OCTOBER 27, 2007

OCTOBER 27, 2009
By Jamie Nash, October 27, 2009HARRIS COUNTY – The 3rd Annual Houston / Harris County Candlelight Vigil was held on Tuesday evening near Houston’s City Hall reflection pool to remember those who have lost their lives due to drug or alcohol-related incidents. KHOU’s Sherry Williams, who emceed the event, said the vigil was to remember the lives lost on both sides of the issue. The large crowd that gathered included people of all ages, races, and incomes. Williams told them dealing with the loss gets easier, and the best thing they could do was to encourage young people “not to walk that path.” Williams lost a brother to a lifetime of drug abuse 12 years ago, she said. “Talk to your kids about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, Williams said. “It’s not a way to have more fun, it’s not a way to be cooler, it’s a way to have a tragic life that often ends early.” Zoran B. Yankovich, Special Agent in Charge, US Drug Enforcement Administration, Houston Field Division also spoke, saying the event was important to his agency because it focused on the “meaning behind their mission.” “Drugs affect families, individuals, communities, and societies as a whole,” Yankovich said. “Nobody knows that more than the DEA,” Yankovich noted the high number of casualties suffered by his agency in the 36 years of its existence, with the latest losses occurring just a day earlier. A helicopter crash in Western Afghanistan killed three DEA agents. The DEA is fighting alongside US troops in the Middle East, with a different focus. Afghanistan, as Yankovich explained, is the world’s number one producer of opium, the key ingredient in heroin. Not only does heroin find its way to western society, but the proceeds also fund Al-Qaeda, he said, which fuels terrorism in the rest of the world, including the US. Like much of the crowd, Yankovich wore a red ribbon representing “Red Ribbon Week,” The Red Ribbon Campaign was begun after the 1985 death of DEA Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena and is the nation’s largest drug prevention effort. Camarena made the ultimate sacrifice after working undercover in Mexico for over four-and-a-half years. Drug traffickers, abducted Camarena in broad daylight as he walked with his wife, then interrogated and tortured him to death. The brutality of the crime and the complicity of Mexican police and government officials and the difficulty in persuading Mexican officials to release Camarena’s body sparked outrage in the US and drew an unprecedented amount of attention to the seriousness of the battle to stem the flow of illegal drugs into this country. Yankovich said the ribbons were not only in honor of Camarena, but to call attention to the problem of drug abuse in our society. “Too many young people with promise have died because of drugs,” Yankovich said. “Their talent was extinguished and it will never be.” “We are poorer because they are gone,” Yankovich said such vigils put a human face on drug abuse. The problem, he said, is truly complex and must be met with “enforcement, treatment, and prevention.” Listeners were encouraged to get between their children and drugs “no matter what.” Yankovich said the week was not only to look at the tragedy of the situation but the hope that is offered by those who continue to take down cartels, intercept loads of illegal drugs, and divert the legal pharmaceuticals that have become the number one experimental drugs among teens and are widely abused by all ages. Yankovich said last year the DEA seized over $2.5 billion from drug traffickers and continues to progress, but everyone’s support is needed.

OCTOBER 27, 2013
Just after 10 am Sunday morning a Ford Ranger pickup was southbound on Fostoria Road approaching SH 105. According to witnesses the driver failed to stop for the stop sign and turned out in front of an 18-wheeler. The crash caused the Ford to spin across the lanes of SH 105 and come to rest on the westbound shoulder. The 18-wheeler which was eastbound left the roadway and landed on its side in the ditch.

Splendora Fire Department responded along with MCHD. The injuries to both drivers who were transported to the hospital were not serious as the 18-wheeler had been at reduced speed.

Once crews were able to check the vehicles they discovered the truck was loaded with 44,000 pounds of Potassium Hydroxide, a very caustic chemical that when comes in contact with water produces a very caustic vapor cloud. It can also generate enough heat to ignite combustible items close by.

Potassium Hydroxide is used to manufacture batteries, fertilizers, and hair spray. It is also used as a food stabilizer and thickener. It is also found in oven cleaners, denture cleaners, soaps, and drain cleaners. Potassium Hydroxide soaps are considered soft soaps that are said to be better for the skin. It is also used to dissolve warts and cuticles.

DPS Troopers and Montgomery County Sheriff’s Deputies worked traffic control throughout the day. Even with them on the scene drivers caused several problems. At one point due to the possibility of the chemicals letting off a vapor cloud all roads were closed. Several vehicles, not aware of the danger but in a hurry decided to cross the ditch on SH 105 and drive through a large open field to pass the scene. Another woman in a small blue car almost struck a deputy directing traffic as she, using both hands while her vehicle was still in motion started photographing the scene with her smartphone.

With rain still in the area, Splendora Fire Fighters requested Woodlands and Conroe Hazmat teams to respond to the scene. No product had been spilled but the truck was over a ditch with water.

Milstead Heavy Duty responded to the scene with two wreckers. Also responding were Masters Hazmat and Hazmat International. SH 105 was closed completely as crews placed giant airbags resembling Halloween pumpkins under the trailer of the truck. Using both wreckers they were able to right the truck, however as it came to rest on the road surface the trailer split.

Now posing another problem of closing the road and additional 8 hours to offload the 2000 pound bags of chemical, Milstead decided to attempt to move the entire load slowly to Fostoria Road in order to re-open SH 105.

By 6 pm that was accomplished as crews then started the slow process of offloading the chemicals and loading them on another truck. Several of the bags had torn causing crews to repackage them.

Fostoria Road north of SH 105 remains closed until almost 10 pm as the transfer is made.

OCTOBER 27, 2015
Cleanup crews are dumping gravel to firm up an area near two overturned locomotives that derailed during North Texas flooding.

A Union Pacific spokesman said Tuesday that crews are working to rebuild a track washed away during storms north of Corsicana.

Two crew members swam to safety after much of the 64-car train derailed early Saturday during storms that left behind about 20 inches of rain.
Spokesman Jeff DeGraff said track repairs began Sunday afternoon with crews hauling in gravel, by truck or rail car, as far down as the track would allow. DeGraff said tracks were damaged or washed away on several spots along a 15-mile stretch.

The freight cars, bound from Midlothian to Houston, were hauling loose gravel when the train derailed about 50 miles south of Dallas.

OCTOBER 27, 2015
Every summer Cooper Farms has set up a fruit stand in Conroe. First at the Outlet Mall and later at the Woodbury Community Gardens at 2600 Longmire. Woodbury Community Gardens has been around since 2010 providing fresh eggs from their over 300 laying hens, to citrus trees. Woodbury is open year-round but the Cooper Peach Stand is only open during the season.

Cooper Peaches come from Fairfield, Texas just up I-45 near the 198-mile marker, about 100 miles north of Conroe.

In 1970 a twelve-year-old Tim Cooper and his family moved from Dallas to Fairfield, because his father had accepted a job offer to become the first personnel manager for TXU’s Big Brown Steam Electric Station. Once in Fairfield Tim soon found himself working at Fairfield Farms. Fairfield Farms was started by the late Ralph K. Alexander, who originated from Houston. Mr. Alexander quickly became Timmy’s mentor, and shared his knowledge of peaches and farming with him. Every year during high school Tim would spend his summers working at Fairfield Farms. After Mr. Alexander sold Fairfield Farms to Duncan McCoy, Tim stayed on as a manager throughout his college-aged years

In 1978 Tim planted his first peach orchard; it was planted on Lover’s Lane right outside of Fairfield City Limits. At the time Tim was attending college at Texas A&M. Tim and Kathy also met in 1978 when Kathy moved to Fairfield, where she was also an employee of Fairfield Farms. Kathy had grown up in Guadalajara, Mexico, the daughter of a missionary. She moved back to the United States in her teens and graduated from Los Fresnos High School in the Rio Grande Valley. Upon graduating from high school Kathy’s brother-in-law, Joe Hancock, invited her to live in Fairfield with her and her sister April. He had told Kathy about Fairfield Farms, which was located across the street from their house. Kathy thought it would be a convenient place to work, applied for the job, and was hired. Kathy worked there every summer between semesters at Stephen F. Austin University. During those summers Kathy and Tim were coworkers and eventually became good friends. Their friendship quickly turned into romance and in 1983 they were married with a home in Fairfield.

Tim had started a fence business the year they married and Kathy had gone to work for Texas Utilities Mining Company a few months before as a secretary, and later as one of the maintenance technicians assigned to the Cross Pit Spreader System. So while they both had a day job, they spent their evenings and weekends working on there, then 8 acres, orchard. They did all the farm labor they could do by themselves but they hired a few people to help them out from time to time. At the time all of their peaches were sold roadside at the corner of an intersection off of Interstate-45, next to where Sam’s Restaurant is located today.

Back then Kathy would drive the truck to the stands in the mornings and stay there until she had no more peaches to sell. When she sold out she would take the truck back to the farm, and if their were customers at the stand when she sold out, they would simply follow her back to the farm to get their peaches. At the farm, Tim would replenish the truck with more peaches he had just picked, and Kathy would head back to the roadside stand in hopes of selling out again. Since Tim and Kathy were both still working jobs during the week, they hired a college student home for the summer to sell whatever peaches they picked during the week. On the weekends Kathy would be responsible for working the peach stand. Today the roadside peach stand on the corner of Exit 197 is a permanent fixture.

As the business increased Tim took all the money he made from the fence business and used to acquire more land and trees. He also added more roadside stands. There were now roadside peach stands in Corsicana, Madisonville, and Huntsville. Things were going well until the peaches suffered a late freeze, and Tim and Kathy were without a crop. They realized if they were going to survive as farmers they would need to diversify their crops, but were uncertain on exactly what crops to grow. They happened to meet some growers at a conference who were growing greenhouse tomatoes. After carefully researching greenhouse tomatoes, they decided that it was something they wanted to do. In 1989 they started growing greenhouse tomatoes.

1990 was a year of many firsts. They picked their first tomato from their first greenhouse. They also started a family with the birth of their first child, Ben. 1990 was the year their farm was also officially named “Cooper Farms”. After their daughter Elizabeth was born, Kathy made the decision that she wanted to stay home to be with the children. Tim and Kathy worked together to make it possible for Kathy to stay at home with the kids. By the time Ben started school, Kathy was able to leave her job at TXU. In 1998 Tim was able to sell out his partnership in his fence business and devote his time completely to farming.

Up to this time, the Coopers had sold everything they grew strictly at their roadside stands. The Coopers enjoyed selling their peaches at their roadside stands because of the direct contact they were able to have with their customers and not having to go through a middle man. They had developed many friendships throughout the years with their regular roadside peach stand customers. As far as Tim and Kathy were concerned, they believed their roadside stands were the best and only way to market their peaches. At the time grocery stores were becoming more aware of the need to provide local produce in their stores. Tim and Kathy were initially approached by H-E-B about the possibility of having their peaches in the new Central Market stores in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Tim planted more trees to meet the increase in demand. Tim wanted to continue selling the roadside but still be able to supply Central Market with the local produce they needed. Over time Tim and the orchard acclimated to provide the supply for the new increase in demand for their peaches and tomatoes. Tim and Kathy were soon invited to sell their peaches at other roadside stand as well.

Today Cooper Farms continues to sell at their roadside stands in many towns along the Interstate 45 corridor. Cooper Farms has also opened a gourmet travel stop at Exit 198 where they sell home-made pie, home-made ice cream, farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, and gas at low prices! The Coopers send peaches to Houston, Dallas, and Austin with a variety of outlets, which include H-E-B, Central Market, Whole Foods, and many smaller stores. All of these grocery stores play an equally important part in providing Cooper Farms peaches, blackberries, plums, etc. to Cooper Farms’ beloved customers.

As Tim and Kathy reflect on the past 33 years, they are amazed and humbled at what has been accomplished with the small talents they were given. They know it all happened (the marriage, the peach operation, and the family) because of hard work and persistence and determination to achieve their goals, and never giving up on each other. The Coopers have encouraged each other to never give up and persist even when things got tough or seemed impossible. It is only through their faith in God and the faith that their family, friends, and customers, have had in them that the Coopers have “grown” to what they are today. It is Cooper’s hope that when you stop to purchase a Cooper Farms product from a Cooper Farms truck, the Cooper Farms Country Store, or a Cooper Farms display in your local grocery store, that you will realize how much they have enjoyed “growing” for you.

Kathy and Tim retired recently and the farm including the 24,000 peach trees covering 350 acres is now cared for by their children Ben and Elizabeth. With the store in Fairfield Ben was able to bring another passion to life, soda water. We’re not talking about the local stuff but from around the world. He has stocked the store with over 400 different bottled soda waters. Some even from Hawaii and Australia. One of the oldest is Moxie and is the only one actually listed in Webster’s Dictionary. Moxie’s flavor is unique, as it is not as sweet as most modern soft drinks and is described by some as bitter. Moxie is flavored with gentian root extract, an extremely bitter substance that was reputed to possess medicinal properties. It originated around 1876 as a patent medicine called “Moxie Nerve Food”.Another favorite is Coco Fiz which tastes like a Tootsie Pop right out of the bottle. Most are from mom and pop bottlers around the nation. They also stock different salsas which they make and bottle. The Root Beer Floats are awesome and they even have the corner on the ice cream market with a peach ice cream they make.

In the orchards, there are several masts which look like a helicopter blade on top. They are powered by a gas engine and sit in strategic locations across the orchards. When a a early Spring frost is predicted the engines are fired up. The rotor blades create a 15 mph wind across the orchards. By doing this it brings the warmer air down to prevent frost on the trees. Several varieties of peaches are grown including yellow, white, even donut peaches. Also grown are white nectarines, yellow nectarines, plums, apricots, blackberries, tomatoes, and watermelons.

To visit the store drive IH-45 north to the 198-mile marker at Fairfield. Go across the freeway and you will see The Cooper Market on the left.

They do also ship across the United States and offer free shipping on orders over $55.

OCTOBER 27, 2016
Just after 1 is Harris County Sheriff’s Office, HCEC and Atascocita Fire Department responded to a reported auto-pedestrian accident in the 3200 blocks of FM 1960 East just east of Humble. This was directly in front of the Old McDonalds Farm petting zoo. According to investigators a male in his 60’s was walking in the left westbound moving lane of traffic Two women were driving west in a white Ford F-150. As they approached they saw the male and slowed down. It was then the male walked in front of them and raised his hands as if attempting to stop them. Sheriffs Investigators anticipate no charges. Alcohol or speed was not a factor in the crash

OCTOBER 27, 2018
Firefighters will be out in force this Saturday installing smoke alarms as part of the regional Fire Safety initiative

Firefighters determined to make a difference after the most recent fatal fire claims the lives of two small children and their great-grandmother.

It was a typical Friday night for the Zarate family. It was early June, as Marco and Amanda spent the evening together in their home with their four small children, brothers Daniel, Marco Jr., and Julian along with their infant sister, Vanessa, and family matriarch, 92-year-old Raquel Figueroa. Early in the evening, the children were tucked into their beds, while the adults stayed up late to watch the NBA playoffs, eventually falling asleep in the living room of their one-story brick home in the Somerset Estates subdivision located southeast of Conroe off State Highway 242.
Sometime after the children were tucked into the bed, a small fire broke out on the kitchen stove, igniting the kitchen cabinets and spreading into the attic, filling the home with hot, toxic smoke. The home was equipped with a smoke alarm in the living room, but by all accounts, it never sounded, either because it was too old or because the fire had disrupted the electrical power in the attic above the kitchen. At the time the home was built, new smoke alarms were not required to have a battery backup, relying solely on the home’s electrical service.
Marco was the first to wake up, followed by his wife, Amanda. They awoke to a parent’s worst nightmare, they could not see or breathe, and they could not reach their children’s bedrooms through the smoke-filled hallway.
One neighbor called 911 while a second neighbor went to the home to search for the children. As he opened the front door, he was met by a wall of smoke, but he was able to drop to his knees and just a few feet inside the door he found 7 yr old Daniel and 5 yr old Julian crawling on the floor unable to find their way out. The neighbor guided the children out the front door and then joined Marco who was frantically trying to reach the remaining two children still trapped in their bedrooms.
Three Caney Creek Firefighters and their Battalion Chief were on the scene only a couple of minutes after the first 911 call, and as they arrived they saw Amanda Zarate crawling out the front door with life-threatening injuries. Firefighters immediately entered the home at great risk, making their way to the children’s bedroom, pulling 6 yr old Marco Jr. and 1 yr old Vanessa out as the first EMS crew arrived on the scene. Sadly, while the fire never reached their bedroom, both children succumbed to smoke inhalation. Firefighters then re-entered the home and soon found the body of their great-grandmother Raquel in the living room of the home.
An accidental kitchen fire, the most common type of fire in the nation today, had forever changed the lives of an extended family and all those who responded and knew them.

This Saturday, October 27th, Montgomery County Firefighters and their partners will be fanning out across Montgomery County, installing smoke alarms and educating residents about home fire safety.
“Get Alarmed Montgomery County” is a County-wide effort aimed at promoting fire safety and reducing the risk of loss of life to fire, especially for our most vulnerable citizens. National statistics reveal that children and the elderly are the most likely to lose their lives in a fire, with the risk of death doubling when there are no working smoke alarms in the home.
Our goal during this effort is to keep another family from suffering a similar tragedy. During a similar effort last year, over 500 long-life smoke alarms were installed in bedrooms and hallways of nearly every home in the Tamina Community. Those alarms feature lithium batteries that will last as long as 10 years, helping to ensure the safety of an entire community. With this year’s effort, we hope to make a similar impact across the region.
If you own your home and cannot afford smoke alarms, or need help installing alarms you already have, you can go by your local fire station or call the Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office at (936) 538-8288. You don’t have to wait until October 27th, as crews are already out working in the community.