GCAA Cat. 2 Winner: San Saba
Each year, the Governor's Community Achievement Awards (GCAA) celebrate ten Texas communities for their achievements in litter prevention, beautification, public awareness, and other focus areas. Categorized by population, these ten cities share a prize of $2 million in landscaping projects.
San Saba is known for its pecans, vineyards and picturesque rolling hills. The central Texas enclave is home to just over 3,000 residents and is the largest of five communities in San Saba County. City Manager Stan Weik attributes the city's environmental success to its adherence to guiding principles focused on community improvement. "A clean town has a higher tax value, less
"If I had to identify just one of our city's many accomplishments, it would be the complexity and self-sufficiency of our volunteer engagement," Weik said. San Saba hosted four cleanups in 2016, with 1,045 volunteers removing 15,347 pounds of trash from local parks and waterways. Major initiatives included the Don't mess with Texas Trash-Off, Great American Cleanup, Armadillos Get Involved Community Workday and the Adopt-A-Highway program. Schools, scout groups, businesses and a variety of community organizations joined the efforts. Weik highlighted the engagement of volunteers from a variety of backgrounds. "We've got garden clubs cleaning up creeks with the historical society and students from the National Honor Society. Everyone is working together." In addition to cleanups, San Saba volunteers offered educational workshops to children to learn about Texas wildlife and plant life. Volunteer instructors also taught lessons on litter prevention and waste reduction at local schools. Once a small group of individuals, the volunteer network across San Saba is now more extensive and diverse than ever.
The city has experienced a boom in tourism and an influx of new businesses, which city leaders attribute to effective community engagement. Once struggling due to blight and economic downturn, revitalization efforts have transformed San Saba into a bustling magnet for visitors and residents alike. "Focusing on litter prevention and beautification has helped us achieve significant economic growth. Our sales tax income has increased and our hotel and motel tax has grown even more," Weik said. As tourists visit the city center, they cannot help but notice clean streets, a restored downtown area and smiles on the faces of those who call San Saba home.