In a meeting at the site of the Stripes renovation of the former Exxon service station on Highway 281 South in Blanco, on Tuesday, March 23, Stripes Division Manager Kathy Maberry stated the company’s commitment to addressing community concerns about outdoor lighting at the new facility.
An informal community delegation led by Rebecca Howerton, Blanco Councilwoman and Jennifer Oines, Blanco Chamber of Commerce Board Member, discussed Blanco’s on-going efforts to qualify as an International Dark Sky Community. The economic impact of these efforts are considerable and include being able to market Blanco as a dark sky tourist destination as well as potentially increasing the attendance at Blanco State Park to keep it off future closure lists. As many in the community have expressed concerns about the outdoor lighting at the facility under the previous ownership, the delegation asked that this issue be addressed during the on-going renovations.
Maberry assured the Blanco area citizens that Stripes is committed to community involvement. She related how Stripes has recently completed three stations in West Texas (Ft. Stockton, Alpine, and Marfa) that are fully dark sky friendly facilities owing to their proximity to McDonald Observatory. Innovations there included the use of LED canopy lighting mounted within the service station canopy itself. Maberry, who manages 65 Stripes facilities, stated that her lighting crews are working hard on other stations and it may be six to eight months or more before lighting modifications in Blanco can be accomplished. She stressed that these may not be as extensive as those in West Texas but they should satisfy community concerns.
In follow-up correspondence, Steven C. DeSutter, President and CEO, Stripes LLC, stated "Most recently we cooperated with ‘Dark Skies’ requests in the community of Alpine, Texas. They have recognized us for those considerations and we were pleased to be a good community partner by doing so." DeSutter made no firm commitment of exact plans for the lighting at the Blanco station as "the timing, the extent of final lighting changes and the allocation of significant capital are subject to several factors and a final timeline and project plan has not been determined."
Councilwoman Howerton expressed appreciation to Stripes for their admirable record of community involvement and support. She stated that she is confident Stripes will be a good neighbor to all Blanco citizens.
The new Stripes facility in Blanco will be a major employer in the community with approximately 39 employees, 25 of whom will be full-time. The facility, a 24/7 operation, will offer a variety of goods and services to include automotive supplies, convenience items, a taco bar, and even a milk shake machine. Jennifer Oines stated that Stripes will be a welcome addition to the Blanco business community and an asset to the entire area.
Other members of the citizen delegation meeting with Stripes were Bob and Carolyn Boydston and Wayne Gosnell.