At its first regular meeting after the May election, the Blanco city council, led by newly-elected mayor Tina Gourley, voted to re-appoint several city officials. By a unanimous vote, Ron Houston was re-appointed mayor pro tem; Don Barnett was re-appointed municipal court judge; and Beverly Burris was re-appointed municipal court clerk. Newly-elected council member Bobby McClung characterized Ron Houston as “a great spokesman for the city of Blanco,” and Rebecca Howerton added, “He always helps me at the cemetery and other places.” City secretary Bobbie Mowery commented about Don Barnett, “He has worked with the city for a long time and has done a good job.”
In its search for a council member to fill Gourley’s vacant seat, council voted to adopt an application process. Howerton cast the only opposing vote. Bobbie Mowery explained that other cities use an application to solicit interest from citizens who might otherwise not be considered. Applicants must have resided in the city of Blanco for at least six months and in the state of Texas for one year. They must be registered voters and show no evidence of “mental incapacity. “ The application, available at city hall, must be mailed to city hall with a cover letter and accompanying resume’. Applications will be evaluated at next month’s city council meeting. In the Open Comments portion of the meeting, Chamber of Commerce director Julie Dill urged council to appoint Pamela Capps because of the sizable number of votes she received in her unsuccessful council bid. Retta Martin added that Capps “ran an honest and open campaign” and showed interest in the city of Blanco. Bobby Mack reiterated that although Capps is a strong candidate, the seat should be open for interested citizens in the community to apply.
The issue of giving a one-time water bill reduction to citizens whose bill soars due to a water leak was debated but tabled until the July meeting. Several citizens have petitioned the city recently to give them a one-time deduction in the case of a leak. Issues such as how much the deduction should be and whether city staff would be empowered to make that decision led council to delay a decision until a fair standard can be developed.
Martha Herden, recently-elected chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, reported that P&Z met on May 19 and again on May 26 to complete work on the signage and modular housing ordinances as part of the UDC. Herden explained that Blanco is not currently in compliance with the state of Texas in its modular housing requirements and that more information will be forthcoming at the June city council meeting. In other business, all members of P&Z agreed to stay on the commission, although Jud Prince resigned as chair.
On behalf of the Blanco Chamber of Commerce, Julie Dill thanked city staff, mayor, and council for all their help in preparing for the Lavender Festival June 12-14. She reported that the art show opening June 5 at Uptown Blanco “was packed”, and that 350 women ran in the 10K Lavender Fun Run June 6 at Texas Lavender Hills Farm. She also announced that all six farms had had between 25-100 visitors by meeting time, and that several people had already visited all farms and gotten their free T-shirts. She passed along compliments from visitors on “how pretty the town looks with all the purple flags around the square.” 3000 surveys will be conducted as part of the chamber’s grant requirement and will be compiled by the Texas Department of Agriculture. The data will help in planning future festivals, according to Dill. Dill also informed council that PEC has provided a temporary meter loop to provide vendors on the square with electricity and Clint West has volunteered to assist with electrical work associated with the festival.
Assistant chief Carl Bragg expressed concern about the raising of the large tent Thursday morning on Pecan Street but was told that that was the only time the organization renting the tent could put it up and that approximately six hours of set-up would be required that day after the tent was put up to make ready for Saturday’s shoppers. Bragg encouraged planning for next year to ease the burden on Blanco’s overtaxed police officers, who must provide security to those at the festival as well as to other citizens of Blanco during the festival.
City attorney Eddie Rogers explained the licensing agreement prepared by David Hall to control the use of the Lavender Capital of Texas trademark. The agreement will run for one year and then may be renewed for three years. There must be prior approval for any usage of the trademark by an entity. According to Rogers, the city will document current usages and city designees Bobbie Mowery and Tina Gourley will approve new usage.
Retta Martin reported for Keep Blanco Beautiful that the organization has been in existence for 10 years, and that the beautification committee led by Judy Dorsett has beautified the city for the Lavender Festival. Benches in Bindseil Park have been re-painted, and the city will install a new sign at the park entrance. “Butt buckets” have also been acquired to eliminate cigarette litter from the square. Ron Houston praised city manager Nathan Cantrell’s staff for their efforts in tidying up the park.
Assistant police chief Carl Bragg reported 310 citations issued in May, up from 181 in April. He attributed the rise to unfamiliarity of citizens with the change in speed limits coming into the city. Ron Houston emphasized that the new limits were mandated by TxDOT, not the city. Bragg also informed council that his department has answered 1383 calls from January through May of this year. Ron Houston praised Bragg and his officers for “getting out there.”
Blanco County Chief Appraiser Hollis Boatright was present to answer questions about the new appraisal district budget, which has risen $33K. The city’s allocation has risen by $2900. Council approved the budget.
After some discussion, council voted to approve the placement of a “Duck Crossing” sign somewhere on Fulcher Street near Main. Blanco State Park superintendent Michael Young explained that a number of domesticated wild fowl and rabbits have been dropped off at the park. Although council members expressed doubt that the sign would slow down traffic, several referred to the “charm factor” of having a sign.
Finally, council voted after discussion in executive session to hire a new police officer, Robert Stewart, for a 90-day probationary period.