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Posts published in June 2004

Breakfast cereal, children’s books…

I was eating my breakfast a few days ago composed of juice, a banana, coffee and one of my favorite cereals; Cheerios. I finished and began digging through the empty box. Linda wanted to know what was going on. I told her I was after my cereal box prize: a children’s book entitled “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.” She smiled and walked away as I returned to my childhood.

Yes, that event took me back about 65 or 70 years (I would have been 3 to 8 then) and I thought of the number of times as a youngster I dug through a box of cereal for the prize advertised on the box. Sometimes I wanted the prize in an unknown box of cereal. A few times mother purchased the cereal with the admonition, “You’re going to eat it, if I buy it, even if you don’t like it.”

I agreed and sometimes was sorry for my decision. Yes, I would eat the whole box. When I was pleased with the prize it seemed to be worth the agony of downing the cereal. But the worst of the world came when I was disappointed with the prize and hated the cereal as well. Over the years I have limited most of my cereal intake to Rice Krispies (Snap, Crackle and Pop) and Cheerios. Puffed rice is o.k. but spare me from puffed wheat, Wheaties, corn flakes and the rest.
Remembering the late ’30s and early ’40s I know there were also prizes for mothers in some products. Remember the dish or hand towels, wash clothes, butter dishes or drinking glasses in the soapboxes. I can remember mother pulling a brightly striped dishtowel or what I believed to be a beautiful glass from a soapbox. She never seemed to be that impressed.

That period must have been in the late ’30s as when WWII started boxes of soap were scarce. There was no need for an “extra” to get a sale on a box of Oxydol, Rinso, or, as I remember, a newcomer called “Duz.” I can remember many standing in line at the grocery to buy a box of soap when it was in stock. Mother was a Rinso fan, then Duz and Oxydol came in last with her. All of those bit the dust when detergents came by. I don’t believe any in that trio can be purchased today.

The only soap I remember from those days that one can still purchase by the box or bar is Ivory. The slogan was “99 and 44/100s percent pure-and it floats.” Ahhh, those where the days.

There are four more children’s books in my Cheerios series. I continue to await Linda to purchase: “Click, Clack Moo; Cows that Type,” “Bears Snore On,” John Lithgow’s “Marsupial Sue,” or “Zin!, Zin!, Zin! A Violin.” I’m sure they all make good breakfast time reading. I was disappointed this week when she returned from the grocery with a plain box of Cheerios with none of them enclosed. Mother would have done better for her little boy!

When I finish invite me to your club or social for a luncheon book reviews. I’ll be there with copies of these fine books. Don’t laugh at my book selection as I notice “Chicka, Chicka,…” has won at least four children’s book awards.

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

July 4 – More than a BBQ… by U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson

This Fourth of July weekend, thousands of Texans will gather with family and friends, fire up the grill, ice down some drinks and sit back and enjoy one of our nation’s favorite holidays, Independence Day. In 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed, there were 2.5 million people living in the 13 colonies. Today, there are more than 293 million Americans inhabiting 50 states, who will celebrate the founding of our great nation. And the Declaration that secured our independence still stands as the foundation of our democracy.

This quintessentially American celebration gives each of us an opportunity to commemorate the birth of our country and reflect on the day when dedicated patriots founded a nation based on freedom. Marquis De Lafayette, the Frenchman who was so moved by the American quest for independence, he crossed the Atlantic to join our battle said it this way, “Humanity has won its battle. Liberty now has a country.”

For 228 years now, America has been synonymous with liberty. It is rooted in our heart and soul. It is woven into the fabric of our being. As a current television advertisement states, “‘Don’t fence us in’, is practically our national motto.” We are the embodiment of freedom to people everywhere, which is why thousands of people still arrive from the far reaches of the globe on our shores each year. They come in search of a better life for their families and a greater hope for their future.
So, the Fourth of July is more than a birthday party – it is a celebration of our hard-fought freedom and our God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is also a time to honor those who continue the battle against terror and oppression to keep our freedom secure.

Today we are engaged in a struggle as fierce and as vital as any our nation has faced in its short history. Today’s war on terrorism is a fight for freedom.

American soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq face the modern threat of terrorism. But while the tactics are more violent, the motives more insidious and the means more destructive, this enemy shares the common goal of all enemies throughout history: destroying freedom. We must not – and we will not – let them win.

Last year, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld addressed our troops on the Fourth of July, saying, “You are the men and women who are fighting this new war. Your gallantry and courage in the face of evil has stirred the souls of all Americans. Day after day, week after week, they have seen your faces and read your stories. They have shared your sorrows and celebrated your victories. And in each one of you they see reflected their deeply-felt honor, pride and patriotism. Through your valor and sacrifice, our Republic has been strengthened and renewed.”

I could not agree more. Our troops, many of whom call Texas home, face a difficult and challenging task, yet they do it with bravery and with honor. I have visited them in the battlefields and I have seen their commitment firsthand. They know the gravity of their mission and the importance of their success. These proud patriots serve with distinction and deserve our gratitude.

This year, remember that it’s more than a backyard BBQ, red-white-and-blue streamers, downtown parade or fireworks display – the Fourth of July is a celebration of the freedoms afforded to us as citizens of the United States of America. This year, as you set out to enjoy your holiday take a moment to remember those who are sacrificing their personal safety, and even their lives, so that you may enjoy yours.

God Bless America and Happy Fourth of July.

4 indictments in North Forest ISD missing funds

Four people were indicted this week in a check fraud scheme that cost the North Forest ISD close to $260,000.

NFISD accounting clerk Valerie Gibson was arrested at the district’s office Tuesday, June 22. She is a 17 year veteran with NFISD. Initially, the district suspended her with pay. Her status changed to suspended without pay indefinitely after she was formally charged Wednesday, June 23, according to NFISD Director of Public Relations, Jacquelyn Tolbert.

Cynthia Bailey was also arrested Tuesday. She is the founder and director of the youth-focused community organization Sure Thing, Inc.

At the district’s regular school board meeting Monday night, the district’s attorney said that anyone who had knowingly accepted money that they knew was stolen from the district would be indicted and that the District Attorney would take all possible measures to ensure that restitution would be made.

During the open forum portion of Monday night’s meeting, Bailey spoke to express her displeasure with the board saying that all but one trustee should be replaced.

Bailey also supported to district’s annexation by the Houston Community College System. “Everybody’s worried about a dollar when it comes to education, but they don’t care when it comes to name brand stuff,” she said.

Louis Lamonte and Laimont Tubbs were also indicted in the fraud.

The district first discovered the missing money on January 14 during a routine bank reconciliation. At first they found a check that was written on November 14, 2003 for $242, 971.75 to a fictitious construction company. The check was cashed at a bank in Las Vegas on December 1, 2003. A second check was then found that was written on July 24, 2003 for $17,000 and cashed July 28 at the same Las Vegas Bank.

New City Budget contains small property tax cut

HOUSTON — In a move that was more symbolic than substantial, City Council passed Mayor Bill White’s budget for fiscal year 2005, and reduced the rate on property taxes by 1/2 cents per $100 valuation. The rate is now 65¢ per $100.

This amounts to only a small reduction of about $4 dollars for the average homeowner with a $100,000 house.

While cutting some jobs and in general trimming the City Budget, Council did approve a new police cadet class. A new item in the budget is a set-aside of $12.5 million for “performance based raises.” Up to a 10% cut in pay is also allowed for poor performance. Police were budgeted at %516 million, Fire dept. at $293 million. The total budget is $1.454 billion, a 3.3 percent increase over fiscal 2004.

Revenues come from property taxes, $671 million, Sales Taxes $371 million, and $410 million of other sources such as fines, fees, and so on.

Most council persons felt that the result was not only a tighter budget, but a new spirit of cooperation between them and the Mayor, which should result in progress in the future, also.

2 die as SUV plunges off Beltway 8 freeway

On Sunday, June 21, a man and a woman were killed instantly when their vehicle crashed into an embankment after swerving off the freeway.

According to police reports, the two were traveling west in their Ford Expedition on the North Sam Houston Tollway. Around 10:15 a.m., they reached the Hardy Toll Road and attempted to change langes. When the driver noticed a car in the way, he or she overcorrected and crashed through the guard rail. The SUV fell 40 feet before landing on its roof in the embankment below.

The victims were identified by medical examiners as David McDonald, 60, and his daughter Geraldine McDonald, 37. Both were pronounced dead at the scene. Police could not determine who was driving at the time.

Chow Chow time at Charlie’s Kitchen…

There is almost three gallons of cut up cabbage, green tomatoes, onions, boc Choy, bell peppers, carrots and 40 jalapeno peppers soaking in a brine mixture while I start with this weeks Two Cents Worth.

Had to break out a fan to circulate the air in the kitchen to give me some relief from the pungent odor of all those jalapenos being chopped. It is enough to run you out of the kitchen. If the peppers don’t, the cooking process mixed with vinegar will when I fire up the stove.

Used the Black and Decker Processor to cut the entire product up except the green tomatoes. The tomatoes were hand cut and cut in chunky pieces besides; there is a hand full of green grape tomatoes that are whole so this should be a good batch of home made chowchow from Charlie’s Kitchen on Goose Creek; and it will light your fire. At least with the food processor, my hands are not hotter than a firecracker from cutting the hot pods of pepper.

The Mrs. used to help in the chowchow making process but makes herself scarce this day and time. When we made our first batch of chowchow back in Wilmington, North Carolina, she cut up the hot pods of (cayenne) peppers. Her hands burned so badly she squalled. About the only thing that will cut the heat from the peppers is milk. Bread, butter, water, or ice, none of that will ease the heat. It is something about the enzymes in milk that does the trick. She says she’s made enough chowchow in her day.

One of the twins came over while I started the concoction; as he walked in the door he said “I know what you are making”.

Some of this year’s batch will have to go to Georgia and Montana to pay back my friends for samplings of their annual batch of canning product. Actually, one sends me a bottle of his homemade blackberry wine and the other sends a pint of her huckleberry jam. Reckon a big word for that would be reciprocation or simply paying your dues.

Did make one special jar of chowchow for a friend who says “You cain’t make it too hot for me”.

We will see, we will see. I picked over 24 of the little purple, orange, yellow and red bouquet pods of pepper and chopped them before placing in a bowl and mixed it with a pint of the regular ingredients. I would venture to say that jar is hot enough to light his fire but then again, I know a woman that can eat habaneras in her beans and cheese sauce. I tried a sampling of her heat and could not take it. Simply just too hot to eat for me because all I could taste was hot, nothing else had any flavor except hot.

MetroRail extension to Northline topic of open house at Davis HS

Metro is holding meetings throughout Houston this month, to gain input on changes that the public would like in the proposed extension of the light rail system to Northline Mall, and Southeast to the Gulfgate area.

The meeting for the Northeast area was held Saturday morning, June 26, at Jeff Davis High School on Quitman at 9 am. Metro staff was on hand to explain the alignment of the rail, as it travels north from the University of Houston—downtown to Northline Mall, and to answer questions. Dozens of interested citizens turned out. The 5.5 mile extension will follow several surface streets, including Main Street, Irvington, and Fulton. Metro staff and consultants explained alternate routes being considered, including Irvington/Fulton alternatives. Stations will be located approximately at Quitman at Main, Irvington at Cavalcade, Fulton at 610 North Loop, and Fulton at Northline Mall.

In the next phase, the line will continue along the Airline Drive alignment to Greenspoint Mall, and eventually to Intercontinental Airport.
Metro directors have recently objected to some of the alignments designed by staff, and asked for further study, to see if existing railroad right-of-ways could be used to avoid conflict with street traffic. Three other routes were suggested after the Third series of Open Houses for the North/Hardy line. These include the BLUE route, primarily along I-45; the RED route, primarily along the Hardy Toll Road; and the GREEN route, along Airline Drive and the I-45 frontage road instead of Fulton.

Construction of the extensions is scheduled to start in 2006 for the line to Northline, but it will not be available for use until sometime in 2009, according to Metro.

Additional meetings for the Southeast corridor are scheduled Monday and Tuesday of this week on Griggs Road. Further information is available from Metro at 713-625-4000 or their website, www.ridemetro.org.

Area festivals to celebrate July 4th

Houstonians have their choice of safe, fun, family-friendly events this Independence Day.
Houston Downtown’s 4th
“Freedom over Texas”, Houston’s Official July 4th Celebration, will celebrate America’s Birthday with a rare live appearance from the multi-award winning, legendary singing duo, The Judds.

Freedom Over Texas marks the only time this year the The Judds will appear together in concert.  Celebrating their 20th year of performing together, Naomi and Wynonna Judd were recently named two of the “Greatest Women of Country Music”. The Judds have sold over 20 million records, have celebrated 14 #1’s and have won over 60 industry awards, including 5 Grammys.

Several stages will keep toes tapping with the diverse musical sounds of today’s America including pop, Latin, adult contemporary, classic rock.

A reminder of the patriotic roots of July 4th, a special area will offer the unique opportunity to experience displays of military artifacts and vehicles including tanks and Huey helicopters, voting booth demonstrations, the Printing Museum of History and much more.

Children will stay entertained with inflatables, rides and games in the kid’s zone, while adults enjoy browsing the market. A variety of great food and beverage will complete the day of celebration.

The crowning highlight of “Freedom over Texas” 2004 will be “Wish Upon a Lone Star” – A Blast of Fireworks from Walt Disney World. Spanning Buffalo Bayou west of Sabine Bridge, this awe-inspiring fireworks extravaganza will combine specially choreographed music saluting America, Texas and Disney favorites with pyrotechnic artistry.
The party runs from 4:00pm to 10:00pm at Eleanor Tinsley Park on the Buffalo Bayou.
For the first time ever, Houston’s July 4th celebration will be syndicated live. The music for the fireworks display will be broadcast on radio station Star 790 KBME-AM.
Six Flags Astroworld
Six Flags Astroworld will celebrate the Fourth of July with a day of live entertainment, contests, appearances by Fox 26 personalities and a spectacular fireworks display all free with park admission. Park hours Sunday, July 4 are 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.
Schedule of Events: 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.- Center Stage Meet your favorite Fox 26 personalities Jose Griñan, Mike Barajas, Patti Shieh & Tom Zizka;11:00 a.m.- Center Stage Frog jumping contest ;12:00 p.m. – Center Stage -Pie eating contest ;1:00 p.m. – Center Stage -Hot dog eating contest; 2:00 p.m. – Center Stage-Watermelon toss ; 9:30 p.m. Southern Star Amphitheatre-Live entertainment and fireworks
Discount tickets are available at Housotn-area Kroger and Fiest Mart stores or online.
Houston Symphony
The Houston Symphony invites everyone to show off their patriotism with them at the Star Spangled Salute. The musicians will play American classics including the Star Spangled Banner, The Stars and Stripes Forever, the 1812 Overture, and more inspiring selections dedicated to the greatness of the USA and our home state of Texas. Pay tribute to those who sacrifice to secure our freedom by joining in the annual Service Medley. Don’t miss commemorating the birth of our nation by joining the Houston Symphony for this grandiose traditional celebration.
The event will be held at the Miller Outdoor Theater in Hermann Park.

Crosby’s Haynes to be new football coach at Eisenhower

ALDINE ISD – After action taken at last week’s board meeting, AISD is prepared to hire Crosby ISD’s Larry Haynes, who has been varsity coach and AD at this 4A district east of Houston for two years, as the new head coach at Eisenhower High School for next season.

Aldine’s athletic director, Daryl Wade, told the administration that he had his eye on Haynes at both Clear Lake and Crosby, and was pleased to get him on short notice. Haynes had a winning season, and took the Crosby team several games into the playoffs, but much of it was because of an outstanding performance by his son, the quarterback for Crosby that set state passing records this year.

Haynes will come to a larger school and district, which is 5A, and inherits a team which Wade feels can go to the state championships with the right leadership.

Haynes has told Crosby’s superintendent, Don Hendrix, that he expects to take four coaches with him to Eisenhower.