2017-05-04 / General Stories

McDade ISD and Texas Wendish Heritage Society Receive Grants

The McDade community soon will have a new, modern playscape for children, thanks to a $30,884 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative.

In addition, Texas Wendish Heritage Society soon will make restorations and improvements to its museum complex, thanks to an $18,000 community development grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative. The grant, along with $8,000 in local matching funds, will help restore a 102-year-old building at the Texas Wendish Heritage Museum and make other improvements such as adding new sidewalks, lighting and an Americans with Disability Act-compliant ramp.

McDade ISD to replace playscape

McDade Independent School District will replace an older playscape that has become unsafe at the elementary school campus. The new playground will be designed for children ages 2- 12, and will feature a climbing wall and more slides than the existing structure. It also will accommodate more children at one time and will be available to the whole community daily from dawn to dusk.

“The school is a cornerstone of our small community,” said McDade ISD Superintendent Barbara Marchbanks. “Families rely on the playground, as it serves as McDade’s only park amenities. At McDade ISD, we put the safety of our students first, and we are grateful to LCRA and Bluebonnet for making this playground possible.”

McDade ISD will use an additional $10,158 in local matching funds to complete the project. Marchbanks expects the new playground to be ready for use by July.

Texas Wendish Museum to do restoration work

The Wendish Museum, started in 1972, chronicles and celebrates the Wendish community that was founded at the site in 1854. A group of 500 Wends left their home in Germany that year and sailed on the English ship, the Ben Nevis, to Galveston. They then trekked some 90 miles inland to what became the community of Serbin, a few miles south of present-day Giddings.

The immigrants were Sorbians of Slavic descent, who left their homeland in an eastern part of Germany known as Lusatia, and came to Texas in search of religious freedom, said Joyce Bise, the museum’s executive director. To this day, Wends continue to live in the area around Serbin.

The Texas museum is the only one dedicated to the Wends outside of Germany, she said.

“We have an international following,” Bise said. “We are blessed with a combination of history, heritage and culture brought by a people who were the first immigrants to settle in this part of the state. Even today in our church we have six generations in one family from the original 500.”

Part of the grant will fund restoration of the St. Paul Building, which served as the community’s school from 1915 to 1979. Workers will replace and paint rotting wood on the building’s exterior. The building’s old ramp will be replaced and the building will be made level.

“The building is full of archives and historic items of the Wendish people,” Bise said. “This will allow us to protect these important heirlooms.”

The grant also will enable the museum to make improvements to help reduce flood damage. This includes replacing and adding drainage channels to 75 feet of sidewalk, installing 50 more feet of sidewalk, and adding a grated water collection area in the courtyard to help remove and conserve water. Workers also will install lighting along the sidewalk.

“This project is so important to us because it will help us preserve the Wendish story for future generations,” Bise said.

Community Development Partnership Program

The community grant is one of a number of grants recently awarded through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. The program provides economic development and community assistance grants to cities, counties, volunteer fire departments, regional development councils and other nonprofit organizations in LCRA’s electric and water 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 a partner in the grant program.

Applications for the next round of grants are due July 31. More information is available at lcra.org/cdpp

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