Fresh-squeezed entrepreneurs fill up Boerne

“Entrepreneurship is a very American idea,” asserted Bear Moon Bakery owner Paula Hayward as lemonade stands lined Main Street Sunday.
 
“My mother owned a store on Main Street for nineteen years,” Hayward remembered. “She taught me to keep my windows clean. No matter how tight times get, I’ll always pay for a window washer. These kids are learning the cost and pride of ownership.”
 
My first and fourth graders relocated “Homerun Lemonade” to the sidewalk in front of Bear Moon after a rain-out at Northrup Park.
 
Dozens of elementary kids “owned” stands across town Sunday as part of Lemonade Day, a Houston-based initiative that trains kids on the basics of entrepreneurship. Boerne City Attorney Kirsten Cohoon brought the program to Boerne last year.
 
“It teaches things that get easily missed in our school curriculums,” Cohoon said. “How to think outside the box, how to set yourself apart from 60 other stands, how to think through marketing and product development.”
 
As I sampled the stands, I asked what kids were learning. “People like pink more than regular.” “It’s hard to keep track of things when there’s a long line.”
 
“It’s hard to make money,” observed Curington Elementary fourth grader Reed Neal, who hopes to one day invent the “Tri-TCR,” a three-armed tissue cancer remover.
 
Neal used $53 from his savings to finance “Freetail Lemonade.” Costs included renting a table from his parents.
 
“The rental fee is ten dollars,” his mother told me. Reed interjected, “I thought it was three dollars!” He’ll likely get it in writing next year.
 
A chance to win a Yeti drink tumbler justified his above-market price. Freshly-picked mint leaves from his grandma’s garden also differentiated his offering.
 
Competition was fierce along Main Street. Most shoppers had cups running over. 
 
“How’s that lemonade?” a self-assured proprietor asked. “I bet I can top it!”
 
Cactus, condensed milk, ginger and honey from on-site bees rounded out the list of creative ingredients. Stand names included Lemon Large, The Lucky Lemon and Spike-It Lemonade, the latter owned by a volleyballer whose mother looked like she could use a cold one.
 
“I’m tired,” she said scanning the extensive late-night carpentry that produced her child’s storefront.
 
Organizer Ms. Cohoon applauded the community’s response to the aspiring entrepreneurs. 
 
“Boerne has been very supportive. We hope this keeps growing and growing, that it’s just what we do on the first Sunday in May.”
 
San Antonio residents James and Heather Outlaw stayed in Boerne after church to sip on samples.
 
“Growing up in rural east Texas, I would put out a lemonade stand but no one ever came except my grandmother,” Mrs. Outlaw said. “It brought a tear to my eye earlier when I saw people actually visiting the stands. I doubt this is happening where I’m from.”
 
Sellers were certainly conditioned by buyers’ generosity. For example, my fourth grader after a customer handed him a twenty dollar bill for a $1 order: “Will you need any change?”
 
 
Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. Follow him at www.kwt.info.
 

A look at a contested convention

The last contested presidential nominating convention of a major U.S. political party happened a generation ago.

 

In 1976, President Gerald Ford persuaded undecided delegates at the White House to fend off former California governor Ronald Reagan. Reagan had actually led the pre-convention delegate count according to one national media source at the time.

 

A generation before that, it took Republican delegates five ballots to select businessman Wendell Willkie as their nominee in 1940. He had never served in public office before winning the nomination.

 

Neither of these two events was as contentious as the 1924 Democrat Party convention. It took 103 ballots and 16 days to finally land on compromise candidate John Davis. Davis subsequently lost to Calvin Coolidge later that fall.

 

While contested conventions haven’t born much fruit historically, at least Abraham Lincoln survived one to secure the Republican nomination – and ultimately the Union – in 1860. He promised a variety of cabinet posts to supporters in order to solidify his majority.

 

This year, if no Republican candidate amasses the required 1,237 delegates prior to July’s convention, here’s how the process could play out if rules passed at the 2012 convention hold.

 

Most delegates are required by the Republican National Committee to vote according to the guidelines that governed their state’s primary or caucus.

 

For example, since Trump won Florida and Florida was a “winner-take-all” state, each Florida delegate must vote for Trump on the first ballot.

 

About three-fourths of all delegates are “unbound” on subsequent votes if no candidate takes a majority on the first vote.

 

Texas delegates are slightly different. The Texas GOP held a “pro rata” primary, so delegate votes will split according to the percentage of primary votes cast for Cruz, Trump and Rubio. Again, this is on the convention’s first nominating vote.

 

If a Texas delegate’s candidate fails to win at least 20 percent of the first-ballot vote, that delegate can vote for any candidate on the second vote and beyond.

 

For instance, if Marco Rubio gets 8 percent (i.e., under 20 percent) on the first convention vote, his three delegates from Texas can vote for whomever they wish on the next vote, assuming no candidate won a majority on the first vote, of course.

 

That’s why politicos are descending on state party conventions: to try to get their supporters elected as national convention delegates, even if those delegates must cast a vote for an opponent on the first vote at the national convention.

 

All Texas delegates become completely unbound by the third national convention vote.

 

Conventional wisdom holds that Donald Trump will fall sharply after the first convention vote. At that point, delegates, many of whom will be long-time county party chairmen and state party leaders, are freed to vote their consciences.

 

To win, Trump would have to convince party loyalists to stay within his newly formed circus tent. That will be a tough sell.

 

“I was here,” they’ll likely figure in their yellowed Reagan-Bush ‘84 buttons, “when Trump was writing checks to Clinton, Inc. And I’ll be here long after he fizzles. I’m voting for….”

 

Kevin Thompson writes a weekly column in The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. Follow him at http://www.kwt.info

Tips for talking in hard conversations

Something is bothering you. Part of you wants to express yourself. Another part doesn’t want to rock the boat or appear overly sensitive or damage a relationship. You walk on eggshells a while longer. 
 
Then, you decide it’s important enough to bring up, though you know it’s risky. Opinions will likely conflict. Things could get emotional. Your heart races. Your hands sweat. Your voice shakes.
 
How do you handle high stakes, high pressure conversations? What’s the best way to address situations you know must change?
 
Common tactics include the age-old twins of silence or violence, also known as fight or flight. But dealing in the extremes of any part of life rarely gets us to where we want to go.
 
Four corporate consultants joined forces a number of years ago to write “Crucial Conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high.” Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler published a second edition in 2012.
 
Most people would agree that the quality of our relationships largely determines our success and satisfaction in each area of life. So, if relationship is the end we seek, communication must be the means.
 
The ability to communicate toward healthy outcomes, especially when times are tense, will open opportunities unavailable to those stuck in the ruts of defensiveness, point-proving and score-settling.
 
Patterson, et al. offer the following ideas for making the most of important discussions. It turns out you don’t have to choose between telling the truth and keeping a friend. You can have both.
 
1.      Decide what you really want: for yourself, for others, for the relationship. This shared purpose will help you “start with heart” and remember your highest priorities.
 
2.      Establish mutual purpose. For example, “We both are counting on this organization’s success, so it’s important to me that we have a good working relationship.”
 
3.      Add to the “pool of meaning.” The word “dialogue” literally means the free flow of meaning between two or more people. Understand what the real issues are.
 
4.      Create a safe environment. Nothing kills the free flow of meaning like fear. When people use silence or violence, they are feeling unsafe. Resist the urge to respond in kind.
 
5.      Use contrasting. For example, “The reason I ask questions is not that I don’t think the organization is well-run. It’s that I truly want to build on the progress we’ve made.”
 
6.      Ask yourself, “What story am I making up?” Emotions can come on strong and make you imagine things that may not be true. Made-up stories then cause more emotions. 
 
7.      STATE your path.
a.       Share your facts – “I’ve noticed you’ve shown up late to the last few meetings.”
b.      Tell your story – “It appears you may be losing your passion for our cause.”
c.       Ask for others’ stories – “How do you see the situation?”
d.      Talk tentatively – “Perhaps you were unaware…” / “I am wondering…”
e.       Encourage testing – “What am I missing here? Is my view accurate?”
 
These skills take practice. Pick one and try it in your next hard conversation – or in your next response to your favorite columnist!
 
 
Kevin Thompson can be reached at kevin@kwt.info.
 

A victory plan for Republicans

Yesterday’s Wisconsin primary showed the shaky ground on which Republicans find themselves. An outspoken outsider still leads the race for their presidential nomination. But conservative stalwarts from governors to talk radio hosts are gaining steam against him.

 

Donald Trump needs well over half the remaining delegates to win the nomination. To date, he has won about half the delegates and roughly 37% of the popular vote. It’s increasingly possible that Trump doesn’t clinch the nomination before the Republican convention.

 

If Republicans flip Trump the bird at their convention, he’ll likely run third party. Like businessman Ross Perot in 1992, he’ll likely split conservative votes and usher in another Clinton presidency.

 

Meanwhile, the 10 million voters who pulled the lever for Trump in the primary will likely flip the Republican Party the bird – probably for good. Here’s a plan to harness these voters and win the White House. First, some thoughts on the candidates.

 

Trump seems genuinely to care about the direction our nation travels, though he appears to have limited desire to enter the weeds on foreign policy or social issues. He wants a platform to manifest his gusto ego, but he likely loves the surge of campaigning more than he’d like the scourge of governing.

 

Like Trump, I want to shake up the federal bureaucracy. I want the government working for the people, not lifelong bureaucrats. “You’re fired” has a nice ring to it and needs to be heard around Washington.

 

I have liked Ted Cruz since I had dinner with him several years ago at Boerne’s own Spinelli’s Vistro. He means well and would make a good president. However, I’d really love his conservative constitutional mind on the United States Supreme Court. He’d be Scalia reincarnate.

 

John Kasich has proven himself an effective executive of a large state. He walks a moderate line that could get social conservatives and fiscal conservatives onto common ground. He polls well against Hillary. Most importantly, he talks and acts presidential.

 

Campaign fatigue turned Marco Rubio into a debate puppet, but his body of work in the United States Senate shows he can contribute on the highest policy levels. He is likeable and youthful. He obviously has a drive to serve.

 

At the risk of sounding like a product of the “everyone wins” generation, here’s my resolution to the campaign quandary at hand.

 

  1. Cruz should cut a deal with Kasich: “I’ll throw my delegates your direction if you appoint me to the Supreme Court.”
  2. Rubio should cut a deal with Kasich: “I’ll endorse you if you make me your running mate.”
  3. With more delegates than Trump at that point, Kasich should then cut a deal with the Donald, borrowing from Obama’s playbook: “If you support me, I’ll make you Czar of Immigration and Government Reform. You will have clear autonomy to hire and fire federal agency heads and implement changes that… make America great again.”

 

This strategy would give Republicans the best chance to win Ohio, Florida, 10 million Trumpeteers and a courageous conservative to the Supreme Court.

 

In 1861, Abraham Lincoln assembled a “team of rivals,” as author Doris Kearns Goodwin put it in her 2005 book by that name. Three men who ran against Lincoln in 1860 served on his cabinet.

 

Today, we need a similar team effort to keep the Clintons out of the Lincoln Bedroom.

 

Kevin Thompson is a columnist for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. Contact him at kevin@kwt.info.

Boerne deaths precede Easter

Is it just me or do deaths occur more frequently around holidays? The Easter season saw the passing of four members of our community.
Different ages, different situations, same sadness and grief for those left behind. Lives cut short and lives well-lived. 
Brea Hines passed away last Thursday. The 12-year-old battled the ups and downs of cancer for three years. Her Fabra Elementary / Boerne Middle School North and First Baptist Church communities surrounded her with love and support. 
Pancake suppers and clay shoots defrayed the costs of care over the years. A Jetson-like robot kept her connected with teachers and classmates when she couldn’t make it to school. 
Brea was bright and funny. As a tribute, bright colors will be worn at her funeral to reflect her love of life and laughter. She will be missed but not forgotten.
Boerne ISD graduate Justin Walker’s passing was more sudden, but no less tragic. The 18-year-old’s death following a spring break concert on South Padre Island remains a mystery.
This is the second year in a row a young person left the same Schlitterbahn music festival never to be seen alive again.
I hope Schlitterbahn looks closely at the situation. What they’re offering to spring breakers doesn’t seem consistent with their family-friendly brand. 
Sadly, any changes they may make won’t ease the pain of Walker’s parents who endured the call every parent dreads.
Ann Schafer served the Boerne business community as finance director of the Greater Boerne Chamber for nearly fifteen years. I worked with her at times on a weekly basis.
Ever gracious and unassuming, I had no idea she was dealing with breast cancer until the death notice arrived. Remarkably, she worked with diligence until the week before her death.
In a condition that often causes individuals to look inward, Ann was able to look outward. She obviously wanted no attention on herself or her illness. She simply continued to serve. 
A kinder lady you’ll never meet. God, bless her and those she leaves behind, particularly her grandsons.
Finally, Norman David Jarrell passed last Tuesday. Like Mrs. Schafer, I didn’t know something about him until I read his obituary: he was a colonel in the Army. I have never known a military man who was as much of a teddy bear as Dave.
Dave  – excuse me – Colonel Jarrell would frequently take a break at my desk, but only a short one. He had places to go and people to serve. He would usually tell me his volunteer schedule for the week and I would promptly retire for a nap. It was incredible.
Patrick Heath Public Library, Hill Country Daily Bread, Hill Country Mission for Health, First United Methodist Church. Every day of the week seemed to have a commitment – not to make a buck or to have some fun but to serve which must have been fun for him.
His obituary said he passed away peacefully and was “immediately whisked into the presence of God.” That sounds about right. He certainly whisked around the presence of God while he was here.
I don’t know why tragedies seem to strike and loved ones seem to pass around holidays. Maybe it’s because that’s where the grace is.
 
Follow Kevin Thompson at http://www.kwt.info.
 
 
 
 
 
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Kevin Thompson
Senior Vice President & Boerne Market Manager
1689 River Road | Boerne, Texas 78006 | Maps & Directions
(830) 816-5199 Phone | (210) 527-7940 Mobile | kevin.thompson@bankoncb.com | www.bankoncb.com
 

It’s the thoughts that count

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions. 
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
 
Variations of this quotation have been attributed to a variety of quotable people over the years, from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Gandhi to Margaret Thatcher. I first saw the quote on the wall of an east Texas high school when I sold education software some moons ago. 
 
I saw it more recently on the wall of my own children’s elementary school. 
 
There, the quote was ascribed to a southeastern U.S. supermarket chain founder, Frank Outlaw. And there I found it just as convicting as the first time I read it.
 
Part of me wishes it weren’t true, that I could simply watch my character or my destiny and be done with it. That I could focus on the big stuff and not sweat the small.
 
I wish I could forego the painstakingly difficult task of analyzing the seemingly endless onslaught of thoughts that streak on autopilot through my skull. 
 
Unfortunately or otherwise, that’s not reality.
 
A great myth is that we humans can have multiple realities: a thought life disconnected from a talk life disconnected from a public life. A similar lie is that behavior can be divorced from beliefs.
 
This conversation brings to mind the biblical instruction to take every thought captive. It also points to Jesus’ “sermon on the mount.” 
 
On that hillside, Jesus basically said the key to keeping the great commandments is to keep your thoughts in line. To avoid murder, watch your anger. To avoid an affair, watch your lust.
 
The problem is we want to have our cake and eat it, too. We want both sizable savings and the trappings they can buy. 
 
So we try to keep in Vegas what happens in Vegas only to find out the thoughts of Sin City become the character of Anytown, USA. The action of Hollywood becomes the habits of the heartland.
 
An Andy Griffith episode paints the picture: A film producer came to Mayberry to scout the town as the possible setting of a motion picture about small town American life. 
 
Once the town caught wind of the plans, every store and personality put on airs to impress the producer. “Cary Grant haircuts…only $3” one sign read.
 
Old men who hadn’t worn a suit in decades got dapper. Old women become Hepburn wannabes. By the time the producer returned with his film crew, he’s wasn’t interested in what Mayberry had become.
 
In a socially mediated world, watching one’s thoughts is arguably more difficult than ever. On the flip side, it can be freeing that we have found the root of both our maladies and our triumphs. 
 
Much of life is about trajectory. A slight angle change can exponentially alter the destination. Simple thoughts really can change your destiny.
 
 
Kevin Thompson is a columnist for The Boerne Star near San Antonio. He can be reached at kevin@kwt.info.  
 

If it barks, tax it

Our dog, Hank, got loose the other day. It’s not what you think.

Most dogs bolt out the front door as soon as it’s cracked. Not Hank. He’s a homebody, proven by the claw scratches on the outside of every exterior door.

Hank loves to be with us, so when he took a stroll down the street with the kids recently, it was unusual. Hank is not the rabble-rousing type. He’s certainly not a public enemy.

Nevertheless, the pound came calling.

Animal Control Officer (ACO): “Mr. Thompson?”

Me: “Yes?”

ACO: “This is the Boerne animal control department. Do you own a dog named Hank?”

Me: “Yes.”

ACO: “Could you have recently failed to keep him under proper restraint and permitted him to be at large off your premises?”

Me: “Possibly.”

ACO: “Do you know if Hank has a license?”

Me (laughing): “A license?”

ACO: “Yes, a license. I don’t see one here in our records.”

The officer, who was very courteous by the way, proceeded to tell me that every dog (and cat, for that matter) that resides in the city needs a license. I had no idea. Hank either: “Ruff! There was no sign!”

It turns out pet licenses can be purchased at the city animal control facility on Esser Road. Twelve dollars gets your pup three years of free roam (assuming he stays on your property).

I really couldn’t believe my ears. The ordeal reminded me of a Ronald Reagan quote:

“Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

I’m sure there are many sound public health and public safety reasons for authorities to know what pets occupy our neighborhoods.

Still, the thought that a man needs a license to have a best friend dumbfounded me.

After I expressed my disbelief to the ACO, he kindly offered to call Hank’s veterinarian to see if they might have record of an active pet license for Hank. A day later he called back. They didn’t.

So, in addition to the hundreds of dollars I’ve spent on vaccinations and the fees I paid the county pound for the right to rescue Hank four years ago, it seems I also need to fork over twelve bones for a pet existence license.

No wonder the sorry dog thinks he deserves table scraps. No…table food!

Fees have long been a way for governmental bodies to increase revenues without technically raising taxes. It’s a way to skirt political pushback and still fill coffers.

Philosophically, I don’t often have a problem with charging users in accordance with the public services they consume. For example, the city adult basketball league should and does charge entry fees to defray the cost of courts and refs.

But taxing a man’s dog seems un-American, definitely un-Texan.

Cats on the other hand?… (Sorry, Pumpkin. You were low-hanging fruit.)

 

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star. Follow him at www.kwt.info.

 

 


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