By DAVID TUMA AND LYNETTE SOWELL
The Belton Journal
In July, City Manager Sam Listi appointed Matt Bates, current Director of Parks and Recreation, as Interim Director of Public Works.
Bates replaced Angellia Points, who resigned after seven years with the city, and moved to Missouri, following her husband’s change of command from Fort Hood. Points was also recognized for her contributions to the City of Belton, prior to her move.
After a 2020 hiatus and “virtual” parade, Belton pulled out the stops for its annual Fourth of July Parade resumes after one-year hiatus due to pandemic.
Roscoe Harrison served as the Grand Marshall of the 4th of July Parade. Harrison was previously honored by the Chamber with the 2019 Beltonian Award, a legacy award given in recognition of longtime achievement in volunteer service to the Belton community. Harrison is a native of Belton, graduating from Harris High School in 1963. He has an impressive and distinguished resume
of experiences throughout his career as a journalist, including being part of the team from Jet Magazine that won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the death and funeral of MLK, Jr.
Belton’s July 4th celebration was a smashing success this year just as it has been in years past, despite the threat of rain. The rain actually held off for most of the day, and the parade was a beautiful sight to behold, celebrating America’s independence but also good to be doing something normal again. 2020 was such an abnormal year all around and all regularly scheduled activities were canceled due to COVID with the exception of a virtual parade.
The festivities kicked off the weekend before with a street party in downtown Belton on June 26th that included food trucks, vendors, live music and activities for kids. On Saturday, the day started with a patriotic musical program near the courthouse that led straight into the parade with a theme of “Hometown Heroes.” Crowds of people lined the streets in eager expectation of seeing the famous Belton parade. In addition to many beautiful floats that were decked out with red, white, and blue decorations, the First Cavalry rode horseback and their lively marching band also performed. Other sights to be seen were Mayor Wayne Carpenter, city councilmen, and state representative Hugh Shine
One of the brand-new highlights of the Fourth of July celebration in Belton was the first annual hot dog eating contest sponsored by High 5 Hot Dogs. Jennifer Ryder of High 5 held the contest at the pavilion in Yettie Polk Park at high noon on Saturday, July 3rd.
Former Belton Journal editor Berneta Peeples passed away. Peeples began working at the newspaper in 1935 at age 17 and received numerous awards over the years for her work in journalism. When she began her career, she actually interviewed Civil War veterans and eventually became a kind of unofficial historian for Bell County. In 1980, she was named “Belton’s Outstanding Citizen.” Graveside services were held on July 19, at North Belton Cemetery.
Texas First Lady, Cecilia Abbott, along with State Representative Hugh Shine, paid a visit to Foster Love Bell County during the month of July.
On Friday, July 16, the Bell County Public Health District (BCPHD) announced that the county’s Covid-19 Threat Level had been moved from Level 4 (Minimal, Controlled Transmission) to Level 3 (Moderate, Controlled Transmission) due to continued increase in incidence rate. The Bell County Public Health District tracks local COVID-19 rates and reports them to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) for the state dashboard. The local dashboard resumed being posted on the BCPHD website last Friday, July 9, as the number of daily new cases saw an uptick. Until July 3, the county’s incidence rate had hovered between 24-40 new cases each week.
With growth comes needs, and the city of Belton is compiling a list of capital projects that may or may not be completed in the next five years. It is estimated that there will be around $4.9-million available for cash funding at the end of this fiscal year. Over the next five years, those funds are estimated to be over $11 million. Belton is developing a Capital Improvements Program (CIP). This program represents
the city’s plan for infrastructure development over a specific period of time. The plan being developed is a five-year plan. It will be reviewed annually to reflect the changing priorities and to provide a framework for identifying capital improvement projects. Costs are estimated and possible funding sources are recognized. Changes to operations and maintenance costs are projected under these plans.
A few of the projects possibly to be completed are: E. Central water line upsize $100,000, Loop 121 pump station generators and motors $410,000; wastewater lift station generators $390,000, McFarland Estates water/ sewer improvements $1-million.
Jamel Jones, 39, was shot and killed on Friday, July 30, in the 1100 block of Shady Lane. The man was shot once in the torso following a dispute with another man. The shooting suspect fled the scene in a vehicle, then later on foot. The Belton Police Department identified the suspect, 34-year-old Deon Shamburger. Shamburger was arrested in November, by U.S. Marshals in Oklahoma City.
The Belton ISD Board of Trustees approved the hiring of Christopher Lockamy as the next principal at Charter Oak Elementary. During his 12 years in education, Lockamy has served as a teacher, social worker, instructional coach, and assistant principal. Most recently Lockamy was the assistant principal at Bluebonnet Elementary School, a dual language community in Round Rock ISD.
Belton Senior Ashton Vanderveer,17, enhanced the value of a 108-year-old Yettie Polk Park with a project that brings him one step closer to becoming an Eagle Scout. Vanderveer,17, said he and a group of youth volunteers spent three days, close to five hours each day, pressure washing the pews at Yetti Polk Park in Belton. He said they also pressure washed the columns along the outsides of the pews and raised $750 of which $640 was donated to Belton’s Park and Recreation Department to purchase a new drinking fountain for the park.
Prior to the start of the 2021-2022 school year in Belton ISD, BISD announced that it was partnering
with the Texas National Guard and the Bell County Public Health District to offer free vaccination clinics in advance of the first day of school.
“Our hope is that offering community- wide vaccine clinics at our campuses will make it easier and more convenient for families to prioritize the steps they can take to support a healthy school year,” said Marylisa Fanning, director of Health Services in Belton ISD. “We hope all community members, not just those connected to Belton ISD, will take advantage of this opportunity if it’s helpful to them,” Fanning said. “As a reminder, Belton ISD does not require staff or students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but we’re happy to help make it available to those who want it.”
The Belton City council approved a façade grant in the amount of $20,000 for a business at 110 N. Main Street. The property is part of a commercial block constructed in the 1870s and was destroyed by fire and replaced by the current commercial block built in the 1940s. The property was recently purchased by the owners of Woodhouse Day Spa. The plan is to relocate their growing business to a larger building. The total cost of construction for the front and rear of the building is $40,000. One of the unique features of the project is a new mural at the back of the building to be painted by the University of Mary
Hardin-Baylor Art Department. The grant application was approved by the Historic Preservation Commission prior to council approval.
The office of Governor Greg Abbott announced that he has appointed Cari Starritt-Burnett of Belton Judge of the 169th Judicial District Court in Bell County for a term set to expire on Dec. 31, 2022. Starritt-Burnett is a Partner and co-owner of Siegman, Starritt-Burnett & Sinkfield, PLLC, where she heads the Family Law Department.
The Belton City Council approved after much discussion the proposed annual budget of $36,227, 620 and a rate of .63 per $100 in value.
The waterline project along I-35 in Belton was been completed. This project should open up development to the Lampasas River. A water line was run from Groves Road to Toll Bridge Road at a cost of $1,000,000. The city also started moving dirt on the South Belton wastewater sewer project. There will be a sewer line from Grove Road to the South Belton lift station. The sewer line will also follow along the waterline along I-35 to the Lampasas River. This is a major development for South Belton.
Lake Belton High School’s student body will have a little bit more swagger this year as the campus welcomed its first-ever upperclassmen. The school, Belton ISD’s second-comprehensive high school, opened last fall to freshmen and sophomores. A new grade level will be added each year with the first graduating class receiving diplomas in spring 2023.
“We are excited to kick off year two for Lake Belton High School and continue developing our identity and traditions within the Big Red Community,” said principal Jill Ross. “Adding juniors to the mix means more fun and more learning opportunities — and as the leaders on our campus, I know they are also excited to welcome our new freshmen class to the Bronco family.”
Belton ISD also welcome a new executive director of student services for the start of the 2021-2022 school year after the Board of Trustees approved the hiring of Dr. Cassandra Spearman at a special
meeting. The newly created role will provide campus support in the areas of student services, health services, and student safety.
At the August 24 Belton City Council meeting, council members voted unanimously to reinstate the Local Disaster Declaration for Public Health Emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic in Belton. City Manager Sam Listi reported that the reinstatement follows Bell County Judge David Blackburn’s action last week based on the COVID-19 pandemic re-emergence. Listi said the reason this is being done is
administrative in context, and to make Belton available for any COVID-19 disaster relief funds that the state or federal government might make available with the declaration. Listi added that Belton’s declaration will expire when Bell County’s declaration expires.
A Make -A -Wish foundation project was completed for 12-year-old Chloe Hammond. Chloe’s wish was to have a personal dance studio built for her in her backyard. Many volunteers from both the Make-
A-Wish Foundation and American Constructors came together to build the house and make Chloe’s dream come true.
The Central Texas State Fair brought an exciting lineup for people of all ages to the Bell County Expo Center for the 2021 Labor Day weekend. The Annual Central Texas State Fair was a four-day event that featured live music on the fairgrounds each night, with carnival rides, games, world-class performances, attractions, and professional bull riding.
The Belton City Council awarded a $3.15 million contract to Phoenix Fabricators & Erectors to build a new 1-million-gallon water storage tank in north Belton. The 120-foot-tall structure will be built on a 1.7-acre parcel of land off Chisholm Trail Parkway near Longfellow Drive and Leaning Tree Cove. This will be Belton’s third water tank. It will help meet future demand, stabilize water supply, and reduce variations in water pressure. In addition, it will satisfy future TCEQ requirements. The tank has been included in the City’s Water Master Plan since 2008. The property for the tank was acquired in 2015.
In preparation for the tank, a 16-inch water transmission line was installed to the property in 2019. The line connects the site to a Sparta Road distribution line and an 8-inch line that serves the Dawson Ranch subdivision. That project cost $804,121.
In a separate but related item, Council authorized a $183,900 professional services agreement with KPA Engineers for construction administration services for the project.
The final water-related item was the passing of a resolution to affirm Belton’s need for 4-5 million gallons a day in additional water treatment capacity.
“We have sufficient water supply until 2060, but additional water treatment is needed by 2035,” City Manager Sam Listi said.
The City’s water provider, Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 is planning an expansion of its water treatment capacity at an estimated cost of $117 million. Belton’s estimated share of the cost would be $18-20 million.
The Fort Worth District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it was temporarily closing Chalk Ridge Falls Park near Stillhouse Hollow Lake, following a dog that developed respiratory problems on Aug. 21. According to a press release from the USACE, the dog’s owner took their pet to a local veterinarian and the dog had to be euthanized. At the time, it was suspected that the cause was due to the presence of blue-green algae also known as cyanobacteria.
Arusha Coffee Co. is sporting a refreshed look, and it’s all thanks to a Façade Improvement Grant from the city of Belton. The Belton City Council approved a $20,000 Façade Improvement Grant for Arusha Coffee Co. back in October 2020. Located at the corner of East Street and First Street, Arusha Coffee Co. is in the historic Fellrath
Building. The front windows have been rehabbed and the front doors have been restored and painted a teal color to match one door that had already been completed. The brick face of the building has also been specially cleaned. All that’s left for the improvement project at Arusha Coffee Co. was replacing the side door on First Avenue.
Mind Your Wellness Clinic (MYW) in Belton held an open house for their newest venture in advocating for alternative medicine and holistic healthcare. Krista Greene, Founder, and CEO of MYW, unveiled
a new esthetic program, Haut Institute Of Esthetics, which offers licensed esthetician training. It is located in the Gunter Building, at 204 N. Penelope St., Suite F1. With the Haut Institute now open, it is a full esthetic program that prepares students to analyze a client’s skin, discuss treatments, and recommend skincare needs and products.
On September 25, Belton Lodge 166 presented Tom McMurtrie with the Golden Trowel Award. This is the highest honor a lodge can bestow upon a brother Mason. The award ceremony was preceded by an awards banquet provided by the lodge and its members.
The Bell County Water Control & Improvement District No. 1, which provides water to several municipalities in the area, one of which is Belton, announced that for the next month it would be changing its water treatment process and that during this time tap water may have a chlorine smell and taste. The temporary change in treatment was a response to water quality concerns Killeen experienced at that time. Although Belton and Killeen receive water from the same supplier, Belton’s water continues to meet quality standards.
Former Air Force pilot and NASA astronaut Charlie Duke shared a message of adventure and faith during his speech as the guest speaker for this year’s McLane Lecture at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. Originally scheduled for March 2020 and again in the Spring of 2021 before finally happening this month, the McLane Lecture is sponsored by Elizabeth and Drayton McLane Jr. and brings individuals
to UMHB to share their experiences and insights about leadership, government, business and faith. Duke’s appearance marked the 17th McLane Lecture.
CenTex CBD moved its flagship location from Temple to Belton, but the quality of products and customer service remain the same. Judy Corrigan started CenTex CBD back in 2018, opening her first
location in Temple. CenTex CBD now has a location in Round Rock, where Corrigan is from, and as of June, they added a location in Bastrop. The decision to move the shop to Belton came after the business outgrew its location on West Adams Avenue in Temple.
Mayor Carpenter read a proclamation that designated Oct. 1, 2021, as “Manufacturing Day.” Belton has 13 manufacturing operations and together they employ over 1,000 people from the region. Hernandez went on to say that, “In many cases our manufactures are hiring and in addition, we have several in growth mode.” The City of Belton values the manufacturers, their jobs, and the continued investment in the community. Manufacturing Day is an event hosted by the Manufacturing Institute to help bring awareness of modern manufacturing careers to students, parents, teachers and community leaders. On Friday, October 1, TRU and Stratasys Direct Manufacturing representatives talked to students at two BISD campuses concerning the operations of the manufacturing industry.
Two Belton ISD seniors were selected as a semifinalist in the prestigious National Merit Scholarship Program. Maheshwari Rajesh, from Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow, and Matthew Salazar, from Belton High School, earned recognition for their top performances on the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) taken their junior year. Their scores placed them in the top 1% of more than 1.5 million students
who took the test last fall.
The Belton city council held its Oct. 12 meeting and approved authorizing a Facade Improvement Grant to Premium Tax Advisory for exterior renovation at 104 N. Pearl St. The applicant for the Facade Improvement Grant Program (FIG) is Mary Garza, doing business as Platinum Tax Advisory. The plan is to renovate the front facade of this non-historic property, located in the Downtown Development District, which makes it eligible for the FIG. The structure is currently used as a duplex space and was constructed in 1955. Garza will be converting the duplex into a professional office for an existing tax advisory business. The property is zoned for Central Business District, which permits the proposed use. Garza has proposed the addition of a natural quarried stone to the primary exterior; removing two existing windows and replacing them with a front door at the primary exterior; installing an awning over the proposed new door; repairing, replacing, and painting trims; painting the exterior, weatherproof seams, and repair or replace rotten trim; and replace the damaged roof. The renovations are proposed for the eastern elevation or primary facade of this building. A Tuscan white stone will cover the existing exterior asbestos material. The two large windows will be removed and replaced with a wood and glass-paneled door to add a front entrance for clients. An aluminum awning with overhead braces will be installed over the new entrance. The trim will be repaired or replaced depending on the condition of the wood then painted a dark color to contrast with the new white stone.
The cost of the improvement project is $10,800.
The Belton City Council voted unanimously to amend section 8-71 and section 8-72 of the City of Belton Fee and Rate Schedule related to the solid waste collection for 2022. On Oct. 1, 2021, Waste Management notified the city that rates would be adjusted upwards by 3.458 percent as of Jan. 1, 2022, based on the September 2020—September 2021 adjustment in the CPI and diesel fuel data. The current rate for residential curbside trash and recycling waste collection is $17.75 per month. As of Jan. 1, 2022, the solid waste and recycling collection residential rate will be increased to $18.36 per month. Curbside additional cart and door-to-truck rates will also be adjusted.
On Friday, Oct. 22, The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor recognized Carol and Paul “Crunch” McClinton or their generous gift of brand-new intramural fields and the Crunch Time Pavilion.
“This incredible space is another reminder of the many ways ‘He’ continues to bless the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor through friends like the McClinton Family. This facility is beautiful,” said UMHB President Randy O’Rear in his opening remarks. “It’s a game-changer. It makes a powerful statement that makes a commitment to the students and wellness of the students outside the class.”
Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan threw out the first pitch during the ceremony dedicating the Crunch Time Pavilion and intramural field. Ryan owns the company that built the field.
There was an all-out rush of more than 1,000 creatures on the Candy Trail in Downtown Belton on Saturday, Oct. 30. Businesses handed out candy to young trick-or-treaters. Infants to big kids and their parents wore a favorite Halloween costume. The streets were transformed into anything Halloween. The iMERAKi menswear store at 121 N. East St. and My Giving Tree Gift Shop & Art Gallery, and other businesses clearly had a vision of what Halloween night should look like.
The Belton City Council passed a resolution Tuesday showing it intends to fund up to $7 million in utility projects with Combination Tax and Limited Revenue Certificates of Obligation. The bond funding would pay for four projects, including three that are listed in the City’s Capital Improvement Program. The projects with estimated costs are North Belton Elevated Storage Tank ($3.4 million); McFarland Estates Water/Sewer Improvements ($1 million); 6th Avenue Waterline replacement ($850,000); Loop 121 pump replacements ($800,000).
With $4.4 million in reserves available, the City initially planned to pay for the water tower with cash, but decided instead to enter the bond market for funding to take advantage of low interest rates. The rationale for this decision is tied to a $13.7 million bond issuance planned for 2023 to fund several significant capital projects, including Phase 2 improvements at the Temple-Belton Wastewater Treatment Plant. Mayor Pro Tem David K. Leigh compared the council’s decision to a practice by some airlines to save money by purchasing large amounts of fuel before anticipated increases in price. The term used to describe that practice is hedging. “We’re hedging against inflation,” Leigh said.
While the council has shown its intent to issue certificates, the transaction and approval by the council are not scheduled to take place until Jan. 11, 2022. Prior to that time, the City will accept public comments about its intent to issue certificates.
The sewer spill into Nolan Creek west of the Temple-Belton Wastewater Treatment Plant was deemed stopped as of Nov. 17, allowing for the repair to be made to the force main. The City of Belton notified the public that the broken main resulted in an unauthorized sewage discharge into Nolan Creek.
It is estimated that the discharge was 1.3 million gallons, based on average flow data from the plant.
The Brazos River Authority, which manages the plant for Temple and Belton, notified the City about the leak, which was discovered due to abnormally low sewage flows from the City into the treatment plant. It is unclear what caused the leak to occur.
A ceremony was held on Veterans Day for the Patriot Way monument sign. The Patriot Way Brick Walk was originally established by the Belton Chamber of Commerce and the City of Belton. In 2008, a bond issue was passed to renovate Central Avenue, with Belton’s Gateway running from the interstate
to the county courthouse. The Patriot Way was created in phases using brick pavers. Phase one was kicked off on February 12, 2009, when the first Patriot Brick was laid to honor the soldiers who died during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Construction on the southward extension of the Nolan Creek Hike and Bike Trail is near completion.
The City of Belton received a grant from the Texas Department of Transportation in 2018 for a 12-foot concrete shared use path. The City Council voted to apply for the grant in 2017. This will extend the trail from the Belton Youth Christian Center to the sidewalks along Holland Road ending at South Wall Street.
The path extends under IH-35 east along the service road connecting the trail system from Sparta Elementary School to South Wall Street near Miller Heights Elementary School. The final thing to be completed is the light pole installation along the trail. The project was designed to be completed in June 2020. Things got pushed back in 2020 due to a variety of issues, including Covid-19. Total cost of the project was at the time estimated to be $1,669,005. The matching amount for the City of Belton is around $330,000. In 2017 it was proposed to be funded through the Tax Increment Reinvestment
The zone is known as TIRZ. This program used business tax dollars to reinvest back into the community. The project ended up costing $1.4 million with an 80-20 matching grant.
On November 14, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the Kleypas Park Project at Morgan’s Point Resort. The United States National Park Service (NPS) approved the funding for the Mogan’s Point Resort’s TPWD grant proposal for the Lee Kleypas Park through the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Tom Edwards, president of Morgan’s Point Resort Economic Development Corporation, emceed the ceremony. He thanked the planners of the park, the hours that were donated to make sure the park got completed, and the community support for the park.
The City of Belton celebrated the return of the annual Christmas on the Chisholm Trail with an outdoor showing of the movie “The Polar Express” in downtown Belton along with the lighting of the Christmas tree at the Bell County Courthouse.
Matt Bates, the interim Director of Public Works, said the tree lighting is a tradition for Belton.
“It’s bigger and better this year, because not only will the Christmas tree light up, but all the trees will light up at the same time,” Bates said. “It’s an exciting start to the Christmas season after being rudely interrupted last year by COVID.”
The Belton City Council had a lengthy discussion as it considered and approved the final plat of the Three Creeks Phase IX, residential subdivision, comprising 55.75 acres, located east of FM 1670 and south of IH-14, on the north side of Three Creeks Boulevard. This phase proposes 235 lots for residential development, and five tracts for green space to be owned and maintained by the homeowners’ association. The nine phases combined result in a total of 1,332 lots of an estimated 1,500 total lots. Two accesses are required for this phase, per the Subdivision Ordinance and Development Agreement.
Belton city staff and Bell County Commissioners requested that as a condition to approving the final plat, alternative routes be considered to eliminate the connection to the Stone Oak subdivision.
Concerns were expressed that the rural street conditions in the Stone Oak subdivision were not equipped to handle the demands of the Three Creeks urban development.
A tree-planting dedication was held in honor of the late, Ret. BG Howard Prince lI at the Chisholm Trail Park in Belton. Howard Prince II was born on March 9, 1941, and the Belton native graduated from Belton High School in 1958 at the age of 17. He was so excited that he was accepted to go to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Prince was a distinguished, highly decorated, Vietnam veteran. He had a remarkable active-duty military career that spanned 28 years, beginning in 1962 when he graduated in the top five percent of his class at the West Point Military Academy. Prince was wounded several times on combat missions in Vietnam. As an experienced educator and leader, Prince held positions of increasing responsibility through a lifetime of public service. He retired from active Army service in 1990.
The BISD board of trustees voted on the new mascot for Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow and also approved new school colors — red and purple. Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow will be home of the Dragons starting in the 2022-2023 school year when it becomes a stand-alone campus of
choice in Belton ISD.
The Belton City council approved the Belton Economic Development Corporation’s development agreements with xDESK for a land grant for the development of 60,000 square feet in the Belton Business Park; and with Eco pool for a land grant for the development of 150,000 square feet, also in the Belton Business Park.
xDESK manufactures electric adjustable height desks and workstations. They currently employ 30 people
and hope to increase that number to 60 people. Eco pool was established in 2020 and manufactures swimming pools out of shipping containers. They estimate they will hire 125 employees.
The Belton Area Chamber of Commerce announced the election of four new board members and officers for its 2022 Board of Directors. The current Board voted to accept the nominations of the following individuals, and following review by the general membership, they were approved to serve three-year terms effective Jan. 1, 2022: Stephanie Biefeld, CGI; Teri Champlin, BancorpSouth; Adriane Hodges, Bold Republic Brewing; and Jared Porritt, Workforce Solutions of Central Texas. In addition to these new board members, Ike Shaw, T3 The Gym; and David Tuma, The Belton Journal, were re-elected for a second three-year term on the board.
The Belton ISD Board of Trustees approved a resolution to adopt a redistricting plan for the district that will balance population changes reflected in the 2020 U.S. Census. Four of the five Belton ISD trustee districts had become imbalanced due to significant growth in the past decade — District 2, 3, 4 and 5. Under the adopted redistricting plan, District 3 is now balanced by adding population from District 2. District 2 is replenished by extending into District 4 and 5, which both needed to be reduced.
In the 10 years since the last census, Belton ISD’s population has grown by more than 18,000 people or 40.2%. This has equated to 3,802 additional students over the last decade for a growth rate of 38.4%. The bulk of those students — 2,238 — were added in the last five years.
Belton wrapped up the year with Fishin’ and Fun when more than a hundred people lined the banks along Nolan Creek hoping to catch some rainbow trout that were released by the Belton Park and Recreation Department. The Belton Parks and Recreation Department released 727 rainbow trout, ranging in size from six to eight inches and a few larger ones at 10:00 a.m., just east of the Main Street