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Highway intersection beautification in Marble Falls honors Lady Bird’s legacy

Volunteers with the cooperation of private business and state and county officials have launched a community gateway project at the intersection of Texas 71 and U.S. 281 to introduce motorists to the Marble Falls area. Pictured are (back row from left) Mills Services crew members Lane Webb, Paulino Espinosa, Bradlee Mills, Dylan Linderman, and Curtis Cunningham; (middle row from left) Burnet County Sheriff Calvin Boyd, volunteer Shannon Heep, organizer Soc Gonzalez, Burnet County Commissioner Joe Don Dockery, and Texas Department of Transportation maintenance supervisor Stephen Schmidt; and volunteer Isaac Pittenger (holding sign). Courtesy photo

Volunteers with the cooperation of private business and state and county officials have launched a community gateway project at the intersection of Texas 71 and U.S. 281 to introduce motorists to the Marble Falls area. Pictured are (back row from left) Mills Services crew members Lane Webb, Paulino Espinosa, Bradlee Mills, Dylan Linderman, and Curtis Cunningham; (middle row from left) Burnet County Sheriff Calvin Boyd, volunteer Shannon Heep, organizer Soc Gonzalez, Burnet County Commissioner Joe Don Dockery, and Texas Department of Transportation maintenance supervisor Stephen Schmidt; and volunteer Isaac Pittenger (holding sign). Courtesy photo

CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER

MARBLE FALLS — Even amid the holiday bustle, volunteers from county and state offices as well as a private business “turned dirt” to plant the seeds for a community gateway beautification project at the busy intersection of Texas 71 and U.S. 281.

The Gateway to the Hill Country and Highland Lakes Beautification Project began in earnest Dec. 27 with several volunteers and an interlocal agreement pledge from entities across the Highland Lakes.

“We have six counties and 12 city governments,” said Soc Gonzales of Citizens for Scenic Texas Highways.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin is also participating.

The goal of the team is to transform the primarily grassy intersection into a landscaped habitat where residents and visitors will get their first glimpse of the area’s beauty as they drive to or from Burnet, Blanco, Llano, and Travis counties.

“We want to beautify that intersection with landscaping,” Gonzales said. “We’ve already cleaned up the oak trees that were there. It already looks tremendously better.”

The group is expected to host fundraisers and collect donations toward the purchase of wildflower seed and other landscaping materials.

Gonzales said the outcome will honor the “legacy of Lady Bird Johnson, whose vision included sustaining the beauty and biological richness of the Texas Hill Country before losing its natural beauty to urban development.”

The volunteers are scheduled to meet again in mid-January to determine the next steps in the project.

Go to scenictexashighways.com or call (830) 637-9959 for more information.

connie@thepicayune.com