Fire­work safety urged for hol­i­day

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - — Haleigh Svo­boda, amer­i­can-states­man Staff — cedar Park-le­an­der States­man — Haleigh Svo­boda, amer­i­can-states­man Staff By Erin Green egreen@bas­tropad­ver­ erin green / bas­trop ad­ver­tiser Con­tact Erin Green at 512-3212557.

Wil­liamson County of­fi­cials are urg­ing res­i­dents to ex­er­cise fire­work safety dur­ing the New Year hol­i­day.

This comes af­ter the county com­mis­sion­ers ex­tended a burn ban un­til Jan. 18 be­cause of dry and windy weather con­di­tions. On Fri­day, the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice for Austin/San An­to­nio is­sued a red flag warn­ing from noon to 7 p.m. for mul­ti­ple coun­ties in­clud­ing Wil­liamson, mean­ing weather con­di­tions are con­ducive for wild­fires.

Although the burn ban doesn’t pro­hibit fire­works, the Texas Py­rotech­nic As­so­ci­a­tion has agreed vol­un­tar­ily not to sell fire­works with sticks and fins, which pose the great­est wild­fire dan­ger.

Some mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in Texas have city or­di­nances ban­ning the use of fire­works near or within city lim­its, so be­fore pur­chas­ing or dis­charg­ing fire­works county res­i­dents should check with the city or a lo­cal fire sta­tion to en­sure they are le­gal.

The Wil­liamson County Fi­nan­cial Sta­bil­ity Coali­tion is gear­ing up for the 2013 tax sea­son and is ac­tively re­cruit­ing vol­un­teers for its free tax prepa­ra­tion sites lo­cated across the county.

The coali­tion is a col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort com­prised of five or­ga­ni­za­tions: United Way of Wil­liamson County, Lit­er­acy Coun­cil of Wil­liamson County, WBC Op­por­tu­ni­ties, AARP and the In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice.

In 2011, the coali­tion as­sisted 3,021 fam­i­lies and in­di­vid­u­als. Col­lec­tively, they re­ceived more than $4.6 mil- lion in re­funds.

Vol­un­teer in­come tax pre­par­ers, site sup­port and trans­la­tors are needed at Tay­lor City Hall, the Le­an­der Pub­lic Li­brary and a new site in Ge­orge­town at The Car­ing Place. The coali­tion, in con­junc­tion with the AARP and IRS, will of­fer free train­ing and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for those vol­un­teer­ing in Jan­uary.

To vol­un­teer or get more in­for­ma­tion, go to wilcofree­tax­, email your con­tact in­for­ma­tion to coali­tion@unit­ed­ or call 512-255-6799.

The Le­an­der school Ed­u­ca­tional Ex­cel­lence Foun­da­tion has launched a mo­bile de­vice re­cy­cling pro­gram that will ben­e­fit stu­dents par­tic­i­pat­ing in the district’s “bring your own tech­nol­ogy” ini­tia­tive.

The foun­da­tion is ask­ing com­mu­nity mem­bers to do­nate their old Wi-Fi en­abled de­vices to its De­vices 4 Learn­ing pro­gram so that stu­dents can par­tic­i­pate de­spite eco­nomic sta­tus, ac­cord­ing to a district state­ment.

Do­nated de­vices will be cleaned, re-im­aged and made avail­able for stu­dents to use. The pro­gram seeks old smart­phones, iPads, newer lap­tops, Kin­dle Fires or iPod Touches or other de­vices that are in work­ing con­di­tion, mo­bile and Wi-Fi en­abled. Please at­tach power cords to the de­vice with a rub­ber band when do­nat­ing.

The do­na­tions are tax de­ductible, ac­cord­ing to the district. To make a do­na­tion, drop off the de­vices at the front of­fice of any district school. To learn more about the pro­gram or foun­da­tion, go to the foun­da­tion’s web­site at www.le­an­dered­

For Leigh Hen­son, the bright lights of the stage and ap­plause af­ter the cur­tain falls will con­tinue past her high school years. The Cedar Creek High School se­nior var­sity the­ater stu­dent plans to ma­jor in the­ater at Tar­leton State Univer­sity and wants to be­come an ac­tress.

Hen­son said her com­pet­i­tive streak — which she de­scribed as be­ing con­fined only to her the­ater work — is laser-fo­cused and sin­gle­minded. Hen­son said it’s what helped her earn a spot in an in­ter­na­tional act­ing com­pe­ti­tion.

Hen­son com­peted in the mono­logue cat­e­gory at the Texas State Thes­pian Con­ven­tion’s state fes­ti­val in Hous­ton last month. Her per­for­mances earned her two su­pe­rior rat­ings and one ex­cel­lent rat­ing, qual­i­fy­ing her for the In­ter­na­tional Thes­pian So­ci­ety’s fes­ti­val at the Univer­sity of Ne­braska in Lin­coln in June.

There, she will com­pete against the­ater stu­dents from across the United States, as well as from Canada, Dubai, Mex­ico, Ire­land and Eng­land.

“I was so ex­cited. I just couldn’t be­lieve it,” Hen­son said. “I was jump­ing up and down. I was just so ex­cited.”

Cedar Creek drama teacher Ach­lie Ruffin praised Hen­son and said she was de­lighted Hen­son made the in­ter­na­tional fes­ti­val. “Leigh brought ev­ery­thing she had,” Ruffin said. “I knew all along she’d make this. I kept telling her, ‘You’ve got this.’ When we found out, we looked at each other with wide eyes and just started jump­ing up and down and scream­ing. She started cry­ing and I started cry­ing.”

Hen­son per­formed a mono­logue as Sugar, a 14year-old heroin-ad­dicted pros­ti­tute, in a play called “Side Show.” She tem­pered that with a light­hearted and hu­mor­ous sec­ond mono­logue by the ti­tle char­ac­ter of a play called “The Va­lerie of Now,” an 11-year-old about to turn 12 who comes to re­al­ize the power of wom­an­hood a mile­stone brings her.

Ruffin said the con­trast­ing characters and the dif­fer­ent life ex­pe­ri­ences they bring were meant to show the range Hen­son has as an ac­tress.

Hen­son said she read Sugar’s mono­logue “and I knew I wanted to do it. I wanted some­thing really pow­er­ful. Va­lerie is much cuter and fun­nier. I wanted some­thing much lighter than what I’d just done to end with.”

While Hen­son is fin­ish­ing up her se­nior year of high school, she and Ruffin will be look­ing for spon­sor­ships and rais­ing funds to at­tend the Ne­braska com­pe­ti­tion.

The two will spend the next few months re­fin­ing Hen­son’s per­for­mances.

Hen­son said she’s thrilled to have this chance.

“It’s the best feel­ing I can pos­si­bly imag­ine,” she said with a smile.

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