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Vision for Bandera committees created

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

It was SRO in the Branding Iron at Flying L Ranch, the evening of Tuesday, July 12, when over 75 people answered a clarion call to attend the first called “Working the Vision” meeting of Vision for Bandera (V4B). The loose confederation of stakeholders in the city and county – but mostly in the city – has been meeting informally for months.
In the absence of city resident Steve Ball, who spearheaded the effort, local businessman Mason Hunt facilitated the meeting that included representatives from the business community, nonprofits, governing bodies and private citizens concerned about the turn their communities are taking.
Gazing at the unexpected turnout, Hunt said, “This shows a lot of us are interested in making Bandera the best that it can be.”
For months, V4B organizers have asked for public input on what they would like to see in Bandera or what they would like Bandera to be. And, according to website designer, Larry Haddad, the resultanting suggestions showed that a lot of participants “shared the same vision.”
Mary Schenk, who complied the data from submissions, said, “Vision for Bandera is not about one person or one thing. It’s about the community we call home. Bandera’s biggest industry is tourism – from daytrippers to international visitors from Poland and winter Texans. But the one thing they have in common is a search for a western lifestyle and amenities the Hill County offers.”
Describing the effort as a “work in progress,” Schenk had taken myriad suggestions and divided them into five major categories:
• Infrastructure, safety and general cleanup of the town – Mostly referring to Main Street, this category covered the perennial issue of sidewalks and making the main drag more pedestrian friendly. Advocates also wanted increased directional signs and even perhaps even a prominent “Welcome to Bandera” sign
• Horse friendly and “Keepin’ It Western” – Suggestions in this category included the need for a covered rodeo arena, such as the one being installed at Lightning Ranch on FM 1283, as well as strategically placed watering troughs and hitching posts within the city.
• Music, art and historic preservation – Many felt that added emphasis on the city historic district(s) could be used as a promotional tool.
Western-themed artwork was also suggested, presumably similar to the “CowParade,” a public art exhibit previously featured in cities across the globe. Years ago an effort was made to place large painted boots about the municipality, but that endeavor – like so many others – came to naught.
• Promotions and events – The need for “more western ambiance” was paramount to many contributors.
Suggestions included wagon or buggy to historic sites in the city; initiating a “Best Western Dress” contest, presumably for tourists; giving bi-annual western-centric awards; and soliciting tour buses to include the Cowboy Capital as a destination day trip.
• Parks, recreation and the Medina River – Taking a page from the Boys & Girls Club in Bandera, suggestions included offering a periodic Movie Night in City Park, as well as live theatrical performances in the park and sponsoring a Native American camp on the river banks.
“We can’t do this alone,” Schenk said. “Everyone needs to select a project and offer their expertise.”
The evening culminated with participants being asked to sign up for the outlined committees. “These committees will meet monthly and members’ feet will be held to the fire,” she promised.
Of those attending, a whopping 64 participants committed to serving on one of the established committees, in addition to other volunteers who responded later by email, text, Facebook and in person.
The first organizational meeting of the committees took place Monday, July 18, at American Legion Post 157 in Bandera. At that time, committee chairmen were elected. The next called meeting for Vision for Bandera will take place at 6:30 pm, Tuesday, August 15, at the American Legion Post on 12th Street.
As was explained, “We realize that there are long-range master plans, as well as separate plans for City Park. By working with city and county officials on these projects, suggestions and recommendations will be easier to implement. The citizens want to see progress and have expressed concern that their voices are not being heard and their needs are not being met at present.”
And, it’s not too late to volunteer for a committee. As Hunt noted, “We always have room for you!”