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Tech College is Williamson County’s hidden gem

Opinion Editorial by Commissioner Cook

  • 12 octubre 2017
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 9404
Commissioner  Cook listens to instructor Darren Block, left, about precision machining, while Michael Smith, field development officer with Texas State Technical College, looks on.

My brother, Randy Riddle, sponsors interns at his heating, ventilation and air conditioning business in Greenville, North Carolina, to expose them to a career path they hadn’t thought of before. His daughter and business manager, Rachel Davis, has been encouraging Pitt Community College, also in Greenville, to expand their trade and technical programs.

Nationally, companies are desperate to find well trained workers who want these jobs, instead of training people not suited for these jobs or who leave after time and money was spent instructing them.

I commend my family members for their efforts and recently informed them of my tour of Texas State Technical College inside the East Williamson County Educational Center in Hutto. The center is housed in a 112,000-square-foot facility located on 54 acres in Hutto, and their master plan calls for a total of 13 buildings.


Texas State Technical College, along with Temple College and Texas A&M University-Central Texas, partnered with the Hutto community to create this visionary and multi-institutional teaching center that provides a variety of educational opportunities and workforce readiness programs.

I didn’t know what to expect as we pulled into the parking lot of this campus out in the middle of large, grassy fields when I first began my tour on Sept. 8. Michael Smith, field development officer, conducted the tour, and Edgar Padilla, provost, warmly welcomed me to the campus.

One of the most jaw-dropping facts I learned was...




Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead But You Can

by Commissioner Cook

  • 14 septiembre 2017
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 7791

Saturday, August 26, 2017, 06:00


The county conference calls started on Thursday. Texas was going to be hit hard–at that time, by a category 3 storm. Preparation for response began. Wilco representatives were in Austin at the Combined Transportation and Emergency Communications Center, CTECC, working on the Central Texas regional response.


Elected officials and department heads from Wilco assemble at the Williamson County Emergency Operations Center in Georgetown.

As Harvey began crawling into Texas as a category 4 hurricane, emergency planning for Williamson County left the CTECC and convened at the Williamson County Emergency Operations Center, EOC, in Georgetown before dawn on Saturday. Emergencies are not uncommon in Texas and indeed, this gathering of Williamson County’s representatives, ranging from elected officials to multiple department leaders for response preparation, was full of veterans of the planning process and activities.


By mid-Saturday morning, it became evident that we weren’t receiving the number of evacuees as anticipated, and we weren’t going to receive the torrential rains and fierce winds earlier predicted. The team was placed on stand-by for immediate callback in case the storm changed directions. However, conference calls continued, some with only Williamson County employees and others with every response team in the county.


Williamson County Budget Adopted for Fiscal Year 2017-18 and Tax Rate Set

  • 31 agosto 2017
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 10945

This budget season has been the most difficult item that I have experienced as your County Commissioner. Many of the old timers around here say it’s been the most contentious for them, too. However, there is some good news!

We passed a tax rate that is lower than your current rate, from $0.476529 to $0.466529. I had two main goals going into this budget season: 1. Our elected officials receive a good salary already, and I felt that we didn’t need a salary increase, and 2. With a rapidly growing population putting stress on county services, I believed that our county departments needed more people to serve you. 

Commissioner Cook Encourages Community to Attend Overdose Awareness Day

Pictured are Commissioner Cook, center, with Rosana Sielaff, left, program director of LifeSteps Coalition, and Donna Connell, right, a community advocate and mother of an adult son who died of a drug overdose three years ago.

  • 18 agosto 2017
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 8258

I’d like to invite our community to join me at the second annual Williamson County Overdose Awareness Day in Round Rock at Lakeview Pavilion in Old Settlers Park on Saturday, Aug. 19, presented by LifeSteps Coalition to raise public awareness of opioid overdose.

As one of the speakers at the event, scheduled from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., I will join the Coalition and other participants in offering support to those who have lost a loved one to overdosing related to addiction or that was accidental, and to those recovering from addiction. We will also participate in a memorial walk and flower release to commemorate these lives. Those who’ve lost someone to overdose are encouraged to bring that loved one’s photo for the traveling memorial wall that later will be displayed at the Texas Overdose Awareness Day at the State Capitol in Austin on Aug. 31.

I can’t stress enough the importance and value of the LifeSteps Coalition, which is a program of LifeSteps Council on Alcohol and Drugs. This non-profit organization, with offices in Round Rock and Georgetown, sponsors community programs on prescription abuse prevention, alcohol and drug education for minors, parenting classes and more. 



Vaccines Protect Texas Children

Commissioner Cook is pictured with her next door neighbor siblings, 8-year-old Sophie and 6-year-old Jacob Benjamin. Both children are updated on their vaccinations and are excited to return to Cactus Ranch Elementary School in Round Rock this fall.

  • 21 julio 2017
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 8606

Vaccines are one of the most important and life-saving medical marvels. For decades, people in this country and almost worldwide haven’t had to worry about outbreaks of polio, measles, chickenpox and other contagious illnesses, thanks to widespread vaccinations.

When kids are vaccinated, there is less concern that they will contract diseases when they go with their friends to the local swimming pool or the playground. Can you imagine being too scared to allow your kids to partake in these summertime rituals? That is how parents felt in the 1940s and 1950s, when polio was rampant. The reason we stopped seeing these diseases is because of the overwhelming success of vaccines themselves, and not because these diseases don’t exist anymore.

The Immunization Partnership, a non-profit group dedicated to eradicating vaccine-preventable diseases through education and advocacy, reports that 45,000 kindergarten through 12th grade students in Texas have a non-medical exemption for school vaccine requirements, a 19-fold increase from 2003. This is especially troubling for children with medical exemptions because they are too ill to be vaccinated and are being exposed to these serious childhood diseases.

Pockets of parents in Texas and other states have become complacent because they don’t regard these diseases as threats to their kids, while others don’t believe these diseases exist any longer. And then there are those hesitant about vaccinating their children relying on misinformation derived from unfounded reports of risks or from myths. “All credible research shows vaccines are safe and effective,’ said Rekha Lakshmanan, Director of Advocacy and Policy at the Immunization Partnership. “Yet some parents are basing life-saving decisions on what they encounter from unreliable sources instead of seeking science-based information.”

A growing trend among some folks is the belief that viruses, like measles, are a normal childhood disease that no one should fear. However, Jan Pelosi, Immunization Program Manager with the Williamson County and Cities Health District, said, “Complications from measles include pneumonia, hearing deficits and encephalitis (brain swelling) that can result in death.”

In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control reported a large, multi-state measles outbreak linked to Disneyland in California. Medical experts believe the outbreak likely started from a traveler who became infected overseas with measles, then visited the amusement park while infectious. According to the CDC, a total of 147 people contracted measles from this one person, and at least 84 had to be hospitalized. 







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