At the March 9 meeting of the governing body of Blanco, Keep Blanco Beautiful spokesperson Retta Martin reminded those in attendance of the annual Trash-Off Day and River Cleanup April 10. “Volunteers are already signing up,” said Martin, “and will be given T-shirts and a free breakfast at 7:30 a.m. before beginning work.” City residents can bring yard waste and discarded items to the county yard. In addition, a Hazardous Waste Day will be held April 24 in Blanco. (See the March 3 Blanco County News for a list of acceptable disposable items.)
Mary Ann Millard questioned why the city does not have a web site to keep residents informed. Mayor pro tem Bobby McClung agreed that it is time for the city “to come into the 21st” century.
He explained that developing the web site is not a complicated process; however, digitizing city records for public access would be a more extensive project. Council member Jim Rodrigue asked if the city could take the first step and develop the web site, adding records at a later date.
McClung thanked Millard for her input and added, “It is definitely a project we should undertake.”
A resolution sponsored by State Representative Patrick Rose to honor former Mayor Pro Tem Ron Houston was read by the mayor. The resolution praised Houston’s community involvement and urged memorializing his years of service with a memorial street name. McClung explained once again that the name of Blanco Avenue will not be changed and that residents will be able to receive mail at either Ron Houston Avenue or Blanco Avenue.
A report by the Planning and Zoning Commission was given by new member Dana LeBlanc. She told the council that new P&Z members are completing an online TML course, and that the commission reviewed the UDC at their March 1 meeting.
At the April meeting, code enforcement officer Pete McKinney will meet with P&Z to complete revisions to the signage ordinance. As was explained earlier, two public hearings must be held before changes to the UDC are approved.
A review of bids for the remodel of the annex building for the police department on Blanco Avenue ended in frustration for Bobby McClung and others on council who had hoped to see progress on the process of moving the police department out of its crowded quarters in city hall.
Three local companies bid on the job, with Paragon C&D Builders’ bid coming in at $174,824; Olinick Construction at $119,450; and JW Construction the low bidder at $87,435, allowing $12K “wiggle room” for extras such as a secure evidence room and carpet.
Paragon Builders owner Carl Homeier expressed concern that there was such a range of bids, questioning what might have been left out on the low bid. A recommendation from absent council member Danny Ray was read, recommending JW Construction Company; but council member Rebecca Howerton recommended further study of the bids, based on problems with a renovation at her residence.
Following a motion by council member Martin Sauceda, the item was tabled until a special meeting could be held. The date for a special meeting was later set for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday March 17.
Blanco Historic Preservation chair Linda Howard announced the publication of a new brochure called “Hill Country Heritage Trails,” published by the Texas Historical Commission as part of their Historic Texas Trails program. The launch of the new brochure will be held in Blanco April 14 at an invitation-only celebration in the Uptown Blanco courtyard. Council voted to sponsor the event with a $300 donation from its hotel-motel tax fund. In addition to live music, the event will include A Taste of Blanco— samples of wares from local merchants—a Texas Ranger Association re-enactment, artifacts from the Texas Ranger Association, and artifacts from the Lonesome Dove miniseries.
Mayor Bobby McClung announced two public hearings—April 6 and 13—to discuss proposed annexation properties. He explained that some properties receiving city services were omitted from the last annexation over two years ago. He also explained that the drop in water rates for annexed properties will usually compensate for the increase in city property taxes. He invited the public to come to city hall to see the annexation maps as well as to attend the hearings. No action will be taken until after the second hearing, he concluded.
Police chief Milton Willman reported that increased citizen involvement in reporting suspicious activity has been very helpful to his department. He praised the reserve officers, who have increased police visibility by their presence on weekends. Traffic citations are up, major crimes are down, but there have been several building burglaries, he reported. A new administrative assistant, Sandra Reyes, has been hired to replace Pam Nollet.
The following four candidates have filed for three city council seats up for election in May: Linda Howard, Rebecca Howerton, Martin Sauceda, and Al Turner. Chuck Homan and Bobby McClung have filed for the unexpired term of mayor.
Finally, a request by a group of local soccer players for a place to play was tabled until more information could be obtained on the city’s liability. City-owned property next to the city yard on Blanco Avenue could be used, according to council, but a number of issues would have to be resolved, including parking. The spokesperson, Fernando Lopez Mario, assured council that his group would mow the grass and remove all trash after games.