- City to discuss how to handle green energy customers; Council also considers grants to make schools safer during an emergency
- County commissioners try again to pick bank to handle deposits
- National Safe Boating Week Stresses Life Jacket Use
- Precinct 3 constable makes big bust; Drugs and cash found during traffic stop on IH 35
- Knock! Knock! Close the door on high pressure sales tactices; BBB warns consumers about aggressive door-to-door salespersons showing up this summer
- Parents invited to Kinder Roundup; Elementary schools open up campus for incoming kindergarten students
- Restaurants, caterers, food service providers encouraged to put their food to the test during Taste of Seguin
- SHS Project Graduation seeks prizes, gifts for seniors; Donations sought for project graduation raffle drawing
- Navarro ISD looks to officially approve bid for athletic improvements
- Guadalupe County remembers fallen officers during memorial service
- Seguin helps to stamp out hunger; Postal officials applaud success of annual food drive, generosity of local residents
- Type 2 diabetes class now underway; Individuals diagnosed with diabetes encouraged to participate in free five week program
- Commissioners again take no action on selection of bank contract
- Seguin Oakwood Art League forced to search for a new home; Local art group seeks public's help in finding a new location
- Habitat for Humanity, TLU presents Valadez family with new home; TLU, Habitat officially dedicate program's first green home
- Friends, family do their part to rally behind 3-year-old recovering from injuries sustained in vehicle accident; Dinner benefit planned for 3-year-old vehicle accident victim
- Voters in western Guadalupe County elect new leadership; Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD voters approve multi-million dollar bond package
- State district judge, longtime former DA announces bid for Texas Court of Criminal Appeals; Kirkendall making run for statewide position
- Seguin Radio KWED gears up for Freedom Fiesta, selects local band to perform; Paul Sanchez and Wrangler Country to headline during annual Freedom Fiesta
- A $10,000 reward being offered by Comal County Crime Stoppers; One year old murder crime in Comal County has officials seeking clues in Guadalupe County
- Home remodel ministry making a difference one family at a time; Locals dedicate lives to community by repairing homes of those less fortunate
- Motorcycle accident claims two lives
- Businesses being encouraged to make investments in downtown Seguin; New money available to help attract new business, investors to downtown
- TLU director of Center for Mexican-American Studies, professor retires after three decades
- City joins efforts to stop proposed landfill in eastern Guadalupe County
- Construction underway for new medical office building; New medical office building to meet future changes in healthcare
- Trio linked to organized crime spree in Marion
- Guadalupe County sets boundaries for landfill designation; Court votes 3 to 2 to designate landfill operation in northern Guadalupe County
- Guadalupe County seeks inclusion into area MPO
- Residents expected to get tax break during Memorial Day weekend
- Texas is good for business
- GRMC welcomes new staff merger with former surgical center employees, new director named for hospital foundation
- Guadalupe Regional Medical Foundation names new executive director
- Seguin mourns loss of businessman, community leader
- Guadalupe County Veterans’ Service Officer seeks van driver volunteers; Lack of drivers threatening future of veteran transportation program
- Police seize what they believe to be synthetic marijuana from local shop
- Connect Seguin busses officially hit the road in Seguin; Fixed-route bus service schedule now in full swing
- 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
- Navarro High School earns national recognition two years straight
- 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
- Guadalupe County recognizes emergency leaders
- Navarro ISD salutes Teachers of the Year; Dietert joins school board
- New Junior Miss crowned
- Geronimo Post Office building to close; Post office boxes to relocate to Seguin
- 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
City to discuss how to handle green energy customers; Council also considers grants to make schools safer during an emergency
May 21st, 2013
By Darren Dunn
(Seguin) -- People interested in going green when it comes to their electrical power at home, are expected to get a big assist on Tuesday from the city of Seguin.
The Seguin City Council is slated to consider approval of an ordinance that would address residential customers adding power generation, like solar panels or wind generators to their homes.
The city does not currently have a policy on these devices, nor does it have a policy in place to discuss what happens when they alternate power sources produce more energy than what's actually being consumed by the home owner.
The proposed policy would allow for the customer to receive some payment for that extra power. The ordinance also spells out the crititeria that must be met before a homeowner could install wind or solar energy options at their homes.
In other business, the council will consider approval of a grant application that will help link together to major parks in the city. The parks and recreation department is teaming up with the Wellness Center at Guadalupe Regional Medical Center to apply for a Bikes Belong Coalition Community Partnership Grant. The $100,000 grant would make it easier for people to get to both Starcke and Walnut Springs parks. There's less than two miles between the two parks, but the grant would help to provide a safer route for bike riders and pedestrians.
The council will also consider approval of another grant. This one is aimed at trying to help keep local schools safe. The police department is seeking a grant that will help establish a School Safety Team (SST). The department can't place an officer at every campus, but the SST would focus on preparing schools and staff members how to react efficiently and effectively in the event of a campus-wide emergency. The grant would allow the department to dedicate two full-time officers to spearhead the creation, implementation and maintenance of the program. The officers would also be responsible for investigating threats made to or by students, organized criminal activity within our schools, and narcotics possession or distribution occurring on SISD campuses.
The council meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Seguin City Hall.
County commissioners try again to pick bank to handle deposits
May 21st, 2013
By Darren Dunn
(Seguin) -- The saga that has become a drama that could be called "Where Do We Keep Our Money", resumes today at the Guadalupe County Justice Center.
The Guadalupe County Commissioners Court will take another stab at awarding the depository contract to one of two banks competing for the service.
Two banks, American Bank of Texas and Wells Fargo Bank, are still in the hunt for the county's depository contract. American Bank currently holds the contract, but some commissioners think Wells Fargo may be the better option for the county. A consultant and County Treasurer Linda Douglass recommended that the county stay with American Bank, but some members of the court questioned the information provided by the consultant, and they believe the services offered by Wells Fargo may be the best option for the county's money.
This is the third straight week that the court has discussed what is normally a much more mundane process.
The court meets at 10:00 this morning in the 1st floor courtroom at the Justice Center on West Court Street.
National Safe Boating Week Stresses Life Jacket Use
May 21st, 2013
By Darren Dunn
(Seguin) -- It's about time for boat owners to start getting out and again enjoy area lakes and other Texas waterways. Rachel Johnson, with the North American Safe Boating Campaign -- "Wear It!", says there is is no excuse for not wearing a life jacket when out on the water
"No matter how good a swimmer you are, you never know what will happen while you are boating. Accidents happen much too fast to put on a stowed life jacket," said Johnson.
Johnson says you should pledge now to wear your life jacket anytime you get into the vessel and take it out on the water. She says it's simple. Life jackets save lives.
"You can still have fun on the water, while also choosing to always wear a life jacket and boat responsibly," said Johnson.
About 500 people drown from recreational boating accidents each year. She says wearing a life jacket could save your life. The warning to all boaters comes as part of National Safe Boating Week, which runs throughout this week.
Precinct 3 constable makes big bust; Drugs and cash found during traffic stop on IH 35
May 21st, 2013
By Darren Dunn
(Guadalupe Count) -- A Guadalupe County constable is doing his part to get drugs off our streets. Precinct 3 Constable Michael Skrobarcek apprehended a suspect and confiscated 35 pounds of marijuana during a recent traffic stop along I-35 in the Selma area.
Skrobarcek tells the Seguin Daily News that he stopped the driver shortly after 11 a.m. on Thursday, May 16 on I-35 South. He says the driver smelled of marijuana and that ulimately led to the discovery of the drugs and approximately $3,600 in cash.
"Pretty simple, the gentlemen was following another car too close. I stopped him as I'm getting out of the car. He's coming out of his and we meet at the rear of his car and I could immediately smell the odor coming from his car. He was very nervous. I asked him what was in his car and he told me that he was in a little bit of trouble. That he did have a load with him. I asked him of what, and he said marijuana. So I placed him in cuffs, found the drugs sitting in back of the car," said Skrobarcek
The suspect, Jose Aguillon, 33, of Austin, was booked into the Guadalupe County Jail on a charge of possession of marijuana, over five pounds and under 50 pounds. Skrobarcek says suspects don't always come clean the way, Aguillon did, but he says the man had little choice, because the drugs were in plain sight.
"It would be except for the fact they were laying on his back seat and if I would have stepped up two more feet I would have seen them," said Skrobarcek
Aguillon has been released from jail in lieu of a $10,000 bond.
Knock! Knock! Close the door on high pressure sales tactices; BBB warns consumers about aggressive door-to-door salespersons showing up this summer
May 21st, 2013
(undated) -- Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be on guard when it comes to high-pressure sales tactics over the next few months. There are many businesses that go door-to-door selling everything from cosmetic products to magazine subscriptions. In 2012, BBB received over 1,700 complaints against door-to-door sales companies nationwide. Most complaints alleged products were paid for but never delivered, or refunds were not received upon cancellation.
During the summer months, BBB routinely receives an increase in complaints from consumers against businesses that employ aggressive door-to-door selling techniques. Some examples of high pressure sales tactics include hostile and persuasive rebuttals to consumer concerns, deep discounts offered upon immediate payment and refusal to take “no” for an answer.
While many businesses utilize door-to-door marketing tactics, BBB has these tips for consumers to consider when getting that knock on your door.
According to the Texas Attorney General, door-to-door sales people are required to:
- Advise you orally and in writing of your right to cancel the sale within three days
- Provide a contract in the same language that was used in the sales presentation
The contract or receipt must:
- State the date of sale, name and address of the merchant
- Provide a statement of your right to cancel which includes the address of where to send your cancellation notice
To cancel a door-to-door sale:
- You must sign, date and mail the “notice of cancellation” back to the seller
- To obtain a full refund, you must do this before midnight of the third business day after the sale
- If the seller fails to notify you of an intention to repossess the goods within 20 days after cancellation, you may not be forced to return the items at a later date
To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org.
Parents invited to Kinder Roundup; Elementary schools open up campus for incoming kindergarten students
May 20th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) --- The Seguin ISD is gearing up for tonight's Kinder Roundup. Elementary schools are inviting all incoming kindergarten students and parents to visit their campus in preparation for the 2013-2014 school year.
Dr. Soledad Ramirez, principal at Koennecke Elementary School, says Kinder Roundup allows families to learn about kindergarten opportunities and expectations.
"We're going to give a little presentation to the parents. We're going to have some of our present kindergartens actually talk to the parents and tell them this is what's important. Then the parents will also fill out a little information sheet on the student, name, date of birth, so we can know exactly whether the child will be old enough to come to kinder. We will go to the classrooms and talk to the teachers and they will also be seeing another PowerPoint in the classrooms. Teachers will be sharing the sight words that the children need to know (and) the numbers the children will need to know. For example, their primary colors -- they should know their colors. It's a matter of informing the parents when your child comes to kinder this is what they need to know. We're going to give them strategies of how to help them in the summer time to get these things under their belt before they come to kinder," said Ramirez.
Although the actual kindergarten registration isn't until Aug. 6, the district wanted to make the transition into kindergarten as smooth as possible for everyone.
"We have some children of course that are at Ball that are in pre-kinder and that is great. But then, we have many many others that don't go to pre-kinder and those are the people that we really want to touch. We want to let them know ' hey you know your child is going to be coming to kinder but didn't go to pre-kinder.' These are some of the things they need to know. I know at Ball they're learning some of these things but if they're not in any kind of organized program before coming, then they will be lagging behind. Parents are also going to get a reader. They're going to be receiving a reader in English and in Spanish and those are the books that we start off with right away in the beginning of the school year. So if they practice these little books with their children, then their children are going to be one step ahead," said Ramirez.
Dr. Ramirez says parents can confirm attendance zones and will receive information on required registration documents and forms. Kindergarten teachers will also be in their classrooms to visit with families and help students become acquainted with their new school.
Kinder Roundup will be held today from 4:30 p.m to 6 p.m. at each elementary school in the district. Parents wanting to double check their attendance zone are asked to call the Seguin ISD Central Office at 372-5771.
Restaurants, caterers, food service providers encouraged to put their food to the test during Taste of Seguin
May 20th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- If you're in the restaurant business, it's now time to let your favorite dishes shine during the Taste of Seguin. The event, sponsored by the Silver Center, puts salads, appetizers, entrees and desserts to the test with a panel of judges and with those in attendance during the Taste, which is scheduled for next month in the Seguin-Guadalupe County Coliseum.
Silver Center Director A'Lisa Seleen says each year area restaurants showcase their best dishes, and she says right now they are signing up restaurants to participate in the popular contest.
"What it is -- is we ask restaurants, food service industries to participate. What they do is bring a product for tasting, whether it be an appetizer, salad, entree, or dessert. Then guests buy tickets to come down to taste their food. Then, we have celebrity judges and what we'll do is have other people join them, so we'll have a secret panel of judges judging their items not knowing who's cooked what and then naming their winners. Each guest is given a ticket to vote on your favorite salad, entree, appetizer and dessert," said Seleen.
Seleen says a list of this year's participants is already beginning to grow.
"We already have several very interested parties. Blake’s is returning for another year along with GVNC Nursing Home and Windsor Nursing Home and Su Casa. Coming new for the first time after Robert Haynes was a judge last year is the hospital so we're excited about that. Also coming to us this year on their own is Sister Suzie’s with their chocolates. So it looks just like a good year. We have some restaurants that will be missed that are no longer with us but we have some new in Seguin that we hope to gain," said Seleen.
Seleen says each year, the event continues to draw more and more people. She says it truly has become one of the most successful fundraisers in the community.
"We ask the public to support us in this fundraiser. One thing the Silver Center does is it affects all ages not just seniors. We loan out medical equipment. Basically, we recycle so that if you have had knee surgery and you need a walker, you can come in and borrow it from us. Then when your done, you bring it back and we loan it to someone else. We're the only ones in Guadalupe county, at this point, that do this service," said Seleen.
Seleen says while guests get the chance to try all of Seguin's best food under one roof, the businesses themselves also benefit. She says not only do they earn bragging rights for their menu item but they also get to make connections with new customers.
"We're really encouraging restaurants to sign up now. The sooner you sign up, the more advertising you get because the more we throw your name out there that your participating which is a benefit to you. So we need to have vendors signed up by the end of this month so the 31st of May, we'd like to have all of our members in place so we can get your names out there and thank you for participating and letting people anticipate what product you may be bringing," said Seleen.
Taste of Seguin is scheduled for Tuesday, June 11 at the Seguin-Guadalupe County Coliseum. Tickets are $25 pre-sale or $30 at the door. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Silver Center or at radio station KWED and the Seguin Daily News. Those interested in participating are asked to sign-up by calling 830-303-6612.
SHS Project Graduation seeks prizes, gifts for seniors; Donations sought for project graduation raffle drawing
May 20th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- Seguin is invited to salute its 2013 graduates by donating some prizes for the group's annual Project Graduation Party. Project graduation is an ongoing tradition which provides an alcohol and drug free party immediately following the graduation ceremony at Matador Stadium.
Project graduation Co-Chairs Elaine Bennett and Kelley Rose say they are still in need of a number of prizes for this year's graduates. Rose says their goal is to offer up as many prizes for kids as possible. She says the group would love to see every person take something home.
“We've been at project graduations in years past and it's at the end of the night when they are getting that big bucket prize. It is so exciting. They have to be present. They can only get one gift. So say they put tickets in three different big items, if their name gets pulled on two, they have to make the decision of which item they get to keep. So it gets intense and fun and exciting. It's really a great night," said Rose.
Organizers say this year's party will be a little bit different. Unlike the traditional casino night, the group has opted to let the kids loose at ZDT's Amusement Park. They say having the park to themselves will hopefully let the kids enjoy one last night together.
Bennett says in the midst of all the fun rides and games, she is hoping that kids will get to win a door prize. She says while electronics are, of course, on top of the list, the group is open to any and all gifts. Bennett says even gift cards make for a hot item.
"iPad, an Apple laptop, a flat screen TV, mini fridge, microwave, iPod touch, tablet, Android, any type of electronics -- then we also have bikes and canoes on the list – so it is a variety of items. Most of these kids, yes they will go to college or some will stay here and they will enter into the workforce, so that's something that I know. When you talk to people and some of the donations that have come in, they'll say 'Oh yea, I remember my project graduation, it was so fun’ and they'll remember the event. It brings back a good memory of high school. It's meant to be a fun event so they can reflect back on. It's their event. It's their party," said Bennett.
Bennett, Rose and a whole team of parents and community members have spent the last year working hard to organize this party for SHS graduates. Benentt says she hopes people will consider donating an item. She says when Seguin successfully graduates a group of seniors, it's a celebration for the entire community.
"Yes it is an alcohol free event but it also allows students that they may not have a party, a graduation party like some but it doesn't really matter. This is a party for every person that has graduated and that has walked that stage. They need to be very proud of themselves because that is a huge accomplishment and this party is for them. We need to let them shine," said Bennett.
With graduation just around the corner, donations for project graduation are needed as soon as possible. Monetary donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 1344 Seguin, Texas 78156. Items can also be donated by Friday, May 31 at the GRMC Wellness Center.
Guadalupe County remembers fallen officers during memorial service
May 16th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- The sacrifices made each and everyday by area law enforcement officers aren't going unnoticed this week. In conjunction with National Correctional Officer Week and National Law Enforcement Officer Week, the Guadalupe County Sheriff's Office gathered various law officers from throughout the area for its annual Memorial Service. The service honored the nation's fallen officers for 2011-2012.
Sheriff Arnold Zwicke stated that in 2012, 127 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty, marking a 23 percent decline in fatalities from just a year before when 165 officers were killed. He says 13 of the fallen officers were female. Seven correctional officers were killed in the line of duty. The average age of a fallen law enforcement officer in 2012 was 41 and they had 12 years of service. On average, each officer left behind two children.
Despite a decline in statistics, Zwicke says there will always be the risk of injury or death for these men and women who have committed their lives to serving and protecting others.
"If you have just one for the whole United States it's one too many, but we are pleased with the numbers that have come down over 2011. That's a step in the right direction, in spite of what's all is going on in the United States today," said Zwicke.
Unlike other jobs, Zwicke says officers have to prepare both physically and mentally before walking out of the door each morning or each night.
"When they prepare for their shift, be it six in the morning or eight o'clock at night or four in the afternoon -- putting on that gun and badge and that uniform may be the last time that they ever do that. I think that's the difference between someone that goes to work in another profession. This may be our last day and we try not to think about that. It's always there in the back of our officers' minds that this could very well happen and we train and we prepare and hope that our training kicks in that allows it not to happen," said Zwicke.
Among those on hand during the ceremony was Rev. Tom Jones. Jones was recently promoted as the new executive director of the pastoral care department at Guadalupe Regional Medical Center. Chaplain Jones says while emergency officials answer the calls of others, it is his duty to be of service to the officers themselves.
"We just want to be available. I would like our department's pastoral care to be available for them whatever that need might be, whether it be being on the scene with situations with crisis (or) being able to help folks that can be referred to us to just talk. We're not counselors but we can actually talk to people and kind of guide them to resources. Especially when it comes to grief, we can address a lot of those things and then lead them to resources whatever that might be. We just want to be a source for them," said Jones.
Included in this year's program were Guadalupe County Judge Larry Jones, County Commissioner Kyle Kutscher and GRMC Foundation Director Jeremy Roy. The ceremony was held Wednesday morning in the lobby of the Guadalupe County Sheriff's Office.
Seguin helps to stamp out hunger; Postal officials applaud success of annual food drive, generosity of local residents
May 16th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- U.S. Postal trucks were riding around with more than just the average mail this past weekend.
US Postal Officials in Seguin are sending out a public thank you to the community for its generosity during this year's Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.
Postal Carrier Eddie Aguinaga, says mail trucks were overloaded with plenty of non-perishable food items left at mailboxes and front porches by residents throughout Seguin and its rural community.
"Everybody says that this year was just a record breaking year because there was a lot of food. I had carriers that I called toward the end of the day to ask them if they needed any help and if they were going to be ok. They were still moving right along and said,'We're doing good.' They were concerned about the truck not making it back because they had so much food in their trucks. Thanks to the community for really coming forward and putting their donations out and helping the community. It's going to help stock up the Christian Cupboard and the other organization that we provided the food for," said Aguinaga.
As postal employees, Aguinaga says Saturday's food drive which was co-hosted by the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), was also a feather in the cap for local carriers.
"I know in the Rio Grande District alone -- because we fall under it -- Seguin does good. We always beat all the other regions with the volume of pounds. That's a plus right there in the Rio Grande District because Dallas and Fort Worth -- those in that area wonder how we manage to get that much food but it's just a matter of getting out there and letting the public be aware. The public actually stepping up and doing what they feel in their heart to do -- they did it. Like I mentioned earlier, I had a person new to the office (and who has) been here about a year and some months -- she was just amazed with what the people in Seguin did. She said she got a lot of food. She said Seguin people really help out a lot and that they were very generous," said Aguinaga.
Aguinaga says he doesn't yet have an exact amount collected even though he said by the naked eye, the donations proved way more than last year. The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is held every second Saturday in May.
Type 2 diabetes class now underway; Individuals diagnosed with diabetes encouraged to participate in free five week program
May 16th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- Have you been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes? The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Guadalupe County is inviting individuals to grab a better hold of their disease with the start of a new five week informational series.
Charla Bading, of the extension service office, says classes begin tonight and will cover nine topics influenced by the program's title, "Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes."
"We are having five classes. So, it's five Thursday nights in a row. We do have a number of partners, which includes Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, the Methodist Health Care Ministries, with our Wesley nurse and our Public Health and Education Department which is our Seguin office and they have a county nurse (and) the Institute for Public Health and Education Research which we've been referring to as TIPHER on a lot of things that we've been publicizing and each of us are going to be speakers and we're also going to bring in some specialists. We have a doctor that's going to speak, a podiatrist, someone who focuses on wellness like nutrition and health and exercise. So we have a number of speakers lined up to help address things that people need to know about type two diabetes and how to manage it and also maybe the questions that they have," said Bading.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number of people with diabetes has increased by three million in three years to a new high of 24 million. This means that almost eight percent of people in the U.S. have diabetes. Almost a quarter of people over 65 years old have diabetes. In addition, 57 million people have pre-diabetes, which means they are at very high risk for developing diabetes.
Bading says doctors and other healthcare professionals are always there to provide advice and medicines, but the person with diabetes has to manage it every day. She says it's for that reason that she hopes individuals take advantage of this free program.
"I think it's just a way to expand their knowledge base and to open their eyes to things that maybe they just aren't aware of they are out there because maybe they have basic information but it's a disease we live with forever. It doesn't go away. We have to manage it everyday of our lives. Anything new to help us work through that I think is always an asset," said Bading.
Classes begin today and will be held every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the Hierholzer Hall at the First United Methodist Church. Classes are free. Individuals are encouraged to enroll in advance or simply stop by at the church hall. To enroll in advance, call 830-303-3889.
Commissioners again take no action on selection of bank contract
May 15th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- Guadalupe County commissioners continue to wrestle over the question of where the county will keep its money.
Two banks, American Bank of Texas and Wells Fargo Bank, are still in the hunt for the county's depository contract. American Bank currently holds the contract, but some commissioners think Wells Fargo may be the better option for the county.
This is the second straight week that the commissioners court has struggled with this issue. Last week, Consultant Linda Patterson, of Patterson & Associates, and Guadalupe County Treasurer Linda Douglass recommended that the county award the contract to American Bank. That led to a lengthy discussion by the court about the merits of the proposals and which bank offered the better deal. Commissioner Jim Wolverton has not been participating in the discussions, because he serves on the Schertz Bank and Trust Board of Directors -- which was one of four banks initially competing for the contract. Schertz Bank has since been eliminated from the competition.
The court had hoped to move forward on the contract Tuesday, but the issue was again delayed. Commissioners say some information was not provided to the court by the consultant, and they also believe some of the calculations determing the cost to the county didn't add up.
All of that led County Judge Larry Jones on Tuesday to suggest that no action be taken. Jones says he wanted to make sure that everyone on the court was able to look over these new figures. Jones says these are figures that were worked on and retrieved this past week by Commissioner Kyle Kutscher who initially had suggested that the county award the contract to Wells Fargo.
"I actually met with Commissioner Kutscher and (County Tax Assessor Collector) Tavie (Murphy), Linda and Linda -- Linda Douglass and Linda Patterson the consultant. Commissioner (Judy) Cope hadn't, so I got a little bit clearer of what it does but what the bid is and who is what. But I didn't know that just in the last day or two that some of those figures are not correct so I was a little uncomfortable but most of the reason I didn't want to move forward is that Commissioner Cope didn't have a chance to review it very thoroughly. Like I said I was a former treasurer, I kind of understand the data I got and I don't think I have a problem of voting with the way that I want to -- what I think is best for the county. I want to make sure every member of the court understands exactly what they're voting for and what those costs are from each one of those and there's really only two competing banks now. It's American Bank and Wells Fargo. Schertz Bank and Broadway -- the other two -- kind of have moved out of the mix because they weren't even close. I want to let this be known. I think Commissioner (Jim) Wolverton ought to sit back on the court because I don't want to be a two, two vote on this important thing. I think his involvement with Schertz Bank (as being) on the board of directors -- I think is irrelevant now. He does know the banking business so he would be a very valued tool on how the court should go," said Jones.
During last week's meeting, Kutscher questioned the failure of organizing a committee with a couple of commissioners to evaluate the proposals. He says the request was made to the treasurer's office prior to last week's initial recommendation. Kutscher felt that the consideration of most departments weren't heard throughout this process although Douglass stated that concerns such as those in the tax-assessor collector's office were considered when reviewing the various bids.
Nonetheless, Kutscher says this week's concerns were broadened as he felt that the consultant who was hired did a terrible job in getting the right numbers to the court.
"There are a few inconsistencies but the main thing is that commissioners court did not have all the information. Once I asked a few more questions and looked a little deeper I was able to get additional spread sheets, numbers and information on all the bank bids. What I found was that the two banks were very competitive but with the earning credit rating and the overall evaluation of services with a higher score and also the availablity of services and the fees on some of those services, to me it looked like it was clear that Wells Fargo won the bid. Now there are costs that are associated with transitioning or changing banks that we don't know about. We understand there are fees but we don't know the total cost of that expense but as the judge stated in commissioners court, you can't take just that into consideration because you never change," said Kutscher.
Echoing concerns about the consultant was Commissioner Judy Cope who also stated that she was not happy with the work provided to the county. She says in order to be fair to all banks, she wants to be provided accurate numbers on what it will continue to cost the county to stay with American Bank of Texas or switch banks to Wells Fargo.
Kutscher says American Bank of Texas has served the county well over the last several years. However, he believes that a fair bid process should warrant a change if needed.
"I know there are departments that are happy with our current bank and don't want to move because when you are comfortable and happy with the someone’s service, product that they provide then why change. But if it’s cheaper, you know commissioners court has a judiciary responsibility to go with a low bidder that can provide the same type of service that we're getting now. If we're just going to change because we're comfortable staying there, I'm not comfortable voting in that way," said Kutscher.
Commissioners will look at revisiting the issue during its next regularly scheduled meeting. That meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 21 in the Guadalupe County Justice Center.
Seguin Oakwood Art League forced to search for a new home; Local art group seeks public's help in finding a new location
May 15th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- Seguin's only community art gallery could be homeless if a new location isn't found anytime soon. Robin Walker, the president of the Seguin Oakwood Art Gallery, says the non-profit organization which supports all arts has been notified that they will no longer be able to occupy its space at 109 N. River St.
"We won't ever fold. I mean the organization is going to be intact forever -- I mean I hope. We will have still the Yulefest at Christmas time. We will have monthly meetings and we will still do shows. We'll have to find venues for these shows. For instance, our best to you is an all member show that starts in July. Right now, we're finishing the high school show. At the end of June, we're supposed to vacate the building. We knew this was coming at some point because we were given an opportunity to use our gallery space at a very reasonable rate. The building owner, understandably, wants to rent it for market," said Walker.
Walker says the gallery has been fortunate to utilize the downtown space for the last couple of years. She says the gallery has helped to provide a presence of the arts in Seguin. Walker says she's hoping that someone, somewhere can assist the group in helping the group find a new home whether it be permanent or temporary.
"What we need is, at least, think about 2,000 square feet if we can in order to do classes. We've got several artists that are willing to teach classes for seniors and children and high school students. We also need just some space, some wall space to show our members work. That's really what's important. There really aren't galleries in the Seguin area. Local artists from high school to seniors have no place to show their work. It doesn't do much good for a senior to show their work over in New Braunfels or in San Antonio. They just don't have the resources. So we've really been a community gallery," said Walker.
Walker says providing the square footage for the public and to the arts is key to making Seguin a well rounded community.
"I'm hoping that somebody that knows something is going to click. Something's going to happen. I feel very positive about it. We do have a committee that has been reviewing all the properties. But overall, we haven't found anything that we can afford reasonably because our only big fundraiser is the Yulefest each year. That's how we generate the money that gives us an opportunity to do stuff over the year," said Walker.
Anyone who may have a possible location are encouraged to contact Walker at 830-876-8980.
Habitat for Humanity, TLU presents Valadez family with new home; TLU, Habitat officially dedicate program's first green home
May 14th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- A set of keys have officially been handed over to Seguin's newest homeowner. The keys were presented to Leticia Valadez and her family during the dedication of Guadalupe Valley Habitat for Humanity's 17th home. The home was built in partnership with Texas Lutheran University.
TLU President Stuart Dorsey says the dedication over the weekend was purposely scheduled on the same day as the university's spring commencement ceremony. He says both marked another successful year -- illustrating TLU's existence in the community and it's commitment to be of service to others.
"It was more than a year ago that we started thinking about how we would commemorate our century in Seguin. This is our 100th year in Seguin. So when this opportunity came about to be able to dedicate and work and help make happen a habitat house, it just seemed like such a natural idea. It really has been a constant theme of this past year for all of us at Texas Lutheran and I particularly wanted to say thanks to Layne Hoppe (who has been) a big part of the TLC and TLU community for so many years -- for really being the driving force -- literally driving nails and driving all of us. If you showed up to work here you know that Layne wasn't going to let you just sit in the corner and watch and eat a donut. I tried that, it didn't work. I found myself up on a ladder one morning. I think he was here just about everyday from January on to make this happen. Some days a lot of people showed up. Probably some days no people showed up. But progress happened anyway. If a lot of people did show up, he made sure that everybody got involved," said Dr. Dorsey.
In conjunction with TLU's partnership, the house located at 940 Tony Lee St. was built as Habitat's first "green house." The environmentally safe and energy efficient home was influenced by TLU Alumni Stephanie Ertel. Ertel and her husband have been recognized in the sustainability and environmentally friendly aand helped support the building of the house. Ertel, who was on hand for the ceremony, says she was amazed by the outcome of the project. She says it stands as an example of what others can also do.
"Every time we've come to visit, the house -- the quality of the construction is so excellent and the ideas that we were able to bring about how to insulate the house, how to situate it so that it's an ideal siding -- in fact, some day Letty can put solar panels on this roof because of the way the house is sided and the way the windows were designed. Everything about it is to maximize its sustainability. So we hope people will drive by and say 'What are those barrels back there?' in the back of her house and she can tell them about collecting rain water at her house. So, we hope this house will be here in the community to tell people that Texas Lutheran cares about the community of Seguin and to show people how they can care more about our environment in the way that they live in the homes that they built," said Ertel.
As for the new homeowner, Valadez says she and her three children are blessed to have a place that they can finally call their own. She says it has definitely been an experience to also pick up a hammer and literally build the house. She says there's no other feeling like it.
"It's very exciting to finally see it all accomplished. Actually, it's a learning experience because you know for me being a single mom, it's going to help me out in the long run in case anything happens to the house and it needs some type of repair later on, I'm able to help them. Say it was a plumbing area, I know where the plumbing is at, where the plumbing stuff is at. I would be able to help. So you know, it's a learning experience for me," said Valadez.
As part of the dedication ceremony, the family was presented with various gifts marking the family's new start in their brand new home. Gifts included hand crafted pottery dishes from TLU Professor Walt Glass, a homemade quilt from the New Braunfels Quilt Guild and a welcome/blessing sign created by Artist Roger Betschler and presented to the family by TLU officials.
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit Christian housing ministry that believes that every man, woman and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live. The homes are purchased by the partner families through no interest loans. Each family is also required to contribute actual labor hours into the building of their new home.
With the completion of this Valadez home, the group will now turn its attention to building its 18th home here in Seguin. Habitat volunteers says plan will begin as soon as the group can find a new location. They encourage anyone who might have a piece of property that they are willing to donate to also contact the Habitat office as soon as possible. The local Habitat for Humanity office can be reached by calling 830-401-0422.
Friends, family do their part to rally behind 3-year-old recovering from injuries sustained in vehicle accident; Dinner benefit planned for 3-year-old vehicle accident victim
May 14th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- Rhea Arias may only be 3-years-old but she is already proving to be a fighter in what may be the toughest challenge of her life. Arias is the young lady that has become the focus for family and friends here in Seguin -- all who have remained busy these last few weeks praying and rallying around her recovering from a major vehicle accident.
The girl's aunt, Maureen Arias, says the child was traveling near Beaumont with her mother and grandmother when the accident occurred late last month.
"She was in a horrific car accident with an 18 wheeler on April 26th and remains in critical condition at Dell's Children's Hospital in Austin. She's sustained two neck injuries. Her neck was broken in two places, severe spinal cord injury. She's kind of fighting right now. We get some good news and then some bad news and back and forth and so we're just praying. She's a fighter, so we know that we can get through this. All the prayers are really appreciated and they're helping. It's working because the doctors tell us that she shouldn't be here today as far as the crash site (and) how bad it was," said Arias.
Remaining at her bed side are the child's parent's San Juan and Amy Arias and little brother Xavier. Arias says since the accident, the Seguin community has been a strong source of support for the family who is from Seguin but who currently lives in La Vernia. She says to better meet the financial needs of the family, a benefit enchilada dinner is being organized for this weekend. She says all proceeds will go toward helping the family with medical costs and all other expenses that come with having to drive and stay in Austin and be there for their daughter.
"The enchilada plates are courtesy of El Ranchito Restaurant. It includes two cheese enchiladas, rice, beans and tortillas. The plates will be available at First Commercial Bank, between noon and two o’clock. Tickets are on sale. I've had a lot of people call me asking to help sell tickets. They can contact me and I'll get with them as soon as I can," said Arias.
Also injured in the accident was Amy's mother and Rhea's grandmother Hope Zamora, of Seguin. According to Arias, Zamora was also severely injured and suffered multiple broken ribs, a pelvic fracture and head injury. She says it's only been days since she's returned home.
Arias, who is married to San Juan's brother Jesse, has taken the lead in organizing the various fundraisers and helping to facilitate the communication between the family and the community. Arias describes the outpouring of support as tremendous.
"They're at the hospital 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They've been there since the accident. They're not answering the phone very much. A lot of the calls are coming from me. They're not trying to avoid people. They just have a lot on their plate right now. They want to let everybody know that they really appreciate all the prayers and support and donations and mostly the prayers because they're helping," said Arias.
Enchilada plate tickets are $8 each and can be purchased in advance by calling Arias at 830-305-2041. The plate sale will be held from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday in the First Commercial Bank parking lot. Anyone interested in making a monetary donation to the family is also encouraged to stop by First Commercial and ask to contribute to the Rhea Arias account established at the bank. Plans are also in place to host a future benefit raffle. Anyone wishing to donate an item for the fundraiser are encouraged to contact Arias as soon as possible.
Voters in western Guadalupe County elect new leadership; Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD voters approve multi-million dollar bond package
May 14th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- The Marion City Council will soon have two new faces. Voters chose Martin Gonzales and Donald Achterberg as the newest members of the city council. The election was held on Saturday, May 11. Gonzales and Achterberg were the top vote getters in the race. Gonzales received 61 of the votes cast while Achterberg followed with 52 votes.
Rounding out the race were Incumbent Belinda Reasor with 34 votes, Mark Engstrom with 22 votes, Steven "Red" Salas with 21 votes and Jessica Brown with 12 of the votes cast.
Other area races include the position of mayor for the city of Santa Clara. Jeff Hunt defeated Ronald Crockett for the position. Voters in Santa Clara also elected Steve Beisser to the council. Selma also welcomed two new council members. They included Kevin Hadas and Jose Silva.
One of the largest elections held in Guadalupe County saw the approval of a $92 million bond election in the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD. The package includes a number of projects, including a major expansion at Steele High School in Cibolo. Voters also agreed to the construction of a new elementary school and expansion of Dobie Junior High School. No city of Seguin races appeared on the ballot. The city's regular election is held during the General Election in November.
State district judge, longtime former DA announces bid for Texas Court of Criminal Appeals; Kirkendall making run for statewide position
May 13th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) - A Republican state district judge, from Seguin, is seeking a seat on the state’s highest criminal court. State District Judge W.C. “Bud” Kirkendall has announced his candidacy for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals during next year’s Primary Election.
As District Judge of Texas’ Second 25th Judicial District, Kirkendall has served a four-county region since 2005.
Prior to his election to the bench, Kirkendall served over 20 distinguished years as District Attorney for the 25th Judicial District, prosecuting felony criminal matters, including being named “Texas Prosecutor of the Year” by the State Bar of Texas in 1996.
If elected as a Judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals, Kirkendall says he will work to apply the law as written, while guaranteeing that the highest ethical and legal standards are applied to every case coming before the Court.
“As a judge and former prosecutor, I understand the necessarily high burden placed on the state when it comes to taking a person’s freedom, and will insist on the highest ethical and legal standards in that process,” said Kirkendall.
“In addition, the court plays a critical role in important constitutional issues, such as the right to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment and Texas law, search and seizure matters, surveillance limitations and questions of on-line privacy. I will apply my conservative judicial philosophy,
experience and maturity to each ruling, adhering to the Constitutions of the United States and Texas.”
An active member of the Texas legal community, Kirkendall, who lives in Seguin, is currently past president and chairman of the board for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association and is frequent speaker at continuing legal and judicial education seminars. He has been awarded the Exemplary Judicial Faculty Award by the Texas Center for the Judiciary, and the Political Courage Award by the Jon Ben Sheppard Public Leadership Forum at UT-Permian Basin.
Kirkendall served as a criminal defense lawyer for 10 years, prior to his election as District Attorney.
The Republican Primary Election is scheduled for March 4, 2014.
Seguin Radio KWED gears up for Freedom Fiesta, selects local band to perform; Paul Sanchez and Wrangler Country to headline during annual Freedom Fiesta
May 13th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- Seguin Radio KWED is gearing up for another night of great music and fun during the annual Freedom Fiesta community celebration. The radio station is announcing Paul Sanchez and Wrangler Country as this year's featured band for its Fourth of July celebration scheduled for Wednesday, July 3 in downtown Seguin.
Darren Dunn, KWED and Seguin Daily News general manager, says he has no doubt the band from Seguin will help put on a great party.
"We're excited about Paul Sanchez and Wrangler Country providing the music for Freedom Fiesta this year. We're all about Seguin, and showcasing our local talent here. Clint Taft and the Buckwild Band did a great job for us the past two years. I know that Paul is going to try to again offer something for everyone. A little Rock-n-Roll, a little country, a little Tejano -- just good, fun music that makes you want to dance," said Dunn.
Invited to perform for Freedom Fiesta is a real honor for Sanchez. He says his band takes an interest in all music and is always working to keep the crowd dancing.
"We're pretty diverse. We like to read the crowd -- see what they react to. We play everything from classic country to some of today's country. We might put on a little bit of Kevin Fowler or Randy Rogers and then we'll do something totally different. We'll do some classic rock, some Tejano and you know just have some fun with the crowd and just kind of play some of the favorites that they like. We mainly like to keep them dancing," said Sanchez.
Sanchez says he's fortunate that every member of his band is talented and brings a wealth of experience to the stage. He says the group is already gearing up for its performance this summer.
"On Wednesday the third, I have, it's me on bass guitar and lead vocals. I have Steve Solis on drums and Mark Skelton on lead guitar and steel. He's really fun to play with because he's like three in one -- three musicians in one -- and then for the occasion, I'm bringing a special guest from San Antonio, Anthony Hernandez on keyboards who is real diverse on the keyboards. It's just really going to add a whole lot more to the show. We're going to be able to pull off some other stuff that we don't normally do at our dance halls," said Sanchez.
Dunn says this year's live entertainment is just one component to what he describes as a true community event.
"Freedom Fiesta is about celebrating greatness of our country, but it's also about celebrating the greatness of Seguin. It is of those community events, like the Guadalupe County Fair, that really represents and serves everyone. It doesn't matter where you grew up, what kind of music you like to listen to, or anything like that. If you're Seguin proud, it's for you. It's free. They'll be no fences again this year. There's great music, food and fun. What more could you ask for?", said Dunn.
A few game booth vendors are still needed for this year's event. There is no cost to host a game booth. The opportunity is available to all non-profit or select team organizations. Those interested in hosting a game booth are asked to call the radio station at 830-379-2234.
A $10,000 reward being offered by Comal County Crime Stoppers; One year old murder crime in Comal County has officials seeking clues in Guadalupe County
May 13th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Comal County) - Investigators at the Comal County Sheriff’s Office are hoping that perhaps someone in Guadalupe County may know of some helpful information that can assist law officers in solving a one year old murder case in its county. Thursday will mark the one year anniversary in the death of James Ernest Rogers. Rogers, 67, died from multiple gunshot wounds and was found dead in his bathtub at his home located in the 1700 block of Mission Valley Road.
Comal County Deputy Gene Hendon says Roger’s body was discovered during a routine welfare check.
"On Wednesday, May 16 of 2012, they found James Ernest Rogers deceased and it was determined that Mr. Rogers had multiple gunshots wounds. It was also determined that his Lincoln Continental four-door sedan had been taken. It was recovered at an HEB parking lot just east of the residence," said Hendon.
Hendon, who also serves as the co-coordinator for the Comal County Crime Stoppers, says to assist officials with the investigation, a $10,000 reward is being offered for a limited time in exchange for information in this murder case.
He says Crime Stoppers of Comal County will pay the cash reward for 30 days, expiring June 8, 2013 for information leading to the arrest and grand jury indictment of the person or persons responsible for the commission of this crime.
Anyone with information on this case may remain anonymous. Individuals may contact the Crime Stoppers Program in Comal County by calling 830-620-TIPS.
Home remodel ministry making a difference one family at a time; Locals dedicate lives to community by repairing homes of those less fortunate
May 13th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- Hope and Joe Tijerina have lived in their house at 630 Dolle Ave. for the last three decades. Over those 30 years, the couple has seen time take a toll on their home. However, thanks to a few local residents who have embraced the call to make a difference and to commit their lives to a ministry of helping families fix their homes, the Tijerina’s no longer have to face the poor living conditions -- conditions that up until now had taken over the comforts of their home.
Inspired by a book and the need to improve her own life, Lisa Herrera organized what she calls the Triple H Foundation: Herrera's Helping Hands. Together with her brother Robert Herrera, Jr. and son, Mark Andrew Gonzalez, the trio has organized a home renovation ministry which simply calls for the group to drive around, search out a house and reach out to a family who they feel could benefit from the renovation of their home.
The Tijerina family was the first to benefit from the ministry. Lisa Herrera says it took a month to renovate the house and make the space again usable.
"Man it's great. It's actually a great feeling because I was able to see them smile -- where they actually told me -- they blessed us. They said they wanted us to be blessed with more jobs and more supplies. Hopefully, the community will see that we're not playing. We're out there to fix up our community -- to make it look better. I really want our community to look better," said Herrera.
Robert, who credits the selection of the Tijerina home as divine intervention, says he appreciates the ability to be able to use his home improvement skills in reaching out to others.
"I had a vision of a home, 630 (address). I named it right on the nail because then we went to another home to go check it out and they were all like ‘I got to get permission, this and that. This isn’t our house. It's my father’s house.’ It was wild because we came over here and it was 630. I noticed it. It was 630 so this is the home that God actually wanted us to work on. It like meant a lot to us. We were on the right path," said Robert.
Lisa's son Mark says although they are blessed with the final outcome, this project did, however, come with a few challenges.
"Some of our tools came up missing. We were trying to help others. We were helping to do good you know and someone came in and took our scrap metal that we were going to sell for materials. It just feels good helping others. We got down on this house. We did put in a lot of hours and a lot of work. (It was in) pretty bad condition when we got here but I'm glad we could help them," said Gonzalez.
Herrera says the family’s organization is close to becoming an official 501(c) 3. Until then, she says the family is thankful from supplies and gifts from friends and local businesses. She says others have also volunteered their time.
Lisa says any sort of building materials are welcome. She says even a local hotel undergoing renovation stepped up to the plate to donate usable carpet for the Tijerina home.
Hope Tijerina, says the improvements to her home are definitely day and night. Tijerina couldn't help but fight back her emotions as she talked about embracing her house again. She says it’s just a wonderful feeling to be able to sit in her living room and cook in a new and improved kitchen.
"First, I just want to thank God for bringing them over here for helping us. I was lying down and she came and she said that she wanted to work on our house. So I gave her the house and said do whatever you want with it. So, I'm very happy for them," said Tijerina
Lisa says leaky ceilings, holes in the walls and poor flooring are no longer eyesores throughout the house. Herrera says the project ended up being more than just neighbors helping neighbors. She says her volunteers found a purpose while also making new friends along the way.
"When we came into this home, they welcomed us with open arms. They allowed us to come in. We looked and we knew we were at the right spot because they needed so much help. They had seven foot holes in the ceiling with plastic coverings over it. I knew I was at the right place. God sent me here," said Herrera.
The group is already currently working on its second project. The home on Newton Street belongs to an elderly man and his diabetic son. Herrera says this particular home is in desperate need of repair both inside and out.
Anyone wishing to assist the Triple H Foundation with monetary donations or supplies is asked to contact Herrera at 830-557-0831.
Motorcycle accident claims two lives
May 13th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(McQueeney) -- Two New Braunfels men were killed when their motorcycles wrecked while driving side by side Wednesday night. Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers say the accident was reported just before 9 p.m. on FM 725 near Lake Creek Drive.
Both drivers were reportedly killed on impact. The victims are identified as Jason Paugh, 42 and Frank Brown, 59 of New Braunfels.
Troopers say they continue to look into what caused the accident. Officials say both men were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.
Businesses being encouraged to make investments in downtown Seguin; New money available to help attract new business, investors to downtown
May 13th, 2013
By Darren Dunn
(Seguin) -- There's another incentive being offered to help bring new businesses to downtown Seguin. The Seguin City Council recently approved a new low-interest loan program. Mary Jo Filip, director of the city's Main Street program -- which helps to promote and foster growth in downtown, says $250,000 has been set aside to loan to businesses or developers looking to make significant investment in downtown Seguin.
"City council approved the development of the new low interest loan pool with $250,000 as part of the budget process for the current fiscal year and development of the low interest loan program was requested by the main street advisory board as an incentive to encourage investment downtown. The documents that you have been presented were developed after a numerous meetings were held with Sharron Miller with the small business development center. Terry Trevino with the Seguin Economic Development Corporation, our city finance director Susan Caddell and city attorney Andy Quittner and city manager Doug Faseler and staff are asking the mayor and council to approve the eligibility and application guidelines along with the loan application approval process so this program can be publicized and included in the incentive package for revitalizing the downtown historic district," said Filip.
Filip stressed that these are loans and not grants, so the city will get its money back over time. She says this is just another way for the city to help bring more business to the downtown historic district.
"They are for anybody who qualifies as long as it’s for a project as outlined and prioritized in the downtown historic district. So it could be somebody who already owns a building or somebody new that's looking to come in to purchase or renovate. We kind of have a criteria that we try to identify to help us decide where the money would best be spent. So if it's a vacant building, that's going to carry some weight. If they're going to open up a second story for housing, that will carry some weight. We'll try to be as objective as we can but we’ll look at that priority list when we do award the loans. These will be paid back loans. These are not grants," said Filip.
Applications for the loans will be accepted, and Filip says a scoring system is being set up that will help the city prioritize where this money should go.
"The reason we felt that it was important to offer a loan program is because it’s relatively difficult right now to get loans for older buildings and just to borrow money for small business and small business ventures. So the city is in the position of identifying if this is a good risk or not and helping maybe with some GAP financing where they've got this much but they're short a certain amount to get the whole project done. We do not have the loan application all identified because we wanted to have the criteria first. We're going to review it very carefully to make sure we're loaning money to good prospects and know we're going to get our money back. So that's why there are so many requirements. It is just like going to a bank for a loan," said Filip.
Filip says the ultimate goal of the loan program is to attract new business and investors to downtown Seguin. It also aims to provide current property owners access to funds to spur economic revitalization, to reduce retail leakage, and to boost local sales and ad valorem taxes generated in the downtown historic district.
Applications for the loans are available on the city's website, or through the Main Street Program Office located in the City Hall Annex Building on North River Street.
TLU director of Center for Mexican-American Studies, professor retires after three decades
May 10th, 2013
City joins efforts to stop proposed landfill in eastern Guadalupe County
May 9th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- The city of Seguin is officially joining the fight against the proposed Post Oak Clean Green Landfill. City council members on Tuesday approved a resolution that stated the city would be joining those who are contesting a recent decision by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) that allowed the developers to move forward in the permitting process.
City Attorney Andy Quittner says the council last year approved a resolution stating its opposition to the proposed landfill, that if approved, would be built several miles east of Seguin in the Darst Oil Field area. However, Quittner says the action taken Tuesday is different. He says the city will now become a participant in the contested hearings that will be conducted by TCEQ on the first two parts of the permitting process.
"What happened tonight is council approved using the attorney that worked for the Schertz-Seguin Local Government Corporation. The one we are in with Schertz for water supply -- to act on the city’s behalf to formally oppose the Post Oak Landfill," said Quittner.
Quittner says the city will join the SSLGC and the Stop Post Oak Dump group in this fight. He says they all believe this is about protecting the drinking water supply for this area, because the landfill would be located over the Carrizo Aquifer, which is the city’s primary source of water.
"The city will actually become one of the parties opposing it because anybody -- that has standing -- that has a real reason to do that, can do that. So we will be part of the contested case hearing, provide testimony, expert witnesses, whatever is required to show that that's not a proper area for a landfill (and) that'll potentially hurt our water supply and the other issues that we have," said Quittner.
The developers for the proposed site have said that they will meet or exceed all federal and state regulations, including rules regarding groundwater protection and runoff. Those in opposition have said that they believe that any liner installed at the proposed landfill would leak and eventually make it into the aquifer. TCEQ gave its blessings on parts one and two of the application, but those decisions are now being contested.
Construction underway for new medical office building; New medical office building to meet future changes in healthcare
May 9th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- Cutting-edge advances in healthcare are no longer just about medicine and technology. It also now involves that actual trip of going to the doctor and how the medical facility itself is structurally designed to meet the needs of all patients. Soon Seguin will be home to a sample of that state-of-the-art medical building thanks to local Family Physician Dr. David Rider.
Dozens of health professionals, community leaders and patients turned out Wednesday for a special groundbreaking and to help congratulate Dr. Rider as he embarks in the construction of a new state-of-the art medical office building to be located on East Walnut Street just west of an adjacent strip mall on State Highway 123 Bypass. Dr. Rider says he's setting out to build a 10,000 square foot facility which will essentially be separated into four different practices. He says these practice spaces will help bring together a number of services vital to maintaining the health of the community.
"My practice and an urgent care which my brother (Dr. James Rider) and I will are going to help run will be in the center of the building and then Dr. Hennessee, the ear, nose, throat doctor, will have about a quarter of the building and then there's a quarter of the building that's separate from us -- that will be separate. Dr. (Jennifer) Hennessee and I have been talking a longtime working on just the idea of what form the structure has to have to serve the function of what the doctors do and what the patients do inside. We decided that it would be great to have a shared waiting room and then there will be a separate waiting room for the urgent care patients," said Dr. Rider.
Dr. Rider says he's looking forward to the relocation from his office on North King Street to this future site. Dr. Rider assumed the practice of Dr. Jim Lee in 2009. He says together with his brother, Dr. James Rider, the physicians will now be able to provide a more comfortable one-on-one experience for their patients.
"In terms of what my vision is, what family medicine does is try to prevent illness and try to help people through illness and manage illness and the traditional setting where you come and basically take a number and wait to see the doctor -- that really serves more like an urgent care need. For example, your sick, first come, first serve -- but that's a real need also. People get sick and they need to be taken care of today and not next week or two weeks from now. But at the same time, that doesn't marry very well with the needs to take the time to sit down with patients and manage their health. So I have arranged the facility so that if you are here for wellness then it's a true wellness experience. We'll have tables to sit around in the examine rooms instead of examine tables where you have to sit up on the sterile paper. Everybody's been there. It's not very fun going to the doctor and so I want the experience that my patients to have to be of a more collaborative nature because that's really how you get health, is working together," said Dr. Rider.
Dr. Rider says the future of medicine is introducing a number of changes on how medical care is provided. Hopefully through this vision for his new medical office, Dr. Rider says he hopes to remain ahead of the game.
"With the healthcare revolution that they are trying to make happen, one of the big things is they are going to separate the doctor/patient encounter from the only place that you take care of patients. Right now, the only time that a doctor is paid by an insurance company or by Medicaid or by Medicare is if the patient is sitting in front of them and so they are going to try to separate that. The term that they are using is the patient centered medical home and so this facility will be designed to encompass many of the ideas of that. One of the things that we are going to do is group visits. So, let's say you have diabetes. Instead of coming to the doctor every three months, every three months you sit down with the same group of diabetics with the doctor there and we talk about our challenges and there's a nutritionist there -- something we can look forward to and plan and so there's regular meetings basically do education as well as intervention," said Dr. Rider. "The other thing that I have space for is to have a nurse whose job it is to manage patients over the phone. How's your blood pressure? How's your sugars? Are you better from the illness that you had the other day? That's where all of medicine is going and I'm hoping to create a space right here in Seguin that will be on the cutting edge of that -- the change that is coming our way."
Officials say the building is expected to be constructed and ready for move-in within a year.
Guadalupe County sets boundaries for landfill designation; Court votes 3 to 2 to designate landfill operation in northern Guadalupe County
May 8th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- The Guadalupe County Commissioner's Court has officially designated an area where the disposal of municipal or industrial waste will be allowed in the county. In a 3 to 2 vote, the commissioners move forward with selecting the portion of Waste Management, Inc. operating in northern Guadalupe County as the designated area for the ordinance. Voting in favor of the ordinance were Guadalupe County Judge Larry Jones, Commissioner Jim Wolverton and Commissioner Greg Seidenberger. Voting against the action were Commissioners Kyle Kutscher and Commissioner Judy Cope.
Judge Jones says his decision was made based on weeks and weeks of discussion. He says the solution from the beginning appeared obvious. He says it just makes sense to designate an area where a landfill already exist.
"The court went forward with the ordinance that we had a public hearing -- six or seven weeks (ago) -- in which hardly anybody was here, designating the boundaries where a landfill already exist. In my opinion, you're not harming anybody any worse. It's an emotional issue. So people, whatever you do when you mention landfill, it gets the emotions up. I understand that but this court looked at it as Commissioner Wolverton says six years ago to do an ordinance similar to this. People rise because it's an emotional issue and you don't get to put it (anywhere). Nobody wants to designate (an) area. If we wait another month or two months or another six years, I personally don't think that unless it is something like an already closed landfill or a currently permitted landfill, that you'll never designate some area or county for a landfill. So there's an opportunity for me to protect all of the county. I don't think this ordinance hurt or helped those people in the north. But I wasn't here when that permit got done. What I'm saying is I've been here six month and I've said from the very get-go I'm against landfills. I'm going to do everything I can do to make sure that landfills do not come into my county anymore," said Jones.
Approximately 10 people spoke during the public hearing portion of the agenda item. While all were in support of the ordinance, two of those individuals stated that they were against the county designating the Waste Management landfill as the location.
Jan Koehne says her opposition lies in an ongoing lawsuit between residents in that area and the landfill which operates mostly out of Comal County. She says even Guadalupe County was initially against the landfill operating within its boundaries. She says when the county finally agreed and reached a settlement agreement with Waste Management in 2007, one of the provisions was for the county to receive a compensation package. She says the county was to receive a percentage of the waste dumped at the site. She says up to this day, not a single penny of the four percent of funds collected per garbage ton at its Unit Two operation have made it back to county pockets. She says those estimated revenue numbers range anywhere from $300,000 to $600,000. More importantly, Koehne says the fight legally continues with what she says are ongoing violations of contamination by the landfill. She says it has even been agreed by both parties that the site lies in a flood plain -- a location that because it did not appear on FEMA maps at the time was allowed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
"We can't go another six years and just lay down and play dead and pretend that we don't have an agreement with the Waste Management and do nothing to get that agreement enforced. In reality, I'm the person who gave the three -- the two new commissioners and the county judge -- a copy of the agreement. They didn't even know what the agreement said. They were not on the court at the time. I don't feel that proper homework was done. They didn't know about the residents out in the waste management area. I brought that to their attention. They also didn't know that there was a lawsuit involved at the time, you know ongoing. I just feel like they had a lot of pressure put on them to do this ordinance. And their idea is of the essence that somebody is going to come in here tomorrow and try to permit a fourth landfill in Guadalupe County. (That) is just really ridiculous. We don't have a fourth landfill being permitted in the Guadalupe County and we probably never will," said Koehne.
Concern was also raised whether or not the designation of this landfill would later impact the fight that this group has against Waste Management. Judge Jones says unfortunately what the county is doing has to be separate from the ongoing legal battles between the two groups.
He says designating a qualifying area is an important action for the county. He says no matter what other area was designated, someone would still be upset.
"There are some things that are objective and there are some things that are subjective. If you're thinking about whether something has an impact on what the court does or lawyers do -- that's not objective that's subjective. You don't really know whether it does or not. So it goes back to the emotional feelings. They think it does. I think it doesn't. I was not here in 2007 when they negotiated and sold those people out. I'm going to tell you I would never for no amount of money agree to not be a party for some kind of money. That contract by lawyers that are talking to me maybe worthless. So we may get nothing. I want to make sure that no other part of my county, other than Post Oak, which could be permitted -- it's not permitted yet but that this issue doesn't come up again," said Jones.
During discussion, commissioners entertained the idea of designating another area particularly an existing landfill that was no longer operation in the county. Commissioner Wolverton even mentioned that he was unaware that the "designated area" could include a closed landfill. During Tuesday's meeting, the court also suggested maybe designating Waste Management and then coming back and designating a whole new area within a month or so. Judge Jones and Wolverton felt that a designation had to be made now in order to prevent a landfill company from coming in tomorrow and proposing a site within the county. Commissioner Cope disagreed with that action saying that Waste Management would not be happy with that decision and would probably show up at the next meeting with their lawyers.
Nonetheless, commissioners battled back and forth with a plan that could make everyone happy. Kutscher says while he believes in the state ordinance for the county's future protection, he just didn't believe in trading one problem in for the other.
"I'm still in favor of them enacting a county wide ordinance that designates acceptable areas for landfills. I just don't think it should be the Waste Management area. I think it should be, if we want to look out for the best interest of all of the property owners -- tax payers and residents of Guadalupe County, we shouldn't trade one water problem for another --same safety and public health issues in one part of the county for another. I think we should re-look (and have) Guadalupe County designate the acceptable area for landfills as an area that's already a closed landfill -- a portion where something else can't be put in. It does not have to be an area that is an already an existing landfill. The county is allowed to designate another area. Basically, that would prevent all landfills from coming into Guadalupe County," said Kutscher.
Kutscher says he had just hoped that a better solution and a better designated land option would have come to the table.
"There was something through the discussions that we've just had recently that came up that we found as the county (that) the county would be allowed to designate another area. That it didn't have to be an already existing landfill. It can be any area in the county. So again to look out for the best interest of everybody in Guadalupe County, lets designate an already closed landfill so nothing happens," said Kutscher.
Although for a second, it looked as though some of the commissioners were considering an alternative action, Koehne says she's not at all surprised by the court's final decision.
"I came into the meeting with full knowledge that it was probably going to be a three to two vote even though some of the commissioners other than Judy Cope and Kyle Kutscher who really have showed an interest in being fair about this. Some of the other commissioners sort of leaned towards designating some other area. I just had no expectations, really," said Koehne.
The landfill ordinance is an available state law for Texas counties. While the ordinance prevents counties from prohibiting a landfill site, it can instead say where a solid waste site can be located. Although much of the action taken Tuesday by the commissioner's court was initially stirred by the controversial Post Oak Clean Green Landfill being proposed in eastern Guadalupe County, county officials say it will have no impact on the project's future. Opposition has been raised in hopes of preventing the landfill from being built over the Carrizo-Aquifer. The application for the site off of FM 1150 is currently being processed by the TCEQ.
Guadalupe County seeks inclusion into area MPO
May 8th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- Guadalupe County is seeking the alternative to making sure the county is taken into consideration when it comes to the area's future development. The commissioners court Tuesday morning unanimously approved a resolution conditionally approving the inclusion of Guadalupe County into the San Antonio/Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).
Commissioner Kyle Kutscher, who has taken the active lead of following the planning of the county's future into an MPO, says at this point, he believes the best interest will be for the county to join forces with its neighbors to the west of it.
"Our first choice would be to be included as an independent and separate MPO that would include Guadalupe County, City of Seguin, City of New Braunfels and Comal County. Since the Census Bureau and others are not going to let that happen, I believe as Guadalupe County grows we need to be involved in an MPO where we have a seat at the table, a place on the policy board that makes up those policies that decides what projects get funded because if we wait. Guadalupe County will be forced to be included in the MPO at the next census or down the road. This is the best situation and the best time for Guadalupe County to be involved in the MPO to have input and get some projects and funding here for infrastructure," said Kutscher.
Kutscher says seats on the policy board are crucial for Guadalupe County. Officials wanted to create their own MPO so that the needs in the immediate area would not risk being ignored by the bigger metropolitan areas whether San Antonio or Austin. Kutscher says the county also hopes to gain support from a few board policy members who have an interest near the border with Guadalupe County and who can work with the county to be a larger voice when it comes to local efforts. In return, Kutscher says Guadalupe County representatives would be supportive of their efforts. The resolution was approved during Tuesday's meeting of the Guadalupe County Commissioners Court.
Residents expected to get tax break during Memorial Day weekend
May 8th, 2013
(Austin) -- Texans can save a few bucks on energy efficient appliances this upcoming Memorial Day weekend.
State Energy Conservation Office Director Dub Taylor says Texans need to be sure the product has the Energy Star label on it.
"That indicates that it is compliant with the Energy Star testing standards and that it will achieve greater energy efficiency and use less energy than a conventional appliance or product," said Taylor.
The sales tax break applies to most Energy Star qualified air conditioners, ceiling fans, fluorescent light bulbs, clothes washers, dishwashers and refrigerators. Texas shoppers are expected to save nearly $3 million in sales tax during the three-day holiday from Saturday, May 25, through Monday, May 27.
Residents are also reminded that the city of Seguin also has an Energy Star rebate program now available for new appliances.
Texas is good for business
May 8th, 2013
(Austin) -- The state of Texas is once again being recognized as the Best State for Business.
Chief Executive magazine ranked Texas number one in the U.S. based on the state's workforce quality, tax policies, infrastructure and quality of living.
Governor Rick Perry says the top ranking shows that Texas is the epicenter for economic prosperity in the nation.
This was the ninth year in a row for Texas to be recognized as the Best State For Business.
GRMC welcomes new staff merger with former surgical center employees, new director named for hospital foundation
May 7th, 2013
Guadalupe Regional Medical Center administrators and employees were on hand to help unveil new signage at the newly acquired surgical center on East Court Street. The ceremony also helped welcome the staff members of the outpatient center to the GRMC Family. During the reception, administrators also announced the appointment of Jeremy Roy as the new Guadalupe Regional Medical Foundation Executive Director. Photo by Andie Rangel-Jenner.
Guadalupe Regional Medical Foundation names new executive director
May 7th, 2013
Rev. Jeremy Roy, center, speaks during the recent opening of the GRMC Outpatient Surgical Center (previously the South Texas Surgical Center). Roy was recently appointed the executive director of the Guadalupe Regional Medical Foundation. Also pictured are GRMC CEO Robert Haynes, left, and GRMC Board President Robert Galloway, right.
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- A man known to lead the pastoral care department at Guadalupe Regional Medical Center is officially changing hats and moving on to a new role.
GRMC Director of Pastoral Care Jeremy Roy has been named the new executive director of the Guadalupe Regional Medical Foundation.
The GRMF is a separately incorporated 501c(3) nonprofit organization created to raise funds to help support the mission and vision of the hospital.
GRMC Chief Financial Officer, Penny Wallace says she believes Roy's appointment to the foundation will only enhance the success and growth of the organization. She says the foundation is an important proactive approach to making sure that all the community's health needs are met.
"As you may know, our foundation exists for the sole purpose of supporting our hospital. Jeremy has worked at our hospital for 12 years and for six of those years, he was director of pastoral care services. He is extremely dedicated and excited about this new opportunity. Of course, he is very passionate about our mission. So I believe that he will be able to carry that passion on as the director of our foundation. We're also very excited that we're going to bring on another staff member as associate director, Emilie Bailey, (who) worked in our foundation in the past. She's going to be returning to us. We'll be bringing lots of experience and help for us to really take our organization up to the next level," said Wallace.
Wallace says the foundation is credited for bringing and supporting very important programs to the GRMC community.
"One of the things that the foundation has supported in the past has been our prescription assistance program. Our staff has been active in preparing grants -- also in doing events. Our board members are very active and wonderful volunteers who spend lots of time working on events. Just last November, we had the Race to Raise out at the (Seguin) Outdoor Learning Center. There are new events that are going to be coming in the future that are being planned by our foundation board members currently. These things they have supported in the past. They've supported nursing scholarships, the Guadalupe Clinic (and) charitable needs at the organization -- needs for those people who need cancer treatment and are unable to pay. The foundation has been able to provide funds for the hospital to care for these people," said Wallace.
Roy, who officially stepped into his new role Monday, says he's excited about this new chapter in his life. Although he will still be an active supporter of the pastoral care department, he is looking forward to reaching out and being available to the hospital as a whole.
"When you look at everything that the foundation does -- you look at the hospital -- there's several disciplines and departments that make this a unique place. Pastoral care is one of them. I'm kind of proud of that one. But there are others, the prescription assistance program, volunteer services, now the Guadalupe Clinic. There's other things that this hospital does in the way of charity care. Then, there have been other projects that we've done -- that we've been fundraising for -- where we've either bought new beds or some other piece of equipment that were part of our capital campaign that we ran a few years ago -- these things that really makes this a unique place and a local place. We want to make sure those things are always here and so we're going to get out in the community and not beg for money. That's not what it's about. We're going to get out in the community and let people know what the hospital is doing, some big exciting things, lots of great changes, services that have been added, physicians that have been added, specialists that have been added. We need to get out in the community and tell them about these changes and then also offer the opportunity to participate in that," said Roy.
Roy says he's very passionate about GRMC and what it stands for. He says Seguin and the surrounding communities have a very unique hospital.
"One of the things that I think is great about the hospital, is you go around the community, there really is this strong feeling that it's our hospital. We're the only city county owned hospital in the state of Texas. I think we're only one of four or five in the whole nation," said Roy.
Taking over the role as director of pastoral care will be Tom Jones who has worked alongside Roy as an assistant for the last several years. Roy's promotion was announced Friday afternoon during a reception welcoming and introducing the staff over at the newly acquired outpatient surgical center campus on East Court Street.
Seguin mourns loss of businessman, community leader
May 7th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrrera
(Seguin) -- A local man is being remembered today for his commitment to business and volunteerism in the city of Seguin. Alfred Kolbe, best known as the owner of Kolbe Flower Shop, died Saturday.
Kolbe's ability to juggle various projects at one time apparently helped define his role in the community.
Among those who knew him best was longtime friend and Seguin resident Ed Englehardt. Englehardt says he was always impressed with his friend's desire to serve the community.
"He was a real entrepreneur. He had his own business. As most folks would know Kolbe Flower Shop on Austin Street has been there for a long time. Alfred was also active in our community. Years ago, I don't know if he originated it or not but he was very active with the driving cancer patients to San Antonio for treatment (Road to Recovery Program). He did that for a long time. Another thing that he contributed to besides being active in his church at St. James, he was a volunteer fireman. I remember being with him at one time and he got a call and he was gone. He dropped what we were doing in a second and climbed in the car and went to wherever the fire was. So that was back in the days when most of the firemen were on a volunteer basis. So I know he was very active in that," said Englehardt.
In addition to his many contributions, Englehardt says it was their membership with the Seguin Kiwanis Club in which the two worked side by side for many years.
"Alfred was also very active in the Seguin Kiwanis Club here in town. He served as president and here again was very active in our pancake (Flap Jack Jamboree)efforts when we had that once a year as well as putting flags out every holiday. So again, we will truly miss him," said Englehardt.
Kolbe also worked as an apprentice at Goetz Funeral Home working with his father Alfred, Sr. He served Goetz Funeral Home for more than 30 years and owned not only Kolbe Flower Shop but also Plaza Shoes and Patek Grocery Store. Kolbe leaves behind his wife, Mary and three sons, Tim, Jeff and Scott Kolbe. Funeral services are scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. James Catholic Church.
Kolbe was 82.
Guadalupe County Veterans’ Service Officer seeks van driver volunteers; Lack of drivers threatening future of veteran transportation program
May 6th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) – The Guadalupe County Veterans’ Service Office is seeking a few good volunteers willing to transport veterans to and from their medical appointments. The call for volunteers is apparently crucial for the program’s future.
Bill MacAllister, the county veterans’ service officer, says if the program doesn’t get a quality number of volunteers soon, then the program’s future remains uncertain.
"We have two (individuals) that drove 18 months doing a full load. Then one (driver) got a part-time job so now I’m down to one female driver who is not even a veteran. You know we're killing them. There’s nobody who has stepped up to volunteer for the job. We did this about a year ago, 18 months ago and I had a lot of people show up, five or six but because of the screening process that the VA has, none of them qualify. There's a background check and a health check and all that kind of stuff. So right now, we're in dire need of some volunteer drivers," said MacAllister.
Those drivers who have carried the load for the program include Velma Holm and Ken Blackmore. MacAllister says both should be credited for keeping the program going.
He says despite the stringent screening process, he is optimistic that the county has several good individuals who would make great candidates for the program.
MacAllister says it’s difficult to not have any volunteer drivers when statistics from the VA show that there are just over 19,000 veterans in the county receiving some kind of VA compensation.
MacAllister says hopefully with a large number of volunteers, the county would be able to split the shifts that so drivers don’t have to work every day. He says having more drivers will also help meet the needs of the veterans themselves. He says right now, veterans needing transportation are only restricted to rides after 9 a.m. on Mondays through Wednesdays.
"The sweet thing would be to have 10 or 12 drivers to where really we only take maybe seven or eight trips a month. It's not utilized at all. In fact, I'm still surprised that we still have the van. I'm surprised the VA hasn't taken it back because of lack of utilization. But if we had 10 or 12 drivers, it might be one trip a month and then you know it would be very easy. But we never have had that many," said MacAllister.
MacAllister says he is extending his plea to members of the various veterans’ service organizations in the area. He says it’s important that they each look within their membership and help recruit potential drivers.
Those interested in applying for the position of a volunteer driver are asked to contact MacAllister at 830-303-4188 ext. 358.
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.
Connect Seguin busses officially hit the road in Seguin; Fixed-route bus service schedule now in full swing
May 1st, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- The wheels of Seguin's new public bus transportation service are now turning throughout the city. Today marks the official start for the Alamo Regional/Connect Seguin Transit bus service being cosponsored by the Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) and the city of Seguin.
Operations Manager Kevin Sturdivant says the fixed route bus service offers residents a new way of getting around.
"For those individuals who are having it either inconvenient or it's just difficult to be able to get family members to and from locations to pick up groceries or just little knick knacks or students trying to get to and from points around the city -- this is a service that you know they are going to be taken care of because all of our seats have seatbelts on them. So we can have children down to 12 years old who can ride by themselves -- lower than that they need an escort with them but at that point, kids can go over to ZDT's during the summertime, they can move about the city with their parent's permission and be able to go to the theatre and come back and be taken care of for the day and the parents know that they are being transported safely," said Sturdivant.
Sturdivant says the fixed-route, scheduled bus service will bring the community together by providing a transportation link between residential neighborhoods and the various business centers throughout the city.
"The fixed-route is supposed to be very reliable, very punctual. That's what people want to see most of all. We have four main stops that we want to make sure that we hit those timing points but as much as we can be, we'll try to accommodate special requests -- in emergency situations -- any special needs of that nature. It's basically on the hour from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. We'll start on the hour downtown, 15 minutes after the hour we'll be at Walmart, and 25 minutes after the hour, we'll be at HEB, 50 minutes after the hour, we'll be at Texas Lutheran at the Boeck Administration building and then we'll start the route again," said Sturdivant.
Sturdivant says signs marking the bus stops will soon be in place at the various locations. He says AACOG is committed to making sure individuals have the best and safest experience possible.
"We hire only professional drivers. They are CDL drivers. They are certified in CPR and in defensive driving and they are reliable and they are courteous. We want to make the bus experience as pleasant as possible. It's not like probably an inner-city bus or anything of that nature. This one is a cut away -- we are going to be putting a wrap design on it to make it real friendly to get on and to get off. We are also wheel-chair ADA accessible so we try to be as accommodating as possible," said Sturdivant.
AACOG currently operates a demand-response service in which appointments for pick-up or drop-off are scheduled in advance. Officials say they plan to use proceeds from that program to help fund this particular service. Although the buses have already been running for a few days, the city today is scheduled to officially welcome the service with a special ribbon cutting ceremony beginning at 3 p.m. today in Central Park. The public is encouraged to attend.
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
Guadalupe County recognizes emergency leaders
April 17th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Seguin) -- In times of crisis, it's usually their voices that citizens hear first. The 911 dispatchers at the Guadalupe County Sheriff's Office are being honored this week as part of National Telecommunications Week. The sheriff's office currently has 15 employees in its dispatch department-- all who happen to be female.
Zwicke says this department is the power source of the entire emergency operation. He says it's what connects all lines of communication during any type of emergency situation.
"Our last budget year was 19,009 911 calls to the Guadalupe County Sheriff's Office. That doesn't include the administrative phones that pretty well ring all day and throughout the night. There was 16,715 calls for service with the Guadalupe County Sheriff's Office. That doesn't include all the dispatching of the nine volunteer fire departments, the transferring of the EMS to the right agency throughout Guadalupe County -- should it be Schertz, Seguin, New Braunfels, Luling and so forth, San Marcos. The 15 troopers, the two game wardens, the four constables and their deputies along with 89 deputies in Guadalupe County. It's quite a bit to oversee. We're asking a lot of them and they do a great job each and every day," said Zwicke.
Zwicke says he is specifically proud of his staff. He says the team of 15 work 24/7. He says collectively they provide 109 years of service to the citizens of Guadalupe County.
A job is stressful as a 911 (dispatcher). Sometimes that job gets to people. I can surely understand that. I did it for five months and I was a lot happier on the road as a deputy. I praise these ladies for the job they do. They do a great job each and every day," said Zwicke.
The dispatchers were recognized and honored with a proclamation read and signed by the members of the Guadalupe County Commissioners Court. The Seguin Daily News tomorrow will feature the same professionals as employed by the Seguin Police Department. National Telecommunications Week is observed April 14-20.
New Junior Miss crowned
April 16th, 2013
Guadalupe County has named its new 2013 Junior Miss. Krystal Moczygemba, center, was handed the title during Sunday's scholarship contest held at the Texas Theatre. Joining her are Second Runner-up Elena Gonzales, left, and First Runner-up Emma Johnson, right. Moczygemba also was named this year's scholastic, self-expression and talent contest winner. Johnson was also recognized with this year's fitness award while Chloe Colville walked away with this year's spirit award. Photo by Laura Torres.
Geronimo Post Office building to close; Post office boxes to relocate to Seguin
April 16th, 2013
By Cindy Aguirre-Herrera
(Geronimo) -- The U.S. Post Office building in Geronimo is closing. The US Postal Service Monday confirmed the closing and relocation of all services to the Main Seguin Post Office building on West Court Street. The final hour of operation will be at noon Friday, April 25.
Sam Bolen, a spokesperson for the postal service, says the inability to reach a lease negotiation with the building's owner has forced officials to close the office and cancel all services -- services that have been provided to the Geronimo community since 1889.
"We always regret any inconvenience that these customers may have but we just weren't able to come to an agreement on extending a lease and that's why we have to vacate the premises and down the road we'll probably maybe look for something else. But for now, at least for the immediate future will be at the Seguin Post Office. and again no one is going to need to change their addresses or anything like that. They'll be able to keep the same address. So it should be pretty seamless as far as that goes. You won't require any a new stationary to be printed or new checks or anything like that. They can keep the same address with their P.O. Box that's going to be located in Seguin," said Bolen.
Bolen says on Wednesday, a notice regarding the closure was publicly displayed at the post office located on State Highway 123 North.
"Our negotiations for extending our lease failed and that's about as much time as we had and as soon as we determined that, we notified our customers as soon as possible after that. Some offices suspend like less than 24 hours like if you have an emergency situation, or when the plumbing fails or the building burns down. In this case, it was just we weren't able to renegotiate the lease," said Bolen. Bolen says dozens of residents will be impacted by the closure. He says there will be an automatic relocation of the boxes from Geronimo to Seguin. Again, Bolen says families and businesses will not have to worry about losing their P.O. Box numbers or having to change things such as their zip codes. "In fact there's about 200 boxes that move over to Seguin. There are some vacancies. Then we number them with the numbers of the boxes that the customers in Geronimo had and I guess I need to see the person as far as keys or combinations," said Bolen. Bolen says he understands for many people, there will no longer be the convenience of having the post office in Geronimo. However, he does say the distance between Geronimo and Seguin is still less than the average commute the postal service describes as a hardship. "We consider anything like 10 to 12 miles a hardship. In this case, it's six and a half miles and we having many customers that have to travel that far to get to their local post office so I don't know if that would be a consideration, but it could be. That's something that will be looked into in the future. Right now, the important thing is we're losing our lease. We have to vacate the building so for now, we're going to move the boxers over to Seguin and then all the parcels and things that people need to pick up -- you're going to have to pick them up over in Seguin as well," said Bolen.
Bolen says the Geronimo Post Office had been part of the Post Plan which had worked to keep as many rural offices open. He says the hours at Geronimo had already been reduced from about six or five hours to four hours a day. But again, he stresses that the fate of the Geronimo Post Office lies specifically on the failed attempts to reach a deal on the lease.
Postal officials are asking customers to stop by the post office should they have any questions about their particular box number. Residents who have specific concerns with the closure of the Geronimo Post Office are asked to contact Postal employee Jeff Davis today at (254) 501-8604. Davis will be facilitating calls all day Tuesday. He will be unavailable for immediate contact Wednesday through Friday -- however, folks are still welcome to leave a message.
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.