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Wed
24
Dec

Highland Lakes Birding & Wildflower Society ready to count Christmas birds

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By Emily Hilley-Sierzchula

The Highland Lakes Birding & Wildflower Society is seeking volunteers, or “citizen scientists,” to participate in its annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) planned Friday, Jan. 2, in Burnet County’s circle, which is one of around 2,400 circles across the hemisphere.

More than 60,000 people across the country are expected participate in the 115th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, according to the Audubon Society.

The key to CBC citizen science is consistency: the same circle of area, at the same time of year, using the same methodology, said Sammye Childers, HLBWS member and compiler for the count this year. “I think people are starting to realize the importance of this documentation,” she said. It is the oldest citizen-scientist survey in the world, according to the Audubon Society.

Nine teams of around five people will cover the 177 square miles contained within the circle, which is 15 miles in diameter.

Mon
22
Dec

Aggravated assault suspect Rodriguez indicted

By Alexandria Randolph

Abel Rodriguez, 47, the suspect in an aggravated assault in Granite Shoals, was transported to a state facility on Friday, Dec. 12.

Rodriguez faces a parole violation, as well as local criminal charges for shooting at peace officers in Burnet County.

Rodriguez is accused of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and attempted capital murder after he allegedly shot at officers in April.

He was indicted in June on three aggravated assault charges. District attorneys declined to prosecute on the charge of attempted capital murder.

Rodriguez was arrested at his residence in the 900 block of Kingswood Drive back on Sunday, April 13, following an altercation with Burnet County Sheriff's Deputies and a Texas DPS Trooper who were in the area in response to a hit-and-run accident.

Mon
22
Dec

Winners announced for 3rd annual ArtFrog Children’s Art Contest

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Joey Ramirez, 9, shows his origami project he did for the contest, with which he won third place in his age group in 3D art Children submitted both 3D and 2D original pieces for the contest, which were then judged as separate categories.

By Emily Hilley-Sierzchula

The third floor of the Scott & White Specialty Clinic in Marble Falls is home to both a children’s artwork contest and the oncology unit, which might be a good fit.

“We’ve had some people comment about it because it’s something we haven’t done before,” said Kathy Daniels, Scott & White marketing director, on Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Although the first-, second- and third-place winners have been decided in the 3rd annual ArtFrog Children’s Art Contest, people are invited to visit the temporary gallery and cast their vote by Jan. 4 for the grand prize winner, who will be chosen from among the 37 winning pieces, said ArtFrog director Heike Jost.

Seventy-two children, including many homeschoolers, participated in the contest, which was judged by ArtFrog teacher Herb Morehead. Children submitted a wide range of art, including drawings, paintings, batique, origami and embroidery.

Mon
22
Dec

Trial date set for former MFISD employee accused of six felonies

By Emily Hilley-Sierzchula

A trial date has been set for the former Marble Falls Independent School District employee indicted in August on six felony charges.

The result of a status hearing for 31-year-old Deavon DeLancey on Friday, Dec. 12, was to set a trial date for Feb. 9, 2015, in 424th District Judge Evan Stubbs’ courtroom.

In the meantime, both sides are working the case.

DeLancey’s defense lawyer is researching potential legal maneuvers for his client, possibly including a motion to suppress evidence, said Austin Shell of Shell & Shell law firm in Burnet and Marble Falls.

DeLancey, of Cottonwood Shores, was arrested June 5 after a lengthy investigation by Texas Rangers allegedly showed child pornography on his computer that revealed the abuse of a four-year-old girl.

Fri
19
Dec

Burnet escapee recaptured

By James Walker

A former Burnet man who was serving a nine-year sentence in a federal prison in Bastrop was recaptured early Tuesday, Dec. 16, after escaping from the facility Sunday evening. Dec. 14.

Jimmy Morrisett, who was found guilty of defrauding investor clients of almost $7 million in an Oklahoma federal court last year, was found in an abandoned home in Burnet at about 2:30 a.m., a Federal Bureau of Prisons official said.

Morrisett was discovered missing from the minimum security Satellite Prison Camp Bastrop at about 10:15 p.m. Sunday, according to an official statement released Monday afternoon.

The prison did not say how long Morrisett might have been missing before his absence was discovered.

Burnet Police Chief Paul Nelson said his department received a call from Bastrop prison officials at about 10:30 p.m. Sunday, alerting them to the fact that Morrisett had escaped.

Mon
15
Dec

Residents, Scouts pay respects with wreaths

By Emily Hilley-Sierzchula

In a solemn ceremony on a foggy morning Saturday, Dec. 13, around 50 people gathered at Lakeland Hills Memorial Park in Burnet to lay Christmas wreaths at around 120 veterans’ graves as part of the Wreaths Across America tradition.

The tradition began at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., in 1992 and has since grown into a national holiday custom.

The Boy Scouts of America, Troop 284 in Marble Falls, hosted the event.

“The kids really get a lot out of this as a community service project,” said Cassandra Chambliss, adult adviser for the Boy Scouts Venturing Crew 284. Chambliss, from a “Navy family,” said she cannot imagine losing her child in war.

A few Girl Scouts and members of the Christian Motorcycle Association were also on hand to continue the tradition.

Mon
15
Dec

HSBPOA eyeing Declaration changes, playground fixes, lightouse, more

By Emily Hilley-Sierzchula

The Horseshoe Bay Property Owners’ Association board of directors on Wednesday, Dec. 10, discussed changes in store for the organization’s long-standing Declaration of Reservations, which can only be changed every 10 years.

The deadline for amendments to the document is Dec. 31, otherwise it automatically renews Jan. 1, 2015, said Nancy Ritter, HSBPOA general manager.

Ritter drafted an explanation that will be added to the Declaration document that explains the duplication of duties between the city and the HSBPOA.

Prior to the city’s incorporation in 2005, the HSBPOA was responsible for lot mowing, median maintenance, animal control, litter and street drainage, among others. Although the city now has these responsibilities, they remain in the Declaration, which is given to new residents. “We still get calls” from residents seeking to resolve the confusion, Ritter said.

Mon
15
Dec

G'Shoals housekeeper arrested on felony theft charges

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Jennie Rae Hamilton

by Alexandria Randolph

A Granite Shoals woman was arrested on felony theft charges after police suspected her of stealing from an employer.

Jennie Rae Hamilton, 33, was arrested at her home on Thursday, Dec. 11 following multiple thefts that occurred from several Horseshoe Bay residents. According to Horseshoe Bay Police, investigators identified and recovered numerous items from a local pawn shop that were reported as stolen.

Hamilton was employed as a housekeeper by each of the theft victims, police said. The value of the items recovered have an estimated combined value in excess of $15,000, upgrading the charge to a state jail felony. If convicted, Hamilton faces a punishment of up to two years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.

Investigators request that anyone in Horseshoe Bay who employed Hamilton to contact the police department so that additional information might be obtained and other potential victims can be identified.

Fri
12
Dec

Dollar General in CShores provokes mixed reactions

By Emily Hilley-Sierzchula

A big “SOLD” sign is now draped over the “for sale” sign along FM 2147 in Cottonwood Shores, and several bulldozer operators have started clearing the property to make way for the new Dollar General in town.

“We have received the construction permit check, so all is a go now,” said Mayor Donald Orr in an email Wednesday, Dec. 10. He said he will wait to comment further until after his announcement at the next city council meeting Dec. 18, at 6 p.m.

The store will be located on the north side of FM 2147, east of On the Rocks.

Orr has stated previously in a story about growth in the city that new businesses like the Dollar General, a used car dealership and businesses moving into the strip mall at 4005 W FM 2147 in the future are good for the city because it will bring in more income on the city’s tax roll.

Not everyone is thrilled about the new store in town, however.

Tue
09
Dec

Capital murder suspect released on bond Monday

by Alexandria Randolph

A man accused of double homicide in Burnet County was released from jail on bond Monday, Dec. 8.

According to county records, Garrett James Ballard, 21, of Burnet County was released on $500,000 bond on Monday after being incarcerated since August 19 on charge of capital murder of multiple persons.

State District Judge Allan Garrett set bond at $2 million on Wednesday, Oct. 8, for Ballard, who is accused of killing two friends with a high-powered rifle. Bond was lowered to $500.000 after a hearing.

Ballard is accused of the killings of Travis Fox and Elijah Adam Benson. According to an arrest affidavit, Ballard reportedly told investigators on the scene the day Fox, 26, and Benson, 18, were killed that he shot the pair while all three were under the influence of a hallucinogen.

For the full story, see Friday's Highlander.

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