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2013 in Review

Snuffing-out-fire

Article Index

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.

 

Churches see

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.