Texas Governor on Alternative Energy and Cap and Trade

Created Wednesday, 30 September 2009 22:00

Texas Governor Perry: Washington Should Follow Texas’ Lead on Alternative Energy
Meets with business, industry leaders to discuss impact to Texas of cap and trade legislation
September 30, 2009

HOUSTON – Gov. Rick Perry today met with business and industry leaders to discuss the impact of proposed cap and trade legislation in Washington. The governor emphasized the importance of diversifying the state’s energy portfolio by pursuing innovative energy sources as an alternative to the burdensome regulations associated with proposed federal cap and trade legislation, which would increase the cost of living for Texas families and crush Texas and the nation’s energy producing sectors.

“Texas has shown you don’t need federal mandates to improve the environment or foster the next generation of energy technology,” Gov. Perry said. “Rather than emulate Texas’ success, Washington seems determined to cripple our economy by imposing sweeping mandates and draconian regulation. Texans should be wary about a cap-and-trade bill that would not only impose the largest tax hike in the history of the United States, but also inject the federal government further into every Texas home, farm and workplace.”

Implementing the regulations associated with the Waxman-Markey Bill, also known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act, would be the single largest tax increase in U.S. history, significantly increasing the cost of living for all Texas families by an additional $1,200 per year, according to the comptroller. Additionally, a study by Texas A&M University suggests that virtually all Texas ranchers and farmers would be negatively impacted by the bill.

This bill would also cripple Texas’ energy sector, irreparably damaging both the state and national economies and severely impacting national oil and gas supplies. Texas’ energy industry fuels the nation, supplying 20 percent of the nation’s oil production, one-fourth of the nation’s natural gas production, a quarter of the nation’s refining capacity, and nearly 60 percent of the nation’s chemical manufacturing. Additionally, Texas’ energy industry employs 200,000 to 300,000 Texans, with $35 billion in total wages.

Rather than adopting this misguided legislation or allowing the EPA to overly regulate every sector of the economy, Gov. Perry has proposed that the federal government follow Texas’ lead by making alternative energy technologies less expensive, thereby encouraging widespread commercial use and removing barriers to innovation and competition. Modernizing the national energy grid to support wind and solar energy transmission, facilitating investments in the development of carbon capture and sequestration technologies, and removing barriers to investment in nuclear generation would reduce carbon emissions while encouraging competitiveness, innovation and growth in alternative energy sources.

Diversifying the state’s energy portfolio remains a priority for Gov. Perry. Texas has already installed more wind power than any other state and all but four countries, and is developing new transmission lines that will move more than 18,000 megawatts across the state – nearly as much as all other states’ current capacity combined. Texas has also attracted more than 9,000 megawatts of energy from the development of next generation nuclear power plants. The state is also looking to add new clean coal plants, which will capture and sequester carbon dioxide emissions or use the carbon dioxide to increase production from Texas oil fields.
Key Points

Gov. Perry meets with business and industry leaders to discuss impact of cap and trade
Emphasizes importance of pursuing alternative energy sources and diversifying the state’s energy portfolio
The Waxman-Markey energy bill would significantly increase the cost of living for Texas families

Related Content

09/22/2009 – Press Release
Gov. Perry: Cap and Trade Legislation will Significantly Increase the Cost of Living for Texans
09/22/2009 – Speech
Gov. Perry: Waxman-Markey Will Negatively Impact Texas Families
08/19/2009 – Speech
Gov. Perry: Innovation Will Help Create New Clean Energy Sources
08/19/2009 – Press Release
Gov. Perry: Incentives will Create New Clean Energy Sources
06/26/2009 – Press Release
Gov. Perry: Cap and Trade Would Be Largest Tax Increase In U.S. History and Hurt Texas’ Economy


Texas Employment Figures Continue Downward

Created Tuesday, 29 September 2009 18:58


Real Estate Center Online News
September 29, 2009

COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center) – The latest Texas employment figures show a continuing downward trend.

The Texas economy lost 295,400 nonfarm jobs from August 2008 to August 2009, an annual job loss of 2.8 percent. The U.S. economy took a much larger hit, losing close to six million jobs or 4.4 percent of its total nonfarm jobs.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose from 5 percent in August 2008 to 8 percent in August 2009, while the U.S. rate rose from 6.2 percent to 9.7 percent during the same period.

Only two Texas industries (education and health services, leisure and hospitality) and the government sector had more jobs in August 2009 than in August 2008. Nine industries experienced net job losses over the same period.

Only one Texas metro area, McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, experienced a positive employment growth rate from August 2008 to August 2009. Twenty-four metro areas experienced net job losses.

The state’s actual unemployment rate in August 2009 was 8.1 percent. Amarillo had the lowest unemployment rate, followed by Lubbock, Abilene, Midland and College Station.

For more on the Texas economy, read the Real Estate Center’s latest monthly economic review, available on the Center’s website.


To subscribe or unsubscribe to RECON or to view back issues go to the Real Estate Center’s website.
To send news items for consideration, e-mail Bryan Pope.
The Real Estate Center is part of the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University in College Station – the heart of the Research Valley.



Luring Caterpillar to Central Texas

Created Monday, 28 September 2009 23:05

Luring the CAT to Central Texas

Local Government Tools that Made The Difference

  • Local property tax abatement (Chapter 312, Texas Tax Code) – no city or county tax bill for 10 years.
  • Value limitation and tax credits (Chapter 313, Texas Tax Code) – Eight-year limitation on the value assessed for school district maintenance and operation tax and two-year eligibility for tax credits. (No limitation on interest and sinking tax assessment.)
  • Freeport exemption from personal property tax on parts and materials exported within 175 days of delivery to manufacturing facility.
  • Economic development sales tax – Incentive funds allocated by 4A corporation.

Incentives for CaterpillarLocal

  • City of Seguin -100 percent property tax abatement for 10 years.
  • Guadalupe County -100 percent property tax abatement for 10 years
  • Seguin ISD – Available $80 M value limitation per year on appraised property value for maintence and operations plus hold harmless funding from the state of Texas.
  • Freeport exemption on personal property tax in Seguin, Guadalupe County, Seguin ISD.
  • Seguin Economic Development Corp. – $2M incentive: $1M cash; $1M bond for sewer, road infrastructure.
  • Regional partners offering incentives include: Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative, Center Point Energy and Springs Hill Water Supply Corp.


  • Texas Enterprise Fund – $10M.
  • Texas Department of Transportation – Deceleration lane, traffic signal – $450,000-$500,000 est.

Luring the CAT to Central Texas

by Gerard MacCrossan

Construction under way as Chapter 313 change paves way for incentive application

Enticements that local economic development officials estimate could total about $80 million during the next 10 years, proximity to transportation and even the mild winter weather were factors prompting Caterpillar’s anticipated roll into Texas.

The heavy equipment giant is relocating one of its primary global engine assembly, test and paint operations to Guadalupe County, about 30 miles northeast of downtown San Antonio. Texas won the investment and 1,465 projected jobs over sites in Mexico and South Carolina. Caterpillar plans to have a $170 million facility close to Interstate 10 manufacturing engines by mid-2010 and fully operational in 2011.

Seguin Economic Development Director Terry Treviño estimates the local incentive package, which includes $10 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund, could save Caterpillar $70 million during the next decade. The rest of the package includes city and county property tax abatements under Chapter 312 of the Texas Tax Code, freeport exemption on parts and materials used in manufacturing that stay in Texas for no more than 175 days, and reduced school taxes Caterpillar is seeking under Chapter 313 of the Texas Tax Code limiting the appraised value of taxable property.

Construction work is under way at the plant and Caterpillar’s Chapter 313 application – the last piece of the incentive puzzle awaiting approval – was filed with the Seguin Independent School District in July after the 2009 Texas Legislature modified the incentives’ qualifications. The change allows a company to qualify for Chapter 313 tax abatements if it hires more than 1,000 workers earning 110 percent of the average county wage. Caterpillar announced its work force’s average wage will be $21 per hour, which is higher than the average manufacturing wage in Guadalupe County, but not 110 percent – the level needed to qualify under the previous Chapter 313 rules.

State Rep. Edmund Kuempel of Seguin, who introduced the amendment modifying Chapter 313, says legislators knew the change was beneficial not just for Caterpillar and Seguin, but the whole region and state.

“It is a big boost for towns and counties within 30 or 40 miles, not just with Caterpillar, but the suppliers, too,” he says. “The work force could grow to 3,500 or 4,000 people with the work force at Caterpillar and the companies servicing it.”

Although most of the incentives will be provided by Guadalupe County and Seguin entities, surrounding communities, such as New Braunfels, Marion, Schertz and Wilson and Gonzales counties, also will benefit from wages paid to commuting workers and new companies moving in, Kuempel says.

“Seguin is a prime location that brings Cat closer to our supplier base and customers,” says Caterpillar spokeswoman Kate Kenny. “Seventy percent of the products manufactured in Seguin will be exported and this location provides excellent access to ports and other key logistical opportunities.

“State and local officials worked very quickly and aggressively to meet our needs and deadlines to make this a reality,” Kenny says. “We value teamwork and this was a true team effort.”

“It is a big boost for towns and counties within 30 or 40 miles, not just with Caterpillar, but the suppliers, too.” – State Rep. Edmund Kuempel

According to Treviño, the city’s and county’s similar Chapter 312 tools already in place streamlined the process for offering the 100-percent, 10-year property tax abatement. Seguin ISD’s Chief Financial Officer Sandra Hill says Caterpillar has applied for the appraised value limitation, which would apply to the maintenance and operation portion of the school tax bill; the ISD’s debt service tax would be levied at the total appraised value.

The Seguin EDC kicked in $2 million backed by 4A sales tax receipts – $1 million in cash and a further $1 million to fund sewer and public road improvements around the Caterpillar site. The EDC’s investment is substantial considering the annual 4A receipts are about $800,000, according to Treviño. However, Seguin EDC had funds in the bank, thanks to reserves generated from previous real estate investments, and last summer paid off all its debt prior to agreeing to sell the new Caterpillar bonds.

It wasn’t just financial commitments that swung the Caterpillar deal. Seguin city leaders committed in early December – before the deal was formally announced – to expanding wastewater collection capacity at the site, which lies on the northeastern outskirts of Guadalupe’s county seat.

The Texas Department of Transportation offered two new turn signals and a deceleration lane for truck traffic entering the plant. Spokeswoman Helen Havelka says preliminary cost estimates for the TxDOT work – all on public right-of-way – is $450,000 to $500,000.

Part of the state funds committed will go to work force training, Treviño says. Adding 1,465 employees – making Caterpillar the community’s largest employer – shouldn’t be very difficult given 25,000-population Seguin’s proximity to northern San Antonio and its bedroom communities in western Guadalupe County, as well as New Braunfels and San Marcos.

“We’re one of the largest manufacturing cities in the state of Texas,” Treviño says. “The work force 
is skilled.” Training would be delivered by the Alamo Community College District, almost certainly at the Central Texas Technology Center – a collaboration with Seguin and New Braunfels economic development officials located adjacent to the New Braunfels Airport in northwestern Guadalupe County. TR

A Caterpillar 725 articulated dump truck A Caterpillar 725 articulated dump truck powered by a C-11 diesel engine that is among the type that will be built in Seguin.


On the Road Again to Richmond Texas


Created Monday, 28 September 2009 00:00

On the Road Again

By Julia Hayden

I took a break from it all last weekend, and hit the highway – in support of a spasm of marketing for the Adelsverein Trilogy. Months ago I had been invited to participate in a cultural festival at the Fort Bend Museum in Richmond. It was the first long road-trip in a while, if three hours on IH-10 East, almost-but-not-quite to Houston counts as a road trip. I have to say that the passing scenery was not particularly spectacular, but oh, my – the rest stops are absolutely palatial. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this one, just about an hour’s drive out from San Antonio.

That part of East Texas is subtly different from the area around San Antonio, and the Hill Country that I know – more heavily wooded, with stands of massive, spreading oak trees interspersed with meadows of tall-grass – and much, much greener, especially after a summer where we haven’t had all that much rain. Tall oaks loom over houses, and the smaller trees form tangled thickets, stitched together with wild grapevines. There are creeks with water running in them, lakes and waterways. This part of Texas was historically more Anglo; with not as deep a Hispanic presence. It was the closest to the then-United States in the 19th century, and presumably offered those American settlers in Texas a little more of what they were accustomed to, as far as landscape and plant-life went; more Southern rather than Southwest, flatter rather than gently rolling.

Richmond Texas is pretty much now a bedroom suburb of Houston. Enough remains of the town to show what it once was like, anchored by the railway and a bend of the Brazos, adorned with stately, white-pillared homes, rambling Victorian cottages trimmed with yards of wooden gingerbread trim, and dignified old two-storey commercial blocks on the main street. Here and there, this pleasing 19th century aspect is broken up with indigestible chunks of Brutal Concrete Moderne, but it’s easy enough to look away from those.

I was directed towards the very best place to eat; for soups, sandwiches and salads, nothing better than Sandy McGee’s on Morton Street, situated in a 19th century storefront block which my hosts insisted was haunted. It might very well be – or it might just be someone coming back from the afterlife for a slab of cheesecake.


There were a lot of Texas historical connections in Richmond. Jane Long – the widow of one early pioneer/adventurer lived there for many years, as did Carrie Nation, she of the saloon-smashing temperance brigade. So did Mirabeau Lamar, sometime president of the Republic of Texas, who fought with Sam Houston like two tomcats in a sack. Sam Houston’s master of scouts, Erastus “Deaf” Smith is also buried there – ostensibly on the Fort Bend Museum grounds, but possibly underneath the nearby street intersection. Benjamin Franklin Terry, of Terry’s Texas Rangers Civil War fame, came from nearby and recruited locally – his saddle, out of which he was shot in fighting around Woodsonville, Kentucky, is in the museum. After the end of the Civil War, the Woodpeckers and the Jaybirds – gangs formed by partisans of Reconstruction, and of Southern sympathizers fought at least one pitched battle for control of Fort Bend County. All in all, well worth the trip – and the cheesecake at McGees, not to mention the sandwiches are well worth it.




Created Thursday, 24 September 2009 01:24



Nightmare on Grayson


When in the name of all that’s unholy, did Halloween turn into an extravaganza of coffins and mock gravestones set up in suburban lawns, and formations of witches plastered onto tree trunks and garage doors, great glowing hanging jack o lanterns, and ghosts and witches and skeletons and huge ass spiders (shudder!) and monstrous webs, and life-sized skeletons? When did decorating the house for the benefit of small children in dime-store costumes or something cobbled together from a stack of torn bedsheets and some Rit dye, panhandling door to door for packets of candy corn and little pastel rolls of sweettarts go so very, very far over the top as – a full Griswald Christmas? It probably happened about the same time that the pattern catalogue for costumes at the yardage store became as thick as a seasonal catalogue and stayed on the yardage store pattern table year around. But it must be fun, since so many San Antonio homes indulge themselves, and others have their yards decorated according to the upcoming holiday anyway.

Back in the day, it used to be an innocent, home-made, modest little affair. Mom bought us each a pumpkin, and in the early days Dad helped us carve them with a kitchen knife and scrape out the mooshy tangle of seeds and stringy orange fibers. By the time my brother and I were in junior high, we conducted the ritual pumpkin butchery ourselves, and assisted our younger sister with marking out a scary face in straight-angled cuts. Fit the pumpkins with candle-ends, saved for this purpose in the drawer with the silverware, set them out on the front porch, and there we were, all set. Of all the neighbors in the town where I grew up, only one got ambitious, rigging a ghost of cheesecloth to fly silently down a wire running from the trees by their gate to just above the front door.

Close to sundown, we would light the candles in the pumpkins- it was really, truly only tricker-treating, after it was at least decently dark, with smothered giggles coming from the front porch, and children in twos and threes working up their nerve to ring a strange doorbell. Usually, there was a parent or older sib outside the circle of porch-light, cuing the chorus of “Tricker-treat!” and reminders to say “Thank-you!” before they romped away, clutching their brown-paper grocery bags of treats. That hasn’t changed, nor has the creation of slightly more elaborate Halloween parties, and haunted houses, such as the venerable Nightmare on Grayson Street, in downtown San Antonio. (Nightmare on Grayson opens September 25, 2009 for the 21st year.)

Home-made, kid-made costumes, simple pumpkins, and brown-paper bags- all very simple in comparison, as shapeless and disorganized as a scratch softball game on an empty lot on a summer morning when school is out. Now that Halloween is all elaborate, and organized, like Little League, with uniforms and coaches and formal rules, it may be more spectacular, but I have a sneaking suspicion it may have been more pure fun for the kids then.







Governor Perry on Health Care Reform

Created Wednesday, 23 September 2009 17:09

Gov. Perry: Successful Health Care Reform Must be Achieved through State-Specific Solutions

September 23, 2009

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and the Texas Congressional Delegation outlining his concerns about the impact on Texas taxpayers and the state budget of federal government-run health care bills currently under consideration by Congress. The committee began consideration of Chairman Baucus’ proposed bill and amendments this week.

“Instead of government mandates and more deficit spending, successful health care reforms can be achieved only by providing states the flexibility to develop state-specific solutions,” Gov. Perry said. “I urge you to support our right, as a state, to further explore these approaches, rather than forcing us to implement federal mandates that promise financial hardships for the states and little in the way of benefits for our economy and all of our constituents.”

According to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, the federal health care proposals could add up to $60 billion to the state budget over the next 10 years, creating twice the number of Texas Medicaid recipients. The bills also place a new tax burden on certain businesses, and provide for the federal takeover of some current state insurance functions.

The governor also reiterated his request to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for approval of the Texas Medicaid reform waiver, which was originally submitted in April 2008. This waiver, which would enable more low-income working Texans to purchase private health insurance, promote preventive care, and improve quality and access to care, is stalled at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

To view the governor’s letter to Chairman Baucus, please click the link below.

Attached File: Governor Perry’s Letter to Chairman Baucus

Key Points

  • Gov. Perry sends letter Chairman Baucus to outline concerns about federal health care proposals
  • The Senate Finance Committee began considering the bill and amendments this week
  • Federal health care proposals could cost Texas $60 billion over the next 10 years


Sunday Afternoon at the Dog Park

Created Wednesday, 23 September 2009 03:05

Sunday Afternoon at the Dog Park with the Lesser Weevil

There is a dog park, hidden away in the back forty of McAllister Park, a sprawling public park/semi-wilderness area in Northside San Antonio. It is formed by a large fenced area of trees and shrubs, dotted with benches and a number of trash cans and dispensers offering what my daughter describes as ‘poopy-bags’. A paved path leads around the perimeter of the fenced area. Another long paved path leads from a parking lot: on any given afternoon when the weather is fair and mild, and most especially on weekends, that path is alive with leashed dogs and their people. The dogs are normally wild with excitement, heading toward their social-hour, play-date and mad-minute. It must be something they look forwards to all the rest of their limited, doggy lives – if they are capable of retaining a pleasurable memory.

One of our neighbors told us about the park; admittedly, we were nervous about the whole off-the-leash concept with regard to the Lesser Weevil. We have no apprehensions about the Weevil and humans – it’s other dogs. Now and again in the early months, she took an instant and abiding dislike to another dog on a leash. But our neighbor assured us, over and over – that it is all right, the dogs seem to govern themselves very well, off leash, and the more there are of them in the confines of the park, the better they all behave. So we took a chance – and we stuck very close to her that first time, and waited until she had behaved well with the first half-dozen dogs that came romping up for a bit of friendly butt-sniffing.

Weevil still does not play as uninhibitedly with the other dogs as others do. She’ll chase a thrown tennis ball and run races, but she will stay fairly close to Blondie. And Spike the Shi Tzu basically attaches herself to my ankles, never going much farther than ten feet away, even if there are other small dogs who want to play with her. It was quite lively this last Sunday; not least because it seemed to be Big Dog Day. Sometimes people tell us that the Weevil is a big dog; no, she actually is rather agreeably medium-sized. On Sunday she looked positively dainty, next to a Newfoundland the size of a small sofa, two mastiffs who topped out at a couple of hundred pounds each, and a Great Dane who looked big enough to put a saddle on and ride like a horse. No kidding, the Great Dane’s nose alone was bigger than the smallest dog present – a four-month-old Chihuahua puppy, too small to be put down on the ground, among all those specimens of canine gigantism.

And of course, the Weevil behaved herself – how could she not, when the whole place was seething with dogs; dogs running, chasing tennis balls and each others’ behinds, begging to be played with and petted, and romping in front of, or behind their people making a slow circuit of the path around the park? No, it was a good day and good for her – and kind of a relief to know that Blondie has trained her to obedience well enough to trust her off the leash and with a large number of other dogs.






Wild Boar

Created Monday, 21 September 2009 13:47

The Wild Boar Hunt – A Texas Grizzly Bear

My friend Jim and his son Scott are still talking about hunting the biggest, meanest, baddest, ugliest, smelliest creatures on this earth.

Their first wld boar hunt began last May after one of the hunters booked it online. Scott and three hunter friends from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, met Jim at Langley Ranch, a commercial hunting operation outside Centerville, halfway between Houston and Dallas.

Wild boars are elusive, intelligent creatures. Jim says they can smell food up to seven miles away or buried 10 feet in the ground. Some of the hogs at Langley Ranch have strong genetic ties to the Russian boar. Known for their scruffy, black coats and threatening tusks, their quick tempers send many a hunter scrambling up a tree for safety.

Jim said, “They are very mean. They’ll chase you. If you shoot one and don’t get it dead, you better watch out because he’s going to come get you.”

The hunters’ guide, driving a four-wheel drive vehicle, showed them the hogs’ trottin’ grounds of pasture thickets, running creeks, mud bogs and food plots, where they are fed corn. The hunters followed the hogs’ paths on foot or climbed into deer-like hunting stands to wait for their prey.

“You always try to stay upwind of them,” Jim said. “That’s why being up in the air is important.”

The guide located the hogs and “brought them around for us,” Jim continued. “He keeps them movin’.”

Jim shot the first one with his new, 150-pound crossbow and arrow. He likes the sport of it. The weapon’s arrow has four blades like razors on its tip. The arrow pierced the hog, but he ran off. Later Jim found part of his arrow, bloody and half-broken, minus the hog.

Later in the day Jim shot the group’s first hog with his rifle. The animal weighed 214 pounds, the heaviest hog taken during the four-day hunt.

“Everybody said I about broke my arm patting myself on the back.”

The ranch owner loaded the hogs in a four-wheel drive vehicle. Back at the camphouse where the hunters stayed, the hog was skinned, bled out, hung up, weighed, cut into sections and stored in a walk-in cooler. In all, the hunters bagged eight hogs with a total weight of 1,414 pounds.

At night the men sat around a campfire, told stories and jokes, ate and drank beer.

“Would I go again?” Jim asks rhetorically. “In a heartbeat.”





Wurstfest 2009 New Braunfels Texas

Created Sunday, 20 September 2009 15:02


49th annual “Salute to Sausage” – Wurstfest 2009 –

New Braunfels, Texas

There are festivals, and then there are festivals, and practically every small town in America has a celebration of a favorite locally-produced or cultivated edible speciality: Gilroy, California celebrates garlic, Whiting, Indiana fetes the pierogi, Buffalo celebrates (what else?) Buffalo wings, the Yarmouth Clam Festival needs no explanation, and New York’s Little Italy section celebrates the glories of Italian food at the Feast of San Gennaro. Closer to home, it’s strawberries in Poteet, and thumping watermelons in Luling, but New Braunfels has the very, very wurst.

Wurst, that is. Hot, sizzling, spicy and infinite in variety and complexity – straight from the Old Country. Which, in the case of New Braunfels, means Germany. Back in the middle of the 19th century, hard times and political upheaval in the various states and principalities contributed a veritable flood of German immigrants. Within the space of a few years, a complicated and well-meant entrepreneur scheme dumped upwards of seven thousand ethnic Germans on the far Texas frontier. In the space of a few years more, they had organized all the comforts and culture of home – to include their own particular culinary delights, the brewing of beer and the performing of music. Or as was inelegantly put elsewhere – sausage, suds and song.

All of that is to be found in bounteous quantities, at the annual Wurstfest, in Landa Park, New Braunfels, over ten days beginning on October 30th, with opening ceremonies in the Wursthalle – or as my rough translation has it  – The Grand Hall of Sausages! It goes on for ten days thereafter, music and Gemütlichkeit galore, all of it in around Landa Park in facilities that have been expanded and enlarged.

Wurstfest starts on the Friday before the first Monday in November.
2009 – October 30 – Novermber 8

When the whole thing started, in 1961, it was conceived as a one-day celebration of the sausage, after a week of local cafes featuring sausage dishes, and grocery stores running specials. Then it became “Wurst Week” and finally burst into glorious flower as Wurstfest the festival, serving local wurst and other German specialties in every conceivable form, including wurst-ba-bobs and sauerkraut pizza, polka contests, performances by local and international brass bands, and the world’s largest collection of beer bottles. Special  events scheduled for this years’ Wurstfest include craft shows, runs/walks/bicycle rides, a regatta, special exhibits at the Sophienburg Museum, at the  and the New Braunfels Railway museum, and an old fashioned melodrama entitled “Bratwurst – the Adventures of Bratman and Robin.”

Rain or shine, this year’s Wurstfest opens on Friday afternoon, October 30th – November 8th, in the Wursthalle, on the festival grounds in Landa Park – admission is free for the first hours, otherwise admission is $8.00, at the gate or by pre-order through the Wurstfest website.

And if you absolutely positively cannot wait until then, or even come visit New Braunfels in late October, you can get your sausage and smoked meats fix by mail-order, through the New Braunfels Smoke House.

Future Wurstfest Event Dates:
Wurstfest always starts on the Friday before the first Monday in November.
2009 – October 30 – Novermber 8
2010 – October 29 – November 7
2011 – November 4 – 13
2012 – November 2 – 11




Walk in King William An Old Neighborhood

Created Sunday, 20 September 2009 03:15

A Walk in an Old Neighborhood

Whenever my daughter and I have a need to go downtown in the morning, we like to go for lunch at the Guenther House – an old San Antonio mansion converted to a restaurant, museum and retail outlet, in the middle of a pleasant green garden a little way south of downtown San Antonio. The Guenther House was originally built by a C.H. Guenther, a German immigrant who relocated from the Hill Country, and established a mill on the San Antonio River. Cannily, he figured that there were several mills grinding corn and wheat in the Hill Country, but none in San Antonio.

He built the house for his family right next to his mill – and there it still is, the Pioneer Flour Mill, with a crenellated tower that can be seen for miles. The little store sells all sorts of cooking implements and products from the Mills; mixes and flavorings and things, and Pioneer Flour Mills products are also served in the restaurant. The food is good, and served either outdoors in a garden pavilion, or inside. One of the dining rooms is in what was garden room, on a half-basement floor, with windows on three sides looking out into the garden, a lovely little room in green and white, with a floor in mosaic tile, and stained glass in the transoms, hanging plants, and Chinese-style lanterns in metal and alabaster-finished glass.

Afterwards, my daughter decided we ought to walk off the very good sandwich lunch, by looking at the old houses along King William Street. (It used to be Wilhelm, of course – but tactfully changed about the time of World War One.)

This is a pocket-sized historical district – San Antonio’s very first first upscale suburb. What with one thing and another – and C.H. Guenther was just one of the first – it became a popular location for the German business element in San Antonio to build their houses, starting in the 1850s. Frederick Law Olmstead visited, around then, noting that San Antonio was equal thirds German, Anglo and Hispanic – and all as distinct in their manner of building and dress, as well as language.

There are other metaphorical old friends, along this street: This is the Steves house. The Steves were from Comfort, originally. I wrote of them in Adelsverein: Book Two, as neighbors of the Beckers. One of the Steves sons was the second school-teacher in Comfort. There was a Steves son and a son-in-law who were Unionists during the Civil War, and were killed in the massacre of Unionists in the Nueces Fight.

Although it is a historical district, not all the houses are quite so well kept: some are a little battered, a little overgrown, and broken up into several units. Keeping them together and air-conditioned in the summer must be a veritable money-pit.

We walked back along the river-front, admiring the back-gardens of the houses on either side. In 1855, Olmsted had written that all the very nicest houses were built along the river, with bathhouses and little cabins for swimming and soaking in the cool water all along the banks.

My daughter says that when I am a rich and famous writer, one of these old San Antonio houses shall do very nicely.