Year: 2016

The library is a family place

Michelle Cervantes, our Round Rock Library Director, pens a monthly column for the Round Rock Leader. This is a repost of her most recent feature.

Have you ever heard the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child?” I believe this to be true, and even more so in this day and age.

Growing up, I lived in the same house with my maternal grandparents. When we moved to our own house, it was in the same neighborhood just a few houses down the street. My grandparents and extended family all lived in the same city. Both parents worked full-time and my grandparents would watch all the grandkids while our parents were at work.

That’s not the case for most families nowadays, but I do see a growing trend of more and more grandparents following their grandkids to Central Texas. With or without your extended family nearby, I hear that parenting — along with the Peace Corps — is the toughest job you will ever love.


Round Rock Public Library Director Michelle Cervantes

In the April 2016 edition of Austin Family Magazine, the Center for Child Protection writes:

“Every parent has times when they reach the end of their patience. Being a parent or caregiver is not easy, so it’s important to also take care of yourself so you can provide consistency for your child. Stress can cause a parent to respond too harshly to negative behaviors or simply ignore the behaviors because they’re too tired and overwhelmed to respond.”

Parents: don’t stress out! The Round Rock Public Library has resources for you. Not only do we have books, DVDs and magazines, but we also provide a place where you can meet and talk to other parents and caregivers going through the same experiences.

Making those connections is crucial to building a strong community. We see this happen after story time when parents, grandparents and caregivers start talking to one another. The library is one of the first places where many parents make new friends after they move to Round Rock.

We are excited to announce that we are becoming a “Family Place Library.” We were among 36 Texas libraries to be awarded a Family Place Libraries grant. This project is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act.

Family Place Libraries promotes a national model for transforming public libraries into welcoming, developmentally appropriate early-learning environments for very young children, their parents and caregivers. Based on research about the importance of early brain development, the Family Place Library supports the essential role of parents as first teachers and addresses the physical, social, emotional and cognitive aspects of child development to help build a foundation for learning during the critical first years of life.

By partnering and working with other social, health and educational services providers, the Family Place model positions libraries as key early childhood and family support organizations within the local community.

Soon, a small corner of the library will transform into a hands-on activity area and you will be able to register for parenting classes. A new parenting collection will also be available downstairs in the children’s area.

With the Family Place Libraries designation, we hope to share in the success that other libraries around the country have garnered. We want our library to be a popular community hub for our families and provide them with resources they need to raise amazing kids.

Of course, we’ll still have books available. Two of my favorites: “Olivia” by Ian Falconer and “Redwall” by Brian Jacques.

8 amazing facts about our Tool Lending Center

In the two years the City’s Tool Lending Center (TLC) has been in operation, we have:

  • Deployed the TLC 41 times
  • Checked out 1,606 tools
  • Removed 268 tons of garbage (not including brush)
  • Serviced 117 homes of those in need
  • 1,368 volunteers donate 5,369 hours of service
  • Volunteers have invested $123,862 worth of time and labor into projects in Round Rock*
  • Received a national award from Neighborhoods USA
  • Been successfully replicated by the City of Temple, Texas

Interested in some TLC for your volunteer project? Contact Joe Brehm at 512-341-3148.

Emergencies happen in a flash – Be prepared!

Emergency preparation supplies are tax free April 23-25

Emergencies happen in a flash! Thankfully for us, the Round Rock Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is ready for just about any situation and prepared to activate operations at a moments notice. Before, during and after a major emergency or disaster, this team works extremely hard to help keep you and our community safe during crisis.

Imagine a flurry of storms hits the area and very heavy rainfall is concentrated over Round Rock for multiple days. Or old man winter blows in freezing temperatures at the same time good ol’ El Nino decides it’s time to precipitate. Roads are icy and travel is treacherous. Or maybe we experience an incredible dry spell and one small spark creates an out-of-control wildfire. Homes and lives are in danger.

These situations sound familiar, don’t they? In any given year, we might experience all of these types of emergencies multiple times. In fact, over the past two years, our Emergency Management Division has activated crisis operations on more than eight separate occasions!

In addition to activating emergency operations and keeping our community safe in disaster, our Emergency Management staff are dedicated to communicating important safety and preparedness messages. Take the lightning safety video below as an example. It’s been viewed more than 3,000 times and will be distributed regionally for promotion before and during storms!

Speaking of preparedness, thousands of people have registered to receive mobile alerts about emergency situations from! Have you?

And now that you’re set to receive emergency notifications, it’s time to make sure you’re prepared to keep your family safe during a crisis – and boy are you in luck! This weekend, all emergency preparedness supplies can be purchased tax free… ‘Tis the season to stock up, y’all!

Details about the tax-free weekend, including a list of items included, can be found here:

Take the Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation!

On this blog, I’m going to let our Mayor, Alan McGraw, do the talking for me!  Give a listen about why saving water is important and then go to to sign up for the challenge and help Round Rock be the most water conserving city in the U.S.A.!

By saving water, our community saves energy, money, and valuable resources. That’s why he and I are encouraging you to take the National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation, April 1-30. By making a simple pledge to save water and reduce pollution, you are not only doing your part for our community – you can win any of hundreds of prizes, including a Toyota Prius, Home Improvement Store Gift Cards, Toro Smart Irrigation Controllers, and more.

Plus the pledge helps further our City’s goal of reducing our water consumption and being the most efficient city in Central Texas, if not all of Texas!  Let’s show the other cities around the nation how Round Rock takes care of our planet. Make your pledge throughout the month of April at

Imagine 2016 by the numbers (and winners, too)

We celebrated Imagine 2016 on Feb. 27. From the get-go, it has been one of our favorite annual events in Round Rock. As the brief video above shows, there are more amazing artists in our community than you would probably, well, Imagine.

Here’s a look at the event, by the numbers:

  • 5,925 — dollars awarded to the winning artists
  • 323 — pieces of art entered for exhibit
  • 112 — pieces of art selected for exhibit
    • 62 paintings
    • 37 photographs
    • 10 3-D art
    • 3 fiber art
  • 1,000 — people who attended the opening night reception
  • 5,000 — people who are expected to view the exhibit, at Texas State University’s Avery Building, through June 3

As promised, here are the winners:

Rain Barrel Sale Begins Now!

springsaver rainbarrel_9-9-14

50-gallon Spring Saver

The City’s Water Conservation Program is having a rain barrel sale!  The barrels are sold by pre-order, so you place the order for the barrels online at, then come pick them up on a specific day.  There is no limit on the quantity of barrels you may order, and sale isn’t limited to Round Rock residents, anyone can purchase one; however the last day to order is May 7, 2016.

A variety of sizes of rain barrels are being offered, as well as diverters to make it easier to get the water from your gutter downspout into the barrel:

  • 50-gallon Spring Saver, 6 color choices, $64.99; black-colored barrel is $59.99
  • 54-gallon Rain Saver, 3 color choices, $84.99
  • Classic 100-gallon, 28 colors, $184.99
  • Classic 150-gallon tank, 28 colors, $239.95
  • Classic 250-gallon tank, 28 colors, $344.95
  • Water diverter kits for $15.99 – $21.99
rainsaver rainbarrel_9-9-14

54-gallon Rain Saver

The barrel distribution will happen on Saturday, May 14th at the Dell Diamond’s northeast parking lot.  Once you make your purchase, you’ll be emailed all the relevant pick-up information.  Also, please make plans to have a vehicle the barrels will fit into!

To pre-order and full details:

Barrels purchased at this event ARE eligible for the City’s rainwater rebate. There will be applications for the rebate provided at the distribution.  Please note: you must be a direct City of Round Rock water customer in order to receive the rebate.  This means you pay your water bill to the City, not a MUD.

A limited selection of barrels will be available for sale on May 14th, so plan ahead and purchase yours today to ensure you get the colors you want; otherwise you can take your chances and show up to purchase whatever is on hand the day of.

Why collect rainwater??  I’ve talked about it in previous posts, and condense the “whys” here:

  1. Rainwater is much better for plants than the municipal water supply (it’s generally higher in nitrogen and it’s softer water), which probably is THE main reason people collect it.
    classic rainbarrel_9-9-14

    100-gallon Classic

  2. However, an often overlooked, and just as good reason is for erosion control. You don’t have to actually “use” the water collected, but if you could at least slow it down on your property; that would aid in reducing the amount of erosion your property is subjected to.  You can collect the water and then just release it, slowly, over your yard a few days after the rain event. Then the barrel(s) is empty and ready to collect the next rain event and you don’t have any worries about mosquitos!
  3. It’s free, and
  4. Tax-exempt! The water falling from the sky is free, and the purchase of collection containers has been tax-exempt in Texas since 2001.  To assist you with collecting this precious resource, the City of Round Rock has a rebate for installing water collection tanks or barrels. (This rebate is available for direct City of Round Rock water customers only.)

Public wifi by the numbers


RRTX WiFi, the city’s free, high-speed wireless service, continues to grow. And, boy howdy, is it popular.

In 2015, more than 21 terabytes of data were downloaded by folks using the service at one of the now seven locations where it is available.

Here are some more fun facts about the service:

  • Residents and visitor spent 1,392,386 hours on RRTX WiFi in fiscal 2015.
  • The two most heavily utilized sites are the Library and Round Rock Sports Center
  • August was the busiest month last fiscal year, with 2.3 terabytes of data use
  • The funniest fact of all: We don’t have to pay more to offer the service — the public use is heaviest nights and weekends, when our need to utilize internet access for City business is low

We offer the service at the following locations:

In the near future, we’ll be adding the service at Lake Creek Pool, the Round Rock Dog Depot and Rock’N River Family Aquatic Center.





No need to Imagine a Round Rock without art

Click or swipe to see sample entries to Imagine 2016
Click or swipe to see sample entries to Imagine 2016
Lucent Fragility by Brenda Barrett Healey
Lucent Fragility by Brenda Barrett Healey
Grandmother's Pearls by Sonja A. Kever
Grandmother's Pearls by Sonja A. Kever
The Middle Child by Karin Otto-Burfict
The Middle Child by Karin Otto-Burfict

Can you imagine Round Rock without the arts? Without the arts there’d be no music, no cinema, no dance, no literature, no poetry, no fashion, no funny videos. We’d be devoid of imagination and would be a very dull and boring place. But, not to worry!

Eight years ago, two prominent ladies from our community imagined an event to celebrate the artsCathy Kincaid and Kris Whitfield have been key players for the arts in our community and dreamed up a night of arts and music that has become Imagine. Cathy was the first editor of the amazingly popular Community Impact, and Kris, of course, is a City Councilmember, business owner and volunteer extraordinaire.

The Imagine event has grown into an annual celebration with a spectacular showcase of art and music. It features over 150 renowned regional artists and their art, performances from Round Rock theatre, dance and symphonic groups, tables piled high with decadent desserts, and a place to see and visit with your friends. And, naturally, peruse art you can see and buy.

This year’s Imagine will take place on Saturday evening, Feb. 27, in the beautiful, spacious Avery Building at Texas State University’s Round Rock campus, 1555 University Blvd.

Imagine 2016 is expected to draw over 1,500 patrons. Admission this year is only $15 for the general public, which includes meeting the artists, dessert tables and drinks for your enjoyment. Plus, you get to choose your favorite for the People’s Choice awards.

We look forward to seeing you at Round Rock’s premiere arts event!


We asked, you answered

Earlier this month we asked for your feedback on a couple ideas we’ve started kicking around, related to the holidays. We did an online survey (full disclosure: It’s not statistically valid, but that’s OK because it’s still great input) and 375 of you responded. Thanks!

Take a hike?

The first question was the notion of walking the Rock’N Lights Holiday Light Tour at Old Settlers Park. Currently, everyone has to drive through. Specifically, we asked: Would you like to enjoy the Rock’N Lights tour on foot next year? Your answers:

  • Absolutely — 69 percent
  • Maybe — 24 percent
  • Meh — 3 percent
  • No way — 4 percent

Then we asked an open-ended question asking for suggestions to making Rock’N Lights even better next year. We got 112 responses — wowsa! They ranged from multiple nights to walk the tour to adding food trucks to requiring drivers to turn off their headlights and more. You can read them all here.

Trash talk

The second survey question was about recycling over the holidays. Specifically, folks wondered if we should have recycling pickup both weeks for all residential customers, instead of the usual every other week pickup.

Here’s how we asked the question: How big of a problem was it for you not being able to have recycle pickup both weeks during the holiday? Your responses:

  • My green bin was beyond full — 56 percent
  • Kind of a problem — 22 percent
  • No problem at all — 22 percent

We’ve forwarded the survey results to the powers that be. No promises that changes are coming, but your input is valuable to the decision-making process.

Theater Coming to Downtown Round Rock

UPDATE: Architect hired by City determines Baca Center is not feasible for a professional quality black box theater.

Can’t you just picture it? Dinner, an evening performance with friends, then drinks to top off a perfect night. All right here in our burgeoning hometown downtown that’s just as vibrant as it is laid-back.

Sounds enchanting to us, and with three years of concentrated efforts and significant progress made toward bringing the Round Rock Arts Master Plan to life, the aforementioned evening will soon be reality. Yep, you heard us right! The Round Rock City Council has given the green light to a plan laser-focused on bringing a theater to the downtown district.

We know, we’re pretty ecstatic, too! And to help tide over your appetite for details until opening night, or at least until our next update on the project, here’s a quick 4-1-1 on what to expect:

The new theater is going to be black box in style, creating an intimate space for local arts groups to rehearse and perform and for patrons to get a uniquely up-close and personal feel that larger venues aren’t able to provide. Making use of currently available space at the Baca Center, the theater will feature state-of-the-art sound and video equipment, a movable stage, seating area and flexible lighting system able to accommodate up to 200 people for smaller shows, including plays, chamber operas, cabaret performances, recitals and much, much more!

The Baca Center was identified as an ideal location because it has ample parking for theater goers and is available most evening and weekends – when rehearsals and performances would typically be held. Plus, it’s adjacent to the beautiful Centennial Plaza in southwest downtown, which provides significant pre- and post-event potential! Wouldn’t you just love to toast a great performance under the summer stars?

Spurred by the completion of an architectural feasibility study that was presented to the City Council on July 23, 2015, we’ve hit the ground running in the new year with facility design already underway and opening night estimated for sometime in the fall of this year.

Destined to be a true community asset and a catalyst for future arts growth here in Round Rock, we can’t wait for this space to be complete and filled with emotional performances of voice, body and sound.

Interested in what it might look like? Here are a couple of images that portray the look and feel that a black box theater provides (though ours will certainly look a little different), both when empty and fully assembled:

Black box 2