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History students receive funds, praise for Llano County marker project

Nichole Ritchie's seventh-grade honors history class at Llano Junior High School with Llano County Commissioners Court

Nichole Ritchie's seventh-grade honors history class at Llano Junior High School with Llano County Commissioners Court members on Nov. 13. The class asked the court to fund the relocation and restoration of a Texas Centennial highway marker. Commissioners unanimously agreed. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

Llano Junior High School teacher Nichole Ritchie’s seventh-grade honors history class successfully pitched the idea of restoring and relocating a Llano County historical marker to the Commissioners Court on Monday, Nov. 13. The court agreed to fund the $3,500 project, which will place the large, granite 1936 Texas centennial marker on the the courthouse grounds in Llano.

“It needs to be prominent, it needs to be protected, and it needs to be restored,” Commissioner Linda Raschke said

Ritchie and husband Michael of Cottonwood Shores were behind the relocation and restoration of the lost Burnet County centennial historical marker. They found the granite stone sans bronze plates at the foot of a hill off of U.S. 281 in Marble Falls, just south of the bridge. It was restored and placed on the Burnet County Courthouse grounds in Burnet earlier this year

The Ritchies have an out-of-print book listing all of the markers placed for the statewide commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Texas in 1836. That information led to them uncovering the Burnet County marker, which had been missing for years.

The Llano County marker is currently located about 2 miles north of Llano on Texas 16. It was also missing the bronze star and plaque and needed a more prominent home.

“I thought, ‘Why not get my class involved?’” Ritchie told the Commissioners Court on Monday.

Student Mykenzie Staples laid out the cold hard facts to commissioners. She said it would take about $3,500 to create new molds for the missing plaque and star. She also noted that a concrete pad would have to be poured at the courthouse to secure the 5,000-pound granite block.

“The Burnet (County) marker restoration provided a guidebook on how we can get the Llano County marker restored,” she told commissioners. “The project also established a relationship with (the Texas Department of Transportation), which has offered to move the Llano County marker from its current location on the side of Highway 16 to the Llano courthouse grounds for free.”

Commissioners unanimously approved the funding. All that remains is choosing a spot for the marker at the courthouse, which was left to County Judge Ron Cunningham. 

“I think they should all get A’s,” said Commissioner Mike Sandoval after the students’ presentation.

The marker’s original plaque read:

Llano County

The name “Llano,” first given by Spanish explorers, in the 18th century to the river traversing the region, is a corruption of the French name given to the Lipan Indians. 

First settlements were made by Germans in about 1850. The county, created from Gillespie and Bexar counties February 1, 1856, was organized August 4, 1856, with Llano as the County seat.