Fire Department Promotes 19 Firefighters

The Georgetown Fire Department promoted 19 firefighters on Friday in a ceremony at Fire Station 5. Those promoted moved into a range of positions including firefighter, driver engineer, lieutenant, captain, battalion chief, and assistant chief. Fire Chief John Sullivan and Assistant Chief Clay Shell conducted the ceremony.

Jeff Davis was promoted from battalion chief to assistant chief. Hank Jones and Craig Krienke were promoted from captain to battalion chief. Joseph Finley, Robert Gordon, Bill Sherek, and Craig Sossner were promoted from lieutenant to captain. Gary Beyers, Jonathan Gilliam, TC Ryan, Michael Vaughn, and Travis Vinton were promoted from driver engineer to lieutenant. Daniel Bilbrey, Keith Hehmann, Garey Jackson, Mark Randall, and Wesley Seigmund were promoted from firefighter to driver engineer. Eric Lambert and James Ledbetter were promoted to firefighter after completing a year of probationary status.

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The Georgetown Fire Department Honor Guard presented the colors at the event and the Georgetown Fire Department Pipes and Drums Band performed.

Fire and Police Depts Recognize Citizen Responders

Two citizen responders were recently recognized for their actions that may have helped saved a life after a vehicle collision earlier this year. Billy Ayers, Jr. and his father Billy Ayers were honored at the Georgetown City Council meeting last Tuesday. The Ayers’ actions in responding to an incident during an ice storm were commended by the Georgetown Fire Department and the Georgetown Police Department.

On the evening of January 23, Walburg-area resident Tim Kubatzky was driving on the 130 Toll Road when he hit a patch of ice on the County Road 104 Bridge. His car fishtailed, then skidded off the road and fell 20 feet, landing upside down below the bridge.

Billy Ayers, Jr. was driving on CR 104 a short time later and happened to see the car near the side of the road. Ayers went to check on the car and found Kubatzky, who was injured and trapped inside. The roof of the car was smashed in due to the impact of the wreck, which prevented the doors from opening.

Ayers immediately called 911. He also called his father Billy Ayers to come and assist with tools in order to try to free Kubatzky. The Ayers tried, but were not successful in freeing Kubatzky from the car.

Unfortunately because of the ice storm, emergency responders were overwhelmed with calls and were responding to more than 50 car wrecks at that time. Billy Ayers, Jr. and his father Billy Ayers stayed with Kubatzky in sub-freezing temperatures and contacted 911 multiple times until the Georgetown Fire Department and Police Department arrived. Firefighters were able to free Kubatzky and he was transported to the hospital.

Though Kubatzky sustained multiple serious injuries, he has fully recovered from the accident and joined his wife last week at the council meeting to thank the Ayers, as well as first responders who came to the scene.

In a message to the Fire Department, Tim Kubatzky’s wife Katherine said, “I’m confident that if it wasn’t for Billy and his father’s quick actions and their persistence in getting emergency personnel to Tim, we would have had a very different outcome.”

Fire Chief John Sullivan provided some context at the meeting in thanking the Ayers for their actions. “We think that government is here to protect us,” said Sullivan. “We’re here, but sometimes we get tapped, and that was an evening we got tapped as a system. We had over 50 motor vehicle collisions happening at a short time, all the resources were committed, and we needed community involvement. We deeply appreciate the Ayers’ selfless service.”

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Pictured in the photo (left to right) are Fire Chief John Sullivan, Katherine Kubatzky, Billy Ayers, Jr., Billy Ayers, Tim Kubatzky, and Police Chief Wayne Nero.

Texas State MBAs Assist City on Projects

Four teams of students in the Master of Business Administration program at Texas State University put their business analysis skills to work this spring in Georgetown. The teams worked on four projects for the City of Georgetown as part of the capstone course for their MBA degrees.

Texas St MBA group 1b-640Rather than a typical business school scenario that may involve a large corporation in another city, these projects were focused on involvement in the local community says Matt Painter, MBA program director for the McCoy College of Business Administration at Texas State.

“All the students working with the City were enrolled in the evening MBA program at our Round Rock campus,” says Painter, who lives in Georgetown. “These students are working professionals, most in their 30s, working a full-time job during the day and then taking graduate courses in the evenings.”

The Texas State collaboration with the City started in October when Painter and Dennis Smart, a business professor in the MBA program, met with City Manager Paul Brandenburg to identify potential projects. After getting ideas from City staff, Brandenburg worked with the students who started the projects in January. (Two of the groups are pictured.)

Texas St MBA group 2b-640One group looked at the problem of identity theft and fraud among residents of Sun City and provided a number of recommendations to help prevent these crimes. A second group conducted a downtown business survey of Georgetown and surveyed eight comparable cities to develop strategies to for special events, marketing, and the use of public areas.

The third group used modeling projections to determine the effects of different options for landscaping and water use rules. A fourth group looked at the economic impact of development in the planned South Georgetown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone along Westinghouse Road, including a planned Bass Pro Shop that borders the area.

Each project was completed in the spring semester and culminated two weeks ago when the students presented their projects to fellow students, professors, and City staff. The students graduated from the MBA program on May 8.

Reports from each group to the respective City departments contain practical recommendations, analysis, and background for City staff. These reports have practical value to the City at zero cost to taxpayers.

Weight Limit Set for Austin Avenue Bridges

weight sign Austin Ave South San-450A weight limit has been placed on the Austin Avenue bridges over the two forks of the San Gabriel River in Georgetown.

The weight limit went into effect last week after a recent preliminary examination of the bridges by engineers from the Texas Department of Transportation. Signs listing the weight limits have been placed at both bridges.

The maximum gross weight for each bridge is 48,000 pounds or 24 tons. The weight limit for a tandem axle on a vehicle is 21,000 pounds or 10.5 tons. These weight limits apply to 18-wheel semi-trucks or other heavy trucks, but would not affect passenger vehicles or smaller trucks.

The City of Georgetown and TXDOT are evaluating any future actions that may be needed in order to insure the integrity and useful life of the bridges.

Dale Ross Elected Mayor of Georgetown

Updated: A special City Council meeting to canvass the vote will be held on Tuesday, May 20 starting at 5:30 p.m. Dale Ross will be sworn in as mayor and Keith Brainard and Rachael Jonrowe will be sworn in as council members for District 2 and District 6, respectively. The special meeting will be at the Council Chamber and Courts Building, 101 E. Seventh Street.

The Williamson County Elections office has posted the final unofficial results from today’s election for Georgetown mayor.

Mayoral Election Results:

Votes Percent
Marlene McMichael 2,122 44.80
Dale Ross 2,615 55.20

For complete May 10 election results, go to the Williamson County Elections website at wilco.org/elections.

The Georgetown mayoral election results will be canvassed by the City Council at a special meeting on May 20 or May 21. The date of the canvass will be determined this week. At that meeting, Dale Ross will be sworn in and a mayor pro-tem will be elected by the Council.

Keith Brainard and Rachael Jonrowe also will be sworn in at the canvassing meeting to serve as Council Members for District 2 and District 6, respectively. Both incumbents were unopposed.

The vote canvassing meeting will be held at the Council Chamber and Courts Building at 101 E. Seventh Street.

Granny Basketball Game Photos

sign for game-400The Texas Fire Ants from Georgetown played the Louisiana Crushers in the first official Granny Basketball game to be played in Texas. The two teams played Saturday afternoon at the Georgetown Recreation Center. The Louisiana Crushers drove nearly six hours from their home in DeRidder, Louisiana for the game.

Saturday’s game in Georgetown was the first Texas match-up in the Granny Basketball League, which started in Iowa nearly 10 years ago. The league is a revival of the six-on-six girls basketball popular in Iowa from the 1920s through the 1970s. More than 200 women over 55 now play in the senior league with 25 teams in five states in the U.S.

The league plays by the 1920s rules for girls basketball. Players may only dribble twice before passing or shooting.

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Here the women on the Fire Ants team in white blouses work the ball against the Crushers, in the purple vests.

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Running is not allowed in the game. Passing to an open player is a key element of the game.

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Jumping also is not allowed. The players must stay in the floor when shooting.

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Barb McPherson, who started the Granny Basketball League in 2005, served as the referee for the game. She travelled from her home town in Iowa to be here for the first Granny Basketball game in Texas. McPherson’s sister Linda Toerper lives here in Georgetown and started the Texas Fire Ants team.

Joy of Six

All the rules are covered in detail in the official rules handbook for the game called the Joy of Six.

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The Crushers (above), who have been playing together for seven years, won the game against the novice Fire Ants Team. But all the women on both teams seemed to have a great time playing. There were smiles and hugs among all the players at the end of the game.

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The Fire Ants (above) now have 10 women on the roster ranging in age from 55 to 77. They work on skills or scrimmage each Wednesday at the Georgetown Recreation Center.

The Fire Ants plan to compete in the Granny Basketball League national tournament in Oklahoma City on July 12.

For information on how to get involved with the Granny Basketball team at the Georgetown Recreation Center, contact Robert Staton, senior recreation program coordinator for the City of Georgetown parks and recreation department at (512) 930-1367 or robert.staton@georgetown.org.

Landscape and Irrigation Rules for New Homes to Save Water

Update: The City Council approved the landscaping and irrigation ordinance 7-0 on second and final reading at their meeting this evening. It goes into effect for new homes on June 1.

Despite the fact that Lake Georgetown is 14 feet below the full level at a time of year when it is typically full, the overall water supply picture for Georgetown is not dire. The water in Lake Georgetown, Lake Stillhouse Hollow, and the available groundwater can meet the projected demand for Georgetown in the coming years.

water spray-1000However, with water use at an average of 218 gallons per person per day in Georgetown, the water supply is not sufficient for a projected future population of 200,000. To accommodate this growth, the water supply will need to be increased or demand must be reduced. Given the cost and challenges of acquiring new sources of water, the City is emphasizing measures to conserve the existing water supply.

With a proposed ordinance that the City Council will consider this evening, the City aims to move closer to the goal of lowering the per capita daily water use to 160 gallons. Given that 75 percent of water use in the warmest summer months is used for watering lawns, the ordinance focuses on limiting future grass watering demand for new homes. The rules do not apply to current homes or residences.

The proposed ordinance contains three key elements for new home construction.

First, the irrigated turf area of the lawn would be limited to 2.5 times the foundation footprint area of the house or 10,000 square feet, whichever is less. The limit does not apply to non-irrigated space such as natural areas or landscaped areas such as flower beds that are irrigated with drip irrigation or bubblers. The limitation does not affect the overall size of a residential yard.

Second, when a lot is developed, the irrigated turf area would be required to have 6 inches of soil. The depth of the soil allows for less frequent watering of turf grass and reduces runoff. Areas of a residential lot left in its natural state would be exempt from the soil depth requirement.

Third, turf grass should be a variety that is dormant in the hot summer months and has less need for water. Turf grasses such as Saint Augustine that require more water would only be used in shady areas of a lawn.

Other elements of the ordinance include requirements for rain sensors and soil moisture sensors on irrigations systems and the placement of irrigation spray heads at least four inches from paved surfaces to reduce overspray.

The new rules will apply to new houses served by the City of Georgetown water utility including those in the city limits, in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, and outside the ETJ.

The ordinance is part of an effort to meet a May 1 deadline to submit a water conservation plan to the Texas Water Development Board and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

If the Georgetown City Council approves the second and final reading of the landscaping and irrigation ordinance on Tuesday, the council will set an effective date. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at the Council Chamber and Courts Building, 101 E. Seventh Street.

City Annual Report Available

annual report 2012-2013 cover-400The City of Georgetown Annual Report for the 2013 fiscal year is now available. The report includes highlights of projects, initiatives, and financial information for the 2012 – 2013 fiscal year that started on October 1, 2012 and ended on September 30, 2013.

The 18-page annual report covers the five focus areas that define the City of Excellence strategic goal: Economic Development, Public Safety, Signature Destination, Transportation, and Utilities. A final section includes financial information about the City of Georgetown.

The report is available online at files.georgetown.org/annualreport.

A limited number of free printed copies of the annual report are available at the Georgetown Public Library, 402 W. Eighth Street.

Electronic Cigarettes Added to Smoking Prohibitions

Electronic cigarettes have been added to City of Georgetown rules that prohibit smoking in indoor public places and businesses. The ordinance also prohibits the sale of electronic cigarettes to persons under 18 or their sale in vending machines. The City Council approved the second and final reading of the revised smoking ordinance at their regular meeting on Tuesday. The ordinance takes effect April 23.

In the City Council deliberations about the ordinance, concerns were raised about the health effects of e-cigarettes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not fully studied e-cigarettes, so potential health risks are undetermined. According to an FDA consumer statement in 2009, testing of cartridges from two leading brands of e-cigarettes detected diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in antifreeze. “Several other samples were found to contain carcinogens,” according to the statement.

The new Georgetown ordinance adds electronic cigarettes, electronic vaping devices, liquid nicotine, and other electronic nicotine delivery devices to the existing smoking ordinance. The use of electronic cigarettes and other electronic vaping devices is now prohibited in restaurants, bars, retail stores, taxis, buses, government buildings, art galleries, health care facilities, hotels, school buildings and property, and theaters in Georgetown. Other places are specified in the ordinance.

The ordinance also prohibits persons under the age of 18 from possessing or purchasing e-cigarettes. While state law prohibits the sale of tobacco products to minors, state law does not yet address e-cigarettes. The ordinance also prohibits vending machine sales of e-cigarettes since those are not yet covered by state law. The ordinance also prevents e-cigarettes from being directly accessible to minors on a retail countertop.

Exemptions to the smoking ordinance include private membership clubs, private residences, and private vehicles.

Utility Informs Spanish Speakers to Prevent Phone Scam

Georgetown Utility Systems is teaming with other utilities in Central Texas to alert customers of a phone scam targeting Hispanic businesses. While Georgetown utility employees have not received recent reports of scam attempts, the cooperative campaign to reach out to Spanish-speaking customers is an effort to prevent future fraud attempts.

In the phone scam reported last summer, callers would identify themselves as utility employees and ask customers to pay past due balances over the phone via “untraceable” credit cards purchased at local stores.

In an effort to raise awareness of these phone scams and how to avoid them, Georgetown Utility Systems is joining with other municipal utilities to inform the Hispanic community. Austin Energy, New Braunfels Utilities, City of San Marcos, and Georgetown Utility Systems are coordinating on a series of Spanish-language public service announcements that will air on KAKW Univision Austin and KTFO UniMas television stations and the 104.3 FM La Jefa Austin radio station. The public service announcements will air for 10 weeks starting this week.

“Georgetown Utility Systems is concerned any time our customers are negatively impacted by the dishonest practices of scammers in the community and want to increase awareness of the issue,” says Leticia Zavala, customer care manager for Georgetown Utility Systems. “We will never call you demanding money or come to your home or business demanding payment. We will only call customers to advise them of a past-due balance.”

Zavala says that if a bill payment is overdue, there is a three-step notification process:

First, late notices are mailed to customers with unpaid balances the day after the billing due date.

Second, an automated phone call is provided to the phone number on the account two weeks after the billing due date.

Third, a second automated phone call is provided to the phone number on the account three weeks after the billing due date.

It is strictly against policy for any customer service representative to accept payment in the field.

Georgetown Utility Systems will never call customers and demand payments over the phone.

If customers have questions about a utility bill, call the Customer Care Center at (512) 930-3640 before giving out financial information regarding your utility account.