Huddleston crowned Rice Queen

Sentinel photo/Jessica Shepard
The 2015-2016 Rice Festival Queen's Court members from left are: Rice Festival Queen Graci Huddleston; first runner-up Miranda Orsak; second runner-up Morgan Roper; third runner-up Ashley McNeil; and fourth runner-up Haley Hartsfield.

Twenty-two young women lined the stage of Keye Ingram auditorium Saturday night to find out who would be crowned Rice Festival Queen.
   Graci Huddleston was officially crowned Rice Festival Queen for the 2015-2016 year.
   Huddleston is joined by her court: first runner-up Miranda Orsak, second runner-up Morgan Roper, third runner-up Ashley McNieil and fourth runner-up Haley Hartsfield.
   Huddleston also received the award for “Most Photogenic” and Adrianna Garcia got “Best Dress” as voted on by the judges.
   Haley Hartsfield won “Miss Congeniality” with the most votes from her fellow contestants.
   This year’s judges: Lindsey Denson, Sonya Hummel and Sabastian Lopez narrowed their search for the Queen to 10 semi-finalists.
   Each of those girls drew a random question out of a fish bowl and had to answer it on the spot. 


People remember Hawkins as kind, gentle personality

 At the news of Andy Hawkins’ death last week, public expressions of sorrow – as well as deep respect for the former NFL player’s life – were in no short supply. 
   Hawkins passed away due to heart failure Oct. 7 in Bay City. Throughout the 1980’s he played with four professional teams and was inducted into the Texas A&M-Kingsville Javelina Football team’s Hall of Fame in 1992.  
   He also played for the VanVleck High School team where his brother-in-law Robert Blackmon is currently the head coach. 
   At half time of the Van Vleck football game against Danbury on Oct. 9, public address announcer John Hoffman paused for a moment of silence in honor of Hawkins. 
   “That was a great man right there,” an unidentified man could be heard whispering to his young son during the moment. “One of the best ball players we’ll ever have here.” 


City raises water, sewer rates; holds executive session

A 4 percent increase in water and wastewater rates and an ordinance amendment allowing several types of signs that were previously forbidden (See related story, Page 3) were approved by city council at its regular meeting Oct. 8. 
   Council also spent part of the meeting in closed session discussing four separate matters and took action on none of them. 
   The higher water and sewer rates were outlined in an October 2013 study, Mayor Mark Bricker explained, adding they were incorporated in the city’s recently passed fiscal 2015-16 budget. 
   Bay City residents using from 2,001 to 5,000 gallons of water monthly would see the rates go from $1.76 to $1.83, while those consuming 20,000 to 25,000 gallons, would have rates go from $2.65 to $2.76. 
   Non-residential monthly rates would rise from $2.21 to $2.30 and a monthly minimum of $18.90 would rise to $19.66. 


Center will offer Kayaking class for beginners Saturday

   The Matagorda County Birding Nature Center clearly recognizes that paddling is one of the most effective ways to get close to nature and observe wildlife.   
   Plus, it is just plain old fashion fun. 
   So, this unique riverside refuge for encountering natural wonders and wild things, is offering its members the opportunity to learn the basics of kayaking and gain a firsthand appreciation for the beauty and allure of the lower Colorado River at no charge.   
   This “free” offer is made as a way of thanking current members for their loyal support over the past year and to entice other nature lovers to join this non-profit attraction now and, thereby, enjoy the rights and privileges of membership through Dec. 31, 2016. 
   This beginner’s class is open to those 18 and older and limited to the first ten to enroll.     
   It will tbe at the center, near Bay City, from 3 to 5:45 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17.   


70th Annual Rice Festival gets under way Thursday

   “This is our 70th Annual Rice Festival,” said Bay City Lions Club President Jim Humphries.
   “The only exceptions are that we didn’t have one during Hurricane Carla or World War II.”
   With every Rice Festival there’s vendor booths, carnival rides and games along with memories to be made.
   Starting Thursday, Oct. 14, the Rice Festival carnival is officially open from 4 – 11 p.m. with admission fees costing $5.
   Armbands for unlimited carnival rides cost $15.
   It’s also “HEB Night,” where three cans of HEB brand food will get you free admission.
   Another night of carnival fun Friday helps lead up to the 20th Annual Bay City Bull Blast on Saturday as well as the carnival opening at 4 p.m. and closing at midnight.
   After the Bull Blast there’s a band and dance. Cody Wayne and Westbound 21 will perform live during the dance.   


Wellness Matagorda Fall Turkey Trot Fun Run Saturday

   Wellness Matagorda County, Inc. will host its Fall Turkey Trot Fun Run and Walk on Saturday, Oct. 17.
   The walk begins at 7:30 a.m. and the run begins 8:00 a.m. at the Southeast corner of the courthouse.
   The Fun Run will include 5K and a 10K options, and walkers are welcome and encouraged.
   There also will be a warm-up session with Abby McConaha at 7:15 a.m.   
   Advance registration is $20, registration on the day of the event is $25, and you can bring a friend for only $10.
   Students with a valid school ID only pay $10 and can bring a friend for $5.
   Each entry fee includes a T-shirt and water for every participant.
   Participants under 18 are required to have parent or guardian permission first.
   Wellness Matagorda County will donate all proceeds to the Texas Safe Shelter Initiative, a planned 600-bed facility providing protection for first responders during major storms.


City lifts forbidden types of signs

Animations and other moving images are now legal on commercial signs in Bay City. 
   In a unanimous vote Thursday, city council changed its sign ordinance as requested by councilman Steven Johnson. 
   The ordinance no longer prohibits electronic signs with moving characters and images – such as have been common for years in front of many area schools, banks, churches, government offices and businesses. 
   Councilman William Cornman was the only member absent for the vote.
   “Our code enforcement people were having a lot of trouble with this issue, and they came to me about it,” Johnson said. 
   “People were getting upset because they were installing these signs and didn’t know there was an ordinance against them.” 
   The prohibition against animated signs had been in place for at least three years, Johnson said, and several local establishments had taken advantage of a grandfather clause to keep their signs running. 


Sales tax rebates reflect growth

   Bay City sales tax rebates for October show continued retail growth, with the year-to-date totals nearly 15 percent higher than the same period last year. 
   The October check for Bay City was $435,887, an 11 percent increase from $391,263 the city received for the same month in 2014. 
   For the year, the sales tax allocations from the State Comptroller’s Office total $4.5 million, up 14.8 percent from the year-to-date payments last year of $3.9 million.  
   In Palacios, the October rebates to the city totaled $50,602, a 1.3 percent increase from last October’s check of $49,952. 
   For the year, Palacios’ allocations total $504,225, a 9 percent drop from the same period in 2014 that tallied $556,522.  
   These allocations are based on monthly sales made in August by businesses that report tax monthly.  


Annual Halloween costume contest for dog this Saturday

   The 10th Annual Halloween Costume Contest for Dogs begins at noon on Saturday, Oct. 17 on the east side of the Matagorda County Courthouse.
   A 50/50 raffle starts at 11 a.m.
   There are four categories for entry: best dog costume, best owner & pet costume, smallest dog and largest dog.
   Entry into each category costs $10 and each dog will get a treat bag upon entry in to the contest.
   All dogs must be kept on a leash, up to date on rabies vaccinations and no aggressive dogs are allowed.
   Applications can be picked up at Tractor Supply, Bay City Feed Store, Bad to the Bone or at the event.
   Prizes will be awarded to the first through third place winners in each category.
   Some of those prizes include a free grooming session at Bad to the Bone or a free spay or neuter for one dog or cat of the winning household.


Council, BCCDC green light movie complex

    The proposed cinema/indoor entertainment center at McCrosky Road and Texas 35 was authorized by City Council and the Bay City Community Development Corporation (BCCDC) board in a joint meeting at City Hall Monday night  
   After an hour-long closed meeting, members of both entities approved in open session moving ahead with the BCCDC project that was the subject of a joint executive session last week.  
   Council passed the resolution authorizing the complex on first and second readings Monday night. 
   “As we move forward, we need to put in a management structure to manage this project,” said Bill Cornman, a city council and BCCDC board member. 
   “This is the biggest thing we’ve ever done – the most complicated,” Cornman said. 
   Both council and BCCDC members praised BCCDC Executive Director D.C. Dunham for her three years of work on bringing the 47,000-square-foot Schulman entertainment center here. 


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