Monthly Archives: September 2014

Civic Organization to Serve Dam Spaghetti

towncrier1[Correction: dams and spaghetti. – Publisher]

Submitted by Jennifer Dollins:

The Coupland Civic Organization will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, September 29, in the Fellowship Hall of St. Peter’s Church of Coupland.  Jim Clarno, district engineer of the Lower Brushy Creek Water Control and Improvement District, will discuss Coupland’s high hazard dam and the November election to fund a two-cent per $100 maintenance tax for the repair of the district’s dams.  The Civic Organization board will host a spaghetti supper at 6:30 p.m.  The program will begin at 7.




  • Rainy Days Add Up!

    This was my rain gauge last Sunday, showing the total up to that point.

    This was my rain gauge last Sunday, showing the total up to that point.

    It’s hard to believe that Friday, a week ago, the ground was bone dry and some formerly grassy areas in our yard were becoming patches of dirt. I was watering the back yard just to keep the grass alive in the area where my granddaughter plays, knowing that sooner or later the rain would return.

    A few days later and everything is green and growing. I emptied the rain gauge a few times. We had 4.3 inches follow by 0.3, then 2.0 and finally 4.0 for a total of 10.6 inches in one week!

    Even the areas under the barn that had no direct rain or drainage flow are soft and muddy. Night time is filled with frog song. Water is a wonderful thing!




  • City Council Meeting Highlights from September 11, 2014

    L-R: Susan Garry, Barbara Piper, Jack Piper, Karen Marosko, Eldridge Tidwell, Susan Schmidt (September 12, 2013)

    L-R: Susan Garry, Barbara Piper, Jack Piper, Karen Marosko, Eldridge Tidwell, Susan Schmidt
    (September 12, 2013)

    The Coupland City Council held a public hearing on the proposed 2015 budget, followed by its regular monthly meeting on September 11. Three citizens attended the meeting. Here are the highlights:

    • During the public hearing on the budget, Mayor Jack Piper summarized the main revenue and expense line items. There were questions and short discussions about election costs, franchise fees, and the condition of County Road 458 as well as options for mitigating future maintenance costs of that road.
    • Moving on to the regular meeting, the Mayor reported that the City had $36,989 in the bank as of August 31. He noted that the financial report showed that the City was $200 over budget in the engineering line item because of issues with the proposed plat for the Prinz Estates, which resulted in additional reviews by the City Engineer.
    • The previous election order was cancelled because only three persons filed for the three open Alderman positions. Barbara Piper, Susan Schmidt, and Sarah Torluemke submitted applications to appear on the ballot. Ms. Piper and Ms. Schmidt will remain on the Board of Aldermen. Ms. Torluemke will replace Eldridge Tidwell, who decided not to run for re-election.
    • An ordinance adopting the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2015 (October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015) was passed unanimously.
    • An ordinance adopting an ad valorem taxation rate of $0.25 per $100 of property valuation for taxes due in January was passed unanimously. The rate is unchanged from the current rate but because property values have increased somewhat, the City will collect about $2,000 more in property taxes next year. [Publisher’s Note: The 2015 budget is available for download from www.cityofcouplandtx.us.]
    • The Mayor reported that the City’s portion of the Right of Way acquisition for TXDOT’s improvement project along FM 1660 has not been paid as authorized in the previous meeting because the agreement sent to the City by TXDOT was incorrect. Once again, TXDOT seems to not be aware that Coupland is an incorporated city within Williamson County. The agreement names the City as Williamson County with Jack Piper as the Mayor of Williamson County. They also listed an incorrect amount. The Mayor said no payment will be sent until we have a proper, signed agreement. The City had previously selected the option of making three equal payments, spread out over three fiscal years, with the first payment due before the end of FY 2014. Because the current fiscal year ends on September 30, TXDOT may not submit a corrected agreement in time to allow the City to make a payment during FY 2014, thereby pushing the entire arrangement back by one year. Mayor Piper said that there were personnel changes at TXDOT and he is dealing with different people than those who approached the City earlier in the year.
    • There was a discussion about Bastrop Road in Coupland, a portion of which has become a bit of a ghost road. You have to look closely to see where it used to be as most of it fell into disuse decades in the past. Apparently it was part of the original plat for “Coupland City” in the 1800’s but most of it was never developed. The Mayor said that Martha Poldrack is developing a plot of land along that road and behind the Stock Up Food Mart for a new food establishment. No formal action was taken but by consensus, the Aldermen authorized the Mayor to negotiate with Ms. Poldrack on behalf of the City to help with the cost of clearing and leveling the old road bed but not absorbing future maintenance costs. Ms. Piper said they had contacted the Texas Municipal League and the City Attorney, both of whom said that the City is under no legal obligation to maintain any specific section of city roads. The consensus of the Aldermen was that the City can only maintain roads currently in use.
    • With regard to mowing along those existing roads, the Mayor reported that he is still looking for someone to mow along CR 458.
    • There was also a discussion about snakes coming from a property on Broad Street and near the school. The Mayor said he contacted the owner, who is a reputable businessman in Fredericksburg. The owner asked that City arrange to mow the property and send a bill for reimbursement. The Mayor also reported on recent road work work done by Naivar Construction (see earlier story).
    • The Mayor reported that the state has been notified about two different sinkholes along Spur 277.
    • Ms. Garry reported that the state is upgrading culverts along SH 95, evidently in response to a lawsuit. She also commented that even though Tesla Motors has elected to build its new battery plant in Nevada instead of Hutto, recent national exposure of that site (which happens to be in Frame Switch, the birthplace of Karen Marosko) will likely result in future development of that 1200 acre site between Hutto and Taylor and south of US Highway 79.
    • There was a comment during the meeting about the need to have someone do some shredding in some overgrown portions of the City.
    • With regard to a future Community Development Block Grant from Williamson County, the Mayor reported that Wilco is waiting for a copy of the August minutes to verify that he had the authority to enter the City into an agreement regarding future applications.
    • Mayor Piper said future activity related to the Prinz Estates is awaiting the probate of Mr. Prinz’ will.
    • During the recognition portion of the meeting, Ms. Schmidt mentioned the successful Choo Choo Fest in August. Ms. Marosko talked about efforts to save the old iron bridge on CR 456, which is currently closed and pending a decision by Wilco and the state whether they will repair or replace it. Finally, Mayor Piper recognized Edridge Tidwell for his role in serving on the inaugural Coupland City Council.
    • For the Citizen’s Communcation portion of the meeting, Torsten Wabbel told the Council that in the near future he will be working a Boy Scout project which will involve the City Council.

    The next meeting of the Coupland City Council will be on October 9.




  • Letter From Concerned Citizens to Wilco Sheriff’s Office & Commissioner Morrison: “Unacceptable”

    Shared at the request of Kent Hubbard and Cheryl Aker:

    September 17, 2014

    Jim Wilson, Williamson County, Sheriff
    L.C. (Tony) Marshall, Chief Deputy
    Mike Gleason, Patrol Division Captain
    Commissioner Ron Morrison

    Sirs,

    Unacceptable.

    That’s a word we want to use with specific resolve in order to describe the event(s) that fate engaged us to participate in this morning at 6:45am – Unacceptable.

    As the Sheriff’s vehicle accident report from this morning will certainly attest, there was an accident early this morning on Highway 95, in Coupland. We know that accidents are a matter-of-fact to you all, but this one entwined us.  As we turned on our way to work in Austin, we just happened to be first-hand witnesses to a car accident right at the bridge on Highway 95.  In the southbound lane, a small BMW hit a large passenger truck, careened into the concrete guards over the bridge and then attempted to continue in the southbound lane with one tire missing.

    As prepared and willing citizens, we and several others stopped immediately to render aid where we could.  As we called 9-1-1, we got out to try to direct traffic around the accident while not getting run over.  We were told multiple times that “help was on the way.” Well, no, actually it wasn’t.  Thankfully, EMS from Taylor, a Taylor Volunteer Fire Dept truck and a Coupland Volunteer Fire Dept truck arrived to help – but no sign of Williamson County Sheriff’s Dept.

    As others tried to help the driver, we quite literally stood in the middle of Highway 95 stopping and directing highway-level traffic with little more with us than an orange vest from Sportsman’s Warehouse and a small flashlight.  At one point, a reckless, thoughtless driver made an unconscionable decision to maneuver through the crowded road and very narrowly missed running over another bystander trying to help. We called 9-1-1 yet again, because at this point, tempers were flaring, people were upset and at risk.

    And as we worked the accident scene, we discovered a laundry basket full of alcohol which led the driver to flee the scene and was picked up by an accomplice in a grey truck and escaped.  So, now what was at the time, an accident, was now a hit and run crime scene, a felony – but no sign of Williamson County Sheriff’s Dept.

    We called 9-1-1 a minimum of three times asking for assistance.  As a 9-1-1 recording would surely prove, we described the criminal to 9-1-1 operators and requested that law enforcement get there ASAP, yet no one came.  Taylor PD arrived, but informed us that

    it was Williamson County’s jurisdiction or Texas DPS.  Almost an hour after our initial call, one single bike patrol deputy arrived to work the scene.  One.  One single deputy to work a crime scene?  Don’t tell me you didn’t have information – we gave it to you in full color, real-time, with our own boots-on-the-highway detail.

    Sheriff Wilson, what exactly has to happen for everyday citizens in distress to get assistance from our law enforcement?  How can we call for a “Broken Arrow”?  How many times can we call 9-1-1 just to have them tell us that help is on the way?  In fact, help was not on the way, so we had to fend for ourselves.  An hour, Sheriff, an hour – that’s how long it took for help from the Williamson County Sheriff’s Dept to arrive.

    We realize that over in Precinct 4, we don’t get the share of resources allocated our way that the rest of the county gets – we understand that.  But we pay our taxes every bit as must as citizens around Round Rock, Leander and Cedar Park do.  This wasn’t just another car accident, as we told our emergency operators, multiple times.  We didn’t call 9-1-1 to get our cat out of our damned tree.  We needed help.  We called.  We yelled.  We yelled at 9-1-1.  We screamed at other drivers who swerved around us as we stood in the road trying to help – but still, no sign of Williamson County Sheriff’s Dept.

    Please know that we work in the public sector; we understand.  We have the utmost respect for law enforcement and fully recognize you can’t be everywhere at once and you don’t have a magic resource transporter.  But this accident was 8.4 miles from the county’s “fully staffed” East substation in Taylor that, per your website, claims: “While patrolling their districts, uniformed deputies answer calls for service, assist motorists, and protect citizens through community policing.”  Not only were they not patrolling this district, they were not answering multiple calls for service, not assisting motorists at a time of need, and not protecting citizens – it took almost an hour to get a single uniformed deputy on the scene.

    The irony that September is National Preparedness Month isn’t lost on us with this morning’s events that unfolded before us.  We don’t want credits or kudos for our participation.  We are, and will continue to be, prepared for anything, at home and away.  And thankfully, we and other everyday citizens were prepared – and willing – to help this morning.

    We don’t know that we can say the same is true for our county’s law enforcement.

    Concerned citizens,
    Kent Hubbard and Cheryl Aker




  • Fire Department Fundraiser at the Dancehall on October 3rd

    Submitted by Barbara Worthy:

    Coupland Fire Dept LogoThe Coupland Volunteer Fire Department and the Coupland Inn & Dancehall are
    hosting a fundraising event on Friday, October 3rd at the Coupland
    Dancehall.

    Festivities will begin at 6:00 PM with a great barbecue buffet (chicken,
    pulled pork, potato salad, beans, cold slaw) in the Dancehall.

    Kenny Orts and his Band will begin performing at 8:30 PM.

    Let’s show our support for the Coupland VFD by supporting this activity for
    a donation of $20 per person which includes a great meal and a wonderful
    evening of entertainment.




  • Coupland Gets Much-needed Roadwork

    James Naivar uses a front-end loader to prepare the road so his workers can fill in some big cracks.

    James Naivar uses a front-end loader to prepare the road so his workers can fill in some big cracks.

    In the early days of September, Naivar Construction, under a contract with the City, did some work to help preserve roads that are not yet too far gone on the north side of Coupland. They also sprayed herbicide on the edges of the roads to retard the encroachment of vegetation. You have probably seen their other handiwork in the form of patches in many locations.

    In the image above, you can see how much of North Commerce had been swallowed up by aggressive weeds, which were also coming up through cracks and helping to spread them. Some of the cracks were very wide and deep, creating a hazard. Previous mowing by other contractors began the process of beating back the jungle and Naivar finished the job. The road looks much better and, according to Naivar, has many more years of useful life before major work will be required.

    Naivar says some of the streets on the south side of town are too far gone to simply patch and will need to be completely rebuilt in one fashion or another.

    At the most recent City Council meeting (story coming soon), Mayor Piper said he is still looking for someone who can mow along CR 458. There is plenty more work to be done but this is major progress.




  • August Crime Report

    Submitted by Jack and Barbara Piper, Neighborhood Watch Coordinators

    Listedgo-to-jail-monopoly-150x150 below are the latest crime stats received from the Williamson County Sheriff’s Dept.:

    Assault  –  FM 619
    Recovered stolen vehicle – FM 619
    Criminal Mischief – CR 460
    Verbal disturbance – CR 491
    Burglarly of habitation – CR 112
    Driving while license suspended – FM 1466 Criminal Mischief – FM 619
    Burglarly of habitation – CR 455 Assault – FM 1660

    Traffic enforcements along FM 1466, Hwy. 95, FM 973, and FM 1660 yielded
    citations for speeding, no drivers license, and expired license plate.