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A Tribute to Moms


For all the motivational experts and the purveyors of inspiration, moms have the original fire in the belly. They are the original incubators, creating a safe place for new life.

For all the entrepreneurs and startup junkies, for all the adventure sport fanatics, for all the seventh grade boys looking for their first date to the dance, moms are the world’s biggest risk takers.

They give of themselves, literally and figuratively, in the face of endless potential harms. They bring life into a world fraught with death. They nurture that life until it can stand on its own, with no guarantee that it will, in fact, stand.

Motherhood is a purely remarkable feat, wherever it may be found. May it be forever honored, first by fathers, then by others. Without it, the world simply does not go on.

When I think of Mom, I think of soft hands and back scratches. I once so loved her touch that I dreamed of inventing an automatic back scratcher – complete with her nails and her perfect pressure – for when life would take me beyond her reach but not beyond the need for comfort.

I think of macaroni and cheese and Smiley Stew, i.e., ground beef and beans I refused to eat before a creative re-branding. I think of leftovers and a microwave. Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred, the Proverbs say.

I think of Easy Listening 92.9 FM. The music soothed Mom’s stress amidst bumper-to-bumper traffic. It gave me a headache.

I think of Extra sugar-free gum and white Tic Tacs, the ones that tasted real good for a minute and then quickly turned into menthol overkill.

I think of the dread of Sunday nights and her preparing kindergarten lesson plans for a principal’s review. I get it. Just how many ways can you say, “This week we are studying the color purple?”

I think of a canoe trip down the Buffalo River and her clamoring for our family’s canoe not to capsize. She couldn’t swim, and she couldn’t get her perm wet. Ours was the only boat that stayed upright.

I think of swimming lessons and the way she walked backward to give me more practice even when I begged her not to. She knew what was best for me.

I think of Perry Como vinyls and an Amy Grant concert.

I think of her sitting next to my bed on nights I was scared or sick. I think of the hum of the humidifier and amoxicillin’s aftertaste.

I think of the time she called the city fire department to our rural property one snow day.

She had smelled the neighbor’s fireplace, saw steam rising from my father’s workshop and felt warmth on the shop’s dark red door. (It was in the sun.) She wanted to keep us safe.

The late Rich Mullins’ music career and free spirit took him far and wide but never outside the reach of a mother’s love:

“I’ll carry the songs I learned when we were kids. I’ll carry the scars of generations gone by. I’ll pray for you always, and I’ll promise you this: I’ll carry on, I’ll carry on.”


Follow Kevin Thompson at

Putting the coach in coach pitch


After three years of coaching “kid pitch” Little League baseball, I’ve been sent down to the minors. For the first time in a while, I’m coaching a “coach pitch” team again this spring.

At the season’s start I wondered if the coach pitch coaches would be less wound up, no pun intended. Nope. Some of them might as well wear stirrups. To them, there’s a reason “coach” comes first in “coach pitch.”

“I’m just trying to teach these kids error-free baseball,” one of them told me last week. Wrong league, sir. Barring a birth certificate scam, you have all six and seven year olds just like the rest of us.

“We haven’t had one clean inning. I want a clean inning!” another coach told his crew before a final inning in the field. They subsequently made about five errors and gave up three runs and the lead.

Somewhere along the way, many coaches – and parents, for that matter – have forgotten that we learn the most when we succeed the least.

Certain coaches are too smart to say it, but their driven-ness clearly communicates that winning is everything. It’s as if their egos and their legacies are on the line.

So, they stretch base running rules beyond what’s reasonable; games look more like track than baseball. They banish ballplayers to the bench or the outfield, never letting them see the light of infield day.

They forget – or never learned – that the real objectives are fun and character formation. Baseball is still a game, though for some kids, it feels like a job.

That’s why some kids are bucking the trend. They’re hanging up the cleats and picking up the clubs…at age eleven. Like a corporate manager nearing retirement, these kids have had enough of the intensity. They’re hitting the links to relax.

Of course, not all coaches are over the top. Many keep things in perspective.

A retired Little League coach suggested this strategy: “I used to tell my parents at the start of the season, ‘Please remember that out of all the kids on our team, only one will play high school baseball.’”

“Did you mean only one will play professional baseball or in the Major League All-Star Game?” I asked, to help prove the point.

“No, I meant high school,” he reiterated.

And that’s what’s so spellbinding about the state of modern youth sports. It’s like we’ve shelved old-fashioned statistics beside the old wooden bats. Or maybe we know the odds. We just think our progeny can beat them. Hubris is hereditary, after all.

Ironically, upper level coaches like Jason Marshall at the University of Texas at San Antonio will tell you the cream rises to the top regardless of a coach’s zealotry or a parent’s pressure.

We can cure for the obnoxiousness that taints the nation’s pastime at the lowest levels. The Little League pledge, penned in 1954, is a good place to start:

“I trust in God / I love my country and will respect its laws / I will play fair and strive to win / But win or lose I will always do my best.”

Fed brings economic insights to Boerne

Investors in the Boerne Kendall County Economic Development Corporation convened for a semi-annual meeting two weeks ago. On the heels of the Federal Reserve’s third short-term rate hike in less than a year, the event’s guest speaker was timely.

Blake Hastings, de facto leader of the San Antonio branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, addressed the meeting of about a hundred Boerne, Texas, business leaders.

Hastings started with macroeconomic data about the national economy. He specifically addressed the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet which ballooned from less than a trillion dollars in assets before the financial crisis to more than $4 trillion afterward.

Of course, Fed leaders didn’t call its balance sheet ballooning “money printing.” They called it “quantitative easing,” which sounds more like a gastroenterological process than an economic term.

During multiple rounds of “QE,” the Fed bought trillions of dollars of bonds (Treasurys and mortgage-backs). As Mr. Hastings admitted, it was an experiment of historic proportions.

Early on (ca. 2011), the Wall Street banks that sold bonds to the Fed took most of the cash proceeds and deposited them back at the Fed itself. There was simply not enough loan demand at the time to lend the money out in the marketplace. Plus, the Fed paid a quarter of a point on the deposits!

Since then, the economy has improved and the big banks are making more loans. The Fed’s balance sheet shows bank deposits have decreased by $500 billion in the last five years. Conversely, currency in circulation has increased by $500 billion.

It appears we have two problems on our hands: (1) an increasing number of dollars floating in the economy brings inflation risk; and (2) the Fed still has more than $4 trillion in bonds on its balance sheet.

A friend smarter than I summarized three possible solutions to the latter problem, a quandary  inexorably linked to our $19 trillion federal government debt. You can either grow your way out, inflate your way out, or default your way out.

Mr. Hastings and his Fed colleagues are clearly hoping for years of steady economic prosperity in order to grow our way out. This proposition seems too good to come true.

What’s not too good to be true is San Antonio’s recent economic performance. Hastings rattled off a number of encouraging performance indicators for our area.

San Antonio’s four per cent unemployment rate is below that of Texas and the nation. Military City’s job growth increased by three per cent in 2016 despite a lackluster oil price. We have seen similar employment gains thus far in 2017.

Stock prices of San Antonio-based companies trend above the S&P 500, though the margin is narrowing. Overall, San Antonio’s economy continues to track above its long-term growth average and has since 2011.

Hastings noted that Austin’s job growth has stalled for want of skilled labor. He issued a word to the wise: educated human capital is the single best predictor of an area’s economic prospects. He encouraged listeners to prioritize workforce training.

A diversified employment base saved Texas and San Antonio when oil dropped seventy per cent three years ago. Will it be there to save us at the next bust, oil or otherwise?


Follow Kevin Thompson at


Tension over riverside developments is nothing new


“Proposals for new use of the river’s tree-lined course as a park gained momentum … when irate citizens went before city commissioners to protest overzealous clearing of overgrowth along the river.”


That’s how the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA) summarized strong feelings expressed about the San Antonio River … in 1904.


About a decade later, some San Antonio businessmen wanted to send the dwindling river through a conduit underground in order to create more room for downtown development.


A newly formed San Antonio River Improvement Association opposed the idea and city commissioners took no action.


In 1920, when flood control measures required the river’s banks to be cleared of all trees and shrubs so as not to impede flow, a “wave of protest” persuaded officials to leave the trees.


By 1933, when the mastermind of the Riverwalk, Robert Hugman, proposed his Venice- and Aragon-inspired vision, city planners sided with a master plan to keep the River Park a natural area.


Just a few years later, hotelier Jack White championed a taxing authority to raise funds for Hugman’s idea. City and federal dollars soon followed and the Riverwalk as we know it began to take shape.


“But leaders of the Conservation Society and others still loyal to the River Park were dismayed at the lavish amount of fanciful stonework Hugman insisted upon adding to the once sedate park,” TSHA notes. The activists got Hugman fired from his own project.


For survival, civilizations are built beside bodies of water. Like San Antonio and the river that bears its name, Boerne, Texas, grew up where it did because of Cibolo Creek.


Naturally, citizens prize their water sources. No one, including the developers of the proposed 17 Herff Road project in Boerne, wants Cibolo Creek to degrade. The project’s stakeholders, especially those who live in Kendall County, would be shooting themselves in the foot if they did.


Like good neighbors, 17 Herff’s developers have accommodated many requests and alleviated many concerns of conservationists.


Through tree preservation, drainage filters, building height restrictions and other efforts, project designers are trying to maximize the property’s unique location and its natural beauty.


Given the alternative of not annexing 17 Herff into the city’s limits and leaving it subject to any industrial use county development regulations allow, the pending 17 Herff proposal should be a sigh of relief.


Boerne adds more rooftops every month as approved residential developments come on line. Boerne needs additional commercial services and commercial property tax base to keep schools and infrastructure solid.


17 Herff’s mix of high quality retail, office, medical and residential uses meets many of the public policy goals city planners have advocated for years. We would be wise to accept it, welcome it, shape it and patronize it.


Along with water sources, road construction predicts an area’s growth prospects. When interstate planners put IH-10 through Boerne, the city’s growth trajectory was set. And when Herff Road was widened and extended, the areas along it became prime for development.


Not everyone loves the Riverwalk. I don’t hang out there every weekend. But no one can argue the billions of dollars of positive economic impact the attraction has brought to our region.


All because conservationists and visionaries worked together to achieve common goals.

March Madness Is Far From Maddening

“Basketball junkie” doesn’t fully capture how into the sport I was. The Nerf hoop in the hallway next to the TV room staged real-time re-enactments of what I witnessed on screen. The sweat, the nerves, the dunks, the jumpers.

 In the mid-1980s, Vanderbilt Commodores basketball didn’t justify live, prime-time television coverage. Their games were broadcast only by tape delay on an obscure UHF station, WZTV. 
On Saturday nights, I somehow persuaded my folks to put me to bed at 8 pm and then revive me after the late local news for Vandy game replays.

Those late nights weren’t the only exception to traditional parenting rules. When Vandy made it to the NCAA’s Sweet Sixteen a time or two in that decade, it was cause for early release from school.
Shooting guard Phil Cox led the nation in foul shooting percentage back then, an achievement you’d expect from an institution with high academic standards.
I still have a Hollywood style black and white head shot of Mr. Cox. “To Kevin…Phil Cox.” I imitated his every move, including the feathered hairstyle with the middle part.
When March Madness rolled around each spring, it was as serious as a game could get.
I carefully taped the tournament bracket from the Nashville Banner newspaper onto a large piece of cardboard. I attached a pencil on a string to the cardboard so as not to miss a game result for want of a pen.
I stayed glued to the tube except when game action inspired me to the outdoor hoop beside my house. We lived on a tall hill in Middle Tennessee. An errant shot could mean a three hundred foot hike back up. It didn’t take many ball retrievals to learn the value of concentration.
For all that’s changed in the world since 1987 when Keith Smart’s last second baseline jumper lifted Bobby Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers over Syracuse, March Madness has morphed very little. 
You still have no-names blown out by dynasties and powerhouses upset by underdogs. You still have college kids’ playing for the thrill of victory and dealing with the agony of defeat.
As The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay put it, “This is the best of amateur sports in America, and nobody makes money off this thing except for the coaches, schools, sponsors, vendors, networks and the NCAA.”
And that’s what makes the whole atmosphere entirely palatable. Players, though they train like professionals, are still kids. Coaches, though they’re paid like CEOs, are still dependent on nineteen-year-olds’ doing what they’re told.
The personalities around the event continue to enhance its value. Clark Kellogg remains painfully boring. Greg Gumbel’s chia hairdo remains fully endearing. Gumbel and DirecTV have produced an hysterical series of commercials for this year’s tournament.
But Charles Barkley, the NBA great who is best known for having never won a championship, is the best commentator of all. His own line of commercials for Capital One will have you rolling, especially the one where his “clapper” turns off the TV right before a last second finish.
Barkley represents the finer qualities of March Madness: simple, unassuming, thoughtful but not pretentious, letting amateurs have the stage. The tournament is, after all, their one shining moment.


How Economic Development Happens


Last week, the Boerne / Kendall County Economic Development Corporation (BKCEDC) announced a major hotel project to be constructed on South Main Street across from Wal-Mart.


The probable Hilton/Doubletree property will cost $25 million to build and will feature 130 rooms, 7,500 square feet of conference space and resort-style amenities. In exchange for its investment, the developer will receive significant hotel tax rebates from local taxing authorities.


BKCEDC also announced that the Boerne City Council approved a medical office building project in the same South Boerne (“SoBo”) area. The $13 million project will likely include physician offices, an imaging center and an ambulatory surgical center.


Together with the Buc-ee’s travel store announcement late last year, BKCEDC has scored a string of economic investment to our area, along with no shortage of opinions.


While many definitions of positive economic development exist, most parties agree on the need for balanced growth. Kendall County is the 5th fastest-growing county in Texas and the 12th fastest-growing county in the nation, according to BKCEDC.


While there are many goals of economic development – jobs, utility customers, tax base expansion – no one wants it without a continuation of quality of life.


Most local government and business leaders don’t want to cut off Boerne’s nose to spite its face. They realize the features that drew people here must be preserved if the area is to maintain vibrancy. But it’s a fine line to walk.


On one hand, some want to freeze frame Kendall County. “Boerne, Texas, Gone Forever,” they might say.


On the other hand, desirability involves progress and growth. People want a quaint place to live, but not at the expense of modern goods and services. Hence, the need for economic development.


Economic development is a highly competitive process. Boerne no longer only competes regionally or even domestically for projects and opportunities. It competes internationally.


Economic development takes time. The average project takes two years to materialize. Site selectors examine mounds of financial and demographic data before making decisions. Even then, economic events can skew long-laid plans.


Population density is key. Investors want a certain critical mass of consumers and workers. While Kendall County is growing by leaps and bounds percentage-wise, raw household numbers don’t yet support what some businesses require.


But with more than five thousand new residential lots in some stage of development in the City of Boerne, the landscape is changing quickly. BKCEDC, founded in 2006 by local chamber of commerce leaders and funded by a consortium of city, county and private dollars, is shaping the process.


“As the chief marketing office of Boerne and Kendall County, we position our area as an ideal site for corporate investment,” President Misty Mayo explains. Mayo was second in command at the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation before joining BKCEDC in 2015.


Mayo has three priorities for the non-profit corporation: 1) Retain and expand existing businesses; 2) Relocate San Antonio-area companies to Kendall County; and 3) Recruit and attract regional and national entities to the area.


“In economic development, it’s not the big who beat the small,” Mayo insists. “It’s the fast who beat the slow.”



Kevin Thompson can be reached at

A Family Motto for the New Year

The little people can be so absent-minded. In a house full of them, I am constantly amazed at how constantly things shift. It’s as if objects have legs, and wheels, and wings, and propellers. I thought it would get better with age. So far, it hasn’t.
Kids are like tornadoes. They pick up random objects, spin around a bunch of times, and spit out what they sucked up wherever they happen to touch down.
I once found a half eaten granola bar in my car’s glove box. Preservatives aren’t all bad, by the way.
“Everything has a place,” I explain to eyes that look straight through me to the next spot their owner can put something down that doesn’t belong. As soon as a child’s mind moves on to its next thought, his hand muscles atrophy and release whatever was in their grasp.
I used to say, “Wash your hands.” Now I’m forced to include, “and put the hand towel back on the rack when you’re done!” Otherwise it ends up on the floor, or in the bathtub, or tied around the cat’s neck.
So I’ve established a new household motto for the New Year. With respects to the state parks department, here it is: “Leave no trace.”
It took a while to explain to the kids how our new motto can co-exist with an old one, “Make your mark.” I’m hopeful their critical thinking skills will hold both in appropriate tension.
So far, the new motto has worked one time:
A child entered the powder room, closed the door, did his business and then exited.
The paternal park ranger then entered the powder room. He found the soap dispenser upright on the sink top, not hanging from a curtain rod.
He found all toilet paper enrolled on the spool, not spread in seventeen separate sheets across the floor. He found the hand towel hanging on a hook, not submerged in six inches of bubbles within the wash basin.
Save the odor, the child had left no trace. I was ecstatic. I just knew the maternal calls for housekeeping help would soon dissipate into the air like a fresh squeeze of Febreze!
Like a good state park police fine for littering, I know there needs to be some teeth in the new domestic policy.
Unfortunately, executing consequences has long been my parenting downfall. I would deduct from their allowances if I gave them out with any regularity. I would make them miss the big game if I didn’t want to watch it myself.
If I had gotten an allowance for every chore chart I’ve made in the last thirteen years, I could get maid service for the next thirteen.
Years ago, I downloaded a smartphone app called ChoreMonster. It keeps emailing me that my kids are behind on their chores.
Oh! Is that what this mess means? I had no idea!
Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. Follow him at

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