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Hutto Community Resource Center

9 Jan

Hutto Community Resource Center is a non-profit organization working together with our community to offer and assist with the network of resources that are available to meet the needs of individuals and families. We are located at 623 W. Front Street, Ste 2100, Hutto Texas and can be reached at (512) 846-1377 or http://www.HuttoCRC.org.

Office hours:

Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 12 noon to 6:00pm.

TRANSPORTATION TO ROUND ROCK SERVING CENTER

1st, 3rd, and 5th Thursdays at 7:30am

FRESH FOOD PROGRAM:  Round trip transportation to Round Rock Serving Center on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Thursdays of each month for the fresh food for families produce distribution program.  Call (512) 846-1377 to reserve a seat.

2nd Friday at 2:00pm

HOPE bags:  Supplemental groceries for seniors who are 60+ years old.  Call (512) 846-1377 to reserve a seat.  

VOLUNTEER ORIENTATION     Held on the 4th Monday at 4:00pm, call (512) 846-1377 to register.

PROGRAM STUDIES:

EARLY CHILDHOOD INTERACTIVE LEARNING EXPERIENCE:  The main focus of the program is the interaction of the parent with the child.   Tutoring sessions on phonetics, numbers/letters comprehension and recognition.  It is a two hour segment: 2:00pm to 4:00pm – Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

MUSIC THEORY: Tutoring in the art of learning to read music by recognizing and understanding music notes, their values, time signatures, key signatures and rhythm.  Tutoring sessions will include chords and the different inversions and various scales of music.  Participants for the study start at the age of 12 years to adult.   Friday – 5:00pm to 6:00pm.   

OTHER ASSISTANCE PROGRAM(S)

DRESS TO IMPRESS FOR WOMEN:  Provide (1) interview outfit for the purpose of seeking employment.  Enhance interview skills; assist in reviewing and updating resume.  Individuals must provide evidence of application for employment and proof of upcoming job interview. 

Volunteers are the backbone of the community and the need for volunteers are great.

Where Do I Start?

Step 1: Complete a Volunteer Application on-line at www.HuttoCRC.org or at 623 W. Front St. Ste 2100.

Step 2: Attend a Volunteer Orientation Meeting.

How You Can Help?

We need you, your time and special talents.

Donate non-perishable food items to the Food Pantry

Make a monetary donation

Donate coats to the Orange Santa Program

Donate women’s clothing appropriate for job interviews

Top of Form

Volunteers are needed for the following tasks: Phone Receptionists, Casework Interviewers, Food Pantry Volunteers, and Merchandise Sorters. Volunteers are also needed to sort food donations, stock food pantry shelves, teach computer classes, refurbish computers, data entry and drivers with their own transportation and proof of insurance.

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Westphalia Market follow up

7 Jan

If you haven’t been to the Westphalia Market in the Hutto Commons yet you are really missing out – – especially if you like good meat at a good price. A pound of smoked, thick cut bacon that is heavy on the meat (looks more like European bacon than what you normally find in stores here) is only $3.99.

The process and cut their own meats so prices are usually lower – – that’s right, lower than HEB or Walmart and the quality & taste is excellent. The Hippo Eggs are divine (just ask Margo) and the fresh Hutto sausage is great pan fried or BBQ’d. Syeaks are delicious and give them a day’s notice can be cut to order.

Even the tiny fresh produce section is excellent.

Drop by, tell Brandon I recommended you do so (along with everyone else I’ve talked to who has been there) and give it a try. You’ll be glad you did.

New and Nasty Computer Virus

29 Nov

From Mike Adams, Owner and Senior Forensic Examiner, Prime Focus Forensics

Late last week my sister in law called me from Albuquerque to tell me that her computer had been invaded by a virus that hijacked her machine and would not leave it alone. It claimed that it had found all sorts of security and privacy violations and if you would be so kind as to give them your credit card information and  $59.99 (?) in payment they would remove all that nasty stuff from your computer. Sure they would, sure they would. Before that incident was all over it had trashed not only my sister in law’s computer, but her son’s computer as well.

They are looking at having to fully restore everything from the ground up.

THIS IS NOT A DRILL THIS IS NOT A DRILL THIS IS NOT A DRILL THIS IS NOT A DRILL

Soon after their call for help I received two more calls from local (Hutto) users with the same virus and the same problems. Then,on my way to Houston today my brother in law called from California and yes, he had the exact same virus.

I call it the “APV” (Anti Privacy Virus) for lack of a better term but someone like AVG or Norton has probably given it an official name. The point is that virus is a KILLER and it is spreading like wildfire.

While the victims cannot tell me where it came from I doubt that they all visited the same web page. Consequently it probably came from an infected email.

What can you do?

The same things that you should always be doing:

Keep Windows automatic update turned on so it will automatically download and install OS updates and some application updates.

Have a very good anti virus program installed and make sure it auto updates and if not, then you must do it manually. We recommend either AVG or Kaspersky. Go ahead and pony up for a paid version too.

Never open any emails from someone you do not know. Even if you do, never click on the links in those emails. Also, you may recognize the name on the email but if there is no wording, or strange wording, do not open any links in those emails. Basically, especially while this virus is running rampant, try not to click on any links in any emails.

Those that send emails with links could also do us all a big favor by mentioning that they have attached a such and such type file to their email. That way the receiver is more likely to open the attachment by clicking on the link.

Back up, back up, back up, and, back up Carbonite or any good back up is great. Of course you may also back up locally to an external drive. If you do that there is a great little free back up program ( send a donation!) called FTB. I use it at home and at the office for all of my local back ups. The point is, do something and do it fast!

Spread this word wide and far, tell your friend, your family, your other family the pele at the office the people at your gym and/or sewing club, friends at church or friends at the bar, say it loud and say it proud! Do not be a victim, be a winner!

Ciao for now,

Mike
C. M. “Mike” Adams, Owner and Senior Forensic Examiner, Prime Focus Forensics

Call Mike directly @ 512-436-3610 – 24/7

Texas Private Investigation Agency license A17351
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City Councilman introduces new concept…. . *

15 Nov

City Manager Ed Broussard is leaving in December and at a special meeting of the city council Assistant City Manager David Mitchell was appointed Interim City Manager, an excellent dedision.  At some point the talk turned to whether the city should initiate a search for a new city manager. Councilman Michael Smith spoke up and said “before we waste a whole lot of money why don’t we try David out for six months and see how he does”.

There it is – so simple, so eloquent: “before we waste a whole lot of money . . .”

David Mitchell has experience, talent and, having been with Hutto two years, he knows the city well. It is almost a certainty he’ll do a very good job as city manager. A very basic search for a new manager would start at $25-30,000 and that would be with the city doing most of the work. An extensive search could easily run $100,000 -150,000 plus expenses and it would be highly likely that David would be an applicant. Waiting to see how he does on his own costs only a little time and has the potential to pay big dividends in savings to Hutto taxpayers

Just think if this mantra were applied to other things:
“Before we waste a lot of money”
1. “ have we considered . . .? “
2. “have we tried . . . ?”
3. “have we thought about other alternatives . . . ?’”

Here are companion ideas the council might also consider. Before hiring outside consultants for almost every project why not see if there are people in Hutto with the needed experience who could be enlisted.  Make a list of talents and experience needed or which might be needed and publish it.  Before hiring firms from Austin or San Antonio, give priority consideration to Hutto area businesses. The work would stay here, people here would be employed, and the traveling expenses would be virtually non existent. Before buying office supplies or other services in Round Rock or Austin, look for Hutto businesses which might be willing to add product lines to their business if the market were here.

Hutto has a lot of talent which has not been tapped. There is a “buy Hutto” campaign being put together even as you read this. Let’s extend it to include city projects where ever possible.

Thank you Michael. What a concept: “before we waste a lot of money let’s . . .”

* A bit sarcastic – – yes. Does the city always waste money? Absolutely not. Is there more than a grain of truth in these comments? Yes.

Hutto City Manager leaving

10 Nov

City Manager Ed Broussard announced Wednesday that he will leave Hutto to take the job of city manager in Missouri City in January.

Hutto City Council members are expected to discuss Broussard’s letter of resignation and could name an interim city manager during a special called executive session tonight at Hutto City Hall.

Broussard, who has been the lead municipal administrator in Hutto for the past six years, said his last day likely will be Dec. 30.

What Passes for Honey on U.S. Shelves

8 Nov

This is a story worth passing along from Care2 Daily and is especially important to people with allergies.

What Passes for Honey on U.S. Shelves

A beekeeper overheard me talking about a friend who had moved to California’s Bay Area and was suffering from allergies she had never experienced before. “Local honey,” the beekeeper prescribed. “It has pollen from plants her body may be reacting to. A teaspoon a day should help her.”

Over-the-counter allergy remedies were making my friend groggy, so I bought a jar of honey and passed on the suggestion to her. The worst I thought could happen is that she would enjoy the taste of local honey. (At the time, I was unaware that some people have allergic reactions to particular pollens in honey.) As it turned out, honey did the trick, much to my friend’s relief.

Tests by Food Safety News Ring Alarm Bells

Anyone hoping for similar results will be disappointed with three-quarters of the honey found on U.S. grocery store shelves. Food Safety News bought more than 60 samples from 10 states and the District of Columbia. They sent the jars, jugs and plastic bears to Texas A&M University, where Vaughn Bryant, director of the Palynology Research Laboratory, analyzed them.

Bryant is a palynologist, someone who studies spores and pollen. He is also melissopalynologist. That’s someone who studies honey pollen. No one is more skilled than Bryant, who spends half his professional life doing forensic pollen studies.

What he learned in testing for Food Safety News should make every honey consumer wary. His key results:

  • 76 percent of samples bought at groceries had all the pollen removed. These were stores like TOP Food, Safeway, Giant Eagle, QFC, Kroger, Metro Market, Harris Teeter, A&P, Stop & Shop and King Soopers.
  • 100 percent of the honey sampled from drugstores like Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS Pharmacy had no pollen.
  • 77 percent of the honey sampled from big box stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Target and H-E-B had the pollen filtered out.
  • 100 percent of the honey packaged in the small individual service portions from Smucker, McDonald’s and KFC had the pollen removed.
  • Bryant found that every one of the samples Food Safety News bought at farmers markets, co-ops and “natural” stores like PCC and Trader Joe’s had the full, anticipated amount of pollen.

Why It Matters

Pollen-free honey may not sound like a problem, but without pollen it is not possible to trace the source. Food Safety News reported last August:

A third or more of all the honey consumed in the U.S. is likely to have been smuggled in from China and may be tainted with illegal antibiotics and heavy metals. A Food Safety News investigation has documented that millions of pounds of honey banned as unsafe in dozens of countries are being imported and sold here in record quantities.

No pollen, no traceability, no assurance of safety. Furthermore, when pollen is filtered from honey, so are many of the health benefits such as allergy relief and the nutritional value of vitamins, minerals and trace nutrients in bee pollen.

The Food Safety News test results come just as the EU has decided to order honey producers to test for the presence of unauthorized genetically modified pollen and to identify pollen as an ingredient rather than a natural component of honey.  Industry spokespeople fear the ruling will put many small-scale beekeepers and honey producers out of business.

The irony is that while Food Safety News is raising the red flag over the honey supply found on U.S. shelves, the EU may be making it impossible for its honey producers to keep the health benefits intact. For that, we have the vigilance of a German amateur beekeeper (who identified small amounts of GM pollen in his honey) and the steamroller spread of GM crops to thank.

For honey lovers who want nutrition, health and safety along with sweetness, farmers’ markets and organic honey producers offer the only reliable sources.

Buy American, Fly American

19 Oct

Buying American made products makes a lot of sense. When you purchase American made goods you help our economy, help provide jobs and generally help yourself.

The Hutto Lions Club has a Flag Lease program for flag holidays including Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Veterans Day. The flags they provide are made right here in America by Americans. And they are embroidered, not simply printed. The cost of a one year lease is only $40. So when you fly a flag provided by the Lions Club, you are showing your patriotism in two ways, and helping your community at the same time.

Leases begin on January 1st  each year. The Club will insure that your flag is in good condition when set in place each time.  Your flag will be put up on Friday prior to the flag holiday and on Tuesday following the holiday the club will return to remove the flag. The exception will be Labor Day when the flag will be left on display until September 12th in order to honor Sept. 11.

To establish your flag lease simply contact Charles or Debbie Holland at CEHolland@austin.rr.com or call 759-3731. Sign up by November 10 and this year’s Veterans Day will be included for free.

Your participation will help the Hutto Lions Club to fund the following local projects:

Adopt-A-Unit, Technical School Scholarships, Student Eye Glass Program, Rock Ranch, Hutto Livestock Boosters, Coats For Kids, Boys State, Girls State, Project Celebration, Movies In The Park, Downtown  Christmas, Hutto Leo’s Club, Keep Hutto Beautiful, Helping Hands School Supplies, Special Olympics, Hutto Education Foundation, Orange Santa and the Texas Lions Camp.

Hutto’s indifference fails business

1 Oct

Sally Valasquez opened Blue Jay Garden at the corner of FM 1660 and Farley St with high hopes. She bought the aging house and put a great deal of money into fixing it up, both as a home for herself and a unique business for Hutto. Her concept was to establish a venue where people could come and relax, enjoy good food and music in a garden setting. The garden includes native plants, fountains both for atmosphere and to attract birds, lots of bird houses and feeders, and features many recycled, eco friendly materials (including a very unusual fence) to demonstrate how we all can help the environment and save money.

Hutto is Ms. Valasquez’s home town and she came back with great expectations and a desire to give back to the community. She has made her living as a successful lobbyist at the state capital, and offered to help Hutto with projects where state aid or support might be obtained. She worked with the Chamber of Commerce and with other businesses downtown to create more awareness and to help bring business to everyone. Friday and Saturdays evenings she has featured local musicians without a cover charge in a town where entertainment is often scarce. And business started off pretty well, although there was a visible lack of support from city officials.

Then construction started on Farley Street. The first two days contractors blocked access to Blue Jay Gardens despite a city promise to keep the parking area open. But once “open”, trucks routinely blocked it again and signs for parking got knocked down. Little attempt by the city was made to help alleviate things. In fact, despite the fact business fell off and she had to cut her hours way back, the city decided that she should be charged commercial rates for water usage (the vast majority of water used by Ms. Valasquez is for residential).  Complaints have been given lip service at best. In fact, after opening the street after work last weekend, the contractors piled dirt up to block off the nearest off street parking.

Personally I believe all this indifference has been deliberate. City administration does not like complaints and those businesses who do complain often find they have problems. In addition, Ms. Valasquez has been “pushy” in her efforts to get the city to apply for grants and other help which is available from the state, trying to save the city money, and this was resented. That resentment helped fuel the indifference. The Chamber has tried to help but rather half heartedly. The HEDC, which has often talked about (but never acted upon), establishing a business retention plan, has done nothing.  The city council appears to be totally oblivious to the situation, but when it comes to small businesses in Hutto they have always talked a much better game than they actually play.

Debbie Holland, our mayor and a long time resident of Hutto, should be leading the fight to help Sally, but she has been silent. Why should she be leading the fight? Not just because she is mayor but because she is also on the Chamber board, and she and her husband, Charles, just opened new offices diagonally across from Sally on the corner of FM 1660 and Taylor St., only a couple hundred feet away. Mayor Holland sees the situation at Blue Jay Garden every day. Taylor St. is scheduled for a makeover just like Farley, and you can bet that she and Charles will not receive the same treatment. The Hutto Chamber should also be taking a very active role in trying to help Blue Jay Garden, especially since their offices are just across the street and are directly affected by the construction as well, but they have been rather passive. They haven’t even complained when two or three of the contractor’s trucks park right outside their door on East St., totally blocking the Chamber from view.

The city council is made up of people who love Hutto and who want it to have a bright future. Of that I have no doubt, but they need more than dreams. They need a passion to see everyone succeed and they need a willingness to act on that passion.

Small businesses in Hutto should be concerned, and so should anyone considering opening a business in Hutto because how one business is treated is a pretty good indication about how any business may be treated. And unfortunately Blue Jay Garden is but one example.

A special thank you

21 Sep

I want to extend thanks to the many other Hutto people that helped these folks. Hutto Vet Clinic took in their four dogs and housed them for free…fed, watered, showed them lots of love and cleaned up after them. Morgann’s animals are truly her childern. Walgreens of Hutto extended huge discounts for water and Gaterade. Margo’s Liquor store donated ice to help keep food from perishing. Lisa Legares of Waterlily Way ran into her home and gave Russell shoes from her husbands closet when she saw that his shoes were burnt beyond the soles, housed their most important belongings & Russell’s work equiptment, and also Chris Gooding of Waterlily Way provided a huge bag of clothes for Curtis Sparks, as well as donating water to Morgann and Russell.

Mike Mnohcak of M&M Home Improvements gave his generator when we found out our’s wasn’t working. Many of my other friends gathered up clothes as soon as I asked, even though we couldn’t get back into Bastrop to drop them off as it was a restricted area. A final thanks to the many countless people who donated clothes, and anything needed! We truly appreciate Morgann & Russell for saving their community, they are the true heros. It couldn’t have been done without them or the citizens who extended their hands in this time of need!

Discussion continued on the “Fire Code”

2 Sep

The ongoing discussion about the Fire Code and the Fire Inspector got rather interesting Tuesday evening at the ESD board meeting.  Lt. Tom Hines made a very well thought out slide presentation about the need for a Fire Code such as we have, along with examples of what firemen often face, and a strong plea for the board to support both the code and the firefighters. In simpilest terms one could boil it down to SAFETY: the safety of the public and the safety of the firemen themselves. He showed one example of a fire which destroyed a building which had been inspected, but then hazardous materials had been moved in without notification nor any warning signs. Obviously that sort of thing is a major problem.

However, I do not believe, (nor do board members who voiced concerns, nor businesses I have spoken to), that the Fire Code is the issue. We need a Fire Code and we need it enforced. That is a given. The issue is how it is enforced, the way inspections and enforcement issues businesses and property owners may have are addressed. Chief Kerwood rightly sees those as personnel issues and not ones for the board to discuss.  It perhaps may be summed up as presentation and attitude. And that is exactly where all the complaints, the rumors, the antidotes (some exaggerated) originate.

A good example is a story that has circulated I mentioned in a previous post. It concerns representatives of a national firm who were looking at a building and property  and were waiting for the real estate broker to arrive and show the property. As the story goes this firm might have brought 50-100 jobs to Hutto but were “scared” off by an impromptu stop by the Fire Inspector who saw them looking at the property and stopped, “grilled them” about what their plans might be and then gave a verbal laundry list of what might be needed to meet fire code.  Lt. Hines said the company had been contacted and said they didn’t have any representatives looking at property in the area, and therefor the story wasn’t true. Glen Pierce, board member and owner of a large business in Tradesman Park, disagreed. He said the men were “real estate acquisitioners”, not company representatives. He went on to say that companies looking for property often do not announce it or tell people what they are thinking about until they have decided the property is actually of interest and worth getting into more detail. They do this as a way to protect their business, to keep prices from going up, and a variety of other reasons. They would no more wish to discuss Fire Code requirements at this very preliminary stage than they would wish to talk with a building inspector. It would be far to premature.

Side Bar: For those who are unfamiliar with what a person does who in the field of real estate acquisition, think of them as “headhunters”, only for properties not personnel. There are many individuals and companies who specialize in finding properties. They may represent one firm or a number of different firms. Like a headhunter they seek out opportunities which may fit their client’s criteria, and they often go to new areas just to learn about them. Scott Martinez, Executive Director of the HEDC, deals with them all the time, encouraging them to come to Hutto and learn more about what we have to offer. Sometimes they have a particular business in mind but often they don’t – they are just learning more about why companies should be considering Hutto, what our strengths are. If you wish to know more, call Scott.

Back to the situation described. It is highly probable the national company in the story did not have anyone here but that there were still people looking on their behalf without their knowledge. It is just as likely they did not wish anyone to know, especially employees and competitors, they were even considering locating a plant. For anyone to talk to them about what may be required for a business here, especially without being invited or without the Realtor’s ok, could create a real financial liability. It could also mean that people who might be in the position to recommend Hutto to a number of different companies may have been put off.  That is the issue of the story going around, not the code.

Much of the discussion over the Fire Code has been a result of the issues facing the three business parks West of Hutto, and requirements which have meant it is financially not feasible to build new facilities on vacant land or renovate buildings for certain uses, rendering the property unusable and unsalable.  There may be long term solutions, but for most it simply means the property owners sit paying taxes yet have no way of doing anything with their property.  This is another, longer discussion for another post.

There is also the issue of a business which was forced to shut down for a week, thereby losing 25% of its monthly revenue, before it was “discovered” it was not in the Hutto ESD boundaries and that the inspector had no authority to do so. The business owner is back in business and did receive an apology, but one would think with a large, very detailed map at the fire station showing the boundaries, the mistake should have never happened. And yes, I did confirm the facts with the business owner.

Let me reiterate in closing. ESD #3 does an outstanding job. I personally believe Chief Kerwood is a good fire chief, and that the current Fire Code is needed and has to be enforced for everyone’s safety.  It is how it is enforced, and how businesses perceive it, that needs to be addressed. Business owners should view the Fire Inspection as an ally, not a foe. But unless the business is known to cut corners and flout the rules,  appointments should be made and solutions sought to any problems found. Let’s focus on finding solutions, especially in the business parks, and not on creating further animosity.