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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
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August 4, 2010     Hays Free Press
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BACK ON TRACK Athletic programs district-wide begin two-a-day practices. - Page 1B READY FOR IDOL Kyle teen puts her singing experience to the test at American Idol audition. -Parle @Barton Publications, Inc. ........ HaysFreePress.com .i:.,.i.:i.,.,=:,i= .......... : ii.;.,,i=,,,==i,,== ...... ili VOI. 108" NO. 17 Buda, Kyle and Northeast Hays County 75 BY SEAN KIMMONS sean@haysfreepress.com Though he has his badge back, San Marcos Police Of- ricer Paul Stephens will be confined to a desk job after issues about his credibility and use of force were raised by the Hays County District Attorney's Office. On June 25, DA Sherri Tibbe sent a letter to San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams expressing concerns about Stephens' history of being untruthful and using excessive force. The letter outlined that Stephens will not be called to serve as a witness in prosecu- tion trials. "Our office must be able to vouch for the credibility of officers who testify on behalf of the State of Texas," Tibbe wrote. '~s a result of Officer Stephens' conduct, we are un- able to do so." Stephens was indefinitely suspended in October after he shoved a woman to the ground and allegedly ob- structed an intemal investiga- tion into the Aug. 18 incident outside Dillinger's bar on Hopkins Street in San Mar- cos. Stephens appealed the suspension. Months later a neutral hear- ing officer, Richard Brann, published a report saying that Stephens' indefinite suspen- sion, tantamount to firing, was not valid and downgraded it to a 15-day unpaid suspen- sion. According to state civil service laws, San Marcos Po- lice Department had to abide by the ruling. Tom Stribling, an attor- ney for the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, believes the recent move is "disturbing" since the arbitrator ruled that Stephens was truthful in the depart- ment's investigation. "Having been cleared for the charge of lying we think that it's improper for the DA and the chief of police to con- tinue to utilize the excuse that they think he lied," Stribling said. Williams strongly agreed with Tibbe's decision, saying that Stephens' credibility was one of the reasons he termi- nated him in the first place. "I knew that it wouldn't work," he said. "I already had the conversation with the DA before I suspended him. She was very clear then that she couldn't use him as a witness." See COP REHIRED, pg. 2A PHOTO BY SEAN KIMMONS Firefighter Taylor Hawes of the Kyle Fire Department spreads absorbent on a stain after a two-vehicle collision in August 2009 at the intersec- tion of FM 1626 and Marketplace Ave. The intersection's confusing design is being blamed for at least 20 accidents, and city officials hope to install a stoplight there soon. Confusing intersection may get traffic signal BY SEAN KIMMONS sean@haysfreepress.com A confusing intersection in Kyle that is being blamed for at least 20 vehicle collisions in the past year could see a traffic light soon, city officials say. The Kyle City Council re- cently directed city staff to contact Texas Department of Transportation for a pos- sible stoplight at FM 1626 and Marketplace Ave. after hearing concerns about its design. City officials have already handed over accident reports to the transportation depart- ment and will conduct a traf- fic study at the intersection by next week, Interim City Manager James Earp said. If TxDOT determines that the intersection warrants a stoplight, they will fund and install one for roughly $220,000 to $250,000. Before that happens, the city would have to agree to spend up to $20,000 for design work, Earp said. By taking a partnership route, the city could see the stoplight months sooner smcemy hope that we can come up with a solution with TxDOTto make the intersection safer because right now it is unacceptable. " - Mayer Lucy Johnson than waiting for a backlogged planned in the FM 1626 re- way." TxDOT to get around to it. vamp designs, but not until After the FM 1626 widen- "If we go this way we can traffic numbers at the inter- hag project was completed, literally be done within 14 section warranted the light, TxDOT came in and striped weeks," Earp said. "Within Earpsaid. the intersection again and 36 weeks TxDOT probably In the meantime, the de- placed plastic road studs to wouldn't have started on it." lay has cat~sed a confusing help guide drivers, Earp said. In 2006, the city doled out design at the intersection. City officials believe a $11 million to widen FM The design flaw stems from stoplight is still needed to 1626 from IH-35 to FM 2770 Marketplace Ave. bottleneck- deter dangerous collisions at in a pass-through financing ing from folur lanes (on the the intersection, which have partnership with TxDOT. The south side) to two lanes (on mostly been "t-bone" im- partnership allowed the proj- the north side), pacts. ect to be expedited as TxDOT The northern portion of"I felt the current striping dealt with funding issues. Marketplace Ave. will even- made the situation worse," Despite the city's help to tualiy be expanded and con- Mayor Lucy ]ohnson said. "I fund the project, TxDOT is nected to Kohler's Crossing, sincerely hope that we can still responsible for main- Earp said. come up with a solutiorrwith taining the highway, such as "It's confusing," he said of TxDOT to make the intersec- installing stoplights, the intersec:tion. "It's some- fion safer because right now A stoplight was originally what built hn an unorthodox it is unacceptable." Buda says no BY JEN BIUNDO jen@haysfreepress.com About 20 east side resi- dents prepared for a fight filled the Buda council chambers to express their objection to a zoning change that could bring manufac- tured homes to their neigh- borhood, but were quickly mollified by councilmembers who shared the sentiment. In a discussion-oniy ses- sion, Buda councilmembers rebuffed a city-led initiative to zone 23 acres of land for manufactured home use, and asked city staffers to come back with more options. Buda councilmember Sandra Tenorio said she was concerned about clustering smaller and less expensive lots on the east side, which has historically been home to some of the poorest resi- dents of the county. "As we look at the east side, we don't want subdivi- sion after subdivision with small lot sizes," Tenorio said. "Let's mix different levels of values so there's not the east side and the west side." The property is part of a 77-acre annexation in the works just east of IH-35 at FM 2001, south of the Sunrield development. With a number of land-owners in the mix, the city had recom- mended commercial zon- ing for about 54 acres, and manufactured housing zon- ing for the remainder. City officials noted that about 10 of the 23 acres were developed in the 1980s with 18 mobile homes on .44 acre lots. But neighboring resi- dents said they didn't want the area opened up for more manufactured housing. "I certainly know from being in real estate that there is still this huge prejudice about the east side," said Meadow Park resident Stephanie Poley. "Sticking a manufactured home facility right on that corner is not going to solve that." Meadow Park resident Alexis Juusola said that she was worried that more mobile homes nearby could push down the property value of her own house. "Of course we're all wor- ried about our home val- ues, since they've already dropped," ]uusola said. Buda Mayor Bobby Lane said he received six or eight See NO TO SMALL LOTS, pg. 4A address _ BY JEN BIUNDO jen@haysfreepress.com This fall, local law enforce- ment office:rs will trade out their brown uniforms for a new set in blue as the Bqda Police Department: comes online. City offici~s say the new de- partment will go live on Oct. 20, followirJg a month-long training periiod for new hires. The city ]had been paying about $725.000 annually to the Hays Coamty Sherriff's Of- fice for law enforcement ser- vices, but moved last year to coum~y pI~0TO terminate thte county contract The city will pay its officers is budgeted to run at about $700,000 annually, with most on a scale similar to sheriff's of the funds going to person- deputies. By hiring officers nel. The county began provid- who are already familiar with ing free law enforcement to the the Buda area- many of them city three months ago. poached from other local law Buda Police Chief Bo IOdd, enforcement agencies, includ- who came on in April to devel- ing the old Buda Patrol - Kidd op the new department, said said the new force can hit the he'll be hiring seven police of- ground running. ricers and one detective. Kidd "I think we're in a very previously led the county-run unique situation where we're Buda Patrol. actually going to start a brand "With a small department new department and be able likethis, each and everyperson to start with all experienced that we bring will determine officers," Kidd said. how successful this agency will Original estimates put boots be," Kidd said. "Every person on the ground as early as July, is instrumental. I'm bringing but city officials say renova- some fantastic people and I ex- pect great things from them." Congressman Lloyd Doggett (left) speaks with Buda Police Chief Be and build a home-grown po- Kidd (right) and Buda councilmember Bobby Lane (middle). lice force. The city's operation BUDA POUCE DEPT., pg. 2A FIRST FOR HAYS Opinions ..................... 3A Business News ............ 1D Sports ..................... 1-2B Service Directory ... 2&3D Seton 0octet performs first surety Education ............... 3-4~,C.~ .................. 9_,~ of its kind at Seton. Commia/y C.,olurrl~ ....... 1&4C Public Notices ...... 2&4D - Page 19 Bulletin Boards ............ 4C Church Page ............... 3C i ....... ....... . ~ .... . ,-- . ~.: ~ ~,~;~:~~~ ~ . - _