Commentary

Wed
27
Jan

Hill Country ranches can attract thieves

 

If your family has owned land in Gillespie County since its founding or if you recently bought your dream ranch, there are tips to deter thieves who may want to get a piece of your property.

Special Ranger Mike Barr addressed the Stonewall Chamber of Commerce banquet attendees on Monday night. Comments about Barr’s Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) experience can be found elsewhere in this edition.

But Barr also had tips to benefit ranch owners, both those who have been here for generations and those who are much newer to the Hill Country.

 

TSCRA Theft Prevention Tips

-Display the TSCRA member sign on gates and entrances. Barr said it is an excellent deterrent because thieves know they’ll be pursued.

-Lock gates.

-Brand cattle and horses and make sure the brand is recorded with the county clerk.

-Put driver’s license number on all saddles, tack and equipment.

Wed
27
Jan

Conservation easements and imminent domain

The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) has proposed to construct a large electrical transmission line across the largest piece of protected land — public or private — in Gillespie County.

                Owned by Mrs. Terese T. Hershey, one of Texas’ most renowned conservationists, the 1,500-acre Hershey Ranch is protected by a conservation easement which was supposed to conserve it in perpetuity.

The Hill Country Land Trust, one of Texas’ 30 private, nonprofit land trusts, “holds” the conservation easement, and is entrusted with ensuring that the land is protected forever.

A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement — individually negotiated between landowner and land trust for each property — that perpetually restricts all future non-agricultural development of the property.

The landowner retains title to the property, while being assured that it will stay in its natural, productive state forever.

Wed
20
Jan

Higher ed expansion in the Hill Country

By Ken Esten Cooke

Friday’s visit by Robert Duncan, chancellor of the Texas Tech University System, was another sign of TTU’s commitment to this area.

Duncan’s day was filled with meetings with department heads and program directors, and he no doubt came away with ideas on how this regional site can grow and offer more programs to area students.

Locally, TTU has offered many education-focused programs, including administration certification and teaching degrees, which are great to help our local instructors become more valuable to our school districts. TTU’s growing slate of online degree studies further opens the door to possibilities for local students.

Wed
20
Jan

Search leads to place where Poles settled

By Richard Zowie

 

To many Americans leaving San Antonio and traveling through rural South Texas, it’s a tiny, nondescript settlement with an unusual name.

“In Poland, Panna Maria, Texas is very famous,” said Pope John Paul II in 1987. “Everyone knows of Panna Maria and those first Polish immigrants who responded to the call of their pastor and spiritual leader, Father Leopold Moczygemba. All of our great American Polonia credits its origin to you, Panna Maria, as the first nest built on American soil by Polish immigrants inspiring others to follow in your footsteps.”

Born Karol Józef Wojtyła, Pope John Paul II was the first-ever Polish pope.

While driving home at Christmas to visit my parents, I decided to revisit Panna Maria. I’d been there once before, in 1995. Perhaps it’s because I majored in history at college and am also interested in genealogy, but it was also because there’s a geocache at Panna Maria’s cemetery.

Wed
13
Jan

A partisan's plea to change Constitution

By Ken Esten Cooke

Apparently, all the problems of Texas are fixed. Our roads are perfect. Our schools rank No. 1 in all categories throughout the nation. All of our citizens are well cared for.

Even though none of those are true, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and others last week turned their attention to federal policy and called for a Constitutional Convention to add nine amendments to the country’s founding document.

The amendments would allow majority rule and invite mayhem and further political division among citizens.

In doing so, Abbott and others have effectively stated that they know better than the founding fathers. His proposed changes would allow majority rule to override Supreme Court decisions. This seems like a paved way to mob rule.

Wed
13
Jan

Lone detergent choice was homemade lye soap

There’s nothing that beats the sunshine fresh scent of laundry that’s been dried on an outdoor clothes line.
And, after several weeks of unfriendly drying weather, I decided to tackle my moun-tain of hand wash Sunday afternoon. That was sup-posed to be my Saturday chore, but the strong north winds would have sailed my load of laundry clear to Kerr County.
Since the weather was to-tally opposite Sunday, there was no time to nap after lunch. Even though I wouldn’t be able to get it all done, I could at least make a tiny dent in the pile. These were items that were labeled “drip dry” and wouldn’t fare a tumble through the auto-matic clothes dryer.
And who could survive without an automatic clothes dryer these days?

Wed
06
Jan

Desire for quiet may have cultural roots

By Ken Esten Cooke

It turns out that the desire for quiet may have roots in culture.

A recent BBC report stated that German philosopher Theodore Lessing created the country’s first Antilärmverein — anti-noise society — to debate how noise affected the modern world. This was in 1907 as the industrial age ramped up. (Tip o’ the hat to former mayor Jeryl Hoover for sending along this link.)

Around that same time, a Berlin pharmacist developed the first modern earplug, dubbing it the ohropax, a combination of the German word for “ear” and Latin word for “peace.”

After two world wars, the desire for quiet didn’t diminish in Germany. Some anti-noise laws there have been on the books more than four decades. Today, there are soundproofed parks and highways.

Wed
06
Jan

Simply coincidence, or perhaps it's not?

Most people might agree that irony can play a significant part in their lives. They might share a birthday with a relative or a famous person, or might have gone to the same school once attended by a celebrity or sports hero.

Irony can occur as a very benign “oh well, isn’t that interesting?” feature in our world, all the way up to the shades of a conspiracy.

An example of an everyday routine ironic tidbit would be the fact that the pediatrician who delivered me into this world was Dr. Daniel (my first name). But what makes this an even more unusual situation is that the good doctor’s first name was David (the same as my brother’s first name).

Interesting, maybe; spooky, not really.

Probably one of the biggest spooky types of irony happened way back in 1963. Just mentioning the year should get most people of my generation a clue to where I’m going with this.

Wed
06
Jan

The brilliance of arrogance

Quentin Tarantino just isn’t for everyone.

His most ardent fans — ones who’ve seen “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction” countless times and can quote “True Romance” by heart even though Tarantino just wrote the script — would argue that the director is a cinematic icon and leading provocateur for this generation of filmmakers.

Others would argue that Tarantino’s movies overtly glamorize violence to the point of poor taste and are unworthy of the critical acclaim they almost universally receive.

His newest film, “The Hateful Eight,” is sure to exacerbate those arguments as Hollywood’s most in-your-face director wrings tension within close quarters better than any filmmaker this decade, locking a terrific ensemble cast inside a small haberdashery snowed in during post-Civil War Wyoming and letting the chaos ensue.

Wed
30
Dec

Help those living on the poverty line

By Ken Esten Cooke

There is a line between being “in poverty” and when a family can feel comfortable about what it can provide financially for itself. Our federal government defines that as $24,250 per year for a family of four.

And while not destitute, people making this amount of money feel their meager budgets tighten when an illness strikes and costs rise, as have those with health insurance.

And in Fredericksburg, it is getting increasingly difficult to even modestly raise a family on that amount, unless you are fortunate enough to have a paid-for family home, or a substantial safety net on which to fall back.

Trips to the grocery store routinely run $100 to $200 or more these days for average families. It is important to keep families, even those who are slightly above the “official” poverty threshold, in mind when making year-end donations and deciding on which charities to support in the future.

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