BCHC establishes grant program with Cooper bequest

By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

Burnet Bulletin

The generosity of the late Ina Cooper will continue to be felt for nearly two decades after her passing after the Burnet County Historical Commission established a grant program with her final bequest to the organization.

BCHC board members Linda French and Lela Goar appeared before the Burnet County Commissioners Court Tuesday, Sept. 24, to discuss the scope and objectives of the grant program, which is being funded by an $88,000 bequeathment left behind by Cooper, a Burnet resident, who died in June 2017.

“We want to honor Ina's requests (for this money) since she was big on preservation,” Goar said.

French told commissioners BCHC has created an application process patterned after the Texas Historical Commission's grant application, but tailored to fit Burnet County. Projects are ranked in order of their importance and scope of work, with historical markers and state registry items topping the list of acceptable projects, French said.

The commission will only distribute up to $10,000 every two-year cycle and the maximum any grant recipient can receive is $1,500, but they must provide a 50-50 match.

“That will allow the funds to last an estimated 18 years and will allow us to spread the wealth around the county and protect the longevity of these funds a little better,” French said.

Goar said recipients have one year from the date of award to complete their projects. While the grant program is to have an application deadline of Oct. 1, due to the late start of the program, the first grant deadline will be extended to Jan. 1, with future deadlines adhering to the desired Oct. 1 date.

The commissioners gave their blessing to the grant program, approving it by a 4-0 vote at Tuesday's meeting.

Cooper, who was born March 4, 1941, grew up in Mexia, Texas, and graduated from the University of Texas in Austin with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. She worked for TRW in Redondo Beach, California, before being transferred to NASA in Houston. There, she wrote re-entry coding and firmware for the Apollo missions, then furthered her experience at International Controls Corporation as a software engineer.

After her mother passed away, Cooper moved to Burnet to follow her dream of running a business and she began to get involved in historical preservation of the new community she grew to love. Cooper formed the Friends of the Cultural and Historical Preservation of Burnet and served on Burnet City Council for a number of years.

In addition to her bequest to the Historical Commission, Cooper left behind multiple donations to other community organizations, including First United Methodist Church, of which she was a long-time member and historian.

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