Busy Bell County weekend
Comic Con, bucking bulls and lots of music make for a fun-filled weekend in Temple and Bell County. Have fun!
SATURDAY, AUGUST 7, 2021
‘BUCK’ BRANDEMUEHL, A FORMER RESIDENT OF TEMPLE AND MORGAN’S POINT, SERVED AS CHIEF OF THE U.S. BORDER PATROL IN THE 1980s. OUR TOWN TEMPLE ASKED HIM ABOUT BORDER AND IMMIGRATION ISSUES.
Brandemuehl: Agents face danger every day at southern border
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
America faces a crisis along its southern border that is increasingly dangerous to immigrants and U.S. citizens alike, a former Border Patrol chief said today.
Roger “Buck” Brandemuehl, a longtime Temple and Morgan’s Point resident who headed the U.S. Border Patrol from 1980 to 1986, said today’s border is a fertile ground for alien and weapons smuggling, drug trafficking, kidnapping and extortion.
“For years, people have come from Mexico or Central America in search of the American dream,” said Brandemuehl, a member of a national association of former Border Patrol chiefs. “But now, people from Pakistan, Syria, Iran, China and many other countries are seeking entry through our southern border, and many have no identifying documents.”
According to Brandemuehl, Border Patrol agents are challenged to determine who is entering the country.
“It could be setting the stage for a modern day Trojan-horse event,” he said. “America was built on immigration, but those coming to our country have to use the front door. We need to know who is coming in.”
Brandemuehl said illegal immigrants face a challenge on both sides of the border, and while most are coming to America in search of a better life, getting here can be extremely dangerous.
The danger starts on the Mexican side of the border with immigrants looking for a “reputable” smuggler.
“Unless they pay someone they can trust to get them across the border, illegal immigrants must deal with gangs,” he said. “Women are often raped, men beaten and the few personal items they have are often stolen. These gangs prey on groups or individuals trying to better their lives.”
During his days as a Border Patrol agent and as head of the agency, Brandemuehl has seen the horrors illegal immigrants face trying to reach the U.S. by foot, by truck and by train.
“If you survive the gangs, you have to cross the border, and in Texas that means crossing the Rio Grande,” he said. “People have drowned trying to cross without being apprehended.”
But, the real danger lies beyond the border.
“The southwest is a rough place,” he said. “Long stretches of hot desert can be brutal. The Border Patrol has saved many lives — in the river, in the desert and in drop houses.”
Immigrants who pay criminals to get them across the border are sometimes taken to these drop houses, Brandemuehl said.
“Drop houses are usually isolated — like out in the desert — and people coming into America are left there supposedly to await further transportation,” he said. “Often, however, they are held against their will until they or relatives pay additional money. They are held for ransom.”
“Smugglers could care less about the people they are bringing across,” he said. “The Border Patrol has found immigrants who have been abandoned in U-Haul trailers or truck trailers during hot weather and with no water. We also have found people who had been trampled to death after being smuggled in railcars with cattle.”
Brandemuehl emphasized his point with an event that happened just this week.
“A van carrying 23 illegal immigrants crashed and 10 people were killed,” he said. “The Border Patrol trains agents to not endanger lives in a high-speed pursuit. They are told to follow at a safe distance and speed, and radio ahead. It’s hard to outrun technology.”
Brandemuehl said U.S. Border Patrol agents face danger every day, but they also provide a valuable service.
“When an agent goes on duty, he is in life-saving mode,” he said. “They frequently find immigrants who are starving, dehydrated or injured,” he said.
Brandemuehl said agents sometimes are notified about illegal aliens by unscrupulous employers.
“There are people that hire illegal immigrants, then when it’s time to pay them they call the Border Patrol,” he said. “Agents try to help the workers get money they are due, but they aren’t always successful.”
Brandemuehl said barriers can be a deterrent against illegal entries, but he doesn’t think completely walling the U.S. border with Mexico would work.
“A wall stretching along the entire border is not needed,” he said. “But we have had walls and barriers of various types for years, and in urban areas they help. Any barrier can be penetrated if you have time and equipment, but it does cut down on smuggling and nuisance entries.”
“Apprehensions of illegal aliens and smugglers have dropped tremendously over the years in areas with barriers,” he said. “It’s a deterrent to everyone but the most hardened criminals.”
Brandemuehl said the roles of Border Patrol agents have changed dramatically over the years.
“In the 1960s, most people coming across the Mexican border were seasonal workers looking to make a little money,” he said. “There was a mutual respect between the laborers and the Border Patrol. We knew they were just common folks seeking employment.”
But in the late 1960s, agents’ roles began to change. Marijuana was increasingly smuggled into the states and efforts were ramped up to stop the drug flow.
“We began to see harder drugs come across, and then cartels began organizing terror-, drug- and alien-smuggling operations,” he said. “Things got really ugly on the border. But God bless the Border Patrol. They are in danger every day.”
While illegals who have been apprehended were routinely deported for years, Brandemuehl said that is no longer the case.
Now, he said, if an illegal immigrant makes it into the country they are fed, housed and provided with medical aid.
“It’s a giveaway program,” he said. “If you have a candy store and say, ‘We have free candy,’ you won’t be in business very long.”
“Illegal immigrants are creating a strain on medical facilities, a strain on schools and a strain on the justice system. They are straining every aspect of American life. We can’t keep adding millions of people and not tear the fabric of society.”
Brandemuehl said more than 1 million illegal immigrants were apprehended in 1984 and almost all were sent back across the border.
“More than 1.3 million have been apprehended so far this year and most are allowed to stay,” he said. “That’s 1.3 million, and it’s only August.”
Brandemuehl, a Wisconsin native, was traveling through Central Texas in the early 1990s and realized he had forgotten to pack his socks.
“My wife and I stopped at the K-Mart in Temple to get socks, and we got to talking to the manager. We were interested in moving to Texas, and he recommended we give the Temple/Belton area a try.”
“We liked what we saw — good schools, good hospitals and some pretty good football,” he said. “We were sold.”
The Brandemuehl family settled in Morgan’s Point and 16 years later moved to Temple. They moved to Conroe in 2018.
During his 30-year career with the U.S. Border Patrol, he served as a patrol and immigration inspector, a deportation officer, a criminal investigator and more. Eventually, he made his way to Washington and was named chief of the Border Patrol in 1980.
“I had a great career,” he said. “But I lost a lot of hair to that Washington bureaucracy.”
Brandemuehl details his career and his “walk down life’s path” in his book, “A Proud American’s Story.” The book can be purchased through the U.S. Border Patrol Museum in El Paso at www.borderpatrolmuseum.com.
DOWNTOWN RENOVATIONS PICKING UP STEAM
Workers continue to transform the long-vacant Professional Building in downtown Temple into the Central Plaza Apartments. The project is expected to be finished by the end of 2021. The building was built in 1929.
Central Plaza construction continues
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Construction on downtown Temple’s Central Plaza Apartments continues to move forward and developers hope the project will be completed by the end of 2021.
Another big downtown project — the construction of two parking garages — is expected to begin in October.
“Work on Central Plaza is slowly progressing,” said Randy Strumberg, a senior architect at the MRB Group in Temple. “Crews are framing, completing concrete work and putting in an elevator.”
Once complete, the building will feature 17 urban loft-style apartments, a basement fitness studio and a rooftop lounge and wading pool, according to project architect Tanya Mikeska-Reed, also of the MRB Group.
Renovations to the historic Professional Building, also known as the old SPJST Building, began in January. The building — which was built in 1929 — is located at 103 E. Central Ave. just across the street from the Arcadia Theater and Hawn Hotel. Renovations for those buildings also are in the works but construction has not started.
Central Plaza developers say the outside of the building will retain its original look but will include modern conveniences such as the gym and rooftop area.
The building will house several sizes of apartments including efficiencies as well as 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom units, Mikeska-Reed said.
“Rents will range from $800 to about $1,700 per month,” she said.
Ground level will include at least three retail shops and “we’re hoping for a mom and pop neighborhood store,” she said.
According to David Olson, an assistant Temple city manager, the downtown parking garages that will provide 650 new parking spaces are expected to be finished in the summer of 2022.
The Fourth Street Garage will be located at Fourth and Central, adjacent to the Hawn Hotel, and will provide about 415 parking spaces.
“It will be a six-level garage with parking on the second through sixth floors,” he said. “The first floor will be retail. We’re working with Turner | Behringer Real Estate, the developers of the Hawn Hotel, Arcadia Theater and Sears building projects to fill the retail spaces.”
A First Street Garage will be at the intersection of First and Avenue A in what is now the Extraco Banks parking lot.
“First Street will have three levels and 235 parking spaces,” he said. “This one won’t have retail. It will be all parking.”
The rooftop of Central Plaza Apartments will feature a lounge area and wading pool.
Texas’ sales tax holiday is under way and will continue through Sunday, according to Comptroller of Public Accounts Glenn Hegar.
State law exempts sales tax on qualified items such as clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks as long as the item is priced below $100, Hegar said.
“Shoppers can save about $8 on every $100 they spend,” he said.
Temple Police Academy graduates 10
A group of cadets from throughout Bell County are one step closer to serving their communities after graduating from the Temple Police Academy on July 30.
With friends and family gathered in Temple College’s Mary Alice Marshall Performing Arts Center, the 10 cadets completed the months-long journey of the police academy.
“You have all worked hard. You worked hard to get hired, you worked hard in the academy and you trained to begin the next phase of your career,” Temple Police Chief Shawn Reynolds told the cadets. “You entered the academy to learn, and now you must go forth and serve.”
All 10 cadets who began the academy completed the 20-week process, which includes nearly 700 hours of training capped off by passing the state licensing exam.
Five of the cadets will now join the Belton Police Department, four will join the Bell County Sherriff’s Office and one will join TPD.
The Temple Police Academy is a partnership between the Temple Police Department and Temple College Criminal Justice.
FIRE & RESCUE ACCEPTING SCHOOL SUPPLIES
Temple Fire & Rescue is collecting donations for their annual Backpack Buddies Program, which provides backpacks and school supplies for children in need before going back to school.
This year there are about 2,000 children in need. Those who want to participate are encouraged to donate new backpacks or school supplies to any Temple fire station.
Families are selected through Temple ISD. Backpacks and supplies will be distributed Aug. 13. Anyone interested in sponsoring a child should contact Carol Lynch at (254) 760-6107.
Recipes needed for Tailgating issue
It’s still summer and football isn’t far away. Share your best summer party and football tailgate recipes — barbecue, tacos, burgers, sides…it’s all good. Desserts and appetizers are yummy as well, and vegan dishes are welcome, too. Send your recipes, and a photo if possible, to OurTownTemple@gmail.com. Our TAILGATING ISSUE is August 13, deadline is August 11.
What’s Happening, Temple?
August 7, Saturday - Bell County Comic Con is a family friendly event for those interested in comics, pop culture, wrestling, gaming, movies and fantasy. Bell County Expo Center. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
August 7, Saturday - Dave Jorgenson, Bo’s Barn Dance Hall, 9 p.m.
August 7, Saturday - Wine & Wrinkles. Botox & Filler party with Stacie and Natalie. Corky’s. 3 p.m.
August 7, Saturday - Dig It! Family Day. Will include a sand pit for unearthing treasures. Learn what it’s like to be an archeologist or a paleontologist and the difference between the two fields of science. Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum. 10 a.m.
August 7, Saturday - American Bucking Bull, Bell County Expo Center Equine/Livestock Complex.
August 8, Sunday - Bell County Comic Con is a family friendly event for those interested in comics, pop culture, wrestling, gaming, movies and fantasy. Bell County Expo Center. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
August 9, Monday - Great Books Club at Temple Public Library. 6 p.m.
August 10, Tuesday - Czech Film Night at The Beltonian Theatre. Free! Second Tuesday of each month. 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
August 10, Tuesday - Family Night at Mexiko Cafe. Taco Tuesday and Loteria, a Mexican version of Bingo. 6 p.m.
August 13, Friday - SmokinMaxx Carter live at Fire Base Brewing Co. 6:30 p.m.
August 13, Friday - Love Connection Matchmaking at Corky’s. 7:30 p.m.
August 13, Friday - Broken Time & Midnight Tradesmen at O’Briens. Two hot Bell County Bands! 9 p.m.
August 13, Friday - Bell County Kennel Club, Bell County Expo Center.
August 13, Friday - Hyway Traveler, Bo’s Barn Dance Hall, 8 p.m.
August 13, Friday - Bell County Cutting Horse Show, Bell County Expo Center Equine/Livestock Complex.
August 14, Saturday - Downtown Temple Farmer’s Market. 2 N. Main Street. 8 a.m.
August 14, Saturday - Bell County Kennel Club, Bell County Expo Center.
August 14, Saturday - Texas Senior Pro Rodeo, Bell County Expo Center Equine/Livestock Complex.
August 14, Saturday - Name That Tune Bingo at Fire Base Brewing Co. Featuring mixtapes of the 1980s and 90s. 7:30 p.m.
August 14, Saturday - The Damn Moore Boys & Co. at O’Briens. 9 p.m.
August 14, Saturday - Broken Arrow at Bo’s Barn Dance Hall, 9 p.m.
August 15, Sunday - Bell County Kennel Club, Bell County Expo Center.
August 15, Sunday - Texas Senior Pro Rodeo, Bell County Expo Center Equine/Livestock Complex.
August 16, Monday - Short Story Reading Group at Temple Public Library. 6 p.m.
August 17, Tuesday - An evening with winemaker Tom Parmeson of Parmeson Wines. Four-course wine dinner at Pignetti’s. 6:45 p.m.
August 17, Tuesday - Taroks Card Party and Lessons at Czech Heritage Museum and Genealogy Center. Learn and play the 1400’s European card game brought to Texas by Czechs in the 1800s. 7 p.m.
August 19, Thursday - Temple City Council, City Hall. 5 p.m.
August 20, Friday - Coffee with a Cop, Bella Blue Cafe, 7-10 a.m.
September 11, Saturday - Pink Fishing’s Reeling in the Cure, 6th annual bass tournament. Proceeds benefit breast cancer patients and cancer research. Cedar Ridge Park. 6 a.m. Call (254) 681-0102 for details.
Have an event you would like to promote? Email info to OurTownTemple@gmail.com with “What’s Happening” in the subject line. Keep it short and sweet — what, when and where. You may include a short description. You must include a phone number for verification purposes. The phone number will not be published unless requested by submitter.
Our Town Classifieds
REMODELING KITCHEN AND MUST SELL KItchenAid Dishwasher. It is in great shape. $100. (254) 913-8309.
HAVING A GARAGE SALE? Let your friends know with an Our Town classified.
FOR SALE: 2006 Nissan Murano 118K miles, White in color, new tires, AC works great. Asking 6,000. Email @ email@example.com if interested.
LIFE SPAN TREADMILL DESK: Great condition. Desk and treadmill come as set. $500. Call/Text 254-654-0548 if interested. Can send pictures.
HEY, REAL ESTATE AGENTS — Here’s a perfect place for your newest listing!
LARGE DESK WITH CHAIR: Great condition. $250. Dark brown in color. Approx 55 inches long, 35.5 inches wide, 35 inches tall. Sides of desk act as bookshelves. Call/Text 254-654-0548 if interested. Can send pictures.
SELLING YOUR CAR? Post it right here!
BIG MEDICINE BALL — 40-pound soft-sided Rage Fitness medicine ball. Great for Atlas drills. Like new. $40. (254) 624-4010
MAKE GREAT SMOOTHIES — Vitamin. Great condition. Comes with two pitchers. Also great for salsas. $200. (254) 624-4010
LOOKING FOR SOMETHING? HAVE SOMETHING TO SELL? List it here!
PLYO BOX: Soft-sided, 20x24x30 plyometric box. Great condition. $40. (254) 624-4010
Subscribers get FREE classifieds up to 25 words. Email info to OurTownTemple@gmail.com
Our Town Deals
FREE COFFEE WITH PURCHASE OF ANY BREAKFAST ITEM — Easy As Pie, 1217 S 1st St A, Temple.
To list your business in Our Town Deals, call (254) 624-4010