The politics of water ownership in Texas

By Shelby Braswell, guest columnist— Who owns groundwater rights when the water flows back and forth between delineated ownership boundaries? Is it you? Or is it someone else? 

To address that question, $500 million was appropriated to study the hydrological flow of ground water in transboundary aquifers located along U.S.-Mexico borders. Consequently, the U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Act (of 2006) provided for hydrological research in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The cost of the study implies a tremendous political interest regarding control of groundwater.

According to W.M. Alley in a study published in 2013, “Declining water levels, deteriorating water quality and increasing use of groundwater by municipalities, industrial and agricultural water users have raised concerns of long term availability.”


Remembering sublime snowfall, ‘sublimation’

Snow and adolescence are the only problems that disappear if you ignore them long enough.  

- Earl Wilson

A recent trip back to my homeland in the mountains of North Carolina reminded me of how much I’d interacted with snow as a youngster.

We were able to catch a couple of snowfalls less than a month ago that managed to cover the ground, then peacefully melt away later in the day.

No two snowflakes are alike.

That’s something I was told by my seventh grade science teacher. And I’ve never had any reason to think otherwise.

My dad, also a science teacher, taught me that snow is created in a process called “sublimation” — that’s where water vapor (a gas) goes directly to being a solid (snow) without going through the liquid state (running water).

Pretty interesting stuff, eh?


Child services efforts help most vulnerable

‘Go Blue’ on April 9 to raise awareness, find solutions

By Ken Esten Cooke— It shouldn’t hurt to be a child.

That is the basic message behind child abuse prevention efforts both statewide and in Gillespie County.

“While stopping abuse after it happens is critical, it’s not enough. We need to stop it before it starts,” said Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Commissioner John Specia. “Man of the parents Child Protective Services (CPS) works with are young, some are poor, and almost all of them are under stress and need some kind of help. Helping parents is one of the keys to preventing child abuse.”

Let’s face it — parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual, and many with a low education level, or who come from abusive situations, find themselves as parental roles without much knowledge. Educational efforts such as these can help break a cycle of abuse.


Pride in Gillespie country schools, but dismay at federal initerventions

By Mark Wieser, founder of Fischer & Wieser— This past Saturday, I drove out to the five country schools that were open. At four of them I found a friendly host, hostess or group of former students happy to share their stories of their schools. I could have stayed at each forever listening to their stories and marveling at what it might have been like to have had the privilege to attend one of these schools. 

However at the last, Junction School, there were no former students, only two park employees who obviously could not express the same kind of appreciation for the heritage that the Junction school had offered. In the background was an everlasting recording of LBJ touting the signing the Elementary and Secondary Education (ESEA) of 1965. 

ESEA was then the first of liberal politicians’ efforts for throwing money at schools in a false belief that more money leads to smarter kids. Sadly, today our students rank 36th among the world’s nations.


LBJ's civil rights courage

Tumultuous era required adept legislative touch to begin road to equality

By Ken Esten Cooke— It’s difficult to remember what the country was like 50 years ago, and for those of us who weren’t alive, difficult to imagine.

The 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, was the beginning steps on a continuing road to equality for our entire population.

Part of his genius was in helping the south change from within. Being “one of them,” LBJ was able to help persuade southern legislators in ways that weren’t as “top-down” as northerners who approached the subject. His efforts led to huge change in the south, which benefited from economic investment as northern money flowed into the area once ugly civil rights fights subsided.


Gardening used to be a year-round chore

For many people these days, gardening is just a hobby and not the necessity it was years ago.

Gardening and then canning and preserving the fruits of their labor was a way of life for the housewife, especially those in the country who didn’t have a grocery store at the end of the street.

When company came around, she prided herself to take visitors down to the cool dark cellar or tank house and pull back the curtain behind which was displayed shelf upon shelf of pint and quart jars of fruits and vegetables that had been preserved during the previous growing season.

Back then, gardening was just about a year-round chore. The season would start the middle of January and extend until a good hard freeze would hit around Thanksgiving.

Today, gardeners spend countless hours researching information on the internet and reading books and magazines for tips and pointers to the “perfect garden.”


Biking is 'green' in more ways than one

Economic boosts of cycling events an undoubtable benefit to area

By Ken Esten Cooke— It was quite a sight on Saturday morning as cars and bikes stretched the entire length of the airport runway at LBJ National Historical Park. Cyclists by the hundreds streamed into the area for the LBJ 100, which features routes for beginners to advanced, and competitive time trials on the second day.

A lot of work goes into hosting a gathering of that many people, and we give kudos to the organizers of the event, which has grown by leaps and bounds to this year’s total of nearly 2,000 riders last weekend.


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.


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.


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.


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