October 27 Letters to the Editor

Editor:

My town wants to spend $57 million and go into enormous debt to build a new school. I assume that a large percentage of that money would be used to build a virtual fortress due to the regularity of school shootings. We are talking about schools, institutions for learning which have been operating perfectly safely up until about the last 10 years. Now is a time when unhinged youths can easily get their hands on high capacity weapons that fire a round every second. This has to stop. If we build barricaded schools, these shooters will move elsewhere, to box stores and on and on. 

I’m thinking it would be more direct to ban assault weapons. Would we rather spend $57 million for a fortress with armed teachers or legislate to keep machine guns out of criminals’ hands?    

I googled AR-15 for example, and was hit with pages and pages of them for sale. I find this distressing to say the least. 

If this vote were for banning assault weapons you would have my vote. To put my town into debt to build a prison of higher education, no thanks.

I am not talking about one’s right to carry. Nobody walks around with a machine gun in their belt.  

Thanks,

Mary Lou Saxon

Marfa, Texas

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To the Editor,

The coming of the Chisos Brewery to Murphy Street on the city’s burgeoning south side is about the best news story I have seen since moving here nine years ago. Construction is due soon with completion a few months after that.

Some issues have arisen, but the Fielder family has gone above and beyond to address them all, spending big bucks at times, to make sure the brewery will be a good neighbor. They have met with city staff to assure their plans meet all codes. Some examples include limiting production to keep water usage to less than that two families will use and donating wastewater with its nutrient-rich content to area agriculture. They even changed the proposed exterior color to better fit in with the neighborhood.

There’s much more, but the Fielders have addressed the specifics. Having an attractive, family-friendly brew pub, a nature garden, meeting place and more will make Alpine a better place, both for those who live here and those who come to visit from time to time. It could also encourage some to move to our city and contribute to its economy.

Craft beers are becoming a major attraction, with aficionados far and wide traveling to pubs and breweries to sample different recipes. Some will place Alpine on their agenda just to sample something new.

We all should welcome Chisos Brewery as the super attraction it promises to be.

Jim Street

Alpine

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Editor:

Let’s talk about the brewery. I think I’m for it. I need more information to be positive, but I’m pretty sure I’m for it. 

For anyone who doesn’t know about the project, I’m talking about the proposed taproom brewery that’s being planned for the southern block of Murphy Street between 3rd and 4th streets. Right now the land is empty. It’s to be called the Chisos Brewing Co., and the family members planning the project are Lisa, Guy and Tim Fielder. The plan is to have a brewing facility, a tasting room, a beer garden, an outdoor fenced area for kids, native plant gardens, and an event room for local groups to use for meetings. 

I’ve met the Fielders but don’t know them at all well. I’m close friends with a designer, Abbey Branch (aka Betsy Ward) who is working on the interiors of the space. Abbey also serves as a volunteer on the City of Alpine’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

It would be a big project for Alpine (although as far as breweries go, it’s a small version), and people have what I think are legitimate concerns –– things like how much water it would use, what will be done with the water and spent grain after they’re used for brewing, if the area will smell bad because of the brewing process, where people will park, and how loud things might get for the neighbors. 

What are the answers? I’m not sure yet. I know that the Fielders met several months ago with people who had questions about the proposed brewery, and I believe at that meeting they responded to many of these concerns. And I was at a subsequent meeting of the Alpine Downtown Association (now called the Alpine Business Alliance) where the Fielders openly discussed the answers again. But I’ve never brewed anything but tea, so it’s hard for me to judge. 

I’d like to get perspective on the amount of water that will be used for the taproom brewery. The Fielders have said that, at most, the brewing process would use only the same amount of water as a typical four-person family – about 12,000 gallons a month. That doesn’t seem like very much, and I would like to understand how that’s possible. And I’d like to know how much water is used for other things around town, not to call anyone out, but just to understand how that amount stacks up against other uses. 

If the water question, and the others above, can be answered in reasonable ways, I’m looking forward to having the Chisos Brewing Co. in Alpine. Alpine doesn’t have an economic development department, but, to me, the project sounds like what an economic development department would work hard to bring to a town like Alpine – a place for residents (and visitors) to gather and have fun, owned and run by people who live here. And if it turns out that the business is not successful, Alpine would be left with what I think will be a very useful and attractive space that could be turned into something else. I certainly think it would add more good to Alpine than another dollar store, or any of the game rooms that keep opening.

What I would really like is to be able to sit down with everyone involved in the same room at the same time and ask all the questions. I think “everyone” means the Fielders, neighbors of the property, relevant City of Alpine staff, people who are for the project, people who are against the project, and everyone else who is interested.

We’ve started a new nonprofit called Alpine Community Projects, which hopes to be able to foster conversations like this one. All the words above are from my own perspective; my opinions aren’t necessarily those of the rest of our board (which also includes Abbey Branch, Scarlet Clouse, Mesinda Llanez, J.D. Newsom and Keith Nixon). I don’t know if anyone else on the board is personally leaning toward support of the brewery or not. But they all support the idea to host an information-rich conversation like the one I proposed above.

So, watch this space. If we can get all the players together, we’ll let you know when the party is.

Kirsten Moody

Alpine

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Letter to the Editor:

The proposed brewery on Alpine’s historic Murphy Street and historic Southside Barrio has created concern for us and our neighbors.

The Fielders have stated that they have talked with all the immediate neighbors about the proposed brewery and to all the businesses on Murphy Street. They have stated that the businesses are all in favor.

I have talked with all the immediate neighbors and can tell you that 95% of them are against the brewery being located in the neighborhood and that some of the businesses are also against the brewery.

Lisa Fielder told me that the 8-foot metal fence they erected is to buffer sound, and that in five years the neighbors will never know a two-and-a-half story building is there. Ms. Fielder obviously doesn’t realize that we here in the Barrio didn’t fall in here with the last rain storm. We have been here for some time and can actually count to 100 and can recite the alphabet.

We do know that the metal fence does not buffer sound, in fact it intensifies sound and we will sure as heck know where a two-and-a-half story brewery in our neighborhood is in five years. Ms. Fielder has stated the Big Bend Brewery produced 30,000 of beer per year, and Chisos will produce 1/30 of that. What she failed to mention is that the Big Bend Brewery was located outside of the city limits, therefore not using city water, creating traffic, noise, storage of wastewater, smell, and adding to our antiquated sewer system.

The Chisos will start by brewing 1,040 barrels of beer per year. That is 32,240 gallons and equals 257,920 pints of beer. It will take around 220-plus people per day, seven days a week to consume that much beer. The average pint of beer sells at $7.00 and specialty beers like Mexican Chocolate and others sell for $10.00-$16.00 a pint.

For a 1,000-barrel brewery to be successful there are several factors involved. The American Brewers Guild recommends a population of 150,000 people within a 15-mile radius of the brewery’s location. In addition to the population, a median income of $50,000 within that sample size and a low unemployment rate are also indicators of a market conducive to a non-productive brewery being profitable. There are four counties around Brewster County with a total population of 33,626 for all five counties.

In response to a letter to the editor last week from May Leal Michelotti: My wife Paula and I also purchased a historical adobe that is over 100 years old, and had it renovated by an awesome contractor native to Alpine, Sam Saenz. We have also enjoyed the people, sense of community and peacefulness of living in the southside barrio. How much of the peacefulness and sense of community will be lost?

I ask Ms. Michelotti would you be doing your cheerleading for a brewery built next to your historical home and neighborhood? Would you be good with your child around increased traffic, noise, wastewater storage, and the smell a brewery brings with it? There are children in our neighborhood that we also have concerns about, two of which live right next to the proposed Chisos brewery.

Our friend and neighbor, Margarita Ibarra, has already been affected by the 8-foot metal fence. Margarita has lived next to the proposed brewery for 45-50 years. She was never consulted about the fence. So much for the love of the people, sense of community and peacefulness.

My wife and I are not opposed to the new businesses in Alpine, but when it affects our quality of life and all the people on the southside, we will speak up.

Leonel (Lonnie) Rodriguez
Alpine, Texas

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Dear Editor,

This is to say a huge “thank you” to Tractor Supply in Alpine for bestowing hundreds of packets of seeds upon us the other week. We have since shared the bounty.

Not only will the Marfa Food Pantry Garden have waves of vegetables, herbs and flowers to come, so will the Jeff Davis and Alpine food pantries, the Sunshine House, growing projects in Presidio, and many local growers.

It was a wonderfully generous gift for which we are all thankful.

Peggy O’Brien

Marfa

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Editor:

Integrity in all news media is always welcomed with respect and trust in any community. Deliberate actions in editing and publishing to harm someone’s reputation will always be taken seriously by me, especially now, as a candidate for Brewster County Judge and someone highly respected for their contributions in the community. In last week’s Alpine Avalanche on the “Candidate Q & A” section, I believe my response was knowingly, willingly and intentionally changed from my accomplishments on issues in the City of Alpine and Brewster County — on the drone-testing proposal at the airport by Texas A&M, and on the intervention by Texas Historical Commission on a grant proposal by GrantWorks and Brewster County for restoration and building of homes for the elderly. The edited version stating, “We need to get resolutions passed,” and “We need to prevent,” (knowing all this has been accomplished) creates confusion for the reader and is in favor of my opponent. In closing, my accomplishments on issues for the people have been with “vision and execution” and not a hallucination for special interests, contracts, salaries or personal agenda. I recommend the book Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky to the editor and folks at the Alpine Avalanche.   

Oscar Cobos for Brewster County Judge Campaign

Alpine

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Editor,

Am I mistaken, or are candidates for public office, such as Garey Willbanks, not required to include a disclosure statement in their clever political ads?

The Texas Ethics Commission seems to think they are:

“The law does provide that political advertising is deemed to contain express advocacy if it is authorized by a candidate, an agent of a candidate, or a political committee filing campaign finance reports. Therefore, a disclosure statement is required any time a candidate, a candidate’s agent, or a political committee authorizes political advertising.”

I would also expect The Sentinel‘s advertising and editorial staff to be aware of this. We are entitled to know who is funding political ads, whether it be the candidate, their campaign or an outside group.

Kate Hand

Marfa

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Editor:

As a school our priority is the education and safety and security of all students and staff. 

 A recent incident highlights and reaffirms comments made to our board by parents, staff, law enforcement and community members that led to the November Marfa Bond being called. 

On Thursday, September 29, 2022, at approximately 3:11 p.m., Marfa ISD was contacted by the Marfa Police Department about a possible active shooter in the city of Presidio. Marfa ISD went to a “Secure!” (no in or out of the building and students remain in their classrooms). The “Secure!” call came as many of our junior high and high school students were in transition between classes and were outside of the school buildings. With the current status of our public announcement system, Marfa ISD had to call both main campuses, the CTE building, and the gyms to make all staff and students aware, which meant more valuable minutes were taken in order to secure everyone. Staff also had to hold doors open to allow all students into the safety of a building. Again, taking valuable time to ensure the buildings were secure and all students were safe. 

The Marfa ISD called bond would address this matter. The bond would build a new K-12 building where everything is on one site and students would not be outside of the building between classes. This building would not have students moving from one building to another thus creating a safer environment for the students. The public announcement would only need to be made once, saving valuable seconds. The safety system would allow for all doors to be locked by the push of a button. This would allow our teachers to concentrate on our students and their safety.

Marfa Police Department reported that Marfa ISD response to the call was outstanding and we are grateful for the outcome of this situation, but would also like to improve on its response.  Not much can be done about students moving from one building to another at this time.

This was a major concern expressed by community, staff and parents leading up to the calling for the bond. The safety and security of our students and staff is a priority and will be addressed by having all students under one connected roof, having security measures of safety entrances, camera systems, key badges and door monitoring/notification and securing tools. 

Your vote on the called bond is important. 

Early voting begins October 24 and continues through November 4, with Election Day November 8. Citizens can vote at the USO center.

Oscar N. Aguero, Superintendent

Marfa ISD

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Letter to the Editor:

Texas is a vast, diverse land for many people –– its big, blue skies an inspiring reminder of freedom, possibility and optimism. As you head to the polls during early voting or on Election Day, I encourage you to vote for candidates and issues who will move us forward and bring people together. The Democrats running locally here in Presidio County and statewide have exactly what it takes to protect and improve our state, from restoring a person’s right to have their own pregnancy as they see fit to opening up the cannabis farming business to advance our state’s agriculture and on to improving and securing our schools with more funding, resources and safety measures. Speaking of schools, I support Marfa’s school bond –– we need to propel our teachers and students with the best available support to strengthen our city for years to come. Schools are centers of communities all across the United States, and ours still can be here too. If we don’t vote to build a new school, the current buildings will continue to rapidly decline, along with enrollment and staffing, and ultimately our beloved town and its culture, history and people. Look, it’s time we go blue again, and with it, a renewed sense of collaboration, energy and transparency in our government. Get out there and vote, and look up and all around every once and awhile: we live in a beautiful place worth protecting for generations to come.

Jason Ballmann

Marfa resident


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