Price of 'getting by' keeps going up
But Temple is third-cheapest urban area in US to buy groceries. Plus: A look at Bell County Courthouses and a ton of Christmas-related events in the area.
MONDAY NOVEMBER 29, 2021
The average price of groceries in Temple is 19.3 percent cheaper than the national average. Food prices have climbed significantly everywhere but at a slower rate here. Six months ago, Temple was about 10 percent below the national average.
Fresh carrots sit on a shelf at a Temple market. According to the Council for Community & Economic Research, which produces a quarterly cost of living index, Temple is the third cheapest urban area in America for buying food. Prices on just about everything have increased in the past two years because of high demand and the ongoing pandemic-related shipping crisis. David Stone | Our Town Temple
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
The cost of just being alive has increased dramatically over the past year, forcing Americans to spend more on housing, food and getting around.
According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Living Wage Calculator, single people in Texas need to earn at least $29,134 to cover basic life expenses. That figure includes annual housing costs of $9,333 ($776 per month) and food costs of $3,177 ($264.75 per month).
According to the Council for Community & Economic Research, the average cost for a 950-square-foot Temple apartment is $1,070 and the average cost of a four-bedroom, two-bath 2,400-square-foot house is $302,602.
In Texas and across America, high housing costs are causing low-wage workers to put a significant amount of their money toward rent.
“They skimp on food, skimp on health care, skimp on medicine and skimp on things for their kids,” said Christiana Rosales, deputy director of Texas Housers. “Everything else just falls by the wayside when folks have to pay more and more for their rent.”
Temple resident Cyndi Miller agrees.
“Rents are getting so high that a lot of people are barely able to get by,” Miller said. “In addition to rent, some complexes are requiring renters to pay insurance.”
The minimum wage in Texas is $7.29 an hour, which means an individual working 40 hours a week on minimum wage would be making $15,080, far below living wage standards. According to a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Texas residents working minimum-wage jobs would have to work 100 hours a week to afford an average one-bedroom apartment.
Higher costs of living have forced many local residents to alter their lifestyles.
“I’ve cut back on just about everything,” said Christina Brenes of Temple. “Eating, doing laundry, reading with the lights on, leaving the house — the list is endless.”
When it comes to buying groceries, however, Temple residents are far better off than many Americans. According to the Council for Community & Economic Research, which produces a quarterly cost of living index, Temple is the third cheapest urban area in the United States for buying food.
“The average price of groceries in Temple is 19.3 percent cheaper than the national average,” said Jennie Allison, the council’s research manager. “Only Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Waco have more affordable groceries.”
The rising cost of gasoline is a huge concern for local residents.
“Gas prices are crazy,” said Carolyn Gunter of Temple. “I’m trying to stay at home more.”
As of this morning, the average cost of a gallon of regular-grade gasoline in the Temple/Belton/Killeen area was $2.93, and that’s 46 cents below the national average of $3.39. But, just a year ago, area residents were spending $1.78 a gallon for the same grade of fuel.
Premium-grade fuel this morning averaged $3.51 per gallon in the Temple area compared to $2.33 on Nov. 19, 2020. The jump in diesel fuel is even more dramatic, driving up shipping costs and the prices of almost all retail goods. Today’s average diesel cost is $3.20, up from $1.98 a year ago.
These figures are based on this morning’s AAA Texas report.
According to Allison, health-care costs in Temple are about 14 percent above the national average.
“The health-care category includes office visits to a general practitioner, a dentist and an optometrist, as well as the cost of 100 200-mg Advil,” she said.
In Temple, the average costs were $215.53 to see a general practitioner, $110 for a complete vision exam, $83.33 for a dental cleaning and $8.47 for the Advil.
So, what’s up with skyrocketing prices? It’s all about supply and demand. As COVID-19 rates go down, more people want to get out of the house and spend money.
But as anyone who's frequented a grocery store or gone car shopping knows, manufacturers and suppliers are still struggling to reach pre-pandemic levels of production.
Disproportionate demand for too-few products leads to inflation and prices go up.
A Washington State Department of Agriculture worker holds an Asian giant hornet. The hornets are expected to migrate to other states, and Texas officials worry that shipping containers might provide a shortcut to the South.
Eyes of Texas are on giant hornets
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
The dreaded Asian giant hornet is in the United States and will likely make its way to Texas, but when they will arrive is anyone’s guess.
“The hornets are in Washington, and they can only spread about 65 miles per year naturally,” Wizzie Brown, a Texas Agrilife entomologist, told Our Town Temple this morning. “But getting here in a shipping container takes a lot less time. An infested shipping container is how they reached America.”
According to Brown, the state of Washington is tracking the two-inch hornets with micro transmitters and destroying nests. Officials also are inspecting shipping containers leaving that state.
“When a shipping container from Washington — or anywhere else where Asian giant hornets live — arrives in a port city such as Houston or Corpus Christi, they are thoroughly inspected. Still, it only takes one female ready to lay eggs.”
Why are these precautions in place? Because Asian giant hornet attacks can be deadly, especially for honey bee populations that produce honey, and more importantly, pollinate fruits and vegetables.
“They can be deadly, but the threat to humans is not huge,” Brown said. “They do tend to sting multiple times, and the venom is more potent than bees, wasps and hornets we have in Texas. If you have an allergy issue, there could be a problem.”
Brown pointed out that because of their size, Asian giant hornets also have longer stingers.
“People are concerned about their nickname — murder hornets,” she said.
“It’s usually not people they kill. But it’s a different story for bees. They actually attack and destroy honey bee hives.”
Brown said the hornets decapitate the adult bees by biting between the head and thorax, leaving headless honey bees in their wake.
“Then they go into the hive and remove the larvae and pupae out of the honeybee colony,” she said. “They take them back to their own nest to feed their young.”
Although no nests have been reported in Texas, the state does have a Asian giant wasp game plan.
“We have a task force set up in Texas through Texas A&M University, and they are working on detecting the hornets when they arrive,” Brown said. “We’re putting the word out for people to report any possible sightings.”
“Like I said, they most likely will arrive in cargo so that is something the task force is working on with other governmental agencies,” she said. “Of course, the task force has people serving as spotters.”
Brown said a possible Asian giant hornet invasion would look much different than when Africanized bees moved into Texas years ago.
“Africanized bees were very aggressive and they could breed with bees already in Texas,” she said. “The new bees inherited the aggressive trait They bred with native bees, not destroyed them.”
Asian giant hornets, on the other hand, cannot breed with native insects, Brown said. And, they don’t mate with native hornets or wasps — they kill them.
According to Brown, Asian giant hornets would not be able to live all over the state.
“They just aren’t suited to inhabit all of Texas,” she said. “They don’t do well in temperatures over 102, but they would thrive in parts of the state that are more temperate.”
“There’s no way to determine when the hornets will arrive,” she said. “But rest assured, we’re on the lookout.”
The Temple Mall location will be in the parking lot in front of the former JC Penney store facing South 31st Street. The West Temple location will be near Fuzzy’s Taco on West Adams.
An artist rendering of what the Today’s Car Wash in West Temple will look like. The company will start construction on two car washes in Temple this coming year.
Today’s Car Wash plans two new locations in Temple
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Good news for dirty cars: Today’s Car Wash will open two locations in Temple and construction will start sometime in 2022.
“We’re going to break ground at Temple Mall, and the other location will be on West Adams,” said Tyler Furney, owner of the Central Texas chain.
The Temple locations will give Furney’s company seven locations in Bell County.
“We started on Fort Hood Street in Killeen in 2008 and have been growing ever since,” he said. “We now have three locations in Killeen, one in Harker Heights, one in Belton and we will soon have two in Temple.”
The Temple Mall location will be in the parking lot in front of the former JC Penney store facing South 31st Street.
“It will be right by the main 31st Street entrance and will extend along the street toward Dairy Queen,” Furney said. “It’s a great piece of property and it will help drive some traffic to the mall. Hopefully we can give it some new life.”
The West Temple location will be near Fuzzy’s Taco on West Adams.
“It will be very near the new Dunkin Donuts that’s going up out there,” he said.
Furney grew up in the New Braunfels area and served in the Army at Fort Hood. After completing his military commitment, he decided to stay in the area and start Today’s Car Wash.
Furney and his family already reside in the Temple area.
“Today’s Car Wash has a strong name and a strong brand,” he said. “We will be a good addition to the Temple community.”
FLASHBACK: Bell County opened its doors for business in 1852 in a two-room log cabin. Since that time, two other courthouses have stood in the same location — the current building was completed in 1885. The structure it replaced was built in 1858.
The 1885 Bell County Courthouse still stands in Belton, however most county business is now conducted at annexes and additions.
Bell County’s historic courthouse
By DENISE KARIMKHANI, Special to Our Town Temple
The Texas legislature incorporated the town of Belton in December 1851 and a small log courthouse was erected on the square the following year.
The original log courthouse was sold at auction in 1855, and a new two-story limestone building was constructed in 1859.
Bell County voters objected so strenuously to the cost of the second building that they voted all of the commissioners out of office.
George Tyler described the political fallout: "The officer who votes to spend public money or to raise the taxes on the people for a public improvement, however necessary and urgent, usually goes down in defeat, a martyr to the performance of his plain duty. Especially in such provincial and non-progressive communities as then constituted the majority of the citizenship of the new Texas counties."
Additional objections to the courthouse came from the nearby town of Temple. Only two years old, Temple's population was mainly boisterous railroad and construction workers.
Not only did they vociferously object to paying a tax to build a new jail, but they also filed a petition to move the new courthouse to Temple. Both petitions were soundly defeated.
On Nov. 14, 1883, the Commissioners Court authorized the issuance of bonds and levying a tax in the amount of $65,000 for the building of a third County Courthouse. The new courthouse was to be of sufficient size to supply courtrooms, jury rooms, offices for County officers and Justice of the Peace, as well as ample room for county records.
Architect Jasper N. Preston was employed to design the structure. On March 3, 1884, bids were opened by the Court and Ben D. Lee, a local builder, was awarded the contract in the amount of $64,965. The courthouse was designed in the Renaissance Revival style.
The courthouse clocks soon became an issue. The Board of Aldermen of the city of Belton approached Bell County to take over repair of the four clocks on the dome (one on each side) and to keep them in working order. L. W. Albertson received the contract and was paid four dollars a month to keep the clocks running and on time.
Keeping the four clocks synchronized was practically impossible since the long wooden clock hands provided convenient perches for pigeons. A long-standing joke said that no one in Belton was ever late because at least one of the clocks would prove him on time.
In 1950 the clock tower and goddess of justice were eliminated due to deterioration. In 1998 restoration of the courthouse began. The interior renovation was completed in November 1999. The statue, dome, and clock tower were replaced with replicas in December 1999, returning the Courthouse to near its original beauty. The Courthouse is on the National Register of Historic Buildings and on the State Archaeological Site Register.
A statue of Peter Hansborough Bell, the governor who created Bell County and its namesake, stands on the Southwest corner of the Courthouse square. Governor Bell was a San Jacinto veteran, Mexican War veteran, Texas Ranger, Governor, Congressional Representative, and later a Colonel in the Confederacy.
POSTCARD FROM THE PAST
Until 1908, the community of Pendleton was known as Pendletonville. It was founded in 1882 by the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railroad, just a year after Temple was born. William Gilmore owned the land where Pendleton was to be located, but he refused to sell. George Pendleton, who later would become lieutenant governor of Texas, had a store in Old Howard. He bought Gilmore’s land and sold it to the railroad, then moved the stock in his store to the new town. This photo shows the remains of the last brick building in Pendleton — the Leon Masonic Lodge No. 193, which was built in 1931.
SMALL-BUSINESS SATURDAY AWARDS
Extreme Clean company of Temple won the Champion's Trophy for having the best privately-funded downtown Christmas decorations of 2021, and the city of Temple (below) was honored for winning the Texas Downtown Association President's Award for having the best downtown promotional event in Texas for their 'Love Where You Live' campaign. The trophy and plaque were presented Saturday.
WHAT’S HAPPENING, CENTRAL TEXAS?
Central Texas largest and most complete calendar of event:
Temple Public Library
TEEN CRAFT CORNER: Every 4th Monday at 5 p.m. Join us for Teen Craft Corner! Take a break from the stresses of school and life, and create something fun during our monthly craft program! Our crafts will include projects such as string art, painting, learning about artists and their techniques, mixed media, and so much more! All supplies provided. (254) 298-5557
GREAT BOOKS ADULT BOOK CLUB: 2nd and 4th Mondays at 6 p.m. Seminal texts of Western civilization, pre-20th century philosophers, scientists and novelists. Readings span from Homer and Plato to Nietzsche and Freud. (254) 298-5557
BABY BOOKWORMS (Ages 0-12 months: Every Tuesday at 11 a.m. A half-hour of book sharing, rhymes, songs, exercises and parachute play. (254) 298-5557
SCHOOL-AGE STORY TIME (K-3rd Grade): Every Wednesday at 4:15 p.m. A half-hour of short films, stories and constructive play. (254) 298-5557
PRESCHOOL STORY TIME (Ages 3-5): Songs, stories, and a variety of literacy activities. (254) 298-5557
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS (Ages 12-18): First Thursday of the month at 5 p.m. Looking to explore the world of D&D but not sure where to start? Join us at the Library for our Beginners Dungeons & Dragons Program!
Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum
FACING THE INFERNO: THE WILDFIRE PHOTOGRAPHY OF KARI GREER: Colorful, intimate, and intensely dramatic images that capture the work of wildland firefighters in this new exhibit that runs through Jan. 15. Amazing photography. First responders and immediate family will be admitted free through Dec. 3.
December 1, Wednesday - Comedy Open Mic at Corkys. 8 p.m.
December 2, Thursday — Die Hard at The Beltonian. It IS. a Christmas movie!. 6 p.m.
December 2, Thursday — 11th annual Chrome & Carols Festival of Trees at Horny Toad Harley-Davidson. Time to ring in the holidays and help Central Texans within our community! Things continue to look a little different this year, but all the same excitement will remain. 17 Christmas trees will be designed by Precious Memories Florist & Gift Shop, and on display! The trees will be raffled off and come fully, professionally decorated and loaded with over $1,000 worth of gifts beneath each tree. Raffle tree winners will need to pick up their tree the night of the event, or make arrangements with UWCT staff to pick up your winnings.There will be a silent auction for other specialty items. Winners will pick up their event prizes the night of, or schedule a pick-up time with UWCT staff. The live auction event makes a return this year, due to the nature of a live auction this event will be exclusive to in-person attendees.
December 2, Thursday — Taproom Trivia at Fire Base Brewing Co., 7 p.m.
December 3, Friday — Mark Richey at Bo’s Barn. 8 p.m.
December 3, Friday - Christmas and Holiday Season First Friday downtown Temple. 5 p.m.
December 3, Friday - Sammy G’s Toy Drive Block Party at Fire Base Brewing. 7 p.m.
December 3, Friday - Clint Walker Blues Band is back at O’Briens Irish Pub. 9 p.m.
December 3, Friday - Karaoke Night at Spare Time. Pick your favorite tune and come ready to WOW the crowd! Join us every Friday from 9 pm to midnight! Don't forget to enjoy our full-service restaurant and bar while you wait for your turn!
December 3, Friday - Late-Night Karaoke at Corky’s. Join DJ Bryan of Hogue Productions who brings you the favorite hits for the crowds singing pleasure. Whether you want to watch the singers, or try it out yourself, Friday Night Karakoe is fun for one and all. 10 p.m. to midnight.
December 3, Friday - Stations of the Nativity at Saint Luke’s Catholic Church, 2807 Oakdale in Temple. The Stations are followed by cookies, hot chocolate and activities for children including stories, cookie decorating, and advent themed crafts in the Parish Hall. Join your friends and families at St Lukes for fellowship and create a new family advent tradition this year. 7 p.m.
December 3, Friday - Nolanville Night Market Grinch Fest. Whoville characters, photo ops with The Grinch. Artisans and vendors. 6 p.m.
December 3-4 - Christmas on the Chilsom Trail, Central Avenue and East Street in Belton. 6 p.m.
December 3-5 — Disney’s Aladdin Jr. at Temple Civic Theatre.
December 3,4,10,11 — “A Christmas Carol” at Tablerock Amphitheater in Salado. 7 p.m.
December 4, Saturday - The Elks Hoop Shoot, funded by the Elks National Foundation, is a free throw contest for children 8-13. Celebrating 50 years of developing gritty kids. Held at the Ralph Wilson Youth Club.1515 S. 21st St., Temple. 11 a.m.
December 4, Saturday - Fleece Fun Over Cocoa Class at Sammons Community Center. 10 a.m. to noon. Bring your grandchildren to Sammons to create a memorable experience by working together to make a fleece scarf! Enjoy some hot chocolate and refreshments to celebrate the completion of your unique creation. Each person who signs up will walk away with their very own handmade scarf. All materials are provided. Pre-registration is required. $7 Per Person, all ages welcome!
December 4, Saturday - Photos with Santa at Horny Toad Harley-Davidson. Bring your own camera or smartphone and get Free photos with Santa! Limited 3-photos per group.11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
December 4, Saturday - Todd Snider, Cultural Activities Center, 7:30 p.m.
December 4, Saturday — Marcus Lindsey at Bo’s Barn, 9 p.m.
December 4, Saturday - Preschool Story Time at Temple Public Library. 10:30 to 11 a.m.
December 4, Saturday - Barrow Brewing Christmas Market, Salado. Noon.
December 4, Saturday - Santa at the Depot, Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum, 5-8 p.m. Put on your jammies, grab your favorite stuffed animal and come enjoy a magical evening with Santa at the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum. Visitors can marvel at the sights and sounds of the holiday season as they wander through the winter lights on the Santa Fe Plaza and enjoy Christmas music. Enjoy delicious hot chocolate available for purchase from Kona Ice while waiting to see the man in the big red suit! TICKETS ON SALE at https://bit.ly/3CfFHFE. ALL tickets are ADVANCE purchase only. Tickets are required for admission. Limited ticket quantity is available. Tickets are $5.00 per person, children 2 and under are free. Ticket includes visit with Santa and a gift bag for children. General museum admission will be closed on December 4th to prepare for Santa's visit.
December 4, Saturday - Lance Wade Thomas rocks O’Briens. 9 p.m.
December 4, Saturday - Temple Symphony Orchestra Holiday Concert featuring soprano Priscilla Santana and tenor Brian Joyce. Temple High School. 7:30 p.m.
December 4, Saturday - Chisholm Trail Christmas Ball featuring Rick Trevino. Bell County Expo Center. 6 p.m.
December 4, Saturday - Game of Thrones Trivia Night at Fire Base Brewing. Free to play. 7 to 9 p.m.
December 4, Saturday - Epically Hogwarts Holiday at Mayborn Science Center in Killeen. 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
December 4-5 - Kris Kringle Mart presented by KC Council 3444, 2218 W. Avenue D, Temple. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
December 5, Sunday - Organ & Piano Christmas Concert at First United Methodist in Temple featuring Dr. Carl Bradley on the organ and Sam Davis on the piano. 4 p.m. in the church sanctuary.
December 5, Sunday - Adoration & Benediction at Saint Luke’s Catholic Church, 2807 Oakdale in Temple. 9 a.m. to noon.
December 5, Sunday - Elks Rest Memorial Service at BPO Elks Temple Lodge No. 138. 2613 Airport Road in Temple. Please plan to attend in honor of our Absent Members! 1 p.m.
December 6, Monday - The 75th Annual Christmas Parade and City Christmas Tree Lighting will begin at 6:15 p.m. This year's theme is “The Magic of a Traditional Christmas." Details will be made available on templeparks.com.
December 6, Monday — Belton Lake Parade of Lights at Dead Fish Grill. Watch boats on the lake decked with Christmas lights. Hot chocolate and chocolate bombs filled with marshmallows. 6 to 9 p.m.
December 7, Tuesday — Baby Bookworms ages 0 to 12 months at Temple Public Library. 11 to 11:30 a.m.
December 7, Tuesday — Tarok Card Party and Lessons at Czech Heritage Museum & Genealogy Center. We play for fun! Come learn to play Taroks, the 1400s European card game Czech brought to Texas in the 1800s. It’s just as popular today and tournaments are held all over Texas. Jimmy and Carolyn Coufal are award-winning tournament champions who teach and advise us purely for the love of the game. No fees or admissions. Just come join us! 7 to 9 p.m.
December 10, Friday - TISD Jazz Band – Merry Christmas and All That Jazz at Meridith-Dunbar Early Childhood Academy Auditorium, 5:30 p.m.
December 10, Friday — Vista’s Jingle Jam 2021 at Vista Community Church. Join us for the most fun, biggest, Christmas party of the year for your whole family. We'll play games, sing Christmas songs, have Christmas cookies and cocoa, and hear the Christmas story in a way kids can understand. And it is totally FREE! We’ll have a Jingle Jam session at 5:30pm and 7pm.
December 10, Friday - Bone at O’Briens. 9 p.m.
December 10, Friday —Branded Heart at Bo’s Barn. 8 p.m.
December 10-12 — Disney’s Aladdin Jr. at Temple Civic Theatre.
December 10-12, The Texas Nutcracker, performed by Classical Ballet Conservatory of Lisa's Dance Connection, performance at the Cultural Activities Center.
December 11, Saturday - Photos with Santa at Horny Toad Harley-Davidson. Bring your own camera or smartphone and get Free photos with Santa! Limited 3-photos per group.11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
December 11, Saturday — Winter Wonderland at Wilson Park Recreation Center. Santa’s coming to visit all the good little boys and girls at the Wilson Park Recreation Center. 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Join us for cookies, hot cocoa, gifts, and pictures during this special family event.The event is FREE; however, registration is required. Register today here: https://bit.ly/3CZEKBV.
December 11, Saturday — Downtown Temple Holiday Market & Food Truck Frenzy. Its Holiday Season! We are excited to partner our market series with another Food Truck Event! Come join us in Downtown Temple and spread some holiday joy by supporting local businesses in our area!We will have plenty of vendors, food trucks to satisfy anyone's cravings, live music and activities for kids! Come find that perfect gift for your loved ones - whether it be a new piece of jewelry, some unique bath products, or a fun knickknack. 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
December 11, Saturday - 5th annual Holiday Extravaganza at the Troy Community Center. Shop with local small businesses. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
December 11, Saturday - Tucka Texas Takeover with LJ Echols, Fat Daddy and Mr. Smoke. VFW Post 1820, Temple. 7 p.m.
December 11, Saturday — 35 South at Bo’s Barn. 9 p.m.
December 11, Saturday - Holiday Laser Light Show at Barrow Brewing Co. in Salado. Part of the 61st annual Salado Christmas Stroll. 7 p.m.
December 12, Sunday - Temple High School Band Winter Concert in the THS Auditorium, 2:00 p.m.
December 13, Monday - Temple High School Orchestra Christmas Concert at THS Auditorium, 7 p.m.
December 14, Tuesday - Temple High School Choir Holiday Gift at THS Auditorium. 7:30 p.m.
December 17, Friday - Matt Cearley & The Rowdy Few, O’Briens. 9 p.m.
December 18, Saturday — “It’s a Wonderful Life” at The Beltonian Theatre. 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
December 19, Sunday – When Harry Met Sally… (1989), free movie at Cultural Activities Center. Boy meets girl, boy sees other girls, and girl sees other boys. Maybe boy and girl should have seen each other. “I’ll have what she’s having.” The event will include a pre and post-movie discussion with Dr. Joseph Taberlet. 2 p.m.
December 18, Saturday - Shinyribs, Cultural Activities Center, 7:30 p.m.
December 23, Thursday - Santa & Elvis at Fire Street Pizza. 6-9 p.m.