• December 18, 2014

Signs of spring, election posters sprouting up

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Posted: Friday, February 21, 2014 4:30 am

GATESVILLE — If you don’t like the weather in Texas, wait a minute.

Just days after some of us were fretting we would not have enough firewood to make it through winter, along comes a patch of warm sunshine that feels like April.

Signs of spring are sprouting in yards and along roadways. Not so much flowers, (although a few paperwhite narcissus blooms already opened in Coryell County) but a crop of political campaign posters that herald the primary election season.

One seat on the county commissioners court as well as Coryell County’s representative in the Texas Legislature will be decided in the primary, as there is no contest in the general election in either of those races. If you want to have a say in filling those offices, you will need to vote on or before March 4.

Polls are open for early voting. If you are among Coryell voters who prefer to cast your ballot before Election Day, remember to take a photo ID along with your voter registration card when you vote.

Don’t expect to be able to request a paper ballot this year. That option has been eliminated and all voting will be done by electronic machines.

The appearance of a narcissus (plant or politician) does not necessarily mean spring is here to stay. Last year, a late freeze killed the early-budding fruit trees at our place. Spring-like temperatures can fake out a peach, pear or plum.

The surefire way to know if spring has really sprung is to check the nearest mesquite tree. In addition to being an excellent wood for cooking and a pernicious weed to ranchers, that tough, thorny legume is an accurate predictor of spring.

Once a mesquite starts to bud, according to Texas oldtimers, winter is over and there won’t be another freeze. Too bad fruit trees didn’t get that memo.

There is good news and bad news on the county’s rabid skunk situation.

The Texas Department of State Health Services is expanding a program to drop small vaccine packets from airplanes in an effort to control rabies in skunks.

Like the program aimed at eradicating canine rabies in fox and coyotes 20 years ago, baited packs of rabies vaccine are dropped for skunks to gobble up.

That is good news. Coryell County had nearly 20 reported cases of skunk rabies in 2013, one of the worst outbreaks in recent years. Anything to reduce the disease is welcome.

The bad news is Coryell is not included in the 17 Texas counties involved in the pilot project.

“We’re currently evaluating the effectiveness of this approach and the best methods to use,” said Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Department of State Health Services.

“The early results are promising and we hope we can expand the program to other areas, but we don’t have any firm plans at this point,” he said.

The state drops the packets from the air, the skunks eat the packets and are vaccinated against rabies. If it works, let’s do it where the skunks are, including Coryell County.

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