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2012-01-12

2011- Top cops popped & dropped, Part II

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Pictured: Zig-Zagging Thru the Year... Top: City Park Manager Joe Frazier eventually puckered up to Senorita Cerdo to help the library.

Longtime Bandera City Manager Gene Foerster retired from municipal service last year.

NASCAR legend Terry LaBonte proved his worth by sticking on Cowboy Craig's Oreo.

'Nuff said"

When musician and artist Joe Reidy of The Forge passed away last spring, he took a large chunk of Bandera history with him.
Pipe Creek resident Lauren Finley will compete in cross-country at Tarleton State University.

Members of the Bandera County Poland Express brought Texas to Poland and Ukraine last summer.

Bandera's beloved physician - and longtime musician - Dr. George D. Meador passed away last summer.

One can find only the finest trash at the Bandera River Ranch dump.



(Editor's note: The saga that was 2011 continues. Without a doubt, law enforcement took a hit last year. Sheriff Weldon Tucker resigned and problems with the City of Bandera Police Department surfaced - and the Courier readers had a front row seat for every embarrassing moment!)

April

• As part of the Wild Hog Explosion, proceeds from "Pucker up to a Porker," sponsored by the Bandera County Courier, benefitted the Bandera County Public Library.

Bandera City Park Manager Joe Frazier looked askance at Senorita Pig, but, in the end, he succumbed to her obvious charms.

• During a special meeting on Friday, April 15, Bandera City Council accepted a retirement letter from longtime City Administrator and Treasurer-Finance Director Gene Foerster.

Councilman John Hegemier's motion to utilize Foerster in the interim position of financial director-treasurer died for a lack of a second.

• On Friday, April 22, Terry Labonte, the left-turn-only NASCAR legend, blew into Bandera with a pit crew on bikes that stretched all the way to Corpus Christi - metaphorically speaking. The occasion was the 10th annual "Roam for a Home" benefit that LaBonte sponsors as a fundraiser for Texas' Ronald McDonald Houses.
Traditionally, the ride takes place on Easter weekend and originates in Corpus Christi, LaBonte's hometown. This time, however, a pit stop was scheduled in Bandera allowing the riders to enjoy an ersatz "steak night" at the 11th Street Cowboy Bar.
(Sure, LaBonte can come up with a couple of Winston Cup wins, but can he stick on Bandera's Oreo the Longhorn?)

• Beleaguered Bandera County Sheriff Weldon Tucker submitted his resignation to Judge Richard Evans and county commissioners on Monday, April 25. Tucker's resignation took effect Thursday, May 5, the date he was expected to plead guilty to misuse of county property and abuse of official capacity in the district court.

After accepting the resignation, the commissioners explored methods of selecting a replacement to serve Tucker's 19-month unexpired term of office. "We have the option of filling the position," Evans said, adding, "If it's not filled by May 5, the Chief Deputy Richard Smith assumes the role.

(Well, ya can't say we didn't try and tell ya, boys!)


May

• Due to a population increase identified by the recently concluded 2010 census, Bandera County precincts face redistricting in the next couple of months. Commissioners must ensure that roughly the same number of people are represented in each precinct. With an under-population of 10.41 percent, Precinct 3 is the most problematic.

• If not an outright smackdown, Bandera City Council delivered a definite repudiation to Police Chief Jim Eigner during a Thursday, May 5, meeting.

Essentially Eigner asked the council to terminate Officer Mario Hernandez for dereliction of duties and insubordination. Convinced that council would rubber stamp his recommendation, Eigner had even included on the agenda the appointment of Hernandez's heir apparent.

No one, however, had reckoned on Hernandez's popularity within the city. At the end of the grueling session, council unanimously voted not to accept Eigner's recommendation that they terminate Hernandez.

("Cops behaving Badly," Episode 1)

• "If (Sheriff Tucker) had been honest from day one, I honestly don't think we'd be here today," said David Glickler, special prosecutor for the Office of the Texas Attorney General. "His not being honest made it worse."

During criminal court proceedings on Thursday, May 5, Tucker pled guilty to felony abuse of official capacity.

As a part of the plea bargain agreement, he received deferred adjudication for two years. As Glicker explained, "Sheriff Tucker pled guilty to a felony, but was not convicted of a felony."

Additionally, no one else will be charged with crimes arising out of the investigation and resultant plea bargain.

(Leading, of course, to speculation about what tales might have been spun during the grand jury proceedings.)

• In a 3-1 decision - and an abrupt about-face - commissioners approved what had been rumored for at least 10 days - that Chief Deputy Richard Smith would continue serving as the head of the Bandera County Sheriff's Office. Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris cast the lone "nay" vote.

The court effectively decided to let "the voters decide who their next sheriff will be" - in 2012.

Although they did not confer on him the title of sheriff, the court empowered Smith with a sheriff's full authority, which includes hiring and firing deputies and other administrative duties.

• William Joseph "Joe" Reidy II passed away on Wednesday, May 11, taking a large chunk of Bandera history with him. In 1986, he teamed up with blacksmith Kenneth "PeeWee" Stroud and purchased the Ranch House Café at 807 Main Street Bandera. They opened the property as a working blacksmith shop, renaming the building "The Bandera Forge."

Reid and Stroud encouraged local musicians to stop by and play. An informal jam grew into an organized Forge Band in which Reidy played stand-up bass. His last performance was at the successful Bandera Music Hall of Fame Musical Showcase, held at the Silver Dollar on May 1.

A talented artist, Reidy began offering his iron sculptures at the Forge, which billed itself as "Home of the Iron Rose-Buzzard Factory."
(Joe, I love your cactus sculpture! Thanks so much, Dusty!)

• Bandera County and its apparently still beleaguered sheriff's department have been hit with another million-dollar lawsuit.

The latest litigation stems from the alleged abandonment of a toddler in the back of a car on Highway 16 South after deputies arrested her mother for driving with an invalid license.

In the lawsuit, San Antonio attorney Adam C. Cortez contends that deputies violated Texas statutes specifically intended to protect children, including placing the child in imminent danger of death or bodily injury, and leaving a child younger than seven years of age in a vehicle unattended by an individual older than 14 years of age for longer than five minutes.

June

• Geneva School of Boerne graduate Lauren Finley signed a letter of intent to run cross-country and track with Tarleton State University. Her parents, Bonnie and Ken Finley of Pipe Creek, were present during the signing.

(Congratulations, and "Win one for the Gipper," Lauren.)

• On June 14, the 2011 23-member Bandera County Poland Express returned from their goodwill visit to Strzelce Opolskie, Poland and the Tysmenytsia District in the region of Ivano-Frankivsk of Ukraine. Fittingly the delegation - all members of the Bandera Sister Partnership Association - posed for their official portrait in front of the 11th Street Cowboy Bar.

(Try saying those destinations 10 times.)

• The second episode of "City Cops Behaving Badlysaw " Officer Mario Hernandez - a definite thorn-in-the-side of Chief Jim Eigner - on a 30-day suspension without pay. The suspension that began on June 10 stemmed from a May 19 incident.

At that time, Hernandez apparently seized a knife purportedly used in an altercation. However, Hernandez placed the bloody knife in the backseat of the patrol vehicle without packaging it as a biohazard or logging it as evidence later.

Hernandez called his belated suspension as "a clear case of retaliation" by Eigner.

(Oh, yeah, apparently Eigner also referred to Hernandez as "incompetent" and an "idiot" during an interview with Zeke MacCormack of the San Antonio Express-News. Now, that's what I call management skills!)

• In a pre-trial hearing held Thursday, June 16, Judge Cathy O. Morris ruled that an infant, who had earlier been removed from "deplorable (living) conditions," would not be returned to his parents. The family had been living in filth in a rental property in the 700 block of 12th Street.

According to court documents, the residence was littered with trash and old dog and cat feces. A backed up toilet was filled with feces. Because the couple had been using it as a toilet, a bathtub was also filled with about 10 inches of feces. As reported, the parents also bathed the baby in a moldy, filthy kitchen sink, which appeared to have an inch-thick layer of dried grime all around it.

In addition, maggots were observed on the kitchen counter and throughout the home.

After determining that the baby had been subjected to aggravated circumstances, and Morris ruled that a civil trial for termination of parental rights would move forward without delay.

(Score one for CPS and CASA!)

• Beloved Bandera physician, Dr. George D. Meador, died Saturday, June 25. After establishing his practice in Bandera in 1951, Meador cared for patients for 35 years - making house calls throughout the city and county regardless of the time, weather or day of the week. For several years, Meador served as the only physician in Bandera County.

He also formed Los Gringos, a musical group that played for local functions - what an understatement!

Beginning at the 1963 inaugural event, Los Gringos played for 31 consecutive Hunter's Barbeques. As a surviving member, Meador represented Los Gringos when the group was inducted into the Bandera Music Hall of Fame in 2007.

(RIP, Dr. Meador)

• Although illegal in Bandera County, dumping near Edsel Young's residence in the tony subdivision of Bandera River Ranch had apparently been going on for years. Shortly after building their home, Young and his wife, Rita, were dismayed to discover their property was just steps away from an active, but illegal, dump.

Located near Settler's and Ada lanes, the series of lots had become a final resting place for huge piles of brush and stumps, large pieces of broken concrete slabs, ratty old rugs, broken wooden signs, unidentified pieces of equipment and black garbage bags presumably filled with household trash, among other items.

Ernest DeWinne, treasurer of the homeowners' association, said the problematic dumpsite had been discussed at the last HOA meeting. He said discussions had centered having the trash and brush disposed of in a large waste collection station in Kerr County. The salient question remained: Who is responsible for the mess?

Stay tuned for more of the 2011 wrap-up in the Thursday, Jan. 19, edition of the Bandera County Courier.