By LYNETTE SOWELL
The Belton Journal
The City of Belton began the year with growth, along with growing pains, as evidenced by the council’s public hearings followed by approval of amendments to the city’s thoroughfare plan, particularly where it concerns Toll Bridge Road, which was listed as a “Project Under Evaluation.”
Renovation of the former Belton MK&T train depot was begun by local business investors Luke Potts, Terry Potts, Matt Gunter and Ryan Hodge, with the plan to restore the building and provide useable space for office, retail, event rentals and restaurants. Restoration work on
the interior and exterior areas of the depot began in January and is steadily progressing.
Dominica Garza was awarded a façade improvement grant for the historic property located at 122 N. Pearl St. The structure was built in 1880 and expanded in 1925. The council approved the 50-50 matching grant of $19,550.
Longtime Belton resident Doris Graham celebrated her 100th birthday on Jan. 29.
Belton saw a “freeze and thaw” in February, not to the extent that it did in February 2021 with power outages, but enough to slow things down for a bit with sleet and ice.
Matt Bates was appointed as the city of Belton’s Director of Public Works. Bates was the former director of Parks and Recreation. He replaced Angellia Points, who relocated to Missouri.
Summer Moon Coffee opened Belton Mobile Moon coffee, at 111 Sparta Rd.
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor held a celebration for the Cru football team, the NCCA Division III Champions in 2021. This was the Cru’s second national title and third appearance at the championships.
One of Belton’s own, the Rev. Roscoe Harrison, passed away at age 77. Rev. Harrison was a Pulitzer Prize-winning, groundbreaking journalist and pastor who led the Eighth Street Baptist Church in Temple for more than two decades. The 1963 alum of the old Harris High School broke barriers as the first African-American news anchor in Central Texas.
February’s Bell County Youth Fair wrapped up with the Premium Auction, featuring more than 200 exhibitors. There were a total of 4,833 entries and 1,009 exhibitors from all over Bell County for the 2022 Bell County Youth Fair.
The Belton city council approved by a 4-2 margin to rezone approximately 3.922 acres located at 1803 S. Connell St. as commercial property, The property owner proposes to build six to eight metal buildings on the land to be used for leasable warehouse units. The businesses may include service, related retail, commercial or light manufacturing and fabrication.
More than 180 runners participated in the annual AJ Howard Memorial 5K & 2-Person Relay at Liberty Park, raising more than $6,000 in memory and honor of Bel-ton High School Sophomore Alexander Jay “AJ” Howard. The Memorial Fund is a primary fundraiser for the M100 Band.
The Belton ISD Board of Trustees approved the hiring of Joe Underwood as assistant principal at High Point Elementary.
Phase II of the Colonial Crossing Apartments at 3200 Colonial Parkway in Belton broke ground. The two-year, $20 million project will add 132 apartments to the complex.
The Belton Chamber of Commerce recognized businesses and individuals at its annual banquet, where it also welcomed its board chair for 2022, Dr. Brent Burks. Also honored at the banquet were Community Partner Award recipients, to include John Burford, Post Commander for the Lake Belton VFW Post 10377; David Tuma, owner and publisher of the Belton Journal. The Bell County Expo Center was recognized with an honor coin for being a long-time partner with the chamber for events, including the 4th of July Rodeo and the annual awards banquet. Judy Garrett, Matt Bates, Cynthia Hernandez, and Mayor Wayne Carpenter accepted an honor coin for all the departments they represent, who support local businesses, organizations, and EMS services that protect the community The 2021 Business of the Year Award for Large Business, went to Belton H-E-B Plus!. The second Business of the Year Award went to Schoepf’s BBQ. Business of the Year 2021 for Small Business went to Custom Signs. Pete Fredenburg, retired coach of the UMHB Crusader Football program, received the Legendary Impact Award.
The City of Belton and the City of Temple Parks and Recreation programs held a community cleanup day at Miller Springs Park in Belton, where they also dedicated a memorial bench for Zac Maxwell, who passed away in August 2021.
Helping Hands Ministry of Belton announced that Alicia Jallah was named the Executive Director of the nonprofit devoted to empowering individuals and families to work out of systematic poverty through ministries of relief, development and advocacy.
Bell County Commissioners approved the adoption and designation of two different Solar Reinvestment Zones, to allow for a tax abatement to be issued for the projects. One is Five Wells Solar Reinvestment Zone No. 1. This project will have solar generation of up to 320 megawatts and battery storage components of up to 260 megawatts. The total cost of the project is at least $300 million, and an estimated 300 jobs are expected during the construction phase, with two full-time equivalents once it is operational.
The owners of the Creekside Cigar and Sandbar Lounge held a grand opening in March.
Creekside Cigar Lounge is located at 219 S. East St. Dwayne and Valerie Williams are first-time business owners, and are excited to be lighting up in Belton
A ribbon cutting ceremony for the Nolan Creek Hike and Bike Trail was held in March to celebrate the opening of Phase V of the trail that provides connections from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor to the Miller Heights neighborhood. The vision that guided the City through this trail was the City’s 2001 strategic plan.
Keep Texas Beautiful recognized the city of Salado as one of ten winners of the 2022 Governor’s Community Achievement Awards (GCAA) for outstanding community improvement. Salado will receive $90,000 for a landscaping project along the TxDOT maintained roads in the Village.
About 100 volunteers from the Lake Belton Athletics, Belton New Tech High School National Honor Society, Lake Belton High School Football, the Belton Police Department Explorers, and the Belton Fire Department gathered at the Harris Com-munity Center to perform general yard clean-ups for selected older citizens who live in Belton, as part of One Community One Day.
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (UMHB) announced plans to build a new state-of-the-art special education training and instructional facility. The facility’s name honors the meaningful relationship between Evan Smith, a 2013 graduate of Belton High School and 2017 graduate of Texas A&M University, and Logan Marek, a 2017 Belton High School graduate with autism.
An EF3 tornado with 165 mile-per-hour winds traveled through Bell County, tearing through parts of Salado on April 12, with a storm system dumping quarter-sized hail, rain and containing winds was serious enough to activate the tornado alert sirens in the City of Belton. A total of 23 people were injured, including 12 who were hospitalized. The event was called the “Cedar Valley Tornado” and 63 structures, including 61 homes and two churches were heavily damaged or completely destroyed.
Doris Graham passed away on April 11 at the age of 100 years old, after celebrating her birthday in February of this year.
The Belton City Council approved an agreement with the United Way of Central Texas to administer the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, to provide Community Funds for Belton residents impacted by COID-19. The city developed a plan to distribute $5.6 million in COVID-19 relief funds approved by the ARPA act of 2021.
The entire Belton community reeled with shock and grief, after one Belton High School student was arrested by police and another student died on May 3 when he was stabbed in a Belton High School restroom. Joe Ramirez, 18, died at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Temple after suffering multiple stab wounds after he was attacked by another student, Caysen Tyler Allison, 18. Allison was charged with capital murder and bond was set at $1 million.
Belton voters approved Belton Independent School District bond propositions on the May 7 ballot by narrow margins, with the $168,825,00 Proposition A securing funds for . Proposition B, a $5 million bond.
The Beltonian Theatre celebrated its 100th anniversary in May. The downtown landmark gained its name in 1922 when the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce held a naming competition for the theater and selected The Beltonian from a list of offered names. The building had been a theater as early as 1920 and prior to that had been a buggy store.
The Central Texas Sportsman’s Club in Belton held its first Free Children’s Fishing Event on Belton Lake. About 40 kids showed up with rods and reels in their hands for the kids-only fishing event on a floating dock.
The Belton ISD Board of Trustees approved the hiring of Jeanna Sniffin as the next principal at High Point Elementary. Sniffin’s 25 years of educational experience includes 17 years serving as a principal at five different elementary and middle schools. She helped open Williams Elementary in Georgetown ISD when she took the helm at that campus in 2020
Bell County Commissioners voted to accept the appointment of Dr. Desi Roberts as the new Bell County Elections Administrator.
A tree dedication ceremony to honor the late Jeff Holberg, former City Manager of Belton, was held in Chisholm Trail Park. Family, friends and city officials gathered to celebrate not just the life of Holberg, but to remember him as a Visionary for Belton from 1981-2000.
A zoning change for one-and-one-half acres on approximately 9.432 acres located at the intersection of River Fair Boulevard and Trinity Drive was approved by the Belton City Council, to make way for the construction of a 70-unit Senior Apartment complex at this location.
Belton ISD announced its top scholars for Belton High School and Belton New Tech @Waskow. Valedictorian Jackson Belobrajdic and salutatorian Matthew Salazar were the top two at BHS of the 750 graduates. Krithika Rajesh was named valedictorian at New Tech, with Aditi Bhat named salutatorian of the class of 108.
Belton ISD seniors were awarded more than $285,000 in scholarships by the Belton Educational Enrichment Foundation (BEEF). The awards were presented to 156 Belton High School and Belton New Tech High School @Waskow students.
The annual ASCO Spartacus Dash drew more than 400 participants who navigated an obstacle course in Belton’s Liberty Park.
The Belton Senior Activity Center received an additional $100,000 grant from the City of Belton to distribute grocery items once a week and began its distributions starting June 3, to continue for the duration of grant funds.
A dedication ceremony was held for the new Little Library and Rotary Bench at Jeff Hamilton Park in Belton. Last July, Rotary International announced its newest area of focus: supporting the environment. Rotary District 5870 then launched the Little Library/Rotary Bench/Tree Project.
Yet another Belton resident gained centenarian status when Gertrude “Mac” Shaver celebrated her 100th birthday on June 9, at the Stoney Brook Senior Living Center in Belton.
Belton Downtown merchants hosted the 3rd Annual Sunset Shop, Sip and Stroll, with a raffle held to give away $25 merchant gift certificates to two lucky winners.
The annual West Belton – TB Harris School reunion was held the weekend of June 17, during which the Bell County Museum Auditorium was named the Roscoe Harrison Jr. Auditorium, to recognize the late Belton resident.
Belton ISD board of trustees created a Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee to review bond projects, spending and schedules during the implementation phase of the projects funded by the almost $174 million May 2022 bond election.
Timothy Goodridge, assistant principal at Belton High School, was selected by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP) as the Region 12 Outstanding Assistant Principal of the Year.
A Salado resident claimed a prize-winning ticket worth $1 million in the Texas Lottery scratch ticket game Power 200X. The ticket was purchased at Family Food Mart, located at 418 S. Main St., in Belton.
The Belton council authorized the award of $850,000 in small business grants funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) for Belton small businesses impacted by COVID-19. A total of 54 applications were received, including for profit and non-profit businesses. The recipients have until Dec. 31, 2023 to spend the money, then be reimbursed with the ARPA grant money. For businesses operating for profit, the ARPA grant funds totaled $789,010. Nonprofit business received a total of $60,960.
The Council also adopted the Imagine Belton Plan. The Plan began as a marketing vision of Belton Economic Development Corporation with the goals to serve as a guide for investment in the core of the Belton Community; improve connection into Downtown Belton; and unique characteristics of Belton, especially Nolan Creek, more effectively.