Commentary

Wed
10
Feb

CTC goals align with local school leaders

By Ken Esten Cooke

Central Texas College is off to a great start locally for higher education pursuits. In its first semester, it enrolled 300 students, a great start for a new institution. Its low-cost tuition allows more students to take courses, where other institutions might prove cost-prohibitive.

CTC Chancellor Jim Yeonopolus was in town last Thursday to hear from school and civic leaders about this community’s needs and what courses CTC might consider offering.

Wed
10
Feb

Being in the moment with my musician friend

By Ken Esten Cooke-

As two-thirds of the rhythm section in the Odessa College Jazz Band in 1986, Mark Rubinstein and I found shared interests in music from bebop, to punk rock, to old-school country.

Mark is an incredible pianist and I was a passable drummer, but our off-stage interests spurred our friendship.

The guy can sit down at a piano and play anything. He’s one of those revered sidemen who can cover any style and make any musician sound better.

But he also has a devious sense of humor and can read cliché musical phrases. I’ve heard him play note-for-note with a sax soloist, only a half-step up. Though he’s the nicest guy, he has his limits. And when he hits them, that’s his idea of fun.

Wed
03
Feb

Candidate forum: who can represent?

Last Wednesday’s State Senate Candidate Forum at Hill Country University Center was eye-opening as to who will replace long-serving Sen. Troy Fraser for Senate District 24. The large district, which stretches from west of Austin through the Hill Country and to Abilene, has drawn conservative candidates that seek to replicate Fraser’s conservatism, though they won’t at first be able to replicate his tenure or sway.

Attending were the six Republicans on the March 1 primary ballot: Dawn Buckingham, Jon Cobb, Ryan Downton, Susan King, Brent Mayes and Reed Williams. We thank them for their attendance and a chance to get to know who might next represent us in Austin.

We heard many things we liked, including that most supported public education and foresaw the damage that a true voucher system would do to public education’s base.

Wed
03
Feb

Initial success: loving college hoops by the letter

I admit it; I’m a big fan of college basketball. And this time of the year finds my affinity for the sport growing by leaps and bounds.

By now, schools are battling for tournament positions in their upcoming conferences’ playoffs. Everybody’s looking to improve their chances of going to the “Big Dance” that’ll take place in the near future.

If my favorite teams aren’t on the TV, however, I’ll flip around the dial looking for close games that look like they’ll go down to the wire. When I find such a contest, I’ll put down the remote and watch. (Note — It’s good to have a back-up game to switch to when the first one goes to commercial. And a heart-felt “thank you” to the person who invented the “recall” button!)

As the game I’m watching continues, I’m also keeping an eye on the scores from other college games floating by on the crawler at the bottom of the screen.

Wed
27
Jan

Hill Country ranches can attract thieves

 

If your family has owned land in Gillespie County since its founding or if you recently bought your dream ranch, there are tips to deter thieves who may want to get a piece of your property.

Special Ranger Mike Barr addressed the Stonewall Chamber of Commerce banquet attendees on Monday night. Comments about Barr’s Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) experience can be found elsewhere in this edition.

But Barr also had tips to benefit ranch owners, both those who have been here for generations and those who are much newer to the Hill Country.

 

TSCRA Theft Prevention Tips

-Display the TSCRA member sign on gates and entrances. Barr said it is an excellent deterrent because thieves know they’ll be pursued.

-Lock gates.

-Brand cattle and horses and make sure the brand is recorded with the county clerk.

-Put driver’s license number on all saddles, tack and equipment.

Wed
27
Jan

Conservation easements and imminent domain

The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) has proposed to construct a large electrical transmission line across the largest piece of protected land — public or private — in Gillespie County.

                Owned by Mrs. Terese T. Hershey, one of Texas’ most renowned conservationists, the 1,500-acre Hershey Ranch is protected by a conservation easement which was supposed to conserve it in perpetuity.

The Hill Country Land Trust, one of Texas’ 30 private, nonprofit land trusts, “holds” the conservation easement, and is entrusted with ensuring that the land is protected forever.

A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement — individually negotiated between landowner and land trust for each property — that perpetually restricts all future non-agricultural development of the property.

The landowner retains title to the property, while being assured that it will stay in its natural, productive state forever.

Wed
20
Jan

Higher ed expansion in the Hill Country

By Ken Esten Cooke

Friday’s visit by Robert Duncan, chancellor of the Texas Tech University System, was another sign of TTU’s commitment to this area.

Duncan’s day was filled with meetings with department heads and program directors, and he no doubt came away with ideas on how this regional site can grow and offer more programs to area students.

Locally, TTU has offered many education-focused programs, including administration certification and teaching degrees, which are great to help our local instructors become more valuable to our school districts. TTU’s growing slate of online degree studies further opens the door to possibilities for local students.

Wed
20
Jan

Search leads to place where Poles settled

By Richard Zowie

 

To many Americans leaving San Antonio and traveling through rural South Texas, it’s a tiny, nondescript settlement with an unusual name.

“In Poland, Panna Maria, Texas is very famous,” said Pope John Paul II in 1987. “Everyone knows of Panna Maria and those first Polish immigrants who responded to the call of their pastor and spiritual leader, Father Leopold Moczygemba. All of our great American Polonia credits its origin to you, Panna Maria, as the first nest built on American soil by Polish immigrants inspiring others to follow in your footsteps.”

Born Karol Józef Wojtyła, Pope John Paul II was the first-ever Polish pope.

While driving home at Christmas to visit my parents, I decided to revisit Panna Maria. I’d been there once before, in 1995. Perhaps it’s because I majored in history at college and am also interested in genealogy, but it was also because there’s a geocache at Panna Maria’s cemetery.

Wed
13
Jan

A partisan's plea to change Constitution

By Ken Esten Cooke

Apparently, all the problems of Texas are fixed. Our roads are perfect. Our schools rank No. 1 in all categories throughout the nation. All of our citizens are well cared for.

Even though none of those are true, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and others last week turned their attention to federal policy and called for a Constitutional Convention to add nine amendments to the country’s founding document.

The amendments would allow majority rule and invite mayhem and further political division among citizens.

In doing so, Abbott and others have effectively stated that they know better than the founding fathers. His proposed changes would allow majority rule to override Supreme Court decisions. This seems like a paved way to mob rule.

Wed
13
Jan

Lone detergent choice was homemade lye soap

There’s nothing that beats the sunshine fresh scent of laundry that’s been dried on an outdoor clothes line.
And, after several weeks of unfriendly drying weather, I decided to tackle my moun-tain of hand wash Sunday afternoon. That was sup-posed to be my Saturday chore, but the strong north winds would have sailed my load of laundry clear to Kerr County.
Since the weather was to-tally opposite Sunday, there was no time to nap after lunch. Even though I wouldn’t be able to get it all done, I could at least make a tiny dent in the pile. These were items that were labeled “drip dry” and wouldn’t fare a tumble through the auto-matic clothes dryer.
And who could survive without an automatic clothes dryer these days?

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