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Lavender Festival and Utilities Dominate City Council Discussions
Wednesday, June 18, 2008 • Posted June 17, 2008

Excitement and community preparation toward the upcoming Lavender Festival as well as discussions about “unusually high water bills” dominated the Blanco City Council meeting.

Mayor Rodrigue opened the Regular Meeting of the City Council with the invitation to those in attendance to give brief open forum comments. Retta Martin mentioned Keep Blanco Beautiful’s efforts in getting Blanco spruced up and prepared for the upcoming Lavender Festival. She also described how the town’s current interest in presenting its best possible face for the festival is consistent with stated community goals, citing statistics from public comment surveys collected during preparation of the town’s “Master Comprehensive Plan”. Martin recognized how the entire town has put forth much effort in getting ready for the Festival.

Ready to work in Blanco’s best interest, the newly elected City Council members then stood, raised their hands, and received their new oath of office.

Council member Rebecca Howerton made the motion to re-appoint fellow council member, Ron Houston, as Mayor Pro Tem citing his excellent abilities and successes. The motion was approved.

Discussion regarding the elimination of the pedestrian access on the southwest corner of Highway 281 and 3rd Street pointed out the danger of pedestrians crossing Highway 281.

Bill Savarino of the Blanco Little League non-profit group addressed the council with his concern over a Yett Park water leak that prompted a $1211 water bill. Savarino told the council that a typical water bill averages $300. The water leak was due to construction at the park and has been fixed. After discussion, Houston made the motion to grant a one time only 50% reduction in the water bill. Council member Tina Gourley seconded. The motion was approved.

Blanco citizen Liz Marek asked the council to also consider a reduction in her abnormally high water bill. Holding documentation of her bills, Marek told the council that a typical water bill for her is $54.00 but she had received a bill for $183.84. Even after thorough discussion and evidence of investigation through re-reading the meter, there remained no explanation of the high water bill. Although sympathetic to Marek’s plight, the council voted no action to be taken. Marek politely thanked the council for their attention and time.

Martha Gosnell, giving an update on the program “Safe Routes to School”, informed the council on how she “accidentally discovered an important TxDot report” during her own research for the program. Gosnell forwarded the report to council members and to the school superintendent. The report had never been sent to any town officials by TxDot according to Gosnell. The Superintendent is currently reviewing the report and will be presenting it to the School Board.

Representing Blanco Planning and Zoning, Jud Prince described current business issues of the group, acknowledging efforts to improve Blanco. During Prince’s presentation, Mayor Rodrigue mentioned the vacancy on the Planning and Zoning Committee saying that he’d like for the new member to “be someone living within Blanco city limits.” Houston said that he “desires that the new member be a non-business person” while Gourley asked about the “current make-up of the members”. Prince told those in the meeting that the group is “down one member.”

Although on the agenda, no one from the State Park was able to attend the meeting.

Julie Demaree Dill enthusiastically represented the Blanco Chamber of Commerce saying it’s all “Lavender, lavender, lavender right now” and that “we are all dreaming in Lavender!” Dill described the “very upbeat and excellent volunteer party” given by the Chamber for all the Lavender Festival volunteers in the Courthouse with well over 100 in attendance. Acknowledging the “super job the lavender farmers all did” in representing the industry, the area, and the festival, Dill mentioned how many volunteers commented after hearing presentations, “They really are serious about this!” and this is all “Excellent!” Dill says there are well over 150 volunteers for the festival and joked that “it has become so popular to volunteer that next year we might need to take applications!” Everyone who would like to volunteer is warmly welcome to participate and community participation in the event is excellent according to Dill. Over 4400 programs for the festival have already been distributed throughout the entire Blanco county community through newspaper distribution alone. Additional articles are being prepared for publication. KTSU Radio will be broadcasting from the Blanco Bowling Club on Friday morning from 5:30-9:00 am. Councilman Houston, together with Dill, invites the community to drop by and participate and to tune in to the fun broadcast. Houston and Howerton will be interviewed during the show. Mayor Rodrigue mentioned how former Blanco citizen and current supporter of the town, author Jennie Ralston , has been appearing throughout the area promoting her new book “The Lavender Queen” and giving lots of positive publicity to the area and the Lavender Festival.

The Police Report described a town “still a long way from where the Police would like to be on getting local traffic slowed” showing 110 traffic citations, 94 other activities during the prior month. In this year alone, the Police Report shows there have been 538 traffic citations issued.

Howerton described a “beautiful welcome sign in Johnson City” and reported on her investigations in getting Blanco a similar banner/sign. Working with Johnson City Sign Shop, Howerton reported that a 20’x3’wide sign with the simple phrase “Welcome to Blanco” in Blanco high school blue and gold would cost $170 after discounts. During discussion on fabrication, how to attach the banner, and where the banner could be located, Chamber representative Dill reminded the council that the Gateway signs group from VIP is working on receiving specific historical grants for town signage. Gourley made the motion that the banner/sign issue be tabled until the council could see the Johnson City sign referred to by Howerton. Council member Doug Pautz made the motion that the council accept Howerton’s recommendation to have the sign fabricated before the Lavender Festival, and “then she can figure out how to best use it.” This last motion passed, as many in the room gave Howerton money from their own pockets, totaling $200, in order to have the sign fabricated.

Houston brought up the recommendation from TxDot that speed limits be raised throughout the town from 35 to 40 mph. Pautz made the motion to “simply tell TxDot ‘No”. Gourley seconded the motion and it was approved.

The council went into Executive Session with the Mayor claiming there would be no further announcements after the court re-convened for adjournment.

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