At the regular meeting of the governing body of Blanco on February 15, Mayor Chuck Homan reported that the first phase of the renovation of City Hall is completed and invited everyone to come in and see the two front offices.
“It has turned out beautifully,” he said, adding, “It has needed to be done for years.” He also thanked citizens for their patience in dealing with the renovation, done by JW Construction. A later agenda item dealt with the continued renovation.
In answer to Rebecca Howerton’s question of what remains to be done, city secretary Bobbie Mowery responded, “The rest (including her office and the mayor’s office) looks like a bomb hit it.” She said the city has $30,000 in the current budget to cover the renovation, which is estimated to cost no more than $20,000, including making the restroom ADA-compliant.
Contractor Jason Wheeler will be using plans drawn up by council member Danny Ray some time ago, and Ray agreed to assist Wheeler in executing the plan. Council voted unanimously to approve the remainder of the project.
Daycare provider Nancy Kneese presented her plans for a facility at 921 Cherry Street and requested a special use permit. The project, which will serve 20-26 children, was approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission. The center is accessible from two streets, and parents/guardians must bring students into the center and sign them out at the end of the day. The center is already inside the 20 mph school speed zone. Council approved the special use permit.
Council members reviewed a letter from Linda Howard requesting additional Hotel-Motel Tax money from the city. Rebecca Howerton said the museum has spent the $450 already awarded the museum and needs additional funds for advertising and insurance.
“January was a slow month,” reported Howerton, and the museum’s bank account is “pretty slim.” The mayor advocated giving the museum the $635.91 requested, calling the museum on Pecan Street “a pretty good piece of history in Blanco.” A number of school groups plan to visit the World War II exhibit at the museum. Council approved the request unanimously.
Blanco Chamber of Commerce Director Amos Ramirez introduced himself to council before beginning his report, which he said would focus on the ways the chamber will benefit the city economically.
He said the chamber visitor center received 173 calls in January, averaging about 8 calls a day relating to tourism, with 53 out-of-state visitors and 21 local visitors. A number of relocation packets compiled by the chamber were given to visitors, as were four information packets.
The January Chamber-sponsored Harlem Ambassadors show raised $3,780 for the Blanco EMS, with 564 people attending. Ramirez thanked council members Martin Sauceda and Maria Guerrero for their participation as players. He promised more information to come about the 2012 Lavender Festival, to be held June 8-10.
In the public comments section of the meeting, Retta Martin reminded council of the annual Trash-Off and River Clean-up April 14, from 9 a.m. to noon. She said Keep Blanco Beautiful is holding a membership drive to raise money for a storage shed for the Christmas lights from the Bindseil Park Trail of Lights.
Martin also reported that the Streetscape Committee met January 12 to roll out the conceptual drawings of plans for the Historic District, starting at 4th Street and Pecan. The Marketing and Funding Committee met on January 29. After their final meeting February 23, the committee will meet with the Planning and Zoning Commission, Blanco Historical Commission, and the City of Blanco in March. A town-hall meeting is planned for April.
Police Chief Milton Willmann reported 130 calls in January, with suspicious persons/vehicles/circumstances reports down. He attributed the drop to extra police patrols. Two new officers have been hired—Jerry Thornhill and Keith Williamson. Following executive session, council members approved the hires.
The police department has been gathering preliminary prices on vehicles to replace the current ones, which have high maintenance costs. The chief hopes to purchase an all-wheel drive SUV for approximately $21K and a beefed-up Taurus-type sedan for $22,600. The new vehicles will be outfitted with equipment taken out of the current vehicles, which he calls “old clunkers.” He hoped to have prices by the end of the week.
Council member Maria Guerrero asked when the annual racial-profiling report will be ready, and Chief responded that he will present it at the March meeting.
Mayor Homan and City Attorney Eddy Rogers discussed boundary issues at the Blanco Independent School District property, which overlaps city property on its east and west boundaries. Rogers said, “There is no more messy problem in the city than multiple surveys, which don’t agree.”
“The city does not plan to convey property,” he said; “the roads are where they are. We have adopted the convention of boundary agreement—the boundaries are where we think they are.” He added that problems with multiple surveys are particularly common in the northwest quadrant of the city, and that the school district is happy with the way things are. Council voted to authorize the mayor to enter into boundary agreements with the school district.