Christmas came early for a few Highland Lakes organizations that received sizable grants from the Lower Colorado River Authority and Pedernales Electric Cooperative.
On December 11, the LCRA and PEC teamed up to present a $50,000 grant to the Marble Falls Rodeo Association and a $23,908 grant to the Sandy Harbor Volunteer Fire Department. Then, LCRA officials stopped by the Kingsland/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce to give a $25,000 grant for Kingsland Community Park.
The Marble Falls Rodeo Association will use the money to build new restrooms at the Charley Taylor Rodeo Arena on U.S. 281. The facility hosts the annual Marble Falls Rodeo in July and a number of other activities throughout the year.
Area first responders also use the arena to stage large equipment, which is especially helpful during wildfire season. The next nearest staging area that has on-site fire hydrants is Fredericksburg.
First responders such as firefighters also use the arena to rest, sometimes overnight, before returning to work and as an Emergency Operations Center to coordinate and plan responses.
“The most important thing about the new (restrooms) is that first responders will have a place to freshen up and stay on their toes,” association President Steve Rogers said.
PEC chipped in an additional $5,000, and the association will match it with $126,275.
In Sandy Harbor, the grant will help the volunteer fire department build a new bay at its station. The grant, combined with a $19,100 matching contribution from the department, will address a storage problem. The cramped station currently only has room for three of its four trucks — an engine, two brush trucks, and a water tanker — with little space to store equipment.
“The grant will be used to construct a free-standing building for one of the four trucks right next to the existing station with a covered space connecting the two buildings that will be used to house other equipment,” said VFD board President Douglas Hindelang. “More space will make it easier and faster for crews to get in and out of the garage when responding to emergency calls.”
LCRA General Manager Phil Wilson said the authority is honored to contribute to a project that helps firefighters protect the community.
“We’re grateful for the dedication and bravery of these first responders,” he said. “It’s important that emergency equipment be housed and protected properly so crews can respond safely and quickly when they are needed.
In Kingsland, LCRA officials wrapped up the grant-giving trip with a big boost to Kingsland Community Park, which was ravaged by the October 2018 flood.
The $25,000 grant, combined with matching funds of $19,855, will go toward replacing damaged restrooms.
As the only public park in the area with lake access, it draws visitors from Llano and Burnet counties as well as winter Texans who live in the area part time.
“The flood and subsequent use of the park in flood-recovery efforts damaged the restrooms beyond repair and included damage to underground plumbing,” said Derek Timmons, the chamber’s Facilities Committee chairman. “Most of the park has already been repaired. The restrooms are the final step in providing a fully functional park for residents and visitors.”
The park is not funded through taxes, so improvements are the chamber’s responsibility.
In this recent round of grants, the LCRA and its wholesale electric customers awarded $519,428 toward community projects in the authority’s service area, which stretches from the Highland Lakes along the Colorado River to the coast.
The LCRA handed out 23 grants.
The community grants are awarded through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program, which provides economic development and community assistance grants to cities, counties, volunteer fire departments, regional development councils, and other nonprofit organizations.
Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted January 1-31, 2020. More information is available at lcra.org/cdpp.