Burnet County


Ballard found guilty, sentenced to life without parole

By Glynis Crawford Smith

Highland Lakes Newspapers

(Updated with comments from the defense.)

Garrett James Ballard was found guilty on two counts of capital murder and sentenced to life without parole on Monday, Dec. 12, in the 33rd District Court of Judge Allan Garrett.

He was charged in the shooting of two close friends, Elijah “Eli” Adam Benson, a 17-year-old Burnet High School student, and Travis Leslie Fox, a 26-year-old Burnet High School graduate.

After a week of testimony, the jury was out just over half an hour from deliberation to verdict, 2:10 p.m. -2:45 p.m.

“Once found guilty of capital murder, when the state does not seek the death penalty, life with no possibility of parole is the automatic sentence,” said District Attorney Sonny McAfee.

The decision not seek the death penalty in this case was made in cooperation with the victims' families from the outset.


The results are in! How Burnet County Voted

NOTE: The following results are the complete, but unofficial, results of the 20 voting precincts of BURNET COUNTY. They may or may not line up with state or national outcomes. See the upcoming edition of the Burnet Bulletin for the details.


Records exceeded every day of early voting


The rate of registered voters who have submitted their ballot jumped to 34 percent as of Tuesday at 2 p.m.

Burnet County Elections officials had received 10,056 votes as of Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 2 p.m. The number totals roughly 34 percent of registered voters.

“At this point I don't think I've ever seen a higher percentage,” said Burnet County Elections Administrator Doug Ferguson. “We're breaking the daily records every single day.

“We have 8,527 that voted in person,” Ferguson said, “and 1,529 absentee (mail-in) ballots.”

Ferguson said the turnout has been far beyond previous presidential elections.

“Every day we've had more voters than that day ever before in history,” he said. “It's been substantially larger every single day.”


Cafe 2300 celebrates 20 years



Cafe 2300 will celebrate their 20th anniversary with a Burnet Chamber open house today Wednesday, Oct. 19 from 5-7 p.m.

Café Twenty-Three Hundred made its start as an offshoot of Christmas Café from the Hill Country Christmas Gift Shop located in the old Burnet Hotel on the downtown Burnet Square.   The Café was opened in 2004 and operated until 2009 when the structure was sold and eventually demolished. 

The old hotel was sold in 2009 at which time Tom and Peggy Hansen purchased the location on West Highway 29. 

The address on highway 29 is 2300 from whence the Café Twenty-Three Hundred name was established. 

After purchasing the new location in 2009, Tom Hansen spent three years renovating the old antiquated structure that has been on the site for about 50 years.


Suspicious “clown” spotted in Liberty Hill

By Alexandria Randolph/Lew K. Cohn, Managing Editor

Burnet Bulletin

While rumors have been spread in the Burnet community regarding “creepy clown” persons, authorities maintain that no sightings have been reported in the City of Burnet.

Reports in communities nearby are another matter, however.

A suspicious person wearing a full body black and white clown costume was spotted in a residential area in Liberty Hill, police reported Thursday.

On Wednesday night, Oct. 5 at approximately 11:51 p.m., Liberty Hill Police Officers went to investigate a suspicious person call at the Carl Shipp Townhomes in the 300 block of Loop 332.

“The caller reported noises and banging on their garage door,” police said in a release.


A Letter from Burnet FD LAFS Clowns

Dear Parents,


Local Masonic Lodges host Open House

Several local Masonic Lodges will be hosting an Open House on Sunday, Oct. 23, from 2-4 p.m.

“All Masonic Lodges in the State of Texas will, for the first time ever, conduct an 'Open House' to acquaint you with our Lodges, our philosophy, our many charities and community service activities,” said William Weaver, 2016 Mason District No. 49 Deputy Grand Master. “I invite you to stop by for a few minutes, sometime between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., to visit with our members and learn about the lodge that directly supports your community. Remember, we are members of the community just like you.”

Light refreshments will be provided. 

The Masonic Lodges in the 49th Masonic District of the Grand Lodge of Texas, which includes Burnet and Llano counties, are listed as follows:

Mt. Horeb #137, Mahomet, TX                     

Valley Lodge #175, Burnet, TX                    

Llano Lodge #242, Llano, TX                                   


Mechler to meet with BCRW

Tom Mechler, chairman of Republican Party of Texas RPT, will be returning to address the Burnet County Republican Women (BCRW) at a meeting Thursday, Oct. 13, at 11:30 a.m. at the Sylvester Reed Building, 402 Jackson Street, in Burnet.

Cost of the light lunch will be $10. For more meeting information, email gailteegarden7@gmail.com or jestill@exede.net or call 512-525-1224 or 830-220-0263.

Mechler spoke to the group last fall to kick off the campaign season. He was elected to RPT chairmanship in March 2015 by the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) to fulfill the unexpired term of Steve Munisteri. He has been politically involved for 30 years, serving more than four years as RPT treasurer and as a county Republican chairman for 12 years in three different locations.


It all goes to the dogs

By Martha Norwood/ Highland Lakes Publishing Correspondent

The sixth annual Putts 4 Pups golf tournament will be Nov. 6 and every year, just about now, things start hopping at the Highland Lakes Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) shelter in Marble Falls.

It all began six years ago when the board of directors had this crazy idea that they could hold a golf tournament. After all, isn’t that the way lots of non-profits raise money? Could it really be that difficult? No one knew then just how to get the thing started, and what to do if they could get it started. This was a crazy idea that developed out of the minds of some very time-generous volunteers. Some of them knew how to play golf, but many didn’t.


LCRA makes change to how firm water contracts are approved



Because heavy rains in June, August and September have taken the Colorado River basin and its associated tributaries out of drought, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) staff will now have the ability to approve contracts for “firm water” up to a certain amount without needing board approval.

The LCRA Board of Directors approved the changes at their Sept. 21 meeting, held at Canyon of the Eagles Lodge at Lake Buchanan.

Firm water is water that is available to be committed to another entity by contract, even during drought conditions, as opposed to interruptible water, which is used for agriculture primarily and can be cut off or reduced during a drought.

Prior to April 2014, it was standard board practice to allow LCRA staff to approve contracts for less than 500 acre-feet of water per year without needing board approval.


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