Red Poppy Art on the Square April 4 – May 5

Blood of Heroes by Jen Rose, webAttendees at Georgetown’s 2016 Red Poppy Festival on April 22 to 24 will enjoy an outdoor art installation of thousands of deep red ceramic poppies by artist Jen Rose. The poppies will blanket the west lawn of the Williamson County Courthouse in Georgetown’s downtown Square. The piece, entitled Blood of Heroes Never Dies, commemorates Texas World War I veterans and it will be on display from April 4 through May 5.

Individual poppies will be available for purchase for $10 apiece at the Visitors Center, 103 W. Seventh Street on the Square. Proceeds will benefit Puppies Behind Bars, a nonprofit organization that provides service dogs for combat veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan who have suffered a physical injury, including traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Blood of Heroes Never Dies was a collaboration between artist Jen Rose and Clive Siegle, a history faculty member; both teach at Richland College in Dallas. The original installation included 5,171 ceramic red poppies installed on the campus of Richland College for Veterans Day 2015 as reminders of the 5,171 veterans from Texas who died in World War I. The Georgetown installation will include about 4,000 poppies “planted” by volunteers.

Henry Purl Compton (nicknamed Okra) helped Georgetown to become the Red Poppy Capital of Texas when his service as a corporal in the Army during World War I ended and in 1919 poppy seeds he collected in northern France were planted in the yard of his mother’s home on Seventh Street in Georgetown.

The poppies installation on the Williamson County Courthouse lawn is on loan by the artist, Jen Rose. The display is co-sponsored by the City of Georgetown Arts and Culture, the City of Georgetown Convention and Visitors Bureau, Williamson County, and The Williamson Museum.

 Breakfast Bites on Downtown March 9

Breakfast Bites flyer March 9 webWhat draws you to downtown Georgetown? Are there changes that could bring more visitors to the Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas? Tell us your ideas!

Come to the next quarterly Breakfast Bites on March 9 as a panel of local experts talk about ways to make our downtown district even better. There also will be time to share ideas. Breakfast Bites is a quarterly business development event by the Georgetown Main Street Program. The March 9 panel includes these key members of our downtown community.

Cari Miller is tourism manager for the Georgetown Convention and Visitors Bureau, which has won many statewide awards for marketing and events. Miller was City of Georgetown Manager of the Year in 2012 and is currently pursuing a tourism executive certification from the Travel and Tourism College.

Judy Lester, along with her husband Len, has operated The Escape Fine Crafts and Gifts on the Square for 20 years. Lester has been in retail management for more than 33 years. She has served on the boards of the Downtown Georgetown Association and the Main Street Program.

Kay Briggs is owner of Pink Poppy ARTisans Boutique and a downtown business owner since 2009. Briggs currently owns and operates two businesses in Georgetown.

Chet Garner, the panel moderator, is creator, executive producer, writer, editor, and host of The Daytripper on PBS, a Lone Star Emmy award-winning travel show. Garner also is a proud husband, father of four, Eagle Scout, monthly contributor to Texas Highways magazine, and building owner on the Square.

The event on Wednesday, March 9 is from 8:30 to 9:50 a.m. in the Friends Room at the Georgetown Public Library, 402 W. Eighth Street. Breakfast snacks, coffee, and drinks will be provided. Networking starts at 8 a.m.

Attendees should pre-register by contacting Shelly Hargrove, Main Street manager, by 5 p.m. on Monday, March 7 at shelly.hargrove@georgetown.org or (512) 930-2027. Main Street is a program of the City of Georgetown Downtown and Community Services Department.

Georgetown Main Street Program Commended

Georgetown was recently commended by the Texas Historical Commission for successful annual progress as a designated Main Street community, one of 58 in Texas to be recognized this year. Cities were recognized at the winter meeting on February 10 of the Texas Main Street Program, which is a program of the Texas Historical Commission.

As part of the Texas Main Street Program, local Main Street programs focus on responsibly utilizing a community’s historic assets for economic benefit and to increase quality of life. Main Street programs in Texas are staffed, but rely on community volunteers to carry out the program.

The Georgetown Main Street Program is accredited by meeting performance benchmarks in planning, partnerships, staffing, volunteer effort, preservation ethic, training, and program assessment through reporting.

Main Street group Feb 2016 b web

Georgetown Main Street Program activities in 2015 included providing $34,000 in façade and sign reimbursement grants to 12 downtown businesses, sponsoring the Ladies Nite Out and Georgetown Swirl events, and the annual collectible Christmas ornament sale.

For more information about the Georgetown Main Street Program, go to mainstreet.georgetown.org. For more information on the Texas Historical Commission’s Main Street program, visit www.thc.state.tx.us.

Downtown West Project Open House on January 20

809 MLK 1b webAn open house meeting on the Downtown West project will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, January 20. The meeting is in the conference room at the Planning Department in the historic Light and Waterworks Building, 406 W. Eighth Street. (The Planning Department entrance is on the east side of the former power plant building, shown at right.)

Information on a parking study, traffic impact analysis, and programming plan for project will be available at the open house. The parking study estimates future parking needs for the project. The traffic impact analysis projects traffic volumes for streets near the project once it is complete. The programming plan provides a general layout for the space needs of City departments that would move into the three buildings in the project.

Downtown West involves the renovation of three existing City buildings. The first phase of the project includes improvements to the vacant 1987 former public library building at 808 Martin Luther King, Jr. Street to become City Hall, and renovations to the Communication and Technology Building at 510 W. Ninth Street to become the Municipal Court and City Council Chambers building.

808 MLK 2015-b1000Construction on renovations to the buildings at 808 MLK, Jr. Street (pictured at right) and 510 W. Ninth Street is expected to begin this fall. A new parking lot with 144 spaces between Eighth and Seventh streets on MLK, Jr. Street recently opened.

A later phase of the project involves programming and design concepts for the historic Light and Waterworks Building and a proposed green space between Eighth and Ninth Streets.

The Planning, Economic Development, Public Communications, Main Street, and Housing departments moved into the historic Light and Waterworks Building late last year. Long-term plans for the Light and Waterworks Building are being addressed in the programming plan for Downtown West.

For more information about the Downtown West project, contact Jackson Daly at (512) 819-3115 or jackson.daly@georgetown.org.

City Offices Move to Eighth and MLK Streets

809 MLK 1b webThe City of Georgetown Planning Department is moving to the historic Light and Water Works building at the corner of Eighth and MLK Jr. streets. The red brick building with the smoke stack that was built in 1911 was most recently home to the police department for 30 years. The Economic Development Department and some smaller departments moved to the building in November.

The Planning Department entrance is on the east side of the building addressed as 406 W. Eighth Street. The Planning Department will be closed December 30 – 31 and will open in the new location on January 4. The Permitting and Inspections Department is not moving, but will remain at 300-1 Industrial Avenue at the Georgetown Municipal Complex.

The Economic Development Department moved to the Light and Water Works building November 18 – 19. The department uses the west entrance to the building addressed as 809 MLK, Jr. Street. The Main Street Program, Housing Department, and Public Communications Department also moved to the new building in November.

The historic Light and Water Works building is part of the city building renovation project known as Downtown West. The project also includes converting the former library at 808 MLK, Jr. Street to a new City Hall and renovating the Communications and Technology Building at 510 W. Ninth Street to become the new Municipal Court and Council Chamber.

A programming plan for Downtown West, which determines uses that could fit in the buildings, was presented to the City Council on November 24 and adopted at the December 8 meeting. According to the programming plan, the two-story section of the Light and Water Works building would become open space with the interior second floor removed. This change would be part of a future phase of work not expected to begin until 2017 or later.

Design of the new City Hall and new Municipal Court and Council Chamber is scheduled for the first half of 2016 with construction to begin in the fall of 2016.

A new 144-space public parking lot on MLK, Jr. Street at Eighth Street is nearly complete and will open soon.

Georgetown on Top Christmas Destinations in America List

Georgetown was recently named a top 50 Christmas destination in America in a list published by Newsmax, an online news source. Georgetown is number 7 in the U.S. on the list and is the only Texas city in the top 19 places. San Antonio is number 20.

ChristmasLights corner 800According to the article, “Newsmax has rounded up 50 of the very best places in America for you and your loved ones to visit this Christmas season—places that will etch themselves forever in both your memories and your hearts. Our list isn’t defined specifically by size or by number of visitors, but you’ll notice that each location’s unique, wholesome, and family-oriented events and activities help shape these rankings.”

In the number 7 ranking for Georgetown, the article cites Christmas festivities like “an annual window display competition between 18 stores for the most lavish Christmas show, and the 35th Annual Christmas Stroll through Georgetown Square’s Bethlehem Village, which is like a Christmas card come to life.”

Other special Christmas and holiday events in Georgetown include the annual Lighting of the Square event, Breakfast with Santa, the Blue Santa toy drive, holiday events at the public library, two holiday home tours, holiday concerts, and many other events by nonprofits and churches in Georgetown.

Lights on the Courthouse and on buildings and in trees around the downtown Square are on display through January 2. To find out more about the lights and holiday season in Georgetown, go to holiday.georgetown.org.

Breakfast Bites on Sheraton Georgetown Dec. 9

The next quarterly Breakfast Bites panel on December 9 will focus on the Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel and Conference Center, which is set to open next summer. Panelists will provide insights into the ways that the new 225-room four-star hotel and 30,000 square foot conference center will be a game changer for Georgetown tourism. Breakfast Bites is a quarterly business development event by the Georgetown Main Street Program.

Breakfast Bites Sheraton flyerThe Breakfast Bites panel will include three key people involved with the Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel and Conference Center and its impact on Georgetown.

Lorena Chappell is employed by Starwood Hotels and Resorts as director of sales and marketing for the new Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel and Conference Center. Chappell has worked in hospitality for more than 22 years and previously was the director of catering and conference planning at the Four Seasons Hotel in Houston.

Jeff Novak is the founding partner for Novak Brothers, a real estate development firm. Novak Brothers and international real estate firm Hines are developing the Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel and Conference Center. Novak Brothers has developed more than $250 million in real estate projects with assets valued at more than $125 million including residential developments, multi-family, retail, office, and hotels.

Marie Woodard is the group sales and servicing coordinator for the Georgetown Convention and Visitors Bureau. Woodard has 26 years of experience in hospitality and tourism including 14 years as director of sales for the Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The moderator for the panel is Laurie Brewer, assistant city manager for the City of Georgetown and director of the Downtown and Community Services Division.

The event on Wednesday, December 9 is from 8:30 to 9:50 a.m. in the Friends Room at the Georgetown Public Library, 402 W. Eighth Street. Breakfast snacks, coffee, and drinks will be provided. Networking starts at 8 a.m.

Attendees should pre-register by contacting Shelly Hargrove, Main Street manager, by 5 p.m. on Monday, December 7 at shelly.hargrove@georgetown.org or (512) 930-2027. Main Street is a program of the City of Georgetown Downtown and Community Services Department.

Christmas Stroll Festival on Friday and Saturday

The 35th annual Christmas Stroll is this weekend in downtown Georgetown around the Courthouse Square. This holiday festival sponsored by the Downtown Georgetown Association is 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, December 4 and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, December 5. See all the details at www.TheGeorgetownSquare.com.

ChristmasLights18b-450The Christmas Stroll on Saturday includes a parade at 10 a.m., live entertainment, and holiday shopping at 175 arts and crafts booths as well as downtown merchants. The Bistro Food Court offers hot chocolate, funnel cake, and other seasonal treats. Enjoy Santa’s Village Among the Trees at the Brungot Christmas Tree Farm all day Saturday, including photos and visits with Santa from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. New this year from 3 to 4 p.m. on Saturday is dinner with the Grinch and Santa in Santa’s Village.

In the Whoo-Village children’s area by Grace Bible Church on Friday night and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., you’ll find rides for kids, the popular Whoo-hair booth, and a special visitor—the Grinch himself. Visit Whoo-Village on Friday night from 6 to 8 p.m. for a special Dessert with the Grinch.

Bethlehem Village by Georgetown Church of Nazarene features booths, displays, and performers in costume from the first century. Learn about life at the time of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

Look for the Kids Zone and Craft Area with hands-on fun such as ornament making, cookie decorating, Home Depot kid’s construction area, and Hula Hoop lessons. The Kids Zone is open Friday evening and Saturday.

Stroll always showcases local talent with musical, dance, and drama performances on two stages. Live entertainment includes choirs and orchestras from Georgetown schools, local dance groups, and many more performers. See the schedule at www.TheGeorgetownSquare.com.

Admission to Stroll is free. A donation of a new toy to Blue Santa or Brown Santa is appreciated. Look for collection barrels on the Square. The Stroll and parade are rain-or-shine events and will be held unless there is severe weather.

Parade at 10 a.m. on Saturday

Stroll Parade Route 2015 webThe downtown Stroll Parade on Church Street and Austin Avenue starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday. For safety reasons, the Georgetown Police Department asks that no candy or any objects be thrown from floats or participants in the parade. (Click on parade graphic for a larger version.)

Elves with Georgetown Blue Santa will be collecting new, unwrapped toys along the route of the Christmas Stroll parade. For donation barrel sites and more information, go to BlueSanta.Georgetown.org.

Event Parking

After 12 p.m. (noon) on Saturday, festival-goers may park in the City of Georgetown parking lot on the west side of Austin Avenue at Fifth Street. This is a free lot.

Parking is available at the Williamson County parking structure at Third and Rock Streets and at the County lot at Rock and Sixth streets. These are free lots.

The City parking lot at Ninth and Main streets will be used for handicapped parking and public parking on Saturday. This is a free lot.

The City parking lot at Sixth and Main streets will be closed starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, December 3 through Saturday. This lot will be used for the food court.

Street Closures

Austin Avenue will be closed from 6 a.m. on Saturday until 1 a.m. on Sunday between Seventh and Eighth streets. The Austin Avenue closure will expand from Second to 11th streets on Saturday between 6 a.m. and 12 p.m. (noon) to allow for the Stroll Parade. The Austin Avenue detour will be on Rock. Street. Austin Avenue will remain open on Friday.

Other streets around the Square will be closed on Saturday. Street closures include Sixth Street, Seventh Street, Eighth Street, Ninth Street, and Main Street in a one-block radius from the Courthouse Square. Go to www.TheGeorgetownSquare.com for details.

More Information

For more information, go the Downtown Georgetown Association website at www.TheGeorgetownSquare.com. The Stroll is co-sponsored by and receives in-kind support from the City of Georgetown.

Lighting the Square Essay Contest

ChristmasLights18b-450This year the student winner of an essay contest will help Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross and Williamson County Judge Dan A. Gattis flip the switch to turn on the lights at the Lighting of the Square on November 27. The annual lighting event is at 5:30 p.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Students in the third, fourth, and fifth grades are invited to write a short essay on the topic, “Why I am proud Georgetown has the greenest Christmas in Texas.” The essay topic recognizes the City of Georgetown’s green energy plans to purchase all of its energy from wind and solar sources by 2017.

Contest rules: Essays are limited to 75 words or less. Essays can be emailed to editor@wilcosun.com or delivered to the office of the Williamson County Sun at 707 S. Main Street, on the east side of the Courthouse Square. Essays are due by 5 p.m. on November 11. The essay contest winner will help to turn on the lights on the Square on November 27.

The Lighting of the Square essay contest is sponsored by the City of Georgetown, Williamson County, The Williamson Museum, and the Williamson County Sun.

This year the lights in the trees and on buildings around the Courthouse Square are sponsored by Georgetown Utility Systems. Georgetown is set to be one of the first cities in the U.S. to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy from wind and solar plants in West Texas. Williamson County is contributing to the lighting costs with funds raised from donations.

Collectible Ornament Sale: Southwestern Cullen Building

2015 ornament Cullen webA limited-edition collectible brass Christmas ornament featuring the historic Cullen Building at Southwestern University is now on sale. The cost of the ornament is $20, tax included. The ninth annual ornament sale is a project of the Georgetown Main Street Program.

The Cullen Building was constructed between 1898 and 1900 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Romanesque limestone building at Maple Street and University Avenue is a landmark in Georgetown.

Known over the years as Old Main and the Administration “Ad” Building, the Cullen Building was renovated in the 1970s and again in 2012, and is now home to University administration offices and a number of classrooms. The building was renamed the Roy and Lillie Cullen Building in 1977 after funds from the Cullen Foundation of Houston enabled the university to complete the first major renovation of the building.

Cullen Building ornaments can be purchased at the Visitors Center, 103 W. Seventh Street or at the Art Center, 816 S. Main Street. Only 325 of the limited-edition ornaments are available. Ornaments typically sell out each year. Payments by cash, check, or credit are accepted.

All proceeds from the ornament sale fund Main Street projects and Façade Fund Grant Program.