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Lavender Festival has Banner Year, Declared a Success

The Blanco Chamber of Commerce is thrilled that the 12th Annual Lavender Festival was the most largely attended in quite some time. It was a banner year, with 111 arts and crafts vendors, 11 food vendors, eight Texas Made Specialty Packaged Foods vendors, three wineries and the addition of the Texas Craft Beer Tent featuring five regional craft brewers including Blanco’s own Real Ale Brewing Company. No Label Brewing Company out of Katy, Texas presented their newest seasonal beer, Forbidden Lavender, a lavender infused Witbier at the festival. The record numbers of attendees included visitors from Fairbanks, Alaska and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Visitors from Germany and Turkey were the winners for traveling the farthest to attend the festivities.
The Blanco Lavender Festival is the largest annual fundraiser for the Blanco Chamber of Commerce. Funds raised during the festival fund the operation of the Chamber offices throughout the year. In addition to keeping the Chamber running, the festival boosts the local economy with the influx of sales tax revenue. This tourism creates opportunities for small businesses to develop and thrive. The incredible resource that Blanco enjoys in the amazing group of community volunteers is, most definitely, the key to the festival’s success. The businesses and individuals that support the festival through sponsorships make the overall financial success of the festival possible as well. Blanco residents should most definitely take the time to view the festival website, www.blancolavenderfest.com, and take note of the businesses that are supportive of not only the Lavender Festival, but other festivals and local events that help the community to prosper.
The Chamber of Commerce would like to thank all of our incredible volunteers and sponsor. Your support and involvement helps to create a signature festival that continues to grow in popularity. Many thanks to the City of Blanco, the Blanco Police Department, Blanco County EMS and the Blanco Volunteer Fire Department for keeping all of our residents and visitors safe during the event.
Plans will be underway soon for the 2017 Lavender Festival and anyone who would like to participate in the planning process is welcome to give the Chamber a call, we would love to have you. In addition, anyone who would like to make suggestions or offer any insights is welcome to get in touch as well. Thank you Blanco for an outstanding festival.

Sauceda Elected Mayor Pro Tempore

At their regular meeting on June 14, members of the governing body of Blanco re-elected council member Martin Sauceda to a second term as Mayor Pro Tempore. Prior to the regular meeting, a Public Hearing was held for citizens to ask any questions about the process by which the city applies for a Texas Community Development Block Grant. Margaret Hardin of Langford Community Management Services explained the eligibility requirements for a Community Development Fund grant, which would enable the city to make improvements in its water and wastewater systems. The application deadline is February 1, 2017. The city has received past grants, including one in 2007 for Disaster Recovery in the wake of flooding, and another for the current year. The maximum grant request and matching amount is set by the Regional Review Committee. Blanco is part of the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) region.
In the Open Comments portion of the meeting, Blanco Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau director Libbey Aly thanked the city and the police department for their help during the Lavender Festival. She reported that the festival doubled its revenue over past years, with more vendors and visitors from as far away as Turkey, Germany, Puerto Rico, and Alaska. She also noted the increase in young families with children, mentioning St. Ferdinand’s Catholic Church, which sponsored children’s activities. Volunteer coordinator Sandy Switzer thanked all the volunteers and praised the efforts of Aly, who she said “represents the city very well.”
A Keep Texas Beautiful past president and board member, Joanne Weik, presented the Sadie Ray Graff Award to Blanco Middle School science teacher Pam Meier, for her work with students, engaging them and encouraging them to support global ecology. A 22-year veteran of Blanco Middle School, Meier’s projects include a vegetable garden on the campus, rainwater harvesting, and composting. Weik called Meier “a stellar example of what we do,” which she characterized as “educating and engaging citizens to take responsibility for their environment.” Meier has a Master of Arts in Teaching in the field of global ecology. Meier thanked her principal for her support. She brought a small bag of cherry tomatoes, grown in the school garden, for each council member. She also thanked council member and Keep Blanco Beautiful member Martha Gosnell for submitting her application for the award, which is supported by HEB, the Farm Bureau, and Rainwater Revival.
In his Mayor’s Comments, Bruce Peele recounted that at a special meeting in May, city council approved the initial steps toward building a new wastewater plant at a cost of $3.2 million. Completion time is estimated at two years. He said the city will be replacing water pipes in low-income areas of the city, with the side benefit of road improvements in those areas. He informed council members that the Safe Routes to School grant will kick in shortly and that the city is continuing to appeal to FEMA for $107K in funds denied the city as a result of water the city had to purchase in the wake of last year’s flooding of the Blanco River. He announced an Executive Session to determine whether the city should pursue litigation against the developer of Cielo Springs for failure to install a pump to increase water pressure in the development.
Following Executive Session, council approved two motions, one to authorize the Allen Bojorquez Law Firm to pursue litigation against the developer of Cielo Springs, and the second to authorize the mayor to engage in settlement discussions with the defendants in the case. Mayor Peele explained that any decision would have to be approved by city council.
In the first order of Old Business, City Manager Lambert Little explained a request by Progressive Waste Solutions for a rate increase. He said the contract allows for a Consumer Price Index-based increase, which he called “modest—approximately 14 cents a month per customer” to be absorbed by the city until the budget workshops, which will probably result in increases for water and wastewater services. Council approved the increase, which was to take effect June 1.
In the second order of Old Business, council voted to award a contract for paving streets in the Garden Oaks subdivision to Available Construction and Transport Services at a cost of $19,500 for pothole and edge repair and $50,880 for a single course of chip-seal. City engineer Jason Jones and public works director Ronnie Rodriguez concurred that a single course will be sufficient.
American Legion Memorial Highway Post 352 Chaplain Joe Garcia came before council to encourage citizens to display American flags on Independence Day. The American Legion has purchased flags to display around the square, and members of Boy Scout Troop 497 will assist in placing them. The mayor read a resolution and also issued the following proclamation, approved by city council: “I, Mayor Bruce Peele, by the authority vested in me by the City of Blanco, do hereby proclaim the 4th of July, 2016, as Patriotic Remembrance Day, a day of voluntarily displaying American flags around the Blanco City Square and throughout the City and its Environs. I urge all businesses, organizations, and citizens across Blanco to support these efforts in honoring our men and women who gave their tomorrows for the ideals we value today—the ideals of freedom, justice, and democracy—and to celebrate the nation we hold so dear.” The proclamation was signed by the mayor and the city seal was put on it. Council approved the resolution and proclamation.
Next council voted to authorize the mayor, Mayor Pro-Tem, and the city administrator to consult with the city’s financial advisors, Wells Nelson, as to the best way to finance construction of the new wastewater treatment plant. Mayor Peele explained that any information would be presented to city council for their consideration.
As recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission, council members ratified the appointment of council member Martha Gosnell as liaison to the signage subcommittee. They also approved a HOT funds grant to Twin Sisters Dance Hall for $2500 for advertising July Fourth events planned there, including live music by Bobby Flores, a Buggy Barn parade, and food provided by Old 300 Barbecue. Members of the HOT Funds Advisory Committee recommended awarding the grant. For documenting purposes, Haas said that students will be giving out surveys to those attending as to whether they will be spending the night, and a post-event report will be filed. Council member Maria Guerrero encouraged Haas to make sure local hotels and motels keep a record of attendees who spend the night.
City administrator Lambert Little next distributed copies of proposed amendments to the city’s Personnel Policy. He explained that many changes had been suggested by employees themselves. After hearing the proposed changes, council approved them.
Public Works Director Ronnie Rodriguez explained the next agenda item, requesting that the city charge a $35 inspection fee of a dwelling’s water system at the time the property changes hands. He said the intent is to ensure good water quality by making sure all connections within the home are secure and that water doesn’t leak back into the city’s water system, also that there are no old lead pipes. Previously the city received notice of a violation from TCEQ for improper record-keeping of these inspections. After lengthy discussion, the motion passed by a three-two margin, with Martin Sauceda and Maria Guerrero opposing it. Sauceda thought the increase should be included as part of new rates in next year’s budget.
Two amendments to the UDC were approved by council, one that allows the Blanco Historic Commission to extend the time it has to consider the Certificate of Appropriateness for historic buildings, and one, Ordinance 2016-0-006, to “promote and encourage the preservation of parkland and open space,” Attachment “A” to Section 5.11 of the UDC, “is intended to prevent the indiscriminate cutting of trees in advance of development, to require the consideration of trees as a component of site design, and to allow for the commercially reasonable development of private property subject to minimum standards for the preservation and planting of trees.” Mayor Peele explained two situations which prompted this ordinance—the cutting of a heritage oak at a construction site for the Blanco Library expansion, and a proposed high-density housing development on Trainer Street, which would have involved cutting large oak trees.
A request by the Arts in the Park committee for $5500 for a Fall Series was approved by city council by a 4-1 vote, with Maria Guerrero voting in opposition. The funds would be transferred from the Land Acquisition Fund to allow the money to be spent out of this fiscal year’s budget. Arts in the Park committee member Jack Twilley explained that the committee needs the money now in order to book acts for the fall series.
Mayor Peele presented council with a draft of a letter he is preparing to send to Blanco County Judge Bray explaining why the city will not pay the county the requested $38,500 for dispatch services. He explained that the city pays a voluntary contribution toward the service and is not obligated to pay for it. In response to a request for an opinion, Police Chief Mike Ritchey said, “It’s a slippery slope. Once we acknowledge that we are paying a fee, then they can raise it.”Council also approved an ordinance modifying the school zone speed limit from 35 to 30 miles an hour.
Mayor Peele, based on Public Information Requests in regard to HOT Funds, gave council a packet of information tracing the history of the Hotel Occupancy Tax from its beginning in 1986, including city council meeting minutes, bank statements, and e-mails. Council members suggested that they would like time to look at the information before making any decisions on the future of HOT funds.
Police Chief Mike Ritchey reported an increase in calls for service to 495 for the month of May, explaining that they get higher in the summer. He said his department issued 26 tickets for unlicensed drivers, a statistic that he called “worse and worse.” He praised the district attorney for moving quickly on the charges against the couple in Blanco whose actions resulted in the death of a baby and the removal of two older children to foster care. Because the charge against the couple was elevated to Capital Murder, Chief Ritchey concluded, “I don’t see them ever coming out of jail.”
Following a second Executive Session, council voted to negotiate a land swap with land in Bindseil Park, giving Pat Smith first right of refusal.

Local Organizations Join Forces to Plan Independence Weekend

The Air Force’s Band of the West Top Flight Ensemble and the Hill Country Brass Quintet, will highlight the July 3rd afternoon entertainment during Blanco’s Independence Weekend Celebration. Brought to you by the City of Blanco and its Arts in the Park committee, both groups of professional musicians offer a variety of music from Classical, to R&B, to Country and Pop!
As previously reported, the weekend’s activities will begin with a parade around the historical square on Saturday morning, July 2nd, followed by food provided by the Buggy Barn Museum. Activities then move south of town to the Twin Sisters Dance Hall culminating in a Saturday night dance featuring the well-known Bobby Flores and his Yellow Rose Band. (You can read more about the band on page 2)
On Sunday morning, Blanco’s Town Square and Bindseil Park will be the focus of the activities and entertainment. Dennis Moore will be serving a Chuck Wagon breakfast at 9:30; Lawrence Coffee will provide a short service followed Gospel Singers at 1 o’clock. From 2 o’clock on, local entertainers followed, by the Ol Cowhands, Top Flight, Hill Country Brass and, finally, a street dance will end the weekend celebration.
Mark you calendars, bring your lawn chairs, food and drink, and enjoy the family-friendly Independence weekend activities in wonderful, beautiful Blanco, Texas!

Michael Lockhart rises to shoot for two. When he wasn’t shooting, Lockhart “was feeding everybody,” according to coach Aaron Nuckles.

Time to Knuckle down

LAGO VISTA—The Aaron Knuckles Era was unveiled, June 9, in this community well-known for the 30-mile scenic route from Marble Falls.

Well, it’s a stretch—not quite 30 miles—to say “unveiled.” The new Llano High boys’ basketball head coach did see his guys play organized ball for the first time, but it was in the Vikings’ summer league.

“I’m excited,” Nuckles said. “The kids played hard, got after it.”

Accurate observations, despite losing to Marble Falls and host Lago. I guess a lot of teams can say this — although not on this page — but four key Jacket players were not on hand for the contests.

In the opener against the Mustangs, Michael Lockhart began the game with a nice two and collected his team’s final seven points. Jaden Napolez also had nine, while credit Bryce Triplett with two good defensive plays.

“Not too bad,” declared Napolez. “Just trying to get to the rim, create some shots, get others open.”

The rest of the juniors and seniors who made up the varsity squad were Cory Dyess, Kris Watson, Roberto Alcala, and Mark Nunez.

Nuckles, who led Lometa to 100 wins in five seasons before succeeding Blake Sieck, was impressed, “Jaden took a charge, tried to take another one.” He thought the overall effort was meritorious for a June assignment. The Mustangs, bigger and deeper, posted a 47-21 win.

The meeting with the Vikings in their handsome gymnasium was better, and the author of the confrontation can be praised for suspense in both acts.

In the first 20-minute, running-clock first half, Napolez hit a three; Nunez drove for two; Dyess nailed a three; Alcala fed Watson for two; and Jaden put in two deuces — the second hoop assisted by his own steal. 22-20, Llano at intermission.

“Everybody did well,” insisted Nunez, a gutty guard. “Good passing,” also, “awesome.”

With the Jackets down 30-27, Mark started something really awesome: he lofted in a three; Cory matched it; and Watson showed how Elementary it all was with his copy-cat version. Llano led, 36-34.

“Not afraid to shoot ‘em,” said Nuckles, concerning the attempts from beyond the arc. His team hit six.

Lago Vista took a 44-38 advantage with six minutes left, but Nunez hit a two-and-one, and he and Napolez hit their free throws to narrow the deficit to a point. Down 46-45, Alcala had a chance to be the Man of Summer with a near-half-court heave for the win. It didn’t fall.

“Thought I had enough of it,” he told me. A Viking may have “gotten a piece of it.”

Nunez scored 12 points, and Dyess contributed 11.

“Played hard, and {they were} hustling,” Nuckles praised. “There’s rust but a lot of positives.”

Positively there were landslides for the junior varsity — freshmen and sophomores. Kendall Downey, Cade Fly, Nic George, Brooks Keele, Ben McIntosh, Cooper Owens, and Bailey Hoy blasted Johnson City, 55-15, and Lago Vista, 83-34.

“Future looking bright,” the coach maintained. “Mix some of them with the older ones, {and} they can do some things.”

Oh, a promise: that headline will NEVER be used again.

Events Planned for Independence Weekend

The city is celebrating the Independence weekend this year in a big way! Beginning on Saturday morning, July 2nd, a parade from the Buggy Barn Museum through the Historical Square and back will kick off the weekend’s activities. After that, the Buggy Barn will be serving hot dogs and hamburgers to those attending. Activities in the afternoon move to the Twin Sisters Dance Hall grounds where vendors, live music and buggy rides will take place throughout the day. Other activities include honoring wounded warriors. The day will conclude with well known musician, Bobby Flores and the Yellow Rose Band, hosting a dance for the entire family in the old Twin Sisters Dance Hall. The dance will begin at 9 p.m.
Sunday morning, July 3rd, brings another round of family events, this time, on the Historical Square in Blanco and in Bindseil Park. Dennis Moore will host and serve a cowboy breakfast for all hungry cowhands (and citizens) beginning at 9:30 on the Old Courthouse grounds. At 1 p.m. a short service hosted by Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Famer, Lawrence Coffee, followed by Gospel singing will kickoff the afternoon’s activities. From 2 until 3 p.m., several local musicians will entertain in Bindseil Park in an impromptu Jam Session. At 3 o’clock, the Ol Cowhands Swing Band, a talented group of three youngsters from Ft. Worth, will perform on the Bindseil stage. Then, the Air Force Band of the West’s “Top Flight” ensemble will play from 4 until 5, followed by the Hill Country Brass from 5 until 6 p.m. After these entertainers, the finale event moves to the Old Courthouse grounds where Little Beverly and the Shades, a group of talented senior citizens who play finger snapping and sing along 50s and 60s music, will play for a good old-fashioned Street Dance.
Mark your calendars, bring your blankets or lawn chairs, and enjoy a great patriotic weekend in wonderful Blanco. You won’t be sorry!

Solo and Ensemble Competes at State

Several Blanco High School Band Students Competed at the UIL State Solo and Ensemble Competition on Sunday May 29th in Pflugerville, Tx. Blanco students ended up being awarded 18 Gold Division 1 Medals and 3 Division 2 Silver Medals. Percussion, Saxophone, and Clarinet Ensembles all received a Division 1 Rating for their performances. Canyon Burkhart received a Division 1 Rating for his Solo, and Charity Windham, Adrian Lamphier, and John Adams received Division 2 Ratings on their Solos. The Brass Ensemble received a Division 3 Rating.
Also, Blanco High School sent in recordings from their 2016 UIL Concert Competition to the ATSSB Outstanding Performance Series Competition. Region 12 judging took place this last week and Blanco received 1st Place in the March Category and took 1st and 2nd Place in the Concert Category meaning that all 3 submissions advanced to the Area round of judging to take place later this month. Blanco High School had 2 of their selections make it all the way to State