Traynor Swanson

Residents, county recovering from flood

Nearly four months after the Halloween flooding, many residents are still recovering from damages to their homes and businesses caused by the rainfall.

Kharley Smith, emergency management coordinator for Hays County, estimates the Halloween floods caused about $400,000 in damage to public roadways. FEMA will reimburse Hays County an estimated $3 million for various reconstruction efforts.

“The reconstruction process includes repairing or replacing public facilities like roads, bridges and schools,” Smith said. “Because this was a presidentially declared national disaster, the state and local governments will be reimbursed by FEMA for the response and recovery effort.”

Community honors late associate professor

A pianist played a jazz rendition of “Amazing Grace” as colleagues, friends and students of Sally Caldwell entered the United Campus Ministry-Wesley center Friday afternoon, setting the tone for the late faculty member’s memorial service.

Caldwell, who was an associate professor of sociology, died Jan. 31 from complications of a double lung transplant last June.
Susan Day, professor in the sociology department, met Caldwell in 1975 when they were both beginning their professional careers at Oklahoma City University. Day described Caldwell as the kind of teacher who often caused students to say, “I know I got an F, but I really loved the class.”

HIGH RANKING: University leads state in drug arrests

Not only are Bobcats being busted for drug possession more than any other students in the state, but the university is also ranked in the top 20 in the nation for campus drug arrests, according to a recent study.

Rehabs.com, a website that aims to provide professional medical help for people who struggle with substance abuse problems, found Texas State to have the most campus drug arrests in the state. The study ranks Texas State 16th in the country for drug arrests, the only school in the state to place in the top 50.

The site’s researchers recorded Texas State as having approximately 7.5 drug arrests per thousand students in 2011, the most recent year that statistics were available.

IRS changes large party gratuity policy

San Marcos restaurant waiters are beginning to feel the effects of an IRS ruling that is changing the way automatic gratuity is calculated into the paychecks of those who serve large groups of customers.

Under the ruling enacted Jan. 1, parties of six or more customers are now able to decide how much to tip without having gratuities automatically included in their checks as a percentage. Restaurant owners are still able to grant automatic gratuities on large parties, but they are now classified as service charges with different implications.

Commissioners developing water conservation fund

More residents may be able to collect and store their own rainwater and groundwater if county commissioners approve a new $1 million self-renewing fund.

County commissioner Ray Whisenant, Precinct 4, introduced a draft proposal to establish the Hays County Rainwater Initiative Fund during Tuesday’s commissioners court meeting. The proposal aims to create a self-renewing fund to assist residents with the collection, storage, use and conservation of rainwater and groundwater.

Police chief attributes 2013 city crime increase to natural cycle

The City of San Marcos experienced more theft, burglary and aggravated assault in 2013 than in the previous year, according to crime statistics released by the police department.

However, Howard Williams, San Marcos police chief, said he attributes the rise in crime to a natural cycle rather than an “epidemic.”

“The simple fact of the matter is numbers go up and down,” Williams said. “Crime numbers run in cycles. We can only report in averages over time.”

Aggravated assaults increased from 108 in 2012 to 137 in 2013, and misdemeanor assaults rose from 449 to 466 in the same time period, according to data from SMPD. The majority of these incidents occurred at bars on Thursday and Friday nights,
Williams said.

Student Health Center to accept private insurance

Changes to insurance policies and payment plans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will be implemented on campus and begin to affect students in January.

The Student Health Center will implement two significant policy changes in accordance with the new healthcare law, said Emilio Carranco, Student Health Center director. Beginning in January, the health center will accept private insurance, and requirements for international students will match the minimum coverage mandated by the Affordable Care Act, Carranco said.

Hays County provides assistance to flood victims

Liza Astran was asleep in her bed when she awoke to water splashing her feet. She sat up in confusion and noticed about three feet of water rising slowly throughout her home.

Astran, who lives in San Marcos, is one of many Hays County residents who awoke on Halloween to discover water encroaching upon their homes. County officials estimate more than 100 houses sustained major damage from the Oct. 31 floodwaters, with at least 100 additional houses seeing minor damage.

Armed suspect arrested at Copper Beech Townhomes

San Marcos Police Department officers arrested a suspect at the Copper Beech Townhomes Sunday night after responding to a call about a man with a shotgun.

Police apprehended and charged Miguel Alonzo-Garcia with aggravated assault and failure to identify himself. He was released Monday on $22,000 bail.

Reporter, author speaks at Mass Communication Week

Robert Kolker, investigative reporter for New York Magazine, discussed his experience as a news reporter and his book “Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery” Tuesday as part of Mass Comm Week.

Many police officers did not think anything extraordinary was occurring when a Craigslist prostitute named Shannan Gilbert went missing in spring 2010. When police discovered four other women’s bodies of similar age and stature several months later, they came to the conclusion Long Island had a serial killer on the loose, Kolker said.

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