Messiah the dog recovering from shooting; reward offered

Messiah and Paighton Corley at Living Grace Canine Ranch

Hill Country Humane Society Executive Director Paighton Corley visits with Messiah, a Great Pyrenees, at Living Grace Canine Ranch in Bertram. The dog is quickly recovering from multiple gunshot wounds received on Jan. 12 in Kingsland. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

A Great Pyrenees dog shot multiple times on Jan. 12 in Kingsland is on his way to recovery thanks to the quick action of local animal welfare organizations. Although still receiving 24-hour care at Living Grace Canine Ranch in Bertram, Messiah is expected to move into a foster home on Friday, Jan. 20, until he’s cleared for adoption.

“I think he has a great future,” Hill Country Humane Society Executive Director Paighton Corley told “There are a ton of people interested in him, and he has an amazing foster.”

Kingsland resident Alex Shumaker called the Llano County Sheriff’s Office after he heard gunshots on the afternoon of Jan. 12 and found the dog hiding under his home covered in blood from at least eight bullet wounds. A round shattered in his face, another passed within an inch of his spine, and another went through his back leg, narrowly missing the bone.

Officers captured the dog and took him to Hill Country Humane Society, which rushed him to Highland Lakes Veterinary Clinic in Marble Falls for treatment. After he was stabilized, Messiah was taken to Living Grace Canine Ranch, where he could receive around-the-clock care. 

“When he first got here, he was, of course, terrified and in pain,” said Living Grace Director Rhonda Minardi.

X-ray for Messiah
An X-ray of Messiah’s head taken at Highland Lakes Veterinary Clinic in Marble Falls shows the locations of bullet fragments lodged in the dog’s face and throat. The Great Pyrenees was shot in Kingsland on Jan. 12. Courtesy image/Hill Country Humane Society

No owner has come forward to claim Messiah, and the shooter has not been identified.

A $5,000 reward has been offered for information leading to criminal charges in the shooting by Help Asheville Bears, a North Carolina-based animal rights nonprofit. Call 1-855-767-2327 to report anonymous information.

Hill Country Humane Society paid for Messiah’s care, which is ongoing but is $2,400 so far. A Facebook fundraiser has gathered $4,000 for the shelter for his care. 

Shumaker, the man who found Messiah, did not witness the shooting but heard the shots. He had previously contacted the Llano County Sheriff’s Office after four of his dogs were shot by a neighbor in the past year for alleged attacks on their livestock.

“It’s kind of cruel for somebody to shoot a dog that many times,” Shumaker told “From my knowledge, no livestock were killed or hurt, but they may have been harassing chickens.”

LCSO was unavailable for comment at the time of this story’s publication.


‘On Golden Pond’ auditions Jan. 28-29

The Hill Country Community Theatre is casting the family drama “On Golden Pond,” its fourth production of the 2022-23 season. Auditions are from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Jan. 28 and 6-8 p.m. Jan. 29 at the nonprofit theater, 4003 FM 2147 West in Cottonwood Shores.

Directed by Karin Frasier, “On Golden Pond” runs from April 14-May 7 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.

The play, penned in 1979 by Ernest Thompson, won multiple Tony Awards before it was adapted for the screen in 1981. The film starred Henry Fonda, Katherine Hepburn, and Jane Fonda, garnered 10 Oscar Award nominations — winning three — and was the second-highest grossing movie of the year. 


“On Golden Pond” tells the story of retired New England professor Norman Thayer and his spirited wife, Ethel, during their last summer at the family’s lakeside cottage in Maine. En route to a European honeymoon, the couple’s estranged daughter, Chelsea, arrives to leave behind her fiancé’s troubled young son. Colliding generations soon forge common ground, but when Chelsea returns to discover Norman playing the father she never had, years of bitter memories and resentment rise to the surface. Both witty and dramatic, the themes of parent/child relationships and aging are addressed with humor, heart, and wisdom.


The HCCT is seeking three men, two women, and one teen boy to fill the roles.

  • Norman Thayer Jr.: Nearing 80 years old with some memory problems. Curmudgeonly, but very much in love with his wife, Ethel. Somewhat estranged from daughter Chelsea.
  • Ethel Thayer: Ten years younger than Norman. Spritely, active, very much in love with her husband to whom she is sweetheart, caregiver, and friend.
  • Charlie Martin: Local delivery-by-boat mailman and close friend of the family. Has had a lifelong crush on Chelsea.
  • Chelsea Thayer Wayne: Forties, attractive, divorced. Still troubled by the distance between herself and Norman. Engaged to Bill Ray and has brought him to meet her parents.
  • Billy Ray: Fourteen-year-old son of Bill Ray. Typical California teenager coming to spend a month with Norman and Ethel while his father and Chelsea are in Europe.
  • Bill Ray: Chelsea’s fiancé and Billy’s father. Not the outdoors type but trying to make a good impression on Chelsea’s parents.

For more information, call the Hill Country Community Theatre at 830-798-8944 or visit


Granite Shoals police snag badly needed vehicles amid shortage

Chris Cowan of Granite Shoals Police Department

Granite Shoals Police Department fleet manager Chris Cowan explains the process of ‘upfitting’ a new patrol vehicle. He recently acquired three new vehicles for the department, despite a $306,000 deal falling through due to a nationwide shortage. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The Granite Shoals Police Department managed to acquire four much-needed patrol vehicles in the new year despite supply chain issues and a manufacturer’s inability to fulfill an order placed by the city. The department has an aging fleet that it is struggling to upgrade amid a nationwide shortage of law enforcement-quality patrol vehicles.

The GSPD was allocated $306,000 by the City Council in October 2022 for four new patrol vehicles. Four 2023 Ford Explorers were ordered soon after the appropriation. Chris Cowan, the department’s fleet manager, learned that only one Explorer was actually made and the other three might not be delivered until October 2024. 

Cowan scoured the state for replacements and, by luck, came across what might have been the only three new patrol vehicles available in Texas.

The four vehicles are expected to be on the road by May of this year. The department is getting a 2023 Ford Explorer, a 2023 Chevrolet Tahoe, and two 2022 Tahoes, all coming in at $46,000 under budget.

“It’s been a blessing,” Cowan told “This will keep our officers on the road.”

The department only had 11 patrol vehicles for 11 patrol officers, meaning that if one vehicle went down for maintenance, officers would have to double up and share, packing on double mileage for an already high-mileage fleet, Cowan said.

Patrol vehicles often need maintenance, according to Cowan, who said most law enforcement agencies cycle out a vehicle every four or five years. Some of the rides in the Granite Shoals fleet are 11 years old.

“Aging fleets cause problems,” Capt. Chris Decker said. “It’s not just for the officer’s safety, it also destroys the budget. We have older Tahoes that have surpassed their value as vehicles with the repairs that we have had to put into them.”

Decker explained that pandemic-related supply chain issues derailed vehicle manufacturers and the companies that outfit law enforcement vehicles for patrol work. Prior to the pandemic, vehicle orders were usually fulfilled within three months. Now, it can take years to get a vehicle manufactured and fitted for patrol.

The Llano County Sheriff’s Office is dealing with similar issues. A third of the county’s fleet needs to be replaced, and vehicles ordered in January 2021 have yet to be delivered. The Sheriff’s Office was ultimately allocated $500,000 by the Llano County Commissioners Court from American Rescue Plan Act funds to acquire just half of the needed vehicles.

Most municipal and county agencies usually have their budgets approved in October and then all compete for the same pool of law enforcement-style vehicles, which are only manufactured by Chevrolet, Ford, and Dodge. As a small department, Granite Shoals is lower in the food chain and has a harder time getting orders filled before larger clients.

“There are agencies with 10,000 vehicles and there are agencies with four vehicles,” Decker said. “Bigger agencies have more options. We may only have four vehicles we’re ordering, but they’re important to us.”

It could take years for the department to catch up to normal fleet standards due to the manufacturing delays caused by COVID-19, Decker said, but these new vehicles are a blessing.

“Everyone is facing the same challenges right now,” he said. “We’ve been very fortunate with what we have found here.”


Growth driving millions of dollars in Burnet County roadwork projects

Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Executive Director Ashby Johnson

Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Executive Director Ashby Johnson gives a presentation on planned transportation upgrades in Burnet County that will accommodate expected population and employment growth. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

Extensive expansions and improvements to Burnet County’s major roads are in the works to accommodate population and employment growth, which is expected to nearly double by 2045, according to data collected by the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization

CAMPO Executive Director Ashby Johnson briefed Burnet County leadership on the coming transportation upgrades during a Coffee and Conversation presentation on Tuesday, Jan. 17, at the Hill Country Community Foundation building in Burnet. The Burnet Chamber of Commerce hosts the monthly coffee with a variety of speakers. 

“Our goal is to not wait until the problem occurs,” Ashby told after his presentation. “Our goal is to get ahead of it.”

CAMPO’s jurisdiction includes Burnet, Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties. The organization is responsible for managing transportation planning and development in the region. All six counties are projected to have exponential growth in the coming years.

Texas Department of Transportation Austin District Engineer Tucker Ferguson presented plans for millions of dollars’ worth of upgrades to Burnet County roadways that will happen between now and 2026. Much of the construction is underway, including an $8.8 million project to widen Texas 71 near the Blanco County line. 

Other projects presented by Ferguson included widening Texas 29 at the Williamson County line, reworking Texas 71 at the Llano County line, and building a new bridge over LBJ on Wirtz Dam Road. 

“We’re seeing growth with people coming from Travis and Williamson counties into Burnet County but also people coming from out of the area and even out of state and settling here,” Ferguson said. “Our transportation plan is responsive to that growth, and we’re looking to get these projects developed and built so that we can meet the demands of the traffic that is going to be generated from that growth.”

In 2021, Burnet County’s population was about 51,000. It is projected to rise to 94,000 by 2045, according to CAMPO data. In 2015, employment in the county was at about 19,000. Employment is expected to shoot up to 37,000 by 2045, according to the same CAMPO study. 

“It’s up to us to force ourselves to look into the crystal ball and plan for the growth that is coming,” Burnet County Judge James Oakley told at the presentation. “Playing catchup is not a good position to be in. Trying to get ahead of that growth is what we’re all about.”


Free job readiness training for women starts Jan. 31 in Burnet

The application process is open for a free, 12-week job readiness training program for Highland Lakes women that is set to begin Jan. 31. 

The Christian Women’s Job Corps classes are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at 218 E. Jackson St. in Burnet. Computers and lunch are provided.

The full course covers basic computer skills, customer service, bookkeeping, and more but will focus on developing professionalism and faith.

“We, of course, have the job skills, but it’s also life skills,” CWJC site coordinator Brenda Rienstra told “Budgeting, setting personal boundaries, time management, we just provide love, encouragement, and hope so that they can get ahead in life and have a good start.”

Applications should be submitted before the program’s orientation, which is at 10 a.m. Jan. 25. Late applications will be considered if space is available. Interested women may fill out an application online or mail one to CWJC Highland Lakes, P.O. Box 1433, Burnet, TX 78611. They will be contacted for an interview.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old and drug and alcohol free. A certificate of completion is awarded at the end of the 12 weeks to those who adhere to attendance policies. 

“I think there is a need for this,” Rienstra said about the classes. “Personally, it’s a ministry. We’re trying to help people in a tangible way, but they’re getting a lot more than just the hands-on training.”

For more information about the Christian Women’s Job Corps and its classes, contact or 512-756-1484.


Marble Falls ISD names Gasaway interim superintendent

Dr. Jeff Gasaway

Dr. Jeff Gasaway was named interim superintendent during the Marble Falls Independent School District Board of Trustees meeting on Jan. 18. Gasaway began his tenure with the district in 2016 as assistant superintendent before being promoted to deputy superintendent in 2021. Staff photo by Nathan Bush

The Marble Falls Independent School District Board of Trustees named Deputy Superintendent Dr. Jeff Gasaway interim superintendent on Tuesday, Jan. 17, to replace outgoing Superintendent Dr. Chris Allen, who is leaving to take the top job for the Midway Independent School District near Waco. Hired in 2016, Gasaway served as assistant superintendent before being promoted to deputy superintendent in 2021.

“(Gasaway) is a natural fit,” board President Kevin Naumann told “He knows the vision. That’s the most important piece. He’s got the heart and understands the vision behind loving and inspiring every child. That’s super important to the board to maintain continuity on that.”

As the search for a permanent superintendent begins, Naumann hopes Gasaway will consider applying.

“(The board wants) him to be a part of that process if he wants to be a part of it,” Naumann said. “It’s totally not outside of the realm of possibility that he is the permanent replacement.”

Naumann believes Gasaway’s prior administrative roles will ensure a smooth transition period, no matter who is ultimately hired.

“He already knows where we’re at on a lot of our ongoing projects,” Naumann said. “He’ll be able to step in and really not miss a beat in terms of where the district is headed and how we finish out this year.”

Gasaway’s wife, Kara, is the principal of MFISD’s Spicewood Elementary School. To avoid a conflict of interest, she will be under the supervision of Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Yarda Leflet.

“We wanted to make sure the community knows we have transparency on all of that,” Naumann said. 

No timeline was set for how long Gasaway will serve in the position as trustees outline the search process for a permanent replacement.

“I think the intent is we get somebody sooner rather than later, so that whoever the permanent person is would be in on the budget and personnel and all the decisions that go into planning for next year,” Naumann said. “Ideally, by the end of the semester, we’d know where we’re headed for the future.”

The board plans to meet in executive session to talk about the search process at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, in the Central Office Community Room, 1800 Colt Circle.


LCRA begins $76M, three-year Wirtz Dam project to replace floodgates

Wirtz Dam on Lake LBJ

Wirtz Dam on Lake LBJ. The Lower Colorado River Authority is starting a $76 million, three-year project to replace the 10 floodgates at the dam. LCRA photo

The Lower Colorado River Authority is starting a $76 million, three-year project to remove and replace the 10 floodgates at Wirtz Dam on Lake LBJ to help ensure the dam continues to operate safely and reliably for years to come, the authority announced in a media release Wednesday, Jan. 18.

The dam was completed in 1951 and has nine original floodgates and a 10th floodgate that was added when the first Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant was built in 1974. Each floodgate will be carefully removed and replaced with a new custom-made floodgate that meets today’s engineering standards, the LCRA said.

Work will be done on one floodgate at a time to ensure the dam remains operational and available to pass floodwaters downstream.

“We could do this project more quickly if we replaced multiple floodgates at once, but we are in Flash Flood Alley and that is not a viable option,” said John Hofmann, LCRA’s executive vice president of Water, in the LCRA media release. “Dams along the Highland Lakes play a critical role in managing floodwaters, and we have to maintain their readiness at all times.”

The LCRA expects work on each floodgate to take about two months and the entire project to be finished in 2025.

In addition to replacing the floodgates, crews will upgrade the machinery, called hoists, that lifts them. Two hoists will be replaced and eight will be refurbished. The existing hoist bridge also will be replaced.

During the project, the area immediately upstream of Wirtz Dam on Lake LBJ that is off-limits to boaters will be expanded by about 150 feet to about 300 feet to allow construction crews ample room to remove and replace the floodgates. A buoy line will be in place to cordon off the construction area.

The new, 120,000-pound floodgates will be assembled in an area south of the dam and then moved via construction barges and cranes.

Construction crews preparing the laydown yard will be in the area starting in late January. Heavy equipment is expected to begin arriving in mid-February. Installation of the first floodgate is planned to start in April.

Since fiscal year 2010, the LCRA has invested more than $134 million in capital projects at dams along the Highland Lakes, Lake Bastrop, and Lake Fayette, including on the structures themselves and related hydroelectric generation infrastructure. The authority plans to invest more than $107 million in these types of projects over the next five years.


Filing for city elections begins Jan. 18

The filing period for city elections across the Highland Lakes opens Wednesday, Jan. 18. Residents have until Feb. 17 to submit their applications. Election Day is May 6.

Marble Falls

Mayor and places 4 and 6 on the Marble Falls City Council are up for election. Mayor Richard Westerman was elected for the first time in May 2021. Incumbent councilors Bryan Walker and Reed Norman currently hold the place 4 and 6 seats, respectively.

Place 2, held by Dave Rhodes since 2017, is an open seat due to city charter rules preventing Rhodes from serving another term.

Packets can be picked up at City Hall, 800 Third St.

Contact City Secretary Christina McDonald at or 830-693-3615 for more information.


Burnet Mayor Crista Goble Bromley and Councilor Cindia Talamentez are unable to run due to term limits. City Council seats currently held by Joyce Laudenschlager and Ricky Langley are up for re-election.

Applications are available at 1001 Buchanan Drive, Suite 4.

Call City Secretary Kelly Dix at 512-715-3209 for more information. 

Cottonwood Shores

Mayor and places 2 and 4 on the Cottonwood Shores City Council are up for election. Donald Orr has served as mayor since 2013. The place 2 and 4 seats are currently held by councilors Brigitte Thomas and Ray Whitis. Whitis was appointed to his seat in September 2022 after the resignation of Councilor Michael Hibdon.

To file, visit City Hall at 3808 Cottonwood Drive.

Call City Secretary Bobby Herrin at 830-693-3830 for more information.


Places 2, 4, and 5 on the Meadowlakes City Council are all up for re-election. Incumbents Barbara Peskin, Eddie Wise, and Garrett Wood currently hold the three seats.

Packets can be picked up at City Hall, 117 Broadmoor, Suite A.

Contact City Secretary Evan Bauer at 830-693-6840 or for more information.

Granite Shoals

Places 1, 2, 3, and 5 on the Granite Shoals City Council are all up for re-election. The seats are currently held by incumbents Ron Munos, Kevin Flack, Samantha Ortiz, and Michael Berg, respectively. Both Flack and Berg were recently appointed to fill vacant seats.

The position of mayor is also up for election. Aaron Garcia was sworn in as mayor in October 2022 following the resignation of Will Skinner. 

Applications are available at City Hall, 2221 N. Phillips Ranch Road.

Call City Secretary Dawn Wright at 830-598-2424 for more information.

Highland Haven

The seats of Highland Haven aldermen Lynn Smith, Terry Smith, and Lorinda Peters are up for election. 

To file, visit City Hall at 510 Highland Drive.

Contact City Secretary Lezley Baum at 830-265-4366 or for more information.


The seats of Bertram councilors Pat Turner and Lane Shipp are up for election. The two councilors won their seats in 2021. The seat of Mayor Pro-Tem John Baladez is also up for election.

Packets can be picked up at City Hall, 110 E. Vaughn St.

Contact City Secretary Georgina Hernandez at 512-355-2197 or for more information.


Most of Granite Shoals council seats up for grabs in next election

Five of the seven seats on the Granite Shoals City Council will be on the May 6 ballot. Interested residents can apply to run for mayor and places 1, 2, 3, and 5 starting Wednesday, Jan. 18. The filing period ends Feb. 17.

Upheavals on the council in 2022 led to several personnel changes that will be addressed in the May election. In an odd-numbered election year, the council seats that typically would be on the ballot are mayor and places 1, 3, and 5. The place 2 seat was added to replace recently appointed Mayor Aaron Garcia, who, as mayor pro-tem, became mayor when Will Skinner resigned from that position in October

Place 2 was then filled with the appointment of Kevin Flack in late October. Garcia had only been serving on the council since May 24, 2022, when he received the surprise appointment to mayor pro tem on June 14

Councilor Eddie McCoy unexpectedly resigned from his place 5 seat in November, leading to the appointment of Michael Berg to the position later that month. The city is only allowed two appointed positions on the council by state law, so it is now at the max.

Seats up for election and corresponding current councilors are:

  • Place 1, Ron Munos
  • Place 2, Kevin Flack
  • Place 3, Samantha Ortis
  • Place 5, Michael Berg
  • Mayor, Aaron Garcia

Garcia, Flack, and Berg all must decide if they want to run to keep their recently attained positions on the council. Place 1 Councilor Ron Munos and Place 3 Councilor Samantha Ortis will have to decide whether to seek re-election to another two-year term. 

So far, the only councilors to confirm their intent to run for their seats are Ortis and Berg.

“I am absolutely running for my seat again,” Ortis told

Berg also confirmed with that he is “100 percent” intent on keeping his Place 5 seat.

Seven candidates put their names in the hat when the Place 2 seat was up for appointment in October, which is a lot for Granite Shoals, according to Munos, who ran unopposed in his last two elections.

“There was a lot of apathy back then,” he told “People have gotten a lot more involved and energized.”

Both elections in which Munos participated were canceled because the seats were unopposed.

To file for a City Council seat, pick up an application packet starting Jan. 18 at Granite Shoals City Hall, 2221 N. Phillips Ranch Road. The two-year council terms are unpaid. To qualify to run, you must be a registered voter in the city, pass a criminal background check, have no debts to the city, and have lived within the city limits for at least a year.


BCISD board wades through state’s school finance law

BCISD Students of the Month for January 2023

The Burnet Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees recognized Burnet High School students of the month for January and their teachers during a meeting on Jan. 16. Pictured are art teacher Dawn Campbell (left), students Jahir Benitez and Claire Teague, theatre teacher Amanda Brandenburg, and Principal Casey Burkhart. Courtesy photo

Money, money, money. When Burnet Consolidated Independent School District trustees met Monday, Jan. 16, they waded through Texas’ complicated school finance system, approving the purchase of attendance credits from the state to offset excess revenue. 

Superintendent Keith McBurnett explained why BCISD paid $10 million in recapture payments to the state for distribution to poorer districts while facing a reduction in the Foundation School Program because of higher-than-expected school property tax revenues.

“The recapture payment of $10 million doubles the amount of base State funding BCISD receives,” McBurnett stated in a district media release. “As a reminder, the State is projecting to reduce state spending for the Foundation School Program by $4.3 billion (statewide) in the current school year due to higher-than-expected school property tax revenues. That means that the State will provide less funding for public schools because local taxpayers provided more.” 

A little more than half of that reduction to the FSP is paid for by higher-than-expected recapture payments. 

“This means that the State is requiring Burnet CISD to make a $10 million recapture payment, and a significant portion of those funds won’t go to property-poor school districts, but rather to the State’s general fund to be spent how they (legislators) please,” McBurnett continued.

The district’s wealth is based on property value per student attendance days. The state uses attendance credits to determine the amount of recapture funds to collect from wealthier school districts. School boards are required to purchase attendance credits to lower the district’s wealth per attendance day. Boards are also required to approve the recapture amount each year.


The board approved a new cover for the Burnet Middle School greenhouse, which was recently damaged by high winds. 

Trustees also approved an early resignation notification incentive of $500 for contract professionals that will allow the district to begin teacher recruitment early. 

“With the current enrollment fluctuation and staff retirements, this incentive allows the district to be efficient and accurate while planning for the next budget year,” McBurnett said. 

A five-year strategic plan in the works since November was approved to replace the 2017 plan. The new plan includes a vision statement, mission statement, and goals and is available for viewing online.

A status report on the 2021 bond program is also available online. The board heard a review of bond projects from Bo Ledoux with Claycomb Associates, Architects and Calen Shearer with Satterfield & Pontikes Construction. 

An election for places 3 and 7 on the board was called for May 6. Those seats are currently held by Suzanne Brown and Mark Kincaid, respectively. Trustees serve three-year terms. 

The board also recognized Claire Teague and Jahir Benitez as students of the month for January at Burnet High School and cross-country athlete Hudson Bennett for earning Academic All-State distinction in the sport.

McBurnett presented each board member with a branded BCISD backpack in honor of January as School Board Recognition Month. He called the backpacks a “small token of appreciation.” 

“Our board members are extraordinary people who voluntarily tackle the enormous job of governing our school district,” he said in the media release. “Their actions and decisions affect the present and future lives of our children. They play a crucial role in crafting the future in Burnet CISD.”

A public hearing was held to discuss the district’s Texas Academic Performance Report, which provides information on student performance. The TAPR also includes data on staff, programs, and student demographics. A copy of the annual report can be found online. 

The Board of Trustees’ next regular meeting is at 6:15 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20, in the BCISD Board Room, 208 E. Brier St. in Burnet.