Voices are heard

Members lead effort to keep gambling out of community

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas — The organization Pflugerville Pfamilies Pfirst might have a light-hearted name, but it is extremely serious about keeping horse track betting out of its small community just a few miles north of Austin, the capital city of Texas.

The PPP came about after members of the Wells Branch Ward, Round Rock Texas Stake, were encouraged to attend a city council meeting the first week of October where the city government was going to consider a proposal to build a horse racing track and betting facility in the town of about 26,000.

Jody Brockhausen reported that members responded, letting their disapproval be known.

However, the mayor and city council quickly voted to approve the variance required to build the track "in spite of 10 or so heartfelt testimonies against it."

Sister Brockhausen said a group gathered outside the council chamber following the vote and agreed to join together to continue the battle. Members of the Church dominated the group at first, Sister Brockhausen said, but members of other faiths as well as people not connected to any church were attracted to and joined the cause.

The organization was named, and Sister Brockhausen's husband, Dean, was recruited to put up a Web site, www.noracetrack.com. Though PPP had little money and was made up mostly of people inexperienced in such activism, it went forward to battle the well-funded sponsors of the effort to build the track and gambling facilities in Pflugerville. Sister Brockhausen said she and others were willing to go forward against the Goliath because "like David, we are going forth with the strength of the Lord and His spirit."

The battle, which has drawn extensive media coverage, is ongoing. The most recent venue was a hearing by the Texas Racing Commission in Austin on Nov. 22. PPP considered that meeting a victory when the commission, while not rejecting the application, told the sponsors they had nine months to prove that the track is in the public interest of the community.

Church members testified before the commission against the track, many taking a day off work to attend the meeting which lasted more than six hours. PPP also had support from the Travis County Commission which had responded favorably to opposition to the track and had two commissioners at the racing commission meeting backing up their opposition.

"It appears that after all the press our small group has received, the mayor and city council are finally acting on our wishes," Sister Brockhausen said.

"At (the Nov. 23) city council meeting we requested that they put on the agenda for the next meeting a discussion about a vote on the racetrack. One day later, we received word that a special meeting has been scheduled (in February) to grant this request of a discussion on a vote. . . . We are finally being heard."

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