Commentary

Wed
14
Aug

One potential water answer

The State of Texas is slowly addressing a host of issues related to water supplies, transport and storage. As the drought continues, voters will have the chance in November to correct years of neglect in the face of drought, a growing population and increased demands on fresh water supplies.

The State Water Plan includes 26 new reservoirs — each land-grabbing and controversial — at a cost of $13.2 billion. State Rep. Lyle Larson, a San Antonio Republican, is floating what may be a much better idea.

Larson shares a seat on the House Natural Resources Committee with our own state Rep. Doug Miller. He is proposing that 1950s reservoir technology is outdated and that aquifer storage and recovery will help the state create its own “strategic water reserve.”

Wed
07
Aug

1896 Fair admission: 35¢

I’m frantically scurrying around these days trying to finish a project or two to enter into competition at the upcoming 125th Gillespie County Fair.

Over the years, I’ve won a ribbon or two, and even a couple of trophies for different things I’ve taken, but this year would be extra special since it’s a milestone fair. I never set my sights any higher than third place. That way, even if I don’t place, I won’t be too disappointed.

I’ve been studying this year’s fair catalog, trying to decide what to take and have tagged the pages with sticky notes, being careful not to mar them, for one day, the catalog, itself, is sure to be a collector’s item.

Old Gillespie County Fair catalogs have become collector’s items over the years. Here at the newspaper office, we have dozens of them in the archives, with the earliest in our collection going back to some time like 1918.

Wed
07
Aug

Legislators fund roads; pet projects ignored

Late Monday night, the third special session of the 83rd Texas Legislature finished its work with sine die after adopting a resolution that would steer $1.2 billion toward road funding.

We congratulate legislators on addressing roads and water (such as it were), and we think Texas’ reputation for putting anything that requires spending on the back burner has been temporarily cooled. After the Texas Department of Transportation said it would allow some beat-up South Texas roads to revert from pavement to gravel, it seemed to have grabbed plenty of attention. Other states were using Texas’ lack of vision and infrastructure investment in their own economic development efforts, telling potential business recruits, “Don’t go to Texas — they don’t have water or roads.”

Initially, rural legislators justifiably worried that most of the TxDOT additional funding would just go to urban areas. Other legislators didn’t want to tap rainy day funds for roads.

Wed
31
Jul

Wine industry growth a 'harvest' for everyone

Two things in this week’s newspaper bode well for the growing wine industry in our area.

First, 29 students received their viticulture certificates from Texas Tech University-Fredericksburg at a ceremony on Saturday at the Hill Country University Center. The number of graduates in this third class totaled more than the first two classes combined, which is a sign that this area of study is receiving attention and giving area growers the tools they need to establish or improve their vineyards.

In addition to viticulture — the science and study of the production of grapes — the university also will offer students this fall a certificate in enology — the study and science around all aspects of wine making. The demand is high for this type of study and it will only help improve the offerings from area wineries.

Wed
31
Jul

30-weight in his blood

Craig Lindig is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to vintage cars.

Need a carburetor for a 1963 Comet? He probably knows who has one.

Need an original door handle for a Studebaker? Headlight housings for a late-’50s Chevrolet? Maybe a 1947 Texas license plate for that truck restoration? He can set you up.

The chairman of the Hill Country Auto Swap Meet for the past 13 years, Lindig steers potential buyers hunting that perfect part to one of the more than 700 vendors. Among other things. During the Swap, his cell phone rings constantly, and he works like a stockbroker on Wall Street, helping customers buy and sell. As chairman, he helps organize and solve issues for some of the thousands and thousands of visitors this event draws to Fredericksburg.

Wed
24
Jul

Help for a lawman who has helped us all


Gillespie County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Jim Judd

Judd has given much to Gillespie County. It's time to repay the favor.

By Ken Esten Cooke— This has been a rough year for law enforcement in Fredericksburg and Gillespie County.

First, Police Chief Paul Oestreich succumbed to Myelodysplastic Syndrome on May 7 after valiantly battling the disease for more than a year. A lifetime resident, he worked in nearly every capacity to help keep Fredericksburg’s streets safe for residents and visitors.

In April, then acting Police Chief Steve Wetz and his crew began investigating in a drug overdose that took the life of a popular high school student. Still working their way through the maze of testing for a synthetic drug so new it hasn’t yet been classified, the case has been a challenge for the patience and perseverance of lawmen and the public alike.

Wed
24
Jul

A jog down memory lane

I forget where memories come from

What are some of your earliest childhood memories? How far back in your own life can you visit in your mind?

This might not be as easy to answer as you think. After all, how much of our memories are tainted by family stories that we’ve heard through the years?

For example, Mom used to tell the story that when I was just a toddler, I was toddling in the front yard (we had a good fence around the lawn, I was later told, so I wasn’t in danger of meandering out into the road).

As the tale goes, my mother looked out the screen door at me just to make sure that I wasn’t up to anything.

Wed
24
Jul

An easy way to conserve

With the banging of hammers on roofs still a familiar sound after the May hailstorm, we want to put in a good word about collecting natural rainwater for our gardens.

When replacing gutters after a roof job, consider installing rainwater barrels at some or all of your gutter downspouts. It is an easy, inexpensive way to have water readily available for gardens and flower beds.

With water growing more scarce in the Texas Hill Country, this is a simple way to use nature’s abundance.

Rainwater is pure and can contain more nitrogen (healthy for plants) and less minerals (which result in “hard water”).

Some filtered rainwater systems can even provide clear, safe water for potable use. But any harvesting of rainwater is helpful in the big picture. It is amazing how much even a modest rain can contribute to water collection.

Wed
17
Jul

Are we post-racial? No

By Ken Esten Cooke— My son likes to take a five-block walk or ride his bike to the corner store for an apple juice. For him, it’s a way to get out of the house, and as a pre-teen it’s probably a small step in the direction of his own independence.

The events of last week made me consider how such a simple, innocent trip to the store could turn lethal. And I wondered how livid I would be if he were considered suspicious, pursued by a zealous person — well-intentioned or not — and shot dead.

Of course, that’s what Trayvon Martin’s parents dealt with in Sanford, Florida. George Zimmerman was found not guilty, and we Americans now once again bring up questions about race and what is right.

Not everyone can relate to the Martins and how they feel. Deaths of black teenagers are far too common an occurrence in our country, and far too often it is at the hands of a peer. For those of us in mostly white, rural areas, it is easy to feel numb to it.

Wed
17
Jul

'Guns up' for Texas Tech president's visit

Nellis shows that higher education expansion a priority for university’s Hill Country sites

By Ken Esten Cooke— Marking his one-month anniversary on the job, new Texas Tech President Dr. Duane Nellis toured Fredericksburg on Monday, saying he was impressed with the local facilities at Hill Country University Center and instilled confidence that the Texas Tech-HCUC partnership will continue to thrive.

Nellis spoke with members of the Fredericksburg Rotary Club, took a tour of the Hill Country University Center facilities, and, with wife Ruthie, served as guests of honor at a reception in the Cherry Spring community.

Though an investment in higher education has risen substantially in price, nothing pays more dividends to one’s future than earning a college degree (or two).

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