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Sage Advice and Information for Those Pondering College

Oped by Commissioner Terry Cook

  • 15 November 2018
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 3868

Pictured left to right are Jim Johnson, WGU Community Relations Manager; Nancy Fitzgerald; WGU Texas Office Manager; Commissioner Cook; Emily LaBrecque, WGU Enrollment Counselor, Business College; and Ann Cruz, Enrollment Counselor, Business College.

If you’re a Wilco resident with a high school diploma or GED looking for a more flexible and much more affordable degree or certification program, I recommend two unbeatable options.

Last fall, I toured and wrote about the East Williamson County Higher Education Center in Hutto. Texas State Technical College, Temple College, and Texas A&M University-Central Texas that comprise EWCHEC, which formed a partnership with the Hutto community.

EWCHEC, through its three colleges, provides an opportunity to obtain associate degrees, coursework to finish bachelor’s and graduate degrees, and certification/licensure in programs like industrial maintenance, precision machining, welding and even cybersecurity.

EWCHEC’s campus buildings and programs continue to expand and excel. For more information, please visit http://ewchec.net/ .

Now Wilco residents—particularly working adults—can finish or obtain degrees from an accredited and reputable online university.

Who Is In Charge Of Elections In Texas

Video by the Texas Association of Counties

  • 31 October 2018
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 3745

Premiered Oct 26, 2018

Did you know? Counties make sure your vote counts! No matter what you're voting on, your county handles the election.

For video of who is in charge of elections in Texas, please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qL_4pdF3IBI

Learn more about how your county serves you at http://www.TexasCountiesDeliver.org

Keeping Williamson County’s History Alive and Recorded

by Commissioner Cook

  • 18 October 2018
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 4008

If you’re curious about anything historical regarding Wilco, just check with the Williamson County Historical Commission.

State law directs county historical commissions to initiate and manage preservation programs for their counties. CHCs must also follow recommendations of their County Commissioners Court and the Texas Historical Commission. 

According to the THC, in 1953, the legislature created the Texas State Historical Survey Commission and in 1973 changed the agency’s name to the Texas Historical Commission. Most counties, including Wilco, also called their organizations historical survey commissions and removed “survey” from their designations after the THC did.

This year, to increase geographic diversity on the WCHC, we appointed 10 new members, and I was privileged to select two highly qualified people from several—also highly qualified—applicants to represent Precinct 1. I want to thank all who showed an interest in serving and encourage them to volunteer with the WCHC.

Commissioner Cook and the WCHC Board members are pictured at the front of the Williamson County Historic Courthouse at one of their meetings.

My two recommendations were Round Rock resident Jane Digesualdo, historian, author, community volunteer and a former member of the WCHC. The other Round Rock resident and native I recommended, Tina Steiner-Johnson, is a middle and high school teacher, and has been involved with the Round Rock Preservation Committee, as well as numerous other community organizations.

Formerly nine Georgetown residents, two from Taylor and one from Cedar Park comprised the WCHC. Now nine are from Georgetown, four from Round Rock, one from Leander, two from Cedar Park, three from Taylor, one from Hutto and one from Circleville for a total membership of 21 and one ad hoc member.

Texas law requires that at least seven residents on a CHC be from the county, and currently all 21 members are. It also requires that members of a CHC be individuals who broadly reflect the age, ethnic and geographic diversity of the county, and we’ve broadened this diversity!

Eloise Brackenridge from Taylor, originally appointed to the WCHC by Commissioner Larry Madsen of Precinct 4 in 2015, was elected chair by the WCHC members this past February and approved by the Commissioners Court. She hit the ground running.

She immediately garnered every member’s support in selecting two primary goals for the WCHC to address, in addition to several ongoing projects. One was to identify the most significant historical sites in Williamson.

The sites they’ll consider currently may not bear historical markers (or plaques) but they will also include those already marked.  Buildings, cemeteries or even empty fields can be considered historical sites. Sometimes fields were sites of significant battles or other human events. Once these sites are all identified, the WCHC will publish this information and post it on their website at http://tinyurl.com/yclbej8m.

Commissioner Cook attends FM 734 (Parmer Lane) Proposed Expansion Open House on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018

The expansion would be from RM 1431 to SH 45

  • 27 September 2018
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 5375

FM 734, more commonly known as Parmer Lane, is a heavily traveled roadway, serving as a major thoroughfare between RM 1431 and SH 45. The puropse of the proposed expansion project is to reduce congestion and improve mobility by providing additional roadway capacity to meet future traffic demands from population growth and increased traffic volumes.

Commissioner Cook studies a chart with the proposed expansion from Avery Ranch to SH 45.The Texas Department of Transportation Austin District is proposing these improvements to a 4.4-mile segment of Parmer Lane in northwest Austin and Cedar Park.

Commissioner Cook studies schematic drawings on a long table depicting the entire Parmer Lane expansion project proposal.The proposed project would:

1. Expand Parmer Lane from four travel lanes to six travel lanes, three in each direction within the existing right of way.

2. Improve intersections with additional turn lanes, where necessary.

3. In cooperation with the city of Austin, improve water quality for stormwater runoff.

4. Provide sidewalks throughout the corridor and a dedicated bicycle/pedestrian path connecting Parmer Lane to the Brushy Creek Regional Trai.

For more information, visit http://www.txdot.gov and enter the search keywords FM 734 from Rm 1431.


Op-Ed by Commissioner cook

  • 26 September 2018
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 3687

An aerial view taken from a drone of the homes and the sectioned-off area around the Cambria Cave excavation.

The Texas Historical Association claims that Texas has at least 3,000 caves. Make that at least 3,001.

A cave—first incorrectly called a sinkhole—was discovered underneath Cambria Drive in the Woods of Brushy Creek neighborhood on Feb. 8, 2018.

While it was reported initially that a broken water pipe contributed to the collapse of the cave roof, there is no evidence of that. There was, however, a relatively thin cave roof under Cambria Drive where the water line trench had been dug.

Caves can be fun and mysterious, but they can be a bit disturbing when they’re right smack in the middle of a subdivision and reach underneath the yards of three homes.

Chief Appraiser of the Williamson Central Appraisal District (not part of county government) Alvin Lankford said the homes’ values will be impacted, but we may not know how much until and if the homes are sold. 

Mr. Lankford worked mightily helping these homeowners by discussing their valuations over the past several months. His decisions on values are restricted by the property tax code.

Cambria Cave was thought to consist of four chambers, but in early August, when the cave floor was cleared of debris, a fifth chamber extending into Ephraim Drive was discovered.

Cambrian Environmental (company name coincidental) geoscientists mapped the cave in February and measured it as approximately 230 feet long by 40 feet wide, with a maximum floor-to-ceiling height of about 23 feet in the largest chamber.

Only about 10 percent of the cave was affected by the collapse that occurred in the early morning hours. Neighbors said it sounded like a bomb blast.

Cave experts said that the closed cave is prehistoric, close to 40 million years old. When authorized personnel entered the cave, they found no evidence of previous human entry. They were the first!

The Texas State Historical Association reports that caves and sinkholes are distributed in karst areas covering about 20 percent of the state. Karst is terrain formed by the dissolution of bedrock.

After county and outside experts started entering the cave, sections of asphalt roadway and concrete curb on Cambria Drive began moving downward, and the sides to the entrance of the cave began crumbling. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approved a request from the county to allow our contractors to open the cave entrance 20 feet longer, making the entrance more stable for workers going inside.

The neighborhood where the cave is located was developed between 1986 and 1990, and there are other caves in this area. In 1986, during development of Ephraim Drive, which runs perpendicular to Cambria Drive, a cave was discovered but at the time, TCEQ didn’t exist and the developer just dynamited and filled the void, and then completed the road.

However, no previous knowledge of a cave at the Cambria location was known until now.

It required five months to conduct evaluations and pass TCEQ approvals to fill the cave per the designed plan. We now know about preservation of cave critters and water flow to the Edwards Aquifer – gone are the days of bomb-fill-go.<


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