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Star-Courier News

Commissioner Garcia installs Defibrillators in Community Centers

HOUSTON- When a person goes into cardiac arrest, the response within the first few minutes can determine whether the person lives or dies.

Taking this into mind, Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia has authorized the purchase of 10 Automated External
Defibrillators (AEDs) for installation at county buildings.

These AEDs are designed to be used with only a minimal amount of training and have been shown to be essential in first response first aid situations.

“Our goal is to protect the lives of our citizens and our employees,” said Garcia. “Having defibrillators installed on site, particularly in buildings used frequently by our seniors may help us save lives.”

According to the American Heart Association, “Early defibrillation is often the critical link, because it’s the only way to successfully treat most cardiac arrests. When cardiac arrest occurs, the heart starts to beat chaotically (fibrillation) and can’t pump blood efficiently. Time is critical. If a normal heart rhythm isn’t restored within minutes, the person will die. In fact, for every minute without defibrillation, the odds of survival decrease 7 to 10 percent. A sudden cardiac arrest victim who isn’t defibrillated with 10 minutes has virtually no chance of survival.”

On the east side of the county, AEDs have also been installed at the Highlands/San Jacinto, J.D. Walker and Riley Chambers/ Barrett Station Community Centers, as well as the courthouse annex on Baker Road in Baytown.

A Mother’s Day Wish by Texas First Lady Anita Perry

I hope every day, but especially this Mother’s Day Weekend, Texans take a moment to thank the women who shaped their lives, whether they are mothers, grandmothers, aunts or friends that helped to guide them as they grew.

This weekend flowers, greeting cards and brunches will be given in special recognition of moms. As we take part in this tradition, I’d like to ask Texans to take a moment and also remember the moms for whom this day might not be quite as special.

For many mothers in our state, the celebration of this day can be a painful reminder that their lives and possibly the lives of their children are clouded by domestic violence. Sadly, statewide research shows that 74 percent of Texans have been abused, or know of someone who has suffered abuse. More chilling is the fact that two Texas women every week are killed through acts of domestic violence. Many more are physically or emotionally abused.

Focus group after focus group shows that the first person survivors talk to about an abusive relationship is a family member or friend. However, many Texans, about 35 percent, who learn of a friend or family member’s violent circumstances, do nothing, as they don’t realize how they can help or don’t want to get involved. I have spoken to many sisters, mothers and daughters who said they just didn’t recognize the signs of a loved one’s abuse or paid too little attention until it was too late.

When a friend, family member or a co-worker we know needs outpatient surgery, we offer to drive them home from the hospital. When a family suffers a loss or illness, we bring food to their home. But all too often, when a friend or co-worker shows up with a bruise or acts unexplainably withdrawn, we don’t want to interfere. Domestic violence is not just a private family matter. It is a crime with serious, dangerous repercussions for men, women, children and the entire community.

That’s why our state will soon launch a second phase of an awareness campaign to change the situation – this time focusing on friends, family and co-workers who are in a position to assist victims of domestic violence.

In 2002, with the aid of a $2 million grant from the Office of the Attorney General, the Texas Council on Family Violence launched an unprecedented 16-month, bilingual public awareness campaign to give women trapped in violent relationships, many of whom are mothers, the information they need to seek and obtain help.

“Break the Silence, Make the Call” resulted in a 69 percent increase in English-language calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and a staggering 93 percent increase in Spanish-language calls in its inaugural month. For many women, placing that first call to the National Domestic Violence Hotline was an incredibly important first step in seeking and receiving life-changing assistance for themselves and their family.

In the coming weeks, you’ll see and hear new public service announcements, imploring all Texans to get involved by breaking their silence, making the call to 1-800-799-SAFE or TTY 1-800-787-3224, when a loved one or friend is in need. This Mother’s Day, take time to honor mothers – and honor all Texas women by raising our consciousness to help all mothers celebrate this day as they should: in a home filled not by fear, but love.

A nurse with 17 years in the health care profession, Perry continues to focus on women’s and children’s health issues as Texas’ First Lady.

Gator attacks dog, is pulled from Lake Houston

Experts say alligators abound in lake and San Jacinto River

HUFFMAN-A recent alligator attack on a dog has brought to the forefront the conflict of man vs. nature, forcing residents along Lake Houston and San Jacinto River to keep an extra eye out for the reptiles.

According to reports, Leslie Santiago saw her small dog being attacked by an alligator. She reportedly used a cement brick to injure the alligator and rescue her dog.

Once Texas Parks and Wildlife was alerted to the situation, they called Newsom’s Wild Animal Control to conduct a search and extraction for the alligator.

Jason Newsom said that his company has a contact with Parks and Wildlife to perform nuisance cleanups in local waterways. After a four day search of the lake, which was hindered by weekend rains, Newsom said they located a 7’ alligator which they removed and sent to a farm they own in East Montgomery County. The alligator, he said, will later be introduced into the wild.

During interviews with residents, Newsom said that he was told there another four to six of the same size wer spotted recently. He is currently in discussions with Parks and Wildlife to remove these as well.

Newsom said that it is likely that the alligator he caught was not the one that attacked the dog, noting that it was probably between 3 and 4 feet long.

Alligator are commonplace in the lake and river, Newsom said. “This is their natural habitat. That lake is completely full of them and people have no idea they’re here.” Newsom said that the alligators are relatively harmless, but that interference by people has aggravated the situation. The biggest problem with alligators, Newsom, is that people have begun feeding them which breaks down their natural fear of man.

“People feed the alligators, then they’re [the alligators] not afraid of them and even get use to them (the people),” said Newsom. “That’s definitely not safe for kids.”

Newsom warned that people who use the waterways for recreation have to exercise extra caution, since they can never know when the reptiles are present.

A spokesman for Parks and Wildlife said that the dog attack is unusual and that generally alligators prefer dead prey and they will usually attack only if provoked.

Crosby Softball: Lady Cougars advance in playoffs, face El Campo on May 7th

CROSBY- The Crosby Lady Cougars (9-8, 7-1 in district), who pulled out a win recently over Dayton to take the district championship, will have their next test on May 7 when they face the El Campo Lady Ricebirds in the next rounds of the playoffs.

Crosby will play El Campo at the neutral site of Terry High School in Rosenberg, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

To reach the softball field, fans will need to take Highway 59 South, through Houston, to FM 2218. Then, exit FM 2218 and take a right on B.F. Terry. Go to the second traffic signal, take a left (Ave. N) and the softball field will be on the right.

El Campo advanced to this game by defeating the Dickinson Lady Gators 1-0 last week.

Reader insulted by cartoon on Alamo defenders

To the Editor:

I’m glad I haven’t sent in my subscription renewal. Nothing has ever insulted Texas History nor my President as bad as the cartoon in this weeks paper. I have lots of liberal friends who would not think of anything so vile as this. Do not ever mail me another copy of your paper.

Reader from Newport,

STAR-COURIER Editor responds: The reader was refering to a cartoon on the Opinion Page of the Star-Courier that ran April 27th, depicting the defenders of the Alamo as mimimizing the effectiveness of the Mexican army that they were fighting. It was meant to be judged in the context of the recent Alamo movies and TV productions, and was a tongue in cheek parallel to the war on terrorism in Iraq.

It is our desire that our columns be free for diverse opinions from readers and columnists alike. The cartoon was not meant as a strident condemnation of any current government policies nor the real defenders of the Alamo.

Woke up to a Blackberry winter…

Woke up to a Blackberry Winter this morning by cracky. That occurs after a mid-Spring warming trend is confronted with a few days of cloudy, cold disagreeable weather sometimes with a light frost. So says the WEATHER ALMANAC for May. People also refer to it sometimes as Dogwood Winter.

I read this piece with interest as when I grew up; we had a dogwood tree in our front yard up on the hill. One didn’t mess around much with that tree as my mother was particular about it.

The WEATHER ALMANAC says the dogwood trees are unique in their own way as legend says the dogwood provided the wood for the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified. The once strong, tall tree, the legends tell us, was ashamed for its role in Christ’s suffering and begged his forgiveness. Christ absolved the tree of guilt and altered its shape so that forever after it would grow slender and twisted, wood unsuited for a cross of crucifixion. To remind all of the dogwood’s suffering, he formed the tree’s blossoms into a fourpetaled cross with a central “crown of thorns” and petals stained with red.

Sure enough the blossoms on that old tree back in Georgia had what looked like bad spots on the end of each leaf.

Interesting reading in the Almanac, I like it anyway.

My neighbor was walking with me this past week around back of my house and he jumped backed. “There’s a snake,” he said pointing towards the ground and over a bit. I looked immediately and saw one coiled up black with yellow specks on it. “It scared the heck out of me” he said.

He had a piece of pipe in his hand before I knew it. I asked him not to kill it as it’s a King Snake and they eat other snakes. It’s the only snake I will not kill except the grass snake. Have not seen the snake since that time but I do look for it now when I walk back there. The King Snake will not hurt you but will make you hurt yourself.

I don’t want to be picking blackberries and reach over to get one and there’s that snake. I’ll never pick another berry. Speaking of, should be ready to pick berries next weekend. I’m ready to start canning again. Might do some pickles this
year. Having made bread and butter pickles one year that was enough for me. Dill pickles are supposed to be easier.

Gathering up pint jars, a case of pints now cost eight bucks or more. Going to try the seed extractor we picked up in Canton, Texas. It’s a V shaped funnel with a rounded piece of wood used to crush and strain the berries through the sieve.

The month of May marks the 10th year of Two Cents Worth. Surely, I have made somebody smile.


College boys love their caps

Weather: Icy. Very icy. (I just don’t want to fall and die…)
Freshman Fifteen: Actually, I lost weight over Winter Break. But it’s back now.
Classes: Fiction writing, concepts of mathematics, statistics, biology, emotion/cognition, and a student-taught course about the status of females in America.
No. of Times Locked Out of Room: 2.
Pints of Ben & Jerry’s Consumed: 1/2.

One important thing I’ve learned — something that will probably prove to be much more useful than memorizing the base-pairs of DNA but slightly less useful than successfully balancing a sandwich, drink, cookies and fruit all the way from the student center to my dorm — is that college boys love their caps.

Technically, it’s not just caps; any headgear will do. My roommate actually came home crying one night because a frat boy got mad at her for keeping his favorite visor. (Said visor was obtained by my roomie in a poker match that said frat boy supposedly took an entire week to recover from.)

Most of the guys on my floor, including my RA Andy and my friends Ryan and Dave, are obsessively, notoriously protective of their sports caps (for the Redwings, Red Sox, and Cornhuskers, respectively). Ryan is actually quite the prankster, so when we were outlining the boundaries of just what exactly was prank-able and what was not, I asked about his hat. His only response was a glare and a low growl akin to that of a mother lion protecting its den. I took that to mean it was off-limits.

I think the affinity boys have for their hats directly relates to the fact that they don’t have to clean them. Quite possibly the only thing worse than spilling something onto your favorite pair of jeans is having to wash it off. Most college students, boys and girls — though boys are generally much worse about it — dread laundry day like no other. Come Sunday night, that 8-page paper isn’t looking quite so bad, especially in comparison to the pile of clothing that started smelling back on Wednesday. But then again, today’s the last day of clean underwear, so the options are pretty grim either way.

The luckiest people are the kids who go home for the weekends. Sure, they don’t get to enjoy the best part of the week with their buddies, but they also don’t have to sort every item of clothing they own into whites, lights, brights, darks and delicates. The unluckiest people are the mothers of the kids who go home for the weekends.

Actually, in all seriousness, I do feel kind of sorry for my friends who leave Friday nights and return Monday mornings. It’s all well and good to see your parents — I really and trully miss mine — but part of going to college is taking a step away from home. I might be wrong, but if you’re living on a meal plan during the week and mommy’s cooking on Saturday and Sunday, I don’t think you’ve taken much of a step.

And of course, my criticism of those dependencies have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that my own options are so limited. (Nothing at all.) But while we’re on the subject, no I can’t go home, no I can’t give my dirty laundry to my mom, and no I can’t sit and do crosswords with my dad on a lazy Sunday afternoon. To be honest, it’s really weird, if you think about it too much, to realize that you can talk to your parents with a phone, and only with a phone. That the fastest you can get home is in 3 hours, not counting the time it takes to buy tickets and get to the airport. That the people you’ve dealt with day-in and day-out for 18 years are gone, living on their own like they did before you were born, and you’re, to some extent, on your own too.

Yes, very weird indeed.

But when you’re happy, at college and at home, you learn to appreciate being in each place when you’re actually there, and to not miss the other place so much that you get sad. Because if you do let yourself ache and long too much, you’re just wasting your own time.

Speaking of enjoying college life — and not wasting time — I have a picture to email to one of my floor mates. I’m pretty sure he’ll agree that his hat looks pretty good on my pig. Almost as sure as I am that he’ll pay the ransom…

A little story about… ramps

The preparation date for this column is April 22 but I have no idea when it will be printed. I mention this as the subject is Spring in the West Virginia mountains. Everything is in bloom, red bud, dogwood, Japanese cherry, other cherry, apple, and a host of other things including-ramps! Yes ramps!

To the uneducated, ramps are wild onions that spring forth at this time of year in many spots within our state. They are supposed to be a mountain delicacy and many chew away and enjoy. Me? I stay far away from them, and anyone eating or who has eaten them recently.

Onions smell bad, and remain on one’s breath for a long time. But, ramps? They stick to you for an eternity. I don’t want anyone who has eaten ramps around me or in my house for days. The fragrance does linger and it isn’t roses.

One of our major mountain counties, Nicholas, has an abundance of ramps and the city of Ravenswood, located there, has a ramp festival each year. Yesterday, one of our Charleston papers had a story on page one of a Nicholas resident who was selling ramps along the road near Charleston. There are ramp roadside stands in many places.

This guy is not only selling ramps but is selling a new product-ramp salt! I guess he reeked of the ramp smell as he professed to be a great ramp eater. He was selling the ramp salt to people who want the taste of ramps but don’t want to smell like them for days. People sell bushels and bushels of ramps and now I guess they will be selling boxes and boxes of ramp salt.

I have a story to tell you about ramps. The late Jim Comstock, a man who could arguably be called West Virginia’s leading booster while alive, hailed from the aforementioned town of Richwood. He was a book writer, book collector, West Virginia historian, lecturer, newspaper writer, editor and publisher, museum owner and a host of other things. One of his newspapers was the statewide West Virginia Hillbilly that was the largest weekly in the state for a number of years. It contained a bit of mountain philosophy, mountain tales, historical stuff and some news ‘round and about our hills and valleys. He had more ideas than a dozen other men and was always trying something different.

During Spring a few years back Jim decided to mix ramps and his newspaper. He took a bit of ramp juice (quite a bit actually) and mixed it with the ink that would be used to print the next “Hillbilly.” It worked well, almost too well. Things went just fine during the printing and during the circulation from the print shop in Richwood and they left there a few at a time.

Since it was a statewide publication most of the papers had to be mailed and by far the largest majority had to come to the Charleston Post Office for distribution. When the trucks hit the post office with several thousand papers the questions started, “What’s that smell?” It got so bad officials began to track it down and didn’t have much trouble when they came to the newspapers. The post office now reeked with that pungent smell.

Soon, Comstock’s phone was ringing off the hook. How could you do such a thing? We can’t stand the smell! Etc. Friend Jim almost lost his mailing permit over that episode. This single issue was the one and only that contained ramp flavored printer’s ink. Good idea. Bad result!

Such are the people, places and things that have touched my life in my West Virginia home!

Comptroller: Post for the ambitious

The three Texas comptrollers since 1975 have wanted to be governor. Carole Keeton Strayhorn is no exception.

The first two – the late Bob Bullock and John Sharp, both Democrats – eventually settled for a run at lieutenant governor. Bullock won, Sharp didn’t.

Strayhorn, one loud grandma, has yet to announce her plans. Though she’s a Republican like Gov. Rick Perry, Strayhorn has been slapping Perry every time he turns around. ##M:[more]#

She says he:

• is an ineffective leader,
• should put more money into the Children’s Health Insurance Program to reinstate kids who were dropped, and
• will put the state $10 billion in debt in five years if his school funding/property tax cut plan is followed.

Last year, she suggested a tax on cigarettes and legalizing video lottery terminals. Perry said no, but this year that’s his partial solution for school finance.

What’s happening here is a collision in the ambition tube.

Among Texas’ statewide elected offices, top prizes are Texas’ two seats in the United States Senate, the governorship and a few notches lower, the lieutenant governorship.

The other down-ballot offices – land commissioner, railroad commissioners, agriculture commissioner, attorney general, the now-defunct office of treasurer – are the on-deck circle for the bigger offices.

Senior U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison was state treasurer before election to the Senate. Junior U.S. Sen. John Cornyn was on the Texas Supreme Court and attorney general before he joined her.

Perry was agriculture commissioner, and then lieutenant governor, before becoming governor. Strayhorn won a Railroad Commission seat on her second try, then moved up to comptroller. She’s still hungry.

Bullock, as comptroller, supported Gov. Dolph Briscoe’s re-election in 1978 because he had squabbled with Briscoe’s Democratic primary opponent, Attorney General John Hill. And, Bullock wanted to run for governor in 1982 when Briscoe left.

However, Hill beat Briscoe but then lost to Republican Bill Clements. Bullock and Clements got along OK. But Bullock had a running feud with Mark White, who had become attorney general.

When White upset Clements, Bullock announced he would run for governor in 1986, and continued banging on White. In 1983, he called the younger White an “old fool” who “didn’t do a damn thing as attorney general.”

By 1984, Bullock said he wouldn’t run for governor. By 1989, he settled for running for lieutenant governor in 1990, and shelved his gubernatorial ambitions.

Sharp, who succeeded Bullock, got along well with Democratic Gov. Ann Richards, and then Republican George W. Bush, who unseated Richards in 1994. Sharp considered opposing Bush in 1998, not because they’d fought, but because he wanted the job.

He finally decided Bush was unbeatable, and settled for a race for lieutenant governor.

Strayhorn obviously hasn’t made that decision yet. She wants to run for governor. But if Hutchison runs against Perry, and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst seeks Hutchison’s Senate seat, look for Strayhorn to run for lieutenant governor.

Have you ever been to a pig picking?

We work hard all week to get a two day weekend and two days of rain come with it; got a touch of cabin fever because of it. Cain’t gripe too much though, at least I ain’t got to water the tomatoes.

Stayed on the computer and internet most of the day yesterday that is when I was not in the kitchen fixing a little snack. At least there is enough fried chicken and meatloaf left for today’s meals.

Suppose to be getting a pit from one of the twins since he’s moving again. Having had the pit over here before between his apartments and houses, I’ve gotten use of it before. I got on the internet to read up on fire tending when cooking with a pit. Interesting reading to me, may be as entertaining as watching paint dry to you, but what do you want for two cents?

Having cooked on pits before, I have had meat that turned out bitter and heavy with smoke. In reading the information on the net, it says the fire was too big and dampered down too much. Says smoldering produces heavy smoke and gives the bitter taste. They suggested opening the damper and controlling the heat with the amount of fuel. If it gets too hot, open the door and let the heat out. Adjust the air inlet damper, not the outlet damper, learn to control your fire with fuel, not the inlet damper. I always thought it was green wood that gave off that taste. Green wood will give that bitter taste but I did not know smoldering wood would.

The article recommended using lump charcoal in lieu of charcoal briquettes and small pieces of wood until you get used to cooking with it.

The recommended temperature for barbequing was said to be 200 to 225 degrees. They recommend warming your firewood before placing in fire box, they heat it on top of the fire box first.

Somewhere I read a piece about thermometers and that they should be checked as some are as much as sixty degrees off. To check your thermometer, boil water and the gauge should read 212 degrees assuming it is correct. Then place the stem into a glass of water with ice. If it is correct, it should read 33 to 34 degrees, if your thermometer is not correct, it is recommended that you replace it.

I found another site on the internet about cooking a whole hog on a spit. These men had bought a 200 pounder on the hoof and how they prepared for the feast. A lot of work indeed and interesting as they stuffed the cavity of the pig with four whole chickens covered with rub seasoning. That keeps the stomach cavity of the pig from sinking in from the cooking and it provides great chicken that falls off the bone.

The total cooking time for the pig was sixteen and a half hours and was enough a party for over a 100 feasted with the other dishes and trimmings. Figure two pounds per person on the hoof. A minimum of three people required to do this job, one to watch the fire while others get some shuteye.

There was a huge cooker on a trailer at a Rotary function we attended once, two pigs were inside the cooker rotating over coals and you could see it through the glass door. It smelt wonderful.

Anyway, I have cooking directions for barbequing a pig from say 50 to 150 pounds. Should you desire a copy, all I ask in return is a small sandwich.

Have you ever been to a pig picking or anything like that?