By: The Observer

Another year has passed and in Crosby and Huffman, some of the top news stories centered around construction and animals. Crosby ISD passed their bond to construct new facilities in the district, the FM 2100 bridge was completed and several instances of animal cruelty made the front pages. Here is a look back at the top stories of 2013.

1. Bond approved for new Crosby high school

Voters approved the Crosby ISD $86.5 million bond proposal May 11, 2013.

The money will be used to build a new high school and several other renovations at campuses throughout the district. The unofficial results of the election indicated that 772 voted for the bond and 685 voted against it.

“(It was) an exciting day for the students and staff of Crosby schools, for our school system and for our community,” said Crosby ISD Superintendent Dr. Keith Moore in an emailed statement to the Lake Houston Observer. “I do not take lightly the trust that our community expressed by the outcome of this election. It is now up to me, my staff and the CISD board to work diligently through this construction process to maintain this trust. Our community has expressed their desire and commitment to have top quality schools and we will work diligently to provide a superior academic program, top quality extracurricular opportunities, and safe and secure facilities: tradition, with a future.”

The district will now move forward with several projects and renovations that are planned as part of the Long-Range Facility Improvement Program:

• Construct a new high school including: ROTC, field house, Ag Barn, tennis courts, auditorium, fine arts facilities and tech center

• Repurpose the existing high school for use as a middle school

• Repurpose the existing middle school for use as an elementary school

• Repurpose the existing elementary school for use as expanded capacity at the Kindergarten Center

• Construct a new auto stacking drive at Newport Elementary School

• Renovate existing elementary school playgrounds

• Provide various district-wide renovations and repairs

With approval of the bond, the average projected annual tax increase for residents that own a home is Crosby ISD will be $212.16 more per year. The projected monthly tax increase is $17.68.

2. Post office renamed for Medal of Honor recipient David McNerney

The Crosby Post Office was renamed the Army First Sergeant David McNerney Post Office Building in a public dedication ceremony held on March 22, 2013.

The ceremony was led by U.S. Rep. Ted Poe who filed legislation last year to rename the facility, located at 133 Hare Rd., after McNerney, a long-time Crosby resident and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.

“That’s why we are here today; to honor him and the veterans that have served anywhere in the world for our country,” said Poe.

Poesaid that McNerney’s company was sent into Vietnam to retrieve a reconnaissance team and came under enemy fire.

“Forty six years ago, there were 108 in that company, 23 were killed and 43 were wounded,” said Poe. “Over 500 of the enemy were killed that day. These men and their families will never forget it and we in America will never forget.”

McNerney was wounded by a grenade and his first commander was killed.

“The area was thickly forested so he had to climb a tree to direct artillery fire,” said Poe. “He destroyed a machine gun post. He pulled the wounded to safety. McNerney had a chance to evacuate that evening, but he did not.”

Many of the men that served with McNerney that were involved in the battle attended the renaming ceremony.

“It was a long battle,” said Poe. “This was not his first rodeo, as we say in Texas. He was one of the first 500 sent to Vietnam as an ‘advisor’ by President Kennedy in 1962.” McNerney served two tours of duty in Korea and four tours of duty in Vietnam.

After leaving the military, McNerney served in the U.S. Customs Service in the Port of Houston.

3. FM 2100 bridge in Crosby completed

The FM 2100 bridge, which spans over the railroad tracks in Crosby, was completed after 18 months of construction.

The bridge opened Friday, Oct. 18, 2013 after a particular beacon was installed.

The bridge is roughly four-tenths of a mile long, spanning approximately from the intersection of Whal Street and FM 2100 to just beyond High Noon Indoor Pistol Range. The cost of the bridge was $8.9 million.

4. Nine arrested for operating illegal horse racing track in Crosby

According to the Observers’ news partner KTRK ABC-13, an 11-month-long investigation ended Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013 with the arrest of nine suspects accused of operating an illegal horse racing track in Crosby.

According to investigators, the group was operating an illegal horse racing and gambling business at Rancho El Herradero on Sralla Road. The six police officers were allegedly providing security at the facility.

Multiple undercover surveillance operations took place during the lengthy investigation.

“Peace officers take an oath to uphold the law,” Terese Buess, Chief of the HCDAO Public Integrity Division said. “To discover them actually working in their official capacity to provide security for organized criminal enterprises is extremely alarming and disappointing.”

5. Redistricting moves Huffman to Pct. 2

Local residents are now represented by a new county commissioner after redistricting efforts were finalized by federal courts in 2013.

Residents of Huffman met their new County Commissioner, Jack Morman, and learned that they would be moving from Harris County Pct. 4 to Pct. 2. The move only affects representation on commissioners court and not law enforcement. Huffman is still covered by Harris County Pct. 2 Constable’s Office.

Morman was elected to Harris County Commissioners Court and took office in 2011. He is a graduate of Deer Park High School and Baylor University Law School. Prior to being elected, he worked as an attorney and had a private law practice.

“Our goal is not to miss a beat,” said Morman about the transition for residents from Pct. 4 to Pct. 2. “I couldn’t be happier to serve you. We are going to work hard to serve you in Pct. 2.”

6. DA leading charge on animal cruelty crackdown

In 2012, citizens in Crosby contacted the Harris County District Attorney’s office with news of a horrific discovery. In two specific areas, numerous animals had been dumped after being tortured and eventually decapitated.

It was clear to Harris County district attorney Devon Anderson that something needed to be done.

“Every day we get calls in our office from citizens and officers about owners who are mistreating, neglecting, abandoning or killing their pets,” Anderson said. “Fighting animal abuse is a priority in the Harris County District Attorney’s office. It is our hope that aggressive prosecution of these offenses will deter animal cruelty in Harris County.”

The district attorney’s office partnered with Harris County Commissioner Jack Morman, former state Senator Tommy Williams, the Texas Department of Transportation, the Houston Humane Society and area law enforcement to target the area around the site of the infamous 2012 “Crosby Puppy Massacre.”

Concrete barriers, an eight-foot chain-link fence and signs warning of the consequences of animal cruelty and abandonment were erected underneath the Highway 90 San Jacinto bridge which was a hotspot for animal dumping and cruelty.

Consequently, the county has seen an 80 percent reduction in abandoned animals in the area, Anderson told media at a press conference at the Crosby Community Center on Nov. 12, 2013.

7. Hundreds clothed in Crosby Care project

Hundreds of children in the Crosby, Huffman and Dayton areas will be warm this Christmas, thanks to thousands of volunteer dollars and hours with the Crosby Care Clothe-A-Child project.

Each child was given a $100 shopping spree, up to $300 per family, in Walmart stores in Atascocita and Crosby to pick out clothes and shoes. At the end of the night, each child selected a toy to take home as well.

“It overwhelms me that the people in our community could do something of this magnitude,” said Crosby Care founder Keenan Smith said. “What overwhelms me too is when I see the great deep gratitude from the families. I’m overcome with emotion. Tears, joy, all those things.”

Crosby Care worked with school counselors to select families for Clothe-A-Child that because of limited income or catastrophic events could not otherwise be able to clothe their children through the holidays.

“We work with people that really know these families – school counselors and teachers that really know these people so we are able to really get help to where it was really needed,” Smith said. “You really have no idea of what they’re going through until you stop to talk to them; then I become so much more grateful that we were able to do something to help them and make a difference.”

8. Cody Foundation fundraiser nets $200K for EKGs

In May of 2012, Cody Stephens laid down in a recliner to take a nap and never woke up.

Since then, his father, Scott Stephens, has been on a mission to make other parents and athletes aware of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) – the condition that claimed his son.

Scott Stephens started the Cody Stephens foundation to raise awareness for SCA and was a big force behind the new UIL mandated SCA waiver athletes and their guardians must read and sign before playing ball.

The Cody Stephens foundation held its Cody Stephens Go Big or Go Home Memorial Foundation Fundraiser, netting $200,000 from corporate sponsors, a live and silent auction and tickets sales Scott Stephens said.

“That will allow us to flat out pay for 13,000 EKGs,” Scott Stephens said.

Funds from the foundation have been committed or dispersed to nine area independent school districts for student athlete EKG screenings with another 10 independent school districts pending approval of the foundation’s funding.

Scott Stephens’ goal is to go even bigger than that.

“We want to try to get all of Texas,” Scott Stephens said. “We want to try to get Texas to screen all kids and to promote (screening) across the state school district by school district.

9. The Shane Detwiler Foundation completes the donation of new drug dog to Chambers County

With his tail wagging and eager to work, Yoerie, a Belgian Malinois; was introduced to Chambers County as one of their new drug dogs.

As part of a collaborative effort, the new dog was donated to the county in honor of Chambers County Deputy Shane Detwiler who was killed in the line of duty July 13, 2009.

Detwiler’s mother, Cheryl Railsback, a resident of Huffman, started the Shane Detwiler Foundation in order to give other officers necessities they might need but cannot afford as well as give scholarships to local students.

“On July 31, 2009; my world was shaken when my son was killed in the line of duty while answering a shots fired disturbance call,” Railsback said to the commissioner’s court March 26.

Detwiler joined the Infantry Unit of the U.S. Army directly after graduating from Cy-Fair High School in 1995. After four years of service, he was discharged and attended Sam Houston State University to study criminal justice. From there, he joined the Game Wardens in Chambers County but made the decision to return to the Army Reserve where he served a tour of duty in Iraq.

After training in Broussard, Louisiana, Chambers County Deputy Carlton Carrington brought the new dog, Yoerie, to show the Commissioner’s Court and complete the presentation May 14, 2013.

10. Huffman students recognized for helping bus driver after wreck

The Harris County Citizen Corps recognized two Hargrave High School students in December for their courageous actions after the school bus they were riding swerved off the road and into a ditch.

Sixteen-year-olds Charles “Patrick” Payne and Kade Baldwin joined forces the morning of Oct. 1, to render aid to fellow students and to their bus driver who was pinned to the steering wheel.

According to the Huffman Independent School District, both students had gone through the Teen Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program earlier this year and were able to use skills learned to not only help the bus driver, but get the rest of their classmates to safety.

“These young men have demonstrated a strong sense of civic responsibility,” said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. “They are an example of the positive impact Teen CERT is having in our community.”

Harris County Emergency Management coordinator Mark Sloan presented students with plaques at the Huffman ISD Board of Trustees December meeting. They were recognized for their uncommon heroism, courage and skill in assisting accident victims.

Teen CERT, a Harris County Citizen Corps program, trains students in emergency preparedness and response. The program teaches fire suppression, basic triage, search-and-rescue tactics and disaster relief, skills they can use at home, school and in their community.

Currently, more than 40 area schools participate in the Teen CERT program. To date more than 2,000 students have been trained.