Temple honors local soccer pioneer
Crossroads Park soccer complex renamed in honor of longtime youth soccer coach and referee.
MONDAY FEBRUARY 7, 2022
City names Cloud as construction manager at-risk for ANIMAL SHELTER expansion project; construction could start by May
DOWNTOWN PLAN get’s Council’s OK
UMHB to celebrate NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP on Tuesday
JUNETEENTH added to city’s list of paid holidays
PHOTO FLASHBACK: Temple High’s 1911 state track and field championship
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FLASHBACK: Bell County town of Pokerville was bootlegging hotspot
SHELTER BABIES: Here’s a look at three animals available for adoption at Temple Animal Shelter
The soccer complex at Temple’s Crossroads Park has been renamed after longtime coach, referee and team organizer Peter den Harder.
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
The soccer complex at Crossroads Park soon will bear the name of a local pioneer who played, coached and refereed in Temple for 41 years.
Temple City Council unanimously approved the renaming of the Crossroads Park fields this morning to honor Peter den Harder, a lifelong soccer enthusiast who died of COVID-19 on July 30, 2020. He was the 20th victim of the pandemic in Bell County.
Ferenc Korompai, another Temple soccer legend and longtime friend of Den Harder, said renaming the field was the “right thing to do.”
“Peter is Mr. Soccer in Temple,” Korompai told council members. “He has participated in every aspect of the game — many times simultaneously. He played, coached, refereed and organized.”
He also constructed goals at many soccer fields around town.
“He worked for Materials Transportation Company for 38 years,” said his wife, Cora. “They would purchase steel and Peter would build goals. He built the soccer goals at Kiwanis, Optimist and Miller parks. Some others too, I believe.”
Local State Farm Insurance agent John Farwell, also a big fan of youth soccer in and around Temple, supported the renaming of the Crossroads soccer complex, which consists of seven fields.
“This is the easiest decision you will make all day,” Farwell told City Council. “Peter had a passion for soccer. He made huge footsteps in the local soccer community.”
The den Harders moved to Temple in 1980 after being transferred from The Netherlands. It was supposed to be a temporary move, but two years later, he switched jobs and started a career with MTC.
As a 10-year-old, Peter played recreational soccer in The Netherlands for his hometown of s-Gravenzande. He started coaching and refereeing youth games at age 15.
After moving to Texas in 1980, he played with local teams, and he had a big role in developing the soccer program at Temple High School.
“He was always coaching, especially youth teams,” Cora said. “And, he refereed all over the state — Abilene, Dallas and throughout Central Texas.”
In the early 1980s, soccer was very much second fiddle to football, baseball, basketball — even track. As youth leagues sprang up around Central Texas, there was a growing demand for soccer coaches and referees. Peter educated many local men and women on the game.
“Peter loved soccer, and he knew everything about the game,” Cora said. “He kept up with it all — international, national and local soccer. He knew the rules and was very fair.”
Peter coached teams at Ralph Wilson Youth Club — boys for many years, then in 2008 he began coaching girls teams as well. “He coached Temple United and helped start the Central Texas Storm select teams,” Cora said. “For 20 years he refereed at the Dallas Cup, and one year he and Dr. Korompai refereed at the Schwan Cup Soccer Tournament in Minnesota.”
The Schwan Cup is the largest youth soccer tournament in the eastern hemisphere. More than 1,100 teams usually compete.
The city will hold an unveiling ceremony at Peter den Harder Soccer Complex once a monument and signs are ready to display.
Temple ISD fifth-graders check out band instruments during this morning’s Fine Arts Tour at Temple High School.
THS hosts district’s Fine Arts Tour
Our Town Temple
More than 600 Temple fifth-graders learned about the arts and related programs this morning as Temple High hosted the district’s Fine Arts Tour.
Fifth-graders from TISD’s eight elementary schools attended the event, and THS Fine Arts students introduced the district’s offerings to the students, according to district spokesperson Jon Wallin.
Following the performances, fifth-graders moved to the cafeteria to meet with instructors, and students from the three middle schools discussed Fine Arts programs at their schools.
“The fifth-graders don’t know all of our programs, so this gives us a chance to show them what we offer,” said Catrina Lotspeich, Fine Arts director for Temple ISD.
“This is a great recruiting event for our middle school teachers because it gives them a chance to get in front of the fifth-graders and let them visit with current students about the various programs,” Lotspeich said. “We really want to help the fifth-graders understand what the middle school electives are so that they can choose wisely when it comes to filling out their schedules for next year.”
Wallin said today marked the second time the district has used this format to help introduce the fifth-graders to Fine Arts. The first Fine Arts Tour was in 2020 — last year’s event was changed because of the pandemic.
The opportunity to learn more about the programs certainly helped open the eyes of a couple of fifth-graders.
“I didn’t know they had middle school theatre and I really like that,” said Nadiah Stephens of Jefferson Elementary. “I am looking forward to getting a chance to get involved in that next year.”
“I liked hearing about orchestra and theatre,” said Esmerelda McCarty, another Jefferson Elementary fifth-grader. “They sounded cool, and you get a chance to express yourself.”
Temple ISD Fine Arts provides students opportunities in programs ranging from band, choir and orchestra, to theatre arts, dance and visual arts. Most of those programs are also available on the middle school level, and Monday’s program provided the fifth-graders with a chance to see students participating at every level of Fine Arts.
“Another great thing about today is that we gave our students a chance to see the finished product with the high school level students performing,” Lotspeich said. “Then the same fifth-graders can go visit with middle schoolers they might already know and learn about the programs from their peers.”
Fine arts programs from music to theater to dance to visual arts were presented to Temple ISD fifth-graders during a program today at Temple High School.
An artist’s rendering shows an improved entrance to the animal shelter on Mama Dog Circle. The expansion project will begin in upcoming months.
City names Cloud as construction manager for Temple Animal Shelter expansion; work may begin in Spring
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
An expanded Temple Animal Shelter took a big step toward reality today as City Council named Cloud Construction as the project’s construction manager.
Construction will likely begin on the project in May or June of this year, according to city spokesperson Kiara Nowlin.
The expansion will double the number of spaces for stray, surrendered and lost pets, but the biggest change will be in animal comfort.
“The expanded facility will have an HVAC system so we can control climate conditions inside the kennel area,” said Temple Police Chief Shawn Reynolds, who also oversees the city’s animal services and shelter. “Right now, we just have some big fans there. This will help us better regulate the temperatures.”
The current shelter facility can hold 36 dogs in the kennel area. Expansion will increase capacity to 76. The facility will remain a “limited kill” facility, but greater capacity allows shelter workers more time to find suitable homes for their furry guests.
“We will add two new kennel rooms — one on the north side of the building, one on the west side,” Reynolds said. “Each will hold 20 dogs.”
Reynolds said the shelter’s cat room will be relocated and expanded as well.
In addition to more holding space, the expanded shelter will include a new meet-and-greet area so people can get to know animals they may adopt.
“There will be three meet-and-greet areas, and they will be partially covered to protect against the sun and rain,” Reynolds said. “We haven’t decided on the turf yet — we may go with an artificial surface or just grass.”
“We want to create a place where animals can play and for folks to spend time with the animals they may adopt. There will be an area where people can bring their current dogs to see how they interact with one they may be considering for adoption.”
One of the biggest changes to the shelter will be the front lobby. Right now, customers walk directly into an office setting. That will change.
“The new shelter will have a dedicated lobby area with a place to fill out adoption papers,” Reynolds said. “There will be separate offices for shelter staff.”
The lobby will include a service counter and a small retail shop where new owners can buy pet essentials such as leashes and collars.
Funding for the project was approved earlier this year as part of $54.9 million in certificates of obligation issued for a variety of projects.
Unlike most forms of municipal debt, certificates of obligation do not require voter approval.
According to Temple Animal Services supervisor Amy Strunk, expansion is needed to keep pace with the city’s growth.
“The shelter houses stray impounded animals that require a hold before they can be adopted,” she said. “The shelter also accepts owner surrender for Temple residents. The expansion will allow us to separate strays on hold from animals available for adoption.”
Here’s a look at what the outside portion of the expanded animal shelter might look like, complete with meet-and-greet and play areas.
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor will celebrate its 2021 NCAA Division III national football championship Tuesday and the community is invited.
The celebration will begin at Crusader Stadium at 5:30 p.m. (gates open at 5) and once the program on the football field is complete, a meet-and-greet will be held inside Bawcom Student Union at about 6 p.m.
According to UMHB officials, there will be game-day food, commemorative posters, door prizes and opportunities for photos and autographs from Cru players and coaches.
Temple City Council approved the Downtown Neighborhood Plan today that will be implemented through the budget process. David Stone | Our Town Temple photo
City Council OK’s Downtown plan
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Temple’s Downtown plan was approved today by City Council, paving the way for changes officials hope will attract new businesses, residents and private investment into the area.
“The plan will be implemented through the budget process,” said Kiara Nowlin, Temple’s public relations coordinator. “Any improvements that have a budget impact will be approved by Council when it approves the budget.”
“Improvements will be added to budget requests as funding is available,” she said. “Any program that does not have an impact on the budget will be implemented as soon as possible.”
According to Nancy Glover, the city’s director of Housing & Community Development, parts of the plan will be implemented over the next few years.
“This is not something that will sit on a shelf and collect dust,” said Nancy Glover, the city’s director of Housing & Community Development.
Today’s approval has been in the works for months.
“We started on the Downtown plan by reaching out to the community,” Glover said. “We wanted to identify the goals and concerns of residents and businesses. We wanted their input on creating something that can be enjoyed for years to come.”
After collecting the community’s comments, that information was turned over to KPA Engineering and Covey Landscape Architects to develop the plan.
Possibly the biggest recommendation in the plan is reverting portions of Adams and Central Avenues to two-way traffic. These streets were two-way until the 1980s.
“Central and Adams would become two-way streets beginning at 9th Street and going toward Downtown,” Glover explained. “Adams would be two-way from 9th Street to 3rd Street, and it already is two-way from 3rd Street going east.”
Adams would remain one-way from 9th Street going west toward Interstate 35.
Central Avenue currently has a longer stretch of one-way traffic and would become two-way from 9th Street all the way to MLK Boulevard.
“The goal would be to slow down traffic approaching Downtown,” she said. “Right now, if the light at Central and 3rd is green, it’s like a speedway.”
In addition, 9th Street would be improved with updated sidewalks between Central and Adams, Glover said.
The probable cost of converting Central and Adams is about $10.3 million — by far the most expensive project in the Downtown plan.
“One of my favorite recommendations on this plan is the renovation of the old Katy Depot into a key Downtown destination,” she said. “No decision has been made as to what would go into the depot, but I think making it a priority is a wonderful idea. It’s truly a historic gem.”
The Katy Depot was owned by the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad and was given to the city in the 1980s. The expected cost for the depot renovation is not included in the plan and is listed as “pending.”
Another Downtown plan project is the creation and expansion of Storybook Grove.
The city purchased just under a half-acre on West Barton Avenue just behind Temple Public Library for a story-time themed park designed for families and young children.
“This piece of land has huge potential,” said Assistant City Manager Erin Smith. “It’s located right next to KCEN’s studio and across Barton from Temple Public Library. The city purchased the land in November 2019 as a future park.”
“The possibilities are exciting,” Smith said. ‘Since it’s so close to the library, it could be used as an outdoor children’s story park. There’s even stumps where kids could sit and listen to stories.”
A trail through Storybook Grove would include functional statues of popular children’s characters from Charlotte’s Web, Very Hungry Caterpillar, Winnie the Pooh, Curious George, James and the Giant Peach, Where the Wild Things Are and Dr. Seuss books.
The plan calls for the creation of an Art Walk linking Storybook Park, the Art Trains, Downtown murals and some future art installations.
Another recommendation in the newly approved play is the construction of public restrooms in the Downtown district, especially in the vicinity of The Yard food truck court.
The plan addresses strategies for cleaning up Downtown alleys by sharing Dumpsters and adding lighting, as well as looking into a new concept the stores trash bins underground.
We would like to make our alleyways more attractive and more functional,” Smith said. “One way to do that is to look at waste management options for Downtown, including underground options. The city of Kissimmee, Fla., is one of a handful of cities that have taken the underground approach.”
According to experts, underground systems help create alleys that are pleasing to the eye and free from rats and odors.
There are dozens of other recommendations for Downtown, including the creation of a Farmer’s Market area; developing a City Center concept focusing on the area around the Hawn, Arcadia and Central Plaza Apartments area; improvements to Baker Field; developing the MLK Festival Grounds; and street, street sign and lighting improvements throughout the neighborhood.
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City adds Juneteenth to list of paid holidays
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Temple City Council today added Juneteenth to the list of paid annual holidays observed by the city.
Other paid holidays include New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving Day, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
City employees also receive one personal day per year.
Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of African-American slaves and is also often observed for celebrating African-American culture
FLASHBACK: 1911 State Track Champions
The 1911 Temple High track team blazed to one of the school's first state championships and was led by the blue-ribbon relay team of Preston Childers, John Leigh, Harry DeGrummond and Charles Brassler. The relay team is in the front row of the group photo, but I have no idea who is who. Also, the relay distance is unclear.
FLASHBACK: Bell County town of Pokerville was bootlegging hotbed
NOTE: The following story appeared in the Our Town Temple Facebook group about 14 months ago. It has been revised with additional information.
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Prohibition and moonshine sound like exciting topics, but dig a little deeper into Temple-area lore and things become downright Bland.
Bland, Texas, was a close-knit community west of Temple that flourished until 1954. More on its demise later.
The northern Bell County community got its start in 1880 when John Atkerson opened the area’s first general store not far from Owl Creek. Rumor has it that when Atkerson sold a bill of goods, he invited the customer to a back corner of the store to “play for their change.”
Atkerson had a great love for poker, and soon the emerging Bell County town became known as Pokerville.
The name was changed to Bland in 1894 when an application for a Post Office was submitted. Thought was that the town had a better chance of getting the much-needed Post Office if it had a boring name, non-controversial name.Truth is, though, a more fitting name may have been Whiskeyville.
Making alcohol was a common activity in the community. Bland was far from the eyes of the law, and far from places that legally sold booze. With the passage of the 18th Amendment in 1919, the sale, production and distribution of alcohol was prohibited. That’s when business boomed in Bland.
A quote from a former Bland postmaster, Mrs. T.J. Ludwick, gives insight on why Bland took to illegal moonshining.
“There has been enough ‘likker’ made in ‘them thar’ hills to float the Queen Mary.”
“In those days man could not live on bread alone, so a little extra income was necessary,” she said.
Mrs. Ludwick said it was well known that laws posed no barrier to the people of Bland. They got their alcohol by any means, legal or not. Local authorities turned a blind eye to moonshiners due to bribes or empathy for the people who had no other means of making a living.
After prohibition ended, Bland-area residents returned to farming, but because old habits are hard to break, some stills continued to operate on a much smaller scale….until 1954.
Visiting Bland today would require the use of diving equipment — it’s under a lot of water. Bland, and about a dozen other Bell County communities such as Sparta, were lost forever when a flood-control dam was completed and Belton Lake was formed.