Museums bring tourist dollars to Texas communities

AUSTIN’Museums are an economic asset to any community. In addition to reminding Texans of their heritage, they generate tourist dollars. The Former Texas Rangers Association, which has a small museum adjacent to the Witte Museum in San Antonio, is working to raise money for a larger historical center in Kerrville. Since plans to build the museum were announced in early November, the association’s fund-raising foundation has been working to acquire enough money to buy land and build the museum. “We have a contract signed on a 10-acre tract on I-10 in Kerrville,” foundation president Joe Davis said. “We have applications in to two foundations and have picked up some substantial donations toward our goal.” A retired Ranger, Davis has his sights set on raising $5 million to build the Kerrville facility and create an endowment for acquisition of archival material and artifacts. Davis says the former Rangers association, whose roots trace to an organization created in 1897, is not trying to compete with the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco. “We’ve been around a long time and we’ve got to expand,” he said. “Our association and the museum in Waco both have more items than we can display as it is. There’s plenty of room in Texas for both museums.” The Waco museum, operated by the city, also has expansion plans–$15 million worth. Though the museum is actively looking for non-governmental funding, the city council there is considering seeking a part of the needed money from the Legislature. State employee raise sought The Texas Public Employees Association has asked for an 8.25 percent pay hike for the state’s 150,000 workforce. Of course, as the old expression goes, “askin’ and gettin'” are two different things. The raise as requested by TPEA would cost $1 billion over the biennium. After hearing an evening’s worth of testimony on Jan. 31, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Rodney Ellis agreed state workers need a raise, but said the request might be more than the budget could handle. A state pay scale considerably below the private sector has resulted in high turnover, the TPEA said. The problem will be compounded as the state’s large block of Baby Boom generation workers begin reaching retirement age. Parks and Wildlife books available online Texans who live in communities without a bookstore now have a new way to buy books about the outdoors. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Press, a part of the state agency charged with protecting the state’s game, fish and many of its historic and scenic attractions, has set up an online bookstore. Now available through www.tpwpress.com is the Official Guide to Texas State Parks, the Official Guide to Texas Wildlife Management Areas and the Learn About series of children’s books. Subscriptions to Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine also are available online. Water contract approved The Lower Colorado River Authority board, as expected, has approved the water project feasibility study reported in last week’s column. At least a decade away, the project would provide 150,000 acre-feet of water a year for San Antonio. Rice farmers also would benefit from the deal.

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