More to do on water conservation issues

Comptroller states water challenges go far beyond voter-approved $2 billion

By Ken Esten Cooke— The years-long drought has amplified what is a growing concern for Texas and its economy: the need for ample supplies of fresh water.

As of last October, about 27 percent of the state’s community water systems were under voluntary or mandatory water restrictions (including Fredericksburg’s).

Though voters in November approved $2 billion in seed money for water projects statewide, much has yet to be done, and we are hopeful that encouraged innovations will bring about ways to create, reuse or otherwise tap into previously unused water sources.


Let's keep the night skies dark

Gradual pace of additional lighting means we haven't noticed glare

These are exciting times in Fredericksburg. A growing, healthy market is continuing to attract new investment, business and residents.

But that growth can come with unforeseen and unwanted consequences, and we are glad our city council is open to taking action to guard against one pitfall of population creep — the brightening of our night skies.

On Monday, advocates for dark skies gave a presentation to the city council about a new Outdoor Lighting Ordinance that could help preserve our night views for decades to come.

While some may see this as only an aesthetic issue, doing nothing will affect both quality of life and, potentially, tourism for those seeking to escape the “bright lights, big city” for a night under the stars.


Flu, allergies take their toll on locals

Flu and allergy seasons have struck the Hill Country, and signs point to continued misery for those who get stricken.

Unfortunately, flu’s caustic grasp is not nearly over. Its “season” begins in October, peaks in January and February, and can stretch as late as May.

The flu is spread when a person coughs, sneezes or talks and droplets containing the virus land in a person’s mouth or nose, or the virus can spread when people touch infected surfaces, then touch their eyes, mouth or nose.

To protect yourself from getting the flu, doctors say to get the flu shot, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and wash your hands in warm water. Also, drink plenty of fluids, get plenty of rest and eat healthy.

Those with severe allergies may feel as though they have the flu. As we heard this week, “every paradise has its curse, and ours is cedar fever.”


Miller approaches TxDOT about speeds

They say the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and one could say that state Rep. Doug Miller heard Gillespie County residents’ wheels turning loud and clear. 

Last week, Miller contacted Phil Wilson, executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation. The legislator repeated the same concerns locals have after TxDOT’s ill-advised rise in the speed limit from 70 to 75 on U.S. Highways 290 and 87 and State Highway 16.

“I applaud TxDOT for its efforts to keep Texans moving,” Miller wrote, “but agree with my local officials that safety must be the first consideration.”

Both the City of Fredericksburg and the Gillespie County Commissioners Court sent communications to Miller asking for his help in getting TxDOT to reconsider the bump up in speed.


Resolution or not, here comes 2014

By Ken Esten Cooke —

Here it is, the beginning of the year, and I do not have any New Year’s resolutions. No core-shattering epiphanies, no.

According to, the top resolutions from around the country are:

• Lose weight;

• Volunteer to help others;

• Quit smoking;

• Get a better education;

• Get a better job;

• Save money;

• Get fit;

• Eat healthy food;

• Manage stress;

• Manage debt;

• Take a trip;

• Reduce, reuse and recycle, and,

• Drink less alcohol.

Christine and I didn’t make any giant resolutions, but we do want to hang out with friends more often than we have since we moved here. I am glad to say we already have had a friends’ night with kids, pizza and games. In-person socializing is far better than any television show.

I do have several ongoing projects that I say I will do better each year.


Tax collection challenges need solution

There is a situation brewing in the Gillespie County tax assessor-collector’s office, and it’s one that needs attention from everyone involved.

City of Fredericksburg officials made more than clear that they are unhappy with the current collection and disbursement procedures in the office, led by county tax assessor-collector Marissa Weinheimer. City Manager Kent Myers and Brad Kott, the city’s director of finance, minced no words at the recent public meeting when they addressed the problems they perceive in the office: no electronic transfers; the lack of timely bank reconciliations; as well as the accuracy of the tax collection reports.

Myers and Kott say that both Fredericksburg Independent School District and the Harper ISD are considering a switch to the Gillespie Central Appraisal District to improve tax collections and efficiencies.


Dance halls dotted each community in Gillespie

Even though this week’s Standard-Radio Post carries a dateline of Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, the newspaper was published on Monday, Dec. 30 so that most of our readers would receive their newspapers before the new year begins, rather than after the holiday.

And since it comes out on the “eve” of New Year’s Eve, readers this week will notice that there are any number of New Year’s Eve dances scheduled across the county at which revelers can say goodbye to the old year and welcome the new.

Even though the number of dance halls has dwindled over the years, there was a time when virtually every community in the county had a dance hall.

This was before the time of rapid transportation, so the residents did not have far to travel to find entertainment.


Citizens, government speak out against '75'

A few weeks ago, we opined in this section that raising speed limits to 75 miles per hour on U.S. Highways 290 and 87 and State Highway 16 was an act that was poorly thought out by our Texas legislators.

Turns our most everyone else does, as well.

Gillespie County Commissioners this week adopted a resolution in protest of the speed limit increase.

Mayor Jeryl Hoover, in a letter to State Rep. Doug Miller, addressed the topics we took up in our editorial — limited visibility with turns and hills, wildlife, small roads and personal distractions, like cell phones — and added the growing number of businesses along these roadways, especially U.S. Highway 290.

“There are a number of safety decisions that do not justify this decision by TxDOT,” Hoover wrote.

Residents, too, weighed in with letters to the editor and comments on our social media site.


Brotherless writer eyed cousins at Christmas

Christmas, 1981.

At the time, my family and I lived in Alvin, Texas. Once school let out for the holidays, we packed and drove to Bonaire, Ga. (about 100 miles southeast of Atlanta), to spend the Christmas holiday with my Aunt Margaret (Mom’s older sister), Uncle Gene and four of my five Burris cousins. Greg, if memory serves correctly, had recently been commissioned as an Air Force officer and was stationed overseas.

It was ecstatic to be around them since I had no brothers. I got to spend the holidays with Brad, Jeff, Doug and Randy. They were almost like uncles, since, as the youngest grandchild, I was nearly nine at the time and all of them were adults.

A few memories I have:

Don’t mess with Doug

In the summer of 1980, when we lived in Colby, Kans., Aunt Margaret came by with Uncle Gene and their sons for a visit. My sisters, Doug, Randy and I went to a local pool.


Put cell phone away during holiday travel

Avoid distractions when behind the wheel makes safer holidays for all

By Ken Esten Cooke— Charge it, store it away, let your kid play games on it. But get your cell phone out of your hand when you are driving to see family this Christmas season.

With Christmas almost here, millions of drivers around Texas and the nation will take to the roads to visit family and friends.               

As we hit the road, let’s remember to do whatever is possible and avoid distracted driving — for the sake of our own selves, our passengers and all others on the road.

Traffic volume increases during holidays so roads are packed with people, presents and even pet Fido loaded into vehicles of all types. Many times visibility in our vehicles is hampered by stacks of presents and luggage.


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