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Posts published in “Community”

Goose Creek plans $335 million bond vote

Goose Creek CISD superintendent Randall O’Brien speaking at Rotary

HIGHLANDS – Goose Creek school district is planning on a large $335 million bond issue to place before voters on election day, Saturday, May 4. School superintendent Randall O’Brien, and others on a planning committee, have been meeting with civic groups and citizens throughout the district to explain the need for this large sum of money, and how it would be used.

O’Brien spoke on Tuesday to the Highlands Rotary club, reviewing the history of the last bond issue in 2013, and the need for another one to keep up with the growth of the student population at present, and as projected into 2040. At that time, he said there would be another 6000 homes in the Baytown area, and those children must be accommodated properly.

As superintendent, O’Brien does not officially take a position on the passage of the bond referendum, but only explains the scope of the vote and answers questions about what it would accomplish, and how much it would cost the average taxpayer.

This is the second attempt at a bond issue to provide facilities and upgrades. Last year, a larger two part referendum was defeated, partially because it included about $50 million for a multi-purpose center that the taxpayers deemed not necessary. This year’s bond committee had 42 community leaders, and included some of last year’s critics. Their discussions refined the needs which would be included in the bond package.

The bond referendum includes money for five areas:

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Crosby ISD exits Exigency

Texas Education Agency personnel on hand to inform of a monitor and what the implications are for overseeing the reimbursement of funds gathered from parents for computers. At right is Mary Ann Whittaker, monitor of Crosby.

CROSBY – At the Board of Trustee’s meeting on Monday night, few could have been more glad to see consideration to terminate the Declaration of Financial Exigency than Superintendent Scott Davis. The burden of having to layoff educators and others fell on him following the determination of necessity. He had reported to the board of the District’s expectation of ethical behavior and fraud awareness and reporting training and the TCEQ Supplemental Environmental Project immediately before.

The Texas Education Agency had representatives speak during the meeting to inform the board of needing to install a monitor to see that the charges for computer maintenance taken from students’ parents are reimbursed.

According to T.E.A. Dr. Jason Hewitt the monitor is needed to see that the Corrective Action Plan, approved by the board at the last meeting, goes into effect to “refund the fees collected inappropriately. The monitor assures that plan is done effectively. What I also want to inform you is that — I am the L.E.A. — there are four areas that we look at we look at: statutory compliance, academic accountability — Crosby doesn’t have much to worry about that — financial accountability, and we look at governance.”

He indicated that if there is any kind of complaint filed, she is here on the grounds to look at that.

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ZXP is key industry in Highlands

JAMES TAYLOR, CEO ZXP

HIGHLANDS – One of the oldest and largest businesses in Highlands is operating under new ownership and management, according to James Taylor, the new CEO. The company is now known as ZXP Technologies, and has a history of over 80 years in Highlands, when it was originally a canning factory for figs and fruit.

Taylor spoke at a recent Rotary Club meeting, talking about the business success, and the work culture at the company.

Taylor said that since his group took ownership in February 2018, they have seen business revenues increase by 50%. One key to this is focusing on their best customers. At one time they had 290 customers, and now they concentrate on only the top 10.

Taylor spoke about the size of the business, which has 206 employees, and now has no “temporary” workers, a major change from previous policy. He said this has improved attitudes and work efficiency. The company also has instituted continuing education opportunities for all employees, and raised pay for everyone. Taylor has instilled the workers with a sense of responsibility for their work product.

The company’s products include lubricants, transmission fluids, and antifreeze. 60% of their products are exported in bulk, he noted.

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Goose Creek CISD proposes new bond issue of $335m

Jessica Woods

HIGHLANDS – The Chamber of Commerce heard the details of a new bond issue that is proposed by the Goose Creek CISD for the election in May.

The presentation was made by Jessica Woods, director of the Chamber, and a school board member representing District 3. Woods presented the facts behind the need for the bond issue, but did not take a position on whether to vote to approve.

The new bond is named GCbond2019 to distinguish it from the bond issue that failed to pass last year. The new bond will raise $335 million for a variety of needs, but will not include the multi-purpose and athletic center from last year’s bond, which had two propositions totaling $437.5 million.

The 2019 bond referendum includes $114m for updating Aging schools and Repairs, $155m for New School construction, $12m for Athletic improvements, $3.75m for Safety and Security improvements, and $49m for Technology.

Details of this bond issue were put together by a Citizens Bond Planning Committee made up of 42 community leaders, parents, and teachers representing a cross section of the District.

This committee, made up for proponents and opponents of the 2018 bond referendum, received information on current facilities and program needs, demographic growth projections, and then toured the schools.

In January 2019 they made a proposal and final recommendation to the GCCISD Board of Trustees, which approved the committee’s recommendations in February by a unanimous vote of 7-0.

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Crosby Education Foundation begins ‘Family Pride’ initiative

The Crosby Education Foundation (CEF) has embarked upon a new campaign which they are calling the Crosby Cougar Family Pride initiative. The purpose of this campaign is to unify the community with Crosby ISD (CISD) during this time of financial hardship and recovery. They are also trying to raise some funds to help the District maintain essential programs through this difficult period.

CEF is raising money to provide for essential services and supplies which are needed by CISD but had to be cut from the budget due to the financial exigency. They are targeting those programs and services which have the greatest impact on the academic achievement of the students, such as reinstating the Accelerated Reader programs at all Elementary campuses, funding a supplemental tutoring program for student testing, and assisting the District with attracting and retaining top-quality teachers. They are also working with the District to identify additional program and supplies which were cut from the budget.

The fundraising to support this campaign was recently kicked off with the “One District, One Family, One Shirt” sale in early February. They will continue to accept donations from individuals and local businesses to support these needs. You may contribute online at Paypal.me/CrosbyEF or by sending a check to:

Crosby Education Foundation
Attn: Melissa Murray
706 Runneburg Rd
Crosby, TX 77532

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Citizen input at Barrett Station drainage meeting

Officials from the Harris County Flood Control District, and the Engineering Department, have been holding a series of meetings around the county to explain how the $2.5 billion bond issue, that was approved last year in 2018, will be used to alleviate flooding.

Last Tuesday, March 5 they met with residents of Barrett Station, at the Community Center, to show plans and hear ideas and comments from the public, according to HCFCD project manager Roger Duong.

HCFCD engineering director Marcus Stuckett explained that the Barrett Station area has two projects affecting the flow of storm water away from the district. Duong said that currently the drainage ditches are too flat, and the road and entire St. Charles neighborhood is too flat, and therefore water is not moving away in the ditches.

The proposed solution is to widen and deepen the existing ditches, moving the water from the east side of Barrett, to the west side, and eventually to the irrigation canal and the San Jacinto river.

The engineers said that this solution should lower the accumulated water by a few inches in a normal rainfall, and up to 3 inches or more in an intense storm.

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Rotary wins Terry Davis Award

Chamber president Jim Wadzinski presents the Terry Davis Award to the Highlands Rotary Club. Members present (L to R) President Denise Smith, Weston Cotten, Sheila McDonald, Betty Brewer, Rose Smith, Gilbert Hoffman, Patricia Scott, and Andy Scott. Third from right is Will Carter of Congressman Babin’s office.

HIGHLANDS – The Highlands-Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce held their Annual Installation and Community Awards Banquet last Thursday evening, at the Monument Inn. There were Community Awards given to six outstanding individuals and organizations that have contributed to the life of the community. The top award is the Terry Davis Award, and it was given to the Highlands Rotary Club for their work in the community. A special award was given to Betty Brewer for her 35 years of supporting the Chamber. Betty is also an active member of the Rotary Club.

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Crosby-Huffman awards CRCU, Meaux

Community Resource Credit Union was acclaimed as Business of the Year for Crosby doubtlessly for their support of community activities and projects also continued commitment to bring innovative banking. Marsala Italian Grill won for Huffman but was unable to attend.

BAYTOWN – The Crosby-Huffman Chamber of Commerce held their Annual Installation and Awards Banquette at the Hilton Garden Inn on Garth Rd. last Wednesday in a stellar celebration.

Installed for the Board by Precinct 3 J.P. Joe Stephens who borrowed the time honored cliche’ ”It is better to be sworn in than sworn out.”

Yet this year the Chamber honored a pair of categories, one for Huffman and one for Crosby. The single exception is Ambassador of the Year won by Margarette Chasteen.

David Mendez of Turner Chevrolet awarded Dan and Jennifer Meaux the Citizen of the Year Award. The Meaux’s restaurant is an avid community supporter, instrumental in enabling the Cougar Band to go to Chicago from an event inside the Crawfish Shack. “It was nice to receive this honor with my wife.“

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Crosby ISD Audit finds false reports, cost over-runs, excesses

By Lewis Spearman

CROSBY – According to the Audit performed by Weaver and Tidwell, L.L.P., Crosby ISD got less money than it expected, spent far more on projects than anticipated, hired more than it could fund, played accounting games to hide financial problems, misrepresented funding, and did not report to T.E.A. adjustments to the ten month budget as required on a 12 month basis beginning in 2016.

Superintendent Davis found that $3.9 million was omitted from payroll. Fraud was committed by intentional omissions from the financial statement in June of 2017, $7.86 Million was omitted from reports.

Anyone that remembers the musical “Camelot” can think that the locals here are experiencing similar situations as the final act during the play or movie, when Lancelot has become a homeless person, and Arthur has been betrayed, lies dying on the field, and has given Percival Excaliber to throw in the lake.

The good news is, however, the audit indicates that the current administration has issued corrective action in the District’s finances. The bad news is, substantial reorganization must take place to not repeat the same situation.

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Moore addresses critics, apologizes

Dr. Keith Moore addresses angry public in Crosby.

CROSBY – At the Tuesday meeting of the Crosby ISD Board of Trustees Dr. Keith Moore, former Superintendent of Crosby ISD, came to speak at the Public Hearing portion of the school board meeting to explain what had happened during his tenure.

Dr. Moore was banned from showing up on Crosby ISD property but the Crosby ISD Bus facility now converted to an Executive Office that once was HEB is on records as being a grant of HEB, not Crosby ISD property, to reveal another even older administration’s secret.

The board afforded Moore three minutes to give his about 7 minute address. Then they called time and went on to discover that the Technology Maintenance Fee (computers to a maximum of $40) to students was not allowed by law and the school would have to make their best efforts to reimburse parents for 2016 and 2017 charges. The Board also approved moving forward with implementing new accounting measures, hopefully the origin of oversight.

While the Board was in Executive Session Moore read his 7 minute speech and then he consented to answer questions for about 20 more minutes to an angry and disappointed, near capacity audience in the meeting room.

Dr. Moore began with heavy emotion, saying, “Things happened that I did not mean to. I love this place.”

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Highlands/Lynchburg Chamber to host Gala

It is time again for the annual Installation and Community Awards Banquette of the Highlands Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce.

This year the ceremonies are to be held at Monument Inn on Thursday, February 21 at 6:30 p.m.

Individual Tickets and sponsor levels are available. The Chamber asks that would be sponsors and ticket buyers write them via email to highlandschamber@verizon.net.