Burnet County news

 

 

Thu
29
Dec

Burnet driver license office to close

Burnet County, in an effort to utilize as much office space as possible, recently told the Texas Department of Public Safety it would need a new home for its driver license offices. As a result, they will consolidate space as well, and announced plans to rehab a Marble Falls commercial space to become the one and only driver license office in the county. The DPS has been moving to offer more and more of its services online: www.dps.texas.gov/driverlicense/

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

The Marble Falls driver license office will be moving, expanding and consolidating with the Burnet office sometime early in the new year.

“The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is consolidating the Marble Falls and Burnet Driver License (DL) offices into a single office,” said Tom Vinger, of the DPS media and communication office.

He said things would remain as they are for now, but eventually an office will be readied. A new, centralized driver license office for Burnet County will mean that the current office at 1701 East Polk Street in Burnet eventually will be closing and the office in the Burnet County Courthouse Annex at 810 Steve Hawkins Parkway will move.

“We need the space in north and south courthouse annexes for core county functions, as the county grows,” said County Judge James Oakley. “We will continue to provide space to house DPS Troopers in the law enforcement center.

Mon
26
Dec

County Commissioners back Spicewood EMS station

Contributed/Robert Klaeger

The Burnet County Commissioners Court gathered for a year's end photograph at their meeting Tuesday, Dec. 20. Pictured, from left, are Jeanne Emerson, court coordinator; Bill Neve, outgoing Precinct 1 commissioner; Karen Lester, county auditor, Russell Graeter, Precinct 2 commissioner; Donna Klaeger, former county judge; County Judge James Oakley; Ronny Hibler, outgoing Precinct 3 commissioner; Joe Don Dockery, Precinct 4 commissioner; Janet Parket, county clerk, and Herb Darling, Environmental Services director. Republican Primary winners Jim Luther and Billy Wall will be sworn in to replace Neve and Hibler, respectively, at the courthouse at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 1.

 

 

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

 

An emergency medical service (EMS) substation for Spicewood cleared another hurdle Tuesday, Dec. 20, when the Burnet County Commissioners Court approved a plat for the project.

The substation is proposed by the Burnet County Emergency Services District No. 9, created by voters in 2013 to channel ad valorem taxes into support of fire, rescue, first responder, emergency medical services, rural fire prevention and control services and other emergency services.

Byron Zinn, president of the ESD 9 Board of Commissioners, reported that 80 percent of all calls received by the Spicewood Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD)-EMS are medical in nature, when he made a presentation to the Marble Falls Independent School District Board of Trustees in November.

Securing land from the MFISD was a big hurdle in the project that is expected to cost about $250,000 in construction.

Fri
09
Dec

Balcones acquires Peaceful Springs

Contributed

Karen Pond is one idyllic scene from Peaceful Springs Nature Preserve, a 520-acre acquisition to Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge.

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

It became official last week: Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge has expanded by 520 acres.

The exchange of $3 million to deliver the new property into the administration of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was made by the Trust for Public Land. Just out of the limelight was Friends of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, a citizen non-profit of about 160 members, representing hundreds, if not thousands, of small contributors and workers to raise half the cost.

David and Cynthia Castleberry already were committed to preserving the land involved as Peaceful Springs Nature Preserve, a quiet corner of Burnet County dedicated to ecotourism. Residents of Bertram, Oatmeal and Smithwick are familiar with the property that runs along Farm to Market Road 1174, just south of Farm to Market Road 1869.

Fri
09
Dec

Luther moves from fire to public service

After 25 years of unbroken and dedicated public safety service to the citizens of the City of Burnet and Burnet County, Assistant Fire Chief Jim Luther Jr. is leaving Burnet Fire Department to take on his new role as Precinct 1 Commissioner for Burnet County.

Luther joined the Burnet Volunteer Fire Department in 1991 and served as a firefighter, captain and treasurer of that organization over the following seven years. In 1998 he attended the Austin Community College Fire Training Academy in Taylor to improve his knowledge and skills in firefighting. At 36, he was the second oldest in his class, only to fellow Burnet Firefighter Roy Hallmark who was 54.

Both Luther and Hallmark were hired by the City of Burnet in 1999 as the second and third paid firefighters for the city, filling the day time shifts working 40 hour weeks. They moved to 24--hour shifts in 2003 and Jim served as Interim Fire Chief for one year between 2005 and 2006.

Wed
30
Nov

PEC Board votes 6-0 to investigate Oakley complaint, consider possible removal

James Oakley

The Pedernales Electric Cooperative Board of Directors voted 6-0 Wednesday, Nov. 30, to give written notice to director James Oakley that the board will consider his possible removal on Jan. 17 if a complaint filed against Oakley is found to merit such discipline.

In a resolution approved at a special called meeting, the board voted to establish a committee to investigate the complaint against Oakley and determine what punishment, if any, he may face for a social media post made earlier in the month in which Oakley commented it was “time for a tree and a rope” for the suspected killer of a San Antonio police officer.

Board President Emily Pataki indicated the committee, which will be comprised of directors Kathy Scanlon, Paul Graf and herself, can consider all avenues open to them through the cooperative's bylaws, including removing Oakley from the position he has held since 2013.

Tue
29
Nov

Oakley Facebook comment draws fire

Facebook is a wonderful tool for people to use, but like any tool, it should be used with great care.

The social media site is useful for helping people keep in contact with friends scattered across the globe whom they haven’t spoken to for years. It allows family to reconnect and allows the sharing of photos, ideas and news with others within one’s peer group.

However, it also instantly shows, without context, intent or clarity, the thoughts and ideas a person clacks out on their smartphone or computer keyboard and exposes those posts to instant scrutiny.

Such is the case involving Burnet County Judge James Oakley, who learned a very hard lesson this past week about the lack of anonymity Facebook affords.

On Monday, Nov. 21, Oakley shared a post from the San Antonio Police Department about the arrest of an African-American man, Otis Tyrone McKane, accused of killing San Antonio police Det. Benjamin Marconi on his personal Facebook account.

Mon
28
Nov

DPS identifies victims in Texas 71 crash

The aftermath of a fatality accident on Texas 71 Monday morning leaves law enforcement trying to piece together the facts. Ominous clouds befit the solemn demeanor of first responders from three counties. See the full scene on The Highlander Facebook page: http://bit.ly/2gEPz1o

Note: This story has been updated twice since first posting, each time with additional information from the Texas Department of Public Safety and University Medical Center Brackenridge.

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

The two victims who died in the crash on Texas 71 east of Spicewood Monday, Nov. 28, have been identified officially as Cynthia Ann Vega, age 46, and her son, Santiago Vega, age 17, both from Marble Falls.

Justino Rodriguez, age 50, a passenger with the Vegas in a 2015 Ford Focus and also from Marble Falls, along with the driver of the 2015 Subaru which struck them, Bala Chandra Sekhar Gutti, 29, of Richardson, were air lifted to University Medical Center Brackenridge. Both were reported in "Good" condition Tuesday afternoon.

Fri
28
Oct

Wirtz Dam bridge draws questions

Glynis Smith/The Highlander

 

Horseshoe Bay City Councilwoman Cynthia Clinesmith asks about increased traffic seeking a route to Texas 71 should a bridge be constructed below Wirtz Dam between Ranch to Market Roads 1431 and 2147. She and Mayor Steve Jordan, seated next to her, attended the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) open house at Quail Point Wednesday, Oct. 26.

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

The idea of a bridge across the Colorado River below Wirtz Dam met serious questions Wednesday, Oct. 26, at an open house hosted by the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) in Horseshoe Bay.

More than 50 area residents came to hear a presentation by Burnet County Judge James Oakley, who sits on the CAMPO board, and to share their own opinions on the proposed project.

Cottonwood Shores City Council Member Roger Wayson had one of the longest list of doubts to express.

County Road 426 would connect Wirtz Dam Road with Ranch to Market Road 2147 if the bridge were constructed.

“It would come right past our nature preserve,” said Wayson. “It would be destructive to our eco-system...Traffic would go from 50 a day to thousands a day.”

“It would divert traffic from the commercial area we are trying to develop,” he also claimed.

Tue
18
Oct

Officials gather input for Wirtz Dam bridge

Alexandria Randolph/Highland Lakes Newspapers

Near the site of the proposed Wirtz Dam bridge are, from left, Burnet County Judge James Oakley; Burnet County Commissioner Pct. 4 Joe Don Dockery; Jim Luther unopposed candidate for Pct. 1 commissioner, and Ashby Johnson, executive director of Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO).

By Alexandria Randolph

Highland Lakes Newspapers

 

Residents and commuters now have opportunity to weigh in on the proposed Wirtz Dam, a transportation project that has been in the making since 1974.

The community outreach program for the dam project, which began in September, is the culmination of years of anticipation for Burnet County officials.

“This was on the 1974 Burnet County Transportation Plan,” said Joe Don Dockery, Burnet County Precinct 1 commissioner.

The next step wasn't completed until 2005, when a feasibility study was completed indicating that a bridge at Wirtz Dam would be beneficial to the community.

Following a meeting conducted by CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) on Sept. 9, the campaign for public opinion regarding the Wirtz Dam Bridge is officially underway.

Fri
14
Oct

Judge 'hung' in Burnet County Courthouse

Alexandria Randolph/Highland Lakes Newspapers

In the presence of a score of friends and legal colleagues, former district judge Gil Jones unveiled his portrait, which was placed in the hallway of the Burnet County Courthouse Annex on Texas Highway 29.

by Alexandria Randolph

Highland Lakes Newspapers

 

Another district judge was 'hung' in the courthouse hall this week before a score of onlookers.

The portrait of former district judge Guilford Jones was hung in the hall at the Burnet Courthouse Annex on Wednesday following a ceremony honoring the local figure.

Guilford, or 'Gil' Jones, as many refer to him, practiced law for 60 years, including service as a lawyer, 16 years as District Judge for the 33rd District Court, and most recently a legal mediator and arbitrator. He retired from the position as district judge in December 2012.

“When he made his ruling, he made his ruling on the law,” said presiding 33rd District Judge Allan Garrett of Jones. “You knew you'd get a fair shake every time.”

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