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VOLUME 102, ISSUE 38

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Adopt a Family The Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center sponsors a donation program to provide gifts for children in abused homes. To learn more about the program visit UniversityStar.com.

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Custodial positions UTSA rivalry match ends in Bobcat defeat to be outsourced across campus By Megan Carthel News Reporter Texas State-employed custodians will eventually be a thing of the past, as the outsourcing of these positions sweeps across campus. The university started the process of outsourcing its custodial services last summer. Texas State entered a contract, effective June 1, with McLemore Building Maintenance, Inc. McLemore employees will fill the vacancies as university custodians retire or quit over time, said Bill Nance, vice president for Finance and Support Services. Nance said custodial services are already outsourced at the LBJ Student Center, Student Health Center and Student Recreation Center. The idea behind outsourcing Texas State’s custodial services began as an effort to consolidate the individual contracts held by the three buildings. But that idea spread and Nance said all custodial services positions at Texas State will eventually be outsourced. Nance said the outsourcing process may take anywhere from 10 to 15 years, and estimates by 2030 all custodial positions will be outsourced. There are no plans to terminate Texas State-hired custodians to make room for the McLemore employees, Nance said. Kim Graves, director of Custodial Operations, said though there have never been any plans to terminate employees, any custodian who is worried about job security in a “scary economy” should talk to her. Graves said as of Dec. 1, Custodial Operations will employ 88 custodians. She said there is a traditionally high turnover rate in the custodial industry. However, Graves said Custodial Services probably has more longevity than any department on campus, and its staff members take care of Texas State like it is their home. “There’s a difference between just coming in, cleaning a building and leaving versus taking absolute ownership and people trusting you,” Graves said. “Our staff are caretakers. This university is entrusted to them.” However, some Texas State-employed custodians do not feel secure about their positions with the university. In a Nov. 27 University Star Letter to the Editor, Custodian Scott Plough said many of his co-workers are afraid to say anything about their current employment situations. He said the department of Custodial Operations is “constantly” losing good employees because of a low pay and slim chances of being promoted. Nance said the discussion to fully outsource custodial operations has been ongoing for many years. “Everybody in higher education across the country knows it’s less expensive to outsource,” Nance said. “About half of the universities in Texas have their custodial services outsourced.” Texas State’s 2013 budget apportions $164,349 to custodial contracts with McLemore. For the same year, the university has set aside approximately $3.18 million for Texas State custodial operations, including supplies, salaries and benefits. Though the university will save money through its outsourcing of custodial services, custodians working at Texas State in the future under McLemore will receive fewer benefits. Nance said because McLemore is a private company, it does not have a benefits package as extensive as those offered by state entities. As state employees, Texas State custodians receive health insurance, a retirement program, 1.5 percent salary increases every two years and time off to enroll in classes. Nance said workers’ compensation insurance is the biggest difference in the benefits packages offered by Texas State and McLemore. Nance estimates nearly half of the workers’ compensation claims on campus are made by custodians, costing the university approximately $350,000 per year.

Carlos Valdez, Assistant Photo Editor

Shaun Rutherford, senior quarterback, is stopped by UTSA’s defense Nov. 24 at the Alamodome. The Bobcats were defeated with a final score of 38-31.

READ the full story, PAGE 7

Natural spring to be protected by fence By Adrian Omar Ramirez News Reporter Hays County Commissioners voted to choose a company to build a fence for the Jacob’s Well Natural Area during their Nov. 20 meeting. Commissioners unanimously approved a bid from San Antonio-based Pecos Fence, Inc. to build boundary fencing for the Jacob’s Well Natural Area near Wimberley. The boundary fence will include two pedestrian gates and two vehicle gates. It will contain 540 feet of cedar fencing to keep coyotes out of the area, as well as 640 feet of wire fence to keep out other types of game. The game fence within 200 feet of

Cypress Creek will be segmented in order to break away in cases of flooding. The commissioners agreed to award the requested $27,056 to the company, which, among five firms, was the estimated lowest cost for the project. Four other firms from Canyon Lake, Austin and Wimberley submitted bids to build the fence, with estimates ranging from $37,087 to $151,924. Commissioner Will Conley, Precinct 3, said the court made a valid effort to get the bid out to as many Hays County contractors as possible, but the decision was ultimately based on Pecos Fence’s pricing. “(Pecos Fence is) just much lower on their bid to accomplish the job,” Conley

said. “This court has had a big emphasis to do as much work locally as possible, but when you have the type of spread that we have had in these estimates, it’s just not fair to the taxpayers to move in that direction.” Commissioners opened bidding for the project on Sept. 11 and closed the bidding period 16 days later. The item also authorized the county judge to issue the contract documents for the project. However, Judge Bert Cobb remained absent on medical leave. Jacob’s Well Natural Area is a natural spring that flows from one of the largest underwater caves in Texas. The spring opens in the bed of Cypress Creek, just north of Wimberley.

Student uses internship to help the needy By Natalie Berko News Reporter Sara Kiolbassa, applied sociology senior, created a food and donation drive competition at her internship with the marketing department at

Nexus Medical Consulting Company. Kiolbassa must hold an internship position as well as create a special project within that company to satisfy her degree requirements. Lois Hickman, internship coordinator for the Applied Sociology pro-

gram, said the goal of the required internship and special project is to help students apply sociology to an average internship, and come away with a better understanding of professionalism. “We would like (students) to walk away knowing that they are leaving with some skills they can carry on to other careers,” Hickman said. Hickman said Kiolbassa’s project is a good example of how sociology examines groups in society. “Her particular project, making something competitive that would help people who need food, is perfect for us, as well as building the team,” Hickman said. Kiolbassa said she collected 989 pounds of food by the end of the competition, falling 11 pounds short of her 1,000 pound goal. This is because many teams collected pastas and rice that do not weigh much but still manage feed a lot of people, Kiolbassa said. Each donation gathered from her competition was given to the Hays County Food Bank, and was scored based on a system Kiolbassa created. Teams were awarded points based on the types of items received, Kiolbassa said.

Shea Wendlandt, Staff Photographer

READ custodians, PAGE 3

Sara Kiolbassa, applied sociology senior, worked with Nexus Medical Consulting to create a competitive food and donation drive to raise 989 pounds of food in preparation for the holiday season.

READ needy, PAGE 3


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The University Star | Tuesday November 27, 2012 | 3

NEWS

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Council votes on plan for growing city By Karen Zamora News Reporter Future goals and plans for the city were tackled during the San Marcos City Council’s Nov. 20 meeting. After a lengthy discussion, the council unanimously voted to approve the Comprehensive Master Plan’s final goals. The goals will be used to draft a new master plan. The final draft is scheduled for council consideration in 2013. The bigpicture goals intend to shape the city’s approach and give direction to several entities including environmental protection, transportation and housing. “This is a full realignment of city processes,” said Matthew Lewis, director of Development Services. The environmental protection section of the master plan will encourage pub-

lic and private sectors to collaborate to protect water quality and development around the San Marcos River, including the Edwards Aquifer. Councilman John Thomaides, Place 3, said several residents were upset that the plan could reduce the amount of impervious cover allowed over the Edwards Aquifer from the current 20 percent to 10 percent. Thomaides said the 10 percent rule was not part of the original proposal. He said it came from previous deliberations. “It is not happening. It is not part of the plan,” Thomaides said. Several San Marcos residents and business owners, including Commissioner Will Conley, Hays County Precinct 3, and former State Rep. Patrick Rose, spoke during the citizen comment portion of the meeting. Most who spoke shared their concerns with the

custodians

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Curtis McLemore, CEO of the business, said his company’s wage rates and benefits “are within competitive industry standards.” Nance said McLemore has no benefits package equivalent to the teacher retirement offered by Texas State.

Nance said the university is in debt, and outsourcing custodial operations is a way to cut back on spending by approximately 25 percent. Nance said the university will gradually increase its financial savings as more outsourced custodians fill vacancies

master plan. Conley and Rose, along with other business owners in San Marcos, submitted a letter detailing their own goals for the city. Rose said the letter was written to make sure the master plan is a “living document—and not cast in stone,” and will allow for future councilmembers to amend the plan when they see fit. This would also allow the plan to accommodate the growing city, he said. Rose said those who signed the letter do not believe the master plan is an “appropriate place to tighten restrictions west of Interstate 35 when it comes to growth and development.” Conley said he is glad the city is being inclusive to residents and business leaders during the master plan drafting process. Conley said he hopes he can get a

each year. Some of the first buildings to be outsourced were on the outer perimeter of campus, which Graves said is helpful because Texas State-employed custodians can now get to their work positions more quickly.

“seat at the table” and further share his concerns and ideas that would benefit the master plan. Rose said the master plan should encourage Texas State students to live near campus. “It’s better for us because they are driving less on our roads,” Rose said. Rose said he dislikes hearing negative comments about Texas State students, and the city should encourage the community and students to live together harmoniously. The master plan will not go back to the Vision San Marcos committee to develop more specific objectives. Councilmembers asked the committee to read and take the letter into consideration. Thomaides said the goals in the letter presented to council are consistent and similar to the city’s ideas.

Jowers and Strahan Coliseum will be added to the list of outsourced buildings this December. The custodians currently cleaning those buildings will be moved to fill vacancies elsewhere on campus once their positions are outsourced.

Juan Guerra, associate vice president for Facilities, said outsourced custodians currently clean an estimated 160,000 square feet of campus. He said Texas State-employed custodians clean approximately 2.8 million square feet.

There’s a difference between just coming in, cleaning a building and leaving versus taking absolute ownership and people trusting you. Our staff are caretakers. This university is entrusted to them.” — Kim Graves, director of Custodial Operations

needy

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

Kiolbassa said for monetary donations, she gave points double the amount of money given. She said the more expensive items and the priority items were given the most points. Jim Wagner, volunteer coordinator for the Hays County Food Bank, said priority items, which are needed most by the food bank, are typically canned

meats and canned fruits. Wagner said Kiolbassa’s project helped Hays County because the food donations stay within the region. He said the monetary donations help fill holes and replenish items that were not donated during the drive. Besides collecting food and money for the Hays County Food Bank, Kiolbassa said her

project helped co-workers at Nexus Medical Consulting get to know each other outside of their departments. There are about 50 employees working in a number of departments at Nexus, a San Marcos-based company that opened in 2009, she said. Kiolbassa said a challenge she ran into during her project was

motivating people within the company to participate in the food drive. “There were a bunch of frontrunners that were donating so much and then there were people that didn’t seem to want involvement with it, or just kind of ignored the fact that it was there,” Kiolbassa said. “That was just a little disheartening.”

Wagner said the Hays County Food Bank is always looking for volunteers with special talents such as Kiolbassa who can create projects similar to the food drive competition. “Without volunteers, we could not finish the job of feeding the hungry in Hays County, no matter how many donations we got in,” Wagner said.

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4 | Tuesday November 27, 2012 | The University Star

OPINIONS

For more viewpoints or letters to the editor, e-mail staropinions@txstate.edu

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Emmanuel Ramirez, Star Illustrator

Communication vital during construction

C

onstruction on Loop 82, which is set to begin in fall of 2013, will mark the beginning of long-standing benefit for the city and short-term frustration for its residents. It is important that this project be completed as quickly and efficiently as possible. In order for residents to avoid traffic headaches, city officials must make sure locals are well informed. Loop 82, known as Aquarena Springs Drive, will get an overpass designed to help drivers avoid traffic caused by the railroad. The overpass will elevate four lanes that cross the Union Pacific railroad tracks by Bobcat Stadium. Two additional lanes will also widen the street by adding an access road on both sides of the overpass. According to a Nov. 15 University Star article, the construction of these additions will take two years. To ease community complaints and frustrations, the city should be upfront and open about road closures and alternate routes that drivers can take to avoid traffic. Communicating effectively with residents and students will be

key to avoiding incidents and traffic build-up. Students living along Aquarena Springs Drive, such as residents of Bobcat Village and University Springs, should be aware of traffic delays coming to and from their apartment complexes. Awareness may not necessarily help students avoid delays, but it will ease preparation efforts. In the interest of alleviating traffic on Aquarena Springs Drive, the city should station a police officer to direct cars at busy intersections. This will help not only with the traffic from the overpass construction. It will manage the back-up that overflows into Aquarena Springs Drive from development on Sessom Drive. Construction already in progress, such as projects on Sessom Drive, should be finished as quickly as possible to decrease the traffic overflowing onto what will already be a crowded route. Buses, which often impede the flow of traffic on Aquarena Springs Drive, should be rerouted if the construction causes transportation delays. The university should alert students to any bus-route changes caused by construction and be as clear as possible on the reassignments. This overpass, once finished, will

make San Marcos and Texas State more accessible to visitors. For residents, this overpass will provide an alternate route to avoid trains throughout town without congesting main roadways. The project will also create a quicker way for students who live in apartments on the northbound side of Interstate 35 to get to campus. Whether driving or taking the bus, this overpass will keep the flow of traffic consistent by allowing residents to avoid trains and the numerous stoplights that litter Aquarena Springs Drive. The benefits that will accompany the project’s completion will outweigh any potential congestion and frustration from its construction. With cooperative efforts between residents, the city and university administration, the construction can be as painless as possible for all parties involved. The Main Point is the opinion of the newspaper’s editorial board. Columns are the opinions of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the full staff, Texas State University-San Marcos Student Media, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication or Texas State University-San Marcos.

Review board inadequately addresses violations

By Savannah Wingo Assistant Opinions Editor

A

lthough the peer review board may offer valuable experience to students selected to participate, it is largely unnecessary in the greater scheme of residential life. According to a Nov. 6 University Star article, students suspected of violation of residence hall policy could face a board of their peers in order to receive punishment. Potential situations that may be taken to the board include tobacco, alcohol and noise offenses. According to the same article, Sean Fickle, applied sociology sophomore and Bobcat Village resident, was caught violating the campus tobacco ban when he smoked on his apartment porch. Following the first infraction, Fickle received a warning from his resident assistant and director. Fickle

violated the policy once more and skipped his scheduled meeting with the director. As a consequence, cases like his may be referred to the Residential Life Peer Review Board. This panel consists of students who meet bi-weekly to decide punishments for repeat resident offenders. Some students may like the thought of being judged by their peers when facing punishment for a violation of campus policies. However, the idea of potentially facing a jury of peers for smoking on your porch may seem a bit dramatic to others. Instead of calling for the tedium of facing a review board, RAs and directors could be solely in charge of deciding appropriate consequences for resident actions. After all, RAs and, to a lesser degree, directors know the students under their charge the best. Therefore, those groups could better understand the circumstances the policies were violated under more than a board made up of the students’ peers can. If the review board cannot be abolished, students at least need to be more aware of their options to receive fairer judgment in the current system. Students who violate campus policy need to make an educated decision on whether they would want their peers or resident directors and assis-

tants to determine the consequences. This option would additionally preserve the valuable educational experience students on the peer review board can receive from their duties. Furthermore, another solution is for students to vote on a set standard of what they believe are appropriate punishments regarding rule violations. This way, students would feel the punishments imposed on them are more agreeable and absent of potential bias from residential staff or fellow students. The peer review process is largely unnecessary and should be removed from campus. If this is not an appropriate solution for administrators, students need to be wise in choosing their own judges. Students should be more educated on the inner workings of the current peer review board process overall. This knowledge will help them to make proper decisions regarding how their residential violations are handled. If the peer review board remains in action, it can be beneficial as an educational tool for some as long as the majority of students are given adequate control over the fate of their own residential violations.

Many of the custodians agree with Christian Penichet-Paul’s Sept. 20 opinions column, “University growth should signal pay raise for Texas State’s custodians.” We would like to thank him for acknowledging the work we do and suggesting a pay increase is in order. We discussed this article among ourselves and could not find any of the custodians making the median wage of $24,000, let alone anyone making as much as $29,000. The salaries of supervisory and administrative members of the custodial department were included in the calculations. We could find no custodian making much more than $22,000 with 15 to 20 years of services, while most of the custodians with less than 10 years of service make around $16,000 per year. The low starting pay makes it difficult to retain younger workers even with the great benefit package. Our health insurance is excellent, but many of us do not have enough money to take advantage of this benefit after paying our basic living expenses. Unlike the president of the university, the custodians do not have our housing and utilities paid for and must use most, if not all, of our wages to cover these basic living costs. What several of the custodians would like to see occur, besides a livable wage, would be a change in the hiring and promotion system currently in place. At this time, promotions appear to be based on nepotism, cronyism and toadyism. Most of our supervisors and administrative staff, including the trainer, have never worked here as custodians. This results in poor leadership, and the custodians are required to train the trainer and supervisors as well as new custodians. Yet we custodians are not considered qualified for promotion, even those of us that went to school here at the university. Perhaps we could turn hiring and promotions over to the human resources department, or institute a civil service exam that would require promotions based upon experience, knowledge, seniority and education. Currently cronyism, lack of experience and knowledge and a willingness to bully staff seem to be the only qualifications that matter for promotion. Many of the custodians are afraid to say anything about our current situation. The economy is depressed and having a job that does not pay enough to live on is much better than having no job at all. However, our department is constantly losing good employees because of the low pay and near impossibility to advance unless our leaders like us. Being liked should not be the main qualification for advancement, especially at a university. The main qualifications should be based upon education, a strong work ethic, experience, knowledge and seniority in the job. None of these attributes are considered qualifying for advancement at this time. If our leadership was truly qualified, then why have we had some of our buildings short-staffed for periods up to a year and a half? Our leaders can always fill administrative and supervisory positions immediately, but to fill a custodial position can take many months. The Supple Science Building is a prime example. The two custodians there are covering three and a half floors as well as a greenhouse by themselves—and have been doing so for a year and a half at least. The questions I have are as follows: Is the university doing this to save money by not filling the position? Why don’t the custodians get some kind of bonus for attempting to do the work of three people for so many months? This is not the first time this situation has occurred at the Supple Science Building, as I can attest to the same situation happening several years ago. My reward has been to never receive a better job on this campus even though I have more education, seniority, experience and original ideas than most of our current leaders. Also, I would like to point out that if I am so unqualified for advancement, why have I been given several awards for outstanding service as a custodian, and how did I manage to stay in the Honors Program here at Texas State for three years? My degree plan was in Public Administration, yet I have been turned down numerous times for entry-level administrative positions at this university for the last 30 years. Perhaps current students will begin asking similar questions after reading this letter. Sincerely, Scott Plough Custodian

--Savannah Wingo is a mass communication sophomore.

Students would benefit from lease renewal deadline extensions

By Alex Pernice Opinions Columnist

S

tudents should be allotted more time to determine whether or not to renew a lease with a particular apartment complex for the upcoming year. Although it is still early in the school year, many students are already facing something many feel would be better left until next semester—apartment lease renewal deadlines. It can be daunting to decide where to live nearly a year in advance of the upcoming

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academic year. For some students, this may be the first time they will have the opportunity to live off campus. A large amount of apartment and housing communities in San Marcos are geared toward Texas State students. Convenient and comfortable student accommodations are something many have come to expect from these companies. Throughout the city, there are a variety of scheduled deadlines for lease renewals at student housing complexes. However, students may feel pressured by relatively early lease renewal due dates. Aspen Heights requested that students turn in paperwork for renewal by Nov. 15. Copper Beech set their renewal deadline for Nov. 16. However, there are a few complexes, such as The Outpost, that have slightly later lease renewal due dates. The renewal deadline for The Outpost is Jan. 18, which gives students more time to consider living options for the coming year.

Editor In Chief................................................Beth Brown, stareditor@txstate.edu Managing Editor............................Lee Moran, starmanagingeditor@txstate.edu Letters..................................................................................starletters@txstate.edu News Editor...................................................Caitlin Clark, starnews@txstate.edu Trends Editor............................Hollie O’Connor, starentertainment@txstate.edu Opinions Editor..........................................Liza Winkler, staropinion@txstate.edu Photo Editor.......................................Austin Humphreys, starphoto@txstate.edu Sports Editor..........................................Cameron Irvine, starsports@txstate.edu Copy Desk Chief......................Thomas Glasebrook, starcopychief@txstate.edu Web Editor............................................Karyn Kittlitz, starwebeditor@txstate.edu

Due to the financial aspects of apartment leases, it is understandable why these companies are pushing so hard for relatively early renewals. However, these communities are supposed to be for students and should, therefore, better cater to their needs. College apartments tend to be stepping-stones to larger housing commitments after graduation. It should be apparent to local apartment complexes that they are priming current students for future housing decisions. Living off campus means more responsibility, and student-geared housing should aim to aid in that transition. Leasing agents should help guide future housing residents through the process of signing and understanding paperwork. They should also realize that college students deal with financial and academic issues daily. When students have to renew a lease more than six months in advance of the start of a new contract, it may not be the

Multimedia Editor.........................Alex Peña, starmultimediaeditor@txstate.edu Design Editor................................Michelle Wadsworth, stardesign@txstate.edu Account Executive........................................Christina Carr, starad4@txstate.edu Account Executive...................................Casey Neubauer, starad2@txstate.edu Account Executive..................................Michelle Rohmer, starad3@txstate.edu Account Executive.....................................Hannah Wilson, starad5@txstate.edu Media Specialist.............................................Mary Scheske, ms88@txstate.edu Advertising Coordinator...........................Kelsey Nuckolls, starad1@txstate.edu Publications Coordinator.......................................Linda Allen, la06@txstate.edu Publications Director...........................Bob Bajackson, stardirector@txstate.edu

most feasible task. Aspects like financial situations and residential needs can take a sudden turn at any moment, and it is tough to work with relatively early renewal dates. By the spring semester, tenants may not be able to stay true to a document signed months in advance. In addition, combining the stress of schoolwork with lease renewal woes may overwhelm many first-time renters. It would be nice for students to have a bit more leeway when it comes to renewing leases. While apartment and housing complexes are going to continue to compete against one another for business, policies should focus on the needs of students first. A quality living experience is what residents are looking for, and delivering on that is what will make San Marcos apartment complexes profitable. --Alex Pernice is a mass communication sophomore.

The University Star is the student newspaper of Texas State University-San Marcos and is published every other Wednesday in the summer semesters. It is distributed on campus and throughout San Marcos at 8 a.m. on publication days with a distribution of 6,000. Printing and distribution is by the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung. Copyright Tuesday, November 27, 2012. All copy, photographs and graphics appearing in The University Star are the exclusive property of The University Star and may not be reproduced without the expressed written consent of the editor in chief. The first five issues of each edition of the paper are free. Additional copies of the paper can be purchased at 50¢ per copy. Contact The University Star office at (512) 245-3487 to purchase additional copies.

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The University Star | Tuesday November 27, 2012 | 5

TRENDS

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Local program provides gifts, support for abused families By Jordan Gass-Poore’ Trends Reporter The Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center is helping to empower local families who have experienced abuse this holiday season with its annual Adopt-A-Family Program. Beginning in early December, the staff will nominate eligible women in Hays and Caldwell counties to receive donations to buy presents at H-E-B, Target or Wal-Mart for their children and family members. “Many victims of abuse also experience financial abuse, where they don’t have a say in the resources of the household,” said Glenda Munoz, HaysCaldwell Women’s Center administrative coordinator. “This program empowers the survivors of abuse to choose and purchase the items for their children and themselves.”

A committee comprised of women’s center counselors, advocates and interns will review the records of those nominated and the total amount of funding to determine the number of “adopted” families. The initial monetary donations will go toward women who live in the center’s 10-family shelter. Those chosen will be accompanied by a center-trained “elf” to a store with funding valued according to the number of children or non-offending family members in the household. Sara Wood , Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center advocate intern and social work senior, will accompany the adopted families to the store as an “elf.” Wood said she first heard of the Adopt-A-Family Program from Munoz during her internship. “I’m very humbled that I get to do something that is meaningful

to other people,” Wood said. “It means the world to them.” Donations can be used to purchase toys, clothes, diapers and other necessities for the children of the women who rely on the shelter. The center provides donated gift-wrapping supplies in an effort to conserve the women’s funds. Women who do not have children may receive a gift basket with individually selected items by staff at the center. In appreciation of their support, the women’s center will send donors a thank-you note from a recipient and a photo of what their donation helped to purchase. Program donations served 26 families and a total of 99 people last year . Munoz said the people and families chosen to participate in the program each year are usually surprised at the sentiment.

“I can’t say I’m living a dream because it’s more than a dream,” he said. JGP: How did you find out about the Minute Maid Park train engineer job? BV: When I left, back then it was Southwest. I had the intention of coming back to school. I had two internships lined up after the spring of 2000. One of them was with Houston Community Newspapers and the other one was an internship with the Houston Astros. I did the internship with (the newspaper), and then I started my internship with the Astros in the tour department. It was the first year that they had moved into what’s now known as Minute Maid Park. I worked the 2000 season in the tour department and then in 2001, my supervisor took a promotion. He also drove the train that very first year. So, they just started asking around, “Well, anybody want to drive the train?” And I figured, “Hey, I’ll do it. I’ll give it a shot.” And that’s how I ended up on there. Really, (I) was at the right place at the right time.

Bobby Vasquez Minute Maid Park train engineer By Jordan Gass-Poore’ Trends Reporter It was 1981. Bobby Vasquez, former Southwest Texas State student, was about 3 years old and attending his first Houston Astros baseball game with his family—a day that would change his life. Growing up in Deer Park, he would save his allowance and lunch money to buy tickets to see the game in the former Astrodome. Today, Vasquez rides high at about 90 feet above the Astros’ playing field as the Minute Maid Park train engineer. When the Houston Astros hit a homerun, Vasquez and the electric train, a replica of a 19th century locomotive and linked coal tender, chug along 800 feet of track on the west side of the park. The job has provided Vasquez with the opportunity to see a Major League Baseball All-Star game, two National League Championship series, three National League Division Series and the first World Series game played in Texas.

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JGP: What was the training process like? BV: The biggest thing for me is that I’m deathly afraid of heights. (The train) is about 90 feet over the playing field. That’s about 89 feet more than I’m comfortable with. The very first time I actually got up there, I was so scared I was frozen. I couldn’t climb down. It’s funny now, but it

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The Adopt-A-Family Program, organized by the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center, works to provide gifts for families affected by abuse. “It’s just pure gratitude. It’s tears,” she said. “I’ve had to make phone calls to tell them about this,

was very embarrassing at the time. I could not move. That was the big thing as far as training is concerned. I had to learn to get over my fear of heights. JGP: Has there ever been a mishap with a fly ball while you were driving the train? BV: Rickie Weeks of the Milwaukee Brewers actually hit the train on the fly. During a ball game I almost caught the ball. It bounced right out of my hand. The train has been hit a couple of times but nothing has ever affected the game. The train is high enough up and far enough back that if (the ball) gets up there, it’s a home run. JGP: What were your parents’ first reactions when you told them you got the job? BV: My mom was really excited. My dad was (not so much). When I got into my teen years and was able to drive, I would take my extra money from work and go to Astros games on my own. My dad would always get upset with me. He would say,

and they’re just overcome with emotion that we would do that for them.”

“The Astros don’t put clothes on your back. They don’t put food on your table,” trying to keep me from what he thought was spending my money frivolously. So, when I got the internship I said, “Hey, who’s puttin’ food on my table and clothes on my back?” He was really excited after that. He came around and became an Astros fan, and he started going to more games and paying more attention to what was going on. So, maybe that was the little push that he needed. JGP: What have been some of the crowd reactions to the train? Have people recognized you when you are not in the train? BV: It’s really strange because I’m just a regular guy. I’m an Astros fan just like they are. When I’m walking through the concourses and they want to shake my hand or they want to take a picture with me or they want my autograph? I can’t even describe how humbling that is. At the end of the day, I’m just an Astros fan that got really, really lucky.

Photo courtesy of Jaclyn Borowski


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The University Star | Tuesday November 27, 2012 | 7

SPORTS

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FOOTBALL

Fifth straight loss knocks Bobcats down to 3-8

By Jordan Brewer Assistant Sports Editor The Bobcats found themselves chasing the Roadrunners’ from the opening kickoff to the final minutes of a 38-31 loss to the University of Texas-San Antonio, dropping their fifth straight game. Midway through the first quarter in front of 39,032 fans at the Alamodome, up 3-0, UTSA punt returner Kenny Harrison got the Roadrunners going. Harrison returned a 59yard punt by kicker Will Johnson and ran 79 yards untouched, right through the middle of the Bobcats’ coverage team. The move pushed UTSA’s early edge to a 10-0 lead. UTSA never trailed. The Roadrunners accounted for 18 plays of more than 10 yards each. Additionally, the team had eight plays of more than 20 yards and four going for 30 in its third conference win of the season. “They played well on offense,” said Coach Dennis Franchione. “The punt return hurt early in the game and offensively we just couldn’t quite keep up with them. Our defense hasn’t made many stops all year. Tonight wasn’t the first time.” On just the second play of the second half with the Bobcats trailing by 10, senior quarterback Shaun Rutherford took a hard hit from a UTSA defender and fumbled the ball away. It was the second straight game Texas State turned the ball over in the third quarter, in which they have been outscored 93-51. “Being a senior and not being able to play them again in life, it’s something I’m just going to have to live with now,” Rutherford said. “It will be something that will be in the back of our minds. Hopefully we come out against

New Mexico State and put up a good game and send our seniors out right.” Johnson missed a 34-yard field goal in the second quarter, which would have made the score 17-10 going into halftime. A fumble by kick returner Michael Gilmore in the fourth quarter was the nail in the coffin for the Bobcats. After surrendering a touchdown the series before, the fumble put UTSA up by two scores. Texas State was able to bounce back from giving up big plays and brought the game back within reach by shrinking the 14-point lead down to just seven late in the fourth. UTSA’s 13 penalties for 142 yards helped keep Texas State’s hopes alive throughout the afternoon. They had six 15-yard personal foul calls and were flagged numerous times for pass interference. Of the penalties, four led to points for the Bobcats, three of which were touchdowns. UTSA’s offense put up nearly 500 yards of total offense, 299 on the ground. The Bobcats missed multiple opportunities for tackles when running back Evans Okotcha and other Roadrunner skill players touched the ball on reverses and sweeps. The Bobcats’ running game was nowhere to be found, accounting for 68 yards or 2.1 yards per carry. Rutherford rushed for 42 yards and a touchdown. Senior running back Marcus Curry and sophomore running back Terrence Franks combined for just 21 yards on 13 carries. The Roadrunners had four players rush for more yards than the Bobcats’ starting running back, including quarterback Eric Soza. The quarterback had 97 yards on nine carries. Rutherford had 324 yards passing and completed almost 74 percent of his throws.

Carlos Valdez, Assistant Photo Editor

Brandon Smith, freshman wide receiver, is tackled Nov. 26 by the Roadrunner defense at the Alamodome. Texas State was defeated 38-31. Junior wide receiver Isaiah Battle had seven urday against the 1-10 New Mexico State Unicatches for 119 yards, including his 57-yard versity Aggies. touchdown. The defense helped propel the “Every loss hurts, and as you build on lossteam into striking distance with two timely es it just gets worse and worse. It hurts more interceptions by Jamie Clavell-Head and Dar- and more but you can’t dwell on it. You got to ryl Morris in the second half. come back and get ready for the next game,” “We knew we were going to have to get Battle said. turnovers to win the game but it wasn’t Twitter: @JBrewer32 enough,” Morris said. “This was an important game to everybody: our fans, their fans, their team, our team. It’s definitely a tough Next Game: Vs. New Mexico State loss but we can’t hang our heads low.” Saturday December 1, 3:00 p.m. Battle said he wants the streak to end Sat-

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Defeat of TCU ‘a great win for Texas State’

By Odus Evbagharu Sports Reporter Texas State used a 14-3 run to start the second half against Texas Christian University in a 91-80 win, marking the Bobcats’ first win against a Big 12 opponent in seven years.

“I keep telling everyone it wasn’t sweet for just the team, but a great win for Texas State period,” said Coach Zenerae Antoine. “Any time we have the opportunity to beat a team within our own state at the (Bowl Championship Series) level it’s always fun, and I feel like everyone shares in those kinds of victories.”

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The Bobcats came out using fast-paced style offense to their advantage, starting the game on an 18-7 run. Texas State would later stretch its lead 22-10, before the Horned Frogs climbed their way back to end the first half down just four, 41-37. TCU started the game by making a 3-pointer, but made just two of its next 12 from behind the three-point line. The Horned Frogs finished the game shooting 20 percent from beyond the arc. Coming out of halftime, senior guard Diamond Ford and junior forward Ashley Ezeh combined to score the first 14 points for Texas State. This led the way to a 14-3 run to start the second half, and the Bobcats never looked back. The run pushed the lead to 55-41 and was ultimately a difference maker for Ford and her teammates. “I feel like Diamond and I benefit from each other,” Ezeh said. “With Diamond scoring, that leads to me scoring. Diamond had seven assists. It’s like she is creating other opportunities for other people to score as well, and it forces the flow of scoring and gives others the opportunity to score as well.” Ezeh finished with a game-high 26 points and 11 rebounds, giving the forward her

second double-double of the season. Under Antoine, the Bobcats are 9-0 when Ezeh is able to reach the double-double mark. “I think we help our team a lot,” Ford said about her and Ezeh’s play this season. “If we’re going in the flow and then when we get other people around us going, it’s good for our team and helps us out offensively.” Ford shot 8-23 from the field and ended the game with 23 points and seven assists. The duo of Ezeh and Ford accounted for 54 percent of the team’s season-high 91 points scored Sunday afternoon. “From a planning stand point for the opponents, it just puts stress on them because we have an inside and outside presence that they have to guard against,” Antoine said. “For the team, the nice thing is that it takes pressure off of certain positions when you have balance like that, which is always nice for the team.” The Bobcats out-rebounded TCU 53-52, the first time Texas State has done so this year. The women are now 10-0 when they score 80 or more points under Antoine and are 16-2 when they score 70 or more. Twitter: @odus_Outputs

Men’s basketball was caught frozen during the first two games of the Great Alaska Shootout, but fought back against a familiar foe Saturday with an 81-69 victory over the University of California-Riverside. For the complete recap, scan here or visit UniversityStar.com.


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