The Bastrop Advertiser (Bastrop, Tex.), Vol. 154, No. 17, Ed. 1 Thursday, April 26, 2007 Page: 1 of 11
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THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 2007
"Che JBastrop adncrtiscr
Texas' Oldest Weekly Newspaper Since March 1, 1853 Semi-Weekly Since Sept. 5, 1977
Volume 154, Number 17
28 pages in three sections plus inserts
Bill to create new district court hits snag
By Davis McAuley
Earlier this month the path to
approval seemed smooth for a bill
which would create a new state dis-
trict court to help handle a growing
caseload in Bastrop County. But this
week the path appeared far rockier.
Some developments appear suffi-
ciently alarming, in fact, that District
Attorney Bryan Goertz was set to trek
into Austin this week along with 21st
District Judge Terry Flenniken and
335th District Judge Reva Towslee
Corbett to see if they can steer the
measure along a route more to their
Both in the Texas House and
Senate, laws to create a new 423rd
District Court have been reported out
of committee and are awaiting action
on the consent calendar of each house,
said Goertz. The bills began life as
virtually identical twins. But now they
look very different, and the differ-
ences don't please local officials.
The Senate version is now a sec-
tion in a larger courts bill, said Goertz,
but the new court is no longer devoted
exclusively to cases arising in Bastrop
County. And the same bill makes the
Bastrop County district attorney the
new court's prosecutor in Burleson
and Washington County as well.
The law creating the Bastrop
County district attorney's office does
not give it jurisdiction in the other
counties, said Goertz.
The confusion perhaps arises from
the fact that the two district courts
which presently handle Bastrop
County cases also oversee cases
from Lee, Burleson and Washington
According to Goertz, some confu-
sion has also arisen from a legislative
report that seriously underestimates
the caseload in Bastrop County. A mis-
taken calculation assumed that Bastrop
County's caseload was already shared
by two district judges, raising ques-
tions about whether a third is needed,
said the prosecutor.
But in fact the two existing courts
must divide time among four coun-
ties, meaning Bastrop County has the
equivalent of only about half a district
court, said Goertz.
He and the judges hope meeting
this week with Sen. Glenn Hegar, who
represents Bastrop County, will help
See BILL, Page 2A
By Davis McAuley
A jury of six men and six
women was seated Monday to
hear evidence in the aggravated
sexual assault of a child trial of
Virgil Donald ""Donnic" Wyles,
But Tuesday, before the state
finished presenting its version
of events two years ago, Wyles
accepted a plea agreement with
prosecutors which places him
on probation for 10 years with-
out a finding of guilt.
The plea bargain requires
Wyles, 35, to register as a sex
offender and submit to evalu-
ation and treatment as a sex
offender, said Assistant District
Attorney Greg Gilleland. The
agreement also bars Wyles
from any future contact with
the victim, who is now a five-
year-old, or her family.
For a variety of reasons,
prosecutors were prepared for
a jury to set a term on proba-
tion, instead of prison, if Wyles
had been found guilty, and the
negotiated settlement spared
the child from having to testify
about what had happened to
See PLEA, Page 2A
■ Thursday's forecast:
chance of rain.
■ Last week:
High Low Prec,
Saturday 79 58 trace
Sunday 73 66 none
Monday 77 66 none
Tuesday 76 70 none
■ Provided by the KXAN School
AUSTIN COMMUNITY NEWSPAPERS
A walk to remember
In Honor of
Walkers make their way around the
Elgin High School Wildcat Stadium dur-
ing last weekend's Relay For Life. At
bottom, Cecil Smith, a committee chair
for Scout Troop 472, helped hold up a
large American flag during the playing
of the national anthem. Relay events
included the opening "Survivors' Lap"
on Friday night, an overnight stadium
campout that included walking addi-
tional laps and a "sunrise" closing cer-
emony Saturday at 6:30 a.m. See page
6B for more photos.
Jhotos by Terry Hagerty
Elgin s Relay for Life a spirited event
By Terry Hagerty
Despite the near total darkness in
Elgin High School's stadium Friday
night one could hear the sniffles
and see the outline of people giving
It was an emotional moment dur-
ing the Relay For Life.
Close to 500 people surrounding
the track were silhouetted by small
glowing white bags remembering
those who have died and those still
struggling with or who have over-
After the stadium lights were dark-
ened the word "cure" was spelled out
in capital letters in the stadium seats,
a target toward which all cancer
research is aimed.
Tears were in the eyes of Michelle
Krier and Brian Ham by as they
exchanged a hug in support of Krier's
sister Noele Madewell, a survivor of
cancer who lives in McDade.
They were also joining hands with
more than 3.5 million Americans
who take part annually in Relay For
Life events. Since 2004, five Relay
For Life events in area communities
have raised nearly a half million dol-
lars for cancer research.
There was plenty of solitude, but
a healthy measure of fun was also
part of the evening's activities in
The Elgin High School choir per-
formed, students played volleyball
and tossed footballs and children
lined up for cotton candy and sno-
cones while their parents enjoyed
brats and pizza.
Bastrop's Rory Smith sang such
fine renditions of 1970s-era soul
See RELAY, Page 6B
By Frank Levine
Special to The Advertiser
The executive director of Minorities for
Equality in Employment, Education, Liberty
and Justice, Inc., believes that although the
name of her organization is long, the message
is simple - hope and redemption for those
who have fallen.
"We offer something society fails to deliver
to inmates, former inmates, their families, and
youth struggling to escape a life of substance
abuse, crime, poverty and desperation," says
Latreese Cooke, founder of the Bastrop-based
counseling and support service.
"Few realize the true cost of incarceration
is measured not in dollars and cents, but in
its human toll, as it affects the lives of those
incarcerated, their families especially chil-
dren—and the entire community," she says.
"Some former prisoners have spent much
of their adult lives behind bars, in a system
that offers little rehabilitation or the develop-
ment of even the most rudimentary of skills to
survive in the real world," she says, adding:
"Many can't read or write- or even fill out the
simplest of forms for their own benefit or the
benefit of their families."
She cites the example of a convicted
murderer, released after decades behind bars,
unable to fill out a simple money order.
"He broke down and cried," she recalls,
"realizing how ill-prepared he was for the
world that awaited him."
Some would say he failed to take advan-
tage of programs offered while incarcerated,
but he, like many, lived an institutional life in
which just survival left little energy or will-
power to focus on the future.
Former prisoners do learn, however, hope-
lessness, guilt, and despair - conditions that
permeate their entire lives. Even after their
parole or probation has ended, they often
remain condemned to either return to prison,
or struggle endlessly to regain what honor
and dignity remains in their lives.
As a result, they form a criminal under-
class, alienated from themselves and society,
with few realizing their potential as contribut-
ing members of society.
"Many are psychologically damaged by
See MEEELJ, Page 3A
Bastrop extra gets her chance to shine in 'Fireflies' film shoot
By Terry Hagerty
Hey, you won't be able to carry your mort-
gage as a Hollywood extra, but then who else
gets a chance to be caught by Julia Roberts
when they slip on a movie set?
The $75 a day Bastrop resident Brenda
Ramspacher was paid to be a film extra for
"Fireflies in the Garden" won't hold a candle
to the memory of having Roberts come to her
The feature film has been shooting a sub-
stantial part of its schedule at the Pecan Street
home of Terry and Pat Orr.
Ramspacher is one of several area residents
who landed non-speakmg parts for extras.
In preparing for a scene that included
Willem Dafoe, Ramspacher had Roberts
"come to her aid." Ramspacher said she was
positioning herself on an unwieldy chair when
she called out words similar to I'm about to
Roberts, who was standing nearby but not
part of the filmed scene, told her "I'll catch
you" and did so.
Ramspacher, recently moved from Indiana,
has been an extra in several films including
the basketball classic ""Hoosicrs."
After Ramspacher sent the casting director
of "Fireflies" some stills, she was called to
the set. When told more extras were needed,
Ramspacher was able to get her daughter
Rachelle and husband Bob jobs as extras.
They will appear in funeral scenes to be shot
at Fairview cemetery.
(The film, using flashbacks, tells the story
of a family already troubled trying to recoup
after Roberts' character — a mom returning to
college — is killed in an auto accident on her
way to her graduation.)
See EXTRA, Page 2A
. i V-'
The Bastrop Advertiser photo/Terry Hagerty
Bastrop resident Brenda Ramspacher and her daughter
Rachelle landed non-speaking parts as "extras" in the feature
film, "Fireflies in the Garden," starring Julia Roberts and Willem
Dafoe. They are posed at the site of a fatal car crash scene in
the movie involving the character played by Julia Roberts.
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McAuley, Davis. The Bastrop Advertiser (Bastrop, Tex.), Vol. 154, No. 17, Ed. 1 Thursday, April 26, 2007, newspaper, April 26, 2007; Bastrop, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth252367/m1/1/: accessed April 26, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Bastrop Public Library.