Posted on May 08, 2019


Light it up!


That is theme of Leadership Mineral Wells Class 25 for its project to restore and re-light the famous "Welcome" sign located atop Bald Mountain.


But that is not all. This class of 23 members is taking things a "step" further with plans to create a park at the base of the mountain, with steps – reminiscent of the "Fat Man Reducer" stairs up East Mountain decades ago – leading to an observation platform just below the newly restored "Welcome" sign.


Members of the Leadership class presented their plans and fundraising efforts Wednesday to a room packed with Mineral Wells Rotarians and guests at Palo Pinto General Hospital.



Members of the Leadership 25 class – organized and sponsored by the Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce – present Wednesday were Kristen Hull, Monica Reidlinger, Amy Jones, Shree Patterson, Joe Erwin, Martin Buzbee and Brad Bennett.


The "Welcome" sign stands 10 feet tall and is 60 feet long. It was donated to Mineral Wells in 1992 by George Holmgren, then president of the Texas Rotary Club, as thanks to the city's hospitality to Rotary Club and members for hosting the state convention that year. Holmgren owned Alamo Iron Works, where the sign was made. It was initially placed atop East Mountain, overlooking the Baker Hotel and First United Methodist Church. At the time was said to be the largest non-commercial electric sign in the nation.


The sign was made with each letter containing holes made for holding individual light bulbs that were used to illuminate it.



In 1972, the sign was moved – one letter at a time – by a Warrant Officer Company from Fort Wolters using a helicopter to its current location. Today, flood lights at the base of the sign are used to light the sign at night.


From a distance, the sign appears OK. But upon closer inspection it is showing its age and deterioration. Soon it will begin to get a fresh look with some repairs, fresh paint and a backing to make it stand out. What will make it really stand out are LED, weather-proof light strips around each letter. Each letter will be individually remotely controlled to change colors, flash or synchronize to music for special events or holidays. Added security to protect the sign and property will be installed, and some clearing around the sign will make it more visible.


Leadership members say they believe they can do the sign project for under $12,000 – and the good news is they have already raised that amount through donations of money and supplies. Bennett said they hope to soon begin the sign's restoration work.


They are now working to raise monies for the second phase of their project – a public park and steps leading up the mountain. They are looking at land acquisition for parking and the park, materials and construction costs but as yet don't have a good cost estimate. Buzbee said the mountain is 140 feet tall from the base to the top, and the steps would likely number over 3,200 leading about 800 feet diagonally up and across.


Jones said more fundraisers are planned – including the current selling of "Welcome" Christmas tree ornaments for $8 each. Bake sales, sports tournaments, T-shirt sales and more underway or planned to raise the monies needed for the second project.


Rotarian and interim Chamber President and CEO Raymond Greenwood said donations can be made to the newly created Envision Mineral Wells Foundation and earmarked for the Leadership 25 project. He said donations made to the Foundation are tax-deductible and can be made using different types of financial means. Find them on Facebook here.



Anyone interested in donating, participating or wanting to invite members of the class to present their plans to a group, contact Marcelinda Williams at the chamber at 940-325-2557, or contact any of the class members. They are Bret Brown (Treasurer), Kristen Hull, Monica Riedlinger, Shelle Hawkins Crenshaw, Kelly Strain Morris, Stacy Evans Melton, Tracy Leal Richards, Sheree Patterson, Martin Buzbee, Taylor Hickey, Amy Jones (Secretary), Brian Nierman, Karen Glover, Nikki Elms, Machelle Scott Coleman, Matt Sudderth (President), John Richardson, Lexis Nix, Bob Neal, Brandon Glover, Joe Erwin, Brad Bennett and Brandon Jordan.



Rotary Club of Mineral Wells meets every Wednesday at noon at PPGH for lunch, networking, updates on club news and projects and a program of interest. Meetings are for club members, invited guests and prospective members.