Commentary

Wed
07
May

A rightful salute to nurses

Week recognizes contributions of 'front line' employees in patient care

By Ken Esten Cooke— May is a month that brings spring flowers and some important recognition for nurses across the country.

National Nurses Week this year is May 6-12, ending on the birth date of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale and also graduation day for many nurses. Many graduation ceremonies remember Nightingale, the “first nurse,” as a part of a time-honored tradition.

Let’s all thank the nurses in our lives, who represent the largest profession by numbers in a rapidly changing healthcare system. It is because of their dedication to professionalism and patient care that they have been repeatedly voted by the public as the most trusted profession in America.

Wed
30
Apr

TWDB's rural post a welcome change

Water development board’s ombudsman will help towns navigate processes

The State of Texas may never truly figure out how to have enough clean water for its exploding population, but it is not ignoring the problem.

Senator Troy Fraser and Carlos Rubinstein, Texas Water Development Board Chairman, were here last week to introduce the TWDB’s new “rural ombudsman” Doug Shaw. The new position will help rural Texans figure out complicated water needs and provide guidance on equally difficult-to-execute water and wastewater projects.

Small towns often lack the expertise and tax base to support water infrastructure projects, whether it is a new water tower, a wastewater plant or replacing leaky pipes installed in the 1930s. Navigating bureaucracies based in Austin can add to the frustration. So, the new ombudsman’s job is to go to these places and ask what is needed and how can the TWDB help.

Wed
30
Apr

See 'what's growing on' at local farmer's market

Thursday will mark the beginning of “fresh and local” season. Fredericksburg Farmer’s Market will kick off its seventh year, and Marktplatz will again be abuzz with trade in the best, cleanest fare that our pennies can purchase.

And as I sit here typing this in my white shirt and shined shoes, I am reminded that farmers get down and dirty in their chosen field. It’s generally sun-up to sun-down, and, like a dairy, there are no vacations. You know the old joke, “How do you get a million dollars in farming? Start with $2 million and go from there.”

What we purchase at the farmer’s market will be the end result of a lot of sweat and toil, a lot of trial and error and a lot of poker playing with Mother Nature herself.

Wed
30
Apr

Bad-mouthing politicians with Elmo

In the mid-1950s, Sam Houston State Teachers College was a small school. It’s now Sam Houston State University and has several times the enrollment that it did in the fall of 1955, my freshman year, when the student body numbered 1,900 and the freshman class accounted for 900 of that enrollment.

I mistakenly signed up to live in a dormitory that was mostly for freshman boys (no co-ed dorms in those strait-laced days of imposed morals and naiveté).

Before the end of the first semester, I’d found a private home across the street from the campus with rooms to rent. I had a journalism scholarship that paid books, tuition and fees and I had a job to pay other expenses. I was a short order cook at the Club Café, down the street from my ultimate home for three semesters, in the home of Elmo and Falvey Welch, a delightful couple in the their late 70s.

Wed
30
Apr

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.

Wed
23
Apr

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.

Wed
23
Apr

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.

Wed
23
Apr

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.

Thu
17
Apr

'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.

Thu
17
Apr

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.

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