Housing, education, and tourism ideas presented

-Advocate Photo (DB) Clark Hotel Museum

The Van Horn City Council received a presentation from Ocotillo Communication Ventures on Monday. The presentation highlighted possible opportunities Blue Origin and the community can collaborate on. Karolyne Carloss, of Ocotillo Communication Ventures, led the discussion with three community proposals.

• Community Proposal #1: Housing- Multi-Unit Housing Development

“Blue Origin is experiencing significant growth, and employees are having a difficult time finding affordable, quality housing that meets their needs in the area. The housing environment in Van Horn drives many employees to purchase RV’s and even impacts their willingness to stay in Van Horn long-term. After completing a housing survey with Blue Origin employees, we have determined that a multi-unit housing project in Van Horn would best meet the needs of employees. We know that other businesses in the area (pecan farm , sand plant, and future solar/oil/gas projects) could benefit from this type of housing initiative, and we believe that we can attract outside real estate investors and developers to this project. We are interested in getting the council’s guidance on how to best integrate this type of project into Van Horn, making it accessible to mixed levels of income and preserving the integrity of the existing Van Horn landscape.”

• Proposal #2: Career Pipeline- Apprenticeship & Job Program

“Blue Origin has identified a need for strong, local talent to help sustain and grow their operations in west Texas. Blue Origin’s WTLS employee tenure length is lower than at their other sites, and we believe that training local talent has the potential to create a long-term workforce for Blue Origin, as well as stable, well-paying jobs for Van Horn students and local residents. The superintendent, Ken Baugh, is focused on developing a STEM program, and Blue Origin thinks a natural partnership can emerge between the company and the school. This partnership has the potential to expand and formalize into a career pipeline between Van Horn school, regional technical schools and universities, and Blue Origin. We are interested in jointly pursuing state and federal funding to develop apprenticeship programs, training programs, and career or college-readiness programs.”

• Proposal #3: Business and Tourism- Van Horn: Space-tourism capital of the world?

“Blue Origin plans to start flying tourists to space as early as next year. We expect those flights to attract the immediate and extended families of astronauts, as well as tourists from all around the world who want to take part in this ground-breaking experience. We believe there is an opportunity for Van Horn to market itself as the space tourism capital of the world, and we think there are considerable tourist development projects that the city stands to profit from. A few initial projects we have considered is a rocket launch viewing area on State Highway 54 and a pioneering exhibit at the Clark museum to showcase Van Horn’s history of land, oil, and space pioneering. We know that space tourism will attract tourists and new businesses to this area, and we want to work with the community to make sure that Van Horn is prepared to benefit from this future tourist economy.”

Council members expressed optimism and encouragement, noting that a committee type group with various members from the community should be the next step. The aim of the presentation was to stimulate discussion among council members.

With respect to other items on the meeting agenda, council took the following actions or noted the status:

  • Approved the final phase of the landfill construction.
  • Denied a request extending water service to FM2185
  • Council tabled action on a request from TXDOT regarding the relocation of a gasoline located at the proposed new rest area location.
  • Approved the purchase of net gun to aid in the capture of animals running at large.
  • Discussed the mailing of a letter to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality regarding the ponds at the golf course.
  • Approved the quote for security cameras that will be installed at the Utilities Department.