Image of The Belt Buckle - upcoming special section of the Belton Journal
By DAVID TUMA
The Belton Journal 

The City of Belton recently held a public meeting at the Harris Community Center concerning an event called Solarbration, to coincide with the total solar eclipse that will occur on April 8, 2024. 
The City of Belton is one of a number of central Texas cities that will be near the path of totality.
After the April 8th total solar eclipse, the next one will be in 2044. This event is rare indeed. 
“Our goal is to make businesses and organizations aware there is an opportunity for visitors to our community. The meeting was to make them aware of what the City of Belton is doing in response to this event. A big element of the meeting was to help inform the community about how big this event is. This is a world event. People will travel from all over the world to see it,” said Paul Romer, Public Information Officer for the City of Belton.
There was a total eclipse near Casper, Wyoming back in 2017. This community registered an estimated 21,000 visitors with an economic impact of $7.5 million. 
“We are setting up 130 campsites at the back part of Heritage Park. There will be Market Days this weekend coinciding with the eclipse.”  
At the meeting, the City of Belton staff gave an update on emergency management plans for the Fire and Police Departments. They answered questions. The path of the solar eclipse will travel across the United States from Texas to Maine. 
The Fire Marshal will be visiting official and unofficial campsites in the area. Bell County Emergency Operations Center will be open and staffed during the event. The Belton Police Department will be increasing patrols with the use of bicycles, walking patrols, and ATVs. 
NASA’s coverage of the eclipse in 2017 reached 5.3 billion people. Wyoming had an estimated 261,000 visitors with 29,000 estimated international travelers back in 2017.
Liam Finn, a NASA ambassador, will speak at Yettie Polk Park and the Bell County Museum that weekend. 
Schoepf’s will host a concert that Saturday. 
Youth sports will be canceled from Friday through Tuesday during this event weekend. 
These are all part of a preliminary plan the City and Bell County are working on. Dates and times of events will come into being more as the date of the eclipse nears.  
Residents are encouraged to make sure their vehicles are topped off before the weekend. Food supplies may run low during the weekend. Travel times around the area may take longer. Cell towers may become overloaded, and communications may slow down. 
These may or may not be inconveniences that occur. One thing is for sure, an event of epic proportions is coming to Belton and the residents of Central Texas.