Llano County news




LPD indictments returned in February

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By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

The Highlander

A Llano County grand jury has issued additional indictments against the Llano with a police chief and a former officer in connection with a May 2, 1027, arrest of a Llano man.

Llano Police Chief Kevin Ratliff and former officer Grant Harden both were charged Monday, Feb. 26 with a count of official oppression by trespass, a count of official oppression by false arrest and a count of tampering with a government document. Both men turned themselves in to the Llano County Jail for booking and since have been released on bond.

Official oppression is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a jail term up up to one year and/or a fine, not to exceed $4,000. Tampering with a government document is a state jail felony, punishable by 180 days-two years in a state jail facility and/or a fine up to $10,000.


Local counties recorded highest rainfall

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A National Weather Service forecast shows small chances for showers as skies clear and temperatures climb for LakeFest weekend in MarbleFalls.

The National Weather Service (NWS) says more showers, less flooding for our area, but it did come down from late Sunday night to Monday morning, Aug. 6-7.

The storm cluster over north Texas moved south and produced widely varying rain totals, heaviest in portions of Llano and Burnet Counties, where as much as 5-8 inches fell. Some flash flooding was observed in this area but recent dry conditions have helped limit the overall flooding and flash flooding threat, according to the NWS. “LCRA opened one floodgate at Wirtz Dam and one floodgate at Starcke Dam to move floodwaters downstream early Monday morning. Both gates were closed by 11 a.m.”


Burnet County Area Fair is 'Hill Country Proud' is underway

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The Burnet County Area Fair is underway, through Saturday, June 10, with free family fun at the Burnet Community Center, 401 East Jackson Street in Burnet.

Entries have been invited from Burnet, Bell, Blanco, Lampasas, Llano, San Saba, Travis and Williamson counties.

Opening Ceremonies were the official start at 10 a.m. Friday, June 9, with the Hill Country Blenders singing the Star Spangle Banner and other songs fitting this year's theme: "Hill Country Proud."

In the foundation building a quilting demonstration began at 10:30 a.m. Linda Wells, the AgriLife Extension Agent, will host a cooking demonstration, “Hill Country Foods that can make us proud.”


UPDATE: Llano burglary suspect apprehended

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IN CUSTODY: Ashton Micheal Hutchison

The Llano Police Department (LPD) announced yesterday, Monday, May 29, that Ashton Michael Hutchinson was in custody.

The public had been asked for assistance in locating him in connection with a May 25 burglary that involved a shooting and that appeal apparently paid off. A woman posting on social media said, "We saw him walking on a county road outside Cherokee and called him in."

Hutchison, 25, was taken into custody about 5 p.m. Monday in nearby Cherokee by deputies with the San Saba County Sheriff's Office and an officer of the Llano Police Department.

Hutchison was sought on charges of burglary of a habitation at Stonewall's Pizza Wings & Things, 109 West Main Street in Llano.

The manager of the popular restaurant on the Llano County Courthouse Square, Richard Mandi Schmidt, also commented on social media, saying, "We will all sleep a little better knowing he is in custody."


Bond jumper back behind bars

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Mary Sewell

A San Saba woman is in the Burnet County Jail in lieu of $300,000 bond after she failed to appear in court for charges regarding injury and abandonment of her three children in Llano County and fled to Nevada. It was her second bond jump.

Mary Elizabeth Sewell, 23, originally was arrested in October 2015 and charged with abandoning and endangering a child through criminal negligence. She was released on bond, apparently fled the state.

“She took off and we had to send two deputies, a male and a female, to go pick her up from Reno, Nevada,” Llano County Sheriff Bill Blackburn said. “She bonded out when she was returned and when it appeared she was going to test hot for drugs, she went on the fly again. After we got warrants out on her, she came back and turned herself in at Lampasas.”


Star Republican Women hear child services program

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Dorothy Crockett/The Highlander

Associate Judge Cheryll Mabray of the Child Protection Court of the Hill Country addresses Star Republican Women in Horseshoe Bay on Jan. 10.

By Dorothy Crockett


Round Mountain man held on intoxication manslaughter charge

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A Round Mountain man remains in the Burnet County Jail, charged with intoxication manslaughter for the vehicular death of a Round Rock woman last year in Llano County. Pedro Ortiz Hurtado, 66, of Round Mountain was transferred into the Burnet County Jail Jan. 5, based on charges of intoxicated manslaughter with a vehicle that followed his arrest by Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers. Hurtado was the driver of a truck in an accident Nov. 1 on Texas 71 that claimed the life of Edwina Dillon Turner, a 56-year-old Round Rock woman. The accident occurred about three miles west of Horseshoe Bay at 8:23 p.m. when, according to Texas Department of Public Safety records, Hurtado's eastbound 2005 Ford F250 crossed the center line and swerved back, striking Turner's eastbound 2014 Volkswagen PTE head on. George Anderson, 51, of Round Mountain, a passenger in Hurtado's truck, was injured in the accident.


Holidays mean Home Tour in Llano County

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All the charm of a stone home place built in 1947 has been accentuated to become a place of business for Beckham Homes, one stop on the Holiday Home Tour of the Llano Woman's Culture Club Dec. 3.

Holiday Home Tour set for Dec. 2


The Holiday Home Tour of the Llano Woman's Culture Club will be bringing visitors to enjoy Llano County homestyle hospitality on Saturday, Dec. 3.

From noon-5 p.m., homes and historical buildings in holiday festive décor will be open for the club's annual fundraiser.

One building is a home-turned-office of local builder Bubba Beckham. He and his wife Kathy had always admired the distinctive old rock home and moved quickly to own it when it came up for sale.

Built in 1947, the Beckham Homes new home offered original details such as wood floors, woodwork and charming interior doors that the Beckham's restored. They added architectural details and antiques to give the house even more character.


Llano holds first Lighted Pumpkin Float

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The first-ever Llano River Lighted Pumpkin Float was held on Saturday evening, Oct. 29, at Badu Park in Llano.

The event's coordinator, Cheryl Quallenberg, has been holding the Llano Pumpkin Carving Contest for the past 10 years.

"The night was pure magic and I could not have envisioned a better setting or turnout when I decided to change the concept,” she said. “While the past 10 years of pumpkin contests was geared for more local family fun, this opens it up to visitors and creates an attractive draw. It was treated as an art installation. There is nothing more beautiful than light reflecting on the river.

“We had visitor-participants from Canyon Lake, Burnet, Blanco and even Spain. I think removing the contest portion of it also makes it more inviting. Everyone can carve a pumpkin!"


Books in her blood

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By Phil Reynolds

The Highlander

Jackie Cundieff may have taken over as director of Llano County libraries, but that doesn’t mean there’s an upheaval in the system’s future. For one thing, Cundieff thinks the system is “awesome” the way it is.

She was named director of the three-library system (Llano, Kingsland and the Lakeshore Branch at Buchanan Dam) by county commissioners, effective with the retirement of longtime director Dian Ray on Sept. 30.

She’s no stranger to Llano; she’s lived there for 27 years, her husband, Rick, is pastor at First Baptist Church of Llano, and they’ve raised two children, a boy and a girl, both grown.

However, Cundieff said she grew up in Burleson, south of Fort Worth where her mother was school and church librarian.

It’s kind of in her blood.

And after years in the education system, Cundieff went back to school herself and got a Master of Library Science degree from the University of North Texas.


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