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Star-Courier News

Teen dies of electrocution in unusual stable accident

By BOBBY HORN JR.

HIGHLANDS– A Highlands Junior School student was killed Sunday afternoon in what authorities say was a freak accident.

According to Deputy D.M. Wolfe, with the Harris County Sheriff’s Department, Jordan “Shorty” Culbreath, 13, was at the Five R Stables on John Martin Road when the incident occurred.

Two boys, ages 14 and 12, told investigators that Culbreath was jumping and playing in the horse stables near a four-wheeler and riding lawn mower when they saw her fall.

The boys said that it appeared as though Culbreath had either tripped over a cord on a battery charger or over the front wheel of the mower. They said that after falling, she hit the left side of her face and began shaking.

After te boys summoned help, an adult couple at the scene attempted CPR on Culbreath. Upon arrival by crews from the Highlands VFD, LifeFlight Air Ambulance was summoned.

Culbreath was pronounced dead on arrival at Memorial Hermann Hospital.

According to a Harris County Medical Examiner’s report, Jordan’s death was due to electrocution. While the case has been referred to Homicide Division for investigation, it is believed that when Jordan fell she landed on exposed wiring on the battery charger.

Services for Culbreath were held Thursday afternoon at Navarre Funeral Home in Baytown while burial following at White Cemetery.
Culbreath will be remembered for her love of animals. An active member of the Robert E. Lee FFA and Cedar Bayou 4-H club, she was also a member of the American Youth Quarter Horse Association, among other horse associations.

Texas Quarter Horses…

Welcome to my humble home. I am so pleased you decided to come and visit.

Now, do you like that or would you rather hear, “Howdy, you all! Good to see ya again!”?

I guess I better stick to bein’ me, cause I do that pretty good. Last week, I went out to the George Ranch to set some things up and they were short two hands. You guessed it; I wound up ridin’ a horse all day, muggin’ cattle, dippin’ cattle and ropin’. I enjoyed the time, but found out how out of shape I really am!

Don’t forget the George Ranch Working Ranch Competition and Chuckwagon Cook-off May 3, 4. There will be great food, great rodeo, stick horse races for the kids, live cowboy poetry from your wrangler and friends and a whole lot of stuff for the whole family on both days. Admission is low and it’s close, just go south on 59; take the first exit after the Brazos River bridge and go left about eight miles. You’ll have a ball!

We also have the Texas Foundation Quarter Horse Show at the Crosby Fairgrounds Arena on April 12 at 8:00 am. It’s free and is back for the second year because they loved our Crosby hospitality, so mark your calendars. I’ll tell you more next week. By the way, your wrangler will be announcing the show and I’ll have books, CD’s and stuff available. I’d love to see all of you there!

I am goin’ to introduce you to one of my favorite cowboy poets, Badger Clark. He’s gone, but his work is still some of the best. Here’s why:

Ridin’
There is some that like the city-Grass that’s curried smooth and green,
Theatres and stranglin’ collars, Wagons run by gasoline-
But for me it’s hawse and saddle, Every day without a change,
And a desert sun a blazin’, On a hundred miles of range.
Just a ridin’, a-ridin’-
Desert ripplin’ in the sun,
Mountains blue along the skyline-
I don’t envy anyone-When I’m ridin’
When my feet is in the stirrups, And my hawse is on the bust,
With his hoofs a-flashin’ lightin’, From a cloud of golden dust,
And the bawlin’ of the cattle, Is a-comin’ down the wind,
Then a finer life than ridin’, Would be mighty hard to find.

Just a ridin’, a-ridin’-
Splittin’ long cracks through the air,
Stirrin’ up a baby cyclone Rippin’ up the prickly pear, As I’m ridin’
I, don’t need no art exhibits, When the sunset does her best,
Paintin’ everlastin’ glory, On the mountains to the west,
And your opery looks foolish, When the night-bird starts his tune,
And the desert’s silver mounted, By the touches of the moon.

Just a ridin’, a-ridin’-
Who kin envy kings and czars,
When the coyotes down the valley
Are a-singin’ to the stars, If he’s ridin’?
When my earthly trails is ended, And my final bacon curled,
And the last great roundup’s finished, At the Home Ranch of the world,
I don’t want no harps nor haloes, Robes or other dressed up things-
Let me ride the starry ranges, On a pinto hawse with wings!

Just a ridin’, a-ridin’
Nothin’ I’d like half so well
As a-roundin’ up the sinners
That have wandered out of Hell, And a-ridin’.

I guess that says it all! Gotta go feed again, so close the gate, and ‘till we meet again,

Happy Trails,
Lloyd

Shootout win takes Highlands team to National Competition

By LEWIS SPEARMAN

BAYTOWN – Highlands Kawasaki Bear Racing is off to Atlanta, GA. this week following a dramatic win in the opening round of the Streetbike Shootout in Texas Shootout at Houston Raceway Park last weekend.

The local motorcycle drag race team is considering going international if their new team expansion/addition and national standings stack up to expectations this year.

On March 30, Brian Dunham consistently ran off and left competitors in the fastest bike contest, Streetbike Shootout, on a motorcycle built last year by team Highlands Kawasaki Racing, a ZX-11 Turbo. The bike won the Texas Shootout Championship in points last year. It was Dunham’s first time on a turbo. The bike was so fast it nearly left its rider behind during qualifying.

Teammate Gilbert Coronado was a disappointed runner up in the Street ET competition with .001 of a second break-out on the last pass of the eliminations. Coronado’s reaction time had been .501, .502, .501 where .5 of a second is a perfect start. In the final round, his reaction time was .499.

A relative novice joining Team Highlands Kawasaki, Dunham was struggling last year when Keith Coble, Team President took a personal interest in Dunham’s training.

Said Coble, “I could tell he had the raw talent and all I could do was help him stretch it out. No one had ever tried to match his potential with enough power until I could put the right equipment under him and have him handle it.” said Coble.

Coble beams with pride concerning Dunham’s development “Brian seems to have all the capabilities to make one great turbo rider. As he progressed, we began training him for Jeff Peck’s bike of last year. All Brian needed to win this weekend was the confidence a successful ride would give.”

But it didn’t come easy, in qualifying Dunham clung on by the narrowest of margin to a near vertical motorcycle. Struggling he managed to get the front down just before the Turbo kicked in and blew past an astonished opponent in the last .011 seconds of the quarter mile heat.

The racing team is off to Atlanta Raceway Park for the A.M.A. Prostar National Motorcycle Drag Racing events April 5. According to Team President, mechanical and technical crew, Jeff Peck, who experienced technical difficulties this past weekend’s bike will be fully “lined out for Atlanta.”

Coble added a heavy hitter to his technical team in the person of Pierre Labuschagne, Director of Kawasaki Racing South Africa and owner of Bear Racing out of that same country. Coble partnered with Labuschagne to handle new technical adaptations.

“Pierre and Rob Muzzy help this weekend tracking, tuning and grafting new engineering for our racing equipment.” explained Coble of the new somewhat renowned pit crew.

Rob Muzzy is owner of Muzzy Racing, a national racing team.

Of the new teaming, Labuschagne seemed even more enthusiastic about his new American buddy, “Keith is one of the few people taking this sport seriously. So, I came here to help him win at that effort.”

In response to questions about adapting to Texas Labuschagne was even more enthusiastic, “My experience in Texas has been from coming from the minor league into the big league. We are getting ready in July to tackle an international track. I’m trying to get Keith going on the drag races on that level over these next two years. This must be done on a very priority level. A guy like Keith has going over a normal guy is that normally they see the event as just another, Keith really gets into a commitment to winning the race, invariably. Really believe Keith is going to be a major force to be reckoned with among the top racers in the country this year and probably in the world if we can get to Gosthfoeth Raceway International. “

Last year, Team Highlands Kawasaki won the Streetbike Shootout by 46 Points.
Results from Houston Raceway Park’s Motorcycle Drag Racing Shootout were: Top-Gas winner was Charlie Prophit and Tiny Noble came in second. Super Comp winner was Benji Gibson with Kirk Reeves right behind. Super Gas winner was Alan Jordan with Bruce Calhoun runner up. Pro ET went to David Kennedy with Dwight Mayo next. Jeff English won Street ET, Coronado second. John Dorin was runner up in the Streetbike Shootout. Top Eliminator was Randy Hamilton, followed by C.D. Watson. Pro-Gas Harley went to John Peek.

House passes Lampson’s Amber/Adam Alert Bill

By BOBBY HORN

WASHINGTON D.C.— A national alert system designed to help locate missing and abducted children could soon be signed into law.

One of the key proponents of the Child Abduction Act is local Congressman Nick Lampson. “For two and a half years I have taken the House floor every day and pleaded for action on this issue.” Lampson serves as chairman of the Congressional Caucus for Missing and Exploited Children.

Last week, the House passed their version of the bill which would provide funding for a nationwide “Amber Alert” and “Adam Alert” system. A similar bill has already passed the Senate.

Final passage of the bill, however, has been bogged down in committee while members from both houses debate the differences between the two bills over sex offenses.

Lampson has expressed unhappiness with his colleagues over letting the bill go to committee. “It would have been beneficial to children to let the Amber bill move on it’s own while we take the time to go through this difficult legislative package.”

The “Amber Alert” was named after nine-year old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped from her Arlington home and later found murdered. Under the alert system, when a child is discovered missing, a bulletin is sent out through local media and law enforcement agencies. Under the proposed bill, federal funds would be used to expand the alert system nationwide and provide matching grants for local agencies.

“The Adam Alert” is named for Adam Walsh, son of “America’s Most Wanted” creator John Walsh, who was abducted from a shopping mall and murdered in 1981.

Under the house bill, a description of a child missing in a federal building would be communicated around the building and employees would monitor exits. Police would them be notified if the child does not turn up within 10 minutes. Some businesses, such as Wal-Mart have already instituted similar Adam Alert plans.

Also in the House version of the bill is an amendment aimed at banning computer -simulated child pornography. This is in response to the Supreme Court striking down a similar Virginia law in 1996, stating that it was too vague.

Once out of committee, the President has promised to sign the legislation.

Crosby ISD proposes $45 million bond issue to improve schools

By LEWIS SPEARMAN AND BOBBY HORN JR.

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

By LEWIS SPEARMAN

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

By LEWIS SPEARMAN

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’

By LEWIS SPEARMAN

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

BY BOBBY HORN JR.

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

By LEWIS SPEARMAN

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.