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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
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December 23, 2009     Hays Free Press
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MEMORIES Sports editor Jason Gordon recaps last year's Hays High sports. - Page 1B SANTA LETTERS Local children write their Christmas wishes to old St. Nick. - Throughout Barton Publications, Inc. HaysFreePress.com Vol. 107 No. 43 Serving Buda, Kyle and Rivers on the run Worst recorded Central Texas drought finally over BY BRAD ROLLINS brad@haysfreepress.com One of the worst droughts in Hays County's recorded history is over, quenched by months of above-average rainfall start- ing in September, when the ar- rival of E1 Nino climatological conditions brought cooler and wetter weather to the parched region. The Barton Springs/Ed- wards Aquifer Conservation District entered drought stage in June 2008. Over the course of the next year and a half, local ranchers and farmers reported crippling losses, many creeks and swimming holes ran dry, and homeowners faced sharply rationed outdoor water use. On Dec. 17, the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Con- servation District's board of directors voted to declare No- Drought Conditions for its ter- ritory, which includes north- east Hays and part of Travis counties. Both measures the district uses for determining drought condition -- flow levels at Bar- ton Springs and the Lovelady monitoring well -- rebounded above critical stages with recent rains. However, district officials cautioned that aquifer recharge through caves and fractures has not reached normal levels in Onion Creek, where much of it typically occurs. "We're encouraged that we're officially out of this drought, but we're far from an aquifer- full status. We know the next drought is coming, we just don't know when," said Kirk Holland, the district's general manager. The most recent drought ri- Onion Creek is flowing again after some healthy rainfall this past month. valed, and in some areas of the state surpassed, the droughts of record in1956 and 1917. In an August report, using data from the National Weath- er Service, the National Cli- matic Data Center and the U.S. Drought Monitor, researchers in the Texas climatologists of- fice classiried the 1956 drought as more severe in Hays Coun- ty. The researchers, however, characterized the 2009 drought as more severe in neighboring Caldwell County even though it did not last as long. Despite higher- flzan-average rainfall sInce September, Hays County as a whole remained 9.5 inches behind its year-to- date historical average at the end of November, according to the Edwards Aquifer Authority. Total recorded rainfall for the first 11 months of the year ber with 5.1 inches. The aquifer authority recorded 2A7 inches in November. As of Monday, the cities of Kyle and San Marcos remained under Stage 1 water restric- tions. Kyle spokesperson lerry Hendrix said the city plans to lift the restrictions effective Jan. 1. amounted to 22.2 inches corn- The city of Buda received no- pared to the 31.7 inch historical rice Friday afternoon that the average. October was the wet- drought had been lifted, and test month in 2009 with about the no-drought status went 7.1 inches followed by Septem- into effect that day. On Mon- PHOTO BY BOZENA BARTON day the city was in the process of updating its website, "We'll go back into the volun- tary conservation," said Buda City Secretary Toni Milam. That includes watering lawns no more than once ev- ery rive days, using a handheld hose, drip hoses or soaker hos- es, avoiding watering on windy days or between 10 a.m.-7 p.m., mowing on the longest setting, mulching, and washing cars with a bucket. Pay raise sparks frustration among Kyle police, city officials BY SEAN KIMMONS sean@haysfreepress.com When the Kyle City Council ap- proved a two percent cost-of-living pay adjustment to its full-time city employees this fall, Kyle police of- ricers thought they'd be getting the extra cash as well. Months later, they still haven't re- ceived a penny, generating frustra- tion within the police force. "As of now the Kyle police has not got their two percent cost-of-living increase," a visibly upset Officer lesse Espinoza, president of the Kyle Police Association, said during pub- lic comments at a recent city council meeting. "We believed that we were get- ting the increase based on the budget." City officials argued that the officers were left off the pay raise because in April it accepted a KPA request to meet and confer negotia- tions toward a labor agree- ment with the city. To appease the officers, the city came up with an interim agreement in November to give them the pay increase and other compensation. Nevertheless, the KPA declined it. ESPINOZA On Dec. 15, Kyle City Manager Tom Mattis asked the city council to approve a resolution offering the same benefits as the in- terim agreement. In the meantime, a final compen- sation package would then be hashed out to be effec- tive on Oct. 1, 2010. "We've had some issues moving forward with this," Mattis said. "The two per- cent raise has become a roadblock to our meet-and-confer process." "It is our pledge, despite frustra- tion that has manifested itself in per- sonal attacks, to maintain the focus in gaining our professionalism and moving forward," he added. Mayor Mike Gonzalez said that the resolutions benefits, which after some contention were unanimously approved, would help make the city competitive as it tries to hire more officers. The pay increase would push the base pay of a new Kyle officer past $40,000, he said. "Regardless of the back and forth, civil service is treated differently than city employees," he said. "Law en- forcement is a priority and it should See POLICE RAISE, pg. 3A Northeast Hays County 757, Gunm. an dies tn double shooting BY JEN BIUNDO jen@haysfreepress.com A Kyle man who anegedly shot his wife In the legs last Saturday then turned his gun on himself died Thursday night at Bracken- ridge Hospital. Kyle Police identified the de- ceased as Amador Gutierrez, 44. His wife, Hortencia Gutierrez, 56, already has been released from the hospital. The shooting occurred around 11:30 a.m. Dec. 12 in the 500 block of Zebra Drive in the Trails subdivision just east of IH-35. A caller told the 911 dispatch- er that his mother had been shot and that his step-father then shot himself. Officers respond- ing to the scene found the son and another male standing out- side, the husband lying in a pool of blood on the first floor and his wife on the stairs with gunshot wounds to her legs. The witnesses told officers that after an argument between the couple, Amador Gutierrez left the house armed with a 9 mm pistol, then turned back to- wards the house and fired a shot through the from door, striking his wife In the legs. He then went back inside the house and shot himself in the head, police say. Both Individuals were trans- ported to Brackenridge Hospital inAustin, where Amador Gutier- rez clung to life for five days. Stray bullet hits house east of Kyle BY BRAD ROLLINS brad@haysfreepress.com A .45 caliber bullet struck a house and almost hit a resident in the Green Pastures neighbor- hood east of Kyle after an un- known person apparently fired a gun in the air, authorities said. Hays County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to a deadly conduct call early Saturday morning and discovered that the bullet penetrated the roof and landed in the same room as the occupant at 806 Dickerson See STRAY BULLET, pg. 2A  address W TM Neglecte00l train depot'choos' up funds BY SEAN KIMMONS sean@haysfreepress.com Years of neglect have pushed up the price tag for renovations to the city of Kyle's historic train depot, city records revealed. In early 2006, the Austin- based Antenora Architects LLP drew up a conceptual plan to renovate the train depot into a visitor's center. On Dec. 1, the firm unveiled another plan to repair the deteriorating depot, adding another $127,400 to the project. be used as Chamber of Com- merce office space. Under its 2006 plan, the renovation estimate came out to $153,600. The newest esti- mate for the depot, now with a leaky roof and poor insulation, stands at $250,000, plus almost $31,000 for furnishings. Councilmembers unani- mously approved to use no more than $250,000 to fund the project during the Dec. 1 city council meeting. The 2009 estimate includes a $30,000 architectural fee and other renovations not includ- for window repairs, $14,500 for roofing and gutter repairs or $7,500 for a selective floor joint reinforcement, among other repairs. Some repair prices reflected in both estimates have also fluctuated as the depot sat ig- nored for years, adding to the revised price tag. "The biggest problems the building has today are that the roof leaks like a sieve and the wind blows right through it," Michael Antenora, of Antenora Architects, said at the council meeting. "Some of these win- PHOTO BY SEAN KIMMONS Broken windows, rotting wood and a leaky roof has plagued the City of Kyle's train depot, which serves as a visitor's center. In 2006, city officials The new concept also allo- ed in the 2006 estimate. For dows are literally falling apart." cates about 32 percent of the example, the 2006 itemized 2,000-square-foot depot to list did not include $25,000 DILAPIDATED DEPOT, pg. 3A ,i SALES TAX UPDATE Sales tax receipts am significantly lower than those in 2008. ! - Page 1D attempted to renovate the depot but plans fell through. Three years later, the depot has deteriorated even more and is now costing the city another $100,000 to make dire repairs. Opinions ..................... 4A Sports .................... 1-2B Education ............... 3-4B Bulletin Boards ............ 2C Obituaries .................... 4C Church Page ............... 5C Business News ............ 1 D Service Directory ......... 2D Classifieds .................. 3D Public Notices ......... 3-4D