Travis County purchases 223 acres in Volente for nature preserve

Published by Community Impact Newspaper on March 22.

Travis County is in the process of purchasing approximately 17 percent of the land within the village of Volente for the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan.

Greg Hammonds is a partner for Grason Volente Investments, the landowner of the property, and he said he has a fully executed agreement with the county for land. The 223-acre property previously made up most of a roughly 300-acre planned development district, or PDD, set up in 2006 with the plan to incorporate around a home per acre, according to Hammonds and Volente Mayor Ken Beck.

“Getting the development approvals from the village of Volente dragged on for years,” Hammonds said. “By the time we reached an agreement with the village, the market had turned. As the market has returned, we chose to sell the property rather than develop it.”

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Leander ISD becomes district of innovation for calendar flexibility

Published by Community Impact Newspaper on March 22.

Leander ISD is now a district of innovation.

Following a three-month process, the district’s board of trustees voted in favor of the designation Feb. 15. The district of innovation, or DOI, system allows school districts to use exemptions from certain aspects of Texas Education Code.

Proponents of becoming a DOI say it offers LISD local control over the academic calendar, providing the ability to adjust when the school year can begin and end to better benefit students’ and families’ schedules.

Those in opposition say that approving the DOI for calendar flexibility could open the door to other exemptions allowed by the program, including exemptions from mandates regarding class-size rations and teacher appraisal requirements.

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As population grows, city of Leander looks to expand its parks system

Published by Community Impact Newspaper on Feb. 21.

This spring approximately 400 children registered for Leander’s Little League program—up from around 225 players enrolled in spring 2017, according to Leander Recreation Director Heather Taylor.

“The growth is uncontrolled right now, so our programs are having to accommodate that growth,” she said.

To address these needs, the parks department will consider adding additional facilities in the upcoming years, including a new baseball field at Benbrook Ranch Park, said Mark Tummons, director of Leander’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Tummons said the parks department plans to create a comprehensive plan, expected to be complete by the end of 2018.

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Big Bend and a Texas winter

This became the greatest adventure of all.

I drove 1,930 miles from Rhode Island to Texas in May. Over rolling hills in Virginia, past billboards outside Nashville. It’s not a new story. Austin grew by around four percent in 2017, or 36,690 people, according to city data.

My boyfriend and cat quickly followed, thank heavens. I’d never been in this part of the country before, making every trip an exploration. Austin has an impressive number of opportunities to get outside. We made hikes with friends a part of our weekly routine. We said we would go camping outside the city and kept putting it off. The reasons were legitimate—my cat was sick, the weather was too hot and then the weather was too cold and wet.

Remarkably, to me, the average temperatures in Austin in January range from highs in the 60s to lows in the 40s, according to The Weather Channel. Knowing this and vacationing in the frigid Northeastern U.S. for the holidays, I booked a weekend of camping in Big Bend National Park for my return. A wintry week in Connecticut made camping in just-above freezing seem doable.

Big Bend by Abby Bora

Big Bend National Park is a good seven-hour drive west from the capitol city, but its average temperatures are only a few degrees cooler. However, this particular weekend, the state was experiencing a cold front. As we prepared for our time away, we realized we’d be camping in snowy conditions and booked a “Texas-sized” hotel room in Alpine.

Telling the story to others sounds a bit foolish. My boyfriend and I drove eight hours on a Sunday, woke up early on Monday to spend a few hours at the park before driving right back. All in the ice and fog. Oh, the fog. Alpine seemed a sweet place—with charming storefronts and vibrant murals—but the thick fog enveloping the town gave it a dreary disposition that night.

It had a different effect on the natural landscape. Driving into Big Bend provides miles and miles of views for many of its visitors. While the fog limited the distance we could see, it added an extraterrestrial feel. We were either on Mars, or somewhere in Middle Earth.

Big Bend by Abby Bora

 

Big Bend is larger than the state of Rhode Island, and that’s just the national park—it also lies next to Big Bend Ranch State Park and two protected natural areas in Mexico, according to the National Parks Foundation. Once we entered the park, we had miles to go before reaching the popular Lost Mine Trail.

There were signs warning us of bears and mountain lions. The foliage was frosted with snow. The air got less chilly the higher we climbed, which was unexpected. I am so glad we visited when we did, because how often does someone get to see snow at Big Bend?*

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We couldn’t stay long. There was a long ride home ahead of us and work in the morning. Nevertheless, the opportunity to be among the mountains, desert and small Western towns was unforgettable.

*The answer: once or twice a winter, usually at high elevations, according to the National Parks Service.

Cedar Park and Leander join area Amazon bid

Published by Community Impact Newspaper on Nov. 20.

“The cities of Cedar Park and Leander are among cities and regions across North America vying for a spot as Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters.

On Sept. 7, Amazon announced it was opening a search for a second headquarters to join its Seattle facilities. The company expects to invest over $5 billion in the construction of the expansion, which could generate up to 50,000 jobs, according to Amazon’s website.”

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Cedar Park files lawsuit against state utility commission over LCRA transmission line route

Published by Community Impact Newspaper on Nov. 10.

“The city of Cedar Park filed a joint lawsuit with landowner group Burleson Ranch against the Public Utility Commission of Texas in October, challenging the commission’s decision for a transmission line to run down Hero Way and Ronald Reagan Boulevard to RM 1431.

The utility commission voted to approve the Lower Colorado River Authority Transmission Services Corporation’s LHO-1 transmission line route from Leander to Round Rock in May. Once complete, the 138-kilovolt lines would connect power substations in Round Rock and Leander to proposed substations in Cedar Park and Leander.”

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Texas Museum of Science and Technology to open again after remodel

Published by Community Impact Newspaper on Sept. 20.

“After closing for renovations, the Texas Museum of Science and Technology in Cedar Park will reopen with four new or expanded exhibits in September.

The museum’s two permanent exhibits—the planetarium and “Timewalk”—are joined by the traveling display “Drugs: Costs & Consequences” from the Drug Enforcement Administration and another called “Machines in Motion” about Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions.

‘It’s going to be beautiful, functional and way better than it was,’ said Torvald Hessel, founder and chief strategy officer for TXMoST. ‘It’s day-and-night different.'”

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