Lavender Festival has Banner Year, Declared a Success

The Blanco Chamber of Commerce is thrilled that the 12th Annual Lavender Festival was the most largely attended in quite some time. It was a banner year, with 111 arts and crafts vendors, 11 food vendors, eight Texas Made Specialty Packaged Foods vendors, three wineries and the addition of the Texas Craft Beer Tent featuring five regional craft brewers including Blanco’s own Real Ale Brewing Company. No Label Brewing Company out of Katy, Texas presented their newest seasonal beer, Forbidden Lavender, a lavender infused Witbier at the festival. The record numbers of attendees included visitors from Fairbanks, Alaska and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Visitors from Germany and Turkey were the winners for traveling the farthest to attend the festivities.
The Blanco Lavender Festival is the largest annual fundraiser for the Blanco Chamber of Commerce. Funds raised during the festival fund the operation of the Chamber offices throughout the year. In addition to keeping the Chamber running, the festival boosts the local economy with the influx of sales tax revenue. This tourism creates opportunities for small businesses to develop and thrive. The incredible resource that Blanco enjoys in the amazing group of community volunteers is, most definitely, the key to the festival’s success. The businesses and individuals that support the festival through sponsorships make the overall financial success of the festival possible as well. Blanco residents should most definitely take the time to view the festival website, www.blancolavenderfest.com, and take note of the businesses that are supportive of not only the Lavender Festival, but other festivals and local events that help the community to prosper.
The Chamber of Commerce would like to thank all of our incredible volunteers and sponsor. Your support and involvement helps to create a signature festival that continues to grow in popularity. Many thanks to the City of Blanco, the Blanco Police Department, Blanco County EMS and the Blanco Volunteer Fire Department for keeping all of our residents and visitors safe during the event.
Plans will be underway soon for the 2017 Lavender Festival and anyone who would like to participate in the planning process is welcome to give the Chamber a call, we would love to have you. In addition, anyone who would like to make suggestions or offer any insights is welcome to get in touch as well. Thank you Blanco for an outstanding festival.

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Sauceda Elected Mayor Pro Tempore

At their regular meeting on June 14, members of the governing body of Blanco re-elected council member Martin Sauceda to a second term as Mayor Pro Tempore. Prior to the regular meeting, a Public Hearing was held for citizens to ask any questions about the process by which the city applies for a Texas Community Development Block Grant. Margaret Hardin of Langford Community Management Services explained the eligibility requirements for a Community Development Fund grant, which would enable the city to make improvements in its water and wastewater systems. The application deadline is February 1, 2017. The city has received past grants, including one in 2007 for Disaster Recovery in the wake of flooding, and another for the current year. The maximum grant request and matching amount is set by the Regional Review Committee. Blanco is part of the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) region.
In the Open Comments portion of the meeting, Blanco Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau director Libbey Aly thanked the city and the police department for their help during the Lavender Festival. She reported that the festival doubled its revenue over past years, with more vendors and visitors from as far away as Turkey, Germany, Puerto Rico, and Alaska. She also noted the increase in young families with children, mentioning St. Ferdinand’s Catholic Church, which sponsored children’s activities. Volunteer coordinator Sandy Switzer thanked all the volunteers and praised the efforts of Aly, who she said “represents the city very well.”
A Keep Texas Beautiful past president and board member, Joanne Weik, presented the Sadie Ray Graff Award to Blanco Middle School science teacher Pam Meier, for her work with students, engaging them and encouraging them to support global ecology. A 22-year veteran of Blanco Middle School, Meier’s projects include a vegetable garden on the campus, rainwater harvesting, and composting. Weik called Meier “a stellar example of what we do,” which she characterized as “educating and engaging citizens to take responsibility for their environment.” Meier has a Master of Arts in Teaching in the field of global ecology. Meier thanked her principal for her support. She brought a small bag of cherry tomatoes, grown in the school garden, for each council member. She also thanked council member and Keep Blanco Beautiful member Martha Gosnell for submitting her application for the award, which is supported by HEB, the Farm Bureau, and Rainwater Revival.
In his Mayor’s Comments, Bruce Peele recounted that at a special meeting in May, city council approved the initial steps toward building a new wastewater plant at a cost of $3.2 million. Completion time is estimated at two years. He said the city will be replacing water pipes in low-income areas of the city, with the side benefit of road improvements in those areas. He informed council members that the Safe Routes to School grant will kick in shortly and that the city is continuing to appeal to FEMA for $107K in funds denied the city as a result of water the city had to purchase in the wake of last year’s flooding of the Blanco River. He announced an Executive Session to determine whether the city should pursue litigation against the developer of Cielo Springs for failure to install a pump to increase water pressure in the development.
Following Executive Session, council approved two motions, one to authorize the Allen Bojorquez Law Firm to pursue litigation against the developer of Cielo Springs, and the second to authorize the mayor to engage in settlement discussions with the defendants in the case. Mayor Peele explained that any decision would have to be approved by city council.
In the first order of Old Business, City Manager Lambert Little explained a request by Progressive Waste Solutions for a rate increase. He said the contract allows for a Consumer Price Index-based increase, which he called “modest—approximately 14 cents a month per customer” to be absorbed by the city until the budget workshops, which will probably result in increases for water and wastewater services. Council approved the increase, which was to take effect June 1.
In the second order of Old Business, council voted to award a contract for paving streets in the Garden Oaks subdivision to Available Construction and Transport Services at a cost of $19,500 for pothole and edge repair and $50,880 for a single course of chip-seal. City engineer Jason Jones and public works director Ronnie Rodriguez concurred that a single course will be sufficient.
American Legion Memorial Highway Post 352 Chaplain Joe Garcia came before council to encourage citizens to display American flags on Independence Day. The American Legion has purchased flags to display around the square, and members of Boy Scout Troop 497 will assist in placing them. The mayor read a resolution and also issued the following proclamation, approved by city council: “I, Mayor Bruce Peele, by the authority vested in me by the City of Blanco, do hereby proclaim the 4th of July, 2016, as Patriotic Remembrance Day, a day of voluntarily displaying American flags around the Blanco City Square and throughout the City and its Environs. I urge all businesses, organizations, and citizens across Blanco to support these efforts in honoring our men and women who gave their tomorrows for the ideals we value today—the ideals of freedom, justice, and democracy—and to celebrate the nation we hold so dear.” The proclamation was signed by the mayor and the city seal was put on it. Council approved the resolution and proclamation.
Next council voted to authorize the mayor, Mayor Pro-Tem, and the city administrator to consult with the city’s financial advisors, Wells Nelson, as to the best way to finance construction of the new wastewater treatment plant. Mayor Peele explained that any information would be presented to city council for their consideration.
As recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission, council members ratified the appointment of council member Martha Gosnell as liaison to the signage subcommittee. They also approved a HOT funds grant to Twin Sisters Dance Hall for $2500 for advertising July Fourth events planned there, including live music by Bobby Flores, a Buggy Barn parade, and food provided by Old 300 Barbecue. Members of the HOT Funds Advisory Committee recommended awarding the grant. For documenting purposes, Haas said that students will be giving out surveys to those attending as to whether they will be spending the night, and a post-event report will be filed. Council member Maria Guerrero encouraged Haas to make sure local hotels and motels keep a record of attendees who spend the night.
City administrator Lambert Little next distributed copies of proposed amendments to the city’s Personnel Policy. He explained that many changes had been suggested by employees themselves. After hearing the proposed changes, council approved them.
Public Works Director Ronnie Rodriguez explained the next agenda item, requesting that the city charge a $35 inspection fee of a dwelling’s water system at the time the property changes hands. He said the intent is to ensure good water quality by making sure all connections within the home are secure and that water doesn’t leak back into the city’s water system, also that there are no old lead pipes. Previously the city received notice of a violation from TCEQ for improper record-keeping of these inspections. After lengthy discussion, the motion passed by a three-two margin, with Martin Sauceda and Maria Guerrero opposing it. Sauceda thought the increase should be included as part of new rates in next year’s budget.
Two amendments to the UDC were approved by council, one that allows the Blanco Historic Commission to extend the time it has to consider the Certificate of Appropriateness for historic buildings, and one, Ordinance 2016-0-006, to “promote and encourage the preservation of parkland and open space,” Attachment “A” to Section 5.11 of the UDC, “is intended to prevent the indiscriminate cutting of trees in advance of development, to require the consideration of trees as a component of site design, and to allow for the commercially reasonable development of private property subject to minimum standards for the preservation and planting of trees.” Mayor Peele explained two situations which prompted this ordinance—the cutting of a heritage oak at a construction site for the Blanco Library expansion, and a proposed high-density housing development on Trainer Street, which would have involved cutting large oak trees.
A request by the Arts in the Park committee for $5500 for a Fall Series was approved by city council by a 4-1 vote, with Maria Guerrero voting in opposition. The funds would be transferred from the Land Acquisition Fund to allow the money to be spent out of this fiscal year’s budget. Arts in the Park committee member Jack Twilley explained that the committee needs the money now in order to book acts for the fall series.
Mayor Peele presented council with a draft of a letter he is preparing to send to Blanco County Judge Bray explaining why the city will not pay the county the requested $38,500 for dispatch services. He explained that the city pays a voluntary contribution toward the service and is not obligated to pay for it. In response to a request for an opinion, Police Chief Mike Ritchey said, “It’s a slippery slope. Once we acknowledge that we are paying a fee, then they can raise it.”Council also approved an ordinance modifying the school zone speed limit from 35 to 30 miles an hour.
Mayor Peele, based on Public Information Requests in regard to HOT Funds, gave council a packet of information tracing the history of the Hotel Occupancy Tax from its beginning in 1986, including city council meeting minutes, bank statements, and e-mails. Council members suggested that they would like time to look at the information before making any decisions on the future of HOT funds.
Police Chief Mike Ritchey reported an increase in calls for service to 495 for the month of May, explaining that they get higher in the summer. He said his department issued 26 tickets for unlicensed drivers, a statistic that he called “worse and worse.” He praised the district attorney for moving quickly on the charges against the couple in Blanco whose actions resulted in the death of a baby and the removal of two older children to foster care. Because the charge against the couple was elevated to Capital Murder, Chief Ritchey concluded, “I don’t see them ever coming out of jail.”
Following a second Executive Session, council voted to negotiate a land swap with land in Bindseil Park, giving Pat Smith first right of refusal.

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Local Organizations Join Forces to Plan Independence Weekend

The Air Force’s Band of the West Top Flight Ensemble and the Hill Country Brass Quintet, will highlight the July 3rd afternoon entertainment during Blanco’s Independence Weekend Celebration. Brought to you by the City of Blanco and its Arts in the Park committee, both groups of professional musicians offer a variety of music from Classical, to R&B, to Country and Pop!
As previously reported, the weekend’s activities will begin with a parade around the historical square on Saturday morning, July 2nd, followed by food provided by the Buggy Barn Museum. Activities then move south of town to the Twin Sisters Dance Hall culminating in a Saturday night dance featuring the well-known Bobby Flores and his Yellow Rose Band. (You can read more about the band on page 2)
On Sunday morning, Blanco’s Town Square and Bindseil Park will be the focus of the activities and entertainment. Dennis Moore will be serving a Chuck Wagon breakfast at 9:30; Lawrence Coffee will provide a short service followed Gospel Singers at 1 o’clock. From 2 o’clock on, local entertainers followed, by the Ol Cowhands, Top Flight, Hill Country Brass and, finally, a street dance will end the weekend celebration.
Mark you calendars, bring your lawn chairs, food and drink, and enjoy the family-friendly Independence weekend activities in wonderful, beautiful Blanco, Texas!

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Events Planned for Independence Weekend

The city is celebrating the Independence weekend this year in a big way! Beginning on Saturday morning, July 2nd, a parade from the Buggy Barn Museum through the Historical Square and back will kick off the weekend’s activities. After that, the Buggy Barn will be serving hot dogs and hamburgers to those attending. Activities in the afternoon move to the Twin Sisters Dance Hall grounds where vendors, live music and buggy rides will take place throughout the day. Other activities include honoring wounded warriors. The day will conclude with well known musician, Bobby Flores and the Yellow Rose Band, hosting a dance for the entire family in the old Twin Sisters Dance Hall. The dance will begin at 9 p.m.
Sunday morning, July 3rd, brings another round of family events, this time, on the Historical Square in Blanco and in Bindseil Park. Dennis Moore will host and serve a cowboy breakfast for all hungry cowhands (and citizens) beginning at 9:30 on the Old Courthouse grounds. At 1 p.m. a short service hosted by Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Famer, Lawrence Coffee, followed by Gospel singing will kickoff the afternoon’s activities. From 2 until 3 p.m., several local musicians will entertain in Bindseil Park in an impromptu Jam Session. At 3 o’clock, the Ol Cowhands Swing Band, a talented group of three youngsters from Ft. Worth, will perform on the Bindseil stage. Then, the Air Force Band of the West’s “Top Flight” ensemble will play from 4 until 5, followed by the Hill Country Brass from 5 until 6 p.m. After these entertainers, the finale event moves to the Old Courthouse grounds where Little Beverly and the Shades, a group of talented senior citizens who play finger snapping and sing along 50s and 60s music, will play for a good old-fashioned Street Dance.
Mark your calendars, bring your blankets or lawn chairs, and enjoy a great patriotic weekend in wonderful Blanco. You won’t be sorry!

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Solo and Ensemble Competes at State

Several Blanco High School Band Students Competed at the UIL State Solo and Ensemble Competition on Sunday May 29th in Pflugerville, Tx. Blanco students ended up being awarded 18 Gold Division 1 Medals and 3 Division 2 Silver Medals. Percussion, Saxophone, and Clarinet Ensembles all received a Division 1 Rating for their performances. Canyon Burkhart received a Division 1 Rating for his Solo, and Charity Windham, Adrian Lamphier, and John Adams received Division 2 Ratings on their Solos. The Brass Ensemble received a Division 3 Rating.
Also, Blanco High School sent in recordings from their 2016 UIL Concert Competition to the ATSSB Outstanding Performance Series Competition. Region 12 judging took place this last week and Blanco received 1st Place in the March Category and took 1st and 2nd Place in the Concert Category meaning that all 3 submissions advanced to the Area round of judging to take place later this month. Blanco High School had 2 of their selections make it all the way to State

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Lavender Festival Set for This Weekend

The Blanco Chamber of Commerce and the Lavender Festival Steering Committee is excited to present the 12th Annual Blanco Lavender Festival, this weekend, June 10th – 12th. This year’s festival is expected to be more exciting than ever.
The 12th Annual Festival welcomes Lavender Lane Farms; a newly re-opened farm under new ownership will join Imagine Lavender Farm and Hill Country Lavender Farm to offer a total of three farms for touring during the festival. It is important for visitors to know that the fields are not in full bloom at this time. An unusually warm and dry winter is to blame for the lack of prolific blooms at this point, but lavender is incredibly aromatic even without blooms. The farms are all beautiful to see and there will be special activities and events happening to engage visitors.
The grounds of the Old Blanco County Courthouse will feature 113 of the finest arts and crafts vendors from around the state. Incredible artwork, fine jewelry, home crafted home products and of course, lots and lots of products created with the herb of honor, lavender. The festival is proud to boast a healthy return rate on our vendors; some of them have been with the event since the first festival. So, be sure to look for your favorites from years past. The Courtroom of the Courthouse will be the venue for the Speaker’s Pavilion. Topics ranging from the Art of Bee Keeping and Making Honey to how to increase your garden’s veggie production by adding herbs such as lavender will be presented. You will want to check the festival web-site for details and times, and be sure to pick up a program from the Information and Souvenir Tent when you arrive to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Blanco is becoming known more and more for the incredible musicians that live and play here, and the City’s beautiful Bindseil Park will host some of the best from right here in Blanco County. Live music will be happening all three days, again, be sure to check the web-site for the complete schedule. Local favorites Bobby Mack and Zydeco Blanco will be in their usual time slots on Saturday afternoon for your dancing pleasure.
The “Big Tent” will feature the festival’s famous Lavender Lizzie, fine beer from Real Ale Brewing Company and eight Go Texan Specialty Packaged Food vendors. Explore honeys and marinades, olive oils and pastas from some of the finest producers in Texas, all under cooling shade.
For the first time, the Festival will feature a Texas Craft Beer Tent. Real Ale Brewing Company, Pedernales Brewing Company, Save the World Brewing, No Label Brewing Company, Southern Star Brewing, and Cedar Creek Brewing Company will be featuring two offerings each. Interested visitors will pay $15.00 for entry to the tent, for which they will receive a commemorative pilsner tasting glass and 5 beer tickets. Choose which five beers you would like to try and speak with brewery representatives about their process. No Label Brewing Company from Katy, Texas will be premiering their Forbidden Lavender Beer at this festival. Be sure to stop by and take part in this new attraction.
The Lavender Festival would not be possible year after year without the generous support of our Sponsors. It is with their assistance that festival continues to be successful. Partner Sponsors include: Blanco National Bank, Hill Country Premier Lodging, Real Ale Brewing Company, RBFCU and Lone Star Capital Bank. Community Sponsors are: Security State Bank & Trust, Guardian Title Company, Hill Country Lavender, GVTC, Redbud Café, Lavender Lane Farms and Pecan Street Brewing. Our Merchant Sponsors are: The Wave Guesthouse, Statewide Remodeling of San Antonio, Old 300 BBQ, Texas Lavender Association, Best Western Johnson City Inn, Klepac Greenhouses, New Life Computers of Texas, and Blanco Pharmacy and Wellness. Lavender Ambassadors are Mike and David Brady, George Clary, Dean Swarthout, The Blue Cottage Inn and Arc de Texas. Many heartfelt thanks to these sponsors, we appreciate you very much.
If you have volunteered to be a part of the festival this year, please join us Wednesday, June 8 at 6:00 p.m. for a Volunteer Orientation and Appreciation Meeting. It will be held upstairs in the Old Blanco Courthouse. You will receive your t-shirt, be able to sample some of the beers that will be presented in the Texas Craft Beer Tent and hear all about what is sure to be the best Lavender Festival to date.
If your organization, business or home has a parking area that you plan to make available to visitors, please give the Chamber a call and us know. We will post it on the web-site to make the information available to all. Thank You Blanco for your support of this event. Please visit www.blancolavenderfest.com for all the details of this exciting historically Blanco event.

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