Emma Osbourn and Skylar Brown await the judge’s instructions as they show off their well-cared-for lambs at the Llano County Junior Livestock Show, held last weekend at the John L. Kuykendall Event Center in Llano. For more livestock show photos, see pages 7-9 and the “Highland Lakes Weekly” Facebook page. For a fairly complete list of planned events this winter, see “Upcoming Events,” beginning on page 2).
I think I have noticed a pattern; when I start writing this column right away (as soon as I finish delivering the previous week’s paper), I seem more focused on the mistakes I’ve noticed (or had pointed out to me) in the new paper. If I wait until the last minute (more common lately), I’m trying to fit in a mention of all the things that didn’t get mentioned somewhere else (and forgetting to mention a lot of things I’d been thinking about earlier).
This week is the worst of both worlds; I started writing even before my deliveries were done last Friday, because I had hurried too much and made too many mistakes in last week’s paper, but now I’m getting back to it just before my drop-dead deadline when I can’t even see straight (let alone THINK straight!)
I switched computers about a month ago, and my new computer’s wireless keyboard seems to skip letters when I don’t hit the key hard enough. I wasn’t careful enough in proofreading last week’s paper, and there were several words with missing letters that didn’t get fixed. Also, I made two inexplicable mental errors: I put “May 1935” in my history article headline, when I was writing about “June 1935,” and I wrote the wrong date for the Dubious Brothers’ gig at Trailblazer Grille (even though my notes were accurate; it’s from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday,
Llano rebounded quickly after the devastating flood of June 14. The Llano News of July 4, 1935, proclaimed proudly, “Temporary Bridge Reunites City!” The article reported that a temporary bridge, not quite finished but actually stronger than the original steel bridge, had opened for traffic on Tuesday, July 2. Highway department foreman O.P. Gresham explained that the bridge would be left in its current condition for a few days “in order that the rock may settle.” At a later date, the article continued, “concrete will be poured over the rock to make the bridge stronger and smoother. This crossing was designed to accommodate the heaviest traffic. Many loads of granite could be hauled over a heavy bridge that could not be handled on the old one which was destroyed by the flood last month.”
An accompanying article was headlined “Castell Bridge will be Finished Saturday.” That bridge was being built on the piers of the previous bridge, and would have a wood floor. Engineers assured the citizens of Castell that it would be “as satisfactory as the old one, if not more so.” A “Health Officer” told the people of Llano that the water in their pipes was “free from any form of contamination.” Mayor T.J. Watkins was advising anyone who was using water from wells or cisterns to be sure to boil it before drinking.
Another article itemized the losses suffered in the flood; the largest item was pecans, listed at $1,000,000! Second was soil erosion, $500,000, and third was “highway department” (including the main bridge in Llano).
Ze Yao "Mike" Zhang is from Xi'an, one of the oldest cities in China (but currently a modern, bustling metropolis); it is the home of the Terracotta Army and the end of the famous “Silk Road” trade route to Europe. Right now, he is “at home” in Burnet, Texas!
Mike is a 17-year-old exchange student (a Junior, who is getting excellent grades) at Burnet High School. His “host family” in Burnet is Glenna Bell Orman, who has already hosted four previous exchange students and is the local representative for the WISE Foundation, which placed Mike here; she believes that Mike is the first exchange student to come to Burnet from China. Glenna's dad, 89-year-old Macyl Orman, has been interested in China since he was in 5th grade at Floydada Elementary School. Getting to meet and know Mike has been a "dream come true" for him, and he has enjoyed spending time with Mike discussing his homeland.
Mike grew up in the city, and his parents are successful professionals in Xi’an. He first visited the U.S. four years ago, and he had previously been to San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C. He wasn’t sure what to expect when he came to this small Texas town, but he has been delighted with the warm welcome he has received from students and teachers at school, and he likes the Texas food he has been served (“hot dogs, hambugers, pizza, chicken strips and French fries”), although it is quite different from his diet in China.
Basketball is Mike’s favorite sport, and he hangs out and practices with the BHS team. He also enjoys playing the piano, and Glenna says he is an excellent pianist. Those are his hobbies, but he's considering business management or IT as a career.
Last week’s paper said “Happy New Year!” on the front page, but it was really the “end-of-2016” issue. This week’s paper is the first in 2017 (Year 7 for the Highland Lakes Weekly) and the New Year is definitely the biggest story of the week.
My new year got off to a great start with the “First Day Hike” at Enchanted Rock; the weather was perfect – sunny but cool – and the fresh air and exercise felt really invigorating.
There are a couple of other stories, not exactly the “good news” that I like to report, but perhaps useful information. First, a reminder that the LCRA is lowering Lake LBJ by four feet for the next six weeks, to allow lakefront property owners to do a little cleanup and maintenance. Since his Clean Channel Dredging crew won’t be able to dredge anything for a few days (while the lake is being lowered) Kingsland/Lake LBJ Chamber President Ron Poole has put them to work replacing the floor in the Community Park event building this week. He has also arranged for a contractor to build a new-and-improved boat ramp at the park while the lake is down. Because of the construction, he has asked me to let the public know that the building and the boat ramp will be closed until the lake levels are back to normal in the middle of February.
The other news is that Llano County is moving the offices of Precinct #3’s Justice of the Peace (Era Marion), Constable (Bill Edwards) and the new Commissioner (Mike Sandoval) from the little building on Chamberlain Street in Kingsland to the East Llano County Annex on Hwy 1431 in Buchanan Dam (just south of the Hwy 29 intersection). The new offices should be open for business by the middle of next week.
Even after receiving almost a foot of rain in May, Llano County ranchers worried about a “summer drouth” at the beginning of June and The Llano News exulted each time more rain fell. A headline on June 6 read “Losing streak is halted by rains,” and the article reported that the hapless Llano Cowboys team, in last place in the Hill Country Baseball League, had lost five straight games (failing to score a run in four of them), and had avoided an expected loss to second-place San Saba only because of the rain the previous Sunday afternoon.
Other stories in that week’s paper announced that A.E. Crenwelge was making improvements at his Llano Service Station (an ad announced that Sears & Roebuck had selected the station as its authorized tire dealer), and that J.E. Lindsey had moved his dry cleaning business from its old location “west of the Southern Hotel” to “the Stribling Building, next to Moore State Bank.” A countywide meeting of the Boy Scouts was announced for June 17 at the courthouse in Llano.
Littlepage Produce Company advertised generous cash payments for “Poultry, Eggs and Hides.” The Economy Store, located in “the old Lauterstein Building,” offered dry goods for sale. George Watkins advertised Firestone tires, Louis Kuykendall and Bill Scott advertised “Good Food, Good Beer, and Service with a Smile” at their Hi-Way Café, and A.H. Bruhl’s Drug Store advertised “any flavor” of ice cream for $1.50 per gallon (a pint went for only 25 cents), and Mollie’s Lunch Room offered a dinner “with drink and dessert” for just 35 cents. Other advertisers were: Edwards Welding Shop, Wallace Hazlewood’s Sunset Sandwich Shop, Currie’s Shoe Shop, W.C. Simmons’ Texas Service Station and the Corner Drug Store.
The June 13 paper reported that “2.15 Inches Rain Fell Here Wed,” and noted that “fears of a summer drouth have been allayed, at least for the present.” A committee was formed to start a softball league in Llano, with churches and civic groups fielding teams. A lighted field was planned in a lot “just north of the Southern Hotel.” Ruth Stribling Fowler (daughter of Gray Fowler of Llano) was elected president of the senior class at Mary Hardin Baylor, in Belton.
What a year it has been! Certainly not ALL the 2016 news has been good, but there have been so many good things happening this past year that I’ve never had to wonder how to fill the space in my little “good-news-only” paper. Business has been good for me, and I think for the Highland Lakes area in general. There’s been plenty of rain, so there is water in the lakes; lots of construction, quite a few new businesses, all kinds of activity. This is a great place to live, and I am very thankful to have a “job” (I use the term loosely!) where I get to drive around and see a lot of what’s happening.
If I survive another week, I’ll be putting “Year 7” on the front page of my paper. That was the farthest I dared to plan for when I started this paper, but 2016 was my best year yet for readers and advertisers, and it looks (at least right now) like I’ll have a job as as long as I can keep doing it. Wow!
Unfortunately, the pace has begun to take some toll on me, and I think I’m going to try to find ways to scale things back just a little. Starting next year, I’m going to plan for at least one week off (and possibly two; one in the middle of the summer for sure, but possibly another in the middle of the winter) every year. After all, I’ll be turning 60 in less than two months now; there should be SOME reward for lasting this long! The other concession to old age is that sometimes I’m going to get a little more selective about the events I try to cover; maybe even set a limit on hours or events that I work (but don’t worry! I’ll have plenty of pictures to fill up the paper; I might even have time to do a little more writing.)
I have several news items that I want to mention this week, and the first is a First Responders Appreciation Lunch from 1 to 3 this Sunday (New Year’s Day) at Genesis Lutheran Church in Buchanan Dam. All area First Responders are invited!
Just write down exactly what you want to say (up to 25 words for $3 per week; up to 50 words for $5), then mail your ad with payment for however long you want it to run.
Make checks payable to:
Highland Lakes Weekly
P.O. Box 911
Kingsland, TX 78639