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By KIM ESTES, Four Points News
Recent predatory attacks on family pets and reports of wild animals seen in the area have created a greater sense of vulnerability in Four Points and Steiner Ranch especially.
While this once rural setting continues to develop as a suburban retreat, residents wonder what wildlife is being displaced, what is actually adapting, and what protective measures should be taken.
Jacob Hetzel, a Texas Wildlife Services wildlife biologist, says known wild animals in Steiner Ranch include coyotes, gray fox, raccoons, skunks and ringtail cats. “Most likely,” he adds, “there are bobcats too.”
The most recent concern of residents, mountain lions, is not on the list.
Last month, a violent attack on a Welsh corgi in her family’s Hills of West Ridge backyard had some indicators similar to the work of a large cat. However, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wildlife biologist, Blake Hendon, said last week it is unlikely TPWD will be able to identify the specific type of predator responsible for the pet’s death.
“Is there a possibility that there are mountain lions here? I think it is highly unlikely,” TWS’s Hetzel says, “but anything is possible.”
The TWS office gets 12 to 15 reports a year of mountain lions in Travis County. None have been confirmed.
A District 6 Candidate Runoff Forum featuring Austin City Council candidates Don Zimmerman and Jimmy Flannigan took place a couple of weeks ago in Four Points. The candidates hashed out the issues in anticipation of gaining more votes for the runoff election.
Early voting started last week and Dec. 16 is voting day for runoffs.
Election results in November showed that Zimmerman received 24.21 percent of the vote and Flannigan received 24.05 percent.
About 35 people attended the forum on Nov. 18 which was held at Austin Baptist Church and sponsored by the Four Points Chamber of Commerce.
“It went great. It covered a lot of issues relevant in Four Points and beyond,” said Brian Thompto, Steiner Ranch Neighborhood Association chairman.
The SRNA Facebook page has a link to the video of the forum including the questions asked by local residents at: www.facebook.com/Steiner.Ranch.Neighborhood.Association
Questions were submitted beforehand via email and during the event to a panel which included Scott Crosby, head of the River Place HOA, and Tiffany Speaks, Four Points business owner including Trails at 620 and Moviehouse & Eatery.
Paul O’Brien moderated the event. He is a Steiner Ranch resident, chief marketing officer of MicroVentures and author of the Steiner Ranch Post.
The issues at the recent forum revolved around traffic, transportation, utilities and development.
The District 17-5A champion Temple Wildcats blew through the competition in a geographically monstrous district that includes teams from Waco, College Station and Pflugerville, winning by an average of more than 30 points a game.
Though the margin of victory has dropped in the postseason, the Wildcats have continued to show that they can pass when they need (442 yards against Waco University and 377 against Ridge Point in a third-round playoff game) and run when the game plan calls for it (449 yards against Pflugerville Connally and 511 against A&M Consolidated).
For Vandegrift, the offense has been consistently among the best in Central Texas. It’s the defense that has grown and matured throughout the season and the Viper defense is playing its best in the postseason.
“Our defense has completely changed these last three weeks,” said Vipers head coach Drew Sanders.
The Viper defense has been opportunistic, winning the turnover battle this postseason. It has also been resilient, holding opponents on several fourth-down attempts, including several in deep Vandegrift territory. That improvement has been crucial to the postseason campaign. Now, just one win away from competing for a state championship, this Saturday’s game will be the biggest in school history. And the Vipers will need to play their best game yet.
By SCOTT W. COLEMAN, Four Points News
Senior quarterback Jamie Hudson threw for 416 yards and 5 touchdowns to lead the Vandegrift Vipers past Austin LBJ on Saturday afternoon and into the Class 5A, Division I state semifinals where the Vipers will meet Temple this Saturday at the Alamodome.
Hudson accounted for a total of 524 yards of Vandegrift’s 613 total yards of offensive production in the biggest win yet in the school’s brief history.
But it was the defense, yet again, that made the difference in a tough contest against the Jaguars, who were driven by the memory of a former player who lost his life in a tragic accident just before the postseason began.
“I can’t say enough about how impressed I am with our team, and especially our senior leadership,” said Vipers head coach Drew Sanders. “We had multiple big fourth down stops and consistently stopped them in the third quarter when our offense was struggling.”