Year: 2016

Round Rock Fire Department spreads holiday cheer with good deed

  • December 22, 2016

  • By Austin Ellington

  • Posted In: The Quarry

We wanted to pass this along because, at this time of year especially, it’s amazing to see a local story about folks making the lives of others a little brighter.

Yesterday, the Round Rock Fire Department posted a message on Facebook about a good deed their staff did when answering a call about an elderly woman who had fallen. She was upset that she wouldn’t be able to set up her Christmas tree, so the responding crew took it upon themselves to clean up her living room and set up the tree before they left.

We are so proud of each and every man and woman who serves our community day-in and day-out. They are not only a vital component to keeping Round Rock safe, but also to making it a better place to live, work and play.

We feel truly blessed to call this place home. Merry Christmas and happy holidays, y’all!

Get your shine on this holiday season with these great local light displays

  • December 20, 2016

  • By Austin Ellington

  • Posted In: The Quarry

If you’ve already taken in our jaw-dropingly-tinsel-tastic-out-of-this-world-can-you-believe-they-have-this-many-lights Rock’N Lights Holiday Tour this year, but your family is still looking for just a little more twinkle, check out this map of some of the coolest local displays from your very own Round Rock neighbors!

Best part, other than the fact that there are plenty of places to grab a hot chocolate before heading out for your local light cruise, of course? You can add others that you think are worthy of being on the list!!! Just click on over to this URL and email the moderator: http://bit.ly/LightMap2016

Top 5 deal points in the Kalahari agreements

Mayor Alan McGraw, right, and Kalahari owner Todd Nelson sign agreements after the Dec. 15 City Council Meeting.

Mayor Alan McGraw, right, and Kalahari owner Todd Nelson sign agreements after the Dec. 15 City Council Meeting.

The City Council took another step forward to bringing the Kalahari Resorts project to Round Rock when it approved a series of 10 agreements on Thursday, Dec. 15. Click here to watch the presentation to the City Council about the agreements, which includes comments from Kalahari owner Todd Nelson.

There are more than 1,000 pages total in those agreements, so we thought we’d break it down to a handful of highlights.

  1. Kalahari will invest at least $350 million and employ a minimum of 700 for the resort, convention center and indoor-outdoor water park.
  2. All revenue sharing and public debt related the project will be paid using select State and City tax revenues generated solely by the project.
  3. While the City is purchasing and will own the 351 acres across U.S. 79 from the Dell Diamond and Old Settlers Park where Kalahari will be built, it will be repaid the approximately $27.5 million purchase price in two lease payments: the first $17 million lease payment will be made before the property closes on Dec. 20, and the second payment will be for $10.5 million, plus interest, in eight years.
  4. Thanks to great work by State Rep. Larry Gonzales, the City is able to utilize a state law designed to encourage these types of tourism-generating developments to leverage State tax revenues as part of the deal. That means the State hotel occupancy tax, sales tax and mixed beverage tax generated by the resort will stay right here in Round Rock to help pay for the project’s public debt and revenue sharing.
  5. Specifically not included in the agreements are the City’s half-cent sales tax for property tax reduction, half-cent sales tax for economic development and roads, and 2-percent hotel occupancy venue tax. The City will retain 100 percent of those revenues generated by the project.

This holiday season, Shop the Rock — the gift that gives back to your community

  • November 30, 2016

  • By Will Hampton

  • Posted In: The Quarry

shop the rock holiday logoWant better roads? How about better parks? Then be sure to Shop the Rock this holiday season.

Seriously, make sure you’re doing your gift purchasing in Round Rock. Those dollars spent locally help 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 when you’re shopping this holiday season and see that tacky tie that dad just has to have, buy it. Your city will thank you.

This two-minute video explains power of shopping local, and how Round Rock’s got the hardest working sales tax in Texas.

Winter Wonder, not wasting water!

Winter has come, finally!  It’s already the middle of November and wastewater averaging (WWA) is upon us.  What is wastewater averaging, you ask?  Well, let me tell you…

In the winter months (November, December, January, and February) the City assumes that our water use is lower than any other time of year, simply because it’s cold out, its winter, and we’re not watering our yards.  These are the months when water use is lower thanfrozen_faucet the rest of the year, so the City uses these 3 winter billing cycles (Nov-Dec, Dec-Jan, and Jan-Feb) to determine how much we’re going to be charged for wastewater (aka sewer) for the rest of the year.

See, the City doesn’t have meters on the wastewater line coming out of your house; so, essentially, we make an educated assumption that all water being used is going down the drains at your houses.  Since no water is being used outdoors. (Right? Turn off those sprinkler systems!)  All water is being used indoors for necessary purposes: baths, showers, toilets, sinks, dish and clothes washers, etc…

So the average of those 3 months water use is what you are charged for wastewater for the remainder of the year.  For example, if you use 5400 gallons on your December bill, 4900 on January bill, and 4500 on February bill then your WWA would be 5400 + 4900 + 4500 / 3 = 4933, which would be rounded to 4900 gallons.  So, for the rest of the year, the most you’ll be charged for wastewater is 4900 gallons!  That’s good!  No matter if your water use goes higher in the summer; the wastewater use is capped at 4900 gallons.

This is a number that is recalculated annually, so if you “mess up” and refill your pool or keep watering that yard the whole winter, you can fix it the next year by keeping the water use down.  But, we want you to save money and water now, so turn off those sprinklers!

Another way to keep water use low in winter is to check for leaks, especially in your toilets.  Watch my video on how to check for leaks and check your toilet to see if it’s efficient.  What I say in the video is that toilets using 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) or less are considered efficient.  I want to add to that a little, by saying that on January 1, 2014, it became state law that all toilets sold in Texas must use 1.28 gallons per flush OR LESS.  So that means, even if you have a 1.6 gpf toilet, you can make it even more efficient, and save more water each time you flush (and reduce those waste water charges further) by upgrading to a new 1.28 gpf toilet!  The City’s water conservation program’s has a rebate program for this upgrade.  Find the details at www.roundrocktexas.gov/conservation.

 

Heartfelt note highlights amazing Round Rock community

  • November 18, 2016

  • By Austin Ellington

  • Posted In: The Quarry

You know those moments… the ones that tug at your heartstrings and make you proud to be a part of something, live in a certain area, or sometimes even just call yourself human? Yeah, us, too. They’re the stories that unite us, make us stronger and give us a positive, we-can-do-this-outlook on life and the challenges we face day in and day out. And when they happen close to home, they seem even more powerful in their ability to bring people together and enhance lives.

Recently, we came across such a story here in Round Rock – a simple note left from one set of neighbors to another expressing love, acceptance and general caring:

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a story like this come out of Round Rock and know it won’t be the last. Why? Because as a community, we strive to understand, celebrate and engage diversity to enhance our ability to work together and achieve greater success.

pd-integration

Officers Joseph Claypool (pictured) and Tim Chancellor talked about personal and school safety.

Another recent example comes straight from our City of Round Rock team, or as we like to refer to it, our family. If you’re not aware, the Round Rock Police and Round Rock Fire Departments are extremely dedicated to community outreach among various cultural groups and have, throughout the years, made a conscious effort to engage, collaborate and build relationships with all members of our community. In fact, in January of this year, public servants from each department partnered with the Islamic Community Center for a first-ever integration event. Members of the departments were able to provide public safety information, while also learning about the culture of attending residents, answering questions, holding one-on-one conversations with individuals and even sharing a traditional meal prepared by the hosts.

Staff also regularly attend Friendship International meetings and have partnered with several other local organizations to host similar engagement events.

We understand that together we’re stronger. Each and every day, we, your City government, strive to make our community a place that everyone can be proud to call home. And while certain stories, including those above, may be but a small blip in the larger conversation, we believe they’re meaningful and deserve recognition.

Thank you, Round Rock, for being so utterly amazing. It’s all of you out there that make this place everything that it is.

#RRProud #LoveThisCity #OneRoundRock

Round Rock takes moment to salute servicemembers on Veterans Day

  • November 14, 2016

  • By Austin Ellington

  • Posted In: The Quarry

Every day, we, as Americans, have the awesome opportunity to live life with a freedom not afforded to all across the globe. All too often, this blessing is overlooked and in many cases, taken for granted. Last Friday, Veterans Day, the people of Round Rock took a moment to thank the men and women who have sacrificed, through military service, so that we may all live free.

And from the Star Spangled Banner to the wreath ceremony, it’s hard to imagine that each person present didn’t leave with a heart filled with pride for our great nation.

If you missed the ceremony, take a look through a few photos below.

Oh, and don’t forget that with Veterans Park just a few blocks from Main Street in Downtown Round Rock, you can always take an afternoon stroll and pay your own respects at the memorial.

Round Rock named the No. 2 best city for families in Texas

  • November 10, 2016

  • By Austin Ellington

  • Posted In: The Quarry

From splish-splashin’ good times to seventh-inning hot dog runs, expansive park and trail system, hometown downtown and never-ending family-friendly event schedule, our community is no stranger to making memories and having fun. But that’s not the only reason Livability selected Round Rock as the runner-up, No. 2 best city for families in Texas – it’s also got a lot to do with our strong economy, relatively low cost of living and high availability of quality jobs close to home.

As they put it: “Located just 20 miles north of Austin, Round Rock blends small-town charm with big-city convenience. Unlike most metropolitan suburbs, Round Rock is self contained. The city is home to several major employers, including IKEA, IBM and Samsung. The international headquarters of tech giant Dell is here, as well as a number of small businesses around the city’s quaint, yet bustling, downtown – which means a short commute to work for most residents.”

Ok, so they gave us just a little, teensy, you-wouldn’t-have-even-noticed-if-we-didn’t-tell-you extra credit with IBM and Samsung considering those two employers are actually our next door neighbors and not technically within the City limits. But hey, they’re still right on track with the fact that our residents have the opportunity to live near many, many world-class employers, including the likes of Emerson and Sears Teleserv, both of which are smack dab in the middle of Round Rock.

And how could we be considered a go-to destination for folks to raise a family without stellar schools? We absolutely love having the Round Rock Independent School District right at home here in our community. And no, not just because the Friday night lights shine bright on a few of the football teams, although we sure don’t mind grabbing our cap and watching the hometown boys take the field every now and again. According to the article, “the district also scores high marks for its academics, receiving a grade of 8 out of 10 by GreatSchools.org.” Passionate educators, innovative administration – that’s what we’re talking about!

So, whether you and your family already live in Round Rock or you’re thinking about making the move to this great community… Welcome home, we couldn’t be happier to have you!

Read the full article and see what other cities made the cut here: http://www.livability.com/texas/real-estate/5-best-cities-for-families-in-texas

Water Less this Fall

Now that we’re officially into Fall hill-country-highlights-watching-the-leaves-change-at-lost-maples-state-parkand enjoying some cooler temperatures; it’s time to reduce the watering times on your irrigation controllers.  With less evaporation occurring, the landscape doesn’t need to be watered as often as during the summer months.  My general rule of thumb is: cut watering times in half during Fall and Spring

If you don’t really know how much you should be watering to begin with, let me go over the 3 basic things to look at to determine how long the system should be running because, there’s no point in having specialized heads, a shady yard, and native plants if everything is going to run for 20 minutes no matter what it is.  Unfortunately, I see that happen a lot.

Amount of Light

It may seem obvious, but I’m going to come out and say it anyway—shady areas require less water than sunny areas.  If you have good tree coverage and areas of the yard receive less than 6 hours of direct sunlight daily, that’s considered a shady yard.  So, when entering time into your controller, you know that the times should be higher for the sunny spots and lower for the shady ones.

Head Type

There are two main sprinkler head typesrotor and spray.  There is also drip irrigation, which technically has no head at all!

  • Rotor heads rotate, they turn, so they are not watering the same area the entire time they are running, therefore, they need to run for a longer period of time than spray heads.
  • Spray heads are stationary, they pop-up and stay watering the same spot the entire time; they can run for a shorter amount of time than rotors.
  • Drip irrigation is different. Drip typically emits water very slowly, very minimally, so it oftentimes needs to run for longer periods—30 minutes at minimum or much longer in many cases.

Plant Material

Landscape (read: living plant) material is the last component of the irrigation scheduling trifecta.  It may be obvious as well, but it does need to be said—areas with no vegetation really don’t need to be watered.  The bare ground will just be muddy.  Same goes for rocky paths, they don’t grow.  Mulched areas don’t grow.  Driveways, sidewalks, patios, and decks don’t grow.  Pools don’t need to be filled by the sprinklers.

Native plants, established shrubs, or other established perennials do not, I repeat, do not need the same amount of water as the grass.  That’s why you’ve planted them—they are native and require less water to survive.  They are made for our climate and weather conditions.   So, turn those stations off completely in the fall, winter, and spring and just water when they look stressed (i.e. droopy leaves, limbs first thing in the morning).

You may have picked up that there’s no exact time that works for every station or even every yard!  Irrigation systems unfortunately aren’t just a turn it on and forget it.  It will take a little tweaking to determine how few minutes the yard will perform well on, and it may need to be changed every year as the trees grow and give out more shade.

Here’s a watering schedule I follow, when irrigation is necessary during the Fall months:

Fall—October, maybe November

Set controllers for 1 start time for all lawn types.

Plant

Exposure

Type of Sprinkler Head

How Often to Water

Runtime (minutes)

St. Augustinesunsprayas needed, max. 1x/wk10 to 15
  rotoras needed, max. 1x/wk15 to 20
 shadesprayrarely, 1x per 2 wks15
  rotorrarely, 1x per 2 wks20
Bermudagrasssunsprayrarely, 1x per 2 wks15
  rotorrarely, 1x per 2 wks20
 shadesprayrarely, 1x per 2 wks10
  rotorrarely, 1x per 2 wks20
Zoysia japonica (wide blade zoysia, El Toro, JaMur, Palisades)sunsprayas needed, max. 1x/wk10 to 15
  rotoras needed, max. 1x/wk20
 shadesprayrarely, 1x per 2 wks15
  rotorrarely, 1x per 2 wks20
Common shrubssunsprayrarely, 1x per 2 wks10 to 15
  rotorrarely, 1x per 2 wks20
 shadesprayrarely, 1x per 2 wks15
  rotorrarely, 1x per 2 wks20
Common groundcoverssunsprayrarely, 1x per 2 wks10-15
  rotorrarely, 1x per 2 wks20
 shadesprayrarely, 1x per 2 wks15
  rotorrarely, 1x per 2 wks20

Texas Native Plant Week

  • October 17, 2016

  • By Jessica Woods

  • Posted In: Water Spot

Native Plant week is October 16 – 22, 2016!

Zexmenia

Zexmenia

So, what is “Texas Native Plant Week?”  The State of Texas established the third week in October as Texas Native Plant Week to recognize the role of native plants in conservation and to provide incentive for school’s to teach children about the importance of native plants.

Did you know that almost every state now has a Native Plant Society or somehow recognizes the value of their native plants?  Locally, we have the Native Plant Society of Texas, Williamson County Chapter.  They meet monthly at the Georgetown Public Library.  If you are interested in learning more about native plants, visit their websitewww.npsot.org

I love natives, and know that native plants are good to incorporate into your garden. They are tolerant of our climate, they are favored by wildlife like bees, butterflies and birds; they have fewer disease and insect problems, need less fertilization and water and, in my opinion, they are very attractive and easy to care for.  I would imagine that many of you are like me, when I am doing some landscaping, I am simply looking for plants that survive and are easy to care for.  Right!?!  If a plant doesn’t live on it’s own in my yard after about two weeks of watering to establish it, then I probably won’t be buying it or planting it again!  It has got to be hardy. (hint: native plants are!)

American Beautyberry

American Beautyberry

I bring all this up because fall is a great time to plant native or adapted plants.  The cooler temperatures are ideal for getting the plant established and growing before winter arrives.  (At least I hear winter IS supposed to come this year!)  While the City doesn’t have any program or rebate for removing grass from your yard and installing native plants, you can always do it on your own!  Natives provide many benefits, like:

 

  1. generally taking less maintenance time than grass (no mowing or edging, less water and fertilizer);
  2. provide a cooling effect and lower temperatures in your yard due to the plants being living organisms (places with concrete or rock tend to be much hotter);
  3. helps prevent erosion by having a root system to hold down surrounding soil;
  4. gives you something beautiful to look at (aka stress relief);
  5. provides some type of benefit (food source, habitat) to insects or birds; and
  6. provides oxygen for us to breathe!

Don’t forget the City of Austin’s Grow Green program and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center both offer searchable database of native and adaptive plants.  They are amazing resources to help you find the perfect plant for “that spot” in your yard!

Happy Planting!