CHC Game Changers—Influence

County Historical Commission (CHC) game changers are high-performing organizations who change the way CHCs and preservation are valued. These 2013 CHC annual reporting excerpts highlight CHCs who change the way people view preservation. They do this by developing relationships that  connect individuals and organizations to the benefits that result from preservation activity.

Collin CHC: Our county historical tax abatement program has been undervalued for years. We worked to develop a better, more equitable program for all county property owners and met with judge for recommendations. Our final recommendations were approved by the county commissioners and we held several workshops to educate historic property owners about the program changes and benefits, and also to provide us with detailed information about county historic assets. We have submitted over 100 "new" properties to the county and have added those narratives to our Historic Assets Program--interactive map for the county. Our Historic Assets Program has been going on for some time, but we are continually making presentations to various groups, communities, historic districts, etc. to inform them about how we wish to have information on all historic assets in the county and to be able to make that accessible for all thru our county web-site and mapping systems. It is a huge undertaking and our committee has done a tremendous job. We've even participated in Chamber of Commerce events to promote the project and get the word out. Our GIS team at the County has been great to help us, which also helped make our tax abatement program work well. We gather information on historic properties and owners must maintain their assets to receive abatements.

Comal CHC: Comal County provided the matching funds required for the CHC to apply for Certified Local Government (CLG) grants to initiate a historic survey of the county. This was the first time the entire county would be surveyed. Although it is only a beginning, this effort made elected officials aware of the number of historic resources in the county. In 2012, a pre-1945 historic resource survey of Comal County was initiated. By August the survey of ¾ of the county was complete and the report submitted to the THC. The survey was the result of a $40,000 matching CLG grant ($80,000 total) between the THC and Comal County. Copies of the completed survey reports were distributed to the Comal County Commissioners, City of New Braunfels, City of Schertz, TxDOT and the Sophienburg Museum and Archives. More than 850 pre-1946 historic resources were identified on 257 parcels of property with almost 2000 digital images were taken of the resources. There were 25 properties identified as potentially eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and one potential National Register Historic District. We sent letters to these 25 property owners with the results of the survey. Funding became available to survey the remaining ¼ of the county; the fieldwork for this portion of the survey has a completion date of September 2014. At that time, the survey of the entire county will be compiled into one document for distribution. These efforts have been very successful and started at a time when these resources are in danger of being lost. Survey results will be used to pursue historical designations, National Register nominations, and Section 106 reviews.

El Paso CHC: The El Paso County Historical Commission in 2013 worked with State Senator Jose Rodriguez to establish a subcommittee geared towards heritage and cultural promotion and education. The membership of this group has grown to include heritage sites, the El Paso Community College’s Travel and Tourism Department Leader, El Paso Community Foundation, Mission Trails Assoc. and more, all working together to develop a strong outreach to elected officials and the populace. Additionally, we are working with the Senators Office to author legislation for the State to strengthen unilaterally Texas’ plans for tourism and heritage promotion. To that end we meet once per month or more if necessary.

Travis CHC: A big focus for us is to become more involved as a problem-solving and networking organization to help the various historical and cultural groups in our area with the resources and knowledge necessary for them to accomplish their (and our) goals. This includes partnering with other groups to augment our talents and expand our potential. This includes not only educational centers, but local archeological/historical societies, museums and related organizations. So far we have been very successful. We concluded our partnership/project involving Prewitt and Associates, the University of Texas, and TxDot, which involved the educational website development of the materials from the Ransom Williams Farmstead Site. The results can be found on the Texas Beyond History website and includes data, paintings and other information. We are currently involved in a cemetery project with a partnership including THC stewards and staff, UT, Texas State students, Save Austin’s Cemeteries, Travis County Archeological Society, and local residents. This project will document and establish a preservation plan for the cemetery and work towards historical designations. Travis CHC has been meeting with local and state legislators to educate them on issues affecting our organization. This has been successful since in most cases since they were unaware of the issues and ramifications involved. Travis CHC will continue to reach out to other organizations to coordinate efforts and pool resources.

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