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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
December 21, 2011     Hays Free Press
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December 21, 2011

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t6 + ALL-STATE Rebels, Lobos each land four on Academic All-State team. - Page 1B Local school children give Santa their Christmas wish lists. - Page 1C Barton Publications, Inc. HaysFreePress,com 109 * No. 37 Serving Buda, Kyle and Northeast Hays County 75 =.,~ Company seeks 62% increase BY JONATHAN YORK The Kyle City Council has called for a public heating Jan. 3 on rate hikes by a wa- ter company with a troubled history in the Amberwood subdivision. The company, Monarch Utilities, wants to raise its meter rates by 62.3 percent, according to the ciW. It will raise its tap fee for new cus- tomers by 92 percent. City Councilwoman Di- ane Hervol, who lives in Amberwood, said these are ridiculous increases in a slow economy, It's not as though her constituents have seen a 62.3 percent increase in their wages, she said. "In this day and age it's go- ing to create a hardship on many people," Hervol said. In a draft resolution that will be considered by the council, the city is also asking whether Monarch can legally raise its pric~s now while it's waiting on the outcome of a regulatory decision. That pending decision will come from the Texas Com- mission on Environmental Quality. It will grant or deny permission for Monarch to acquire seven other water utilities. How this state agency will react is an open guess, but the company has not found itself in favor with the state Legislature. State Sens. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, and Rob- eft Nichols, R-Jacksonville, spoke sternly to a Monarch representative at a hearing in July because he could not tell them what the company's profit margin was. Neither has it made friends among suburban govem- ments. Kyle, Buda, Pfluger- ville, Blue Mound (near Fort Worth) and Ivanhoe (in East Texas) have organized to op-- pose Monarch's plan to take over more small water sys- tems. "I think our resolution fighting Monarch's rate in- crease is extremelyimportant to the city," said Kyle Mayor Lucy Johnson. She called this fight"one of the top priorities of the council." In a statement, the spokes- WATER RATE HIKE, pg. 4A PHOTO BY CYNDY SLOVAK-BARTON Historic sta reopens in Buda BY KIM HILSENBECK About 100 people gathered under massive oak trees on Friday to mark the grand re- opening of two of the oldest buildings in Buda. Painted white with blue trim, the Stagecoach House and Onion Creek Post Of.- rice sit at the entrance to the Historic Stagecoach Park on Main Street. Mary Gib- erson, one of the original advocates for restoring the property, cut the white rib- bon officially opening the buildings to the public. Giberson said the event was the culmination of 30 years of work and fundraising. At one point, Giberson said, the property had almost gone to a developer to become an RV park. "So, hallelujah," she said. The Stagecoach House, also known as the McEkoy-Severn House, and the Onion Creek Post Office behind it, are both listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The main house will serve as Buda city offices, including Tourism Director Alisha Bur- row's new space, as well as an area for public meetings and possibly special events in the future. The completion of the Stagecoach House and Onion Creek Post Office sets the tone for other historic restorations in town, Burrow said. "It's so important that Buda preserve its history and build- ings," she said. Visitors to the property PHOTO BY JEN BIUNDO PHOTO BY CYNDY SLOVAK-BARTON Back in April of this year, Buda Parks director Jack Jones pointed out some of the renovations the Stagecoach House had in store. Photos above and right are recent, following the grand opening last week. experience local history, maps the Manchaca Springs Post funds for the restoration. and artifacts. The interior of Office closed and the stage- A grant from Hays County the Stagecoach House. built coach stop was moved west paid for much of the project. in 1875, features high ceilings, along Onion Creek. Burrow said the funds for the hardwood floors and hand- Giberson, a member interior ddcor came from sewn drapes, of the Hays County His- Buda's hotel occupancy tax. The building is an example torical Commission, is also Several local officials spoke of late 19th-century modified a co-author of"People and during the ribbon-cutting center-passage or "dogtrot" Places In and Around Historic ceremony, and Bttrrow read dwellings of the period and Buda." Part of her profit from resolutions and proclamations is one of the few buildings the book goes to the Stage- from U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, remaining from Buda's early coach House and Onion Creek D-Austin; state Rep. ]ason pre-railroad development. Post Office. She also worked to Isaac, R-Dripping Springs; and The Onion Creek Post Office create historical calendars Gov. Rick Perry. was completed in 1876 when from 1992 to 1997 to raise Subscriber address PHOTO BY WES FERGUSON Donna Helm's Santa collection is so extensive, she says she can un- derstand how some might see it as ridiculous, but like she said. "Any- body that knows me, knows I'm a jolly nut." BY WES FERGUSON Donna Helm owns so many Santas, her husband calls her the Santa hoarder. Come Christmastime, her house in Mountain Citv is packed with more thari 200 figurines, dolls, plates and knickknacks of St. Nick- not including all the IOis Kringles on her Christmas tree. "It's a little bit ridiculous and a little bit fun," she said. Santa on a tractor. Santa in the tub. Cowboy Santa and Indian Santa. There are more than 80 of them on her man- tel, and 14 Santa cookie jars in her dining room. Why so many Santas? "I think because it's cheer- fill. I think because it's fun," said Helm. a retired school- teacher. '~nybody that knows me, knows I'm a jolly nut." Former students at Kyle Elementary School might remember Helm as the "pink lady," because that's the color she wore to class most days. Helm said she's one of those people who can't help but col- lect things. "It's like that TV show 'Hoarders,'" she said. "I think See SANTA LADY, pg. 4A POPJY|NR |JP Buda horse stable is the only certified United States Polo Club riding center in Texas. - Page 1D Opinions ....................... 3A Sports ........................ 1-2B Education ..................... 3-4B Community .................... 1-4C Calendars ..................... 4C Service Directory ......... 2-3D Classifieds .................... 2-3D Public Notice .................. 2D [] [] . Spike in crime not letting up BY SEAN KIMMONS About a week after au- thorities warned local resi- dents to stay vigilant against thieves during the holidays, several more burglaries have popped up, police re- cords show. Last week, at least nine homes and buildings as well as seven vehicles were re- portedly looted. There have been almost 30 home and building burglaries, plus nu- merous thefts from vehicles reported in the past month, records show. In the latest round of pilfering, Kyle po- lice had a tally of two home burglaries and three thefts from vehicles. One restau- rant had also been broken into for a second time in less than two weeks. After a long stay in the hospital, an elderly man re- turned to his home Saturday BURGLARIES, pg. 4A II BY SEAN KIMMONS Although delayed, prayers for rain are being answered as storms roiled through the area this week, droppingmore than an inch in some parts. Despite a break from dry weather, the recent rains hard- lymade a dent in the ongoing drought that has plagued the region, There is a good chance for more rain Wednesday before the region likely goes under another dry spell. National Weather Service forecaster Robert Blaha says. "We'll go into an extended drier period after this week," said Blaha, adding that Janu- ary's long-range forecast fa- vors slightly dryer conditions than normal. "It will be inter- esting to see the trends. Some- limes they change, sometimes they don't." The closest rain gauge to Kyte and Buda, atAustin-Berg- strom Airport, recorded 1.39 inches of rain from Dec. 13 to Dec. 20, while Camp Mabryin Austin had 1.13 inches in the same timefiame, the National Weather Service station in New Bmunfels reported. As of Tuesday, Austin-Berg- strom's total rainfall so far this year (15.49 inches) is consid- ered to be the third driest year since 1943. The airport is al- most 16 inches below its aver- age rainfall. Camp Mabry's to- tal rainfall (18.35 inches) is 15 inches below its average and is being called the sixth driest year since 1856, according to NWS figures. CHRIsTMAS FORECAST, pg. 4A