Commentary

Tue
30
Dec

Population boom will drive 84th Legislature

The 84th session of the Texas Legislature kicks off Jan. 13, and the Lone Star state’s booming population will continue to drive decisions in the State Capitol.

Consumers are enjoying lower gas prices at the pump, but the near-halving of crude’s price per barrel since June has lawmakers nervous. The state’s “rainy day fund,” or RDF, is funded by oil and gas severance taxes. So while the RDF is flush now and legislators installed a “floor” of $7 billion for the fund, lawmakers may choose to again be thrifty with future commodity prices in question.

Tue
23
Dec

Adios to the big man who put family first

Andy Granados could be an intimidating figure. In 1990, he stood 6-foot-2 and topped the scales at 300 pounds. He was suspect of the scrawny white kid who was hanging around his daughter.

The first Christmas we spent together, Christine and I, two blissful (yet unmarried) young lovers, shared gifts in front of her parents. I don’t remember my gift to her, but I remember hers to me — a very personal gift, fancy boxer shorts. I remember it because I looked at her dad while stuffing the shorts into the couch cushions, and his large, brown eyes burned a hole into my psyche.

But over the past 24 years, I came to love that man with the laser eyes and know him as a man who always put his family first, even the gringo members.

Tue
23
Dec

Parks give economic boost to area tourism

The recent story about a Texas A&M study showed that state parks provide big economic boosts to areas where they are located — a combined $774 million in retail sales, $351 million in economic benefits and they create roughly 5,800 jobs statewide.

The study was led by Dr. John Compton, an A&M professor in the school’s Recreation, Parks and Tourism Department. In it, he gauged more than 14,000 park visitors and their spending habits for several months earlier in 2013. They were queried about their spending on fees, groceries, restaurant meals and equipment during their outings. Those results were then applied to 60 additional state parks using methodology.

The results are clear: Parks are a huge boost. Bastrop State Park visitors added nearly $1.7 million to that county’s economy and supported more than 35 jobs. In Palo Duro Canyon, visitors added more than $3.7 million to local coffers and supported 86 jobs.

Wed
17
Dec

A frugal German's Christmas tree yarn

I often joke that if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.

Such was the case last week while trying to help Santa decorate the Christmas tree.

For years and years, my family had always decorated the living room with a natural cedar tree that had been “picked fresh” from our ranch.

But there came a point in time when we persuaded ourselves that we were getting too old to crawl around on the mountainside hunting a tree, and when we would cut one, by the time we hauled it home and brought it into the living room, it somehow had just about doubled in size.

And over the years, since some in our family had developed allergies to that fragrant smell of Christmas, we decided that it would sure be easier to unpack a box, assemble an artificial tree and be done with the project in a couple of hours.

Wed
17
Dec

Organ donation is a gift that keeps giving

Last week, the Standard-Radio Post ran a preview of the event to honor the late Harper High School student Jacob Krebs during the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day.

We followed up this week by covering the event while hearing a plain-spoken, yet tear-inducing plea from Krebs’ mother, Mary, about organ donation (see page D4).

Jacob Krebs made the simple decision to check the box to be an organ donor when he applied for a driver’s license. When his short life ended in a drowning accident, the decision had been made to help others live.

And that’s exactly what happened. Krebs’ organs were used to save four lives, including that of a man who received a double-lung transplant shortly after Krebs’ death. That man was in attendance at the Friday event honoring Krebs, as a living testament to organ donation’s importance. Krebs’ tissues, from corneas to tendons, were used to help more than 40 other people.

Wed
10
Dec

A quiet early Sunday, just like any other ....

his year, Dec. 7 fell on a Sunday.

Perhaps it was fitting: 73 years ago on Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese invaded Pearl Harbor and brought America into World War II, it was also on a Sunday.

As I left church to attend the Pacific War Museum’s Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremony with my two youngest sons, I noticed something interesting about Fredericksburg.

It was quiet, almost as if residents had vacated and left behind a ghost town.

That’s not unusual, is it? Sunday mornings in many towns tend to be whisper quiet, sometimes because people were out late on a Saturday night and are sleeping in. For others, Sunday is their only day to sleep in.

It was probably very quiet during that 1941 morning in Pearl Harbor that lives in infamy. People slept in, others were awake having breakfast, and some probably leisurely read the paper while sipping coffee.

Wed
10
Dec

There are no winners in death sentence case

The 11th-hour reprieve for convicted double murderer Scott Panetti made no one feel good about the case or about justice itself.

Panetti was scheduled to die by lethal injection last Wednesday at 6 p.m.  Around 11 a.m., the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the stay, “to allow us to fully consider the late arriving and complex legal questions at issue in this matter.”

Panetti was convicted of the Sept. 8, 1992 murders of his in-laws, Joe and Amanda Alvarado (roughly one block from where this is written).

Cases involving mental illness do deserve additional attention. But to claim Panetti has not had his day in court is a stretch.

In 1995, a jury of his peers in Kerr County rejected his insanity defense.

Panetti was scheduled to die by lethal injection on Feb. 5, 2004, but a stay of execution was issued one day before to examine his competency for execution.

Wed
03
Dec

'You live where?'

You have to admit it, there are some funny-sounding names for towns throughout the United States.

We’re familiar with the larger cities like Buffalo, New York (spicy-hot chicken wings, lake-effect snow) and Baton Rouge, Louisiana (baton rouge being a French phrase that literally means “red stick”).

But it seems a lot of the really humorous and interesting names are reserved for the small burgs and villages.

For starters, there’s Truth or Consequences, New Mexico that many years ago was simply known as Hot Springs. But it seems that a man named Ralph Edwards, who hosted a game/talk program on NBC radio called “Truth or Consequences” (later hosted by Bob Barker on TV), held a contest to see if there was a town in the nation that would be willing to change its name to the show’s title.

Wed
03
Dec

New college partner will boost skills study

The news last week that Hill Country University Center will seek a new community college partner is good for our community.

Leaders at the four-year-old HCUC will try to change its lower-level course provider from Austin Community College to Central Texas College. We strongly support this effort and ask locals to do the same.

Central Texas College, based in Killeen, is an entrepreneurial institution which has found success offering skills training, general studies and community education courses to thousands in the Fort Hood area. CTC already serves Burnet, Llano and Mason counties, so expansion into Gillespie could be done without huge additional expense.

But its benefits to students would be great. A lower threshold for the number of students required to “make” a course — 12 compared to ACC’s 18 — means more courses could be offered locally.

Tue
25
Nov

Wild turkey was part of Thanksgiving menu

Thanksgiving is only a few days away and what to cook when the company comes is on the mind of every homemaker this week.

During the countdown to Thursday, the aisles of the grocery store will only become more congested each day as shoppers load their shopping carts with all the “fixins’” for that special meal.

Times have changed quite a bit since 1621 when the first Thanksgiving was celebrated at Plymouth Rock as the Pilgrims and Native Americans gathered to give thanks and “feasted” on wild turkey, root vegetables of some sort, cornbread and dried cranberries that were stewed into sauce.

Claiming the “top spot” on every grocery list this week  will be … the turkey.

That problem can be solved with a quick trip through the pages of today’s newspaper. Every kind of turkey imaginable is offered for sale in the grocery store circulars.

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