City Manager's Blog

Trash and Treasure Hunt

August 2, 2016
Dear Citizens,

Do you want to help keep Alpine clean and beautiful while winning some great prizes in the process? Patsy McWilliams and Keep Alpine Beautiful invites you to the Don’t Mess With Texas Trash and Treasure Hunt on Saturday, August 6th! There will be games, food, and prizes from both local and state sponsors. Registration and games will start at 8:30a at Arbolitos Park, in front of the train depot. Participants will need to return to the starting point at 11:30a for prize distribution. The event will END at 12:00p. All winners MUST be present to claim their prize! For more information call Patsy at ((432)-294-3183.

Alpine is one of 25 locations across Texas and is the only town selected from the El Paso TxDoT district.

All scout and youth organization participants will receive a special 30th anniversay patch.

Locally sponsored by:

The City of Alpine, Alpine Chamber of Commerce, Morrison True Value, Oasis Tire, McCoys, Porter’s Thriftway, Sonic Drive-In, Johnson Feed and Western Wear, ShopKo, L&F Distributors, Dairy Queen

Thanks to all our generous local sponsors. We hope to see many participants this weekend.

Erik Zimmer, City Manager

New Swing At Kokernot Park

July 22, 2016
Kokernot Swing - New 2016

Dear Citizens,

Thanks to the fundraising efforts of the Friends of Big Bend Parks, the older set of swings at Kokernot Park has been replaced. The new swingset has a beautiful shade structure and will be enjoyed for years to come.

I was at the park earlier today and all the seats were being used and the parents welcomed the shade while watching their children swing.

The City is very fortunate to have a kind and caring group like the ‘Friends’ who have raised over $100K in order to update and improve the equipment at our parks.

Special thanks to our Parks Staff and their efforts in assembly and implementation.

Have a great weekend and enjoy our community!

Erik Zimmer, City Manager

Paving Article

July 20, 2016
Dear Citizens,

Chris Weber from our Local TxDOT office shared an article with me yesterday reflecting efforts of other communities across the nation. I thought it would be a good one to share with our readers. Alpine continues to be focused on our paving restoration measures and not ‘giving up’. Enjoy the read and have a great day in Alpine.

Erik Zimmer, City Manager

Cash-Strapped Towns Are Un-Paving Roads They Can’t Afford to Fix

Wired 7/12/16 7/12/16 By Aarian Marshall

When Montpelier decided to rip up a pothole-riddled asphalt road and replace it with gravel in 2009, it didn’t see itself at the forefront of a growing trend in public works. It was simply responding to a citizen complaint.

City Hall received a hollering from a couple living on Bliss Road in the Vermont capital who wanted to sell their home, but feared the horrifying pavement in front of the house would scare away buyers. They had reason to be pissed off: The city of 8,000 people ranks pavement on an index of one to 100. Bliss Road scored a one.

Repaving roads is expensive, so Montpelier instead used its diminishing public works budget to take a step back in time and un-pave the road. Workers hauled out a machine called a “reclaimer” and pulverized the damaged asphalt and smoothed out the road’s exterior. They filled the space between Vermont’s cruddy soil and hardier dirt and gravel up top with a “geotextile”, a hardy fabric that helps with erosion, stability and drainage.

In an era of dismal infrastructure spending, where the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the country’s roads a D grade, rural areas all over the country are embracing this kind of strategic retreat. Transportation agencies in at least 27 states have unpaved roads, according to a new report from the National Highway Cooperative Highway Research program. They’ve done the bulk of that work in the past five years.

“We didn’t know how prevalent this was,” says Laura Fay, an environmental science researcher with Montana State University’s Western Transportation Institute, who helped compile the report. But there’s clear reason for it. The Congressional Budget Office finds that the while public spending on transportation and water infrastructure has actually increased since 2003, the costs of asphalt, concrete, and cement have jumped even faster. With those extra expenses factored in, public expenditures on transportation infrastructure relative to cost fell by nine percent between 2003 and 2014.

Like many towns facing this recession, Montpelier has slashed its road budget. Meanwhile, several local bridges and retaining walls needed serious, urgent updates. “Asphalt’s pretty expensive,” says Tom McArdle, the city’s head of public works. By un-paving instead of repaving, Montpelier saved about $120,000—a big chunk for a city whose annual budget for street building and repairs was $1.3 million in 2009.

Not the Worst Idea?

Driving the nation’s 1.6 million miles of unpaved roads isn’t any fun and can cost consumers money, says Amy Mattinat, who owns the car maintenance shop Auto Craftsmen in Montpelier. Gravel and dirt are rough on tires, axels, suspensions, and wheel bearings, not to mention the extra work of keeping cars clean.

There are unintended consequences, too. “A lot of people in Vermont drive Priuses,” Mattinat says. “But when, after about a year or two, their Priuses just gets totally beat up, there’s a lot of people who turn in their Priuses and go back to an SUV.” Then there’s the dust. Once kicked airborne, especially silty soils can spread, and pose risks to “human, plant, animal and aquatic health,” according to the NHCRP report.

But de-paved roads aren’t ripped up willy-nilly. There are serious engineers and scientists—entire academic institutes, even—who study how to un-pave in smart ways. Crews can even tamp down dust problems by regularly applying water-absorbing calcium chloride, organic petroleum, and vegetable oils and animal fats.

In fact, most of the community leaders interviewed by the report’s authors said their residents approved of de-paving, especially if agencies kept them informed about the process. At least their substandard roads are getting attention. (Of course, you should be sure to tell residents when you’re planning to rip up their roads. In Sonoma, at least one man returned from a two-week vacation to discover his road had been turned to gravel in his absence. He was displeased.)

Driving on well-maintained dirt and gravel can be healthier for a car than crashing through pothole that makes side streets look like World War I battlefields. “It’s probably better,” says Mattinat. “We love our dirt roads, in kind of a weird way. Everyone’s got a mud road story.”

Meanwhile, Montpelier’s public works budget has climbed in recent years. The best part about a real good gravel or dirt road? It can be re-paved with asphalt when the big bucks come in.

Budget Workshops

July 8, 2016

Dear Citizens,

We are hosting two budget workshops this year in preparation of our 2016-17 Fiscal Year Budget. The first one will be held this next Monday (July 11th) at 3pm in Council Chambers. The second one will be held in early August (8-4-16).

We welcome citizen involvement through the process. If you are unable to attend, please reach out to myself or your respective City Councilor with any questions or thoughts you have.

Thank you and have a wonderful weekend here in Alpine.

Kindest Regards,

Erik Zimmer, City Manager

Community Recognition

June 22, 2016
Dear Citizens,

For those of you who were unable to attend last night’s City Council meeting (or watch on TV), we handed out some very nice recognition to several special people in our community.

The local Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts were recognized for their work in helping keeping our creeks clean of trash during our Keep Texas Beautiful day in April.


Mr. Zeke Contreras was recognized by the City or his award from Keep Texas Beautiful for encouraging and demonstrating efforts to promote the KTB mission through environmental education.


And our local High School Fighting Buck Baseball squad and their coaches were recognized for their accomplishments during the playoffs this year. They were one series away from advancing to the State Final Four and did that with a relatively young squad.


It’s so nice to see the recognition of our community members who work so hard to make our City great. Have a super week and remember to congratulate these folks on their contribution to our community.

Erik Zimmer, City Manager

Free Mulch

June 9, 2016
Dear Citizens,

We’ve had some recent questions regarding brush/limb drop-off and acquisition of free mulch from our Hal Flanders Recycle Center.

Here are some bullet points to help answer those questions:

The City has recently received a $9221 grant from our Rio Grande Council of Government Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC Grant) to pick up brush around the City and mulch the materials for City resident usage.

The City has hired a vendor to pick up the brush adjacent to dumpsters and parkways throughout the City. They will be picking up that brush through next Friday (June 17th).
We have re-opened the Recycle Center for resident brush and limb drop off. The hours that we are open for drop off are 8a-12p Tuesday through Saturday.

We currently have a lot of mulch already at the Recycle Center and you can pick that up between 8a-12p Tuesday through Saturday. That mulch was made last year and is still available at no charge.

Between June 20th and July 15th, we will have a ‘tub-grinder’ mobilized to Alpine and mulch all the new brush and limbs at the Recycle Center. This is part of the SWAC Grant.
After completion of the mulching, we will have even more for folks to utilize across the City. I do anticipate Patsy McWilliams and our Keep Alpine Beautiful Team to come up with some sort of contest on mulching usage in the City.

Thank you for the questions. If I was unable to answer them all, or you have additional questions, please call me at City Hall.

Thank you and have a wonderful day in Alpine,

Erik Zimmer, City Manager

Texas-Pacifico City Council Presentation

June 8, 2016
Dear Citizens,

At last evenings City Council meeting we had Elizabeth Grindstaff from Texas-Pacifico present to the Council and Community the recent activity and usage of their rail line traversing through Alpine.

Here is a copy of their presentation along with her contact information. We appreciate Liz and Fernan making the trip to Alpine to share this important messaging. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate in calling my office or reaching out to them directly.

Have a great day!

Erik Zimmer, City Manager

Back By Popular Demand

May 20, 2016
Dear Citizens,

As we’ve transitioned to the new billing software in our Water Department, the new bill format resembled that of our Gas Department bills. Several citizens voiced a desire to go back to the postcard type billing as it was easy to identify in the mail.

Effective with our June billing, Megan and her team have been able to convert back to a postcard type billing. The postcard will not be all blue in color, but will have lots of blue identifiers so it’s easy to see. A copy of what the new bill and late bill is posted below.


Thank you for your patience and support through the transition. The new billing system gives the City more data on consumption/usage and also gives us a more reliable system and support for the future.

Have a great weekend,

Erik Zimmer, City Manager

Alpine Listed Top 20 Best Small Towns

May 16, 2016
Dear Citizens,

Exciting distinction for Alpine according to the Smithsonian. We have been ranked one of their top 20 small towns in America!

Click here for the link to the article.

Congratulations to our community and the citizens. Have a great week!

Erik Zimmer, City Manager

Keep Alpine Beautiful

April 18, 2016
Dear Citizens,

Our Keep Alpine Beautiful Committee has been very busy this past month with the Electronics Recycling, Bulky Trash pick-up, Texas Trash Off and the upcoming Earth Day celebration. Many thanks go to Patsy McWilliams for her leadership and coordination of these critical functions. We’ll discuss some of the results at tomorrow nights City Council, but I wanted to share two letters Patsy wrote.

First letter regarding Electronics Recycling:

Keep Alpine Beautiful had another successful Electronics Recycling Event. Participation spanned the tri-county area with separate events held in both Terlingua and Ft. Davis. E-waste was brought from as far away as Big Bend National Park and as close as across the street from the Old Fire Station. Together we recycled 21,528 pounds of electronics! Again, big humpbacked televisions made up the largest quantity of items, but printers, fax machines, microwaves, computers, and even modern LCD monitors and tvs contributed to the full truckload. ECS Refining of Mesquite, TX hauled off the electronics for recycling. All hard drives were immediately shredded so that no data was recoverable.

In Alpine, we had an abundance of help this go-around! Due to the event being held over spring break, several youth from Alpine Independent School District stepped in to help: Nick Miller, Roarke Zimmer, Logan Duschatco, Bobbie Roberts, Mary-Anna Roberts, and Colleen Roberts contributed collectively 105 hours to the event. Keep Alpine Beautiful committee members, Martha Latta, Mike Latta, and Abby Garza added another collective 16 hours. Other volunteers include Aaron Curlee and Rafael Azuaje. Special thanks go to Ft. Davis and Terlingua volunteers for putting together events in their communities: Rosemary Dennis, who worked tirelessly for 3 days, used her own truck and trailer to bring items to Alpine, and helped unload it all, and Ruth Jansyn, who worked the event in South Brewster County.

We will continue to hold the Electronics Recycling Events bi-annually as there seems to be no shortage of outdated e-waste. In the interim, please call 294-3183 if you have large electronic items to dispose of. Thank you all for your commitment to recycling and Keeping Alpine and the Big Bend Beautiful.


Patsy McWilliams

Second Letter Regarding the Texas Trash Off:

Once again, the people of Alpine have gone above and beyond the call of duty for the Don’t Mess with Texas Trash-off. Keep Alpine Beautiful volunteers collected litter along roadways, parks, neighborhoods, and Alpine Creek on Saturday, April 9, 2016 as part of the Don’t Mess with Texas Trash-Off which is Texas’ largest single-day litter cleanup program.

To jump start the DMWT Trash-off, on April 6, Sul Ross State University Lobo Football Team loaded 11,000 pounds of truck tires to be shipped out for recycling. These tires, the result of years of illegal dumping, were no match for the approximately 50 college football players led by Coach John Pierce. This is the third time the Lobos have loaded tires at the Hal Flanders Recycling Center.

This year, all activities started at Kokernot Park. Volunteers gathered at 9 am on Saturday to receive instruction, bags, vests, and gloves. After a quick run through, the groups were off to their locations and spent most of the morning picking up litter.

For the past five years, Cub Scout Den #141 has cleaned up the entire of length of Alpine Creek. They start at the dip in the road on Fighting Buck Avenue and pop back out at Medina Park. This year, 37 scouts including their families, picked up 46 bags of trash and recyclables in our City Creek.

Other youth groups, Daisy Scout Troop 28113, Brownie Scout Troop 28212, and Brewster County Twin Peaks 4-H, concentrated their clean up in Medina, Baines, and Kokernot Parks, respectively. Additionally, both the AISD National Honor Society and National Junior Honor Society were represented cleaning Alpine High School grounds and areas surrounding Buck Stadium. Students from High Frontier spent all morning picking up trash, pulling weeds, and trimming shrubs at the Alpine Animal Shelter. And not to be outdone, several groups gathered trash along our city’s roadways: LDS Church (Loop Road), Junior and Cadette Scout Troops 28222 and 28333 (Murphy Street), Mack Family Farm (Mosley Loop), and Big Bend Regional Medical Center (the area where East Highway 90 comes together).

Every year the Texas Department of Transportation awards one person across the state with a prize for finding the most unusual item. This year, Christian Teague of the Brewster County Twin Peaks 4H Club found a paintball mask in the far reaches of Kokernot Park. This was Alpine’s weirdest item and Christian will be entered in the TxDoT constest.

We also had several individual volunteers cleaning up illegal dump sites and throughout town. Hiram and Liza Sibley and Tom and Susan Curry worked on cleaning up illegally dumped brush and trash in the alley behind Historic Murphy Street. Martha Latta cleaned up both Loop Drive and the Alpine Chamber of Commerce grounds.

Also, special thanks to Kiowa Gallery and Framing, Tierra Grande Master Naturalists, Plaine Coffee, Alpine Montessori School, Alpine VFW Post 7207, Tri-Beta Honor Society/SRSU Biology Club, Kiwanis Club, Big Bend Telephone, Knights of Columbus Council 5096, and Sierra La Rana for taking care of their section of Adopt-A-Highway.

Martha Latta was also on scene at all locations to take lots of photos! At noon, all Volunteer groups met back at Kokernot Park for lunch. Thanks to the Rotary Club International of Alpine for serving a hotdog lunch (provided by Porter’s Thriftway on 2nd Street) to all volunteers. Big Bend Regional Medical Center donated re-usable water bottles for everyone to take home. After a full morning of work, the kids threw Frisbees, played at the playground, and seemed to really enjoy hanging at the park. One National Junior Honor Society volunteer, Nayeli Soto, said “This is the most fun I’ve had in a long time.”

All in all, there were over 200 volunteers—the best year yet! Tires, trash, and recyclables collected amassed more than 36, 360 pounds of waste that is now where it belongs. Great job, Alpine! Patsy McWilliams, Keep Alpine Beautiful coordinator said, “This event continues to grow. The youth groups are the backbone of the Trash-off, setting a great example that even our adult citizens could learn from. I can’t wait till next year!”

The City of Alpine truly appreciates the efforts of all of our Volunteers. It’s one reason we have such a thriving and wonderful community to call home.

Have a great week,

Erik Zimmer, City Manager

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