We remember

  • November 9, 2015

  • By Will Hampton

  • Posted In: The Quarry

vet park monumentVeteran’s Day is this Wednesday. Round Rock will mark the holiday with a ceremony at Veterans Park, where we dedicated a new monument earlier this year.

If you’re not familiar with the memorial, know this: The monument was built by the City as a place of honor and remembrance for all who are serving or have served to protect and defend our American heritage. It is where veterans can show their pride for having served; families and friends can honor their veterans for their service; and citizens and businesses can support the recognition of those with a historical attachment to Round Rock.

If you know a veteran with a Round Rock connection and want to honor them at our monument, you can find information on how to do that here.

In that spirit, we’d like to honor those employees — along with former employees and family members — who have served. Our Police Department hosts a lunch for them every year, but we believe these folks merit additional recognition.

And to everyone else who is reading this who has served, we say simply, Thank You.

  • Felipe Aleman, Marines
  • Gabriel Apodaca, Army
  • Alain Babin, Army
  • Alan Babin Jr., Army
  • Rosalinda Babin, Army
  • Paul Brent, Navy
  • Gregory E. Brunson, Army-National Guard
  • Ron Clark, Air Force
  • Tracey Cole, Army
  • Christopher Cox, Army
  • Ronnie Crutchfield, Army/National Guard
  • Edgar Delarosa, Army
  • Patty DeSilva, Marines
  • Bob Drawbaugh, Army
  • Jesse Eckard, Air Force-National Guard
  • Jesse Eckard, Army
  • Randall Frederick, Coast Guard
  • Rolando Garcia, Marines
  • Alysha Girard, Army Reserve
  • Jeffrey Gogolewski, Marines
  • Kenneth Goldwire, Army
  • Marc Gray, Marines
  • Richard Guillory, Navy
  • Jerry Hallford, Air Force
  • Logan Harper-Hill, Army
  • Brian Hollywood, Army
  • Manuel Martinez III, Army
  • Shelby Ingles, Army
  • Donald Knowles, Army
  • Deborah Knutson, Army
  • Michael Krogmann, Army
  • Jay Light, Navy
  • Mike Losoya
  • Meagan Spinks, Navy
  • Chad McDowell, Army
  • Evaggelos Marmarinos, Marines
  • Mary Martinez, Army
  • Kasheala May, Army-National Guard
  • Kurtis McBride, Marines
  • Steven McDaniel, Navy
  • Carlos Meraz, Army
  • Ronnie Mueller, Army
  • Shawn Normand, Army
  • Larry Osborn, Army
  • Domenique Pagan, Air Force
  • Bonnie Parks, Air Force
  • Amber Pearson, Army
  • Terry Pringle, Navy
  • Brian Quick, Army
  • Louis Rackley, Army
  • Edward Ramirez, Army
  • Marshall Reynolds, Army
  • James Richards, Army Reserves
  • Dwayne Roberts
  • Elaine Rodriguez, Air Force
  • Jesse Rodriguez, Army-National Guard
  • Jesse Rodriguez, Navy
  • Robert Rosenbusch, Army
  • Michael Salinas, Marines
  • Lindsey Scheffler, Army
  • Lance Shellenberger, Marines
  • Nicholas Simpson, Navy
  • Tom Sloan, Marines
  • Christopher Smith, Marines
  • Rachel Somers, Air Force
  • Jeffrey Spencer, Air Force
  • Joseph Teiber, Air Force
  • Timothy Travis, Army
  • Ardeen Urbantke, Navy
  • Kevin Vaughn, Army
  • Bernado Villegas, Army Reserves
  • Charles Wadley, Air Force
  • Jason Watson, Navy
  • George White, Army
  • Travis Wilkes, Marines
  • Bryan Williams, Army
  • Christian Wilson, Army
  • David Wongwai, Army
  • Brian Young, Air Force
  • Nathan Zoss, Army

Art is where you find it. And you’ll find a bunch of it in Downtown

  • November 6, 2015

  • By Will Hampton

  • Posted In: The Quarry

If you haven’t been paying attention, you may not have noticed. But it’s true. The arts are rockin’ in Round Rock. And especially in Downtown.

Scot Wilkinson, the City’s Arts Director, has done an amazing job in his three short years here in Round Rock. But one of his earliest successes was the installation of sculptures at various locations Downtown. If you’re heading Downtown this weekend for Dia de los Muertos, take a few moments to enjoy the amazing pieces below. If you snap a picture, be sure to use #downtownroundrock. Or, heck, make a special trip just to check them out. It’s worth it.

Adam by Michael Epps
Adam by Michael Epps
Alter Ego bull by Pokey Park
Alter Ego bull by Pokey Park
Atlas by Craig Blaha
Atlas by Craig Blaha
Balance by Terry Jones
Balance by Terry Jones
Cyclops by Craig Blaha
Cyclops by Craig Blaha
Dancer by Herb Long
Dancer by Herb Long
Dr Peters by Jim Thomas
Dr Peters by Jim Thomas
Dragon Fly by Marla Ripperda
Dragon Fly by Marla Ripperda
Gabriel by Johnny Shipman
Gabriel by Johnny Shipman
Gift of Love by Dan Pogue
Gift of Love by Dan Pogue
Horatio  by Marla Ripperda
Horatio by Marla Ripperda
Humbaba by John Christensen
Humbaba by John Christensen
Iron Face Isabella Puhala
Iron Face Isabella Puhala
La Fiesta by Dan Pogue
La Fiesta by Dan Pogue
Lollipop Tree by Dar Richardson
Lollipop Tree by Dar Richardson
Monarch by Marla Ripperda
Monarch by Marla Ripperda
No Ryme or Reason by Michael Epps
No Ryme or Reason by Michael Epps
Painted Gourd by Dar Richardson
Painted Gourd by Dar Richardson
RockNRollSkateboard by Pokey Park
RockNRollSkateboard by Pokey Park
Saturday Night Blues by Terry Jones
Saturday Night Blues by Terry Jones
Pop the Whip by Bob Coffee
Pop the Whip by Bob Coffee
The Distortionists by Ho Barron
The Distortionists by Ho Barron
The Shaman by Pokey Park
The Shaman by Pokey Park
Thor's Hammer by Sun C. McColgin
Thor's Hammer by Sun C. McColgin
Upstream by Terry Jones
Upstream by Terry Jones

And most are for sale (But don’t even think about buying Doc Peters and Bear. Not gonna happen!) Touch base with Scot if you’re interested.

Downtown comes to life on Dia de Los Muertos

  • November 3, 2015

  • By Will Hampton

  • Posted In: The Quarry

dia-de-los-muertos-LOGO_SinglOne of our community’s newest and bestest events, Dia de los Muertos, will be held from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, at Prete Plaza on Main Street. If you’re unfamiliar with Dia, it’s a Mesoamerican holiday dedicated to ancestors; it honors both death and the cycle of life.

There’s music, dancing, sugar skulls, and sweet remembrance. And it’s Downtown, so what’s not to love?

Pictures really tell the story of Dia best, so here are some of our favorites (thank you Joe Alfaro, who shared these on our Flickr account) from the inaugural celebration, held two years ago.

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Six questions for a 36-year employee

  • October 30, 2015

  • By Will Hampton

  • Posted In: The Quarry
Randy Gordon for Quarry

A younger Randy Gordon — note the clunky computer monitor and Rolodex on his desk.

Employee Recognition 2015 V4Last week, we honored 110 employees who reached milestone anniversaries (10, 15, 20, etc.) working for the City. We laughed, we cried and we were just so doggone proud of all the great work represented by these good folks. The infographic on the left tells some of the story. (Click to enlarge)

For a more personal story, we asked our longest-tenured honoree, Parks Manager Randy Gordon, to share some of the highlights (and one lowlight) of his time here. If you’ve ever enjoyed a City park or an event like Christmas Family Night, you owe a thank you to Randy.

What’s the biggest difference in our parks system today compared to 36 years ago?

The size of Round Rock and the number of parks. We had only three people in the entire department then. Now there are 44 just in the parks division. When I came to Round Rock in 1979 there were about 12,000 people and now it’s over 105,000. We started with just a couple of pieces of equipment — an old truck that rattled just driving down the road and a mower or two. Now we have to keep inventory of all that we have.

What’s the most unusual item we’ve found in a Round Rock park (that we can share with the general public)?

Someone sleeping in the grass one morning and not knowing if they were OK. It turned out they had a big party the night before and fell asleep in the middle of a park. When I first saw what looked like a person laying in the grass early one morning, my mind had all kinds of ideas what I was about to walk up to. Thank goodness the young person was OK. I woke them up and they just seemed to walk on home like nothing had happened. What a relief!

What happened on your best day working with the City?

The best day working for Round Rock is actually two days — July 4th and Christmas Family Night. Sure it’s a lot of work, but at the same time it’s great to see so many people enjoying all the efforts our team had put into it. The tradition continues to grow and change.

How about the worst day?

The worst day has to be when not only our city but our nation witnessed the tragedy of the twin towers in New York. It just reminded us all that we not only belong to the community of Round Rock, but also to the larger community of our nation. Such a tragedy seen from our offices and homes seemed to be a surreal experience that has changed the way we look at the world around us. It won’t be forgotten. I have to also mention that when you’ve been here a while and you lose someone here at work that you know, you can’t help but think about how short life is. It doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or 90. We should be thankful for what God has given us and not take any of these gifts for granted.

What’s your favorite ice cream?

Chocolate mint.

If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?

I would like to have dinner with my grandfather because I was very young when he passed away and I’d like to hear his stories about working a cotton farm in West Texas. I’d also like to have dinner with Jesus Christ because, well after all he’s the only one in the world who has demonstrated His love to us all when He not only died for our sins but also rose again to give us new life, hope and purpose. The third person is someone I haven’t met yet so I look forward to finding out who that will be.

The 6 amazing ways the Round Rock Sports Center amazes

  • October 26, 2015

  • By Will Hampton

  • Posted In: The Quarry

Sports Center LogoThe Round Rock Sports Center is an amazing facility. Not even two years old, the Sports Center — designed to provide indoor sports capacity to our Sports Capital of Texas tourism program — is rockin’ on all eight cylinders.

Or rollin’ like a top. (Mix your own metaphor here).

The financials are off the charts — in a good way — as the facility more than pays for itself. And that includes debt service. Which, if you are familiar with municipal finance, is nothing short of incredible. That’s amazing point No. 1. In the first fiscal year of operations, it brought in $880,000 more revenue than it spent. This past fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, it looks like it’s going to be $1 million to the good. That fund balance will go into a reserve to be used for major repairs, if needed, and/or possibly making some additional debt payments.

So what else could be so amazing, you ask? Obviously, there’s a lot of folks playing basketball and volleyball at the Sports Center. (Not familiar with the Sports Center? Take 3 minutes to watch this.)

Here are 5 other amazing sports and activities the facility has hosted.

Amazing Sports Center

1. Futsal

It's like indoor soccer, with a smaller ball

RRSC bridal show

2. Cake Wars

Better call Saul, because we're pretty sure the Breaking Bad lawyer will want to sue for unlawful use of likeness. This was one of the winners from the 2015 That Takes the Cake Sugar Art show. It'll be back Feb. 27-28.

bass pro job fair

3. Job fairs

Angling for work? We hosted the Bass Pro Shops job fair at the Sports Center

rrsc table tennis

4. Table Tennis, anyone?

We've hosted national pro and collegiate tournaments. Just don't call it ping pong, OK?

rrsc speed agility training

5. Dance classes

We're kidding. It's speed and agility training. Though we suspect these guys could bust a move if necessary

 

October’s Everyday Hero

  • October 23, 2015

  • By Will Hampton

  • Posted In: The Quarry

Everyday Heroes logoAn organization is only as good as its employees, and we’ve got some great ones here at the City of Round Rock.

Each month, we’re going to introduce you to one of those great ones by sharing the winners of our annual Customer Service Week awards. These outstanding employees are chosen by their peers. We’re going to start with our overall winner, who you have probably met — and been greeted with by a smile, certainly — if you’ve ever been to City Hall.

Cynthia Mouser

Cynthia Mouser

Meet Cynthia Mouser, the receptionist at City Hall. Cynthia’s been with the City for 20 years and is an absolute joy to work with. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what her fellow employees had to say about Cynthia:

  • For Cynthia being here so long, she has done one heck of a job as our City Hall Receptionist. Always such a caring individual to her co-workers and most importantly CORR citizens. Her attitude has been the same since day one & that’s what you call a dedicated individual! You ROCK Cynthia.
  • Cynthia is always kind and helpful to everyone.
  • Cynthia constantly provides excellent customer service. She is always friendly and smiling.
  • Cynthia is always pleasant to be around. She is an excellent ambassador for the City.
  • Cynthia is always very helpful. She must deal with not only the employees, but the citizens as well.  She is always cheerful and does it with a smile.
  • Positive, helpful, reliable.
  • Cynthia is always so sweet and tries to help in anyway she can. She always has a smile on her face.

Congratulations, Cynthia!

Seven ways to fall for Fall

  • October 19, 2015

  • By Will Hampton

  • Posted In: The Quarry

When the weather cools off, we know how to have fun here in Round Rock. And what’s more fun than dressing in a silly costume — or, better yet, dressing the kids in cute costumes? Or playing with toys — really, really BIG toys?

So get your Fall fun on at one (or more!) of the following:

1. Hometown Halloween

HoHa Web Event Banner

Bring the whole family Downtown to Hometown Halloween on Saturday, Oct. 31, for hayrides, live music, and trick or treating at participating restaurants. Dr. Who fans get a double dose of fun (see below).

2. Parties and Pumpkins at the Library

pumpkinparty2 wide

No one parties like librarians (we’re not kidding), so don’t miss Parties and Pumpkins at the Library. Party time is Oct. 26, 28 and 29 for ages 18 months to 6 yearsBring your decorated pumpkin entries to the Library from Oct. 23-29. No carved pumpkins, please (even librarians have their limits)!

3. Trunk or Treat at Seton Williamson

adaptive trunk or treat cropped

Trunk or Treat for special needs kids at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, at Seton Williamson. This is the latest in the series of programs our Parks and Rec staff have put together for kids and adults with special needs and abilities.

4. Trunk or Treat for Blue Santa

Trunk or Treat to raise funds for Blue Santa will be from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25, at the Police Department. Toys and monetary donations are welcome!

5. Touch a Truck

Due to continuing rain, our Touch A Truck event scheduled for Saturday, October 24 has been cancelled.

 

Suffering from Halloween overload? Then try the Touch a Truck event from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 24, at Old Settlers Park.

6. Whovian Halloween

Tardis_costume

Dr. Who fans — the TARDIS is coming to the library! Get into costume for the Whovian Halloween at the Library from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31.

7. Fall Fun Fest

The preschooler pageantry of cute occurs from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at Old Settlers Park at the annual Fall Fun Fest. This year’s theme is Monsters and Mayhem.

Now’s a great time to be thinking fire prevention

  • October 15, 2015

  • By Will Hampton

  • Posted In: The Quarry
Would you trust these guys to educate your children? (Hint: Yes!)

Q: Would you trust these guys to educate your children? See answer below. (Hint: Yes!)

October is Fire Prevention Month in Round Rock — and right now’s a great time to pay attention to that topic, with wildfires burning in Bastrop and Jarrell as we write this. The low humidity and dry fuel (aka brown grass and shrubs) are to blame.

While we haven’t had any wildfires in Round Rock, the Fire Department has been assisting our neighbors in Granger and Jarrell this week. The smoke from the Bastrop fires made its way to town Wednesday afternoon. If you’re worried about health impacts from wildfire smoke, we’ve posted information here.

Prepare yourself with some fast facts from the National Fire Protection Association. (Example: Half of home fire deaths result from fires reported between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most people are asleep. Only one in five home fires were reported during these hours. So make sure you can hear your smoke alarm from where you sleep!)

Life safety education made fun

Our Rock Solid Safety Team has been using humor and fun to teach school kids about fire safety for more than a decade. They’ll be at 19 schools over the next couple of months, teaching the students about “Staying Alive” with a disco theme.

And, yes, Lt. Mike Heard (aka Cisco, the disco cowboy) and Firefighter Josh Bonney (aka Disco Josh) are actually trained professionals who our kids love learning from.

And adults can learn, too!

Members of the City Council got an up close and personal lesson in what our firefighters face when the alarm goes off. The City Council Fire Academy on Oct. 6 was part of the Fire Department’s annual update to our elected decision makers.

Naturally, our cameras were there to capture the highlights, including some serious “cone killing” on the driving track.

 

Top 10 list of the Top 10 lists we’ve made in Round Rock

  • October 13, 2015

  • By Will Hampton

  • Posted In: The Quarry

top10top10We think Round Rock is pretty awesome. And as the late Bear Bryant once said, “It ain’t bragging if it’s true.” Herewith, the top 10 lists we’ve made just so’s you know we ain’t bragging (OK, we are — but you go tell the Bear he was wrong!).

  1. The ranking that started it all: In 2005, Round Rock was ranked as the No. 8 Safest City in America.
  2. In 2008, Round Rock was named one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People by America’s Promise Alliance, founded by Gen. Colin Powell and wife Alma.
  3. In 2010, Family Circle (the magazine, not the comic strip. Oh wait, that’s Family Circus — never mind) put us in the top 10 Best Towns and Cities for Families.
  4. Closely related (and more recent — circa 2014), Mylife.com ranked Round Rock as the 6th best mid-sized City in the United States to raise children.
  5. In 2008, Money ranked us the No. 7 Best Place to Live. Funny, but we haven’t made that list since. Wonder if it’s because we only bought one piece a swag from them after the issue came out?
  6. A few years back, CNBC ranked us among the Top 10 Perfect Suburbs. We were No. 8. Wait, who could be more perfect than us? Apparently, Wexford, Pa., Midlothian, Va., Poquosan, Va., Reading, Mass., Circle Pines, Minn., Kensington, Md., and Edmund, Okla., that’s who.
  7. Last month, SmartAsset named Round Rock the No. 1 Best City for Minor League Baseball. Yeah, we pretty much knocked that one out of the park. (And it’s a swing and a miss for a great pun on that one.)
  8. In February, Livability.com ranked us as the No. 1 Best Affordable Place to Live. Which is better (but only slightly) than Nerdwallet ranking us No. 3 on its list of Most Affordable Places in America. But on par with (and better named, certainly) the top Cheapest City You Want to Live Inback in 2014 by Kiplinger.
  9. Some cities have the best of everything: the jobs, the schools, the museums, the nightlife, you name it. They know the recipe for attractiveness. Round Rock ranks No. 10 among those cities, according to WalletHub’s list of the Fastest Growing Economies released in September 2015.
  10. Lest you think we’re all about the dollar, consider this one. Movoto ranked Round Rock the No. 8 Most Caring Suburb in America