Commentary

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.

Tue
26
Nov

Wild Game Dinner growth

Weather doesn’t deter enthusiasts; funds raised for agricultural education

By Ken Esten Cooke— Organizers say that in spite of rainy, cold weather, the place to be on Saturday was at the Gillespie County Fair Grounds for the Sixth Annual Gillespie County Wild Game Dinner.

It was plenty warm inside, and organizers say the event raised a record amount of funds to support agricultural and rural education initiatives in the county. While organizers are still tallying this year’s results, last year, the event raised more than $72,000 for these efforts.

Wed
20
Nov

Thousands of books, one valid explanation

Forty-thousand books. That’s one guess at the number of titles dedicated to our 35th president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, as well as reporting and conspiracy theories surrounding his assassination. Friday, of course, marks the 50th anniversary of that dark day in Dallas, one that threw a wet blanket over the country’s psyche and made North Texans the ire of many around the nation.

Our copy of “Dallas 1963,” by Steven Davis and Bill Minutaglio, rises above these also-rans as a legitimate piece of historical narrative, describing the atmosphere in what was Texas’ leading city for months heading into that fateful day. At the office, we have received unsolicited copies of one piece of self-published dreck that claims, as have others, Lyndon Baines Johnson was behind it all. I suppose they figure as the paper nearest the home of LBJ, we anticipate these conspiratorial tomes.

Wed
20
Nov

A modern-day parable

And it came to pass that one day a group of followers asked their Master: “Is not ours, among all the nations of the world, the one most ‘chosen by God’ as His own?”

To that, the Master answered them with this tale:

“There once was a land flowing with milk and honey, full of all the wonderful riches that nature can bestow, including plentiful mineral resources of oil, coal and natural gas. This land was also rich on its surface with many pristine flowing streams and rivers along with thousands upon thousands of bountiful lakes. In addition, this land’s animal life was abundant above all others while its trees and low-lying plant life were most lush, thanks to a rich and diverse soil which grew all things.

Wed
20
Nov

Health insurance fiasco driven by partisanship

Congress out of touch with struggles of families living paycheck to paycheck

By Ken Esten Cooke— If you are suffering sticker shock from your health insurance renewals, you are not alone. December 1 marked a popular renewal date for companies and individuals, and the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the “can-keep-it, can’t-keep-it” insurance dictums and the overall continuing rise of healthcare and insurance costs is putting a strain on budgets from Gillespie County to Timbuktu.

The ACA, or “Obamacare,” sought to address the continually upward spiral of health insurance costs, currently accounting for one-sixth of our nation’s total gross domestic product (GDP). Our healthcare is good in this country, but is also is far more expensive than any other industrialized nation in the world.

Wed
20
Nov

Third-dimension technology

By Ken Esten Cooke— Last week’s story on the use of a 3D printer by students in the Fredericksburg High School science program is further evidence that the school district continues to look ahead and prepare students for the world after graduation.

Using a 3D Machining Printer, students have crafted simple objects in red plastic, from a key ring to a trumpet mouthpiece. Exposure to this potentially world-changing technology will let students in the Fredericksburg Independent School District have the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of industry as they enter college and the workforce beyond.

Once a design is entered into a computer-aided design software program, the printer processes the information and “prints” a 3D object, layer upon layer, similar to normal printers laying down one layer of ink on printed documents. The result is a solid object made of plastic.

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