The 62nd Annual Highlands Jamboree will come to life next Saturday, October 6th.
Townsfolk are looking forward to this annual celebration, after last year’s near “wash-out” from Hurricane Harvey.
Parade chairpersons Jessica Woods and Virginia Woods announced the theme as “Happy Days are Here Again.” The Jamboree is put on as a fundraiser for the Highlands Lynchburg Chamber, and sponsored this year by Woodforest National Bank.
Events will start early Saturday morning with a 5K Fun Run/Walk, starting at the Highlands Community Center. Registration starts at 7am. Sponsored by Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital, the co-chairs are Kathy Jaeger and Gary guy.
The Parade starts at 10 am, and follows the traditional route down Main Street, from E. Houston Street to Jones Road. Brenda Moore and Betty Michalsky are in charge of the parade. Judging of floats/units will take place for the following categories: Best of Theme, School Spirit, Non-Commercial, Commercial, Antique/Classic Car, Modified or Race Car.
CROSBY – A special meeting of the Crosby ISD Board of Trustees was called last Monday night to consider authorizing the expense of up to $20,000 for an objective, third party audit of district expenses and internal controls.
The CISD Operations Center was less packed than a previous board meeting where everyone learned that there was over $345,000 in a deficit before anything is bought for the 2018-2019 school year. Everyone also learned that the district was trying to see what supplies could be held to a minimum before laying off personnel could begin to be determined. We learned that the district is at 89% of the total expenses for personnel where it should be at 80% for personnel. That in 2016-2017, 100 new positions were filled, and in 2017-2018, 40 new positions were filled. Speculation is that about 117 positions are currently at risk from lack of funding.
Scott Davis, Superintendent for Crosby ISD, recommended approval of an initial financial and controls analysis for no more than $20,000 to give a clue to any criminal mismanagement or faulty processes that might have allowed the shortfall of funding. It would give the board the option to look further into deeper investigation with the legally actionable forensic audit, but at less than six figures of funding, that is not available without extra cuts.
J.R. Humphries, a board member elect, spoke before the meeting, also calling for a $20,000 audit first, but calling that a forensic audit.
Celina Miller and Lupe Garcia are prospective auditors with Whitley Penn, LLP. They described different audit services than those performed by Weaver and Tidwell, LLP, the latter being the auditors preparing 2017-2018 general audit. The general audit looks at the factuality of financial statements, not opining on the financial health of the district. Whitney Penn LLP would then give a better understanding of trends and would find any fraud or misrepresentation of the facts.
This audit would look at board policies and the disposition of internal controls. This audit would be an “iterative process with the board but notable findings would be shared with the Board in open session.” and the auditors would not “run to the D.A.’s office” before consulting the board.
CROSBY – Crosby Education Foundation was found at a new palatial setting last Saturday raising money for extraordinary learning experiences for Crosby ISD students.
The venue was perfect for attendees and a chance to meet with the gracious hostess Megan Schuchart of Southern Lace Estates to explain the capacity of the newly opened venue for weddings and events.
A live auction by the guys from the Auctioneers of the Crosby Fair & Rodeo drew about $31,000 with items including 8 days and seven nights in Aruba, a Drive and Shoot a real WWII Sherman Tank and more exotic experiences including a night at the Crawfish Shack with about 20 guests. There was sponsorship for classes. There was a raffle, wine draw, gift card draw and jewelry drawing that continued until time expired.
CROSBY – Monday’s Trustee meeting included a packed room, four citizen’s comments, extensive discussion of dire finances and a Superintendent’s report of what the state of the finances are, what needs to be done and how the district will get to the point of solvency to avoid being taken over by the State.
Dr. Scott Davis, Superintendent of Crosby ISD, and recently-hired Chief Financial Officer, Lesa Jones, presented an overview of the District’s current financial state.
Davis has been in regular communication with the Texas Education Agency regarding Crosby ISD’s financial state and will continue to provide regular updates to the Commissioner of Education, Mike Morath.
He indicated that no one wants to see Crosby ISD taken over by the State.
“Be careful what you wish for.”
In 2015 and 2016 the Board of Trustees discussed how to get the “highest academic standards possible.” At the last meeting everyone learned from the Accountability Report that Crosby ISD was rated a ‘B’ according to the Domain Scores by the State – neighboring school districts were rated “Met Standard” or “Substandard.” One easy way to get student’s scores up is to hire more teachers. Generally it is held that the lower the teacher to student ratio, the faster students learn. Although, there are certainly studies that indicate otherwise or that it makes no difference.
Monday attendees and trustees learned why we have seen the last hiring of over 200 new teachers in a district with nearly 6000 students. While personnel normally accounts for about 80% of a district’s budget, it has been found that about 89% of Crosby ISD budget goes to personnel.
Superintendent Davis painted a bleak picture of unknown layoffs near Christmas and slashing spending “to the bone and then cutting a little bone.” The budget passed last June is about to undergo revisions and special meetings are ordered to consider the new budget plans and what to do about the spending, mostly on personnel and what to cut elsewhere in the system.
District Staff will partake in a series of meetings in the next week to determine which items are absolutely essential in order to operate each campus and/or department. The goal will be to reduce staff budgets dramatically in order to protect as many positions as possible. Another wish was that growth would offset spending by adding revenue, that happened once but not since.
Thus far 18 full time employee teachers and 13 auxiliary full time employees have been replaced by attrition.
HIGHLANDS – It seemed so easy, toss those four metal washers into those three little holes. But over 20 teams vied all afternoon last Saturday, to come out a winner in this 12th Annual Highlands Rotary Club Washer Tournament.
And it was easy for one team, named 2017 CHAMPS. Michael Harrell and Justin Graves led everyone in scoring. Second place was won by the LONE STAR team, consisting of Jeff Sparks and Willie Hutchison. Third place was captured by the BRONCOS, a father and son team of Robert Carter and Little Rob Carter.
Certificates and cash prizes were awarded to these champions.
Also competing were many Rotarians, and a special trophy is reserved for that team scoring the highest. This year is was won by team DOUBLE D, with David and Terri Denny.
The tournament is a fundraiser for Rotary International, that uses the money to fight polio, and returns a portion for community projects. Chair persons Patricia Scott and Denise Smith reported that about $8200 was raised for this charity.
There was also a raffle, a silent auction, and a live auction.
Crosby ISD recognized the Jared Jamail Scholarship Fund for the 20 years the charity has awarded scholarships to Crosby High School students through funds raised at their Annual Jared Jamail Golf Classic to be held this year on Oct. 13. The fund is to commemorate Jared Jamail a Crosby High School student known to be an average golfer and capable of making anyone laugh. The Classic to be held this year at Stonebridge at Newport includes foursomes with a shotgun start at 8:00 a.m. for extra information or to enter the tournament call (281) 328-3576.
HIGHLANDS – Three environmental agencies were in town last week, to interview residents about their experiences and opinions on the San Jacinto River Waste Pits, or Superfund. The team was led by the EPA’s Janetta Coats, a Community Involvement Coordinator, and included representatives from the Texas Health and Human Services Department, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The team interviewed interested residents for two days, at the Highlands Community Center, and then held a Round Table wrap-up session on the final afternoon, Wednesday, September 12.
Coats said that this interview process was a required part of the Superfund process. Responses will be included in a final version of a document called the Community Involvement Plan. A draft copy of this is now available on the EPA website.
Although the interviews were individual and confidential, the public was invited to sit in on the final Round Table. At this session, about 20 people attended. Included were the interview team, concerned residents, environmental activists, journalists, and attorneys for aggrieved parties and environmental issues.
Coats started the Round Table by noting that all information about the Waste Pits is available at the Stratford Library in Highlands, as well as on the EPA website. Citizens may also call an information number, 800-533-3508 to discuss the site or ask questions.
Coats had prepared a list of questions as prompts for the assembled group and those who had been interviewed.
Simple questions included: “Are you aware of the site?” and “Are you aware of any controversial concerns about the site?”
She also asked if anyone was aware of the activity taking place on the site.
HOUSTON – Magic, merriment and majesty await at this year’s Texas Renaissance Festival, the nation’s largest Renaissance-themed event, now announcing unique themes for all nine festival weekends, from September 29 to November 25, 2018, and a brand new season pass, The Royal Pass.
In 2017, Texas Renaissance Festival saw its second highest attendance season, welcoming a total of 644,917 attendees, while facilitating 63 weddings, the most recorded in a single season. Texas Renaissance Festival also saw a 14 percent increase in campers from the previous year, hosting 23,000 guests in the campgrounds – suited perfectly for both those seeking nighttime thrills around a bonfire, and families seeking a quiet retreat with a place to shake off the fairy dust.
“We encourage the noblest lords and ladies of the land who are interested in purchasing Festival tickets to secure the Royal Pass at once to get the most savings — up to 68% off admission, with many free perks included, such as preferred parking and access to TRF After Dark,” says Texas Renaissance Festival General Manager Terre Albert. “We’re thrilled for our loyal patrons to take advantage of such bargains, and excited to see everyone for nine themed weekends this year!”
Crosby Fair & Rodeo hosted their membership feed last Saturday and Monday night was the election of seven directors at the Crosby Fairgrounds. The twenty one member board rotates seven to election every year. Above is the new board about to hold their first official meeting as newly elected board members although most were simply reelected. Winning the membership approval are Ralph Bartholow, Tannie Gillespie, Eddie Glover, Ricky Larkin (last year’s C.E.O.), Heath Matthews (also chosen as lifetime member,) Obie Fuchs and newly elected is Kevin Pipes. The membership learned of strong financial health even after Hurricane Harvey last year and other obstacles. Bill Busby after over 30 years as director and often Business Manager is giving others a chance to top his winning performance. Mr. Busby says he will be around for advice.