To the Editor:
Today, we keep hearing that our nation is in the middle of a “historic” re-evaluation of its place in the world; individuals are trying to figure out their places in this “historic” era. Residents of the Killeen area who may occasionally wish that fast-developing change would slow down a bit should know about a local organization that has been preserving and protecting the history of these parts for more than three decades.
The organization is holding a very special “meet and greet” event on Thursday.
The late Richard “Dick” Thomas brought together a handful of interested residents in August 1983 with his idea: “Killeen needs a history organization.” As director of Community Education, Thomas supported the fledgling Killeen Area Heritage Association by hosting regular meetings and helping the organization’s founders with ideas for hanging onto Killeen’s history and way s to share that history with residents, school children and visitors to the area.
Thomas secured the pro bono assistance of attorney Rick Morris in acquiring a charter from the state and accountant Wallace Vernon to accomplish KAHA’s tax status as a nonprofit educational organization.
When Community Education ceased to exist, KAHA’s original board of directors met in members’ homes, restaurants or local businesses.
Then, in 1992, membership at the Bethel Primitive Baptist Church on South Gray Street had dwindled to six octogenarians who asked KAHA to take responsibility for their beloved, pre-1870 frame church building.
KAHA’s original board members recall: “We simply couldn’t say, ‘No,’” and KAHA became owners of “a little piece of rural Texas” on the banks of the Nolan Creek.
With this development, KAHA began to request and receive grant assistance from the City of Killeen Municipal Hotel Occupancy Tax Revenues.
Now the former church is a treasure house of early Killeen artifacts where KAHA occasionally organizes special exhibits.
Today, KAHA is busy on a multifaceted “revitalization” project which members hope will broaden the organization’s appeal and ensure that their 34 years of preserving the Killeen area’s unique, flamboyant, sometimes violent history will continue to enrich the lives of the area’s residents, visitors and students.
Because today’s Killeen ever-growing population is not only arriving but is also returning, KAHA will host a special “meet and greet” for the city’s “temporary residents,” those folks who stay put while military sponsors deploy, from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday.
The invitation invites everyone to join or rejoin KAHA and learn more about its tradition of preserving and protecting this city’s unique history.
Drop by the former Bethel Primitive Baptist Church, 400 S. Gray St. and enjoy libations, snacks and good visiting.
KAHA encourages longtime Killeen residents to attend and share their stories from the city’s past while learning all about those “temporary residents” who often become permanent.
For more information, call 254-634-7750 or 254-699-5916.