The Marble Falls Economic Development Corp. Board of Directors approved $14,000 in community leverage grant funding for Highland Lakes Creative Arts during its regular meeting Wednesday, Nov. 2.

Grant money will be used for popular events and productions, including the year-round Sculpture on Main exhibitPaint the Town, Sculpture on Main Street Fest, Sculpture on the Square, and an art walk.

“I think (Sculpture on Main) is probably the best event we have,” said EDC Director John Packer. “The event itself is good, and it lasts all year long. It’s gotten better every year.”

Over two-thirds of the money received by the nonprofit will go toward stipends for the 20 sculptors participating in the cyclical Sculpture on Main exhibit. Sculptures that have been on display for the past two years will be phased out with new ones in March 2023.

The organization is currently accepting applications for new sculptures. Registration ends Tuesday, Nov. 15. To apply, visit the nonprofit’s website.

An additional $2,100 was awarded to fund a live ice sculpting artist during the group’s Sculpture on the Square event Dec. 9-10 at Old Oak Square. Money will go toward paying the sculptor and for performances by the Marble Falls middle and high school choirs during the event.

“It’s going to be really fun,” said Janey Rives, a Highland Lakes Creative Arts board member. “We’ll have kids from all the different areas participating. We’ll have interesting sculptors that will be there. I just think it will be great.”

Another $600 will go toward purchasing 10 tents for the event for artists to host sculpture making workshops. Highland Lakes Creative Arts opted to buy the tents outright rather than renting them in the pursuit of making Sculpture on the Square an annual event.

The grant will also fund $1,500 worth of maps to be distributed to the Marble Falls Visitor Center and other visitor centers across the Hill Country.

“All the arts events bring some interesting people to town,” said EDC President Steve Reitz. “It’s really fun to see some major talent show up here and do things that are just amazing.”

Each year, the Marble Falls EDC allocates $100,000 to different community leverage grant applicants for projects that enhance quality of life for residents and improve the well-being of the city. In September, the board approved an application allotting $78,000 worth of funding for various projects throughout the city’s downtown district.

To apply for a leverage grant for a community event, visit the EDC website.

The Marble Falls Economic Development Corp. Board of Directors approved $78,000 in community leverage grant funding for the Marble Falls Downtown District during its regular meeting Wednesday, Sept. 7.

The recently approved application will help fund several projects in the city, including railing for downtown, the purchase of decorations for the city’s annual Christmas celebration, a lease on a robotic field marker for the city’s Parks and Recreations Department, and engineering services for “three-phase power” for a planned pedestrian bridge over Backbone Creek and string lighting downtown.

Each year, the Marble Falls EDC allocates $100,000 to different community leverage grant applicants for projects that enhance quality of life for residents and improve the well-being of the city.

Past projects include funding to support the hike-and-bike trail system, the soccer field expansion, an art project, and the College to Careers workforce development initiative.

Each item included within the application was discussed in detail during the meeting, starting with the addition of 400 feet of railing at nine downtown locations. Downtown District Manager Erin Burks spoke to the EDC board about the driving force behind the railing’s inclusion.

“It’s nine different projects,” she said. “They’re all addressing safety issues within the district.”

The EDC will contribute $28,000 to the project.

An additional $10,000 will be allocated for a lease on a field-marking robot for the Parks and Recreation Department. Currently, parks employees hand paint lines for recreational leagues such as youth soccer, softball, and flag football.

“Really, where we’re saving is man-hours,” said Recreational Director Lacey Dingman. “We can set this up, mow a field, set it up to stripe it, and be moving over to the next field while it’s striping right behind.”

Along with financing for the new railing, the grant also included an additional $20,000 for engineering services for string lighting across the Downtown District to increase evening visibility. The idea of string lighting has been kicked around internally by the city for some time, Burks said.

Another $15,500 of the grant was allocated for three-phase power engineering services for the Phase 1b pedestrian bridge over Backbone Creek. Three-phase brings more voltage capacity to the parks and will help with chillers at the annual holiday ice rink and other projects.

“When we did (phase) 1a, PEC wanted us to do three-phase over the lake into Johnson Park,” said Assistant City Manager Caleb Kraenzel. “We told them we didn’t want a wire over the water and that we’d like to do it through another means. They agreed verbally that we could defer it to a future phase like the pedestrian bridge.”

The final $4,500 of the grant will be assigned to purchase seasonal decorations such as garland and snow machines for the city’s annual Christmas celebration in downtown.


The EDC approved using Central Texas College’s Frank Fickett Center, 806 Steve Hawkins Parkway, as a new polling location for the mid-term elections Nov. 8. (See related story.)

MARBLE FALLS, Texas — A proposed Think, Texas column about a day trip to Burnet County swiftly grew into three separate columns, so fascinating were the historic towns of Marble Falls, Burnet and Bertram — and the people who live there. Today, we look at Marble Falls.

Located about an hour northwest of Austin, Burnet County, while still mostly rural, is growing swiftly.

The largest town, Marble Falls, rises sharply above Lake Marble Falls near the southern rim of the county. Tourists discovered it long before the Colorado River was impounded in 1951 by the Marble Falls Dam, later renamed Max Starcke Dam after the longtime director of the Lower Colorado River Authority.

It replaced the 40-year-old, incomplete Alexander Dam, located a short distance upstream, and a smaller dam that provided power for a textile plant in Marble Falls. (The book to read is “The Untold Story of the Lower Colorado River Authority” by John Williams.)

Read the full article here.

Marble Falls Hotel Group announces the iconic name of its highly anticipated hotel and conference center project

MARBLE FALLS, TexasMay 17, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The wait is finally over. After much anticipation, Phoenix Hospitality Group announces that Downtown Marble Falls will soon be home to The Ophelia Hotel Marble Falls, A Tapestry Collection by Hilton Hotel. The hotel and conference center will break ground this summer with an expected opening in early 2024.

Situated on Lake Marble Falls, the new hotel will feature:

  • 123 Guest Rooms
  • Over 9,000 Square Feet of Ballroom & Meeting Space
  • Signature Restaurant, Bar, & Café
  • Rooftop Bar & Dining

The Ophelia Hotel Marble Falls is named after Ophelia “Birdie” Harwood, a legendary figure in Marble Falls. Ophelia was a trailblazer during her era. She became the first female mayor in the State of Texas, three years before women even had the right to vote. Needless to say, she left a lasting legacy.

The Ophelia Hotel will embody what Ophelia accomplished, blending tradition and elegance while exceeding expectations. As such, Ophelia’s name and story will be integrated throughout the hotel and include naming the restaurant “Birdie’s” and the rooftop bar “Doc Harwood’s,” named after her husband.

The affiliation with Hilton Hotels and, in particular the Tapestry Collection of unique boutique hotels, is a perfect fit for The Ophelia Hotel, highlighting its individualism and personality.

The project was set in motion in 2013 by the Marble Falls Economic Development Corporation. The groundbreaking comes after years of careful planning and patience by the Marble Falls EDC to find the right hotel development team for the downtown site. Boerne-based Phoenix Hospitality Group is the project’s lead developer and will be the hotel manager after opening. Hawkins Family Partners LP of Austin is the sole owner and co-developer of the hotel.

The project lending sponsor is Commercial National Bank of Brady. Bank President & CEO Clay Jones and Marble Falls Area President Tim Cardinal are the lead lenders for the construction loan and permanent financing.

Wurzel Builders, an Austin-based full-service general contractor and construction manager, is excited to be named as the general contractor for this project, with their extensive experience in the hospitality, healthcare, retail, industrial, office, and restaurant sectors, priding itself on completing on-time quality-centric projects since 1998. The company is led by president Barry Wurzel, with unparalleled commitment to client collaboration, reliability, integrity, and excellence.

For inquiries, contact:
Phoenix Hospitality Group

Original Article:

The lights that brighten the U.S. 281 bridge in Marble Falls might one day be able to change colors to celebrate holidays and special events.

The Marble Falls Economic Development Corp. authorized engineering services company Stantec to begin preliminary designs for lighting improvements on the bridge that would give the city the ability to change light colors. EDC directors approved spending up to $34,509 toward the design portion of the project during a special meeting Wednesday, Jan. 26.

“This is simply a design process so you can get an idea of what this would look like without committing to actual construction,” explained EDC Executive Director Christian Fletcher during the meeting.

Costs associated with the design phase will come out of the EDC’s recent sales tax revenue bond sale, which has $300,000 earmarked for lighting improvements along the bridge. The $34,509 will cover design development, construction documents, and administration.

During the design process, engineers will evaluate options such as switching out the existing lighting features, which currently only shine white light, or installing a completely new lighting system along the bridge, Fletcher said.

“In either case, (the Lower Colorado River Authority) has requested that the spotlights on the pillars on the bottom of the bridge stay white light,” he said. “They don’t want that to change.”

Board members authorized entering this phase of the project as a change order to an existing professional services agreement for the next steps of Lakeside Park Phase 1B improvements, which was approved by the board in September 2021.

Also during the meeting, EDC directors further discussed potential design options for the old power house structure located on the east side of Lake Marble Falls just below Chili’s.

The Marble Falls Economic Development Corp. entered a three-year funding commitment with Workforce Network Inc. during the EDC’s regular meeting Wednesday, Jan. 5. Beginning this fiscal year, the EDC will provide the nonprofit with $20,000 a year for three years to use toward growing staffing needs.

Workforce Network Inc. is a nonprofit workforce intermediary serving communities in Burnet and Llano counties. The organization identifies the needs of the local workforce and helps create opportunities for residents through collaboration with area stakeholders.

Recent efforts include organizing plumbingelectrician, and certified medical assistant training. It also helped launch the Rural Healthcare Initiative to train people for medical careers.

Workforce Network has four people on staff, including two part-time employees. Currently, CEO and President Fay Crider and Workforce Director of Stakeholder Relations Gail Davalos work on a mostly volunteer basis.

“We are not going to be able to replace ourselves (in the future) unless we can pay someone, so we are slowly working up to the point that we can (replace ourselves),” Crider explained during the EDC meeting.

Operation funds for the organization come from contributions by entities such as the city of Horseshoe Bay, Llano County, and several local EDCs. The $20,000 from the Marble Falls EDC will go toward Workforce Network’s staffing costs, which are anticipated to be $70,500 for the 2022 fiscal year.

“There is no way on earth that (the Marble Falls EDC staff) could replicate what Workforce Network and their team is doing for advancing workforce development efforts,” said EDC Executive Director Christian Fletcher. “This comes with my overwhelmingly positive recommendation.”

The Marble Falls EDC has budgeted $80,000 of its annual funding toward assisting in local workforce development, with a large portion being used as match funds for the High Demand Job Training Grant program, a partnership with Workforce Network, Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area, and the Texas Workforce Commission. The additional $20,000 will bring the total workforce development budget to $100,000.

original article link:

Backbone Creek stabilization project completed in Marble Falls’ Johnson Park

Marble Falls City Engineer Kacey Paul

Marble Falls City Engineer Kacey Paul addresses the audience during a Dec. 7 ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Backbone Creek Bank Stabilization Project, which began in mid-2020. The project stabilized banks along Backbone Creek and added roughly 2 acres of park land to the city. Staff photo by Brigid Cooley

Marble Falls city staff, elected officials, and residents celebrated the completion of the Backbone Creek Bank Stabilization project during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday, Dec. 7, in Johnson Park, 230 Avenue J. The project, which spans eight sites along the creek, took a little more than a year to finish.

“I’m very thankful for the team that we had on this,” City Engineer Kacey Paul said during the event.

Marble Falls city staff began working on the bank stabilization project after the 2018 flood caused significant damage and erosion to creek banks and in Johnson Park. The project cost a total of $8 million with $4.69 million of the budget provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service through Emergency Watershed Protection Program grants.

Backbone Creek Bank Stabilization construction work
A drone shot taken March 18 of Backbone Creek Bank Stabilization construction work in Johnson Park. Photo courtesy of Kevin Hatfield/Jay-Reese Contractors Inc.

Construction began in mid-2020. Throughout its duration, visitors to Johnson Park and Lakeside Park, 305 Buena Vista Drive, could view workers from Jay-Reese Contractors Inc. and city staff as they installed retaining walls made of limestone blocks and new irrigation equipment and removed tons of soil from project sites.

Now finished, the banks should withstand 100-year storms in Marble Falls as well as erosion caused by flooding in the Colorado River, Paul said. In addition to stabilizing the banks, the project added roughly 2 acres to the city’s parks system.

During the ribbon cutting, City Manager Mike Hodge thanked members of the City Council as well as previous members such as former Mayor John Packer for their assistance in ensuring the project’s completion.

“The support of the council in this overall project was tremendous,” Hodge said. “A project that was ultimately about a $5 million project grew to about $8 million because of all the extra things we ended up doing here so (improvements) could be aesthetically pleasing for those enjoying the park and then also for some of the additional venues that will be introduced.”