Neighborhood News

Brown Santa brings cheer to recipients, supporters

Column by Commissioner Cook

  • 18 November 2021
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 2435

Commissioner Cook puts a box of toys into the Williamson County Brown Santa donation box at the Jester Annex in Round Rock

If you’re looking to brighten the holidays for a child or family this season, I have the total package for you: Williamson County’s Brown Santa program.

Although not new to Wilco, this year our sheriff’s office is restructuring Brown Santa to ensure it’s bigger, better and reaches every deserving family they can find.

The program annually aids approximately 600 to 800 families living outside the geographical limits of any town or city within the county that does not already provide a similar program.

Five individuals serve on the Brown Santa Board and approximately 10 are on the committee, and all are employees of the sheriff’s office. The program is a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

The board’s goal is to fulfill 100% of any family’s request during the holiday season for things like toys, clothes and books suitable for children from birth to high school ages. All donations must be unwrapped.

Williamson County employees and citizens in the community are also welcomed as volunteers. So, if you’re itching for something to do right now, why not Brown Santa?

Donations aren’t accepted just during the holidays. The program collects items and cash donations throughout the year. So, if you get the holiday spirit in July or August, just remember Brown Santa.

Community events are also held to collect donations. This past Halloween, Brown Santa sponsored its first family-friendly “Trunk or Treat” event outside the sheriff's office in Georgetown on Oct 30, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

They recruited 22 sponsors who decorated their vehicles and filled them with candy. Then the surrounding streets were closed to traffic so kids could safely trick or treat.

The trunk-or-treat was a huge success attended by over 500 people. Plans include adding activities and sponsors to future events.

Look for more fundraisers like a golf tournament on March 28, and the Brown Santa Barbecue Cook-Off being planned for 2022 with local Veterans of Foreign Wars groups.

Commissioner Cook Speaks to Pack 174 Cub Scouts

  • 4 October 2021
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 2714

Commissioner Cook is showing Pack 174 Cub Scouts a large poster of what Texas Counties Deliver.Commissioner Cook is explaining what her role is in the county and what counties do for their citizens to members of two Cub Scout dens in Pack 174.

The Scouts are in 4th and 5th grades and attend Great Oaks Elementary.

There are four boys in one den and two girls in the other. 

The meeting was held on Saturday, Sept. 26 at the Cat Hollow Park Pavilion.

Hairy Man Road Closures During Road Safety Improvements

  • 11 August 2021
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 2886

The temporary roadway closure of Hairy Man Road will be left in place until 5:30 p.m. on Friday, August 13, at which time it will be removed.

The closure will then be reset on Monday, August 16, at 6 a.m. and remain in place until 5:30 p.m. on August 20.

This project is 2.2 miles in length and includes safety improvements between Brushy Bend Drive and Sam Bass Road.

Improvements will include the addition of shoulders along the roadway, addition of rumble striping along the shoulders, and addition of turn lanes into the adjacent parks.

The detour will remain the same via Brightwater Boulevard and Creek Bend Boulevard. Local traffic on Hairy Man Road will be allowed from Sam Bass Road to the bridge at Brushy Creek (under the Creek Bend Bridge).

Workforce Wednesdays Virtual Career Expo Continues

Information below is from Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area

  • 14 July 2021
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 3302

Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area (WSRCA) has launched a new Workforce Wednesdays Virtual Career Expo campaign within the nine-county Rural Capital Area of central Texas, to connect employers and job seekers at weekly online hiring events.

With a world-class labor force of more than 520,000, and the unemployment rate continuing to decline across the region as employers begin to safely reopen amid COVID-19 concerns, Workforce Wednesdays represent a collective effort among Rural Capital Area communities and industries to empower their workforce through virtual interactive events and continue to help the region compete at a global level.

“We are proud to continue to innovate our services to present new workforce opportunities for local businesses, families, and job seekers,” said WSRCA CEO Paul Fletcher. “These are difficult times for our communities, but we’ll get through this together. By hosting virtual hiring events each week during Workforce Wednesdays, we are helping our fellow Texans find sustainable careers to support their families, all from the safety and convenience of their mobile device.”

Honoring and Preserving History in Wilco’s Cemeteries

Column by Commissioner Cook

  • 17 June 2021
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 3206

Members of the Round Rock Black History Organization gather to place flags for Veterans Day at Hopewell Cemetery on Nov. 7, 2020. They are from left: Tiffany and husband Paul Gibson, Julie Chapa, Tina Steiner, Ella Morrison, Round Rock Police Chief Allen Banks and his Father, Craig Walker, who was visiting from Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Photo courtesy of Kathryn Effinger.

Ella Morrison: "We need to give credit to two others who helped in recent  years. Bobbie Withriow who cut tree limbs, cleaned Veteran headstones, and donated and helped place flowers on every grave in the cemetery, and planted three Crepe Myrtle trees. Sherry Richards also helped with cleaning and planting in the recent past. Bobbie Withriow and The Fallen Org. can never be compensated enough for his help." 

While ancestral research can be found online, in family Bibles and from records like death certificates maintained by counties, another good source is tombstones.

But many cemeteries are in the middle of nowhere!

Wayne Ware, chair of the Cemetery Restoration Committee, under the direction of the Williamson County Historical Commission, told me that years ago in Granger a woman whose husband had died put him in the back of her wagon and started down the road. A stranger saw her and told her to bury him on land nearby.

Also, over 100 Wilco cemeteries are behind locked gates or not yet located. Sometimes a property owner will give permission to relatives or others to get on their land, but many landowners don’t live on the property, so gaining access is nearly impossible.

Yet the cemetery committee plods on. It currently has 16 active volunteers who maintain 20 neglected cemeteries in the county on a rotation basis. The history buried in these cemeteries motivates the volunteers who call the interned “the pioneers” of Williamson County.

The committee has identified 236 cemeteries, 26 of which have received the Historic Texas Cemetery designation by the Texas Historical Commission.

Nancy Bell, treasurer for the Historic Commission, said some of these cemeteries date back to the 1840s. Starting in the spring, the volunteers mow and clean the cemeteries. In the fall, after the weeds and grass die down, they remove old, dead trees and underbrush.

​Last fall, the volunteers spent many hours clearing out the Hargis cemetery, located on an acre south of Taylor and north of Coupland. A fund was established by the Hargis family for its upkeep, but the money’s whereabouts is unknown.

However, the plot had become impenetrable from overgrown brambles, brush, shrubs and trees and is known for an abundance of rattlesnakes. Still, the volunteers cleared it.

Eloise Brackenridge, chair of the Historical Commission, tells another story about the Taylor cemetery that began after someone died during a gunfight, and the townspeople needed somewhere to bury the dead.

Round Rock residents Tina Steiner, her Aunt, Ella Sauls Morrison, Morri


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