Flying (not so) high above Llano

Jim Sheets, who lives at Buchanan Dam, was one of 15 motorized parachute enthusiasts who spent the weekend flying about near the Llano airport. Others who came in did so from McAllen, Houston, Galveston and Baytown, and the name of the group is Bay Area Flyers. The group stayed at the River Way RV Resort and voted to come back to Llano next year.

Jim Sheets, who lives at Buchanan Dam, was one of 15 motorized parachute enthusiasts who spent the weekend flying about near the Llano airport. Others who came in did so from McAllen, Houston, Galveston and Baytown, and the name of the group is Bay Area Flyers. The group stayed at the River Way RV Resort and voted to come back to Llano next year. (Photos by Briley Mitchell)

Get on your soap box

Ms. Potato Head arrives in Marble Falls. Ms. Potato has fattened up so she can mash the tracks in California and Portland, Oregon.

MARBLE FALLS — If you’re tired of the agony of the ball sliding two inches wide of the wicket; if you’re sick of the misery of missing a four-foot putt to save bogey; if you’re angry at bringing your back-up lacrosse stick to the semifinal game, boy do I have a deal for you!
They come with names like Water Hole Special, Flintstone Flyer, Laser, Old School Jalopy, and Bikini Watch. These are soap boxes, and June 17-19 was the 7th annual Marble Falls Soapbox Classic, also known as The Adult Soapbox Derby.
You’ll see Clayton Kershaw give up two grand slams in a game before you’ll see one of these drivers frown.
“It was a blast,” said the host city’s Steve Ramsey, describing his quarter-mile journey on Third Street. He was inside The Reaper.
The 44 cars take several turns on the track in pairs. When they’re not enjoying the rush of the contest, they’re having fun in the pits — which have a great resemblance to large tents spread across downtown. The 100-degree temperature doesn’t seem to interrupt the fun.
Nothing motorized, it’s just one car’s body and wheels, and a driver yelling, “Giddy Up,” so the little box can reach its destination.
The Apple couple probably made the longest trip here: Gary and Gloria are from Grass Valley, California, which is near Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, Nevada. They not only covered a few miles — “Go East Young Man” — they brought the biggest soap box in the race’s history: Mr. (or Ms.) Potato Head — two versions. “Fully loaded,” I was told, and Gloria added, “Fueled on carbs.”
Both drove the towering, somewhat overweight potato, and I asked, “Could you see?” — out of what was a bad imitation of a windshield.
“Not much,” Gary Apple replied.
Mark Gustafson of Buda, near Austin, drove “2 D,” and it looked like what Mickey Rooney and Clark Gable drove on those “daredevil” tracks in the movies in the 1930s and ‘40s. “{We wanted to capture} the look of the Dry Lake and Salt Flats’ racers,” of 60-and-70 years ago. “I think we captured it,” he observed. I wanted to see Myrna Loy or Lana Turner waiting at the finish line. No such luck.
The Merkels were back. I don’t think Team Penske is any bigger: “Four cars and eight drivers,” Larry Merkel advised. The soap boxes and folks behind the wheel all looked alike — dressed in Burnt Orange. “Texas Fight” for these Austinites.
Linda Kalaher, who works at Printworks, not far from the starting line, drove “Mamma’s Worry.” No need to — Linda won her heat easily but told me, “I didn’t turn around to watch {my foe}.”
73-year-old Alice Gardiner competed and said, “85-year-old John Camden built her car.” He has some experience according to Gardiner: “He was the engineer on the original Corvette.” Now I’ve met someone who knew SOMEONE!
Of course there is a Hat Derby at these competitions. And Beverly Wallis from the big city — San Antonio — was victorious. The hat had all sorts of color — a bird and flowers — I think. The upset in this fray was that Mike Steele of Burnet was third — first among the males, the only contestant. He sported a bunch of balloons.
Kids are told to enjoy their youth — don’t grow up too fast, but adults have no barrier when it comes to revisiting their childhood. For a weekend, they took over a sport made famous more than 80 years ago by youngsters, and they didn’t care one bit if someone yelled, “You’re acting like a child!”

Meat judging team qualifies for nationals

The Llano meat judging team earned a berth to the national competition to be held in Denver, Colo., in January. Pictured, from left, are coach Joe Dan Tarter and team members Kaymon Lange, Dane Black, Blake Dillard and Caleb Cowan.

The Llano County 4-H meats judging teams recently competed at state 4-H roundup in College Station and earned a berth to a national competition to be held in January.
The Llano teams qualified to participate at the state contest by placing first and second at the district contest this past spring. Llano County Team #1, consisting of Dane Black, Caleb Cowan, Blake Dillard and Kaymon Lange, placed second at the state contest. That finish gave the team a berth to compete in the Western National 4-H Roundup, which will be held in Denver, Colo., in January.
Llano County Team #2, consisting of Ashten Altizer, Dalton Bauman, Ray Dixon and Edgar Montoya, placed fourth at the state contest.
Individually, Kaymon Lange placed fourth high, Dane Black was eighth, and Ashten Altizer placed 10th.
“Congratulations to these kids on their accomplishments,” said coach Joe Dan Tarter.

‘I’ve got a Martini shaker and I’m not afraid to use it’

Play canceled this weekend due to actor injury

It was non-stop laughter as the Llano Community Theatre performed the Dixie Swim Club at the Lantex Theater.

Live theater at the Lantex Theater, the perfect venue for the latest production of the Llano Community Theatre, the “Dixie Swim Club” by Jones Hope Wooten Comedy.
Rehearsals began six weeks ago, and have been held two hours a day for four days a week. As the play got closer, they were held for three hours per day for five days a week.
The Llano County Community Center offered their back room for rehearsals and set design, the acting city manager helped work a contract for the fledgling theatre troop to move the play from the Methodist church, which they had outgrown, to the roomier Lantex Theater. Lots of planning, hard work by the cast and crew, and community support made a formula for success.
The play revolves around five ladies that were on a swim team in college and their yearly get-togethers in August. There is Sheree, played by Lisa Davis, who is the ultimate organizer and health food fanatic. Trecy Johnson plays Dinah, the lawyer who has it all together, except maybe Dinah has a bit of a drinking problem - she enjoys her martinis early in the morning until bed time. Then there is Lexi, the flirtatious member of the team who is portrayed brilliantly by Kari Miller. Lexi doesn’t have good luck with men, going through a number of husbands as the years go by.
Connie Turner has the casting job of playing Jeri Neal, the “Nun that went bad,” whose character is one of the more complex of the group. Then there is Vernadette, played by Cheryl Crabtree, who seems to have one calamity after another, but also has the best one liners in the show. Jay Polanco is stage manager and the play is directed by San Lorenz.
Behind stage are set designer Danielle Carmichael, and crew members Sherry Simpson, Marion Bishop, Connie Bishop, Gary Estes, Summer Vaught, and Megan Wolf. Light and sound is provided by Jeff White.
The play starts with the group meeting at a beach house 22 years after graduation, then five years later, then another five years, and the final scene is 23 years later, for a total of 55 years of friendship. We see the cast age throughout the production, their characters mature, and the closeness of the women grow over the years. Each scene has a mention of their coach, who they all remember fondly.
The Lantex is the ideal setting for the Llano Community Theatre, and audiences seemed to enjoy the spacious seating and general ambiance of live theater in the historic movie house.
The play was due to be performed twice this weekend, but has been canceled due to an unforeseen accident to one of the main cast members.

Football — Plus a Van that Cares

Spike Dykes and Sonny McAfee: the law of the gridiron and society. Dykes is a former high school and college coach, while McAfee is Mr. District Attorney.

BURNET—Spike Dykes thinks, “Expansion is stupid.” That may have been his only negative thought, June 17, at another packed-house and festive evening at the 13th annual Seton Kids’ Care-a- Van Tailgate Party. The Emory Bellard-Spike Dykes Golf Classic followed on the 18th.

The Care-a-Van visits schools in the Highland Lakes area and provides free medical attention and exams for the youngsters. Dykes, the head football coach at Texas Tech (1986-’99), asks, “What is a better cause in the world?” The Tailgate gathering at the YMCA and the golf tournament have raised $2.2-million in a dozen years to support Seton’s efforts. Spike, of Horseshoe Bay, poses for pictures with anyone in the crowd of 500-600.

There are — always — so many people and tables to accommodate them, you would have no clue — if you don’t peek above — they are standing on a basketball court.

So, what’s this “stupid” business all about? Not the press again, I hope. No. The coach is answering a question concerning the Big 12 conference. Does it rise from 10 schools to 12?

With the current 10, “{It’s} a great deal,” Dykes insists. “Everybody plays everybody.”

He pointed to a previous slogan: “One True Champion.” And the late Darrell Royal got a mention, a favorite quote of DKR: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

The Big 12 is considering expansion because it would be easier to have two six-team divisions — like it once was — and have a championship game. (That aspect is a certainty for 2017.) Dykes contends money is the root of all fourth-down decisions: “If you can make 50 bucks, do it,” he allows with more than a splash of sarcasm. Whoops; I miscounted — a second negative.


Number 1

Down to the gridiron. The coach picks TCU as the favorite to win the conference title. “All-around good football team,” he maintains. The usual contenders get recognition, too, and Texas is in his sights because of running backs Chris Warren and D’Onta Foreman.


Westward Ho!

Spike has more than a little interest in California — the University — which beat the Longhorns in 2015, 45-44, and will entertain UT, September 17.

Sonny Dykes, his son, is the Golden Bears’ head coach, and coincidentally, he’s been helped by Texas

Tech, sort of. Quarterback Davis Webb, who has graduated from Tech, can transfer and play in the fall. Sonny got him — about as good a replacement as you can find for 2016’s top draft choice, Jared Goff.

Spike Dykes thinks Webb is a “really good player,” and if he does well, Cal should do well.



“A lose-lose situation; I hate it. Treading on thin ice when you don’t know everything. Just sorry it happened.” On BU’s new head coach, Jim Grobe: “I have a lot of respect for him.”


On the Road, again

The late coach, Emory Bellard, originator of the Wishbone offense at Texas in 1968, and Texas A&M head coach in the 1970s, got Spike into the Care-a-Van venture, and he says, “I’m prouder to be associated with this than anything I’ve done in my life.”

BREAKING NEWS: Man drowns Wednesday near Badu Park

A Victoria, Texas, man died Wednesday after drowning in the Llano River near Badu Park.

Just after 2 p.m., the Llano Police Department was called to the park in reference to an accidental drowning. According to a city press release, Brian Holmbert, 52, drowned while trying to help his daughter. The daughter was caught in the river’s current while fishing, the press release said.

Holmberg was transported to Llano Baylor Scott and White Hospital and was pronounced dead by Brian Alexander, Llano County Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace.

Bystanders and personnel from the city parks and street departments, along with the Llano Volunteer Fire Department, Llano County Sheriff’s Office, Department of Public Safety, Llano County EMS and Llano County Precinct 4 Constable Joe Simpson Jr. assisted in the incident, according to the press release.

"The City of Llano wishes to offer our heartfelt condolences to the Holmberg family," Llano Police Chief Kevin Ratliff said in the press release.