View Full Version : Waco's Texas Ranger HOF Being Minimalized?

07-06-04, 08:56 AM
Strange fight for TX Ranger HOF. Why not support the existing HOF, making it the best of its kind in the country? Looks like UT folks (Red McCombs for one) don't like having to stop in Waco for a trip to the Texas Ranger HOF. I plan on writing David Dewhurst (an Air Force man) about this. He is one of the few leaders in our State with common sense.

Byron Johnson, Director of TX Ranger HOF (http://img.coxnewsweb.com/C/01/70/54/image_754701.gif)

7/06/04 Room for 2? Second Texas Ranger museum planned by Kerrville group
By J.B. SMITH Tribune-Herald staff writer
The official Texas Ranger Museum in Waco faces an unlikely rival in its expansion efforts: A group of former Rangers bent on building its own Ranger history center in Kerrville.

The Former Texas Rangers Foundation has bought 15 acres and raised more than $1 million for the Texas Rangers History and Education Center, which would be slightly smaller than the Waco museum.

The Former Texas Rangers are hoping to raise $8.4 million and have been lining up support from prominent Texans. The project even got a resolution of support from the Texas Legislature a couple of years ago.

The campaign poses a challenge for the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, which is trying to kick its own $23 million expansion campaign into high gear. Waco museum officials said they have approached several potential donors who have already given to the Kerrville project.

"We don't have a hostile attitude toward them," museum director Byron Johnson said of the Former Texas Rangers group. "We don't feel like they're actively trying to interfere with our operation. But funding for nonprofits is limited. When you have two nonprofits that represent the same thing, it becomes confusing for donors."

The Former Texas Rangers, who already operate a small museum in San Antonio, say Texas is big enough for two major Texas Ranger museums.

"We're not in competition," said foundation President Joe B. Davis, a former Company F Texas Ranger sergeant. "There ought to be a Ranger museum in every county. . . . There's no way one museum can carry all the artifacts of the Texas Rangers. There's so many out there, you'd have to build a monstrosity of a building to contain them."

He said the Former Texas Rangers considered building a museum in San Marcos, but decided that two similar attractions on Interstate 35 would be too much.

"We didn't want to be in the same area," Davis said. "We felt like Waco has a great museum. What we want to do is work together with the museum in Waco. We're all here for a common cause, and that's the Texas Rangers."

The Kerrville site is across from the Cowboy Artists Museum on State Highway 173, a moderately traveled highway several miles from Interstate 10.

According to promotional materials, the museum would center around a 1 1/2-story limestone building complemented with an outdoor memorial in honor of slain Texas Rangers. Inside, visitors would see a timeline of more than 180 years of history of the legendary police force. The center would include a replica Ranger camp and log cabin, as well as historical weapons and Ranger artifacts.

The center also would include a library, an auditorium and a gift shop.

The Former Texas Rangers Association and its foundation have some 2,000 members and contributors, Davis said. The foundation's advisory board includes Texas historian T.R. Fehrenbach, car sales mogul Red McCombs, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, former governors Mark White and Dolph Briscoe and other prominent Texans. Other major financial supporters include Tom Frost of Frost Bank.

Still, Waco museum officials believe they would have a competitive edge over the Kerrville project.

The Fort Fisher site at Interstate 35 and the Brazos River is scenic, highly visible and centrally located in the state, said Bill Warren, chairman of the museum's advisory board.

"It's probably the best location in the state," he said.

The Waco museum has a 35-year track record and has been declared the official Ranger museum by the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Legislature. It also contains the Rangers' official state archive and library.

Another benefit is public funding, in the form of about $350,000 a year from the city of Waco. Though it is a state museum, it receives no state funds.

An added attraction for the museum is the chance to see working Texas Rangers in the adjacent headquarters for Ranger Company F.

Early this year, the museum geared up its fund-raising effort, which had been dormant due to the sluggish economy and the public's traveling jitters following the 2001 terror attacks.

The museum has raised more than $300,000 for the $3 million first phase of its planned expansion, which is scheduled to begin next year. That would include an expanded library and a larger Ranger headquarters that would make the working Rangers more visible to the public.

Future expansions would more than double the current museum's size and would include high-tech, hands-on exhibits. Johnson said the museum, which now attracts about 80,000 visitors a year, needs to grow if it is to thrive.

"It's been 20-odd years since there's been a significant capital investment in the museum," Johnson said. "Museums are educational institutions, but they're also businesses. The days when a museum could just hang something on a wall hook are over."

City Manager Larry Groth said he has talked with museum supporters about supporting the expansion effort through a city bond election.

"I think it's one of the things the community needs to look at," he said. "Whether it's among the three or four priorities we would include in a bond election, I think the community needs to decide."

He said he will talk to the council later this summer about exploring a possible bond package.

Meanwhile, Johnson said Kerrville is a wealthy area and he wouldn't be surprised if the Former Texas Rangers group reaches its fund-raising goals. But he said raising money for operations is much more difficult than building a museum.

"They have one luxury they don't own a museum. They're not open," he said. "We have to raise operating monies to keep our programs going, plus capital funds. They have half a battle right now. Building something is not that difficult, but once you do that you have to feed the operating budget."

The Texas Ranger Museum has an annual operating budget of about $1 million, with less than 25 percent coming from admission revenues. The rest comes from the city of Waco, gift shop and banquet hall revenues, private donations and licensing arrangements for products such as Wrangler jeans.

But Davis of the Former Texas Rangers said the Kerrville center will be adequately funded through annual events and a $2 million endowment that is included in the overall $8.4 million campaign.

Davis said he wasn't aware of the Waco museum's expansion plans until after the Former Texas Rangers kicked off its campaign.

He said he believes the two Texas Ranger centers could co-exist and share artifacts.

"We're all here for a common cause and that's the legacy of the Texas Rangers," he said.

Warren, the Waco museum advisory board chairman, said he hates to see another museum that would "fragment" efforts to commemorate the Rangers. On the other hand, he said, the competition might be a wake-up call to get the Waco museum expansion moving.

Groth said the museum needs to become more interactive and modern to attract a new generation of tourists.

"It's one of our spotlight attractions," he said. "It has brand recognition around the world, and we can capitalize on that."


Link To Texas Rangers (www.thetexasrangers.org)

The Gambler
07-06-04, 09:03 AM
Everybody needs to write Mark White, a Baylor Graduate!!!!!

I can not believe that they closed the campground at Fort Fischer years ago so that they could expand the Ranger Museum and yet no work has been done. Many of my friends that travel by motorcoach, as I do, have expressed much disappointment by the closure of that park.

The Gambler
On the road to the Mississippi coast.

07-07-04, 12:34 AM
Can Ann Richards help us out on this? You know, she was so influential getting us into the Big 12 and all.

07-07-04, 08:57 AM
The potential for growth on the Texas Rangers Museum website would be in its sale of guns. There have been great opportunities to purchase vintage guns on this site and most are sold out. This needs to be expanded and upgraded.