CCO levels historic caboose

After years of fundraising and planning, the Coupland Civic Organization (CCO) gets the caboose level on new ties.

On March 14, the CCO took a big step in the restoration of its historic caboose. Volunteers who work on old railroad cars and facilities got the caboose leveled and resting on new ties and ballast (the rock that goes under and between the ties). Barbara Piper, CCO Caboose Coordinator says, “Volunteers who have a love of railroads, railroad cars, and their history were a big force in getting this phase of the caboose restoration completed. The volunteers, J. R. Leal, Mark Dixon and Paul Phalen do this work on their own time.”

She explained that Leal has a daughter at Coupland School and happened to read an article in the Coupland Herald about the CCO commencing another phase of caboose restoration. He contacted the CCO. He, along with his good friends, Dixon and Phalen, got together to set forth a plan.

The volunteers met with several CCO board members in December to explain their recommendations.

Piper also said, “They subsequently spoke with Al Friede of Hafco Services to see if he could provide any type of assistance. Al responded with a donation of two bundles of ties and spikes.”

Friede also donated the labor for himself and his crew of six men plus their track tools to get the caboose level. The CCO was responsible for providing the equipment for the job.

CCO members provided a breakfast of kolaches from Taylor’s Kolache Shoppe, plus pigs in blankets. They also served a lunch of tamales from Julie at Tamales To Go with all the fixin’s, plus ribs, and homemade cookies and brownies.

The project involved moving the caboose forward with a backhoe, off of its old ties, unfastening the rail from the old ties, removing the old rotten ties, removing several feet of soil, leveling the ground, and putting down new ties. Then the rails were fastened to the new ties, the crew made sure everything was level, and then put the ballast under and in between the ties to insure a solid foundation. Finally, the backhoe gently pushed the caboose back to its permanent location--on its new ties and leveled rails.

To finish up this amazing undertaking, Leal and another friend, Kelly Patrick who owns Longhorn Irrigation, a landscape company, spread out all of the dirt that had been removed to make a place for the new ties, then spread the remaining ballast over the track that runs in front of the historic depot.

It was quite a sight to see the heavy caboose start moving. Caboose Coordinator Piper, who has worked so hard to get the caboose leveled and restored, said, “When I saw the caboose start moving, I actually got chills. It was an amazing sight.”

To see a video of the moving of the caboose, go to the Coupland Civic Organization’s Facebook page. The CCO has been raising money for years through its annual Choo Choo Fests to restore the caboose. And last year, it received a grant of $10,000 from Williamson County to help with the caboose work.

Susan Schmidt, CCO President, says, “Now that the caboose is level and stable, work on the interior and the doors and windows remains to be done.”

Piper notes, “We will see what our expert volunteers have planned for the next project.” When the caboose is finished, the CCO plans to have a children’s museum in it, where the kids can get up into the cupola and see how it was to ride up there and see the countryside many years ago. The caboose is on the grounds with the CCO’s Depot Museum that houses artifacts of the area. When the caboose is finished, there are plans to have it and the Depot open and staffed with volunteers on the weekends.

The next CCO meeting, Monday, March 26, will be a program on the caboose project through the years, beginning with the repair and painting of its siding, making it weatherproof, and the most recent step—installing new ties and ballast and leveling it. The program will be presented by Piper and Jonathan Jones, CCO grounds and facilities chairman. The program will be in the Fellowship Hall of St. Peter’s Church of Coupland. A sandwich supper will be served at 6:30 p.m., and the program, which will include a slide show of the caboose project, will begin at 7 p.m.

Coupland Hears from Commissioner Candidates

At their Feb. 26, meeting, the Coupland Civic Organization (CCO) hosted two candidates for Pct. 4 County Commissioner—Democrat Carlos Salinas and Republican Bobby Seiferman. The other candidates were not able to attend. However, Salinas and Seiferman gave informative answers to questions from attendees, making for an interesting evening.

After opening statements, both candidates answered a question posed by the CCO asking their position on the Williamson County Southeast Corridor Study, which proposes a large highway (350-450 feet wide) to go through the Coupland area. This highway is not needed and will cut through valuable farmland, agricultural communities, and residential properties. The candidates were asked: What is your opinion on this plan and what will you do to protect this area if you are elected as our Commissioner?

Seiferman said, “The road plan is ridiculous. The confluence of the two highways would look like a ‘spaghetti bowl’ one mile north of Norman’s Crossing. It is a recipe for environmental and economic disaster.” He thinks that mobility can be accomplished with existing roads that might be expanded to four lanes.

Salinas commented, “There’s not a lot of daylight between Bobby’s thoughts and my thoughts. There are roads we could take a close look at and leverage them to meet the needs.” He added that it is important to preserve what we value.

The candidates answered questions from the audience about helping the county’s first responders, recycling to cut down on the amount of trash being put into the landfill, the duties of the newly appointed Fire Marshall, groundwater conservation districts, helping veterans, the Lower Brushy Creek Water Control and Improvement District, the population increase in the county, and putting some roads back in service that have been taken out of service.

Both candidates vowed to be a full-time commissioner.

In closing statements, Salinas said, “The Commissioner needs to be out and listening and talking to people. We both know what it’s like to serve the community. We need a collaborative approach.”

Seiferman promised, “I will never use eminent domain to take any of your land for a 350-450 foot road.” Regarding improving roads in the county, he said, “I think we need to look at decentralizing Road and Bridge again.”

Coupland School

The Coupland Cowboys are into track season, with a track meet on March 27 at Gause. That same day, students will hold an art show at 6:45 p.m. The annual Field Day will be all day on March 29.

All day on April 3, there will be Living Wax Museum performances. The annual Kindergarten Round-Up and Tour will be April 4, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. A track meet will be on April 6 at Holland.

On April 13, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., there will be a very special performance by the students—the musical Xanadu, directed by Fine Arts teacher Annie Violette. Music Theatre International describes Xanadu as “a moving, electrifying tale of endless fun that will keep audiences in stitches while the original legendary, chart-topping tunes lift them out of their seats,”

St. Peter’s Church

St. Peter’s hosted their bi-monthly Seniors Luncheon on March 20. Co-Chairmen of this popular event are Lois Schmidt and Sandra Wernli. The next luncheon will be May 15. Schmidt said, “If you are playing Bingo, please bring a prize. We are also playing ’42.’”

St. Peter’s will be holding a Garage Sale fundraiser on Saturday, April 7, from 7:30 a.m. to noon, in the Fellowship Hall and patio area. There will also be a bake sale, sausage wraps, and drinks.

For Holy Week, St. Peter’s will have Palm Sunday Service on March 25, Maundy Thursday Service on March 29 at 6:30 p.m., and Good Friday Service on March 30 at 6:30 p.m.

Charlotte Albert announces, “There will not be a pot luck dinner following church on Sunday, March 25. This is Confirmation and Palm Sunday, and family and friends of Confirmands will be celebrating with them!” There will be a workday on Saturday, March 24, at 9 a.m. Charlotte says, “Come help spruce up the outside of the church so it will look nice for the Easter Egg Hunt and Easter Sunday.”

New Sweden Church

New Sweden’s Maundy Thursday Services will be March 29, 7 p.m. Easter Sunday Services will be April 1at 10:30 a.m. Heritage Day will be Saturday, April 21—details to come.

Marilyn Samuelson notes, “Watch our website, www.newswedenelca.org for updates. Pastor Lillejord's Sunday sermons are also on the New Sweden church web site if you would like to listen to them.”

Yegua Creek Church

Yegua Creek Church is holding community breakfasts once a month on Saturdays. The breakfasts are free—donations are accepted. The church is planning a Type Cemetery Memorial for late spring, which will include a covered-dish meal, music, and stories about church history to commemorate the 109th anniversary of the cemetery. Charlene Hanson Jordan reports that Yegua Creek is hosting speakers on garden and farm topics this spring.

Pastor Paul Hansen and the congregation invite all to the special events and to regular Sunday services. The church is east of Coupland at 1200 CR 466.

Coupland Volunteer Fire Department

John Roulston-Bates, firefighter and secretary/treasurer of the Coupland Volunteer Fire Department (CVFD) announces, “After several years of work and a recent ISO [Insurance Service Office] inspection, Coupland VFD and Chief Cummings are delighted to announce a 4-point improvement in our Public Protection Classification rating.” The old rating was a 9 close-in to the city and 10 further out. The new rating is 5 close-in to the city and 5X further out. A rating of 1 is the best, 10 is the worst.

According to Roulstan-Bates, “An ISO Public Protection Classification rating is calculated on several different criteria including Fire Department training, staffing and equipment; water supply, hydrant location and flow rate; 911 dispatch services; and community fire prevention programs.”

The new rating has improved 4 points to a 5/5X split, 5 close to the city and 5X farther out. The 5X means a rating of 5, but covering a bigger area with a less accessible water supply—typical of rural areas. Roulstan-Bates explains, “Not all insurance companies use the ISO rating system, but many do. As the new rating works its way through, you may see a reduction in the cost of your homeowners insurance.”

CVFD was founded in 1979, and many dedicated people have served through the years. Roulstan-Bates says, “We'd like to thank all of our volunteer firefighters (current and past) and their families, the Williamson County ESD#10 Board, and members of the community for their support.”

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