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Museum & Western Trail plaque win in city council

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

For once, the White Hats won big during the Thursday, April 19, meeting of Bandera City Council.
The Frontier Times Museum received a promise of $6,000 from the Hotel Occupancy Tax - the so-called HOT funds. The funds will be used to advertise the museum-sponsored Bandera County National Day of the American Cowboy celebration, slated for Friday and Saturday, July 27 and 28.

Additionally, after three years of attempts, members of the Bandera County Historical Commission received a "go ahead" from council to construct a stone pedestal in the Western Heritage Park on Main Street for placement of an informational bronze plaque.

Harry Harris, vice president of the Frontier Times Museum Board of Trustee, originally asked council for $7,500 from the HOT funds. Last year, the event only received $2,500 from the city.

By law, hotels, motels and B&Bs located within the city limits must collect the Hotel Occupancy Tax. The levy, often irreverently referred to as the "heads in beds" or "butts in beds" tax, is imposed on visitors staying overnight in the various facilities. However, some facilities are behind in paying the mandatory tax, leaving the city's HOT fund cupboard bare.

According to City Treasurer Ernie DeWinne, there is currently an unpaid balance of $3,880. However, he added that one venue in arrears had made payments on what had been owned since 2009-2010 and another is catching up on its 2010-2011 taxes.

DeWinne also noted that council had promised $20,000 to the Bandera Business Association in November, of which $11,000 is still owed. "If we meet the commitment it will be very tight because we've only brought in $11,900 in taxes."

City Administrator Mike Cardenas commented, "The museum has been more than patient and now other organizations must also be patient."

Harris said that one of the objectives of the community-wide event was to benefit other local nonprofit organizations. "In 2011, the museum shared a proceeds of $4,815 with the Boys & Girls Club of Bandera County, 4-H, Knights of Columbus and Bandera Masonic Lodge."

These organizations sold concessions during the two-day event.
Harris revealed that confirmed nominees for the True Texan Hall of Heroes in 2012 include former Texas Ranger Joaquin Jackson, "Horse Whisperer" Craig Cameron and Bandera's iconic Arkey Blue. Harris said that the museum board is still waiting for a response from famed rodeo clown Leon Coffee, who is apparently dealing with a medical issue.

Making the motion to allot $6,000 for the event, Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Schumacher said, "This celebration brings in families and is a wonderful promotion of Bandera as the Cowboy Capital of the World." She also noted that the museum's National Day of the American Cowboy celebration utilizes an all-volunteer staff - none of whom are paid.

Schumacher's motion passed unanimously.

Council also approved the request of Roy Dugosh, chairman of the Bandera County Historical Commission, and historian Dave Burell, to place a bronze Western Trail plaque on a stone pedestal in the city's Western Trail Park. Mason Cecil LeStourgeon has volunteered to construct the pedestal free of charge.

Schumacher had put the request on the council agenda. Referring to a computer-generated rendering, she said, "This is the logical place for it." The pedestal and plaque will be located adjacent to the cement map that traces the Western Trail from Bandera to Dodge City, Kansas.

"I've been trying to get this done for three years and this is my last request," an obviously weary Burell said. "The plaque with information needs to be by the map."

"They wanted to mount the plaque on a pedestal from the beginning and that's not what happened," added Councilman Binky Archer.

Several years ago, the City of Bandera Economic Development Corporation gave $400 toward the casting of the bronze plaque commemorating the Western Trail.

However, EDC members were reluctant to place a pillar-type pedestal in the park owned by the city.

Instead, the bronze plaque was literally buried in the ground by the map and covered with a thick piece of glass. When it rained, the inside of the tiny vault fogged up, making it impossible to read the information.

Dugosh made it his personal mission to make the plaque more accessible to visitors.

However, even placement of the eventual pedestal became controversial. Dugosh and Burrel resisted attempts to locate the pedestal and plaque in the hedges that line the park. "Nobody would see it there," Burrel noted. "We need to connect the information to the map on the ground. We also wanted it off the ground where people can see it and angled so the water can run off."

Several years ago, city council resisted attempts by the EDC to purchase the small Western Trail Park. For this reason, Burell and Dugosh's request came before city council and not the EDC.

Pictured: Persistence paid off for Dave Burell and Roy Dugosh, who finally received approval for construction of a rock pedestal mounted with bronze informational plaque in the city's Western Trail Park. Medina mason Cecil LeStourgeon will build the pedestal free of charge.