Peter Svendsen

Cleburne Christmas in Action officials Rylee Friesen, left, and Peter Svendsen, discuss CIA and the city of Cleburne’s recently launched HOPE program during Tuesday’s Cleburne City Council meeting. 



Cleburne’s HOPE program provides just that, Cleburne resident Peter Svendsen said, both for recipients and the city overall.

“The vision is alive,” Svendsen said. “We’re seeing such progress, seeing lives rebuilt and seeing hope.”

Svendsen, one of the founding members of Cleburne’s Christmas In Action program, delivered an update on the HOPE program during Tuesday’s Cleburne City Council meeting.

CIA, now in it’s 20th year, assists residents with home repairs who, because of financial, health or other reasons are unable to do so themselves.

HOPE, a program recently enacted by the city, does much the same through tapping the volunteer resources of CIA, other civic and charitable groups and individuals.

HOPE grew out of the city’s recent adoption of ordinances governing property upkeep. Through the ordinances city officials hope to see property appearance and values improved so as to improve city aesthetics and attract new residents. The goal is less punishment, more voluntary compliance, officials said.

The HOPE program addresses those residents who lack resources to render their properties in compliance.

“I’m not sure if there’s another city in Texas that has a program like the HOPE program,”  Mayor Scott Cain said. “Where CIA and other groups come together to fix and refurbish homes out of compliance when the owners cannot do so themselves. It’s really exciting to be part of a community where so many chip in to help and to be at the forefront of leading in such a special way.”

Svendsen called the HOPE program a difference maker with results already apparent.

“It takes Cleburne to a whole new level and the turnaround is thanks to the city and the people of Cleburne,” Svendsen said. “The partnerships between the city, CIA, the churches and civic organizations and the presence of so many people turning out to help out has been something to see.”

Svendsen displayed several before and after pictures of homes worked on by HOPE volunteers. The car port of one woman’s home was decayed and collapsing. Instead of tearing it down, HOPE volunteers, including Hill College Welding Program Coordinator Brian Bennet and his students, decided to rebuild it in addition to other repairs on the woman’s home, Svendsen said.

“What really took place there?” Svendsen said. “That lady saw hope in action.

“It’s heartening in a world that’s so divided now. When we’re on those projects I can’t tell you what church or group the volunteers come from. But they come with a Christian heart to serve our community and we have been united in that effort since 1999 through CIA and now through the HOPE program.”

CIA spokeswoman Rylee Friesen urged residents to get involved with CIA and/or HOPE.

“We’ll have another blitz on Sept. 28 and we’re looking for house sponsorships and teams now,” Friesen said. “Since October, CIA volunteers have provided 2,490 hours of service to complete 17 projects within Cleburne. We have three projects in progress, three approved and waiting for volunteers and two new applications under review.”

CIA relies largely on donations, Friesen said.

To volunteer, donate, apply for help or learn more, call 817-774-2022 or email


Park planning

The city’s parks and recreation master plan will soon be updated. Council members, in planning the current year’s budget allocated $175,000 for the project.

Cleburne Parks and Recreation Director Aaron Dobson Dallas/Fort Worth area master plan updates range from $115,000 to more than $200,000.

The park master plan was last updated in 2009, Dobson said.

The master plan helps to “articulate goals, polices and priorities into a clear vision or road map for the park’s department, city management, park board, 4B Economic Development Corporation, city council and community,” Dobson said.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recommends that cities update their master plan every 10 years and review it every five, Dobson added.

“TPWD offers various grant programs that can help offset funding for future planning,” Dobson said. “Their grant program scoring grid favors cities with an updated and approved master plan.”

The master plan includes an assessment of city parks, trails and open spaces. It also reviews trends relevant to Cleburne and includes TPWD recommendations for park grants. 

Six firms bid on the project and one will be chosen soon, Dobson said. The study will also address bicycle, pedestrian and trail development in Cleburne and evaluate the Lake Pat Cleburne master plan, which was last updated in 2009 as well.

“We hope to gather a lot of public opinion and feedback during the study to let us know what direction the public wants to go in,” Dobson said.

The plan should take 12 to 14 months to complete, he said.

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