Preserving history and encouraging new volunteers will be the focus of the Val Verde County Historical Commission’s first-ever meet-and-greet Thursday.

The event will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Texas Community Bank Community Hall, 401 Pecan St.

“This is the first time we’ve ever done an event like this,” Gay Culbertson, Val Verde County Historical Commission president, said.

Culbertson explained the local commission is part of a state-wide effort to preserve Texas history that was initiated decades ago.

“Back in the 1960s, all Texas counties were required to form historical commissions to record and preserve historical places in their counties. The county commissioners court of each county funds and controls the historical commission. In some counties, the commissions are huge and very active. In some counties, they are small and may not do anything for years. Ours is kind of in-between,” Culbertson said.

He noted since there is no downtown historical district, the Val Verde County Historical Commission is not involved in the preservation or restoration of historic properties. He said the local commission mainly deals with development and placement of historical markers.

The commission also hosts teaching events about area and regional history at its meetings.

“We’ll have guest speakers come in and talk about different parts of the county. We’ve had someone come in and talk to us about the irrigation canals. We had someone who once lived in Loma Alta tell us about that. Someone spoke to us about growing up in Carta Valley. We’ve talked about the Brown Plaza, all kinds of things,” he said.

The meet-and-greet event grew out of a mandate by the Texas Historical Commission that each local commission update its by-laws.

“Our by-laws have not been updated since the 1970s, and we didn’t change a lot, but we had to go to the county attorney, Ana Markowski Smith, and go through the by-laws, changing some wording, and basically that’s it. But in doing so, in talking to her and County Judge Lewis Owens, we began talking about needing more people and how can we get more people to help us out, so they suggested a meet-and-greet,” Culbertson said.

Culbertson said he and his wife then started talking about the possibility of including all of the county’s other historical groups.

“We need help; we need people, and we want people to find out who we are, but so does everybody else, so I started calling representatives of those groups and asking them to come join us,” Culbertson said.

Groups who have committed to participating in the event include the Amistad National Recreation Area, the Brown Plaza Association, the Casa De La Cultura, the Del Rio Downtown Association, the Devils River State Natural Area, the Family History Center at the Church of Latter Day Saints, the Friends of Adelita, the Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center in Langtry, the Laughlin Heritage Foundation Museum, Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site, the Seminole Scouts Cemetery Association, the Shumla School in Comstock and the Whitehead Memorial Museum.

Culbertson said each of the groups will have a table at the event to disseminate information to members of the public and provide an organization representative to answer questions.

“The public is invited. It’s a free event, and there will be food and drinks, and everyone is invited to come and find out what’s going on with Val Verde County history,” Culbertson said.

“We’d like for people to come, ask questions and hopefully decide to get involved,” he added. “This is an opportunity to learn about Del Rio and Val Verde County’s history. I run into people all the time that don’t know we have museums here, people who are from here who have never been to our museums, and that’s just sad.”

“We want to get history out there to people,” he said.

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