Commentary

Wed
05
Aug

Some dreams squashed by our lock-’em-up culture

Like many young boys, I dreamed of being a quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. Yet, my eyes were opened to the world of contact sports in seventh grade.

Douglas Dunn was one of my classmates and a talented, hard-charging running back. As a somewhat late bloomer, I was stuck on the B-team defense to line up against Doug and the starters.

I still remember Douglas breaking through the line and me waiting on him out in my defensive back position. He had open field all around, but he ran right at me and flattened all of my 80 pounds into the practice field ground. I remember thinking tennis might be my sport.

I was reminded of this while reading a recent editorial in the Dallas Morning News about incarceration rates. You see, Douglas was black and lived on the other side of our small town, literally “across the tracks.” Douglas did not have the home life, the supportive structure or the educational opportunities I had.

Wed
05
Aug

ACC stepped into offer higher education here

Austin Community College will wrap up its tenure next week as this town’s higher education partner. But before they leave, a big thank you is in order for their 20 years of service.

In 1994, the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board designated its service areas around the state. Fredericksburg had been approached by Howard College in Big Spring to offer courses here, but Gillespie County ended up in ACC’s service area.

The community founded a Higher Education Steering Committee, spearheaded by Hill Country Memorial Hospital who wanted a nursing program.

ACC began to offer dual-credit courses to high school students, who could rack up some college hours. And in the past 20 years, ACC has not charged Fredericksburg High School students for that opportunity. Bob Hickerson, executive director of the Hill Country University Center, estimates that has saved local families more than $200,000 each year.

Wed
29
Jul

Farmers’ markets have an eye on our health

“National Farmer’s Market Week” will be held Aug. 2-8 and we hope everyone goes to the Fredericksburg Farmer’s Market to pick up a bag of good health.

The U.S. Agricultural Secretary marked the 16th annual National Farmer’s Market Week to honor the role these markets play in local economies. We also think they help with a community’s overall health.

Farmers’ markets provide consumers with fresh, affordable, convenient and healthy products from local producers. The USDA has a “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative, which focuses on outreach and education to consumers. And, boy, could we use it where our food and health are concerned.

Recent studies show substantial weight gains in both men and women, according to the Washington Post. Since 1960, both men and women have packed on about 30 pounds in “average” weight. And that’s not a good trend.

Wed
29
Jul

Trump trips over war hero comments

In early July, real estate developer and Republican presidential candidate contender Donald Trump made controversial remarks about Mexico, accusing the Mexican government of allowing many criminals and other undesirables to enter America as illegal immigrants.

If you thought that was a strong statement, Trump denounced Arizona Sen. John McCain during a July 18 Family Leadership Summit in Iowa. There, Trump said McCain wasn’t a war hero.

Did he really say that? I thought as I read an account on an online news outlet.

At the Iowa forum, “The Donald” accused McCain of not doing enough to help veterans get the medical attention and benefits they deserve.

When reminded that McCain was a war hero, due in part to his five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, Trump said, “[McCain’s] not a war hero. He’s considered a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

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.

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