Monday, April 26, 2010

Dewberry Festival

Those of you that did not make it to the Dewberry Festival missed a sure enough Central Texas good time. Probably one of the better turnouts that I have seen in quite a while. To think all of this began with Jeff Smitherman's idea to honor the status of Milam County as the Dewberry Capitol of Texas.

Milam County became the Dewberry Capitol of Texas in 1995. Then Representative Dan Kubiak authored and presented House Resolution 11 which was passed on March 30, 1995. The late Gene Smitherman, of KMIL radio, is often given credit for coming up with the idea. However, those of us in the know are sure that it was his co-host Silas Strausburger that presented the idea to Representative Kubiak.

Silas was especially partial to dewberries. Listeners across Central Texas could keep a check on the local dewberry crop progress by tuning into the morning talk show entitled the Breakfast Club. Dewberries were a favorite food for Silas, and he also supplemented his income by selling fresh dewberries to the public. One year a gallon of dewberries that Silas donated to charity sold for 1,700 dollars.

I am proud to have been a part of the very first Dewberry Festival ever held in Milam County. The first Dewberry Festival was held in Cameron's City Park in 1999. The first ever event was the brainchild of Jeff Smitherman. In 2001 the event was combined with the Chamber of Commerce March Fest

One of the big events then and still today is the Dewberry Cook-Off. Jeff Smitherman called me as he was formulating plans and questioned me as to when the dewberries ripened in our area. I informed him that in an average year in Milam County, if there is such a thing, dewberries will be ripening around the first of May, and peak around mid-May.

He then questioned me about the last wekend in April, and I agreed that in some, but very few years, there would be some dewberries ripe during the later part of April. Especially when the last weekend of April fell close to May 1st. For whatever reason he decided the last weekend in April would be the date, and it has continued to be held the last weekend in April.

Now, with all that being said I too am a connoisseur of fine baked dewberry goods. However, the key to truly exquisite results relies on fresh dewberries. That is not to say that one cannot create a great cobbler or pie with frozen dewberries.

Nevertheless, for those of us that look forward to the first cup or two of fresh picked dewberries for that initial cobbler of the year there is no substitute for fresh main ingredients. Time to look at changing the event to the first weekend of May. Might not improve the event, but it will sure improve the chance of having a cobbler made from fresh dewberries. I believe it only fitting that the Dewberry Capitol of Texas have fresh dewberries available during the celebration.

Monday, April 19, 2010

County Roads

Okay, okay, so it has been almost a month since I last posted to my blog. Things have been bit hectic not only in the courthouse, but in the personal life as well. Sometimes it is hard for some folks to realize that elected officials, especially at the local level, are people too.

For those of you that have been keeping up with local happenings through the media you know that one of the recent "issues" for county government has been roads. I have owned property in Milam County since 1969 and while living here off and on since 1969, my family has permanently resided in Milam County since August of 1979.

One of the reasons I decided to locate my family and raise my children here was the people of Milam County. The rural area provides, in my opinion, a much better environment for raising kids. Both of my sons graduated from Yoe High and both grew up on a gravel road.

There were a couple of individuals in court last week complaining about County Road 250. It has been my practice to personally go out and drive the roads that the court receives public comment on just to see what some people think is a "bad road." I drove the entire length of CR 250 and CR 250 Loop on Saturday April 17th.

One individual was complaining about the horrendous condition of the road. I will admit that the Commissioner is in the process of getting the road in shape for seal coating so there is some inconvenience with the oil on the road, but overall I found the road in very good shape. I managed speeds of 30 to 40 miles per hour with no problems. Plenty fast for a gravel road.

Another individual was attempting to blame the condition of the road for an accident one of his family members had. The accident led to the family member receiving a ticket for failure to control speed. If I remember correctly every thing I have ever learned about driving includes the principle that you adjust your speed according to the road conditions.

Their bottom line was that something needed to be down about the road and that it should be done today. I attempted to explain to them that the Judge had no authority to tell or force another elected official to do anything (that is a whole other column), but they did not buy it. Some times the truth is hard for some folks to take.

As a landowner for over 40 years and full time resident for almost 31 years I can attest that the county roads are much improved over what they have been in the past. They are wider, and better maintained today. Granted they are not all paved, but part of country life is the roads, and in Milam County the majority of the roads are gravel.

Progress is being realized with the condition of roads in Milam County. Progress will continue to occur. The reality is that Rome was not built in a day, and 780 plus miles of gravel roads in Milam County will not change over night. As for me and my family that's just fine.