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Star-Courier News

Cops make arrest in Newport murder

By LEWIS SPEARMAN

CROSBY– An arrest was made Feb. 17 in the murder of a Newport resident found Jan. 30 inside his home in the 17000 block of Lighthouse.
Armando Hernandez, 24, was arrested at his home in connection with the murder of Christopher Harrell, 32, by Harris County Sheriff’s Homicide Detectives.

Homicide Detective Russel Coleman said that more arrests are expected soon related to the case. Anyone with any information related to this case is asked to call Harris County Homicide Detectives at 713-967-5810.

According to the detective, Hernandez may have been just a casual acquaintance of the victim.
Christopher Harrell, 32, was found Jan. 30 by his mother and father when they went to check on his welfare. The couple had gone to the victim’s house following his supervisor telling his mother that Harrell did not report to work. Harrell had lived in the home since October.

Harris County ESD#5 Paramedics received a call at about 10:50 a.m. that Thursday. Seeing the victim was dead, they secured the scene for law enforcement.

Police sources confirmed gunshot wounds to the head killed Harrell.

Law enforcement sources, not homicide detectives, indicate two shell casings were found on the floor in the house.

Sources indicate there was evidence of illegal substances at the house. Sources hint that a relationship between the murder and the substances is possible.

Homicide Detectives reveal that a gun safe was found to be open inside the location but the shell casings of the murder weapon did not matched any of the guns found at the home.

Other law enforcement sources indicate some guns were stolen from the residence.

Detective Coleman confirms that apparently a “Simple robbery.” had occurred in connection to the shooting but would not reveal the manner (i.e. burglary, stick-up, or crash-in) or what items were stolen.

According to Coleman, “We are still conducting a thorough investigation of this case. More arrests are possible. We put in countless hours of overtime on this case. Our squad did a first rate job in this initial arrest.”

Crosby/Highlands Chamber Awards Banquet

By LEWIS SPEARMAN

The Crosby/Huffman Chamber of Commerce held their Annual Awards Banquet on Valentine’s Day at The Monument Inn.

Frankie Pizano was entertaining as a Frank Sinatra sing alike.

Awards blustered with recognition of Business of the Year to Century 21 Life Changers, Inc., Employee of the Year to Diane Nash of Crosby Office Supplies, Jerry Prochazka was Volunteer of the Year as was Bud McCune of Huffman Lions, the President’s Award went to Luther Brady, Jr., and there were two Citizens of the Year – Earl Boykin and author /historian Edith Cook Cole.

Edith Cook Cole’s historic work for the Crosby/Huffman Chamber was told through her work Crosby’s Heritage Preserved – 1823 to 1949, a book of historical memoirs taking readers back to early days of Crosby. That original edition was published in 1992 , financed by a donation from French Ltd. Corporation. In 2000 the Historical Committee reprinted Crosby’s Heritage Preserved underwritten by Crosby State Bank and the Chamber’s Historical Committee. It was printed by Grafikshop, a subsidiary of the Star-Courier. Proceeds from sales were dedicated by Cole to preserving historic sites in the Crosby/Huffman areas. Proceeds for her work now in progress, The History of Huffman are also dedicated to the Crosby/Huffman Chamber Historical Committee. Cole not only writes historical events but she makes it!

Earl Boykin was awarded his accolades from Don Hendrix, Superintendent of Crosby ISD. The history of service by Boykin to the Crosby Ambulance Service, Crosby Schools in numerous capacities including President of Crosby School Board, to his neighborhoods on boards for Newport Subdivision, to his country as an election judge, his church and his God were briefly outlined. His three decades of service were jestingly brushed off by Boykins as simply to tell his age.
Boykin’s accomplishments included serving as President of the Gulf Coast School Board Association last year.

Steven Myers submitted Bud McCune’s recognition as Volunteer of the Year Award. The long-time Huffman resident spent his life in service to those less fortunate through many volunteer efforts such as being a founding member of the Lion’s Club, where he is now District 2S2 Governor. A tireless advocate for special needs children, McCune has more than 30 years of service to helping students, the families and the community.

Venita Smith read the presentation as Jerry Prochazka was honored as Crosby’s Volunteer of the Year. His service as Principal of Crosby High School through turbulent years was punctuated by driving a school bus, coaching and a little custodial work. His efforts on behalf of the area soup kitchen in taking food back that Krogers was about to dispose of has become an integral part of area mainstay. He is remembered for his service in the military when most of his class went to war and his affiliation with the American Legion remains a reminder of his serious stance on service to the nation. His service to Crosby ISD includes being teacher, principal, on the Board and as Superintendent.

Employee of the Year, Diane Nash, was presented by Susan Armstrong of Crosby Office Supplies, Inc., her employer. Nash was recognized as pro-active, trustworthy, vigilant and fun. Her recognition is based on her flexibility, insight and dependability.

Don and Jan Cox with Karla Alexander are the owners of Century 21 Life Changers. The Cox couple started what is this year the Business of the Year as Newport Sales in 1976. Don opened Lake Houston Real Estate in 1978, later acquired a franchise with Century 21 and the company became Century 21 Life Changers, now in its current state of evolution, includes land and commercial real estate, a full service company. The long list of community service organizations the Cox family is involved in includes Kawanis, and every Newport Subdivision affiliation.

Sterling HS fields new football coach

By TERRI COOK

BAYTOWN– Danny Long, athletic director and head football coach in Jacksonville ISD, has been approved by the Goose Creek CISD Board of Trustees as the new head football coach and campus athletic coordinator for Ross S. Sterling High School.
Long’s career record at Jacksonville is 94-46, with seven district championships. During the other four of his 11 years there, his teams were the district runners-up.

In 2002, Long’s team was the district champion and a bi-district finalist. In previous years, Jacksonville teams went as far as the area finals five times and the quarterfinals three times.

Following his acceptance of the Jacksonville position in 1991, Long led the Indians to the area finals, earning their first playoff victory in 19 years.

From 1986 to 1990, he served as assistant coach in Marshall ISD, where he was responsible for the varsity offensive line. The Marshall football team went to the state quarterfinals in 1988 and the semifinals in 1989 before winning the 5-A state championship in 1990.

Long began his coaching career in 1976 at South Gate High School in South Gate, Calif., where he was varsity assistant coach, before moving to Rio Hondo College in Whittier, Calif., from 1980 to 1981. He spent the 1982-83 school year as a varsity assistant coach in Humble ISD before becoming self-employed as a sales and marketing consultant from 1984 to 1985.

Long’s professional honors include selection as Co-Coach of the Year for District 14-4A in 2002, Coach of the Year for District 17-4A from 1996 to 1998, and Coach of the Year for District 16-4A in 1992 and 1993. In 1992, the Tyler Morning Telegraph named him East Texas Coach of the Year, and the Texas High School Coaches Association (THSCA) chose him as All-Star Coach in 1990.

In addition, Long served as regional director for THSCA from 1999 to 2001.

Long earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from California State University-Long Beach and completed his master’s in education and mid-management certification at Stephen F. Austin State University. He and his wife, Sarah, have one son, Joshua, who is 17 years old.

“We are very excited to have Coach Long and his family joining us as part of the Goose Creek CISD team,” said Dr. Barbara Sultis, GCCISD superintendent. “He is recognized in numerous circles as one of the most accomplished coaches in Texas schoolboy football.”

“His record of achievement with student athletes is impressive, and he has a total commitment for the academic success of all students involved in athletics,” she continued.

Long is expected to assume his new role sometime this spring.

Yo Yao! Pilot club members plan big Community Fair

HIGHLANDS– Months of planning will come to fruition this Saturday, as the Pilot Club holds their annual Community Fair at the Highlands Elementary School. Festivities start at 10 am, and last til 3 pm.

The event lasts all day, and brings food and fun to all ages of the community. Proceeds from the event are used by the club all year long to fund their community improvement projects, scholarships, and other worthwhile activities both local and national.

Fish dinners will be cooked and served for $7.00 presale, or $8.00 on Saturday. Cooking will be done by the Henderson cooking team.

Other highlights include 28 arts and crafts booths, games by the Boy Scouts, Live entertainment acts all day long, such as the popular Highlands Toe-Tappers, Pic and Grin band, a raffle, information booths, Highlands Volunteer Fire Department, and the Blood Mobile.

The Silent Auction includes two signed balls: one is a baseball signed by Nolen Ryan, and the other is a basketball signed by the Houston Rockets “big” star, Yao Ming. This item alone is expected to bring a lot of interest and a crowd of people.

Other activities that are ongoing during the day are prizes for baking contests, and health screenings. In years past, thousands of young and old from the community have turned out, and spent the day having a lot of fun and sharing community spirit.

Speaking at last week’s Chamber of Commerce luncheon, spokesperson Teresa Cashion enumerated the uses that the proceeds have been used for in the past, and will be devoted to in the future.
She mentioned that nationally, the Pilot Club supports mentally impaired adults, through the Pilot Club Foundation. At the local level, the club has been active and effective in getting improvements in service at the Post Office, including Saturday hours and more parking.
Working with the County and TxDot, and the city of Baytown, they have been able to get the intersection of I-10 and Crosby Lynchburg Road, known as “Four Corners” landscaped with trees, shrubs, walls, and ground cover.

They have held a “Clean-Up Highlands Day” twice annually, with the cooperation of the County.
New teachers receive gifts and a welcome from the Pilot Club, too.

In the center of town, visual improvements have included developing a grassed park on the railroad property at San Jacinto Street, and at Christmas time coordinating banners to decorate Main Street.

Teresa Cashion, who has the distinction of being the first Miss Highlands pageant winner, said that this is only some of the areas where the Pilot Club has been able to improve the community. She also mentioned that many of the accomplishments are in conjuction with other groups, such as the Rotary Club, the Chamber, and local government.
All of this was a prelude to pointing out that the community needs to support the Fair, and have a good turnout and a lot of fun.

Going to the Races

By CHARLIE FARRAR

There is a new racecar track going in 25 miles South of Houston off Highway 288 in Brazoria County. They will offer stock car and open wheel races as well as a racing school and training.
That is one place I will surely avoid come race day. The traffic will be plum awful.
We used to travel through Rockingham, North Carolina when we went to visit my older sister.
One trip through Rockingham on a race Sunday taught me a good lesson. We didn’t go visit on race day weekends. Those major race events for stockcar races was and still is most popular.
Used to attend stockcar races and have since I was just a chap. A friend of the family was a racecar driver and go watch him race we did. His name was A. J. “Jute” Irving and I’ll always remember his wife, Louise telling him to slow down when I rode with them back in those Georgia days. I’ll bet Jute left a trail of dust on that old red dirt road to last for twenty minutes. The Kudzu went from green to red.
Jute rode with the best of them and a big man he was.
Having had the opportunity to attend races back as a chap, those events are well remembered to this day. Names like Lee Petty, Cale Yarbrough, Fireball Roberts, and others racecar drivers are remembered from back when I went to the races. Jute told me he was at the races when Fireball Roberts got kilt.
Let me ask you if you know what a Winston is, do you know?
It is a cigarette made by Winston Salem or whoever they are today, RJR something another maybe?
Like the Winston Cup Award for stockcar racers paid each year to the driver with the most points, etc.
Multimillion-dollar race winner Jeff Gordon said he didn’t know the cup was named after a cigarette.
I near spit my teeth out when I heard that or maybe I have gotten older than most folks who remember Winston brand of cigarettes, # 1 brand for years along with their Salem’s and Camel brand smokes.
Winston taste good like a (knock knock) cigarette should. Reckon since cigarette ads are no longer on television, most folks wouldn’t remember it.
I was at a race one time with my dad and his buddies. The grandstand was the back of the truck with it rear facing the track. Drinks were in a large washtub on the ground with a large block of ice in the chill water.
The little bottles of Coke were in it as well as 7UP as a chaser for the men who drank the amber liquid but lots was clear too.
One race, a wheel came off a racecar and hurdled our direction. We could see it coming and had plenty of time to watch it go by. As it went by, I started to go to it but big Charlie, my dad told me to leave it alone because it was hot as fire and I did.
Going to the races back when one enjoyed the heat, crowds, noise, pollution, cigarette smoke, fumes and drunks was once fun. I really did enjoy it.
Only races going on here is when the Mrs. is into a good book or gone. She’s as apt to watching cars go in a circle, as I am to watch a ballgame.
I still love her.

Murder in Newport

By LEWIS SPEARMAN

CROSBY– A man was found killed by a gunshot wound to the head inside his relatively new home on Jan. 30 in the 17000 block of South Lighthouse.

Harris County Sheriff’s Homicide Detective Russel Coleman confirms that Christopher Harrell, 32, was found by his mother and father when they went to check on his welfare. The couple had gone to the victim’s house following his supervisor telling his mother that Harrell did not report to work.

Harris County ESD#5 Paramedics received a call at about 10:50 a.m. that Thursday and determined that the victim was deceased.

Law Enforcement sources indicate two shell casings were found on the floor in the house.

A gun safe was found to be open inside the location but the shell casings did not matched any of the guns found at the home.

Detective Coleman would not confirm the number of casings found nor would he indicate the number of wounds on the victim’s body. The detective did confirm that Harrell had lived in the home since October.

According to Coleman, “We are conducting a thorough investigation of this case. At this time we are not close to closing it. We have good leads. We have located all of the man’s friends and they have been very cooperative. We are confident that we will solve this one, eventually.”

Neighbors expressed shock that the quiet and rapidly developing street would be the scene of a violent crime.

New manager heads Crosby ambulances

By LEWIS SPEARMAN

CROSBY-– The Board of ESD#5 promoted a new General Manager of ambulances for Crosby, Barrett Station and Huffman.

Houston Hooper, an experienced field supervisor is now the General Manager for ESD#5’s pre-hospital emergency services. Hooper brings an impressive resume that includes being a teacher at San Jacinto College, full paramedical certification and years of experience in the Crosby area.

Cary Avey, the former General Manager, remains as a consultant to ESD#5 and still serves as a pre-hospital emergency provider in Crosby. His advise to the board continues to assure a smooth transition as it did in the burgeoning past two years (in which Crosby’s area of service grew to encompass Huffman, while crews coped with transformed entities and began operating at highest levels of service provision.)

Sources say Avey decided to pull back from the overall coordinator position at the present time. It was at Avey’s request and based on extensive hours as of investment and keep all other commitments.

In spite of the boards continued praise of Avey’s contributions, they issued a statement saying, “The changes will in no way alter the course toward improving the service in providing the community with the highest level of pre-hospital care.”

Hooper, a Channelview resident, seemed pleased with the promotion, “I’ve never worked for a better board, they are active and concerned with getting this community the best service possible.”
With Hooper’s extensive service record and qualifications however, one has to wonder why doesn’t he continue working for higher paying services as the City of Houston,

“What I like about working with this crew is that it is all teamwork. Everyone does what they are here to do. We get along without distinction of paid and volunteer staff.”

Pilot Club Collects $20,000 toward new library project

By BOBBY HORN JR.

HIGHLANDS– While Harris County has adopted a wait and see approach concerning a new library in Highlands, one local service organization has begun taking a proactive stance in seeing the library become a reality.

According to Theresa Cashion, chairperson of special projects for the Pilot Club of Highlands, the club has secured over $20,000 in pledges and letters of intention to donate toward construction of the library provided that the construction begins within three years.

Cashion said that a new library in Highlands was identified by club members years ago as a critical need for the community when the club first formed. Since that time, she said, they began working with then-Commissioner Jim Fonteno to build the community a new library.

What was considered substantial progress was made this past September when the issue was put before Commissioners Court. At that time, County Librarian Cathy Parks requested $3.3 million for a 14,000 square foot facility. The current Stratford Branch Library which opened in the 1960s, is 2,900 square foot.

Before taking the issue to the Commissioners Court, the county applied for a community development grant to build the library. Parks said that the grant was denied because the income level of Highlands was too high.

At that time there was speculation that a new library would be located on North Main Street near Wallisville Road. Parks said that the Goose Creek CISD had indicated a willingness to donate the land adjacent to the walking track for the library. However, when the grant application was rejected, the offer was withdrawn.

Cashion said that at the September Commissioners Court meeting, commissioners tabled the item until after the November general election. Following the election the commissioners said that there were no specific funds available for the library. Cashion added that commissioners have expressed a willingness to consider taking the project from the capital improvements fund.

In March, the Commissioners Court is expected to adopt the county’s budget for the next fiscal year. Cashion said that until that happens the county has decided to adopt the wait and see policy.

Cashion said that the primary need for the new library concentrates mostly in the area of its reference section. She said that library has an excellent children’s program and book section but that the reference section needs expanding and that more computers are needed for those students who don’t have access to them at home.

Highlands students top winners in Barbara Jordan citywide contest

HIGHLANDS– Highlands Junior School students were a dominating force in this year’s Barbara Jordan speech and essay competitions sponsored by the Alley Theatre, winning first place in both categories as well as several other top honors.

The students, all seventh graders in Kerry Reinhackel’s gifted and talented education (GATE) class, were on hand for the finals of the speech competition and subsequent awards ceremony held on the Alley Theatre’s Large Stage on Feb. 3.

Jana Creel, daughter of Marylu and Dwayne Hill, emerged as the first-place winner of the speech contest with her four-minute speech inspired by a family visit to the Holocaust Museum. Competing against seven other finalists in the final round of the third annual contest, Jana compared the Holocaust with the September 11 tragedy, making suggestions for “what we can do to prevent something that horrible from happening again.”

In her speech, Jana described the museum’s rows of shoes representing the lives lost in the Holocaust and relating those to the baby booties left in memory of the mothers and fathers who died during the 2001 terrorist attack.

“Barbara Jordan told us that to create a harmonious society out of so many kinds of people, the key we need is tolerance. She called it the one value that is indispensable in creating community,” Jana said. “We can begin that community tonight, right here, right now. We can agree to walk out of here committed to not repeating the acts that leave us with museums full of lifeless shoes, and memorials where booties are left to those who will never see those little feet walk or run.”

Jana, the reigning Junior Miss Highlands and a sports enthusiast, aspires to be a pediatrician or forensic scientist when she grows up. She realone. Three other Highlands Junior students—Michelle Lamb, Felicia Young and Courtney Zink—earned recognition in the essay competition, receiving a letter of acknowledgement and a Barbara Jordan pin for their efforts.

Judges for the speech contest included Houston Comet Kelly Gibson; Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton; Texas Southern University president Dr. Priscilla Slade; and respresentatives from the Barbara Jordan Project community partners. Maria Todd of the 104 KRBE morning radio show served as mistress of ceremonies. Speeches were judged on presentation, articulation, organization, elaboration and passion.

Essays were judged by a panel of educators and volunteers from JPMorgan Chase on the originality of ideas, appropriateness of subject, insight, development of point of view and clarity of expression.

There’s no doubt that Reinhackel felt an enormous swell of pride at the awards ceremony as her four students walked across the stage to accept their awards.

“When Jana won the speech contest, and we’d already won the essay contest, I was just beside myself, knowing we’d swept the whole thing,” Reinhackel said, grinning at her students during a recent photo session.

“They’re awesome,” she continued. “You give them an assignment, and they just go after it!

Black History Month observed in Barrett Station

By BOBBY HORN JR.

BARRETT STATION– Barrett Station’s rich cultural heritage and the important of church in developing that community are among the features of a Black History Exhibit currently on display at the Riley Chamber Community Center.

The display is open Monday through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through the end of the month.

The Rev. Malcolm Barrett, director of the center, said that he was excited about this year’s exhibit. “It is fantastic,” he said. Among the items featured in the exhibit are elaborate survival tools such as a lantern, waffle iron and animals traps dating back to the 1920s.

The exhibit also features household items from the late 19th century as well as ornamental figurines which were often given as gifts.

The community’s strong ties with its churches are featured in a display of photographs of the community’s early pastors who led their parishioners in their spiritual development.

On Feb. 18, the center will host a Black History Program, beginning at 6 p.m. The program will feature the center’s Senior Citizen Choir wearing traditional Black History attire.

Bobbie Fae Yarbrough-Session will return to Barrett Station as the guest speaker for the event.

Session is a actress who made her professional debut in the 1986 ensemble production of “Long Time Since Yesterday.”

Other productions she has appeared in are “Shadow Box” “Gifted and Black,” “Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope” and “Romeo and Juliet.”

Sessions, a theatre arts teacher ay Forest Brook High School, is the founder and director of the group All God’s Children. She was also the assistant director of the film “Red Ink.”

Crosby’s Destin signs with TSU

By BOBBY HORN JR.

CROSBY– One of the top wide receivers in the Houston area will soon be calling Texas Southern University Home.

This past week, on National Signing Day, Chris Destin committed in writing to play football at TSU. Destin, who also plays basketball for Crosby, is also expected to be a two-sport athlete at TSU as well.

A former free safety, Destin was moved to wide receiver by first-year Cougars Coach Larry Haynes. “Chris goes for the football, has great hands and great routes,” said Haynes, “The most important skill for a successful receiver is being a great route runner. He catches the ball at the high point and jukes a lot of guys out of position.”

This past season Destin, who was First Team All District for wide receivers, led the district in catches with 71, receiving yards with 1,188 and touchdown catches with 15.

Destin said that he chose TSU because it was close to home. “My family has always supported me since I was little. I’m sure they will now too. Most of my success is keeping God first. I just go out there and play my hardest.”

Haynes said that the athletic department was proud to see Destin earn the scholarship that comes with playing at TSU. “We feel good when a fine young man like Chris get a scholarship to help him continue his education.”