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g e orge t own v i ew W E B U I L D CO M M U N I T Y

AUGUST 2021

DOG DAYS

CELEBR ATING SUMMER IN GEORGETOWN IN THIS ISSUE SIT-REP: Rep. Terry Wilson Talks School Tax | 12 Paws for Morale: Courthouse Doggos | 16 Living Gracefully: A AU Thriving Ranch 1 G U S T 2 0 2 1 Canine  G E O R G E TO W N V I E W| 41


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FEATURES 12 SIT-REP WITH TEXAS REP TERRY WILSON Property Taxes: Part II 16 COURTHOUSE CANINES Support, Morale& Best Friends at the Williamson County Attorney Office 32 TEARS FOUNDATION Support for Families Dealing with Loss

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THRIVING AFTER 55

A monthly, special section highlighting the people and lifestyles that build quality of life for us all.

FAVORITES

44 POINTILLISM PAINTING Meet Bill Norton

6 EXPERIENCE GEORGETOWN RWB & BNP Veteran-Peer Support Event August 14

48 INFORMATION Veteran Programs: Local and Online

8 EVERYBODY HAS A STORY East View Culinary Champion 22 AROUND TOWN Vaccines and Volunteers 25 KIDS Sharing the Benefits of Track & Field For All 26 EDUCATION Zion Lutheran Church Grows during COVID 28 SHELTER STORIES Shelters, Pounds, Rescues 34 NOT YOUR TYPICAL PETS Expert Advice For Pets & Livestock

INSIDE

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SIT-REP WITH TEXAS REP. TERRY WILSON • Pt 2 Rep. Wilson shares perspectives on the relationship between property taxes and public schools.

41 GRACEFUL LIVING A Thriving Canine Ranch 50 BLUE MATTERS Veteran Appreciation for Georgetown's First Responders 52 EVERYDAY HERO Mom and Daughter Team Inspiring with Fashion 56 FOOD Recipes with a "Canine" Flair 60 POPPY TALKS Is It Just Me? Part II 64 PARTING SHOT Georgetown Pup-arazzi

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TAKE YOUR DOG TO WORK DAY Hank is just one of the friendly co-workers at the Williamson County Attorney's office on special awareness days and, sometimes, just for great employee morale.

ON THE COVER

Australian Shepherds Taz & Lexi were crowned "Prom King & Queen" at Action Pack Dog Center. The adorable duo belong to Dr. Mandy Holley of Aesthetic Dentistry of Georgetown. Visit our Facebook page for follow-ups to these stories, outtakes & hints to those upcoming... GeorgetownViewMagazine AU G U S T 2 0 2 1  G E O R G E TO W N V I E W

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advertorial

R ESORT L IFE

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t's no secret Georgetown offers tremendous enticement for retirement, but never more so since Watermark Retirement Communities unveiled their newest endeavor—The Hacienda at Georgetown. Scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2022, the residents of this senior living community will enjoy shades of resort life right in the heart of the city. Watermark's reputation for luxury comes from 35 years of creating beautiful and innovative senior housing spaces. While they are well known for forward thinking, extraordinary outings, gourmet cuisine, and wellness—those are just a few of the items that distinguished their approach from the many developers seeking to build on the 13 acre-property directly adjacent to Sun City. Mike Hughes, Managing Director for The Hacienda, explains; "We worked with a focus group and 2

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T HE H ACIENDA

explained our vision for a concierge model. Our elegant amenities, plus dining and service opportunities that will be open to the public, gave people confidence in our ability to follow through on the commitment to develop this property into something exceptional. In addition to an exceptional lifestyle, we look forward to providing more than 150 job opportunities to the greater Georgetown community."

GEORGETOWN LIVING

The Hacienda is not just another brand. While the partners enjoy an elite national reputation, local connections abound, all the way to the produce and baked goods that will be locally sourced and served in their six eateries. Mike has been working for Watermark for many years, but he began his career in hospitality with Del Webb when he was 15 years old.

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"In my career, I've come to know people who worked their whole lives for their homes and they have great pride in that. It is wonderful that they have the choice for senior living where they can remain active and stimulated without the worry of


advertorial T H I S I S S E N I O R L I V I N G R E - I M AG I N E D, W H E R E P E O P L E A R E TA K E N C A R E O F. T H E Y A R E T R U LY R E S I D E N T S — S E L F - A D V O C AT I N G , A N D C A L L I N G T H E I R O W N S H OT S . property upkeep." He adds, "We are really connecting with Sun City and there is so much demand that we hired our sales director, Mary Claire Campos, 24 months out rather than our standard 12."

 FULL-SERVICE RESTAURANT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC  CAFÉ  OPEN-AIR COURTYARD & BAR  OUTDOOR AMPHITHEATER  SALON AND SPA

 MULTIPLE ACTIVITY VENUES, Mary Claire has worked in INCLUDING TENNIS & WALKING hospitality for 38 years. She TRAILS moved to Sun City in 2014,  STATE-OF-THE-ART FITNESS CENTER so she understands the  CLUB ROOMS zeitgeist of Georgetown.  THEATER She says, "This community will be unique among the  MEDITATION GARDEN Watermark properties. I  RESORT-CALIBER POOL can hardly keep up with inquiries from couples and family members who are interested in being among the One of the greatest things about The Hacienda life is first residents at Hacienda. This is the ideal location for the convenience. Everything is included in the monthly residents who love Sun City and the surrounding area. payment, including $500 of flex spending—linked to a Now is the perfect time to be able to select one of our key fob—for anything on campus, including maid service premier apartments, while they are still available." and transportation.

RESIDENT LIFE

The community features nine floor plans for 125 independent living, 81 assisted living, and 24 memory care residences. In addition to amenities and entertainment, residents will have access to fitness directors, a nutritionist, and therapy. Mike says, "I have great concern for seniors, hindered by COVID risks, who are suffering from depression, poor nutrition, and no exercise. But this, our uppermost tier in the Watermark brand, will provide all the elegance and stimulation residents need with the down-to-earth feel of the Sun City culture." Mary Claire agrees, "Of course, many retirement communities focus on health, well-being, and care. What sets Watermark apart is ambiance, level of service, great amenities, and attention to detail. It is very much a resort lifestyle."

Mike says, "This is supported and hassle-free living. Being co-located with Sun City will create a wonderful symbiotic relationship for people who want the lifestyle, but also want to continue attending the Worship Place, or visiting with friends at City Market. Families can rest assured their parents are enjoying a vibrant lifestyle in a location they have come to love." Scan the code to read more about The Hacienda, information about job opportunities with Watermark, or speak to Mary Claire about your next exciting chapter of living in Georgetown.

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georgetownview Published by Optimus Media Group, LLC PUBLISHER | Cathy Payne

cathy@georgetownview.com

Like many of the best in her craft, Cathy has a specialized degree—in her case, hard science—and a gift for writing. She found her voice and fulfilment reporting and writing news and magazine features for a regional Central Texas audience. Along with serving as the publisher of the Georgetown View, Cathy oversees multiple news magazines, marketing campaigns, and books.

EDITOR | Ann Marie Kennon annmarie@georgetownview.com With a quarter-century of writing, reporting, and marketing behind her, Ann Marie enjoys sharing her vision and voice with a Central Texas audience. She believes being involved in and writing about local communities is the best way to show her affection and appreciation of everything Texan.

SENIOR WRITER Charlotte Kovalchuk CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Megan Diane Beatty • Linda Thornton • Ruby Moseley GRAPHICS & DESIGN Zion Pistole • Ann Marie Kennon CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Rudy Ximenez • David Valdez • Todd White SOCIAL MEDIA DIRECTOR Jenny Campbell ACCOUNT SERVICES Debbie Tolliver IT / WEBMASTER Jesse Payne DISTRIBUTION David Schumacher CONSULTANT W. Ben Daniel

ADVERTISING Mark Elliott 512-240-2267 • 512-598-3500 mark@georgetownview.com

Georgetown View is an Optimus Media Group, LLC publication. Copyright © 2021 All rights reserved. Georgetown View is published monthly and individually mailed USPS, free of charge, to homes and businesses in Georgetown, TX zip codes. Mail may be sent to Georgetown View, P.O. Box 203, Jarrell, TX 76537.

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EDITOR'S NOTE | ANN MARIE KENNON August is one of my favorite issues, mostly because I love our focus on dogs and canine puns. We always have plenty of diversity in the topics and they are a great complement to all the stories about Georgetown's uplifting people too. For starters, congratulations to Claire O'Shoney on her national culinary win. Happy to say I've enjoyed her food, as she was part of the catering team at previous State of the District events. Can't wait to see how she does in her upcoming collegiate and culinary adventures! We also highlight the TEARS foundation's Fall events; another great non-profit that provides compassion and love to families dealing with loss. Meanwhile, July was a pretty atypical month for me. I spent some time at Seton hospital, but, as always, had my laptop with me. My notes on the experience are these... never stop asking *different* people what might be wrong with you if the people you normally ask don't have an answer; and I have since heard many similar stories from others. Over a two-week period, I saw three doctors, two chiropractors, and a wellness expert; all of whom supported the need but were not able to help as I got worse every day. But an out-of-network physical therapist watched me walk across his office and insisted I didn't wait another minute to go to an E.R. Two hours later, an MRI proved him 100 percent correct and all is well. So, dear readers, don't ever be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to getting answers you need. I'm happy to share some names in a message. Happy Dog Days to all!


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experience georgetown

by Charlotte Kovalchuk • charlotte@georgetownview.com photo courtesy Bare Performance Nutrition

"Battle Buddy" Event for Veterans Aug 14

Bare Performance Nutrition Joins Forces With Team Red, White & Blue

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efore leaving active duty from the U.S. Army, Bare Performance Nutrition CEO Nick Bare had already built himself a platform, and a foundation, for a new mission. As he expanded his business to inspire wellness for all, he also made it a point to employ and support Veterans in his business endeavor. Over time, he began to recognize that not all Veterans are lucky enough to find or create a new mission or similar purpose after their service. "I saw many soldiers struggle to adjust to civilian life without the support and brotherhood they had known in the military," Nick says. "Fortunately, BPN is connected with the local chapter of Team Red, White & Blue to help veterans rediscover community through health and fitness activities and social gatherings."

TRANSITIONS While on active duty as a platoon leader, Nick says he noticed holes in the military’s transition program. The program helped soldiers create resumes and fill out job applications, but did not truly meet the overall need for purpose and fellowship with other veterans. “They’re set up to succeed while they’re in, and when they out, they’re all on their own,” Nick says of the up to 95 percent of veterans who transition every year. As an officer and mentor, Nick helped his soldiers make college or business plans, and while some succeeded, others struggled with relationship issues, fruitless job searches, weight gain, and a lack of purpose and community. Even though Nick had a business to go home to, he remembers feeling some of those same struggles. “I felt like I lost a sense of purpose because active duty was a selfless service with an amazing reward for serving our country." 6

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As part of his own reintegration, he participated in marathons and triathlons, and kept running into representatives from Team Red, White & Blue, a nonprofit organization based in North Carolina that connects American veterans to their community through physical and social activities. While Nick knew about the group’s mission, it wasn’t until he started talking to some event attendees that he realized Team RWB’s life-saving impact. Men who had fought in Iraq and Afghanistan would share their stories through tears, and Nick realized they just needed someone to talk with and relate to—something Team RWB provided.

PEER-TO-PEER SUPPORT After a recent successful introductory networking event with Team RWB at the BPN gym in Round Rock, Nick and his team are preparing to reach out to the greater Georgetown community to help even more Veterans connect with those who understand the special needs of navigating a new civilian life, and making sure they know they are not alone.

B A R E B LO C K PA R T Y 9 A M - 2 P M AU G U S T 14 M A R K E T D AYS • G E O R G E TO W N S Q UA R E . “I want people to know they have someone to reach out to—a lifeline, and events like this make that happen. Look for our table (at Market Days), on August 14. We are bringing more people together in Williamson County and beyond to make sure they know about and are able to take advantage of this wonderful support system,” Nick says.


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everybody has a story

by Charlotte Kovalchuk • charlotte@georgetownview.com photos courtesy of Claire O'Shoney

EVHS Graduate Cooks Her Way to Victory

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ecent East View High School graduate Claire O'Shoney is no stranger to the culinary competition world, but this year served up a series of surprises from competing virtually to being named the Top Teen Chef in America. After winning first place in the National Culinary Arts regional and state competitions hosted by the Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), Claire took home first place at nationals, making her the top teen chef in the country. She still remembers the fourthgrade assignment that started it all—choosing between creating an Italian dish or writing a research paper on Italy. “I’ve never been a research paper kid, so I decided to make lasagna for my family,” she says. “From that moment [I realized] this is something that’s easy and interesting for me. The technicalities of it all—I love knowing whatever I do I can see a result from it. The steps I take and spices I add can always make something new. [I love] the creativity of it and the ability to try new things.” During her freshman year at East View, she had the chance to begin competing in FCCLA contests through a culinary arts class. From trying her hand at new dishes almost every day during class to practicing the same meals for months got old pretty quickly. “After about the

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30th time I made chocolate mousse, I don’t think I could pick up chocolate mousse anymore,” she says with a laugh. Her favorite part has always been garnishing and plating in unique ways, such as making a coral-like crisp garnish from flour, water, and oil at nationals this year. “I love creating new things that the judges have never seen before,” she says.

THE COMPETITION This year’s competition season took Claire from Corpus Christi to the screen for regionals, state, and nationals. For the final competition, she was tasked with perfecting a pan-braised chicken breast with a velouté sauce, Parmesan risotto, and sautéed green beans. At regionals and state, judges “circled like sharks” to see how students worked and used their culinary skills and techniques. The national competition took place virtually and Claire got to compete with the top chefs from other states from East View's kitchen due to the pandemic. For her, the actual cooking wasn’t the most challenging part—it was time management and technical details like making sure her hair and outfit were clean. “It’s easy to make mistakes,” she says. “A single hair touching your collar could mean the difference in losing five points.” But hearing her name called out of 150 competitors as the Top Teen Chef in the nation made it all worth it. “It was very, not unexpected, because we had all worked so hard for this goal. I was overjoyed and excited,” she says. Claire is excited about the next step in her culinary journey. She was invited to intern at a prestigious New York City restaurant, Le Bernardin, but, for now, plans to study food sciences and technology at Texas A&M Corpus Christi to take a break from the stress of kitchens and competitions.


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sit-rep with Rep. Terry Wilson

"According to Value" Taxes: Part 2 Schools and ISDs

F O R M O S T TA X PAY E R S , T H E M A I N T E N A N C E A N D O P E R AT I O N S TA X F O R T H E LO C A L I S D I S T H E L A R G E S T S I N G L E I T E M O N T H E I R P R O P E R T Y TA X B I L L .

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o gain a good understanding of the taxes Texans pay to support public education, it is important to begin at the beginning. When Texians laid out the Declaration of Independence in 1836 and itemized all of the things Mexico had done wrong to compel the territory to break away, they listed their grievances in order of importance. First on the list—even before the forcible military dissolution of the state legislature—was the lack of support and maintenance of a system of free and public schools. As a result, Texas Representative Terry Wilson says, the real meat of our responsibility to our children and our state, has always been the general diffusion of knowledge and educating people.

SUFFICIENCY REQUIREMENT Article 1 Section 1 provides for "knowledge essential to preserving the knowledge and liberty of the people." In simple terms, public education in Texas is required to be sufficient such that every student in the state is either educated enough to have a job in a pro12

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ductive industry or area immediately after high school, or at the conclusion of their public education program; or is sufficiently prepared to go on to post-secondary, military, vocational, or other training. "This is the job of the legislature, before anyone else," Rep. Wilson says. "We do not provide the education ourselves—it is our duty and responsibility to provide a mechanism for it, and facilitate it somehow."

A LITTLE HISTORY In the beginning, public education was managed in various ways by counties, cities, and other local agencies. In the 1940s, the ISD framework was created to create stability, consistency, and to make provisions to fulfill the duty via property tax. Rep. Wilson explains, "Property tax is the most dependable. Values do not fluctuate like sales or other taxes, so ad valorem provides consistency and stability moving forward. Originally, school taxes were a fraction of the cost because the state provided supplemental funding. Over time, property tax burdens trended upward to ease the burden on the State when times got tighter."


EDUCATION IS NOT ABOUT WHERE A SCHOOL IS IN TEXAS. IT IS A HOLISTIC APPROACH THAT ALL OF TEXAS MEETS THE SUFFICIENCY REQUIREMENT. THE LEGISLATURE USES PROPERTY TAXES AS A MECHANISM TO MEET THAT RESPONSIBILITY TO MANAGE THAT STATEWIDE BURDEN.

RECAPTURE Recapture is sometimes referred to as "Robin Hood" tax, and is part of the efficient system that helps provide a consistent education experience in every ISD in the state, regardless of its size and tax base. Rep. Wilson explains, "In GISD, the Maintenance & Operations (M&O) tax is $.978 per $100 of home value. In Georgetown, based on number of homes and home values, the ISD receives $119 million in revenue to pay for actual expenses required by the legislature; buildings, salaries, and materials. For FY2022, GISD property taxes will bring in 106.67 percent of what is needed to meet its full budget. "In Buckholts, the ISD tax rate is close, at $.966, but there is not as much land value so their tax revenue is $398,500; just 19.94 percent of their budget. If the taxpayers in Buckholts were required to fully fund their ISD entirely, they would have to pay $4.85 per $100 to meet their full M&O burden. So, again, the efficient system keeps districts across the state within a certain range of each other on property taxes." The responsibility to distribute the cost burden at a state level, means the 125 students in the Buckholts ISD school building have the same diffusion of knowledge as the 11,946 students in Georgetown ISD without putting an untenable cost burden on the taxpayers of that municipality. "The necessary benefit of this kind of planning," Rep. Wilson says, "is that smaller cities and towns are not without growth potential because education opportunities remain at the core of every community, regardless of size." Beyond M&O costs, the state provides aid to ISDs to help pay down interest and debt outside of voter-approved bond spending. These costs are based on other funding for special education programs, transportation, and expansion. Rep. Wilson says, "We do not aim for a surplus at the state level. We always have unmet obligations we need to buy down, so if the M&O budget is balanced, we focus on helping schools pay down interest and debt on projects and programs outside their voter-approved bonds. For instance, if a school district

wants to purchased bonds to build an Olympic-size swimming pool, they are free to vote to spend their money in that way. The Legislature is merely guaranteeing that each school district has the funding it needs to also be able to pay down interest, debt, and cover the costs of bond programs, not the projects themselves." For FY2022, GISD will also receive $7.7 million in state aid. This formula is based on average daily attendance (ADA) and takes other factors; e.g., travel time, special education, Tier II programs, into account.

I T I S T E X A S ' R E S P O N S I B I L I T Y TO E D U C AT E A L L O F I T S K I D S . B U T W E C A N N OT H AV E A S TAT E - W I D E P R O P E R T Y TA X — T H AT I S R E S E R V E D F O R LO C A L G O V E R N M E N T O N LY. A S A R E S U LT, O U R S C H O O L F I N A N C E S Y S T E M I S A B O U T M A K I N G A S Q UA R E P E G F I T I N A ROUND HOLE.

KEY TAKEAWAYS House District 20 has 33 ISDs and, with a few exceptions, without recapture and smoothing, most tax districts would be paying $2-$5 per $100 of home value. For those municipalities able to fund their budgets easily, that excess is shifted to other ISDs that need it, to maintain level education fields for the sake of all of Texas. In the 85th Legislature, the tax rate for GISD was $1.08. The table above shows the current expected tax rate at $.97. This is a significant drop in our individual tax bills, thanks to the amount the state asked GISD to contribute via property tax collection. Because our property values increased in 2020, we were also able to "share" an additional $3.5 million to support other ISDs without paying more to do it. Rep. Wilson says, "This allowed GISD to be a bit of a unicorn last year. The recapture went up but the rates are going down. The tax rate went from $1.08 to $1.00 and now to $.97 and we want to keep that going down as the state is able to pick up more and more of a share of this as we go."  AU G U S T 2 0 2 1  G E O R G E TO W N V I E W

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BACK TO SCHOOL Visit our website for all of the information you need to successfully start the 2021-22 school year including new student enrollment, school supply lists, bus routes and more...

www.georgetownisd.org/backtoschool SCHOOL TAX CONT. The legislature is always looking for the best ways to do this in an attempt to make the M&O tax get to zero. Rep. Wilson believes, while property tax is not the ideal mechanism, there is a good reason the state uses it. Property tax is entirely designed for the benefit of the local taxpayers, but because education is a state responsibility, there will

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continue to be changes and modifications to the laws that will provide benefits to the whole state. To eliminate school tax completely and move that burden to the state level would require .03%, or $26 billion. At that point we could be rid of M&O taxes entirely and provide funds from the state level. That would allow complete flexibility

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for districts to pass their own bonds and charge property tax for local voter approval. It is truly the only place where government is administrating locally but the responsibility is from—and making it work for— Texas as a whole. N ex t m o n th , Rep. Wi l s o n w i l l ta ke a l o o k a t n ew l a w s, p ro p o s ed c h a n g es, a n d " w h a t a re we g o i n g to d o a b o ut i t."


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courthouse canines

by Ann Marie Kennon • annmarie@georgetownview.com photos courtesy Williamson County Attorney Office / Facebook

Dog Days at the Justice Center

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Williamson County Attorney Office Staff prepare for a day of work with their morale officers.

n 1999, Pet Sitters International created Take Your Dog to Work day to encourage businesses to allow dogs in the workplace. It was intended to celebrate dogs as companions and promote their adoptions from local shelters, rescue groups, and humane societies. One Williamson County office not only took the holiday to heart, but has turned it into a signature workplace program.

RUFF DAYS Williamson County Attorney Dee Hobbs participated in the national event for the first time in 2019. Mr. Hobbs says it was popular with the staff and everyone enjoyed it; "We didn't do it in 2020 because people were at home. But, in 2021, we have been running minimal staff in the office so we allowed all the people who had to be there to bring a comfort animal while they worked. We started out doing it periodically for those who needed it and, across the board, it has been great for morale." Inspired by the results, Mr. Hobbs and his Chief of Staff Peggy Vasquez are personally investing in formal training for their own dogs to be certified service dogs. He says, "We've all been through the wringer and it is comforting, when you're the only person in a big office, to have your best friend as a co-worker." Office companions, however, only need to be house-trained and social, but everyone agrees that it's a treat to walk through the halls and see

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courthouse canines

baby gates on the doors. Mr. Hobbs adds, "It's also a great humanizer for guests to see that we're just people too, and we love dogs."

GREATER CALLINGS Beyond that, his Great Dane and Peggy's Havanese are being trained and certified to be in the office regularly to provide support for victims and witnesses. Mr. Hobbs says, "Being in the justice system can cause a lot of anxiety for children or families. We have both dogs to cover the spectrum; some people love and feel safer around big dogs, others prefer a small dog for comfort. The dogs are here to help ease the process for anyone who has been through a trauma." He adds that it is also helpful to have animals present as a distraction because

MEET PEPPER

Contributed by Peggy Vasquez

Pepper is my 3-year-old Havanese and she serves in the Williamson County Attorney's office as a Service Dog working with Victims of Crime. After losing my beloved 18-year-old Havanese boy, Bogey, who had filled my life with so much joy, I longed for a new fur baby. When I mentioned it to my boss, County Attorney Dee Hobbs, he suggested that if I would be interested in getting a new puppy and would commit to training the puppy to work as a Service Dog to help victims of crime, it would be beneficial to our office as well as our own staff and visitors to the building. I wanted to adopt and rehome an adult Havanese and began my search online. Several months had passed when I received the call about Pepper. Her previous owner could not keep her due to an illness so it was decided that this beautiful, Havanese girl from a champion blood line would be mine. My daughter picked her up in California and flew her home to me.

there are often long waits in the office, or outside courtrooms. Studies have shown service animals lower blood pressure and anxiety responses, and "people who are waiting to testify can spend their time petting the animals rather than thinking about their concerns."

STAYING PAWS-ITIVE Mr. Hobbs says he will continue with the national awareness event and allow employees to bring a personal dog for support every now and then, if just to break up the monotony. "When we did it in 2019, we had no idea how much it was going to pay off during a time no one saw coming. But necessity is the mother of invention and, really, it's just hard to be in a bad mood when there's a puppy around."

Pepper's quiet and reserved nature is perfect for the job. Her training went very well and she has been an amazing addition to my life and to the office. She is the official office mascot, and attends all meetings. She also assists in drawing attention to important issues like domestic violence awareness, teen dating violence, the Pandemic, and many others. She has worked with victims of domestic violence, applicants for protective orders, witnesses who were nervous about their participation in trial, and children who were present in our office while their parent met with Prosecutors. She is always a welcome sight for our own staff members when they need a little "Pepper Time", and as a greeter in the Justice Center for those in the building attending to difficult matters. Pepper loves her job and every morning finds her waiting eagerly to go to work to bring a little comfort, spread a little joy—and sometimes comic relief—wherever she goes.

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around town

by Ann Marie Kennon • annmarie@georgetownview.com photos courtesy Family Hospital Systems

Vaccines and Volunteers

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hile the nation continues to debate and discuss COVID-19 vaccines, many medical practitioners are just simply going about the business of providing wellness for those who seek it. One local company even took the business of vaccinations and made it a community event. Earlier this year, Family Hospital Systems (FHS)/Family Emergency Rooms partnered with Williamson County to create drive-thru hubs that became hives of volunteer activity to help provide vaccines across Williamson County. FHS Communications Director Jen Stratton says, "We started out providing COVID-19 testing through a contract with Williamson County. When asked to extend those services to vaccines, we were happy to serve and began vaccinating first responders. As demand grew, we knew we needed a larger space to keep up so we established hubs at Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex in Austin, the Sun City ballroom, and at GISD’s football stadium, one of the first drive-thrus. From mid-January to mid-May, we administered more than 160,000 vaccine doses.”

ROOM FOR EVERYONE Jen affirms the success at the drive-thru hub drew the attention of many. While there was obvious interest in the vaccine, the photo of Willie Nelson receiving his vaccine from FHS helped the event go viral. His wife, Annie, was so grateful for her shot, she volunteered at the hub for a month after. But Annie Nelson wasn't alone in her gratitude—volunteers came from all over to help out; elders from the Church of Latter-Day Saints, the UT Swim and Dive team, senior staff from CapMetro, nursing students from all over Central Texas, community members with medical backgrounds, and dozens of workers from local companies who were given paid time off from their employers to help. In Georgetown, volunteers from Celebration Church provided a Vaccine Registration Technical Assistance (VRTA) center to help seniors get on the list. Jen says, "It took many volunteers and staff to make our hub a success. Our goal was to make receiving the vaccine as safe and efficient as possible for those who wanted it and our volunteers and staff did a fantastic job at getting patients in and out with speed and cheer. The drive-thru setup really made things convenient for our patients, and I think it was appreciated.” Dr. Henry Higgins, FHS CEO, says, “We are glad to do our part to help kick COVID-19 out of Williamson County.” Jen adds, "While we were

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working long hours to serve our community, we remain grateful to those who provided food, drinks, and snacks. We are especially grateful to Bohemian Barbecue and Shawarma Point for their excellent service and amazing food."

VAX-A-THON As the vaccine hub idea took hold, many providers did the same across the state. FHS then went one step further and held a 24-hour Vax-athon, and found a way to make it fun. "Staff and volunteers dressed up with big hair, pin-cuff jeans, and played 80s music provided by Four Hour DJs for the steady stream of cars," Jen says. "That night we enjoyed 80s movies on the big screen and were proud to have been able to vaccinate nearly 6,000 people safely. It was a testament to good planning and a desire to be part of the community." With hubs now closed, FHS still provides vaccines at their Cedar Park Facility for those who want them. Jen adds, "Our Family wants to keep your family healthy during the pandemic and beyond. Our facilities are prepared to test, treat, and vaccinate against COVID-19.”


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kids

by Ruby Holder Moseley • photo by Leslie Walker

"GT Speed" Running with Purpose

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eorgetown families can be thankful for the selflessness of coaches who give their time in many diverse forms for the sake of others. Meet Matt and Leslie Walker and their assistant coach, Grover Moore, in the spotlight with GT Speed, a free track club for male and female students, ages 8 to 18. Coach Walker explains, “Our mission is to encourage kids to use track and field as a vehicle to learn determination, competition, and other skills they’ll need in their adult life. Our practices are hard, but its not just about track.” Leslie adds, “Track is a hard sport. It takes a lot of mental toughness. Matt wants kids to push themselves and always try their hardest.” And they do; evident by the amount of water being consumed, while the athletes took a break to catch their breath.

town for kids to enjoy the fun. He was eager to provide the learning experiences that come from the disciplines of training for competition, so he and Leslie, a third-grade teacher at Frost Elementary, decided to start a club themselves. With six kids in their own house, the Walkers had a pretty good team right off the starting block and GISD has allowed them the use of tracks and facilities at district schools for the sportsmanship-focused club idea.

JOIN THE TEAM Coach Walker is pleased to report consistent growth and success in the club’s members. They regularly qualify to go to the District and Regional competitions of the Amateur

Athletic Union, a national-level track club organization. Club participation is free and open to all students in the Georgetown area. There are fees associated with travel and some competition, but the Walkers make good use of social media and a GoFundMe campaign to help with expenses. Matt says, "Every season, runners who can’t afford the fees of other clubs in the area, can join GT Speed. This is what makes this track club unique and special. Anyone who’d like to help out with expenses of athletes going to Houston, can visit us on Facebook for donation details."

THE STARTING LINE The Walkers moved to Georgetown in 2014. “We love it here,” Matt shares, as he places hurdles on the track while his runners stretch in the background, getting ready for the jumps that help them with their foot strike. Coach Moore, who has a background in track and football, has already urged them—hands cupped—to push themselves around the track to warm up. The goal on this day is to work everyone to improve their sprinting abilities. Coach Walker spent his younger days competing in track in the El Paso PaceSetters, but found no similar opportunities in George-

JUNIOR OLYMPICS QUALIFIERS • HOUSTON JULY 30 - AUGUST 7  Wesley Krieg, (M) age 8: Long Jump  Kinley Krieg, (F) age 9: Long Jump  Field Walker, (M) age 11: 100m Dash, 200 m Dash  Shepherd Walker, (M) age 9: 200m Dash, Long Jump  Reegan Torosian, (M) age 13: Hurdles  Jett Walker, (M) age 13: 400m Dash AU G U S T 2 0 2 1  G E O R G E TO W N V I E W

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education

by Charlotte Kovalchuk photos courtesy of Thomas Wrege

Zion Lutheran School Enrollment Soars During Pandemic

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ion Lutheran School’s 20202021 theme, “Sustained by Grace,” became a perfect illustration of the school’s journey through the highs and lows of the pandemic. One of those highs was the school’s enrollment spike during COVID-19, an achievement Principal Thomas Wrege attributes to the staff’s close relationships with students and parents, as well as their in-person plan during a time when many other schools were closing their doors. “We knew that with students on campus, there would be a much better opportunity for effective learning, and this would allow the teachers to not be stretched too thin with having to do both in-person and hybrid, but rather to concentrate on doing an outstanding job of instruction and, in turn, not being over-

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whelmed or burned out by too high of a work load,” he says. That mission worked; “We had an 18+ percent enrollment growth,” Wrege says. “We didn’t see it coming. We had budgeted for 175 and ended up with 216 in May this year.” Managing that growth by capping classroom numbers and social distancing was difficult, along with having to close for several weeks when school COVID cases increased. But “in an incredibly challenging school and church year, God just really blessed us with a pause and some answers. We learned a lot of things." Zion Lutheran found new ways to make connections, not only with its students and parishioners, but the community. Families were kept in the loop through video conferences each week, while homebound

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members and Walburg residents were blessed with meal deliveries, thanks to partnerships with local restaurants. And when school COVID cases increased for a time, Zion Lutheran became an online church and school in just a few days. “We learned to embrace our families even more than we did in the past,” says Wrege. “We wanted to care for them and make sure kids were safe and still learning.” Through it all, the school received strong support from parents. “It was all, ‘Keep going, let’s finish this school year strong.' “There were real challenging days, but we have a strong team, and God was in the details always. He sustained us with grace—it was a perfect theme for the school year.”


education

DISCIPLESHIP LEGACY “We are a church in the country, but we’re not a country church,” Wrege says. Located off FM 1105 in Walburg, Zion Lutheran is home to cutting-edge technology and seasoned teachers and staff. A modern worship center just opened at the church, which continues to honor its 150-year-old roots with a traditional sanctuary—a unique balance for a Lutheran church, shares music and worship director Marc Profant. Built in 1882, Zion Lutheran opened as both a church and school, which serves preschool through eighth grade. “It is common for a church to get underway and at some point realize they need to be able to educate the children,” Senior Pastor John Davenport explains. “Nine families realized, from day one, that they needed a vehicle to educate the children.” Known as a Great Commission church that follows Jesus’ command to go out in the world and make disciples, Zion equips church members and school families to carry out that mission. “There’s a strong connection between the church and school, because the church views the school as its first and largest ministry,” says Zion business manager Steven Cashio. That vision has been a successful one, with a 94 percent retention rate and multi-generational students and parishioners whose parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents have been loyal to Zion. But Davenport emphasizes that you don’t have to be here five generations to belong. “We’re excited about the legacy of families that have been here decades and decades, but there are also new faces among us every week,” he says. Zion is also behind Wurstbraten, the annual sausage supper that will return November 1 from 4pm until meals (drive-through only) run out. Looking ahead, Zion hopes to keep growing so more children and families can benefit from its mission to connect with others, grow in faith, and serve, while continuing to add value and innovation to support the local community with a quality, Christian education. “Even though the church is 150 years old, in many ways we’re just getting started,”

says Profant. “We now are going to spread our wings in many ways. COVID, which was not a fun thing, has turned out to be a blessing in many ways for our church. I sometimes see it as a reset—it has refocused why we do what we do on our campus, which is to reach people with the gospel of Christ.”

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shelter stories

contributed by April Peiffer

Here to Help: WCRAS Cares for Pets

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et’s talk about shelters versus pounds. Shelter, as a noun, is defined as a place giving temporary protection from bad weather or danger. As a verb, it means to protect or shield from something harmful, especially bad weather. A pound is a warehouse for animals where, sadly, many go to die.

THE WILCO DIFFERENCE We don’t have pounds in Williamson County. We have shelters, and it is important to understand the key differences between the two. At shelters, animals are cared for, treated as individuals with unique needs, and they are typically loved and tended to in the same manner as our own pets. My senior foster dog, Dave Grohl, died while napping in my office. I believe one of the reasons he ended up with me is because some don’t understand the full nature of our mission; we are here to help people and their pets. Dave’s owners might have brought him to us a few months earlier in his health transition (we don't know for sure how long he was in need) for a better outcome. Perhaps he was too ill for their resources or willingness to manage the problems but, at the shelter, we might have been able to help him through whatever illness it was that ultimately contributed to his demise. He had severe matting that had to be cut away with surgical knives and a wound that exposed a bone in his leg, which was also covered in maggots when it was revealed. He also was unable to walk when he arrived. Had he been brought to us sooner, rather than crated permanently, we might have been able to provide

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appropriate care to help him live out his senior years in the comfort and peace we want for all of our pets.

SHELTER AND LOVE Shelters provide the kind of respite for animals that people can’t or won’t take care of anymore. Staff are not concerned about the "why"; but prefer to simply give those animals a safe place to hopefully wait for a loving hew home. The bottom line is that Shelters are not Pounds. When you see people talking about "the pound" here in Central Texas, it’s important to educate them. Because we are not a bad place. Dave Grohl deserved to live his last few years in comfort and peace and I wanted to give that to him in whatever way I could. We tried all we could try but, inevitably, I made the decision that we would let him go peacefully because he was suffering. His little body finally is able to rest. He was a good boy, and I am so sad that we didn’t get him here sooner so we could maybe fix him. Rest in peace, Dave. You were a very good boy.


shelter stories

WCRAS Pets of the Week HEMINGWAY

LADY GRAY

Hemingway is a senior dog who is a pup at heart. His most fervent wish is for a nice place to spend his days, a soft bed to lay on at night, and love from his people anytime he can get it. His previous owners describe him as a calm dog who enjoys quiet time, toys, and going for walks. Hemingway has discerning tastes when it comes to other furry friends, so a meet-and-greet with existing dogs is recommended. This devoted companion is looking forward to the peace and serenity of an adult home. Does he sound like a good match for you? Email adoption@wilco.org to set up an appointment to meet him. He's been gifted an Adoption Angel by Amy Kobza, Better Life Realty Broker/ Owner, so his adoption fee has been paid.

Four-year-old Lady Gray wants you to know that each cat is an individual, and all cats have different personalities. Some are warm and physically affectionate, much in the manner of dogs. Others are more reserved. Maybe they prefer shorter pets or to show their affection in a different way. That doesn’t mean they love you any less. The relationship between cat and human can be magical. All the human has to do is pay attention and figure out what kind of affection the cat likes. So take the time to get to know Lady Gray. You never know what magic may follow! If you'd like to meet her, email adoption@wilco. org to schedule a priority-service appointment.

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support

by Ruby Holder Moseley photo Facebook / HillCountryTEARSFoundation

Walking for Babies in Georgetown

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eptember is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, a time to recognize the children and families affected by the disease and emphasize the importance of supporting research. While observation T H E T E A R S F O U N DAT I O N WA S F O U N D E D I N 20 02 . A M B E R C H AU B E G A N events are somber T H E H I L L CO U N T R Y C H A P T E R I N AU G U S T 2017 I N H O N O R O F H E R DAU G H T E R , in nature, in GeorgeM A D I S O N , W H O D I E D O F S I D S AT T W O M O N T H S O L D. town, the Hill Country TEARS Foundation is helping meet the needs of all bereaved families with a Each year The TEARS Foundation also recognizes proRock & Walk event October 16. fessionals in our community who go above and beyond to help a bereaved family during their time of need. Nominees for Heroes of Service may be first-responders, The TEARS Foundation exists to provide ongoing edufirefighters, nurses, EMT, chaplains, and doctors. Each will cation and resources for families, and bereavement care receive a letter and notification that they may be chosen after the loss of a baby or child. Their mission and vision to be this year's Hero at the Georgetown Rock & Walk. is the health and well-being of families on their journeys The heart of the Rock & Walk is to let bereaved famito recovery. The foundation offers various types of virtual lies know they are not alone. The Foundation strives to support—trained Peer Companions talk, listen and counbuild awareness about pregnancy, infant, and child loss sel over the phone and accommodations are provided by bringing the community together to support these for the deaf and to Spanish-speakers. families. Participants rock in chairs or walk laps together Families can also receive compassionate support via to honor the children whose names appear on butterflies e-mail and Hill Country Founder Amber Chau reports lining the path and are reminded that we can find hope. many local groups are on track to re-instate in-person Visit TheTEARSFoundation.org to nominate a hero, apgroups this Fall. Amber says, "The goal of the foundation ply to be a VolunTEAR, apply for services or donate, and is to build a caring community of families, professionals, scan the code for information about and community members. The overall wellness of the the Georgetown event. Early Bird regfamily of a baby that has gone too soon is of utmost istration is $5 through August 31 and importance." $10 until the event date. ContribuAnother tier of support is TEARS Foundation’s offer of tions help provide ongoing bereavefinancial assistance for final arrangements and funeral ment care and the overall wellness of arrangements for those gone too soon. families grieving the loss of a child.

LOCAL HEROES

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Contact Amber (408) 838-8438 to support bereaved families with sponsorships, prize donations, or participate as a walker & rocker. 32

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CHILDREN ARE A GIFT FROM GOD

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sponsored content

Expert Advice for Pets & Livestock T E X A N S LO V E FA R M A N I M A L S A S M U C H A S W E LO V E O U R C AT S A N D D O G S , A N D D R . N AT H A N C A R LTO N O F J A R R E L L A N I M A L H O S P I TA L I S W E L L V E R S E D O N A L L O F T H O S E . H E H A S S O M E A D V I C E A N D G U I D A N C E F O R H O B B Y A N D F FA FA R M E R S TO H E L P U S U N D E R S TA N D T H E N E E D S A N D B E N E F I T S I N O U R D I V E R S E U N I V E R S E O F CO M PA N I O N A N I M A L S .

Can you share some benefits and concerns for specific farm animals? Farm animals enrich our lives by providing meat or eggs but they can also help us by providing an agricultural exemption for the land. Those benefits are a great way to lower your tax burden but there are a lot of things to consider first. Make sure you have a facility prepared to care for them. Cattle are a common choice in Central Texas and they are easy to own but what happens if one is sick? How will you vaccinate and deworm the animal every year? If you own 20 cows you will have 20-25,000 pounds of animals to corral, so setting up a good set of working pens with a functioning head gate and squeeze is essential. Without those items you won’t be able to vaccinate, let alone work on one when sick. How much space is reasonable to raise certain animals? Animal units (AU) are a way to describe the carrying capacity of a

piece of land. One AU is a full-size cow-calf pair; one horse is usually 1.3 AUs. You may have four goats per AU for full-sized meat goat breeds or perhaps six pygmy goats per AU. The total AUs for your land depends on soil type and annual precipitation. Fortunately, we have a general landmark—stocking density is typically lower west of I-35 than on the east side. A good starting point is one AU for every four acres on the east side; one AU for every eight acres on the west. You may need to adjust based on the amount and condition of the grass through the seasons. For instance, you could run four large goats on a five-acre lot on the east side of town but drop to two for the same size lot on the west side. It may be tempting to have more, especially this time of year when it seems like there is plenty of grass for many animals. Always remember, come August, there won’t be much to eat on the ground and in winter you may be in the same spot. Even if you are okay feeding them hay you will want to

Are there animals I should not raise together? Generally, we do not raise goats and sheep in the same area. Both are susceptible to copper poisoning; sheep more so than goats. Both species need loose mineral to supplement their diet but if you feed a goat-based supplement with sheep in the area they will eventually develop copper poisoning. Housing chickens and turkeys is also not a good idea. Turkeys can transmit Blackhead and other bacterial diseases to chickens.

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keep the density low to prevent over grazing and heavy parasitism. What are some basic health concerns to keep in mind to keep animal healthy? All animals need fresh water and some shelter. If you have cattle and there are no trees around to keep them out of rain and sunlight you might consider putting up an overhang or lean-to. Vaccinations are a great way to keep away some easily preventable diseases like over-eating disease in goats or blackleg in cattle. Deworming every year will help reduce death loses and improve the gains you see on your animals. I recommend working with a vet to figure out a good vaccine and deworming schedule for your livestock. How do I know if my animal is sick and needs a vet? Sometimes it is obvious—a cow with a laceration or lame goat, but sometimes the signs are less obvious. If you see your goat pressing


Good veterinarians talk to animals. Great veterinarians hear them talk back. his head against the fence or hear her grinding her teeth that is a problem of pain. In general, if you are at all worried about the health or welfare of your animal, call a vet early. There aren’t many food animal vets around so a late-day call means less chance he or she will be able to get to you. Do my farm animals need stimulation for good emotional health? Yes. Farm animals are prey species so they do better in groups than alone. I also think it is a good idea to be around your animals as much as possible. This way they are used to you and can be easier to handle when it comes time to calve or vaccinate.

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cuisines, or the Sun City resident fighting cancer with a strict diet. Born and raised in Louisiana with a Korean-Chinese mother from Hawaii, Chef Robb loves fusing Asian and Cajun food, although he enjoys trying new things and helping clients expand their palates. Chef Robb began his culinary journey at Louisiana State University, later receiving his culinary arts degree from the Culinary Institute of Phoenix, Arizona. In 2020, his COVID pivot led him to make RLM Chef (his initials) his full time gig alongside his wife, Amanda, and kids, 13-year-old James and 10-year-old Gavin, who are just as passionate about cooking and love to pitch in.

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graceful living

by Charlotte Kovalchuk • charlotte@georgetownview.com

Updates from "Where Love Resides" Donation Sparks New Bunkhouse for Living Grace Canine Ranch

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hether caring for senior dogs, effecting change, or educating new generations of pet parents, Rhonda Minardi is on mission to help undervalued canines live their best lives. Her goal was accelerated thanks to a substantial donation from local business and civic leader Jack Garey. A fellow dog lover, Jack was touched by a story about Rhonda's vision of a 501(c)(3) sanctuary for displaced senior dogs on five acres in Bertram. Living Grace Canine Ranch is a permanent home for dogs labeled “adoption undesirable” or orphaned. All senior dogs are welcomed regardless of breed or challenges, and they find security, comfort, nourishment, unconditional love, and companionship. "It's an admirable thing she's doing, and I wanted to help out," Jack says. Jack and his son toured Living Grace while Rhonda described her vision of caring for dogs disregarded by society due to old age or illness. "Whether dogs or people, seniors are disregarded as if they have no value any more," Rhonda says. "If dogs can only tell their stories, if we sit down and talk to older people, all they've gone through in their life just to be abandoned . . . It happens every day. That bothers me. Living Grace Canine Ranch is going to do everything we can to make these senior dogs' lives enjoyable." After experiencing Living Grace, Jack told Rhonda, "Anyone can make a website look good. You are the real deal." Rhonda remembers the tears in his eyes as he said, "I'll help you."

Thanks to his donation, Garey's Big Dog Bunkhouse is expected to open mid-September and house up to 30 large canines. "We didn't expect to be starting on another building this quickly. It's amazing. I'm honored the Lord chose me to do this. He entrusted me with all these little lives because he knows we will do the right thing," she says.

teers committed to sharing their love every week." As a grandmother to three young children, she is excited about a volunteer collaborative children's storybook available in time for Christmas. "Our mission is to save, serve, and elevate senior dog's lives. I'm hoping planting and fostering seeds of compassion at young ages will improve animal cruelty laws in Texas and encourage public awareness for humane animal treatment and conditions,” she says.

LIFE-SAVING MISSION

BRIGHT FUTURE There are 34 residents at Living Grace Canine Ranch, and Rhonda has a heart for each orphan, emotional cripple, or medically needy dog seeking a quality life. "Unlike an animal shelter environment, it takes time to build a trusting relationship between human caregivers and old dogs of need,” she says. “As a nonprofit, we rely on ranch volun-

As a long-term alternative lifestyle solution to reduce traditional animal shelters' financial and space burdens, Living Grace hopes to become a model. "Living Grace Canine Ranch exists because Texas animal shelters euthanize 60 percent of senior dogs, regardless of low-cost treatable health conditions. To end pain and suffering is one thing, but to take a life, simply to save money or because it's most convenient, is morally wrong," Rhonda says. “We're setting the bar high here. Think of us as the canine version for your parent's assisted living needs. We're taking it up a notch and inviting traditional animal welfare organizations and government agencies to think broader.” Living Grace asks for prayers, public financial assistance, and business sponsorships to help unwanted senior canines flourish in their golden years. To donate or volunteer, visit livinggracecanineranch.org.

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Pointillism with Bill Norton

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Sun City Artist Getting His Point Across by Linda A. Thornton photos by Jo and Bill Norton

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ill Norton isn’t concerned that he constantly sees spots. Though he didn’t discover Pointillism until he moved to Sun City in 2017, he can’t remember a time when he wasn’t creating. This painting technique—small dots of paint applied in patterns to form an image—was introduced in the late 1800s by George Seurat and Paul Signac. The term was coined by critics in the late 1800s to make fun of the art form, but with each new dot of his paint brush, our Georgetown artist strives to reinvent each creation with discipline and passion. A small-town boy from Minnesota, Bill started out teaching middle school art. He later became a principal but continued his creative endeavors and found experimenting with dots captivating; the more he layered, the more texture and movement he could produce.

DRIVEN TO CREATE Every day like clockwork, Bill rises at 4am, sets up his card table and folding chair and gets to work painting. It can take up to 30 hours to complete one frame, but sitting quietly for hours, methodically working in a repetitive motion, creates a Zen-like atmosphere, which the soft-spoken artist savors. Regardless of his schedule, he fits in seven hours of painting a day. He scours estate sales and secondhand stores for unique frames and delights in re-purposing them. With one dip of his fine brush into acrylic paint, he can paint five to six dots. "After four to six layers," he says, "The surface begins to raise and a dimensional look is created." His finished frames either become mirrors, with the addition of glass, or an art piece, framing another of his works. " To me, creativity means always searching for what’s next. My inspiration comes from nature and sometimes from the music I am listening to," he says. "I love the design process and finding out what is effective. Being creative means always searching for what's next." 44

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A member of Sun City’s Visual Arts Club, the Sun City Singers, a monitor at the fitness centers and a swim instructor, painting is a nice counterbalance to his energetic lifestyle. Bill adds, "I enjoy the convivial atmosphere of Sun City and take pleasure in impressing house guests with visits to our picturesque square." He's always been a driven person and believes he has only begun to scratch the surface in this medium, so is always excited to see where he can take it. "I have only been painting the last four years, so I am constantly challenging myself to learn something new, like how layering the dots can create new colors and patterns. I am also fascinated by how the linear aspect can create such movement. I simply love color and having fun with it." He feels so fortunate to have a creative endeavor that brings him such pleasure and allows him the opportunity to share it. To see clients' reactions and for them to want to have his art grace their home brings him such pleasure. He laughed and explains, "It's a bit like the joy you'd get by giving someone a puppy!" Bill's mirrors are available at Artisan’s Connect Gallery, 800 S. Austin Avenue, Georgetown, or contact him directly bjnorton105@yahoo.com.


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VA Benefits for Georgetown Veterans by Ruby Holder Moseley

I

t can seem daunting to navigate the Veteran’s Administration website—even the VA admits the scope of their primary site, Benefits.va.gov is quite broad. To help Georgetown neighbors, following is a primer on some helpful links and pages for yourself or a loved one looking for qualifying Veteran benefits in our local area.

THE BREAKDOWN In Georgetown, the Veterans Services Main Office is close by; at the Georgetown Annex at 100 Wilco Way (512-943-1900). This office provides telephone and in-person direction and general support for eligible Veterans, dependents, and survivors to identify and obtain all benefits they have earned from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, state of Texas, and Williamson County.

APPOINTMENTS MONDAY-FRIDAY 8AM-NOON & 1-5PM Benefit services include:  Compensation for Service Connected Disabilities or Pension  Burial & Funeral Honors & Burial Allowance  Enrollment for Health Benefits  Vocational Rehabilitation Aside from these primary benefit packages, the center can also direct you to many great lifestyle benefits you may not be aware of, such as free drivers licenses for disabled veterans, homeless assistance, peer groups, Hazelwood Act education funding for you and your dependents, entrepreneur assistance, active duty hunting and fishing licenses, park admissions, and many more.

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REGIONAL OFFICES The second type of office to help fill current needs are Veteran Centers. They were instituted in 1979 to answer the complex needs of the Vietnam era veteran and exist today to provide those needs to all vets. Our closest offices are located in Killeen and Austin. For now, the Austin Vet Center (512-416-1314) has limited hours and services due to COVID. The Killeen Heights Vet Center (254-953-7100) is operating as usual. After hours services can be arranged at this location, by calling 1-877-WAR-VETS. The VA now offers a blog that contains many different types of subjects and information as well. The topics range from overcoming the reluctance to claim benefits, to the new ATLAS telehealth program currently in its pilot program. The ATLAS program offers private, face-to-face appointments for veterans with a high-speed Internet connection. There is also a monthly newsletter available for news and updates. If you are a veteran, you are highly appreciated by Georgetown View and the entire community! Thank you for the sacrifices you and your family have made to serve your fellow Americans.


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blue matters

by Ann Marie Kennon • annmarie@georgetownview.com

Corps Support for Core Responders

T

he spirit of service continues, with great strength, in Georgetown. Last month, our outstanding resident support was magnified by the Williamson County Marine Detachment League who presented the Georgetown Fire, Police, and EMS Departments with certificates of appreciation and rendered honors for their dedication to duty.

Interim Police Chief Cory Tchida, Senior Vice Commander TC Moyer, Fire Department Battalion Chief Carl Boatright

Senior Vice Commander TC "Top Cat" Moyer explained, "We are former Marines who believe, with all the defunding and anti-police sentiment in the world today, it is important to let these men and women know we are behind them 110 percent. They are doing an outstanding job, especially in Georgetown. We have great leadership, they hire good troops, and those troops take care of everyone. People here understand and appreciate that, and we love to see them getting cookies, parades, and waves." Interim Police Chief Cory Tchida was proud to accept, saying, "It is a huge honor to be recognized by the Marine Corps League. This is a group of folks who have served our country honorably for a long time. It is particularly significant to receive it from a Command Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps."

ONCE A MARINE... Several generations were on hand, from Korea to Afghanistan, to share stories and praise and Chaplain Keith Longacre (right) explained the mission, "Marines are Marines no matter what; we just take on different duty stations and different uniforms, with a different task to accomplish." The League's current task is to continue their tour of every Fire, Police, and Sheriff's office in Williamson 50

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County before the end of the calendar year. "This is just a [darn] good county; we are well taken care of and protected. We also have Marines providing public service to Heroes Night Out, scholarships for JR ROTC, and we are always looking to expand our outreach further. Personally, I just love being around these young people and I get a swell of pride to know the world will be in good hands when they take over."

T H E M I S S I O N O F T H E W I L L I A M S O N CO U N T Y M A R I N E CO R P S L E A G U E D E TA C H M E N T 1022 I S TO C A R E F O R F E L LO W M A R I N E S , F M F CO R P S M E N , OT H E R V E T E R A N S , AND SUPPORTING WILLIAMSON CO U N T Y C I T I E S A N D CO M M U N I T I E S


SUPERIOR CARPET & UPHOLSTERY CLEANING

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512-943-7006 • MeeksFamilyChemDry.com

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everyday hero

by Charlotte Kovalchuk • photos courtesy Sara Alarcon

Empowering Women through Fashion Mother-Daughter Team with a Vision

S

ara Alarcon is proof that a new outfit can inspire confidence and, in her case, a new beginning. On the run from an abusive boyfriend with her 10-month-old daughter in tow, she found herself in Texas 14 years ago with only her car, wallet, and two small boxes of clothes. She soon faced another obstacle when she began working at a San Antonio car dealership that required business casual attire she didn’t have. “When I got my first paycheck, I went to Kohl’s and got just a cheap blazer but, holy heck, when I put it on, I remember feeling so good because it was mine and it was my first professional job."

I WA S D O I N G S O M E T H I N G F O R M E A N D M I S A B Y M Y S E L F. T H AT B L A Z E R W I L L A LWAY S B E I N M Y H E A D — S O M E T H I N G A B O U T T H AT WA S A F O U N D AT I O N A L M O M E N T. . . I R E A L I Z E D I ’ V E G OT T H I S . I C A N D O T H I S O N M Y O W N . I C A N S TA R T O V E R . I H A D TA K E N MY POWER BACK. That shot of confidence not only helped Sara meet a job requirement—it emboldened her to build a new life for herself and her daughter, launch a clothing boutique, and ultimately, share her story with the world. It is a story she has heard many times from other women, of feeling too afraid to speak up about domestic and sexual abuse and masking pain with a smile. Having grown up in an Arizona home untouched by drug addiction, 16-year-old Sara wasn’t prepared for the summer romance that turned violent when her boyfriend collided with meth. “When I was 17, there had been instances where I woke up in a hospital by myself,” she says. “I felt alone. I didn’t tell anyone because he said there would be consequences, and he would find me if I ever left him. I was too scared.” Over time, the violence escalated and Sara was raped; she ultimately chose to give life to a daughter, Merlissa “Misa” Jane. They fled to Texas to live with her brother, where her ex fulfilled his promise of coming after her, leading her to seek refuge in a marriage that ended in another heartbreak. Her now-husband Tyler Alarcon 52

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became her “saving grace” after her divorce, when she finally felt at peace to tell her story to her parents and immediate family. Today, the couple is on a mission to break the cycle of abuse by raising four strong daughters who are all aware of the realities of domestic and sexual abuse.

A VISION BEYOND CLOTHING One of Sara's daughters is already helping further that mission through fashion. Misa, now 11 years old, has been lovingly doodling eclectic outfits and embellishing model sketches since she was four. She announced to her mom one day that she wanted to go to fashion design school, a creative flair she may have inherited from Sara, who used to sell hair bows and dresses on Etsy. Wanting to encourage her daughter’s dream, Sara figured, “Why wait?” and launched Misa Jane Boutique online in 2018. Together, the mother daughter team sells modern bohemian clothes and accessories with a feminine twist.


everyday hero L E A R N M O R E A B O U T M I S A J A N E B O U T I Q U E A N D S A R A' S S TO R Y

CONCRETE GROWTH This April, Misa Jane Boutique added a brick and mortar location. When Tyler walked into the Southern Sun Boutique on Town Center Boulevard in Jarrell in search of a gift for Sara, he noticed the shop didn't offer many clothes or accessories. Unlike her previous husband, who gave her an ultimatum, “Your business or me and your family,” Tyler is one of Misa Jane Boutique's biggest cheerleaders—he asked if his wife could sell some of her merchandise in the store. “We can do that,” the owner said, “or you can just buy this place.” Less than two weeks later, the couple had the keys to Misa Jane's new location. It was a scary decision that turned into a blessing, Sara says, because it was easy to overlook her business sometimes when it was just online. Being in a physical location helped her focus on the boutique, get to know the Jarrell community, and discover the need to empower abuse victims during a time when their voices are often muffled. “At the end of the day, I might have my story out there, but it’s not about me,” she says. “It’s about taking a stand for other women, other people, men too, who don’t feel like they have a voice. My mission is to remind women and young girls that they are worthy, valued, loved beyond measure, and never alone. We can do this together.”

GIVING FORWARD A portion of all Misa Jane proceeds is donated to charities with a mission to transform society's response to domestic violence, sexual assault and exploitation, support survivors’ healing, and end that violence forever. Sara plans to collaborate with the Jarrell Police Department on self-defense classes for women and teenage girls, as well as Pastor Jake at Wayfinders Church to add a drop-off center at the boutique for clothing and supply donations for women’s shelters. Catch Misa Jane Boutique’s grand opening from 3-7 p.m. on Saturday, September 11. She promises an afternoon of fun with games, music, bounce houses, vendors, Touch a Truck with the Jarrell Fire Department, swag bag giveaways, a cocktail bar, and other fun activities. Military and first responders will receive 30 percent off merchandise.

Misa Jane Boutique 181 Town Center Blvd. Suite 200 Jarrell, TX 76537 misajane.com AU G U S T 2 0 2 1  G E O R G E TO W N V I E W

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food

Recipes with a "Canine" Flair EVERYTHING'S BETTER WITH BACON RIGHT?

TEXAS HOTS' HOT DOG SAUCE Or, as Texans might say... chili!

INGREDIENTS

HOT DOGS ARE

• 2 medium onions, finely chopped

• 1 lb ground beef

NO EXCEPTION.

• 2-2/3 tsp chili powder

• 1-1/3 tsp paprika

• 2 tsp cinnamon

• 2/3 tsp cloves

WRAP EACH HOT DOG

• 2-2/3 tsp ground cumin

• 2/3 tsp garlic powder

IN A STRIP OF BACON,

• 1/2 tsp black pepper

• 1-3/4 tsp salt

SECURE BOTH ENDS

• 1/3 tsp cayenne pepper

WITH TOOTHPICKS, AND GRILL— ROTATING FOR EVEN COOKING— UNTIL THE BACON IS CRISP AND COOKED

In a four- or five-quart pan, cook onions in a little oil until tender. Add ground beef and brown. Add 1-1/2 quarts water and simmer for one hour. Add remaining ingredients. Cook 30 mins. Thicken with cornstarch or flour to desired consistency. Note: Mix cornstarch or flour with cool water to a paste. Sauce can be frozen in an ice cube tray. One cube is enough for one hot dog. After frozen, take out of tray and store cubes in freezer bag.

AND THE HOT DOG IS HEATED THROUGH.

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food

...and from the bar... DEVIL DOG • 3 oz. Jose Cuervo® gold tequila • 5 oz. unsweetened grapefruit juice

DIRTY DOG • 1 oz. Hennessy® cognac • 1.5 oz. vodka • 5 oz. chilled orange juice • 1 oz. chilled cranberry juice

FROZEN DOG TREATS Because your best friend enjoys a little chilled snack in the summer time too. These ingredients are healthy for dogs and can be shared with your human friends and family too.

INGREDIENTS • 4 bananas • 1/2 cup peanut butter

FUZZY DOG • 1 shot peach schnapps • 1 shot amaretto almond liqueur • 1 shot coconut rum • Orange juice Pour each shot over ice, fill glass with orange juice.

• 4 plastic mini cups (plastic or paper) Peel, slice, and freeze bananas. Put frozen banana slices in a food processor and blend. Scrape sides to get rid of lumps; mixture will be thick. Continue blending until it reaches the consistency of soft serve ice cream. Add peanut butter and mix well. Separate into 3-4 cups and freeze or pour into your favorite dog treat mold. If using cups, remember to remove any paper before your pooch gets to chewing.

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Summer Snack Strategy

A

day means waiting until the bucket is refilled on Sunday to get another.

s we journey through the long days of summer, as a former Kindergarten teacher, I’m sharing an idea that may help maintain a bit of health and harmony for busy kids at home.

I hope this will also help him think ahead—something we work on in all his life skill areas.

My oldest son is generally ravenous and will eat all the snacks in one day if we let him. So, we have embarked upon the snack basket system.

HOW IT WORKS It took about an hour to make— including laminating, cutting, and printing, so my response to “Mom, I’m starving!” is a not-frustrated “Check your snack basket.” Boom, it’s out of my hands. 58

contributed by Hillary Kennon

I allow four snacks per day—ideally a fruit and a grain, then a protein and a grain—but he will have to figure this out. Options rotate based on groceries purchased and I don’t tell him what he can choose; if it is in the basket, it’s free reign. What I hope he learns is that eating all the granola bars in one

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If he chooses something not physically in the basket, he transfers the appropriate clothespin into a plastic bag attached to the bucket. Over time, he will realize if the bucket is empty in the first half of the week, he may have trouble making it from meal to meal in the second half of the week. Have genius ideas you want to share? Send us your summer strategies.


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poppy talks

Is it Just Me? (Part 2) S

ummer is in full swing, but Poppy is watching it from a chair thanks to a "should probably have given up cheerleading before my mid-30s" back problem. But that doesn't mean I'm not still busy being amused by a few new random observations. First, I know the whole world has opinions about social media and Facebook, and I'm not crazy enough to stick my toe in that quicksand, but I think it's really time to stop flashing the "Get COVID information here" message on every third post in my Fakebook feed. It's inconceivable to me that they still think there's anyone left on the planet who will see that and say, "Oh goodness, is something going on in healthcare? Someone turn on the news! Hey, while you're at it, maybe check to see if we had the election yet." Of course I still don't like customer service phones; particularly the artificial intelligence operators. It's particularly insulting when they play the fake typing noise to reassure (and totally convince) me that, no, it's not a robot at all, but a real live human pounding 120 wpm on what sounds like a 1977 Corona typewriter. It's a bit like Samurai movies dubbed in English... I say three words and "human" Karen clacks about 400 characters. Perhaps there was a focus group in a board room somewhere that determined people are less likely to hang up if there's no silence. And can someone please tell me why I have to prove my identity when I'm trying to pay a bill on the phone? Are there terror cells and scammers trying to pay strangers' bills across the nation? I'm okay with that, really. If someone is willing to do that, you have my permission to let them. I feel the same about the bank that won't let me deposit money into my

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mom's account. Shame on me for trying to send her money in a convenient and timely manner. In other questionably stupid things, I actually got a letter from the IRS telling me that I would be getting a letter from the IRS that would explain the money I'm going to get from the IRS in a few months. Granted, it's always a little suspicious to get money from them—without explanation—so you then have to worry about when they're going to want it back, but couldn't they just have included a note with the check? Glad to see my government is spending my tax money on redundancy and killing trees. On the more personal side, you know you're getting older when you're filling out an Internet profile form on your device and you get to your year of birth, you have to spin that wheel like you're on "The Price is Right". I generally have to take that second spin too. Delightful. Speaking of "old", I've decided that it must not be so bad to go to prison. Bill Cosby got rid of his cane and is apparently no longer blind since getting out a few weeks ago. Miraculous! Given my current medical bills, the next 24 months might actually be cheaper that way. Meanwhile, back to Summer life and recliner thoughts. For one, I'm going to take a moment and be grateful that spiders don’t fly. Also that I would love to see what it would be if we ever had an “anti thunderstorm.” Consider how freaky it would be if we started with loud, high-pitched screeches followed by flashes of extreme darkness (during the day). Much more end-of-the-world than some of the stuff people stress about these days. Hmmm... probably time for another pill.


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parting shots

Dog Days Pup-arazzi

Photo courtesy of Rancher and aviator Jim Schwertner escorting Texas A&M's First Lady, "Reveille," in his private jet, to the 2020 Alabama game.

Sugar Bear enjoying and previewing our annual favorite; Georgetown's most "paw"some pool party, the K-9 Kerplunk, at the Georgetown Community Center--look for the 2021 preview in our September issue!

Klaus enjoying the view of the July 4th parade in Round Rock. This handsome boy is also a courthouse doggo -- owned by 26th District Judge Donna King.

Koda the Fire Dog was on-hand for the USMC appreciation ceremony at the Safety Center in July. Normally, Koda is working with her best friend and handler, Deputy Fire Marshal Jonathan Gilliam to educate kids and adults, and provide therapy services.

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georgetown view P.O. Box 2281 Georgetown, TX 78627

ECRWSS POSTAL PATRON GEORGETOWN, TX

Profile for Fidelis Publishing Group, LLC

Georgetown View Magazine August 2021  

Georgetown View Magazine August 2021  

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