Newspaper Archive of
Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
June 30, 2010     Hays Free Press
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June 30, 2010

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WINNING TRADITION Former Lobos playing for collegiate league's Austin Gold Sox. - Page 1B FIDDLER'S CONTEST The annual Camp Ben Confederate Reunion plays that old time music. - Page 1C Barton Publications, Inc. 1 q Serving Buda, Kyle and Northeast Hays County 75 PHOTOS BY SAM CLANTON/HOMETOWNDAJLYNEWS.COM Police in Branson, MO, surround the Walnut Lane Motel, where Hays County homicide suspect Mark Simmons was hiding during an eight and a half hour standoff. Simmons faces capital murder charges in the April death of Buda resident Steven Woelfel. Stung by SWAT Local murder suspect apprehended in Missouri BY JEN BIUNDO A suspect in a Buda homicide and arson was arrested Tuesday in the Ozarks town of Branson, Missouri after an eight and a half hour standoffwith police. Branson police arrested Mark David Simmons, 51, after he exited his room at the Walnut 'Laii6'qI6 f61-diii:rendered peacefully around 3 p.m. Simmons' only request was that when he surrendered, he asked not to be forcibly thrown on the ground and handcuffed, said city of Branson spokesper- son Jerry Adams. "The police chief guaranteed that if he walked out with his hands on his head, that would not happen," Adams said. Last month, Hays County investigators issued a capital murder warrant for Simmons, who is accused of murdering his business partner Steven Woelfel in April, then setting Woelfel's detached garage on fire about a week later on April 17 to cover up the crime. Sim- mons is also believed to have rigged an explosion in the main portion of the house that may have been targeted at first re- sponders arriving on the scene. Branson police say that Sim- mons is suspected of robbing a Super 8 Motel at gunpoint Sun- day night, after unsuccessfully attempting to rob the Spinning Wheel Motel earlier in the eve- ning. Patrolling the motel where Simmons was staying, Branson police found the silver-blue 2008 Hyundai Sonata believed A SWAT team enters room #20 at the motel to recover evidence following Simmons' arrest. Below, Branson Police Chief Carroll McCullough makes the arrest. Simmons' only request to police negotiators was that he not be thrown to the ground during the arrest, and he was allowed to walk out of the room with his hatnds on his head. to be used in the Branson rob- beries. Investigators ran the plates on the car and tied the vehicle to the Hays County case. Simmons' mother, Wanda Simmons, had said that her son stole the Hyundai from her home in Rockport, Texas, on April 1, the last time she saw him. The standoff began at about 6:30 Tuesday moming. Sim- mons spent the day holed up in room #20 of theWalnut Lane Motel, speaking with negotia- tors frequently over the phone, as police evacuated the motel and shut down the surrounding streets. He surrendered peace- See STANDOFF, pg. 2A COURTESY OF ACC Austin Community College has announced plans to buy 96 acres of land in Plum Creek (outlined in red) as the site of a future carries. ACC buys land for Kyle campus BY BRAD ROLLINS lege district announced Tues- The Austin Community Col- lege District has put 96 acres on Kyle Padmeay at Kohler's Crossing in the Plum Creek development under contract as the future location of its North Hays County campus. The parcel sits next to Union Pacific railroad tracks, where re- gionai leaders hope commuter rail will run someday between Austin and San Antonio. The college will purchase the land for $9.84 million from Mountain Plum I_TD, the col- day. If area residents vote on Nov. 2 to join the ACC taxing district, they'll construct a re- gional campus on the site. ACC annexationdrives are underway in Bastrop ISD, El- gin ISD, McDade !SD, Hays CISD and San Marcos CISD. ACC also has an existing agreement for 72 acres in San. Marcos, contingent upon a successful annexation effort. ACC district residents pay an additional 9.46 cents of tax per $100 in property value, while paying $39 per credit hour for ACC courses instead of the j $137 out-of-district rate. : ::;7.:.= j On Maple Drive, alone in life, death BY JEN BIUNDO Michael Dowd lived alone, and at some point - two, four, perhaps even six weeks ago - he died alone. Residents of the small, close- knit community of Mountain City are coming to terms with the news that their reclusive neighbor passed away weeks before anyone realized he was gone, leaving behind a dete- riorating house stacked with years worth of newspapers and hundreds of empty Blue Bell Ice Cream cartons. Though they know there's little they could have done to help Dowd, 56, neighbors on Maple Drive say they're strug- gling with their own feelings of guilt. "I feel horrible," said his next door neighbor Gordon Dye, who called the Hays County Sheriff's Office after realizing he hadn't seen Dowd in several weeks. "I feel like I should have been more pushy as a neigh- bor." Mountain City is a small incorporated subdivision off FM 2270, just north of Hays High School, full of pleasant upscale homes on oversized, shady lots. With a population of 680, the community phone book consists of a few printed pages stapled together under a construction paper cover, and frequent community gather- ings help residents maintain neighborly ties. Despite nearly two de- cades of proximity, neighbors say that Dowd actively kept to himself, rarely leaving the See MT. CITY DEATH, pg. 4A Subscriber address Kyle, Buda host Independence Day celebrations BY BRAD ROLLINS The corridor cities are host- ing fireworks displays this weekend to celebrate Inde- pendence Day with all due "pop" and circumstance. In Kyle, a 20-minute show is planned to start at 9:30 p.m. viewing will also be available at the Gregg-Clark Park football field on Ranger Road. The Kyle swimming pool will stay open late until 7 p.m. prior to the fireworks. In Buda, residents can enjoy the annual, free Red, White 'n Buda fireworks display at 9:30 p.m. Sunday at Buda City Park, which opens at 8:30 p.m. for the strong man keg toss, as well as Chihuahua race& The hma- ber lack show features chainsaw racing, obstacle pole racing. cross-cut sawing, log rolling and other chopping contests. Entertainment at the Brew- B-Que includqes Jason Boland & The Stragglers; Cory Mor- row; Sean MicConnell; Mark McKinney and Ryan Beaver. Sunday from a hill behindWal- spectators. Brew-B-Que organizers will lace Middle School. Tickets are also available for charge an entrance fee until Public viewing is available $15 for the second annualTexas about 8:30 p.m., then open up in the field below the football Brew-B-Que, also at City Park. the gates for the free fireworks field in Gregg-Clarke Park. Res- The Brew-B-Que runs 11 a.m. show. Spectators can also idents are asked to enter from to 11 p.m. and kids under eight stick around to catch the fi- Center Street, across from years old are admitted free. nal concert, The Jeremy Miller its intersection with Cisne- The event features games like Band, after the fireworks free ros Street.Weather permitting, (non-alcoholic) beer pong and of charge. FOR FAMILY JUSTICE Local non-profit rewed up for new justice c:enter, a - Page 1D Last year's fireworks display at Buda City Park drew a crowd of thousands. This year Buda and Kyle are plan- ning more fireworks, and Buda will also be home to the Brew-B-Que Festival. PHOTO BY SEAN KIMMONS Opinions ..................... 3A Sports ..................... 1-2B Education ............... 3-4B Community Columns ....... 1&4C Bulletin Boards ............ 4C Obituaries .................. 4C Church Page ............... 3C Business News ............ 1 [3 Service Directory ...... 2-3D Classifieds .................. 2D Public Notices ............... 4D