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Old year rings changes, brings growth to city

Old year rings changes, brings growth to city
NANNETTE KILBEY-SMITH (top) Socks, the Smith family cat, doesn’t know what to do with the snow and ice Feb. 4, 2011, as South Central Texas experienced record cold temperatures during an arctic blast that froze pumps at the La Vernia H-E-B. NANNETTE KILBEY-SMITH(bottom) La Vernia sizzled at 103 degrees Aug. 5, as summer temperatures scorched Texas, contributing to one of the state’s worst-ever droughts.

La Vernia, like many area communities, saw growth and change throughout 2011, in part due to the exploration for oil and gas in the Eagle Ford shale.

New businesses set up shop in and around La Vernia, adding to the ambience and amenities residents enjoy. (For more on this, see “Business buzzes in 2011,” this page.)

Two pumps at the H-E-B lift station froze in the arctic blast in early February, before the city accepted the infrastructure additions. However, the city accepted the pumps and related infrastructure and effected repairs.

Population growth has increased demands on the city’s water supply. The council continued its efforts to drill a new municipal well and approved a replacement well for one which is no longer functional. Water and sewer rates and trash-collection rates increased, but the city’s property-tax rate dropped.

Growth has brought new subdivisions to La Vernia, and zoning in these areas became a source of contention, with citizens packing the council chambers in May to voice concerns over potential issues with businesses being situated in residential areas.

To cope with the demands of growth, the city’s municipal development district (MDD) board recommended the city hire an executive director for the MDD. Jennifer Kolbe was approved in July, after stints working for the Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative and Texas Lutheran University in Seguin. The city and MDD hosted town-hall style meetings to invite public input on what citizens want in La Vernia and how to manage growth.

Growth brought change to the La Vernia Police Department under former Chief Bobby Hyatt, who retired in November. Appointed to replace him and manage the continuing department growth was former police Sgt. Bruce Ritchey, who was sworn in Dec. 8.

La Vernia bid farewell to former Wilson County Pct. 3 Commissioner Robert H. “Bobby” Lynn, who passed away Feb. 15 at age 63. The city honored Lynn with a plaque in the La Vernia City Park, that was unveiled Oct. 1.

The city was not the only La Vernia entity addressing change.

The Primitive Baptist Church, which burned to the ground in October 2010, rose from the ashes as the congregation raised a new building. Work continues on the site, where the new church, constructed to mirror its historic predecessor, is taking shape.

Construction and transformation were part of the story for the La Vernia Independent School District, also. In the wake of the death of La Vernia Junior High School Assistant Principal Glenn Hendrickson in March, the school district delayed dedication of its new state-of-the-art auditorium until April. His death followed alarm in the district after the arrest on drug charges in March of former teacher Holly Marsh. Marsh now is serving five years’ probation following rehabilitation after pleading guilty to several charges, including evading arrest or detention with a motor vehicle, and possession of less than one gram of methamphetamine.

These issues, along with the discovery of missing money from a junior high activities fund, caused residents to pack school board meetings on several occasions.

State budget cuts prompted the district to impose a freeze on hiring and pay, and other cost-cutting measures.

Despite funding challenges, the district did not increase its property-tax rate, realizing funds instead through the increase in property values.

As the year closed, the school board approved election changes prompted by Senate Bill 100, the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, transitioning to bi-annual elections in May of odd-numbered years, with trustees serving four-year terms. The next trustee election will be in 2013.

Who knows what 2012 will bring to La Vernia? One thing’s for sure: the La Vernia News will be here to keep readers informed about community people and events!

All of us at the La Vernia News wish the community a peaceful and prosperous 2012.

Business buzzes in 2011

Throughout 2011, new businesses opened, several celebrated anniversaries, and some changed their focus or offered new services. These include, but are not limited to:

¢The Daily Grind, Piddlin’ Pooh’s, the Bluebonnet Restaurant, Twice the Ice, Clip ’n’ Tails, Western Steakhouse, Taste of Chicago, Pizza Hut & Wing Stop, Subway (next to H-E-B), La Vernia Wild Game Processing, the Bear’s Den, and Edward Jones are among the businesses that opened their doors to welcome La Vernia clients and customers.

¢The La Vernia Greater Chamber of Commerce and the La Vernia Municipal Development District opened offices on Chihuahua Street. The La Vernia News moved a few doors down to new digs on Chihuahua Street, too, and the Music Loft moved from downtown to a new location on U.S. 87, also going up in the world by becoming a two-story building.

¢LV Pump & Supply, Snow’s Vehicle Center, and BDI Insurance celebrated major anniversaries.

See “Business Briefcase,” page 3, for more news.

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