Naked City

Beyond City Limits

Last week, Beaumont-based mining company Trinity Materials Inc. canceled its application to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for a rock-crushing permit in the east Travis Co. town of Webberville, saying they have no plans to open a rock-crushing plant there any time soon. But the company is proceeding with plans to develop a strip-mining operation even closer to the town's doorsteps, and concerned Webberville citizens have established a nonpartisan group called Village of Webberville (www.webberville.org) to fight for their area's rural character and quality of life. The group's efforts have received support from many local elected officials, including Precinct 1 County Commissioner Ron Davis and state Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos. This Saturday, Oct. 27, VOW will hold a barbecue fundraiser from noon-5pm in Big Webberville Park, featuring live music, a bake sale, and more. -- L.A.

Jazzed by his streak of endorsements from state newspapers, Democratic attorney general candidate and former Austin mayor Kirk Watson was upbeat and optimistic at his last local fundraiser, held Friday evening at the Warehouse District's Cedar Street Courtyard. Watson implored the crowd -- mostly stylish, young professionals -- to take friends to the polls Nov. 5. "We've got to have the turnout," he said, predicting that 100,000 votes will determine whether he or GOP candidate Greg Abbott will become the state's next chief lawyer. This week the Houston Chronicle endorsed Watson, joining the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Statesman, and others. -- L.A.

On Oct. 17 the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse released the findings of its most recent "Texas School Survey" of alcohol and drug use among Texas kids. This year's findings reveal that past-month tobacco use is down significantly among all students -- from 31% in 2000, the last time the survey was conducted, to 19% in 2002. But the survey also revealed that self-reported alcohol use has remained steady across grade levels (71% report having tried alcohol at some point), and illicit drug use appears to be up, nearly across the board: 32% of kids in grades seven-12 report having smoked pot at some point in the past, while 14.4% say they've smoked pot in the past month, up slightly from 2000. Ecstasy use has more than doubled -- 8.6% of students report they've tried the drug, 3.1% in the past month. The most dramatic rise in Ecstasy use has been among seventh and eighth graders: 3.6% of seventh and 5.6% of eighth graders say they've used the drug. -- Jordan Smith

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