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Posts published in June 2013

Lake Houston bass restocked

Lake Houston Sports & Recreation Foundation and Texas Parks & Wildlife Restock 100,000 Hybrid Florida Bass into Lake Houston.

Volunteers with Lake Houston Sports & Recreation, a non-profit organization, distributed 100,000 Bass around Lake Houston on Wednesday, June 19, 2013 for the restocking program to help Lake Houston become a cleaner and healthier lake.

Lake Houston is 1/4 of the City of Houston’s drinking water source. With the plant restoration project underway and restocking of bass it is believed Lake Houston will become a cleaner water source for the people of Houston.

Volunteers with 10 to 15 boats distributed the fish around the lake at 103 Page Lane Huffman, Texas 7736.

Jason Miller and others restocked in at least three locations during their efforts.

Chemical plants in Baytown plan huge expansion

HIGHLANDS – Chamber members heard plans for major expansion in two Baytown area chemical plants. The new construction will generate two types of jobs, according to Van Long, plant manager at the Cedar Bayou ChevronPhillips refinery.

Construction jobs over the next five years could come to 4000 for their project, and another similar amount for the ExxonMobil plant expansion planned at the same time. In addition, other projects in the chemical and oil business in the Baytown/Mont Belvieu area might generate as much as 15,000 construction jobs. After the plants are built, ChevronPhillips will need about 400 to 600 permanent employees and contract workers. The other plants will generate similar needs for workers, he said.

These new plants will make I-hexene and ethane. Chevron, Gulf Oil and Phillips 66 joined as one company in July 2000, Long said. The plant makes various types of plastics, which usually end up as polypropylene in our everyday plastic products.

Long said that his company is working closely with Lee College, to train workers for the jobs at these plants. They are providing 50% scholarships for workforce development scholars, and 100% if dual credit. They are also providing mentors to the program. Graduates get an Associate of Applied Sciences degree.

Baytown is the center of this expansion due to new shale deposits coming through pipelines and rail cars from Eagle Ford and Barnett to Mont Belvieu.

Growth of new ethane supply in the United State, Long said, will mean 17,000 new chemcial jobs in the U.S., and 81,000 new jobs in Texas in all industries outside the chemical industry.

There are a total of 19 chemical plants in the greater Baytown area, with 5000 full time employees now, soon to be 6200, and 7500 contract employees.

Sixty-fifth high school reunion

This writer is heading for a high school reunion on June 29th and recently had a discussion with a six-year-old boy about the event. The youngster had some different ideas about a reunion. The talk between us went something like this:

“Hi Mr. Springer,” Hank said as he arrived on his bicycle from upstreet. It had been a while since I have seen you. Have you been OK?”…”Just fine,” said the young out-going elementary student. After a few more introductory remarks, he said, “Mr. Springer I am going to King’s Island in Cincinnati in a couple of weeks We are going to stay in a motel over a long weekend for three nights and I get to swim in the pool when I’m not at King’s Island.” I stopped what I was doing in the yard and began to listen as I could tell this was big news and a few more details would be forthcoming. Yes, the details flowed.

After a couple of minutes I replied, “Hank, that same weekend you are in Cincinnati I am going on a trip also.” “Where are you going?” he asked. “I’m going to my sixty-fifth high school reunion in Wellsburg.” “Where’s Wellsburg?” came the question. “About 200 miles north of here in the northern panhandle of West Virginia. Sixteen miles north of Wheeling.”

Sixty-five years, that’s a long time ago.” “Yes, Hank it is. I’m 82 and most of those at the reunion will be about that age,” I answered. “Will you be staying in a motel?” “Yes…” “Will it have a pool to swim…?” “Probably not,” I replied.

“What will you do at your reunion”? he questioned. I countered with, “we will have dinner together and then probably spend the rest of the evening visiting back and forth about our high school days and family items since 1948.”

He thought for a few seconds then commented, “You mean you are driving two hundred miles, staying in a motel without a pool and all you are going to do is eat and talk with some more old people!” End of story.

Shame on me for having such a boring life and not experiencing the better things of life as shown in the eyes and mind of one six-year-old. But, I guess that is one way of looking at it!

As Hank rode away I asked myself, “Will he ever come back to visit again with such a boring neighbor. I hope so as I like that youngster.

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

The Tastes of Taipei

By Angie Liang

Though Asia has a reputation for being inexpensive, the truth is that prices for most things in Taipei were not that different than other cities. The food, however, was phenomenal and a bargain.

For breakfast my mom and I typically went to a stall in the food market, where the line was constantly out the door. They served the traditional greasy carb breakfast: fried pork buns, vegetable onion buns, lots of different types of dumplings, fried breads, and beef “sandwiches.” Of course, as any Chinese person can attest, you must have doufu nao (soft tofu soup), but it’s your choice between salty (my pick!) or sweet. No matter what we selected, my mom and I always arrived hungry and left happy.

My grandmother’s housekeeper also shopped at the food market early each morning to buy groceries for our lunch or dinner. I trailed behind her with my camera to capture the daily produce, which included not just vegetables, but also lots of seafood: seaweed, clams, shrimp, sea bass, and more. As part of every meal, she would pick indigenous fruit that could not be purchased in the U.S., such as liuwen (known as wax apple) and bali (a native guava). With these fresh ingredients, she prepared feasts for our family, often using my grandmother’s recipes. One popular Taiwanese dish is a thinly-sliced braised beef shank, served cold. She made it everyday for us because it was a favored treat.

When visiting Taipei, eating at a night market is a must! The streets are packed, and you shuffle along the herd of people with no personal space. When you find a food stand you must try, you crowd around and order. My cousins and I went to Raohe Street Night Market, sampling the most infamous dish, stinky tofu. (I still am not a fan.) We washed down the tofu with corn that was prepared like a blacksmith molding iron, fried Japanese octopus balls, and Asian pastries with red bean or ice cream. However, we shied away from the grilled crustaceans. Everything at the night market is cheap, which makes for a filling “second dinner.”

Before leaving Taipei, I went by Chia Te Bakery to buy their famous pineapple and cranberry “cakes” to share with friends back in the U.S. The ones baked in Taiwan are much better than the packaged supermarket kind, and Chia Te is considered the best. Lucky for me, I could walk there from my grandmother’s home. Every mouthful of the buttery soft crust, and the sweet-and-tart combination filling, was heaven.

I’d like to think my puopuo is enjoying a few Chia Te cakes in heaven as well. While it look grief and sadness to bring our family all together again, we celebrated her life and our bonds during this short trip to Taiwan – smiling up to the sky.

Aaron Cole installed as new Rotary President

HIGHLANDS – About 60 Rotarians, family and friends gathered last Friday night at the Boat Club in Highlands for the installation of new officers, board, and president for the next year.

Dane Listi welcomed everyone, introduced guests, and then reprised the accomplishments of his term.

The club has been quite involved this year in PIE, or partners in Education, with bikes, dictionaries, and birthday cake as incentives at the Elementary school for students.

In international matters, he noted our help with the District 5890 in the Guerrera Eye Clinic, purchasing a van to bring patients to the clinic for work on their teeth and eyes. The club also helped pay for a new water pump for a village in El Salvador.

Disaster relief was important this year, with donations for victims of the explosion in West, Texas as an example.

Locally, the club helped support the summer reading program at the Stratford Library, and two Interact clubs at the high schools.

The scholarship committee reviewed 64 applications, and award $30,000 to 18 college bound students from the community.

And with the partnership of District 5890, we continued the worldwide fight against Polio, which is now almost entirely eliminated due to efforts of many, including Rotary Internatioinal. The club continues a high level of giving to R.I., this year averagin about $225 per member, one of the highest in the nation and world.

After facetiously thanking Denise Smith for talking him into a president’s term, Dane admitted it had been a great experience, and welcomed Aaron Cole as the next president.

Next, Dane presented awards for perfect attendance, as follows: Weston Cotten 27 years (Note, Weston was not present to accept), Charlie Ward and Patricia Scott 13 years, Robert Woodall 4, Betty Brewer 3, Larry White and Sheila MacDonald 1 year.

Paul Harris Awards were given to Robert Woodall and Jeremy Rosenkrantz. Rotarian of the Year was Dane Listi, voted on by all the members of the club.

Bill Palko, next year’s Assistant Governor from District 5890, presided over the swearing in of the new board and officers. Palko is a member of the North Shore Rotary Club.

New officers were as follows: President Aaron Cole, President Elect Raymond Gonzales, Treasurer Sheila McDonald, Secretary Teresa Martin, Sergeant at Arms Jeremy Rosenkrantz, Membership & Partners in Education Chair Betty Brewer, Club Adminnistration Chair Denise Smith, Program Chair and Public Relations Gilbert Hoffman, Rotary Foundation Chair Charlie Ward, Scholarship Chair Dr. Larry White, and Highlands Rotary History & Education Chair Tricia Scott.

The new president, Aaron Cole, outlined his ideas for the next year for the benefit of the audience. He said his goal is to maintain the culture of the club, because every club but especially Highlands is unique, and has proven to be a great club.

He personally came to the realization, after joining and belonging to the club for a while, that the essence of the club is giving back to the community and others, not personal or business gain.

He said his second goal for the year was to increase the membership, and also increase the income from the Chili Feast for additional scholarships.

He noted how important the club has been to Highlands over the years, and that the Highlands Rotary has its “fingerprint on the community.” The club is observing 65 years of service, and R.I. has the theme “Engage Rotary, Change Live” this year.

The Sights of Taipei

By Angie Liang

Walking the streets of Taipei for the first time in ten years, I found myself chuckling. It was so much like New York, except the sidewalks were clean and the roads inundated with motorcycles. Exhaust was the perfume of the major boulevards, while the smaller streets were crowded with low-rise buildings hosting apartments on the top floors and retailers on the ground. For residents who preferred not to drive, the subway and bus system were both convenient and easily accessible – as long as you knew Chinese. And amidst all these people coming and going, the most amusing sight for me was that at any time of day, someone happily walked their little dog, usually unleashed.

During my time in Taipei, I made sure to visit the major tourist sites, including Taipei 101, the National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, and even Chiufen, a coastal tourist city.

On a clear day, it’s impossible to miss Taipei 101’s glistening green glass in the financial district. After all, the building is one of the tallest towers in the world. This art deco, modern pagoda-like structure is available for overpriced tours – unfortunately my visit occurred on an extremely foggy (or smoggy) day. Instead, like most tourists, I lingered around its adjacent shopping center. The mall is a multi-story galleria of luxury stores, where shop clerks eagerly follow your every move for a sale. It was quiet and eerily empty on a Friday evening as I admired the gleaming marble — an indicator that the Taiwanese were not spending here. The liveliest floor was the underground level, where you could find mainstream (i.e., affordable) retailers as well as the illustrious food court. This food court’s design and refreshments far surpassed those found in American malls — and even the food in U.S. chain restaurants.

The Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Halls are both beautiful to behold. They are very characteristic of Eastern-style architecture and feature an imposing main gate. Inside the Sun Yat-sen memorial, art galleries illustrate the story of his life and interpret the memorial through different artists’ perspectives. Just like Lincoln in Washington D.C., a large sculpture of Sun Yat-sen sits on his chair gazing out. He is protected by two guards who, like the Buckhingham guards in London, will not move or falter when approached. The outside of the hall is a vibrant orange, and a reflection pool and park border it. The scene is idyllic as many citizens gather here: a group of students practicing their dance routine, parents watching their children fly kites, photographers trying to capture the beauty of the Memorial, and friends chatting on park benches.

This time I only visited the outside of Chaing Kai-shek’s Memorial Hall, but despite being under construction, it is stunningly beautiful. The stark white stones are striking even against a gray sky, and the ocean blue tiles on the memorial and the entrance gate are one of the most vivid colors you see in the city. Though I was only able to spend a brief moment here, I found a sense of peace and stillness, a rarity in my life that I truly appreciated.

New Task Force combines sheriff, constable – Agencies promise improved crime fighting in Highlands, Crosby

HIGHLANDS – Local residents who have been concerned about an apparent high rate of criminal activity in the area, are hoping that the latest initiative by law enforcement agencies will have an affect on the perpetrators of such crimes.

In February, at a press conference, Sheriff Adrian Garcia and Pct. 3 Constable Ken Jones announced the formation of a joint task force to combat the problem with additional resources, a focus on the area, and improved communications between agencies.

According to a presentation made at a recent Rotary luncheon, by Captain Joel Inocencio of the sheriff’s office, and Capt. Jasen Rabalais of the Constable’s office, the trial of the task force has been very effective, and will now be a permanent presence against crime in the east part of the county.

Since February, the TF has made 66 felony arrests, and 45 misdemeanor arrests, according to the officers. As well as working closely together, they also involve other agencies, including DPS, FBI, DEA, and ATF they said.

The task force offices together in the same building, shares radio calls, and case information. They pointed out that their deputies have the same training, which is T-CLOSE, required by the state.

The task force now consists of 2 sheriff’s deputies and one canine unit, one lieutenant, 3 sargeants, and 2 captains. They work 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday, only on their cases. However, they are available 24/7 to work with other deputies on calls.

Their objectives are to be a Pro-Active Patrol, meaning they anticipate crime rather than react to situations, have zero tolerance, answer traffic calls, and conduct special assignments as well as all types of ordinary crimes.

The officers reminded the audience that although they are working on problems with game rooms, and drugs, they need intel to take action. Game rooms are legal until money is paid out. Citizens are urged to work with the new task force and report suspicious activity on the HCSO website: iwatch harris You can post information on the Facebook page of Captain Rabalais: You may also call the sheriff’s office on Wallisville Road, and ask for the Task Force. The number is 713-455-8050. The constable’s dispatch number, answered 24/7 is 713-453-6959.

Crosby Rodeo Cook-Off opens the party

CROSBY – This very week is the time for the largest party in northeast Harris County, that party is the Crosby Fair & Rodeo Cook-off.

The weekend’s party features Charlie Montague opening for Roger Creager on Friday, June 14. Local favorites Devin Sharp and Alice Doskocil open on Saturday, June 15 for Stoney La Rue on stage within the Crosby Fair & Rodeo Fairgrounds.

A parade on Saturday morning lines up at 9:00 a.m., starts at 10:00 a.m. and will go out from the fairgrounds west on Church St. turning right to First Street, then right on Kernohan (east) to Crosby-Dayton Road left (north,) then right again onto Pecan Street (southbound) leading back to the Fairgrounds on Church St.

This year’s theme is “It’s All About the Youth.” In keeping with that theme, Dr. Keith Moore, CISD Superintendent and family will play Grand Marshal.There are six awards to be won in the parade based on the theme “It’s All About The Youth,” a Best in Show first through third place is awarded and first to third in Best Wagon or Trail Ride is awarded.

The Cook-Off starts Friday, June 14th, gates open at 6:00 p.m. and Saturday, June 15th admission begins at 3:00 p.m. lasting until all is done. A total of 60 teams is signed up.

The Crosby Fair & Rodeo Livestock Auction begins Wednesday with a special fete for auction buyers at 4:00 p.m. After the aAuction Buyers Dinner, the auction begins at 6:00 p.m. This even raises the most funds that go directly to the livestock participants from the auction process. The best place to meet most of the community is at the Livestock Auction.

The 67th Annual Crosby Fair & Rodeo’s Rodeo 2013 begins Thursday, June 20th featuring Colt Ford and opened by the Crooked River Band. June 21 Texas native sky-rocketing to the top of the charts, Sarabeth opens for Season 2 X-factor winner Tate Stevens.

Saturday, June 22 is Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night featuring Kevin Fowler and opened by local sensation Breelan Angel. Tough Enough To Wear Pink asks all participants and fans to wear pink that night so that sponsors will donate matching funds for each person wearing pink to the Crosby Fair & Rodeo’s American Cancer Society drive that last year send $5,000 to the San Jacinto Methodist Pink Heals Endowment. Rodeo events start at 7:30 PM.

Musical entertainment for each night of the Cook-Off and Rodeo starts at about 9:00 PM. after two full hours of exciting P.R.C.A Rodeo.

Widening S. Diamondhead breaks ground

CROSBY – Precinct 2 Commissioner Jack Morman is making good on his promises to be the infrastructure commissioner for Northeast Harris County and on Tuesday he broke ground at Crosby Volunteer Fire Station #2 to begin the widening of South Diamondhead Boulevard.

First to speak at the groundbreaking was Alan Kulak, Fire Chief of the Crosby Volunteer Fire Dept. who welcomed the dignitaries and community to the fire station.

Early efforts will smooth the access to and from the fire station, then the widening will begin from there west.

In total the project cost to Harris County Precinct 2 is to be $1.9 million, according to engineer Jack Rodriquez, the engineering process went smoothly and the construction process alone was over $1.4 M of that $1.9M. Rodriquez pointed out that various overlay projects in the rest of Crosby have now been accomplished and that when given the choices of tackling the asphalt roads within the subdivision and widening South Diamondhead, the property owners association overwhelmingly chose widening the south entrance and exit to the subdivision.

Dennis Pilkington, President of the property owners association spoke next in praise of the Commissioner that he introduced as a promise keeper. “He, (Commissioner Morman,) has done a tremendous job of transferring money from people to infrastructure. Because without infrastructure, as I’ve been preaching to everybody that would listen in this community that would listen for 20 years, you are not going to have any growth. If you don’t have any decent water, any sewer, better roads, or good school buildings you are going to end up with a low demographic population and then you’ve got no money to do anything.”

Morman said, “We are thrilled to be in the Crosby area, we did inherit this area through the redistricting process. Construction will start in July and will be finished in October.” He thanked the property owners association and stated “Without their cooperation they would not be able to be out here.”

The design team after specifications were set by Precinct 2 was LandTech Consultants, Inc. with GEOTECH and Crouch Environmental Services, Inc. The construction team is Angel Brothers.

800 students get their hearts checked in Crosby

CROSBY – The efforts of a local community activist have helped the odds of survival of some local students.

Scott Stephens put together a foundation that is dedicated to promoting heart screenings across Texas after his son, Cody, died of sudden cardiac arrest in May 2012. The Cody Stephens “Go Big or Go Home” Foundation has found its way this week into Crosby High School. Eight hundred and one Crosby students were screened on June 3 by East Houston Regional Hospital.

The screenings found there is a potential for problems in about seven of the students.

According to physicians of East Houston Regional Hospital on Tuesday just before press time, “We are in the process of finalizing the last of the screenings so I can’t give you final numbers, however at this point 801 total screenings were done. Approximately 500 of these were normal. We have approximately 300 that are being finalized. Seven students will need to follow up with a doctor. We hope to be done with all of them by the end of this week.”

“Cody’s hometown got the message, a great turnout! Thanks to my friends at East Houston Regional Hospital for providing this service in a very cost effective and professional manner.” said Stephens.

Sudden Cardiac arrest is the leading non-accidental death of student populations. About 2000 deaths per year in the U.S.A. occur for those under 25 years of age. By funding this simple, non-invasive ECG screenings many deaths of youths can be prevented.

Stephens also had success in Austin, “Representative Sylvester Turner and Senator Tommy Williams, both who carried “Cody’s Law” were voted best legislators of the 2013 session.”

Stephens asks you to support “Cody’s Bill”– HB 1319 by informing your local State representative of your support. In Highlands and Crosby that is Wayne Smith and in Huffman Dan Huberty. For informatin and to make donations visit: