By: George Barnette, Blanco County News
People still refer to it as “the old Super S”, but the building on Highway 281 South in Johnson City is rapidly becoming the new Blanco County Community Resource Center.
The building was taken down to its slab and structural “bones”, and now has interior ceilings and walls, turning former supermarket aisles into a network of offices, meeting rooms, and other spaces where government and non-profit agencies can provide social services to residents of Blanco County.
“This CRC will be a tremendous benefit to Blanco County residents,” said Donna Klaeger, Director of Community Resource Centers of Texas, Inc, which builds CRCs where the Texas Housing Foundation builds affordable housing complexes.
“Today, you’d have to drive to Austin or San Antonio, Marble Falls or San Marcos, to handle paperwork or meet face-to-face with someone from a social service agency. When this building opens later this year, you can do it right here near home.”
The CRC is a free office building for non-profits and government agencies. There will be offices and meeting rooms, with telephone and internet service, provided at no charge to those delivering service to local residents.
“Some of those agencies will have space here full-time,” said CRC Director Jeanne Emerson, “while others may be here only a day a week or month. They’re welcome to as much time as they need, and when they’re here, they have all the services they’d expect in their own office buildings.”
The Johnson City Christian Food Pantry, for example, will occupy an entire end of the building full-time. With coolers, freezers, and shelving, they can offer grocery-store-style service as many days a week as their volunteers can staff.
At the other end of the building, the Texas Department of State Health Services will have dedicated clinic space for exams and treatment for their clients.
In between will be offices and work areas for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, Highland Lakes Family Crisis Center, Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area, Blanco County Adult Probation, and more continue to sign up as the word spreads about the CRC’s availability.
Besides the offices, the CRC will offer the local non-profits and churches the use of two meeting rooms and a demonstration kitchen.
“Texas has a take-care-of-your-own-needs kind of culture,” Emerson explained, “and our goal is to provide the space and tools for people and agencies to do that. We’ll make it easier for them to do for themselves and the community.”
A county-wide advisory board already is at work, helping get the center open and meet the center’s own needs.
“We expect to continue taking a hands-on approach to direction and management of the CRC,” emphasized board chair Susan Hamm.
“This is not some plan developed somewhere else and pushed on Blanco County. We’re local residents and intend for the center to meet the needs of Blanco County residents.”
Indeed, local residents and the Texas Housing Foundation, which is providing the money to buy the property and build the facility, have been working together for years to make the CRC a reality.
“The Texas Housing Foundation builds affordable housing complexes in cities where it is needed, including Johnson City,” Klaeger explained. “The rents paid by tenants not only operate those developments, but can come back to their cities through a Community Resource Center, helping not only themselves but the whole county.”
The total expected cost of the new CRC is $1.4 million. The Housing Foundation is seeking gifts and grants to help pay for it, pledging to match donations dollar-for-dollar, and has guaranteed the entire sum.
Now that funding is assured and construction is moving along on schedule, plans are being made for a ribbon-cutting and move-in before the end of the year.
“We expect to hang Christmas decorations in working offices,” Klaeger added.