Commentary

Wed
26
Jun

Eyeing the drought

By Ken Esten Cooke— Weather predictions on Monday by the Lower Colorado River Authority confirm what local farmers and ranchers are dealing with daily: the historic drought will continue.

While the LCRA’s message concentrated on inflows to area lakes (Travis and Buchanan), the message was clear: continued conservation is needed throughout the Hill Country.

Lakes Travis and Buchanan need more than one million acre-feet of water to be considered “full.” That amounts to the amount of water added to the lakes in summer 2007, when 19 inches of rain fell on Marble Falls in one night.

That means rain must fall upstream, saturating the ground, then fill the network of creeks and river beds, before the water makes its way to the lakes.

Wed
26
Jun

Our digital footprints

By Ken Esten Cooke— As the U.S. pursues Edward Snowden around the globe for spilling intelligence secrets while working at the National Security Administration, some questions about our digital footprints come to mind.

Snowden has been called a traitor by Senate Republicans and Democrats. His recent revelation that he chose to work for the contractor specifically to get the information he disclosed and his choice of countries where he seeks asylum certainly bolster that claim. Yet others of a more libertarian bent have lined up to call him a hero, as he has shed light on the underbelly of terror surveillance where everyday citizens can be monitored in a story line that could not have been better written by George Orwell.

Hero or goat, his situation poses a good time for the country to examine how our government monitors terror threats and how we leave our own digital trail with our daily use of devices.

Wed
19
Jun

Local scene in 'The Son'


Cooke

By Ken Esten Cooke— “An epic, heroic, hallucinatory work of art.”

“A staggering achievement.”

“The best tale since Cormac’s McCarthy’s ‘Blood Meridian’.”

With author blurbs like that, who could resist reading “The Son,” the newest offering from thirty-something author Philipp Mayer. I had read Meyer’s first book, “American Rust,” and it was an impressive debut. Though I am not finished with “The Son,” it is measuring up to the hype.

I was pleased to see some Fredericksburg references in the early pages as well. Most of the book is set on the West Texas plains, but there is a scene before an Indian raid in which one of the main characters describes the area and its people. The author obviously did his research.

Spring 1849, the last full moon. We’d been two years on our Pedernales acreocracy, not far from Fredericksburg, when our neighbor had two horses stolen in broad daylight.

Wed
19
Jun

LBJ made safety click


Nicole Nugent Covert

By Guest Columnist Nicole Nugent Covert—

In 1966, the United States knew more about sending a man into space than it did about protecting families as they traveled in automobiles on our nation’s highways.

That was the year my grandfather, President Lyndon B. Johnson, signed into law the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. This landmark legislation required manufacturers to install seat belts in all new vehicles starting in 1968.

Up to that point, vehicle and highway safety features many Americans now take for granted — such as air bags and highway guardrails — were not generally available. In the mid-1960s, it was commonplace for 50,000 people to be killed each year on the nation’s highways.

Wed
19
Jun

Community Education offers kids summer fun

By Yvonne Hartmann— Sleeping late, watching television, hanging out with friends — it’s just about every kid’s summer dream.

But in reality, many are probably already getting bored and wishing they had something fun to do.

That’s where the Fredericksburg Independent School District Community Education program comes in. They are offering a wide variety of summer camps and activity sessions for all youngsters of all ages.

And it’s not too late to sign up. Just call the Community Ed office at 997-7182 or stop by the FISD Central Administration Office at 234 Friendship Lane.

The fees for the camps vary. Often, the fees include the supplies, snacks and in some cases, even T-shirts.

Want to get the children moving? Community Ed sports camps offer age-appropriate activities, and in most cases, are led by members of the FISD coaching staff and their assistants.

Wed
12
Jun

A vital story to tell: We make no apologies for drug issue coverage. Indeed, it may be the most important thing we publish all year.

By Ken Esten Cooke—

We looked back at a year’s worth of coverage in the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post at all the stories and publicity run about the Fredericksburg Independent School District.

‘Billies go for fourth straight win Friday’ • ‘Honor roll students listed’ • ‘One-Act Play wins state’ •  ‘FHS grads number 227’

And the list goes on and on.

Did one story ruin all that other coverage?

Wed
12
Jun

Donor disclosure needed

By Ken Esten Cooke—

There’s a saying that “sunlight is the best disinfectant,” whether dealing with hygiene or politics.

The recent scandal involving the Internal Revenue Service and its alleged targeting of one type of political group is getting plenty of deserved attention. No group, no matter its bent, needs to be targeted for extra scrutiny.

But the underlying driver of that scandal is that overtly political groups are now allowed to hide their activities by claiming they are “social welfare organizations,” filing under a tax-exempt status of the 501(c)(4). All they have to do is claim that 51 percent of their work involves the nebulous “social welfare,” and they avoid scrutiny. More than 3,000 of groups filed for status in 2012, leaving the IRS overwhelmed and left to judge which organizations qualified, and which ones needed scrutiny.

Wed
05
Jun

A tougher stance

FISD trustees will mull drug policies;

strong measures needed to combat student use

By Ken Esten Cooke— Marble Falls Independent School District students who are caught with drugs are banned from extra-curricular activities for one year on the first offense, and banned for life for a second offense.

In Burnet ISD, a community-wide program has begun to combat use, especially by the student population, after a 2011 tragedy all too similar to the recent one here.

These are just two examples of area districts that have adopted strong stances in hopes of never losing a student to drug use.

Wed
05
Jun

'Summer reads make me feel fine'

Ken Esten Cooke—The most critical time of year for students is not the period for six weeks tests or the stress-inducing, end-of-year STAAR test.

Rather it is summertime, when the living is easy, the iPod and video games are limitless, and the books are shelved.

As our students mark either graduation, or promotion to the next grade level, we as parents should mark pride in their accomplishments, but encourage continued reading of subjects that draw their interest over the summer. These are the first steps to a lifelong learning pattern that will help their quality of life as they age.

Fredericksburg Elementary School will open its library on some Tuesdays until noon for students to check out books. Pioneer Memorial Library has its summer reading program. Books are easy to find, affordable and cover virtually any topic one can think up.

Wed
29
May

Thinking Out Loud: Questions for the ages

By Danny Hirt —

There are some questions I have wondered about and I’d like to ask them at this time.

Some of the queries might seem silly; others might have a little more meat on them. But, to me, they’re all important.

Question

Is it asking too much of the driving public to put their vehicle headlights on when traveling early in the morning or around dusk?

It’s not uncommon for me to drive to work early enough in the morning (especially if there are any clouds in the sky) so that there can be a gloomy look to the day.

It’s gray, see, and I hope I don’t run into any of my fellow travelers. And seeing headlights on the approaching automobiles would sure go a long way in preventing any fender-benders (or worse).

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