Jake Goodman

Source of lead contamination in water unknown

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Trace levels of lead discovered in the water at the Hays County Government Center in September 2014 have since disappeared, but the source remains unknown.

According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency contaminant guidelines, the maximum allowable amount, or action limit, of lead in drinking water is .015 milligrams per liter (mg/L).  According to a test conducted by SA Laboratories, four of six samples of San Marcos water taken at the Hays County Government Center on Sept. 4 revealed a lead contamination between .028 mg/L and .075 mg/L.

Electronics recycling event promotes waste disposal

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Rain showers were not enough to stop items ranging from leg massagers to big-screen televisions from rolling in to the seventh Earth Day RecycleNow electronics collection day.

The RecycleNow event was an opportunity for residents to dispose of electronics without paying a processing fee or sending the material to landfills, said Lisa Arceneaux, hazardous waste management specialist and event coordinator. 

“Recycling electronics is a huge favor we can do for ourselves and for the planet,” Arceneaux said.

Arceneaux said the R3 Recycling company moved into San Marcos last year and now offers residents free electronic waste disposal year-round.

San Marcos, TxDOT proceed with construction projects

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Some road projects in San Marcos are ahead of schedule, but others have fallen behind due to unforeseen delays.

Shaun Condor, engineering manager for Engineering & Capital Improvements, oversees projects on North LBJ Drive and State Highway 123 (SH-123).  He said the LBJ Drive construction project has been delayed, while the city’s section of SH-123 is moving ahead of schedule. Chris Bishop, public information officer for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), said the TxDOT side of the project will not be completed for two years.

Condor said LBJ Drive will be completed sometime this summer. The project was originally scheduled to be finished last March.

University system will save $27 million after refinancing

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The Texas State University System (TSUS) will save $27.4 million over the next 20 years after refinancing at historically low interest rates.

Roland Smith, vice chancellor of finance, said the system sold $315.7 million in debt to refinance $217.3 million. The transaction allowed investors to purchase a stake in the debt, which lowered the system’s annual interest, by rewriting the loan with different creditors. The former interest rate was 4 percent. The new rate is set at 3.2 percent.

“It’s not unlike a mortgage,” said Mike Wintemute, director of communications. “It’s basically the same thing.”

Smith said the system sold $315.7 million in bonds to new investors and repurchased the debt at the lower rate.

Risk of underage drinking influences businesses

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San Marcos offers residents and visitors opportunities for live music and nightlife, but for those under 21, participation can be difficult.

Businesses serving alcohol in San Marcos have different age requirements for entry. Customers must be 21 or over to enter the majority of establishments, but exceptions are granted in restaurants and during certain shows. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) is responsible for ensuring employees do not serve alcohol to underage persons, and officials issue penalties for noncompliance, said Gene Bowman, compliance manager

Train horns may be silenced in San Marcos

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San Marcos officials have worked to limit the sound of train horns since 2011, but minimizing noise for residents may put drivers in danger.

City officials spent roughly $800,000 from 2011 to 2015 turning 19 railroad crossings into quiet zones, said Rey Garcia, senior engineer for capital improvements.

Garcia said the quiet zones increase safety and reduce noise for residents.

Jeffrey DeGraff, director of corporate and media relations for Union Pacific Railroad, said banning train horns makes drivers more vulnerable to train collisions.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), horns must be heard for 15-20 seconds before a train enters any intersection. Trains are only permitted to sound horns in emergencies when entering a quiet zone.

Funding reduced for Greater San Marcos Partnership

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San Marcos City Council voted on Feb. 17 to reduce funding for the Greater San Marcos Partnership (GSMP) and use the remaining money to create a new city department for economic development.

Funding was reduced from $360,000 to $120,000.

The partnership is used to encourage businesses to move to Caldwell and Hays Counties. Adriana Cruz, president of GSMP, said more than 500 jobs have been added to the region since 2010, when the group was founded.

Water symposium floods Texas State with panels

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Texas State and the Texas Tribune are joining forces Tuesday to present “Festival On the Road: A Symposium on Water.”

The event will feature guest speakers and panelists giving short presentations followed by question-and-answer sessions on specific topics, said Andrew Sansom, executive director of The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment.

The university will hold the event for the second time, Sansom said.

Texas State was chosen as the venue because of the relationship between the Texas Tribune and the university, Sansom said. Holding the symposium at the university’s Meadows Center and Edwards Aquifer Research & Data Center was a natural choice.

Commissioners court approves study on desalination plant

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The Hays County Commissioners Court voted Feb. 3 to approve a study on the feasibility of a desalination plant to draw water from the Edwards Aquifer.

Desalination is the process of extracting salt and minerals from non-potable water to make it drinkable, said Brian Smith, chief hydrologist and science team leader for the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD). The plant would draw from the saltwater side of the Edwards Aquifer.

Local health officials address measles outbreak

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The United States has seen 121 reported cases of the measles since an outbreak began in California last year, and Texas State students may be at risk.

A person with measles can take up to 10 days to show symptoms including coughing, a runny nose, red eyes and a rash, said Emillio Carranco, director of the Student Health Center. Carranco said the virus is easily prevented with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. He said university students are not required to receive the vaccine.

Only one case of measles has appeared in Texas, Carranco said. None have been reported at Texas State.

“Measles is making a comeback, and we’ll continue to have outbreaks if people don’t decide to continue to vaccinate,” Carranco said.

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