Raising funds for a mission trip to Costa Rica next summer, talented members of the Lutie Watkins Memorial United Methodist Church in Llano served a delicious dinner and performed famous songs from Broadway hits like “Fiddler on the Roof” (above) in three dinner theater presentations of “A Taste of Broadway” last weekend (see more pictures on page 8 and lots more on the “Highland Lakes Weekly” Facebook page).
Some people are born in Texas, and many others “get here as fast as they can.” A fortunate few, like Patrick and Becky Clark, arrive in God’s time without ever really planning to settle in the Lone Star State. The Clarks were led to Llano just last year, but they and their impressive little restaurant (“The Juan Burrito”) have made an immediately positive impact. And it seems very likely that, before long, the impact will grow.
Patrick is from Michigan; a Navy man who worked in construction and in the restaurant business around the country when his tour of duty was done. Becky grew up in California; she managed a Subway restaurant for a few years before going to school for Forestry. Both ended up in Bonanza, Oregon, where (among other things) they ran a garbage collection service.
I guess I’m not a very adventurous person. The most exciting moment of my week was when I discovered that a website called Newspapers.com has years of (very legible) copies of The Llano News. I subscribed immediately, and now I don’t have to go to the Llano Library during daylight hours (they kick me out around 5:30 every time I go over there). I can study those old papers all hours of the day and night.
Unfortunately, that’s what I did most of the weekend, and my head still hurts from the hours of staring at my computer screen. But I feel like I’ve found a gold mine. On Newspapers.com, I can search for key words, and I found 1,271 references to “Shirley Williams” (although many of them were ads) between 1930 (when he first ran for county commissioner) and 1976 (when he passed away).
By the summer of 1961, euphoria was sweeping the tiny community of Kingsland. The actual news was good; three new homes being built in Kingsland Estates, and 19 new members had joined the Kingsland Community Church. But it was an apparent rumor that made front-page news. A couple from Austin had purchased 43 acres from local rancher Neal Wood three years earlier, and was now planning an amazing development of 85 custom homes with a “Moorish” theme, valued at a minimum of $50,000 apiece (at a time when Frank Weise could build a very nice little home for $10,000). There would be a privately-run school open to any child in Kingsland, a church and a recreational area which would include a boat dock, an Olympic-sized pool and “a Western village for the entertainment of the children.”
A new company called Petros Explorations, with headquarters in Dallas, made the front page of The Llano News with a story headlined, “Mining Activities Increase in County.” According to the story, the company had purchased land along the Llano River (closer to Llano than to Kingsland) and planned to begin drilling for graphite within three weeks.
The livestock shows in Burnet and Llano were definitely the highlight of the weekend, for me and for a whole lot of other people here in the Highland Lakes area. I won’t be able to do justice to them with my limited space, but I will have room for a few pictures thanks to a full-page ad purchased by Patrick and Becky Clark, of The Juan Burrito in Llano. I had eaten there (and was impressed) when they first opened last year, but I had not heard their very interesting story until I went to talk to them about the ad. Now I’m hoping to have a story about them (maybe in next week’s paper).
Covering two stock shows well simultaneously, while I’ve got so many other things to do, is an almost impossible task, so I settled for a sampling of events at both, to go along with pictures from the sale. If you’d like to see more pictures than I could fit in the paper, please check the “Highland Lakes Weekly” Facebook page. Unfortunately, I don’t have a final list of the buyers yet, so I won’t try to identify them (even though I know quite a few).
The headline might have been appropriate any time after 1950, but this particular issue of The Llano News was published on March 17, 1960. It said, “Kingsland is a far cry from the region of a decade ago.” Old-timers recall nowadays that there was very little development in Kingsland at the time, but in 1960, the reporter was impressed with what he saw. “Kingsland was a beehive of activity early this week,” he wrote. “Three new houses were under construction, a new restaurant was open for business, and an electric firm and a butane agency had moved into new quarters. Also recently completed at Kingsland is a brand-new post office and a new real estate office building.”
“Ten years ago,” the article said, “Kingsland was a small farming community, half encircled by the Llano and Colorado Rivers.” By 1960, it was (comparatively) a bustling tourist and retirement center. “On the banks of both rivers,” the writer continued, “the land is dotted with lakeside homes.” He noted a feature still applicable today: “a ride through the area in a boat presents a vastly different view than one sees from the road; it is almost a different region.”
When I put last week’s paper together, I was just starting to come out of the fog from whatever terrible disease I had, but I see that I did remember to change the listing on the front page from “Year 3” to “Year 4.” That doesn’t mean that I’ve been publishing the Highland Lakes Weekly for four years (I started in May of 2011, and I’ve now produced 136 issues – not even three years’ worth) but it is still a major milestone, and it indicates that this is the fourth year in which a Highland Lakes Weekly has been published.
The paper hasn’t changed a whole lot in the 32 months I’ve been publishing it, but several of the pages have settled into sort of a pattern, and it doesn’t take me as long to get them ready. I think the paper has a more uniform look than it did at first (I hope that doesn’t mean it’s getting boring), and I have an easier time these days deciding what I want to cover (so often, at first, I’d cover a lot more events than I could fit in the paper. That caused a lot of frustrating wastes of time). Some weeks, of course, it’s still too crowded; that depends partly on how many ads I have on a given week.
But the biggest differences in this business (from a year ago) are not even visible to a casual reader. Joe Tighe, from The Cyber Shack, has put together a great website (www.highlandlakesweekly.com) where you can actually flip through the pages and read the whole paper online. You can even sign up for a weekly newsletter (by email) that reminds you of the new issue and includes a few highlights. And there are archives going back to August that you can look through if you’re trying to find a story or a picture from some time in the recent past.
Just write down exactly what you want to say (up to 25 words for $3 per week; up to 50 words for $5), then mail your ad with payment for however long you want it to run.
Make checks payable to:
Highland Lakes Weekly
P.O. Box 911
Kingsland, TX 78639