Commentary

Wed
18
Jun

Some curated wisdom, two decades later

By Richard Zowie —

For one of my assignments two weekends ago, I took pictures of the Harper High School graduation.

As a journalist, I’ve photographed several graduations. Many of the pictures are similar: the graduates enter as “Pomp and Circumstance” plays, the valedictorian speaks, students receive diplomas, they toss their mortarboards into the air. Graduates then hug each other and their families.

Some students cry as they close one chapter of their lives and enter a new one. Sometimes it means saying goodbye to friends they’ve known since kindergarten and wondering how long it’ll be before they see them again.

I graduated from A.C. Jones High School in Beeville in 1991. We were all eager to graduate — not just to receive our diplomas, but because we wore black graduation gowns (despite our orange and white school colors) in the Bee County Coliseum, which then had no air conditioning.

Wed
18
Jun

Rain is always in our conscience

By Cathy Collier —

It’s a four-letter word that gets almost everyone’s attention … and it is certainly on the lips of most people you see each day.

We need it. We want it.  We say to each other, “Let it rain.”

Just a small sprinkling and the grass wakes up, the wildflowers decide to bolt into bloom and gardens start to sprout.

A brief ozone-filled thunderstorm generates more excitement than the circus coming to town. We run to our porches, peek out the windows, go out into the front yard and throw our hands skyward.

It’s not just a relief that, on that particular night, we won’t have to artificially water the grass or the garden. It’s the feeling, as it is falling, that the earth is getting a facial — like the trees are laughing.

Wed
18
Jun

How about we just fully fund TxDOT?

By Ken Esten Cooke —

Sometimes driving around the state’s capitol city feels like driving through New Jersey. Vehicles are being “dinged” for a buck or two every few miles. And that’s annoying to Texans, who value their automobiles and their autonomy — read: freedom.

How did toll roads outside Houston and Dallas ever get a foothold as “business as usual” in the state capitol? It seems every new construction around the Austin metro area, and even some upgrades, have been done as tolls.

Wed
18
Jun

Summer reading instills love

By Ken Esten Cooke —

School’s out for summer. So that means it’s time to break out the books.

It’s good to get a breather from the rigors of the school year. But after we celebrate graduation or promotion to the next grade level, let’s not let academic progress slip.

Educators have noted that the most critical time of year for students is not the period leading up to the STAAR test. It’s summertime, when some slip back into brain-sapping activities like limitless television and video games, while shelving books for nearly three full months.

We commend Fredericksburg Rotary Club for their work with “Books for Babies,” which gives new moms books they can read to their infants.

We also praise Fredericksburg Elementary School staffers for keeping its library open from Tuesdays through Thursdays during June from 7:30-11:30 a.m. to let students check out books. (Parents must accompany children.)

Wed
11
Jun

Who thought up all those mascot names?

By Danny Hirt —

Something very cool recently happened in our community.

As most of you know, the Fredericksburg High School mascot — the Battlin’ Billie — was named the best mascot throughout the Lone Star State in the Mascot Madness Tournament conducted by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine.

Out of a field of 32 schools, FHS topped the likes of the Frost Polar Bears, the Mason Punchers and, my second favorite, the Hutto Hippos.

But with such a unique name as the Battlin’ Billies, in recognition of the many goats that have populated the Hill Country for many decades, it might be interesting to take a look at other weird-sounding mascots from different parts of the country.

For example, there’s another FHS, this one found in the state of Indiana. The animal that represents the virtues and values of Frankfort High School is the dachshund, or, to be more precise, the Hot Dog.

Wed
11
Jun

Remembering D-Day

“OK, let’s go.”

With that simple, typically understated command belying the enormity of the decision he had just made, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower set in motion what he called “the Great Crusade” — the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi tyranny.

The next day, June 6, 1944, the first of about 156,000 American, British, Canadian and other allied soldiers began fighting their way onto the beaches of Normandy, France. More than 4,400 of them, including 2,500 Americans, would die on those beaches.

But by the end of the day, they had a foothold in France. Over the next five days, another 170,000 allied troops would land in Normandy. The beginning of the end of World War II in Western Europe was under way.

Wed
11
Jun

A future vision for our Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg got a peek at some potential design ideas at a May 28 Vision Workshop at the Hill Country University Center.

The meeting, which drew around 100 people, was led by Brian Jordan, the city’s director of development, who introduced representatives from consulting firm Design Workshop. That company has worked with hundreds of cities around the nation and recently opened two international offices.

The meeting focused on three areas: hike and bike trails and sidewalks; gateways into the town; and overall design standards. Once off Main Street, a more walkable town is a big need. We hope visitors will one day be able to easily stroll to the Texas Center for Wine and Culinary Arts, art galleries and other off-Main attractions, and that residents can walk and ride safely in marked hike and bike lanes or paths.

Wed
11
Jun

‘You can’t go swimming ‘til you learn how'

By Willis Webb —

Boys, particularly those who grew up in my time in a rural area, learned to swim and swam most every day in warm weather in a stock tank or creek.

My sweet, late mother had a deathly fear of water. I don’t know what precipitated that dread of any amount of water deeper than a few inches in a bathtub, but her fear was real and palpable. I know she lost a friend to drowning in a river, but I was a young boy when that happened and had already heard the swimming edict.

She tried to transfer the fear to her four sons with some early success … me. I’d ask to go swimming with some buddies and she’d issue her dead serious, only qualification: “You can’t go swimming until you learn how to swim.”

“But, Mother, these guys know how to swim real good and they’re going to teach me so I’ll be as good a swimmer as they are.”

“Nope. You can’t go until you learn how to swim.”

Wed
04
Jun

To grads: Leadership skills a lifelong pursuit

A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to hear General Bill Looney speak at the Admiral Nimitz Foundation’s Leadership Seminar at the Nimitz Museum.

The four-star Air Force general, now retired, said the most important thing a leader can do is to create an environment where all employees are motivated to exceed expectations.

To achieve that, he or she must inspire, lead by example, focus on objective achievement and get rid of as many of your staff’s obstacles as possible.

And Looney would know. He led a fighter squadron based in Europe from worst to first in flying skills and effectiveness.

A lot of what he chronicled that day is found in his book “Exceeding Expectations: Reflections on Leadership,” which is available in the Nimitz Outpost Store.

So what do “followers,” whether they be employees or volunteers, want from their leader?

Wed
04
Jun

Fredericksburg's visitor stats revealed

Tourists drawn to town's uniqueness in character, attractions

By Ken Esten Cooke— The Fredericksburg Convention and Visitor Bureau recently released its annual study of this town’s million-plus visitors. And, as if we didn’t know it, the study confirmed that the town is becoming a destination for more and more people.

Tourism — whether family vacations, a tour of the National Museum of the Pacific War, winery visits or Main Street shopping — is a huge and growing part of our economy. The explosion of construction in B&Bs and hotel space is a testament to that. Thankfully, most all of our residents and business owners give these visitors a friendly Texas welcome.

Sixty percent of visitors are age 50-plus. The CVB called that the “sweet spot” for the baby boomers as it is the time in a person’s life when disposable income is at a high.

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