News

Mon
22
Sep

Horseshoe Bay council passes budget, discusses FEMA, development

By Emily Hilley-Sierzchula

At the Horseshoe Bay City Council meeting Tuesday, Sept. 16, a city budget was passed with the same property tax rate as last year, members discussed the FEMA floodplain study, extended the deadline for a proposed strip mall and focused on the possibility of a long-range planning committee.

“It took six months to put the budget together, now it’s up to staff to stay on budget,” said Mayor Steve Jordan. Residents will continue paying $0.25 per $100,000 property valuation. City officials expect more than $18.9 million in expenditures and more than $12.9 million in revenue, according to the budget, which is posted on the city's website.

The 2015 Fiscal Year plan includes more money for a technology initiative, for health insurance for city employees and $70,000 more for the ongoing water reuse effluent project, according to council discussions.

Mon
22
Sep

Authorities still searching for suspect at-large

by Alexandria Randolph

Multiple law enforcement agencies are still searching for a man suspected of stealing a pickup truck and committing vehicular assault against the Sunrise Beach Police Chief on Sunday, Sept. 21.

Llano County Sheriff Bill Blackburn said Sheriff’s Deputies as well as Texas DPS Troopers, Sunrise Beach Police and Texas Rangers have been searching for the man for the last 24 hours, and continue to search.

It all started on Sunday morning just after 9 a.m., the Sheriff said, when a black, two-door pickup truck was reported stolen from the Speedy Stop convenience store in Kingsland.

Sunrise Beach Police Chief Laurie Brock, spotted a vehicle of the same description on RR 2233 at 9:45 a.m.

“She stopped him and was getting out of her car and he backed into her car door,” Blackburn said. “She sustained cuts and bruises.”

The suspect took off, and authorities began the search.

Sat
20
Sep

Two women sent to hospital after charter bus flips their car

The McLaughlin's from Meadowlakes comfort the charter bus driver at the accident scene Saturday.

By Emily Hilley-Sierzchula

Two women, ages 69 and 85, were involved in a car accident Saturday evening, Sept. 20, and one was still hospitalized two days later receiving treatment for injuries received when their SUV was struck by a charter bus traveling on TX 71 near the U.S. 281 intersection.

Both the bus and car were heading eastbound when a witness said the car suddenly veered across the median in front of the bus.

"The bus driver laid on her horn," said witness Jerry McLaughlin, of Meadowlakes. "They were oblivious to the bus. The bus driver did nothing wrong," he said, adding it seemed as if the car’s driver had missed her turn and was attempting a U-turn.

Thu
18
Sep

Murder victim’s family speaks out

Nicole Lynn McKee

By Emily Hilley-Sierzchula

“For me as a mom, there is a hole in my heart and soul. Nikki wasn’t just my beloved daughter, but also my best friend and soul mate.” These are the tender words of a mom in mourning.

Nicole Lynn McKee, 40, was murdered in January 2013, allegedly after suffering a beating at the hands of her boyfriend. Her daughter, now just four years old, witnessed her mother’s murder.

It was a brutal assault that lasted three days, said her step-grandmother, Caryl Calsyn, of Marble Falls.

She, Nikki’s mother (Linda Calsyn) and Nikki’s brother (Andrew Calsyn,) who also both live in Marble Falls, will travel to a Travis County courtroom next week to face James Palacio, the accused murderer. He was Nikki’s boyfriend at the time and father of their daughter.

Although she spent most of the last three months of her life in Marble Falls, Nikki died in Mustang Ridge, south of Austin.

Thu
18
Sep

VFW goes smoke free: Grand Reopening Oct. 17

Alexandria Randolph/Staff
Post Canteen Manager Tom Fox and Former Post Commander Lloyd Crippen said the environment of the canteen has improved immensely after it became a non-smoking establishment.

by Alexandria Randolph

In honor of its 40th Anniversary, the Marble Falls Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10376 got a major facelift.

“We’ve totally redecorated and repainted,” said Former Post Commander Lloyd Crippen, and added that the biggest change for the post is “we’ve gone non-smoking.”

Crippen said the post is also starting a live music program, and will celebrate all these changes by hosting a grand reopening on Oct. 17.

“We’re trying to get a new demographic to come check us out,” Crippen said. “It’s a great place with great people.”

Canteen Manager Tom Fox describes the post canteen as “a tavern of loyal Americans exchanging ideas,” and added, “We want our smoking friends to still come. We have tables outside.”

For the full story, see Friday's Highlander.

Thu
18
Sep

Home schooling proves to be a good option for families

Ashley Andujo, 9, Emily Greenwood, 7, Harrison Otto, 6, Georgia Bramlett, 7, and Sophia Bramlett, 5, all work together on art projects at the Herman Brown Free Library in Burnet last week.

By Emily Hilley-Sierzchula

Although most parents choose to send their children to public, private or parochial schools, an increasing number of families in the region are choosing to home-school their kids. Texas has a lobbying organization, the Texas Home School Coalition Association, to defend the rights of these parents.

At a book club for home school families at the Herman Brown Free Library in Burnet last week, parents gave several reasons it’s a good choice for their families.

“My daughter is a leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone kind of person,” said Zuly Zambrano. “She likes to read and study and not bother anyone else.”

Yet her easygoing daughter was bullied in school.

Thu
18
Sep

Runaway car sets shop on fire

Alexandria Randolph/Staff
A Buick ran off the road and ignited the Burnet County Cycles shop Thursday afternoon, Sept. 18.

by Alexandria Randolph

Motorcycles, burning cars and a damaged building usually sum up the action sequences of a Hollywood flick, but it was an accident that may have been a lot worse if not for the help of Marble Falls firefighters on yesterday afternoon, Sept. 19.

Marble Falls Police Officer Jimmy Cole said no one was injured when a Le Sabre Buick ran off the road and into Burnet County Cycles, 1610 US 281, at about 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 18.

“The vehicle was headed northbound when the driver noticed the car was possibly on fire,” Cole said. “He could smell the smoke and see it coming out from underneath the vehicle.”

The driver pulled off the highway and into the parking lot of the bike shop, but “the engine was already off,” Cole said. “The driver tried to brake, but the brakes weren’t working. By that time the car was already on fire.

For the full story, see Friday's Highlander.

Thu
18
Sep

Highland Haven keeps its property taxes low; fire protection costs rise

By Emily Hilley-Sierzchula

The Highland Haven board of aldermen voted Tuesday, Sept. 16, to keep its property taxes at $.1125 per $100 property valuation, a city official said Thursday.

“We have low taxes because we keep our expenses low,” said Mayor Irene Dauphin. She explained the city’s biggest expenses are for emergency services and fire protection. “We actually run the city on about $70,000, including around $30,000 budgeted for roads,” she said. Dauphin added that the city does not use the entire amount budgeted for road improvements and maintenance.

Residents will be paying $1.50 more per $100,000 than last year. Property values have risen and more properties have been added to the tax roll.

Granite Shoals Fire Rescue will get more than $68,000 from the city in fiscal year 2015, which is up from around $66,000 last year. The cost of fire protection has risen from $10,000 in 2010 to an expected $70,000 for fiscal year 2016, she said.

Thu
18
Sep

Upper-basin stakeholders laud ‘sound’ water plan after LCRA decision

By James Walker

Central Texans’ primary drinking water supply will be significantly better protected by a new plan for managing the water in the Highland Lakes, stakeholders from the Colorado River’s upper basin said after what many termed a historic vote this week.

The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) board of directors -- often bitterly divided into largely upper- and lower-basin camps -- voted unanimously Wednesday, Sept. 17, to approve a revised Water Management Plan (WMP) that includes stronger protection for the utility’s premium-paying firm customers like the cities of Austin, Burnet, Marble Falls and others who serve the more than a million people in the region.

Thu
18
Sep

Get ready for a Spicewood smash-up this weekend

By Alexandria Randolph

Junkyard warriors and clunker racers are putting the final touches on their derby vehicles for the Annual Spicewood Demolition Derby to take place Saturday, Sept. 20.

Racers who have put together derby cars will fight to remain the last car running in the arena. The demolition derby benefits the Spicewood Volunteer Fire Department and EMS

Gates will open at 4 p.m. and races will begin at 6 p.m., said Spicewood Assistant EMS Coordinator Jamie Ludwig.

“We already have pre-registered 20 racers,” she said, “and we allow people to register day of, so we may get more. We’ve got enough compact cars registered that we’re thinking about have two compact car heats.”

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