By Miranda Rogers
As local organizations grapple with ways to bring tourism to Lockhart, the Lockhart City Council must consider the best way to fund tourism. To that end, several well-known Lockhart entities made their request for the Hotel Occupancy Tax for the Fiscal Year 2011-12.
In requesting the funding, each entity was asked to include a mission statement and the benefit that the organization would have on the community, how the previous year’s distributions were spent, and to give a detail of total estimated dollars to be spent from January – December 2012.
Lockhart Chamber of Commerce had a Powerpoint Presentation ready to outline their role as an “official tourist information and visitor center.” The Chamber of Commerce holds the largest community festivals, including the Chisholm Trail Roundup, which brings in an estimated 25,000 people.
They have been very successful with advertising in the past year, and plan to put money towards a downtown revitalization committee, billboards, postcards and banners for the square. The Chamber is also hoping to expand professional display services to the I-10 corridor.
The Greater Caldwell County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce focused their presentation on their desire to create business opportunities for its members and support proactive economic activities. They have held events such as Cinco De Mayo and Diez y Seis, and would like to continue to host such events and encourage tourism with the funding from the taxes.
The Gaslight-Baker Theatre has recently been seeing a larger number of patrons from outside of the city, thanks to a new ticketing system that tracks zip codes. The theatre offers significant historical features such as their hand painted curtain, original vaudeville stage and historic graffiti. They hope to expand by increasing summer program workshops for the youth theatre, as well as make some repairs and extensions to the theatre.
The purpose of the Caldwell County Museum is to promote their historical heritage through educating exhibitions and tours. While open during the weekends, the museum also accommodates special requests for weekly tours for local students and teachers, as well as families and groups that are visiting.
Some visitors to the museum not only come from out of town, but from outside the country, representatives said.
Lockhart’s Southwest Museum of Clocks and Watches also hopes to “make Lockhart a little bigger on the map,” and believe that they have truly made a difference in their ability to promote tourism.
This year, the museum intends to extend their business hours, and said they feel assured there will be enough visitors to prove that the extension of hours is beneficial. The museum boasts of its ability to bring in tourists to marvel in the time machines and their stories, as well as their “Tower Clock Initiative” restoration work. They have the original county clock on display in their window.
Finally, the Brock Cabin Museum applied for the Hotel Occupancy Taxes. They were not awarded last year, and would like to see the restored cabin become as popular in culture as Lockhart Barbecue.
The non-profit entity means to maintain the cabin as a museum and living classroom for people to learn about the history of pioneering and their founding fathers.
At their regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 21, the Council is expected to allocate the hotel-motel tax money.
In other business, the council considered a change to city ordinances regarding firearms, specifically BB guns, within the city limits.
Recently, an organization showed interest in putting on a safety training target shooting with BB guns, prompting a request to amend the ordinance, which currently does not allow shooting of any firearms within city limits.
The proposed ordinance would allow the shooting of BB guns within certain velocity limits of 300 feet per second, as long as the shooters are participating in educational and safety events sponsored by non-profit and commercial organizations. The controlled setting must be held on property with permission of property owner, and the BB gun cannot be fired into other properties.
While Lockhart Police Department representatives said the department is not opposed to the change in the ordinance, Councilmember Richard Banks expressed concern that it might “encourage young people to get accustomed to shooting BB guns.”
However, other councilmembers approved the change, suggesting that safety measures will be taught in a controlled atmosphere, rather than letting children teach themselves in their own backyards.
In other news, the Lockhart Fire Department was approved for a grant application through the Community Development Program co-sponsored by the Lower Colorado River Authority and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative. The grant will provide assistance of a maximum of $5,500 to house current and future apparatus.
The building intended to house the equipment will be constructed where the municipal court is, and will house trucks in a secure facility to decrease danger of vandalism and protect against severe weather.
The Lockhart Police Department presented the “2011 Racial Profiling Report,” a presentation of traffic stops that involved citations upon arrest. The studies were reported within the city of Lockhart, and showed a low percentage of searches needed during the stops with 109 being conducted out of 2,500 stops.
Department representatives said that for any car to be searched, there is “a reason to believe something’s made them suspicious.”
With cameras attached to many of the patrol cars, the police department usually no longer needs consent to search in writing, but will often ask for it anyway for the benefit of a jury case. Additionally, supervisors can investigate why the officer felt like he or she needed to ask for consent to search a car, minimizing the threat of racial profiling.
One officer said, “sometimes you don’t even know if it’s a woman or a man until you stop.”
In brief news:
City Council has sent Esthetic Exterior Design Standards to the Planning Department for a recommendation on what needs to be done. The designs will be aimed at the buildings constructed within the Lockhart Industrial Park II, as suggested by Realtors and builders who have commented on the “hodgepodge” architecture and need for clean up. The City is looking for greater standards with building materials and want to see something conservative and user friendly.
The First Quarter Fiscal Year 2012 Investment Report, required by the Texas Public Investment Act, has been accepted. The report showed the amount of deposits greater than the withdrawals, and an interest on total investment of $6,338 earned.
Lastly, the City Council meeting that was originally scheduled for Aug. 7, 2012, has been moved to Aug. 8, 2012, in order to avoid conflict with the Annual National Night Out event. Moving the event to October had been discussed, due to the extreme heat that had inconvenienced participants the year before. Currently the event is still set for August, since the beginning of the school year is an ideal time for people to go out and meet their neighbors.
The Lockhart City Council routinely meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Glosserman Conference Room of Lockhart City Hall. The meetings are open to the public and televised on Time Warner Digital Cable Channel 10.