I am a member of The Rites of Spring camping group that was at the Barefoot Campground last weekend. This was our 31st year for the camp out, with close to twenty of those years being at Barefoot. We have been very happy with our experience at Barefoot. The owners, Jackie and Charlene Brister are always a welcome addition to any of our activities. This year they joined us Saturday night for the group BBQ dinner. So, I find it very upsetting that we have to consider moving our camp out due to the actions of the local sheriff's department.
I look forward every year to the camp out, and spending a weekend with friends that I haven't seen all year. Due to my job, I have almost daily contact with the police, so the last thing I wanted to see at my "home" during vacation was the police. While I did not have personal contact with the officer out there, I saw and heard how other members of our group were treated. Here we are paying customers at a private campground, and here was a sheriff's officer running around hassling and intimidating members of our group. If the sheriff or whoever he was since he was using two different names wanted to stop by the campsites with a fire, and alert those people that there was a burn ban, to be careful, and not leave the fire unattended, there would not have been any upset, but that is not what happened. I saw him go to several campsites, where he was apparently questioning and intimidating people, looking for, and trying to create offenses. Once again we were on private property, paying for a spot, and here is this officer acting like we are on a public street. Sadly here again, we aren't even sure who we were dealing with because he was giving two different names. While the officer was writing some tickets to two of our members, I was walking up towards the end campsite of our group. The lady there came walking up to me all concerned about the fire they were starting. I told her what the rules were concerning the fire, to be sure to not leave it unattended, and she would be fine. Later I found out that when the officer stopped there, he was demanding drugs or her campsite would be searched! No probable cause, no reason, just hoping he might catch something.
A happy twenty year relationship destroyed in one weekend by an over-zealous sheriff's department. We like Barefoot, and want to continue spending many more years going there. But the search is now on for another campsite, not in San Saba County, because what happened to us last weekend is unacceptable, and as long as the current sheriff is there we do not feel welcome.
I support Sheriff Allen Brown in his efforts to control drug use in San Saba County.
I, Jackie Brister, asked the sheriff and/or deputies to come to Barefoot Camp to help control the drug and alcohol users, people who are disturbing the peace, and those who choose not to obey the burn ban. For two solid weeks, we have had large crowds at our camp. We have a family-oriented reputation, and do not condone drugs or alcohol. Sharing our place with others is a PRIVILEGE, not a right. We have quite a few families who are now on their third generation to enjoy a chance to be close to nature at our campgrounds.
For the past few years, the night and weekend crowds have been getting more out of hand. Because our county is short staffed of deputies, I hired, at my own expense, off-duty peace officers from an adjoining county to patrol and help keep our campers safe.
I hope this puts an end to the rumors that are circulating around town.