James Palmer

San Marcos prepares for commencement crowds

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City and university officials are preparing for an influx of guests as commencement ceremonies approach.

This year’s ceremonies will be the largest in the university’s history, with 4,900 students set to walk across the stage at Strahan Coliseum May 14-16, according to an April 28 email from the commencement committee.

The committee was created to help ease crowding, congestion and confusion, said Kristin McDaniel, commencement coordinator.

HIV programs face uncertain future after state budget cuts

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Funds totaling $3 million originally used to prevent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections and other sexually transmitted diseases (STD) will be rerouted to abstinence-only education.

State representative Stuart Spitzer (R-Kaufman) helped usher in the Republican-sponsored shift in funds over two years from HIV/STD prevention to abstinence education, according to an April 2 press release from Spitzer. The state of Texas risks losing federal funding after this move, said Kanaka Sathasivan, AIDS Services of Austin (ASA) communications coordinator.

IH-35 overpass to be widened under current standards

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Drivers in Central Texas will soon see bridge installations and renovations along Interstate Highway 35 (IH-35).

The Yarrington Road bridge reconstruction project will cost $12.2 million. The new bridge is expected to be opened May 2016.

The bridge will be broadened to prepare for driver needs in coming years, said Chris Bishop, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) public information officer.

Transit Union officials seek pay raises for Transdev drivers

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Shuttle operators at Texas State may soon experience higher wages and more benefits.

Officials with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) are working on behalf of Texas State Bobcat Shuttle operators to finalize new contract negotiations with Transdev, the company running the university system.

Union officials sought higher wages and more benefits for shuttle operators, said Joneth Wyatt, ATU president for the Austin office.

Shuttle operators include students, retirees and career-oriented drivers, said Alicia Moore, recording secretary for ATU's Austin office. Moore said officials wanted to negotiate improved benefits packages for career workers.

Moore visited campus March 16 to collect signatures for a petition supporting bus operators.

Ezell’s Cave gets bat-friendly facelift

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The Texas Cave Management Association (TCMA) has completed a project to allow for and encourage bat repopulation.

The TCMA Preserves Management Committee built a new gate on Ezell’s Cave over two Sundays and finished March 8, said Jim Kennedy, committee chair.

Kennedy designed a “cupola-style gate” to allow the population of cave myotis bats to enter the space with ease, he said. The structure allows them to enter and exit the cave’s vertical entrance.

Nanotechnology entrepreneur program arrives at S.T.A.R. Park

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The Advanced Polymers and Nanomaterials (APN) Laboratory at Texas State is now operational at the Science, Technology and Advanced Research (S.T.A.R.) Park.

The nanotechnology laboratory is part of the Materials Science, Engineering and Commercialization (MSEC) graduate program. MSEC is an interdisciplinary program combining elements from the science, business and communication departments, said Clois Powell, director of the advanced polymers/nanomaterials lab.

Officials with the laboratory program partnered with S.T.A.R. Park to access its customizable facilities, Powell said.

3 Day Startup fosters student business opportunities

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Texas State students interested in starting businesses before graduating had the opportunity to hone their entrepreneurial skills over the weekend.

3 Day Startup (3DS), an entrepreneurial workshop program, was held March 27-29 in the McCoy College of Business. The University of Texas established 3 Day Startup in 2008, and the program has expanded to 60 institutions in five continents.

Mario Hernandez, masters student and 3DS mentor, said pitching ideas at the workshop was a challenge the first time he participated.

Drilling expansion raises regulatory concerns

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Officials with Baron Energy, Inc. are preparing to expand drilling operations in the Austin Chalk, is a formation in the Gulf Coast region home to oil wells, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Baron Energy has 14 active wells in Frio County, about 100 miles south of San Marcos. Officials plan to add three to four in the coming year, according to their Feb. 20 investor presentation.

Frio County officials have been unable to voice concerns about regulatory authority to the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC).

Texas College Tobacco Project to increase 'vaping' awareness

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Texas State students are exploring professional marketing techniques as part of the Texas College Tobacco Project to increase awareness of electronic cigarette usage.  

The Texas College Tobacco Project is a campaign from the University of Texas at Austin designed to reduce tobacco usage among students. Students across Texas volunteer to campaign at their universities. The student volunteers hang posters, yard signs and banners designed to provide information about tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. The displays will be completed by spring break.

E-cigarettes now banned on Texas State campus

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Texas State officials banned tobacco use for health reasons, and the policy was recently reviewed again.

The university is one of 1,014 campuses across the country exercising tobacco-free policies, according to the Americans for Non-Smokers’ Rights website. The Department of Student Affairs reviewed Texas State’s current tobacco policy Feb. 9 and decided to include vaporizing devices within the scope of products addressed.

“The only thing we wanted to clarify was the issue with e-cigarettes,” said Joanne Smith, vice president of student affairs. “It has come up several times, and so we were wanting to review what the city had in their ordinance and then what we had.”

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