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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
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February 20, 2013     Hays Free Press
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HaysFreePress.com FOR CHARITY Local real estate broker changes business model. - Page 1C February 20, 2013 Page 1C What are you finding in your Mt, City yard? MT, CITY MONTAGE lack vultures drew Salli Wilson's attention to her neighbor's yard on Maple Drive. Coyotes had killed a baby Axis deer. Coyotes often come into the Wilson's backyard. RonTom looked down as he stepped from our back porch to the herb garden sidewalk and saw a loooooooong snake. He summoned me to grab KiSsMe, our Great White Hunter with Red Spots, from another part of the yard. Ron snapped a photo with his iPhone and the snake safely slithered away. See photo, page 4C. Ron scaled the snake's im- age on my computer monitor, knowing the mat in the photo measured 26-inches. Ron calculated 33-inches as the snake's length. Best I can tell, using "A Field Guide to Texas Snakes," our slender slender snake is a female ribbon snake (which closely resembles a Texas Garter Snake). Ron handed me an article from the Austin newspaper re- porting on a study presented to the American Ornitholo- gists Union showing Ruby- throated Hummingbirds are returning to North America earlier than in decades past. This could mean that hum- mingbirds arrive before their food supply comes into pro- duction. Year-round, in Mountain City hummingbird feed- ers may attract hummers. In months when the Ruby- throated and Black-chinned are not here, Rufous hummers get reported. See MONTAGE, pg. 4C Buda senior citizens center officially open BUDA BITS W!had a beautiful day ast Thursday for the ibbon cutting and lunch at the new Onion Creek Senior Center in Buda. Our thanks to all who attended and to all the wonderful volunteers who helped with the event. Thanks also to the Buda/Kyle Girl Scouts for the Valentine decorations, cards, balloons and the cookies. A giant indoor garage sale will be held at the "old" senior center on Saturday, Feb. 23, from 7:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Our membership as well as residents of the community have donated many treasures, so there will be something for everyone. Since the sale is indoors, it will be held rain or shine. Join us on Saturday at FM 2770 and Bartons Cross- ing, behind the Justice of Peace and Tax Offices in Buda. Tete Rodriquez had the first birthday celebration in the new Onion Creek Senior Citizens Center last Saturday night where family and friends gathered to celebrate his 80th birthday. About 200 well- wishers enjoyed a barbeque dinner, with cake, entertain- ment by a mariachi band and dancing to DJ music. Pictures and Rodriquez history was displayed and the honored man was well dressed in his favorite Longhorn orange shirt and black hat. See BUDA BITS, pg. 2C PHOTO BY KIM HILSENEBCK Kyle Police Det. Jacob Luria explains the evidence collection tools that his team uses when they collect items at a crime scene. 1 .( Talking Forensics with .C BY KIM HILSENBECK kim@haysfreepress.com Ever wondered what happens when law enforcement officers take evidence from a crime scene? After talking about forensic science with students from a Lehman High School class (see story on page 3B), we thought it would be interesting to learn more about evidence processing in the real world. The Hays Free Press spoke with Kyie Police Chief Jeff Barnett, along with Det. Jacob Luria and Maryann Palomares, about how evidence is handled and what happens with it once it's removed from the scene of the crime. "It would be great if everything got done in 27 minutes like they see on TE" Luria said. "But a lot of times things can take up to a year to get back." In the interim, Lu- ria said victims ask, "where's my case?" But he said it's a waiting game. "We're solely dependent on the crime labs we use," Luria said. For narcotics, Luria said they use the Austin Police Department. They use the Department of Public Safety (DPS), also in Austin, for computers, sexual assault kits, blood alcohol, fingerprints and basically everything that doesn't fall under narcotics. He said the lab they use in Austin generally has faster turnaround than the DPS lab but only because DPS pro- cesses evidence for so many agencies across the state. "The turnaround can be up to a year to get certain pieces of evidence back," he said. But before anything can be pro- cessed, it has to be collected and handled properly. Luria discussed the scenario if there were a drug bust on Interstate-35. He said Kyle police officers would take any evidence from that stop to the depart- ment's evidence room, properly pack- age it for analysis and determine which lab to send it to for processing. Kyle police officers keep supplies such as fingerprint kits, evidence bags and simple drug testing kits in their "The whole process involves a lot more people and resources than people think; lab, officers, transport, the DAs office -it's a very involved process; it's a multi-person function." -Det. Jacob Luria vehicles. They can do some quick drug assessments SO they know what they're dealing with and how to proceed with the suspect. But any evidence that needs analysis is sent to one of the two labs mentioned. How do they decide what steps to take? "It depends on what it is in terms of how we handle and package it," Barnett added. Barnett said his officers are trained at a basic level to collect fingerprints. Luria said if offi- cers take a suspect's cell phone, they're not so concerned about wearing latex gloves because it's not a biohazard. But if evidence is blood or anything biological, the of- ricers have to wear gloves because the biggest factor is safety for their officers. However, evidence that must be sent for DNA testing follows different protocols. "You don't want to breathe on it, don't want to transfer oils (like from fingers)," Luria said. "So there are definitely cross contamination issues," he said. Luria said Kyle officers understand how to handle evidence and follow the procedures. "For example, you don't put biologi- cal evidence in plastic because of mois- ture; that will degrade it," Luria said. If it's wet and bloody you have to package it so it dries properly." He said other departments across the country have been embarrassed when a fingerprint comes back and it's the officer's and not the perpetrator's. "Then they know the evidence was not properly handled," Luria said. According to Burnett, deciding where the items go for processing is based on the intended analysis of the evidence. "Sometimes you want to check fin- gerprints on the packet of drugs," Luria said, "but sometimes you just need to test for what kind of drugs were seized." Every crime scene has its own pro- cedures; bullets, knives, drugs, blood, guns, digital and electronic devices - Luria said each item has to be handled in a particular manner and order to protect the evidence. For example, an officer may try to lift fingerprints from a soda bottle but that might ruin the DNA on the inside, so the DNA swab would be done first and then the fingerprints. "We have to decide where it goes first and how it's handled," Luria said. Regardless of the items and pos- sible analysis, each piece of evidence is entered into the department's records management system and logged into the evidence room. The chain of cus- tody should never be broken - so items go straight from the crime scene to the evidence room. "We also bar code so every item is tracked at each step in the process," Luria said. This also helps, for example, if the Hays County District Attorney's office signs out evidence, it's all tracked, there's a record. "When I started it was all written in a notebook so it's come a long way," Luria said. "There is more accountability." What many people seem to want to know, Luria said, is do things work like they do on those crime shows on "The whole process involves a lot more people and resources than people think; lab, officers, transport, the DAs office - it's a very involved process; it's a multi-person function," he said. And though Luria said the DPS lab just added another five analysts, they need 10 more. Or perhaps we need less crime? *Yes, that's the other side of it," he said. uck Barry stayed in his native North Carolina just long to marry an old flame on Feb. 24, 1847 before coming back to Texas to start a family. All too often early settlers of Texas are portrayed as illiterate fugitives. Not so with James Buckner Barry, who pos- sessed a better than average education for the times and was running to an exciting land full of opportunity rather than from the law. Twenty-four years old when he left his Tar Heel home, Barry spent a month at sea before finally docking at New Orleans. He had to wait a week before finally boarding a ship bound not for Galveston but an inland port of entry on the Red River. Jefferson was not much to look at on April 12, 1845, the day Barry first THIS WEEK IN TEXAS HISTORY set foot in Texas: As he recalled in his memoirs half a century later, "Several houses were under construction but there was only one finished." The newcomer did not linger long at the future haven for bed-and-breakfast tourists. He wandered west through the wild countryside with his ultimate destination San Antonio. On his way to the Alamo City, Barry visited the latest and last capital of the Texas Republic. Austin was still in its infancy and offered the traveler little more than Jefferson. Barry clearly was not impressed. Other than the capitol building, 'Austin had only a few houses built of logs, clapboards and whipsawed lumber," he wrote so many years later. "I recollect seeing only one white woman in town, if it could be called a town." The day after Barry reached San Antonio, the inhabitants were pan- icked by reports of another in a series of Mexican invasions. He eagerly rode out with a Ranger company to confront the threat but never caught sight of the trespassers, who had retreated to the Rio Grande. A short time later, Barry "joined the little army of the Republic of Texas, See TEXAS HISTORY, pg. 3C "like to think of it as my favorite time of year, my'Rite . of Spring,' when I go outside to plant America's favorite back- yard vegetable, the tomato. 2012 was an outstanding year for tomato growers. Winter did not linger much past Feb. 1, which allowed us to get an early start.., essential for success. The experts at Texas A&M place mid-March as the start of tomato planting season, which coincides with the last average frost date. Planting them early is always a risk but rewards are plentiful if you can protect them from late season freezes and frosts. This means more fruit set before the ar- rival of warm weather, which takes such a toll on large fruit production. What kind of tomatoes should you plant? There are a myriad of varieties, but first you have to choose from two main categories: hybrids, and heirlooms. Heirloom tomatoes are the tried and true, older varieties known for their rich flavors, their colors, and their shapes. They are open pollinated and their seeds are viable from year to year. Their seeds can be saved and re-planted. The advantage of saving and re-growing seeds is that a particular ,~rariety will become used to the local climate and conditions. A disadvantage? Many heirlooms don't have the built-in disease resistance that you find in the new hybrids. My favorite heirloom is Cherokee Purple. Absolutely the best tomato I have ever eaten. Large, dark, meaty, and very rich. However there are many to choose from that approach the greatness of the Cherokee, including Brandywine, Green Zebra, Homestead, Arkansas Traveler, Black Krim, Mortgage Lifter, and Bloody Butcher. Hybrid tomatoes are selected crosses that do not hold true when the seed is saved and replanted. Hybrids are bred for disease resistance, color, size, uniformity, high temperature fruit set, and production. Many of the new hybrids claim yields in excess of 30 pounds per bush. The top hybrids for this area are Celebrity, Phoenix, BHN 444, BHN 602, Tycoon, Valley Girl, Big Boy, Better Boy, Solar Fire, Solar Flare, Surefire, and Heatwave. Celebrity tomato, a hybrid produced in Colin Wyatts backyard in 1984, has been the most popular variety for nearly 30 years. BHN 602 was the hybrid tomato released in the spring of 2012. 602 averaged 12 to 14 oz. per fruit and was a prolific producer at It's About Ttiyme's test garden. They produced well and were flavorful. The new hybrid for this year is Tigress. It's described as 'a reliable medium fruited heat- setting slicer with the potential of setting 30 pounds of high quality fruit with excellent sugar to acid flavor.' Tigress is resistant to tomato spotted wilt virus and tomato yellow leaf curl virus. A good strategy is to plant a mixture: heirlooms for flavor, and hybrids for production (and flavor). And don't forget to plant plenty of cherry toma- toes. They never fail to set in the heat and produce worlds of fruit. My favorites are Julliet and Sun Gold. Happy tomato gardening everyone! If you have a gardening ques- tion, send it to me via emaik iathyme@yahoo.com. (Please put'Ask Chris Winslow' in the subject line.) Or mail your letter or postcard to:Ask Chris Winslow. It's About Thyme: 11726 Manchaca Road, Austin, TX 78748 +