Wolf Ranch Hillwood Project Breaks Ground

shovels city 1 webThe 755-acre Wolf Ranch master-planned residential project was officially launched last Thursday in Georgetown. Hillwood Communities, the Dallas-based residential developer building the project, hosted a groundbreaking at a site on Wolf Ranch Parkway that will be the community center and swimming pool for the new development.

Wolf Ranch will include 1,600 single-family homes, 900 multifamily units, neighborhood retail, and 140 acres of green space with parks and trails.

Site work has begun for phase 1 of the project that includes 80 acres and 214 home sites along Wolf Ranch Parkway. Residents are expected to move into the first homes in 2017. Hillwood Communities expects that homes at Wolf Ranch will be priced in a range from $275,000 to $500,000.

Barefoot Park Sketch webThe groundbreaking site on a hill overlooked rolling ranchland covered with live oak trees and prickly pear cactus. “This land is as beautiful as any we have ever developed,” said Brian Carlock, senior vice president for Hillwood Communities. (A rendering of one of the parks in the development is pictured at right.)

Future phases of the Wolf Ranch community include areas west of Wolf Ranch Parkway and areas south of University Avenue to the east and to the west of D.B. Wood Road.

The land for the residential project was purchased from the Wolf family in 2014. Wolf family land includes 755 acres in the Hillwood project as well as the property for the Wolf Ranch retail center at Texas 29 and Interstate 35. Wolf Ranch Town Center, which opened in 2005, is owned by Simon Property Group.

Wolf Property map webLand for the Wolf Ranch Hillwood development has been annexed into Georgetown city limits. (A map of the entire Wolf Ranch master-planned community is shown at right.)

The project will be funded in part through a municipal utility district located within the city limits.

Hillwood Communities, owned by Ross Perot, Jr., has developed 80 master-planned communities in the U.S., including the 18,000-acre AllianceTexas near Fort Worth and the 4,474-acre AllianceFlorida.

Water Outage in Northwest Williamson County: Update

Update, 5:30 a.m.—The water main repair was completed at 1:30 a.m. Lines were flushed and water service was restored to customers by 4:45 a.m. Some customers may be experiencing low water pressure while storage capacity is filled.

Update, 10:30 p.m.—The affected line has been drained. The crew is working on repairing the line and estimates two to three hours to complete the repair and restore service.

Due to a break in a 12-inch water transmission main north of Andice, a water outage is affecting approximately 500 customers in the Chisholm Trail Special Utility District service area served by the City of Georgetown.

The initial break occurred at approximately 4 p.m., affecting customers in the Florence and Andice areas. The impact on the water supply and storage system is anticipated to affect customers north of Florence and into Bell County.

Repairs are estimated to be completed in 4 to 6 hours.

Georgetown on Top Christmas Destinations in America List

Georgetown was recently named a top 50 Christmas destination in America in a list published by Newsmax, an online news source. Georgetown is number 7 in the U.S. on the list and is the only Texas city in the top 19 places. San Antonio is number 20.

ChristmasLights corner 800According to the article, “Newsmax has rounded up 50 of the very best places in America for you and your loved ones to visit this Christmas season—places that will etch themselves forever in both your memories and your hearts. Our list isn’t defined specifically by size or by number of visitors, but you’ll notice that each location’s unique, wholesome, and family-oriented events and activities help shape these rankings.”

In the number 7 ranking for Georgetown, the article cites Christmas festivities like “an annual window display competition between 18 stores for the most lavish Christmas show, and the 35th Annual Christmas Stroll through Georgetown Square’s Bethlehem Village, which is like a Christmas card come to life.”

Other special Christmas and holiday events in Georgetown include the annual Lighting of the Square event, Breakfast with Santa, the Blue Santa toy drive, holiday events at the public library, two holiday home tours, holiday concerts, and many other events by nonprofits and churches in Georgetown.

Lights on the Courthouse and on buildings and in trees around the downtown Square are on display through January 2. To find out more about the lights and holiday season in Georgetown, go to holiday.georgetown.org.

Operation Warm Aims to Buy Coats for Local Kids

It’s December and the weather is getting colder, but not every child in Georgetown has a winter coat to stay warm. Georgetown firefighters have initiated Operation Warm to help ensure that every child in Georgetown has a warm coat to wear.

The Georgetown Fire Department and the Georgetown Association of Professional Fire Fighters are sponsoring Operation Warm, the second year of the program to provide coats for local children who need them. The program expects to provide coats to 150 children in need who were identified by The Caring Place in Georgetown.

How can you help? Here’s two ways:

Raffle Drawing

Georgetown firefighters are selling raffle tickets in order to purchase new winter coats for kids. Raffle tickets are $5 each. The raffle drawing to determine the winner will be on December 12, so buy your tickets by December 11.

Purchase raffle tickets at any of the five fire stations in Georgetown. To find station locations, go to fire.georgetown.org/emergency-services/stations.

The raffle winner will receive half of the raffle proceeds, which could be as much as $5,000. The remainder of the raffle proceeds will be used to purchase new winter coats for kids in Georgetown.

After the raffle drawing on December 12, the winner will be announced on the Georgetown Association of Professional Fire Fighters website at gapff.org.

Donations

Donations for Operation Warm to provide coats for kids can be made at www.operationwarm.org/Georgetown. Monetary donations to Operation Warm also can be made in-person at any of the five Georgetown fire stations. All monetary donations collected will be used to purchase coats for children in Georgetown.

“Our goal is to help as many kids in our community as we can to stay warm in the winter months,” says Daniel Bilbrey, a driver for the Georgetown Fire Department.

To learn more about Operation Warm and how you can help, go to the Georgetown Association of Professional Fire Fighters website at gapff.org or www.operationwarm.org/Georgetown.

Breakfast with Santa on December 12

Santa and boy red hat 2 webThe 15th annual pancake Breakfast with Santa is Saturday, December 12 at the Community Center, 445 E. Morrow Street. Georgetown firefighters will be making pancakes and sausage served with juice and coffee. The event is 7:30 to 11 a.m.

Breakfast with Santa is sponsored by the Georgetown Fire Department, Rotary Club of Georgetown – Sun City, and Georgetown ISD.

At the event, children can climb on board a fire truck, visit with firefighters, and have a free picture taken with Santa.

Tickets are $6 per person and can be purchased at the door on the day of the event or in advance at the Public Safety Operations and Training Center, 3500 D.B. Wood Road.

All proceeds from Breakfast with Santa help to provide food and gifts for children in the Georgetown area.

Breakfast with Santa flyer 2015 webLast year, Breakfast with Santa served a pancake breakfast to more than 1,000 children and adults and provided gifts to 166 children from 55 Georgetown families, as well as 20 teen-aged youth served by The Nest program.

Breakfast with Santa also provided help to Jarrell’s UMC Christmas outreach program.

For details, contact the Georgetown Fire Department at (512) 930-3473.

Breakfast Bites on Sheraton Georgetown Dec. 9

The next quarterly Breakfast Bites panel on December 9 will focus on the Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel and Conference Center, which is set to open next summer. Panelists will provide insights into the ways that the new 225-room four-star hotel and 30,000 square foot conference center will be a game changer for Georgetown tourism. Breakfast Bites is a quarterly business development event by the Georgetown Main Street Program.

Breakfast Bites Sheraton flyerThe Breakfast Bites panel will include three key people involved with the Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel and Conference Center and its impact on Georgetown.

Lorena Chappell is employed by Starwood Hotels and Resorts as director of sales and marketing for the new Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel and Conference Center. Chappell has worked in hospitality for more than 22 years and previously was the director of catering and conference planning at the Four Seasons Hotel in Houston.

Jeff Novak is the founding partner for Novak Brothers, a real estate development firm. Novak Brothers and international real estate firm Hines are developing the Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel and Conference Center. Novak Brothers has developed more than $250 million in real estate projects with assets valued at more than $125 million including residential developments, multi-family, retail, office, and hotels.

Marie Woodard is the group sales and servicing coordinator for the Georgetown Convention and Visitors Bureau. Woodard has 26 years of experience in hospitality and tourism including 14 years as director of sales for the Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The moderator for the panel is Laurie Brewer, assistant city manager for the City of Georgetown and director of the Downtown and Community Services Division.

The event on Wednesday, December 9 is from 8:30 to 9:50 a.m. in the Friends 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, December 7 at shelly.hargrove@georgetown.org or (512) 930-2027. Main Street is a program of the City of Georgetown Downtown and Community Services Department.

Blue Santa Collecting Toys for Kids

Blue Santa’s elves are busy in their workshop getting ready for the annual campaign to provide toys to children in need in Georgetown. Each year Blue Santa, a program of the Georgetown Police Department, provides toys to more than 1,500 children in Georgetown. And each year Blue Santa needs your help.

Blue Santa is collecting toys at the Christmas Stroll Parade at 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 5. New, unwrapped toys will be collected by Blue Santa Elves along the parade route.

New, unwrapped toys also may be dropped off in donation barrels in businesses and offices in Georgetown. For a list of donation sites, go to BlueSanta.Georgetown.org.

Monetary donations to purchase toys also are accepted. Checks to “CPAAA Blue Santa” should be sent to the Georgetown Police Department, c/o CPAAA Programs, 3500 DB Wood Road, Georgetown, TX, 78628. Donate $15 or more to Georgetown Blue Santa and you’ll receive a collectible Blue Santa Elf lapel pin.

December 1 is the application deadline for assistance from Blue Santa. Applications are available at The Caring Place at 2000 Railroad Street and the Georgetown Police Department at the Public Safety Operations and Training Center at 3500 DB Wood Road.  Children who qualify for Blue Santa are age 18 or younger, live in Georgetown city limits, and qualify for free or reduced lunch program at school or meet federal poverty guidelines.

For information about donation events and barrel locations, go to BlueSanta.Georgetown.org.

Lighting of the Square on Nov. 27

ChristmasLights18b-450Celebrate the holiday season on the day after Thanksgiving at the annual Lighting of the Square event on Friday, November 27.  The event will be held on the east steps of the historic Williamson County Courthouse, 710 S. Main Street, in downtown Georgetown. The festivities include entertainment from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Making this year’s event bigger and brighter, additional lights will be added to trees on the courthouse lawn sponsored by Georgetown Utility Systems with help from Williamson County and The Williamson Museum.

This year, Williamson County Judge Dan A. Gattis and Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross will be joined by one lucky student to flip the switch illuminating the courthouse lights and grounds. The student will be the winner of the first-ever Lighting of the Square short essay contest sponsored by the City of Georgetown, Williamson County, The Williamson Museum, and the Williamson County Sun.  In honor of the City of Georgetown’s green energy plans to purchase all of its energy from wind and solar sources by 2017, the winning student will be the one who bests answers the question, “Why I am proud Georgetown has the greenest Christmas in Texas.”

Entertainment during the Lighting of the Square will be provided by the Austin Carolers and refreshments will be provided. Stores will be open until 8 p.m.  Stop by The Williamson Museum on November 27 at 4 p.m. for children’s activities.

Williamson County Brown Santa will offer pictures with Santa in the historic Courthouse after the lighting event from 6:30 to 8 p.m.  Enter the courthouse on the south side. Photos are for an $8 donation.

Toy donations to Williamson County Brown Santa and the Georgetown Police Department Blue Santa are encouraged. Look for donation barrels at the Courthouse and at All Things Kids on Main Street. More information and applications are available at www.wilcobrownsanta.com for Brown Santa or bluesanta.georgetown.org for Blue Santa.

For details on holiday events and activities in Georgetown, call the Georgetown Convention & Visitors Bureau at (512) 930-3545, or visit or www.VisitGeorgetown.com.

Thanksgiving Holiday City Facility Closings

City of Georgetown offices and facilities will be closed on Thursday, November 26 and Friday, November 27 in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. There is no solid waste or recycling collection on Thanksgiving Day (details below).

City facilities and offices closed November 26 – 27 include the following:

  • Animal Shelter, 110 Walden Drive
  • City Hall, 113 E. Eighth Street
  • Library, 402 W. Eighth Street
  • Municipal Complex, 300-1 Industrial Avenue
  • Municipal Court, 101 E. Seventh Street
  • Parks and Recreation Administration, 1101 N. College Street
  • Recreation Center, 1003 N. Austin Avenue
  • Tennis Center, 400 Serenada Drive

Other Facility Closures

These facilities will be closed on Thursday, November 26 and open these hours on Friday, November 27:

  • Airport Terminal, 500 Terminal Drive, open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Collection Station, 250 W. L. Walden Drive, open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Visitors Center, 103 W. Seventh Street, open 3 to 7 p.m.

The Georgetown Public Library will close at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, November 25 and reopen for normal hours at 9 a.m. on Saturday, November 28.

Solid Waste & Recycling

There will be no trash or recycling pickup for Texas Disposal Systems customers in the City of Georgetown on Thursday, November 26. Solid waste collection for Thursday and Friday slides one day:

  • Thursday slides > to Friday
  • Friday slides > to Saturday

Solid waste and recycling carts should be placed at the curb by 7 a.m. on pickup day. For questions, call TDS at (512) 930-1715.

The Collection Station at 250 W. L. Walden Drive will be closed on Thursday, November 26 (Thanksgiving Day), but open regular hours, which are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Friday, November 27.

Note also that the Williamson County Recycle Center at 495 CR 156, which accepts vouchers for household hazardous waste, is closed Sunday, November 22 through Sunday, November 29.

Animal Shelter Sets Record for Live Outcomes

The Georgetown Animal Shelter has reached a major milestone by attaining the highest live outcome rate ever achieved by the shelter. In the fiscal year that ended on September 30, the shelter’s live outcome rate was 96 percent for cats and dogs.

Cat of week 11-14-15 webThe 4 percent annual euthanasia rate, which means the shelter has again attained no-kill status, is a significant reduction from 2009 when the rate was 34 percent.

In addition, from October 1, 2014 through September 30 this year, the shelter achieved no-kill status in every month with an overall euthanasia rate for cats and dogs of 4 percent. A rate of 10 percent or lower is considered no-kill among animal shelters.

Jackie Carey, animal services manager, says that dogs and cats are euthanized only when they are not adoptable due to serious health problems or behavioral issues that could pose a safety risk. “We don’t euthanize to make an empty cage,” says Carey. The euthanasia rate is down 58 percent this year compared to last year.

Carey cites a number of reasons why they have achieved such a high live outcome rate.

Keeping animals healthy and reducing the spread of disease is a key factor. “We have a really dedicated staff and a super clean facility,” says Carey. “We did not have any major disease outbreaks last year.” Sanitation and disease control procedures are important elements in keeping the animals healthy.

New flooring, paint, and a new cat adoption area also help in the effort to keep the shelter sanitized. “Our shelter smells clean,” says Carey.

The new cat adoption room is a better environment for the cats. “The cats are happier because they are not in cages,” says Carey. “When cats are free to roam in a room and are not confined to a cage, they are happier. They are less stressed and they stay healthier.”

Dog of week 11-14-15 webThe high adoption rate for cats and dogs is another fundamental component of the high live outcome rate at the shelter. In the 2015 fiscal year there were a record number of adoptions at 1,004, which is an 11 percent increase over the prior year. That included a record 610 cat adoptions, which is a 22 percent increase over the prior year.

A number of efforts contribute to the high adoption rate at the shelter. One is the relationship between the shelter and the PetSmart store at the Wolf Ranch shopping center. The cats in the adoption area at PetSmart tend to get adopted quickly since they have many people seeing them each day. “Jessie Pierce on our staff does a great job of making sure that the adoption enclosures at PetSmart are full,” says Carey.

A second program is a connection with Austin Pets Alive to place feral cats that come to the shelter into adoption as barn cats. “Austin Pets Alive has a larger number of requests for barn cats. When feral cats come to the shelter, we fully vet them so they can go into their barn cat program. It’s a win-win situation for everyone,” says Carey.

A third program has helped boost the adoptions for dogs. This year the shelter instituted a new training regimen for dogs called Dogs Playing for Life. In the program the shelter technicians and volunteers use a trained helper dog when they work with the dogs in the play yard at the shelter. “We put them into play groups and help them learn new play manners,” says Carey. “A dog may be aggressive in a cage, but if you socialize them with other dogs and teach them how to play, then they learn how to play well with other dogs.”

Carey says that recently one dog that came to the shelter was very aggressive toward other dogs. “She was very dog aggressive. But our volunteers and techs worked with her and now she’s fine.”

All of the efforts to boost adoptions of dogs and cats have contributed to the record live outcome rate for 2015.

This was the second year in a row that the shelter has attained the no-kill standard with a live outcome rate of 90 percent or higher.

The Georgetown Animal Shelter is located at 110 W.L. Walden Drive and is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m. The shelter is closed on Wednesday. Contact the shelter at (512) 930-3592 or online at pets.georgetown.org.