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It's no secret, most of us would like to stay in our own home as we age. Yet, sometimes our loved ones just need a little extra help to remain comfortable at home. That's where Always Best Care can help....we are dedicated to exceeding expectations....always

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Home Care In Mason, TX

Home Care Mason, TX

They say that your golden years are the best years of your life. For most older Americans, that's how it should be - a time to relax, reflect, and live life in a familiar place. After all, senior citizens in the U.S. have worked tirelessly to build a better economy, serve their communities, and raise families.

However, as seniors grow older, completing daily tasks like showering and enjoying activities such as visiting the historic Fort Mason gets harder without someone by their side. Unfortunately, many older Americans aren't able to rely on their adult children for help. The reality in today's world is that family members do not have the skills or time to dedicate to caring for their parents. That's where Always Best Care Senior Services comes in.

Our in-home care services are for people who prefer to stay at home as they grow older but need ongoing care that family or friends cannot provide. More and more older adults prefer to live far away from long-term, institutionalized facilities and closer to the place where they feel most comfortable - their home. Home care in Mason, TX is a safe, effective way to give your loved ones the care they need when they need it the most.

 In-Home Care Mason, TX

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The Always Best Care Difference

Since 1996, Always Best Care has provided non-medical in-home care for seniors to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle as they get older. We are proud to have helped more than 25,000 seniors maintain higher levels of dignity and respect. We focus on providing seniors with the highest level of in-home care available so that they may live happily and independently.

Unlike some senior care companies, we genuinely want to be included in our clients' lives. We believe that personalized care is always the better option over a "one size fits all" approach. To make sure our senior clients receive the best care possible, we pair them with compassionate caregivers who understand their unique needs. That way, they may provide care accordingly without compromising their wellbeing.

The Always Best Care difference lies in life's little moments - where compassionate care and trustworthy experience come together to help seniors live a fruitful, healthy life. Whether you are an aging adult that can't quite keep up with life's daily tasks or the child of a senior who needs regular in-home services, Always Best Care is here to help.


“I work for this team and it's a wonderful team , great communication and support for our clients, their family members and our caring team of staff .”

Antoinette G.

“Ken and Bonnie are wonderful people to help care for your loved ones. their staff was so caring to my mother and so nice to my family I highly recommend them to take care of your loved ones. I think there ought to be more than just five stars to give them”

Mark A.

“Ken and Bonnie were wonderful to work with. They were able to provide my mother with care and a very short notice. Their staff was some of the most caring people that I've ever met. Not only were they wonderful to my mother but also to my family. I would highly recommend using them.”

Mark A.

“Very professional and welcoming people so I would definitely recommend my friends and family to Always Best Care in Boerne.”

Laurie K.

“The owner is so understanding and supportive of how I want my loved ones cared for. He and his staff actually listen to what I would like done for my parents. Very thoughtful, very professional and very caring. It’s such a relief to have help in caring for my loved ones”

Kristen B.

“ALWAYS BEST CARE is certainly a warm & caring business owned & operated by Ken Thomas. I certainly would recommend them for you or your loved ones excellent care.”

Shirley S.

“Kenneth is kind, patient, experienced and knowledgeable. We are thankful to him for all his efforts and for going above and beyond.”

Chae S.

“For those who are searching for qualified caregivers for their loved ones, contact Ken Thomas at Always Best Care Senior Services. Mr. Thomas provides an authentic and professional guiding hand when discussing available services for your precious senior family members. When it is time for a beloved senior to receive assistance, Mr. Thomas understands the importance of providing trustworthy and quality support.”

Melissa C.

“Ken leads his Always Best Care Senior Services Agency with compassion for his clients and their families. He is a local senior care expert and leader in his community. If you are need of assistance in navigating your local senior care options, then do not hesitate to give Ken a call!”

Kelly B.

“Kenneth is knowledgeable and trustworthy. I can’t recommend him enough. You’re in good hands with Kenneth.”

Chae S.

“I will be forever grateful for the love you showered upon us and my grandmother”

Jill &.

What is Non-Medical Senior Care in Mason, TX?


Home is where the heart is. While that saying can sound a tad cliche, it is especially true for many seniors living in America. When given a choice, older adults most often prefer to grow older at home. An AARP study found that three out of four adults over the age of 50 want to stay in their homes and communities as they age.


When you begin to think about why, it makes sense. Home offers a sense of security, comfort, and familiarity.


The truth is, as we age, we begin to rely on others for help. When a family is too busy or lives too far away to fulfill this role, in-home senior care is often the best solution. Home care services allow seniors to enjoy personal independence while also receiving trustworthy assistance from a trained caregiver.


At Always Best Care, we offer a comprehensive range of home care services to help seniors stay healthy while they get the help they need to remain independent. As your senior loved one gets older, giving them the gift of senior care is one of the best ways to show your love, even if you live far away.

 Senior Care Mason, TX

Types of Elderly Care in Mason, TX

To give our senior clients the best care possible, we offer a full spectrum of in-home care services:

Personal Care

Personal Care Services

If your senior loved one has specific care needs, our personal care services are a great choice to consider. Personal care includes the standard caregiving duties associated with companion care and includes help with tasks such as dressing and grooming. Personal care can also help individuals with chronic conditions like diabetes.

Common personal care services include assistance with:

  • Eating
  • Mobility Issues
  • Incontinence
  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Grooming

Respite Care Mason, TX
Home Helper

Home Helper Services

Sometimes, seniors need helpful reminders to maintain a high quality of life at home. If you or your senior has trouble with everyday tasks like cooking, our home helper services will be very beneficial.

Common home helper care services include assistance with:

  • Medication Reminders
  • Meal Preparation
  • Pet Care
  • Prescription Refills
  • Morning Wake-Up
  • Walking
  • Reading
 Caregivers Mason, TX
Companionship Services

Companionship Services

Using this kind of care is a fantastic way to make life easier for you or your senior loved one. At Always Best Care, our talented caregivers often fill the role of a companion for seniors. That way, older adults can enjoy their favorite local activities, such as visiting Corwin M Nixon Park with friends while also receiving the care they need daily or weekly.

Common companionship services include:

  • Grocery Shopping
  • Transportation to Appointments
  • Nutritional Assistance
  • Conversation
  • Planning Outings
  • Completing Errands
  • Transportation to Community
  • Events and Social Outings
Home Care Mason, TX
Respite Care

Respite Care Services

According to AARP, more than 53 million adults living in the U.S. provide care to someone over 50 years old. Unfortunately, these caregivers experience stress, exhaustion, and even depression. Our respite care services help family caregivers address urgent obligations, spend time with their children, and enjoy nearby activities. Perhaps more importantly, respite care gives family members time to recharge and regroup. Taking personal time to de-stress reduces the risk of caregiver burnout. So, if you've always wanted to eat at the local Jag's Steak & Seafood or visit Seaquist House, don't feel bad. Doing so is great for both you and your loved one.

At the end of the day, our goal is to become a valuable part of your senior's daily routine. That way, we may help give them the highest quality of life possible. We know that staying at home is important for your loved one, and we are here to help make sure that is possible.

If you have been on the fence about non-medical home care, there has never been a better time than now to give your senior the care, assistance, and companionship they deserve.

 In-Home Care Mason, TX

Benefits of Home Care in Mason, TX

Always Best Care in-home services are for older adults who prefer to stay at home but need ongoing care that friends and family cannot provide. In-home care is a safe, effective way for seniors to age gracefully in a familiar place and live independent, non-institutionalized lives. The benefits of non-medical home care are numerous. Here are just a few reasons to consider senior care services from Always Best Care:

Always Best Care offers a full array of care options for patients at all levels of health. With our trusted elderly care services, your loved one will receive the level of care necessary for them to enjoy the highest possible quality of life.

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Aging in Place: The Preferred Choice for Most Seniors

While it's true that some seniors have complicated medical needs that prevent them from staying at home, aging in place is often the best arrangement for seniors and their families. With a trusted caregiver, seniors have the opportunity to live with a sense of dignity and do so as they see fit - something that is unavailable to many older people today.

In-home care makes it possible for millions of seniors to age in place every year. Rather than moving to a strange nursing home, seniors have the chance to stay at home where they feel the happiest and most comfortable.

Here are just a few of the reasons why older men and women prefer to age at home:

How much does a senior's home truly mean to them?

A study published by the American Society on Aging found that more than half of seniors say their home's emotional value means more than how much their home is worth in monetary value. It stands to reason, then, that a senior's home is where they want to grow old.

With the help of elderly care in Mason, TX, seniors don't have to age in a sterilized care facility. Instead, they can age gracefully in the place they want to be most: their home. In contrast, seniors who move to a long-term care facility must adapt to new environments, new people, and new systems that the facility implements. At this stage in life, this kind of drastic change can be more harmful than helpful.

Institutional care facilities like nursing homes often put large groups of people together to live in one location. On any given day, dozens of staff members and caregivers run in and out of these facilities. Being around so many new people in a relatively small living environment can be dangerous for a seniors' health and wellbeing. When you consider that thousands of seniors passed away in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, opting for in-home care is often a safer, healthier choice for seniors.

Aging in place has been shown to improve seniors' quality of life, which helps boost physical health and also helps insulate them from viral and bacterial risks found in elderly living facilities.

For many seniors, the ability to live independently with assistance from a caregiver is a priceless option. With in-home care, seniors experience a higher level of independence and freedom - much more so than in other settings like a nursing home. When a senior has the chance to age in place, they get to live life on their own terms, inside the house that they helped make into a home. More independence means more control over their personal lives, too, which leads to increased levels of fulfillment, happiness, and personal gratification. Over time, these positive feelings can manifest into a healthier, longer life.

More independence, a healthier life, and increased comfort are only a few benefits of aging in place. You have to take into consideration the role of cost and convenience. Simply put, it's usually easier and more affordable to help seniors age in place than it is to move them into an institutional care facility. According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, seniors who age in the comfort of their homes can save thousands of dollars per month.

In-home care services from Always Best Care, for instance, are often less expensive than long-term solutions, which can cost upwards of six figures per year. To make matters worse, many residential care facilities are reluctant to accept long-term care insurance and other types of payment assistance.

With Always Best Care's home care services, seniors and their families have a greater level of control over their care plans. In-home care gives seniors the chance to form a bond with a trusted caregiver and also receive unmatched care that is catered to their needs. In long-term care facilities, seniors and their loved ones have much less control over their care plan and have less of a say in who provides their care.

 Elderly Care Mason, TX

Affordable Care

In-home care is a valuable resource that empowers seniors to age in place on their own terms. However, a big concern for many families and their loved ones is how much in-home care costs. If you're worried that in-home care is too expensive, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that it is one of the most affordable senior care arrangements available.

Typically, hiring an Always Best Care in-home caregiver for a few hours a week is more affordable than sending your loved one to a long-term care facility. This is true even for seniors with more complex care needs.

At Always Best Care, we will work closely with you and your family to develop a Care Plan that not only meets your care needs, but your budget requirements, too. Once we discover the level of care that you or your senior need, we develop an in-home care plan that you can afford.

In addition to our flexible care options, families should also consider the following resources to help offset potential home care costs:

If your loved one qualifies, Medicaid may help reduce in-home care costs. Review your TX's Medicaid program laws and benefits, and make sure your senior's financial and medical needs meet Medicaid eligibility requirements.
Attendance and aid benefits through military service can cover a portion of the costs associated with in-home care for veterans and their spouses.
Many senior care services like in-home care are included in long-term care insurance options. Research different long-term care solutions to find a plan that provides coverage for senior care.
Home care can be included as part of a senior's private insurance plan. Read over your loved one's insurance policy carefully or speak with their insurance provider to determine if in-home care is covered.
Depending on the life insurance plan, you may be able to apply your policy toward long-term care. You may be able to use long-term-care coverage to help pay for in-home elderly care.
 Senior Care Mason, TX

Compassionate Care. Trusted Caregivers.

When you or your senior loved one needs assistance managing daily tasks at home, finding a qualified caregiver can be challenging. It takes a special kind of person to provide reliable care for your senior loved one. However, a caregiver's role involves more than meal preparation and medication reminders. Many seniors rely on their caregivers for companionship, too.

Our companion care services give seniors the chance to socialize in a safe environment and engage in activities at home. These important efforts boost morale and provide much-needed relief from repetitive daily routines. A one-on-one, engaging conversation can sharpen seniors' minds and give them something in which to be excited.

At Always Best Care, we only hire care providers that we would trust to care for our own loved ones. Our senior caregivers in Mason, TX understand how important it is to listen and communicate with their seniors. A seemingly small interaction, like a short hug goodbye, can make a major difference in a senior's day. Instead of battling against feelings of isolation, seniors begin to look forward to seeing their caregiver each week.

Understanding the nuances of senior care is just one of the reasons why our care providers are so great at their job.

Unlike some senior care companies, our caregivers must undergo extensive training before they work for Always Best Care. In addition, our caregivers receive ongoing training throughout the year. This training ensures that their standard of care matches up to the high standards we've come to expect. During this training, they will brush up on their communication skills, safety awareness, and symptom spotting. That way, your loved one receives the highest level of non-medical home care from day one.

Assisted Living Referral Services

While it's true that many seniors prefer to age at home, sometimes in-home care isn't the best fit. For those seniors and their families, choosing an assisted living facility makes more sense. Unfortunately, finding the optimal care facility is easier said than done in today's day and age. That's when Always Best Care's assisted living referral services begin to make a lot of sense.

Assisted living is a form of housing intended for seniors who require varying degrees of medical and personal attention. Accommodations may include single rooms, apartments, or shared living arrangements. Assisted living communities are typically designed to resemble a home-like environment and are physically constructed to encourage the independence of residents.

Respite Care Mason, TX

At assisted living communities, seniors receive help with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and eating. They may also benefit from coordination of services with outside healthcare providers, and monitoring of resident activities to ensure their health, safety, and well-being. Caregivers who work at assisted living communities can also provide medication administration and personal care services for older adults.

Other services offered within assisted living communities can include some or all of the following:

  • Housekeeping
  • Laundry
  • Recreational Activities
  • Social Outings
  • Emergency Medical Response
  • Medication Monitoring
  • Family Visitation
  • Personal Care
 Caregivers Mason, TX

At Always Best Care, our representatives can match your senior's emotional, physical, and financial needs with viable assisted living communities nearby. Results are based on comparative data, so you can select the best choice for you or your loved one.

Always Best Care works closely with local senior living communities to gain valuable knowledge that we then use to help seniors and their loved ones make informed decisions. This information can include basic care and rent, resident availability, and services provided. Because Always Best Care is compensated by these communities, we provide senior living referral services at no extra cost to you.

Some of the most popular assisted living communities to consider in our area include the following:

  • Mason Assisted Living & Memory Care
  • Artis Senior Living of Mason
  • BrightStar Senior Living of Mason
  • Central Parke Assisted Living & Memory Care
  • The Landing of Long Cove
  • Majestic Care of Cedar Village Assisted Living
Home Care Mason, TX

For many seniors, moving into a senior living community revolves around how and when they want to make a transition to more involved care. Some seniors are more proactive about transitioning to independent living. Others choose to remain home until their care needs or other requirements are satisfied. Remember - our staff is here to help. Contact our office today to learn more about assisted living communities and how we can find a facility that exceeds your expectations.

 In-Home Care Mason, TX

Taking the First Step with Always Best Care

The first step in getting quality in-home care starts with a personal consultation with an experienced Always Best Care Care Coordinator. This initial consultation is crucial for our team to learn more about you or your elderly loved one to discover the level of care required. Topics of this consultation typically include:

A discussion of your needs and how our trained caregivers can offer assistance in the most effective way


A draft of your care plan, which includes highly detailed notes and a framework for the care that you or your senior will receive


Discuss payment options and help coordinate billing with your insurance provider


Our caregivers are trained to spot changes that clients exhibit, like mental and physical decline. As your trusted senior care company, we will constantly assess and update your Care Plan to meet any new emotional, intellectual, physical, and emotional needs.

If you have never considered in-home care before, we understand that you and your family may have concerns about your Care Plan and its Care Coordinator. To help give you peace of mind, know that every team member and caregiver must undergo comprehensive training before being assigned to a Care Plan.

At the end of the day, we only hire the best of the best at Always Best Care. Whether you need home care in Mason, TX 24-hours a day or only need a respite for a couple of hours, we are here to serve you.

When you're ready, we encourage you to contact your local Always Best Care representative to set up a Care Consultation. Our Care Coordinators would be happy to meet with you in person to get to know you better, discuss your needs, and help put together a personalized Care Plan specific to your needs.

 Elderly Care Mason, TX

Latest News in Mason, TX

Dashcam video shows DPS trooper slam into 18-wheeler while responding to W. Harris Co. chase

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper is recovering from a violent crash with an 18-wheeler in west Harris County.The trooper was on his way to the end of a chase in the Katy area when the crash happened on Tuesday night, officials said. It was one of two separate incidents related to the chase that injured DPS troopers.Dashcam video from a wrecker driver at the scene shows the crash on Mason Road where Colonial Parkway turns into Park Row Drive. ABC13 paused the video right before the impac...

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper is recovering from a violent crash with an 18-wheeler in west Harris County.

The trooper was on his way to the end of a chase in the Katy area when the crash happened on Tuesday night, officials said. It was one of two separate incidents related to the chase that injured DPS troopers.

Dashcam video from a wrecker driver at the scene shows the crash on Mason Road where Colonial Parkway turns into Park Row Drive. ABC13 paused the video right before the impact.

Officials said the complex situation started with Harris County sheriff's deputies and DPS troopers chasing a woman.

A deputy confirmed to ABC13 on Wednesday morning that there were kids and another adult in the woman's car.

The dashcam video shows the DPS trooper with his lights on, responding to the end of the car chase. At the same time, the 18-wheeler is coming into the intersection and the trooper slammed into the side of the big rig.

The crash was so severe, the trooper had trouble getting out of the vehicle, DPS said.

The tow truck driver told ABC13 he immediately ran to the aid of the trooper, who was injured and in need of help.

"All I could see was blood, and I tried to open the doors. All the doors would not open. I tried to get him to crawl out through the back, but that was no good," Frankie Elayyan said. "The only way to get out of the car was through the front windshield, so obviously my hands were a little cut up, but thank God we were able to get him out."

The trooper was attempting to respond to a scene where a woman allegedly refused to stop for a different trooper on SH-99 at Peek Road and led them on a chase. The woman allegedly pulled into a garage in Katy, but the chase wasn't over.

The woman backed into a DPS patrol vehicle and struck a trooper, officials said.

"Got one at gunpoint. They are going into the garage. She's backing up. She's backing up. She just rammed the trooper's car. Looks like she just tried to run over a trooper," officials were heard reporting on radio traffic.

Officials said the woman ran over a DPS trooper's foot while smashing into his patrol car. Then, she continued to flee from officials.

Troopers eventually used a pit maneuver to stop the car at Merchants Way and Mason Road, and she was taken into custody.

Her name has not been released.

The trooper involved in the 18-wheeler crash was taken to the Texas Medical Center and is expected to survive his injuries. The tow truck driver said the trooper was walking around and talking before he was transported.

The trooper who was struck by the chase suspect was taken to the hospital for treatment.

The investigation into both incidents is still underway.

After Arson Tragedy, the Mason County Courthouse is Coming Back to Life

MASON, TX — The Mason County Courthouse, a magnificent historical building built in 1910, was destroyed by an arsonist on the night of February 4, 2021. After the fire that engulfed the entire structure was finally extinguished hours after it began, all that was left of the courthouse, that was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, were four exterior stone brick walls.Mason County Judge Jerry Bearden vowed to rebuild the courthouse the next day. Since then, the community of Mason, located in west Central Tex...

MASON, TX — The Mason County Courthouse, a magnificent historical building built in 1910, was destroyed by an arsonist on the night of February 4, 2021. After the fire that engulfed the entire structure was finally extinguished hours after it began, all that was left of the courthouse, that was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, were four exterior stone brick walls.

Mason County Judge Jerry Bearden vowed to rebuild the courthouse the next day. Since then, the community of Mason, located in west Central Texas, rallied with generous help from many corners.

Bearden said the budget to rebuild in the courthouse was $20 million.

“You know, it only cost $40,000 to build it in 1909,” Bearden said with a grin and a bit of irony.

For Bearden to promise a complete restoration at that time was risky. County budgets in Texas are a big deal because so many parts of each county’s property and sales tax revenue are allocated — some say mandated — to pay for basic necessities like the judicial system, the sheriff, and the jail and little is left over. Unanticipated expenses over and above about $250,000 at a time concern a commissioners’ court for counties the size of Mason (population 3,953 in 2020). There just isn’t that much cash flow left after the required expenses.

Help was on the way, however.

Judge Bearden said $5 million of the restoration costs came from private donors. Greater amounts came from the building’s insurance policy purchased through the Texas Association of Counties. The Texas Legislature and the Texas Historical Commission also pitched in with large grants.

The renovation will completely rebuild the old courthouse with modern construction and engineering techniques. As of this weekend, large steel pier and beams can be seen inside the four remaining walls that outline what where the original porticos. Bearden said the courthouse will have brand new steel I-beam bones to include the roof trusses. In mid-September, Bearden expects the installation of the roof’s light metal trusses to be complete. Some of the load-bearing portions of the rock structure have already been replaced shoring up the walls’ integrity.

Official and historic records had been removed before the arsonist broke inside the courthouse and doused it with gasoline.Yet, the historic antique pieces like the judge’s bench, jury box, and gallery benches were burned to dust.

“Luckily, one of our citizens had an old bench from the courthouse,” Bearden said. Using the that bench and old photographs from inside the courthouse, a San Antonio company is recreating the original fixtures and furniture. Another company in Fort Worth is restoring the metal and iron fixtures like the vault door, Bearden said.

The Courthouse was destroyed when a man named Nick Miller, allegedly enraged over a domestic dispute and that the Mason County judicial system treated him unfairly. He allegedly broke into the historic structure and doused both floors with gasoline and set a match to it. The mostly wooden structure quickly was fully engulfed with flames reaching heights 2.5-times the height of the tall, two-story structure leaving only four walls and rubble after the flames were extinguished hours later.

Miller was caught the next day after a 38-mile high-speed chase on I-35 that he filmed live on Facebook. His trial is scheduled in Mason County on January 23, 2022.

Judge Bearden closely monitors the timeline of the restoration and noted many of the challenges with supply chains. The latest delay was procuring the light metal trusses for the roof that he said was recently resolved. He noted at the bell tower portion, called the cupola, was being constructed off-site in Canada and will soon be ready to join the tip-top of the roof.

“We’ll have that roof on by Thanksgiving,” Bearden said.

The project should be complete “about a year from now,” Bearden said. “August 2023. Mark your calendar. We’re going to have a huge celebration.”

'She's our queen': Mason turns out to see new crown placed on courthouse that burned

MASON, Texas — The first onlookers arrived before dawn.Residents of Mason — along with a smattering of tourists — lined the long courthouse square early on April 19 in this Hill Country county seat (pop. just over 2,000).They set up camp chairs. A few leaned against storefronts. At one point a...

MASON, Texas — The first onlookers arrived before dawn.

Residents of Mason — along with a smattering of tourists — lined the long courthouse square early on April 19 in this Hill Country county seat (pop. just over 2,000).

They set up camp chairs. A few leaned against storefronts. At one point after 9 a.m., a gaggle of fourth-graders settled comfortably on the lawn of the old county jail.

Everyone assembled to see part of their heritage restored: On the south side of the square, workers were attaching heavy lines from a tall crane to lift a new crown — technically a "cupola" — to the top of the courthouse that was destroyed by fire Feb. 4, 2021.

The rest of the building is expected to be restored by August and ready for a grand opening by October.

"We're going to see our baby girl get crowned today," Mason County native Imelda Castillo says of the town's beloved courthouse. "I go by and say 'hi' every morning and say 'hi' every night. Our hearts are with her. The night it burned, we just cried and cried."

A special courthouse in Mason

This is not the first courthouse Mason County lost in a fire. The first, which stood on the northeast side of the courthouse grounds, also burned down.

"The first one burned on Jan. 21, 1877, during the Hoodoo War," says local historian Fran Hoerster, 83. The extended conflict, sometimes called the Mason County War, was really a series of feuds and lynchings related to cattle rustling that sometimes pitted German Americans against Anglo Americans. "People rushed in to grab the land records. Got most of them. But we lost brand records, marriage records, probate records. We had to start all over again," Hoerster says.

"There was a second courthouse somewhere over there (pointing toward the western side of the courthouse grounds), but we don't know exactly where, from 1879 to 1909. It was torn down. This one was finished in 1910."

More:On the West Texas road again: 10 must-see spots to visit in historic San Angelo

The surrounding square, by the way, is two blocks long, unusual for Texas, more like what one would find in Mexico, or in the earliest Texas towns. The open spaces make the courthouse look all the more majestic.

Designed by American architect Edward Columbus Hosford, it combines neoclassical elements, such as Doric columns, with materials that echo the Old West.

Then as now, rugged Mason County — bright green-yellow this spring day — has been ranch land. Tourism, hunting, fishing, mining, retail, restaurants and banking fill out edges of the economy. More than one establishment on the square advertises wine tastings.

Mason supports two historical museums, one on the square, another is a magnificent old rock schoolhouse; a pre-Civil War fort; a fine modern library with a permanent exhibit on "Old Yeller" author Fred Gipson, a local; and a good deal of art.

In fact, I met at least four artists on this day, some native, others who moved from places like Houston and Austin, attracted by the Hill Country's self-evident charms.

I'd visited Mason a half dozen times before and always stopped at the courthouse. Like everyone else, I was shocked to learn in February 2021 that the noble structure had been torched. A suspect, Nicholas Miller, later led law enforcement on slow-speed chase all the way to Waco before being arrested and charged with burglary and arson. According to local officials, he sits in a jail in nearby McCulloch County.

Two bits of good luck: All important documents had just been moved from the courthouse to the annex before the fire, and detailed plans for a routine restoration of the courthouse just had been completed.

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Despite these miracles, several onlookers expressed shock that the redo job was almost done after just two years.

"It's moving along real good," says County Commissioner Reggie Loeffler. "Everybody is having trouble finding skilled labor and every step needs an engineer to approve it. I don't think anyone was confident that it would be done so quickly."

Some of the money for the project came from private donors, such as Gene and Patsy Zesch, who positioned themselves near Santos — The Silerio Family Restaurant on the southeastern verge of the square. Built into a former service station, it offered some shelter from the weather under the old fuel-pump canopy.

"Gene and I have always done what we can to help the town," Patsy says. "To get things done."

"I donated some artwork for the auction," says Gene, whose sculpture of ranch life has been seen far and wide and who helped found the Mason Square Museum. "Another man gave $1 million. I'm happy to see it restored after such a tragedy."

Insurance from the Texas Association of Counties helped, and a $6 million appropriation from the Texas Legislature didn't hurt.

"It took $20 million to rebuild," says County Commissioner Buddy Schuessler. "And it originally cost $39,00 to build."

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'It's kind of like a holiday'

"First to come, last to leave: I arrived at around 7," says artist Bridget Langdale, who moved from Houston to the Hill Country 20 years ago to escape life-threatening pollution. She is making art from some of the old courthouse's remnants. "God told me the air here is good."

Other bystanders readily shared their impressions.

"I've been waiting a while," says Pat Werneke. "When I got here at 8:30 a.m., it was still pretty dead. So we had a little breakfast at the Willow Creek Café."

"We can leave our chairs here all day," says Gerald Werneke, "and they'll still be here."

"I drove around the square three times to make sure this was just the right spot," says artist Cathie Tyler, who moved here from Paris, Texas, 13 years ago. She chose the north side of the square for viewing. "It's like Christmas, the Fourth of July, Round Up Week and Rodeo all in one," she says. "This is our heart. Everything happens here."

"It's kind of like a holiday," says Sadie Smith, 8, who skipped school with permission for the big moment. "I've never been inside the courthouse. Now I will when it's finished."

"I've been inside," says her friend, Della Osburn, 9. "It's like a big office with lots of stairs and an elevator. There are only three elevators in town."

"She's our queen," Elsa Martinez says of the courthouse. "They are bringing back the four clocks (facing the cardinal directions on the cupola), but I think they are going to play different tunes. There are a lot of people here, but there were more when it burned. I'll never forget that night."

"It's a historical day," says Tracy Montoya. "A day of history."

An unexpectedly quick Mason coronation

The cupola is made with steel and aluminum, while the finials on the clock are constructed of pliant copper.

"It was important to stay as close to — but not over — 36,000 pounds as possible," says general contractor Glenn Lindquist. "The main supporting structure was designed not to exceed 36,000. The cupola with pressed metal shingles will weigh 30,466."

Only two manufacturers, Campbellsville Industries out of Kentucky and Heather & Little Ltd. out of Ontario, Canada, qualified to make the cupola.

"Heather & Little committed to our time frame so we went with them," Lindquist says. "They did a fine job on all the details. We are very pleased."

Texas History:Take a cool dip into the historic Medina River with this detailed guide

Around 10:30 a.m., low, bumpy clouds spritzed the scene with light drizzle.

Once the metal crown, however, began to jiggle a bit on its lines, one fourth-grader yelled out: "It's levitating!"

According to Mason Elementary Principal Ryan Holbrook, the fourth-graders were allowed to witness the historic moment because they are studying Texas history at this level.

After some observers had waited more than three hours, the cream-colored cupola ascended straight up, then sailed over to its pedestal atop the courthouse, where it gently descended. A crew of workers inside and outside guided it down the last feet and inches.

Meanwhile, the crowd drew in their collective breathes. A worker could be heard yelling: "Down, down, down, down!"

Once it was secured, onlookers cheered as the workers waved and jutted their thumbs into the air.

"Oh what day!" Hoerster cries. "It's unbelievable!"

The whole maneuver lasted about 15 minutes, all captured by hundreds of phones, some more sophisticated cameras, as well as at least two drones that zipped around the square.

"We made history today," bystander Don Grote says. "And I got it all on video."

County workers, who gathered at the annex across the street, said that they were looking forward to a restored courthouse that will be more modern in terms of wiring, computers and other amenities.

"It's going to be beautiful when it's finished and open again," says Polly McMillan, who served as county treasurer for 28 years. "And a much better building."

Jerry Bearden served as Mason County Judge from 2003 to 2022.

"Today we put the cherry on the sundae," Bearden says. "It's been a long time coming. I remember standing outside the courthouse for hours during the fire. My office was the last to burn. Took me to my knees.

"But we're going to rise from the ashes."

Michael Barnes writes about the people, places, culture and history of Austin and Texas. He can be reached at [email protected]. Subscribe to the free weekly digital newsletter, Think, Texas, at, or at the newsletters page of your local USA Today Network newspaper.

Illegal dam in Mason County blocking water from refilling Highland Lakes

MASON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A dam that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say was constructed illegally in Mason County is blocking water from flowing toward the Highland Lakes, which serve as Austin’s drinking water supply.This new dam came to KXAN’s attention following our investigation of a different, proposed pri...

MASON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A dam that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say was constructed illegally in Mason County is blocking water from flowing toward the Highland Lakes, which serve as Austin’s drinking water supply.

This new dam came to KXAN’s attention following our investigation of a different, proposed private dam on the South Llano River.

A hydrologist told KXAN the sudden rise of new dam construction is part of a growing trend statewide, stressing dwindling water resources during a multi-year drought.

“We share the rivers with everybody. We always have,” Mason County resident Kathy Zesch-Bradley said. “This land has been in my family since the 1850s, and no one has ever attempted to do this, but especially not having any permits.”

“Unfortunately, it’s a situation where people that have enormous amounts of money are able to do the things that they want that infringe upon the rights of all citizens of Texas,” Kathy’s husband Lee Zesch said.

“It’ll destroy our livelihood if that stands because our cattle won’t have water,” Kathy’s sister Susan Keeling, who lives downstream from the dam, said.

KXAN crews drove to Mason County to check, entering through the neighbor’s land with permission, then following the public riverbed upstream. Navigable rivers like the James River are public property, whether wet or dry, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

After two to five inches of beneficial rain in the past month in Mason County, the dam is now holding back water five feet deep on the landowner’s side. Upon KXAN’s inspection, none of that water flowed downstream toward the Austin area.

KXAN checked with the Mason County Clerk’s office, finding that the 404-acre plot of land was purchased by an entity called ‘Neusch Mason, LLC’ on May 19, 2023.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality confirmed to KXAN no one has applied for a permit to build a dam in Mason County this year.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department investigated the dam and issued a notice of violation letter to the landowner for failing to apply for a permit prior to construction.

The landowner also failed to get a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which issued a cease and desist letter to the landowner after visiting the property.

KXAN searched Mason County Appraisal District records and business filings, which link Bill Neusch to the LLC listed as the property owner.

Neusch is the CEO of Gibraltar, a Burnet-based company that builds anti-vehicle ram barriers and security fencing. The company has built and installed more than 150 miles of the Texas/Mexico border wall, according to its website.

KXAN went to Gibraltar to try to speak with Neusch. A receptionist told us he was on-site, but was unavailable to speak with us. KXAN also tried calling a phone number registered under his name, but the number had been disconnected.

KXAN connected with Neusch’s attorney, Jim Bryer, over e-mail. He told us his client is “unavailable for an interview,” and “we have no additional comment at this time.”

KXAN showed photos of the dam to hydrologist Dr. Jordan Furnans. Furnans works for LRE Water, which is a water consulting firm based in Colorado.

“Each individual pond is not very much, but when you add it all up, that’s a lot of water,” Furnans said. “This is really death by 10,000 cuts. And when I say 10,000, I mean 10,000.”

Furnans was hired to study a different watershed north of the James River in 2019. Analyzing satellite images of the San Saba, North Concho, South Concho and Elm Creek watersheds, he found 12,500 unregistered ponds holding an estimated 35,000 acre-feet of water. That is the equivalent of nearly five Lady Bird Lakes.

Through computer modeling, Furnans found that these ponds are capturing 15% of the water that would otherwise flow into rivers and lakes. His models found an additional 5% reduction in streamflow due to warmer temperatures, drier soil, and land use changes.

In the Brazos River basin, Furnans found more than 30,000 of these ponds capturing an estimated 8% of runoff.

In addition to impounding water, Furnans said the larger surface area of water created when water is dammed off enhances losses to evaporation.

“[Lake recharge] is just not going to be like it used to,” Furnans said. “You’re going to need that massive whopper of a storm that’s just going to overwhelm all of these small ponds and cause all this runoff to go in. We’re not getting those as frequently as we used to. Really, I would love to see all of these small ponds removed.”

It is important to note that while Furnans said all of those ponds are unregistered, they are not necessarily illegal. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Texas Water Code allow landowners to build a water impoundment without a permit when:

“I think this guy wanted to do it in the dark of night so to speak, so nobody would see it, and maybe this little town wouldn’t even notice,” downstream neighbor Susan Keeling said.

“Sometimes you just have to do the right thing because it’s the right thing,” Susan’s husband Jimmy Keeling said, “and building a dam so people downstream can’t get water is not the right thing. One individual can destroy it for the rest of us.”

Texas Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said they hope to coordinate with the landowner to reach a desirable solution.

After an in-person inspection Aug. 25, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality told KXAN their investigation into the dam is ongoing.

KXAN has also received viewer tips of other dams constructed on Elm Creek and Leon Creek. Investigations into those are ongoing.

You can tour this gorgeous 132-year-old mansion in the Texas Hill Country this summer

Janell Appleby/The Seaquist House FoundationThere's a gorgeous 132-year-old mansion with tons of history and charm hidden away in the Texas Hill Country, and you can tour it this summer.The Seaquist House, of Mason, Texas, is a gorgeous Victorian residence that is "one of the best examples of Italianate architecture in the region," according to the Seaquist House website. The mansion includes 22 rooms, 15 fireplaces, a third-floor ballroom and game roo...

Janell Appleby/The Seaquist House Foundation

There's a gorgeous 132-year-old mansion with tons of history and charm hidden away in the Texas Hill Country, and you can tour it this summer.

The Seaquist House, of Mason, Texas, is a gorgeous Victorian residence that is "one of the best examples of Italianate architecture in the region," according to the Seaquist House website. The mansion includes 22 rooms, 15 fireplaces, a third-floor ballroom and game room, a wine cellar, wrap-around porches, hand-cut and carved stone, stained glass, and a three story water tower with shower room.

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Why this Mississippi town is a food destination

Haley Laurence

January 24 | 2024

If you get a jonesing for authentic Italian cuisine, then you must visit Mario’s Italian Cuisine in Hattiesburg.

(Visit Hattiesburg)

This story is sponsored by Visit Hattiesburg.

If you’re looking for a weekend getaway, I gotta recommend spending some time in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The city has garnered a reputation for being a burgeoning Southern hotspot. It has plenty of outdoor activities, a fun art scene and lots of unique places to shop.

It also has a food scene that I’m certain you’ll love. The city has pretty much every food option you’d ever want. One of my favorite things is the Hattiesburger Trail. Here’s the deal: Locals are known as Hattiesburgers, but the city also has some seriously great burgers, so the tourism department put together a list of all the places in town to get a burger and named it theHattiesburger Trail. (I love a good pun.) There are dozens of places on the list, so if you wanna finish it, it’ll take multiple trips to the South Mississippi city.

But it’s not just burgers. Like I said, there are lots of food options in Hattiesburg. Let’s look at a couple of them:



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