- Council set to tackle plans for new library, parks, and curbside recycling
- Seguin's top fire official seeks to turn down the heat for local residents; Fire Chief Skinner challenges community to donate fans
- Commissioners to move up start time in observance of funeral
- KWED Freedom Fiesta extends booth space to product vendors, sign-up now underway
- Navarro ISD trustee to host rare Tuesday night meeting; District announces resignation of trustee, school board to decide how to fill vacant seat
- Farm bill ensures safety of American food supply
- New Wellness Task Force wants to improve the quality of life local residents; Wellness initiative focuses on helping people live better
- Walnut Creek master plan gets added boost; National grant will help city expand Walnut Springs Park
- City seeks skills of an artist for downtown mural
- Navarro ISD trustee announces resignation, school board to decide how to fill vacant seat
- Seguin High School student named National Merit Scholar
- Guadalupe County mourns the death of longtime lawman, retired JP
- Seguin Police Officer spots house fire during morning patrol
- Families invited to free Friday night Movies in the Park
- Central Park Concert to feature Fiesta Noche en Seguin
- Seguin ISD approves bond advisory committee, takes action to improve education
- Mary B. Erskine campus resurrected to support Seguin ISD
- New P.L.U.S.S. group initiates support of SISD schools
- Taste buds name winners
- Public expresses support for new community park
- Art gallery finds new temporary home
- Seguin ISD serves up breakfast, lunch during summer season
- Seguin Police Department prepares to roll out red carpet for annual Cinderella Ball
- Seguin continues to consider curbside recycling; Councilmen voice concerns with potential costs to residents
- City of Seguin homeowners to be notified of damaged sewer systems; Residents to be asked to make necessary repairs
- Autistic, special needs camp preparing for summer; Free camp program limited, sign-up is encouraged as soon as possible
- Grandson of President George H.W. Bush to serve as guest speaker at chamber fall banquet; Seguin Area Chamber of Commerce to welcome special keynote speaker
- Individuals encouraged to sign-up cell phones for emergency alerts; Tri-County Alert System designed to keep residents safe, free sign-up available now
- Woman shares personal story of adult education with national leaders; Trip to Washington, D.C. proves educational for local woman
- Drug investigation leads to man's arrest
- Davila's Bar-B-Q survives heat from famous food expert in new book; Local sausage recipe warrants a vow to return from BBQ Snob critic
- New customized Seguin PD vehicles to hit the streets of Seguin
- TLU director of Center for Mexican-American Studies, professor retires after three decades
- Police seize what they believe to be synthetic marijuana from local shop
- Non-profit thrift store undergoes new changes, management
- Seguin Activity Center to fall under umbrella of The Boys & Girls Clubs
- Stop Post Oak Dump files latest demands with TCEQ
- Seguin ISD shares insight into discipline model
- Ohio bank robber apprehended in Seguin
- ZDT's Amusement Park expands attractions; New water rides to open this weekend
- Welcome to Navarro ISD School Board
- Seguin Main Street names Downtowner of the Year winner
- Seguin changes street name in honor of local pastor
- Pavilion marker unveiled in honor of chili enthusiast, community leader
- Utility payment scam being reported in city of Seguin
- Local veterinarian among those at Boston Marathon; Dr. Conover shares his experience as Boston authorities kill one of the suspects in the bombing
- Seguin PD honors, recognizes 911 dispatchers
- Seguin makes decision to join SA/Bexar County MPO
- City of Seguin looks to refinance debt
- Seguin PD releases victim's photo in hopes of gathering clues behind his death
- Landfill project gets clears another hurdle
- Water corporation buys old firehouse building in downtown Seguin
- Magnolia Hotel earns second chance at life in Seguin
- City announces energy efficiency rebate program, offering free CFL bulbs
Council set to tackle plans for new library, parks, and curbside recycling
June 18th, 2013
By Darren Dunn
(Seguin) -- The Seguin City Council on Tuesday will consider major upgrades to the Seguin-Guadalupe County Public Library. The council is being asked to consider a bond proposal that would ask voters to approve the construction of a new $14.6 million library building. The new library would be built on Nolte Street near Walnut Creek.
The facility, if approved by voters in November, would essentially become an extension of the city's Walnut Springs Park, which is located across the street from the proposed site.
The city had originally suggested that the old Mary B. Erskine school could be converted into the new library at a cost of about $18 million, but City Manager Doug Faseler says Mary B. is no longer an option for the city because the Seguin ISD recently announced its plans to bring the school back online as a health career academy.
That means the council only has one choice to make tonight -- does it think that it should ask voters to support the construction of the new library along Walnut Creek.
If the council decides to move towards calling a bond election, staff has prepared a contract for the purchase of the land from a group of local investors. The city is offering $225,000 for the four acres that will be used for the new library. The sale of the property would be contingent upon the success of the bond election on Tuesday, November 5.
In other business, the council will consider the creation of a curbside recycling program for all of the city's residential garbage customers. Seguin is one of the few cities in this area that doesn't offer curbside recycling. The does currently offer recycling at its manned recycling center on Fred Byrd Drive. It charges customers 50 cents a month for that service.
The new proposal would replace that service. Residents would each get a recycling container that would be picked up at the curb each week, much like regular garbage service. The new service will costs $3 per month, but the net costs would be $2.50, because the city would drop the 50 cent recycling fee that it's currently charging. Some council members earlier this month questioned if the town's poorer residents could afford the extra $2.50 per month, because some of them were on a fixed income.
Supporters say it's important to reduce the amount of garbage Seguin sends to area landfills, and curbside recycling would encourage more people to place their paper, plastic and other recyclable materials into the bin each week.
The council is also slated to get an update on the proposed creation of Hoermann Park near the corner of Vaughan Street and San Antonio Avenue. The city may add the park to the bond election in November, but council approval would first be needed to move the project forward. Parks and Recreation Director Jack Jones is slated to make a presentation on the $4.5 million in improvements that would be made to the new community park.
The concept for Hoermann Park was originally approved by voters as part of the Destination Seguin bond package in 2006. Some of the proposed amenities would be a large skate park, basketball courts and a playground area. Athletic fields, that could be used for things like soccer, will also be included in the project.
The council meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Seguin City Hall.
Seguin's top fire official seeks to turn down the heat for local residents; Fire Chief Skinner challenges community to donate fans
June 18th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera and Cassandra Herrera
(Seguin) -- Whether it's one at a time or all at once, Seguin Fire Chief Dale Skinner has set out a challenge to have the community donate a total of 500 fans. This challenge comes just a few days before the official start of the summer season. That season gets underway on Friday, June 22.
Chief Skinner says although it's already been warm, there's no doubt that with this upcoming season, it's going to get even hotter and less bearable for local families.
"I challenge the citizens of Seguin to give us 500 fans. The ones that we don't giveaway this year we will be available for next year. We've got plenty of room. We can store those fans and put them out there for next year.Yeah, I challenge the citizens to step up and help us with this worthy cause," said Skinner.
Up until recently, the Seguin Fire/EMS Department had been distributing fans. But as you can imagine, Skinner says that inventory did not last long -- proving that a real still need exist in this community.
"It is always best to help your fellow citizens. I read a great quote today that just makes a lot of sense -- "The things you take for granted people are praying for." I believe in that. So you know, we do we take our air conditioning for granted and then there are people out there in this community that you see everyday that can't even afford a fan to keep themselves cool. So while you're in that 74 degree air conditioned house, we have people that are in a 90 degree house -- that they don't even have a fan blowing on them," said Skinner.
Skinner says the need for fans is especially great for Seguin's elderly. He says most people would be surprised on how many residents go without the means for cooling down each and every summer.
Cash, check or new fans in a box will be accepted. The fans can be donated weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Seguin Municipal Court/Fire Administration Building. The building is located at 660 S. State Highway 46.
Commissioners to move up start time in observance of funeral
June 18th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- Guadalupe County Commissioners will be getting an earlier start on their regular meeting today. The regular sessions which typically begin at 10 a.m. will be moved up to 8 a.m. in the commissioners courtroom of the Guadalupe County Justice Center.
Guadalupe County Judge Larry Jones made the decision to change the start time in order for commissioners to attend the funeral of Former Guadalupe County Precinct 4 Judge Larry Morawietz.
Morawietz is also remembered for his many years of service as deputy sheriff and as the chief investigator at the Guadalupe County Sheriff's Office. Morawietz, 73, died Wednesday during complications during lung surgery.
Items on today’s agenda include the approval of the election day polling locations and the early voting schedule for the Nov. 5 Constitutional Amendment Election.
The court will also consider approving an inter-local agreement with the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) wherein "LCRA will provide communications equipment to assist the county with deploying and maintaining radio communications for the benefit of the residents in the western portion of the county." A similar agreement will also be considered between the county and the City of Live Oak.
Again, the meeting begins two hours early today at 8 a.m. in the Guadalupe County Justice Center.
KWED Freedom Fiesta extends booth space to product vendors, sign-up now underway
June 18th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- Seguin Radio KWED is looking for a few good vendors. The radio station this year has decided to extend a Freedom Fiesta invitation to individuals looking to sell arts and crafts or other items during this year's Fourth of July celebration.
Due to a number of requests, the radio station will offer a space for vendors during the event scheduled for Wednesday, July 3 in downtown Seguin. Cost will be $100 per booth space. Vendors looking to sell products or services are asked to stop by the radio station to reserve a space by 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 26.
All other local game and food booths will be operated by Seguin's non-profit organizations. This year's event will include 15 non-profit food and drink booths along with over 10 game booths and children's activities. All food booth spaces have already been filled. Those non-profits wishing to operate a free game booth are also encouraged to sign-up as soon as possible.
This year's event will again include the annual Kiddie Parade hosted by the Guadalupe County Republican Women. The parade invites all children to dress up in their favorite costumes or red, white and blue outfits and march behind Uncle Sam around Central Park. Bikes, wagons, strollers and battery powered cars are welcome. The free Kiddie Parade gets underway that day at 6:30 p.m.
This year's live entertainment will be provided by Paul Sanchez and Wrangler Country. The band features a combination of country, Tejano and rock. DJ music will also be provided. Operating this year's beer booth will again be members of the Knights of Columbus Hall.
There is no gate or cost to attend this year's Freedom Fiesta. The celebration will be held from 6:30 p.m. to midnight Wednesday, July 3 in downtown Seguin.
Vendors looking to sign-up for product sales only are encouraged to stop by the radio station Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Farm bill ensures safety of American food supply
June 18th, 2013
(Seguin) -- Guadalupe County is throwing its support behind a latest farm bill.
Passage of a full, five-year farm bill is important to the safety and security of America's food supply according to Gary Braune, Guadalupe County Farm Bureau president.
"Farming is risky due to unpredictable weather, the drought and a fluctuating market," said Braune. "Without an effective safety net, farmers across the country could be forced to leave the business entirely."
Fewer American farmers would mean an increase in the amount of food imported from other countries, said Braune, and without the checks and balances employed in our food system, an uncertainty of safe and abundant food.
"The best way to ensure the health of our food supply is to support the American farmers who produce it," said Braune.
The farm bill recently passed by the Senate reforms farm programs and assists farmers with tools like crop insurance to manage the risks associated with agriculture. The House will begin debating its farm bill proposal later this month.
The current farm bill expires Sept. 30. Without a new farm bill, legislators will have to approve an extension to keep the country from reverting to 1949 farm legislation.
New Wellness Task Force wants to improve the quality of life local residents; Wellness initiative focuses on helping people live better
June 17th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- There's a new collaborative effort behind a group wanting to improve the quality of life for everyone in the city of Seguin. The only thing that this group needs now is to hear from residents on how they can help make that happen.
After a couple of months of meeting, the new Seguin Wellness Task Force is ready to seek input from the public in regards to health, wellness and fitness. Equipped with some of the most passionate members , the group is looking to incorporate ideas of wellness into a large single plan for Seguin . That meeting will be held tonight at the Seguin-Guadalupe County Public Library.
Among those on the task force is Pete Silvius, a physical education coordinator at Seguin ISD. Silvius says the wellness task force is a good first step in helping to change lives.
"I think we can change the world through health and wellness and when we talk about that on a local spectrum, I think that the possibilities are endless. I mean when you look at the resources that we have in this community that really go unused -- we have a beautiful river and we have beautiful access to wilderness type areas. We need to be using these areas more. We need to be exploiting these areas more. Other communities all over Texas are making economic impacts on their community through their resources and it's something that we just are simply not doing and we want to see people on the river and in boats. We want to see more active transportation to school, to work -- all of these things are going to make our community an easier place to live and improve the quality of life and they are going to make our community much more viable for the future," said Silvius.
The mission of the task force is, "Inspiring, Educating and Collaborating Better Health through CommUNITY."
Noted as being one of the group’s key players is Damon Harris. Harris, who represents healthy living through The Institute for Public Health and Education Research or TIPHER, says ideas are needed for people across the board.
"I think that everything that this group is trying to accomplish is to improve the quality of life of all Seguin Citizens and sometimes it's just a small step. If you can just go out for even one hour a week, research shows that if you are a sedentary person and you go out and just start exercising for one hour a week, the benefits from that are just astronomical when compared to your old sedentary lifestyle. I think Seguin is a beautiful place and I think that there is a lot of good things already happening here but I do think that we need some direction and we need to get all of the community to buy in and help make that change," said Harris.
Dane Boyle, the director of the GRMC Wellness Center, says he believes the meeting will be an informal yet productive way to get Seguin on the right path toward healthy living. He says during the last couple of months, group members have talked about their own interests. However, he believes it's time to hear how others want to be involved in the planning, building and promotion of nutritional and physical activities.
"The research says that it goes beyond just your physical well-being. It's your mental well-being. Pete has talked about the areas and the resources that we have here that go unused -- some go used but I'd like to see Starcke Park filled with children, filled with parents and filled with grandparents -- walking, playing Frisbee, walking and dog running, jogging. We have two parts of the Texas Paddling Trail right here in Seguin with easy access to do boating and kayaking. I mean the physical activity guidelines state that we should do a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity everyday but if you continue to read it, it says something is always better than nothing. So even if you can't physically do 30 minutes a day, if you can walk for one minute or two more today than you did yesterday, then coming on Monday (tonight) to tell us how we can help you do that, I think is priceless," said Boyle.
Serving as one of the facilitators for this new wellness task force is Yvonne De La Rosa. De La Rosa says public comment is key to making sure that Seguin becomes responsible for its own health and happiness.
"For me, this is very exciting to see Seguin being progressive and taking charge of our community's fitness and wellness. I want to invite people to come. We invite everyone to come, parents, grandparents, children, aunts, uncles -- come out here and let us know -- let us hear your voice because your voice does matter to us. Your ideas are what are going to fuel what we do from here on out, said De La Rosa.
Each family member including children are especially encouraged to voice their thoughts and wishes for a healthier Seguin. Professionals that perhaps work in the wellness industry are also invited to stop by and share their comments.
The open forum will be held today from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Seguin-Guadalupe County Public Library.
Walnut Creek master plan gets added boost; National grant will help city expand Walnut Springs Park
June 17th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera and Darren Dunn
(Seguin) -- The next phase of the Walnut Springs Park project is getting a boost thanks to a planning grant recently awarded to the city of Seguin.
Seguin Main Street Program Director Mary Jo Filip says the city has received a grant from the Citizens' Institute on Rural Design, or CIRD (pronounced serd). CIRD is a national endowment for the arts leadership initiative in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Project for public spaces. Established in 1991, the group has conducted more than 60 rural design workshops in all regions of the country, empowering residents to leverage local assets in order to build a better place to live, work and play.
Filip says the CIRD grant super-charges the planning process for the expansion of Walnut Springs Park. The city wants to create a linear park that travels along Walnut Creek from FM 78 and extending beyond the existing Walnut Springs Park in on West Court Street in downtown Seguin.
Filip says the grant will help to pay for a planning workshop. That workshop will bring together local leaders, non-profits, community organizations and citizens -- and set them up with a team of specialists in design and planning for these types of large public projects.
Filip says the CIRD grant provides $7,000 for the workshop, plus it offers in-kind design expertise and technical assistance which has a value of about $35,000. It also offers additional training through webinars, conference calls and web-based resources.
The CIRD grant process will be used to help identify areas where amenities like lighting, recreational components and public art can be incorporated into the design of this project.
Filip says the city is thrilled about this opportunity. She says Seguin was one of only a handful of projects selected from a pool that included communities from all over the United States.
"We were one of four cities selected to have a design workshop and they send down design professionals that help with designing all of that. We do a two and a half day workshop where we are going to invite the public in to help us do all of those design aspects and elements of that next phase of Walnut Springs Park. So the park's trail is planned and the corps of engineers has their plan but we don't have a plan yet for how we might incorporate public art into that -- with benches, seating, health exercise stations. It could be a real, real positive development for that rest of Walnut Springs Park," said Filip.
Filip says the grant moves this project forward, but she says the city won't go this alone. She says this is a community iniative, and they already have a few local partners in place.
"The public will be needed to be involved in that planning process and our partners with that are the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Texas Lutheran University, the Seguin Art League and TIPHER (The Institute for Public Health and Education Research). We're looking at the health benefits, the arts benefit, how to connect with Texas Lutheran University and then how to connect with that Hispanic population in our community -- that that part of the trails run through. So much of the neighborhoods of that are Hispanic so we want the Hispanic chamber involved. But it is community project that everybody should be involved in," said Filip.
Filip says the city will be obligated to match some funds to support the project. She says talk will begin this week in hopes of bringing a professional team to Seguin this fall. She says this takes another step it's the next step needed to complete the linear park, and the hike and bike trails that are already proposed in the next phase.
Filip says the city can finally be excited about nailing down a plan for the continuation of the Walnut Creek Project. This process, according to Filip is the next big step in getting the funding and finally being able to make the project a reality.
"The exciting part of this is two other things. Once you have a plan in place, then you can go find the money to do it. You've got to have a plan in place and then you can write the grants or find the funding and the second part of it is and I hadn't even realized this when we applied, there are going to be a series of educational webinars that the community is invited to participate in and so other not-for-profit clubs and organizations, I think, are going to be able to benefit from this knowledge that we're going to gain and I think once this is done, we'll be in a very good position for some additional funding," said Filip.
Louis Ramirez, president of the Seguin-Guadalupe County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, says his organization is 100 percent behind this project. He says this plan is not only about recreation, it's about economic development and the enhancement of local neighborhoods.
"One of the priorities of the Hispanic chamber is that we have been wanting to see some developments on the west side of town. We feel that there is a lot of potential for development. The space is there. I believe the infrastructure is there. It's (trail) going to take off from FM 78 all the way to Court Street. It's going to pass through the neighborhoods that need a lot of development. I think it's going to generate a lot of motivation. These neighborhood people are going to want to do facelifts on their property and to have the infrastructure finished right next door to them instead of having to go across town for them -- specifically for recreation -- I think it's a great thing," said Ramirez.
The linear park includes 2.5 miles along Walnut Creek. The first phase of Walnut Springs Park was dedicated in 2011. The second phase of the park construction is being funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a TxDOT Enhancement grant which includes construction of the hike and bike path.
City seeks skills of an artist for downtown mural
June 17th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- Calling all artists. The stroke of your paintbrush is needed for the enhancement of downtown Seguin.
The city of Seguin is currently soliciting proposals from artists to complete a gateway mural/sign at the entrance to the downtown business and historic district located on the building façade at 211 E. Court Street.
Seguin Main Street Director Mary Jo Filip says the idea behind the mural is to help draw even more attention to the wonders of Seguin and its story.
"We like to selectively use murals to enhance our downtown and for two reasons. One, to add some color and liveliness to the downtown and two, to help us tell our story -- you know the history of downtown and also what's going on today. So there was a perfect pallet for a mural at the corner of east Crockett and East Court and that building, they've agreed to let us put a mural there and the mural will be something that depicts the historic downtown but also celebrates for the arts, for entertainment, for shopping and for all of our historic attractions. So it will be envisioned as a gateway mural into the downtown historic district. Now this process is being coordinated through the city of Seguin and we're looking for experienced mural artists -- those that are experienced with outdoor murals or outdoor signage. They do have to meet our city of Seguin guidelines for hiring people with providing insurance and references. There will be a review process and that will all be handled through our purchasing office. It will not come through the Main Street Program so we're not able to take any phone calls here because we're following our standard for city of Seguin purchasing procedures," said Filip.
While it continues its search for an artist, Filip says the city will continue to raise the money needed for the entire project.
"We've gotten a grant that will cover a part of it. Probably about 20 percent of it is from Help Seguin Shine so we've got some money in hand and we'll be soliciting for donations and support for our mural project. But the first thing we want to do is identify our artist and get our artwork nailed down. Then, we'll proceed to the next step with making sure we have all of the money in hand," said Filip.
In addition to the mural, Filip says the city is also looking at submitting a competitive grant to help include a sidewalk project that is needed in that area as well.
"That gateway entry into downtown, both corners, are not handicap accessible. So, we are planning to submit for another Texas Capital Fund Grant to do new sidewalks and provide handicap access there as well as maybe some landscaping -- just like we've done with our other projects on River and Donegan and throughout downtown -- where we added handicap railings and corner extensions and really spruced up that entry into downtown Seguin," said Filip.
The area for the mural can best be described as the open wall space located on the east side of the building which currently houses Sheek by J.
Proposals from artists are due by Friday, July 12. Information regarding the proposals is available via e-mail request to email@example.com. Information can also be sought by sending a fax request to the city's assistant director of finance at 830-401-2414. No phone calls regarding the mural will be accepted.
Seguin High School student named National Merit Scholar
June 17th, 2013
(Seguin) -- Seguin High School's top graduating student has received a prestigious award.
Valedictorian Lauren Mandaville, was recently named a 2013 National Merit Scholar. The 2,500 Merit Scholar designees were chosen from a talent pool of more than 15,000 Finalists in the 2013 National Merit Scholarship Program.
This year’s competition for National Merit Scholarships began in October 2011 when approximately 1.5 million juniors in some 22,000 high schools took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants.
These Scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors, who appraised a substantial amount of information submitted by both the Finalists and their high schools: the academic record, including difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from two standardized tests; contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by the Finalist; and a recommendation written by a high school official.
Mandaville served as Battalion Commander of the Seguin High School NJROTC as well as their Unarmed Drill Team Commander and Athletic Team Captain. She received an offer of appointment to the United States Naval Academy as well as full tuition offers from Baylor, Princeton, Harvard and Yale. She has chosen to attend Harvard with an intended major in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations while also cross-enrolling at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for classes in Naval Science. Now that she has graduated, she plans to commission as an officer in the United States Navy.
Mandaville also received the prestigious Katheryn Davis Peace Fellowship given to one hundred promising college and graduate students from around the world covering full expenses for summer language study. She will spend seven weeks at Middlebury College in Vermont which hosts the top summer language program in the country.
In order to help current high school students interested in attending a top tier college, Mandaville has created a blog entitled “Admissions with an Attitude.” It contains posts relating to the various aspects of college entrance and what admission counselors are seeking in prospective students. She hopes to see other Seguin High graduates join her at Harvard.
Guadalupe County mourns the death of longtime lawman, retired JP
June 13th, 2013
Seguin Police Officer spots house fire during morning patrol
June 13th, 2013
Families invited to free Friday night Movies in the Park
June 13th, 2013
Central Park Concert to feature Fiesta Noche en Seguin
June 13th, 2013
Seguin ISD approves bond advisory committee, takes action to improve education
June 12th, 2013
Mary B. Erskine campus resurrected to support Seguin ISD
June 12th, 2013
New P.L.U.S.S. group initiates support of SISD schools
June 12th, 2013
Get ready to be pinned with a touch of gold and black. These ribbons are being worn to support the new P.L.U.S.S (Parents Lifting Up Seguin Schools) group launched thanks to the use of social media.
Taste buds name winners
June 12th, 2013
Top recipes were named during this year's annual Taste of Seguin. A panel of judges plus those in attendance were invited to sample and name this year's winners. The fundraiser benefiting the Seguin Silver Center was held Tuesday night at the Seguin-Guadalupe County Coliseum.
Public expresses support for new community park
June 11th, 2013
A group of about 50 people made their voices heard during Monday's Seguin Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting. The city opened the floor to comments about the new proposed Hoermann Community Park planned for North Vaughan Street. Park's Director Jack Jones shared each level of the plan during the gathering held at the Seguin-Guadalupe County Public Library.
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- Evidence that Seguin needed a new park, one filled with different amenities, was the bulk of public comments expressed during Monday night's Seguin Park's and Recreation Advisory Board meeting.
The meeting designed to discuss the master plan for the proposed Hoermann Community Park off of Vaughan Street pulled in about 50 people most of whom were on hand to show support for the new park to be built on the Walnut Creek on the city's west side.
New Park's Director Jack Jones provided the scope of the project -- which calls for two multi-used athletic fields, possible basketball courts, a new skate park, a BMX track, a heavily wooded bike and walking trail, a 6,000 square foot splash pad and an ADA accessible playground.
Among those voicing support was Pete Silvius. Silvius says he's excited that the city is looking to finally solidify its plans for the park. He says it appears as though the city is becoming aggressive in making this dream a reality.
"I think this park is meeting the needs of many user groups and in Seguin right now, we don't have that happening. So I'm real excited about the possibility of being able to have different recreation needs that the community can have met in one park. So that's why I'm so excited for it," said Silvius.
Also on hand to share his comments was local resident Steve Serna. Serna says it's just time that residents get the amenities that they have been hoping for and that they deserve.
"I was raised in this town and now my kids are being raised in this town. I think it is just so important that Seguin needs to get with the programming -- get with the times that we're seeing all this development in New Braunfels, all this development in San Marcos and there's no reason that we should be living in the shadows of these two communities and having people leave our town and taking their children, taking their money to these other areas because we have so much that Seguin can offer to our people, not just as far as the adults but the community, for the children is the main thing because of the fact that one day these kids are going to be growing up with their children running around the parks and stuff. What are we going to leave as far as a legacy? That's the most important thing. As long as Seguin's development keeps heading up north and reaching for the stars, our children are going to do very well. Our children are going to be great. Their children are going to have a great time of living. I think that's one of the biggest things for me is seeing this town develop to a point to where our kids can be as proud of it as we were when we were growing up," said Serna.
As part of the refined master plan, the project also includes a possible natatorium otherwise referred to as an enclosed swimming pool facility. Jones stated that the advisory board still has to further consider whether or not it will recommend the swimming pool in the blueprint.
The projected cost for the overall Hoermann park project excluding the pool is an estimated $4.5 million. An additional $5 to $10 million would be needed to include the pool in the proposed plan. Jones says he personally believes there may be a way to include it but until then, it's still an option still to be determined.
"I think the natatorium is something that needs to be considered by the community because folks that want to swim now on a swim team or learn to swim year round have to go to New Braunfels. I think a natatorium is needed in the community. But the question is, how would that be funded? We also have heard that TLU needs a larger facility. The school district would like to have a swim team. So I think, maybe have a three way funding mechanism, say the school district, the college and the city get together and talk more about possibly building together a natatorium," said Jones.
Christy Scheel was among those who strongly supported that the city consider adding the pool. Scheel says it needs to be added at the "get go" and not phased in along the way. She says it's time that Seguin "go grand" when it comes to giving the community what it has been hoping for.
"I would really like to see it all done at once or as much at once as possible. Don't do a little bit here and a little bit there, and a little bit there because by the time you get to the end, the stuff you did at the beginning, it's old already and you have to re-do it. Do it all at once. Make it grand. Make it awesome. Make it a place that Seguin and the surrounding communities can be proud of. Make it some place that people want to come to instead of us always having to go somewhere else to get what we need for our community, our kids, our adults (and) our grown-ups. I mean, I'm all for this park and I'm all for improving everything in Seguin because this is where I've chosen to live. I don't want to live anywhere else but I want it to be awesome. I just want it to be good," said Scheel.
Similar expressions of support were shown even by a pair of children who applauded the city's decision to consider bringing the park online.
Although he supported the new park, Resident Tim Barr cautioned how this project would be embraced by voters should it be part of a possible city of Seguin bond election in November. He questions the level of support that the community will have for the park especially when it's stacked on top of another possible bond request for a new library and even may share the election date of what he says is a talked about bond election in the Seguin ISD.
Damon Harris, who also publicly spoke in support of the park, says this project unlike all others should take priority. Harris, who represents TIPHER a local initiative to get people active and healthy, says a park is more than just for entertaining people, it's about helping combat obesity and other illness especially among kids.
"It's going by the Fitness Gram data from Seguin ISD. It's about 38.4 percent, I believe, of all kids in Seguin ISD had a high risk BMI (Body Mass Index). Now what that means is those kids that have a high risk BMI, they are at a high risk to acquire a chronic disease sometime in their life. Now, one way to remedy that is through physical activity. Physical activity is actually a miracle pill. It can basically conquer everything as far as health aspects go. Having a park like this to this caliber will not only improve the health of Seguin but it will also improve the businesses. It's just going to bring people from out of town who are
going to come spend money and that's going to let the businesses spend money on the health of their own employees. So it's just an all encompassing thing. It seems like just one little part but it has so many ramifications once the park is built for the health of Seguin.
In addition to the master plan for Hoermann Park, the park's advisory board will also look at proposing enhancement projects at both Max Starcke Park and Manuel Castilla Park -- primarily the construction of new bathrooms.
Jones, who has only been on the job for three months, says maintenance and a better upkeep of Max Starcke Park is also vital to the community. He describes Max Starcke Park as the continued location for Little League, the Wave Pool and as the host site for parties and other large social gatherings. As for the new proposed Hoermann Park, Jones says it will operate as a higher activity park.
With public comments in hand, the park's advisory board will now consider finalizing the details of the master plan with the hopes of forwarding it over to the Seguin City Council for further consideration. Board Chair Troy DePalermo says until that meeting, the public is encouraged to forward emails and phone calls to members of the board or to the park's office.
"It looks like the community members that came out are all interested in moving forward with having a nice park established for the city of Seguin. Several of them were interested in having the indoor pool and I think that's were Mr. Bruns was like, let's take some time to think about this and make sure the proposal that we move forward to city council -- to look at -- is one that is going to represent everything that was encompassed tonight," said DePalermo.
The next park's advisory meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 1 at 5:30 p.m. at Seguin City Hall. If approved, the plan would be forwarded on to the Seguin City Council for review.
Art gallery finds new temporary home
June 11th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- The talents of Seguin's artists will continue to be on display. After searching for a new home, the Seguin Oakwood Art League has announced that a new location has been offered to the group for use as a temporary gallery.
The group recently was forced to find a new site after being asked to vacate its existing site at the end of this month. The group is currently operating at 109 N. River Street next door to The Cranny.
Group President Robin Walker says after searching high and low for a new location, the group has accepted the generous offer of the Guadalupe Regional Medical Center.
"At the end of the month, we will hang up our Membership Show which is about maybe 70 to 80 pictures from our members. That will open July 1 and then there will be a reception to meet the artists on the 11th and where this is going to take place -- thanks to Michelle Rumbaut who is the chief operating officer over at GRMC, Guadalupe Regional Medical Center, she heard the spot that you played a couple of weeks ago and she said 'say would like to have your exhibit over here at the hospital?' She's really committed to wellness through art. It's kind of an exciting collaboration so we go together and set up the show. Well have it there for two months. It will be there all of July and all of August and it's in the Selig Room which is at the eastern end of the hospital toward the Wellness Center. It will be open everyday. People can go in and see. Sometimes, we'll have volunteers there and you can buy anything that will be on the wall," said Walker.
Walker says GRMC's generosity allows the group to enjoy a little breathing room until a permanent home is made official.
"Yes community, we are still looking for a place to be permanently and we'll continue to do that until we find it. But if you have a location, a building, we are interested. We are still looking at one that we previewed before. It isn't in a perfect location. We'd really like to be downtown to kind of help the Main Street situation. We are trying to coordinate and revitalize downtown and so a gallery is a perfect way to do that," said Walker.
Before making the switch to the Selig Room at GRMC, the group will continue hosting its moving sale celebration through Saturday, June 22. A commission for the SOAL is drawn from every piece of art purchased at the gallery.
Anyone who might have a possible location for the non-profit organization is asked to contact Walker at 830-876-8980.
Seguin ISD serves up breakfast, lunch during summer season
June 11th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- Although class has been dismissed for the summer, many of the schools' cafeterias remain open for business. The Seguin ISD announces the official kick-off its annual Summer Food Service Program.
District officials says the free meals allow the district to continue to meet the dietary needs of all local children ages 1 to 18.
They encourage all families to come out and enjoy a meal at one of the campus sites. School officials say there are no requirements or paperwork needed to participate. They say it's simply an opportunity to enjoy some great tasting food.
Breakfast and lunch are being provided at four different sites. Each campus cafeteria or location has its own designated hours of operation.
Koennecke Elementary School will serve meals weekdays through July 3. Breakfast will be served from 7:25 to 8 a.m. followed by lunch from 11 a.m. to noon.
Jim Barnes Middle School will offer its meals through June 27. Breakfast will run from 7:30 to 8 a.m. followed by lunch from 11 to 11:30 a.m.
Seguin High School will also be opening its doors through July 18. Breakfast will be served from 8 to 8:15 a.m. and lunch from noon to 12:30 p.m.
The Ball Early Childhood Center will only be providing meals Mondays through Wednesdays from now until June 26. Only lunch will be served at Ball between 11:30 and 11:45 a.m.
A new off-site location will also be utilized this summer to help serve meals to local children. Teatro de Artes de Juan Seguin will be opening its doors through June 21. Breakfast will be served from 8 to 8:30 a.m. followed by lunch from 11:45 a.m. to noon. The cultural arts center is located at 921 W. New Braunfels Street.
Adults are also encouraged to eat with their children. Cost is $2 for breakfast and $3.25 for lunch.
Seguin Police Department prepares to roll out red carpet for annual Cinderella Ball
June 10th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- Once upon a time in a land very near, kings and their special princess -- okay, you can call them dads and daughters -- are treated to a very special night of their own. Tickets are now available for this year's Seguin Police Department's Fourth Annual Cinderella Ball. The enchanted evening as described by the PD's own Fairy Godmother will be held from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, June 28 at the Seguin-Guadalupe County Coliseum.
DARE Officer Hope Vasquez who is known to slip into the shoes of that Fairy Godmother says the department is excited to again be offering the special evening for all daughters and their fathers or father figures.
"This is an opportunity for the father to spend time, quality time with their daughters at any age. They all come in different outfits from Sundays best to formal. They come in military uniforms, police uniforms, fireman uniforms, tuxedos -- they're matching together. It's a beautiful event where they can come together and feel special. It becomes very special to the princess the moment they drive in because we have valet parking. The moment they open that door, the princess steps on a red carpet and she feels special from that moment all the way until 9:30 (p.m.) when it's over," said Vasquez.
Vasquez says daughters of all ages are known to set the stage by escorting their kings with jeweled crowns and magic wands. She says it's truly an affair designed to make dreams come true.
"It's just a beautiful event. It's grown for this many years, four years already and hopefully we're here for another 20. But the princess already looks forward to that right after school's over. The Cinderella Ball is coming -- so they start asking daddy to buy their tickets. Of course, they'll send mom to come and get the tickets. But I look forward to seeing a lot of my DARE ex-students to come and support this event which is our major event for the D.A.R.E. program. One hundred percent of all the proceeds goes to the D.A.R.E. program and it goes back to the community. It goes back to the children for Halloween, for Blue Santa for the books, everything -- the money goes towards all of that," said Vasquez.
Ball tickets are $40 for each king and princess couple. An additional $10 will be added for each extra princess.
Carriage rides are also available but are encouraged to be reserved as soon as possible since they traditionally sell out. Cost for those rides range from $20 to $30 each. Valet parking is also available for $5. Tickets can be purchased now at the Seguin Police Department or here at Seguin Radio KWED.
Seguin continues to consider curbside recycling; Councilmen voice concerns with potential costs to residents
June 6th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- The city of Seguin is one of the last city's in this area to offer its residents curbside recycling, but that could soon be changing.
The Seguin City Council held a public hearing on a proposed curbside recycling program. The recommendation to start the program was made by a sub-committee comprised of a handful of council members and staff. Assistant City Manager Rick Cortes says of the cities that they studied as part of their work, Seguin was the only city to not have a curbside recycling program. He says that's one of the reasons why the committee recommended that the city adopt this program, so that the city could provide once-a-week pickup of recyclable materials.
"The community got together. They looked at the analysis. They looked at all the numbers and (it said) that we're going to recommend to council that we implement this program. The services are going to be provided by Progressive Waste. They’re here already. It just makes more sense to go ahead and just transition to recycling from the residential pick ups and it's going to be utilizing a 65 gallon container. Initially, we're thinking about a 90 gallon container. It would be every other week but we're looking at once a week pick up in the 65 gallon container," said Cortes.
The city currently operates a manned recycling center on Fred Byrd Drive off Austin Street near Starcke Park. Cortes says that site is being used, but it's costing every garbage customer 50 cents per month for the city to provide that service. The new curbside program would cost $3 per month, which means each customer would pay $2.50 more per month, but they would have the ability to have their recycling materials picked up outside their home, much like their weekly garbage pickups.
"A monthly service charge would be assessed. It will be a three dollar service charge. Typically, when we have our assessments and we have our fees, we charge an administrative fee. The community recommended to the council that it would be just the $3 fee and not have any administrative fee added on. It leaves a 13 percent increase," said Cortes.
If adopted by the council, Progressive Waste Solutions (formerly IESI) would handle the recycling program. Progressive is the city's residential garbage service provider, and it would provide each customer with a 65 gallon recycling bin that could be rolled out to the curb each week.
"Upon exception of the curbside recycling fee, the 50 cents fee that people are currently paying for the recycling processing plant, our area right now would be taken away. It would be an annual increase to residents of $30 and it would be a monthly residential sideways fee of $16. 93 so that would be the impact overall," said Cortes.
The council was not scheduled to debate the issue on Tuesday, but some members of the council suggested that the additional fee might hurt some families struggling to make ends meet. Councilman Tomas Castellon said he had already heard from people who thought they might not be able to afford the extra $2.50 a month.
"Maybe to some, you know $3 isn't much or $2.50. We see if their is a program, the city could come across, cause if you don't have $3, 2.50 added on to your bill. To some of us $2.50 isn't much. A lot of elderly, $2.50 is either their going to eat something or not," said Castellanos.
Council members Nick Carrillo and Ernest Leal expressed similar concerns. Leal says this could be a real burden on some people.
"I got some calls from some constituents and they’re not against recycling, but they don't think they should pay for it. They think the city ought to pay for it. Also they were very comfortable taking their recycling to Fred Byrd Lane because I work with a lot of folks, like Tom was saying. They are elderly and disabled and they live on a fixed income and a lot of the folks that I work with, they are unemployed. And so you know not everybody is up there making the good money but their struggling but $2.50 might not sound like much but to those folks it's the difference between paying their bill or not paying it," said Leal.
Local resident Tim Barr also spoke during the meeting. He says all of those concerns about costs should be considered, but he encouraged the council to move forward with its recycling plan.
"I share the concerns of the council members who are worried about individuals families on fixed incomes. My hope is that as a councilman, you can be creative in thinking about how we continue to look to the future. As the study showed, many communities have recycling. Our kids are being taught in school that they need to recycle. We're having a debate in our community over whether we should have a dump. Some people call it a landfill. But what we can all agree on is that we don't want more trash being generated. Recycling is one of the ways that we can look to the future and respond to just the ways that our society operates. We are a culture that creates a lot of trash unfortunately," said Barr.
Progressive Waste Solutions is offering the city a single-stream method of recycling, which means customers will not have to sort the items. All recyclable materials will be placed into the bin, and sorted at another location. The council will conduct another public hearing on the recycling plan during its meeting scheduled for June 18.
City of Seguin homeowners to be notified of damaged sewer systems; Residents to be asked to make necessary repairs
June 6th, 2013
By Darren Dunn
(Seguin) -- The city of Seguin wants to help some homeowners fix their damaged sewer systems. The city recently conducted smoke testing on the city's sewer system. The smoke helps the city identify homes and other structures that have problems with their sewer systems. Utilities Director William Bissette says they'll begin contacting some of those homeowners soon, and let them know that they'll need to try to make some arrangements to have the sewer systems repaired.
Staff is proposing that the city send a letter to our costumers identifying the smoke that came out of their house or out of their service main or sewer lines. In the effort to help them pin point the area, we don't know exactly what's wrong. They would have to hire a plumber or determine that themselves based upon the pictures that we could supply them, showing them where the smoke is exiting their sewer system, then ask them to make repairs to that sewer system giving them 30 days to pull a permit and then six months to make the repairs. They can do that one of two ways -- by pulling the home owners permit and doing it themselves or they can hire a local plumber licensed with the city of Seguin to do the work," said Bissette.
Staff recognized that the repairs could create a hardship for some customers, so the proposed policy recommends that the city offer a relatively low costs option that would allow the homeowners to pay for the repairs over time.
"The city is recommending that we waive all the applications and permit fees for that process. No matter which way to do it, if it's a homeowner’s permit or hiring a licensed plumber, with that being said too -- we realize that some people cannot afford to make the repairs. So the city is offering to those that can't afford to make the repairs who live and own in their home to do a no interest loan with the city of Seguin and pay that payment back on their monthly bill. This is for repairs that exceed $100. The homeowner would be required to put $50 down on it or 10 percent whichever is greater on the amount of the repair, " said Bissette.
Much like the curbside recycling issue brought up earlier in Tuesday's council meeting, some council members said they were worried about requiring homeowners on a fixed-income to pay for those repairs. Staff said the idea is to give those people who have a hardship a chance to make these repairs to their sewer lines, while allowing them to keep their utilities on during that time. Councilman Bob Pees strongly warned the council about spending too much time trying to water down the policy in an attempt to keep some people from having to pay for those repairs.
"This is just another situation and I’m going to make sure we don't go down the road of making the policy the exception. We need to make a policy and if there are exceptions to it then we need to address the exceptions. But lets don't make the policy on the exception and then try to do something otherwise for everything else. So if we don’t come back and try to make a policy on the exception for five percent of the people, then we might as well not just do it. We might as well just go cut off those utilities and go on with our business. So let's don't get in the habit of doing that," said Pees.
The new policy was approved by the council, and letters will soon be going out to those homeowners who sewer systems were identified as damaged during the smoke testing that conducted earlier by the city.
Autistic, special needs camp preparing for summer; Free camp program limited, sign-up is encouraged as soon as possible
June 6th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- A local group is giving all kids the chance to have some summer fun. The Seguin Autism Support Group is inviting families to sign-up their kids for one of two available summer camps. The non-profit group will be hosting it's Jr. Camp Friendship for kids ages 3 to 12 and its Teen Camp Friendship designed for kids ages 13 to 22.
Christina Barton, founder of the group, says the free summer programming is the understanding to include all children in everyday social skill settings.
"That's the whole reason we started these two camps -- was just to have something for the special needs population to do. They're among friends. They're among other special needs children. You don't have to be a special needs child to attend the camp because that's the whole point of the camp is to have our special needs children and teenagers socialize with their non-disabled peers so that they can build social skills. If they don't interact with other individuals, they won't be able to gain those social skills that are vital to their day to day routine," said Barton.
Barton says the camp will be operated by some of the best and qualified volunteers.
"We have background checks. We have volunteers that are very vested in special needs. Some of them are even special needs teachers from the school district. Some of them are students from Texas State University and Texas Lutheran University -- that are volunteering their time to come and spend time with the children and get to know them since a lot of them are students that are specializing in that area of expertise. So they're getting hands-on experience with the kids," said Barton.
The camp schedule will operate during various hours and on specific days during the months of June, July and parts of August. Barton says the group has worked hard to include a list of activities for all children. She says the ability to support the camp has been the result of strong community support.
"Thinking up things to do --we've got enough money now from the fundraisers -- from the walk, from the haunted house, from our bake sales, that we're able to do a lot more this year with it. Every year, we continue on. We get more funding and so that we can do more things with the kids. We've got fishing trips planned. We've got Landa Park planned. We've got blocks for kids which we're contracting out of San Antonio to come and build -- it's a whole curriculum with Lego blocks that way they can work on occupational therapy skills and listening skills and cognitive skills as well. But still, they don't know that they're getting therapy when it's something fun to do," said Barton.
Barton's son, Parker, 16, says he's ready to head back to camp. Parker says the experience will be great.
"The reason why they should come spend the camp with us is because it helps them learn and two, it will help you have a better life," said Parker.
Applications are currently being accepted. Each camp size will be limited so sign-up is encouraged as soon as possible. To sign-up for the camp call the organization at 830-401-4946.
Grandson of President George H.W. Bush to serve as guest speaker at chamber fall banquet; Seguin Area Chamber of Commerce to welcome special keynote speaker
June 6th, 2013
Special by Seguin Area Chamber of Commerce
(Seguin) -- George Prescott Bush will be taking the stage at the Seguin Coliseum on Wednesday, September 25 for the 93rd Annual Banquet of the Seguin Area Chamber of Commerce.
According to Chamber Chair Elect Lisa Dudley “I enjoyed hearing George P. Bush speak at the 47th Annual Texas Legislative Conference in March. I immediately knew that I wanted him to speak at our annual banquet. He delivered an inspiration speech which included his experiences during his entrepreneurial endeavors and his desire to continue to improve the educational opportunities for our children. His positive outlook on the future of the State of Texas and its’ citizens is one that the Seguin Area Chamber of Commerce is happy to give everyone the opportunity to hear.”
George P. Bush is part of the next generation of Texas leaders. He is a successful businessman, philanthropist, civic leader and veteran dedicated to advancing conservative values.
While many know him as grandson of President George H.W. Bush, son of former Gov. Jeb Bush and nephew of President George W. Bush, George P. is a native-born Texan and leader with strong convictions and fresh perspectives.
Mr. Bush earned his undergraduate degree from Rice University and went on to teach at-risk students at Homestead High School in Florida's Miami-Dade Independent School District.
In 2000, Mr. Bush entered the University of Texas School of Law where he received his Juris Doctorate.
After his clerkship for federal Judge Sidney Allen Fitzwater, Mr. Bush joined one of the nation's largest and most prestigious law firms, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.
He later co-founded Pennybacker Capital LLC, a real estate private equity firm and most recently, Mr. Bush founded St. Augustine Partners LLC, a Fort Worth-based investment firm focused on energy and business consulting.
In 2006, Mr. Bush joined the U.S. Naval Reserve through the Direct Commission Officer program. In 2010, he began an eight-month tour of duty in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom under the Special Operations Command.
Among other service decorations, he was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal for his meritorious service.
Committed to helping his community and the state of Texas, Mr. Bush organized efforts to expand Big Brothers Big Sisters in North Texas and serves as the co-chairman of the Dallas/Fort Worth Celebration of Reading.
He is currently the Tarrant County chairman for Uplift Education-a highly successful Dallas-based public charter network focused on closing the achievement gap in inner-city public schools. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin.
Currently, he lives in Fort Worth with his wife of 8 years, Amanda, who is an attorney and partner at Jackson Walker, LLP. They are expecting their first child this summer.
Sponsorships for the banquet are available and tickets will go on sale in June. For more information contact the Seguin Area Chamber of Commerce at 830-379-6382.
Individuals encouraged to sign-up cell phones for emergency alerts; Tri-County Alert System designed to keep residents safe, free sign-up available now
June 6th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- Thanks to a new emergency system, individuals can be alerted of disaster anywhere they go. Similar to the familiar Reserve 911, Seguin and Guadalupe County have now joined what is the Emergency Notification Tri-County Alert System.
Describing "information as power," is Maureen Watson, the captain for the Seguin Police Department. Watson says the system allows residents to sign-up their cell phones and work numbers so that if in times of an emergency, notifications such as a text will be sent to their mobile devices immediately.
"The facilitator of this program is Bexar Metro 9-1-1. The system really is in place all over the state. I'm sure it's nationwide. But we're in partnership right now with Bexar County and Comal County so our system covers three counties -- hence the name Tri-County Emergency Notification System. What it does, is you will go on to the system, you can sign up through our website or through the counties website -- there's a link that will take you directly to and you'll put in your cellular phone number. What it does -- is when the system goes out, we'll pick an area that's affected by the emergency – say the city of Seguin is being effected by a flood -- that system will alert all cellular telephones that are in that area. It gives you real current information where you really are so it's a very effective way to get information instructions out to people," said Watson.
Watson says the city is encouraging everyone to sign up for this program. She says what takes only a few minutes can literally help save thousands of lives.
"Time is always of essence in an emergency. The recent tragic events in Oklahoma are very very good examples of that because once we are aware of a tornado on the ground, you only have a matter of seconds or minutes to take cover. So the faster you get that information, the faster you can act and the more lives that will be saved. It's a very very convenient process. It only takes a few minutes. That information will go directly to Bexar Metro which will disseminate it out. It's a very very good system and one that is proven to save lives," said Watson.
Guadalupe County Emergency Management Coordinator Dan Kinsey says he too encourages anyone in the area to register for the system. He says ENS activations are made on a geographic basis and only those addresses within the target area will be called. For mobile device users, he says the address used during an activation will be the address they enter during the self-registration process.
"This is a very important upgrade as an ever increasing percentage of the population is forgoing the traditional landline telephones in favor of becoming 'cell phone only' users. Prior to the upgrade, the database was limited to land-line telephones only. If a citizen was away from home, or did not have a land-line telephone, they would not receive emergency notifications. This upgrade gives officials the ability to reach ENS registered citizens with warnings and critical information in the event of a flood, tornado, hazardous material release, or similar event at their registered location.
The upgraded system also permits a person to register more than once thereby allowing multiple addresses to be registered as long as the addresses are within Guadalupe, Comal, or Bexar County. Individuals could also register the address of an elderly friend or relative.
There is no cost to sign-up for the program. To register, locate the link available on the Guadalupe County or city of Seguin web page. The program may also be accessed at www.co.guadalupe.tx.us/guadalupe2010/emgmt/tricountyalert/tri-county.htm.
Drug investigation leads to man's arrest
June 6th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) --- Months of surveillance and investigation has led to the arrest of a local man for the manufacturing and delivery of cocaine. Guadalupe County Narcotics officers say Jason Derek Gil, 31, was recently taken into custody after a search warrant was executed at his home located in the 1000 block of E. Cedar St.
Upon entering the house, undercover agents say 579 grams of packaged cocaine was recovered. Also seized from the property was an undetermined amount of money, a 2008 Yukon vehicle and various electronics from his bedroom. Three grams of marijuana was also seized from his person.
A manual hydraulic press was also seized from the garage. According to officers, the machine is typically used to compress the powdery cocaine into a harder substance making it easier to package and transport. Officials say Gil, who reportedly works as a general manager of a local tavern, is said to have already been in prison for similar drug charges in the past. Gil was arrested and transported to the Guadalupe County Jail. He has been released on a $25,000 bond.
Davila's Bar-B-Q survives heat from famous food expert in new book; Local sausage recipe warrants a vow to return from BBQ Snob critic
June 6th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- The roadmap to good quality barbecue in the state of Texas has led experts to Seguin. Davila's Bar-B-Q located at 418 W. Kingsbury Street has landed itself among the list of positive reviews found in the recently released book "The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue" by Daniel Vaughn. In his book, Vaughn, most respectively known as the barbecue editor of Texas Monthly, shares his experience at the location late last fall.
Vaughn, the self-proclaimed "BBQ Snob" writes, "There's plenty of handmade sausage to be had in Lockhart and Luling, but it's still the exception in most of the state. Most joints order their links already smoked. A few might use the local meat market to get fresh sausage, but making sausage from scratch is a dying art in most Texas barbecue joints.”
In looking back to that visit, Owner Edward Davila Sr. says he was on hand to greet Vaughn just 30 minutes before closing, a risk that Vaughn notes is not always positive for any eatery. Nonetheless Davila says when it comes to his family’s special recipe, he is not surprised that the barbecue expert has vowed to return.
"It's something that my father and my uncle started in the early 50s in Luling and so we've been able to continue with it and continue making the sausage and I think people have really enjoyed it through the years and we are very proud to be able to keep making the same sausage for 50 years, the same recipe," said Davila. "People come from all over and stop to eat sausage. If I'm going to Vegas and people know that I'm going to Vegas, they ask me to bring some. I went to Corpus last night and as soon as they find out that I'm going, they want me to take some sausage out there."
In the two and a half pages devoted to his trip to Davila's, the author writes, "The sausage links were superior to most I've had in the state. The casing on the all-beef links snapped easily under the teeth. They were aggressively seasoned and much spicier than most other sausages we'd tried to that point. The links alone were reason enough to return."
Davila's son, Adrian, who also helps manage the business, says the ability to make such an impression on a food critic and to also have his family's operation noted in this particular book is well worth the effort of continuing the longtime tradition of firing up the pits.
"That was probably one of the best compliments that he has given us being the fact that a lot of times, that was (what) barbecue places (were) almost always judged on -- was on their sausage. I guess you can't say that is true anymore so much because people don't make it but all of the ones with the most notoriety – Kreuz and the places in Lockhart and Luling, they all make their own sausage," said Adrian.
Davila admits that he did not know who Vaughn was prior to his visit to the restaurant. However, he does link the visit to social media.
"RL Reeves who is a food blogger of "The Scrumptious Chef" based in Austin, Texas had written a few stories about us on his blog and came down a few times and the way social media works nowadays, a lot of these sort of quote, unquote barbecue snobs, fanatics, bloggers, they follow each other and so Daniel Vaughn follows RL Reeves’s tweets and follows his blogs and with that, they gain insight of what's going on because a lot of the time, the bloggers are doing the foot work. With that being said, that sparked Daniel's interest in I guess coming to us," said Adrian.
The 400-page book is also being hailed as the first in the Anthony Bourdain Books line. Bourdain is an American chef, author and plays host to the Travel Channel's culinary and cultural adventure programs.
In the end, both Davila men are appreciative to Vaughn's two and half page critique of the original Kingsbury Street location. They say although his unexpected visit might have been a bit stressful at times, they welcomed his brutal honesty. They say in the end, it boils down to food and so for that, they have to give high respect to anyone who “gives it to you like it is.”
The book is now available locally at Hastings or online at Amazon.com.
New customized Seguin PD vehicles to hit the streets of Seguin
June 6th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- Local law enforcement officials will be sporting a new look behind the wheel. After months of doing their homework, Seguin Police Department officials say they are proud to roll out seven new Chevrolet Tahoe vehicles as part of its current fleet.
Police Chief Kevin Kelso says he's impressed by the new vehicles. He says they have specifically been designed so that the department can enhance its public service and crime fighting efforts for all citizens.
"We spent about a year and half looking at different vehicles, going to different departments, driving their vehicles, looking at the layout they had -- what vendors they used for different equipment. After a year and a half of studying this, we decided to go with the Tahoe. We looked at some of the smaller cars because many people think that smaller is better. Not as much -- the gas mileage is better but when you start putting the equipment in there, riffle racks and shotgun racks and computer screens and in car cameras, there's just no room at all in the passenger seat. When we train new officers, that's where the other person is sitting. So it's very unsafe in one of the smaller cars. So we tried looking at the SUVs and once we looked at the SUVs and found out what they have to offer – we compared price (and) the Tahoe is what we decided to go with," said Kelso.
An additional benefit according to Kelso is the actual size of the SUV. He says their height alone will allow officers to better focus on distracted drivers or any other suspicious activity that may be occurring inside the vehicle.
"It's a higher profile so the officers are sitting higher. We’re level with cars out there on the road. We're actually able to see inside cars. So there are things that are in plain view that we need to take notice of. Seeing people on cell phones is much easier in school zones and stuff. We're just at a higher level so it's a much more (easier) to inspect things around us and to always be conscious of our surroundings," said Kelso.
Helping Kelso unveil the new units is Sgt. Mike McCann. Kelso says McCann has been instrumental in conducting the research and logistics behind the Tahoe's design. McCann, who shares the credit with other police personnel, says one of the things that the public will find unique and maybe unusual is the flashing of its lights.
"There’s been a lot of studies on the safety of the lighting for the citizens and the policemen. We decided to go with the three tier system where you have lights at the top of the vehicle, lights in the middle and then lights at the bottom of the vehicle that way no matter what may be blocking the view of the citizens, there's going to be lights so they can see. All the lights are designed to flash in a sequence of patterns -- some are flashing fast, some are flashing slow. Then there's an intermediate flash that way with the different flash patterns and light positions, it's going to be very difficult for the citizens to not be able to see the officers (and) that way they can avoid the accidents. Then with the back, we went with the traditional light bar style and we purposely programed it for a slow flash that way it gives the citizens that traditional look of a light bar which they're used to," said McCann.
Kelso says enlisting new vehicles is always an item that all departments address over time. He says his department specifically worked within its designated budget to offer up the best vehicles possible and to ensure their effectiveness over the next few years.
"Pretty much all of the equipment in here is brand new because the equipment doesn't just move over from one vehicle to another. A prisoner containment screen in the Crown Vic doesn't fit in the Chevy Tahoe so a lot of the stuff is brand new. We're trying to install a package that works to (make things easier) -- not only for getting prisoners in and out but for officers to get in out. We've got a package we've put together here. We're going to try and test it for a year and see what the supervisors think about it and see how it works and if we need to redesign something or move something next time, we'll have that kind of idea from this," said Kelso.
The side windows of each of the black and white vehicles will also be marked with a pair of gold seals labeling the Seguin PD as one of the best departments in the state. The seal reads, "Texas Police Association's Best Practices/Recognition Program, Recognized Law Enforcement Agency." The police department has also inscribed its new motto onto the vehicle, "Professionals Who Care."
TLU director of Center for Mexican-American Studies, professor retires after three decades
May 10th, 2013
Police seize what they believe to be synthetic marijuana from local shop
May 2nd, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- The Seguin Police Department says that a synthetic marijuana-like drug has been seized off the shelves of a local cigar shop. Sgt. James Springer says officers on Tuesday afternoon removed the products from the Amsterdam Smoke Shop located in the 500 block of West Court Street.
"During the search of the premises, they located 147 items individually wrapped items that are believed to be a synthetic marijuana which came out to 2.76 pounds of the product. Each product is by a different maker and packaged individually. At this time, no arrest have been made but what's going to happen is the product will be sent for testing at the DPS lab. Once the testing is done and with the results, then possible arrests in the future will be made," said Springer.
Officers spent approximately two hours searching the small cigar shop nestled in the back parking lot area of Enterprise Car Rental.
Springer says officers have been working hard locally to confiscate such drugs that have been banned to the public. He says according to medical reports and incidents across the country, the drug has proven to be very dangerous.
"There's been a lot of articles and news releases out on it where people who have smoked this, the synthetic marijuana, for the first time have suffered pretty horrific medical conditions," said Springer.
Officials say another Amsterdam Smoke Shop is located in New Braunfels. No word yet as to whether or not authorities there have confiscated similar products in that store.
Non-profit thrift store undergoes new changes, management
May 1st, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) - One of Seguin’s local charity thrift stores is announcing a new look, new management and new prices. Along with these changes, The Cranny, which supports the operation of the Guadalupe County Family Violence Shelter, is also adopting a new way of doing business thanks to its new manager Rose Mary Saenz.
Saenz says she wanted to reach out to the public and help share some store changes that are in the process of taking place.
"All clothing right now, whether it's men’s, women’s and children, all of it is 50 cents because we've been blessed with donations. Also, we have a rack of seasonal (clothes) when it goes through, we can also offer 10 cent racks. That's the biggest change that we've had in the store right now. There are just so many items that we sell. For example, you can sell 10 to 15 items at 50 cents -- all that's going to add up versus selling one item at $2 or $6 and so on. It's not going to move. So we want the (sale of items) to keep going," said Saenz.
In addition, the store has been separated into different departments allowing easier shopping for customers.
Saenz says the store plans to be more active in collecting donations. She says the store relies heavily on community support whether it be during a spring clean-up, after a garage sale or just simply moving things out. Saenz says her volunteers and staff are committed to going wherever they need to in order to stock their inventory.
"Two days out of the week, I do have somebody that will do pick-ups. That's all surrounding areas. It can be Gonzales, Luling -- all surrounding areas -- Marion everywhere. They just call into the Cranny and we will schedule them from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. We accept donations in the back of the Cranny. But other than that, we could go out there and pick it up," said Saenz.
Saenz says she really hopes the community stops by and checks out the new operation of The Cranny. She says the store has all new faces and a new eagerness to not only help fund the shelter but to also be of help to the community.
"When they donate, I'm hoping that people know that they're donating to a good cause. They're not just donating just because to get it out of the house. I want them to take pride in their donation because we take pride when we sell it. We know all proceeds are going to help these people. The store helps the community. The way that we're blessed, we tend to go out and just sell items at a reasonable price. We're not sky high. If anybody ever needs anything, they come and just ask us and we'll help them out. At the same token, they're helping us out," said Saenz.
The Cranny has been operating out of its location on North River Street for several years now. Saenz says the store is an important source of funding for the shelter and all the services that it provides to local families.
"One hundred percent of proceeds go to the women's shelter. You never know if any family member of ours would need this service and the services provided out there. There are beautiful ladies out there. That's how this whole Cranny started. All the donations at one time were going to the shelter. It was overloading. So now, they created a store. Now all proceeds, all donations goes to the shelter. That's why it's important, people donating and people buying," said Saenz.
Saenz says in addition to raising funds, many of the items donated to the thrift store go directly to support the families being served at the shelter. She says whether they are items needed for a new home or clothes for a job interview, all donations are put to good use.
"If they go out and start new, I know for a fact that the shelter provides them with food and The Cranny will provide them with what's needed. For example, clothing -- anything that is in that Cranny and women that are leaving the shelter or coming to the shelter will be fully serviced," said Saenz.
The Cranny is open Tuesdays through Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Cranny is located at 113 N. River St.
Seguin Activity Center to fall under umbrella of The Boys & Girls Clubs
April 30th, 2013
National program assumes operation of center, changes now underway
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- The Seguin Activity Center will now be known as The Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Texas (BGCSCT) Seguin Extension. The non-profit center on Friday signed over into a membership with the nationally recognized program.
The Seguin Activity Center years ago was a part of the National Boys & Girls Club movement when it was formerly known as the Boys Club.
Mark Terry, chief executive officer for the BGCSCT, says the group is excited about the opportunity to have a Boys & Girls Club presence in Seguin and look forward to serving the community for years to come.
"What that means for us is that we have accepted them into membership and we will begin to run the Seguin Activity Center as we would any other Boys & Girls Club. That center will have the programs, the staffing -- all the things that come with being associated with the number one national youth development movement in the country and all of the support of that and so we're excited about that," said Terry.
Terry says Seguin stands to benefit with even more programs for families to enjoy.
"Once again being a part of the national movement, our programs -- the things that separate Boys & Girls Clubs apart from other afterschool programs -- if you will is that we are center based. We do have research based programs that we implement on a daily basis for the young children that attend there. We also have programs to meet the age range from five to 18 years of age so therefore, we've got something for school-age kids, teenage kids, junior high kids as well as high school kids and so we will begin to implement those programs on a daily basis at the center. We also believe in being available for families during the 3 to 7 (p.m.) period which is a very high need time for parents. It's when kids get out of school and yet they need a positive place to go and so we will be available and we’ll keep the doors of the activity center available for those kids who need someplace to go and something positive and constructive to do," said Terry.
According to Terry, Dana Malaer, who has served as the center's executive director will assume the new role as coordinator of the program.
Malaer says after years of working hard to keep the center operational, she is excited about its new future.
"We see our relationship with the BGCSCT as a way to bring top notch programs for the children of greater Seguin; especially since they have over 100 years of experience at youth development," said Malaer.
Terry says he does expect the name transition to happen over time. He says an open house in August will allow the community to take a tour of the facility. In the meantime, he says the staff will begin working immediately to make the change and invites the community to join in the excitement as a participant, volunteer or donor.
As part of becoming an extension of the Boys and Girls Club, Terry says the activity center's bingo operation at the El Fiesta Ballroom will also be assumed by the organization.
"We do understand that they do have a bingo operation and that certainly comes along to continue to support the Seguin extension. In fact, that will be one of the ways in which we continue to provide the necessary funding to provide programming at the Seguin Activity Center,' said Terry.
The Seguin Activity Center is currently fully equipped with a game room, outdoor skate park, boxing ring, basketball court, volleyball court and racquetball courts.
Terry says he invites families to become better familiar with the program by visiting bgcsct.org. The Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Texas provide services for youth that reside in Caldwell, Comal, Hays and Guadalupe Counties.
Stop Post Oak Dump files latest demands with TCEQ
April 30th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- A local group's fight against a proposed landfill in eastern Guadalupe County continues. The Stop Post Oak Dump group has recently filed a set of documents with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. That's according to Jim Watts, a spokesperson for SPOD.
"This motion that we filed on April 24 -- it is called a motion for the executive director's reconsideration and then also a motion for the commission to overturn the executive director's decision. This means in real simple terms, we as SPOD believe that the executive director of the TCEQ did not examine all of the facts before parts one and two were tentatively approved and we also believe that Post Oak has violated lots of TCEQ rules. As an example, by TCEQ rules they have a 75 day limit on processing an application and it has taken them to date, 15 months and they just now have maybe -- and we're not even agreeing with this yet -- but they've got an approval on parts one and two. Post Oak (also) issued three what they called NODS which is notices of deficiency and an additional three requests for more information and so in essence, they got six notices of deficiency sent to them by TCEQ and the rules say they get a maximum of two," said Watts.
Watts says should the executive director not adhere to the group's demands, then members are ready to move forward with a contested case hearing.
"We were hoping that the executive director does take a second look at this and really looks at this site which is not a good site for a landfill and hopefully, they will reconsider approving parts one and two. Now if they don't, we are asking in this same motion that we just filed on April 24 -- we are asking for/demanding a contested case hearing at this stage of this fight. So that is the last part of this motion that we have just recently filed," said Watts.
Watts says SPOD is committed to this fight no matter how long it takes.
"I can not tell you how many emails, calls, texts that I get weekly and not just me -- we have a large group that is still working diligently on this. We've hired the best attorneys in the state, environmental attorneys in the state of Texas, to fight for us and we're doing whatever it takes and I can promise you and ensure you that if takes 10 years then that's what it takes to protect our drinking water supply. We're in it for the long haul. We plan on fighting it every step of the way," said Watts.
The Post Oak Clean Green Landfill is being proposed approximately 16 miles from Seguin on 1,200 acres in the Darst Field Oil area on FM 1150. The land that will be used for the site is owned by Tom and Patricia Funderburg. The family plans to privately own and operate the facility.
Watts says the group is not against private landowner rights. Instead, he says it is against any threat to the drinking water supply.
"We are convinced that all garbage dumps leak and that's not just us saying that. That's based on TCEQ reports and studies. It's a matter of how much they will leak and when they will leak and especially in this sandy soil where this thing is trying to be permitted. It makes absolutely no sense what so ever, none. Now don't get me wrong, we believe in private landowner rights but not when it jeopardizes the health of future generations. If this dump is ever built, it will be a ticking time bomb sitting right on top of our drinking water supply. The Carrizo Aquifer provides drinking water to over 60 counties in Central Texas and our children and grandchildren will end up paying the price for this bad idea with whatever clean up it takes whether it's 20 years from now or 50 years from now, it is just a terrible idea," said Watts.
Watts says the group hopes to have a response back from the TCEQ in approximately 30 to 45 days.
Ohio bank robber apprehended in Seguin
April 25th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- A man wanted for two bank robberies in Ohio was found hiding in a home here in Seguin. Seguin Police Detectives say Elvis Presley Kerns, 32, of Wheelersburg, Ohio was taken into custody at around 4 p.m. Wednesday at a home located in the 400 block of Harper Street.
Detectives say thanks to a tip, officers were able to find Kerns and serve him with the pair of warrants out of Portsmouth, Ohio. Officers say Kerns was described as having violent tendencies so units took extra precaution and treated the scene as though there was an armed suspect." However, officers say Kerns was escorted out of the home with no resistance.
According to the Ironton Tribune, the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office in Ohio two weeks ago identified Kerns as the suspect in the robbery of US Bank in Rome Township. According to the newspaper, Kerns was also a suspect in a bank robbery in Wheelersuburg. The man was apparently matched up with the suspect seen on the surveillance video at US Bank.
Detectives say Kerns was transported to the Guadalupe County Jail where he will then be extradited back to Ohio.
ZDT's Amusement Park expands attractions; New water rides to open this weekend
April 25th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- ZDT's Amusement Park will be even bigger this summer thanks to two new "cool” attractions being added to its Splash Zone.
A pair of water rides will open up this weekend here in Seguin. The first new attraction is The Viper which is an enclosed dark water ride that can either be ridden head first on a mat or feet first on a raft, getting sprayed at the end by the Viper for that final soaking.
Next is the The Viper’s Tail, a mat-racer slide, that is ridden head first as the rider speeds down several drops.
Co-owner Sarah Donhauser says up until now, ZDT’s has had one water ride. That ride, The Mad Raft Hydro-Coaster, opened in 2010. The water coaster is known for "launching both children and adults uphill at several points throughout the ride.
Donhauser says while the Viper Hybrid Slide may be a great way to cool down during the summer, it will also also serve as a thrilling sled ride throughout the winter.
"As the temperature gets cooler and the water is turned off, guests can take an innovative sled-ride through the same dark tunnel. These wheeled sleds were designed for use on dry slides and do not require snow," said Donhauser.
Donhauser says these two news rides that open on Saturday are just part of the overall vision to be one of the best locations for family entertainment.
"We continue to add on and we'll basically see what the response is to the new water rides so we’ll decide whether we want to do more water or do more dry after this. We're also adding -- the building is being remodeled over there by the waterpark to be able to offer a huge pavilion for more shading out there as well. So, I imagine people will be spending more time out there at the waterpark as well," said Donhauser.
Family owned and operated, ZDT’s opened in 2007 with five indoor attractions. Since that time, ZDT’s has over-doubled in size offering indoor and outdoor, wet and dry rides for both children and adults. The park, located at 1218 N. Camp St. is open year-round. Prices and the schedule of operation are available at www.zdtamusement.com.
Seguin Main Street names Downtowner of the Year winner
April 22nd, 2013
Seguin Mayor Don Keil, center, was on hand Friday to help present this year's Downtowner of the Year Award to David and Mary Reiley for their renovation of a historic building into their new specialty shop at the corner of Austin and Donegan Streets.
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- A local business has been recognized with the title of Downtowner of the Year. David and Mary Reiley, the owners of Gift and Gourmet, were presented with this year's recognition during Friday's Moonlight and Roses event. The event is hosted each year by the Seguin Main Street Program in the Memorial Rose Garden at Walnut Springs Park.
The couple two years ago purchased and renovated the old Starcke's Budget Shop at the corner of Nolte and South Austin streets. David Reiley says he and his wife are honored to have been presented the award and believe their move to the heart of historic Seguin was the right decision. The couple reopened its latest location in May of last year.
"It has allowed us to connect with some of the other businesses downtown too. It kind of formed a destination for shoppers. They can come down and hit several shops that are all within walking distance so it's allowed us to connect and work with them and offer a lot of opportunities for the people of Seguin and surrounding communities," said Reiley.
As for Mary, the relocation of the gift shop from North Austin Street to the heart of Downtown Seguin was more than just about business. She says it was a way to fully restore the detail of one of Seguin's historic buildings. Part of the renovation effort involved the removal of stucco from the building's facade which unveiled windows and other architectural detail originally found on the structure.
"I've lived here since 37 something years and David has lived here all his life so I guess we are pretty connected to a lot of Seguin but Mary Jo Filip has been very helpful and Danny Solis of Solis Contractors -- they were the guys who really just redid everything and took a lot of attention to detail of things -- Hill Starcke and Frank Starcke and their sister -- without them we wouldn't have a building because they sold the building to us," said Reiley.
Also receiving an award was Bambi Rucker, owner of Blessings and this year's Volunteer of the Year. Rucker is being thanked for her ongoing contributions including the organization of the 2012 Holiday Sip and Stroll. Downtown business owner Bob Pickett was also recognized as the chair of the Main Street Board of Directors. He is also being credited for helping to start the Downtown Business Alliance.
This year's Preservation Award was presented to Danny and Cecilia De La Garza for their purchase and renovation of the former Lone Star Printing building in the 100 block of West Court St. Also drawing special recognition was Carol Hirschi, owner of the Mosheim Mansion Bed and Breakfast. Hirschi was thanked for her year long schedule of theatre events and other charity efforts. Also bringing home awards were the Seguin Gazette and Seguin Radio KWED. Both media outlets were recognized and thanked for their continued efforts in providing publicity for downtown events.
Seguin changes street name in honor of local pastor
April 22nd, 2013
Several city, community and religious leaders were on hand during Saturday's Street Renaming Jubilee Celebration honoring the late Rev. Dr. Arthur James Malone Sr.
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- The legacy of a local pastor extended way beyond the walls of the New St. James Baptist Church. Those lifetime contributions of Rev. A.J. Malone, Sr. are forever preserved in the city of Seguin. Dozens of congregation members and community members joined together Saturday afternoon to officially dedicate the street that runs in front of the local church in memory of the Rev. Dr. Arthur James Malone Sr. The city late last year officially cleared the way for West Rosemary Street to be renamed A.J. Malone Drive.
Among those on hand to help dedicate the new street name was Paul Castillo. According to leaders, Castillo is credited for helping get the ball moving in seeing the name change through. Castillo told the crowd that the gesture was simply for a good friend and a good person.
"Mr. Rev. Malone and myself were very good friends and once in a while you meet someone and you think that you have known them all your life and that's the way Mr. Malone came to me because I think I didn't meet him until 1994 but yet I know so much about him and I spent so much time with him so we became very good friends. It's an honor for me to assist in naming the street A.J. Malone. I think he would be very happy for that. Thank you for the invitation. I'll share some stories with you one day -- whenever we meet, whenever you want. It was definitely a very memorable time for me to have met Rev. Malone," said Castillo.
Also credited for having the street preserved on behalf of Rev. Malone's contributions was Rev. Jimmie Flakes of Second Baptist Church. Rev. Flakes says there was no one more deserving than Dr. Malone who Flakes says was a power of positive influence.
"Dr. Malone mentioned this to me as something that he would like to see and he asked if I would participate and I didn't but I knew that it was something that was worthy of the legacy that he left. So I approached Paul Castillo who is my friend and has been friend since 1987 and I knew of his influence in the community and so I proposed this to him and he said 'you know he said the same thing to me that he said to you.' He just worked hard in the community and made contributions to peoples' lives. He was very outspoken. He was very interested in the lives of people. He believed that people ought to be treated fairly and ought to be treated right and he didn't hesitate to show that and I joined him in that many times. He made me laugh and was just a fun guy but he was serious about God's work," said Rev. Flakes.
Following a brief dedication outside the church located in the 300 block of A. J. Malone Drive, guests were escorted inside for a Jubilee Celebration. The service included a number of individuals who shared memories and thoughts of Dr. Malone including Seguin Mayor Don Keil and Guest Speaker Rev. G.L. Roberts of Mt. Sinai Baptist Church in San Antonio.
Pavilion marker unveiled in honor of chili enthusiast, community leader
April 22nd, 2013
Seguin Mayor Don Keil, left, unveils this new marker naming the large pavilion at Max Starcke Park in memory of Patricia Irvine-King. The dedication of the marker was held during this weekend's Texas Ladies State Chili Championship. The woman from Seguin served as the championship's executive director.
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- The large pavilion at Max Starcke Park officially has a new identity. Seguin Mayor Don Keil Saturday unveiled the new marker naming the pavilion on the park's east side in honor of the late Patricia Irvine-King. Tears were plenty as the marker was unveiled in front of the hundreds of individuals -- all in town participating in this year's 43rd Texas Ladies State Chili Championship.
For years, Irvine-King served as the executive director of the contest and played a large role in having the tradition continued in Seguin -- a tradition that is listed as the second largest chili cook-off in the world. Irvine-King spent much of her life supporting CASI (Chili Appreciation Society International) and the Ladies State Chili.
Irvine-King's brother John Koch, of Moulton, says he is overwhelmed by the spirit of love and the gesture that will forever remember his sister in Seguin.
"This is just very special to everybody and I just thank everybody for their help in doing this. This cook-off meant the most to her. She loved Terlingua but she loved this one more," said Koch.
In addition to serving as the executive role for the chili organizations, Irvine-King was a local attorney and also the former president of the Seguin ISD Board of Trustees.
Knowing exactly how much Irvine-King was involved in the community is her sister Mary Kresta. Kresta who traveled in for the dedication from Johnson City, says she knows in her heart that her sister is both appreciative and pleased.
"She would be so proud so honored. She did so many things for so many people and not wanting any acknowledgement for it because that's the way she was. You can tell by all the people here and all the tears that many people were touched by her and she meant a lot to everybody and she loved everybody. This is a very very special honor and I know she's been looking down all day and saying 'well they better do this next and this next, oh yeah they did it.' She is so honored. I know she would be," said Kresta.
Traveling in from Irvine was Irvine-King's longtime personal friend Doris Coats. Coats says Seguin’s pavilion has become an important landmark for chili cooks around the state.
"My initial thought was it couldn't have happened to a person more deserving because her whole life since 1974 was spent in this community -- giving to it unselfishly, believing in this community, striving to make this city more successful than it already was and as you know this city has grown by leaps and bounds since she started this in 1974," said Coats. "When we started in this park. We had a flatbed and four porter potties and 55 lady cooks. We have evolved to a pavilion, a restroom, a stage and 225 ladies cooking here today all in honor of this lady."
Irvine-King, who died in November, was inducted into the Chili Hall of Fame in 1988. The marker erected on the west end of the pavilion in between the parking area reads, "Patricia K. Irvine-King Pavilion by friends of Texas Ladies State and Casi."
Utility payment scam being reported in city of Seguin
April 22nd, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) - City of Seguin officials are warning against individuals knocking on doors after hours requesting a payment for utilities.
It has been reported that individuals posing as city employees have been contacting residents and requesting payment for utilities. They're also apparently threatening to disconnect their water and light utilities if payment is not provided.
Officials in the utilities department say the persons acting as city employees are apparently contacting customers after 5 p.m. and are requesting payment on site.
According to officials, city employees are prohibited to accept any form of payment in the field from customers and are instructed to always direct customers to the city's billing office. They say city staff will never attempt to collect at any location other than the city hall utility billing office.
As a reminder to residents, all city employees who do visit homes will always be wearing clearly marked uniforms, have a city ID badge, and will be driving a city vehicle.
Anyone wishing to verify his or her account information is encouraged to call the utilities billing office at 830-401-2460. Those suspecting any wrong doing are asked to contact the Seguin Police Department immediately at 830-379-2123.
Seguin PD honors, recognizes 911 dispatchers
April 18th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- The city of Seguin today salutes the men and women who work behind the scenes in coming to your rescue during an emergency situation. The 911 dispatch team at the Seguin Police Department is being recognized as part of National Telecommunicator's Week (April 14-20).
Shannon Dukes, communications supervisors for the Seguin Police Department, says her department consist of 12 dedicated employees -- employees that last year logged thousands of service calls.
"Just as an example, (we had) 44,301 calls for service. Those are just the calls that the officers actually respond to. We had 3,680 -- those were just animal services when animal services is out in the field. Then we take the city department calls after hours and for those we had 953. That's just each time that it's documented. If we have a collision out on the roadway, we could get as many as 30 calls on that (and) where it's going to be tabulated as one in this total. They have a huge call volume that they handle," said Dukes.
During this week of observance, Captain Maureen Watson brings attention the high stress levels that are often experienced by these particular emergency leaders.
"A lot of time people don't see the fact that dispatchers don't see the resolution of calls. They'll get that person that's calling in frantic because something is literally the most terrible time of their lives. An officer can see that resolution -- see them to the hospital, can see an arrest made (and) can kind of have some finality where as dispatchers, they get that first emergency call and then that's it. They're not able to kind of let go of that stress as easily," said Watson.
Assistant Police Chief Wade Goolsby also commends the dedication of the 911 dispatchers who work around the clock saving lives and keeping people safe.
"Dispatchers are critical in any situation where the public needs either police, fire or EMS (and) for any accident out there on the streets. They're getting 20-30 phones calls from people on cell phones so they're handling all that volume and then directing officers and EMS personnel and fire and handling it all. It's incredible what they can do because even though you've got a diverse group of individuals, they have one common skill and that's that they multi-task like nobody else," said Goolsby.
Seguin Mayor Don Keil recognized the dispatchers with a special proclamation signed Wednesday at the police department. Each dispatcher employee was also presented with a commemorative clock marking the occasion.
Seguin makes decision to join SA/Bexar County MPO
April 18th, 2013
By Darren Dunn
(Seguin) -- The idea of Seguin and New Braunfels forming their own transportation planning organization seems to be dead.
The Seguin City Council on Tuesday agreed to allow the city to instead join the San Antonio/Bexar Country Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).
Seguin Assistant City Manager Rick Cortes says Seguin, New Braunfels, Guadalupe County and Comal County had all been working together to develop a local MPO that would focus on the transportation needs of this area. Transportation plans were adopted by each entity in preparation of the new MPO coming online, but Cortes says it now seems apparent that neither the state, nor the San Antonio MPO is going to sign off on the local plan.
"It appears at this point, that this is not going to happen. San Antonio, Bexar County MPO is not going to send a letter saying they don't oppose our creation of the PO and it looks like we're not going to get a response back from the state. Our (want) is to create our own MPO. I think what the state would like us to do is work as a region to come to a conclusion. With that in mind, we decided to work with the San Antonio MPO to see how best we can be incorporated it into their organization," said Cortes.
Even though the New Braunfels/Seguin area MPO will likely not be created, Cortes says the city is encouraged by its latest talks with the San Antonio MPO. He says an attractive offer is now being offered to the city of Seguin, which will give it a voice within the planning organization in San Antonio.
"We've worked with the MPO board and we've been able to negotiate a plan that would allow if we did go into the San Antonio, Bexar County MPO -- would allow Seguin to have a seat on the transportation policy board which really would be beneficial to the city. We would have someone there that would vote on projects and would have the information first hand," said Cortes.
Cortes says joining the San Antonio/Bexar County MPO is the best option right now for the city. He says there are a couple of conditions included in the agreement that protects the city's interests once its on the board, or also provides some flexibility for the city should that proposed MPO for Seguin and New Braunfels ever get off the ground.
"Staff is recommending that the council approve the resolution requesting the MPO to take us in on two conditions. The first would be that we would have the seat on the policy board and the second would be that if for some reason we were able to create a MPO for the cities of New Braunfels and Seguin and the two counties, then we would not go into the San Antonio PO. We're not the only thing that's going to happen but it would be contingent on that," said Cortes.
Cortes praised former Seguin Mayor Betty Ann Matthies and Precinct 2 Guadalupe County Commissioner Kyle Kutscher for their work on both the proposed local MPO, and now in moving towards joining the MPO in San Antonio.
The council voted unanimously to approve the resolution that would allow this action to move forward.
City of Seguin looks to refinance debt
April 18th, 2013
By Darren Dunn
(Seguin) -- The city of Seguin hopes that it will be able to save taxpayers some money by refinancing some existing debt.
Duane Westerman, of Samco Capital Markets, serves as the financial advisor for the city. He told city council members on Tuesday that the historically low interest rates available right now make it attractive for the city to see if it can save some money by paying off some of its bond debt and refinancing with a lower interest rate.
"As we have done in the past, we worked with the city manager and Mrs. (Susan) Caddell and staff to watch the debt issues of the city to see when there's opportunities to refinance or in our world, we call it refund certain outstanding bond issues to achieve some debt service savings. And at the current time, two issues stand out as giving us that opportunity. The series 2004 general obligation bonds and the series 2003 utility system revenue bonds. Those bonds have interest rates currently on them that range from four percent up to five percent on those outstanding bonds and with the new issue we're projecting that we should be able to achieve an effective interest rate on the new issue that would be probably below two and a quarter percent," said Westerman.
The idea is similar to what many homeowners are doing now with their mortgages. They are reducing their payments by taking advantage of the lower interest rates now on the market.
Westerman says the refinance could save the city $90,000 a year in interest costs, or approximately $1.028 million over the life of the debt, which is set to expire over the next decade.
Westerman says they'll start seeking bids on the refinance, and if a favorable offer is received, the city manager and the mayor will be able to sign off on the deal.
Seguin PD releases victim's photo in hopes of gathering clues behind his death
April 17th, 2013
Landfill project gets clears another hurdle
April 8th, 2013
By Darren Dunn
(Seguin) -- The Post Oak Clean Green landfill project has cleared another regulatory hurdle.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has signed off on two technical parts of the permitting process. That's according to Dale Burnett, the project manager for Post Oak Clean Green, who says that they received the news last week.
"On April 4th, TCEQ gave us a letter that the application for Parts I and II are technically complete. As the date of that letter, we can move forward and our intention is to move forward and we are going to start preparing Parts III and IV," said Burnett.
Burnett says this is a lengthy process, but the decision by the TCEQ allows them to move forward in the process.
"A lot of engineering has gone into getting us to where we are at now. There's been a lot of work, a lot of background work with regard to the use of that land and we are glad that we met the regulatory standards that TCEQ requires," said Burnett.
As project manager, Burnett says he's been working closely with the engineering firm Cook-Joyce, Inc. (CJI). He says CJI has a great deal of experience with these types of projects and they have been very helpful with moving things forward.
"The engineering firm of Cook-Joyce has been around for 30 plus years. They have an excellent reputation of meeting or exceeding regulatory requirements both state and federal and they came on to our Post Oak Clean Green Team in mid-January and were instrumental in wrapping this part up and getting us to this stage. They've done landfills before. They've done water projects before and we are really happy to have them on board," said Burnett.
If the permit is approved by TCEQ, the landfill project would be located in eastern Guadalupe County off of FM 1150, approximately 12 miles east of Seguin just south of Interstate 10.
There is organized opposition to the project. The Stop Post Oak Dump group has been actively working to stop the project. Burnett is aware of the opposition, but he says right now they are focused on developing a project that meets or exceeds all federal and state regulations.
Water corporation buys old firehouse building in downtown Seguin
March 27th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- The old fire house in downtown Seguin is now owned by the Schertz Seguin Local Government Corporation.
The SSLCG Board of Directors, which manages the joint water project for both cities, recently announced the purchase of the historic building at 110 West Mountain St. The building will be used as the SSLGC's new office and meeting space.
The building had been owned by American Bank of Texas, and was remodeled in 1992 to its current configuration with approximately 5,120 square feet.
SSLGC General Manager Alan Cockerell says the facility will enable the water corporation to have a permanent home which will provide for future growth and offer the space necessary for the board of directors to conduct its meetings.
"So it came about -- the building -- the size, it's the size that we need with offices and the meeting space. It's located in a great location there right off of downtown Seguin. We were looking at building our own facility. This was a much cheaper alternative to buy an existing building," said Cockrell.
Cockerell says the corporation was created in Dec. 1998 for the purpose of providing water from the Carrizo Aquifer to the cities of Schertz and Seguin. Since that time, he says the group had been leasing office space from the city of Seguin in Max Starcke Park.
"The offices that we have right now is co-located with recreation and parks there in Seguin in Starcke Park. So we have very limited office space. We don't have any room for growth. The other factor is that the office building is in the flood plain so we wanted to have a place that we can secure all our records and have them in a safe place and up out of the floodplain," said Cockrell.
In subsequent years and with the eminent threat of flooding, the office has been evacuated and all office equipment and files were temporarily moved to higher ground for safe keeping.
Among those applauding its move to downtown Seguin is Seguin Main Street Director Mary Jo Filip. She says along with the other recent news regarding the purchase of the Magnolia Hotel, she is excited that folks are making the investment in Seguin's downtown historic sites.
"We have for a variety of reasons, a number of very significant vacant buildings right now. Some of them because they were donated, some of them because people have died, some because they're for sale so to have a forward thinking and supportive city manager and members of the Schertz Seguin Local Government Corporation to realize how important purchasing existing businesses is. I mean they call it the new green and like that's the most sustainable thing that could be done is to purchase an existing building rather than to go out and buy or build a new one. I'm very grateful that they thought of looking for an existing building. I think the fire station is perfect for that. There's plenty of off street parking. It's a building that set off a little bit from the main drag downtown so it's not a great retail spot. It's a good office use. I'm just thrilled that we have a building that's been vacant for a number of years that's going to be utilized and bring people to downtown, bring workers to downtown, people who eat in the restaurants and hopefully shop at our shops and when they have board meetings or guests from out of town, that they'll get to discover downtown as well," said Filip.
As the SSLGC looks to move in, Filip says she is using this public opportunity to maybe find and return a significant fixture missing from the current fire house.
"We are trying to find out if anybody knows what might have happened to the old original bell that hung in the bell tower. There was a bell tower on the top of the roof at one time. The bell and bell tower have both been removed. If anybody out there knows where the original Seguin Fire House bell might be, we would love to locate that. That would be fun to bring that back downtown," said Filip.
Funding for this purchase will be from the 2010 bond fund which was created to expand the SSLGC system. The recent economic environment has generated favorable conditions in construction activity bids for the SSLGC expansion and projects. Officials say a created surplus in the construction fund has allowed for this purchase.
Magnolia Hotel earns second chance at life in Seguin
March 25th, 2013
City announces energy efficiency rebate program, offering free CFL bulbs
March 21st, 2013
By Darren Dunn
(Seguin) -- Buying a new Energy Star appliance could potentially save you a few extra bucks in the city of Seguin. The city is launching a new energy conservation and rebate program.
Utilities Director William Bissette says the program has two components. The first calls for the city to offer free energy efficient CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs to people in an attempt to get them to replace outdated incandescent lighting.
"Since this was our first program, we wanted to start relatively simple until we got our feet wet and understood the role that our employees were going to face in this so we decided to go with the rebate program and a CFL bulb program. The bulb program is funded by about $2,000. We'll give them away to electric department accounts. In other words, people that have an account for electric with the city of Seguin will be given a three pack bulb CFL bulbs free of charge. They'll use at their home in hopes that they would start to use them and get to understand them because they're a little bit different then incandescent light. When they first come on, they take a little while to warm up. (It's) a little frustrating for some people. But if you get use to it, they can consume almost 50 percent less energy then the same equivalent of an incandescent bulb. So we'd like to get people used to that," said Bissette.
Bissette says the appliance rebate portion of the program will promote the purchase and installation of high efficiency equipment, like refrigerators and dishwashers.
"We wanted to offer a rebate program that ties to certain appliances in hopes that customers that were thinking about replacing a refrigerator or window or wall air conditioning unit, a washing machine, a dish washer would take this opportunity to get that old equipment off the system. That (equipment) may be using three times as much as what new appliances are using now," said Bissette.
A $50 rebate will be offered for window or wall air conditioning units and for dishwashers. A rebate of $100 will be offered for Energy Star rated clothes washers, refrigerators and freezers. Energy efficient electric hot water heaters were left off the list initially, but Bissette says he expects that they will be added to the rebate program. The rebate program will go towards products purchased at four different outlets. They include Home Depot, Ranft Appliance, Sears and at the GVEC Home store.
To access the either the bulb replace or appliance rebate program, the individual has to be a city of Seguin utility customer in good standing and an application for the bulbs or the rebates will have to be made. The city has set aside $20,000 for the rebate program. The rebates and bulbs will be available on a first come, first served basis.