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

COVER: Several dozen people took part in Hays County’s Ice Bucket Challenge open invitational on Sept. 2 in downtown san Marcos. The fundraiser was held in the memory of the late Charelle Burnett, who died in 2011 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. PHOTO by LAUREEN CHERNOW


Dozens of residents gathered on the old courthouse square last week for a thorough dousing with frigid water in a group version of the omnipresent “Ice Bucket Challenge.”

During a recess in the weekly commissioners court session, more than 100 people watched from a dry distance — or joined in the spectacle — as elected officials and assorted Hays County inhabitants drenched themselves with ice chests and five-gallon buckets of icy water. County commissioners Will Conley, Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe and Ray Whisenant accepted their soakings as did Sheriff Gary Cutler.

The Sept. 2 countywide ice bucket invitational was held in memory of Charelle Burnett, a 39-year-old Dripping Springs mother and interior designer who died in February 2011 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease. She was survived by her husband, former county commissioner Bill Burnett, to whom she was married for nearly 16 years.

“This terrible disease claimed the life of a wonderful person, wife and mother. And so many other lives have been torn apart by this disease worldwide, as it knows no gender, sociological or geographic boundaries,” said Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley, a longtime family friend who succeeded Burnett in office.

Boosted by celebrities ranging from former President George W. Bush to Kermit the Frog, the international Ice Bucket Challenge has in recent weeks become an phenomenally successful fundraising and awareness campaign for The ALS Association. In August, the nonprofit reported donations of more than $100 million compared to $2.8 million during the same month last year.

The association says it relies on donations to fund research into a cure for ALS and for treatment of those already afflicted with the disorder. More than three million people have made contributions to the association since the Ice Bucket Challenge caught fire.

Locally, County Judge Bert Cobb managed to keep his black judicial robe dry after he sold the ice bucket designated for him in an open auction. Hays County Historical Commission chair Kate Johnson obliged with a bid of $500 that spared Cobb the public immersion.

That did not stop the judge from throwing down a challenge to Lee County Judge Paul E. Fischer, with whom Cobb has been trying to negotiate a groundwater-sharing agreement. Conley, meanwhile, challenged the Caldwell County Commissioners Court to hold their own countywide Ice Bucket Challenge.

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