Commentary

Wed
30
Sep

Pope teaches us that respect is really simple

I like this Francis.

Who is this man who speaks truth to power and walks humbly? Who is the white-smocked leader who kisses babies, just like our political leaders, yet also dines with the homeless and admonishes us to follow the Golden Rule?

Yes, I like this Francis.

Raised a Protestant, I still have great respect for the Catholic Church, its customs, its history and its liturgy. Every church and every denomination has had its “issues” – and certainly throughout history the Catholic Church has shouldered its share. But I believe the “the church,” in the macro, Christian church sense, and all of its members have done far more good than harm in the world.

And I am glad Catholics have a leader who is challenging followers both in and out of the faith to be stewards of the globe and to simply be kind to one another.

Wed
30
Sep

Oktoberfest more than just a big German party

Enjoy the oompah, the German food and, of course, the beer. But know that proceeds from what has grown to be Fredericksburg’s largest event go to support the arts in this community.

In 1981, when Fredericksburg was a much sleepier small hamlet, organizers put together an event to celebrate this town’s German heritage and history, with roots reaching back to the 1840s.

Since that first small celebration, Oktoberfest has grown to host an estimated 30,000 people. Visitors and locals alike love the tuba-led bands, the Chicken Dance, the bratwurst and potato pancakes, polkas and waltzes, bands from all corners of Marktplatz and beers on tap from local and German producers.

With all the games and additions over the years, it is truly a family fun celebration.

Wed
23
Sep

Workforce group eyes labor market needs

A story last week and a column by the Chamber of Commerce president focused on a meeting today from 2-4 p.m. at Hill Country University Center spearheaded by the Jobs Task Force. The meeting is free and will focus on marketing Fredericksburg’s job openings to key demographic areas.

These demographic groups were found through a formula of “targeted lifestyle personas,” or those people who might be most likely to move here to work. The research was done by Darren Drewitz and his company, MindEcology.

The company helped the local task force find out where pools of potential workers lived, showed how to reach them and market to them in a way that convinces them to consider moving to Fredericksburg. That includes selling the area as a lifestyle destination as well as simply a place that has job openings.

Wed
23
Sep

'Doing without' was typical in war time

People who live in the country and not down the street from the grocery store learn to make do with what they have. And if that’s not possible, many times they have to postpone a project until the next trip to town.

Such was the case one Sunday afternoon several weeks ago when I was trying to get dessert baking done for the annual Doss Volunteer Fire Department fish fry.

I studied and scanned the stack of cookbooks, trying to decide which recipe to try and discerning which ingredients were in abundance in the pantry.

Things were running smoothly that afternoon. I had mixed up and baked three cakes and each one plopped neatly out of the Bundt pan to which I breathed a sigh of relief.

So, it was on to the fourth cake. I had softened the butter, cracked the correct number of eggs, pre-sifted the flour and  baking powder … and was about to measure out two cups of sugar when … What? Is that all of the sugar?

Wed
16
Sep

It's like 'gold rush fever,' only with a smartphone

By Richard Zowie —

Thanks to Lorrie, Kim and Autumn and all their sinister, zealous influences, I am now an addict.

No longer can I look at a map or even think of a city without asking that one burning question.

Some wonder where are the best places to drink, gamble or buy tobacco while others might even wonder the best clandestine places to acquire a recreational drug.

All I care about is, where are the geocaches?

Yes, it’s official: I love geocaching. In my off time when geocaching, I’ve become “Restlessrich.”

When Lorrie first presented it at a “lunch-and-learn” program at the newspaper office around fall 2013, I’d never heard of it. It sounded interesting but expensive, so I lost interest.

Wed
16
Sep

Green Homes Tour showcases 'easy green'

Think it’s not easy being green? Well, it’s probably easier than you think, and it’ll save you some of the other kind of “green” in the process.

Fredericksburg Shines will host its annual Green Homes Tour on Saturday, and it will be well worth your time to see what others are doing to conserve energy and reduce their waste.

Ten homes will showcase techniques and technology that make them more energy efficient. Tour attendees will see everything from rainwater storage, to xeriscape, to solar panels, to tankless water heaters, compressed earth blocks and much more. All these projects will be featured in both new construction homes and remodeled, older homes, which upped the energy ratings and helped the homeowners cut down on their energy costs.

There also will be examples of electric vehicles, including Tesla and Chevrolet models.

There will be lessons for all of us to learn by these homeowners’ examples on Saturday.

Wed
09
Sep

Governor's Mexico visit good for relations

For years, it has seemed Texas’ politicos’ only contact with Mexico was defaulted to whomever served as U.S. Ambassador.

Tony Garza, a Brownsville native and attorney, did an admirable job from 2002-2009 in helping build business and diplomatic relations with our neighbor to the south.

Our state house, meanwhile, has lurched ever-rightward and the language of fear and “solution” of a giant, ugly wall is becoming seen as the only solution to the problems inherent with our shared border.

So it was good to see Gov. Greg Abbott last week take a delegation to Mexico City to, hopefully, begin to communicate more and normalize relations with Mexico. He and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto met for talks in Mexico City, and Abbott is expected to receive Peña Nieto in Texas in the coming months. Given our shared, often-confrontational history, we are glad to see the leaders work together instead of throw barbs.

Wed
09
Sep

Tom T. Hall reminds us to enjoy little things

The country music per-former and songwriter Tom T. Hall came out with the song, “I Love,” where he listed many of the things he cherished.

You might remember the first line: “I love little baby ducks, old pick-up trucks, slow-moving trains, and rain.”

It’s an emotional offering that spells out some of the nicer things in life that are enjoyable (at no cost) but often overlooked. You can have a good time just by observing what’s going on around you.

I’ve come up with my own list of the simple beauty that’s out there, just waiting to be discovered if you take time to smell roses, coffee or bubble gum.

In an effort to avoid any lawsuits from Mr. Hall, I’m calling my tabulation: “I Re-ally Like ....”

Here goes.

I Really Like ...

• Sitting on a screened porch while it’s raining on the tin roof.

• The smell of a new car regardless of the make and model.

• Finding a four-leaf clover.

Wed
02
Sep

So, is this what our world has come to?

Is this the mind-numbing world we now live in? A 47-year-old man pumping gas in Houston is targeted and killed for no other reason than he was wearing his Harris County sheriff’s deputy uniform.

In what has become nearly a daily occurrence around this country, a criminal suspect is shot and killed. The next day, a law enforcement officer is slain as an act of retribution. But in this deadly pattern, “moral equivalency” arguments don’t hold up. This is nothing more than a sign of a sick society.

Wed
02
Sep

Rural hospitals suffer deepest cuts in funds

There are constant problems with the population migration from rural areas to big cities. Remaining rural populations are being left in the dust on everything from political representation to healthcare. And unfortunately, legislators in Austin have turned a blind eye toward these developing problems.

Thirteen Texas rural hospitals have closed since January 2013 and a number continue to run in a state of financial distress and could be on the brink of closure. The main culprit is the cuts in Medicare and Medicaid payments over the past four years, resulting in annual losses of revenue totaling about $100 million for the state’s 171 rural hospitals.

Nationwide, 56 rural hospitals have closed over the same period, with another 283 at risk of future closure.

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