Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hello health department, we've got a problem here

Send your comments and news tips to, to Charles O'Dell at, to Pct. 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe or click on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story

Looking at these pictures, ask yourself – what kind of county health department would allow a piece of property to become so overgrown with weeds, abandoned vehicles, trash scattered everywhere, cesspools (reportedly), home to all manner of vermin and you-name-it, that it poses a genuine health hazard to neighbors, including kids and teachers at a high school very close by?

Answer: The Hays County kind of health department.

The department and its function of enforcing county health and safety rules falls under a larger group called Development Services Division, Resource Protection, Transportation & Planning Department (512-393-2150). Looking at the name, you wouldn't know public "health" even has a role. It is all overseen by Jerry Borcherding. (Don't try to call him. He's usually too busy to talk to citizens about equal enforcement of the county's and state public health codes.)
Nick Ramus (
Thursday morning, the RoundUp accompanied a handful of citizens on a field trip to get a close up look at this grim-looking spectacle. The field trip was led by HaysCAN president Charles O'Dell. The property is located at 2501 Old S. Bastrop Highway. The property's occupant is Nickolas Ramus. Ramus is a public figure of sorts. He ran as a Republican candidate for Pct. 1 county commissioner in 2008. He lost of course. The funny thing is that the Democratic incumbent now in her fourth term (14 years), Debbie Ingalsbe, hasn't returned the favor by asking Mr. Ramus to please clean up his place.

We are told Ramus holds some kind of power over the health department as well as Ms. Ingalsbe, her fellow Commissioners Barton and Conley, the DA's office – the whole county in fact. There's a long and very disturbing back story to all this, involving politics and a lot of subterfuge.

A press release sent out by HaysCAN prior to the field trip said this: "Despite having been convicted twice before of being a public nuisance, personnel from the Hays County Environmental Health Department carrying out inspections in response to numerous citizen complaints now find “no violations” even though the property is in worse condition than when Mr. Ramus was convicted as being a public nuisance."

We're thinking the real pubic nuisances are lurking about in high county positions. Whatever the case, they should do their jobs forthwith and get Ramus and his property up to code before someone gets sick or hurt.

(click on photos to enlarge)

The sign up front says Texas Heritage Kitchen. There was no discernible activity.

An abandoned truck with years-old expired inspection and registration.

Just a few hundred feet away, San Marcos ISD's new high school on Old S. Bastrop Highway.

Too many mosquitoes to count, caught on fly traps overnight.

Look closely and you can see a discarded tire.
Many others may be scattered under the brush and weeds. It was hard to see.

Neighbor Carolyn Logan has had to put up with this blight, and unresponsive county officials, for years.

A gorgeous, well kept farm right across the highway.


The Truth said...

It looks like Charles is at it again. He's exposing the crony link between the development-corrupted county commishes and the Hays County departments that facilitate their tax money plunder.

Charles, don't you know after all these years that citizens don't want to know the truth? You just raise the ire of the brainwashed free markets nuts.

Keep your hands off their sweet deal, Charles.

Sane Conspriracy Theorist said...

Seeing the picture of Ramos, where are the militant Arizona-loving illegal immigration xenophobes when we really need them. Is that picture taken in Juarez or Hays County?

Is Ramos in bed with that Pope guy over in San Marcos? I get the impression that his scam is to persecute and harass "underwater" property owners, take the property using government goons, and sell the confiscated properties to crony friends for profits. All legal, but sleazy nonetheless. The "new county order".

I suggest you watch your back, Charles. Don't underestimate the Hays County "marketiosos".

Yikes! said...

Mosquitoes and little critters carry disease, and so close to a school!!!! This looks like a no brainer to me. Isn't it just common courtesy to neighbors to keep one's yard cut and clean?

Anonymous said...

Where is the requirement to cut your grass in the country? What about your native vegetation being allowed to prosper without interference by man? This isn't in the City of San Marcos where there are rules for the maintenance of yards.

Where is Mr. O'Dell's proof of this man's conviction of being a nuisance? What a waste of time for this to be brought up on this blog. Is this all that there is out there that is going on? Going after one pathetic old man? This blog seems to be Mr. O'Dell's personal space to belittle people that he disagrees with. How does that make this a worthy news site?

Charles O'Dell said...

Here you go Anonymous:

"Where is Mr. O'Dell's proof of this man's conviction of being a nuisance?"

Ramus, Nicholas George, Jr.
County Court at Law #2
Adult Misdemeanor
Judgement And Sentence
Ramus, Nickolas George, Jr.
Criminal, Class C
Paid Fine
Fmcsr 397.5c-leave Veh Trnspt All Other Hm Unatt
Ramus, Nickolas George, Jr.
Criminal, Class C
Community Service Granted
Public Nuisance Enh
Ramus, Nickolas George, Jr.
Criminal, Class C
Paid Fine
Public Nuisance Enh

"Where is the requirement to cut your grass in the country?"

Sec. 343.011. PUBLIC NUISANCE. (a) This section applies only to the unincorporated area of a county.
(c) A public nuisance is:
(1) keeping, storing, or accumulating refuse on premises in a neighborhood unless the refuse is entirely contained in a closed receptacle;
(2) keeping, storing, or accumulating rubbish, including newspapers, abandoned vehicles, refrigerators, stoves, furniture, tires, and cans, on premises in a neighborhood or within 300 feet of a public street for 10 days or more, unless the rubbish or object is completely enclosed in a building or is not visible from a public street;
(3) maintaining premises in a manner that creates an unsanitary condition likely to attract or harbor mosquitoes, rodents, vermin, or disease-carrying pests;
(4) allowing weeds to grow on premises in a neighborhood if the weeds are located within 300 feet of another residence or commercial establishment;

Skeptic said...

Oh Charles, how do we know you really got Ramos's crime sheet from the authorities? From what I can tell from the good folks who chastise you for your research, you make everything up and waste the time of us blog readers.

Let's see the receipt for your groceries. I don't believe you eat.

The Lone Ranger said...

I'd recommend all you ongoing "doubters" get off your collective butts and go see the property for yourselves. The truth is right there staring at you.

The only way to deal with this man [Ramos] is to continue to file police complaints and to take him to court.

Does anyone have the time and money to do this consistently until the troll grows up and become a decent member of the community?

Peter Stern said...

Charles, you do a great job for the community. However, all too often you present information or comments without validation.

It is a setup for these sort of comments. You can avoid them.

While I do know that you speak the truth about this ongoing and irresponsible issue, you should consider document your writing with factual references and/or links.

Otherwise, keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Okay Charles, that's what I was looking for. Can you elaborate on what some of the offenses were for?

Anonymous said...

Most people are just too busy playing computer games or watching reality TV or talk shows to take the time to pay any attention to real community issues. Don't the citizens of Hays County know that elected officials with the very best intentions must be held accountable by those who put them in office? Get off your butts and start paying attention! Looks like Charles O'Dell has done that for many of us! Thanks Charles! Keep up the great work!

Charles O'Dell said...


I posted the Hays County Government website link. Anyone can Google Chapter 343 of the Texas Health and Safety Code. I can lead them to water but they don't want to drink. The complaints are smokescreens by those who are accountable for failing to enforce our laws.


Deadly Conduct conviction was for pointing a loaded shotgun at a woman and for threatening a backhoe driver while holding a loaded shotgun. The gun didn't have a plug and was loaded with four or five shells, including a deer slug and so the gun itself was illegal.

Public nuisance is for having property in such an unsanitary condition as to be a threat to public health and safety. For more details go to the Hays County link and search criminal files under the name Nickolas Ramus.

Read the Roundup article and observe the photographs taken by the reporter. Then post comments.

The name is Ramus (Greek) not Ramos.

Feta Cheese Lover said...

Not Ramos, but Ramus?

Ok, watch your back, Charles, you can't trust those shipping tycoonistas.

Anonymous said...

Digger O’Dell said;

“The gun didn't have a plug and was loaded with four or five shells, including a deer slug and so the gun itself was illegal.”

Like most liberals, you are ignorant about guns and gun law. Your statement is dead wrong. State a law, Federal or State, that makes such a gun “itself” illegal. BTW, he wasn’t bird hunting. When you get started Digger, you just don’t know when to quit.

Charles O'Dell said...


Take up your argument with the prosecutor who claimed during the Ramus trial that the gun was illegal for hunting without a plug.

You seem to be more obsessed with what the prosecutor said about the gun than about the judge convicting Ramus for deadly conduct against another person.

Where are your values and your priorities?

If you believe I'm a "liberal," does that make you a "conservative" who cares more about whether a gun is legal than about a person committing an illegal act with a gun?

Get your head screwed on Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Well this obviously isn't a "neighborhood" so the definition of "nuisance" appears to preclude the application of O'Dell's citation of items 1, 2, and 4 to the property. The proximity of the school has absolutely nothing to do with the code you cited. Accordingly most of this rant (including the part about the tire) is moot. Note also that the tire isn't particularly visible in the picture much less from the public street.

As to item 3 - that's rather vague since one could argue that you will find rodents and vermin in any grain field or coastal field and such fields are not unlawful. Moreover the definition of "sanitary" is circular since it is defined in terms of "unsanitary". Critters also build homes in manicured areas. There is no water near the "fly tapes" in your pictures. The mere existence of mosquitos in the countryside is hardly a property owner offense. One might consider the enforceability of this particular section in view of state support for Wildlife Exemptions which inherently increases the population of wildlife including rodents in an area.

Texas law defines a nuisance as "a condition that substantially interferes with the use and
enjoyment of land by causing unreasonable discomfort or annoyance to persons of ordinary sensibilities." There is nothing about Ramos' property that interferes with the Logan's use of their property.

As a practical matter, people often feel bullied into paying fines, etc. because the cost of defending them is too great. O'Dell prefers a police state where a property owner is deemed a criminal because of a non-owner's aesthetic viewpoints. Perhaps O'Dell will find himself the subject of such action someday. The pursuit of the elimination of ugliness has been used historically to justify everything from the taking of property to genocide. This article itself is offensive.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised the school district isn't all over this one to protect their students and staff. I see what looks like field or stadium lights in one of the pictures partially obscured by a heavy wooded area. What's to stop students from doing "field trips" of their own into the woods and getting bit by a snake. If ignoring the students and the public's health and safety over technicalities and political games is not a violation of the regulations it should be.

Charles O'Dell said...


I wouldn’t hire you as my attorney even if you were pro bono:
(c) A public nuisance is:
[2] abandoned vehicles within 300 feet of a public street unless the object is completely enclosed in a building or is not visible from a public street.
(Look at photographs in the Roundup article)
[3] maintaining premises in a manner that creates an unsanitary condition likely to attract or harbor mosquitoes, rodents, vermin, or disease-carrying pests;
(This is a residential two acres, not a farm, and most of it is dedicated to an on-site septic field that is not in compliance.)
The definition of “unsanitary” is defined in the 343 statute by what is not allowed and your reference to Wildlife Exemptions is laughable, ludicrous and a smokescreen.
The Texas Health and Safety Code clearly defines public nuisance. Your proposed definition isn’t relevant and I believe you just made it up. If not, cite your statute.
As for bullying, I believe I know who you are and if correct you have a long history of SLAPP suits (strategic lawsuit against public participation) designed to bully and/or for nefarious political purposes.
My sense of the rule of law does not include misusing the law for profit or power.
This is not about aesthetics and you know it. It’s about a threat to public health and safety, including high school students, teachers and staff next door.

Anonymous said...

O'Dell: Proximity of the school is irrelevant.

You tacitly admitted error about §§ (c) 1 and (c) 4 and (c) (2) as to the tire. You've added naught to the flaws with (c) (3). You're down to (c) (2) and the truck.

You must prove all the elements including those you conveniently redacted from your second recitation of the statute. You must prove the vehicle is abandoned AND that it is either [stored on premises in a neighborhood OR within 300 feet of a public street] AND visible from the street.

The property does not appear to be in a "neighborhood" per your pictures and description. You must otherwise show the vehicle is within 300 feet of a public street and visible from the street. You haven't suggested anything about the distance to the street. Moreover, it seems that the truck is parked behind the building and not visible from the public street. Even if you meet the 300 feet and within public view of the street elements, however, you still have to overcome the "AND" requirements for abandonment as well as the apparent requirement of plurality.

There is no evidence that the one vehicle identified is abandoned. Can you point to any law requiring current registration or inspection on vehicles that are not being operated on public roads?

You and RoundUp admit: "RoundUp accompanied a handful of citizens on a field trip to get a close up look at this grim spectacle of obvious code violations. The field trip was led by HaysCAN president Charles O'Dell"

Regarding the collection of "evidence", did you use binoculars and zoom lenses or did you and your merry troop trespass on this person's property to take your "close up" look? Your statements and this article scream "Blockwart".

The case law excerpt is from Rankin v. FPL Energy, LLC, 266 S.W.3d 506 (Tex.App. 2008). The language was a stern rebuke to property owners that tried to stop a wind turbine farm because of aesthetics. It's relevant only on the larger issue of limitations on the breadth of "nuisance".

Anonymous said...

”Blockwart” is a perfect job description of O’Dell. Thanks for adding to my vocabulary. I have never been able to figure out what he does for a living except lurk around stirring up suspicions about people and organizations he doesn’t like. Or more likely individuals that are unpopular with the left and wake up the radicals. It works here on this Blog but in the overall scheme of things actually accomplishes nothing. This guy, Ramus is not going to be man of the year but all O’Dell has to do is go out and interview some of his complaining neighbors then sling accusations around as if they were fact. Flies and mosquitoes on fly paper, LOL give me a break.

If the County were to go around and enforce (investigate then prosecute) every violation of CHAPTER 343. ABATEMENT OF PUBLIC NUISANCES that is all they would be doing. We would have to triple the Sheriffs office and the courts to accommodate the flow. Have you looked around in the rural areas of Hays County? Speaking of law enforcement, trespassing is a criminal offence and wonder if law enforcement is interested.

Charles O'Dell said...


You give the appearance of being an attorney.

Why would an attorney be blogging in defense of a twice convicted public nuisance whose property continues to be a public health threat?

What do you know that you aren't telling readers?

Anonymous said...


What I "know" is this: an individual is not "guilty" or "liable" simply because a self-selected lynch mob declares it so. Surely the Constitution didn't get thrown out with common sense?

In order for there to be a violation, every element of the offense must be met. The determination of the existence of that element must comply with notions of due process. You tried to gloss over essential elements of the offense and wholly want to dispense with due process because "O'Dell said so". The part about the school was nothing but a red herring introduced for emotional effect - a tactic more commonly utilized by the drama queens showing up at the HTGCD meetings.

I cannot speak to the prior citations except to note that people often give in to governmental threats and simply "settle" because the cost of defense is too great. Those unable to defend themselves are frequently a significant source of revenue for local governments.

With respect to this case, the past citations referred to are irrelevant as to whether the owner/property is presently in violation. Apparently the county has already determined that the property is not in violation of the Health and Safety Code.

This article and your description of your actions just screamed the term

Charles O'Dell said...

“Apparently the county has already determined that the property is not in violation of the Health and Safety Code.”

You are defending Ramus to protect your buddies who refuse to enforce the law. They used Ramus in their corrupt political games, and now he owns them. They have to protect Ramus. I was wondering how close you might venture to the real problem.

That’s why you have to post anonymously while I post with my real name.

Anonymous said...


I simply re-iterated your own words. Your article states that you sent out a so-called "press release" proclaiming that the county investigated and found no violations.

So this was not a case of inaction but rather a case of O'Dell didn't like the outcome. The county did not ignore "numerous citizen complaints" - (your Blockwart group?). The county investigated. You just didn't like the results.

Your article was clearly authored for the purpose of creating community hatred and contempt towards your target, but you failed to establish the elements of the offense you claimed him to be liable for/guilty of. At least for some readers, contempt developed towards the author rather than the subject of the article.

Anonymous said...

MR Odell: how can you say that the Health Department has gotten convictions on him and then turn your head the other way and say they don't do anything?
You must have Xray vision to see the "one" tire in your picture. And the County is supposed to prosecute him because there "may" have many more? You are obviously on a witch hunt for this man.

Charles O'Dell said...

The county did not ignore "numerous citizen complaints"

Readers should simply drive by 2501 Old S. Bastrop Hwy and judge for themselves. Especially parents of students attending the San Marcos High School next door.

Then you can argue with them.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Mr. Odell, it is undoubtedly unsightly. But since when did having an unsightly yard become a felony when you live out in the country? Does your Phd stand for Professional Harrassment Diploma? Why is it that this is the only unsightly yard in the county that the Roundup cares about?

Anonymous said...

Readers can "judge" all they want - in their own minds. The proximity of the school has nothing to do with whether there is a health and safety code violation regarding public nuisances. From the statement inviting "drive-bys" it's apparent that the real complaint is aesthetics.

Come on folks. This isn't a story. The TCEQ's agenda regarding the dissolution of HTGCD to form a bigger GCD with taxing, metering, and other powers over you and your property should be of far greater concern.