By a unanimous vote, members of Blanco’s governing body honored former mayor pro tem Ron Houston with a street named in his honor at the January 12 city council meeting. Blanco Avenue will be renamed Ron Houston Avenue in honor of his years of service to the community. Mayor pro tem Bobby McClung said, “Ron loved Blanco and worked with TxDOT to slow down traffic.” Council member Jim Rodrigue recalled meetings with TxDOT which he and Ron attended to work for a signal light at the corner of Blanco Avenue and Highway 281. Ron’s widow Sheryl, who was in attendance, expressed her appreciation for the honor, adding, “Ron would be very proud.” McClung also expressed the fitness of naming a street which runs by Super S for Houston, who was the spokesperson for Super S. Details involving address changes for residents of the street and 9-1-1 call response numbers will be worked out by the city.
PEC spokesperson Conrad Carbary updated council on PEC activities, including grants procured through PEC grant-writing workshops which have garnered funds for 19 Blanco community projects, including Blanco Little League. As well, PEC has donated over $17K to 33 youth livestock organizations. The 2010 PEC scholarship applications for high school seniors are now available at high school guidance offices, PEC locations, and online. Carbary also presented council with the annual PEC franchise check. Public Works Director Nathan Cantrell thanked Carbary for PEC’s assistance in putting up Blanco’s Christmas light display, and Mayor McClung agreed.
Bob Boydston presented a packet to council detailing how a community can become certified as a “Film Friendly Texas” community. Blanco has been chosen as a location for portions of the re-make of the classic John Wayne movie, ”True Grit,” with the Old Blanco County Courthouse featured in a courtroom scene. The Boydstons recently attended a one-day workshop in Laredo entitled, “When Hollywood Comes to Town,” sponsored by the Texas Film Commission. They learned what steps communities can take to deal with on-location film-making and how to “put their best foot forward.” Bob explained the economic advantages to the town, not only for restaurants and motels, but also jobs for residents during preparation and filming. Council agreed to share the information with city attorney Eddy Rogers and to put the proposal on the February city council agenda. “I’ve read these guidelines and I’m pleased with them,” commented Bobby McClung. “It allows us to say no to things we do not like, but at the same time to be open and friendly.” Linda Howard recalled that the film, “Flesh and Blood,” was shot in Blanco years ago, including scenes of the Blanco Bowling Club. Carolyn Boydston added that Blanco could be used for commercials and music videos, as well as for feature films. Filming of “True Grit” will take place in mid-May.
Planning and Zoning Commission chair Martha Herden reported that P&Z will review the UDC’s sign ordinance in February. Bobby McClung reminded members that a public hearing will be held in February to discuss annexations, and that UDC revisions can be discussed at the same hearing. Herden also stressed the need for interested individuals to fill two vacant positions on P&Z. Members must live in the city of Blanco or its ETJ, within ½ mile of the city limits. Anyone who is interested should come by city hall.
Penny Thomas, new executive director of the Blanco Chamber of Commerce, reported that the upcoming Lavender Festival will be held June 11-13. Any one interested in volunteering should call or come by the chamber office. The new chamber president is Marcie Westcott and past president is Debbie Homeier. Other board members include Liz Waller, Pat Caulfield, and John Stultz. The chamber is also hosting ribbon cuttings for three new Blanco businesses: the Red Bud Café, the Blanco Pioneer Museum , and Wendy’s Red Door. The public is invited.
Council member Rebecca Howerton reported on Keep Blanco Beautiful activities in Retta Martin’s absence. The annual Trash-Off will be held April 10 and a Hazardous Waste Trash-Off Day on April 24. More details will be forthcoming.
Police Chief Milton Willmann presented a certificate of appreciation to the Blanco EMS for the use of their facilities to hold training sessions for Blanco officers. He presented statistics for the year to council members, showing the biggest rise in property crimes. A number of crimes have been solved, he explained. Out of 18 calls, 9 people have been arrested who committed or assisted in vehicle or habitation burglaries. In response to a question by Rebecca Howerton, Willmann said that there are now “in essence” 24-hour patrols, with the department utilizing two new part-time officers. Assistant chief Carl Bragg has been “very busy,” according to Willmann, traveling to the district attorney’s office and working with the state comptroller’s office, tracking cigarettes taken in a December 22 robbery of a “major business” in Blanco. He stressed that “greater visibility” is the key. Bobby McClung said that he is “pleased that there is more visibility,” especially on Highway 281 catching speeders.
In other business McClung raised the issue of city organizations such as Keep Blanco Beautiful, the chamber of commerce, and others only making quarterly reports to council unless they desire to come more often. He explained that they should not feel obligated to attend meetings when they have nothing to report. No action was taken on the suggestion.
Finally council voted to order a General and Special Election to be held May 8, 2010, to fill three places and the mayor’s unexpired term. The seats which are up for election are those of Martin Sauceda, who was appointed to finish Ron Houston’s term; Jim Rodrigue, who was appointed to fill Tina Gourley’s unexpired term; and Rebecca Howerton. The mayoral election will be to fill the unexpired term of Tina Gourley, for one year. The filing time period is from February 8 to March 8. Interested individuals, who must be residents of Blanco, must file at city hall.