Blanco County commissioner Paul Granberg and Judge Guthrie attended the February 8 meeting of the governing body of Blanco to present details of a proposal to buy land from the city on which to build a 300-foot communications tower. The tower, funded by a grant from the Department of Homeland Security, would enhance emergency communications for police, fire, and EMS services throughout the county. Guthrie, one of the founding members of the Blanco County Task Force for Homeland Security, explained that $360K of a $1 million grant will be spent on the project, with the goal of county-wide coverage. Police Chief Milton Willmann agreed that the tower would definitely improve police communication. After approving the agreement, council directed Blanco City Attorney Eddy Rogers to work with the county attorney to draft an agreement. The property south of town on Highway 281 currently has a smaller tower and a water storage tank.
Paul Granberg also announced a county-wide Household Hazardous Waste Event, to be held April 16 at the transfer station in Johnson City. A list of items eligible to be disposed of will be publicized but will include electronic devices, old tires, paint and hazardous chemicals, mattresses, furniture, appliances, and scrap metal. Keep Blanco Beautiful spokesperson Retta Martin announced that the Blanco Trash-Off will be held the first Saturday in April as usual. The city yard will be open during the week prior to the trash-off for residents to dispose of trash and yard debris.
Because of a spate of calls to the Blanco Public Works Department for plumbing problems, Director Nathan Cantrell proposed assessing a fee for calls determined to be on the owner’s side of the meter rather than on city property. He attributed these calls, several a week, to the same people “over and over.” He used the example of a frozen faucet on the back of a house for which the city received a call. City employees must be paid for two hours’ work regardless of the length of time it takes to fix the problem, he explained. After some discussion, council voted to assess a $35 fee for “frivolous after-hours calls” determined to be the problem of the property owner. If the problem is determined to be the city’s, no fee will be assessed.
Police Chief Willmann reported “a lot” of calls in the new year and a good number of criminal cases, but said that the department is just about caught up. He added that there were no major problems with the bad weather. Officers Ross, Stewart, and Shaddock will all be attending training through CAPCOG this month. He reiterated that the new communications tower will improve coverage in some areas south of town that previously had poor reception.
After Executive Session, council voted to remove Sandra Reyes and Michael Shaddock from probation status.
Planning and Zoning Commission chair Dana LeBlanc reported that the commission has made good progress on developing a modified signage ordinance but has not completed discussion of an outdoor lighting ordinance. She said there was good participation from citizens at the meeting February 7. A committee consisting of P&Z commissioners Connie Barron and Courtney Curbow, along with two chamber representatives Debbie Homeier and Jon Brieger, is working on the proposed ordinances, which could possibly be brought before council in March for approval. Chamber of Commerce president Liz Waller-Broyal said, “I’m so thankful that you are asking for input from the business community.”
Chamber president Waller-Broyal reported that the chamber will use fifty per cent of the Hotel-Motel Tax (HOT) money to fund Lavender Festival advertising. On February 3 the chamber received $10,261.81 in HOT money for the fourth quarter. Of that amount $2411.38 was transferred to the chamber’s operating budget for visitor center expenses. An advertising plan has been put in place to review advertising opportunities and to place ads where they will do the most good for Blanco tourism.
Upcoming dates announced by Waller-Broyal include the following: a Ribbon-Cutting for a new business, Sweet Cheeks Bowtique, located at 103-A Main Street; a meeting of the Blanco County Economic Development Corporation on February 16, 9:30 a.m., at the Blanco Library; a Mardi Gras Party at Uptown Blanco Courtyard on March 5, and a Chamber Spring Mixer at Onion Creek Kitchens March 31 from 5-7 p.m. Chamber director Penny Thomas will also have a booth at the San Antonio Rodeo on Friday, February 18, which will display brochures, maps, and goodies promoting Blanco. Finally, the Real Ale Ride, sponsored by Real Ale Brewery, will be held May 21.
In the Public Comments section of the meeting, chamber vice-president Marcy Westcott asked all residents to contact their representatives in the Texas Legislature to protest the proposed closing of Blanco State Park. She also asked city council to adopt a resolution supporting the park.