Year: 2015

Merry Multimedia Christmas!

‘Tis the season of sensory overload, and in that spirit The Quarry takes you on a multimedia journey through some of the best Round Rock has to offer.

We start with all those pretty lights … and boy is Round Rock all aglow.

Next, here’s what can happen if you don’t keep that Christmas tree properly watered (thanks to our friends at Protect America for partnering on this important safety demonstration)! We only wish you could feel the heat that fire generated in less than a minute. Wow! Be sure to follow these holiday safety tips.

But most of all, this is the season of giving, and few do it as well as Round Rock Operation Blue Santa. More than 350 families and 120 seniors felt the love on delivery day.

This way to make Christmas bright(er)!
This way to make Christmas bright(er)!
The Blue Elf himself greets volunteers before the big delivery
The Blue Elf himself greets volunteers before the big delivery
Blue Santa needs elves, too!
Blue Santa needs elves, too!
More elves -- actually, members of the Cedar Ridge baseball team
More elves -- actually, members of the Cedar Ridge baseball team
This elf's spidey sense signals joy is just around the corner
This elf's spidey sense signals joy is just around the corner
Of course Blue Santa gives blue cupcakes to his helpers!
Of course Blue Santa gives blue cupcakes to his helpers!
Boxes of good cheer ready to be delivered
Boxes of good cheer ready to be delivered
Boxes of good cheer loaded up for delivery
Boxes of good cheer loaded up for delivery
Good cheer knocks ...
Good cheer knocks ...
Good cheer received!
Good cheer received!
Some of the top elves who made it all possible
Some of the top elves who made it all possible
More who helped make it happen. Thanks to our awesome sponsors!
More who helped make it happen. Thanks to our awesome sponsors!


Happy Holidays, y’all!

Tis the Season for Water Smart gifts

This holiday season, if you happen to be getting anyone on your list a new appliance, don’t forget to think about water (and energy) efficiency.washing machine  Appliances that have the Energy Star label or WaterSense label are better choices, simply because you know that they will retain their water an/or energy efficiency over the lifespan of the appliance.  So, it’s kinda like the gift that keeps on giving!

The City’s water conservation program has a rebate for the purchase of new efficient clothes washers, if they meet the program criteria, which is pretty easy.  Find out about the rebate here.

New, efficient washers are a good investment, as they account for 22% of the water use inside our homes. By replacing older models with new, front-loading efficient washers, water use can be reduced by 15 – 40%, depending on how old your previous washer is. Energy Star labeled washers use 20% less energy, 35% less water, and have larger wash tubs, which means fewer loads and less detergent use.toilet-clip-art

There’s rebates for efficient toilets too!  That’s a really water smart gift, because, not only does a new toilet save water, it can also help reduce water water charges…so it saves year-round!  The rebate details can be found by following this link.  To qualify, the new toilet(s) must be WaterSense labeled (very easy to find!) and your house must have been built before 2006.

Toilets are the largest water-using fixture inside a property; by replacing old, inefficient toilets with more efficient 1.28 gallon per flush (or less!), commodes, you can save up to 4,000 thousand gallons of water per toilet, per year!  That’s amazing!

Happy shopping!


Talkin’ holiday safety

xmas tree infographic-01The holidays are likely our busiest time of the year. We’re doing more shopping, more working (as we prepare to be out of the office), more driving, more cooking, etc. In our haste, we need to be careful not to overlook our personal safety.

The National Safety Council has compiled a great list of holiday safety precautions, which we borrow from liberally here.

Talkin’ Turkey

Fried turkey is delicious to eat, but can be dangerous to prepare, as our Fire Department communicated in this award-winning video.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports there have been 168 turkey-fryer related fires, burns, explosions or carbon monoxide poisoning incidents since 2002. CPSC says 672 people have been injured and $8 million in property damage losses have resulted from these incidents.

Talkin’ Trees

Tree safety is more than just keeping that natural tree well watered, as the Fire Department communicated in yet-another award-winning video.

The included infographic, created by Protect America, tells you pretty much everything you need to know about keeping that tree safe this season.

And it’s not just trees that burn. About 2,200 deaths were caused by fires, burns and other fire-related injuries in 2013, according to Injury Facts 2015, and 12 percent of home candle fires occur in December, the National Fire Protection Association reports. Increased use of candles and fireplaces, combined with an increase in the amount of combustible, seasonal decorations present in many homes means more risk for fire.

  • Never leave burning candles unattended or sleep in a room with a lit candle
  • Keep candles out of reach of children
  • Make sure candles are on stable surfaces
  • Don’t burn candles near trees, curtains or any other flammable items
  • Don’t burn trees, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace
  • Check and clean the chimney and fireplace area at least once a year

You can also recycle your Christmas tree at our Recycle Center.

Talkin’ Gifts

No award-winning video to plug here. (Maybe next year!) We’ve all heard it’s important when choosing toys for infants or small children to avoid small parts that can be pulled or broken off and might prove to be a choking hazard. Here are some additional gift-related safety tips you might not have heard about:

Talkin’ Travel

Many people choose to travel during the holidays by automobile, with the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation. In 2013, 88 people died on Christmas Day, according to Injury Facts 2015. Alcohol-impaired fatalities represented 31 percent of the totals.

Remember, when guests are staying in your home, make sure areas have night lights or easy-to-reach lamps in case they need to get up during the night. And, whether you are visiting someone else’s home or you have guests in your home, make sure all medications are kept up and away and out of sight from young children.


Top 5 must-see holiday performances in Round Rock

As we shared at the last major holiday, there’s a lot to be thankful for in Round Rock. This time of year, the City’s vibrant arts scene can certainly be added to the list.

We’ve got a lot going on this month with arts performances and shows, but here are our Top 5:

A Christmas Carol Classic Radiocast

Penfold Theatre Company offers its take on the Dickens classic. This has become a Round Rock holiday tradition. The show runs through Dec. 26, at Old Settler’s Hall, 3300 East Palm Valley Blvd. Details

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

The Sam Bass Community Theatre performs the Ken Ludwig play through Dec. 20. “‘Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” But wait! A mouse IS stirring – because Santa missed his house last year. Before you can say, “Merry Christmas!” you’re off on the wild adventures of a mouse, an elf and a spunky little girl who just won’t take no for an answer. A  joyful tribute to the holiday season! Details

Annual Round Rock Community Choir Holiday Concert

This town has a fantastic choir, and its annual holiday performance is another Round Rock tradition. The concert is at 7 p.m Saturday, Dec. 12, C.D. Fulkes Middle School, 400 W Anderson Ave. Details

Felize Navidad! A Holiday Celebration

The Round Rock Symphony and Round Rock Ballet Folklorico team up for their third annual holiday performance at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17, at the Round Rock ISD Performing Arts Center. Details

Free concert by the Williamson County Symphony Orchestra

Everybody needs a little Christmas, and you can enjoy a lot at the free holiday concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19, at St. William Catholic Church. Details

‘Twas quite a night before Christmas

Christmas Family Night moved to Old Settlers Park this year, but that did nothing to dampen the spirits of the thousands who turned out Dec. 4 for Round Rock’s annual holiday celebration. In fact, we were able to incorporate all the fun at Christmas Towne into the event, so it was bigger and better than ever!

Just see for yourself.


7 things you need to know about your property taxes

worcesterherald.comDecember is when most of us pay our property taxes, so we went to the Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector — which handles City property tax payments — for the 411 on what folks need to know. Their Round Rock office is at 1801 Old Settlers Blvd., Suite 115.

1. When is my Property Tax payment due?

2015 property taxes must be paid in full on or before Monday, Feb. 2, 2016 to avoid penalty and interest.

2. I have an escrow account with my mortgage company; will you send them the bill?

Tax statements are mailed to the property owner of record unless we receive a written request from your mortgage company to send the statement to them. This request must be made prior to the tax statements being mailed. If you receive your tax statement and your taxes are included in your mortgage please forward the statement to your mortgage company. If you did not receive a tax statement by the middle of November, please contact the Tax Assessor’s office at 512-943-1603 to have a copy mailed to you.  You may also go to the online link at Tax Statement to download a copy of your statement.

3. Can payment arrangements be made for my delinquent taxes?

Prior to July 1, our office will accept partial payments on any delinquent accounts without formal payment arrangements however penalty and interest still apply. On July 1, all delinquent accounts are turned over to our attorneys for collection. You can contact them at 512-943-1645 for payment agreements.

4. What are the qualifications to make quarter payment installments?

In order to qualify to pay your taxes in four installments, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Sec. 31.031 of the Property Tax Code allows individuals who are disabled or at least 65 years of age and qualify for a homestead exemption to choose an installment payment option on the property in which the homestead is claimed.
  • If you recently filed for any of the exemptions listed above and it is not noted on your tax statement, you will need to contact our office at (512)943-1603 to see if you are eligible for the installment payment option.
  • A signature is no longer needed to sign up for the installment plan.
  • The first installment payment must be received or postmarked by the United States Postal Service no later than January 31st to activate the installment plan.  If your payment is not received by the required date or postmark you will not be eligible for the installment plan. At this time you will be responsible for full payment of the bill by January 31 to avoid any accrual of penalties, interest and collection fees.
  • To ensure your payment is processed accurately, please provide the property address or quick ref ID on the check or a spate attachment.

5. Who do I make my check out to?

Checks are made payable to Deborah M. Hunt, CTA.

6. I have several properties that I need to pay; can I include a single check for all of them?

Yes, but please include the property identification numbers to ensure they are applied correctly. Property identification numbers will start with either a R, P or M followed by 6 digits.

7. My home was appraised too high; how can I file a protest?

You will need to file your protest in the appraisal district of the county you reside. For Williamson Central Appraisal District call 512-930-3787 or visit their office at at 625 FM 1460, Georgetown. For the Travis Central Appraisal District call 512-834-9317 or visit their website.

November’s Everyday Heroes

This month, our Everyday Heroes are from Transportation Services and Utilities and Environmental Services.

We draw our Everyday Heroes from our Customer Service Week winners. Last month, we recognized our overall winner, Cynthia Mouser, the receptionist at City Hall. We take a lot of pride in Customer Service, and these folks are the best of the best!

Patty Da Silva is recognized at Customer Service Week with Mayor Alan McGraw, middle, and Transportation Director Gary Hudder.

Patty Da Silva is recognized at Customer Service Week with Mayor Alan McGraw, middle, and Transportation Director Gary Hudder.

Patty Da Silva, Transportation Administrative Associate

Patty is on the front lines in the department, meaning she is the first person most folks talk to when they call in to complain about traffic and/roads. It’s a tough gig, but one she handles with grace. Here’s what her fellow employees had to say about her:

  • Patty is the first person both our internal and external customers deal with on most occasions. There could not be a better face for our department in this regard.  Patty is always in the greatest of spirits and lifts up all those she deals with.
  • Patty assists the Traffic Operations group with the processing and proper handling of block party permits and keeps in contact with the customers who submitted the request to keep them fully in the loop on the status of their permits.
  • Patty has diffused many upset customers on several occasions and played a major role in helping us turn a difficult situation into one that was handled to the customer’s ultimate satisfaction.
Alan Moreno, second from left, is recognized by Mayor Alan McGraw, Assistant City Manager Bryan Williams, and Utilities Director Micheal Thane.

Alan Moreno, second from left, is recognized by Mayor Alan McGraw, Assistant City Manager Bryan Williams, and Utilities Director Michael Thane.

Alan Moreno, Utility Crew Leader

When a water line breaks in the middle of the night, Alan’s the one in charge of getting it fixed. While most of us are sleeping, Alan is busy making sure that when we wake up there’s water for coffee and everything is operational when we flush our toilets. We’re not sure which is more important … but we’re grateful Alan is there to get it handled either way.

  • He is very good at taking care of our residents and doing his job as the night shift Crew Leader.
  • I have many e- mails from customers about good customer service.


It’s unanimous: So much to be thankful for in Round Rock

city council members

We’re thankful for our remarkable City Council. From left are George White, Place 2; Craig Morgan, Place 1; Frank Leffingwell, Place 3; Mayor Alan McGraw; Writ Baese, Place 5; Kris Whitfield, Place 6; and Will Peckham, Place 4

We feel pretty blessed to call Round Rock home. There’s a lot to be thankful for here. We live in one of the safest communities in the nation, we’ve got great schools, and our library and parks are regularly honored for excellence.

Sure, there are tough issues to confront — traffic tops the list, no doubt — but we’ve got a City Council that’s focused on thoughtful solutions, with an eye to the future and how to make this place even better.

So we thought it appropriate to ask them what they are thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Mayor Alan McGraw

I’m thankful for a wonderful family, some amazing friends, and a thriving community to call home. I’m thankful to live in a place where we can come together to work, play, learn, and worship, but still celebrate the differences that we share. Looking around the nation and world, I can’t think of any place I’d rather be than right here in Round Rock! And for that, I am very thankful!

Councilmember Craig Morgan

First and foremost I am thankful for God. I am also thankful for my family and friends. Finally, I am so grateful for our citizens who make Round Rock the great place it is.

Mayor Pro-Tem/Councilmember George White

I am very thankful that of all the places that my wife and I have lived we found Round Rock almost 18 years ago. What a welcoming city and what a joy to watch it grow and prosper.

Councilmember Frank Leffingwell

This year I am thankful to have the love and support of my family and friends and to live, work, and worship in Round Rock.

Councilmember Will Peckham

I am thankful for a healthy family.

Councilmember Writ Baese

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for my family and friends. I am looking forward to spending some time with them this week. I am also thankful for all the great neighbors we have that make Round Rock our home.  It’s their hard work that has made our community the great place it is.

Councilmember Kris Whitfield

I am so thankful for my family and friends. Also, to live in a community that embraces one another as family.

‘Tis the season to Shop the Rock

shop the rock holiday logoWant better roads? How about better parks? If your answer is yes, you’ll want to Shop the Rock this holiday season.

Head over to the outlets and buy those shoes, or venture downtown for lunch. It doesn’t matter if you are shopping, dining or getting a haircut – your dollars are helping to pay it forward and build our community.

What makes this possible? Sales tax. Though it may be the least sexy tax, it is the hardest working one. So next time you see a shirt you love, buy it. Your city will thank you.

If you haven’t been to yet, we highly recommend it. (Warning: the site may cause trip planning, shopping sprees and dinner cravings. View at your own risk.)

Holiday shopping favorites about to be unwrapped

Speaking of recommendations, we’ll be sharing some of the places we love to Shop the Rock during the holidays. In coming days, look for our fave places to shop for mom, dad, the kids, pets, tech toys and outdoor gear on the Shop the Rock Facebook page.

Smart Controllers

Now is the time of year to think about turning off your sprinkler system, if you haven’t already.  Remember, it’s about to be winter, plants go dormant, we’re having regular rainfall, cooler temps… you know all this.

one type of smart controller

one type of smart controller

So, it may seem like a strange time to think about sprinklers, but I wanted to see if you knew the City’s water conservation program offers rebates on various items to help make your sprinkler system more efficient?  One of those items is a smart, weather-based controller.

So, what is a smart controller?  Simply put, it’s a controller that takes into account the current weather, the weather forecast, the type of sprinkler head (drip, spray, rotor, etc), the plant material (grass, shrubs, trees, etc), and probably the slope of the yard, and the soil type to come up with a watering schedule that is truly personalized for your yard.  No more guessing how much time you need to set for each station!

The smart controller will come up with a personalized schedule, though it probably will need some tweaks.  Full-disclosure, I installed a smart controller at my own house back in March or April of this year.  However, with all the rain this spring, it didn’t actually run until July and at that point I really thought is was watering some areas way too long.  I had to go into the application on my phone and adjust some settings to reduce watering time.  However, I will say that my highest water bill this summer was in August for 8,200 gallons–so not bad at all!  The smart controller I have estimates the amount of water used (in gallons) each time it waters, and the numbers it was reporting for my yard were very high.  The estimate of gallons used isn’t too accurate in my case.

But, back to the point; really, it’s ideal to water when the plants actually NEED the water, not just because it’s a Wednesday (or whatever day of the week your controller is set for).  AND, since we’re not in water restrictions, this is the ideal time to try out one of these controllers.  The controller will determine when it’s best to water and for how long, although they all have options to select specific days to water if/when we are under water restrictions.  Maybe all the zones won’t be watered on the same day, that’s the beauty of these controllers.  ILogo-WaterSenset’s watering to the plant, not to a schedule.

Many smart controllers are also designed to be used over WiFi: on home computers, phones, tablets…which may make it easier to control and set up.  No more trying to figure out all those buttons, knobs, and programs!  Through the internet connection, or an on-site weather station, they determine the current weather conditions to come up with the watering schedule.

If your interested has been peaked in smart controller, visit the WaterSense website to learn more, and find a list of WaterSense approved controllers, that are also eligible for the City’s irrigation rebate.  The rebate expires when funding runs out, but I don’t anticipate that happening any time before August 2016.

Let’s start watering smart in 2016!