LBJ Park a huge boom to area

A report released this week from the National Park Service shows that 111,000 visitors to the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park in Stonewall and Johnson City in 2012 spent $6,961,800 in communities near the park. While it’s no doubt of the park’s impact on local tourism, to see it quantified is rewarding.

Visitor spending to the parks supported 84 jobs in the local area, the NPS stated.

Park Superintendent Russ Whitlock said the park welcomes visitors from around the globe. “We are delighted to share the stories of this place and use the national park as a way to introduce our visitors to the love-affair President and Mrs. Johnson had for the Hill Country,” Whitlock said.


Sounding like old-timers: 'When I was your age...'

When I was a youngster, I can remember my grandparents telling me of how times were when they were children and they would compare their experiences with those of my childhood.

Some days, I find myself sounding just like them as I tell my nieces and nephews about how things were done back when I was just a kid, and that was only in the late ’50s and early ’60s.

No matter if it was “now” or “then,” it’s always fun to reminisce how things were “way back when.”

Here goes:

Few, if any, of the streets in Fredericksburg, including Main Street, were paved, and there were no traffic lights.

Since there were no street signs in town, directions were given by telling the traveler the number of blocks to travel, which direction to turn (right or left), how many intersections to travel through, and which bridge, corner or specific landmark to watch for.


We 'disapprove' of charter amendment

Vote no on draconian measure, which will hamstring city government, cause ill effects

 By Ken Esten Cooke— Trust in government is very low in many quarters, and the upcoming charter amendment election shows that it has seeped far past the federal level and into local ranks.

But the upcoming charter amendment election asking voters to call an election each time money is transferred between  budget accounts, is both unneeded and an overreaction to legitimate concerns.

Much of it stems from the way the city’s golf course and its renovation were funded. Shortfalls were routinely covered by transfers from utility fund surpluses, and a loan was made from another department to fund the course’s renovation, which the city viewed as an underperforming asset.


Support our public servants

By Ken Esten Cooke— In the wake of the senseless shooting of Fredericksburg Police Department Patrolman Bradley Durst, we are reminded again of the everyday dangers faced by our police, sheriff, fire and EMS workers.

Thankfully, Durst is recovering after the early Saturday morning shooting. But our emergency workers — whether paid or volunteer — must confront unseen dangers and potentially deadly situations day in and day out.

A policeman never knows who is in a car or home that he approaches for seemingly routine business. And our firemen routinely respond to dangerous, fully engulfed structure fires, some with ammunition inside.

Two ways we can help this week are:

• Give to the Bradley Durst Benefit Fund at American Bank of Texas, 1710 N. Llano (P.O. Box 1909) or 1037 Highway 16 South.

• Support the Fredericksburg Volunteer Fire Department at its annual fish fry.


'Lost in Yonkers' continuing on FTC stage

Arty(Jack Torpey) and his older brother, Jay (David Wilkinson) become confidants to their aunt Bella (Tommie Bailey) in the Fredericksburg Theater Company production of "Lost in Yonkers."

Fredericksburg Theater Company’s production of “Lost in Yonkers” continues in its second week at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 18.

Tickets are now on sale for what will be the final production of FTC’s 17th season.

“Yonkers” will also be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 19, and then at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 20.

Next week, the show will close with Friday-Sunday performances, April 25-27. The Friday and Saturday shows will be at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Advance tickets for most productions are $20 for adults and $5.50 for youth 18 and under. Special group discounts are available.

Tickets purchased at the door are $25 for adults and $7.50 for youth 18 and under.


Joint dispatch center to better serve public

By Ken Esten Cooke —

Last week’s meeting of the minds concerning the new emergency dispatch center left a couple of issues unresolved: Whether the new joint operations will be a county operation or move to become a function of the city, and also how the facility will be funded.

In the midst of construction of the $15-million jail facility, which will house the new dispatch center, the questions point to about the only issues that have not gone smoothly for the project, described as “on time and under budget.”

The county and city will make votes to establish an advisory board, and as Commissioner Billy Roeder said, that will be a good idea as an advisory board has helped the Gillespie County Airport become a successful, top-notch facility for a rural town.

The advisory board also will help with merging the staffs of county and city employees and issues about their pay should be worked out in time.


Curriculum controversy

The State Board of Education ducked a vote to adopt a stand-alone Mexican-American studies course for high school students. It opted on a call to publishers for instructional materials on other groups as well.

This has merit, but the issue of a stand-alone course shouldn’t have been even a bit controversial. The board should have asked itself three questions.

• Does the existing curriculum for high school students give proper attention to the contributions of Mexican-Americans in Texas and the United States? No.

• In the realm of electives that also includes floral design, is an elective Mexican-American studies course unreasonable? No.

• Is there value — with lower academic achievement and other challenges present — for Latino students and others to learn with some depth about this culture? Yes.

The real fear here is that these courses will radicalize Texas students.


Remembering Mrs. Clark

In early August, shortly after moving to Fredericksburg, I studied a map of town to familiarize myself with the area. I saw Llano Street and wondered if it was pronounced the Spanish way, “Yahno” or the Americanized way, “Lan-no.”

How to pronounce it became unimportant when I noticed one particular block of land on Llano: Greenwood Cemetery.

Where have I seen the name Greenwood Cemetery before? I asked myself.

My long-term memory tends to be good, and almost immediately I thought of an newspaper clipping from a long time ago. It contained an obituary of an educated lady with diverse interests. Her smile suggested she had enjoyed life.

Then, I remembered: Mrs. Clark is buried at Greenwood Cemetery.

Mrs. Clark, a 1959 graduate of Fredericksburg High School (she was known as Delia Davidson then), was my English teacher during my junior year at A.C. Jones High School in Beeville.


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?


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