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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
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November 17, 2010     Hays Free Press
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November 17, 2010
 

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THEY REALLY SAID THAT?. + - Kathy "I oill never go near a chimp again. I'm trying to go on oitb my life." Harris after allegedly being attacked by a chimpanzee at a Dripping Springs exotic animal ranch Hays Free Press November 17, TI. s Page 3A I~thCking back on the porch swing at e Hays Free Press Sunday night, smiled at my cool little town and mtlected on what these two blocks of Center Street looked like when I landed in Kyte eight years ago. I promise you, there were no brick crosswalks or vintage-look- hag street lamps. It was pretty desolate and they rolled up the sidewalks and turned off the lights at nine. The comer on which the new city hall now looms, glowing against the night sky, was a rabble-filled vacant slab, the re- mains of the historic Ben Ton which had burned to the ground the year before. And across the street in the obviously- absent landlord-neglected eyesore still embarrassing us all, our county commis- sioner and justice of the peace were holed up in the mold-infested building battling their work environment along with crime and county issues. gordeaux's was still just a dream on the horizon for I_arsen and Kasey (and everyone else in town wanting something besides barbecue, DQ or donuts) and the magnificently restored Old Town Gift Em- porinm was a parceled-off, drop ceilinged pizza joint with cracked windows and peeling paint. The r~e Company was thriving as always, but there were a series of nonde- script "diners" that periodically propped signs up in the window of the building in which Hitter's is now rocking six nights a week. Across the street, the original city hall, bless its old soul, sat like a wart in the middle of a field. With warped linoleum floors, water-stained acoustical file ceil- hags and cheaply paneled walls, it was impossible to imagine the stately building it had been in its day; And now, look at it, our crown jewel. And although I know that there are structures in need of rehabilitation and protection all over town, one glaring and tragic example sits at the head of this two block stretch, wagging its wayward rain gutter and winking its missing window panes at everyone in sight. Several months after I moved here, we watched as the historic train depot made its descent over the hill on Hwy. 150 on its journey back to Center Street. Once in place, we wondered as it sat suspended, perched on metal moving beams, for months. We gasped as we watched the city tack on clunky porches and railings and a series of failed handicap ramps. And although this hundred-year-old relic was rescued from the scrap heap as Kyle itself fell into neglect in the sixties, it was bequeathed back to the dty with the understanding that it would be restored to its original glory. With such a generous offer, this certainly seemed like a simple enough request. A Depot Board was ap- pointed by the council and charged with the responsib'fiity of researching and rec- ommending a course of action to restore this beaut One problem. Evidently the city staff in place at the time had decided that resto- ration of this prized piece of Kyle's history was not in keeping with their plans to modernize the depot into business of- rices. Subsequently, they usurped the Depot Board's recommendations at every juncture, making decisions and holding meetings of which board members were not apprised and circumventing attempts to maintain the depot's historical integrity. Year after year as they manipulated and postponed decisions, the depot contin- ued to disintegrate. And it's in big trouble right now. Luckily, the council has revived the Depot Board and new members have been appointed to replace out-going members. And, although the city man- agement is in flux as I write, we should have a new City Manager in the coming weeks, whom I trust will follow the coun- cil's lead and recommendations in regard to the depot. The money allocated for the restora- tion is drawn from the hotel/motel tax which, by law, can only be used for the promotion of local tourism and places no burden on property or business owners. Its use is merely contingent upon adopt- ing a plan that the council feels will best achieve the goal ofretuming this precious structure to its original significance, as basic and unassuming as it was. In its heyday, the depot offered respite to weary travelers and was the center of commerce and communication in a town that would surely have vanished had the railroad chosen an alternate path. It was the hub, and if not for the generosity of folks who love this town, we would have lost this caudal link to our past forever. It will take time and patience and ingenuity to bring this building back, and we have the capacity to rescue this landmark. But with each passing day as it sits neglected, it fades a bit more. Tune is of the essence. ~,gom J -,all fll!l I!!1 ,11111 I}1 l, ~, arva Beck told a reporter /that her first priority as a ~.new state representative is a tough~ gvoter identification law. Not to help Texas schools ad- dress ( 'er-accttmulating and costly state r mdates? Not to better serve the m4tally ill? Not to dig the state out of; Texas-sized hole in address- ingitsansportation needs? No, e CenterviUe Republican will go to t stin banging pots and pans to ward (something that rarely pres- ents it lfin real life: the threat to the repub:that is illegal voters. Dor believe that this is a partisan red-st~ ~ herring? Don't rely on me. Ask Rcablican Attorney General Greg a~ott. He did a full-court press to catch illegal voters a couple of years al~o. He ended up prosecuting not quite enough of them to have a full-cou(t game of basketball. Voter ~D efforts stir Republican politicos to song, though they affect average citizens almost not at all. A learned response is that for the GOP it's ~nore about suppressing the participation of a class of voters that trends Democrat - the poor, the black, the brown- than actually preventing illegal acts. I remhrk on the general puniness of Beck'g top priority because she just staged a tremendous upset. The political novice defeated seven-term state Rep. Jim Dunnam of Waco. A tremendous effort by moneyed interests successfully targeted Dun- of the House Democrats. ' obscure outside of her Leon County environs, became the vessel to place the TNT in Dunnam's loafers. Another reason to remark on this is that Beck's victory so clearly epito- mized those across the state and na- tion, where money spoke every bit as loudly as voting blocs. No offense to the fine folks and livestock of Central Texas, but there's not $1.5 million worth of political real estate in House District 57, which Beck now will represent. That's how much money was poured into it by both candidates. And while Beck will claim to have staged a door-knocking grassroots revolt, business-interests behemoth, Texans for Lawsuit Reform, paid for spreading much of the manure - nearly $600,000 worth of it, ac- cording to the Texas Ethics Commis- sion. Among other things, this booty helped finance a succession of glossy direct-mail missives seemingly with- out end. Not cheap. Money. Money. Money. Nationwide, $4 billion was spent on drilling messages into your brain, mostly through T~. Eduardo Porter in the New York Times calculated that the price of a vote - $33 in an already obscenely costly 2008 campaign, went up to $43 this time. "Democracy Now" host Amy Good- man is one who ever has her eyes on the prize of justice for all- in contrast to those who think what's best for the country is to keep marginalized people down. An advocate of public campaign financing and free candi- date air time, she points out a truth: "Media corporations are making such a killing... Yet the broadcasters are us- ing public airwaves." Who was paying for all of this? On a national scale, it generally was anony- mous donors, dominated by corpora- tions and unions. Before this Congress wheezes to a halt, it needs to go strong to the hoop on a bill that would take away this mask of anonymity and make major players stand for the attacks they finance. This interest should cut both ways. in fact, one Republican, new Sen.-elect Mark Kirk, R-Ill., has said he might support the Disclose Act, which would lift the veil on now- nameless campaign funds. As for Texas: It is more in the spell of big money than ever before. People without means have less of a voice than ever before. Achingly obvious transportation needs have less of a voice than ever before. Teachers have less of a voice than ever before. Now, let's go out and find us some illegal voters. Gotta be some out there somewhere. Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. jyoungcolumn@gmail.com The death of John Taylor "Tay" Gu tery last week in Austin floCded my memory with news- paper-related incidents of nearly 50 years ago. The late Mark Adams and I were barely keeping this newspaper alive by comii :g to Kyle every weekend from Au., tin, and putting together a lively, bu quite small, edition. I was ~ partner in a Ford tractor agency a Ld Mark did me one better by being ~ top writer for the Army Corps of'.~ngineers and spending many ew nings as a typesetter on the night shiJ t at the Austin American. Our to1 al staff consisted of the always present Turner Harweli, the bachelor son of the paper's founder who was nearly 70 years old and sold OF CABBAGES advertising without the benefit of having transportation, other than by foot or bus - and Tay. A big bear of a man, perhaps 19 years old, Tay taught himself almost overnight, with Mark's tutoring, to operate the linotype. That's a skill that few mortals can accomplish without years of practice. We gave ourselves glorious rides to compensate for chicken feed paychecks. I was the Presiding Gent, Mark was the Coordinating Secretary, and Tay was the Rabochek, meaning "worker" in Russian. He was studying Russian at the University of Texas at the time and it was an appropriate, self-bestowed title. Rabochek? He was certainly that. It was a small newspaper, but it was ours. We managed to keep the publication Uve and kicking, and Mark and "Fay, along with dozens and dozens of others (more saints than sinners), have kept this newspaper alive and breathing for nearly 108 years. Adios, my friend. bob@haysfmeprsss.oom NATIONALiLEAGUE OF CITIES For tho~ National I togive ab latest pro[ govemrne drug bene offprescri will cost tt e who don't know what the eagne of Cities is I would like ~ef description of one of the rams that it is infiltrating city ats with. It is the prescription fit, allowing you to save 20% ~tions purchased at CVS. It :e city almost $4,000 annual to join. So,rinds like a nice idea, right? What kin4 of message are we send- ing Target~WalGreens, HEB, etc if the city coun~ approves this. Are we not sending a ~lear message that the city is promoting one business (CVS) over the others? '. Not to i~ention whether this will really a benefit to the citizens. What ffI choose no~ to go to CVS, so I am going to be penalized for going to HEB, with whom I think is a much valuable busi- ! ness parmer for Kyle? While the idea sounds nice, it is counter productive to Kyle's asp'trations to attract good businesses. I spoke with a gentleman from California during one of September's council meetings. He was contemplating bringing his business to Kyle. He attends council meetings to help him decide whether to expand his business to that commu- nity or not. Afterward, he was not very impressed with our council, and said that he would not likely bring his busi- ness to Kyle. He had some fairly critical things to say about our city council. Ironically, he and I are on opposite ends of the polirical spectrum. Yet, we both saw things the same way when it came to the direction of Kyle. Please do not mis-judge my intentions. I am not trying to criticize council. Rather, I want to suggest another wa~ Council is so distracted with personal agendas and they are forgetting about the basic needs of the community and the role they should play. Council should focus on balancing the budget, keeping taxes low, and improving infrastructure. They should stop messing around with all of the "fluff" that makes a few peo- ple feel good, but really accomplishes nothing. Joining the National League of Cities does in fact seem to be a conflict to the direction most would like to see this community go. Do we really want to alienate some of our most trusted partners like HEB by espousing a pro- gram that promotes one business over the other? The answer is sinxple, No! RonaM Sherman ~yte COMMENTS FROM THE WEBSITE "Congratulations Coach She/ton. When I'm driving home Friday evenings after a long week and I see the glow of the bright lights on the West Texas horizon I always remember my days playing for you. As/de from football, I /earned more about work ethic, teamwork, and life from you and the outstanding staff you assembled. And really whats more important than that? It won't be the same without you on the sideline." -- JR on =Bob Shelton allrlounc~$ reliremellt" at haysfreepress.com "You have coached many sec- ond generation players while being the only head football coach at Hays. Therefore, you have been a great Christian influence on many families for many years. You will be missed on the gridiron, but still very present in the Hays commu- nitiy that you helped gain great respectability. May God bless you and your family during your retirement, Thank you for the opportunity of calling you first coach, then friend, then coach for a son. Congratulations on a wonderful career." -- Mike Brewington on "Bob Shelton announces retlrs- rnent" at haysfreepress.com MANAGEMENT BARTON PUBLICATIONS, INC. Co-Publishers Bob Barton and Cyndy Slovak-Barton Office Manager Connie Brewer buslness@haysfraepress.com NEWS ROOM Editor Brad Rollins brad@haysfreepress.com Staff Reporters Jennifer Biundo Sean Kimmons Kay Richter Brenda Stewart School Reporter Jim Cullen Community Reporters Sandra Gdzzle Myrtle Heideman Pauline Tom Brenda Stewart Sports Editor Jason Gordon Sports Reporter Mark Caul Columnists Bob Barton Bartee Halle Phil Jones Svea Sauer Clint Younts Donn Brooks John Young Brenda Stewart Darryl Jamail Proofreaders Jane Kirkham Brenda Stewart ADVERTISING Tracy Mack tracy@haysfreepress.com CIRCULATION Circulation Mgr Suzanne Hallam paper@haysfreepress.com CLAS$1REDS Suzanne Hallam paper@haysfreepress.com Dis~a'ibutlon Gigi Hayes Carolyn Harkins Pete Sizemore PRODUCTION Production Mgr David White Assi~tant Designer Jorge J. Garcia Jr. Hays County Commissioner Jeff Barton is a minority owner of the Hays Free Press Contact Us: HaysFreePress.com news@haysfreepress.com buslness@haysfreepress.com BUD#. 512-295-9760 KYLE 512-268-7862 METRO AUSTIN 512-262-6397 www.haysfreepmss.com +