When worried about hackers, cash is king

By Ana Veciana-Suarez— Back in the day, a hack was not an act but a person – a writer who elevated the use of cliches to an art form or an artist too lazy to stray from a tried-and-true formula.

Hack now means something altogether different. The mere mention of the word spurs us to scrutinize our credit card statements, and for good reason. If you’ve ever had your identity stolen, you know that getting your financial house back in order can be as long and painful a process as a flare-up of shingles. As debilitating, too.


FISD encourages the question, ‘Why not you?’

NASA, SpaceX employees don’t let small-town stigma hold them back

By Ken Esten Cooke— The Super Bowl and space exploration don’t have many common traits. But the attitude of “can do” permeates both things where an NFL star quarterback and local high school graduates are concerned.

Russell Wilson — the comparatively short, non-prototypical quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks — was raised right. He told reporters after Sunday’s big game: “My dad used to always tell me, ‘Russ, why not you?’ And what that meant was believe in yourself, believe in the talent God has given you even though you are 5 foot 11, and you can go a long way.”

Those reinforcing words are invaluable to a child’s confidence. We should all encourage our children to be so secure in themselves and their talents. It’s a big world out there — and a big universe, too.


A miracle child to support

Help ‘Sweet Marley’ by ordering a shirt, wearing it on surgery day

By Ken Esten Cooke— There is a special gal in town who needs our support in her ongoing tough battle with a rare disease.

Marley Bedford, the three-year-old namesake of “Sweet Marley’s” yogurt and sandwich shop, will have another surgery on Feb. 17 to address complications of Rhizomelic Chondro Dysplasia Punctata, or “Rhizo,” a rare disease that affects fewer than 100 children nationwide.

Most children with the disease don’t live to see their first birthday, yet Marley is not three and has walked and talked, far more than was ever expected.


Crime Stoppers gives law a helping hand

It’s “Crime Stoppers Month” in Texas, and we take time to recognize the growth and popularity of this organization as well as all the volunteer time and effort given by our local entity’s board of directors.

Crime Stoppers, Inc. was founded in 1976 in Albuquerque, N.M., as a way for the public to give a helping hand to law enforcement agencies. Using citizens to solicit tips on crime was a novel concept at that time, yet these days we must do our part to help guard against everything from violent crime to petty theft.

Tony Klein, chairman of the Gillespie County Crime Stoppers group, reminded that while citizens can help stop criminal activity, they themselves may also be in for some reward money.

The hallmark of the organization is that it guarantees anonymity for those who call in a tip (or text or submit via the organization’s website, as current technology allows).


We complain it's cold, but it's all relative

By Sherrie Y. Geistweidt


What will Sunday’s weather have in store for us?

What’s so special about Sunday, other than Feb. 2 being the date of the Band Boosters’ turkey dinner, niece Kallie’s birthday and the Super Bowl?

Why, it’s Ground Hog Day — the day when we all find out if this unbearably cold winter weather lasts for six more weeks or if warmer temperatures are just around the corner.

There was a day last fall when the first cool front arrived that I vowed to never again complain about the cool weather after the hot dry summer was fading away. I complain that I’m not a “sun worshipper,” and then come about mid-February, I’m complaining again that I don’t like the cold, either. So which one is it?


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.


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