Above, Mayor Jane Hughson speaks during the City of San Marcos' SMTX 2021 — a citywide video update — presented on Monday. Screenshot via Facebook
SMTX 2021 provides residents with citywide update
San Marcos Mayor Jane Hughson, city staff and local business owners took part in a Facebook video, providing residents with an update regarding the city’s response to COVID-19, Winter Storm Uri and ongoing growth in the area.
SMTX 2021 — the third annual presentation from the City of San Marcos which debuted Monday night— showcases a 20-minute update for residents.
“A lot has happened since we did this last year,” Hughson said. “We’ve faced some challenges this year, but have learned to adapt in ways that we thought we never would. We found new ways to connect with family and friends, safely and from a distance. Businesses have found new ways to provide goods and services, and we’ve done remote learning with our kids. Unfortunately, many of us have been ill, or lost friends and family to COVID-19 and we mourn those losses.”
Following Hughson’s introduction into the presentation, SMTX 2021 highlighted the city’s response to COVID-19 and how it adapted to provide services to its residents.
“Like other city departments, local organizations and local businesses, we rushed to make necessary adjustments so that we could continue to provide services to our residents,” San Marcos Public Library Director Diane Insley said. “We began offering modified pick-up options that allowed patrons to check out an estimated 230,000 books and other materials. The library has always offered space for educational and employment opportunities, and we were committed to continuing those services by adapting them for a virtual audience.”
Insley said the response to the library’s changes were well received.
“The circulation of our electronic resources increased by 50% compared to last year,” she said. “Our jobs and resources Facebook page gained followers. Our classes were attended by hundreds of students. Our YouTube channel racked up nearly 50,000 views. Even with the challenges we faced, we issued nearly 1,400 new library cards. As 2021 continues, we’re energized by the spirit of our staff and our community and we’re looking forward to welcoming everyone into the newly expanded building.”
Parks and Recreation Assistant Director Jamie Lee Case said the department made changes to support the physical and mental health needs of all San Marcans.
“We encouraged residents to get outdoors safely with creative and interactive events, including a citywide game of Clue, parking lot bingo for our seniors and Tales on the Trails for our youth,” Case said. “To prevent isolation and loneliness, our staff made more than 3,000 calls to our senior community members when the pandemic began.”
San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter Program Coordinator Sophia Proler said the pandemic caused volunteers to spend less time at the animal shelter but there were also positive outcomes.
“Fewer animals came into the shelter in the last year and more lost pets were returned to their families,” Proler said. “Our adoptions increased by nearly 6.5% year-to-year and our live-outcome rate continues to improve.”
The presentation then shifted gears and highlighted how the local business community adapted to the pandemic, including social distancing measures, curbside to-go options and plexiglass dividers to keep patrons safe.
“When the pandemic began, we knew immediately that downtown businesses were going to need our support,” Main Street Downtown Coordinator Josie Falletta said. “As businesses began offering curbside pick-up services, Main Street established a curbside parking pilot to make it easier for customers to purchase goods and services from local businesses … We’ve been so impressed with the way downtown businesses have adapted to the challenges they’ve faced over the past year.”
KnD’s Boutique Owner Kristan Alvarez added: “We received a lot of support from our locals. This whole past year, it’s just been really great. I’m just so thankful for our locals who have come out and shopped with us.”
SMTX 2021 also highlighted efforts to help residents during February’s Winter Storm Uri.
“Our work started even before the storm hit,” Director of Public Safety Chase Stapp said. “Code compliance and San Marcos PD’s homeless outreach teams spent days identifying individuals in need and providing them access to resources and temporary housing with the help of community partners, including Southside Community Center, the Salvation Army and H.O.M.E. Central Texas. The city’s streets crews spent hours out on the road applying deicing solution and sand in an effort to keep our community safe.
“When the storm hit, our utility crews worked 24 hours a day to restore services to our customers,” Stapp added. “Our 911 telecommunicators stepped in to support other local agencies impacted by the storm, answering thousands of calls from people across the county. Police officers and firefighters responded to more than 1,000 calls throughout the week and still found time to put in extra effort by helping residents to repair generators, providing welfare checks and volunteering to drive patients to medical treatments or home from the hospital.”
Hughson also highlighted what lies ahead for San Marcos, mentioning the city’s Vision SMTX comprehensive plan; Hopkins Street Improvement Project; Blanco Riverine Mitigation Project; the ongoing development of the city’s new Public Services Complex; and ongoing and completed bond projects.
Hughson also stated that people continue to come to San Marcos and the Central Texas region, citing that the city issued 759 new single-family permits in 2020 alongside San Marcos’ population growth.
Hughson concluded the presentation by saying that the prevailing message is “the state of the city continues to be strong and we’re stronger together.”
“The city remains committed to helping residents and businesses navigate the effect of the pandemic and the winter storm that tried to take us down,” she said. “We’ve shown such resilience this past year, and we will continue to work together to overcome the challenges and economic hardships that persist even as businesses and facilities slowly begin to reopen.
“As we look back and celebrate our achievements, we look ahead with resolve to continue building a San Marcos that is strengthened, safe and welcoming to everyone in our city,” Hughson added.
To view SMTX 2021 in its entirety visit: https://fb.watch/5-y713bgfo/