Commentary

Wed
18
Dec

Plenty to keep us all in the Christmas spirit

Activities abound in Fredericksburg as season nears peak days

By Ken Esten Cooke— Amid the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, make time to take part in some local activities that will give your spirit a boost. Also make time to be thankful that so much takes place in our small community. Many tiny towns are not nearly so fortunate to have the amount of activities featured here in Fredericksburg.

Marktplatz is beautifully decorated in the finest of the season and visitors from around the world come to see our Christmas spirit shine through in the lights, German pyramid and giant tree on our town square. Ice skating also will add a seasonal cheer (and perhaps a sore bottom).

The Chamber’s parade and numerous opportunities around town to visit with Santa Claus have no doubt cheered many a heart.

Wed
18
Dec

Budget deal better than nothing

There is plenty to dislike in Congress’ latest budget deal, starting with the fact the pact doesn’t own up to the nation’s long-term fiscal problems.

But the compromise worked out between Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and GOP Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin was better than doing nothing about the budget before lawmakers adjourned for the year.

Democrats and Republicans alike could have kept yammering for their preferred solutions. But that would have gotten us nowhere. What counts is that the two sides of a divided government ironed out some kind of budget plan. Far better that approach than moving from budget crisis to budget crisis.

The agreement that Murray and Ryan crafted will do several things.

Wed
11
Dec

One part bass, one part soprano as voice changed

On Monday night, I had the pleasure of hearing the Canto Choir present their Christmas concert. I love having the harmonies of a good choir wash over me as I sit back, close my eyes and just listen. I know I was not alone in that acoustical experience in the church sanctuary, and these familiar holiday tunes brought a lot of cheer to my soul.

When I left the concert, I chuckled as I was reminded of my own brush with choir and my classical music experiences. Growing up in Rockdale, classical music was considered Ernest Tubb. My parents were more musically open-minded than your average resident, with Dad introducing us to Dixieland and big band, and Mom occasionally playing classical and singing in the church choir at St. John’s United Methodist Church.

I began piano lessons in the fourth grade, but was more interested in figuring out how to make “Lightly Row” swing rather than learn beginning Mozart.

Wed
11
Dec

Give me a drunk newsman over one with B.O.

Writer's Roost

By Willis Webb— Over the years, my profession has had a general reputation as one that produced some recalcitrants who were inclined, as the saying goes, to “crawl into the bottle.”

I have to admit, there seems to have been a propensity among journalists to have a friendly drink or two or three.

But, I don’t believe I ever had as much problem with a drunk as I did one with, gasp, Body Odor (B.O.).

Three memorable drunk journalists with whom I was associated include a reporter-news editor, a copy editor and, ahem, a publisher. We’ll get to the guy with B.O. last so we don’t have our nostrils burning too long.

An East Texas weekly I went to publish had a reporter-news editor on staff that had a reputation as a boozer and he looked the part. He actually was a pretty good reporter and writer.

Wed
11
Dec

Raise in speed limit poorly thought out

Hills, deer, turns, limited visibility throughout Gillespie mean a more dangerous commute

By Ken Esten Cooke— Last week’s announcement that some of Gillespie County’s hilly, windy roads will now have a speed limit of 75 miles per hour should have come with a yellow sign that read: “Warning: More Traffic Accidents Ahead.”

The legal speed limit on stretches of Texas Highway 16 U.S. Highways 87 and 290, all of which stretch through the entire county, will be raised to 75 miles per hour from their current top speed of 70.

Law enforcement was not contacted about the change, and it seemed to come as a surprise to Gillespie County DPS officers. While they must be diplomatic in what they say publicly, we do not have to be.

This is a bad idea.

Wed
11
Dec

What are our top issues?

By Ken Esten Cooke— Mayor Jeryl Hoover spoke to the members of Fredericksburg Rotary Club on Monday and had some interesting things to say about local government and what our priorities should be in the coming years.

A self-described fiscal conservative, Hoover said the average taxpayer whose home is valued at $175,000 (a modest abode in these parts) pays roughly $455 a year in city taxes. Yet that same taxpayer receives roughly $14,600 in services from the city — from roads, to water, to electricity, to leaf pick up, and more.

Of course, these are supplemented by business taxes, sales taxes, rental fees and police fines, he said.

Yet Hoover said city officials and voters will have to prioritize over the next few years.

He said his personal top three issues for today were:

• Fredericksburg’s transition from a small town to a small city.

Wed
04
Dec

Plenty of opportunities to give this season

These organizations, and many others, are worthy of support

By Ken Esten Cooke— This season of giving, it is rewarding to see how well Fredericksburgers support the less fortunate.

The Hill Country Community Needs Council, Fredericksburg Food Pantry, The Good Samaritan Center, and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Fredericksburg are just four organizations that take care of our town’s needy.

Civic organizations like the Lions Club, the Kiwanis, Rotary or the Optimists contribute much to everything from highway cleanup to high school scholarships.

Other organizations, such as the Admiral Nimitz Foundation, the Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion Post 244 or the VFW Post 7105, boost our community and show support of the many who served our country in the military.

Wed
04
Dec

‘The wages of thin’

Minimum wage hasn’t kept up with inflation, costs

By Ken Esten Cooke— We hope the U.S. Congress, in its ever-gridlocked state, can find some room to find common ground on a rise in the minimum wage. Proposals from advocates have ranged from lifting it from its current $7.25 per hour to $9, and even as much as $15, but any rise would give relief to America’s working poor.

Currently, 69 percent of adults say to raise the minimum wage to at least $9, according to a recent CBS News poll of 1,100 Americans. (More than half of those say $10.10 should be the target.) Predictably, the young, poor and politically liberal favor a rise in the rate more than the older, wealthy conservatives who were polled.

Tue
26
Nov

Thankful for return to the Lone Star State

Thursday will be my first Thanksgiving in Texas since 2004. Then, my family and I had a modest celebration at our home in San Antonio, unable to afford the trip to visit my family in Beeville or my sons’ grandmother in McAllen.

Gosh, am I glad those miserable days are gone.

This Thanksgiving will also mark the first one that my two youngest sons and I have visited with my family in about 10 years. (My oldest son is grown and lives in Michigan. My sons’ mother also lives in Michigan, and after three years of separation, she and I will soon be divorcing).

Over those years in Michigan there were many Thanksgiving celebrations. Some were memorable. Others were…um, very forgettable. ’Nuff said.

This Thanksgiving should be far more relaxing. When you get the Zowie siblings together (Sabrina the firstborn, Misti the middle child and myself the youngest), there’s guaranteed laughter.

Tue
26
Nov

Small businesses are the engine of America

Patronize our independent businesses, as they support our town

By Ken Esten Cooke— As “Black Friday” inches into Thanksgiving Thursday and beyond, solicitations from the country’s wealthy and marketing-savvy big businesses hit us at every turn — in newspaper inserts, radio, television, junk mail, social media and email campaigns.

While we consumers drive this, we hope you will give thanks for and give some business to our small businesses.

In our country, we tend to treat large-company CEOs like royalty or rock stars. Yet for every Steve Jobs or Jack Welch who makes their mark for innovation or efficiency, there are literally thousands of bosses out of the limelight who do what it takes to keep revenue flowing and watching expenses enough to make for a profitable bottom line.

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