At the July 13 meeting of the governing body of Blanco, representatives of the Old Blanco County Courthouse Preservation Society petitioned members of city council for help in maintaining the newly-planted sod on the courthouse grounds. According to Doug Hain, the water bill for OBCCPS has risen from the normal $78 per month to $350 and then $450 per month to water the zoysia sod planted by volunteers on the courthouse grounds. He pointed out that the landscaped grounds benefit the whole community, a sentiment echoed by council members Danny Ray and Rebecca Howerton. Howerton called the courthouse “a very special building to our community” and said that she has received many compliments on the landscaping. “It has been in use since 1890,” she continued, “and we need to do our part in getting the lawn set.” Danny Ray commented that the landscaping “has made a huge difference” and that the grass, although it is relatively drought-tolerant, will need a great deal of water until it is established—for at least a year, in his opinion. Public works director Nathan Cantrell explained that the normal procedure in giving individuals or entities a break in case of water leaks is to split the bill in half above the normal usage. Council voted unanimously to give OBCCPS this break for the next 12 months and then evaluate the situation.
OBCCPS representative Carolyn Boydston requested that the city close Pecan Street around noon on October 23 for the annual OBCCPS Gala, which will be held on the courthouse grounds. Council unanimously approved the petition.
Retta Martin reported in the Public Comments portion of the meeting that progress is continuing on developing design guidelines for Blanco’s historic district and invited council members and the public to attend a meeting on July 27 from 6-8 p.m. to review progress. She also updated council members on the Trail of Lights in the Pecan Bottom and Bindseil Park, which Keep Blanco Beautiful plans to expand this holiday season with additional lights.
Pedernales Electric Co-op representative Conrad Carbary reported that PEC now has a democratically-elected board of directors, and that Luis Garcia has been appointed interim director while PEC hires a firm to conduct a nationwide search for a permanent director. He reported that PEC and LCRA recently presented a grant check for $22K to OBCCPS for landscaping and outdoor lighting. He added that PEC will provide assistance to groups in obtaining grants. In other PEC business, Carbary reported that there will be changes to the Christmas lighting procedure, since PEC employees will no longer climb on roofs to install lighting but will rely on an aerial truck. He also said that PEC will not return for repairs to defective lighting. Local police cars will also be enlisted to help with traffic control during installation. Finally, Carbary said that energy-efficient light bulbs, which contain a small amount of mercury, can be returned to PEC for recycling.
Council members voted to appoint several individuals to positions, including Bobby McClung as mayor pro tem and council member Al Turner as liaison to the Blanco police department. After a report by Dana LeBlanc of the Planning and Zoning commission, council approved the appointment of two new members to P&Z: retired Blanco High School teacher Tony Vela and resident Connie Barron. LeBlanc also announced the resignation of Martha Herden as P&Z chair.
Blanco Chamber of Commerce president Debbie Homeier thanked all those who helped make the 2010 Lavender Festival “the best ever.” Director Penny Thomas announced the first annual chamber-sponsored Blanco Open golf tournament at Vaaler Creek Golf Course on October 18. Chamber members and non-members are welcome to participate. She also reported that she is sending a weekly e-mail to council members updating them on the chamber’s activities. Mayor Chuck Homan called the e-mails “very informative.” Finally, Thomas announced a ribbon-cutting for the Blanco Riverside Cottages, which are open under new management, on July 30 at 4 p.m.
Police chief Milton Willmann reported that alarms are up as more local businesses have alarm systems installed. Assaults and disturbances are also up, as are reports of suspicious circumstances, vehicles, and persons. He attributed the rise to citizen vigilance and called it “good news.” Because of other criminal investigations, traffic citations are down, according to Willmann. However, he said that verbal warnings will decrease as more citations are given. “Some folks in Blanco need to change their driving habits,” he concluded.
Council approved an agreement between the Blanco Police Department and E-Justice Solutions, a records management system which is coordinated with TDEX, an information exchange used by the Texas Department of Public Safety. The records system, which is constantly updated as data from arrests is added, allows officers to access exact statistics and obtain information on suspects easily after they are trained to use the system, which will cost $2400 per year. It will cut the time spent writing reports, according to Willmann, allowing officers to focus on other issues. Information is shared among agencies including the Blanco County sheriff’s office, DEA, FBI, and ICE. Willmann also introduced Tammie Ross, Blanco’s newest police officer, who comes to Blanco from Fredericksburg.