said. “ About 70,000 tons of rocks were placed on the fittings on top of the dioxin sites in the river.
“There is a lot of natural damage to this area, and previously there weren’t a lot of waste requirements for the petrochemical industry. This site is a classic example of what used to be done.”
The waste pits are on a spit of land that is north of the I-10 bridge over the San Jacinto River, along the west bank.

Originally the land was above the water line, but subsidence over the years allowed water to cover some of the land and toxins to leak into the river.
The history of the site is that in 1965, waste impoundments were established by constructing berms around the land. Waste sludge, which included industrial toxins, were brought from the Champion Paper Mill in Pasadena, and disposed of on this site.
The two companies involved in the waste dumping, McGinnes Industrial and International Paper, have cooperated with clean-up efforts, after the site was put on the EPA Superfund Priority List in 2008, and an accelerated clean-up schedule was agreed to with efforts from local Congressmen Gene Green and Ted Poe.
The containment work included clearing the site of vegetation, rebuilding edge berms, and then installing a polyethylene membrane liner, and covering it with two feet of heavy rock material. In one corner of the site, cement was added to the soil to stabilize it further.
Ryan said that now that containment of the toxins is complete, the next phase of clean-up is due.
“Now we will start monitoring the area, learning what’s going to happen,” Ryan said. “The EPA is doing the monitoring to see if the containment is doing its job.”
Ryan also said that a new site has been found on the other side of the San Jacinto River Bridge.
“There’s another place that may have the same type of pollution,” Ryan said. “Once we determine how the current site is being contained, there’s going to be water monitoring along the bay to see what needs to be done next. Containment may be the best that can be done.”
Though Ryan did not have a measurement on the newly discovered site, he said it was “pretty substantial.”
Ryan said that the EPA would also be looking into the possibility of contamination of freshwater wells, as the interconnectivity of underground sites could be a problem.
“It’s part of having the petrochemical industry be such a big part of our economy here,” Ryan said. “It wasn’t until recently that much concern was felt by some corporations; chemicals were just dumped on the ground somewhere and they would be carried into the water over time.”
As for locating all parties responsible, Ryan said it was an ongoing process.
“Through enough searching you usually find out,” Ryan said. “Most things are traceable, companies keep copies of things. It might take some time, but we will find whatever we can.”

Texas School Ratings Released-Local Schools rated OK, except Crosby High

By LEWIS SPEARMAN
CROSBY – While both here and in Huffman the schools are overall rated Acceptable by the Texas Education Agency (T.E.A.) based on the T.A.K.S. testing for last year, two of 5 subgroups at Crosby High School were rated Academically Unacceptable. That brought the Crosby High down to Academically Unacceptable rating according to reports released on July 29.
With scores of Exemplary in overall Reading and Social Studies it is a safe bet that Crosby ISD will be appealing the rating. They also scored a Recognized overall in the Science and an Academically Acceptable in overall Mathematics.
Counting up the scores for Crosby High, seven scores were Exemplary, four were Recognized and six were Acceptable with two Unacceptable.
The scores are visible by going on-line to tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/aeis/
Viewing the detailed reports is available by campus name links to Accountability Data.
This reporter went to Dr. Kevin Moore, Superintendent of Crosby ISD, to find out why the high school got the Unacceptable rating.

“You are rated based on your worst score on your lowest performing subgroup. All of your categories could be Exemplary but if one were one point below Acceptable then your entire rating would be Unacceptable.”
What is the overall educational atmosphere in your opinion for Crosby ISD?
“From my year of being here when I look at it from a statistical standpoint, you look at the district you look at the population, you look at the demographics, you look at the socioeconomic status, you look at other factors, we have a district that can be successful. We have a community that is very proud of its educational system. We have a staff that is very professional, that takes their job seriously and wants to do a good job for their kids. I believe that we have parents that are primarily interested in their kids. When you have all of those systems in play then the overall outcome needs to be better. I as instructional leader of the district have to insure that have a system in place that maximizes all–the desire of the parents, the ability of the students, and the work ethic of our staff. I don’t believe that any of those things are why we have an academically unacceptable rating at the high school. We have to look internally to capitalize on the quality of community we have, and the quality of student body that we have. I’m taking it as a calling for me to evaluate the system as a whole and what kind of instructional program do we have to address the issues and how are we looking at our individual students and analyze our data to make sure they are successful. I think our staff is concerned about kids and work hard for our kids so the message is not going to be work harder but I as the Superintendent working with my staff and the campuses have to take the work ethic and say okay, we are not getting the results at the end that are equaling the amount of work we are putting in, so what is it about our system that is not showing those results. We are going to step back and look at our system from that level to analyze our system while we work with our kids on the short term to make them successful.”
What are examples of what you are talking about?
“We have to tutor more kids in Math, for instance, in the short term. We have to measure how students are reacting to our instructional system before we get to the accountability tests in the long-term to use that data to aid instruction.”
“We are going to work ourselves to the bone to make ourselves at least academically acceptable.”
“There are many strong indicators on these tests, the completion rate for the district overall is 96.3%, above the Exemplary completion rate and we always try for 100% of our students to graduate. We also participate in the PreA P.A. Dual credit Program. Our stronger students made higher Advanced Placement scores than they have had in a long time. You will find more 5s, the highest scores you can make. It has been a very successful year for our high school and our A.P. Tests.”
The districts evaluation of the TEA tests indicates that they come out Academically Acceptable but we given Academically Unacceptable Rating.
Dr. Moore says that only changes a word on a piece of paper and that they need to make changes for better outcomes.
So what are the administrators going to do about it?
“The Mathematics issue is not isolated to Crosby – it is a difficult test and a difficult subject for a lot of kids and it seems as they go through the system the higher they go the more difficult it becomes for them to be successful of this test. Our number one priority is those kids that are taking tests to graduate. We put things in place to be successful on the secondary level on a short-term basis. We work with them to do small group instruction, we develop plans for tutoring for interventions with kids and we look at our teaching strategies on a very immediate basis to try to help be more successful. I do believe though that the ultimate goal is to develop a curriculum instruction system across the district that develops long-term overall fundamental improvement. There are two sides to that coin, short term and long term. Long term is the more important side but you cannot let your students in tenth and eleventh grade wait for the long-term effects.”