Cedar Park - Leander | May 2021

CEDAR PARK LEANDER EDITION

VOLUME 15, ISSUE 1  MAY 6JUNE 8, 2021

ONLINE AT

TODO LIST

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IMPACTS

TUTORING GUIDE

19 BUSINESS FEATURE

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Housing inventory is the time, in months, it would take for the number of homes on the market to sell given the sales price.

Limited inventory Cedar Park Leander Round Rock

2.0

Year over year -45.45%

1.5

1.0

Year over year -85.71%

Year over year -50%

0.5

Year over year -50%

0

Jan. ‘20 Mar. ‘20 May ‘20 Jul. ‘20 Sep. ‘20 Nov. ‘20 Jan. ‘21 Mar. ‘21

SOURCE: AUSTIN BOARD OF REALTORSCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

A number of legislative bills are underway in the Texas House and Senate in response to the February winter storm that swept the state, causing power out- ages, water outages and widespread damage. This led the state to report at least 151 storm-related deaths as of April 28, including threeWilliamsonCounty residents and 12 Travis County residents, according to state data. State leaderspush for post-stormreformbills BY TAYLOR GIRTMAN

Addressing concerns The state Legislature is considering bills regarding statewide issues from the Texas winter storm.

74% of Texans disapproved of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ performance during the winter storm.

26M customers are served through ERCOT’s power grid management.

Over 2/3 of Texans lost electricity at some point.

SOURCES: ELECTRIC RELIABILITY COUNCIL OF TEXAS, UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON HOBBY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS SURVEYCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER State Sen. Charles Schwertner, RGeorgetown, lays out Senate Bill 3 on the Senate oor. (Courtesy Texas Senate Photography)

CONTINUED ON 24

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The Mobility Authority is building new connections for Williamson County.

Central Texas’ explosive growth is driving the need for proactive congestion relief. The 6.6-mile extension of the 183A Toll Road into Liberty Hill will ensure continued, reliable mobility for years to come. We build more than roads. We build connections that enhance quality of life and economic vitality across Central Texas.

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CEDAR PARK - LEANDER EDITION • MAY 2021

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All advertised prices reflect $5 discount for enrolling in Auto Pay & Paperless Billing, must maintain both to keep discount. Offer for new residential customers. Not available in all areas. Former Suddenlink accts prev. not in good standing or have disconnected srvc within past 30 days not eligible. Not transferrable & may not be combined with other offers, is limited to advertised level of srvc. Other terms, conditions & restrictions apply. 30-day money-back guarantee is only for advertised monthly fee. Suddenlink must be contacted within the first 30 days of service to receive full refund. MONTHLY FEES: As of 13th mo., srvc will be billed at reg. rate & is subj to change. $10/mo modem fee and $3.50/mo Network Enhancement fee apply. Minis available for add’l $10/month. EQUIP, TAXES & FEES: Install fee, all taxes, gov’t fees, other fees & surcharges apply, will be added to bill & are subj to change. Advertised price for Internet speed tier w/speeds up to 200 Mbps download/up to 20 Mbps upload. All speeds shown are for wired connection. WiFi speeds vary. Actual speeds vary & are not guaranteed. Many factors affect speed. Wireless speed, perform. & availability sbjt to factors beyond Suddenlink’s control. Min. system req’s & equip. configs apply. In select markets with data caps, $15 will be charged automatically for each add’l 50 GB of data if initial data cap, or any previously applied data add-on amount, is exceeded. VISA ® REWARD CARD: Only available to individuals who participate in 200 Mbps Internet offer. Offer is not available to individuals who have previously participated in an Suddenlink Visa ® Reward Card promotion within the past 12 months. Visa Reward Card will be mailed to customers who maintain promotion and remain in good standing with no past due or returned payments throughout first 90 days after account activation. Allow 4-6 weeks for delivery. Limit 1 per customer. Visa Reward Card cannot be used to pay Suddenlink monthly bill. Card value expires in 12 mos. Visa Reward Card may be used when making purchases from merchants in the U.S. and District of Columbia everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. No ATM access. Terms and Conditions apply to Reward Cards. See Cardholder Agreement for details. Visa Reward Card is issued by MetaBank ® , N.A., Member FDIC pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. This optional offer is not a MetaBank product or service nor does MetaBank endorse this offer. Card is distributed and serviced by InComm Financial Services, Inc., which is licensed as a Money Transmitter by the New York State Department of Financial Services. Pricing, offers & terms are not transferrable & are sbjct to change & discontinuance w/o notice. Srvc availability, equip needed & pricing vary. For system req’s, limitations, details, restrictions, terms & conditions, see suddenlink.com. All trademarks & srvc marks are property of their respective owners. © 2021 Suddenlink Communications, a subsidiary of Altice USA, Inc.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

THIS ISSUE

ABOUT US

Owners John and Jennifer Garrett launched the rst edition of Community Impact Newspaper in 2005 with three full-time employees covering Round Rock and Pugerville, Texas. We have expanded our operations to include hundreds of employees, our own printing operation and over 30 hyperlocal editions across three states. Our circulation is over 2 million residential mailboxes, and it grows each month with new residents and developments.

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

FROMDENISE: When my husband and I sold our last home in May 2019, we feared it would take a while to sell. I am embarrassed to admit how many trips I made to the store just to match the original paint color for touch ups. We spot-cleaned the carpet in more places than I could count. I encourage you to read our story on the local housing market (see Page 1) to see the process that today’s local buyers and sellers are going through. Denise Seiler, GENERALMANAGER

Community Impact Newspaper teams include general managers, editors, reporters, graphic designers, sales account executives and sales support, all immersed and invested in the communities they serve. Our mission is to build communities of informed citizens and thriving businesses through the collaboration of a passionate team. Our core values are Faith, Passion, Quality, Innovation and Integrity.

FROMALI: By the time this paper reaches your mailbox, there will be less than a month left in the biennial Texas Legislature. During this period, there is a major push for nal legislation to get through, and many Williamson County state leaders have their eyes set on passing energy reform following the February winter storm (see Page 1). Ali Linan, EDITOR

Our purpose is to be a light for our readers, customers, partners and each other.

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CEDAR PARK  LEANDER EDITION • MAY 2021

IMPACTS

Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon, relocating or expanding

1464 E. Whitestone Blvd., Ste. 901, Cedar Park. The business offers chiropractic, massage and other health services. 512- 641-1333. www.facebook.com/kindredhealthatx 6 Pinnacle Essentials opened its can- nabidiol product and wellness shop April 1. The store, located at 1625 N. Bell Blvd., Ste. A, Cedar Park, sells supplements and 7 The Truth Family Fitness & Sports Performance opened March 22 at The Crossover in Cedar Park. The member- ship gym offers personal training, group training and group fitness classes. The 17,000-square-foot facility also has a recovery room with hot tubs, cold tubs and zero-gravity chairs. The facility is at 1717 Scottsdale Drive, Cedar Park. 512-253-3113. www.facebook.com/truth.family.fitness Daybreak Travel Co. , a women-owned, full-service travel agency, opened Feb. 1 in Leander. The company specializes in Dis- ney, domestic and tropical travel destina- tions. Though based in Leander, Daybreak Travel Co. serves clients across Texas and most of the country. 512-850-4581. www.daybreaktravelco.com Work You Love Workshops opened in February and offers workshops in which participants identify their skills, abilities, personality tendencies, values, dreams and passions to create work and life plans. Workshops and speaking events are held virtually, but limited in-person speaking is available in Leander and sur- rounding areas. 830-351-3557. CBD products. 737-219-9727. https://pinnaclecedarpark.com 8 Boutique fitness franchise Burn Boot Camp will open a Cedar Park location this fall. The gym will offer boot camp-style classes on a raised floating floor. Child care will also be available. It will be at 205 Cedar Park Drive, Bldg. 2, Cedar Park. https://burnbootcamp.com 9 Daniel’s Jewelers is opening a store inside Lakeline Mall at 11200 Lakeline Mall Drive, Cedar Park. The jewelry retail- er, set to open in June, will be located on the upper level of the mall near Dillard’s. www.danielsjewelers.com www.jocelynvictoria.com COMING SOON

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NOWOPEN 1 ARCpoint Labs of Cedar Park opened March 1 at 921 W. New Hope Drive, Ste. 103, Cedar Park. The company offers drug testing, alcohol screening, DNA and clinical lab testing, corporate wellness programs and employment/background

4 Indian Delights opened a Cedar Park restaurant April 12 at 401 E. Whitestone Blvd., Ste. C106, Cedar Park. The Indian restaurant will serve vegetarian and nonvegetarian dishes such as soups, dosas, biryanis, curries and more. Dine-in, takeout, curbside and delivery options are offered. The restaurant also operates an Austin ghost kitchen at 5610 N. I-35, Austin. 512-456-0599. http://indiandelightsaustin.com 5 Kindred Health Co. opened March 17 at

The European auto service and repair company offers full-service repairs for Eu- ropean makes and models. 512-528-4754. https://austineurowerks.com 3 Blue Corn Harvest opened its Leander restaurant April 19. The menu includes Southwestern dishes and is located at 11840 Hero Way W., Bldg. A, Leander, which is the former Cherry Creek Catfish building. The restaurant plans to add outdoor seating this summer. 512-337-7633. www.bluecornharvest.com

screenings. 512-767-1116. www.arcpointlabs.com

2 Leander business Austin Euro Werks opened March 8 at 300 N. Bagdad Road.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

COMPILED BY TAYLOR GIRTMAN

10 Mama Betty’s Tex-Mex y Cantina plans to open its restaurant in October in the Avery Ranch area. Co-owner Jason Carrier said the menu is inspired by his childhood and young adult life eating and working at his mother’s Houston restaurants. The restaurant will include a 2,000-square-foot outdoor area and replace the now-closed Morelia Mexican Grill at 9900 W. Parmer Lane, Ste. 220, Austin. http://meencantamamabettys.com 11 The second location of Red Horn Coffee House and Brewing Co. plans to open in mid-May. Located at 1615 Scottsdale Drive, Bldg. 1, Ste. 110, Cedar Park, the new location will have the same coffee and beer menu with the addition of tacos. The first location is at 13010 W. Parmer Lane, Ste. 800, Cedar Park. https://redhornbrew.com 12 StreetLights Residential , a Dal- las-based apartment and mixed-use developer, broke ground on a 377-unit multifamily development in the Lakeline area. The project is expected to be com- plete in October and will offer one-, two- and three-bedroom floorplans; cowork- ing spaces; a pool courtyard; a resident coffee bar; and a fitness center. This is the third phase of the development. The first phase, The Michael, opened in 2016, and the second phase, The Elizabeth, opened in 2019. The community will lease at 13460 Lyndhurst St., Austin. www.streetlightsres.com 13 Via 313 is bringing its Detroit-style pizzas to Cedar Park. The Cedar Park restaurant will open in late 2021 at 1335 E. Whitestone Blvd., Ste. 200, Cedar Park, according to owner Brandon Hunt. Via 313’s menu includes Detroit-style pizzas, bar- style thin-crust pizzas, salads, appetizers and desserts. The Austin pizza company has three other restaurants and two trailers in Austin. A Round Rock location will also open later in 2021. www.via313.com 14 Z’Tejas announced plans in mid-April to open a third Austin location at 14900 Avery Ranch Blvd., Austin, in fall 2021. Its new location will have approximately 3,800 square feet of interior dining space with a 2,000-square-foot patio. Z’Tejas previously had a dining room in the Avery Ranch area off West Parmer Lane but closed that location in late 2017. The restaurant group currently operates two other Z’Tejas kitchens in Austin. www.ztejas.com

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The Truth Family Fitness & Sports Performance

COURTESY RANDY BACA

RELOCATIONS 15 Austin Regional Clinic’s After Hours Clinic moved April 1 from Building B to Building C at 801 E. Whitestone Blvd., Cedar Park. The move is from the ARC Now clinic across the parking lot to the ARC Cedar Park clinic. After Hours Clinics provide urgent health care from 5-9 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekends. The ARC Cedar Park clinic is regularly open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays for regular family medicine, internal med- icine and pediatric care. 512-259-3467. www.austinregionalclinic.com 16 Flow Yoga opened its relo- cated Cedar Park studio April 17. Its 4,000-square-foot flagship studio has three practice rooms and offers 11 types of yoga practices with regular and heated sessions. It is located at 202 Walton Way, Ste. 200, Cedar Park. It was previously at 700 E. Whitestone Blvd., Cedar Park. 512-260-9642. https://flowyogatx.com 17 Muv Dance & Fitness celebrated its grand opening in Leander on April 11. The business relocated from Cedar Park grow- ing from five studios to eight and expand- ing its fitness classes. It is located at 1717 Scottsdale Drive, Leander. 512-845-8459. www.muv678.com EXPANSIONS 18 Backbone Wellness Center in Cedar Park added a medical director and doctor specializing in functional nutrition to its team as of April. Functional nutrition includes blood sugar dysregulation, brain fog, dizziness, concussions, hormonal imbalances, thyroid issues and more. The center also offers chiropractic care, vita-

Jack Allen’s Kitchen plans to open in late summer.

COURTESY JACK ALLEN’S KITCHEN

FEATURED IMPACT COMING SOON Jack Allen’s Kitchen is coming to Cedar Park. The Austin-based restaurant’s fth location will be located in the now-closed Logan’s Roadhouse building at 1345 E. Whitestone Blvd., Cedar Park. The restaurant is expected to open in late summer and will have a bar in the center, wraparound outdoor seating, and curbside and touchless orders, according to a release. There will also be new menu items, and the bar will have frozen drinks, wine on tap and hand-selected single-barrel bourbon. Restaurant owners Jack Gilmore and Tom Kamm chose to open their next location in Cedar Park because of the city’s rapid growth. “Our guests and employees have been min injections, medical massage, cupping and other services at 3109 Kenai Drive, Ste. 101, Cedar Park. 512-363-5178. www.backbonecp.com 19 Cedar Park-based business My Pure Delivery is opening a second location in Plano. The business offers in-person lac- tation consultations, home visits once the pandemic is over, classes, support groups and breast pump rentals. It plans to open the Plano location in summer 2021. Its Cedar Park location opened in 2016 and is

asking for years when we’re coming to Cedar Park, so we’re very excited about the opportunity to show our gratitude through food and bring the Jack Allen’s Kitchen experience to this community,” Gilmore said in the release. The release said the restaurant will hire 100 employees beginning in early summer. https://jackallenskitchen.com

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located at 301 Brushy Creek Road, Ste. 106. 512-765-9959. https://mypuredelivery.com Yard Bash Rentals expanded its services to include foam parties in April. Parties are offered to day cares, summer camps and individual parties. The foam is hy- po-allergenic, biodegradable, eco-friend- ly, pet-friendly and dye-free, according to the Leander-based company that also offers yard signs, bounce house and water slide rentals. 512-850-9685. www.yardbashfoamparty.com

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CEDAR PARK - LEANDER EDITION • MAY 2021

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MAY 15

CONCERT IN THE PARK ELIZABETH MILBURN PARK

COURTESY CYPRESS STATION

Cypress Station, a band, plays a free, socially distant concert in the park. Families are encouraged to brings blankets and a picnic for a fun time outdoors. The band will play favorites from the Lumineers, Jamestown Revival, Vance Joy, Strumbellas, Kacey Musgraves and more. 5-7:30 p.m. Free. Elizabeth Milburn Park, 1901 Sun Chase Blvd., Cedar Park. 512-293-2154. www.facebook.com/CypresStation

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15 LEARNABOUT FERMENTED VEGGIES Isle Acre Farms hosts a workshop in which attendees are able to pick their own vegetables and learn how to ferment them on-site. Each person will leave the event with two pints of fermented vegetables. 10 a.m.-noon. $35. Isle Acre Farms, 11327 Hero Way W., Leander. 512-763-5293. https://isleacrefarms.com 15 HAVE FUNAT KID DAY A kid day is taking place at Nameless Farm where kid entrepreneurs as well as adult vendors can sell products. There will also be a kid talent showcase and live music. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Free. 14307 Round Mountain Road, Leander. www.facebook.com/events/ 14307-round-mountain-rd-leander-tx 21 ENJOY OUTDOOR SYMPHONY CONCERT The Williamson County Symphony performs an outdoor concert at Elizabeth Milburn Park. It is recommended attendees get to the park early for best seats and parking. The event is family- friendly. 7:30 p.m. Free. 1901 Sun Chase Blvd., Cedar Park. https://wilcosymphony.org/concerts 22 SUNSETMUSIC SERIES Leander’s Sunset Music Series showcases musicians and area vendors at the Robin Bledsoe Park amphitheater. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets and a picnic dinner. 6 p.m. Free. 601 S. Bagdad Road, Leander. 512-528-9909. www.leandertx.gov/parksrec JUNE 09 POPUPMARKET AND BLOOD DRIVE New Hope Realty Group hosts a We Are Blood Drive and pop-up market with local vendors, food trucks and a rae. 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Free. 203 W. New Hope Drive, Cedar Park. 512-817-4093. www.newhoperealtygroup.com

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STOCK UP ON BABY SUPPLIES Just Between Friends Williamson County hosts a shopping extravaganza for all things children. The event sells all types of baby supplies including clothes, shoes, room decor, baby equipment and more at bargain prices. 9 a.m.-7 p.m. (Thu.), 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. (Fri.), 8 a.m.-2 p.m. (Sat.). Free. The PAC, 8220 183A Toll Road, Leander. 512-296-1165. www.williamsoncounty.jbfsale.com 08 TAKE AVINTAGE TRAIN FOR MOTHER’S DAY Celebrate mom with a vintage train ride on Mother’s Day weekend. This six-hour round-trip excursion takes riders through the Hill Country with a two-hour stop in Bertram before returning to Cedar Park. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. $45-$70. A second evening event includes the same train route but also oers intimate talk and wine tasting from Wedding Oak Winery while aboard the train. 5-11 p.m. $80. Austin Steam Train, 401 E. Whitestone Blvd., Cedar Park. 512-477-8468. www.austinsteamtrain.org 10 NETWORKAT ANNUAL GOLF TOURNAMENT The 21st annual Cedar Park Chamber Golf Classic is a way for local business people to relax and network while also supporting the chamber. 11:30 a.m. Teams of four are $600 with lunch and dinner included. Twin Creeks Country Club, 3201 Twin Creeks Club Drive, Cedar Park. 512-260-7800. www.cedarparkchamber.org 11 TAKE PART INADULT BOOK DISCUSSION GROUP The Cedar Park Library hosts a book discussion group for adults. The book this meeting is “Memory Man” by David Baldacci. The event takes place virtually. 2-3 p.m. Free. 512-401-5608. www.cedarparktexas.gov

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Find more or submit Leander-Cedar Park events at communityimpact.com/event-calendar. Event organizers can submit local events online to be considered for the print edition. Submitting details for consideration does not guarantee publication.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES

COMPILED BY TAYLOR GIRTMAN

which is critical for the Bell Boulevard Redevelopment Project, also includes reconstructing intersections, adding bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and landscaping. The city of Cedar Park expects traffic to shift to the new road alignment in May or June. Cost: $11.9 million Timeline: October 2020-late 2021 Funding source: Cedar Park 2015 general obligation bond

is expected to begin construction in spring 2022, will reconstruct Hero Way West from 183A Toll to the Garey Park area. One lane in each direction will be built. Public input will be collected in summer 2021. Design is expected to finalize in fall 2021 with environmental clearance with the Texas Department of Transportation. Future phases would be constructed as needed. Cost: TBD Timeline: spring 2022-TBD Funding sources: city of Leander, TxDOT, Williamson County 5 Anderson Mill Road reconstruction Phase 2 The second phase of construction will widen Anderson Mill Road between Cypress Creek Road and Zeppelin Drive and from Gaspar Bend to RM 1431. The road is currently two lanes and will become a four-lane roadway. Construc- tion is expected to begin in mid-2021. Phase 1 was completed in March 2019 as a partnership between the city and Williamson County. The completed $7.3 million project reconstructed the road between Whitestone Boulevard and Gaspar. Timeline: 2021-TBD Cost: not to exceed $6 million Funding source: Cedar Park 2015 voter-approved street and road bond 6 Speed limit change Leander created a construction zone speed limit on part of East San Gabriel Parkway between US 183 and 183A Toll in April. The speed limit was 45 MPH but is now 30 MPH. This is due to Northline project construction and construction on the road to add slip lanes, traffic signalization, crosswalks, underground utilities and other im- provements. The lowered speed limit will likely remain once development is complete, Leander city officials said.

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3 183A Toll Road Phase 3 Construction on the project to extend 183A Toll from Hero Way West to north of Hwy. 29 began in April, according to an April 19 release. The 6.6-mile extension project adds two tolled lanes in both directions and adds a shared- use path from Hero Way in Leander to Seward Junction Loop in Liberty Hill. The project aims to relieve projected traffic congestion due to the growth in Williamson County. Road traffic is expected to open in 2025. Cost: $277 million Timeline: April 2021-25 Funding sources: Mobility Authority revenue bonds, U.S. Department of Transportation UPCOMING PROJECTS 4 RM 2243 improvements Updates on the Williamson County project to improve RM 2243 from 183A Toll in Leander to the Southwest Bypass in Georgetown were presented April 15 to Leander City Council. The new road would have two main lanes in either di- rection with three frontage road lanes. A shared-use path would run along the frontage roads. Phase 1, which

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ONGOING PROJECTS 1 Bagdad Road and San Gabriel Parkway traffic signal

This project will add a fourth traffic sig- nal to the intersection to help control eastbound traffic from the Devine Lake subdivision. A contract was awarded to G. Carter Construction on Dec. 3. The project’s notice to proceed is on hold until the traffic signal pole is delivered, according to the city of Leander.

TAYLOR GIRTMAN/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

2 Bell Boulevard realignment The project relocates the part of Bell between Buttercup Creek Boulevard and Cedar Park Drive to the align- ment of Old US 183. This realignment,

Cost: $99,668 Timeline: TBD Funding source : Leander Capital Improvement Program

ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF APRIL 30. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT LCPNEWS@COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM.

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CEDAR PARK - LEANDER EDITION • MAY 2021

1 0 0 N . BRUSHY

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3 bds

2 ba

1,418 sq ft

5 bds

3.5 ba 3,824 sq ft

103 N Blue Ridge Pkwy, Cedar Park, TX 78613 Lauren Pryor | 512-965-4628

620 Silver Creek Dr, Leander, TX 78641 Amy Gandy | 512-589-9005

SOLD $140K OVER

SOLD $137K OVER

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4 bds

2.5 ba 3,179 sq ft

5 bds

2.5 ba 2,620 sq ft

305 Aspen Cv, Cedar Park, TX 78613 Aaron Lancaster | 512-751-7533

606 S Frontier Ln, Cedar Park, TX 78613 Scott Pate | 512-660-3343

SOLD $135K OVER

SOLD $130K OVER

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4 bds

2.5 ba 3,229 sq ft

4 bds

2.5 ba 2,482 sq ft

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1216 Brenham Ln, Leander, TX 78641 David Davis | 512-554-8598

1128 Calla Lily Blvd, Leander, TX 78641 Marcia Kim | 512-576-4998

SOLD $120K OVER

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3 bds

2 ba

2,383 sq ft

4 bds

2 ba

2,461 sq ft

15165 Galena Dr, Austin, TX 78717 Wade Wallace | 512-699-5568

1705 Pagedale Cv, Cedar Park, TX 78613 Kyle Roberts | 512-828-2139

SOLD $111K OVER

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4 bds

2.5 ba 2,837 sq ft

4 bds

3 ba

3,299 sq ft

2106 Camino Alemeda, Cedar Park, TX 78641 Lockie Ealy | 512-699-0866

2001 Singing Hls, Leander, TX 78641 Jeff Tucker | 512-751-6508

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10

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

PUBLIC SAFETY As pandemic restrictions ease, reports of child abuse increase

FEWER CASES, MORE ABUSE

While the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center saw a decrease in reported cases, experts warn abuse was still happening, but it just was not being reported.

March 2020

BY ALI LINAN

which in turn lead to a form of abuse, Deazvedo said. “The overriding message is that children have not been safe this year; children have not been seen,” Sturman said. “[Children] are one of the only populations when a crime is committed against them are not able, do not know how or are not willing to report that crime, or they don’t even know it’s a crime. …We will not know the full repercussions and depth of what has happened to our children, abuse and neglect wise, I think, for some time to come.” Sturman did say the center learned a lot during the pandemic and has pivoted in some of its focuses on how it educates the public on child abuse and how to report it. For example, since a large percent of reports come from teachers, the center developed education geared toward spotting signs of abuse over Zoom. The pandemic also highlighted the center’s need to focus education beyond teachers. It has since enhanced its eort of reaching out to the commu- nity members and building awareness around child abuse, hoping to elicit their helping in caring for area kids. The center also adapted to the pandemic by now providing virtual forensic interviews, which it did not do before, Deazvedo said. While the CAC did not see the high spike in reports as it predicted would come when children returned to school, Sturman said it was likely because students did not return all at once. Instead, a few students returned to in-person learning over time. However, she warned that the center is still bracing for more cases as individuals begin to get vaccinated and return to pre-pandemic activities. She added the center is beginning to see a rise in number of total reports similar to numbers seen prior to the pandemic. “[Child abuse] was something that was already an epidemic in our society that was driven further underground [by the pandemic],” Sturman said. “It’s going to take all of us to make sure that our children can thoroughly heal from the trauma of abuse.”

At the start of the pandemic in March 2020, child abuse advocates feared they would see a drop in reported cases of suspected abuse and/ or neglect. Not because less abuse was happening but rather kids—kept at home—would not be seen by commu- nity members and primarily teachers, who are the No. 1 reporter of suspected child abuse, according to area experts. That fear was realized when the number of reported cases in Williamson County in 2020 dropped to 3,694, down from 4,115, or about 10%, in 2019. “We know abuse was happening, and we know from past research, that given times of high family stress, that the severity and the intensity of child abuse increases,” said Tiany Sturman, director of community engagement at the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center. While the overall number of reported cases dropped, WCCAC director of programs Jennifer Deaz- vedo said the center was seeing more severe cases. Experts said they feared this would be the case as high stress situations such as job loss or nancial struggle can often lead to increased violence. “THE OVERRIDING MESSAGE IS THAT CHILDRENHAVE NOT BEEN SAFE THIS YEAR; CHILDRENHAVE NOT BEEN SEEN.” TIFFANY STURMAN, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AT THE WILLIAMSON COUNTY CHILDREN’S ADVOCACY CENTER Many homes also became multi-family homes where an abuser— such as an uncle who lost a job—was brought into the home and would abuse a child who lived there, she said. Another trend the center saw was that some children had unsupervised access to technology, resulting in using apps or social media to meet strangers,

April May June July August September October November December

Reports will generally be higher in January and September as children return from a holiday break.

15.85% YOY

January 2021

31.41% YOY

March February*

17.93% YOY

April**

projected to be up YOY

0 100

200 300 400 500

Cases

* NUMBER COULD HAVE BEEN IMPACTED BY THE TEXAS WINTER STORM

**AS OF APRIL 19

4,115 3,694 2019 2020

The WCCAC expects the trend to continue back to “normal if not higher” reports. 2021

REPORTED CASES YEAR OVER YEAR

10.23% YOY

SOURCE: WILLIAMSON COUNTY CHILDREN’S ADVOCACY CENTERCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

REPORTING BREAKDOWN

Professionals are the primary reporters of abuse. Here is a breakdown of all abuse reporters, according to the Children’s Bureau.

Day care/foster care provider: 1.1% Mental health personnel: 6% Social services personnel: 10.3%

Education personnel: 21%

Legal and law enforcement personnel: 19.1%

Who calls in?

Medical personnel: 11%

Unclassied sources including anonymous, other and unknown report sources: 15.8%

Nonprofessionals— including friends, neighbors and relatives: 15.7%

SOURCE: CHILDREN’S BUREAUCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services 800-252-5400 Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center 512-943-3701

HOWTOREPORT If you suspect a child has been abused or neglected, here is how to report it.

11

CEDAR PARK  LEANDER EDITION • MAY 2021

  

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

ENVIRONMENT

Harmful toxicalgae concerns residents, pet owners

Blue-green algae in the Highland Lakes

The Lower Colorado River Authority received test results March 12 conrming the presence of cyanotoxins in 10 locations* throughout Lake Travis. Algae samples from each location tested positive for dihydroanatoxin-a, a form of cyanotoxin. Additionally, water samples from three locations also contained the same toxin. On March 23, the LCRA also reported nding cyanotoxins in Lake Marble Falls and Inks Lake.

KEY CYANOTOXIN CONFIRMED LOCATION APPROXIMATE

1431

TRAVIS OAKS DR.

BY AMY RAE DADAMO

LAGO VISTA

In late February, the Lower Colorado River Authority—the nonprot utility agency in charge of Lake Travis and surrounding lakes— reported four dogs becoming ill after swimming in the Hudson Bend region of Lake Travis. In an April 7 LCRA news release, algae still existed in the waterways. The LCRA conducted testing on water and algae samples from the area. Though initial reports did not indicate the presence of any harmful substances, the LCRA issued a news release March 9 conrming that more extensive testing conducted at laboratories in Austin and Florida revealed toxic blue-green algae in Lake Travis. Harmful blue-green algae blooms are known to cause illness or death when the algae or surrounding water is consumed by dogs or other animals. In 2019, blue-green algae in Austin’s Lady Bird Lake resulted in the death of at least ve dogs. As a result, the LCRA encouraged pet owners to keep their dogs out of Lake Travis—a precaution still in place as of this edition’s April 30 press date. “We can’t stress this enough—out of an abundance of caution, do not let your dogs touch or ingest algae from the lakes,” John Hofmann, LCRA executive vice president of water, said in a news release. “We know even a little toxicity from blue- green algae can be harmful or even fatal to dogs.” Additional test results received by the LCRA on March 12 revealed the presence of blue-green algae at 10 locations along the Colorado River and in Lake Travis, including in Volente, just west of Cedar Park, according to a news release from the LCRA. The release also reported a total of ve dogs became ill and two died after swimming in the Travis Land- ing, Hudson Bend and Comanche Point regions. On March 23, the LCRA informed the community that the harmful algae

29

PARK RD. 4 W.

PACE BEND PARK

LIME CREEK RD.

HOOVER VALLEY RD.

301

4322

STATE PARK RD. 4

INKS LAKE STATE PARK

HUDSON BEND

BULLICK HOLLOW RD.

LAKE TRAVIS

ARKANSAS BEND PARK

620

LAKE MARBLE FALLS

N. QUINLAN PARK RD.

COTTONWOOD SHORES

STEINER RANCH BLVD.

2147

LAKEWAY

MAP NOT TO SCALE N

SOURCE: LOWER COLORADO RIVER AUTHORITYCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER *ACCURATE AS OF APRIL 7

predict if or when algae will start producing toxins,” Hofmann said in a March 23 news release. In fact, blue-green algae can be found in a majority of water sources across the country, according to Jill Csekitz, a technical specialist within the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Water Quality Planning Division. What makes blue-green algae toxic? Aquatic scientists are learning more about why blue-green algae blooms occur and what makes them toxic, Csekitz said. Though the term is frequently used by both the public and scientists, Csekitz said the correct name of the material found in Lake Travis is cya- nobacteria, and it is one of the oldest known organisms. Cyanobacteria are not technically algae, but the organisms do share similar characteristics and appear- ances. The bacteria can exist in thick clumps along a lake’s shoreline and often appear bright green, blue or at times red in color. Most notably, cyanobacteria are photosynthetic and produce oxygen,

had emerged in other Highland Lakes. Low concentrations of the toxic algae were identied on the shoreline and boat ramp at Inks Lake State Park as well as Cottonwood Shores on Lake Marble Falls. The LCRA declined to elaborate on the blue-green algae incidents beyond the organization’s news releases. An LCRA representative told Community Impact Newspaper the organization did not have an available representative to answer questions. “WE CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGHOUT OF ANABUNDANCE OF CAUTION, DONOT LET YOURDOGS TOUCH OR INGEST ALGAE FROMTHE LAKES,” JOHN HOFMANN, LCRA EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF WATER While the presence of blue-green algae has alarmed nearby residents, the events are not unique to the Highland Lakes chain, Hofmann said. “Blue-green algae are common in Texas lakes, and it is not easy to

meaning they need light and nutrients to grow, Csekitz said, adding algae shares these same traits. Additionally, not all cyanobacteria are harmful to animals or humans. There are around 6,000 dierent species. However, the bacteria can be dangerous when producing cyano- toxins, which can be released into the surrounding water source. The type of cyanotoxin found in Lake Travis is known as dihydroanatoxin-a, which, according to Csekitz, is a less com- monly found form. What causes cyanobacteria to become toxic is not immediately known or presented within lab testing, which can create a challenge for water agencies such as the the LCRA and ecologists, according to Csekitz. There are various factors that contribute to harmful algae blooms, including but not limited to tempera- ture, light, ecological competition, nutrients, agricultural runo and even the presence of zebra mussels, per a statement from the TCEQ. “Those can all play a factor, but we don’t know exactly what makes them produce toxins at particular times,” Csekitz said.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

EDUCATION BRIEFS

News from Leander ISD

Authors send letter against their books removal LEANDER ISD Authors of books removed from the Leander ISD book club curriculum sent a letter to school district ocials April 21 requesting the district revoke bans and suspen- sions of their books. The letter states authors’ concerns to make those determinations and to guide students in their learning and exploration, including through sub- ject matter that may require thought- ful conversation and engagement.” LISD began a literature review pro- cess in November to examine books allowed in high school book clubs. The books in question are for English Language Arts student-choice BY TAYLOR GIRTMAN AUTHORS TO NOTE:

The 20 authors, illustrators and contributors of the removed books include: Margaret Atwood, “The Handmaid’s Tale” author Colleen AF Venable, “Kiss Number 8” author Derf Backderf, “My Friend Dahmer” author Amy Reed, “The Nowhere Girls” author Miles Hyman, “Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery: The Authorized Graphic Adaptation” author and illustrator

that the banned books feature authors and characters who are women, LGBTQIA+ individuals or people of color. They said the inclu- sion of these books in the curriculum is “both morally necessary and educationally benecial.” “We rmly believe that there is zero reason that any of the books that have been targeted for removal in Leander cannot be discussed in the classroom in age-appropriate ways,” the letter reads. “In fact, it is the very role of teachers and librarians Uncertainties aect district budget plans

book clubs. Students select books from topic-based lists and are not required readings. Superintendent Bruce Gearing pre- viously said the curriculum process in 2020 to choose materials over- looked some explicit materials that he said should not be in the hands of students. District sta previously said the process over-relied on online reviews because the review process was mostly remote.

SOURCE: LEANDER ISDCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Construction tostart on29th elementaryschool

BY TAYLOR GIRTMAN

LEANDER ISD Many unknowns relating to district growth, enroll- ment rates and federal funding have impacted planning for Leander ISD’s 2021-22 budget. At the April 22 board meeting, trustees approved the use of $10 million, as needed, from the fund balance in order to prepare the 2021- 22 budget. The money prevents the need for sta reductions and keeps a plan for 2% raises for all employees. Drops in student enrollment during the pandemic have been an important factor in planning the next budget because the district weighs when students will return. LISD Chief Financial Ocer Elaine Cogburn said enrollment drives the district’s revenue increases, not increased property values. In LISD, 82% of total student loss was in elementary students, but the district has already seen higher enrollment in prekindergarten than in historical trends. Demographers have predicted signicant student enrollment growth, she said. “There’s never been a year that I can remember where enrollment has been this uncertain, and we’ve seen a

BY TAYLOR GIRTMAN

LEANDER ISD Construction will begin on the district’s 29th elementary school this May, and it will be open for the 2022-23 school year, according to district ocials. Elementary School No. 29 will be in the Bryson community in Leander at 1840 Pleasant Hill Road, Leander. Attendance rezoning for the new elementary school will oer crowding relief to Larkspur and Plain Elemen- tary schools. Leander ISD board of trustees The board of trustees typically meets on the second and fourth Thursday of the month at 6:15 p.m. Public comment begins around MEETINGSWE COVER 7 p.m. Learn more at www.leanderisd.org. Austin Community College The board of trustees typically meets the rst Monday of the month at 3 p.m. Learn more at www.austincc.edu.

Leander ISD predicts growth and enrollment will impact its next budget.

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER STAFF

trend here in Leander—and it’s prob- ably true in all districts—that parents wait until the summer months to enroll in school,” Cogburn said. “We are doing all we can to get parents to enroll earlier than they usually do.” The budget also considers federal stimulus funds for public schools, which the state partially released April 28. For LISD, these funds could total $10.5 million, Cogburn said. Cogburn said assuming low to moderate growth will leave the district with about an $8.5 million to a $1.1 million budget decit, respec- tively. These decits will require con- sideration of a reduction in stang or in raises, which is considered the worst-case scenario, Cogburn said. Ultimately, the board approved the use of the fund balance to prevent sta cuts.

15

CEDAR PARK  LEANDER EDITION • MAY 2021

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