The past year has seen a great deal of change in the Village, including the sale of Mill Creek golf course, the potential listing of the Salado salamander as endangered and growth and change in the Village government.
The Village finally got a City Manager, but saw longtime city secretary Dianna Barker leave to work for the City of Killeen this year.
City Manager Jim Reed, who contracts his services to the Village through the Central Texas Council of Governments, started work this fall after aldermen discussed the pros and cons and costs of city management since January.
He is expected to lead the Village through discussions in early 2014 that may move the city government to be housed in the Salado Civic Center. Reed may also help bring Salado closed to having a village sewer system as he works to conduct due diligence of a proposed $3.4 millin gift from Morris Foster of a 50,000 gallon per day waste water treatment plant that might be utilized to serve downtown Salado businesses.
As citizens look back on 2013, the coming year will hold just as much in store as Saladoans ring in 2014 next week.
The Salado salamander and its possible listing by the federal government as Endangered looms as early as Feb. 2014.
The US Fish & Wildlife services (USFWS) was supposed to have a final listing announcement this fall, but postponed that listing for an additional six months to gather more data concerning the habitat of the salamander.
The USFWS did determine that the economic impact of listing the Salado salamander would be minimal compared to the economic impact of listing the Georgetown salamander, Austin blind salamander and the Jollyville Plateau salamander.
The economic impact of listing the Salado salamander will be just $30,000 in Bell County. Williamson County and Travis County did not get off so easy for the proposed listing of three other salamanders. The cost of protecting those species is $29 million over a 23 year period.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) released its draft economic analysis on Jan. 25.
The Bell County stakeholders group of county and village government continued its opposition to the listing of the salamander and submitted further public comments, which contributed to the USFWS announcing in August that it was postponing a final listing of the Salado salamander until Feb. 2014.
In the meantime, USFWS announced a grant to protect the salamander. One of this year’s grants will provide the Solana Ranch Preserve with $881,250. This funding will allow the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to acquire a conservation easement on a 256-acre tract located in Bell County to benefit the Salado salamander. The acquisition will provide protection for the species in three of the seven springs in which it is known to occur. Acquisition of the Solana Ranch Preserve will protect an area of 75 percent of the proposed critical habitat units for this species in the Service’s Southwest Region.
The acquisition will also protect the quality of cave and spring water, minimize ground water pollution, protect groundwater and spring flow, and exclude cattle and feral hogs.
A private developer sought and received support from the Village government for the construction of a senior living facility. Ultimately the propoised facility failed to get the tax abatements that would have brought it to fruition. It is unclear whether the developers will attempt to reapply for abatements in the next funding cycle.
Billy Helm led a group of private investors to purchase the Mill Creek Country Club this summer. Another effort failed to purchase the course from Morris Foster, but Helm and his investors brokered a deal this summer. During the fall, the group began cleaning up the course and further work in the spring on holes that were damaged by floods. During the winter, the group will renovate and expand the grill and pro shop and pool area.
Memberships in Mill Creek have grown from 90 to about 170 members.
change and growth
This has been a year of change and growth for the churches of Salado, as well.
The St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church was officially consecrated by Bishop C. Andrew Doyle in April.
The Salado United Methodist Church called Rev. Lara Whitley to serve as the senior pastor after Rev. Travis Franklin left to serve as the executive director of the Methodist retreat in Glen Rose. The two announced their engagement and approaching marriage in 2014.
First Baptist Church of Salado bought property at the corner of Thomas Arnold and Church St. and renovated the buildings there for a Youth Activity Center, which they formally opened this fall. The church property was once home to the Salado United Methodist Church.
The congregation of 3C Cowboy Fellowship completed the shell of a new sanctuary this summer that will be able to seat 1,000 people. Plans continue for the interior build-out of the building. 3C Cowboy Fellowship held its first Sunday service on April 16, 2006 and has grown rapidly since then.
Ray Don McIntosh began his work early in May as the Salado Church of Christ’s new Family Life Minister.
Salado Presbyterian minister Carl V. Thompson marked his 40th anniversary in the ministry in June.
Eagles celebrate Lone Star Cup,
other successful efforts in 2013
Thanks to an Academic State Championship and third place One Act Play, a state semi-finalist baseball team and region semi-finalist boys basketball team, Salado High School won the coveted UIL Lone Star Cup for the 2012-13 school year.
The Lone Star Cup was formally presented to the Eagles during the Aug. 24 Meet the Eagles to kick off the 2013-14 school year and an effort to repeat as Lone Star Cup Champions in 2A division.
After that, the Eagles will be moving up in classification, as it was announced that Salado will compete in a new 4A division in the 2014-16 biennium. The enrollment figures for the UIL biennial realignment were announced in November. The actual realignments will be announced in February.
This is the second time in five years that Salado has won the Lone Star Cup. Points are awarded based upon the placement of athletic, music and academic at the District, Region and State levels.
Salado earned points from its boys and girls basketball teams. The girls qualified for the playoffs, while the boys won district and made it to the Region semi-final round. The Eagles lost to eventual state champions White Oak 63-44 at the Regional tournament in Nacogdoches.
The Eagles also earned athletic points from both soccer programs, which qualified for the playoffs, both golf teams and from softball and baseball teams.
The girls golf team won the State Championship with Meredith Ward earning a silver medal and the boys team placed third with Dane Hankamer earning individual gold.
The Eagles baseball team qualified for the state championship and ranked as high as #2 in the state rankings. They ran into eventual state champions Hallettsville in the semi-final round and were rudely ousted 16-3.
As a result of the deep playoff run, several Salado Eagles received All State honors in baseball.
Jon Franz was named on June 10 to the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association (THSBCA) All State Team as a First Team selection for his utility play at short stop. Franz was also picked as a utility player on the UIL 2A Baseball State All-Tournament Team for his game against the Brahmas, in which he had two hits and two runs batted in. Franz will also play on the All-Star South Team, selected as one of the very best at shortstop among Texas 1A-3A players.
Casey Frazier, who pitched his way to an 11-1 record this year, was named the District Most Valuable Player and joined Franz on the All State team as a third team pitcher.
Coby Giniewicz was named third team second baseman for the Eagles.
The Texas Sports Writers Association (TSWA) named three Salado Eagles to its All State Team and gave two others Honorable Mention.
Junior ace Frazier (11-1) was named to the Second Team. Franz was named to the TSWA Third Team at his shortstop position. Marshall Mann joined Franz on the TWSA All State Third Team at his position at third base.
Coby Giniewicz and Cole Haag received Honorable Mention for their play at second base and catcher, respectively.
Salado schools increased enrollment by more than 120 students in the first days of school compared to the first week of 2012. That trend has continued throughout the school year.
High School principal Burt Smith was named the Region 12 Principal of the Year by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP). Before coming to Salado, Smith was named the 2011 Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP) Region X Principal of the Year.
Salado students returned to the school for the first day of classes and were greeted by many new faces among the staff, including Beth Aycock who began her duties as Salado Intermediate School principal on July 15. She comes to Salado from Killeen ISD where she has been Curriculum Director for Killeen High School since 2010.
Aycock began her teaching career in Killeen as a history teacher in 2006.
Rachel Ray was crowned Homecoming Queen this fall and Chase Manning was crowned Homecoming King during the Eagles’ only win this football season against the Florence Buffs.
Although the Eagles struggled on the field, quarterback McLane Carter set the record for most passing yards in a single game by a 2A quarterback. He threw 25 completions for 613 yards, the fourth most passing yards in a single Texas high school game. For the record buffs, one-time Salado quarterback Michael Richardson set the top passing yardage mark last year throwing for 725 yards for the Marble Falls Mustangs in their game with Boerne. McLane’s 613 yards is the most thrown in any 2A Texas high school football game.
Salado Lady Eagles volleyball team missed the playoffs as well this fall, under first-year head coach Tara Hatfield.
Both basketball teams appear ready to make playoff runs as the boys basketball has been ranked as high as #24 in state polls. The boys took second in their own Coach Smith Tournament and won the Hamilton Tournament this month.
The teams will resume district play after the winter break. Soccer will soon begin practice followed by sofbtall and baseball teams hoping to return to deep spring play off runs.