At their regular meeting on February 10, members of the governing body of Blanco voted to appoint Ed Rogers as city attorney following the resignation of Ricky Simmons on January 27. A former Houston attorney with a specialization in corporate law, Rogers and Pat, his wife of 45 years, moved to Blanco in April onto property they have owned for a number of years. They are the parents of four children and grandparents of 11.
American Legion Memorial Highway 352 Post commander Bruce Hugelet presented a certificate of appreciation to the council for their support of the post.
Chamber of commerce director Julie Dill reported a successful annual banquet on February 3 with an entertaining speaker, Art Roberts, director of Texas Chamber of Commerce Executives. She reported that the Blanco Lavender Festival will be expanded to a month-long “Blanco Lavender Days” celebration, with local lavender farms showcased on the 1st, 3rd, and 4th weekends. Volunteers are being trained so that the chamber office can be open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The first “Lunch and Learn” meeting was to be held February 12th at Uptown Blanco with the topic “Managing Cash Flow in a Downturn Economy.” Dill also announced that Cattleman’s Bank will have a ribbon-cutting at their new building on February 20th at 3 p.m. All are invited to attend.
Resident Doug Hain presented a plan to council for a system of bike trails through Blanco, using the Safe Routes to School plan. Initially the trails would be designated by signage along existing streets, which Hain called a “pretty low cost way to start,” especially if the cost of signs can be paid by donations. A system of trails would benefit the economy, according to Hain, as well as encouraging the health of the population. He mentioned the Real Ale Ride coming in May as an example of a benefit to Blanco’s economy. Hain hopes that the plan will eventually expand to a more comprehensive system of trails. Mayor pro tempore Ron Houston expressed his approval for the way the trails follow the Safe Routes to School plan. Mayor Jim Rodrigue suggested that city engineer Marvin Reavis might need to take a look at the plan. Further discussion of the plan was put on the agenda for the March city council meeting.
Blanco State Park Superintendent Michael Young began his presentation with the slogan, “Life is better outside.” Recent improvements to the park include tree-trimming, removing some invasive chinaberry trees, replacing fire circles and lantern posts in camping areas, and replacing roofs on shade shelters. Segments on PBS about Blanco State Park “have caught some attention,” according to Young; visitation is up 42 percent for the first five months of the fiscal year, and revenue is up 15 percent. On the down side, $3-4K of the park’s revenues have been “re-directed” to other parks. Upcoming programs include the Blanco Classic Car Show May 16 and the Texas Outdoor Family Program, which encourages families unfamiliar with camping and outdoor recreation to spend a weekend at the park. For a cost of $55, families will be taught outdoor skills such as pitching a tent and outdoor cooking and will be able to participate in hiking and kayaking activities. The 75th anniversary of the park will be celebrated this year in a cooperative effort with the Blanco Chamber of Commerce. In return, Blanco’s Lavender Days will be included on the Blanco State Park web site.
Assistant police chief Carl Bragg reported 72 call sheets and 135 tickets issued in January. However, he said that the number of tickets is going down due to safer driving behaviors. Major crimes are also down, according to Bragg. A copy of the mandated racial profiling report was presented to council, with “nothing out of alignment” in Bragg’s words.
In other business, council voted to raise the pay for election workers to $10 per hour and approved the purchase of a sewer camera to enable city workers to locate blockages in drains. Cost of a new color camera which can travel 200 feet is under $5800, according to director of public works Nathan Cantrell.
A spokesperson for Keep Blanco Beautiful reminded council of the annual Trash-Off Day on April 4th.
Finally Mayor Rodrigue spoke for all council members in wishing a speedy recovery to council member Dr. Doug Pautz following a serious motorcycle accident.