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Kids soar with mentoring through juvenile justice programs

Column by Commissioner Cook

  • 17 March 2022
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 1312

Williamson County Juvenile Services Assistant Director Matt Smith trains officers from Williamson County and from Oklahoma in Trust-Based Relational intervention in Georgetown. Juvenile Services Executive Director Scott Matthew is seated at far left. Once, kids ordered to Williamson County’s Juvenile Justice Center by a judge were met with a military academy culture that focused on building self-discipline and increasing compliance with rules.

Despite some gains, recidivism rates were high, with many youths penetrating further in the justice system. Executive Director Scott Matthew and Assistant Director Matt Smith looked for a better way. Their search led them down several paths, and one was to Round Rock Starry, a local nonprofit known for supporting youths and families in the Child Protective Services and foster care system. Recognizing that kids in the Starry programs have experienced significant trauma, its leadership implemented the internationally recognized Trust-Based Relational Intervention framework.

TBRI, the brainchild of the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University, offers innovative approaches for working with traumatized children. 

A look at the backgrounds of the youths at the juvenile center revealed that 83% of its residents had been in the CPS system, with 27% of those youths previously removed from their homes.

Recognizing that youths in both systems have similar backgrounds and that many touch both systems, in 2016 Matthew and Smith sought TBRI training for the staff at the juvenile center. Their previous approach wasn’t addressing root causes in most kid’s lives; the staff wanted to make a positive long-term difference in the lives of the kids placed in their care. 

Through TBRI training, juvenile agency staff learned how adverse childhood experiences impact normal brain development when toxic stress levels are daily occurrences for children. 

So how do children with brains geared for survival operate normally in this world? They struggle. TBRI practitioners blend nurture and structure as they work with kids on their behavioral responses to events and pressures in their lives. The focus is on teaching these youths appropriate coping skills. Mentoring and teaching, not punishment, brings improvement and positive change for the children. Lives can be changed. In many cases, time spent at the juvenile center can be the best thing in these kids’ lives to date.

Why vote? Here are 6 reasons.

Column by Commissioner Cook

  • 17 February 2022
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 1620

Commissioner Cook is shown holding her voter registration card and driver’s license after she voted early at the Jester Annex in Round Rock during the last midterm elections.Williamson County Commissioner Terry Cook: Why vote? Here are 6 reasons. (statesman.com)

Why vote?

In preparation for this topic, I perused the history of elections and voting on History.com. Apparently colonial candidates boozed up voters to, through and after the polls. George Washington is reported to have plied his potential voters with 47 gallons of beer, 35 gallons of wine, 2 gallons of cider, 3.5 pints of brandy and a whopping 70 gallons of rum punch. He won the election by 310 votes.

So who were these voters? Primarily wealthy, white, landholding, Protestant men.  However, voting did not start out with the coveted privacy of the ballot deposited in a box, but was an in-person, audible vote. The wealthy voters might have received individual visits from the candidates prior to the election. On election day, supporters in many cities rented out taverns for a boozy pre-vote party. Then everyone would participate in an impromptu parade to the polls. For the less rich, all action was on election day when the candidates were expected to greet all at the polls. Following the vote, additional tavern-parties, complete with booze and food no matter how you voted, would occur. Ah, the good ol’ days.

So how did we come to have nationwide Election Day on a November Tuesday, that fickle month for weather? We go back to 1845 when Congress passed a federal designation for the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November as Election Day across the country. Congress sought to eliminate early voting in some parts of the nation from influencing the later votes in other areas. Why Tuesday and why November? Back in the day, America was primarily an agrarian economy. Crops were planted during spring or late summer, were harvested primarily in or at the end of the summer and all that work afterward continued into late fall. 

You had to travel to your county’s seat to cast your vote – think about how big some of Texas’ counties are and your transportation mode was a horse. It could easily take over a day to reach your poll site. Sundays were church days and were not to be encroached upon. Wednesdays were market days – your horse was needed to pull the wagon into town. We are still primarily following the farm culture for the vote although mail-in voting and early voting has increased our bandwidth for casting votes.

League of Women Voters Website

For comprehensive information regarding the March Primary and November General Election 2022

  • 2 February 2022
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 1691


Brought to you by The League of Women Voters Education Fund!


Personalized Voting Information

See What's On Your Ballot

Check Your Voter Registration

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And Much More!

Early Voting Schedule

Voters registered in Williamson County may vote at any location in the county.

  • 26 January 2022
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 1777

Registered voters may vote at any location listed below

Early Voting dates and times:
Monday February 14th through Friday February 18th 8am-6pm
Saturday February 19th 7am-7pm
Sunday February 20th 11am-5pm
Monday February 21st Closed for the holiday
Tuesday February 22nd through Friday February 25th 7am-7pm

Main Voting Location: Georgetown Annex, 100 Wilco Way, HR108

Click here for SAMPLE BALLOT lookup
Click here for COMPOSITE BALLOT pdf

Primary elections, register to vote & vote-by-mail information

From the Williamson County Elections Office

  • 26 January 2022
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 2010

Red/white/blue sign printed with Register to Vote and stars. .bring.com/images The Democratic and Republican primary elections will be March 1, 2022. 

Each party has its own ballot, and you can only vote in one party’s primary election. 

Make sure you register to vote in time for this election! Here are important dates to remember:

·         Last day to register to vote: Monday, Jan. 31, 2022

·         Early Voting period: Monday, Feb. 14 to Friday, Feb. 25, 2022

·         First Day to Apply for Ballot by Mail: Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022

·         Last Day to Apply for Ballot by Mail (Received, not postmarked): Friday, Feb. 18, 2022

To check your voter registration status, find your polling site, or view your sample ballot (during election times) click here.

Register to Vote (new Williamson County voters)

Change Name or Address (currently registered Williamson County voters)

Request for Mail-in Ballot information on next page. 


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