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News Bulletin Castroville • La Coste

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Thursday, April 18, 2013 Castroville, Texas


To RV or not to RV? That is the city’s question Castroville officials debate whether RV park should turn a profit or merely be a city service James Armstrong Staff Writer Castroville is commencing a good old-fashioned policy debate weighing the costs associated with operating the city’s RV Park. The subject came up when City Councilmember Eric Cherry inquired about the profitability of the RV Park at Regional Park April 9. Cherry said that all city entities, from the Regional Park Pool to the city electrical system, should be profitable so money can go back to improve those services. “That’s how you improve

things, reinvesting your profit,” Cherry said. “The rates that we charge have to balance out what our expenses are, plus we should make a profit so that we can continue to improve it.” Cherry’s comments came during a presentation from Mayor Bob Lee on possibly using city contingency funds to make repairs to the RV Park’s recreation room. Following the presentation, City Councilmember Victor Ortiz was appointed to look into the allotment of funds along with Helen Delavan with the Friends of Castroville Regional Park and Parks and Recreation Board Chairman Dennis Bippert. Cherry said he would like to see hard numbers on where the RV Park stands in the city budget. “So maybe a study should be done to see how far in the

While lauded as a place for visitors to stay as Castroville tries to increase tourism, questions are being asked about whether the Regional Park RV Park is currently turning a profit. (Photo by James Armstrong) hole are we, or are we in the hole,” Cherry said. “We may not be, we may be generating a little revenue with the park.” City Administrator Paul Hofmann said the debate is a

policy discussion the city has not had before but that more information can be supplied. “I think there is an outstanding public policy question here that folks are now talking

about that at some point needs to be dealt with,” Hofmann said. According to Marie Gelles, director of administrative services, for the 2012 fiscal year the city collected $84,324 in fees from the RV Park. Hofmann said any analysis of the RV Park’s profits would be based on judging time the park superintendent, custodial staff and administrative personnel devote to handling the site. “Without further analysis, I would say it comes close to breaking even,” Hofmann said. “We need to drill down into and make some assumptions and calculations about indirect costs.” Speaking from experience, Lee said when he became

See ‘Restrooms’ on Page 2

-Castroville City Administrator Paul Hofmann

See ‘Issue’ on Page 2

Almost time for MC Relay

Council ready to take on budget James Armstrong Staff Writer Following through with sewer upgrades to clear the way for road repairs is one objective the city hopes to complete going into its prebudget planning session this month. The session is scheduled for April 25 and 26. As a result of the meeting, and city staff still developing proposals, the April 23 city council meeting was canceled. One of the proposals still being drafted is a compromise site for the Public Works Yard. Mayor Bob Lee said the session would give him and the city council a chance to review scheduled infrastructure improvements. Items such as sewer system projects, future facility planning and reviewing KSA Engineering’s assessment of the electrical system will be addressed. Lee said they would also try and address road repairs where possible. City Councilmember Eric Cherry said he was 100 percent behind on fixing roads but that it was logical sewer work come first. “We need to get our streets in order, but I’ve always said there’s no sense in paving the streets if we’re just going to dig them up and replace sewer lines and water lines,” Cherry said. “You don’t build the house and put then put

“I think there is an outstanding public policy question here that folks are now talking about that at some point needs to be dealt with.”

The Castroville hearse was donated to the Institute of Texan Cultures in 1968 after being used for funerals and providing cover for drinking parties during the Prohibition era. A team of paranormal investigators examined the hearse two years ago and in recordings from the scene picked up what sounded like Alsatian voices. (Photo by James Armstrong)

Wet and wild times in Castroville On anniversary of historic legislation, local historians tell intriguing tales of city during Prohibition era James Armstrong Staff Writer Before Castroville was dry from a lack of water, it was wet with a surplus of alcohol. It was 80 years ago this month that the CullenHarrison Act became law. The amendment to the 1919 Volstead Act took effect April 7, 1933, some two weeks after being signed by President Franklin Roosevelt. The 21st Amendment repealing Prohibition followed seven months later on Dec. 6, 1933. Castro Colonies Heritage Association President Charlie Suehs said, regardless of

what the law was, Castroville and the San Antonio-area carried on drinking. “Prohibition really didn’t apply here,” Suehs said. One common story from that time involves someone passing through Castroville asking where he could find a drink. As told by Les Tschirhart, the story goes like this. “A visitor came to town and cautiously asked a local man where he could find a beer,” Tschirhart said. “The local replies, ‘Well, that spire over there is the Catholic church, the other is the Lutheran church. Those are the only

two places you can’t get a drink.’” Local historian Connie Balmos said bootlegging was common outside of town along the Medina River, where some were caught and served time. One of the city’s most famous antiques from that time was a hearse used to disguise drinking parties. Driven by August L. Tschirhart, the hearse would later be placed on exhibit at the Institute of Texan Cultures. “Well, whenever the feds were coming in for a raid, somebody would warn them,” Balmos said. “They would

put the hearse in front and the guys would wear their black suits and they would let that alone.” The hearse was purchased in 1917, but went of out of use when motorized vehicles became available and moved over to the county yard. The hearse would later be moved to the institute in 1968 where it remains to this day. Suehs said his grandfather, Charles W. Suehs, made trips to Corpus Christi by wagon with his friend Sam Galvan to pick up a shipment See ‘Town’ on Page 2

Alicia Ramirez Staff Writer With just one and a half weeks to go until this year’s Medina County Relay for Life, the 37 teams signed up for the event have already reported over $14,000 raised for the American Cancer Society. For the fourth year in a row, Medina Valley ISD will host the overnight event at the Medina Valley High School track with the kickoff set for 7 p.m. on April 26. The event will last until 6 a.m. the next morning with entertainment, games and other activities taking place throughout the night. “We host Relay for Life because of all of the good that it does and there are so many people with cancer and I think it reaches into every family,” said MVISD Superintendent James Stansberry. “Anything that we can do to help, it’s our responsibility to step up. We’ve got to help the people, our community, our family.” This year, the goal is to raise $110,000, have 55 teams registered and 230 survivors registered for the survivors’ dinner and subsequent lap around the track that begins the 12-hour event. “My favorite part is watching the survivors do their lap and seeing the smiles on their faces and the support that they’re getting from their families,” Stansberry said. “I think that’s great.” Survivors can still register by calling Rita Vance at 830-741-2228, Linda Butler at 830-931-4766 or Barbara See ‘MVISD’ on Page 2

Local artist remembered for her generosity as well as talent James Armstrong Staff Writer Lorna Francis, a lifelong artist known for her paintings of local historic homes, died April 9 at the age of 81. After earning a Bachelor in Fine Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1963 Francis took up teaching. She would later go on to teach at the University of North Texas, Texas Woman’s University and San Antonio College. Francis purchased a historic home in Castroville

in 1983 and converted the barn into a studio. All the while, her home was always active with what friends described as a project in every room. Mellonie Fitzsimon remembers Francis for her artistic talent, radiant smile, and enthusiasm for always being on call to start paintings of local homes. “If anyone called and asked her to [paint], boom she was there,” Fitzsimon said. Fitzsimon also fondly recalls dinner parties with

Francis and neuter, said Frank, her Francis’s husband of talent will 45 years. be missed in The couple Castroville. would often “We had sing duets a lot of fun during the times togethget-together,” McVay ers and said. “I totalFrancis avidly respected ly ensured her artistic they never ability and FRANCIS had the same actually meal twice. envied her Kyle McVay, a city coun- because she was so talentcil member and founder ed.” of Nip and Tuck spay and Both McVay and

Fitzsimon said Francis had a strong green thumb that made her garden a thing of beauty. “She knew more about gardening in her little finger than most people would ever know,” McVay said. “She could just take a stick and make it grow.” Her artwork was not confined to the canvas. Fitzsimon recalled one story where her friend’s gift for painting became a Christmas present she would never forget. Specifically, taking care of

a propane tank Fitzsimon couldn’t stand to look at on her property. “I came home one day, and it was totally, totally painted in camouflage and I thought, ‘What in the world?’” Fitzsimon said. “She had come over here and that was my Christmas present.” Francis is survived by her husband Frank, two sons, four siblings and four grandchildren. Services will be held April 20 at the TondreGuinn Funeral home.

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