LCRA awards $20,846 grant to revamp community center to assist in disaster relief

After upgrades, Tow Community Center will be a source of emergency shelter

Dec. 8, 2023

Lower Colorado River Authority representatives present a $20,846 grant to the Tow Community Center Association for upgrades to enable the center to serve as a disaster relief shelter. The grant is part of LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. Pictured, from left to right, are: Tony Guidroz, Llano Chamber of Commerce administrator; Tim Hackney, association board member; Gloria Buchanan, association board president; Dave Hooge, association board vice president; Margaret D. “Meg” Voelter, LCRA Board member; Kelly Whited, association board secretary; Paul Norman, association board treasurer; David Gibson, association board member; and Susan Patten, LCRA Regional Affairs representative.

LLANO COUNTY, Texas – The Tow Community Center Association will install a generator and make other upgrades to enable the community center to serve as an emergency shelter for area residents, thanks to a $20,846 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority. The Community Development Partnership Program grant, along with $8,857 in matching funds from the association, will pay for the purchase and installation of a generator and a new heating and cooling system. As part of the upgrades, the community center also will add commercial-grade appliances and use industrial heating tape to safeguard its water well and the connected pipes. Paul Norman, treasurer of the Tow Community Center Association, said the harsh conditions arising from Winter Storm Uri in 2021 sparked the push for the upgrades. Once the improvements are made, Llano County officials will be able to designate the community center as a safe place for approximately 100 area residents displaced by a natural disaster or other type of emergency. “When I got the email about the grant, my first reaction was to jump up and down and shout, ‘Hooray, we’re going to get it!’” Norman said. “This is going to let us get out and get busy rounding up these things we need to have a safer, more reliable place ready for when it’s needed.” He said the community center needs upgrades before it can serve as a shelter during emergencies. “Right now, if the power goes down, we’re in trouble,” Norman added. “If our water source freezes, we’re in trouble. This grant allows us to attack three essential things: heating and cooling, power and lights, and reliable water.” The new commercial-grade kitchen will benefit anyone staying at the center during an emergency, as well as people attending any of the various social or community events held there. Located close to the western shoreline of Lake Buchanan, the community center occupies a building that once served as the original Tow schoolhouse before being moved during the construction of Buchanan Dam in the 1930s. The community center has since been expanded and now is the site of family reunions, weddings, church services, arts and exercise classes, and more. For many residents of Tow, Buchanan Lake Village and Paradise Point, the community center serves as a primary location for social activities. Now thanks to the planned upgrades, the center also will provide safe harbor if needed, Norman said. “When we had that big freeze in 2021, we were so ill-prepared for it,” Norman said. “That told us we needed to make a push to become a designated disaster relief station. It was definitely a wake-up call. We’re so thankful to the LCRA for getting involved in this project. Without this financial boost, we would not be able to get this done.” The community grant is one of 45 grants awarded recently through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program, which helps volunteer fire departments, local governments, emergency responders and nonprofit organizations fund capital improvement projects in LCRA’s wholesale electric, water and transmission service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves.

Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted in January. More information is available at

About LCRA

The Lower Colorado River Authority serves customers and communities throughout Texas by managing the lower Colorado River; generating and transmitting electric power; providing a clean, reliable water supply; and offering outdoor adventures at more than 40 parks along the Colorado River from the Texas Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. LCRA and its employees are committed to fulfilling our mission to enhance the quality of life of the Texans we serve through water stewardship, energy and community service. LCRA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1934 and receives no state appropriations.

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