Blanco Police Chief Mike Ritchey and members of the governing body of Blanco presented Officer Ruben Marques with a Certificate of Merit at their regular meeting on October 8. According to Chief Ritchey, Officer Marques became suspicious of some young men attempting to sell gold coins at a store in Bulverde and took photos to send to the Bulverde Police Department. Arrests were quickly made after the men were identified as suspects in a string of recent burglaries. Due to Marques’ quick action, over $50K in stolen property has been recovered. Chief Ritchey explained that Officer Marques has a background in loss recovery, and that through his previous association with Wal-Mart the Blanco Police Department has been able to obtain donated cameras to install outside the police department. The monitors will not only make the secretary feel safer when she is working alone but will also aid officers as they go in and out of the building. Chief Ritchey called Officer Marques’ award “well deserved.” He also commended recently promoted Sergeant Robert Stewart, who was present at the meeting with an injured hand received in an arrest.
Chief Ritchey also reported that the department is down one officer, but that officers are still doing “very well.” He reported a recent burglary theft at Dollar General where one of the suspects, whose picture was caught on a surveillance camera, backed his truck up to the store after closing, broke a glass in the front door, put a chain on the safe, hauled it out, and put it in the back of the truck. He then re-entered the store and filled up his truck with cigarettes. Another suspect was caught on camera robbing the Shamrock Station early Sunday morning, October 6th and taking around $1100 in cash from the clerk at gunpoint. “These guys are good,” commented Ritchey, because they wore masks, sunglasses, hoodies, and gloves, so that even their ethnicity was not identifiable. Chief Ritchey urged the public to report any suspicious activity by calling 911. Chief Ritchey also thanked the city for approving the purchase of new radios for the police cruisers, long rifles, and an upgraded program to let officers run a criminal history on a suspect from their vehicles. Mayor Homan explained that Chief Ritchey had called him for permission to spend extra money in the budget for these purchases and that he had confirmed with city secretary Bobbie Mowery that the budget could be amended retroactively. She explained that the vote could be taken when the next budget is discussed.
In the Public Comments portion of the meeting, Blanco State Park Superintendent Ethan Belicek introduced new Interpretive Ranger Brooke Bonorden, who comes to Blanco from Corpus Christi. Resident Mary Ann Millard asked why special meetings of the city council are not posted on the city’s website, and Bobbie Mowery said she thought they were but that she would check. Mayor Homan explained that special meetings were held in September to approve a previously-discussed paving project at the corner of Pecan and 4th Streets.
In other business, council members voted unanimously to cast their votes for David Behrends and Lynn Boyd to serve on the Blanco County Appraisal District Board.
An agenda item to finalize a contract with Mike Barnes for the Streetscape project was tabled in his absence; however, Streetscape chair Jack Twilley said that the contract had been finalized and that Barnes would report on the plan at the next city council meeting.
Finally, Blanco Historical Commission Chair Retta Martin asked and received permission for the commission to seek grants with November 1 deadlines. The grants would be used for several purposes, including preparing the nomination of Blanco State Park to the National Register of Historic Places, money to provide incentives for local property owners to renovate in compliance with standards set for the Blanco Historic District, performing assessments of the condition of historic properties, and money to cover training and travel expenses for members of the BHC. State Park advocate Jo Nell Haas said that the cookbook compiled and sold to benefit the park will aid the BHC in obtaining matching funds. She also said that the inclusion of the Blanco State Park on the National Register will make it more difficult for the park to be shut down.
Editor’s note: Additional information about the two burglaries was made available to Blanco County News.
A description of the suspect who robbed Dollar General is as follows; 5’10”, 160 lbs, was wearing a white hoodie, blue jeans, brown work boots, gloves, and a mask. The suspect was driving a dark color Ford pickup truck.
A description of the suspect who robbed the Shamrock station is as follows; 5’10”- 6’ tall and was wearing all black and tennis shoes with a white stripe. The suspect was carrying either a .40 or .45 caliber handgun. Information received from the Caldwell County Sheriff where the same suspect committed a similar crime indicates that the suspect was driving a Black Ford pickup truck.
Both crimes are similar to others committed across the state of Texas. The Texas Rangers and other agencies are working together to apprehend the suspects. At this time there is no information indicating that the two crimes committed in Blanco are related to each other.