Bluebonnet, LCRA award $5,000 grant to help Smithville Veterans create new park


Pictured, from left to right, are: Rick Arnic, LCRA regional affairs representative; Margaret D. “Meg” Voelter, LCRA board member; Deborah Rogers, Bluebonnet community representative; Debbi Goertz, Bluebonnet Board member; Jami Smith-Hanchey, Rising Phoenix Adventures (project partner); Stephen Barthelme, VFW quartermaster; and Roderick Emanuel, Bluebonnet Board vice president/vice-chairman. 

A $5,000 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative will help the Dr. George M. Jones VFW Post 1309 create a new public park alongside the Colorado River.
The Community Development Partnership Program grant will help the Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter develop the park on 14 acres it owns near the river. The park will include a covered picnicking area, access to the Colorado River, walking trails lighted by solar-powered units and a mulch-covered parking lot. The picnicking area will be adjacent to the building Post 1309 uses for events and meetings, and the hiking trails will wind downhill to the river.
VFW Post 1309 Quartermaster Stephen Barthelme said the organization has partnered with Rising Phoenix Adventures, which will rent kayaks and offer tours of the river. Barthelme said members hope the newly created park will become part of a series of Smithville parks linked by trails.
“We can’t build there on that spot because it’s in the floodplain, but we can create a spot where people can put in or pull out of the river, and we can build trails right up to our post,” Barthelme said. “We’re right down the river from Riverbend Park in Smithville, and the city has been talking about developing a trail system along the river to join four or five parks.”
While studying one of the city’s proposals, Barthelme said he noticed the proposed trail would pass right by property owned by Post 1309.
“Our thought was if we cleared our section and created some trails, that place could become a nice little park for the people of Smithville and visitors,” he said.
“To get the grant was amazing,” he said. “To be able to develop this park for veterans and their families so they can come out and enjoy the river and the outdoors, and hopefully also develop it in conjunction with our community – well, we look forward to what the future holds for us.’’
The community grant is one of five grants being awarded by Bluebonnet and the LCRA through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program, which helps volunteer fire departments, local governments, emergency responders and nonprofit organizations fund capital improvement projects in LCRA’s wholesale electric, water and transmission service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves. Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative is one of LCRA’s wholesale electric customers and is a partner in the grant program.

Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted in January. More information is available at

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