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Star-Courier News

Crosby ISD proposes $45 million bond issue to improve schools


CROSBY— There is an old joke that goes, “How do you eat an elephant?” The response, of course is, “One bite at a time.”

This is the approach that Crosby ISD Superintendent Dr. Don Hendrix says that district is taking for fixing what he calls serious needs at district campuses.

On May 17, voters will be asked to approve a $44.49 million bond package for repairs and renovations at all six campuses, as well as the transportation complex, the football stadium and the area around the high school and middle school.

The largest portion of the funds, said Hendrix, will be an $18.8 million program for the high school. Overcrowding, said Hendrix, is a major concern whereas the campus is at capacity with its approximately 1,000 students. If the bonds are passed, expansion would allow the school to service an additional 600 students.

The funds would also allow the district to upgrade science labs, which have been identified as unsafe and inadequate for student needs.

The district has earmarked $9.1 million for Drew Intermediate. One planned project at Drew is adding a fifth grade wing and administration to alleviate overcrowded classrooms. The current classrooms were designed in 1957 for what was then standard for schools.

A concern brought by parents to the district deals with the roof leaking and mildew forming on walls, while holes form in the floors. To correct this, the district hopes to set aside funds for a new roof and HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) system.

While not housing students, an area which directly impacts students is the transportation center. Overcrowded offices, insufficient number of parking spaces and a need for new maintenance equipment are just some of the concerns that the district hopes to correct. To do this, they have set aside $6 million of the package.

Hendrix said if the bonds past voter muster the district would become well-equipped for facilities through 2015.

There has been speculation that the district might, after the bonds are approved, transfer the money which would have gone into the building program into its general operating budget.

This, said Hendrix, cannot happen as the district is required to keep the two budgets separate. When the district sets its tax rate each year, the tax rate is actually the combined rate of maintenance and operations (M&O) and interest and sinking (I&S). Under state law, the I&S portion of taxes can only be spent on debt service and funds in that part of the budget cannot be used for general services.

Hendrix said that there are two main reasons why the district is coming forward now with the bond referendum. The first, he said, is the urgent need at campuses. The second deals with the economy. Under the current bond market, if the district were to begin selling bonds now they could take advantage of the lowest interest rates in 20 years, which would be translated over the term of the bonds to lower taxes for property owners.

If the bonds pass, it is estimated that the tax rate would increase to a total of $1.99 per $100 valuation.

If the bonds fail, Hendrix added, the district would be unable to fund any of the needed improvements at the campuses.

Crosby Sports Assoc. Parade, Opening Day and dedication of Field to Michalsky this weekend


CROSBY – This weekend’s festivities of Crosby Sports Association is sure to be one of the most exciting for any who love kids, baseball and/or America,* see editorial note at article’s end.

April 5, there is a parade, barbecue, opening day baseball and softball, and a dedication of a playing field to a great citizen and supporter of sports in this area – the late Bobby Michalsky. The theme of the day is “God Bless America and Our Troops!”

The parade on Saturday lines up for floats and marchers at 8:30 a.m. The parade kicks off at 9:30 a.m. The route for the parade starts at Crosby High School, runs out north on FM 2100 to Church St., right, east to Pecan, left, north to Kernohan, west to FM 2100 and back to Crosby High School. That is almost a mile of parade route. Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry Eversole is the Parade Marshal this year. Rumor has it that Precinct 2 Commissioner Sylvia Garcia will ride in the parade also.

This year, barbecue plates are even more of a bargain than anyone would believe, considering the price of meat these days. The paltry sum of $5 gets the kids’ supporters barbecue, brisket, sausage, beans, bread and a soft beverage. The Crosby Sports Association Sports Complex on Miller Wilson Rd., near the Precinct 4 Utility Station is the location to buy plates.

A new field is under construction for baseball and softball thanks to the efforts of Larry Tobin and the officers of Crosby Sports Association. The field is to be named for avid kids’ sports proponent Bobby Michalsky on the evening of opening day as Michalsky Field.

Michalsky was a kid’s baseball or softball coach for 32 years. He helped build the current sports complex, and worked the side-line measuring chain in Crosby High football for 60 years. If there could be sports of some kind in Crosby, Michalsky not only supported it, he probably was working on it voluntarily while he lived.

Crosby Sports Association accomplished the fiscal management to build Michalsky Field under the presidency of Larry Tobin. Funding the new field started by reserving and raising money two years ago. The field is being built to specifications for boys and girls ages 15 to 18 years.

On opening day, four new teams will begin playing at 2:30 p.m. in the sports complex. The teams, comprised of ages 15 to 18 year-olds, are called Colts League. This year, Crosby High School had 68 youths try-out for 8 open positions on the boys high school team. President Tobin developed a program like the high school team to offer similar training, with co-operation of Coach McCain, in effort to start up a transitional team. Coaches ended up with four teams other than the high school team.

Editorial Note. Many people probably won’t like it here if they don’t love at least one of those three; kids, ball or America! It could be hard to be loved by others in Crosby if someone doesn’t like all three! The greatest thing is – they can live here if they want yet not like any of those three. But…they might like it better elsewhere…. Paris or Pyongyang might be more tasteful to them.

New Fire Tower in operation in Highlands

Chester Stasney, Board Member of the Harris County Rural Fire Protection District #14 (Highlands) and Mike Smith, Sheriff’s Deputy, look over the new radio antenna at Fire Station #2 on Wallisville Road.

This tower, 199 feet tall, will provide clear and dependable communication for the Highlands Fire Department, whcih before had relied on relays from the Channelview VFD.

12 yr. old dead in Crosby shooting


CROSBY – A boy from Mont Belvieu was tragically killed while visiting his best friend’s house on Thursday, March 13.

Friends say the tragedy began as a get-together before an outing which was to include four-wheeling, last weekend.

Crosby ESD#5 responded to an accidental shooting call in the 5000 block of 6th Street at about 6:50 p.m.

Detectives say that although there were no signs of life in Travis Hawes, 12, LifeFlight Helicopter was summoned by medics to attempt a rescue. The helicopter was unable to fly because of inclement weather, so Crosby medics took the boy to East Houston Regional Medical Center in Channelview, where he was pronounced dead at 7:52 p.m.

Harris County Sheriff’s Detectives determined the youth had been struck in the right side of the chest by a .22 caliber bullet from a rifle.

Detective notes show that the son of Lanny Jeffcoat had been picked up from his mother’s Dayton home that day. The two went to Mont Belvieu and pick-up Travis Hawes and returned to Crosby. While at the Crosby home, a friend of the father visited. Shortly thereafter, a gunshot was heard coming from one of the bedrooms.

Detectives say Special Crimes Unit continues to investigate, and sort through evidence as to exactly what had happened, but all agree that there were multiple firearms in the bedroom where the two 12-year-old youths were playing unsupervised. As of presstime no charges had been filed.

Deputies search for 4 after house robbery in ‘Old Crosby’


CROSBY – The Harris County Sheriff’s Robbery Division confirmed that a robbery of an elderly gentleman occurred March 12 in the Nelson Subdivision.

According to Harris County Sheriff’s Sgt. Pear, two men knocked on the Krenek Rd. door in the wee hours of the morning. When the man opened the door, the men entered the residence with a pistol in hand, they ordered the man to sit down in his living room. One of the men then went through the house searching. Shortly thereafter, the actors left with a small amount of cash.

Ambulance services from ESD#5 attended the resident following the robbery.

Witnesses tell investigators that the home was being watched earlier in the day by two men on bicycles.

The actors in the case of both the bicycle riders and the alleged robbers were described as black males under the age of 30 years.

Crimestoppers offers a reward of up to $5000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of persons perpetrating crimes. Crimestoppers can be contacted by calling 713-222-TIPS.

A burglary was reported on Church St. on March 11, again, witnesses tell the Star-Courier that two men on bicycles had been “casing” the building before it was broken into.

Highlands’ Deacon Tittel named Harris County Firefighter of the Year


HIGHLANDS– It has been said that the backbone of any community is its volunteers; those men and women who give of their time and talents to make their community a better place to live and work.
Recently, a long-time Highlands volunteer was recognized for his efforts in providing for the public safety of not only Highlands but wherever he was needed in east Harris County.

On Feb. 19, Highlands Volunteer Fire Fighter Deacon Tittel was named Harris County Fire Fighter of the Year. Tittel, who has served as a paid Fire Fighter with the City of Bellaire for the past three years, said that this award is given out each year to the top Fire Fighter, either volunteer or paid, in the county.

Tittel said that he was especially honored by the award in that he was nominated not by the Highlands VFD but by the Channelview VFD. This is the first time, he added, that the award was given to someone who was nominated by a department other than their own.

Over the past years, Tittel has worked with the Channelview VFD as well as others as he was needed. “I’ll help anyone who needs it,” he said.

Tittel has served as a volunteer for the Highlands VFD for the past 10 years, following a family tradition. His father, Sam, has served with the Highlands VFD for the 17 years and his mother also volunteered with the department.

Growing up around the fire department, Deacon said that it was only natural for him to follow in his father’s footsteps. “If it wasn’t for my dad, I don’t know what road my life would have taken.”

Deacon is not the first person from Highlands to win the county’s Fire Fighter of the Year Award. Fellow HVFD volunteer Joe Sibery has also been honored.

Search continues for man missing in San Jacinto River


LYNCHBURG BRIDGE – Harris County Sheriff’s Deputies spent much of the day Tuesday searching for a man in the waters under the I-10 bridge near Highlands.

A witness called the Harris County Sheriff’s Department at about 9:00 a.m. on March 11 to report that a man has apparently gone down into the water under the Interstate 10 Bridge aboard a truck.

Upon arrival at the scene, deputies were told by a man (identified only as living under the bridge) that another man was busy stripping parts from inside an abandoned 1986 Ford F-150 truck when the truck was heard splashing into the water.

The man described the other man as having left his identification and worldly belongings outside the truck as he began to take parts from the truck for re-sale. The witness said he had left the man busy at his work and leaving the immediate area to go to sleep. He reports he heard the splash, saw the truck going down and called out to the man but got no answer.

The witness specifically says he did not see the man go into the water inside the truck, but that when last seen the man was inside the truck. The man never was heard from again.

The witness says he went to JR’s Liquor Store to tell the clerk to call 911 but the clerk didn’t comply. The witness describes then going back to the scene an again searching for the man but didn’t find anything but a state identification card and a birth certificate.

The following day, Sheriff’s Marine dive teams found the truck under the water, other deputies had found identification left on land but no body in the water. Investigation continued into the night as deputies employed a Sonar Search of the area.

Marine Division personnel at the scene described the current as having been coming into land since the apparent crash into the water and expressed the belief that if a body was under the water the team could pinpoint to a 10 foot radius where the body would be located.

“There’s a 50/50 chance that their could be a body down there,” said a deputy.

Other sources say that there is some details that do not add up exactly as described. The identification card does not show the same name as the birth certificate. The description of the man does not match the picture on the card. Other sources say there is no evidence that a man was ever inside the vehicle.

As of press time no body was recovered.

Harris County Sheriff’s Marine Division Dive Team use sophisticated sonar equipment (deputy holding tube in photo) to search for an underwater body after the roll-in accident in the San Jacinto River. This team recently used the same equipment at Toledo Bend, and located 18 pieces from the NASA space shuttle Columbia.

Crosby ISD eyes $38mil Bond Issue


CROSBY – School officials are hoping that just over half of the $73 million dollar estimate for the cost of renovating Crosby schools will be the amount taxpayers have to fund for the next school bond program.

Architects of CRE8 reviewed specifications for Crosby ISD Schools with a citizen’s committee at a meeting on Monday, March 3; the committee was disappointed to hear their recommendations totalled $73M.

The total list of recommendations by Crosby ISD’s Facility Planning Committee exceeded by twice the recommendations for expenditures by the schools financial advisor, Doug Whitt. Board members and Superintendent Don Hendrix understand the capacity for a new bond issue in the Crosby district is about $45 Million.

According to Hendrix, “Our goal now is to trim down to about $38 million total in construction as best we can with considerations for the needs of students for the next 12 years. The ceiling is going to be about $45 million. There are going to be 4 or 5 options for the Facility Planning Committee to review.”

According to Diane Fleming of Crosby ISD, the most needy school in Crosby ISD is Drew Intermediate and the “high dollar” recommendations were for Crosby High.

Expansion of the high school’s library was among recommendations by the committee.

Projected growth for Crosby schools over the next five years is expected to reach nearly 3%. There are about 4,300 students in Crosby ISD now.

The Facility Planning Committee meets again on Thursday to review the options on their recommendations. From their earlier report, they will review the most needed changes and determine which needs have the highest priority. Some needs have already been labeled “urgent.”

Priority will need to be set before March 19, when a final recommendation will be made to the Crosby ISD Board in time to make a May 3 vote.

The committee was comprised of 16 community leaders and four people chosen from the school district. The committee was Cindy Moffett, Tonyette Chenier, Don Cox, Melady Fontenot, Willie Mae Goodlow, Donna Heinlein, Marshal Lawfton, Stacy Lyons, Renee Martin, Woody Murray, Bob Powell, Jerry Prochazka, L.O. White and Tyronne Williams in addition to Michael Joseph, Principal of Newport Elementary and Committee Chairman, Jerry Blizzard of Crosby ISD’s Facility Department, Becky Lindsey for district wide representation, Donna Slot for transportation and Susan Blankenship from the faculty. One committee member was unable to attend the meetings due to health problems.

RODEO TIME– Highlands to Huffman, we’re on the bus

HOUSTON– Kenny Chesney, the country western artist known for the hit single “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy,” as well as a successful 2002 tour, will be the featured performer on Feb. 27 at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. During the night the Crosby-Huffman Metro Go Texan Committee will be among the committees recognized.

The rodeo begins on Feb. 25 with George Strait taking the stage. The Baytown-Highlands committee will be recognized on the second night of the rodeo, Feb. 26, when Martina McBride performs.
The rodeo will continue nightly through March 16, when Alabama closes out the event.

Among the hot country artists coming to Houston this year are Clay Walker, Pat Green and Mark Chestnutt.

The rodeo will also feature some non-country music performances by LL Cool J, ZZ Top, Bon Jovi and Lynyrd Skynrd.

Schedule of Performers 2003 HLS&R
Tues, Feb 25 – George Strait
Wed, Feb 26 – Martina McBride
Thurs, Feb 27 – Kenny Chesney
Fri, Feb 28 – Robert Earl Keen
Sat, Mar 1 – Lee Ann Womack and Cross Canadian Ragweed
Sun, Mar 2 – Julio Iglesias
Mon, Mar 3 – Tim McGraw
Tues, Mar 4 – ZZ Top
Wed, Mar 5 – Toby Keith (presented by Ford)
Thurs, Mar 6 – Clay Walker
Fri, Mar 7 – LL Cool J and Ashanti
Sat, Mar 8 – Phil Vassar and Jamie O’Neal
Sun, Mar 9 – Intocable and Los Tres Amigos, featuring Little Joe, Roberto Pulido, and Ruben Ramos, with special guests Johnny and Rocky Hernandez
Mon, Mar 10 – Lynyrd Skynyrd and Jerry Jeff Walker
Tues, Mar 11 – Brooks & Dunn
Wed, Mar 12 – Bon Jovi
Thurs, Mar 13 – Pat Green (presented by Miller Lite)
Fri, Mar 14 – Ray Charles and Ronnie Millsap
Sat, Mar 15 – Rockin’ Roadhouse Tour, featuring Joe Diffie, Mark Chestnutt and Tracy Lawrence
Sun, Mar 16 – Alabama

Fairgrounds serves well for Huffman FFA Show & Sale

CROSBY – The Crosby Fairgrounds hosted the Huffman FFA Livestock Show on Friday and Saturday for the first time, and the turnout for Saturday’s auction was tremendous.

The Fairgrounds were packed throughout Saturday as parents, entries and buyers poured in mass into the area to view or display livestock raised by Huffman students in efforts to raise scholarship money. Artistic and craft production was well represented this year.

This year’s Grand Champion Steer was raised by Marsi Campbell and bought by Hazelwood Dodge. The Reserve Champion Steer was raised by Kari Jameson and bought by Hazelwood Dodge.

A good example of agrarian science and livestock development was demonstrated by Grand Champion Lamb by Marsi Campbell. The lamb was purchased by the Law Firm of Purdue, Brandon and Frazier. The Grand Champion Broiler was raised by Cory Long and bought by Hi-Tech Pump & Crane.

The Grand Champion Rabbit was raised by Nolan Pope and bought by Hazelwood Dodge. The Grand Champion Swine submitted by Matt Holman was bought by the Law Firm of Purdue, Brandon and Frazier.

Among the home produced crafts and artwork this year were outstanding accomplishments. Kari Jameson also made the Sweetheart Cake bought by Crosby office Supply. Zane Johnson made the Grand Champion Wood Project and it was purchased by Raye’s Decor. The Grand Champion Art Project was bought by Dana Wiggins and Jerry Jones, Dustin Heinrich was the artist. The Grand Champion Metal Project was submitted by Justin Baxleg and bought by a partnership known as The Men.

Reserve Champions were not far off the Grand Champion standard. Mindy Holman’s swine was bought by the Campbell Family.

Samantha St. John grew the Lamb and Triple K Roofing bought it. The goat was raised by Courtney Ashley and bought by the Law Firm of Purdue, Brandon and Frazier. Chase Griffin raised the broilers and Karen Jackson bought them. Rabbits went to Heather Bocci and bought by the partnership of ladies called Biddin Broads.

Crosby ISD hits funding crisis


CROSBY – Crosby ISD is planning on asking local residents for a bond issue to refurbish the buildings and technical infrastructure of Crosby schools soon while funding from the state is running short.

The shortfall of Texas sales tax money to operate schools is a separate problem from the need for Crosby schools to renovate their buildings.

The school district will cut back on personnel to decrease their operational budget but is facing tough questions on how to best prepare the district for the future needs of students in infrastructure and building. Bond money cannot be used for maintenance and operations.

Crosby ISD will be cutting back on personnel by attrition next year and needs money to refurbish buildings. Attrition means that as personnel retire or quit, those positions will be phased out. The result is most likely larger class sizes.

The shift in legislation for funding schools has created some of the shortfall problems currently effecting school operations. Currently operational and maintenance budgets are derived from about 41.2% from the state and 58.8% from local taxes. That is about the reverse of some 15 years ago.

According to Don Hendrix, the benefits of asking for a bond now include the interest paid on a bond issue now is low, about 5%; and now the construction market is currently depressed and construction costs are less now than 3 or 4 years ago.

“We are almost sure to get lower bids on projects,” explains Hendrix.

Hendrix delineated the names of a committee of some well respected residents of the Crosby area who were asked to review the structures of Crosby schools and they made a bare-bones list of needs to the Crosby ISD School board. The list of what the committee saw as being minimal is extensive and an estimate of total cost is not ventured by anyone yet. The CRE8 Architects has been designated by the board to review the committees recommendations and produce an estimate.

According to Hendrix, the goal of the bond (which has not yet been approved,) concerning the high school would be an upgrade to handle 1,600 students. Replacement of the metal buildings outside the schools, replace the existing Agricultural Building, build a career technical wing, replace the HVA/C system’s power supply on the new gymnasium, expand the library, expand the computer and science wing and modernize to change the traffic flow to handle additional students expected in the year 2015.

An alternative would be to construct a new high school to handle about 1,800 students for about $37 M to $40M. Renovation under the current condition for the next 12 years is seen as most cost effective.

Crosby middle school’s access road is deteriorating and will need to be expanded. The middle school’s roof air conditioning is 15 years old, it is seeing it’s life expectance lapse. The committee found that with re-venting, the life expectance for a new system could be 20 to 25 years. The middle school will need upgrading for technical demands.

Drew Intermediate School will probably need the ceilings renovated, the library is currently small for expected needs. Class rooms that date back to 1957 are seen as needing to be taken down and renovated.