Commentary

Wed
02
Apr

Tellin' 'bout the birds and the bees

By Willis Webb, author of “Writer’s Roost”— “Let me tell ya ’bout the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees …”

Yeah, “nature-lover” me was sitting out on the back deck-porch-whatchacallit the other day and I actually got to watch the birds and the bees.

You need to understand that this was a real accomplishment for someone whose idea of roughing it is a hotel bed without silk sheets. Also, I spend a majority of my time in my office-study just off the deck-porch-thingy reading, researching and writing as we writer-types are wont to do.

Oh, yeah, I was a Boy Scout all right and I got my nature and camping merit badges, among a couple of dozen-plus, but a real outdoor type I’m not.

It was a nice, cool spring day. In our “new home” (that’s in a location sense not construction-wise) we have this area on the back of the house that is a concrete slab. About two-thirds of it has a corrugated metal roof over it.

Wed
02
Apr

Religious freedom a personal choice

Supreme Court ruling could lead to slippery slope of executive preferences

By Ken Esten Cooke— The possibility that is being considered in front of the Supreme Court — that corporations may impose religious choices on their employees — should give everyone pause.

A ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby executives’ claim that providing employees with contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act violates the company’s religious liberty would be wrong.

The religious convictions of Hobby Lobby executives are not in dispute.

But the question posed by some of the justices of “How does a corporation exercise religion?” would lead to further litigation on potentially many issues.

As stated in a Tuesday Dallas Morning News editorial, religious freedom is a personal freedom, not an employer choice.

Wed
26
Mar

Book has cherished slices of this rural life

Rosalie Ottmers, daughter of Edwin Moellering, saw the photo of her father that ran prominently on our front page three weeks ago. Now older than her father was in the picture, she came into the office and asked, “Do you have that picture of my daddy?”

That was one of the many touching moments surrounding a new book’s release, and Rosalie was one of many family descendants that were delighted by the new book that shines a light on Fredericksburg’s unique history.

“Our Way Of Life,” by Shearer Publishing, is a coffee table photo and story book that should grace every living room in town. If you want to get a feel of Fredericksburg and Gillespie County of 35 years ago, read this and marvel at the photography.

Wed
26
Mar

Let's move toward 'zero' for future

By Susan Lefevre, guest columnist — Back in the 1950s and ’60s, my mother was into “zero waste,” and she never knew that she was a pioneer for this cause!

Yep, she made sure that whatever food that she cooked was eaten, although with seven members of our family that was rarely a problem.

With two older sisters, I wore hand-me-downs for many years. Shoe boxes held important documents and photos, glass jars held buttons, and cans held my father’s nails. By now, you get the idea.

More than 50 years later, here we are still trying to work for the same cause. If only more of my mother’s ideas had taken hold, our landfills would not be almost full.

The Hill Country of Texas is one of the most beautiful areas that I have ever lived, and I want it to stay that way for many generations. I ask myself, “What can I personally do to keep it that way?”

Wed
26
Mar

Fredericksburg keeps rolling along economically

Town, businesses continue to attract more visitors, attention

By Ken Esten Cooke— The additions of new hotels and bed-and-breakfasts, investments in new businesses, the construction of new residential homes. These are the signs of a healthy economy, and Fredericksburg has all these and more as it continues to perform beyond other small Texas towns.

Figures presented at last week’s Leadership Breakfast, hosted by the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce, bear out the town’s good fortune.

Even with a tough winter season, visitors spent $30.7 million on hotel and bed and breakfast rooms, up nearly six percent over 2012. Lodging tax collections rose to more than $2.5 million, up 16 percent over 2012 in the city, and up 26 percent in the county.

Wed
26
Mar

Red Cross is there during disasters

Support this organization that responds when neighbors are in need

By Ken Esten Cooke— March is American Red Cross Month, and we hope that those who value the efforts of this organization have shown their respects in some way.

The American Red Cross Hill Country Chapter is always in need of volunteers. Its efforts involve disaster relief, blood drives, emergency training and mobilizing and organizing volunteers, all of which takes massive efforts. Having these systems in place helps reduce response time when disaster strikes.

Donations to the American Red Cross help it serve in times of need, from helping local families suffering through a house fire, to global efforts, such as responding to tsunamis, earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Wed
19
Mar

No easy answer on 'E-cigarettes'

By Carol Seminara • Guest Columnist— Two weeks ago, my husband and I were attending a play in San Antonio when an audience member in the next section seemingly lit up and began puffing away.

 A shocked usher materialized — smoking in an enclosed theatre in Texas is a Class C misdemeanor and subject to up to $500 in fines — and was informed by the fellow that he was “vaping.” Nonetheless, the management wasn’t having any of it, and the fellow was instructed to turn off his alternate nicotine delivery device.

Maybe the theater patron wasn’t trying to look hip; maybe he just needed another hit of nicotine.

Wed
19
Mar

The Long Walk’ back to healthier habits

The title of this column is borrowed from that of a Stephen King dystopian novel, one of an alternate America where there’s an annual race called “The Long Walk.” The winner of that physically and mentally-grueling race would get anything they wanted for the rest of their lives. The losers not only lost the race, but also their lives.

Whereas King’s novel (written under the pseudonym Richard Bachman) sounds scary and sinister, I’m engaging in a long walk of my own. This one has healthy intentions. There’s nothing macabre about it.

Why all the walking?

A January visit to the hospital and a subsequent checkup by my doctor revealed to me something startling: the health problems that put me into the hospital could return unless I lose weight.

Wed
19
Mar

The sun should always shine on government

PR, lobbying efforts, ‘walking quorums’ close off access to policymakers

By Ken Esten Cooke— The El Paso Times, in a series of investigations, uncovered an outrageous test score-inflation scandal by the El Paso Independent School District that led to jail time for its former superintendent.

Just last year, the Victoria Advocate found that a program designed to promote economic development in nearby Goliad saw public officials handing out loans to friends and family members, many of which were defaulted on without penalty, and no accurate records of where the public funds had been spent.

These are just two Texas examples of why open government is so needed in our society, and why we recognize Sunshine Week, March 16-23, and its focus on the freedom of information.

Wed
19
Mar

Insight into water challenges

Thursday forum to bring experts’ talk of Pedernales

By Ken Esten Cooke— The Pedernales River rarely seems mighty anymore. Drought has taken its toll, but so have other, man-made factors, such as population growth, land fragmentation and changing land use.

These and other factors will be discussed at the next Texas Water Symposium event, titled “The Pedernales: Challenges and Opportunities Facing an Iconic Hill Country River Basin,” set for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Hill Country University Center in Fredericksburg.

State water guru (and sometimes Stonewall resident) Andrew Sansom, former executive director of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, will moderate the discussions. Sansom now leads the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University and has become the authority on water-related issues in the Lone Star State.

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