Craig Campobella envisions the park while driving north from The Woodlands, past the Montgomery County Main Library. He sketches his idea after he passes the Highway 105 exit and has the general plan on paper. The thumbnail is the original sketch.
Dec 2005 – Feb 2006
Campobella reads everything he can regarding the history of Texas flags and begins to choose important ones that have a dramatic story. He begins to improve his basic design concept for a park and monument.
At a crawfish boil at a private residence, Campobella approaches City Councilman Jay Ross Martin about a park celebrating Montgomery County as the birthplace of The Lone Star Flag. Campobella takes Jay Ross to the proposed site on the northern tip of land on the southeast corner of Highway 105 and Interstate 45 and explains the concept and design. Martin replies, “You may have just hit a grand slam!”
Campobella and Martin return to the party where Martin describes the concept to Debbie Glenn and Charles Tullis over the phone. All four return to the proposed site and Campobella retells the design again to Glenn and Tullis. Campobella also adds that it could be built and planned to coincide with Texas Independence Day in March of the next year. Campobella remarks on the lack of Texas Independence Day celebrations in the area and the two would go hand-in-hand – the park and the celebration. Tullis gets excited about the Texas Independence Day celebration idea.
Apr – Nov 2006
No real movement on the park. Campobella continues to study flags and Texas history.
Martin calls Campobella and asks him to sculpt his design to present to City Council. Campobella works nonstop for three days making a clay version of the park design, complete with flags and a maquette that would be named “The TEXIAN”. The opportunity to present to City Council never materialized.
Campobella calls friend and well-known photographer Dave Clements and invites him over to his house to view the layout of “The TEXIAN” and the design and ideas for the park. Clements loves the idea and wants to get involved. Clements takes an early photograph of the first rendition of “The TEXIAN” and the park.
Campobella approaches Cameron Bammell, owner of Impact Printing in Conroe, and shows him pictures of “The TEXIAN” and the park. Bammell loves the concept and offers printing services to get the word out.
Campobella writes a booklet on “The Lone Star Monument And Historical Flag Park”. Bammell prints it. Campobella begins passing the booklet out to interested parties. Martin sends Campobella to Burditt and Associates, a landscape design firm, to meet with Charles Burditt, sharing the idea and the booklet with the design of the park and “The Texian”.
Nov 2006 – Mar 2007
No Action Taken.
Campobella is sitting backstage at the Crighton Theatre during The Sounds of Texas Music Series concert and begins talking about the project to Bruce Henry. Campobella hands Henry the booklet; Henry reacts enthusiastically, offering Campobella the opportunity to present the project to The Friends of Conroe. An April date is agreed upon.
Campobella makes a presentation to The Friends Of Conroe. The group votes unanimously to support the project. They form a small committee to help move the project forward. The committee is made up of Russell Miller, Leo Hewitt , Debbie Glenn and Campobella. At the meeting, Campobella remarks that it would be a good idea to get “The TEXIAN” in bronze if they are intent on moving it around, showing it to groups and officials. Russell Miller approaches Campobella and offers to fund the first casting of “The TEXIAN”. The mold and casting, custom base, associated costs and plaque cost $4000. At one point, Miller called Campobella and was concerned that if the project didn’t pan out, he would be left with the bronze and the cost. Campobella explained the importance of doing it and that if it didn’t work out, at least he would have a good story and a decent bronze. Miller wrote the check and the first rendering of “The TEXIAN” began the long process of being cast in bronze. At that point, Miller became the largest private donor to the project. His commitment was a catalyst and a bold starting point for the community at large.
The day after the meeting with The Friends Of Conroe, the group of volunteers (Miller, Hewitt, Glenn and Campobella) met and began sharing ideas of how this could be accomplished. Toward the end of the meeting, Hewitt called Mayor Tommy Metcalf and asked if they could meet with him. Mayor Metcalf agreed and the four went and shared the park concept with him. The Mayor loved the idea and pledged whatever support he could give.
The following day, Glenn called Campobella and said she had raised $7000 from a private donor to go toward the project.
On the strength of Glenn’s statement, Campobella began plans to sculpt “The TEXIAN” which would include pointing up the smaller one and having an armature built, which would cost around $4,000 plus acquiring all the proper supplies. Campobella notifies the foundry and begins to lay the groundwork to get everyone in line to get started.
May – Jul 2007
In late July, Campobella meets with local history buff Jim Walker and shares the vision. Walker immediately expresses interest and a willingness to help. Walker begins to gather information for Campobella and soon takes over all responsibility concerning the flags. Over the next two years, Walker discusses which flags would be of most importance with noted historians, two of whom are highly recognized as the best – Stephen H. Hardin and Stephen Moore. Choosing the flags for the park became one of the the most difficult tasks of the design phase.
Glenn calls Campobella and announces a gentleman was driving into Conroe that day and that there would be a $7000 check ready so he could begin “The TEXIAN”. Campobella leaves work to meet with Glenn and en route, receives a phone call from Glenn saying the start-up funds would not happen.
Late Aug 2007
Campobella invites Jim Walker, Dave Clements, Kathleen Rowland and Karen Strong to a meeting at Panera Bread in Conroe. They agree to form “The Creative Group” for The Lone Star Monument And Historical Flag Park.
Campobella and Walker present the project to the Sons Of The Republic Of Texas. The Sons vote unanimously to help assist in seeing the project come to fruition. John Homman takes an enthusiastic lead and begins setting up meetings to promote the project.
Brad Meyer writes the first story about the park and how it was looking for a home. Representatives from Willis, Texas and Montgomery, Texas express keen interest in the park. (See “Honoring Texas History: Proposed Park Looking For A Conroe Home” on the PRESS page.)
No word from the city of Conroe. Very quiet.
Jan – Aug 2008
Campobella told that exciting plans were underway for the flag park but he could not be told what they were. The Creative Group continues to meet. Karen Strong works on the website free of charge. Kathy Gava, owner of Masons Fine Art Gallery in Old Town Spring, pays for the first year of the website. Jim Walker pays for the second year, Dave Clements pays for the third.
Aug 26, 2008
Campobella has a happen encounter with Assistant City Administrator Paul Virgadamo on the exit ramp of the City Hall Parking Garage. Later that day, Campobella is invited by Virgadamo to look at the plans for the Flag Park which had been folded into another plan and was now an entrance to an oil and gas museum honoring the Strake Family. A short time later, the land deal for the museum falls through. The future of the Flag Park hangs in the balance.
Sep 10 2008
For the first time, Campobella formally speaks to Conroe City Council about the project. Miller’s bronze is there and the clay mock-up of the park’s design, as well. City Council vote to examine it and get reports as to the actual cost. Funds had already been set aside for the park through the sale of their park land. That night, Hurricane Ike hit.