Each year, the Governor's Community Achievement Awards (GCAA) celebrate ten Texas communities for their outstanding efforts to keep their communities beautiful. From the Texas coast to the Panhandle, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has awarded cities with this honor since 1986. Winners are selected for their ability to engage citizens, local businesses, schools, and other organizations in environmental improvement initiatives. Categorized by population, these ten cities share an award of $2 million in landscaping projects. Keep Texas Beautiful (KTB) and TxDOT have worked together to administer the GCAA for more than 30 years.
As we gear up for GCAA 2020, we'll be featuring all ten of our 2019 GCAA recipients over the next few months on our blog. Stay tuned to learn about our other winning communities!
Category 6: Aransas County
Landscape Award: $210,000
Aransas County is located on the Gulf Coast and offers the relaxed quality of life of a coastal community. Although it is the second smallest county in the state, Aransas County has one of the fastest-growing populations in Texas, comprised of local residents, summer vacationers and winter residents (also known as "Winter Texans"). The largest sector of the population is retirees who have relocated to the area, many of whom volunteer their time to more than one hundred clubs and organizations in Aransas County. Residents enjoy natural habitats and local festivals celebrating fishing, hummingbirds, Whooping Cranes and Monarch butterflies.
Aransas County is still working to rebuild their community after Hurricane Harvey, which makes winning the GCAA that much more meaningful. "The grant will help us restore, repair and beautify beyond where we were pre-Harvey," says Judy Sutterfield of Keep Aransas County Beautiful (KACB). "With many landmarks gone, there are endless opportunities to create and educate throughout our county."
The county has rallied to support restoration efforts with the City of Rockport Parks Department and Aransas County Navigational District supporting KACB's community improvement programs. Master Naturalists and the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program also provide support with community projects. One community revitalization project restored the estimated 10,000 iconic oak trees lost in the storm. The City of Rockport, along with the Arbor Day Foundation, FedEx, Verizon and others, sponsored an event giving away 1,000 saplings. Another project included an economic-recovery planning group formed by the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce and focused on art and landscaping for downtown. Planters were adopted in the downtown corridor and high school art students painted murals depicting scenery of local waterway activity and wildlife. Welcome monuments, ball fields and public parks were also revitalized with help from grant funding.
If you find yourself in Rockport-Fulton, you will see that residents embody the "Rockport-Fulton Strong" and "Love Where We Live and Play" city tourism slogans. These mottos perfectly personify the proud and dedicated volunteers of Aransas County. They participated in numerous beautification projects, cleanups, and educational events. As Judy Sutterfield puts it, "It is the volunteers that brought our county to the spotlight. People of all ages and walks of life have dedicated numerous hours to making Aransas County the unique environment we call home."
Learn more about our KTB affiliates at ktb.org/GCAA