from 'A First for the South' by Carol Mann circa 1977
On a fall day in November of 1957, several citizens of Golinda, Texas, turned on the water faucets in their home and a miraculous event occured-water came out. This was an occasion to celebrate; Golinda now had a working water system.
This November will mark the 20th anniversary of the Golinda Water Supply Corporation and folks thereabouts give the water system credit for keeping the town of Golinda from literally drying up and blowing out of Falls County.
During the drought of the '50's, the town-located about 12 miles southeast of Waco on Highway 77- and its population of just over 100 persons were in a real squeeze for water, just like most of Texas. The shallow wells that citizens depended on for their domestic water supply had gone dry and water had to be hauled in. One man commented that in one month he spent $158 on water for his home, cotton gin and cattle; and that was 1957 spending power.
After the Spring rains came that year and brought relief to the dehydrated land, Golinda residents took stock of their water situation on a long-term basis. They wanted a reliable water source whether it rained or not.
A man named R.W. Miller bought a farm in the Golinda community and moved there to live. He soon tired of the water situation and began talking to his neighbors about a new water source.
At a town meeting area residents decided that wells drilled deep into the Trinity-Wilcox Aquifer were the solution to their water supply problems and a water system would be constructed to pipe the water into homes in the area.
Miller knew the ins and outs of project financing, including the state and federal personnel to contact about the water system. With a few calls to people like Congressman Bob Poage; Carl Spelce, past Farmers Home Administration (FmHA) supervisor for Falls County; Charlie Richter, in the state office of FmHA; and Claude Gaddis, FmHA district supervisor in Waco, the project got the attention Miller intended.
Golinda became the first FmHA financed water supply system south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Twenty seven farmers each bought a share of stock for $150 to raise the 10 percent down payment on the project required by FmHA. The remainder of the project-$27,580-was borrowed at 4.5 percent interest over 20 years.
When drilling began on the well, hot artesian water was hit at 2,640 feet.
The water treatment plant contained a 25,000 gallon reservoir tank for cooling and storing the water and a pressure tank to distribute the water through the lines to community homes.
The water system has truly been a community effort. Much of the maintenance is done by citizens and for many years Jack Wooley, an area vegetable farmer, took over the job of plant operator and meter reader for a $15 monthly salary. There is now a full time operator who also reads the water meters.
Over the years, Golinda has added customers as more families move to this area. By 1973 Golinda had 109 water users which increased to 136 in 1976.
"When Golinda got its water system you could immediately tell who in the community had connected to the line," related Bill Lawson, chief of community programs for FmHA in the Temple office. "All the new customers had plumbing trucks in their driveways as new bathroom and kitchen facilities were installed."
Until the water plant was built, no new buildings had been constructed in the community for 12 years, and now new houses are constantly under construction. In fact, as Golinda began growing, Waco began growing out to meet it. To keep from being annexed by the city, Golinda itself became an incorporated city.
Many small towns such as this across the State share the same problem-difficulty in finding financing for their water projects, Citizens on fixed incomes are common in smaller towns as are those on various types of welfare. In these situations water rates cannot be raised to pay for the new projects, because then the citizens would be unable to pay their bills. Other types of financing must be found.
The Water Development Board and its Water Development Fund were created in 1957 and closed the first loan in 1959. During the early years of the Development Fund, Farmer's Home Administration financed all types of water system loans. Now the two agencies complement each other. While FmHA finances many retail customers, like Golinda, the Water Development Board has most of its loans going to wholesale systems such as Greenbelt which provide water to several communities.
Buddy Arledge, mayor of Golinda since incorporation, is proud of the fact that over the years many alterations that needed to be made to the water system, such as additional lines to customers, could be paid for in cash from the water system's treasury. At least until now.
The citizens of Golinda are learning that keeping a community water system in good repair becomes more difficult as the number of customers increases. Golinda now faces the problem of meeting the new Federal Safe Drinking Water Act which will take effect this June. Some of the regulations include chlorinating the water, providing added pressure and service capacity, increased sampling, keeping a minimum of ground storage in ratio to the number of customers, and improving the pump house. These alterations won't be free so Golinda now faces the dilemma of finding more financing for the needed changes. But, since their first loan is almost repaid and they have established good credit, Mayor Arledge believes the financing will be no problem.
Even with its present hardships, Golinda Water Supply Corporation remains an excellent example of what townspeople can do to meet a goal to better their community.
Golinda School District No. 43
Golinda School was situated 13 miles south of Waco and 7 miles north of Chilton on the Chilton-Waco road.
This school is one of the older, if not the oldest, school in Falls County. From the best information available, it was organized as a private school in 1860. The original name was Major's Chapel, the school being named for a Captain John Majors, who was a wealthy slave owner of that section. The building was made of oak logs with puncheon floor and clapboard roof. The doors and windows were made of planks and the cracks were filled with clay. This first school had about 60 students. The building was located one and a half miles from the old Golinda post office which had been established in 1856.