Project Connect Open Houses on Transit in North Corridor

Project Connect is holding open house meetings next week to offer ideas and get input on transit plans for Central Texas. Regional transportation entities have joined forces to study transportation options for communities in the North Corridor, including Austin, Hutto, Round Rock, Pflugerville, and Georgetown. See details at the Project Connect website at ConnectCentralTexas.com.

The public is invited to attend one of these Project Connect open houses:

Monday, June 24
5 to 8 p.m.
Allen R. Baca Center
301 W. Bagdad Avenue
Round Rock, Texas, 78664

The open house will be held in the Grand Meeting Room. Underground parking is available in the garage next to the Baca Center.

Tuesday, June 25
5 to 8 p.m.
Dobie Middle School
1200 East Rundberg Lane
Austin, Texas, 78753

The open house will be held in the cafeteria. Parking is available in front of the school, in teacher’s parking lot and on side streets.

Wednesday, June 26
5 – 8 p.m.
Pflugerville Justice Center
1611 Pfennig Lane
Pflugerville, Texas, 78660

The open house will be held in the municipal courtroom. Parking is available in front of the Justice Center.

Friday, June 28
12 to 1 p.m.
Online Open House
Register to participate online at www3.gotomeeting.com/register/218186110.

Project Connect is a partnership among Central Texas transportation agencies aimed at implementing the high-capacity transit component of the CAMPO2035 Plan. The CAMPO plan was adopted by regional government representatives in 2010, after a nine-month public outreach process involving policy makers and community stakeholders. The initial Project Connect partnership includes the City of Austin, Capital Metro, the Lone Star Rail District, and CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization), the six-county transportation planning organization that includes Williamson County and Georgetown.

For more information, visit ConnectCentralTexas.com or e-mail info@connectcentraltexas.com.

Firefighter Owen Commended for Role in West, Texas

Firefighter Craig Owen was recognized at the Georgetown city council meeting last week for his role as a liaison to families of two volunteer firefighters who were killed in the April 17 explosion in West, Texas. Owen, who is a driver/engineer with the Georgetown Fire Department, also was honored for coordinating round-the-clock honor guard teams from across the U.S. for all the firefighters who were killed in the incident.

Owen letter-b-425As a member of the Texas Line of Duty Task Force, Owen served in these roles in West for 17 days from the day after the explosion until the last burial of the first responders who died in the incident. (Pictured in the photo, from left, are Fire Chief John Sullivan, Driver/Engineer Craig Owen, and Assistant Fire Chief Clay Shell.)

Charlotte Chism Waldrum, president-elect of the Texas Funeral Directors Association, writes in a letter to the Fire Department, “I witnessed Craig spend countless hours, making sure his fallen brothers received the honor, respect and dignity they deserved. …I realize how proud your department must be to call Craig Owen one of your brothers. The job he did in West came, obviously, from his heart…”

At the city council meeting, Fire Chief John Sullivan presented a letter of commendation from the Georgetown Fire Department to Owen. “Craig did an outstanding job providing for all the families of the West tragedy,” said Sullivan. “He put his personal life on hold, and spent two weeks in West. …We are lucky to have Craig Owen working for the Georgetown Fire Department.”

Landscape Irrigation Schedule in Effect

The schedule for outdoor landscape irrigation remains in effect for City of Georgetown water customers. The following mandatory limits apply to landscape irrigation water use.

For irrigation systems and hose-end sprinklers, landscape irrigation is limited to a schedule based on the last digit of your address number:

Odd addresses may irrigate on
Tuesday and/or Thursday and/or Saturday

Even addresses may irrigate on
Wednesday and/or Friday and/or Sunday

Sprinkler or irrigation system use is not permitted on Mondays. Watering with a hand-held hose or bucket can be done any day and at any time. Violations of the irrigation schedule may result in fines.

Recommended, but not required

  • Water only two days per week according to the odd/even schedule
  • Avoid watering from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. or in windy conditions

Changes to the watering schedule this year allow more flexibility in watering times. While it is recommended to avoid watering in the hottest parts of the day, customers with sprinklers that must be moved manually now have more flexibility in watering times. All outdoor watering with sprinklers or irrigation systems should follow the above odd/even schedule for days of the week.

For assistance in programming your irrigation controller, call Georgetown Utility Systems at (512) 930-3640, or email gus@georgetown.org.

Recommended Start Times

The City encourages customers to set the start time for automatic irrigation controllers based on the last digit of the customer address as follows:

Last digit of street address: Start time:
0 or 8 12 a.m.
1 or 9 1 a.m.
2 2 a.m.
3 3 a.m.
4 4 a.m.
5 5 a.m.
6 6 a.m.
7 7 a.m.

These start times are only for customers with automatic irrigation controllers. Residents and business owners with movable sprinklers do not have to follow the irrigation start times, but should follow the mandatory rules for watering days, and avoid watering any time on Monday.

Water Rates

At 19,000 gallons of water use in a month, the rate increases from $2.25 to $3.00 per thousand gallons for residents and from $2.60 to $3.35 for customers outside city limits. Higher rates apply at 30,000 gallons, 40,000 gallons, and 75,000 gallons. For details on water rates, go to customercare.georgetown.org/rates.

Aqua Alerts

Water meter replacements should be completed this summer. Those with new meters are eligible for automatic emailed AquaAlerts when your monthly use exceeds a pre-set level. Sign up online at https://records.georgetown.org/Forms/Aqua-Alerts or call Customer Care at (512) 930-3640.

For water conservation tips, to see aquifer and lake levels, read the Water Quality Report, or find out about City water utility projects, go to water.georgetown.org.

Firefighters Awarded Green Cross

Several Georgetown firefighters were awarded the green cross this week for their efforts to extract two injured drivers from their vehicles after a wreck on Texas 195. The two-vehicle head-on collision happened on the morning of March 21. The green cross is an award for firefighters involved in a vehicle extrication or rescue. Fire Chief John Sullivan presented the awards.

In the March incident, two off-duty firefighters from Fort Hood were the first on the scene. They began to assist and let 9-1-1 operators know that two people were pinned in their vehicles, which were about 75 yards apart. Georgetown firefighters responded and worked as a team to use jaws-of-life tools to open the doors on each vehicle and gain access to each driver. Both patients were successfully removed from their vehicles within 30 minutes and transported by Williamson County EMS to local hospitals. The two persons injured in the wreck have since been released from the hospital and are recovering.

Seven Georgetown firefighters were given the green cross at the Georgetown City council meeting this week. Four Williamson County EMS medics and an off-duty Fort Hood firefighter were presented with letters of appreciation for their actions at the meeting.

GFD green cross-b-1000

Pictured in the above photo in the front row (left to right) are Driver Engineer Josh Ratliff, Firefighters Jamison Humprhes and Trey Lockwood and Lt. Jason Fryer. In the back row (left to right) are Assistant Chief Clay Shell, Firefighter Benton Coker, Capt. David England, Firefighter Wesley Sigmund, Fort Hood firefighter Capt. Scott Rose, and Georgetown Fire Chief John Sullivan. (Click on photos to see larger version.)

EMS green cross-b-1000

Pictured in the above photo in the front row (left to right) are Williamson County Emergency Medical Services Paramedic Chris Howell, Director Kenny Schnell, Commander Kevin Krienke, and Paramedic Jeff Fishel.

Not pictured, but also awarded the green cross for his role in the rescue, is Georgetown Battalion Chief Ray Cummings. Not pictured, but also receiving letters of appreciation, were Williamson County EMS Paramedic Adam Johnson and Fort Hood Firefighter Shawn Charbonneau.

Chase the Chief 5K photos

Hundreds participated in the inaugural Chase the Chief 5k and Fun Run in San Gabriel Park on Sunday. The family fitness event was sponsored by the Georgetown Police Department and the Georgetown ISD Council PTA. (Click on photos for larger version.) The photos were taken by Amanda Chron with the Georgetown Police Department.

Tchida fun run start-1000

Assistant Police Chief Cory Tchida takes an “early lead” in the fun run.

Nero 5k start-1000

Georgetown Police Chief Wayne Nero with kids at the starting line of the 5k run.

Nero kids1-1000

Nearly 500 participated in the event at San Gabriel Park.

Nero high5-1000

Chief Nero congratulated runners at the finish line.

The event included a kid-friendly version of the Police Academy Obstacle Course, a kids’ activities area, and community health fair. The event encouraged a fit and healthy lifestyle and was a fundraiser for the Georgetown ISD PTA.

One Amazing Thing Featured for Georgetown Reads!

Chitra Divakaruni-250The Georgetown Public Library’s one-book, one-community program—Georgetown Reads!—kicks off this year on May 14. One Amazing Thing, by Chitra Divakaruni, is this year’s book selection. Copies of the book are now available for checkout at the library.

The plot of One Amazing Thing revolves around nine individuals who have been trapped by an earthquake in an Indian visa office in an American city. Conflicts are inevitable as they work together to survive. To defuse tensions that rise to the breaking point, each person tells a story—one amazing thing—that sets each character apart and brings them closer together.

In May, the Georgetown Public Library is sponsoring a series of free public events related to and inspired by One Amazing Thing.

A Visit with the Author: Author Chitra Divakaruni will join the audience by Skype for a question and answer session on Tuesday, May 14, at 3 p.m. in the Friends Room at the library. Divakaruni also will read from One Amazing Thing.

OneAmazing PBcover-400A Williamson County Emergency Services Vehicle will be parked on the Eighth Street side of the library on Wednesday, May 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for people to tour and ask questions.

Emergency personnel who responded to the Jarrell tornado, Hurricane Katrina, and Bastrop fires will talk about their experiences in a special panel on Thursday, May 16 at 1 p.m. in the Hewlett Room on the second floor of the library.

One Amazing Meal: Shagufta Rafique will prepare a delicious dish from the Indian/Pakistan region at noon on Friday, May 17 on the library’s second floor mezzanine area known as the bridge. There will be samples after the presentation so bring your appetite!

One Amazing Evening: A night of Indian culture and fun on Saturday, May 18 at 6 p.m. on the bridge in the library. There will be snacks, live music, henna, and a traditional dance performance and lesson provided by Anuradha Naimpally from Austin Dance India. Sanjeet Millennium will perform Indian music on sitar and tabla.

Other events also are planned. See the Georgetown Reads! website at georgetownreads.georgetown.org for full details. The Georgetown Public Library is located at 402 W. Eighth Street.

Good Neighbor Fund Helps Families Through Difficult Times

Each month, families facing a serious crisis like a job loss or medical emergency seek help from local nonprofits like The Caring Place. That support, including assistance with utility bill payments, can make a crucial difference when it seems as though there is no place to turn.

Recently one family of eight was helped by the Good Neighbor Fund, a program sponsored by Georgetown Utility Systems and administered by The Caring Place.

When the father lost his job, suddenly the parents had no means to provide for their six children, ranging in age from 4 to 16. During the father’s two-month period of looking for work, The Caring Place helped with assistance for food, clothes, and utility bills. After this difficult time, both parents were able to find work again. The kids are doing fine as well.

The father of that family says the assistance from The Caring Place “made a huge impact upon helping out our family in a time of need. This also helped minimize the stress put upon my family and me on trying to feed the family while I looked for a new job. We are all very grateful to the genuine concern your organization showed towards my family in a time of need.”

Each month, a similar story plays out for many families in Georgetown. Your donation to the Good Neighbor Fund can help The Caring Place meet the daily need for emergency assistance.

City of Georgetown utility customers can make a monthly pledge online to The Good Neighbor Fund and change or discontinue that pledge at any time. It only takes a minute to fill out the online pledge form at billing.georgetown.org/gnf. Call Customer Care at (512) 930-3640, or email customercare@georgetown.org for details.

Hazard Mitigation Plan Survey

The City of Georgetown is currently in the process of completing a Hazard Mitigation Plan.  Input from the community is needed for the project team to identify and analyze potential hazards affecting residents and recommend possible actions to reduce their impact. Hazards can include droughts, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and other major disasters.

A public participation survey is available online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/CityofGeorgetown.

The goal of the Hazard Mitigation Plan is to minimize or eliminate the long-term risk to human life and property from known hazards by identifying and implementing cost-effective mitigation actions. Mitigation is defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as sustained actions taken to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property from hazards and their effects.

Questions about the Hazard Mitigation Plan should be addressed to H2O Partners, planning consultants for the project. Contact Cathy Meek with H2O Partners at (888) 328-4151, ext. 2, or by email at cathy@h2opartnersusa.com.

Airport Tower Funding From TXDOT and City Approved

Update: Today the FAA has delayed tower closures until June 15th.  So the City contracts and funding of the tower will not begin until June 16th if TxDOT allows the grant to be extended to that date.

The Georgetown city council voted this morning to accept an emergency short-term grant from the Texas Department of Transportation to help fund staffing of the control tower at the Georgetown Municipal Airport. The TXDOT grant provides 90 percent of the funding for tower staffing by air traffic controllers. The City will fund the remaining 10 percent of the staffing cost. The city council approved the funding arrangement in a special meeting to address the tower funding issue.

The 90/10 funding arrangement is on an emergency basis for 90 days. The state and local money replaces federal funding from the Federal Aviation Administration that ends on April 7. Funding was cut for FAA contract employees at airport control towers as a result of sequestration federal budget cuts that took effect in March.

Yesterday, the Texas Transportation Commission approved the emergency state funding program for control towers at 14 airports in Texas. The TXDOT funding program is a reimbursement grant in which the City of Georgetown will pay the expected $158,687 cost to staff the tower for 90 days and will later be reimbursed by TXDOT for 90 percent of the cost. The City’s portion of the 90-day cost is projected to be $15,868.70. City funding will come from the Airport Fund or General Fund programs that have experienced cost saving in the 2013 Budget.  Staff will present those options to City Council at the April 23rd regular meeting.

The city council also approved a contract with Robinson Aviation to provide the air traffic controllers to staff the control tower. Controllers with Robinson Aviation have worked under an FAA contract to staff the Georgetown control tower since it opened in 2007.

If FAA funding for tower operations is restored before the 90-day period, then the TXDOT and City funding for tower operations would be discontinued.

Semi-Wild Cats Are Ready for Farm Life

BarnCat1-400Several semi-wild cats at the City of Georgetown Animal Shelter are still looking for a ticket to their next chapter as a barn or ranch cat. These cats are not fully acclimated to life indoors as a house pet, but can still have a good life and earn their keep on a farm or ranch.

There are currently eight semi-wild cats at the shelter that need homes in a barn or outbuilding says Jackie Carey, animal services manager.

Each cat is spayed or neutered and given their rabies vaccination. There is no adoption fee.

To introduce a semi-feral cat to your property, keep it in a barn, outbuilding, garage, or laundry room for a few weeks until the cat realizes that the new place is a safe home. Even though these cats are skittish around people, they do still need regular food and water.

For more information about a barn cat for your property, contact the Georgetown Animal Shelter at (512) 930-3592 or animalsvc@georgetown.org. The City of Georgetown Animal Shelter is located at 110 W.L. Walden Drive next to the McMaster Athletic Complex. The shelter website is pets.georgetown.org.