Looking ahead to 2021
The fireworks have been popped (thank goodness), the confetti has fallen, and the ball has come down in Times Square. With 2020 officially behind us, we stand at the door of a brand-new year.
We are all on our healthy diets, diligently exercising regularly, and crushing whatever New Year’s resolution we wrote down in our journals. There is hope and optimism in the air of Caldwell County, and with good reason.
COVID, which dominated the news last year, will continue to impact lives now and in the near future. But the highly anticipated vaccines have been shipped to three pharmacies within our boundaries, and more are expected in the coming months. There is light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, and (fingers crossed) a return to normal seems in sight.
Instead of writing what we thought might be coming to the Caldwell County this year, LPR decided to turn our pages over to your elected and appointed officials. We emailed every member of the County Commissioners Court, the Lockhart Mayor, the Lockhart City Council, the LISD Superintendent, and the Caldwell County Sheriff.
We asked them to speak to you, the residents, and give their priorities, hopes, and dreams for 2021. Not everyone responded. Some are busy conducing the business of their jobs and didn’t have time. Others were in the process of goal setting for the year and weren’t ready to reveal their plans. Some didn’t make the print deadline.
We have printed every response we received. We hope you get to know your elected officials and let your voice be heard in 2021.
Caldwell County Judge Hoppy Haden
As I reflect on the past year it is impossible to ignore COVID-19. It invaded every part of our lives.
We have been forced to adapt and move forward and we have all persevered despite a global pandemic.
Our economy took a hit but in true Caldwell County form we set about helping ourselves and our neighbors to recover.
As I look forward to 2021, I look forward to moving beyond the pandemic and continuing the business of moving our county into the very exciting future before us.
The Lockhart EDC and the County have partnered on a very exciting project for an industrial park on SH 130.
We continue to attract business to Caldwell County such as Iron Ox that will mean large capital investments that will lead to our county becoming THE place to be in the future.
We are coupling these efforts with long term planning projects in transportation, education and housing in order to assure that our growth will be the kind of growth that we can all be proud of.
Additionally, I am very excited by the renewed energy in the downtown sectors of our cities.
We are seeing amenities such as upscale restaurants and art galleries on the square and there is a very different feel in Caldwell County that we all need to embrace and nurture.
Our future has never looked brighter in my opinion and I look forward to the challenges that the future holds for all of Caldwell County.
Lockhart Mayor Lew White
2020 surely brings to close one of the memorably, heart breaking, and at times, one of the most divisive years in memory.
The pandemic has caused us to lose loved ones, jobs, and businesses. It’s changed lifestyles and the way we do business. People have stayed home and stayed safe. They have spent more time with family, shopped locally, and done their part to help prevent the spread of COVID.
The election has gotten more people involved. There has been more debate. We had the highest voter turnout in years.
Racial unrest in our community was met with peaceful demonstration, tense discussion amongst old and new citizens, and thoughtful decisions by local leaders.
Throughout 2020, the City has done its best to promote public health and safety, aide to businesses, utility relief to its citizens and to protect free speech.
OK 2020, its time to get lost!
2021 is finally here. Lockhart is preparing for life in the next phase of the pandemic. Introduction of the vaccine will begin the first step to reopen our community and the first step to return to normal life. We still must practice strict COVID awareness to help guard against another surge of infection.
The City’s focus will remain on creating new jobs. We are off to a good start by committing to the new 75-acre industrial park on Hwy 130. Two new businesses have recently announced that they are coming to town and there should another announcement for the industrial park very soon.
New housing starts should begin soon in Vintage Springs by Bluebonnet school and in Summerside addition adding over 400 new lots available for new construction.
The city will continue to recruit after-hour healthcare coverage. The City will continue to do what is right for community to grow in a responsible manner and maintain the quality of life that we all value so much. I wish you all a safer, prosperous, more normal 2021!
LISD Superintendent Mark Estrada
Lockhart ISD has learned so much over the past year as we rose to the challenges of this historic time in public education. Reflecting on this, we look forward to making adjustments in the New Year that benefit both students and staff.
For example, parents previously were able to make changes to their children’s method of instruction once every nine weeks. Now that we’ve learned more about how to safely operate schools during this time, we are able to help students transition more quickly back to school so they can learn on campus. Beginning in January, parents will be able to make requests for their children to return to campus throughout the semester. Elementary parents can expect a transition in about one week’s time. Because secondary school operations are more complex, we will be able to accommodate returns to campus every three weeks throughout the rest of the school year.
Also, based upon direct feedback from LISD teachers and parents, the district learned there was a need for teachers to have more time to prepare and plan instruction that met the needs of both distance and on-campus learners. Because of this, the district proposed, and the Board of Trustees approved, the addition of five plan and prep days for teachers during the spring semester, three of which are asynchronous learning days for students in which they learn virtually without live instruction.
The district is excited and optimistic about continuing to support students in their continued growth to reach their full potential. While school looks very different this year, what has not changed are the high expectations we hold for our students and ourselves in providing the learning experience each Lion deserves.
Wishing everyone a Happy New Year filled with limitless potential!
Commissioner Barbara Shelton Precinct 2
As we began 2020 in Caldwell County, we were off to a good start. County business was going smooth and businesses in the county were doing well. Then in March, we were all struck with the pandemic of the Coronavirus more or less known as Covid-19 and what a change for us all to have to endure. From the closings of businesses, schools, churches, people losing their jobs and family functions to mention a few to the sadness of loved ones getting sick and some passing away from this horrible virus. Many of us having to learn technology that we never knew exists, teachers having to adapt to teaching our children via zoom, meets and other types of social media and parents having to learn how to use such programs. No one could ever image that this would have lasted as long as it has, but here we are still having to keep social distancing, wearing masks, teachers having to teach in two methods as some children attend school and the rest doing school online. To our emergency responders, hospitals, doctors, nurses having to be on the front line of all of this and I must say that they have been wonderful to their quick response to the situation.
With all of the hurdles mentioned above, we continue to grow and adapt to new ways. We are having a lot of growth in the county as many subdivisions are being developed and larger properties are being divided in smaller parcels. Major companies are looking in our area to relocate and bring their business here and employ Caldwell County citizens. As Commissioner of Precinct 2, I will continue to serve you by being diligent in conducting Caldwell County business and making the right decisions for our County. If there are any concerns or questions you would like to discuss with me, please feel free to call, email or meet with me. As the old saying goes “My door is always open”.
As we continue to face uncertainties in the upcoming year, we all have to work together to get through this pandemic. Keep your faith and pray that this pandemic will end soon, and we can return to our normal lifestyle as we knew it prior to March 2020. Happy New Year.
Commissioner Ed Theriot Precinct 3
I look forward to a return to normalcy. 2020 tore in two the economic, social, and governmental fabric of Caldwell County. It changed the way we do business, the way we interact with family and friends, the way we educate our children, and for many, the way that we provide for our families. I am optimistic that we are turning the corner and that a bright light is now shining at the end of the tunnel.
I look forward to a greatly improved county road system. Over the past two years, the Commissioner’s Court has prioritized investment in personnel, materials, and new equipment for our Unit Road system. We still have a long way to go to have the road system the citizens of the County deserve, but I am seeing the positive change.
I also look forward to economic growth in good jobs and investment on a scale never before experienced in Caldwell County. The County is located in the epicenter of what is now being called the Innovation Corridor of Texas. The companies associated with the Army Futures Command and the satellite companies associated with Tesla are focusing on our area and we are taking steps to provide a welcoming environment. The Lockhart EDC, in partnership with Caldwell County, has invested in the acquisition and construction of a new industrial park along 130 to provide the infrastructure and ready to build lot sizes needed by the companies looking to locate in our area.
Caldwell County can get it done in 2021.
Commissioner B.J. Westmoreland Precinct 1
As we look ahead to 2021 and calculate the shifting fallout from 2020, I believe it is imperative for all of us to remember that some values remain constant in all of our lives. Now more than ever during the season of this New Year, it is important for us to know and believe in the value of service, commitment, and dedication. We as county leaders must continue to ensure that the essential services that our citizenry depend on not only continue, but are improved and evolve in ways to meet the ever changing demands of our community. We must continue our commitment to ensure that Caldwell County is ready to not only meet the demands of an ever increasing population and diversifying economic climate, but to handle the repercussions that will undoubtedly follow. Finally, and most importantly, we must be dedicated. We must dedicate ourselves to not only the tasks listed above, but also to the continuance of fair and consistent governance, to face the unknown challenges that will inevitably come, and to the belief that our reliance upon these values will lead us to better days ahead, no matter the obstacles we face. I choose to look ahead towards 2021 with optimism, knowing that 2020, if nothing else, instilled in many of us a greater appreciation for the people in our lives, an improved sense of humility, and the wisdom that accompanies great strife. Happy New Year to all of you and it is a privilege to continue to serve as Caldwell County Commissioner for Precinct 1.
City Council Member David Bryant District 2
I am glad the year 2020 is behind us and that we are able to look forward to the future. As a council member, I hope to meet more of our fine Lockhart residents in 2021. I plan to continue to be a voice for my community and district that I serve. One desire I have is that all of our residents feel heard and feel safe in their neighborhoods. Something that I learned a few years before running for City Council is that school district meetings and council meetings are open to the public. Each meeting has a time allotment for public comments. In 2021, I hope that more citizens attend meetings in person or online to stay updated in local government and when they feel it is necessary, to let their voice be heard. If anyone would like to reach out to me, do not hesitate to use my contact information on the city website.