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Star-Courier News

Showers ease drought, but County issues Burn Ban

By BOBBY HORN JR.

EAST HARRIS COUNTY– Area residents who will soon be visiting local fireworks stands will find some of their favorites no longer available.

This week, the Harris County Commissioners Court approved an outdoor burning ban as well as a ban on certain aerial fireworks. Among those include in the ban are bottle rockets and missile-type fireworks whose primary design or purpose is to travel self propelled through the air. Ball launchers, such as Roman candles are not included in the ban, however because of the threat of wildfire authorities are recommending they not be used.

During a meeting with commissioners Tuesday, County Fire Marshall Mike Montgomery said that he had been informed by the Texas Forestry Service and the National Weather Service that the drought conditions the county was facing was continuing and that despite the Monday night thunderstorms there was little sight of relief.

The main indicator that the county uses to determine the likelihood of a wildfire threat is the Keetch Byram Drought Index (KBDI). This index is a system that relates current and recent weather conditions to expected fire behavior. Under usual conditions, Harris County rates about a 200 on the scale. One the scale hits 500, a burning ban is recommended. On Tuesday, the county recorded an average of 608.

Under the court resolution, the ban could last up to 90 days. However, if the KBDI falls below 500 for two consecutive days it could be rescinded.

Montgomery said that the burning ban will effect only unincorporated areas of the county. The activity most likely to be impacted by the ban will be trash burning. There is a provision for trench burning and certain types of agricultural burning. In these cases a permit must be obtained from the state before the burning can take place. Violation of the burning ban is a Class C misdemeanor. Use of an outdoor pit for cooking purposes is not prohibited under the ban.

This is the third time in four years that the county has put out the dual ban on aerial fireworks and burning. The previous times were in 1999 and 2002. In the summer of 2000 the county also issued an outdoor burning ban.

Churches United offers diverse services to all in Crosby

By LEWIS SPEARMAN

CROSBY – Churches United In Caring in addition to a mission to the poor now offers something for almost everyone in the area.

Residents on the east side of Harris County can now shop for baby clothes, clothing, furniture, exercise machines, and sundry items at fabulously reduced prices over retail items. The Thrift Shop is open Mon.-Sat. from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

“I’m sure that we have one of the best Thrift Shops around with goods comparable to retail stores in quality at greatly reduced prices. People who are shopping, trying to stretch their dollars can do themselves a lot of good here.” Inez Jones explains, “We take donations of goods that are in good repair, we take almost anything donated. If there is a question about what is appropriate they can call 281-328-3178. After meeting with our volunteer counselors, people in need are given vouchers for clothing items, housewares or furniture from our Thrift Shop. We provide the giver with a Donor Receipt for clothing, household items, furniture, and food. The donations are tax deductible. The donations of goods if not given away can be resold to help with food, rental assistance, utilities, gasoline and or prescriptions, as well as other direct services.”

Last October, the volunteer mission, supported by at least 15 area church in Crosby, Huffman and Barrett Station dedicated a new, $300,000, two story center at 944 Church Street. Greenwade Service, Inc., acquired the land for the new building. The new location, on the northeast side of the fairgrounds, near US 90, is much more spacious and has more parking spaces than their previous location at 5223 FM 2100.

Twenty years ago, during the Oil Bust Days, Bridge City, the area under the Beaumont Highway, was a collective of displaced people congregating for shelter. The occupants of that area had developed their own panhandling culture. Churches at that time were doing their best to follow the Biblical mission of the Apostles, i.e. feed the hungry, clothe the naked and defend the fatherless. But, there are always the more enterprising of help seekers that were, frankly, taking advantage of the churches’ generosity. Twelve original churches banded together and started a center inside a rented house.

Volunteers worked with other volunteer organizations, government and business to provide the needs of the poor. Seventy five to eighty volunteers daily provide dependable manpower to keep the center in service.

Inez Jones said, “We appreciate the support not only of the churches but also of the boyscouts, and different companies around town. For example, if someone needs gasoline to go to a job interview or whatever, we give them a voucher for Danny’s Service Station. Where there is a need for prescription drugs, we have the co-operation of Wal-Mart Pharmacy, we call ahead to find out what the price of the drugs are and our treasurer pays for the drugs. If they need a couple of nights lodging, Crosby Motel accepts our vouchers. On occasions when there is a need that we are not able to provide from the center, baby formula for instance, Bill’s Crosby Finer Foods has helped us provide by accepting our vouchers and at Christmas time they have helped us provide. ”

The center is funded by sales from the thrift shop, contributions from individuals, businesses and organizations.

Last year, over 3500 people asked for help from the center and some $73,000 in assistance was rendered for rent, food, prescription, doctor’s bills, utility bills, gasoline and clothing. An extra $1,500 went to help small school kids in supplies.

West Nile Virus in birds, but County doesn’t spray

By BOBBY HORN JR.

EAST HARRIS COUNTY– Despite the confirmation of two cases of West Nile Virus in Harris County, officials with the health department’s mosquito control division say that they have no plans to begin aerial spraying.

In early May a bluebird with the mosquito-borne illness was found in west Harris County. Then, on May 21, a grackle was found in Hermann Park which also had West Nile.

Health Department spokesperson Sandy Kachur said that the only way the department would authorize aerial spraying for mosquitoes would be if a large concentration of Culex mosquitoes were found. Since this has not occurred, she said, the county will continue to perform ground spraying. Even if a large concentration was found, she added, the county would likely resort to aerial spraying if the area was not accessible by road.

Kachur said that the county is continuing to conduct tests on birds. Because of the number of diseases which birds can transmit residents are asked not to come in direct with birds but to contact the health department at 713-440-4800 to have the dead bird removed for testing.

Symptoms of WNV usually show up between five and 15 days after exposure and include low grade fever, headache, and swollen lymph glands. More advanced symptoms include high fever, stiff neck and muscle weakness. In the most extreme circumstances, a coma and death can occur.

Persons of 50 years of age and those with a weakened or compromised immune system are most susceptible to the virus.

The health department is asking that people take precautions against mosquitoes by limiting times outdoor during dawn and dusk, when the mosquitoes are most active, removing standing water which can act as a breeding ground and using an outdoor insect repellent.

Chamber reviews Overpass progress with Eversole

CROSBY– Members of the Economic Development committee of the Crosby/Huffman Chamber met with Commissioner Jerry Eversole last week, to review progress and design details on the proposed overpass to be built by the Texas Department of Transportation on FM2100, over the main Union Pacific railroad tracks near Kernohan.

Chairman Larry Koslovsky and other committee members heard Eversole discuss schedule, progress to date, and what the County can pay for, and not.

The committee also reviewed some design sketches, prepared by architect Gilbert Hoffman after meetings with TxDOT engineers. They seek to portray the community’s desire to blend the new structure in to the existing older city fabric. The sketches show antique style lighting, concrete railings and support structures reminiscent of older county roads and bridges. The overpass is being built in an area of Crosby that is historically the earliest business center.

The overpass is planned to be four lanes, with frontage roads at grade. Eversole said that surveying is now underway, bids would be let in the 4th quarter of 2004, with construction beginning by July 2005. Completion could follow in 16 to 24 months after that.

In commenting on the overpass, Eversole noted how Crosby is changing. In 20 years, everything will have changed, whether we like it or not. He said, “You have to plan for growth, and not let growth plan you.”

Local Memorial Day celebrated with respect and protests

By BOBBY HORN JR.

DAYTON— Last year, when Crosby ISD decided to hold classes on Memorial Day local veteran Joe Anselmo helped organize a protest in front of the high school which he says drew national attention.

This year, perceiving a similar injustice in Dayton, Anselmo aided members of the Liberty Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #562 and the local American Legion Post in forming their own protest in front of the Dayton ISD Administration Building.

According to the DISD school calendar, which was approved by the board of trustees in January 2002, Memorial Day was set aside as a bad weather day. Greg Hayman, assistant superintendent of the district, said that in the fall, the school district was forced to close its campuses under threat of a hurricane, which eventually turned away from the area. In order to get the 180 days of instruction mandated by the state, he said, the district had to use May 26 as an instruction day.

Anselmo said that when he heard that Dayton would be holding classes, he attempted to contact the superintendent, Nancy Fuller, twice. Eventually, he said, he heard back from her and she told him that while students would be in class they will be and have been taught the meaning behind Memorial Day.

Despite the efforts by the school district to offer an educational alternative to releasing students, Anselmo said that it wasn’t good enough and that students should not have to attend class on Memorial Day.

Anselmo said that a successful protest in Crosby last year inspired State Senator John Whitmire of Houston to file legislation that would prohibit schools from holding class on Memorial Day.

This legislation, Anselmo said, has passed both houses and is awaiting the governor’s signature to make it law. Hayman said that it is ironic that there were two school districts within Whitmire’s 15th Senatorial District who chose to classify Memorial Day as a bad weather day and could have been forced to hold classes.

Dayton was not the only local school district to hold classes on Memorial Day this year. Liberty ISD also held classes. Les Wylie, commander of the Liberty VFW, said that they did not plan to protest in Liberty because they did not have enough people available.

While classes were held in Dayton Monday, it was not business as usual. At 9:30 a.m. students from every campus, along with parents and community members gathered at Bronco Stadium for a Memorial Day Celebration. This celebration included a performance by the Wilson Junior High Band, a recognition of Dayton veterans and reading of student essays dealing with patriotism.

Highlands Rotary presents scholarships to youth

Highlands Rotary Club presented their Scholarships last week to college-bound students. Each year the local club presents 8 scholarships, worth $1000 each per school year, to outstnding local students who have presented applications and grade transcripts for consideration by a committee of the club. Recipients this year, their school, college choice and major are as follows: HOLLI SWICK, Texas A&M, wildlife & fisheries; MAYRA GARCIA, Chinquapin, Trinity Univ., environmental studies; HILLARY CREEL, Sterling, Lee College, education; TARRELL THIBODEAUX, Sterling, UT Austin, pre-med; DUSTIN JONES, Sterling, Lee College, business; KRISTINA WESELKA, Sterling, UT Richardson, cosmetology/psychology; KRISTAN HOFFMAN, Bellaire, Carnegie Mellon, english. Inset photo, REBECCA NIBBE, Sterling, Univ. of Mary Hardin/Baylor, business. Also seen in the photo above are Larry White, club scholarship chairman, and Joe Hausberger, club president. Funds for the scholarships come from the Chili Feast held each February by the Rotary Club of Highlands. Mayra Garcia received the Jay E. Bird Honorary Scholarship, and Kristan Hoffman received the Beverly Culbreath Honorary Scholarship.

Algae taints Crosby MUD

By LEWIS SPEARMAN

CROSBY – Beginning Tuesday, May 20, residents inside Crosby Municipal Utility District had begun to complain of foul taste and odor from their drinking water.

One resident exclaimed, “I had bragged about how good we had it here until last week! Finally, I had family visiting from all over the country for Memorial Day week and when the wife went to serve breakfast, my little niece said, ‘Looky, there’s chocolate in the ice.’ I reached into the ice bucket and smelled a piece – I’ll tell you it didn’t smell like chocolate at all. I hate to think what the adults thought was going on before we got some store-bought ice in here. I just want your paper to find out what those people at the water plant are trying to do to us!”

“The water smelled and looked dirty. My neighbor said it made her sick.” expressed a pretty lady at a weekend gathering.

Crosby M.U.D. board member Raymond Johnson explained that the taste and odor in the local water had come from an algae bloom.
Scientists describe an algae bloom as a formation of microscopic aquatic plants in freshwater. This eutrophication process is an excessive growth of algae or other water plants which depletes oxygen levels of deeper water.

According to Johnson, the water district has a 4 bay pond in the surface water plant that was overflowed three feet to get rid of the algae infested water. Thereafter, the system was flushed, hydrants were drained to remove algae from the lines.

A few words for those ‘Demon-crats’

Boy, I could hardly wait to write this week’s column! There may be some of you who won’t agree with me on this, but no one forces you to read this, either.

You see, I’m a plain ole cowboy who was taught that if you were hired to work for someone, you did the job. You usually knew goin’ in that you may not like some of the work, but you don’t have to take the job. It’s your choice.

Well, doggone it! Those liberal Democrats in Austin have had their way for so long, (over 130 years), that when they don’t get their way, they pout. Not just pout, they RUN AWAY and hide! That just shows that they are a bunch of WEENIES!!

I don’t give a good rat’s rearend what political persuasion you are, that’s just plum wrong! If you try and justify it, then you can also probably explain why worms yawn, or why the moon is made of cream cheese!

Give me a cotton pickin’ break! If our Governor or Speaker of the House had any guts, they would have fined the whole bunch that left, $7,500 per day, and told them to stay gone as long as they wanted. Or, they would have appointed someone else from each district to take their place and gone on with the state’s business. But, they didn’t do anything, dagnabbit! And those Demonic Democrats think they won, somehow.

I was so mad that I went and found out who our representative is for Crosby. Fortunately, it was Joe Crabb, a Republican, cause if it had been a Democrat who had run off, I was goin’ to run against him or her next election! (I’m sure a bunch of you are glad that didn’t happen!).

The onlyiest way this so called Governor or Speaker can redeem themselves is to call a special session and lock the doors to the capital and put a State Trooper in charge of every Democrat. Then finish what is the Legislatures responsibility, redistrict the state. That was done by a three judge panel. However, that was only done so the legislature could do it in the next (this) session.

If the Demons lose a few seats, then it is because the people have spoken. Life is tough sometimes, kids. You don’t always get what you want, but you will get what you need! (I think there’s a song like that).

The Demons are just plain and simply wrong and must be called to account on this. From what I’ve heard from some folks who voted democrat last time, they certainly won’t be makin’ that mistake again!

So, I guess the Demons had better enjoy their “victory”, cause it will probably be their last hurrah. I for one, certainly hope so.

Well, at this point, I think I’ve made mine, so I’m goin’ home.

Thanks to all of you who have sent letters to the “Why I like Horsefeathers” contest. I haven’t picked the winners yet, so you still got time to send in yours to:

P.O. Box 1606
Crosby, Texas 77532

Don’t be shy, just do it!

Reliant left the gate open today, so I got to go round up the horses. If you don’t like what those Demons are doin’, call the governor’s office!

Just a Ridin’,
Lloyd

Crosby medics get new director, premier service

By LEWIS SPEARMAN

HOUSTON– ESD#5 has forged new ground through signing with a new medical director, and a pact with Harris county Public Health to initiate county-wide protocols for paramedics.

Harris County Commissioner’s Court approved a premier memoranda of understanding between ESD#5 Medics and Dr. Matthew Minson of Harris County Public Health Dept. on Tuesday, May 20. Minson is now Medical Director for ESD#5, as well as part of the Texas Task Force on Medical Emergencies, which was incorporated into the Federal Emergency Management Agency just two months prior to Sept. 11, 2001.

According to local sources the pact is intended to reduce liability, make emergency equipment and training facilities and programs available to serve Crosby and Huffman. ESD#5 Board approved the measure on Wednesday, May 21.

ESD#5 Coordinator Houston Hooper said, “ESD#5 will be the first emergency medical service to become an extension of Harris County Public Health Department with approval of Commissioner’s Court and ESD#5 Board. Although we will be the first to do this, ESD#9 and ESD#1 are examining the benefits for their areas of emergency coverage.”

According to ESD#5 Board member Tomma Latta, “Patient care is the reason we are out here. Our new Medical Director, Dr. Minson, and several other people are going to help us with programs we are already doing, get us access to new equipment and establish county-wide standards for the best EMS protocols. We feel confident that he is dedicated to providing the best emergency care available. We hope that insurance companies will recognize the benefits of this program and help reduce our liability insurance rates for paramedics.”

As to what specific direct benefits Crosby and Huffman can expect, Hooper explained, “The county is expressing interest in helping with our immunization program. In the even of disaster we can then use Harris County equipment that we as an entity could never afford to buy. Our paramedics can have access to new training facility equipment. Also, the county expressed interest in helping with our Promote Child Safety program.”

Answering what is the biggest benefit for the local emergency service providers, Hooper answered, “Overall, the principle benefit is lower liability. Dr. Minson [the new medical director] is very much in favor of establishing county-wide protocols for ambulance services. The benefits of paramedics being under the same protocols is not just that in the event of a disaster the medications on-board an ambulance would be interchangeable and that medical treatment would be standardized at optimum levels, but also it reduces cost because as we come under the Harris County Health Department, we become immune to frivolous lawsuits.”

High-speed chase ends with apparent suicide

By BOBBY HORN JR.

EAST HARRIS COUNTY– The morning hours of May 17 were interrupted with a high-speed chase which began in eastern Chambers county and ended with a suspect reportedly killing himself at a Wal-Mart in East Harris County.

According to authorities, at approximately 10:45 a.m. a Department of Public Safety trooper attempted to make what has been described as a “routine traffic stop” of a green Dodge 1500 4×4 pickup with Kentucky license plates traveling westbound on Interstate 10, near mile marker 821. This is approximately 21 miles west of Mont Belvieu.

The driver of the vehicle has been identified as David D. Armstrong, 36, of Hardin Co. Ky.

Troopers say that when the vehicle failed to pull over they ran a check on the vehicle. A report came back that the registered owner of the vehicle was wanted on federal charges of manufacturing methamphetamines.

Troopers pursued the truck along Interstate 10, at times reaching speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour.

After passing by Baytown and Highlands, the truck continued toward Houston. Eventually, the driver pulled into a parking lot of a Wal-Mart located at 13750 I-10, near the Freeport exit.

The suspect then left the vehicle near the front door of the store. As he did, authorities say that he was carrying a handgun. Despite a trooper firing a shot in his direction, the suspect entered the store. Witnesses say that the man then grabbed a clerk and forced her at gunpoint into a dressing area in the middle of the store.

The man is then believed to have shot himself once in the head.

Both the suspect and the hostage were taken to Memorial-Hermann Hospital via LifeFlight air ambulance. The man was pronounced dead shortly after arrival at the hospital, while the clerk was treated for minor injuries.

The case is under investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Harris County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Division and the Harris County District Attorney’s Civil Rights Division.

Lynchburg Ferry will close: Repairs require 3 mo., $800,000 – May 27 to Aug 25

LYNCHBURG– Harris County Precinct Two Commissioner Sylvia R. Garcia announced Friday that work will begin before the end of May on $830,000 worth of improvements to the historic Lynchburg Ferry.

Signs will be posted Monday, May 12 to inform motorists that ferry operations will be shut down at 9 a.m. May 27 and remain closed until August 25.

During that time, Sneed Shipbuilding, Inc. will repaint both ferryboats — the William P. Hobby and Ross S. Sterling — and also make structural repairs. While the ferryboats are being overhauled, NBG Constructors, Inc. will repair both the north and south landings. The work on the boats will cost $269,100 and the repairs to the landings will be $560,900. The work on the landings will consist of replacing broken and worn parts, rusting cables and wooden pilings.

Both projects were unanimously approved by Harris County Commissioners Court earlier this year. And, Commissioner Garcia said, both projects are being done at the same time so Precinct Two can cut down on the amount of time that the Lynchburg Ferry — a 24-hour operation — will be out of service.

“We know this closure will inconvenience some, but the result will be that taxpayers, motorists and the people of Precinct Two will have a better ferry service. That’s what matters,” said Commissioner Garcia, who started looking at ways to improve the ferry service after she took office on Jan. 1. “We have placed these projects on an aggressive timetable to limit the amount of time that this historic service will not be available.”

The Lynchburg Ferry has been around since 1822. It has been a Harris County operation since 1888 and, Commissioner Garcia said, it adds a rich layer of history to Precinct Two.

“That’s why these repairs are so important,” she said.” The Lynchburg Ferry is like a classic car. it has to be maintained with love and care so it can still be taken for a spin.”

After the ferry is operational again, Commissioner Garcia said she will meet with community leaders about the future of mobility in the region and what role the Lynchburg Ferry will play.

“We have to study a lot of options,” she said.” Mobility is a top concern for my constituents and the people of Harris County. The Lynchburg Ferry can be part of the solution. These repairs are the first step.”

While the ferry service is shut down, officials are recommending two alternate routes for motorists: the Washburn Tunnel and the Fred Hartman Bridge.