2011 is starting off well for COVNA. We have a full complement of officers for the first time in several years. Our new vice president brings energy and new ideas to the office.

There have been several burglaries in our area recently. In response, an email on the COVNA email list quoted Reader’s Digest’s article entitled “13 Things a Burglar Won’t Tell You”. This has been reprinted below for those of you who are not on the email list. To keep informed about our neighborhood and receive recommendations for services you can subscribe to the COVNA email list by sending an email to

Prune Breakfast Month

Crime Stoppers Month



Beat the rush! According to the by-laws, dues shall be payable at or before the second meeting of each calendar year. A membership form is on the inside of the newsletter. It’s always a good time to show your support for the Castlewood-Oak Valley Neighborhood Association. You can print a membership form by clicking here.

Mark Tilley
Jennifer Rizkalla
Dan Anderson
Hal Ferguson
Doug Tabony
Doug DuBois
Dominic Chavez
President (280-2572)
Vice President (358-1610)
Secretary (282-1932)
Treasurer (282-0601)
Newsletter (280-4080)
ANC Delegate (292-9323)
Past President (695-5457)

To join the COVNA Email List, click below and
send an email with your name(s) to Doug at
Now 100+ households strong!

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February 15th
April 19th
Neighborhood Picnic - June 19th
September 16th
November 15th
Holiday Party - Dec 13th

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Happy New Year! I hope this newsletter finds everyone happy, healthy, and rested after the holidays. With a two-month old at home, I can at least claim to be two out of the three.

It was certainly a joyous time at our house as we enjoyed visits from grandparents, some time off from work, and all the fun the holidays bring. One of the fun things we participated in was the annual COVNA holiday party. The party is always a nice way to catch up with neighbors and meet some new ones as well. Along with food and fellowship, we conducted a little business. Jennifer Rizkalla was elected Vice President. I'm looking forward to working with Jennifer this year as she has some great ideas for reaching out to families in the neighborhood with younger kids. And I'm very happy that Hal Ferguson agreed to continue as Treasurer. He does such a great job and is an asset to the neighborhood. Both offices are for a two-year term starting January 1.

Since the program for the holiday party was to pass some oral history of the neighborhood from the long-term residents to the newer ones, we spent a good bit of time telling stories and learning about the original builders and how COVNA got started. I know I'm forgetting someone, but I want to especially thank Steve Hundley, Nolen Stanford, Lou Falconieri, Gerry Kern, and Jolly and Marilyn James for sharing their stories about the early neighborhood. Those who have lived here nearly 40 years have certainly seen lots of changes. When Castlewood Forest and Oak Valley began, they were beyond the outskirts of town, Manchaca and Brodie were single lane roads, and the houses backed up to undeveloped land teeming with wildlife. Slowly, the city and developers moved closer and closer, eventually surrounding the neighborhood and creating the green jewel in the middle of the urban sprawl that we all love. If you have the opportunity, I encourage you to visit with your neighbors who have been here for a while and can tell you about the "good ol' days." You won't be disappointed.

I am looking forward to a great 2011 for COVNA. I hope to build on some of the successes of 2010, such as the neighborhood-wide garage sale and National Night Out. And, I really hope to connect with some of the folks who are new to the neighborhood and have never attended a COVNA event. If there is anything I can do for you or if there is anything you'd like to see COVNA do in the coming year, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Mark Tilley



The Texas Governor's Mansion, also known simply as Governor's Mansion is a historic home for the Governor of Texas in downtown Austin, Texas. It was built in 1854, designed by prominent architect Abner Cook, and has been the home of every governor since 1856.

On June 8, 2008, while midway through a major renovation, the mansion was heavily damaged by an arson fire started with a Molotov cocktail.

The mansion is the oldest continuously inhabited house in Texas and fourth oldest governor's mansion in the United States that has been continuously occupied by a chief executive. The mansion was the first-designated Texas historic landmark, in 1962. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as "Governor's Mansion" in 1970, and further was declared a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1974.

Built by Abner Cook in a Greek Revival style and completed in 1856, the building occupies the center of a block and is surrounded by trees and gardens. The original mansion was 6,000 square feet. Remodeling in 1914 increased the size of the mansion to 8,920 square feet. The original mansion had 11 rooms but no bathrooms. The remodeling brought the room count to 25 rooms and 7 bathrooms.

The mansion was partially destroyed by a four-alarm fire in the early morning of June 8, 2008. Current Texas Governor Rick Perry and First Lady Anita Perry were in Europe at the time of the fire. They had moved out in October 2007 for a $10 million major deferred maintenance project that began in January 2008. The project was to include a fire suppression system. State Fire Marshal Paul Maldonado said that investigators have evidence that an arsonist targeted the 155-year-old building. They have made no arrests, and don’t have a suspect. An official close to the investigation said agents determined the fire was a criminal act after reviewing footage from security cameras. A restoration is under way, but is not expected to be done until 2012.

In May 2009, $22 million was allocated to the restoration the Governor's Mansion, $11 million of which came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. An additional $3.4 million has been raised through private fund raising The restoration area, which includes the mansion and the adjacent segment of Colorado street, has been closed off from the public with a chain-link fence and barbed wire, and is currently monitored by state troopers at all times.


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Written by Janice Lieberman for Reader's Digest

1. Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator.

2. Hey, thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I was working in your yard last week. While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make my return a little easier.

3. Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste … and taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have.

4. Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it.

5. If it snows while you’re out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead giveaway.

6. If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don’t let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it’s set. That makes it too easy.

7. A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows on the second floor, which often access the master bedroom—and your jewelry. It’s not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too.

8. It’s raining, you’re fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock your door—understandable. But understand this: I don’t take a day off because of bad weather.

9. I always knock first. If you answer, I’ll ask for directions somewhere or offer to clean your gutters. (Don’t take me up on it.)

10. Do you really think I won’t look in your sock drawer? I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet.

11. Here’s a helpful hint: I almost never go into kids’ rooms.

12. You’re right: I won’t have enough time to break into that safe where you keep your valuables. But if it’s not bolted down, I’ll take it with me.

13. A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. If you’re reluctant to leave your TV on while you’re out of town, you can buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a real television. (Find it at

Sources: Convicted burglars in North Carolina, Oregon, California, and Kentucky; security consultant Chris McGoey, who runs; and Richard T. Wright, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, who interviewed 105 burglars for his book Burglars on the Job.

Reader’s Digest Contributing Editor Janice Lieberman shared these and more tips on the Today Show and in her blog.

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