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Star-Courier News

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.

Cops make arrest in Newport murder


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


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


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.