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2011- Top cops popped & dropped, Part I

BCC Staff

(Editor's note: Compiling a year end wrap-up is a thankless task usually only attempted when there appears to be a paucity of news for the next week's Bandera County Courier.

However, while reviewing articles for inclusion in this section, it appeared rather a lot HAS happened in Bandera - city and county - during the past year. This 2011 wrap will, therefore, continue for several weeks. In fact, if we play my cards right, it may conclude just in time to revisit 2012 - unless those pesky Mayans should be proven correct! )

• On the advice of Charley Seale, executive director of the Exotic Wildlife Association, Bandera County Commissioners elected to opt out of the proposed Southern Edwards Plateau Habitat Conservation Plan (SEP-HCP).

This lopsided plan was designed to allow continued development in San Antonio and Bexar County by providing conservation acreage in the Hill Country on a 3 to 1 basis.

According to Judge Richard Evans, the plan had apparently been in the works for several years. "When Lyle Larson was a Bexar County Commissioner, he came up here to explain about the plan. I told him, 'We're not interested in helping Bexar County out. Take care of yourself'," Evans said.

(So, to paraphrase Yogi Berra, "Count us out!")

• Officers with City of Bandera Police Department searched for a bow hunter who had seriously wounded a whitetail buck - probably within the city limits. The impressive eight-point buck was first spotted along Cypress Street on Jan. 1, with an arrow in his side.

Unfortunately, little could be done to alleviate the buck's plight and an officer humanely put him down on Jan. 11. When the animal was dispatched, it was learned the "arrow" in its side was, in fact, from a crossbow rather than a hunting bow. The incompetent hunter was never identified.

(RIP, plucky little buck)

• John Lovota was busted at a residence in the 100 block of Galveston Street for possession of child pornography - aka kiddie porn. The raid, which occurred during the execution of a federal evidentiary search warrant, involved agents with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division (ICE) of the Department of Homeland Security and members of the BCSO Emergency Response Team.

ICE agents recovered approximately 2,000 videos that purportedly contained illegal images of children, as well as a quantity of hard copy photographs.

• Gambling devices seized and forfeited from 777 Las Vegas Games Bandera Downs in a 2008 raid by investigators with the Texas Department of Public Safety came up for grabs during an online auction.

Funds garnered from the sale would be earmarked for the electronic refurbishing of the courtroom in the Bandera County Courthouse, according to County Attorney John Payne.

When the hammer came down on Jan. 24, the final bid for the 58 gambling devices amounted to $16,225, which exceeded a pre-auction estimate of $100 per machine.

(Who sez gambling doesn't pay?)

• The criminal trial of Bandera County Sheriff Weldon Tucker was set for 9 am, Monday, April 4, at the 216th District Court on Highway 173 North. The case stemmed from Tucker's "management" of a rescue boat that Earlier, Tucker had been indicted on a felony charge of abuse of official capacity relating to his alleged personal use of the county rescue boat donated to the county by bail bondsman Albert Saenz.

• When officials with Ozona National Bank toured the Old Texas Square complex on Main Street on Wednesday, Jan. 19, they were taken aback by the condition of the property - as well as with items purportedly missing.

Thieves and vandals had gained entrance to the supposedly secure facility through a backdoor leading to the kitchen of the former Texaritas restaurant.

The bank gained possession of Old Texas Square during a civil trial in June 2010 after the eviction of former owner, Jerry Reed. Bank officials hope to sell the block-long complex to recoup some of the money their institution has tied up in it.

(Well, the complex been sold, but nobody knows to whom. Rumor has it the property has been purchased by Hampton Inn. Stay tuned for more info.)

• Sgt. LeAnn Pyles, a resident of Lakehills, was selected as the Kendall County Sheriff's Office 2010 Deputy of the Year during a ceremony on Feb. 9.

Describing her as the "go to" person in Kendall County regarding animal control matters, Pyles' supervisor, Lt. Louis Martinez, nominated her for the honor.

(Way to go, LeAnn!)

• On Feb. 21, Bandera icon Rudy Robbins lost the long battle he had waged against cancer. However, he never lost his love of being a cowboy.

Robbins' most recent accolade came in July 2010 when he was inducted into Bandera's Texas Heroes Hall of Honor as a Living Legend. During the annual National Day of the American Cowboy celebration, Robbins' brother, "Doo," accepted the plaque for his ailing brother.

(Thanks for wearing a white hat, Rudy.

• Parents determined to construct a BMX-mountain bike trail in Bandera City Park met with a wall of resistance from city council members during a Thursday, March 3, meeting.

The problem was that "proposed" track was essentially a fait accompli.

For the last couple of months, members of the "Bandera Buzzards" had been busily constructing a sizable portion of the "proposed" track.

Mayor Horst Pallaske and the majority of council were livid that brush had been cut and trees removed by the group without authorization from the city.

To City Administrator Gene Foerster's admission, "Well, it's already been done and there's really nothing we can do about it," Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Schumacher and Councilman Binky Archer quickly responded, "Oh, yes there is." They suggested that the individuals responsible remove the bike trails and restore the area as originally found - as well as being fined for destroying that portion of city park.

According to Foerster, proponents of the BMX park agreed to work on a plan with Public Works Director Mike Cardenas that would be presented to city council later.

(Nothing on that front as yet, but then, the city had other things to deal with.)

• A civil lawsuit filed in August 2009 by former Bandera County Sheriff's Office Deputy Scott Sharp against Sheriff Weldon Tucker and the county ended with a confidential financial settlement, according to County Judge Richard Evans. Also undisclosed were other terms of the settlement.

Evans said the settlement came at the advice of an attorney and risk management firm assigned to Bandera County from the Texas Association of Counties. The insurer apparently recommended that the county settle the lawsuit.

(Just so you know, the county's insurer reportedly settled Sharp's litigation for $270,000 - not a bad chunk of change.)

• For now at least, convicted murderer Gerald Rodger Sorensen will remain confined in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

According to a Feb. 16 letter sent to local attorney Billy Walker, the Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied parole to Sorensen, a former resident of Bandera County. In 1984, he was convicted of the rape and murder of Walker's sister.

Stay tuned for Part II in the Thursday, Jan. 12, edition of the Bandera County Courier.