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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
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December 28, 2011     Hays Free Press
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December 28, 2011
 

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HaysFreePress.com December 28, 2011 After renovation was stalled for more than six years, old and speaks to Kyle's rail-centric past. the city, Kyle finally approved a master plan and began the process of restoring the historic COURTESY PHOTO train depot. The wooden structure by the railroad tracks is nearly a century City budget slashed, water bills raised There just wasn't enough money for Hallow- een and Easter. There wasn't enough money for Kyle Market Days or for the Kyle Fair and Music Festival. There wasn't even enough money for close maintenance of the city's roads. City council passed a budget in September that made these and other cuts and also raised taxes and rates. Property taxes had a 17 percent increase; water bills grew by 30 percent, and wastewater bills, by 25 percent. "For the sake of the citizens, I cannot vote for the increase on taxes," said Becky Selbera, the only council member to vote against first approval of the new cuts and the higher taxes. Kyle split among three county commissioners It's hard to speak politely of what happened to Kyle during county redistricting, when Pct. 2 Commissioner Mark Jones drew a map that cut the city into three pieces, potentially diluting its influence in county affairs. The irony is that the same census results that require new dis- trict lines also show that Kyle is on a trajectory to become the biggest town in Hays County. Of FM 150 and things left undone The year ends with no resolve to a squabble between the city council and t.he commission- ers court that has eaten away many hours of public business. The two governments have yet to agree on just how to pay for the rerouting of FM 150. For leverage, the city began to talk about turning the county out of the former Wells Fargo building they were leasing. And for lever- age, the county threatened to give up work on widening Dacy Lane. City and county relations now seem a little better than they were, but the relationship clearly is strained. And that is only natural after County Judge Bert Cobb said of the council, "i've given up on them acting reason- ably or in a manner that makes sense." The depot finally will Dn be restored colon The city is soliciting bids for the first phase of res of work on restoring the historic depot across went from City Hall. That will mean laying a new foundation, lowering the building, replacing mot( the roof and tearing out an upper level that chiet was not in the original design. "It will be a Prin( wonderful building once it is restored," said of ne Kate Johnson, the director of the depot board, at th, Full renovation has been stalled for much of do ct, the previous six years; the first architect to be engaged eventually quit the project. When the building is ready, visitors will receive a grim history lesson inside: There are segregated waiting rooms, where passengers were re- quired to separate by color of skin. Kyle hires a police chief from the Metroplex Jeff Barnett became Kyle's new police chief in May. Since then he has been a familiar pres- ence at council meetings, standing very straight and speaking with the same abrupt matter-of- factness whether swearing in new officers, giv- ing his opinion on a countywide 911 call center (against), or asking for appropriations for a Ma tro Ky cont: the v tems Duk( inW~ said l ees n marl utilit entir and it, an PHOTO BY WES FERGUSON mght withers Hays County early summer, Hays County has been in a kind of perpetual autumn. Brown and gray were the prevalent ;; and leaves fell off by the dozens before their time. There was a burn ban, a fireworks ban, and a group lrictions on Outdoor watering. When a little rain finally did fall people dropped what they were doing and ~utside to have a look. ,rcycle. For the previous six years he was of police for the Collin County town of eton. Barnett seems keen to stay abreast w developments in police technology, and ,' time he was hired he was completing his )rate in criminal justice. y the wind take your ubles away e-based Xtreme Power won a $43 million 'act to design, install and operate one of Jobs are fickle creatures Palm Harbor Homes Inc. closed a plant in April, taking 130 jobs from Kyle. Image Micro- systems bought the same plant and said that it wonld bring 130 jobs to Kyle. All of this wonld make it seem that in the long run things are staying the same. However, Walmart filed a public notice last month saying that it would build a store at Kyle Parkway and the Interstate, and a company spokeswoman estimated the number of new jobs at 300. 'orld's largest wind-power storage sys- The system will store power generated by The retail center of town Energy Corp.'s 153-megawatt wind farm ~st Texas. Carlos Coe, the owner of Xtreme, tis company's workforee of 180 employ- fight grow to as many as 230 employees, based in Kyle. "We can store power at a scale," Coe said, "big enough to run an city or an entire town like a power plant tore power for as many hours as we need redeliver it as we need it." comes into its own With the opening of two restaurants and the recent promise of aWalmart, the intersec- tion of Interstate 35 and FM 1626 continued to define itself as the place to eat and to shop. The parking lot at HEB Plus remains flfll of people, baskets and traffic, and the drive-through line at McDonald's is as long as ever. More water for a growing town A Hays County district judge ruled in June that Kyle may take an extra 185 million gallons of water per year from the Edwards Aquifer. The ruling brought a possible end to a two- year dispute between the city and the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. The drought became so harsh~, though, that a few months later the conservation district de- clared that the aquifer was in critical condition, meaning that the city could not drink as much aquifer water as it would have, liked, Thousands watch fireworks, no new homes bum down Kyle took'a risk that several of its neighbors didn't: putting on a fireworks show in the middle of the driest season on record. The ef- fort was rewarded. Not only did the exploding designs in the heavens go offsafely; the show had a record 30 000 people and made the town look defiantly patriotic. Of giving his signed permission for the show, Fire Chief Glenn Whi- taker said: "I don't want to look stupid if the world burned up because I signed it. I looked at it very closely and don't see any issues." City elects first woman mayor Former city finance director Sarah Mangham knocked off incumbent Bobby Lane by a mere eight votes in May to become the first woman to serve as mayor in the city's 63-year history. In a display of patriotism, one of Mangham's first initiatives was to begin all council meetings with pledg- es of allegiance, to Old Glory and the Lone Star flag. "I'm ecstatic," Mangham said on election night in May. "Half- way scared, totally excited and ready to do a good job MANGHAM for the city of Buda." Long-delayed U.S. Foods facility opens Tangled up for two years in citizen protestsl a referendum petition and a legal challenge, U.S. Foods finally opened its $50 million regional distribution facility on Firecracker Drive. How state-of-the-art is this operation? For starters, some of its glass windows are bulletproof to avert the threat of food terrorist plots. "We're happy to be here and ready to work harder," said Division President John Fowler. Business rebounds after three-year slump With Cabela's, Walmart and morn-and-pop shops downtown, commercial sales are the driving force of Buda's economy. After taking a hit in 2008, then stagnating in 2009 and 2010, the city's businesses stirred to life in 2011. They generated $253 million in trade, resulting in $3.53 million in sales tax revenue for the city this year-- a new record. "People are feeling secure in their jobs and cutting loose with their pocketbooks a little bit," saidWarren Ketteman, Buda Economic Development Corp. executive director. '~Mad that's not a bad thing. It's a good thing." See TOP NEWS STORIES, pg. 3D +