A group of 29 Mineral Wells officials, business and civic leaders spent three days in Austin last week, visiting with various state agencies and legislative leaders to gather information, establishing relationships and essentially let people in the state capitol know where Mineral Wells is and what is going on in the city and asking for assistance, direction and knowledge.
The trip was organized through the Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce, headed up by chamber President Ryan Roach and the chamber and city’s economic development advisor Wes Jurey, who for the last several years has been guiding the Leadership Mineral Wells process.
Among the agencies visited were the Texas Education Agency, Texas Historic Commission, Texas Department of Health and Human Services, Texas Workforce Commission, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas Film Commission.
The Mineral Wells entourage also met with State Rep. Mike Lang and State Sen. Patrick Fallon and were recognized from the House and Senate floors.
The trip is the second organized and coordinated by the chamber while the Legislature is in session, with the first one taking place two years ago.
“Once again, our second biannual trip to Austin was a huge success,” stated Roach. “We met with 12 different state agencies along with our elected officials. At every meeting an opportunity was laid on the table for us to take advantage of to benefit Mineral Wells and Palo Pinto County. The delegation of 29 leaders from Mineral Wells will be meeting next week to discuss our takeaways and build our strategy for the next year.”
Roach said trips this like will prove beneficial to Mineral Wells and Palo Pinto County.
“The citizens of Mineral Wells should know that every agency we met with was very impressed with the size and unified effort we presented,” he said. “These officials expressed their support and excitement to see what we are doing to improve our community. Texas is rooting for Mineral Wells!
“We have a lot of work to do, but I am very confident that our delegation and Envision Mineral Wells is ready to keep moving forward.”
Following are comments from some who took part in the Austin trip:
“One of the most important things we accomplished on this trip was show our agencies and representatives how excited and unified we are about the many things happening in our city and county. We got them excited about partnering with us – and in return learned more about opportunities we will have to do that through available resources, programs and grants.
“The response we received was complimentary to the entire delegation. Our state folks were impressed with a city that is investing in itself and excited about it. I enjoyed advocating for funding for Palo Pinto Mountains State Park, as well as our city park all-inclusive improvements. I look forward to this time next year being able to point out specific things that happened as a result of the trip. I believe we are building relationships that will be key players in our economic development growth.”
Regan Johnson, At-Large Place 2 City Councilwoman
“I believe this was overall a very productive meeting with state officials. While all the meetings were very informative and productive, I believe the meetings with the Texas Historical Commission in support of the Texas Main Street Program and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs addressing our community housing issues were particularly beneficial.”
John Moran, City of Mineral Wells Finance Director
“I believe the ‘Team Mineral Wells Legislative Trip’ to Austin was very successful and will prove to be extremely beneficial both in the near-term and especially moving forward as we revitalize, prepare and grow Mineral Wells’ future. This was only the second trip by a delegation of this type/purpose from Mineral Wells and my first as a participant.
“I received much useful information and direct contacts offering assistance navigating the state bureaucracy and the opportunity to engage state-level staff assistance from many. The opportunity to build relationships, discuss vision and develop true agency partnerships will be a great benefit moving forward. Most all agency representatives we met with over the three days remembered the Mineral Wells delegation of two years ago, many agency representatives commented on and commended the unity of vision represented by this delegation.”
Doyle Light, Ward 4 Mineral Wells City Councilman
“I am extremely pleased that I had the opportunity to participate in the trip to Austin with the Mineral Wells contingent. Twenty-nine representatives of our town met with 12 different state agencies. The people we met with were knowledgeable, friendly and eager to share information that will be immediately helpful to our city’s positive growth and evolution.
“One highlight: I found out that MWISD had been awarded a grant for $104,000 from the Texas Workforce Commission directly from Texas Labor Commissioner Julian Alvarez. I was also pleased to meet with Dale Fowler, the statewide Career and Technology Education coordinator for the Texas Education Agency. He was happy to hear about the many TEA-recognized industry certifications we are offering students at Mineral Wells High School. He and his team seemed ecstatic to hear about the internship opportunities and partnerships we have with many local employers. I was also able to thank TEA officials for facilitating the University of Texas OnRamps program that is providing free college classes from UT to dozens of college-bound MWHS students.
“Other exciting meetings included the Texas Film Commission, where they explained how Mineral Wells can become a Film Friendly Certified Community (which may help land film and television productions here in our town), and the Texas Historical Commission, where we learned how Mineral Wells can join the Texas Main Street program and how that can help accelerate that downtown revitalization that is already happening here.
“All in all, it was a very productive trip with a great group of folks who love their hometown. In my opinion, this three-day trip to Austin is highly likely to result in numerous positive outcomes for Mineral Wells citizens.”
John Kuhn, Mineral Wells ISD superintendent
“This was my second trip with Team Mineral Wells and I believe the team was much more confident as we talked to the numerous agencies. We were able to show that we heard what we were told in 2017 and we reported our progress. The Main Street program was a great moment of unity when the room was asked to show by hands if we were ready to move forward with the program. The attendees couldn’t help but come back with a new sense of urgency and determination to breathe life back into our community.”
Tammy Underwood, Ward 2 City Councilwoman
“I feel like the trip was a big success. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Mineral Wells won’t turn around overnight, but the two trips we have made to Austin (2017 and 2019) are building valuable relationships with our legislators and state agencies and laying the groundwork for things to come in Mineral Wells. Although a lot of what we accomplished in our three days in Austin will not be felt immediately, there are some calculable benefits. Due to, in part, our face-to-face interaction with the Texas Workforce Commission, Mineral Wells ISD is receiving a $104,000 grant to go toward the purchase of equipment to provide career training to our students. That money alone is justification for our trip.
“We had 29 people, consisting of representatives from the city, county, PPGH, MWISD, Weatherford College, the chamber and local businesses take three days out of their schedules to go to Austin and present a united face of our community. Everyone contributed to the conversations that we had over the three days, and it was very fulfilling to see so many in our community working together for the betterment of our town.
Rhett Warren, Chairman, Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce