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San Martians fear city losing authenticity

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Downtown construction is slated to be finished by summer, but some local residents say San Marcos has already lost its “small-town feel.”

Population growth, along with what some residents feel are superfluous development projects, have taken away the city’s small community feeling. City hall commissioned three downtown construction projects last year. The renovation plans involve full street reconstruction on LBJ Drive and Hutchison Street, new water and wastewater lines, widened sidewalks and the addition of bike lanes.

Texas State cheerleaders win 2015 world championship

The rising star of Texas State is shining bright following a first-place win in the All Girl Team division of the World University Cheerleading competition held in Orlando, Florida.

The world competition began Jan. 18, and the team performed a two-minute-30-second routine consisting of both cheer and dance. The university competed alongside Japan, China, Chile, Columbia, Germany and Norway, said Shaina Mayberry, head cheer coach.

Free tuition on the horizon

President Obama is working to create a program to give students who meet certain qualifications the first two years of community college free.

The America’s College Promise proposal would offer free tuition if students are enrolled in school at least part-time and are able to maintain a GPA of 2.5 or higher. The government would cover 75 percent of the cost of community college under the current proposition. The states would pick up the remaining 25 percent.

Some students use community college as a stepping-stone to transfer credits to a four-year university, save money or help prepare to study at a larger school.

America’s College Promise could benefit nine million students each year if it is enacted, according to the White House website.

Holiday season peak time for shoppers at Tanger Outlets

Tanger Outlets profited from shoppers’ holiday spirit in 2014, bringing in two million customers during November and December alone.

John Lairsen, general manager of Tanger Outlets, said the holiday season is the busiest time of the year for international shoppers to visit the outlet mall.

“The December numbers are just through the roof,” said Lairsen. “It was an incredible holiday season.”

San Marcos received a 5.9 percent increase in sales tax revenue in 2014 from the previous year.

The city received $2,243,976.99 million in sales tax revenue from November 2014 to January. San Marcos received $2,119,843.98 million, over $100,000 less, during the same time span the previous year.

Consistently falling gas prices benefit San Marcos

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Gas prices have been falling for two months, helping commuters and students living on campus save money.

The lower gas prices can be attributed to several factors, said Joni Charles, associate professor of finance and economics. Causes include new technology like hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, increased domestic production of petroleum that coincides with decreasing reliance on production in politically unstable countries and reduced global demand.

Enrollment growth dictates legislative priorities for Texas State

The Texas 84th Legislative session has begun, and university officials hope to receive more funding as enrollment continues to rise.

Texas educators will take concerns and proposals to their districts’ representatives during legislative sessions, and the delegates will present them before Congress.

The Higher Education Assistance Fund (HEAF), which is granted to state public universities, is at stake. This fund would not go to the University of Texas and Texas A&M, which collect their own grants from the state exclusively. The amount allotted is chosen once every decade and reevaluated every five, said Bill Nance, vice president of Finance and Support Services.

University programs aid economically disadvantaged students

Texas State was ranked 51st out of 539 schools by the Social Mobility Index (SMI), presented by Payscale and CollegeNET, for helping economically disadvantaged students succeed.

The Social Mobility Index was designed to help address the growing economic separation between rich and poor by acknowledging schools already providing pathways for mobility. The university has been commended for breaking barriers for students who would economically not be able to afford higher education.

“Our ranking of 51st in a measure that is intended to comparatively assess the role of our higher education system in providing a conduit for economic and social advancement seems, to me, like something we can celebrate,” said Robert Gratz, former special assistant to the president.

Faculty Senate favors change in Incomplete grading policy

Faculty Senate held a discussion at its Wednesday meeting about shortening the time frame for graduate students to earn a grade in a course in which they receive an “incomplete” before failing.

The policy and procedure currently state that graduate students who receive an “incomplete” or “I” in a class have one year to earn a better grade before failing that course. The proposed policy would hold graduate students to a higher standard by giving them less time to retake a course and earn a complete grade.

Jobs4Cats payment scam

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An online scam within the Jobs4Cats system through the Texas State Career Services website was reported Wednesday by the University Police Department (UPD).

Career Services notified UPD Jan. 27 of the scam after learning from a Texas State Internet user of a phony job solicitation post on the Jobs4Cats employment network.

The post asked applicants to deposit money to pay for a background check, officials said. The post received over 170 views and 38 responses.

Any job opportunity asking for money or bank information should be reported immediately to UPD.

“Any job where you have to (actually) pay (to continue in the process)—those are almost always illegitimate,” said Otto Glenewinkel, University Police Crime Prevention officer.

Rape kits prove difficult for students to access

Texas State is one of many universities across the country with a lack of rape kits available to students.

Rape kits, used to collect evidence from attacks on both genders, are one of the chief tools used to convict suspects in sexual assault cases. The kits are not available on campus, said Melissa Rodriguez, director of the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center. The cost of administering the test is the main reason for the lack of kits.

“The test has to be administered by a certified nurse,” Rodriguez said. “And there is no one like that on campus.”

The price of the required equipment, analysis of the kit and staffing a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) is a factor to consider, she said.

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