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Texas Water Safari 'superstars' pass through Victoria
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"The minute that sun goes down, he's going to be doing better," Virginia Condie said to her team captain, Debbie Richardson.

After about 200 miles of The Texas Water Safari, paddler Condie and her tandem boat partner Shawn Boyett had arrived at the Victoria checkpoint at 3:13 p.m., one of the hottest parts of the day Sunday. Just a few minutes past the 30-hour mark since they began the race in San Marcos, Condie and Boyett set off again at 3:25 p.m. to maintain their fifth-place position and as the leading two-person team.

By about 2 p.m. Sunday, paddlers stretched across Victoria, DeWitt and Gonzales counties, and by 6 p.m. from almost Gonzales to Tivoli.

"They're doing a great job, and I know this is really tough because nobody's acclimated to the heat and the humidity," Richardson said. "It's really, really affecting everybody, so to be able to fight through that and get back in and go is really amazing."

The duo, paddling under the team name Fountain Darters, has competed in the Texas Water Safari in the past. Condie is The Texas Water Safari women's record holder for fastest finish, Richardson said.

At the Victoria checkpoint, they were about an hour behind the fourth-place team, Just Gonna Send It.

Unlike many of the checkpoints along Texas Water Safari, the Victoria checkpoint at the park's boat ramp has a small wooden dock for team captains, family and friends to create a short pitstop for paddlers just down the hill from the Rose Garden in Riverside Park.

As Condie handed empty containers to Richardson from the boat, the captain in turn handed her supplies of water, Gatorade and other supplies.  Boyett wrapped iced-down towels around his neck and dumped ice water down his back.

To help with each stop, paddle teams have team captains at each checkpoint from San Marcos to Seadrift.

Richardson, a Texas Water Safari veteran with 12 finishes since 2006, wanted to be on the riverbanks supporting Condie and Boyett, Richardson's former partner.

"It's been a lot of fun for me," Richardson said.

Just ahead of the Fountain Darters was Just Gonna Send It, a team made up of six siblings and friends. They arrived at the checkpoint at 2:21 p.m.

With three siblings from the Rask family onboard, many of the paddlers had begun training while still in homeschool, mother Joanna Rask said.

"It's lifelong, good health," she said about her three sons who were competing, and her other children who had competed in the past. "They're all in amazing shape."

The whole team took lessons in canoeing, said Don Zeek, who is the father to team member Rebekah Feaster.

While growing up, Feaster and the other five team members needed a physical education component to their homeschool education. So, they took canoeing lessons.

Now as adults, they each have multiple water safaris under their belts, Zeek said.

"They're all pretty competitive," he said.

Water, food, trash bags and even urine containers were available to be swapped out for paddlers at the checkpoint. Once a team arrived into the checkpoint, team captains would notate the time they arrived and departed on a sheet at the checkpoint, which also showed which teams were in the lead.

As the number of teams coming and going in Victoria began to pick up throughout the afternoon, Santiago Marroquin watched over the checkpoint.

From 6 a.m. until midnight, Marroquin said he would be volunteering for The Texas Water Safari at the Victoria checkpoint.

The first few teams that came through, like the Fountain Darters and Just Gonna Send It, are like superstars, he said.

"They have the ability to be in the top 20 every year," he said.

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Police department employee arrested on warrant charging theft of property
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Katie Moore, of Victoria, a telecommunications operator for the Victoria Police Department, was arrested by the Texas Rangers at about 5:55 p.m. Friday on a warrant charging her with theft of property valued from $30,000 to $150,000 in Victoria County.

The offense was not committed during the scope of her city duties nor was it committed in the city of Victoria, according to a news release issued by the City of Victoria Sunday afternoon.

The offense occurred in an unincorporated area of Victoria County, Victoria County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Will Franklin said Sunday evening.

Moore is on administrative leave from her full-time job with the police department pending the outcome of an internal investigation, which began after her arrest.

Franklin terminated Moore on Friday from her part-time dispatch job with the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office. She had not worked a shift for the Sheriff’s Office in several months, Franklin said.

The Victoria Police Department did not assist in the Texas Rangers’ investigation but was notified prior to the arrest.

Victoria deputies assisted with the arrest. No injuries have been reported in this case, Franklin said.

The Victoria County Jail released Moore Friday night on bond, he said.

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Debates for special city council, mayoral elections set for Monday
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The Victoria Chamber of Commerce, the League of Women Voters Victoria Chapter and the Victoria Advocate will co-host two in-person debates at 6 p.m. Monday for the special elections for Victoria mayor and city council District 3.

The five candidates for city council will debate first, followed by the three mayoral candidates.

The debates, which will be in the University of Houston-Victoria North Hall auditorium, will be live. Audience members are welcome to attend but will not be allowed to ask questions of the candidates.

For those who cannot make it to the live debates, each will be recorded and posted to the Advocate Facebook page after each debate.

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Victoria City Council to consider establishing municipal court of record, partnership with the Innovation Collective
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The Victoria City Council will hold a public hearing Tuesday evening to receive resident feedback on a proposed ordinance that would establish the city of Victoria municipal court as a court of record.

According to the meeting agenda, becoming a municipal court of record will provide the city with additional resources aimed at providing municipal court services and the enforcement of city ordinances. It would also mean the court would keep a recorded transcript of proceedings and have jurisdiction over both criminal and civil cases.

The Council will also consider approving the Victoria Sales Tax Development Corporation’s Innovation Collective project and associated expenditures of up to $100,000 over a three-year period.

The University of Houston-Victoria has been working for several months to partner with the Innovation Collective, a startup dedicated to building local communities’ economies through promoting entrepreneurship. The Victoria Sales Tax Development Corporation has recommended approving a project to partner with the Innovative Collective, but all new programs and expenditures for the Sales Tax Development Corporation must be approved by the City Council.

The city also plans to re-adopt the traffic regulation schedule for the city as well as some amendments to it. One amendment would allow for parking on the south side of Crestwood Drive between Ben Jordan and North Laurent streets. The change is being made after residents of Crestwood Drive approached officials with complaints about the new lay out of the street. There are some areas along that stretch that parking will still not be permitted for safety reasons.

The Council is also set to adopt the new Victoria Thoroughfare Master Plan on Tuesday. The master plan is a long-range planning document used to guide the development of the city’s transportation network.

A comprehensive overview of the Thoroughfare Master Plan development process and the complete draft of the master plan can be found on the city of Victoria’s website: victoriatx.gov/masterplans. Alliance Transportation Group, the consultants hired to complete the master plan, will present an overview of it during the meeting.

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Victoria County Commissioners Court to discuss list of capital improvement needs at Monday's meeting
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Victoria County Commissioners Court will discuss a list of capital improvement needs across the county at Monday’s meeting.

One of big need is for improvements to the historic 1967 jail, said County Judge Ben Zeller. The discussion will also include a game plan for how to prioritize these projects and eventually timeline for them, he said.

“I want to make sure in all of our capital improvement decisions we’re weighing all of our needs countywide and not focusing on one part,” said Zeller. Although he said the sheriff’s office is and will be a priority.

Zeller also said he anticipates more discussions around this topic in future Commissioners Court meetings as they enter budget season.

The court will also consider appointing Annie Cullen to fill a vacant position on the Victoria County Navigation District Board of Commissioners. The position was formerly occupied by Elton Calhoun, but has remained empty since his death in May.