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Locals Hope for Texas ‘White House’

July 30, 1999

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) _ It’s not just George W. Bush’s bid for the White House that has residents abuzz in this one-stoplight town. The Republican presidential front-runner also has made a bid on a local ranch.

Regulars at the coffee shop and gas station say they hope the Texas governor will follow the example of native son Lyndon B. Johnson.

The former president often returned to the LBJ Ranch near Johnson City and delighted in showing off the land to foreign visitors.

``I think that might be his intention. If that happens, it’s something we could be proud of,″ said Randy Sherman, a Texas history teacher at Crawford High School.

Bush says he’s interested in the property, about 90 miles southwest of Dallas, but won’t say whether a closing date has been set.

A work team recently made a survey of the nearly 1,500-acre ranch and crews are researching whether Bush could build a private 100-acre fishing lake on the land. That report will tell Bush whether he can build a stock tank on the property, which would be important to the avid fisherman.

Although many in the 700-resident town like the idea of Bush moving in, the sale will be bittersweet for Ken Engelbrecht, who has lived on the family homestead his entire life, farming the property and raising cattle.

Engelbrecht said one reason the family is selling its holdings is to move his mother closer to her dialysis treatments, which she undergoes three times a week in Temple, 30 miles away.

``It’ll be better when they’re there,″ he said of his parents. ``They’re all ready to go.″

Still, it’s difficult for him to sell land that has been in his family since just after the Civil War.

``It’s best for the land,″ he said. ``You want to sell to somebody who will do your town good, your neighbors good, the land good.″

The house in which he has lived is not part of the sale. Bush would have to build his own residence.

The property in western McLennan County adjoins Rainey Creek, a tributary of the Middle Bosque River. It never was listed with local real estate agents, although the land is worth an estimated $800 to $850 an acre.

A hay crop recently was shorn from the rolling pasture, while bordering ranches sprout cactus, herds of longhorns and goats and an occasional emu.

A couple of landing strips are nearby, as well as the Hughes Unit prison farm, which ranges from minimum to maximum security.

Bush has visited the local coffee shop in the neighboring town of McGregor.

``He walked up to my table and shook my hand,″ said Leah Driver, whose parents own The Coffee Station in Crawford. ``He said he was going to come over and eat at our place but we’re closed on Sunday.″

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