Mason, TX

"The gem of the hill country"

The people in Mason are as beautiful as the setting. (Credit: Doris Grote)

Mason is a farming and ranching community with a significant artist presence. Having originated as a Germansettlement, Mason is not very ethnically diverse, but our population is very diverse in age approximately 22%under 18, 25% between 25 and 44, 29% between 45 and 65 and 25% 65 or older. You might think it would presentsome challenges for so many generations to live in peace and harmony, but we do it every day. How? We respecteach other, we look out for each other, and everyone is included in everything.

Stories About Mason

Editors’ note: This is a unique nomination. The nominator, Doris Grote, attached a 21-page PDF with multiple sections, including all the stories and images from Mason. The entire PDF can be viewed here. Some excerpts are published below:

There are lots of ways to get involved and give back to our community of Mason. One of these ways is through volunteering as a Texas Master Naturalist. Texas Master Naturalists in the area have assisted with youth education programs in educating others on light pollution and how to save money on selecting different outdoor lighting. We work closely with our Wildlife Management Area in the county on a variety of projects such as:

— Bluebird Nesting Boxes and the Quail Habituate study.

— Working with city employees on eradiating chinaberry trees in the riparian area along our nature trail at the city park.

— On an everyday basis, several of us record rainfall and report it to a national data base.

— And once a month a few of us take samples of our local Llano River to monitor the health of this important water source and report this information to two different statewide entities.

—¬†Bridget Langdale

When rains are plentiful, and the grass is tall, it’s easy to see the beauty of the Texas hill country. Every creature that walks, crawls or flies enjoys the bounty that is available during the good times. Seeing a whitetail deer fawn frolicking among the bluebonnets and Indian paint brushes is an awesome sight. However, during years of droughtwhen the grass is short and the dirt ponds are dry one will learn how fleeting the times of bounty can be. Seeing deer dangerously thin and knowing many won’t survive the winter can be a sobering fact.

One man, a local Texas Game Warden named Gene Ashby knew something must be done. Learning that child care facilities and orphan homes were struggling with food costs and understanding that whitetail deer populations were higher than the land could sustain, he set out to remedy the situation. After consulting with ranchers and landowners in Mason and surrounding counties and getting support from Mason businesses, Operation Orphans,Inc. was born.

The year was 1960. Times were hard for children facilities. Many had to scrape by in clothing and feeding the underprivileged youngsters in their care. Operation Orphans, Inc. set out to offer an opportunity for these underserved kids to enjoy a day in the outdoors with caring individuals to experience a deer hunt and to learn the joys and responsibilities of the outdoors. The meat from the harvested deer would be used in the orphanages and child facilities easing their burden of food costs. This would also be a management tool helping to adjust the deer numbers to the forage available.

Camp Gene Ashby, located on the banks of the Llano River in Mason County, was established to serve as the basecamp. Landowners located in Mason and surrounding counties allow the young hunters and their guides to hunt on their properties. Today, Operation Orphans, Inc. has hosted over 18,600 boys and girls. Volunteers from all across Texas come to share their love and knowledge with the participating children. Some 163 children’s homes have participated.

Operation Orphans, Inc. also holds fishing camps for the kids. Since its beginning in 2004, 872 kids have enjoyed fishing in area rivers and ponds. Camp Gene Ashby also has a clothing room where kids can get boots and other clothing they may need.

— Lyla Crouch

Members of Habitat for Humanity have come together every year since 2001 to build 17 Habitat Homes in theMason area, a remarkable per-capita ratio of involvement. Key to this effectiveness is coordination of local support with the RV Care-A-Vanner volunteer habitat building organization, who vie for RV places in Mason’s beautiful FortMason City Park.

We have a mentor’s program, in which older residents teach the younger residents of our town important life lessons, again building relationships and passing along values. Kids also participate in Future Farmers of America (FFA), Future Homemakers of America (FHA), various 4-H clubs, and in the annual Livestock Show and the Rodeo Association events.

Mason residents love to visit and socialize. It is not hard to find friends gathered in places that offer coffee. Several wine-sellers provide spirits and ambience for tranquil evening chats. There are multiple clubs and social organizations that provide fun and fellowship for adults, such as the Scarlett Punchers (an organization similar to Red Hats).

Other groups excel at fund raising. The Riata Club raises funds for scholarships for our Mason high school graduates. They also look out for our small rural health clinic. Young and old gathered recently for a Cowboy Casino Night to raise enough money to purchase a new X-ray machine and some other needed medical equipment for the clinic. Another group, Paws and Claws, raises funds for our no-kill animal shelter. As well, the Mason Study Club and the Friends of the Library are there to support the literary needs of our community.

Mason also has a Lions Club, a Historical Society, the Odeon Preservation Association which works to maintain a theater built in1928, the Seaquist Foundation, which is restoring an elegant Mason mansion, and the Mason Garden Club which maintains the grounds in front of the library and donates time and funds to beautify other areas around the city. The whole town truly comes together to preserve our history. Such effort is a lot of work, but everyone shoulders some of the responsibility. After all, many hands make light work — a lesson learned from our pioneer forefathers (and mothers)!

Even though our town is tiny, our teachers provide blue-ribbon education to all the kids in the county. This year alone the Mason students have won top awards in FFA, UIL academics, softball, golf, track and tennis. Some people call Mason the Tennis Capitol of Texas.

We also care about the environment. The City of Mason operates a recycling center that is open most days for drop-off of recyclable items, and they provide trailers around town for drop-off of sorted materials. Several services provide pick up of materials from ranches, residences, and businesses. Various organizations help keep the litter picked up on our highways. Many who live here have started installing solar panels. Water is somewhat scarce, but many residents strive for Texas-friendly landscaping and are conserving their use of it.

Read more at the very well-organized PDF the folks of Mason put together.