Students create Amarillo app
George W. Bush Presidential Center opens
With a rare gathering of five presidents, the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas was dedicated on April 25 on the campus of Southern Methodist University. The library opened to the public on May 1.
President Barack Obama and former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, joined by their first ladies, were on hand for the dedication ceremony. The 226,565-square-foot center is home to the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum along with the 43rd president's policy institute.
The George W. Bush Library and Museum, operated by the National Archives and Records Administration, features exhibits focusing on key decision points of the Bush presidency, using interactive, digital and visual displays to provide visitors a sense of the issues facing the President and the principles that guided him through critical situations.
The showcase of archives from the Bush Administration includes the largest electronic records collection of any presidential library (80 terabytes of digital information and more than 200 million e-mails) and more than 43,000 artifacts including personal mementos, items associated with defining moments from the President's two terms in office (World Trade Center steel beams from 9/11 and a Hurricane Katrina exhibit), and gifts from foreign heads-of-state.
"The Bush Library and Museum is a state-of-the-art research center for historians, scholars, students and the public," says Alan Lowe, director of the Bush Library and Museum. "We will provide in-depth access to presidential materials and the presidential decision-making process, and we look forward to serving as an educational resource for this great community and the entire nation."
The Bush Center's surrounding native Texas landscape includes trees from the Bush family's Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford and the Center’s foundation includes limestone from the Midland area where the former president and former First Lady Laura Bush grew up and lived when they were first married.
Governor's Mansion reopens for tours
The Texas Governor’s Mansion, which has been closed to the public since June 2008, has reopened for public tours as of April 23.
Guided 20-minute tours are available Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Although tours are free, reservations are required and must be made at least one week in advance. For reservations, call (512) 305-8524 or email
The Governor's Mansion, a National Historic Landmark, has been the official home of every Texas governor since June 1856. It is the oldest executive residence west of the Mississippi, the fourth oldest in the Nation, and the oldest to survive and function essentially in its original configuration.
On June 8, 2008, the Governor's Mansion suffered significant structural and architectural damage caused by arson. Fortunately, the Mansion was empty at the time and all its prized contents were in storage.
With support from preservationists, lawmakers and Texans from all walks of life, the Governor’s Mansion has been fully restored.
Texas Historical Commission revamps heritage site
As things are springing anew, Texas Historical Commission has launched a new and improved version of its award-winning heritage travel site, www.TexasTimeTravel.com.
THC created the website in 2011 to provide a user-friendly resource for traveling the state and discovering its unique heritage.
According to Rob Hodges, Texas Historical Commission Social Media Coordinator, this relaunch and enhancement coincides with new websites for the 10 trail regions that make up the Texas Heritage Trails Program. Collectively, the sites provide users more in-depth information.
The redesigned www.TexasTimeTravel.com site features more in-depth information about Texas regions and historic sites, enhanced search results, travel themes that organize destinations by topics of interest, interactive maps, new images, and seamless integration with the 10 Texas Heritage Trail Region websites.
“The new ‘Theme’ feature of TexasTimeTravel.com enables users to—for the first time—explore historic destinations across the state according to categories of interest such as ‘Architecture,’ ‘Military History,’ and ‘Arts and Leisure,’ says Hodges. He adds that the site’s popular Plan Your Adventure tool has been enhanced.
“You can still enter a location within the state and get results of historic destinations within a certain distance, but now they display on an interactive map for easier travel planning,” he says.
TexasTimeTravel.com and the trail region websites also are now mobile-friendly.
Bryan Frazier named TxDOT's Travel Services Section Director
Bryan Frazier has been named Texas Department of Transportation’s new Travel Services Section Director, a position formerly held by recently retired Brenda Harper. Frazier began his role on April 15.
Frazier, who has been with Texas Parks and Wildlife since 2001, will lead efforts of the Travel Services Section, including oversight of 68 employees in Austin and around the state. Frazier also will oversee TxDOT’s 12 Texas Travel Information Centers.
“It is an exciting time for this section as we move in a direction of sponsorships and commercialization of the Texas Travel Information Centers,” says TxDOT Travel Information Division Director Margo Richards.
Frazier also will be charged with overseeing TxDOT’s DriveTexas campaign, as well as lead emergency operations for the Travel Information Division.
“DriveTexas has proved to be an extremely useful tool to staff and the public over the years. I look forward to continuing those efforts and making it even more user friendly and dynamic,” Richards says.
In his tenure with Texas Parks and Wildlife, Frazier oversaw all aspects of the promotions, marketing, special events, advertising and public information campaigns of the Texas State Park system, and managed many of the public relations, media tours and public presentation messages for the state park division, serving as the official public spokesperson for the Parks Division at TPWD.
As a part of the State Park Business Management Group, he was involved in business and revenue development strategies for Parks, including state park store operations, fees, state park pass sales, corporate partnership development and statewide tourism ventures.
Prior to coming to TPWD, Bryan worked in college athletic administration, sports broadcast, sports marketing and media relations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, having been a collegiate assistant athletic director, and worked various media relations projects for the U.S. Olympic trials, Southern Methodist University football, and USA Cycling. In his spare time, he enjoys fishing, working out, coaching youth baseball and spending time with his wife and young son.
Bryan attended Abilene Christian University with a degree in advertising and marketing and was an All-American baseball player.
…AND THE WINNER IS…
Four travel industry professionals received prestigious awards during ceremonies at the 58th annual Texas Travel Counselors Conference held in Lubbock. The awards were given to these individuals for providing outstanding customer service and for exceptional contributions to the state’s travel and tourism industry, TxDOT and the state
Valerie Eaves, a counselor at TxDOT’s Texas Travel Information Center in Texarkana received the 2013 Roadrunner award.
The Roadrunner Award recognizes Eaves for her outstanding dedication to the Texas tourism during her tenure with TxDOT. Eaves began her career in 2003 at the Travel Information Center in Texarkana. She became a state and nationally certified Travel Counselor in 2005 and served as her supervisor’s assistant during several hurricane emergencies. Eaves has showed outstanding leadership by serving as both secretary and president of the Texas Counselors Advisory Committee, and received the committee’s Shining Star award.
The Texas Travel Information Center in Texarkana served 335,922 visitors in 2012. The information center greets travelers entering Texas at the Arkansas border.
Lone Star Award
Martha Martin, special projects supervisor in TxDOT’s Travel Services Section, received the 2013 Lone Star Award for her remarkable service to the Texas tourism industry.
Martin serves as one of the principal points of contact for the state’s 12 Travel Information Centers that greet more than 2 million visitors a year. A 23-year veteran with TxDOT, she advises on matters of policy and operations at the Travel Information Centers and fosters communication between the Travel Services Section in Austin and the Centers throughout the state. Martin’s other responsibilities include routine inspections of the Centers and was instrumental in the development and launch of DriveTexas™, TxDOT’s highway road condition website and phone system.
Gene Phillips Hospitality Award
Pattie Sears, Director of Tourism at the Bryan-College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau, was named the recipient of the 2013 Gene Phillips Hospitality Award. With 26 years of experience at the Bryan-College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau, Sears is noted for providing first-rate customer service to visitors. She currently serves on the boards of both the Bryan-College Station Sister City Association and the Worldfest Organization. Sears collaborates with TxDOT’s Travel Information Center in Orange to keep the Center up-to-date on all Bryan-College Station area tourism news and promotes Bryan-College Station at AAA’s annual trade show in Houston.
Sears saw the drastic rise in visitor numbers when the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum opened on Texas A&M University’s campus in 1997, and she and the CVB adjusted easily to the influx of visitors. She was one of the first three people to receive the university’s certification in Destination Marketing, which helped Sears host the 2004 Texas Travel Counselors Conference in Bryan-College Station. Additionally, she’s a past president of the College Station Noon Lions Club and a past board member of the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History. Her positive energy and dedication to the surrounding community make her a well-respected member of the Texas tourism industry.
Some generous rain showers throughout the spring bode well for wildflowers that bloom in Texas from late April on, according to Damon Waitt, senior botanist at The University of Texas at Austin’s Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
“Look for the wildflower season to improve as we get deeper into spring and into the early summer, when wildflowers that need less rainfall traditionally reach their peak,” says Waitt, who also is the center’s senior director.
Cool temperatures also have encouraged Texas bluebonnets, blackfoot daisies and other early bloomers to stick around longer in locations where there was enough fall rain for them to flower. In other areas, the cool weather delayed the peak of some blooms.
“We’re just getting into a great show of bluebonnets at the Wildflower Center,” Waitt says, “and the same is true for some other public viewing spots, so it’s worth getting out to enjoy early spring sightings.”
Among the good viewing options are bluebonnet patches along roadways near Brenham, Texas. Other Washington County sightings include many coreopsis along Highway 290 East near Hempstead and winecups and other wildflowers where that highway intersects with FM 1488.
Blankets of bluebonnets and a few Indian paintbrush have been spotted along FM 1431 between Marble Falls and Lago Vista. Bluebonnets have been seen along Highway 290 into Houston and along Highway 59 north of FM 1960. And in Austin, good stands of pink evening primrose and Texas bluebonnets have been seen along MoPac (Loop 1) and other highways.
Waitt also recommended traveling side roads for the best shows of truly native wildflowers, as their right of ways are less likely to be disturbed.
To view wildflowers at the center before visiting, check out their bluebonnet cam. For general public sightings, visit http://www.wildflowerhaven.com and http://lnstar.com/wildflowers/index.html, or contact the Texas Department of Transportation at (800) 452-9292.
Texas Travel Industry Association and the Texas Tourism Foundation responded to the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, Texas by launching efforts to help the victims.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the folks in West and the surrounding communities, especially the first responders and those with family in the immediate blast area,” says TTIA President and CEO David Teel. “We are also thinking about our friends at WestFest, a long-time member of TTIA,” he adds.
Attendees at TTIA’s April Texas Travel Fair donated directly to the West Texas Relief Fund through the Texas Tourism Foundation. Others can still donate through the Texas Tourism Foundation online donation portal.
TTIA compiled a list of ways to help, including:
- Donate to the Texas Tourism Foundation, which will ensure the money is given to the disaster relief/victims fund set up by local businesses. Complete the form and put West Texas Explosion in the Donor Comments box.
- Donate directly to the victims through Point West Bank, 200 West Oak St., West, TX 76691. Make sure to indicate the donation is for the victims of this explosion.
- Donate to the American Red Cross - Heart of Texas Chapter
Students create Amarillo app
A group of Amarillo high school students are making their city easier to navigate with a multiplatform app they developed –– Amarillo Tourism: Where to Eat, Sleep & Play.
This “first in the nation” student tourism app project is scheduled for unveiling during National Tourism Week in early May.
More than 100 students from the North Heights Alternative School in the Amarillo Independent School District have worked on the comprehensive destination app since 2011. Their tasks included researching entries, shooting videos and photos, interviewing business owners and establishing the app’s design. In the coming school years, classes will maintain and update the app and the content.
“As residents of Amarillo, we are very proud of these kids. And as tourism professionals charged with marketing Amarillo, we are blown away by these students and their determination and attention to detail,” says Dan Quandt, Amarillo CVC executive director. “We are happy to help them put this app before the local and traveling public.”
Amarillo Tourism: Where to Eat, Sleep & Play is available through the iTunes App Store or the Android Store for $1.99. All the proceeds/royalties will go toward college scholarships for qualifying North Heights students.
To view a link of the promotional video, visit the Amarillo CVC site.