The Bastrop Advertiser (Bastrop, Tex.), Vol. 154, No. 98, Ed. 1 Saturday, February 2, 2008 Page: 1 of 13
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SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2008
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Texas' Oldest Weekly Newspaper Since March 1, 1853 Semi-Weekly Since Sept. 5, 1977
Volume 154, Number 98
16 pages in two sections
v , |
The Bastrop Advertiser photo/Terry Hagerty
Elgin policeman Pedro Reyes says he loves his job, but the department has been hit hard by recent turnover.
Elgin grapples with police turnover
By Terry Hagerty
Elgin police officer Pedro
Reyes loves his job.
"They couldn't chase me
out of here with a stick,"
Reyes said Friday as he pulled
his K-9 dog "Fiona" out of his
"Fve always wanted to be a
police officer and I was given
the opportunity to return to my
hometown," Reyes said.
A Navy veteran, he grew up
in Elgin and graduated from
Elgin Fligh School in 1984.
But Reyes" enthusiasm
for patrolling Elgin's streets
apparently has not always been
shared by fellow officers.
Nineteen Elgin police offi-
cers have left the force in the
past three years.
Among the current force,
the officer with longest tenure
has been there only five years.
Those are statistics that
trouble Police Chief Jack
Hcnsley, who became chief
in 2005, City Manager Jeff
Coffee and members of the
city council, who met in a spe-
cial session Tuesday night to
discuss the department.
Some council members
also expressed concern about
the interaction of police with
minority community mem-
"Pay and working condi-
tions are the gist of it," Coffee
said, shortly after telling the
council "major concerns stem
from retention of police offi-
cers. We have an acute problem
with officer turnover. Nobody
has voluntarily left that didn't
go (to another police depart-
The police force is budget-
ed for 19 officers —including
Plensley and Assistant Chief
Phillip Taylor — but currently
has only 15.
Two positions are unfilled
— sergeant and detective —
and two more officers are on
leave due to injuries.
"We have the money from
the budget to fill the two
unfilled positions, just not the
applicants," Hensley said on
Thursday. "I believe salary is
the main retention problem for
us. But there is a shortage
of police officers across the
A starting Elgin officer
out of the police academy
makes $34,092. A similar offi-
cer makes $35,498 with the
Bastrop Police Dept., Chief
David Board said.
Elgin's starting salary has
increased about $9,000 from
2005's starting pay of $25,072,
See POLICE, Page 2A
By Davis McAuley
Bastrop's city limits and population could
grow significantly if a proposal unveiled this
week leads to successful talks over the next six
to 12 months.
At a city council workshop Tuesday, offi-
cials representing Flarvard Investments, based
in Scottsdale, AZ, outlined their ambitions for
developing a 550-acre tract with more than two
miles of Colorado River frontage just west of
Paul Fineham of Fand Strategies, Inc. said
the goal is to have the city annex the devel-
opment, presently called Higgins Ranch, and
provide water and sewer service. Presently the
tract is accessible only along Fovers Fane, but
planners hope to create a second entryway from
a new road off Texas 304 and a new river bridge,
Financing the bridge and related road
improvements may be possible only if the city
agrees to the creation of a special taxing district,
officials said. The main route into the develop-
ment would be along the new road and bridge,
A special road tax district for the project
could also help pay for improvements to Fovers
Fane, making that access easier, said City
Manager Mike Talbot.
Another issue raised by the council is that the
Higgins Ranch area is presently in the service
territory assigned to the water district which
serves Tahitian Village. Negotiations with water
district officials would be the first step to turn-
ing present plans into reality, according to
Talbot. "And there will be a cost to it," Talbot
See DEVELOPMENT, Page 2A
Would-be American Idol has never been kissed
Bastrop teen to create demo of his singing
By Jacqueline Davis
It's not everyday you'll hear a
19-year-old guy admit he's never
kissed a girl—let alone on national
television in front of millions of
But Bastrop singer Bruce Dickson
used the attention-grabbing tidbit as
a means of distinguishing himself
last August from the 15,000 others
who auditioned in Dallas for the
chance to be the next American
Idol, a TV show famous for taking
obscure singers and raising them to
pop star status. His audition aired
Carver likes to work with mesquite.
Pflugerville joins Bastrop's district.
■ Saturday's forecast:
■ Last week:
High Low Prec.
Wed. 59 31 none
Thursday 65 41 .29
Friday 62 28 NA
■ Provided by weather.com.
65668 78602 3
AUSTIN COMMUNITY NEWSPAPERS
wanted to try it,"
"Fve been sing-
ing since I was
six. My parents
have pictures of
me with a cow-
boy hat and boots
singing when I
was little. You've just got to go for
it and do it."
While Dickson made it through
three rounds of off-the-air auditions,
the show's judges—the gentle Paula
Abdul, the straightforward Randy
Jackson and the scathingly candid
Simon Cowell—did not send him
to Hollywood. All three rejected
his version of "Ain't No Sunshine
When She's Gone," a bluesy lovers-
lament song by Bill Withers.
"Go kiss some girls," Jackson
said, when Dickson asked for advice
for his future singing career.
But Dickson didn't let the rejec-
The Bastrop Advertiser photo/Jacqueline Davis
Bruce Dickson hangs out at Scooter's Coffee Shop, He was recently
See IDOL, Page 2A seen on and audition for American Idol on TV.
Date set for capital murder trial
By Davis McAuley
Jury selection is set to
begin Oct. 6 in the capital
murder trial of a Paige resi-
dent accused in the beating
death of a three-year-old in
The date was set Wednesday
by 335th District Judge Reva
Towslee Corbett during a pre-
trial hearing in Bastrop.
Christopher Fee Murray,
30, has been held in the
Bastrop County Jail under $1
million bail since his arrest
June 13 for the murder of
Robert Faske. Murray was
ordered to stand trial for
capital murder because the
child was younger than age
six. Prosecutors have yet to
decide whether to seek the
death penalty, said District
Attorney Bryan Goertz.
Corbett ruled on some
motions put forward by defense
lawyers Jimmy Phillips of
Angleton and Katherine
Scardino of Houston, took
others under advisement and
said she will conduct hearings
at the time of trial before rul-
ing on others.
The judge said jurors
will be questioned individu-
ally during the jury selec-
tion process, and she urged
the defense and prosecution
to agree on a questionnaire
which potential jurors will
be asked to fill out before
questioning begins. Corbett
said jury selection could take
four to six weeks.
Fawyers said the trial
itself could take two to three
Phillips said the defense
team may seek to move the
trial out of Bastrop because
of pre-trial news coverage.
Goertz said he will vigorous-
ly resist any effort to move
the trial to another county.
According to investiga-
tors, Murray offered dif-
fering accounts of how the
child came to be injured. An
autopsy by the Travis County
Medical Examiner's office
said Faske died of multiple
internal injuries and blunt
force trauma consistent with
Phillips told Corbett he is
looking for an expert pathol-
ogist to review the medical
examiner's findings for pos-
sible use by the defense.
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McAuley, Davis. The Bastrop Advertiser (Bastrop, Tex.), Vol. 154, No. 98, Ed. 1 Saturday, February 2, 2008, newspaper, February 2, 2008; Bastrop, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth252416/m1/1/: accessed January 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Bastrop Public Library.