The McMahan Community Women’s Club will replace windows, siding and an outdated HVAC system at the McMahan Community Center, thanks to a $23,055 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative.
The Community Development Partnership Program grant, along with $5,764 in matching funds from the club, will allow the McMahan Community Women’s Club to replace a failing air conditioning and heating system and rotted wood siding at the 1920’s-era event center.
“Jim Chamberlain donated the property in 1926, and McMahan Community Women’s Club constructed the building in 1927, so it’s an old, wood-frame structure,” said Annette Wells, club treasurer. “The HVAC system continues to give us problems. It’s about 26 years old and we can’t even find parts for it.”
The center is the only community event space in the area and serves as the local voting precinct for about 1,300 residents who would otherwise need to drive 12-15 miles into town to cast their ballots.
“Those are the kind of things that we’re focused on trying to do,” Wells said. “Bring some of what’s in Lockhart out here and make it available to people who can’t go into town.”
The club amended its bylaws in 2021, opening membership up to men as well.
Wells said the club is focused on improving the structural integrity of the building and reducing operating costs so the building can continue to operate as a community hub for many years to come.
“This grant is a game changer because we don’t have to worry about that rotting wood, or the air conditioner breaking again, or the heating not working,” Wells said. “Those are things you don’t see, but they’re the things that make it last.”
Volunteers from Meals on Wheels rent the venue each Wednesday as they serve about 65 residents. The group has distributed nearly 32,000 meals out of the center since 2019. The sheriff’s department also puts on free community events such as self-defense classes or Stop the Bleed trainings at the center.
The center can hold up to 100 people and charges $25 an hour for gatherings such as weddings, birthday parties and anniversaries.
“This grant by far is going to have the most impact on the longevity of the building,” Wells said. “I don’t think anything has ever happened before that is going to make such a significant impact. We’re maybe good for another 90 years.”
The community grant is one of four 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 here