San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

September 6th, 2008
Commissioner candidate charged with deadly conduct

By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large

The high-profile feud between two hostile San Marcos neighbors took another twist Friday when the Hays County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) arrested a candidate for the Hays County Commissioners Court on charges of deadly conduct.

The HSCO arrested Nick Ramus, the Republican candidate for Precinct 1 Commissioner, after he allegedly approached the property of his neighbor and long-time adversary, Carolyn Logan, with a loaded gun.

Thus, a tale that has wound through the commissioners court, the courts of law and the political process took up temporary residence in the county jail before Ramus posted a $5,000 bond.

The HCSO said it received a call just before 11 a.m. Friday complaining about Ramus.

Ramus said he was cleaning his Remington 870 shotgun on his porch Friday morning when he noticed a backhoe operator on Logan’s property working near his property line. Ramus said he hadn’t fired the gun in about 12 years, the gun was rusted and corroded, and he had removed the shells, which also were corroded, when he noticed the backhoe.

Ramus said recent work on Logan’s property resulted in dirt being moved onto his property, causing a potential silting problem. So, said Ramus, he wanted to be sure the backhoe operator wasn’t pushing dirt onto his property.

“I just ran over to see if the guy was doing the same thing, which he wasn’t,” Ramus said. “The shells were on the porch. I didn’t want to leave the gun on the porch and have someone come up and take it, so I had it with me.”

Ramus said he and the backhoe operator had a brief discussion without cross words, and that he never pointed the gun at anybody. Ramus added that Logan shouted obscenities at him from her riding lawn mower about 100 yards away.

Logan could not be reached for comment.

Following the conversation, Ramus said, he went back to his porch and put the gun away, placing the shells back into the gun. Then, he said, he took a shower. About 20 minutes after he went inside, the HCSO was at his door.

“It was a complete shock to me,” Ramus said. “She had fabricated this story … This is more of the same false accusations, fabrications and character assassinations. It’s pure craziness.”

The HCSO said the gun was fully loaded. Ramus said the gun wasn’t loaded when he approached Logan’s property, though he returned the shells to the gun when he put the gun away.

Ramus goes on trial for the deadly conduct charge on Nov. 21, 17 days after the Nov. 4 election for the commissioner seat he is seeking. The HCSO said deadly conduct, a Class-A misdemeanor, comes with a punishment of up to one year in jail, a fine up to $4,000 or both.

“In hindsight, it’s easy to say that I shouldn’t have taken (the gun) with me,” said Ramus, who added that he thought at the time it would be safer to carry the gun than to leave it unattended on his porch with shells nearby.

Ramus is an aspiring restaurateur who has fought Logan and the county for years over his septic permit. Logan has argued that Ramus’ septic system is insufficient to protect her property, which is downhill from his.

A two-acre property on Old Bastrop Highway, which Ramus hopes to open as Texas Heritage Kitchen, was platted in 1977 with a 1,400-gallon septic system. When the county tightened its septic regulations under new development regulations in 1997, Ramus argued that his On-Site Septic Facility (OSSF) permit should be grandfathered under the old regulations.

In 2006, the county granted Ramus his permit. But a newly seated commissioners court, led by new judge Liz Sumter (D-Wimberley) revoked that permit in April 2007. The revocation raised eyebrows, considering that it was a pet issue of Logan and Dripping Springs political player Charles O’Dell, who supported Sumter’s election.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe (D-San Marcos) and Precinct 4 Commissioner Karen Ford (D-Dripping Springs) voted with Sumter in a 3-2 decision.

Last June, Ramus sued the county, arguing that commissioners acted illegally by revoking his permit. Earlier this year, Ramus filed to run as a Republican against Ingalsbe for her seat on the commissioner’s court in this November’s election. Ramus received no opposition in the primary and is on the ballot to oppose Ingalsbe.

On March 26, District Judge Robert Pfeuffer issued his ruling on the septic issue in a one-page letter to the attorneys for both sides, granting a summary judgment for Ramus.

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12 thoughts on “Commissioner candidate charged with deadly conduct

  1. This is another example of the Sumter cronies trying to ruin the credibility of an innocent person. It’s absolute malarchy! I mean, are we in the Ukraine? This kind of politics is absurd and Sumter’s cronies should be ashamed of themselves. Logan should publically apologize to Ramus immediately and should do so this week. Im sure that I’m not the only Hays county citizen appalled at this situation. It’s time that law enforcement look into the Sumter team before they cause any more damage to this man’s already sabataged reputation.

  2. This whole thing is a nightmare, but it makes me ask, why would anyone vote for any of these candidates?

  3. Not a huge fan of Sumter, but give me a break. Ramus is an ‘Axe to grind’ candidate with poor judgment. If he did anything illegal, and I am not saying he did, he did it alone. Are you going to insinuate the republican Sheriff’s office had him arrested for partisan political reasons?

  4. Well, sounds like he can just add malicious prosecution to the civil suit against Logan. When it’s all said and done she will be very sorry she is such a poor neighbor.

  5. A few questions one may want to ask:

    1.) Does this sound like an un-biased news report from Mr. Peterson? I do detect a little bit of slant, and maybe his own “axe to grind”.

    2.) When was the last time that you cleaned your shotgun on your front porch? Especially an old corroded one? And then carried it over waving it to the fence?

    3.) The report that I have heard that was submitted from the back hoe operator was that he fled the property, fearing for his life.

    Let’s get the sheriff’s report folks, then get some REAL reporting, not just more political mud slinging.

  6. The only thing I can say for sure is that the opponents of Debbie should be very disappointed. His campaign hopes are over and she won re-election today.

  7. I’m suprised Ramus hasn’t pulled the shotgun out sooner. Logan has stomped on him, gotten the county to harrass him and now she hires a backhoe operator to dump dirt onto Ramus’ property. Ramus should be able to defend his property. And since when is it against the law to have a gun on your own property? The Sheriff’s Dept has arrested the wrong person.

  8. “I didn’t want to leave the gun on the porch and have someone come up and take it, so I had it with me.”
    -Yep, because a brief chat with the backhoe operator just yards away would be a long enough window for someone to come and grab a rusted old gun.

    “Logan shouted obscenities at him from her riding lawn mower about 100 yards away.”
    -Inconceivable

    There is no question as to the bias in this article. I like the occupation listed as “aspiring restaurateur.” Diatribe of this sort may land the author a career as an “aspiring journalist.” I only comment out of deference to Carolyn Logan who is a sweet old lady who was publicly made to look like a buffoon.

  9. I’ve long believed the biggest reason why the public mistrusts the news media is because the public doesn’t understand how news gathering and publishing work — it’s not the public’s job, after all — and the news media doesn’t often enough discuss it forthrightly. Instead, media organizations like to throw out buzz words for marketing purposes, so they tout themselves for being “complete,” “objective,” “first,” and “comprehensive,” without talking honestly or in detail about they propose to meet those goals, or if they’re even humanly possible.

    The Internet is useful for addressing that problem, because the comments at the end of stories tell us reporters how readers see stories and give us a chance to expand on background aspects, acknowledge criticisms, learn more about what interests readers and talk with readers about what they’re getting when they read a news story. Nobody’s perfect, least of all reporters, and we learn more from our critics than we learn from our cheerleaders. Maybe that’s because we have more critics than cheerleaders. But sometimes our critics are confused, too, and it’s worthwhile to clarify why a story appears as it does.

    Some of y’all misunderstand what’s happening in this particular story, which has the basic news (Ramus arrested and his response), but lacks Carolyn Logan’s account. It certainly wasn’t from lack of trying.

    You shouldn’t confuse such lack of completeness for bias because, in the real world, news stories often go down like this, unfortunately. It’s in the nature of daily news media, and you see it all the time. You get the basic story, which is that the sheriff’s office arrested a commissioners court candidate and why, then add more details as they become available. With continuing stories, that happens through time, which is one reason why individual stories on some topic appear one-sided, but a publication’s total body of work on the topic will not.

    For those who think this story leans towards Ramus, take note that we’re merely reporting what Ramus said, not endorsing it. I would love to have included Ms. Logan’s account, and hope to provide it, but, as the story said, she was not available for comment. I made more than a half-dozen calls to her Saturday, probably about 10 or 12, and all I got was busy signals and unanswered rings. In that the Statesman got Logan’s account and we didn’t, I thought the Statesman’s story was better than this one, even though they didn’t go into the background. Maybe she was on the phone with the Statesman when I was getting busy signals. Anyway, they had Logan and we had background. Either story, or both, could have been better.

    It’s always an interesting question what to do with stories like this. The story is important enough to run just with the information that Ramus was arrested, his account of what happened makes it more complete, and Ms. Logan’s account would have made it still more complete. But if she isn’t available, you tell the reader that you tried to reach her, that she wasn’t available, and figure the reader is smart enough to realize there’s another side to this still to be told. The price paid for waiting on absolute completeness is that you don’t even tell the basic story, and that’s certainly not good.

    As to the origin of the conflict between Ramus and Logan, it’s plenty easy enough to see both sides, and I find it impossible to pick one. Ramus received his septic permit and the district court upheld it. Whether the permit was improperly approved or not, the court has upheld it. Evidently, he has the law on his side. But Ramus’ septic arrangement seems precarious, at best. I have no idea how a septic system on two acres can treat the amount of wastewater a restaurant produces. If you lived downhill from that arrangement, as Ms. Logan does, you’d be upset, too.

    Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting. I hope I haven’t bored you with all this and, if I have, please take comfort in knowing that I could have bored you more and chose not to.

  10. I couldn’t care less what really happened. The public rarely benefits (if ever) when people run for and are elected to office simply to get their own personal issues addressed.

    The Hatfields and McCoys are mildly entertaining and add some local flavor to the news, but that doesn’t mean that I want either side representing me in public office. These people all come across more and more like childish buffoons every time another story comes out.

    I vaguely recall a candidate for county commissioner turning up dead in the early 90s. Is that next? We must look like toothless inbreds to outsiders.

  11. Thanks for the follow-up Bill. When Carolyn declined to comment I should have taken that as a cue.

  12. Did anyone else see that Nick Ramus was convicted on the charge of deadly conduct and given one year in prison that was converted to two years of probation and 40 hours of community service. Judge Rodriquez also fined Ramus $700 and court cost, and required Ramus to attend an anger management course.

    I attended the hearing and once again Ramus perjured himself with false testimony. You would had to hear his testimony to believe anyone would lie so blatantly. Ramus made only two factual statements—his name and his address. It was downhill from there.

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