The Belton Journal 

The city of Belton saw many changes that point to growth in the area, to include economic and business expansions, to revitalization and the effects of population growth. 
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission announced that the City of Belton was awarded a $750,000 Community Park Grant, which will fund a park at the site of the historic standpipe, located at 301 W. Avenue I. The 2.3-acre site occupies an entire city block, which is currently vacant, except for the concrete water standpipe built in 1914. The structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991 and in February 2020, it was designated as a local historic landmark by the City of Belton.
Joseph Dyer was named Director of the City of Belton’s Parks and Recreation Department, coming to Belton from the City of Killeen. Parks and Recreation has a lot going on with the expansion of Heritage Park and the grant received for the Stand Pipe Park in South Belton. The community has doubled in size the past 25 years.
The Level 3 Belton building that houses a variety of businesses on Central Avenue held its official ribbon cutting with the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce. Priscilla and Michael Linnemann developed and are owners of one of the most dynamic properties in Belton-Temple. Level 3 Belton is a coworking commercial building that will host a variety of events. The property is approximately 6,200 square feet, with a ground floor grand foyer with office space for individual businesses as well as a kitchen, sound proof booth and access 24/7. The second floor is for Linnemann Realty. The third floor is dedicated to conference rooms with an audio visual system. A balcony overlooks the 2,500 sq ft backyard that is set up for social gatherings. 
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has awarded the City of Belton a $100,000 grant from the Preserving Black Churches grant program. The funds will support the Belton Mount Zion United Methodist Church Preservation and Rehabilitation Project. The project will provide the Church with funding to help preserve the exterior and interior of the original building, including the repair and restoration of siding, windows, roof, doors, flooring, lighting, bell tower, wood ceiling, heating/ventilation, furniture, landscaping, and audio/visual equipment.
Troy Emilson opened the doors of Emilson’s Coin Shop at 200 E Central Ave, Suite E in Belton. Emilson’s sells older and rarer coins, silver and gold, as well as coin collecting supplies. The shop also assesses the value of coins that customers are interested in selling and can provide a quote. 
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (UMHB) announced an official partnership with the Anne Burnett Marion School of Medicine at Texas Christian University. This collaborative initiative allows medical students to earn a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from UMHB while completing their Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree requirements.
Manuel Zapata, the Recreation Coordinator for the City of Belton, was named one of the Top 30 Under 30 by the National Recreation and Park Association Magazine.
The award is for park and recreation professionals who are making a profound impact in their communities in their field. The annual AJ Howard Memorial Fund drew more than 200 runners to Liberty Park in Belton for their annual 5K. The Belton High School Band Boosters sponsor the event to raise funds for M100 band members who need financial assistance to participate in band. 
The Woman’s Wednesday Club (WWC) held a Tea Social at the former Carnegie Library in Belton to honor past presidents of the WWC organization and celebrate 125 years of existence.
Hundreds of local students competed in the annual Bell County Youth Fair, with 209 lots qualifying for the Premium Auction. The fair raised $750,000.
The Belton Area Chamber of Commerce 2023 Annual Awards Banquet was hosted at the Bell County Expo Center, with the theme “Better Together,” and servant leaders were recognized for their leadership in the community.
Mother Neff State Park in Moody received the Lone Star Legacy Park designation by the Texas Recreation and Parks Society (TRAPS) at a ceremony at their annual institute in Frisco on March 2. Mother Neff State Park was the only state park to receive the award from seven parks nominated this year.
The 100×35 Latin Cuisine restaurant opened its doors at the MK&T Depot. The business originally began as a food truck. The year 2023 saw many new businesses opening their doors at the MK&T Depot and The Katy in downtown Belton. 
Due to all the business growth and parking needs downtown, in March the Belton City Council approved a five-year agreement with First United Methodist Church of Belton to use 60 spaces on 2nd Avenue that are lightly used during non-church hours. Total cost to the City of Belton in the first three years is estimated to be $14,000.
The Belton Economic Development Corporation presented a plan to purchase 51.43 acres at 849 Elm Grove Spur to serve in the BEDC’s industry recruitment efforts. The BEDC has negotiated a contract with the owner for a purchase price of $2,236,414. The BEDC currently has only smaller tracts of land for development. This purchase was approved by the Council.
Also in March, a Façade Improvement Grant for exterior renovations at 203 N. East Street was approved, in the amount of $10,000. This is a 50-50 matching grant. The building is the former Lesli Mitchell building constructed in 1928. Residents might remember it as the former Bargain Barn location.
Another Façade Improvement Grant for exterior renovations at 201 N. East Street was also approved, in the amount of $20,000. This location is the former train depot for the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad. Major developments are currently being done in this area of downtown. One of the best chicken fried steaks in Texas can be found here at the Railway Express Diner. This is a 50-50 matching grant.
A Façade Improvement Grant was approved for an exterior restroom at 211 E. Central Avenue. This building was constructed in 1885. Total cost of the project is $10,350. This is a 50-50 matching grant.
The Bell County Museum launched its spring lecture series, hearing from former astronaut, Dr. Bernard Anthony Harris Jr. The series included subjects such as “Texas Lithographs: A Century of History in Images”, featuring Dr. Ron Tyler, past president of the Amon Carter Museum of Art and the Texas State Historical Association; and “Biscuits, Cornbread, and More: Making Sense of the American South Through Baking,” given by Dr. Rebecca Sharpless, Professor of History at Texas Christian University.
The month of March also saw a groundbreaking ceremony for Hubbard Branch Elementary School, which will be the first two-story elementary school in Belton. The school is the district’s 13th elementary campus, located at 1651 O.T. Tyler Drive. It is the second of two elementary schools being built with funds from the voter approved $173,825,000 May 2022 bond to address growth, aging and evolving facilities, program equity and safety and technology. 
Hubbard Branch is estimated to include a total project cost of $43,567,482. By building the two-story, 110,000 square feet, with 40 classrooms, Huckabee Architects have more flexibility to work with a smaller footprint on the ground and still accommodate the same number of students as Burrell Elementary School that is currently under construction in the northern part of the district. 
Both schools will have the capacity for about 800 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. The district is designated as a fast-growth school district by the Fast Growth School Coalition. PTA rooms are included in both of the new elementary schools being built.