Commentary

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.

Thu
17
Apr

Curriculum controversy

The State Board of Education ducked a vote to adopt a stand-alone Mexican-American studies course for high school students. It opted on a call to publishers for instructional materials on other groups as well.

This has merit, but the issue of a stand-alone course shouldn’t have been even a bit controversial. The board should have asked itself three questions.

• Does the existing curriculum for high school students give proper attention to the contributions of Mexican-Americans in Texas and the United States? No.

• In the realm of electives that also includes floral design, is an elective Mexican-American studies course unreasonable? No.

• Is there value — with lower academic achievement and other challenges present — for Latino students and others to learn with some depth about this culture? Yes.

The real fear here is that these courses will radicalize Texas students.

Thu
17
Apr

Remembering Mrs. Clark

In early August, shortly after moving to Fredericksburg, I studied a map of town to familiarize myself with the area. I saw Llano Street and wondered if it was pronounced the Spanish way, “Yahno” or the Americanized way, “Lan-no.”

How to pronounce it became unimportant when I noticed one particular block of land on Llano: Greenwood Cemetery.

Where have I seen the name Greenwood Cemetery before? I asked myself.

My long-term memory tends to be good, and almost immediately I thought of an newspaper clipping from a long time ago. It contained an obituary of an educated lady with diverse interests. Her smile suggested she had enjoyed life.

Then, I remembered: Mrs. Clark is buried at Greenwood Cemetery.

Mrs. Clark, a 1959 graduate of Fredericksburg High School (she was known as Delia Davidson then), was my English teacher during my junior year at A.C. Jones High School in Beeville.

Thu
17
Apr

The politics of water ownership in Texas

By Shelby Braswell, guest columnist— Who owns groundwater rights when the water flows back and forth between delineated ownership boundaries? Is it you? Or is it someone else? 

To address that question, $500 million was appropriated to study the hydrological flow of ground water in transboundary aquifers located along U.S.-Mexico borders. Consequently, the U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Act (of 2006) provided for hydrological research in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The cost of the study implies a tremendous political interest regarding control of groundwater.

According to W.M. Alley in a study published in 2013, “Declining water levels, deteriorating water quality and increasing use of groundwater by municipalities, industrial and agricultural water users have raised concerns of long term availability.”

Wed
09
Apr

Remembering sublime snowfall, ‘sublimation’

Snow and adolescence are the only problems that disappear if you ignore them long enough.  

- Earl Wilson

A recent trip back to my homeland in the mountains of North Carolina reminded me of how much I’d interacted with snow as a youngster.

We were able to catch a couple of snowfalls less than a month ago that managed to cover the ground, then peacefully melt away later in the day.

No two snowflakes are alike.

That’s something I was told by my seventh grade science teacher. And I’ve never had any reason to think otherwise.

My dad, also a science teacher, taught me that snow is created in a process called “sublimation” — that’s where water vapor (a gas) goes directly to being a solid (snow) without going through the liquid state (running water).

Pretty interesting stuff, eh?

Wed
09
Apr

Child services efforts help most vulnerable

‘Go Blue’ on April 9 to raise awareness, find solutions

By Ken Esten Cooke— It shouldn’t hurt to be a child.

That is the basic message behind child abuse prevention efforts both statewide and in Gillespie County.

“While stopping abuse after it happens is critical, it’s not enough. We need to stop it before it starts,” said Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Commissioner John Specia. “Man of the parents Child Protective Services (CPS) works with are young, some are poor, and almost all of them are under stress and need some kind of help. Helping parents is one of the keys to preventing child abuse.”

Let’s face it — parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual, and many with a low education level, or who come from abusive situations, find themselves as parental roles without much knowledge. Educational efforts such as these can help break a cycle of abuse.

Wed
09
Apr

Pride in Gillespie country schools, but dismay at federal initerventions

By Mark Wieser, founder of Fischer & Wieser— This past Saturday, I drove out to the five country schools that were open. At four of them I found a friendly host, hostess or group of former students happy to share their stories of their schools. I could have stayed at each forever listening to their stories and marveling at what it might have been like to have had the privilege to attend one of these schools. 

However at the last, Junction School, there were no former students, only two park employees who obviously could not express the same kind of appreciation for the heritage that the Junction school had offered. In the background was an everlasting recording of LBJ touting the signing the Elementary and Secondary Education (ESEA) of 1965. 

ESEA was then the first of liberal politicians’ efforts for throwing money at schools in a false belief that more money leads to smarter kids. Sadly, today our students rank 36th among the world’s nations.

Wed
09
Apr

LBJ's civil rights courage

Tumultuous era required adept legislative touch to begin road to equality

By Ken Esten Cooke— It’s difficult to remember what the country was like 50 years ago, and for those of us who weren’t alive, difficult to imagine.

The 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, was the beginning steps on a continuing road to equality for our entire population.

Part of his genius was in helping the south change from within. Being “one of them,” LBJ was able to help persuade southern legislators in ways that weren’t as “top-down” as northerners who approached the subject. His efforts led to huge change in the south, which benefited from economic investment as northern money flowed into the area once ugly civil rights fights subsided.

Wed
02
Apr

Gardening used to be a year-round chore

For many people these days, gardening is just a hobby and not the necessity it was years ago.

Gardening and then canning and preserving the fruits of their labor was a way of life for the housewife, especially those in the country who didn’t have a grocery store at the end of the street.

When company came around, she prided herself to take visitors down to the cool dark cellar or tank house and pull back the curtain behind which was displayed shelf upon shelf of pint and quart jars of fruits and vegetables that had been preserved during the previous growing season.

Back then, gardening was just about a year-round chore. The season would start the middle of January and extend until a good hard freeze would hit around Thanksgiving.

Today, gardeners spend countless hours researching information on the internet and reading books and magazines for tips and pointers to the “perfect garden.”

Wed
02
Apr

Biking is 'green' in more ways than one

Economic boosts of cycling events an undoubtable benefit to area

By Ken Esten Cooke— It was quite a sight on Saturday morning as cars and bikes stretched the entire length of the airport runway at LBJ National Historical Park. Cyclists by the hundreds streamed into the area for the LBJ 100, which features routes for beginners to advanced, and competitive time trials on the second day.

A lot of work goes into hosting a gathering of that many people, and we give kudos to the organizers of the event, which has grown by leaps and bounds to this year’s total of nearly 2,000 riders last weekend.

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