75 years ago
AN EDITORIAL: Members of the Freeport, Velasco and Clute school boards met Friday to discuss their recommendations to the incoming board should the election for consolidation of the three districts be passed by the voters of this area. From the proposals that were unanimously accepted by this group of trustees, we cannot but feel that a far step forward has been taken towards the development and advancement of the educational facilities of this entire area.
Perhaps of foremost importance among the recommendations to be made is that which will retain schools now in service, with Junior High Schools to be located in each of the four communities should consolidation be effected.
With a centrally located Senior High School that will serve all of the towns and communities with a minimum of bus service, there is no reason why this area cannot have one of the finest schools in Texas. With a unified industrial valuation there is no reason why the schools of this area cannot afford the best obtainable facilities for the education of our children.
An election for consolidation of the three districts is being called for August 26. This is no hurried, spur-of-the moment action. Men elected by you to supervise the guidance of your children’s education have spent many hours discussing and outlining their recommendations to be carried out when consolidation is passed. That the election is being held on the same day as the Democratic election speaks for the interest shown by the petitioners in naming a day that the average qualified voter would bo at the polls.
The Facts is urging every person in this area to weigh carefully the advantages of consolidation, and on the 26th, go to the polls and vote. The future educational facilities of this area v/ill depend upon your decision, and in fairness to youth that will before long pick up the reins of government and business here, give the matter your careful consideration, then back your judgment by casting your vote.
50 YEARS AGO
ANGLETON — A huge antique bell which formerly bonged out the time in the old Courthouse clock lower has been mounted outside the new Fire-Police Building at Chenango and Magnolia.
After the bell was removed from the tower, it was used to summon firemen in the days before sirens came into use, according to reports.
Fire Chief Walter Mathews estimates that the bell weighs about 1,000 pounds. He said the bell will be sounded on special occasions and he expects a historical marker to be erected by it.
The bell was made of special bell metal in 1897 by the McShane Bell Foundry at Baltimore, MD.
Another inscription on the bell is “E. Howard Watch and Clock Co., Boston, New York, Chicago.”
Harry H. (Mike) Sharpe, an Angleton fireman since before the volunteer fire department was organized in 1928, said the bell originally sounded out the hours in connection with a clock in the tower of the old Courthouse, just north of the present Courthouse.
He said the bell could be heard for miles.
When the old Courthouse was revamped, the U’ll was removed and acquired by the Fire Dept. about 35-40 years ago, he estimated.
For awhile, the Fire Dept. had the bell mounted on a small tower, where it was sounded to call firemen to fires and to meetings, Sharpe said.
Then the bell was taken from the tower to protect it from the weather, he reported.
A Fire Dept. member from 1928 to 1948, Sharpe said he and other men turned out voluntarily before 1928 to fight fires.
Owner of Harry Sharpe and Son Hardware Store on Front Street until he sold it about two years ago, Sharpe remembered one bad fire when the bell was in use.
He said two buildings across the alley from the store burned down but firemen put wet blankets on his store roof and pumped water out of a wooden box by manpower at the fire.
“The fire was so hot, green cordwood we kept between the two buildings burned like charcoal,” he said.
He was born in the hardware building above the store in 1901 and has only moved once since — to 223 East Mulberry when he was married.
He still keeps an office at the slore for his private business.
Back in the old days of the bell, Sharpe was elected to the City Council without his knowledge — the mayor informed him of his election later.
“In those days, if you polled 11-13 votes, that was good,” he remarked.
During his 20 years on the Council, he served as mayor and mayor pro-tern part of the time, he said.
He remembered when the City water and sewer department consisted of one man, a helper and a horse that pulled a gig for transportation.
15 years ago
ANGLETON — After taking a hard look at indigent health-care costs, Brazoria County commissioners decided Tuesday a little extra was too much.
Two weeks after slashing about 150 people from the health-care rolls, commissioners eliminated another 380 when they voted to restrict eligibility to county residents making 21 percent or less of the federal poverty wage, the minimum required by law.
That means a family of four with a household income of more than $3,959 a year no longer will be eligible for free health care at one of the two telemedicine clinics the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston offers in Brazoria County. Instead, those people will have to travel to Galveston for routine medical care.
In the past, the county has paid for care for all citizens who make poverty-level wages or less, which is $18,850 annually for a family of four. Two weeks ago, commissioners voted to reduce that to 50 percent of the poverty level and require a semiannual co-payment of $100 for citizens making between 21 percent and 50 percent of the poverty level.
Even that was too much, Pct. 3 Commissioner Jack Harris said.
“If we wanted a balanced budget, we had no choice,” Harris said.
Commissioners have said costs were rising because the number of people seeking care has almost doubled in the last 18 months. The current cuts mean 370 county residents will remain on the indigent health-care rolls.
The county budgeted $2 million in the current year for indigent health care, but will spend double that.
Under the 50 percent proposal, the county would have spent between $2.5 and $3 million in the 2005 fiscal year, County Auditor Connie Garner said.
Extending coverage to everyone living in poverty in the county would push that cost as high as $5 million, Harris said.
Pct. 1 Commissioner Donald “Dude” Payne said he wasn’t happy with the decision, but sees no other choice.
“We were forced to do it,” Payne said. “I don’t think the citizens of Brazoria County need a tax increase when we had an overall increase in the (property value) appraisals of 9 percent.”
While residents of the Sweeny and Angleton Danbury hospital districts will continue to receive indigent health care from there because those hospitals are taxpayer supported, the change will put an increasing burden on Brazosport Memorial Hospital, which already has $17.4 million a year in either charity care or bad debt.
“We as a nation need to be able to address the 44 million people who do not have health insurance,” said Dan Buche, BMH’s chief executive officer.
Buche said many people dropped from indigent-care rolls won’t seek help until they are seriously ill, which drives up the costs for the insured, as well.
“You have to be able to pass that on to the paying customers,” Buche said. “You have to be able to survive as a business. If you’re not being taxed in regards to county taxes, you’re going to be taxed in regards to health-care premiums.”