County gives $40K to help restoration

Savanna Gregg/Burnet BulletinBluebonnets have begun to bloom along the perimeter fence of the Burnet Municipal Airport, bringing back memories of the Burnet's beloved Douglas C-47 Skytrain named Bluebonnet Belle, as passersby notice American flags posted in salute to the nation's heroes. Behind the bluebonnets and flags, the A-7 undergoes a time-consuming sandblasting by crews from Texas Green Blast as they prepare the Burnet Airpot Static Display Restoration Project.






By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

Burnet Bulletin

A project to restore the static airplane display at Burnet Municipal Airport got a big boost Tuesday, March 27, when the Burnet County Commissioners Court voted unanimously to fund $40,000 of the project through unclaimed Pedernales Electric Cooperative capital credits.

Texas Local Government Code Section 381.004 and Texas Property Code Section 74.602 authorize the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts to allocate a portion of unclaimed electric cooperative capital credits back to the counties in the cooperative's service area. Funds may used for one of a limited number of purposes, including to promote or advertise the county and its vicinity or conduct a solicitation program to attract conventions, visitors and businesses. For 2019, the county can apply for up to $330,000 in capital credits from the Comptroller's Office.

On Tuesday, Burnet Mayor Crista Goble Bromley, City Manager David Vaughn and Airport Manager Leslie Baugh appeared before commissioners to ask for assistance in funding the Airport Static Display Restoration Project, which will restore four vintage planes — a T-38, T-37, A-7, and F-100 — which have been at the airport since 1996 and were a pet project of Commemorative Air Force founder Harold Smith, who passed away earlier this year.

“We think this is a very cool project that we are all proud of,” Vaughn said. “We had originally asked the Burnet City Council for $45,000, but after blasting the planes down to bare metal, we have found a number of things that need to be done which will take the cost up, so we are asking for any help you can provide.”

Crews with Texas Green Blast have been sandblasting layers of old paint from the aircraft to prepare them for painting next week and, upon performing work on the F-100, have discovered significant aluminum damage that must be repaired in order to do the job correctly. The cost to complete all work is now expected to be closer to between $90,000 to $100,000, though the city has been soliciting donations and sponsorships from the public to help defray the cost.

Commissioners agreed to fund $10,000 per plane, or $40,000, to the restoration effort as they noted the display serves as a tourist attraction for people who come to Burnet County,

Vaughn said the original plan called for the city to use volunteer work from the Lower Colorado River Authority’s Step Forward community service day, but the city may be better off paying for the work to be done to meet the highest standard possible. The city would then find another project for Step Forward Day to assist.

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