Top Hays Free Press Community Stories of 2017

Buda approves first east side park

In April 2017, Buda city leaders earmarked $360,000 in monies from Proposition 5 of the 2014 bond for creation of a proposed splash pad in Green Meadows Park on the east side of Buda. The park is expected to be finished by summer of 2018.

“It will be a different type of water feature than the one at City Park,” Buda Parks & Rec director Drew Wells said. “It will be more commercial looking with tipping buckets and the interactive water jets.”

“I think it’s something the community really needs and has been waiting for,” city council member Eileen Altmiller said.

“Especially on the east side,” Buda Mayor Todd Ruge added. “They’re really, truly lacking in amenities.”

The city may partner with the Green Meadows Homeowners Association to handle maintenance of the splash pad, Wells said.

Mayor Pro Tem Bobby Lane said he hoped that a possible partnership could set a precedent for other parks built in other subdivisions.

Community mourns Hays High student

From Dripping Springs to Leander and across Central Texas, in March of this year, the motto of “Play for Brynn” became a call of solidarity.

Whether that meant using eye black to scribble the number 13 on faces, arms or ball caps, many used the motto as a way to help the Hays High softball team mourn the loss of one of its own.

Brynn Aylor, 16, of Buda, a Hays High junior varsity softball player, was killed March 22 in a two-vehicle accident along FM 2770 roughly a mile south of Buda.

Many across the Hays CISD community immediately felt the impact of Aylor’s death.

Tim Savoy, Hays CISD public information officer, sent a letter to Hays High parents March 22 regarding Aylor’s passing. In addition, the district sent crisis counselors to Hays High to talk with students.

On Friday, March 24, the Hays High softball team took the field in its first game following the accident, which resulted in a 6-0 win over the Vandegrift Vipers.

All team members did their part to honor the memory of their fallen teammate.

“A lot of us were close to Brynn and we felt we needed to do that as a team,” Hays High softball player Illyana Cisneros said. “It really brought us closer together.”

Remembering Helen Alcala

Whether it was your first or fifth time stepping into Helen’s Casa Alde in downtown Buda, Helen Alcala made it her mission to get to know you.

“She met so many people and has talked to so many people over the course of 37 years, but she could remember someone at the drop of a hat,” Remy Alcala, Helen’s granddaughter said.

“When people move out of town, they let us know they come back to this place,” Alcala said. “You didn’t come here for just the tacos. You came here for (Helen).”

Helen Alcala, born in 1923, didn’t open the Casa Alde until 1980 when she was 57 years old. Prior to that time, Helen, who grew up in the Buda area, raised three children and fulfilled a career within Hays CISD.

Following her retirement from Hays CISD, Helen worked at the Texas School for the Deaf. At the same time, Helen made money on the side by selling breakfast tacos at the local cement plant in town.

With the financial and emotional assistance of Ezekiel DeLeon, her brother-in-law, Helen opened the Casa Alde, which at the time was not only the first Mexican restaurant in Buda, but also was the only restaurant on Main Street.

Over the course of 37 years, Helen’s Casa Alde has served multiple generations of Buda area residents. Remy, a Hays High graduate, saw many of her friends go to Casa Alde while she was growing up. Many of them are now bringing their children to the restaurant.

Remy said many customers now approach her and are sharing their fond memories of her grandmother. Some of the memories hearken back to days before she had been born. Hundreds have also placed their memories of Helen on the busienss’ Facebook page following her death.

For Remy, continuing her grandmother’s mission of getting to know her customers is her goal.

“It’s not just my loss, it’s not just my family’s loss, it’s all of our loss,” Remy said.

The Pie Capital of Texas? Kyle seeks official title

In April of this past year, Kyle city manager Scott Sellers said Kyle will eventually become, by trademark, the “Pie Capital of Texas.”

That could be the case after the city submitted an application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to trademark the title.

After conducting surveys and focus groups with residents and speaking with the Kyle Area Chamber of Commerce, city officials decided Kyle was most well known for its pie.

“When it came down to it, we realized our destination is people coming off the I-35 to enjoy our downtown, specifically to get a slice of pie [at the Texas Pie Company],” Sellers said The Texas Pie Company is owned by Julie Albertson and Spencer Thomas.

“It’s nice feedback for almost 18 years of being here developing our company,” Thomas said.  “We’re kind of flattered and we feel good about all that.”

City officials do not intend to support just one company, but to support an industry and a current destination, Sellers said.

“Brands and destinations are earned, not given,” Sellers said. “One that we have earned as a community until this point is the Pie Capital of Texas. Talk to people in other cities, that might be debatable, but we here in Kyle, we’re very fond of our pie.”

The designation means the city will utilize the trademark, hosting events and having “Pie Capital of Texas” signage.

“We will continue to look for additional destinations as we continue to grow,” Sellers said. “This is the one that we see as our current brand and we hope to capitalize on that.”

While the city applied for the trademark, Vargas said they haven’t heard back from the USPTO yet. She said it could take several months for the city to be contacted.

Mum’s the word: Moms get crafty with annual tradition

Layers upon layers of ribbon, a few bells and maybe even a whistle or two are common when it comes to the world of creating the perfect homecoming mum.

Yes, the sights and sounds of elaborate mums and garters donned by students was visible across Hays CISD as Hays and Lehman high schools held their annual homecoming festivities earlier this year. 

But for many area moms, the annual coming-of-age tradition involves collecting materials to create a one-of-a-kind creation their child can wear proudly on homecoming day.

“I think the tradition of mums and garters for homecoming is important because it is a unique, optional tradition that can be a fun celebration of school and community spirit,” Hays County resident Sally Beggs said.

The tradition started with a real chrysanthemum flower decorated with a few basic ribbons to show school spirit during homecoming. Similar traditions can be found in Oklahoma and in New Mexico.

For Texans, the booming business of mums offers the ability for a mum-making mom to turn into a “Momtrepreneur” overnight.

“This tradition is backed by a large number of artisans and business owners who contribute to their local economy and community spirit,” Beggs, owner of Mums by Mom, said.

Beggs said she started making mums for her oldest daughter, as well as exchange students living with her, so they could have the full Texas experience. Soon a business was born.

For some parents, crafting a mum that grows in opulence over time is the goal.

Cindy Sedillo, a parent of a Lehman High student, said her daughter Stephanie, who is a senior, had her mum made by her aunt, Rachel Prieto.

Ever since Stephanie’s freshman year, Rachel has created a mum for her niece, Sedillo said.

“She (Prieto) made my daughter’s mum her freshman year to the present with every year making them bigger and bigger. This is her senior year, so her mum is all white and silver, which is a tradition for Lehman,” Sedillo said.

“What I have discovered is that mums are no different than prom dresses, in that there is one to fit everyone’s style and budget, and what is considered ‘over-the-top’ varies according to the individual,” Beggs said.

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