In the beginning, American Realty wanted a lake community in Texas. After fly-overs and county maps, they picked this spot in southeast Cooke County for their new venture. American Realty needed the cooperation and pledge of secrecy from Don Howeth of Howeth Title Company, Gainesville. So, in the summer of 1966, Hoot Gibson walked into Dons office and unfolded the plan. After that, John Erd, project engineer, came. Both men bought the necessary 22 tracts of land (with many not wanting to sell). John made his first public speech to the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce in December 1966.
Having the topography defined and chart work done, Erd was to lay out the plot. The project enthusiastically started with lake area, roads, lots, dam and golf course defined.
Three subsidiaries were formed:
In the Fall of 1967 with everything in place and finally permission to build the dam, excavation for the lake started. The compromise was that the water level of the lake would never fall below two feet of the spillway.
For over a year advertisements in the Gainesville Daily Register, the Dallas Morning News and other newspapers, as well as a multitude of beautiful brochures, revealed that every conceivable gimmick was used to lure buyers to Kiowa. There is no way of knowing how many golf clubs, televisions, electric blankets, coffee pots, skillets and even an expense paid vacation to Nassau were given away. People came to see Miss Dallas of 1968, Dandy Don Meredith and Hoss Cartwright. Free movies, free dancing, free horseback rides, free helicopter rides and always free food. Sometime during this time, several wanted to know if there would be stables for their horses. American Realty was able to buy an adjacent piece of property and added stables with feed bins, water hole and fenced (today this is our driving range).
The first house built was by Pete Robinson and used as a model home and the office. Pete still lives in it. However, the first family to move into their new home was Donna and George Weatherbee (November 1968). In June of 1968 off-shore lots sold for $2495., golf course lots for $3495 and lake lots from $5195.
Also in 1968, in October, the Old West clubhouse was built. By November 1968 the dam was 65% completed. In January 1969, Bill Bryant said in a news interview that there would be a sell out by mid-summer. By Fall it was true and on November 10, 1969 American Realty turned the reins over to LKPOA and the first election was held with George Weatherbee named president.
1970! Early Boards took on huge responsibilities. There was no manger. Stella
Harrell was our secretary taking all notes, doing the paper work and all billings.
Dues (maintenance fees) were $120 per year (billed once a year). Water was $48
a year (also billed once a year). No fee for golf.
During the 70s many things happened, all pointing to the goal of making Kiowa a fine community, a good investment and a good place to live. After Lake Kiowa Inc. roughed out the golf course, it was up to us to complete it. Lloyd Nelson, reportedly a relative of Byron Nelson, was hired and on May 29,1970 the course opened with Kirby Price hitting the first ball. A cart rental barn was under construction. This unique golf course caused many more homes to be built. By January 1971 there were 77 homes.
Vernon Brown, a Board member, took it upon himself to do something about the mail service. Owners had put mailboxes up on FM 902, but they were dangerous because there was no place to pull off the road. After many visits to the Gainesville Post Office and much talk, a trip to the supervisor in Fort Worth and a petition signed by most of the residents, we received inside Kiowa delivery. Of course it took until 1976 because we had to have street addresses (not lot numbers) and it took a very long time to map out all of Kiowa.
These first Boards made a number of decisions. No For Sale signs, no trash burning, the Kiowa Emblem, mowing rates for vacant lots, guest golf fees, tavern membership, street signs, fencing our complete area, adding fish to the Lake, taking care of vandalism, keeping the roads repaired, setting accounting procedures, taking care of the food service at the Lodge (and later leasing it out), some architectural control on the homes being built and making ends meet with the yearly fee plus many donations from individuals. They were dedicated!
By 1980 there were 475 homes with about an even number of week-enders and permanent residents. During 1982, a cable TV contract was approved. There were legal problems, but one by one they were solved and again it showed the importance of a dedicated Board. By 1983, it became apparent the bylaws needed changing to meet our changing needs. In 1984, the first computer was installed in the business office and the need for a business manager became more apparent. In 1985, a business manager was employed. It was absolutely necessary to raise our membership maintenance fees. A class action suit was filed in October 1985 and final judgment was rendered on August 22, 1986, with the judge ruling in favor of LKPOA in the manner of establishing the budget and assessing all lots equally. The decision rendered by Judge Claude Williams was accepted by the members of LKPOA and 97% of the voters approved the revised bylaws. A monthly maintenance fee of $50 was approved.
Of course, during all these years, many other developments came about and many clubs and organizations were formed and more people, more rules, changes and votes were accomplished.
The late 80s brought some problems. North Texas was in an economic slump and only 3 houses were built one year. Past due accounts grew and money was very tight. Many of the needed projects and necessary maintenance had to be put off. The 1988-89 budget was adopted at $1,200,000., assessing each lot at $60 per month. In October 1988 bylaw revisions passed by more than 95% for clarification of husband-wife shared rights, elimination of honorary memberships, provision for secret ballot, and improvements in relations with lending agencies. By 1989 daily tee times were required.
Going back a bit, in 1973 a group of volunteers encouraged the Board to set up a Lake Kiowa Volunteer Fire Department. Elmer Letter was appointed the first Fire Chief and a used fire truck was purchased.The Ladies Fire Auxiliary was started to help and raise money. From selling Mountain Valley water, to hosting the Firemens Follies, to Dock Parties, to the July 4th parade, to the Outpost and many other money-raising ideas were used to fund the Fire Department. Also in serving our community they initiated the Vial of Life program in 1988. During 1985 LKVFD answered 130 fire and medical calls. Construction in 1985 and dedication on April 19, 1986 of the fire station. Six Fire Chiefs have given us service through the years.
Also going way back, the need for a publication was filled by the Newsletter, January 1971 to 1981. Dan Maher then assumed responsibility and the CommuniQue had its first issue in February 1985. Classified ads were 15 cents per word. By the late 80s, the publication had grown to 16 pages and the paid ads were taking care of most of the cost of printing and mailing.
But before we leave the 80s, you must know about our WATER. In 1982, we were alerted that an increase was coming and problems with the New Jersey firm were accumulating. In 1983, sale negotiations began in earnest with several bidders. The Judge accepted the bid from a Dallas partnership for $1,700,000. After two weeks of suspense and clarification meetings with the Dallas group, the Court advised the Kiowans that the bid had been withdrawn and new bids would be taken.
The successful Kiowa Homeowners Water System purchased the system for $400,000. and the promise to make necessary improvements at an estimated cost of $600,000. (including a second well). Local banks loaned the $1,000,000 through bond sales to interested Kiowans. Jay Freeman, our negotiator, was our first Water Commissioner. By November 1984, Freeman announced we are metered, we are computerized, we have a second productive well, and a 500,000 gallon storage tank is in progress. We have had excellent Water Boards, an excellent manager Ronny Young and excellent water with continuous excellent service.
We will continue our history into the 90s. The economic down-turn was over and Lake Kiowa started another decade full of hope, enthusiasm and togetherness.
Roads seemed to be most important, therefore a loan was made and entire mileage of Kiowa Drive was re-done (base, top and sealing). Another very important task was undertaken by the Board - to reduce the past due accounts. In 18 months we were able to reduce past dues from $168,000. to a little over $50,000. In 1990, Jack Tyler, our third manager was hired.
During the spring of 1990, golf course greens were resodded with Pinncross Bent seed. Maintenance, equipment purchases, water pump replacement and repair, rebuilding of golf course restrooms, painting and miles of paved cart paths are a few of the projects that are efficiently handled by the Association management with money and man/woman power from the MGA and WGA. On July 1,1991, land was purchased from Southwestern Bell Telephone by MGA and given to LKPOA in order to have a driving range. Many golfers purchased Driving Range Token Cards for buckets of balls in order to have the money for the ball machine, tees for driving balls, the range balls, picker-upper and grass sod and seed. The WGA was a member of Red River Valley Womens Golf Association and Central Texas Golf Association. In 1991 Sue Nall was responsible for organizing Texoma Womens Golf Association. All three groups offer our women golfers a chance to play many other courses and meet golfers from all over the area. Later, in 1994, the greens were enlarged, bent grass again planted and a new sprinkler system installed.
In the early 90s we also knew we needed a new Gate House. Since the Board could only approve a $25,000 expenditure without a vote of the membership, we asked Sam Cotton to build a new gatehouse. We tore the old one down, he used shingles that he had, Bill Williams made the plans and what you see today is the result. Thanks to Sam Cotton and to all of us who believed it could be done. Then there is the pavilion that was accomplished by a group of Kiowans who got the necessary funds together and used the base of the old tennis court. The next years budget included tennis courts at the East Beach. Again the spirit of Kiowa shined as more improvements were made.
In 1992, a committee was appointed to plan and execute a 25th Anniversary Event. Starting in October of 92 and having events every month until the climax in July, we truly had a great time celebrating all facets of Lake Kiowa. (Read all about it in the third History Book).
Communication became more and more important as our numbers grew and it was the desire by all to be informed. The CommuniQue grew in the number of pages and a more professional format under Jerry Gerrard, Harv Averett, Joe and Eleanor Farmer and Carol Clausing, our present editor. The big board was constructed at the Gate so we could read important notices as we drive thru the gate. Under a new program, announcements were made on our monthly bills. A web page was created in 1998 and has grown to our present Lake Kiowa Web Site. Day or night we can turn our television sets to the community service Nortex channel.
The Restrictive Covenants have given us a guide from the beginning, but our covenant # 14 gives us the right to make revisions every 5 years, to re-zone when necessary. However, to make a covenant change we must have a positive vote of a majority of all lot owners (not just a majority of those who vote). The By-laws also have been changed through the years, but always with a vote of the membership. Rules can be altered by the Board as they find necessary.
During March 1997, the Board proposed a $3.3 million improvement program which is dubbed the CIP. This program included a complete new community center building (we still call it our Lodge), a new golf shop, a new maintenance building, a new proposed East Gate entry and exit, expansion of the golf cart storage building and silt removal from the lake. In July 1997 the members approved the budget plus a special assessment of $47. per month per lot for five years. In March, 1998 the court issued a summary judgment in favor of this CIP plan.
A Rezoning Committee was appointed in late 1999 to study lots and common areas in an effort to rezone those areas that have changed in usage. After much time and effort, ten recommendations were put out for a vote and passed, then recorded at the Cooke County Courthouse.
In July 2000, the Board was forced to levy a special assessment of $197 per lot to pay legal expenses incurred in defending a lawsuit brought by a member. Later in July, the Board proposed the acquisition of 85 acres of land west and adjacent to the Kiowa property for a nine hole golf course and other recreation activities. This proposal failed to pass the membership by 246 for and 639 against.
In August 2001, the board proposed another Capital Improvement Program (CIP2) for the purpose of resurfacing all roads that had not been done, replacement of septic systems and roofs on rest rooms and replacing capital equipment. Financing was to be accomplished by extending the current $47 special assessment for an additional 26 months. It would appear that the success of both CIP and CIP2 was accomplished through a community effort to make sure that all members were informed. The vote was positive and the spirit at Kiowa was very much alive. Excellent charts can be found in the Green History Book on pages 36 -43, 46 & 47, 114-116 and 137-139.
I hope in condensing the three history books and many memories into these pages have given you a taste of history and a desire to learn more. There are so many other facets of this wonderful place we call Kiowa, please read all the books, as you each realize YOU are becoming part of the history of Lake Kiowa.
For a more complete history of Lake Kiowa, read the First Ten Years by Anice Rhodes, then Lake Kiowa, Texas, 1980-1991 by Dan Maher, and finally the third history book Lake Kiowa, Texas, 76240, 1992-2002 by a committee of many writers. These history books are available at the LKPOA office: $25 for the three-volume set, or $10 for the first volume, $5 for the second, $10 for the third.