Precinct 4 issues addressed at public forum


By Kyle Mooty

LPR Editor

Stray dogs, loud music, speeding, and gunfire were just some of the concerns expressed at Saturday’s public forum regarding issues facing Precinct 4 in Caldwell County.

Around 70 people attended the question-and-answer session with several community leaders at the luncheon held at First Lockhart Baptist Church Connection Center.

Other concerns range from trash dumping to residents illegally connecting multiple dwellings to one water meter.

There were numerous Caldwell County and City of Lockhart officials on hand for the event, organized by County Commissioner Daryl Thomas of Precinct 4, which includes the Lytton Springs and Dale areas. Precinct 4 comes into a portion of the Lockhart city limits.

Of the largest concern was the gunfire.

Caldwell County Sheriff Mike Lane said his department gets a lot of calls regarding loud music and gunfire.

“One of the biggest issues we face when we get that 911 call are people that are making that call don’t want to have contact with the deputy,” Lane said. “They don’t want the neighbors or whoever to see that patrol person in their driveway because they don’t want further problems with their neighbors. If we’re not meeting with you face-to-face and you pointing where it’s coming from, then the best we can hope for is that it is still going on when we get there. Lytton Springs and Dale are just like the rest of Caldwell County. It’s wide open. If you call us and let us come to your house and say it’s coming from that place, we’re all over it.”

Resident Marcus Franks said often the gunfire and loud noises co-exist.

“It seems like we can’t get any help out there,” Franks said. “They tell me there’s nothing they can do because of the decibel level. If somebody is running you out of your house, I don’t care what the decibel level is. It’s too loud. Something needs to be done. I think the gunshots are a threat because they feel like they’re shooting guns nobody’s going to do anything.”

Dale resident Ray Jones said the gunfire is so loud and clear that he can probably tell people what caliber gun is being used and how far away it’s being shot.

“This county is going to hell,” Jones said. “I’ve lived here since 1981. I used to live out in the sticks. Not anymore.”

Sheriff Lane said an ordinance was passed in Caldwell County about six years ago saying that no gun could be fired on Caldwell County platted property of 2.5 acres or smaller.

“Other than that, it’s not against the law to shoot guns,” Lane said. “This is not just a Caldwell County problem. This is a statewide problem, as far as the loud music and the gunfire.”

One man noted that he had been told an ordinance would be introduced to Commissioners regarding expanding the 2.5 acres to 10 acres. Judge Haden said that would be welcomed, but it had to be a platted subdivision.

Caldwell County Constable Villareal of Precinct 4 said there “definitely needs to be more of a presence in the area.”

“Some people are afraid of retaliation,” Villareal said. “If we just drive around and show more of a presence of law-enforcement, it’s going to stop. They’ve said cartel is out there. I don’t know.”

One resident said, “they will retaliate,” noting that once he took pictures late there someone had driven around his gate that he perceived as a threat.

Caldwell County Judge Hoppy Haden said the sheriff’s office has increased to the point the county “is almost out of money.”

“I do agree that if we increase our presence, it’s a great idea,” Haden said.

Pastor Jody Fischer of Lytton Springs Methodist Church said the area has many issues with crime.

“Last May, one of our board members caught somebody ripping our stage apart and he took pictures of their license plate, and they began chasing him with their car,” Fischer said.

Fisher added that she did not like the way that situation was handled.

“I want to empower our deputies so that they can be the heroes,” Fischer said. “They need to be.”

District Attorney Fred Weber noted an incident that happened in 2007 where a 7-year-old Hays County boy was shot and later died while he was jumping on a trampoline. A man had been target shooting in his backyard in Hays County when he was struck by a wayward .22-calber bullet.

That led to a woman at the public forum to suggest people need to build proper berms for such target shooting.

“Part of the issue is if the bullets are being stopped,” the woman said. “Hay bales are not proper berms. Bullets go right through hay bales. Steel-belted tires are not proper berms. Tires will actually have bullets ricochet back at you. You’ve got to have lots of dirt with no rock.

“And when you add alcohol to the situation, it degrades matters.”

Webber said he fully understood, noting he was recently unloading a bale of hay to feed his cattle and “it sounded like a small war going on.”

Haden said the decibel level is something Caldwell County cannot change, rather it is set by the state of Texas.

“If we could get a bill passed where we could do that, we would very happily set a new decibel level because this is a complaint we get all the time,” Haden said. “Eight-five decibels is very, very loud.”

Speeding problems were addressed by multiple residents.

“Our mailbox keeps getting destroyed,” a lady said. “It’s a definite problem because they take out the fences, too. They leave their vehicles because I guess they’re drunk.”

One man specifically noted FM 672, where he said at times it resembles a racetrack.

The matter of stray dogs and some citizens letting their dangerous dogs run freely were causing problems.

Jones said his dachshund attacked by a neighbor’s dogs. He said three if the “about 20 dogs the neighbor has tore my little 16-pound dachshund up” after it go out of the yard one night.

“He died five days later, and it cost me $12,000,” Jones said. “He’s not a neighbor. He lives behind me, but he’s not a neighbor.”

A man who lives in the St. John Colony area said “we have dogs like crazy outthere.

“You drive down St. John’s Road and it’s just dog, dog, dog,” he said. “I have to dodge dogs and puppies all the time. Part of the problem is that these dogs are running around unaltered. It’s almost as big a problem as wild hogs in Texas.”

Judge Haden said, again, the county had no authority to “alter” the dogs.

Sheriff Lane said his department was “picking up dogs nonstop. The shelter is saying that we are bringing in too many. But, if we get a call in on a complaint about one, we are not going to let it go.”

Haden said the county had recently applied for an EDA grant.

“That grant is a $5 million request for either a new animal shelter or partnering with the city and expanding what we have,” Haden said. “We feel like we have a reasonably good chance of getting it.”

Lockhart Mayor Lew White added, “The animal coalition has noted that they have recently spayed and neutered their 1,000th animal. They still haven’t touched the problem.”

A lady noted that her road often has goat parts tossed out in bags and that the parts are often dragged into the roadway by animals. Jones added, “There aren’t enough buzzards to take care of it.”

Another man said there is also much illegal dumping around Plum Creek, including mattresses and couches.

Another complaint regarded several people hooking up to the same water meter. Alberto Luna, an investigator with the Caldwell County Environmental Enforcement Unit, said he would look into those claims.

Finally, a man asked if Lytton Springs would become an incorporated town.

“It’s a very expensive process, but that’s up to the citizens of that community,” Judge Haden said. “Maxwell is looking into that process, as are Prairie Lea and Fentress. Uhland did incorporate and so is Niederwald. It would be very advantageous to do that.”

The man added, “I get up sometimes at 4 in the morning and it sounds like we’re in the middle of downtown Austin.”


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