April 2022
                                                     VOLUME CIX
                                                     NUMBER 4

Official Publication of the                       19                                32                                 46
Texas Municipal League.                           2022 Annual TML Taxation          Ten Lessons from Texas             Tourism Public Improvement
                                                  and Debt Survey Results Are       Tourism and Hospitality            Districts in Texas
This publication assumes no responsibility        Available                         Legend Larry Woods
for statements made by contributors
in signed articles. It is not operated for        22                                36                                 Destination Marketing
pecuniary gain.                                   Unique and Innovative             Art Activates Vacant               Organizations: Part of Your
                                                  Partnerships                      Downtown Buildings                 COVID Recovery Plan
Editor Christina Corrigan
                                                  24                                40                                 52
Creative Manager Jennifer Stamps
Designer Will Bowling                             Photo Contests: Grandma’s         Bastrop: A Bird-Friendly City      Celebrate the Bluebonnet
Advertising Sales Gray Gilson                     Recipe for “User Generated        in Texas                           Spirit in Ennis
Printing Publication Printers Corp.               Content” Can Still Work
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per year ($3.00 per single copy) by the           Show Business                     Marketing Organizations
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Send address changes to Texas Town & City,

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Section 305.027, Government Code, requires        5                                                   14
legislative advertising to disclose certain       President’s Message                                 Small Cities’ Corner
                                                  6                                                   16
A person who knowingly enters into a              TML News                                            Legal Q&A
contract or other agreement to print, publish,
or broadcast legislative advertising that         8                                                   58
does not contain the required information         Risk Pool News                                      Career Builder
commits a Class A misdemeanor offense.
Texas Town & City contains material which         10                                                  59
is legislative advertising as defined by law in   Health Pool News                                    Instagram Highlights
the state of Texas.
Mr. Bennett Sandlin has entered into an           City Lights
agreement with Publication Printers Corp.
for the printing of Texas Town & City
magazine. Mr. Sandlin represents the                                           ABOUT THE COVER
member cities of the Texas Municipal
League.                                                                        The Texas Municipal League and the
                                                                               Texas Association of Convention and
                                                                               Visitor Bureaus present the annual Texas
                                                                               Tourism issue.

                                                                               Photo credit: Visit Bastrop

                                                       TEXAS TOWN & CITY •     3    •   APRI 2022
ABOUT H TML                                          BOARD OF DIRECTORS H TML
The Texas Municipal League exists solely             TEXAS MUNICIPAL LEAGUE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
to provide services to Texas cities. Since           PRESIDENT                                  15-Merlyn Holmes, Councilmember,             Victor Conley, Fire Chief, Irving
its formation in 1913, the League’s mission          Martha Castex-Tatum,                       Kilgore                                      Texas Fire Chiefs Association
                                                     Vice Mayor Pro Tem, Houston
has remained the same: to serve the needs                                                       16-Larry Spears Jr., Mayor, Orange
                                                                                                                                             Amanda Campos, City Secretary,
and advocate the interests of its members.                                                                                                   Burleson
Membership in the League is voluntary                                                           AFFILIATE DIRECTORS                          Texas Municipal Clerks
                                                     David Rutledge,CMO
                                                                                                Rolandrea Russell, Planner, Frisco           Association, Inc.
and is open to any city in Texas. From the           Mayor, Bridge City
                                                                                                American Planning Association
original 14 members, TML’s membership has                                                       Texas Chapter                                Lisa Norris, Human Resources/
                                                     IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT                                                                Civil Service Director, Grand Prairie
grown to more than 1,150 cities. Over 16,000
                                                     Holly Gray-Moore,                                                                       Texas Municipal Human Resources
mayors, councilmembers, city managers,               Mayor Pro Tem, Roanoke                     Marissa Ximenez, Councilmember,
city attorneys, and department heads are
                                                                                                Association of Hispanic Municipal
member officials of the League by virtue of                                                                                                  Maria Redburn, Library Director, Bedford
                                                     PAST PRESIDENTS                            Officials
                                                                                                                                             Texas Municipal Library Directors
their cities’participation.                          Mary M. Dennis, CMO, Mayor, Live Oak                                                    Association
                                                                                                Selso A. Mata, Director of Building
                                                     Leonard Reed, CMO, Mayor, Willis
                                                                                                Inspections, Plano
The League provides a variety of services            Henry Wilson, Mayor, Hurst                                                              Michael Thane, Director of Utilities,
                                                                                                Building Officials Association of Texas
                                                                                                                                             Round Rock
to its member cities. One of the principal           Dock Jackson, CMO, Councilmember,
                                                                                                                                             Texas Municipal Utilities Association
                                                     Bastrop                                    Clifford Blackwell, Deputy City Manager,
purposes of the League is to advocate
                                                     Terry Henley, Board of Adjustment          Glenn Heights
municipal interests at the state and federal                                                                                                 Gene Ellis, Assistant
                                                                                                Government Finance Officers
                                                     Member, Meadows Place                                                                   City Manager/Chief of Police, Belton
levels. Among the thousands of bills                                                            Association of Texas
                                                                                                                                             Texas Police Chiefs Association
introduced during each session of the Texas
                                                     DIRECTORS-AT-LARGE                         Dr. Brian Rowland, Mayor, Prairie View
Legislature are hundreds of bills that would                                                                                                 Timothy Slifka, Purchasing Manager,
                                                     Jim Ross, Mayor, Arlington                 Texas Association of Black City Council      Southlake
affect cities. The League, working through its       Steve Adler, Mayor, Austin                 Members                                      Texas Public Purchasing Association
Legislative Services Department, attempts            Paulette M. Guajardo,
                                                                                                Sid Hudson, Chief Information Officer,
to defeat detrimental city-related bills             Mayor, Corpus Christi                                                                   Erin Hart, Assistant Director of Parks,
                                                                                                                                             Arts and Recreation Department,
and to facilitate the passage of legislation         Eric Johnson, Mayor, Dallas                Texas Association of Governmental
                                                                                                                                             Grand Prairie
designed to improve the ability of municipal         Claudia Lizette Rodriguez,                 Information Technology Managers
                                                                                                                                             Texas Recreation and Parks Society
governments to operate effectively.                  Representative, El Paso
                                                                                                Lori Ward, Councilmember,
                                                     Mattie Parker, Mayor, Fort Worth                                                        EX-OFFICIO NON-VOTING INVITED
                                                     Martha Castex-Tatum, Vice Mayor            Texas Association of Mayors,
The League employs full-time attorneys who                                                                                                   REPRESENTATIVES
                                                     Pro Tem, Houston                           Councilmembers and Commissioners             TML Health Benefits Pool
are available to provide member cities with
                                                     Ron Nirenberg, Mayor, San Antonio                                                       Blake Petrash, Mayor Pro Tem,
information on municipal legal matters. On a                                                    Steve Killen, Director of Development
                                                                                                                                             City of Ganado
daily basis, the legal staff responds to member                                                 Services, Stephenville
                                                     REGIONAL DIRECTORS                         Texas Association of Municipal Health
cities’ written and oral questions on a wide         2-Doyle Robinson, CMO, Mayor,                                                           TML Intergovernmental Risk Pool
variety of legal matters. The League annually        Panhandle                                                                               Jeffrey Snyder, City Manager, Plainview
conducts a variety of conferences and                3-Latrelle Joy, Councilmember,             Jay Socol, Director of Public
                                                                                                Communications, College Station
training seminars to enhance the knowledge           Lubbock
                                                                                                Texas Association of Municipal
and skills of municipal officials in the state. In   4-Jack Ladd, Councilmember, Midland        Information Officers
addition, the League also publishes a variety        5-Dustin Fraticelli, Commissioner,
                                                     Vernon                                     Robert Upton, Director of Engineering
of printed materials to assist member cities
                                                                                                and Public Works, Pearland
in performing their duties. The best known                                                      Texas Chapter of American Public Works
                                                     7-Allison Heyward, CMO,                    Association
of these is the League’s monthly magazine,
                                                     Councilmember, Schertz
Texas Town & City. Each issue focuses on a
                                                     8-Tito Rodriguez, Councilmember,           Charles E. Zech, City Attorney,
variety of contemporary municipal issues,            North Richland Hills                       Pflugerville, Bee Cave, Wimberley, Prairie
including survey results to respond to                                                          View, Rollingwood, Santa Fe, Leon Valley,
                                                     9-Ray O’Docharty, Mayor, Groesbeck
                                                                                                and Fair Oaks Ranch
member inquiries.                                    10-Connie Schroeder, CMO, Mayor,           Texas City Attorneys Association
For additional information on any of                 11-Cathy Skurow, Mayor, Portland           Hugh R. Walker, Deputy City Manager,
these services, contact the                          12-Ricardo Villarreal, Mayor, Palmview
                                                                                                Texas City Management Association
Texas Municipal League at 512-231-7400               13-Rick Grady, Councilmember, Plano

or visit our website, www.tml.org.                   14-Andy Brauninger, Mayor, Huntsville      Jennifer Bozorgnia, Court Services
                                                                                                Coordinator, Irving
                                                                                                Texas Court Clerks Association

                                                        TEXAS TOWN & CITY •               4   • APRIL 2022

                       MARTHA CASTEX-TATUM
                       Vice Mayor Pro Tem, City of Houston
                       TML President

For many years, the April issue of Texas Town & City has been devoted to the topic of tourism in Texas
cities. I’ve always looked forward to this issue. Tourism is a cornerstone of Houston’s economy, just as
it is for many of your towns. People from all over the world want to visit Texas cities because we have
some of the most beautiful and interesting cities in the world!

But we can’t just sit back and assume folks will continue to travel here. Successful tourism involves an
important partnership between cities, convention and visitors bureaus, hotels, and state government.
Each element, from HOT taxes to destination marketing is integral to make it all happen. In this issue,
you’ll hear about topics such as tourism public improvement districts, film and music city certifications,
destination management organizations, and many others.

Cities in all our Texas regions compete to attract national and worldwide tourism dollars. But it’s not
a competition that any city or region needs to lose—there are plenty of tourism dollars to go around.
Each city can gain from a coordinated effort at marketing what makes our state great. That tourist
from France or Canada might only visit Granbury and Fort Worth this year, but if we all do our jobs
they’ll be back soon enough to Boerne, Rockport, El Paso, Houston, and your city! Let’s all get ready
to understand the tools and tips that make tourism synergy possible.

Martha Castex-Tatum
Vice Mayor Pro Tem, City of Houston
TML President

                              TEXAS TOWN & CITY •    5   •   APRI 2022
                                                                            TML TRAINING CALENDAR
                                                                                           April-May 2022

                                                                                                    April 1
                                                                               Workplace Conflict and Strategies for Resolving It

                                                                                                 April 6-8
                                                                                   TML Leadership Academy – Course One
                                                                                               Round Rock

                                                                                                   April 14
                                                                                   Interacting Constructively with the Media

Announcing TML Small Town Conference
                                                                                                April 25-26
                                                                                  TML Public Funds Investment Act Training
Make plans to attend the 2022 TML Small Town Conference on May
19-20 at the Hangar Hotel in Fredericksburg. Designed for elected
officials and staff serving towns and cities with a population of                                   April 26
15,000 or less, the conference will inspire ideas that can lead to             Governing Ethically: Understanding Your Influence
better planning and a stronger community. Our experts will discuss                                  Webinar
branding,   economic     development,     technology,    succession
planning, legal issues, and funding for water projects. Most                                   April 27-29
importantly, you will connect with other leaders from across Texas             TMUA Leadership and Management Conference
who, like you, are working to build and support vibrant small cities.                        College Station
Learn more and register at https://tmlsmalltownconference.org.
                                                                                                May 11-13
                                                                                   TML Leadership Academy – Course Two
Apply Now for a Municipal                                                                      Round Rock
Excellence Award
                                                                                                 May 11-13
The TML Municipal Excellence Awards have been celebrating and                              TMHRA Annual Conference
inspiring municipal excellence and innovation for more than 25
years. Each year, awards are given in two population categories
                                                                                                  May 19-20
(cities under 25,000 and cities over 25,000) and in five subject
                                                                                           TML Small Town Conference
categories (city spirit, communication programs, management
innovations, public safety, and public works). The deadline to
submit online applications is Friday, June 3. For additional details                               May 20
including the application link, visit www.tml.org/210/Municipal-                             TML Budget Workshop
Excellence-Awards. H                                                                               Belton

                                               TEXAS TOWN & CITY •      6   • APRIL 2022
Cajun Capital of Texas

    Outdoor                        Historic Downtown                              Unique Attractions                                   Exceptional
  Opportunities                                                                                                                           Art
Straddling borders but not bound by state lines, Beaumont is big Texas fun with Cajun
flair. Embodying the best of the Lone Star State and Louisiana, Beaumont is an easy and                                                            Scan to
affordable drive destination. Just 1.5 hours from Houston, 3.5 hours from Austin, and four                                                           learn
from Dallas, New Orleans, or San Antonio, many attractions are completely free, and we
have a 48-hour under $48 itinerary perfect for families, couples, or solo travelers. Swing
on through and get ready to laissez les bon temps rouler, y’all.

                          Save the
                             Date                       EATBMT                                                         MAY 5 - 15, 2022
                          Come join in on the fun of the fourth annual #EATBMT Restaurant Week May 5 - 15, 2022. Restaurant Week invites you to experience
                           the flavors of Southeast Texas with foodie events and special fixed menus priced at $10, $20, and $30 with dine-in or to-go options
                          around the Golden Triangle. We are so excited for both community members and visitors to get a taste of what Beaumont has to offer.
                                                   VISITBEAUMONTTX.COM | @VISITBEAUMONTX | 409.880.3749

                                                  TEXAS TOWN & CITY •           7    •   APRI 2022
Partnering for Financial Strength                                exactly the rate of infection in the general population
                                                                 (see chart – with bars indicating claims and the red line
The Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool           indicating general population).
offers and provides Texas cities with a stable and economic
source of risk financing and loss prevention services. The       The cost of those events meant that member contributions
financial condition of the Pool remains strong and stable. In    weren’t enough to cover the losses, so Members’ Equity
fact, the Pool’s partnership spans the state:                    came into play. The Pool experienced a $36 million deficit,

• over 96 percent of Texas cities (and hundreds
  of other local governments) are contributing
  members of the Pool;
• over 200,000 public servants are covered for
  workers’ compensation through the Pool; and
• over $45 billion in governmental property is
  covered by the Pool.

The key to the Pool’s financial strength is its net
position (what the Pool calls “Members’ Equity”).
In a normal year, the Pool would expect to fund
“ordinary” losses within the budget. In other
words, member contributions would be enough
to cover all claims. Of course, 2020-2021 was
anything but ordinary. Texas local governments
saw two catastrophic events – winter storm Uri
and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.                                      TML Risk Pool Objectives
Winter storm Uri, one of the only statewide catastrophes              •   Educate Members about avoiding and reducing
the Pool has ever faced, led to claims exceeding $75
million. That number approached the losses caused in
2017 by Hurricane Harvey (the Pool’s most expensive                   •   Control losses with effective legal defense and
disaster on record) at $104 million. COVID-19 claims were                 claims handling
almost exclusively based on the “first responders’ disease            •   Anticipate emerging risks
presumption law.” That law “presumes” that police, fire, and
                                                                      •   Be aware of and anticipate state and national trends
EMS employees who contract the disease were infected
                                                                      •   Provide appropriate coverages that meet the needs
while at work, entitling them to workers’ compensation
benefits. First responder infections proportionately tracked              of the Pool’s Members
infections in the general population (see accompanying                •   Serve as an expert source of information on risk
chart). As of March 2022, the Pool had processed over 7,500               management for cities, other units of local
claims, 46 of which were – unfortunately – fatalities. The
                                                                          government, and the Texas Municipal League
total incurred losses to the Pool are nearly $100 million,
with over $60 million of that amount incurred for the fatality        •   Develop, train, and retain highly qualified staff

claims. Interestingly, the presumption claims track almost

                                           TEXAS TOWN & CITY •   8   • APRIL 2022
but Members’ Equity remains strong at $381 million. Using           Most importantly, the Pool – as always – has been here to
equity to maintain stable rates was no accident. In 2014,           cover the “losses.” That word sometimes has a negative
the Pool adopted a Target Members’ Equity Policy, which             connotation. As it relates to pooling, however, it shouldn’t.
considers the appropriate amount of capital (Members’               Why? As money flows from the Pool, it goes to repair or
Equity) required to support the Pool’s operations. Even             replace public buildings and other facilities. Or it goes to
after a difficult year, our Members’ Equity remains within the      ensure that our first responders and/or their families are
target range to support the Pool going forward.                     taken care of. To put it simply, the Pool’s so-called losses
                                                                    are a member’s gain.
The Pool’s operating expenses were $3.5 million under
budget, due primarily to the pandemic restrictions and              Taxpayer dollars are well-spent on the TML Risk Pool,
austerity measures. Yet the Pool was fully operational,             which provides robust coverage, customized resources,
thanks to a dedicated staff and technological investments.          and governmental support at a value found nowhere else.
                                                                    It remains an honor to serve Texas cities through our Core
The Pool shares city officials’ goal of spending public             Values: Integrity, Public Service, Fiscal Responsibility, and
funds wisely. Our team of underwriters, financial officers,         Operational Excellence. H
and many others does everything possible to keep rates
stable, allowing city officials to anticipate costs to plan their

         Grandscape / The Colony, Texas

                                                              We engineered a destination in North Texas
                                                                    to attract people from miles around.

                                                   IN GRAND STYLE.
                                                         We’re Olsson, a nationally recognized engineering and design
                                                        firm that adds purpose to every project we create. Our work at
                                                            Grandscape brings people together. Learn how at olsson.com.

                                              TEXAS TOWN & CITY •    9   •   APRI 2022
HEALTH POOL NEWS                      H

Health Doesn’t Have to Be Boring:                                    touch with nature, your body, and rafting companions.

Five Fun Activities to Do in Texas That Are                          4. Camping Big Bend National Park, Guadalupe
Secretly Good for You                                                River State Park, Garner State Park, and of course
                                                                     the beautiful Enchanted Rock are a few places you
Wherever you are in Texas, there are many good excuses               can pitch your tent and enjoy the view. For wildlife
to get outside, and healthy activity definitely doesn’t have         watching, try Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose
to look like sweating in a gym. Here are five fun activities         or Caprock Canyons State Park. Caprock Canyons also
to enjoy outdoors this spring and summer. Nothing against            boasts incredible stargazing.
YouTube yoga, but it feels like we’ve been inside forever!
                                                                     5. It’s Texas, Y’all—Try Riding a Horse! Palo Duro
    1. Hiking Texas has many beautiful hikes, and there’s            Canyon State Park, Caprock Canyons, and Big Thicket
    still ample time before the sweltering summer begins             National Preserve are just a few of the places you can
    in earnest to get out into the hill country.                     book a tour to go horseback riding along scenic trails.
                                                                     It’s good exercise, and aren’t they just adorable?
    Try Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend for a short shady
    hike along the river, or Guadalupe Peak for the challenge        If you’ve got kids who love dinosaurs, try going for a
    of the highest point in Texas, with a breathtaking view          ride through Dinosaur Valley State Park, where you can
    of El Capitan. If wildlife and woods are more your idea          hike, horseback ride, camp (with electricity, if roughing
    of a nice walk, the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve               it isn’t your style), and walk the limestone-preserved
    takes you through the woodlands and hill country, with           footprints of actual dinosaurs in the dry bed of the
    a chance to spot rare species of animals, including the          Paluxy River. It’s best seen in the summer when the
    endangered golden-cheeked warbler.                               bed is truly dry.

    2. Fishing Fishing in Texas is year-round! At our parks,    Grab some friends—or your kids—and plan something this
    beaches, and piers, you can find freshwater fish like       weekend in the great outdoors.
    bass and catfish, and saltwater fish like red drum,
    flounder, and trout.                                        About TML Health Benefits Pool
                                                                TML Health Benefits Pool offers health benefits created by
    Getting outside is good for your body, and if you fish      Texans exclusively for Texas cities and political subdivisions.
    with friends and family, the social togetherness is also    TML Health brings together hundreds of Texas public entities
    good for your brain. Just be sure to put on sunscreen       to leverage collective purchasing power and risk sharing to
    for those summer solar rays.                                stabilize the cost of health benefits and deliver the lowest
                                                                long- term net costs, while offering additional services such
    3. Ride the Rivers Canoeing, kayaking, rafting, and         as wellness programs, virtual health checkups, telemedicine,
    swimming all offer healthy ways to beat the summer          and online and phone enrollment. By sharing in the Pool,
    heat. Drift down the Guadalupe, Comal, Frio, Colorado,      TML Health’s members share the rewards of superior health
    or Rio Grande River at Big Bend at a gentle relaxing        coverage—lower costs, better health outcomes, and more
    pace to float away some of the stress. Or go whitewater     personalized service. H
    rafting when the Guadalupe is high for a whole-body
    adrenaline-soaked workout that’ll put you back in

                                       TEXAS TOWN & CITY •      10    • APRIL 2022
TEXAS TOWN & CITY •   11   •   APRI 2022

Surf in Troup                                                       branding, and on-screen content. Installation will occur in
                                                                    phases of 25 kiosks throughout several neighborhoods.
Surf the web, that is. The City of Troup now has free
public Wi-Fi available downtown. The Troup Community                Each kiosk serves as a free Wi-Fi hotspot up to 75 feet and
Development Corporation (TCDC) is bringing 12 routers to            is geo-located, displaying informational listings based on
downtown. The project was approved in September 2021,               what’s in the immediate proximity to the kiosk. The kiosks
started in November 2021, and finished in February 2022.            have dual-sided digital touchscreens and are fully ADA-
Each router provides 300 feet diameter of free Wi-Fi.               compliant and multi-lingual. Additionally, the kiosks provide
                                                                    access to social services information such as homeless
“The project promotes new and expanded business
                                                                    shelters, addiction recovery programs, and food support.
enterprises as well as enhance the quality of life as part
of community development,” Suzanne Loudamy, TCDC                    “The City of Houston has so much to offer, and the IKE digital
Executive Director said. “Offering this enhancement to the          kiosks will be an exciting new amenity to help guide people
downtown area will be a plus to businesses, visitors and            in various directions to enjoy events, restaurants, and much
others who may need Wi-Fi to complete school work, job              more,” said Mayor Turner. “These kiosks are one of the
applications or other online tasks.”                                many ways Houston is moving forward with creating more
                                                                    walkable spaces that make for a safer and more pleasant
Another Way Houston Is Making a                                     experience.”
Difference for Citizens
                                                                    IKE also serves as a widespread communication platform.
In partnership with IKE Smart City, the City of Houston
                                                                    IKE allots space for community messaging that is relevant
unveiled the first in a series of digital interactive, wayfinding
                                                                    to the City and local communities while also disseminating
kiosks called IKE. IKE Smart City worked collaboratively with
                                                                    critical public safety information in a highly visible way. The
the City of Houston, Houston First, neighborhood groups,
                                                                    kiosks will provide a cohesive wayfinding system throughout
and adjacent property owners on location selection, kiosk
                                                                    the City while reflecting the City’s diversity with unique
                                                                    branding and on-screen content for each neighborhood.
                                                                    The kiosks will also regularly exhibit new projects by local
                                                                    and international artists in collaboration with some of
                                                                    Houston’s most recognized cultural organizations.

                                                                    The kiosk project was led by the Mayor’s Office of Economic
                                                                    Development with support from the Office of Innovation. H

                                          TEXAS TOWN & CITY •       12    • APRIL 2022
Moving to TML Health Benefits
                   saved us about $37,000.
    I was able to...give employees an increase they hadn't seen
      in a while. The cost was a lot less expensive, the package
        itself was an overall better package for the employees.
                                                      Melissa Gonzalez, City Manager, Taft

                 How much can YOU save when you work with
                  a health benefits pool built for Texas cities?

                                                     Call now and get a health
                                                     plan that works for you.
                                                     512-719-6530                                      Watch the full
TML Health Benefits Pool is a non-profit trust                                                           Taft story here!
organization created by political subdivisions to
provide group benefits services to participating
political subdivisions and is not an insurance
company. This contains proprietary and confidential
information of TML Health.

                                                            TEXAS TOWN & CITY •   13   •   APRI 2022
SMALL CITIES' CORNER                 H

                                                               In pursuit of this community project, the City maintained
                                                               cost efficiency through use of a combination of contractor
                                                               and in-house city staff with a partnership with Tarrant
                                                               County to perform the necessary construction work. The
                                                               City bid out the construction of the pavilion structures
                                                               and signage. Electrical work was performed by a general
                                                               services contractor while the decomposed granite surface
                                                               and concrete beam border were installed by the City of
                                                               Saginaw Public Works staff. The City of Saginaw entered
                                                               into an interlocal agreement with Tarrant County Precinct 4
                                                               for the construction of both the asphalt food truck space as
                                                               well as a 183-space parking lot to serve the facility.

                                                               The Saginaw Switchyard Food Truck Park offers the
                                                               community an array of culinary options that would pique
                                                               the interest of any foodie. From kettle corn popcorn to al
                                                               pastor tacos, the food truck park offers a range of dishes
                                                               and delights to satisfy everyone. This food truck park is

FOOD, FRUIT, AND FUN AT                                        located on a paved area that offers electrical and water

THE SAGINAW SWITCHYARD                                         hookups sufficient to serve six food trucks, with additional
                                                               capacity available for food trucks that have self-sufficient
By Pedro Zambrano, Communications Manager, City of Saginaw     electrical and water systems. Local food trucks utilize The
                                                               Switchyard almost every day of the week, especially during
Nestled in the southern corner of Saginaw’s largest park is    Saturday farmers’ market days.
The Saginaw Switchyard. First imagined by the City and its
residents as a destination for the community to enjoy arts     Adjacent to the food truck park, the Saginaw Farmers’
and crafts, food, and music in a small-town atmosphere,        Market provides the community with a marketplace
The Switchyard serves as home to both the Saginaw Food         offering fresh produce, craftwork, and products from artisan
Truck Park and the Saginaw Farmers’ Market.                    vendors. With the goal of providing the community with the

                                         TEXAS TOWN & CITY •   14   • APRIL 2022
seeking a booth on farmers’ market days, every second and
                                                               fourth Saturday of the month.

                                                               The Switchyard has been a tremendous success since its
                                                               opening, and “a phenomenal addition to the city’s park
                                                               system. Despite opening during the pandemic, it has
                                                               brought a large variety of food trucks and entertainment
                                                               to the citizens,” said Saginaw’s Mayor Todd Flippo. “Our
                                                               collaboration with Community Link for the Market at The
                                                               Switchyard has strengthened our commitment to serve our
                                                               neighbors and bring fresh food options to Saginaw.”

                                                               The Switchyard is looking at expanding its services and
                                                               impact, including functioning as a place to host special
                                                               events. In combining simple, cost-effective design with
                                                               successful use of public and private resources and cross-
                                                               sector collaborations to provide a community amenity, the
freshest, highest quality fruits, vegetables, breads, meats    creation of The Saginaw Switchyard is proving beneficial
and other products, the farmers’ market not only serves as     to Saginaw residents and visitors now and is expected to
a great place to pick up food but also a place to pick up a    become increasingly valuable in the City’s future. H
new hobby. Workshops available to the public on subjects
including gardening and painting are offered, along with the
Power of Produce (POP) program open specifically for kids.

The POP program engages kids to learn more about
developing healthy food habits and gives them the
opportunity to receive fresh foods with the tokens they
receive from participating in the program. The Farmers’
Market at The Switchyard also has an incentivizing
matching program for its SNAP customers that provides                The Perot Theatre is Texarkana’s cultural icon
one additional dollar for every dollar of SNAP benefits              and hub of local, national, and international
                                                                     entertainment for the region. Constructed in
spent on eligible purchases, effectively doubling the SNAP
                                                                     1924 as Saenger “Gateway to the Southwest”
customer’s buying power.                                             Theatre, it was subsequently renovated and
                                                                     reopened as the Perot Theatre in 1980. This
The creation of The Switchyard introduced a unique
                                                                     historic jewel is listed in the National Register
opportunity for the City to enter an agreement with                  of Historic Places and was named the most
Community Link, a local non-profit, to manage the farmers’           beautifully designed theatre in the state of
market. “Community Link is thankful for its partnership              Texas by Architectural Digest in 2018.
with the City of Saginaw to provide a market for the                 Texarkana celebrates 40 plus years of
                                                                     outstanding artistic performances in the
entire community,” said Trey Harper, the organization’s
                                                                     historic Perot Theater, making it one of the
director of development. “This program fits well in the              keys to the renewal of Downtown Texarkana
mission of Community Link as it provides access to fresh             and a destination point for tourism throughout
foods and other resources and supports entrepreneurship.             our region.
Working alongside one another, we are truly better
together than apart.”                                                For more information about the Perot Theatre,
                                                                     rental inquiries, or for a free tour of this historic
The public response and enthusiasm for the Farmers’                  venue contact the Box Office at 903.792.4992 or
                                                                     visit us online www.perottheatre.org.
Market at the Switchyard resulted in a backlog of vendors

                                         TEXAS TOWN & CITY •   15    •   APRI 2022
By Amber McKeon-Mueller
LEGAL Q&A          H                                                                         TML Legal Counsel

Editor’s note: This is the first part of a two-part Q&A on         Id. § 46.02. A person convicted of a felony or a family violence
firearm regulation in Texas. The second part will appear in        offense is also prohibited from possessing a firearm with
the May 2022 edition of Texas Town & City.                         some exceptions. Id. §§ 46.02, 46.04(a-1).

Q What is “constitutional carry” in Texas?                         Under federal law, the Gun Control Act makes it unlawful
                                                                   for certain categories of people to ship, transport, receive,

A    During the 2021 Regular Legislative Session, the Texas
                                                                   or possess firearms or ammunition. 18 U.S.C. § 922(g).
                                                                   Examples include a person who:
Legislature passed H.B. 1927, also known as the “Firearm
Carry Act of 2021.” It has commonly been referred to as            1. is convicted in any court of a crime punishable by
“constitutional carry.” The bill allows most individuals aged 21      imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
and over to carry a handgun in public—in either a concealed
                                                                   2. is a fugitive from justice;
manner or openly in a holster—without having to first obtain
a license. Tex. Penal Code § 46.02. The new law went into          3. is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled
effect on September 1, 2021.                                          substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled
                                                                      Substances Act, codified at 21 U.S.C. § 802);
Q   What are the limitations on who is allowed to
                                                                   4. has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been
carry a handgun under “constitutional carry” in
                                                                      committed to any mental institution;
                                                                   5. is an illegal alien;
A     Although “constitutional carry” broadly allows most
                                                                   6. has been discharged from the Armed Forces under
individuals over 21 years of age to carry a handgun without
                                                                      dishonorable conditions;
a license, an individual convicted of certain state or federal
crimes may not carry a handgun.                                    7. has renounced his or her United States citizenship;
Under state law, a person may not constitutional carry a
                                                                   8. is subject to a court order restraining the person from
handgun if the person has been convicted of one of the
                                                                      harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or
following offenses in the previous five-year period:
                                                                      child of the intimate partner; or
1. assault causing bodily injury, including to their spouse
   [Tex. Penal Code § 22.01(a)(1)];                                9. has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic
2. deadly conduct, including discharging a firearm at
   persons, a habitation, a vehicle or a building [Id. § 22.05];

3. making a terroristic threat [Id. § 22.07]; or
                                                                   Q What is licensed carry?
4. disorderly conduct by: (a) discharging a firearm in a
   public place other than a public road or a sport shooting
                                                                   A   Licensed carry remains in effect even after the adoption
                                                                   of H.B. 1927. Licensed carry in Texas authorizes a person
   range; or (b) displaying a firearm or other deadly weapon       who is at least 21 years of age to obtain a license to carry a
   in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm [Id. §        handgun from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
   42.01(a)(7) or (8)]

                                           TEXAS TOWN & CITY •     16    • APRIL 2022
provided he or she meets certain requirements, including         from taking any action that implies a license holder who is
taking a training course approved by DPS. Tex. Gov’t Code        carrying a handgun is prohibited from entering or remaining
§§ 411.172(a), 411.174. A person who obtains a license from      on the premises of a place owned or leased by a city unless
DPS can carry a handgun either in a concealed manner or          the license holder is prohibited from entering that place
openly in a holster. The licensed carry program is governed      under Texas law. Id. § 411.209(a).
by Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code.

                                                                 A resident of Texas or a person licensed to carry a handgun
A license to carry provides benefits to the license holder,      may file a complaint with the attorney general if a city is
including things like: (1) state reciprocity; (2) the license    wrongfully excluding a license holder. Id. § 411.209(d). Once
is a valid form of voter identification; and (3) skipping a      the attorney general receives a complaint, the attorney
background check when purchasing a firearm. See Tex.             general must investigate the complaint to determine if
Elec. Code § 63.0101(a)(5); 18 U.S.C. § 922(s)(1)(C).            legal action is warranted. Id. § 411.209(f). If legal action is

Q   What is the role of the attorney general in
                                                                 warranted, the attorney general must first provide the city
                                                                 with written notice that: (1) describes the violation; (2) states
handgun regulation relating to cities?                           the amount of the proposed penalty for the violation; and (3)
                                                                 gives the city the opportunity to cure the violation within 15
A    The attorney general has the authority to investigate       days of receipt of the notice so as to avoid the penalty. Id.
complaints against cities for wrongfully excluding license
holders and to seek civil penalties against cities for those     If the city does not cure the defect within the 15-day grace
violations. Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.209. A city is prohibited      period, then the attorney general or the appropriate district

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                                          TEXAS TOWN & CITY •    17      •   APRI 2022
or county attorney may sue the city to recover civil penalties             Pursuant to Section 30.06, Penal Code (trespass
in the amount of: (1) not less than $1,000 and not more than               by license holder with a concealed handgun), a
$1,500 for the first violation; and (2) not less than $10,000              person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter
and not more than $10,500 for the second or a subsequent                   411, Government Code (handgun licensing law),
violation. Id. §§ 411.209(b); 411.209(g). Each day of a continuing         may not enter this property with a concealed
violation is a separate violation. Id. § 411.209(c).                       handgun

Q What notices relevant to cities address the                        Id.
carrying of a handgun?
                                                                     Section 30.07 contains similar requirements. The sign must
A    Three relevant sections of Texas law address notices            be posted in a conspicuous manner in contrasting colors
related to the carrying of a handgun:                                with block letters. Tex. Penal Code § 30.07(c)(3)(B). The sign
                                                                     must include the following language in both English and
1.   Section 30.06(b) of the Penal Code (Trespass by License         Spanish:
     Holder with a Concealed Handgun);
2.   Section 30.07(b) of the Penal Code (Trespass by License               Pursuant to Section 30.07, Penal Code (trespass
     Holder with an Openly Carried Handgun); and                           by license holder with an openly carried
3.   Section 411.207(c)-(d) of the Government Code (Secured                handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter
     Area of a Law Enforcement Facility).                                  H, Chapter 411, Government Code (handgun
                                                                           licensing law), may not enter this property with a
Sections 30.06 and 30.07 of the Penal provide that a license               handgun that is carried openly
holder commits an offense if the license holder carries
a handgun in a concealed manner or openly in a holster,                    Id.
respectively, onto the property of another who has posted
notice prohibiting the carrying of handguns on the property.         Section 411.207 of the Government Code requires a city to
Tex. Penal Code §§ 30.06(a), 30.07(a). However, unlike a             prominently display at each entrance to a nonpublic, secure
private person, a city may not prohibit, under either section        portion of its law enforcement facility a sign that gives
30.06 or 30.07, armed licensed holders from entering onto            notice in both English and Spanish that a peace officer may
property the city owns or leases unless section 46.03 of the         temporarily disarm a license holder when the license holder
Penal Code criminalizes the carrying of a handgun at the             enters the nonpublic, secure portion of the facility. Tex. Gov’t
specific property. Id. §§ 30.06(e), 30.007(e); Holcomb v. Waller     Code § 411.207(c). The sign must appear in contrasting colors
County, 546 S.W. 3d 833 (Tex. App. – Houston [1st Dist.] March       with block letters at least one inch in height and displayed
15, 2018, pet. denied). Part 2 of the Q&A will address more in-      in a clearly visible and conspicuous manner. Id. State law
depth areas in which carrying of a handgun is criminalized           doesn’t provide any specific language for the sign.
under Chapter 46 of the Penal Code.
                                                                     Sign placement for the areas most relevant to cities will be
To be effective, the section 30.06 notice must be on a               addressed in Part 2 of the Legal Q&A which will be published
sign posted on the property in contrasting colors with               in the May 2022 issue of Texas Town & City. H
block letters at least one inch in height and displayed in a
conspicuous manner. Tex. Penal Code § 30.06(c)(3)(B). The
sign must include the following language in both English
and Spanish:

                                           TEXAS TOWN & CITY •       18          • APRIL 2022
                                AND DEBT SURVEY RESULTS
                                      ARE AVAILABLE
The Texas Municipal League’s annual survey of municipal tax and         plant or property whose revenues are pledged. Such bonds are
debt is complete for the 2021-2022 budget year, and results are         called “first mortgage revenue bonds.”
now posted on the Texas Municipal League (TML) website at www.
                                                                        Certificates of obligation are a financing mechanism a city may
tml.org under “Resources” and then “Surveys.” If you have difficulty
                                                                        use to pay a contractual obligation incurred in: (1) a construction
accessing this information, please call the TML office at 512-231-
                                                                        contract; (2) the purchase of materials, supplies, equipment,
                                                                        machinery, buildings, land, and rights-of-way for authorized
                                                                        needs and purposes; or (3) the payment of professional services,
This year, 236 cities responded to the survey (1,222 surveys were
                                                                        including services provided by tax appraisers, engineers,
distributed). Please keep in mind that all data in this survey are
                                                                        architects, attorneys, map makers, auditors, financial advisors, and
self-reported, and TML cannot be responsible for errors made by
                                                                        fiscal agents.
the reporting entities.
                                                                        Tax notes (also called “anticipation notes”) are a debt instrument
The following information may be helpful when you review the            that a city may sell to finance the construction of public works;
survey results:                                                         to purchase supplies, land, and rights of way for public works; to
                                                                        pay for professional services; to pay operating expenses; or to pay
Limitations on Municipal Tax Rates                                      off cash flow deficits. Tax notes used to pay for public works or
                                                                        professional services must mature before the seventh anniversary
Municipal property tax rates are limited by the Texas Constitution
                                                                        after the notes are approved by the attorney general. Tax notes
(Article XI, Sections 4 and 5) and state law. Municipal tax rate
                                                                        used to pay operating expenses or to fund a city’s cumulative cash
ceilings are as follows:
                                                                        flow deficit must mature before the first anniversary after the notes
•   Cities of 5,000 or less in population (other than Type B general    are approved by the attorney general.
    law cities and some Type C general law cities) can levy a
                                                                        Tax rate is the rate at which taxes are levied per $100 of assessed
    maximum tax rate of $1.50 per $100 assessed valuation.
                                                                        valuation. In Texas, the ad valorem tax rate for local governments
•   Cities over 5,000 in population (other than Type B general
                                                                        is expressed in terms of dollars or cents per $100 of assessed
    law cities) can levy up to $2.50 per $100 assessed valuation.
    For a home rule city, a rate lower than $2.50 per $100 may be
    prescribed under the city charter.                                  When viewing the survey results online, the following key to
•   Type B general law cities can levy a maximum of $0.25 cents         municipal utilities and facilities referenced in the survey may be
    per $100 assessed valuation.                                        helpful: H
•   Type C general law cities with a population of 201 to 501
    inhabitants may levy a maximum tax rate of $0.25 per $100
    assessed valuation. Other Type C general law cities may levy a         Key to Municipal Utilities and Facilities
    maximum tax rate according to population as detailed above.           Key to Municipal Utilities and Facilities
                                                                          AM—Auditorium; AP—Airport; C—Cemetery; CE—Civic/
                                                                           AM—Auditorium; AP—Airport; C—Cemetery; CE—Civic/
    Definitions of Terms Used in the Survey                               Community Center; DR—Municipal Drainage Utility Fee;
                                                                           Community Center; DR—Municipal Drainage Utility Fee;
                                                                          E—Electric System; FG—Fairgrounds; GC—Golf Course;
General obligation bonds are bonds that are secured by a pledge            E—Electric System; FG—Fairgrounds; GC—Golf Course;
                                                                          GS—Gas System; H—Hospital; HR—Boat Harbor; J—Jail;
of the full faith and credit and the taxing power of the issuers. The      GS—Gas System; H—Hospital; HR—Boat Harbor; J—Jail;
                                                                          L—Library/Museum; LK—Lake; M—Market; MB—Municipal
term is synonymous with the term “tax-supported.”                          L—Library/Museum; LK—Lake; M—Market; MB—Mu-
                                                                          Building; P—Parking Lot; PH—Public Housing Units; PK—
                                                                           nicipal Building; P—Parking Lot; PH—Public Housing
                                                                          Parks and Recreation; S—Sewer System; SC—Senior Cen-
Revenue bonds are special obligations of the issuer (as opposed            Units; PK—Parks and Recreation; S—Sewer System;
                                                                          ter; SL—Solid Waste Disposal System; SP—Swimming Pool;
to general obligations) that are payable solely from the revenues          SC—Senior Center; SL—Solid Waste Disposal System;
                                                                          T—Transit Bus System; TB—Toll Bridge; W—Water System;
derived from an income-producing facility. Revenue bonds are               SP—Swimming Pool; T—Transit Bus System; TB—Toll
                                                                          ZO—Zoo; ZZ—Other
sometimes further secured by a first mortgage on the physical              Bridge; W—Water System; ZO—Zoo; ZZ—Other

                                               TEXAS TOWN & CITY •      19      •   APRI 2022
Trust him?.....

  TEXAS TOWN & CITY •   20   • APRIL 2022

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                                TEXAS TOWN & CITY •   21   •   APRI 2022
               PAVING THE WAY
                                                   By Rose Jordan
                                 Director of Tourism and Marketing
                Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce & CVB

It is always fun to get a call from another community asking us The same vision, passion, and unity that started Mineral Wells’
to share how we got here. Here being a growing and thriving renaissance has led to several creative partnerships that not only
community after so many years of decline.                               help the new businesses thrive but also create a unique experience
                                                                        for locals and tourists.
Mineral Wells was once known as “America’s Great Health Resort,”
drawing both the rich and famous and everyday families in droves, The Market at 76067 and Coffee & Cocktails at 76067 were among
all for the “healing” waters. But in the early 1970s, the United States the first and most visible indicators that Mineral Wells was making
Food and Drug Administration decided we could no longer claim a comeback. Owners Misty and Randy Nix purchased three
our waters had healing properties. About the same time, Fort historic, adjoining buildings at the main intersection downtown,
Wolters, the military base, was decommissioned. Almost overnight, one of which had been empty for years. With an eye on preserving
the community went from buzzing to sleeping.                            the historic character while bringing modern style, they renovated
                                                                        the three spaces to become a multi-vendor retail experience and
Then, in the fall of 2018, Mineral Wells started coming back to life. a high-end drink spot.
Very visibly and quickly, especially in the downtown area. Historic
buildings that sat empty or were used for storage for many years “The idea started with going to my 12 favorite shops and bringing
were cleaned out and filled with new businesses. Things were them into The Market. They would have little shops within The
happening and people noticed.                                           Market without looking like booths. We wanted the look and feel
                                                                        of Anthropologie,” Misty Nix shared. It was a successful idea that
So, what happened? Why now?                                             attracted many vendors, both local and non-local.

The answer – well, it is a true community effort fueled by            The Market now has more than 160 merchants of which 75 percent
passionate, visionary community leaders coming together with          are local. In fact, after a bit of research, they discovered that at least
a plan to revitalize Mineral Wells. Today, more than 40 historic      30 vendors are currently generating enough revenue to be able to
downtown buildings have been revived, including the Crazy Water       support their families solely from sales made at The Market.
Hotel. The famous Baker Hotel is also undergoing restoration and
is set to reopen in 2024.                                             Though having a retail shop made of multi-vendors is not a new
                                                                      concept, it is worth mentioning because of how successful it

                                           TEXAS TOWN & CITY •       22      • APRIL 2022
One of the most innovative partnerships comes from Rickhouse
                                                                      Brewing. Though they will not open for a couple more weeks,
                                                                      owners Brian Miller and Alan Clarke have some exciting
                                                                      collaborations planned. Located on the first floor of the Crazy
                                                                      Water Plaza (formerly Crazy Water Hotel) they will have QR codes
                                                                      in the hotel rooms, at each station of the salon and spa (also
                                                                      located in the Crazy Water Plaza), and each table in the hotel
                                                                      lobby. Guests will be able scan the code, open a tab, and place
                                                                      an order with Rickhouse Brewing. The order will then be delivered
                                                                      to the guest at the location from which they ordered.

                                                                      Taking the concept another step, Miller and Clarke have partnered
                                                                      with Crazy 8’s Sports Bar & Grill, just a couple blocks away, to add
                                                                      select food items to their menu. “We’ll do anything that makes
has been. But the partnership beyond the vendors is even more         sense,” Miller said as he explained the plans with the neighboring
impressive. Nix reached out to the other shops downtown and           restaurant. “There’s no need for us to carry a full menu and we
asked them to bring some of their merchandise to The Market.          won’t prepare or touch the food at all.”
“I don’t want to compete with anybody,” Misty Nix said. “I want to
                                                                      A selection of the restaurant’s menu items will be available for
make sure we all thrive.”
                                                                      brewery guests to order. Their food order will be added to their
Clothing and apparel from The Kraze, home goods and dips from         beverage order and the food portion will automatically print at
Brazos Market & Bistro, pies and baked goods from a local baker,      the restaurant. Then, Crazy 8’s will prepare the food as a to-go
Crazy Water – the list continues. Even the luxurious lighting they    order and deliver to guests at Rickhouse Brewing.
installed is available to order from partner lighting companies.
                                                                      Increasingly, local business owners are embracing a “what’s good
Another great example is Magpie Inn, a bed and breakfast in the       for all” business model. Whether it is simply referring customers
downtown area. Owner and chef Magen Desnoyers believes in             to other businesses or creating partnerships like those we have
focusing on what she does well – hospitality and cooking – and        just shared, the benefits are clear and enjoyed by the whole
then finding others who do what they do well to help her run a        community.
successful inn.
                                                                      When considering whether other businesses could profit from
“It’s something I’m very passionate about,” Desnoyers said. “One of   these kinds of collaborations, Desnoyers from Magpie Inn told us,
our core principles is luxury and quality from check-in to check-     “It does not cost that much more, but it makes a big difference.
out. We do that by partnering with local businesses whenever we       It makes a better guest experience and it’s all of us supporting
can.”                                                                 each other.”

Without knowing it, guests of the inn are completely immersed         Additional benefits include:
in Mineral Wells from the moment they enter. Fresh flowers from
                                                                          •       Ensuring that all our local businesses thrive.
The Flower Shop at 76067 adorn the dining table and every guest
room. Morning coffee is a Papua New Guinea blend from You Maka            •       Allowing each business to focus on their strengths
Me Hot Coffee. Crazy Water is in every room and cooked into every                 while still increasing their offerings.
meal. “If a recipe calls for water, I use Crazy Water,” Desnoyers
shared. Branded Magpie Inn apparel is from Allstar Apparel and            •       Improving guest experience which results in more
other souvenir merchandise is custom made by Bryton + Co. DIY                     time and money spent at your destination.
Craft Studio, both local businesses.
                                                                          •       Creating cross-promotion opportunities that increase
The list continues, but one of the most fun collaborations finds                  the reach of every participating business.
Desnoyers teaching cooking classes at Coffee & Cocktails at 76067.
Most classes include a two- to three-course meal and sometimes        How did we get here? Together, with everyone working toward
a mixed drink. Not surprisingly, the classes usually sell out.        the good of the community rather than just themselves. H

                                             TEXAS TOWN & CITY •      23      •    APRI 2022
By Chris Ruggia, Director of Tourism, City of Alpine

                                                                                                                  Carolyn Morehead / visitalpinetx.com

                                          PHOTO CONTESTS:
                CONTENT” CAN STILL WORK
                                             By Chris Ruggia, Director of Tourism, City of Alpine

User generated content (UGC) is a major buzzword in the networks          Sometimes, though, the old tried and true methods can still pay
of destination marketing organizations. Travel marketers have             off, even in a new era. For the last 11 years, Visit Alpine, has followed
always known the power and value of the stories that customers            a simple recipe for a classic photo contest: offer a generous cash
share with their friends and families about the places that they visit.   prize in exchange for reasonable usage rights for all of the entered
And as social media has matured and become such an integral part          photos.
of our relationships, there has been an explosion in the amount,
quality, and accessibility of images and stories people share about       The #AlpineTXPhoto Contest began in 2011 to create added value
their travel experiences.                                                 from a photography symposium at Sul Ross State University. By
                                                                          2013, the contest had outlasted its parent event and has continued
All of this social sharing has led to a generation of new businesses,     without interruption through 2021.
techniques, and technologies aimed at helping destinations
collect and capitalize on all of the compelling UGC flooding the          As a result, Visit Alpine has received the use of thousands of high-
various social networks.                                                  quality photographs. The money spent on cash prizes over that

                                              TEXAS TOWN & CITY •         24    • APRIL 2022
Alex Pérez / visitalpinetx.com

                                    time would only license a small handful of images from a high-end
                                    professional photographer.

                                    The Recipe
                                    The contest is completely online. Photographers fill out the entry
                                    form and upload their image files on the visitalpinetx.com website.
                                    The contest opens for entries in early summer and the deadline is
                                    September 30 every year.

                                    To sidestep having to answer any questions about why someone
                                    didn’t win a prize, Visit Alpine has never handled any of the contest
                                    judging. A different Big Bend area photographer is recruited as
                                    the contest judge each year, which provides an opportunity to
                                    promote the local arts community.

                                    Visit Alpine processes the entries and creates a private web
                                    page for the judge. This procedure takes about a month, usually
                                    finishing at the end of October. On the judge’s page, the images
                                    are presented anonymously and selections can be made for
                                    semifinalists and finalists.
David Winslow / visitalpinetx.com

       TEXAS TOWN & CITY •          25      •   APRI 2022
Rachael Waller / visitalpinetx.com

                                      Carolyn Morehead / visitalpinetx.com

After sorting out the semifinalists and finalist on the web page, the                                                  Charity Peña / visitalpinetx.com

judge sends Visit Alpine the top five winners with a short statement         The contest brings in an average of 400 photographs each year,
about each. The judge usually has two weeks to complete his or               easily providing enough quality images for daily social posting,
her work, with a goal of announcing the winners by the weekend               even after setting aside some of the less compelling entries. This
before Thanksgiving during Artwalk, Alpine’s biggest annual arts             continual source of images has served as the anchor for Visit
event.                                                                       Alpine’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest feeds for over
                                                                             a decade.
The first award winner receives a $500 prize, the second winner
receives $100, and the third, fourth, and fifth receive $50 each. The        The contest rules also place a minimum resolution requirement
judge receives a $350 stipend. Promotion costs for the contest               to be eligible for the top two cash prizes. This ensures that most
are modest: a local newspaper ad or two, a few posters, a postcard           of the entered photographs can be used in print promotions as
handout, and a small social media ad budget are the only expenses.           well. It is quite rare for a contest photo to be used as the central
A mailchimp email list of previous entrants reminds photographers            image for a print advertisement – the exact balance of content,
of the deadline and encourages repeat participation.                         composition, and message needed for those signature images still
                                                                             usually requires a commissioned photograph – but contest photos
The Results                                                                  are perfect for magazine photo requests, illustrating a brochure, or
Visit Alpine shares the contest winners with local and regional              for smaller inset photos on a large print ad.
media each year, which is a promotional benefit in itself, but the
biggest value by far is a deep library of photography with very few          So for a modest investment of $1,500 or less in hotel occupancy
usage limitations.                                                           tax funds each year, Visit Alpine has gradually built an invaluable
                                                                             photo library of desert mountain landscapes, community events,
Contest rules allow all entered photographs to be used for tourism           downtown businesses, ranch scenes, snow-covered vistas, and
promotion without time limits or other common restrictions that              more. The good old Photo Contest: a classic recipe that keeps on
can come with commissioning professional photography. Credit to              working. H
the photographer is always included whenever space permits, and
every attempt is made to ensure that the photographers are not
exploited by overuse of any one image.

                                              TEXAS TOWN & CITY •            26    • APRIL 2022
You can also read