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Grant to help keep Lake Buchanan Visitor Center running

Lake Buchanan/Inks Lake Visitor Center

The Lake Buchanan/Inks Lake Visitor Center is located at 19611 Texas 29 East, just west of the Inks Lake bridge, and offers free maps and bald eagle spotting information. It also houses the chamber office and a museum on the construction of Buchanan Dam. Staff photo by Suzanne Freeman

The Llano County Commissioners Court approved a $15,000 grant that would allow the Lake Buchanan/Inks Lake Visitor Center to continue to operate in 2021.

The move came during the court’s special Hotel Occupancy Tax meeting Monday, Nov. 9. The Lake Buchanan/Inks Lake Chamber of Commerce operates the Visitor Center, located at 19611 Texas 29 East, just west of the Inks Lake bridge.

“They didn’t reduce (the grant amount), which we had feared, and they gave us what we asked for for 2021, so it’ll help us for next year,” said Visitor Center Manager Steve Buchanan. “It’s still less than half of our normal operating costs, but we will continue to do memberships and, if we get enough of an active board, some fundraising events as well.”

The center saw nearly 5,000 visitors in 2019. It also houses the Chamber of Commerce office and a museum that features the construction of Buchanan Dam. The chamber supports the Visitor Center partially through membership dues under normal circumstances but stopped sending invoices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That was a small way to help our businesses,” Buchanan said. “So, we kind of hamstrung ourselves because, obviously, we didn’t know it was going to go on this long.”

The Visitor Center is not associated with any particular town or city but supports a large area within Llano County.

“This will be for our operational budget,” Buchanan said of the grant. “We’re going to stick with just operational support specifically to keep this visitors center open.”

Precinct 2 Commissioner Linda Raschke proposed accepting the application. All but Precinct 3 Commissioner Mike Sandoval voted to approve the application.