Life Connected. Magazine | May/June 2023

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Two Siblings and Eight Decades of Memories in Their Downtown Celina


Downtown Renaissance
May - June 2023
Celina’s bicentennial
on the north exterior wall of the Masonic Lodge on the Square.
on an outfacing wall, the
the 1976
Photo: Bob Cashon and Jane Cashon Willard stand in front of
Originally painted
artwork was created by
Celina Bobcats cheerleaders and was recently discovered during
ovations of the old Stone Building.
Please note the events in blue are hosted by our community partners. Events may be subject to change. Follow us on Facebook @LifeInCelinaTX or for complete event details. SATURDAY, JULY 1 Old Celina Park 5:00 - 9:30 PM Celina’s Biggest Backyard Bash of the Summer! WWW.LIFEINCELINATX.COM/SPLASH Live Music, Food ucks, Water Slides, Fireworks & More!
Contents Connected to our Past: Two Siblings and Eight Decades of Memories in Their Downtown Celina Square 11 The Evolution of Celina’s Downtown Renaissance 06 Capital Improvement Projects: Streets 15 Community Feature: Light Farms 25 01 A Note from the Mayor 03 City Council Highlights 05 Resident Resources 02 Movie Night & Music Night on the Square Celina Economic Development Corporation 17 Public Safety 19 Library 21 Parks & Recreation 22 Things to Do Around Celina 23 CONTRIBUTORS Joe Monaco, Director of Marketing & Communications Stephanie Webb, Senior Digital Media Analyst Marc Rylander, Senior VP of Communications for Texas (Strategies360) Cassie McKnight, Cassie Lee Photography Amy Pedid, The Sage Mage A special thank you to all of the City of Celina and Celina Economic Development Corporation staff for their contributions to the magazine. Boards & Commissions: Fine Arts Board 26 Celina Highlights 27

A NOTE from the Mayor

Dear Residents and Friends,

I am so glad that you have had an opportunity to read this incredible issue of our Life Connected. Magazine. Our City produces, prints, and posts this bimonthly resource so that you can stay informed on all things Celina. In this issue, you will learn about our many late-spring and early-summer activities around the City. You will find updates on exciting new developments, and you will have a chance to read extensively about our beloved Downtown area.

City Council Members

Sean Terry Mayor

Jay Pierce Mayor Pro Tem, Place 2

Wendie Wigginton Deputy Mayor Pro Tem, Place 4

Philip Ferguson Place 1

Andy Hopkins Place 3

Mindy Koehne Place 5

Tony Griggs Place 6

In just a short period of time, Celina residents and friends will see our incomparable Downtown area continue to evolve into one of the most exciting city centers in Texas. Please take a moment to read about the evolution of our historic Downtown Square and see the architectural renderings of the future of this cherished area. Also, make sure you enjoy a stroll around the Square with two of our most loved Celina octogenarians in our Connected to the Past piece. They share stories about Downtown Celina’s past that will, undoubtedly, excite you for the future.

The days around us and the days before us will be among our best yet. I am confident that the leadership of our City, the service of our volunteers, and the love that our residents share for this spectacular City will continue to propel Celina into one of the greatest places in America to live, work, and raise a family. If you already live here, I encourage you to be involved in the life of this community. If you are considering making Celina your home, I strongly urge you to do so. Together, we can enjoy these vibrant days in this life-giving City and, together, celebrate Life Connected.

Sean Terry Celina Mayor Sean Terry Mayor
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MUSIC ON THE SQUARE A U R O R A B L E U M A Y 1 9 7 : 3 0 P M C E L I N A ' S D O W N T O W N S Q U A R E PRESENTED BY W W W L I F E I N C E L I N A T X . C O M / M U S I C 2 Life Connected. Magazine | May - June 2023

City Council Highlights

Employee of the Year Recognition

Special Events Manager Bree Shamsy was recognized as the 2022 City of Celina Employee of the Year. Shamsy, who was honored by Mayor Terry, City Council members, and City staff, is in charge of putting together Celina’s 25-plus events every year. Shamsy has been widely recognized by the City for her passion and dedication to making all of Celina’s events some of the best in North Texas.


City Council recognized employees who have reached milestones in their City careers. These outstanding staff members were honored for 5, 10, and 15 years of service to the City of Celina



The City of Celina is a “Home-Rule Municipality” governed by a Mayor and six City Council members who are elected by the residents. City Council Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of every month at 5:00 PM inside City Council Chambers located at 112 N. Colorado St in Celina.

All City Council Meeting agendas are posted at least 72 hours prior to the meeting in accordance with the Texas Open Meetings Act. Each meeting is livestreamed and recorded for those who cannot attend. Streaming information and agenda packets can be found online at

Mayor Terry presented a proclamation to the Celina Purchasing Department declaring March as National Procurement Month.
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City Council presented our City of Celina volunteers with a Proclamation declaring April as National Volunteer Month.


Human Resources Director Kristina Peters presented City Council with the results of the 2022 Employee Survey. The City sends out a survey each year to employees to get their feedback on working for the City.


The Celina Community Police Foundation presented Chief John Cullison and Assistant Chief Brent Brown with a check for $135,000 for money raised along with hours of volunteer service.
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Resident Resources


Outdoor irrigation accounts for 50% - 70% of all water used during the summer months, much of which is wasted due to overwatering or inefficient sprinkler systems. As of March 2023, the City of Celina has begun an Irrigation Evaluation Program for its residential utility water customers as part of our water conservation program. Evaluations are provided to Celina residential water customers at no charge.

The purpose of the program is to evaluate residential irrigation systems and provide residential water customers with information on how to best use the watering system on their property. Education is of primary importance to help customers understand the components of their irrigation system and how to water efficiently while continuing to have quality landscapes.

The City has contracted with a licensed irrigation company, M&M Irrigation and Illumination, to perform the evaluations to identify potential problems with the homeowner’s irrigation system. In addition, the licensed irrigator discusses the proper irrigation system and controller maintenance and operation with the homeowner as well as provides information on efficient watering habits. As part of the program, a report is provided to the homeowner with suggested irrigation system repairs as well as recommended controller settings. This report includes an estimate of gallons of water saved every week if the recommendations for the controller runtimes are implemented.

The program will begin filling slots on the 25th of every month on a first-come, first-served basis at no cost to the Celina water utility customers. Customers are allowed one evaluation per 12 months and must be present at the time of the evaluation. During the process of signing up, if the screen turns gray the monthly request has been filled. For more information, please email

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The Evolution of Celina’s Downtown Renaissance

History and progress often meet in Celina these days, but scarcely do they intersect as beautifully as they do on the parcel of land that was plotted under the supervision of J. Fred Smith in 1910. Smith was the Celina businessman who had the vision for, designed and built the historic Downtown Square. Much as it was when the project came together in an unprecedented 10 short months, the City’s centerpiece is now the premier destination for shopping, dining, and entertainment. While just a short time ago, the Square seemed to have lost some of its shine, efforts over the past decades have transformed the landmark into one of the hottest and most sought-after pieces of real estate in North Texas.

“When we stepped into this new millennium in 2000, our once thriving Downtown had grown quiet and quite uninviting,” remembers Celina resident Corbett Howard, who then served as Mayor of Celina. “I remember meeting with 25 key stakeholders who shared the vision for a renaissance of Downtown Celina and who were willing to devote the necessary time and resources to returning the


area to its original glory.” Together, City leaders worked to adopt Celina’s first Comprehensive Land Use Plan in 2001, which allocated the focus and funding needed to revitalize Downtown. Mayor Howard leaned into Carolyn Harvey, the Downtown Director at the time, and Greg Allen and Van Nichols who would be instrumental in the process.

Their efforts panned out, and while some doubted if the plan could work, the transformation began. By the Square’s centennial celebration in 2011, then-Councilwoman Carmen Roberts made sure much of the Downtown area that people enjoy today was complete. The permanent gazebo-pavilion structure was in place. Lights and music were attracting businesses and families. Residents, once again, renewed their commitment to the Square as the place to enjoy gathering and supporting local entrepreneurs. New businesses began coming back, and restaurants joined them. City leaders continued their relentless commitment to the success of the Square and enthusiastically planned festivals and events to showcase it to the region.

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Celina Mayor Sean Terry served on the City Council during those beginning transformative years of Downtown and still finds himself having a double-take when he sees the area full of people. “I can remember coming to the Square when I was in high school and seeing a hundred people mingling around,” Terry recalled. “Then one day we looked up, and you wouldn’t see 10 people on the Square. So now when I’m there and see thousands of people at Cajun Fest or the Cinco de Mayo celebration or Oktoberfest, it fills my heart with joy and pride to know that the sacrifice and hard work of so many of our committed residents and staff really paid off.”

Not only has that paid off, but recent efforts of current City leaders are expanding and beautifying the historic Downtown area even more. By 2019, Mayor Terry and Celina City Council adopted the Celina Downtown Master Plan. This extensive plan assessed the vision, form and function, and community impact that the area could experience as the City grows at an unprecedented pace. While some of the plan would be evolving, residents saw their first glimpse at artist renderings of an area that would transition the Square from a City centerpiece to a North Texas masterpiece.

The 2019 plan, still available on the City’s website, reimagined the Downtown core of Celina with an improved and even more expanded Downtown Square, new development, preserved historic structures, an improved Founder’s Park, shared patio spaces, and use of rooftops for dining or passive recreation. It included a reimagined Pecan Street with new vitality and activity spilling onto the street and shared spaces reflecting new development, interesting and walkable designs, and multi-story structures blending in with the small-town fabric of Celina’s special charm. It expanded residential and retail spaces and had placeholders for civic offices and a library. At the north end of the plan was a spot reserved for a beautiful municipal building to replace the current City Hall.

Today, residents and visitors to Downtown Celina notice that this exciting plan is coming to life. What will become the Downtown Inner Loop is being constructed. Infrastructure additions and updates, the first of their kind since the City was plotted, cause gridlock around

Downtown today, but they will soon give way for necessary drainage and newer streets in the area. As quickly as the visible changes are taking place, plans behind the scenes continue to carefully evolve as design and engineering planning begins. The City recently updated the Downtown Master Plan and carefully laid out six identifiable districts of Downtown Celina, strong codes to maintain the history and charm of the area, and conceptual designs to highlight the amenities and enhancements to come.

“To comply with the need for beautiful, open spaces in our ever-growing community, our finest space—our historic Downtown area—will also evolve,” said Celina City Manager Jason Laumer. “The expansion of our Square must be done with great precision and care. Architecture is important, and our high standards must be preserved. Our residents need and deserve a lively, walkable, dynamic entertainment district. All of this is going to take the same commitment and sacrifice that generations before us have given to make this square what it can ultimately become.”

The 2023-2025 Celina Strategic Plan contains eight critical components for measuring success in the City during this period of growth and expansion. Notably in the efforts to enhance the Downtown area are the City’s commitment to be the “City of the Future, Connected to its Past” and to be the “City of Small Business.” Every project designed, built, or restored in this exciting enhancement to Downtown will strictly adhere to these values of the plan.

“We want people to visit Downtown Celina and have them experience the unique beauty and history of our hometown,” said Celina Mayor Pro Tem Jay Pierce. “The updated Downtown plans will enlarge and enhance our civic space and our community gathering space which will allow people of all ages to enjoy the location where Celina residents and friends have connected for over a century.”

Transforming components of the strong core of Downtown Celina will include strategically placed public parking. Several surface lots have recently been completed, and City officials say that more parking options, including parking garages, could be coming in the future. A complete network of shaded walkways will also make the Downtown area more accessible and enjoyable to those working, living, or visiting Downtown.

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N Colorado St.
Architect rendering of
Rendering of future Downtown Square vision

A large stage and a smaller stage area, connected by an esplanade, will allow for a variety of entertainment options. Market-driven buildings will offer more housing, restaurant, and retail space. And the plan’s commitment to every update is the continuation of the historic Texas charm that the parcel has always offered. “Having grown up in Celina, and now raising my own family here, I am thrilled that the Downtown area I loved as a child will be an even better place for my kids to enjoy and remember,” said Celina City Councilwoman Mindy Koehne. “I have carefully reviewed the plans and am certain that future generations of my family, and every Celina family, will have an incredibly beautiful place to gather that will honor and keep its historical integrity and charm.”

Several new businesses are already changing the landscape of Downtown Celina. Two bakeries, an Italian market and deli, and a food and beverage place at the silos are all currently under construction. Those, along with a large number of other announced residential, dining, and retail projects, will encourage and allow Celina residents to support local businesses. As more projects are announced under the new Downtown plan, more local businesses will be able to call this landmark city center their home.

“I talk to people every day who want to bring their businesses to our City,” said Celina EDC Executive Director Alexis Jackson. “Our team works with people who love Celina and who want to come here and be a part of the great culture that we share. We incentivize and work to attract as many small businesses as we can, knowing that will help us maintain our uniqueness for years to come.”

Other exciting additions found in the updated plan include several new green spaces and gathering spaces for residents of all stages of life. The alley patio park in Downtown will assist with much-needed seating places near the historic Downtown Square. Also, underway is the construction of the Ralph O’Dell Senior Center, named for the longtime Celina resident and World War II veteran.

In the location of the former fieldhouse at the old Bobcat Stadium, this center will provide a new home for so many from the generation who helped build Celina and communities just like it. The Senior Center will be a part of a large linear park named for the pioneering Ousley family. This creekside park along Doe Branch will offer park and trails space that will be crowned by the old Bobcat Stadium which will be used as an outdoor entertainment venue.

Such projects have recently gained the attention of neighbors in North Texas. As civic leaders in this era face challenges gathering residents and creating a culture of community, Celina’s Downtown development is already serving as a model for others, even as the transformation progresses.

“I have watched Celina’s leaders over the past several years remain unwavering on their commitment to the Downtown area and have been highly impressed and encouraged as their persistence and vision has been a huge success,” said Prosper Mayor David Bristol. “Celina’s Master Plan and the overwhelming impact of their Downtown development has challenged the Town of Prosper and our council to strategically focus on our own central district and has really been a catalyst for the projects we now have underway.”

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Texas State Representative Matt Shaheen agrees that the vision and execution of Celina’s Downtown Master Plan is a model for Texas cities, “When a city is fortunate enough to have a historic gathering place and the City’s leadership is committed to valuing that space, the residents and businesses have much for which to be grateful. I believe Celina’s Downtown area can be a model example for cities across Texas that want to grow and develop while still guarding the heart and soul of their hometown.”

Over the coming months and years, the Downtown restoration, renovation, and expansion will continue. Residents will likely grow accustomed to more construction machinery and the dust that accompanies those necessary evils. Traffic around the Square might ebb and flow more annoyingly than normal. At the same time, the city remains more committed than ever to perfecting Mr. Smith’s 1910 vision, Mayor Howard’s 2001 Land Use Plan, and the most recent 2019 Downtown Master Plan and the most recent updates approved by the council.

The City staff team members continue to diligently study and work to find every way that Downtown Celina will forever be the treasured heart of the City. Residents and many small businesses, in due time, will be the beneficiaries of the vision and work that will yield this masterpiece. In the meantime, the late spring and summer months will soon offer a host of activities for people to gather Downtown, celebrate one another and their beloved Celina, and see why this city truly lives Life Connected.

Architect rendering of N Colorado St. Architect rendering of N Colorado St.

Two Siblings and Eight Decades of Memories in Their

Jane Cashon Willard and Bob Cashon are a brother and sister who were born and raised in Celina eight decades ago. Their Collin County roots run even deeper, as their first ancestors arrived here in 1856 and established a trading post on present-day US 380 where McKinney Trades Days now stands. Their father and mother came to Celina just after the Great Depression to settle down and raise a family.

To this growing family, Jane arrived in 1941 and Bob came along in 1945. They would grow up here, go to church here, and attend Celina schools. In this season of their lives, they enjoy serving at the Celina Heritage Museum where they scan and catalog every version of the Celina Record newspaper that was ever printed. They place the images of the paper online, so generations to follow can appreciate and love Celina in the same way that they cherish this place.

Occasionally, Jane and her “little brother” will drive around town or visit areas in Collin County where family members long ago settled, worked, and lived. On a cool, spring Friday morning, these Celina lifers agreed to meet at the historic Downtown Celina Square and share their fondest recollections of the people, places, and memories from around the Square laid out and built in 1910-11 by J. Fred Smith. For them, Smith (who went on to design Dallas’ Snyder Plaza—that city’s first shopping center—and with characteristics eerily similar to his masterwork in Celina) designed their happy place as children, and the Square is still the place they love to come and make memories with the generations that followed them.

What began over a cup of coffee with very little prompting there on the enclosed patio at Papa Gallo’s would turn into two hours of reminiscing. Ever so respectfully, Willard and Cashon would allow the other to share a story before they would add their memory of the same. Very rarely did their memories vary of a store or a shop owner. As if it were the glory days of the late 40s, 50s, and 60s, the eras of their fondest memories around the square, they went from building to building,

block by block, and shared their memories of Downtown Celina. They talked about progress and the many changes that evolved in and around Celina through those years. They talked about changes they embraced and others that still are painful. They highlighted how places have changed, but they always came back to what mattered to them—the people.

They began with an overview of their general memories of the Downtown Square. In its heyday, they recall five grocery stores, two department stores, and multiple banks, pharmacies, and doctor’s offices. They pointed the three places where the post office was housed and told memorable stories of the old City Hall and the funeral home next door. They were wide-eyed when describing robberies and bad fires, and they cringed talking about the day the old Opera House finally had to come down for the sake of progress. One of them chuckled about the old jail and some late-night hours spent there, but that sibling was granted anonymity, for the sake of this article.

Early New Celina

Before the foot-by-foot tour of the Square, Jane Willard made a very interesting statement about the Square that excites any entrepreneurial mind that would hear it. Quite to the contrary of the narrative that Celina was once a quiet town with little activity before recent growth, she recalled, “The amazing thing about Celina in that day, is that our City was totally independent. Mother would sometimes take us to McKinney before school started or at Christmas, but we had everything we needed right around this Square.”

“Everything anyone needed was here in Celina,” echoed Bob Cashon. “We had grocery stores, variety stores, dry goods, car dealerships, a movie theater, filling stations, and implement shops for farm equipment. You didn’t have to go to McKinney or anywhere else—everything you needed was here.” They shared that life revolved around the Square. Everyone came to the Square on Saturdays to shop, do laundry, or see a movie. “No one ever came to town without driving the Square; it’s

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Downtown Celina Square

just what we did. It’s where everyone was, and you would always run into someone you wanted to see,” said Cashon.

The journey around the Square was, indeed, filled with plenty to see. On the north block of the Square, where Hey Sugar is now, two businesses existed in the building that used to have multiple floors. On the corner was a bank—one of Celina’s several banks. Next door was the Dyer & Jones Drug Store, and above that pharmacy was the office of Dr. W.H. Stalcup, DDS.

According to the siblings, someone once robbed that bank and lit it on fire on their way out the door. Speaking of fires, in the middle of that block stood Celina’s early movie theater, the Queen, (near where Annie Jack is today), and next to that was a dime store. A fire gutted that theater and the “new” theater was built further up the block toward Colorado Street.

“The Ritz movie theater sat right where the sidewalk still slopes today there beyond Billy Mayer’s grocery store,” remembered Jane Willard. “Everyone went to the movies here. They had a midnight show every Saturday night, and the grocery stores would all stay open, and the stores would store people’s groceries and keep them cold until they got out of the show.”

Beyond Mayer’s store, where the Grace Bridge Community Garden is now, was a croquet court where the men from around town would gather on Saturday evenings and test their skills while ladies visited, and children ran and played.

Across the street on the west side of the Square was another block of bustling commerce and trade. On the corner where the library and the parking surface are stood a three-story building that was once home to Celina’s Opera House. By the time Willard and Cashon remember, it had turned into a multi-level public and private office building. On the first floor were the post office (before it moved two other times before

settling in its present location today) and another retail store. On the second floor was a sewing room. Willard shared that multiple women worked there and produced fine clothing that would be taken and sold to retail outlets in Dallas. On the third floor, they believed, is where the Masonic Lodge met before relocating decades later to their home across the Square.

Next door there was the Economy Store, a variety store of sorts. Moving on the way were the Wright’s and the original Perry and Rucker Grocery Store. On a very interesting note, walking towards the filling station that still stands at the corner, the next business was the Celina Frozen Food Locker, owned by a Mr. Skidmore. “You walked in, and there was a small store then in the back was a huge freezer room. People didn’t have freezers in that day, and they would rent locker space in that big freezer and keep their frozen goods there,” told Cashon. Later, the Biggerstaff’s Flower Shop would join the block along with another grocer. Where Shirley’s Hair Shop is now was a café. At the corner stands the gas station owned by Luke Johnson after the War then owned by Jess Bunch.

The lively south end of the current Square was home to the First Baptist Church, which had an education building where the new Huddleston Building sits now. There was an auto parts store that Luke Johnson had and later sold to Hack Vest. Johnson & Carter had a farm implements store near today’s Movement Church. Clint Carey Sr. and Jr. operated a grocery store where Buff City is now.

A highlight of the tour was learning that the Cameron Helms Funeral Home (later the Morgan-Scott Funeral Home) was in the space occupied by Toasted Walnut. “The way you knew someone had died and was ready for viewing is that Mr. Helms would put two orange cones out in front of the funeral parlor,” Willard said. “The funeral director didn’t have a staff to help him, so when he had prepared a body, he would go around to one of the stores on the Square and have one of the workers help him lift and place the body in the casket.”

Where the EDC and City offices are today was the old Celina City Hall building. In the front, the brother and sister recall the city offices and council meeting room. In the back of the building was the fire station. In the back corner of the truck bay was the jail, which was more like a cage with a toilet.

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They vividly recalled a story from the 1930s that had been widely known around town. After an evening meeting at City Hall, Raymond Hamilton, a contemporary of Bonnie and Clyde, was in Celina to steal guns. He found a couple of City Marshals outside and was able to overtake them and their weapons. He locked them in a nearby rail car. He then went around the Square looking for more weapons, store by store. He got into the drug store and the hardware store and took theirs. When he would encounter other passers-by, he would lock them in the train car, as well. He got out of town and was later caught near Lake Dallas. The hostages were freed, and luckily, no one died that night.

Before exploring the east side of the Square, they noted the Nelson Hotel. Their memories of the historic building included a retail store downstairs and a boarding house upstairs, with a small cooking area out back. Where Bongo Beaux’s is now, was the second location of the post office after it relocated from the old opera house. That was also where the American Legion Hall had previously stood, a place where Celina folks often gathered and celebrated God, country, food, drinks, and friends.

On the south end of the east side of the Square was the town’s washeteria. Willard and Cashon recalled very few Celina residents owning washing machines. Inside this washeteria, moms would work at the big, metal, open-top washing tumblers and share the latest scoop while kids were left in the cars out front to wait. When the wash was complete, wet clothes would be taken home to hang outside on clotheslines.

Today, many would scoff at the idea of leaving children in a car on the Square; however, in those days, kids were safe.

Jane Willard affirmed, “There was a gentleman named Fred Jackson whom all the businesses around the Square would pay to sweep the sidewalks and streets and keep an eye on the Square. He carried an old house broom and worked all day long to keep the Square nice and keep a watch on the place.”

Moving north, Woodrow Kindle had a grocery store and the Hendon’s had a dry cleaner. A tiny Southwestern Bell Telephone Office was there with three operators and switchboards keeping calls coming and going to and from Celina’s shared phone lines. “I remember when we first got telephones, you would pick up the phone and tell the operator whom you wanted to call,” Willard recalled. “Our phone number was 300-J-1.” Up the sidewalk, Clifford McKnight had a grocery store, G.V. Bray had a dry goods store (furniture and appliances), and Bob Clutt had a shoe repair store. The Nelson Café sat on the corner where an old insurance is now being renovated (Nelson was the son of the hotel owner and brother of the high school principal).

Pecan Street was home to even more businesses in Celina’s bustling Downtown. There was another grocer in Willow House, and next door, Paul Norris had an appliance repair and TV store. The Tender’s location was home to Collin County’s second drive-in fast food place that would be packed after football games and other citywide events. “Bobcat Benny” Johnson had a barber shop and Dr. Collins had an office there.

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Another filling station and the Kindle & Johnson lumber yard were just down the way.

Also on Pecan was Kissner’s Department Store, a café, a hardware store, and car storage. Bob Cashon explained, “Nearly all the streets were dirt and mud back then. People would store a nice car in town at the car storage garage and then drive to and from town in an older car. Our dad got stuck in the mud right by the old football stadium once and had to be pulled out.”

Change and growth are nothing new to the city and to those who have spent their lives here. These businesses came and went, but they always supported one another. Celina was a business-friendly place and a customer-friendly town. “I worked at the Perry and Rucker Grocery starting in about the sixth grade,” recalled Bob Cashon. “If a customer needed something we didn’t have, the grocer would give us money to run to another store and get it. My job was delivering groceries to people’s homes. I would gather their groceries and just walk in their house, put the groceries on the counter, and put the cold stuff in the ice box. They would leave money on their counter to pay for their order. No door in Celina was ever locked.”

Perhaps too many doors don’t stay unlocked these days, but the evolution of Downtown Celina and the Square has allowed the place to remain just as focused on businesses and as friendly as ever to those who spend time there. The buildings and the names above the doors have changed over

the decades. In the 70s, for instance, the scuttlebutt around town was over the demolition of the old opera house building. Even then, people wondered, “How could the city let that go?” Mrs. Willard remembers it well, “I still cringe every time I see the pictures of that building going down. It was such an iconic structure.” Yet, her tone quickly changed as the time together wrapped up. In what seemed like a few moments, the hours had passed.

Jane Willard and her brother celebrated the City they loved then and the City it has become. They shared their understanding of the natural growth of Dallas and Celina’s critical location in that northward expansion. It was nice when their dad was able to buy 160 acres off of Coit Road for $13,000 and have enough left over to dig a 720’ deep water well. But they said it is also nice to see young families and young faces once again filling their town. Mrs. Willard summed it best by saying, “Every time I come to the Square for lunch, I see several moms visiting and their children playing. That was me; that was my mom. And though their memories will be a little different than my memories, they are building their own memories right here in the same place. As long as that can continue, I am happy to see Downtown grow and evolve.”

Driving away, in the rear-view mirror stood the images of Willard and Cashon standing on the corner across from City Hall. Looking across toward the old Ritz Theater. Pointing. Smiling. Remembering. Loving their City.

Capital Improvement Projects STREETS

According to the 2022 Community Engagement Survey, infrastructure (particularly streets) were the primary concern for our residents. This has been a top priority for the City for the past few years. In fact, the City will be building more new streets than any city our size (and some even larger) over the next twoto-five years.

Capital Improvement Projects for our streets include repairing our current streets, planning new expansions, and constructing new streets through development. Please take a look at the following page to see our current street plans and projects along with some recent street project completions.


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Current Street Plans and Projects:

Parvin Road Asphalt improvements from FM 1385 to DNT (Start Date: Spring 2023)

TxDOT FM 428 full replacement asphalt maintenance from FM 1385 to DNT (Start Date: Spring/Summer 2023)

Annual Street Maintenance of various neighborhoods in 2023 – approximately over $1.5 million in funding allocated.

Frontier Pkwy will finish four concrete lanes from DNT to Preston Rd

Ownsby Pkwy will expand to four concrete lanes from DNT to Preston Rd (Start Date: 2023)

Choate Pkwy from Preston Rd to Coit Rd will be a new two-lane concrete road

DNT overpass at US 380 will be completed in Spring 2023

Custer Rd from US 380 to Frontier Pkwy will finish four concrete lanes in 2023

Parts of two concrete lanes in Legacy Hills have started construction

Recent Street Project Completions

Collin County Outer Loop from Preston Rd to Custer Rd

Light Farms Way connection to Outer Loop and Punk Carter Pkwy was completed to include four concrete lanes

Extension of Sunset Pkwy with connections to DNT and FM 428 will be finished in 2023

Several sections of Coit Rd are in design from Frontier Pkwy to Old Glendenning Rd – parts will go into construction in 2023 and 2024 building out a grid in the southeast portion of the City

Oklahoma Dr will connect from Malone Dr to Lynn Stambaugh Pkwy

Arizona St and Colorado St from the south end to Ash St will go into construction for additional drainage fixes in 2023

Ohio St will go into construction for additional drainage in 2024

Maryland Dr will finish concrete reconstruction in late 2023


Colorado St as part of the Downtown Inner Loop Project will be completed in 2023

Ash St will undergo improvements and expand with development in 2023

Dallas North Tollway from FM 428 to Marilee Rd

Coit Rd from Frontier Pkwy to Vest Lane (northbound lanes)

PRESTON RD (TX 289) 380
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Iconic Water Tower Aid


and undergirded the water tower so it could stand and be illuminated for generations more. Through no longer a part of the water infrastructure in Celina, it will forever rise as a monument to the past and to light the ways of time for decades to come.

The Celina EDC, recognizing the community’s shared love for this iconic treasure, recently set out to adapt its image into all branding for our work with local businesses and in our recruiting efforts around the country. Over a year ago, the EDC formed a group of longtime residents and some new to the area to strategically identify ways to use the water tower image as a beacon for small business, just as it served to welcome families across time. Along with the image, a slogan that could tell our story in just a few works. From the discussions came our new water tower logo and motto, “Hometown Spirit, Business Friendly.”

As a leading, emerging city in the United States, Celina fosters one of the most unique blends of history and progress. In this historic Texas hometown, we preserve our past and honor the traditions that have shaped us. Residents and visitors can immerse themselves in the endearing charm of yesterday as they stroll through Celina’s beloved historic Downtown Square and neighborhoods, stop by our heritage museum, or traverse across our remaining brick streets.

Along with that rich heritage, we bear a bold and strategic vision for tomorrow. Through our high standards for developing family-friendly neighborhoods, the success of our locally-supported businesses, and Celina ISD’s awardwinning schools, this truly is the most attractive and charming place in Texas to live, work, and raise a family. Those who visit or plant here will join those who have lived here for generations in quickly understanding why our motto in Celina is “Life Connected.”

Few iconic places or things are venerated in Celina more than our historic water tower. Standing at a tall watch overlooking our Downtown Square, the water tower has been a beacon welcoming folks home for generations. The foresight of City leaders in March 2017 perpetually preserved this icon from being torn down as it aged beyond repair. Their bold investment structurally repaired

Rolling out the new marketing campaign would take time, but the EDC Board knew immediately that a scaled replica of the water tower would be a fitting tribute to the icon and a memorable visual at trade shows, EDC gatherings, and in special moments around town. In January 2023, the 450lb. replica arrived, and it has already been the envy of other communities who boast a heritage like ours. The tribute tower looks and lights up exactly like our water tower. Locals will soon see this regularly displayed and illuminated at the EDC office on the history Downtown Square.

Make no mistake, this effort is underway not to idolize a tower, but to reflect to the world the beautiful heart and soul of our community. We want to inform those wishing to thrive here that Celina is a place where businesses help businesses and where people help people. Relationships make or break businesses in this City. From discussions with commercial brokers, to dreaming with developers, to sitting down with architects, engineers, designers, and builders, our EDC instills our heritage and our values while working to incentivize toward the future.

Some may be surprised by the way we economically develop and incentivize in Celina, but most have grown to appreciate it. They value the fact that the City will not acquiesce to the strongest developer’s arm on a deal. We simply cannot. Celina has tripled in population growth over the past decade, and there is no sign to an end of that multiplying effect. Knowing that, our response and our responsibility is crystal clear: we are going to work hard to guard and maintain the DNA of our community – one that prioritizes people – and from that, we know that the economics of the growth will follow. Simply stated, that’s Hometown Spirit. Business Friendly.

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The Celina EDC is committed to supporting local business in Celina. The business retention and expansion (BRE) programs provided by our organization reflect this commitment. A list of all BRE programs managed by our office can be found below:

Annual Business Satisfaction Survey

Business Appreciation Program

Business Connection Video Series

Business Area Focus Groups

Celina Business Directory

Monthly Local Business Report

Monthly Newsletter

One-on-one Meetings

Quarterly Business Meetings

Shop Local Campaigns

Business Retention & Expansion Specialist

Contact Lalaina for further information on Celina EDC local business programs:


Office: 469-813-4199

Mobile: 469-545-2399

Email: Office: Mobile:

3 0 2 W W a l n u t S t C e l i n a , T X 7 5 0 0 9 | c e l i n a e d c c o m | ( 9 7 2 ) 3 8 2 - 3 4 5 5 | i n f o @ c e l i n a e d c c o m
Lalaina Alvarez

PUBLIC SAFETY: Celina Police Headquarters

The Celina Police Headquarters, which will be located at the corner of Punk Carter Pkwy and Coit Rd, is scheduled to open in Spring 2024. Designed by Brinkley Sargent Wiginton Architects and constructed by Lee Lewis Construction Inc., the 75,000-square-foot Celina Police Headquarters will be constructed in multiple phases. The first phase will include the Main Headquarters, Community Room, Training Room, Office Space, Kitchen, and Courtyard Space.

As of April 2023, the underground plumbing and electrical is currently being installed, which includes the underground sleeve for electrical/data needed for future emergency siren on the southeast corner. Grade beams are being formed on the west side of the main building and the east side grade beams will be poured. In addition, subgrade preparation and pouring of the fire lanes has begun.

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Headquarters & Fire Station 3 Updates

Fire Station 3, which is located at the southeast corner of FM 1385 and Ballenger Rd serving Sutton Fields and surrounding areas is scheduled to open in October 2023. Designed by VAI Architects and HED Design and constructed by Crossland Construction, Fire Station 3 will include five apparatus bays that will house an engine, ambulance, reserve equipment, antique engine, and a future ladder truck. In addition, Fire Station 3 will include a Community Room, Living, Dining, and Sleeping Quarters, Gym, Locker Rooms, and Training Room.

As of April 2023, the fire lane construction and concrete slab have been completed and vertical construction has begun. The concrete block walls for the apparatus bay and south façade are underway. Steel joints are now on site and will be installed.

20 Life Connected. Magazine | May - June 2023



If you follow the Celina Public Library on social media, you may have seen that the Library has started a monthly Book Club. “On the Same Page” is an adults-only book club that meets on the first Tuesday at 10:00 AM and first Thursday at 6:30 PM of the month in the Library. Come join us for our June’s book club where the group will be reading Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.

2023 Summer Reading Kickoff Party

When: May 30th @ 10:00am Where: Council Chambers 112 N Colorado St (behind Celina Public Library)

May 30th 10:00 am


Council Chambers 112 N Colorado St (behind Celina Public Library)

Come join Professor Brainius for some science fun and get ballon art and your face painted by Stretch & Company!

Featured Books

Take a stroll at Old Celina Park and read through our newest Storybook Trail features:

Texas residents must register for a Celina Public Library Card in order to check out materials from the Library. Did you know that any Texas resident has the ability to obtain a library card from the Celina Public Library, not just Celina residents? Here is how to obtain a Library Card from the Celina Public Library:

A government-issued picture ID (usually a driver’s license) is required.

Applicants under the age of 18 must have a parent or legal guardian complete and sign the library card registration form in person.


May’s Featured Book: The Summer Visitors by Karel Hayes

June’s Featured Book: Summer Song by Kevin Henkes

When you connect your phone or tablet to Libby, you’re connecting with thousands of titles on the go! Between ebooks and e-audiobooks, you’ll rarely run out of new stories to read. Remember that using Libby is as easy as 1-2-3. Join enter your library card and password, search for a book, and download. You’re ready to enjoy your next literary adventure.

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Come join Professor Brainius for some science fun and get balloon art and your face painted by Stretch & Company!

Parks & Recreation Department Earns National Alliance for Youth Sports Designation

The Celina Parks & Recreation Department was honored with the Better Sports for Kids Quality Program Provider designation from the National Alliance for Youth Sports.

Earning the Better Sports for Kids Quality Program designation demonstrates that the Celina Parks & Recreation Department has taken steps to ensure a safe, quality playing environment for children. The Celina Parks & Recreation Department has proven it meets requirements in five categories: Written Policies and Procedures, Volunteer Screening, Coach Training, Parent Education, and Accountability.

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THINGS TO DO Around Celina

Friday Night Market

6:00 – 9:00 PM | Downtown Square

Friday Night Market is a great way to get outside, shop local, eat delicious food, and listen to live music – all held in Celina’s Downtown Square. Friday Night Market features a fantastic variety of vendors with something for everyone. Make sure to #ShopLocal and support our homemade, handmade, and homegrown vendors. May’s musical guest will be Griffin Holtby. Visit for more information!


Cinco de Mayo

2:00 – 10:00 PM | Downtown Square

Cinco de Mayo, which is hosted by El Puente de Celina and City of Celina, and celebrates the anniversary of Mexico’s victory over the Second French Empire in 1962. Celina’s Cinco de Mayo celebration occurs every year on the Downtown Square and features live music, local food and market vendors, traditional dances, and games. All net proceeds from Cinco de Mayo go towards a scholarship for one of our Celina high school students. Visit for more information.


City Council Meeting

5:30 PM | City Council Chambers

Celina City Council Meetings occur on the second Tuesday of every month at 5:00 PM in the City Council Chambers located at 112 N. Colorado St. City Council Meetings are livestreamed and recorded. Visit

Celina Cajun Fest

2:00 – 9:00 PM | Downtown Square 5/13

Celina Cajun Fest presented by REX Real Estate is the biggest crawfish boil in North Texas and is one of the City’s largest and most popular events of the year.

Grammy Award-winning and country music legends Diamond Rio will be performing live on the Centurion American stage and will be joined by Jeffery Broussard & The Creole Cowboys and Texas Clearwater Revival. In addition, attendees will enjoy some of the finest crawfish in Texas to go along with two live alligator shows, local vendors offering food, drinks, and unique items, and a large Kids Zone area with inflatables and carnival rides. Visit for more information.

@LIFEINCELINATX WWW.LIFEINCELINATX.COM 23 Life Connected. Magazine | May - June 2023

Music Night on the Square

7:30 PM | Downtown Square 5/19

Music Night on the Square presented by Sinacola is a free live music series held on Celina’s Downtown Square. Feel free to dance on the Square or bring chairs and blankets to get cozy while you listen to great local music. Come hungry, Celina’s Downtown shops and eateries will be open for you to grab a bite to go. Attendees are welcome (and encouraged) to order take-out from any of our local restaurants and bars for your enjoyment during the concert. Aurora Bleu will be this month’s featured musical act and bring a unique vintage retro sound blending various styles of music across the decades into a concoction of big band, swing, jump blues, and jazz vibes. Visit for more information.

Night Market

Friday Night Market is a great way to get outside, shop local, eat delicious food, and listen to live music – all held in Celina’s Downtown Square. Friday Night Market features a fantastic variety of vendors with something for everyone. Make sure to #ShopLocal and support our homemade, handmade, and homegrown vendors. June’s musical guest will be Matt Bell. Visit movienight for more information!

City Council Meeting

6/13 5:00 PM | City Council Chambers

Celina City Council Meetings occur on the second Tuesday of every month at 5:00 PM in the City Council Chambers located at 112 N. Colorado St. City Council Meetings are livestreamed and recorded. Visit

Movie Night on the Square

7:00 PM; Movie starts at sundown | Downtown Square 6/16

Reminiscent of an outdoor drive-in theater, our Movie Nights on the Square presented by Sinacola features a massive blow-up movie screen with seating on the bleachers, or bring a blanket and sit on the lawn. Prior to the movie, each evening includes select vendors offering food and beverages and theater-style popcorn brought to you by Cody Paxman State Farm. In addition, each event includes a free Kids Zone courtesy of JEB Homes and Supreme Lending Dallas with rotating activities, such as costumed characters, bounce houses, games, and crafts. June’s movie will be Minions: Rise of Gru. Visit for more information.

Downtown Square 6/2
6:00 – 9:00 PM |
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The City of Celina is committed to improving the lives of our residents. The City prioritizes providing the best in public safety, top-ranked schools, innovative infrastructure, and most importantly, listening to feedback from our residents.

Below are some ongoing and future City projects happening in and around Light Farms.


Fire Station 2 was opened in Light Farms in January 2020 and is the second Fire Station in the City of Celina. The City has future plans to add warning sirens at Light Farms Elementary School as well as Fire Station 2. These warning sirens will alert residents when inclement weather is approaching so that they can seek shelter.


The City of Celina partnered with the Town of Prosper and Collin County for the expansion of Frontier Pkwy. Frontier Pkwy, which was once a two-lane road, was expanded to four concrete lanes and extends from Preston Rd to Dallas North Tollway. The project also includes a bridge, drainage, signage, signals, and lighting. Light Farms Way connection to the Outer Loop and Punk Carter Pkwy was recently completed to include four concrete lanes.

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Fine Arts Board

The Fine Arts Board contributes to the development of arts and culture in the City of Celina. Board members advise staff members in developing and implementing policies, planning, and setting goals as well as serving as advocates for the City’s arts and culture initiatives.

• Partnering with Keen Independent to create an Arts & Culture Master Plan, which will be designed to help guide the City’s strategic planning efforts and define its role in supporting arts and culture in the community.

• Held a community forum to unveil a draft of the Arts & Culture Master Plan for residents to view and provide feedback.


Brian Bender

Tawnia King

Gina Overstreet

Sarah Phillips

Jennifer Samuelson

Jack Washington

Brittany Yanniello

Anthony Satarino

(Strategic Services Director, City Liaison)

The Fine Arts Board meets on the first Monday of every month at 6:00 PM on an as-needed basis in City Council Chambers.

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Members of the Collin County Chambers of Commerce along with elected officials, community leaders, and business professionals participated in a two-day event in Austin to kick off the new legislative session. Over 100 representatives from across the county met with legislators and area-elected officials to learn more about important issues facing our county. Several City staff members and council members represented the City of Celina during the event, and these meetings were an opportunity for City leadership to advocate for the needs of our City and county.

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The City of Celina held a Town Hall Meeting in March that highlights our infrastructure projects focusing on streets. This was a great opportunity for the City to interact with our residents where questions were answered, concerns were addressed, and current and future road projects were shared. Residents are able to watch and view the presentation at

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In April, the City of Celina held its annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet at Two29 on the Square. David Hogue was recognized as the Volunteer of the Year after recording 198 hours of service, and Jeremy Page was honored with the Community Ambassador Award. In addition, the City recognized all of the volunteers from our Boards & Commissions who selflessly give their time and energy to making the City a great place to live, work, and raise a family.

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142 N. Ohio St, Celina, TX 75009 Email: Website: