Public wifi by the numbers

rrtx-wifi

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

Back to work! But while the holidays are still fresh on our minds, we’ve got a couple questions

Please take this quick survey to help us plan for an even merrier holiday season in 2016.


The Quarry truly enjoyed the holiday break, but it’s time to get back to work on what we believe will be a fantastic 2016 for Round Rock.

Of course, there will be holidays in 2016 and we want this year’s season to be even better than 2015. And boy howdy was this past holiday all aglow!

A couple of things came up during this holiday season that we wanted your feedback on as we plan for the next one.

First is Rock’N Lights. Nearly 16,500 vehicles drove this holiday spectacular, which means approximately 66,000 people enjoyed the amazing light displays. That’s awesome. Here’s what we’re kicking around for next year: How about a night (or two) where folks can only walk through the display? No cars, just folks on foot. Now, there may be some logistical challenges that make this too difficult to pull off, but we’re wondering if you would pay to walk the lights. (Walk’N Lights?) (We couldn’t resist. Sorry)

Second is recycling. We had a request via Twitter from a resident asking if we could have recycling pickup for eveyone both weeks during the holidays. That’s an idea we think is worth pursuing, but want to get some more insight before we talk to Round Rock Refuse about it.

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!

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.