Commentary

Wed
22
Jul

Property values' rise show area's attraction

A recent report in the Standard-Radio Post about Gillespie County home values illustrated how our growing popularity translates to increased property taxes for those of us who own property here.

The Huffington Post, a popular news and culture website, recently included Fredericksburg among America’s “11 Small Towns for a Perfect Weekend Visit.” It is one of a growing list of accolades mentioning our ’Burg.

Yet, our success at drawing visitors by the hundreds of thousands, does come with a higher price. Higher home values and the resulting property tax bill are signs that more people are moving here and more services are sought by residents both old and new.

David Oehler, Gillespie Central Appraisal District’s chief appraiser, reported that property values have risen dramatically over the past several decades, excepting a recent stall due to the nationwide recession and slow recovery.

Wed
22
Jul

Paving Main Street at 5 cents per yard

Any number of times during the past few weeks, it seems that when I have no time to spare, I get caught up in construction zones in Fredericksburg and the surrounding countryside.

Two weeks ago, there was repair work going on out U.S. 87 North, just outside of town for a mile or so where the well-worn and traveled highway surface was milled out a couple of inches and replaced with pre-mix asphalt.

And then, one day at lunch time last week, I jumped in my Ford and headed out North Llano Street for the bank. Just about the time I rounded the curve at Knopp Nursing Home, there I ran in to construction work again where another construction company contracted by the Texas Department of Transportation was doing similar work on a stretch of North Llano out past Greenwood Cemetery.

Wed
15
Jul

Animal shelter needed, but keep costs in check

There is no doubt some type of new or expanded animal shelter needs to be built for the city and county strays. Our front-page story highlights the current shelter, built about 40 years ago. The staff has done the best with these meager facilities.

It seems to us, however, that costs for the proposed facility need to be closely scrutinized, given that an estimate came in at $1.68 million.

We all love animals and realize the need for a shelter where unwanted pets can be adopted by those who do want them. We don’t want to be tagged as “haters” because we question these proposed costs. Indeed, since taxpayers will fund this facility, we feel a duty to do so.

Drainage and ventilation systems are apparently the big cost drivers in the new facility’s plans.

Wed
15
Jul

So whatever happened to two-stick popsicles?

Throughout our lives, we’re bombarded by questions that sometimes don’t seem to have good answers.

Granted, many of these questions are minor when compared to world peace or who will the Bachelorette pick. But they are questions, nonetheless.

I recently took an inventory of my inquiries and this is what I came up with.

 

Q.        Why are the most satisfying French fries the ones that escape and fall to the bottom of the bag?

Q.        Why do we feel so much rage once we get behind the steering wheel? Do I really think slamming my hand on the dash board will somehow bestow a greater sense of “road courtesy” on the other guy?

Q.        Why is my line always the slowest? If you see me in the grocery store or the bank, don’t stand behind me unless you want to kill some time.

Q.        When accidently dropped from any height, why does the buttered side of toast always land face-down on the floor?

Wed
08
Jul

Summer camps time for living, learning

“How is band camp going?” my wife texted our 12-year-old son, Will, on Monday.

He replied, “Mom, you have to meet my new friend HUGH JANUS.”

“OK, take lots of pictures,” she texted, dryly.

“You didn’t get it,” he messaged back.

We got it, and we knew he was just fine, making new friends, learning jokes from other lads and hopefully getting in a little tuba practice.

That episode followed Sunday’s camp drop-off, where he checked in at the Texas Lutheran University campus. He nervously met his roommate, and we left the two sitting quietly in that awkward adolescent silence.

Wed
08
Jul

Education appointment is the wrong choice

We hear a lot of empty words about the legislature’s support for public education, but the recent appointment of a home-schooling, hostile conservative to the chair of the State Board of Education is a slap in the face.

Donna Bahorich has neither been a public educator or administrator, yet that doesn’t seem to matter to Gov. Greg Abbott, who named her to the lead role last week.

She also has never sent a child to public school, preferring home-schooling, then private schools for her children’s high school. And home schooling is fine for some, but it hardly qualifies one to lead the state public education initiatives. Yet she has been on the SBOE board since 2012.

Bahorich did, however, serve in several campaign capacities for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, so that apparently raises her qualifications.

Wed
01
Jul

Same-sex marriage now law of the land

Plenty of people still are uncomfortable with same-sex marriage, but the issue is now the law of the land.

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court legitimized the marriage of people who love each other, regardless of gender. (We respect those who disagree, even some on our newspaper’s staff.)

But it is time for these couples to be allowed legal recognition and the benefits and survivor’s rights afforded to any couples. Around the country, there have been cases of longtime couples not being able to qualify for health benefits or survivors’ benefits because of existing law.

Justice John Roberts said in the dissenting, minority opinion of the court that the decision should be left to the states. He argued that the majority opinion left the door open to “plural” unions, or more than two.

Wed
01
Jul

Reading, writing and growing a thick skin

I like to sit at my laptop, pull open a Microsoft Word file, ask, “What if?” and start typing.

That is, I like to do this when I’m not writing for the newspaper, walking, spending time with my sons or acting in local theater.

Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve loved writing fiction. I still remember my first effort: a dreadful, one-page story about a lake too terrifying to swim in because it had scorpions floating in it. I was eight, and I wrote the entire story on a single page of loose leaf notebook paper. My parents, dutifully, loved it.

Other childhood literary efforts of mine include a haunted house, a baseball game that ends on a fan interference call, a space ship that gets sucked into Jupiter and a man who drowns his rival in a water tower — only for his rival to return from the dead and return the favor.

Wed
24
Jun

Settlers distanced area from the Confederacy

It took a horrific mass murder to get politicians to rethink their support of an iconic Confederate symbol, but at least they are rethinking it.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley on Monday called for the flag to be taken down from the state capitol grounds.

Momentum to move the symbol to its rightful place — a museum — was evident on Monday. Mississippi’s governor said the state needs to consider a new design for its flag, which incorporates the stars and bars.

A petition is being circulated to remove the Jefferson Davis statue from the University of Texas campus in Austin.

The nation’s retail juggernaut, Walmart, said it is pulling all merchandise from its stores that feature the Confederate flag. Sears and K-Mart announced similar measures.

Wed
24
Jun

Droughts followed by rainfall aplenty

It hasn’t been all that long ago that most of Texas was in the throes of one of the worst droughts in history.

Today, depending upon which forecast you watch or listen to, the state has recovered, for the most part, although Gillespie County and parts of the Hill Country are still considered more dry than wet.

It wasn’t that long ago that creeks and stock tanks had dried up, the Pedernales River’s flow had greatly diminished and the water table level was dropping lower each day.

Last summer, homeowners’ lawns were drying up and in the country, ranchers held their breath since many submersible pumps were “bringing up” sand from water wells hundreds of feet deep.

But, as one rancher said, “We’re always one day closer to a good rainfall.”

Turns out, he was right.

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