Marker at Cemetery Records Black History

entry sign 1-1000Across the highway from the largest shopping center in Georgetown and tucked behind two new restaurants is a cemetery that is older than the Williamson County Courthouse. Established in 1906, the Citizen’s Memorial Garden Cemetery on Memorial Drive is the final resting place for generations of African American residents of Georgetown. (Click on photos for larger versions.)

Early burials at the cemetery were likely those of former slaves. In addition to African American residents, a section on the western edge of the cemetery contains plots for residents who were Hispanic.

The seven-acre cemetery seems to be mostly empty with 306 headstones or markers scattered throughout a fenced field. However, a 2013 study revealed the locations of at least 511 unmarked graves at the cemetery.

cemetery marker sign 1000Surveyors with Horizon Environmental Services from Austin identified the unmarked graves as depressions in the ground surface or as small earthen mounds. Many more unmarked graves are likely at the cemetery, according to the study.

Graves that are unmarked may once have had metal plaques provided by funeral homes which have since deteriorated or were removed. Other unmarked graves could have once been indicated with stones or concrete markers that were not inscribed, or on which lettering has weathered away.

The survey of the Citizen’s Memorial Garden Cemetery and an interpretive sign were funded by a $7,000 grant from the Texas Historical Commission and a $7,000 match from the City of Georgetown. The interpretive sign provides historical information about the cemetery and also shows the numbered plots of all marked graves with a listing of names of those identified graves. In addition, white squares on map of the cemetery show the locations of unmarked graves.

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Pictured in the photo (left to right) are Kimberly Garrett, Laurie Brewer, Dorris Ross, Mary Faulkner, Paulette Taylor, Matt Synatschk, Beatrice Miller, Gertrude Saterfield, and Birdie Shanklin. Ross, Faulkner, Taylor, Miller, Saterfield, and Shanklin each have relatives buried at the cemetery. Garrett is director of parks and recreation for the City, Brewer is assistant city manager, and Synatschk is historic planner for the City.

Public Safety Operations and Training Center: Photos

PSOTC entry1b-1000Members of the local media got a chance to see the new Public Safety Operations and Training Center on Friday. (Click on photos to see larger versions.)

The Georgetown Police Department and Georgetown Fire Department Administration move to the new Public Safety Operations and Training Center on Monday, February 2. The center is located at 3500 DB Wood Road next to Fire Station 5.

The new facility is the home for the Georgetown Police Department and Georgetown Fire Department Administration. Police Department offices, including Code Enforcement, as well as Fire Department Administrative offices, including Fire and Life Safety and Fire Plans Review, will move to the new facility.

EOC 1-1000

Capt. Roland Waits describes the City’s new primary Emergency Operations Center located in the center. City management and key departments like Fire, Police, and Transportation will monitor emergencies and coordinate an integrated response from the EOC. The new center is engineered to withstand a strike from an F-3 tornado with 165 mile-per-hour winds.

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This briefing room is where officers in the field operations bureau of the police department can gather to learn information prior to a new 12-hour shift.

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A crime lab in the center contains vented hoods that allow crime scene technicians to use chemicals safely while processing evidence.

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Small signs with the Georgetown Police Department insignia and the phrase “Be the Standard” can be found throughout police offices in the new center.

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Capt. Waits says the weight and fitness room is one of the most highly-anticipated features of the new facility among the officers. The former Police Department at 809 MLK, Jr. Street had no fitness or weight training room.

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A defensive tactics room with padded mats on the walls and floors will allow officers to learn and practice defensive techniques that are used when dealing with aggressive individuals.

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Biometric access devices control entry to highly-sensitive areas such as rooms with evidence or weapons.

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Lockers in the new facility have locked compartments for weapons and other compartments for vests and boots. The new men’s and women’s locker rooms are among the biggest improvements for officers at the new facility. The small lockers in the cramped space at 809 MLK, Jr. Street cannot fit an officer’s modern equipment.

training bay-1000

This training bay inside the tactical and training building is one of the innovations of the new center. Movable partitions can be set up in the bay in order to conduct “reality-based training” in which officers are confronted with scenarios in which they must react. Officers can learn concepts and ideas in classrooms at the training building, and then go to the training bay where skills and tactics are put into practice using non-lethal ammunition similar to paintball rounds. Catwalks above the maze of partitions will allow training officers to evaluate and videorecord training events. These videos can be reviewed as a learning tool in the training process.

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Police Chief Wayne Nero shows a door in the training bay on which officers can practice breaching techniques. Officers are trained to use various breaching tools on the doors. Nero says that kicking in a door, as seen in TV shows, often results in injuries in real-life policing.

Georgetown voters approved funding for the facility in a bond election in 2011.

A public open house for the Public Safety Operations and Training Center will be held in March. Details will be announced in February.

Public Safety Operations and Training Center Move-in Feb. 2

PSOTC entry1b-1000The Georgetown Police Department and Georgetown Fire Department Administration move to the new Public Safety Operations and Training Center on February 2. The center is located at 3500 DB Wood Road next to Fire Station 5.

The new facility is the home for the Georgetown Police Department and Georgetown Fire Department Administration. Police Department offices, including Code Enforcement, as well as Fire Department Administrative offices, including Fire and Life Safety and Fire Plans Review, will move to the new facility.

In addition to office and indoor training areas in the 76,204 square-foot main building, the center also includes a driving track and a training building with 3,897 square feet of office and outdoor classroom space and a 12,800 square-foot unfinished training bay with movable partitions and observation catwalks.

Georgetown voters approved funding for the facility in a bond election in 2011.

A public open house for the Public Safety Operations and Training Center will be held in March. Details will be announced in February.

Filing Period for Council Election Starts Jan. 28

The filing period starts today for candidates seeking one of two places on the Georgetown City Council. The May 9 election includes races for City Council candidates from District 1 and District 5. The last day to file for a place on the ballot is February 27.

A packet of information for prospective candidates is available at City Hall at 113 E. Eighth Street. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Patty Eason is the current City Council member for District 1 and Jerry Hammerlun is the City Council member for District 5. Both have announced that they do not plan to seek re-election.

To see maps of council districts, go to files.georgetown.org/council-district-maps.

Georgetown City Council members serve three-year terms representing one of seven single-member districts. A candidate for city council or mayor must be 21 years of age and a citizen and qualified voter of the state of Texas and the City of Georgetown. Candidates for council district seats must be a resident of the council district the member would be representing for a period of twelve months as of the last legal date for filing.

The last day to register to vote in the May election is April 9.

Early in-person voting will be April 27 through May 5. In the Early Voting period, voters may cast ballots at any Early Voting location in Williamson County.

On Election Day, voters may cast ballots at any vote center location in Williamson County. Polling places, dates, and times are listed at wilco.org/elections.

For details about the city election, contact Jessica Brettle, city secretary for the City of Georgetown, at Jessica.Brettle@georgetown.org or (512) 930-3652.

Breakfast Bites on Feb. 11: Show Me the Money

The Breakfast Bites panel on February 11 will discuss crowd-funding strategies for small businesses. Breakfast Bites is a quarterly business development event by the Georgetown Main Street Program.

The February 11 panel will include three professionals, each with a unique perspective on crowd-funding for small businesses. Mark Thomas, economic development director for the City of Georgetown, will serve as moderator. Panelists include these business professionals:

Hall Martin is the founder and CEO of Texas Entrepreneur Networks, the largest crowd-funding portal in Texas. To date the TEN Funding Program has helped entrepreneurs raise more than $141 million for startup and growth companies. Martin also is the creator of WilcoFundingPortal.com, a local crowd-funding resource.

Karen Soeffker is the owner of All Things Kids with locations in Georgetown and at The Domain in Austin. Karen and Christian Soeffker are in the process of expanding their business to new locations and are looking for investors and partners via non-traditional financing to help them grow rapidly.

Bradley Farrell is the creator of StitZii, a new product to absorb grease, fats, oils, and carbohydrates from prepared foods like pizza. Farrell has received crowd-funding for StitZii through WilcoFundingPortal.com.

The event on Wednesday, February 11 is from 8:30 to 9:50 a.m. in the Hewlett Room at the Georgetown Public Library, 402 W. Eighth Street. Breakfast snacks, coffee, and drinks will be provided. Networking starts at 8 a.m.

Attendees should pre-register by contacting Shelly Hargrove, Main Street manager, by 5 p.m. on Monday, February 9 at shelly.hargrove@georgetown.org or (512) 930-2027. Main Street is a program of the City of Georgetown Downtown and Community Services Department.

Cupid’s Chase 5k and Fun Run Feb. 7

Register now for the 20th annual Cupid’s Chase 5k and Fun Run on Saturday, February 7. The chip-timed 5k run/walk begins at 8 a.m. in downtown Georgetown at Seventh and Main streets and ends at the Bark Park on Holly Street. (A shuttle will take you back to the starting line.)

Through February 4, the registration cost is $22 per person for all age groups. Registration at packet pickup and race day is $25 per person for all age groups.

The Kids Fun Run for children age 8 or younger starts at 7:30 a.m. The course is a loop around the Courthouse. Registration is $10 on or before February 4 and $15 on race day. T-shirts are not guaranteed if you register on race day.

Participants receive a Cupid’s Chase Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em T-shirt, while supplies last. Gus’s Drug is sponsoring a costume contest for Cupid’s Chase for the best three cupid-related costumes. Check in at the Gus’s Drug table at the finish line for the costume contest. Dogs on a leash are always welcome on the Cupid’s Chase course.

Awards will be presented to the top three overall male and female winners and the overall male and female masters winners as well as the top three male and female finishers in each age division. Awards also will be presented to the top overall male and female City of Georgetown employee. If you are a City of Georgetown employee, be sure to indicate so when you register.

Race results will be posted after the race at cupid.georgetown.org.

In case of bad weather on race day, check facebook.com/CityofGeorgetown, facebook.com/LivePlayGeorgetown, and parks.georgetown.org for updates. There are no refunds or transfers for participants.

Cupid’s Chase is sponsored by Georgetown Parks and Recreation. Event proceeds help to fund projects at Georgetown parks. To register online or for details, go to cupid.georgetown.org.

 

Tax Return Help Starts Jan. 28

Two volunteer groups are offering free assistance in preparing tax returns during tax season. The volunteer, free tax help starts next week and continues through the filing deadline for federal returns on April 15.

Public Library

From January 31 through April 15, volunteers will offer free and confidential tax preparation assistance at the Georgetown Public Library at 402 W. Eighth Street at these times:

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Wednesdays, 12 to 4 p.m.
Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Volunteers will help prepare e-file or mail-in returns, prior year returns, amended returns, or extensions and help you find answers to tax questions. Bring a copy of your return from last year if possible since, for e-filers, the AGI number (bottom line on front of 1040/A/EZ) is your verification PIN for this year. This volunteer service is provided without regard to income level. Appointments are on a first-come, first-served basis.

Williamson County Financial Stability Coalition

Starting on January 28, free and confidential tax preparation help is available from IRS-certified preparers to those who qualify. No appointment is necessary.

The Williamson County Financial Stability Coalition, a community-wide effort led by United Way of Williamson County, is sponsoring the assistance. Volunteers will be available to the elderly and households earning less than $53,000 in 2014 across Williamson County. IRS-certified volunteers will be available at the sites to help individuals and families file their 2014 federal income tax returns.

Taxpayers are eligible to have their tax returns filed at no charge and specially-trained volunteers will assist in identifying tax credits available in order to maximize each person’s federal tax refund. The free tax sites will serve those whose income was less than $53,000 in 2014.

These sites are offered in Georgetown:

The Caring Place Annex, 2001 Railroad Street
January 28 through April 15
Wednesdays from 12 to 8:30 p.m.
Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sun City Cowan Creek Amenity Center, 1433 Cool Spring Way
January 30 through April 10
Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

No appointments are needed. All returns are filed electronically and taxpayers generally receive their refunds within seven to 10 days.

Taxpayers will need to bring the following items:

  • Valid driver’s license or photo ID
  • All W-2 and 1099 forms (if any)
  • Social Security cards for taxpayers and all dependents
  • Birthdates for all dependents
  • Day care receipts and provider ID number
  • Education receipts (if any)
  • Your spouse, if filing a joint return
  • Interest and dividend statements from your bank/savings
  • Mortgage property taxes or interest (if any)
  • Bank account number and routing number for direct deposit (a voided check is best)
  • Health coverage information

For additional information on the free tax sites, visit WilcoFreeTaxPrep.org or email info@unitedway-wc.orgor call (512) 255-6799.

Lone Star Regional Rail Public Meeting Jan. 28

An open house meeting for Lone Star Regional Rail, the proposed passenger rail line from Georgetown to San Antonio, will be held in Georgetown on January 28. The meeting begins the federal environmental review process to study routes and impacts of the rail line. The open house meeting is from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Georgetown Chamber Events Center, 1 Chamber Way in Georgetown (see map below).

The Lone Star Rail District is conducting the environmental impact study in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration and Texas Department of Transportation. The meeting in Georgetown is one of six open house meetings in the region to provide public input on the project. Public involvement in the environmental impact study has these objectives:

  • Define the purpose and identify the needs that the proposed project could address, including lack of transportation options, lack of regional connectivity, and increasing highway congestion.
  • Allow the public to learn more about the history of the proposed project and planning studies completed to date.
  • Identify issues that should be studied including regional air quality and natural resources.
  • Provide an opportunity for the public to identify ways that the proposed project could address transportation needs.

“These open houses are an opportunity to engage with individual communities and provide information about the history of the project and the work we’ve completed to date,” said Joseph Black, rail director for the Lone Star Rail District and project manager of the environmental review. “We’ll also be gathering input from residents and stakeholders to include in the project record. Community feedback is a crucial part of the environmental review process, and we want to ensure everyone is able to be part of the process.”

The LSTAR passenger rail line is proposed to improve mobility, mode choice, accessibility, transportation reliability and facilitate economic development along the I-35 corridor in Central and South Texas. One option being studied would provide passenger rail service from Georgetown to San Antonio within existing freight rail corridors, while moving some existing freight rail service to a new bypass constructed between Taylor and San Antonio.

The environmental impact study will involve public input on potential impacts and benefits of the LSTAR rail line as well as input on alternatives for the project route and scope. A decision on the project route and scope by the end of 2017 would allow for federal funding eligibility.

To learn more or submit comments online, visit the Lone Star Regional Rail project website, eis.LoneStarRail.com. The deadline for online comments is February 27.

Lone Star Rail District is an independent public agency formed in 2003 to bring regional passenger rail service to the Austin-San Antonio corridor. Georgetown City Council Member Patty Eason is one of 20 local and state representatives on the board of the Lone Star Rail District.

The slides below provide more information on the Lone Star Regional Rail project and the environmental impact study process:

Lone Star Rail Scoping slides Jan 2015

Location map to the Georgetown Chamber Events Center:

Ninth Street and Main Street Closures

Street closures on Ninth Street and on Main Street will start on January 21 as part of the ongoing utility and street project redesign on Ninth Street in downtown Georgetown.

Main Street will be closed on Wednesday, January 21 from Eighth Street to Tenth Street. The closure will be in effect from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. that day to allow for trenching across Main Street at Ninth Street. Local traffic will have access to businesses on Main Street in the closure area.

Ninth Street will be closed January 26 to February 2 in the one-block segment from Main Street to Church Street. This is to allow for trenching and installation of underground conduit in that block.

The street closures are part of the overall project on Ninth Street to move overhead utilities underground, reconfigure parking and drainage, and improve sidewalks and landscaping.

Work on Ninth Street from Rock Street to Austin Avenue was substantially complete in December. Work on Ninth Street from Austin Avenue to Main Street is expected to be completed in April.

See the map below for the location of the street closures: