The Journal’s top stories of 2012
Monday, 14 January 2013 by Grayson Edds
2012 was certainly one for the books. As we begin the New Year, the Journal took the chance to provide readers with the top stories from the year.
There were many ground breakings, award-winning festivities, exemplary people to note, and an excellent community that is willing to support the many different facets of success that are at work to make Belton a place where our we will all be proud to call home for many, many years to come.
Students learn through Apprentice Belton
Through the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce's Apprentice Belton program 20 University of Mary Hardin-Baylor students had the opportunity to learn more about their possible career paths and in some cases learned that they might be headed in a different direction.
BACC President and CEO Stephanie O'Banion said UMHB was instrumental in helping the chamber realize its goal of getting the program off the ground.
"We were told to expect 10-15, but we had more than 20," O'Banion said. "I think because of the strong relationship we have developed with UMHB, and the great leaders over there helped us get this launched."
In its first year, the Apprentice Belton program was designed to develop tomorrow's young professionals and the future leaders of the Belton Area.
"Workforce Development has been a focus of the chamber for many, many years and with the development of the Belton Tomorrow Plan, with BEDC and the City there was a true workforce component in there," O'Banion said. "Part of our goal was to create a program that met the goals of the Belton Tomorrow Plan, met the goals of the chamber and be at that higher education level."
The students were selected through an application process and then matched with a professional mentor, where the students spent January through April meeting and learning from different professionals from around the area.
The BACC honored its first Apprentice Belton class with a graduation ceremony at the Bell County Museum.
"I was anxious to hear about the experiences the mentors and students had during the program," O'Banion said. "We know it was a very positive experience."
UMHB Vice President for Student Life Dr. Byron Weathersbee said the students gained valuable experiences through the Apprentice Belton program.
"You can't emulate what they got to experience and the networking that took place," Weathersbee said. "We heard over and over and over again that the students got to discover potential job markets, they got to walk through and see what a day in the life of that professional might be and we heard that students were able to make career decisions because of their experiences."
The 20 students that graduated were Amorin Nunez, Stephanie Jones, Kristin McDaniel, Benjamin Taylor, Hannah Romo, Jasmine Austin, Danielle Robinson, Natalie Shelton, Peter Jackson, Ashley Beckham, Joshua Porter, Hope Underwood, Taylor Holleyman, Ashleigh Humphrey, Katherine Johnson, Kaysie Creech, Shannon Beardon, Audrey Hale, Amalie Vance and Zachary Winfield.
Austin, who is a senior in communications, said she was grateful to be a part of the first Apprentice Belton class.
"The total experience was amazing because I got to network so much with people," Austin said. "I would've never imagined getting an internship through this experience and now I have one."
Another goal of the program is to attempt to show UMHB students that Belton is a viable place to work and live after graduation.
"We are excited to know that this new event meets our goals of workforce development and retaining the workforce has been so successful and that we have such a strong partner in Mary Hardin-Baylor," O'Banion said.
Belton Independent School District Director of Student Services Dr. Scott Moger said he also learned from his experience of being a mentor.
"It was an enrichment for myself because it allows you to reflect on why you do things and why it's important to you," Moger said. "I think this program is critical because while you are in college, you are focused on classes, friends and having fun, but you don't really get a chance to network. It gives them a chance to see faces and have stories so they can see the dynamics of what it takes to have a vibrant community like Belton."
With the success of the first class, O'Banion said the program will continue next year.
"We want it to be good for (UMHB's) programs and coincide with what they are doing," O'Banion said.
For more information about the Apprentice Belton program, visit www.beltonchamber.com.
Canstruction provides $20k to Helping Hands
From open hearts to a loaf of bread to an igloo and a space shuttle launching pad, this year's Canstruction brought out some incredible designs from the 10 Central Texas teams who participated in the event.
And while the team that won the event last year again took home juror's favorite, it was clear that the real winners of the event was the Helping Hands Ministry itself, which collected about $20,000 in food to give to needy families throughout Belton and Central Texas.
Helping Hands's Executive Director Rucker Preston, who was in charge of the event in its second year, said this year's event brought more people than last year.
That means more food for the organization.
The entire project has been a bit of a healthy obsession for Preston, as he and his team have worked tirelessly over recent months to ensure the project went off with great success.
About 1,400 people visited the various exhibits, contributing cans and money toward the cause.
"We definitely had an increase in activity and participation with about 900 people Saturday," he said. "Then after we got done, we had multiple civic groups and organizations come up to me saying that they'd be having an entry next year. 'Make sure you hunt us down next year, because we want to be in it.'"
Architectural Edge's Randy Stumberg and his team won juror's favorite, architectural ingenuity and best theme for "Open Up Your Heart", an entry of a three-dimensional, hollowed out heart with a red exterior created with tomato cans and a golden interior created with the golden labels of baked beans.
Stumberg served as the project leader for the firm last year.
The firm spent approximately $2,500 in supplies for this year's build, consisting of about 2,500 cans, all of which will be part of the donation to Helping Hands of Belton.
Stumberg, who leads the only engineering team from the group of 9 other competitors, said that this year's piece was far different from last year, which took home the international award.
"We didn't give ourselves the same expectations," he said. "This year instead of trying to match last year's project, we went in a different direction. Last year, since it was our first time to participate in the project, we didn't really know the structural nature of the cans and wasn't sure if certain designs would work properly. So we kept it simple."
The Belton Tigers Bible CANnectors won honorable mention, best use of labels, best meal, most cans.
At the completion of Canstruction Belton, all of the cans of food were taken down and transported to Helping Hands Ministry of Belton. The food will be used to bolster the food pantry of Helping Hands. All other funds raised from the weekend will be used to purchase food for those in need in the community.
Preston said that four of the teams that competed last year will once again compete this year. All the participants paid an entry fee of $125 and provide all their own cans and manpower.
Chief Corona inducted as Belton Fire Chief
Francisco Corona joined the Temple Fire Department in September 1981 and every day since, he has worked to become a Fire Chief.
On Feb. 28, in front of numerous family and friends at the City Council meeting, Corona's hard work and perseverance culminated with him being appointed as the Belton Fire Department's new fire chief.
"It's very fulfilling, rewarding and humbling," Corona said. "Not only the be a fire chief, but to be the Belton Fire Chief is just overwhelming."
Corona has lived in Texas since the 1960s when his family moved from Mexico and gained citizenship. He came to Central Texas by way of his service in the U.S. Army – being stationed at Fort Hood.
After leaving the Army, Corona was working in the construction industry, but was looking for something else.
"I was working construction and it wasn't what I wanted to do, so I saw an ad in the newspaper that they were looking for firefighters," Corona said. "I'm not sure why, but it got my attention and I applied. I figured if I could do the Army, then I could do this."
It didn't take long for Corona to know that we wanted to become a fire chief.
"When I first started, I was talking to the captain and I asked him what it took to become a chief," Corona said. "He said, 'What are you talking about? You just got in.' But I told him that this is what I wanted to do."
From there, his chief and captains helped him to take every possible training class.
"I'm a firm believer that if an opportunity is open, that you should go in and take advantage," Corona said. "I always took advantage of the training opportunities."
During his training, Corona was a member of one of the first classes where firefighters were cross-trained as Emergency Medical Technicians. Because of his training, he was able to make the switch to becoming an ambulance driver and eventually a captain in the EMS services.
As his doors of opportunity continued to open, Corona took full advantage. Along with his fire and EMS training, Corona received his Associate's Degree in Fire Protection, Technology and Business Management from Temple College, gradated with honors from the University of Phoenix-Austin with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management and is currently finishing his MBA at TAMU-Central Texas.
The City of Belton conducted a nation-wide search for its new fire chief after former chief Roy Harmon retired in January 2011.
"It was a very extensive process and Chief Corona really impressed us with him coming to us as a result of three decades of experience in public safety, education and training," City Manager Sam Listi said. "The assessment exercises shown a very positive light on his experience, his thoughtfulness and his responsiveness to different incidents that we posed to him."
Listi also said Corona's knowledge of the area also played a role in his appointment.
Corona was unanimously appointed by the City Council and will officially begin his duties as the Belton Fire Department Chief on March 31.
"I want to be an effective chief," Corona said. "I want to move the department forward, I want to make it better and efficient.
"They (Belton FD) are great firefighters and good people. I know I'm in the right place and I'm going to do everything I can to put the needs and resources together. Belton is just a great place with all the changes taking place. I feel like I'm ready and I feel like I'm ready to be a part of the change of making things better."
Flood preparations reduce damage to city
Almost two years ago, torrential rain in the Central Texas area caused extensive flood damage to the City of Belton, especially along Central Avenue.
On the night of Mon, March 19, Belton held its collective breath as the region was hit with severe thunderstorms, but thanks to the lessons learned in September 2010 and less precipitation – flood waters rushing down Nolan Creek on Tuesday morning did less damage.
"There were a few wrecks as people got on the roads, but generally it wasn't near as bad as last time," City Manager Sam Listi said.
During the day on Monday, forecasters were predicting severe thunderstorms and heavy rainfall in the Central Texas area, which sent Belton officials into action.
"The predictions were pretty serious, so we began watching it very closely. We pulled our Emergency Management Team together on Monday to put in place the steps that were going to be necessary," Listi said.
The team met at the Emergency Operations Center located at the Belton Police Department at around 3 a.m. to begin preparations.
"As that storm came through and parked on top of Killeen, we knew it was going to be pretty serious," Listi said. "At about 3 a.m., we met at the Emergency Operations Center and began a formal response to what was coming."
Officials then began to evacuate residences in the Shirtail Bend area.
"We activated the first alert system and called people within the floodplain area, which was an outgrowth of the 2010 event," Listi said. "What we had heard last time from the businesses and residences was, 'If we just had a little bit of notice, that would help.' We think it worked this time."
Several flood-prone streets were also closed by the Belton Public Works Department in anticipation of the water.
The rain began to cease around 6 a.m., but officials were still wary of the impending amount of water making its way toward Belton.
Despite the rain stopping, the water in Nolan Creek continued to rise until about 11 a.m., when the waters began to recede.
Listi said having the EOC set up was key in avoiding potential disaster.
"Last time, we met at City Hall where we had no communication, no computers and no television," Listi said. "Since that time we set up an EOC at the Police Department with television monitors, computers and everything we would need."
Listi thanked the Public Works Department, Police Department, Fire Department and IT Department for their hard work during the event.
"It was a real team effort," Listi said. "It was a test of our emergency procedures and I think it all worked well."
K9 joins Belton Police force
The Belton Police Department recently welcomed the newest member of its team earlier this month.
On March 8, an almost 2-year-old German Shepherd named "Chico" made his debut along side K-9 unit handler Richard Murray.
"I think it will enhance our police services in Belton," BPD Chief Gene Ellis said. "It will have a big impact on crime prevention and solution of criminal activity afoot. It is a tool and it's like having an extra officer on duty because the dog has so many abilities."
With his keen sense of smell, Chico uses his nose to help assist officers in locating illegal drugs and tracking. On his first night on the job, located methamphetamines in a vehicle and found marijuana on his second day.
Ellis began pursuing a K-9 program a couple of years ago, and finally in the Fall of 2011, the BPD was awarded an Office of the Governor-Criminal Justice Division grant for $24,500 for the start up costs of the program.
After the funding was received Murray traveled to Louisiana for his training with Chico. Murray and Chico then spent the next six weeks together learning and training.
"He was already there and was trained when I got there, so then I had to go and train to learn how to work with him," Murray said. "It's a demanding school. The physical part is pretty tough, but it's mentally challenging because if the handler is having a bad day or nervous or worried about something, the dog picks up on it. It's a whole different world than being a regular police officer."
Not only did Murray and Chico spend all of their time together while training, but Chico would make the trip home to Belton on the weekends with Murray.
"On the weekends when I came home, he came with me and that helped with the bonding," Murray said. "We're a team now. We work together and he's my partner."
The grant also provided for Murray's vehicle to be equipped to handle a K-9.
"It has a full-back seat kennel with window and door guards," Murray said. "It's got a heat system and a deployment system. If he's in the car he can get out of the car."
Although his partner is now a canine, Murray said he and Chico's days are just like any other police officers.
"We just respond to calls," Murray said. "We back up officers up when they want the dog's assistance. Our normal day is typical of a policeman."
CGI breaks ground in Belton
The small town of Belton got a big show of support from entire state on Wed., April 11, as Gov. Rick Perry joined community leaders from throughout Central Texas in breaking ground on a $7 million, 40,000-square-foot, IT Services Delivery Center in the Belton Business Park. CGI, an information technology group, began operations in Belton in November 2011 and now has more than 35 employees operating out of temporary space. When fully staffed, the new facility will make CGI one of the largest private employers in the community.
Mayor Jim Covington spoke along with Governor Perry, and was joined on stage by District 55 State Rep. Ralph Sheffield and Congressman John Carter.
Covington entertained the crowd with his homely analogies of courting CGI like the company was a girl on a prom date.
No matter how you look at it, the growth of CGI in Belton will be staggering.
CGI's Belton Onshore IT Services Delivery Center will create 350 new jobs, with a target of up to 400 new jobs, and generate an estimated $61 million of annual economic impact within the first five years of operation.
"Texas has always been a bold leader in new and developing technologies, and our steadily-growing high-tech economy and commitment to our returning veterans makes us a natural fit for CGI's latest expansion," Gov. Perry said. "The skills our veterans bring back from service are a valuable resource for our communities and our labor force, and CGI's presence here in Belton and close proximity to Fort Hood will enable many veterans to resume their careers or start new ones, while strengthening and expanding our state's economy."
Perry said that Belton represented a hidden gem of potential economic development in an area that was less affected by national economic downturn than most anywhere in the country.
"We believe we found the 'best of the best' here in Belton. This facility builds upon CGI's commitment to Texas, broadening our reach to Belton, Bell County, and the Greater Fort Hood area, meaning more jobs and opportunities in the region – including for our returning veterans and their families," said George Schindler, President of CGI's U.S. operations. "Onshore IT Services Delivery Centers like this one expand our ability to offer high quality, cost-effective services to our clients on-shore in the U.S. while making it possible for U.S. companies in all industries to keep their IT operations here at home. That's a win-win-win for our company, our customers, and America."
The Belton location will be CGI's third Onshore IT Services Delivery Center. The first two centers, in Lebanon, Va., and Troy, Ala., today employ a total of more than 650 employees, with plans for 100 additional jobs through the end of 2012.
Grand Avenue Theater opens in Belton
Beltonians looking for the big-city cinematic experience no longer have to go to Dallas or Austin.
David K. Leigh, who is also the owner of Harvest Technologies, said he was excited to see the theatre with future customers inside after more than two years of planning and working on bringing Grand Avenue to Belton.
The largest of the six theatres holds nearly 300 and features large, faux leather seats brought it from Australia. VIP seating is also available and there is a "Party Room" that can be rented out for birthday parties and other celebrations.
The projection equipment is state-of-the art that includes 3-D, hearing impaired and sub-title capabilites.
Grand Avenue employs 60 employees, including four full-time employees, an executive chef and a sous chef.
Leigh said most of his employees are local along with some from Morgan's Point Resort, Gatesville and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
"This is not a small market theatre," Leigh said. "This is what you would expect to see in the suburbs of Dallas or Austin or San Antonio."
Leigh said he is thrilled to have the theatre be a part of the continued growth of Belton.
"It's really neat that we can put something like this in Belton," Leigh said. "Belton has always struggled with a retail presence because of the proximity of Killeen, Harker Heights and Temple. We've started to see some up-tick in retail. We've always had good schools, good housing, good neighborhoods, good churches and with the university."
For more information, visit www.grandavenuetheatre.com.
Chamber reopens to public
With dozens of friends and community leaders in attendance, the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce officially opened its renovated doors May 31 with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"This day really culminates more than 10 years of planning and vision by so many different leaders, board members and citizens," BACC President and CEO Stephanie O'Banion said. "We're excited to open up the door to the community."
The renovations began nearly six months prior and feature a new Visitor's Center along with more storage space, a conference room and workrooms for the Chamber's staff.
The renovations also included making the building Americans with Disabilities Act compliant and the façade matching the look of City Hall.
The City partnered with the Chamber for the renovations and City Manager Sam Listi said the City is excited to take advantage of the renovated Chamber building.
"It's a major transformation of the building, but the purpose was to provide for a place that welcomes visitors and citizens to come and take advantage of what Belton has to offer," Listi said. "We're excited about the opportunity of being a partner with the Chamber on the project."
During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, O'Banion thanked everyone for their hard work on the renovations and is excited about the new space.
"We are able to work more efficiently," O'Banion said. "The building stays very welcoming because have great storage rooms now and workrooms where they should be. It's the same square footage, but a much more efficient use."
After being housed in the S.O.S. Leadership building on Central Avenue for nearly six months, the Chamber staff moved back into their building the first week of April.
Listi said the "welcoming atmosphere" will help draw people into Belton from the Interstate.
"It makes a statement about the community that we recognize the value of welcoming people," Listi said. "It's also a statement that we recognize the importance of tourism dollars and that we want people to come and check us out."
For more information about the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce and its services, call (254) 939-3551 or visit www.beltonchamber.com.
Sparta VFD reopens
The Sparta Volunteer Fire Department located on 7041 Sparta Rd. in Belton, officially re-opened to better protect the community by responding to fire emergencies and EMS calls on Oct. 1st of this year.
Exactly 12 dedicated firefighters work for the department.
"It's been excellent," Chief David Kirk of the Sparta Fire Department said. "Financially we're doing great and everyone is doing an awesome job. We've got a real great group of people. Everything is just really going good so far."
The Sparta VFD already had events lined up for the upcoming months. They hosted a Santa Pal operation this year for low-income families, and scheduled a "Fill the Helmet" campaign. An educational juniors program is available for anyone interested in becoming a firefighter for ages 16-18.
The Sparta Fire Department is also currently looking for volunteers, if you are interested in any of these please call (254) 760-3272 or visit their website at www.spartavfd.com. As always, if you have any fire emergencies always call 911.
UMHB hosts dedication ceremony for Baugh Center
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor is continuing to make a name for itself as the premier source of Christian higher education as the university held a special dedication ceremony of the newly built Baugh Center for the Visual Arts on Fri., Oct. 19.
"Mary Hardin-Baylor has a wonderful vision and that vision is to be the university of choice for Christian higher education in the Southwest," UMHB president Dr. Randy O'Rear said. "This is the second, brand-new facility dedicated since the approval of the Master Plan in 2008."
The center is a two-story facility, encompassing more than 27,000 square fee of programmable space dedicated to art exploration and education. It also includes a gallery where regular exhibits will be held, as well as classrooms designed with specific art mediums such as ceramics, screen-printing and computer design.
The center was dedicated to the memory of Eula Mae and John Baugh. The Baughs were Houston philanthropists, who were supporters of higher education and Texas Baptist causes.
John Baugh was the founder of Sysco Corporation and served as chairman and CEO of the company, which became the world's largest food distribution service with 170 locations and more than 47,500 employees.
Under the direction of the Baugh's daughter, Barbara or "Babs," the Baugh Foundation stepped forward to make the lead gift for the construction of the $5 million facility.
At the ceremony, Babs charged the students to create something wonderful.
"God gave you a soul. And with that soul, he wants you to create beauty and love and caring for other people," she said. "We just wish for you, the most wonderful of opportunities to be doing whatever form of art you see fit to do."
The center was completed in time for classes to take place in during this semester and was designed by GSC Architects of Austin. Construction was overseen by Bartlett Cocke General Contractors.
"We want to express our appreciation for the tremendous amount of work and the devotion on the part of so many directly involved with this project," said Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts Ted Barnes. "We are so proud of our new facility and we know this building will be the home of creative ideas and grand adventures."
Scott & White breaks ground on Belton clinic
Belton residents will soon have a new medical facility to call their own as Scott & White Hospital broke ground on its new Belton clinic during a special ceremony on the afternoon of Tues., Nov. 13.
Located on the corner of Powell Avenue and Arbor Park Road in the Belton Business Park, the new 14,390 square-foot clinic will feature 24 exam rooms, two treatment rooms on-site x-ray and laboratory services.
Scott & White Chairman of Family Medicine Dr. Michael Reis said the clinic will provide much needed help to the current clinic located in north Belton.
"The clinic in Belton now is busting at the seems and we needed more room, so this is going to allow us to decompress things a bit, give better access to our patients and bring in new patients as well," Reis said.
Belton City Councilmember Craig Pearson welcomed the new clinic with open arms for the city.
"It is a great day in the City of Belton and that's an absolute fact," Pearson told those in attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony. "We could not be happier with the opening of the new clinic to take the pressure off the north facility that has provided extraordinary service for all these years."
Dr. Stephen Sewell will serve as the medical director when the new facility opens. Sewell is one of eight physicians at the clinic and is a family medicine physician on the staff at the existing family clinic on North Main Street.
American Constructors is building the clinic, which was designed by Michael Marrs Architect.
Belton City Manager Sam Listi said the location of the new clinic is a unique opportunity for Scott & White.
"This is really an ideal location. Belton is the only city in the region and county situated on I-35 and 190, and I think Scott & White certainly recognizes that," Listi said. "They are trying to appeal to multiple markets in the surrounding area. It's really a critical and vital location, not only for serving local customers, but also new customers in the entire region."
The clinic is expected to be open by summer 2013.
For more information about Scott & White Healthcare clinics, visit www.clinics.sw.org.
City Council approves historic districts
The City of Belton officially has historic districts to call its own.
On Tues., Nov. 27, at its regularly scheduled meeting at the Harris Community Center, the Belton City Council held public hearings concerning the proposed five historic districts that were laid out by historic preservation consultant Steph McDougal of McDoux Preservation during a re-surveying of the city earlier this year.
After Planning Director Erin Newcomer presented each district – the Lower West Belton District, South Main District, Downtown Belton Commercial District, Central Belton District and North Central District – the City Council unanimously voted to create the districts, with one abstention.
With the adoption of the new Historic Preservation Ordinance by the Council in June, the previous defined districts were scratched to better define the districts in the city.
"Now the City can have some oversight since we've passed the Historic Preservation Ordinance in June," Newcomer said. "People can come in and file a Certificate of Appropriateness so that we can make sure that, as opposed to the inappropriate alterations that we've seen in the past, we will see more appropriate alterations."
Although there was a 180-day moratorium on demolition of any historic structures while the districts were being defined, Newcomer said she worked with everybody that had requests.
"We were concerned, but when people come in to apply for a building permit or something of that nature, then I still consulted with them (the property owners) and gave them my viewpoint of what would be suitable historically," Newcomer said.
The ordinance also gives property owners the option of being a part of a historic district in the future if they were left out.
"Now that this in place, it allows people the opportunity to bring their property forward or a group of property owners that want to be included in an existing district or to create their own," Newcomer said.
The next step in the process will be the designation of specific landmarks throughout the city.
Beltonian reopens as comedy club
The Beltonian officially opened its doors again, but this time not as a movie theater. The new owner, Roy Bufis, who has had his eye on the Beltonian for three years, reopened the doors of the Beltonian as a comedy club.
"I've been waiting three years for a chance to get in there," Bufis said. "The previous owners beat me to it last time. I was blessed with the opportunity."
He and the staff at the Beltonian have high hopes for the success of the venue due to its location in downtown Belton and, of course, the surrounding communities of Temple, Salado, Harker Heights, Fort Hood and even Waco.
With two shows a night each weekend, the Beltonian has teamed up with Charter Talent to book their comedians.
Patrons agreed that the comedy club was a success, and they are glad that Belton is going one step further in offering weekend entertainment. Shows start at 7:45 p.m. and Thursdays and 7:45 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday night.
The venue requires a two-item minimum purchase during the show, and is currently offering limited BYOB, but hopes to have a liquor license soon. Ticket prices are reasonable, and the Beltonian also offered discounts to military, police, and fire departments as well as groups of six or more. Additionally, they've teamed up with several charities through January.
Show-goers can bring one or two cans of food for Helping Hands of Belton for a discounted ticket, or three or more cans and get in free. Hope for the Hungry has asked for sports equipment donations, and the Beltonian is offering a free ticket to anyone who donates a qualifying sports item.
"A lot of donations drop in January," Bufis said. "So we're going to keep it up through January to keep it going for the community."
The club also offers open mic night on Thursday nights in addition to the show. Interested amateur comedians should register with the Beltonian before the show to have a chance to be on stage.
Their website, www.thebeltonian.com, is now up and running or you can check out their Facebook page or call (254)939-9191 for information on upcoming events.
Councilman Peters resigns due to illness
With great reluctance and tears in their eyes, the Belton City Council accepted councilmember Clifton Peters' resignation the Dec. 11 city council meeting.
In September, Peters informed the city that he had been diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also know as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease) and wanted to spend more time with is family.
Peters served on the council since February 2000 and served as Mayor Pro Tem from 2003-05. During his time on the council, Belton has experienced a 28 percent population growth.
Before Tuesday's meeting, Peters said stepping down from the council was not an easy decision.
"The illness was really more of the prompt that got me thinking about how long I will be able to be functional," Peters said. "I hope it's for a number of years, but you never know with this type of disease.
"I thought that this would be the best time since we've had two diagnosis and two confirmations, so I thought it was time to make a change. I think it's pretty important now that I try to spend some time with family and friends."
Along with his time on the council, Peters also served on a number of boards including, Killeen-Temple Urban Transportation Study Policy Board, the Bell County Health District Board and was the chairman of the Parks Board.
Peters said his grandfather was his inspiration to go into public service.
"My mother's father was on the Temple Independent District School Board for many years and I would spend time with him in the summer and would travel with him," Peters said. "He always told me, 'Wherever you live, you need to get involved in your community.' As time went on, that's what I did."
Peters was also instrumental in several projects around the city including, the Nolan Creek Hike/Bike Trail, Harris Community Center, two splash pads, second fire station on Sparta Road, the renovation of city buildings (City Hall, library, finance), Chisholm Trail Park and special needs baseball field, Quail Meadows Park, Sparta road extension, CGI, Aspen Air, UMHB projects, HOP Regional Transit Service, Downtown development projects and Grand Avenue Theatre.
"These 12 years that I have been on the council, there's been a lot of changes in Belton and I think for the most part it's all been very positive changes," Peters said.
City attorney John Messer publicly thanked Peters for his service to Belton.
"I've been the city attorney for 34 years and I've dealt with a lot of wonderful people and this is one of them," Messer said. "He is a gentleman and a gentle man. It's been truly my pleasure working with Clifton and the City of Belton is a better place because of him."
Peters said his main focus will be staying active for as long as he is able. He will continue to work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a Quality Assurance Representative.
"I'm still going to work," Peters said. "My job description has changed, but they have been very flexible."
Although he is resigning from the Council, Peters will still be involved as the Council appointed him as the Chair of the 2013 Capital Improvements Plan Committee.
Peters' term was set to expire in May and the Council is expected to name a replacement for his position in the near future.
Peters said whoever takes his spot will be a part of some exciting things in the future.
"I think the best thing is to have an open mind, hear both sides of the story and go out and make the best decision based on the facts," Peters said.