Thunderstorm watch issued

A severe thunderstorm watch has been issued for several area counties until 7 p.m. Friday night.

The National Weather Service Austin/San Antonio issued a thunderstorm watch for Blanco, Burnet and Llano counties as well as surrounding counties.

“Severe thunderstorms are forecast to continue this afternoon and evening from the eastern plains of Colorado to western and central Oklahoma and southward to south Texas,” said the National Weather Service website. “Threats will include large hail, damaging winds and a few tornadoes.”

The watch stated that a subtropical jet has moved north from Mexico into the Rio Grande Valley, meeting a moist air mass moving southeast from the Four Corners.


Boots n Bluebonnets “Saddle Up for Safer Families” trail ride Saturday

The third annual Boots n Bluebonnets “Saddle Up for Safer Families” trail ride, initially planned for March 21, is scheduled for Saturday, April 18, after being postponed. 

Folks can “saddle up” for a scenic trail ride at LCRA’s Shaffer Bend Recreational Area, enjoying the stunning bluebonnets scattered across the Texas Hill Country near Marble Falls.

The fundraiser benefits the Highland Lakes Family Crisis Center.

Two trail rides will take place.

The first ride will begin at 9 a.m., with an hour break for lunch. People can mount up again for a two-hour afternoon ride after lunch. 

Box lunches and beverages will be provided for all riders and volunteers. 

The cost is $50 per person, paid in advance. Provide proof of a negative Coggin’s test at registration from 8-8:30 a.m.

Trails are easy, and shoes or boots are not required. Bring your own horse. Organizers caution there will not be a wagon or hay rides. 


Finding his voice: MFHS sophomore wins best actor award

Kelly McDuffie Photography

By Emily Hilley-Sierzchula

Not every 16-year-old can portray a sexagenarian, Russian milkman with riotous emotions and a Yiddish accent.

However, soft-spoken Marble Falls High School sophomore Wolf Williams mastered Tevye (the protagonist in the classic musical Fiddler on the Roof) so well he walked away with the coveted Best Actor in a Lead Role award at the Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards. 

A theater and choir student, Williams and hundreds of theater students and teachers gathered last week at the Long Center for Performing Arts in Austin to celebrate their craft with a host of 15 awards for everything from costume and set design to choreography.

“It’s one of the top three awards that are given away,” said MFHS Choir Director Bryce Gage. “It’s an incredible honor; we’re really proud of him.”


Wyo. man indicted on 25 child sex charges

by Alexandria Randolph

A 43-year-old man from Torrington, Wyo. is awaiting trial in Burnet County Jail after indictment on six charges of indecency with a child and 19 charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child. Grady Leroy Hodge was booked in Burnet County Jail on Monday, April 13 after he was indicted in the 424th District Court on the charges on April 2.

The 25 charges stem from an investigation of alleged sexual assaults from as early as July 2005 and are alleged to have occurred on several occasions between July 2005 to July 2006.

Aggravated sexual assault of a child is a first-degree felony, and indecency with a child is a second-degree felony. If convicted, Hodge could face up to 99 years in prison for each charge.

For the full story, see Friday's Highlander.


Felony arrest made in Bay Pharmacy burglary

Horseshoe Bay Police Department investigators arrested a Burnet County man on charges of fraud in connection with the Bay Pharmacy burglary, which occurred in the early morning hours of March 18, officials said April 13 in a statement.

Investigators developed Russell Coty Powers, 30, of Burnet County as a person of interest after obtaining information from several pharmacies in the region regarding possible prescription drug abuse by Powers, according to the statement. 

Horseshoe Bay investigators arrested Powers April 8 at his Burnet County residence after getting an arrest warrant from Calvin Boyd, Burnet County Justice of the Peace, earlier this month.

He was released on $7,500 bond April 9, according to jail records.

For more on this story, see Friday's Highlander.


Highland Lakes may see hail tonight

Burnet and Llano counties may expect severe thunderstorms and even hail on Monday and Tuesday, April 13-14.

The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for the south central Texas area.

“Isolated thunderstorms could approach severe levels late this afternoon and this evening across northern portions of south central Texas,” the outlook reported. “The primary weather threats will be for hail up to an inch in diameter and wind gusts to around 50 miles per hour, mainly north of a line from Rocksprings to Fredericksburg to Georgetown.”

Chance of thunderstorms on Monday night will be 20 percent, rising to 30 percent Tuesday. Temperatures will see highs of 82 degrees on Monday, lows of 60 on Monday night, and highs of 76 on Tuesday.


Anyone need a doggie kiss?

Matt Chlapek, Highland Lakes SPCA shelter manager, is the willing recipient of Jessie’s abundant “doggie kisses” Tuesday morning, April 7. Jessie has been at the SPCA shelter for almost five years.

By Emily Hilley-Sierzchula

Every now and then, even the best dog can go unnoticed, and therefore not adopted, even as other dogs come and go.

The years pass.

“She’s seen hundreds of other dogs come through here, so she probably feels this is her place,” said Matt Chlapek, Highland Lakes SPCA shelter manager on Tuesday, April 7.

While Chlapek spoke, Jessie drenched his face in doggie kisses.

Jessie, a yellow Lab mix, has been at the shelter since July, 2010, when she was a year and a half old. Christened “Clover” by her original owner, Jessie was eventually “re-branded” with her new name.

“Half the volunteers still call her Clover, and Matt [Chlapek] calls her ‘C.J.’, and she doesn’t seem to mind; she’s pretty flexible,” said Jeannette Murphy, volunteer and past Highland Lakes SPCA board president.

Like anyone, Jessie has her good qualities as well as things to work on.


C'Shores police chief resigns, under investigation

By Emily Hilley-Sierzchula

The Cottonwood Shores police chief has resigned, effective April 16, confirmed city officials Monday, April 13.

Cottonwood Shores Police Chief Tom Williams will continue to be on paid “administrative leave,” as he has been since Monday, April 6, until his resignation, confirmed Sheila Moore, city administrator/secretary, in an April 13 statement.

“In order to minimize any speculation that might affect the City of Cottonwood Shores in a negative manner, Williams...tendered his resignation,” she said.

The police chief is being investigated by the District Attorney’s office for a disturbance involving him and his fiancee.

In what has not yet been confirmed to be a connected matter, investigators in the District Attorney’s office, 33rd and 424th Judicial Districts (which include Llano County,) are probing an incident between Williams, 69, and his reported fiancee, Candace Meyer, 51, of Weatherford, Texas.


C'Shores police chief on 'administrative leave'

By Emily Hilley-Sierzchula

The Cottonwood Shores police chief was placed on “administrative leave,” starting Monday, April 6, officials confirmed Thursday, April 9.

Chief Tom Williams’ leave is for an indefinite period of time, said Sheila Moore, city administrator and city secretary.

Chris Bieze, Cottonwood Shores police officer, is the interim police chief, Moore said. 

Williams has been the police chief in the city since November, 2014.

The Highlander will post more information as it becomes available.  


Workday for new Habitat for Humanity home slated Saturday

Volunteers work on the last Habitat for Humanity home in January. Now, the organization is gearing up for the next home in Marble Falls.

By Emily Hilley-Sierzchula

Less than two months after completion of its last home in Marble Falls, the Highland Lakes chapter of Habitat for Humanity is gearing up for the next one.

Saturday, April 11 is the first workday for the third of a cluster of four homes on Avenue M in Marble Falls. It will be the 18th Habitat for Humanity home in the region.

Work is from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., but folks are welcome to volunteer for as long as they like, said Trish Moncus, Habitat for Humanity board secretary, Tuesday, April 7.

“The first stage is framing the house and usually the day we get our biggest turnout of volunteers,” Moncus said. It is usually a mix of first-time volunteers and Habitat veterans.

Maintaining that volunteer momentum is “a challenge,” Moncus said. “We try to hit a sweet spot with the number of volunteers where everyone is busy.”

The initial rush of workers fits with the homebuilding strategy.


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