Newspaper Archive of
Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
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June 9, 2010     Hays Free Press
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June 9, 2010
 

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[UlIIWI .... lil IIL-- -  :.. Page 2A NEWS Hays Free Press June 9, 2010 ( The Hays Free Press (ISSN 1087-9323) published weekly by Barton Publications, Inc., 109 W. Center Street, Kyle, rx 78640. Periodicals post- age paid at Buda, TX 78610 and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Barton Publica- tions, Inc., P.O. Box 339, Buda, TX 78610. ISSN#1087-9323 NEWS TIPS If you think it's news, we probably do too! Newsroom phone: 512-268-7862 E-mail: news@haysfree- press.corn Mail: RO. Box 2530, Kyle, TX 78640 CORRECTIONS Any erroneous reflection upon the character, standing or reputation of any person, firm or corporation which may ap- pear in the pages of the Hays Free Press will be corrected upon being brought to the at- tention of the publisher. DEADLINES The deadline for display ad- vertising and any contributed news copy in the Hays Free Press is 5 p.m. Friday the week prior to publication. The deadline for Letters to the Editor and classified word advertising in the Hays Free Press is noon Monday the week of publication, though we encourage readers and advertisers to observe the Friday deadline. LE'FrERS GUIDELINES We welcome locally written letters to the editor on timely topics of community inter- est. We ask that you keep them to about 350 words in length and that you not in- dulge in personal attacks on private individuals. Letters may be edited for brevity and clarity. All letters should be signed by the author and include a daytime phone number where the author can be contacted for verifi- cation. Letter writers are lim- ited to one letter per month. Letters can be emailed to csb@haysfreepress.com HISTORY Founded April 10, 1903 by Thomas Fletcher Harwell as The Kyle News, with offices on the corner of Budeson and Miller Streets in the town's oldest remaining building, it merged into The Hays County Citizen in 1956. The paper consolidated with The Free Press in October, 1978. Dur- ing its more than 100-year history the newspaper has maintained offices at more than a dozen locations in Kyle and Buda. Jail study issue fails to rest among court BY BRAD ROLLINS brad@haysfreepress.com The Commissioners Court again erupted into raised voices and rancor during a discussion this week of the Hays County Jail, a topic that has proven to be more durable than even the court's storied disagreements over road spending. The point of contention this week was Pct. 4 Commissioner Karen Ford's proposal to ask the Texas Commission on Jail Stan- dards to conduct a facility needs analysis on the jail, a week after the court formally accepted a consultant's extensive findings on the same subject. A study by MGT of America, completed earlier this year, in- dicated the county should plan for an average daily jail popula- tion of 321 in 2020, with a peak population of 361. The county can accommodate those levels with the addition of one or two pods - 48 to 96 beds - to the current 362-bed jail on Uhland Road in San Marcos instead of building a new one at the cost of at least $60 million. But an earlier TCJS study, conducted in 2005 but dated 2007, said the county will need 720 beds by 2020 and 956 by 2026. Ford and County Judge Elizabeth Sumter have repeat- ed expressed incredulity at the Debate over whether to renovate the on the commissioners court. gap between the two jail popu- lation projections while the three other court members are satisfied that the MGT study is more thorough and compre- hensive. "There is no harm in getting more information," Ford said. A TCJS assessment "may not be so in detail and in depth but I still feel like it's worth our time to do this." Clearly weary of retreading the same ground, commission- ers Jeff Barton, Will Conley and Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe op- posed re-opening the jail ca- pacity issue and voted against extending an invitation to TCJS. Ford's motion, seconded by Sumter, failed 3-2. But before the vote was FILE PHOTOS aging Hays County Jail or construct a new one has sparked contention taken, the court members on both sides of the issue vented frustration with the other. The jail issue has been contentious for well over a year, a chain of events initiated when newly appointed Sheriff Tommy Rat- lift invited the ]aft. Standards Commission to conduct a special inspection of the fa- cility. That failed inspection, a series of failed inspections that followed, ultimately led to the county drawing sanctions from the state agency, which were lifted only last week. The county has spent more than $1.2 million in the last year to correct problems identified in the inspections in addition to the nearly $460,000 it has spent so far this fiscal year to house prisoners in neighboring Gua- dalupe County. Against that backdrop, Ratliff and Sumter began pitching the need for a new jail, which did nothing to quell suspicions that they were using the troubled fa- cility as political leverage. "Some politicians were go- ing out and making some bold, premature pronouncements about our jail needs ... and now it's like they're sending out an SOS, asking that someone toss them a life preserver because they're drowning over a partic- ular issue," Cordey said. At that, both Sumter and Ford jumped in, with Sumter saying, "I take offense to that." "The .question 'has never been answered why there is such a big difference" between the two studies, Sumter said. "We're looking for balance to use in making these decisions." Ford said, "I do not have a 'new jail' agenda, commis- sioner." Alan Pollock, an MGT senior partner, said the TCJS study used an anticipated 40 percent population growth rate in its projections, which far exceeds the upper range of expecta- tions from the Texas Data Cen- ter and other demographers. In addition, the TCJS study found in 2006 the county had an in- carceration rate of 2.16 inmates for every 1,000 residents, well below the state average at the time of 2.63 inmates per 1,000 people. Yet the agency used higher incarceration rates rang- ing to 2.4 inmates per 1,000 in figuring the county's future jail bed needs. Barton offered a friendly amendment to Ford's motion, apparently in jest, that the county invite the Texas Com- mission on Environmental Quality to assess a local habitat conservation plan, TxDOT to assess the county's road plans and on down the line. The point, Barton said, is that "we can do another study of a study of a study but at some pOint if the results are different then we have to do a study of a Deputies investigate Ruby Randl b00rgl00v BY JEN BIUNDO jen@haysfreepress.com Hays County investigators are on the hunt for burglars who ransacked a home in the Ruby Ranch subdivision last Wednes- day afternoon, making off with computers, jewelry and an un- disclosed amount of cash. The homeowner told inves- tigators with the Hays County Sheriff's Office that she returned to her home in the 300 block of Ruby Ranch Road at about 2:15 p.m. on June 2 and found a black Ford Expedition sit-ring in her circular driveway. The man sitdng in the lpedi- tion told the home-owner that he was selling cleaning supplies, but as she questioned him, she grew nervous and told him to leave. Shortly after he drove off, a neighbor was driving down Ruby Ranch Road and saw a man in dark clothing running down the street with two dogs chasing him and biting athim. He disappeared into a heavily wooded empty lot. Concerned, she called 911. As police were in route, the homeowner went inside to find that her house had been ran- sacked, with drawers yanked open and fumiture flipped over. Witnesses say they believe the second man fled on foot out of the back door while the hom- eowner was talking to the driver of the Expedition. He is described as His" c, 5'8", wth a: _v head d a stocky build. No, ie. scripfion was immediately avail- able for the driver. Ruby Rnnch is an upscale neighborhood west of Buda, with homes spread out on large acreage lots. Investigators have no sus- pects in the case. Let your voice be heard vote today! r PEC members have until Friday, June 11, to vote in the 2010 PEC election by mail or online. Members' votes will decide two director positions and whether the Cooperative implements a Member Bill of Rights. Votes may also be cast in person at the PEC Annual Membership Meeting June 19 in Johnson City. Pedernotes Etectric 1-888-556-6752 .pec.coop study of a Study of a study." f Harris Co. deputy arrested ,locally STAFF REPORT A Houston area constab/e's deputy was ar- rested recently in San Marcos after a traffic accident that sent a motorcy- clist to the hospital. Michael St. Romain, 23, is charged with intoxication assault after he lost control of his black Mustang while turning onto Thorpe Lane from Robbie Lane at about 9:24 p.m. May 30, said San Marcos police Sgt. Fred Wisener. The 19-year-old victim, whose name police declined to release, was transported to Brackenridge Hospi- tal in Austin. The extent of his inju- ROMAIN ries are unknown. St. Romain failed a field sobriety test, but the results of a blood analysis are not avail- able, Wisener said. The blood test was manda- tory because St. Romain faces an intoxication assault charge, Wisener said. Romain told investigators that a friend he met a few hours earlier was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident, Wisener said. But a by- stander identified St. Romain as the driver, Wisener said. St. Romain, who has been a patrol deputy for 18 months, is suspended without pay from the Harris County Pct. 4 constable's office pending the outcome of the criminal charges. Precinct 4 Chief Deputy Jim Sum- ner said that if St. Romain is indicted by a grand jury, he would be fired in accordance with department policy. Subject to credit approval. Your spedflc rate will be dependent upon your credit reSng, redationship with us and other factors. Rates and terms are subject to change without notice. If you use your MasterCard e to make purchases denominated in a foreign currency, you will be charged a foreign exchange fee by MasterCard to convert currency. Federally insured by the NCUA. +