Councilman Smith Talks City Business at FBBA General Meeting

Business, Community Organizations, Corpus Christi, Flour Bluff, Front Page
District 4 Corpus Christi City Councilman Greg Smith addresses FBBA (PaperTrail photo)

 

     On Wednesday, November 8, 2017, at the regular monthly meeting of the Flour Bluff Business Association, District 4 Councilman Greg Smith shared what has been happening at the city level.  The citizens elected Smith their council member last November.  “I am a Flour Bluffian, Class of 1970, and the first person who actually grew up in Flour Bluff to be elected to city council,” said Smith.

Harvey Update

     Smith started his presentation by discussing the effects of Harvey on Flour Bluff.  “We really got a pass on this one.  We had mostly roof and fence damage, and overall it was not too bad,” said Smith.  “That said, the condos and hotels on Mustang Island within the city limits were severely damaged.  About 20%, our HOT (Hotel Occupancy Tax) funds come from there.  None of those condominiums today are operating. The water was about 10 feet above sea level on Mustang Island.  It came out of Corpus Christi Bay, pushed up against those dunes, and really caused severe flooding.”

     The councilman went on to explain the issue with the brush and debris pickup, something that Judge Loyd Neal criticized publicly just last month. “For all of us in the Bluff and on the island, don’t put any more out.  The city’s not picking it up.  If you do, you will get a $75 bill,” said Smith.  “In 45 days, the city hauled more brush than they do in two years.  Corpus Christi is about 100 times the size of Port Aransas, which has more debris coming out of it than all of Corpus Christi.”

     Smith cautioned people about thinking we would not have another storm for many years.  He reminded everyone of the 1916 and 1919 storms of Carla, Beulah, and Celia that came within the same 9 years.  “We need to take what we learned from all these storms and apply it to the future.  The odds are we are going to have a storm much sooner than 47 years,” he said referring to the August 3, 1970, Celia that hit Corpus Christi directly.

Creative Commons Photo

     “I am going to be pushing for several things.  One is our roofs and the composition shingles.  Right now we’re required to have a 120 mph shingle that sells for $65 a square.  For $75 a square, you can buy a 150 mph shingle.  And, it will last nearly twice as long.  Instead of a 30-year shingle, you’ll get a 50-year shingle,” said Smith.

     “Flour Bluff – like Port Aransas – floods.  If the conditions are right, we could see the flooding here that Mustang Island saw.  If we increase the BFE (base flood elevation) to one foot above, everybody in Corpus Christi who is paying flood insurance will see a 5% reduction.  Anybody who builds at that standard will save money on their flood policy,” said Smith. “Both of these things can save us money in the long run.”

     Smith spoke of how some of the local haulers had upped their prices after Harvey but took the time to point out the Matt Eckstrom of Killian Calderon Disposal, was not one of them.  “I want to give a shout-out to Matt,” said Smith.  “He is a good local citizen who didn’t take advantage of his customers.”  Smith encouraged those in attendance to call on Eckstrom if they have need for his services.

City Budget

     Smith then talked about various aspects of city government, beginning with the budget that went into effect October 1, 2017.  “Most of us on the council are new to the process, so it’s been a learning year.  We basically received a staff budget,” Smith said.  Mayor Joe McComb and Smith asked that staff cut 1% across the board so that there would be money to put into streets.  When Council was told that there was no way to do that, Smith said, “When they told me they could not save one cent on the dollar, I had trouble with that.  We did get a half-cent on there, which was $3.4 million to go to our residential streets, not our arterials and collectors.”

     “Thirty years ago, all of our ad valorem taxes went to support our public safety, police and fire.  Our sales tax went to the other areas.  Today, all of our ad valorem goes to support police, and all of our sales tax goes to support fire.  I’m not saying these are dedicated funds.  We get $77 million in ad valorem, and our police budget is $77 million.  Our fire budget is $52 million, and we get around $54 million in sales tax.  Monies that were going elsewhere historically have gradually been shifted over to public safety.  I think our fire and police have excellent people there, and we are understaffed, more so in the police than fire.  We do have issues right now,” said Smith.

     Smith explained that increased evaluations did bring in extra ad valorem dollars.  “That money went to satisfy our contractual obligations to our police and fire departments.  We didn’t have anything left over at the end of the day.  We received an increase of $4 million in ad valorem increases, but we had $4 million obligated to raises to police and fire.”  He said that they are looking at different ways to address the issue.  “To put one more officer on the force, it costs the taxpayers $125,000 for each officer.”  If they increase by eight officers, it will cost $1 million.  “Right now we have about 400 officers,” said Smith.

     “We have way too much debt, and we’re not in favor of that.  This council, with five new members, is a much more questioning council than our last councils have been,” said Smith.  “We’ve got to do better as a city, and we’ve got to bring our services in cheaper.  For example, we have a wall behind the museum that needs to be re-built, and I agree with that.  The estimate came in at $10,000 a linear foot for the 200-foot wall.  That’s $2 million dollars.  When we build the Packery Channel bridge and the approaches to it, it will cost $4,000 a linear foot, and I asked why we would do this.  These are the kinds of things we’re addressing.

Wastewater

     The councilman addressed wastewater next.  “It’s kind of a silent thing.  We don’t often think about that, except maybe a couple of times a day,” Smith said, which was followed by a chuckle from the crowd.  He addressed the consolidation of the treatment plans that has been debated for months, an expensive fix that Smith did not deem necessary.  “All we have to do is repair and maintain what we have.”  This direction will allow the system made up of six plants to work and meet regulatory standards without costing the  rate payer $220 million dollars more than repairing the existing plants. “That comes out of our pockets, and there’s no reason for it,” said Smith.  “We have instructed staff to move forward and fix the plants we have to make them fully operational and efficient.”  This drew a round of applause from the audience members.

Water

     Smith then addressed the water system.  “Our peak year in water usage as 1989,” he said.  “We are using about 30% less water today, and we’ve added two sources of supply.  We have plenty of water.  We are trying to make everyone aware of that, particularly industry.”  Smith said that industry is a big consumer of water but there is still plenty.  “We are moving forward on desalination even though we have water.  We just authorized permitting for a desalination plant,” Smith said.  “One thing this council will not do is build that plant until we have the demand.  “However, we want to be ready in case we get a lot of industry come in, and we need the water.”  Smith sees Corpus Christi as a frontrunner in desalination, which will make the city known to industry both nationally and internationally.

     Smith explained that the state loaned the $2.75 million for desalination, which must be paid back at no interest in eight years.  “We will be adding a little to the industry rate since they’re the ones who really want this.  We’re not going to put this on the ordinary rate payer,” Smith said.

Streets

     Smith then moved to the topic of streets.  “The big one is streets, which is strictly a money issue.  For residential streets, we have a program in place, and it’s funded to maintain the good streets,” said Smith.  He explained that all streets in the city have been rated according to the PCI (Pavement Condition Index), a rating system of 1 to 100.  “Any street with a PCI of 55 or above is on a funded maintenance program,” he said in reference to the SPMP (Street Preventative Maintenance Program) started in January 2014 and funded by the SMF (Street Maintenance Fund) to pay most of the construction costs.  Streets that meet the 55+ requirement are eligible for maintenance work through either a seal coat or overlay every seven years.  According to the 2017 SPMP Work Plan, Waldron Road, which has a PCI of 57 from Caribbean to Yorktown, will receive an overlay in 2017.

     “The next classification of streets, which a lot of the Bluff streets are, is PCI 35-55.  We just approved $8 million dollars on addressing these streets,” said Smith.  He explained that this program is based strictly on PCI rating and has nothing to do with amount of tax dollars collected from a particular area.  Only one Bluff street will fall under this program.  “I was disappointed to see that, but it takes a million dollars a mile.  The City of Corpus Christi is going to recondition eight miles of streets city-wide,” said Smith.

Don Patricio Road, 2016 (SevenTwelve Photography)

 

     “The last tier is a PCI of 35 and below.  It costs $4 million a mile to fix those streets.  With over 400 miles of bad streets, that’s $1.6 billion.  We don’t have  $1.6 billion.  We don’t have anywhere near that amount,” Smith said.  He said that only two streets in the city with this rating are targeted for reconstruction, Ralston and Rogerson, neither of which is a Bluff street.  “It’s going to be a long, long time before we can get to the other streets.  Again, it boils down to money.”

     Smith later talked about the way that street repair is done currently.  “We are repairing streets today the same we did 75 years ago,” he said adding that it is not the most efficient way of getting the job done.  He said the city is testing a machine called an asphalt zipper that uses less labor, takes less time, and may do a better job than what the city street crews do now. “This machine does it all and has the proper tamping required to keep the asphalt in place,” Smith said.

     Part of the issue with streets is that developers, though required to do so, may not actually build a 30-year street.  “I asked how many streets have problems that are one- or two-year streets.  Currently, we have eleven streets that are supposedly 30-year streets that are now owned by the taxpayers that are already having to be patched.  Carolyn Vaughn and I want to require a two-year warranty instead of a one-year warranty on those streets,” Smith said.  “If they’re truly building 30-year streets, we should be able to get a two-year warranty.”

     Monette Bright, local businesswoman, asked, “Why are utilities not put in for an entire subdivision when it goes in?  Why are they allowed to put in gas and water taps after the street has already gone in?  Doesn’t digging into the pavement destroy the integrity of the street?”

     “That has definitely been the case in the past.  With the newer subdivisions, the taps are now put in place before the paving begins.

Homelessness

     “This is something that affects us all, especially in the Bluff.  The Flour Bluff Citizens Council and the Flour Bluff Business Association have done great work.  I think if the city had done that, it would be terrific,” said Smith in reference to an FBCC Town Hall meeting on October 16, 2017, where the citizens were educated on the state of homelessness in Corpus Christi and Flour Bluff.  “We are looking for a way to know where these folks are,” said Smith, referring to the proposed Coordinated Entry plan for the city, which helps keep track of the homeless as they move in and around the area.  Smith said that the city is looking at helping reunite individuals with their families.  Two other proposals include a work program and a housing program.

     “Personally, I think I have a lot of support on council with this.  We have to be compassionate.  People have issues that we have to help take care of.  We have to take care of the people who need and want help,” said Smith.  He added that in doing so that we be careful not want to create an environment where Corpus Christi becomes a destination spot for homeless.  “It’s a balancing act.  Citizens in Flour Bluff are concerned about safety and sanitary issues when they go to Parker Park,” said Smith, something that he said is a concern in most parks in the city.  Smith went on to describe a homeless person becoming physical with a woman who was serving attendees at a local function.

Image result for homeless in corpus christi + commons
Homeless camp (PaperTrail photo)

     “From a policing standpoint, currently our department’s attitude is that we cannot solve homelessness.  However, when we have someone who is physically aggressive, as a city, we need to strengthen that,” said Smith.

     Dan Hogan addressed petty theft around the neighborhood and its relationship to homelessness.  “I call this a revolving door problem.  We have these homeless people who get on drugs and become a nuisance to themselves and our community.  When they get arrested, they get put right back out on the street,” said Hogan.  “There has to be a solution in some city somewhere.  Let’s figure out what to do about this,” said Hogan.  “Let’s find out where those bus tickets are coming from and buy return tickets.”  This drew many comments of agreement from the audience.

Election Year Coming

     Smith reminded everyone that we are coming upon an election year in 2018.  “Council members are elected for two year terms,” said Smith.  He cautioned everyone to be aware of candidates making promises that they cannot keep in order to get votes.  “Usually, you get votes by spending money.  When you cut, you lose a lot of votes.  Commissioner Chesney is like I am.  He stands firm on the budget.  We have to make the hard decisions.  It irritates people when you cut programs out, but sometimes these cuts are necessary.  I will continue to ask those hard questions and make cuts where necessary,” said Smith.

Audience Concerns

     Joe Lynch, resident and local businessman, voiced a safety concern about the Laguna Shores SPID intersection.  “Even a small vehicle has difficulty making that right-hand turn onto Laguna Shores without swinging out into the lane that goes up on the freeway,” Lynch said.  “Sometimes the driver comes to a complete stop to let the Laguna Shores traffic go, which is dangerous for the driver pulling onto SPID because he doesn’t have a clear view.”  Lynch suggested that the right turn lane on Laguna Shores be moved more toward the Laguna Madre to allow for the necessary space for safe turning.  Lynch was concerned that someone was preparing to build on that property, which might prevent the movement of the lane.

     Smith thanked Lynch for his comments and said that Laguna Shores improvements will be on the 2018 Bond that will go to the voters next November.  “That’s the kind of thing we need to catch before the design.  You’re right.  It is a problem,” responded Smith.

     Jennifer Welp asked about what seems to be a new fee implemented by the City Solid Waste Department right after Harvey.  “It severely affects roofers and remodelers who have to haul debris or building materials,” said Welp.

     “You’re referring to the MSW (Municipal Solid Waste) fee.  It’s been in effect since 2001.  If a hauler like Matt, let’s say, is called by a roofer to haul the material, and he takes it to the city landfill, he pays the fee, a fee that is for street maintenance.  If the roofer takes it himself to a private landfill, the fee doesn’t get paid.  If Matt takes it to a private landfill, it was already in his bill, and the fee gets paid.  Again, it was started in 2001, and the city staff picked right after Harvey to implement it, so it looks terrible.  We’ve had a lot of complaints from the roofers who are paying about $200 when they ought to pay about $20.  Staff is now going back and looking at what was charged and bringing those charges in line to what they ought to be,” said Smith.

     Matt Eckstrom asked, “When you enact that MSW fee on the roofers, are they going to do that through the building permits that they pull?”

     “Yes, it has been switched to the building permits from the landfill bill.  They were supposed to be paying that at that time.  We’ve heard a lot of justified concerns about it,” responded Smith.

     Another business owner asked, “Do those fees go into a street maintenance fund, or do they just go wherever?”  Smith said that the 400-page budget has 66 different funds, which makes it very difficult to track where those dollars go.  “It’s like the convention center.  The taxpayers spend $10 million a year on it, but there are so many funds that the money comes out of that nobody knows what the actual number is.  So, with this fund, it’s supposed to go to the streets, but it goes a little here and a little there.  When the mayor asked that question about what adds up to around $300,000 a year, staff said the money was being spent on multiple city programs.  We are watching that.”

     FBBA President Jennifer Welp thanked the councilman for addressing the FBBA and awarded him with a Keep It in the Bluff Certificate of Appreciation.

Other FBBA Business

  • FBBA elections were held at the November general meeting. Jonathan Vela of Dani’s Lock and Key, Javier Wiley with HEB Plus, and Roshan Bhakta of Candlewood Suites are candidates for the three open positions.  Tom Hollingsworth and Cliff Zarbock will be stepping down from the board.  President Jennifer Welp thanked them for their service and gave each one a certificate of appreciation.
Jennifer Welp and Dr. Tom Hollingsworth DC (PaperTrail photo)
Cliff Zarbock of Premier Realty (PaperTrail Photo)
  • President Jennifer Welp welcomed three local businesses to the FBBA: Matt Eckstrom of Killian Calderon Disposal, Susan Chandler of SCC Jewelry, and Vandana Andrews of Andrews Flowers.
Vandana Andrews, Jennifer Welp, and Matt Eckstrom (PaperTrail Photo)
  • Tire Recycling Program Recap: The FBBA partnered with Nueces County Commissioner Brent Chesney and DEGOLA Resource Conservation and Development District to offer a free tire recycling event on November 4, 2017, from 9 to 5.  Lots of tires were collected, which really made an impact on the Flour Bluff community.  The FBBA would like to thank Wes Womack and his 4-wheel-drive club for helping with collection of dumped tires.  Another free tire-recycling event is planned for early next year.
  • The FBBA Membership Drive is still going on. The FBBA thanked all who are members.  All local business owners are encouraged to join in the last quarter of the year.  The annual dues is $65.00, which can be paid online at https://www.flourbluffbusinessassociation.com/application .

 

C’est Bon Mixes It Up with FBBA Members December 13

     On Wednesday, December 13, 2017, the Flour Bluff Business Association will have their December Mixer at C’est Bon Seafood located at 10210 S. Padre Island Dr, Corpus Christi, Texas, from noon to 1:00 p.m.  Come join us as we introduce the newly-elected FBBA board members and enjoy some good seafood while mixing and mingling with other Flour Bluff business owners.  If you or your business would like to sponsor our mixer next month, please let us know.

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.

Please follow and like us:

Santa Arrives December 8 in Flour Bluff for Community Christmas!

Business, Community Organizations, Flour Bluff, Front Page
(Photo by SevenTwelve Photography, 2016)

    The Flour Bluff Business Association would like you to join us on Friday, December 8, 2017, in welcoming Santa and his elves to Funtrackers Family Fun Center located at 9605 S. Padre Island Dr, Corpus Christi, TX 78418.  Santa is scheduled to arrive at 6:00 p.m., and he is coming with gifts!  Every kid will get a chance to meet Santa for a picture and a present.  We will have entertainment throughout the evening including a Cake Walk sponsored by the Children’s Center, face painting, a community sing-along, and much more!

A junior elf speaks with the little children as they wait in the line,  to see Santa, 2016 (SevenTwelve Photography photo)

     “We love this community where we live, and we want to give back by giving to the children who are here.  We are so happy to announce that HEB Plus will be donating $1500 toward the purchase of toys for the kids.  We hope all business owners will consider setting out a toy box at your place of business to collect toys for the kids or will join us on the 8th to help with the event,” said FBBA President Jennifer Welp.

Santa’s lead elf assists with the gift-giving process, 2016 (SevenTwelve Photography photo)

     Since the announcement, others have donated to the toy drive.  Grace Community Church gave $1000.  County Commissioner Brent Chesney made a personal donation of $500, and  Commissioner Mike Pusley donated $250.  Funtrackers is not only co-hosting the event, but they are donating lots of toys for the little ones.

Braving the cold for time with Santa, 2016 (SevenTwelve Photography)

     For anyone who would like to make a toy donation, FBBA toy boxes are located at Colonia del Rey on Waldron Road, Edward Jones on Waldron next to Papa Murphy’s, the Children’s Center on SPID, Navy/Army at SPID and Flour Bluff Drive, Maybelle’s Market at Turtle Cove Shopping Center, and Funtrackers on Flour Bluff Drive.  The FBBA wants to thank all who have generously given time, talent, or donations to make this fun-filled, community event possible.

The magic of Santa (SevenTwelve Photography)

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.

Please follow and like us:

Oh, How I Miss a Hometown Newspaper!

Corpus Christi, Flour Bluff, Front Page, North Padre Island, Opinion/Editorial
Coffee and News © Shirley Thornton

     As I dig through old news clippings from the Flour Bluff Sun to research our local history, I am reminded of how much I loved that little paper.  Marie Speer, owner and publisher, gave us something to anticipate every Friday.  Whose picture would make the cover?  What tidbit of Flour Bluff history would she include?  Who made the all-star team?  What community events were coming up?  What new business opened in the Bluff?  Who was born or married?  Who died?  What battle would surface in the letters to the editor?  Not until Marie’s staff rolled each paper, bound it with a rubber band, and tossed it onto the lawn would these questions be answered.  When we lost the Flour Bluff Sun, we not only lost the news of the day, we lost a print record of our community’s history.  I am still in search of past editions of the Sun and of an earlier newspaper called The Flour Bluff Reporter, which was owned and published by Bill Smith.

Flour Bluff Sun, published by Marie Speer beginning in 1976

     Jeff Craft, owner and publisher of the Flour Bluff Messenger, tried to revive the old spirit of truly local news, but sadly he had to give it up.  I am grateful for his efforts and for the opportunity to submit articles to it.  I am especially grateful to have hard copies in hand.  There is nothing like sipping a cup of coffee while reading a real hometown newspaper on real newsprint.  This is always done with a pair of scissors nearby in case I need to clip something out of the paper, articles or pictures that I will post on the fridge, share with a friend or family member, or tuck away in a box or book for safekeeping.  Maybe one day one of my great grandchildren will stumble across a news article I saved about his mom or dad or the community in which they lived.  Yes, print newspapers are not a thing of the past; they are evidence of the past.

Jeff Craft’s publication kept the Flour Bluff informed for two years.

     Once again, residents of Flour Bluff, Padre Island, NAS-CC, and parts of South Side will have the chance to keep a piece of history for future generations.  Ron Henne, who owns and publishes The Saltwater Angler Magazine, and a few of his friends have taken on the task of creating a print newspaper for the folks in our community, one that merges the old with the new but highlights what matters to all of us.  The first edition will be available December 1, 2017.  I have done a little writing and editing for this new publication, too, and I pray it will make it because I really miss having a hometown newspaper.

Image may contain: text

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.

Please follow and like us:

Flour Fest Draws over 1200 to Parker Memorial Park

Community Organizations, Entertainment, Flour Bluff, Food and Drink, Front Page
FBHS NJROTC Color Guard preparing for opening of Flour Fest

     On Saturday, October 28, 2017, over 1200 people showed up at Parker Memorial Park between the hours of noon and 8:00 p.m. to take part in the family fun at Flour Fest, a community event put on by the Flour Bluff Business Association and sponsored by County Commissioners Brent Chesney and Mike Pusley, Michael Morgan of State Farm, Javier Wiley of HEB, Roshan Bhakta of Candlewood Suites Flour Bluff/NAS, and Dr. Mohamed Hassan of Children’s Center Flour Bluff.  The award-winning, nationally renowned Flour Bluff NJROTC Color Guard provided cadets for the opening ceremonies, parking detail, and clean-up detail as part of their service duties.  The Pct. 2 Constable’s office provided security for the event through its reserve officers along with several Corpus Christi Police Department officers.

No automatic alt text available.

The event featured:

  • Live music by Michael Burtts, Jimmy Spacek, Cathouse, and Timeline Journey Tribute Band;
  • Dance show by FBHS Stingline;
  • Raffle for a Yeti cooler, which was won by Luis Diaz; all proceeds go to FBBA Scholarships for FBISD students;
  • Singing of “The Star Spangled Banner” by Dr. Tom Hollingsworth;
  • Kids Zone fun sponsored by the Flour Bluff Citizens Council, including sack races, three-legged races, egg in spoon races, corn hole, and 4-way tug o’ war; volunteers for this event included the Pastor Brandon Cunningham and the Youth Group of Grace Community Church;Pastry Wars Pie-eating Contest sponsored by Walmart #490, Cliff Zarbock of Premier Realty,  and John and Lisa Nicholson of Barton Street Pub; Cliff and John are Flour Bluff graduates; volunteers for this event included Hannah Chipman of Brent Chesney’s office and Jeff Rank, local attorney and Flour Bluff graduate; Bounce House by Space Walk of Corpus Christi;
  • Fur Fest Kid-and-Dog Costume Contest sponsored by Flour Bluff Citizens Council and Robert and Shirley Thornton of Thornton Rental Properties; volunteers for this event were local attorney Mark Stolley, Flour Bluff graduate and local attorney running for Judge of the 148th District Court;
  • Fire safety demonstrations by Chief Dale Scott and firemen from Nueces County ESD#2;
  • Corpus Christi Police Department Police Museum on wheels; coordinated by Arlene Madali Cordell;
  • Local vendors and community organizations, including Lord of Life Lutheran Church, Fleece Blankets, Weight Watchers, Welp LLC/Danny, Katy Beseda of SevenTwelve Photography, C’est Bon Seafood, Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation, Red Cactus, Funk and Junk, Boy Scouts/St. Peter’s UMC, Center for Independent Living, Flour Bluff Stingline/PTA/Booster Club, Andrew’s Flowers, SCC Jewelry, and Mark Stolley for Judge 148th District Court; Harold Carter of Starry Shooting Range, Gun Safety for Kids;
  • Food trucks, including Divine Treats, Gino’s Burgers and More, Ray’s Street Eats, Full Speed Ahead BBQ, and Kona Ice;
  • Beer and wine catering by CC Liquor Catering, owners Megan (Dulak) and John Gordon.

Image may contain: one or more people, sky, outdoor and nature

 

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor

Image may contain: one or more people, tree, sky, grass, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: outdoor and text

Image may contain: one or more people, sky, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: one or more people, tree, sky, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: one or more people, tree, child, grass, shoes, sky, outdoor and nature

     Flour Fest 2017 was the brainchild of Jonathan Vela, FBBA Event Coordinator and owner of Dani’s Lock and Key.  “The first annual Flour Fest wasn’t my idea,” said Vela. “I wasn’t completely happy with it, so I asked to lead the second one. That being said I also helped plan the first one. I don’t think we could’ve done anything different for the time and budget we had. I just thought we rushed it. I started planning 10 months prior to 2nd Annual Flour Fest.”

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, shoes, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and outdoor

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting and outdoor

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor

     Vela envisioned something different when he thought of Flour Fest.  “Our first annual Flour Fest was at Funtrackers. I enjoyed the event, but I wasn’t happy with the location and other things tied to the location. When I think festival, I don’t picture arcades and go karts. I picture what it was this year, open air,  stage in a field, trees, and open grass areas.”  Another FBBA board member suggested Parker Park, a decision Vela liked.

Image may contain: one or more people, people playing sports, grass, sky, outdoor and nature

     Planning the event started 10 months before it came to be.  “I feel the hardest part was the weeks leading into the event making sure everything was in place,” said Vela.  “Seeing all our hard work pay off, seeing all the people have an amazing time, seeing something we worked so hard on come together,” Vela added in response to what he liked best about the event. “All the bands this year were amazing, and I wouldn’t mind bringing them back every year. Next year I would even like to hire a national touring band to close out the night.”  He also said he would like to see the event go two hours longer next year.

Live music by Timeline Journey Tribute Ban at Flour Fest 2017 (Photo by Jonathan Vela)

     When asked what he sees for the future of Flour Fest, Vela said, “In 10 years, I see this turning into 2 to 3 day event with multiple stages showcasing all different genres of music that our community and city enjoy. I see Parker Park filled with thousands of people at a time. I hope I am around to see it happen.”

     The FBBA would also like to thank Little Caesar’s, Dominoes, and Funtrackers for donations of coupons or food for the event and to all the vendors and community organizations that provided fun, candy, and prizes for the children.  They especially want to thank all who came to the festival and partook in the fun and helped make the event worthwhile for everyone.

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.

Please follow and like us:

Flour Bluff: Odds and Ends

Flour Bluff, Front Page, Local history

As I dig through old records, faded news clippings, yearbooks, scrapbooks, and assorted secondary sources in search of any Flour Bluff history I can find, I sometimes stumble across odds and ends that evoke laughter, gasp, or shake my head.  I thought I’d share some of these little gems with all of you who love Flour Bluff.

  • John V. Singer, brother to Isaac Merrit Singer who developed the sewing machine by the same name, lived with his wife and seven Texas-born children on Padre Island.  He arrived in 1847, bought the old Santa Cruz Ranch from the Padre Jose’ Nicolas Balli’ estate.  When the Civil War broke out in 1865, the Singers were ordered to leave the island because of their Union sympathies.  They buried their collected treasure and lived for a time in Flour Bluff.  They did not, however, stay long enough to be considered the first true settlers of Flour Bluff.  That honor seems to go to the Hugo Ritter family arriving in 1890 and starting the first school in 1892.  (That makes Flour Bluff School 125 years old!)

  • On Wednesday, April 27, 1864, the Quad-City Times, a newspaper in Davenport, Iowa, ran a story by a man who, under the command of Captains Gray and Doolittle of the 20th Union Regiment, had landed on “Flour Bluffs, a point on the western side of the bay, and 12 miles distant from the town of Corpus Christi.  He describes what he saw on the night march:  “For the first three or four miles our road took us over succession of sand hills which were unrelieved by any green thing, except an occasional clump of cactus.  Leaving this barren waste, we crossed a tract of land still sandy, but covered with dwarf oaks that never grow more than three feet high, are very thick and difficult to walk through.”  (This sounds just like the brush I played in as a child!)

  • On Sunday, July 23, 1882, The Galveston Daily News ran a piece on the Kenedy Pasture.  The reporter wrote of how he saw six schooners off Flour Bluff Point loaded with fence posts for the ranch and described the Laguna Madre on that day:  “On the morning of the 5th, we hoisted sail and for three days we did not make more than three miles.  There was only about eighteen inches of water on the flats for a distance of six miles.”  He went on to report what it was like to wade through the shallow waters: “These flats, from Flour Bluff south for about sixteen miles, are covered with a thick coat of grass that grows under the water.  In many places it is ten to fifteen inches long and feels under foot as soft as velvet.  This grass, when torn out by the boats dragging over it, will sink to the bottom and there remain until it dies; then it will rise and float on the water until carried ashore, where it emits a very disagreeable odor–fully as offensive as that that arises from a slaughter-pen.  It is not considered unhealthy by the citizens along the coast.  These grass flats are a great feeding place for fish.”  (Ah, the smell you’ll never forget!)

Laguna Madre (Photo by SevenTwelve Photography)

  • On Monday, March 19, 1894, The Brownsville Herald, reported that Sea Island cotton could be ginned by the ordinary cotton gin, and that Mr. H. H. Page planted only a small patch of it at Flour Bluff as an experiment.  It yielded well, producing about 500 pounds from his crop.  (I have tried to grow a great many things in this Flour Bluff sand, but never did I ever consider growing cotton!)
  • On Thursday, June 27, 1895, The Galveston Daily News reported that 129 scholars attended the Flour Bluff and Laureles schools.  (Today, Flour Bluff ISD has over 5300 students!)

  • Evidently the Flour Bluff residents were very patriotic in 1896 and loved a good celebration, one that could have included the Ritter, Johnson, Roscher, Jeletich, Self, Graham, Roper, Stevens, and Watson families, if indeed they had settled in the area by then.  According to The Galveston Daily News, “The residents of the Flour Bluff neighborhood are making arrangements for a big barbecue to be given on the Fourth of July,”  (I wouldn’t mind seeing this happen again, perhaps at Parker Memorial Park where Flour Fest was held last weekend!)
  • On July 4, 1896, The Galveston Daily News ran an article out of Corpus Christi about “the immense vineyard at Flour Bluff.”  The Laguna Madre Horticultural Association “has attached widespread attention in this section, owing to its immense yield of grapes, and additional large sums of money would willingly be invested in the grape industry in that section if a more convenient means were afforded of getting the produce to market.”  This “more convenient means” meant the building of a road from Aberdeen to Flour Bluff “a distance of about ten miles, at a cost of $15,000.”  (Gee, if we could only build a road in Flour Bluff for that price today!)
  • In a January 15, 1899, a Houston Post correspondent learned “from a resident of the Flour Bluff neighborhood that a drove of about twenty wild javelinas attacked the house of Mr. C. L. Barnes of that neighborhood a couple of days since.  Mr. Barnes was absent from home at the time and the family seeing the brutes entering the yard, closed the house none too soon.  The watch dog, which was tied to a tree outside, was vanquished by the javelinas and badly ‘knocked out.’  The animals remained on the premises about an hour, when they disappeared in the chaparral and no trace has since been seen of them.”  (I saw their cousins just last week on my walk to the Oso by the water tower!)
  • In 1903, The Brownsville Herald reported on a pineapple farm in Flour Bluff owned by George G. Clough, an experiment that “should prove the success confidently anticipated.”  The Herald also reported on a suit brought against the federal government by a Mrs. Shaw for “damages for property taken by the federal troops during the Civil War, about forty years ago; the troops, it is claimed, taking down and carrying away to Flour Bluff a five-room house on the beach belonging to Mrs. Shaw.”  (Trying to grow something in this sand and the first of many battles between Flour Bluff residents and the government over personal property?  It sounds as if not much has changed.)
Photo courtesy of Carnivoraforum.com
  • On Friday, July 10, 1908, The Houston Post reported on yet another javelina attack in Flour Bluff.  It seems that John Finnegan, M. M. Dodson, and a party of eight friends “were hunting in a thicket near the mud bridge in the vicinity of Flour Bluff.”  They evidently came upon “a veritable nest containing about 500 javelinas (wild hogs) which took after them.  All the hunters emptied both barrels of their guns into the bunch of javelinas, which seemed to come from every direction, and killed about fifteen of the animals, and they made for the hunters, who fled to the nearest trees.”  Then, as the story was told, Mr. Finnegan crawled up a mesquite tree, dragging his gun after him.  The weapon was discharged, “tearing the thumb and part of the wrist of his left hand almost off, while twenty-eight of the shot lodged in the left side of his face.”  They had encountered and killed a Mexican lion the morning before.  The reporter ended the story with “It seems that wild game is plentiful in the vicinity of Flour Bluff.”  (We still see all kinds of wildlife on the Encinal Peninsula.  The coyotes have really been singing lately!)
  • The San Antonio Gazette ran an ad on October 17, 1908, for “The Real Estate Man” (aka Frank Allen) who was selling 20 to 40-acre tracts of land “down at Flour Bluff” stating “It is the most suitable and advantageously located land in the United States for the culture of citrus fruits and it is the earth for oranges, lemons, onion, cabbage, potatoes, cucumbers, beans, melons, and other vegetables.  Fine fishing and hunting and an ideal place for a home.”  (Flour Bluff is still an ideal place for a home.)
Bingham’s Drug Store on People’s Street
  • To end this little post on Halloween night, I’ll leave you with a rather gruesome story printed in The Houston Post on February 12, 1909.  “While walking along the beach near Flour Bluff, on the southern shores of Corpus Christi Bay last Sunday, O. K. Haas, a well-known farmer, saw something peculiar protruding from the ground near the water’s edge, and on investigation found it was the head of a human skeleton.  He attempted to pick the head up, and in doing so discovered that the entire skeleton was there.  The head part was solid, with the exception of a crack in the skull; the lower part of the face was covered with barnacles and the teeth were as good as though the man had died the day before.  The entire skeleton was in a fine state of preservation.  The head and some of the bones were brought to this city and are now on exhibition at the Bingham drug store.  Some believe that the skeleton is that of a man who was killed many years ago on the bay shore (judging from the cracked skull) and has been where it fell all these years.  Others believe the man died on the beach.  When found, the left hand was grown to the breast bone.”

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.

Please follow and like us:

Lou Diamond Phillips to Appear at Voices of South Texas Kick-Off Event in Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi, Flour Bluff, Front Page, History, Local history, Military
Photo by Shirley Thornton

Corpus Christi, Texas- The past and the present will collide at the Voices of South Texas event that kicks off on Friday, November 3, 2017 at Heritage Park.

The event festivities will kick off at 6:00 p.m. at Heritage Park (1581 N. Chaparral St.) Friday, November 3, 2017, with a special guest appearance by Corpus Christi native and actor Lou Diamond Phillips. Phillips is best known for his role of Ritchie Valens in the drama film La Bamba and his role in the Academy-Award nominated movie Stand and Deliver.

Lou Diamond Phillips, graduate of Flour Bluff High School and renowned film star (Photo courtesy of Creative Commons)

     Over 30 storytellers, re-enactors and experts on local history will tell the story of many who were laid to rest at Old Bayview Cemetery. The cemetery will feature walking tours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 4, 2017. The walking tours chronicle the history of the region. The cemetery includes veterans from the War of 1812 through the Spanish American War.

     “The Voices of South Texas events are an excellent way for us to celebrate our history here in Corpus Christi,” said Jay Ellington, Director of the Corpus Christi Parks and Recreation Department. “I hope our community and visitors alike will take advantage of this wonderful celebration of our past.”

    Old Bayview Cemetery was created by Colonel Hitchcock during the occupation of Zachary Taylor’s forces in 1845 and the first U.S. military cemetery in Texas. It is located at Ramirez Street and Padre (IH-37) next to Coles High School.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

     La Retama Library will showcase lectures from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 4, where guest lecturers will provide a history of the Coastal Bend.

     Voices of South Texas is sponsored by Humanities Texas, Friends of Old Bayview Cemetery, the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History, the Corpus Christi Parks and Recreation Department, Corpus Christi Public Libraries, and the City of Corpus Christi. Humanities Texas is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.

Please follow and like us:

Addressing Homelessness in Flour Bluff

Flour Bluff, Front Page, Government and Politics, Health, Law Enforcement
Melanie Hambrick addresses FBCC (Photo by SevenTwelve Photography)

       On October 16, 2017, members of the Flour Bluff Citizens Council were joined by city, county, and state elected officials and city staff to hear a presentation on homelessness in Corpus Christi and Flour Bluff.  Melanie Hambrick, a Flour Bluff resident who has served on the city’s Advisory Council for Homelessness, Mental Illness, and Substance Abuse, Kae Berry of Timon’s Ministries, and CCPD Chief Mark Schauer helped to educate the residents in the audience at the regular general meeting held at Grace Community Church on Flour Bluff Drive.

     Hambrick began her part of the presentation with a definition of homeless.  “Though many definitions exist, for our purposes we will define homeless as chronic, those who have been continuously homeless for one year; transitional, individuals who have experienced a single episode of homelessness lasting an average of one to two months; and episodic, an individual with three or more episodes within the last year rendering him homeless,” she said. Hambrick said that research indicates the primary reasons for homelessness to be addiction, poverty, lack of housing, lack of affordable health care, domestic violence, and mental health issues among others.  “The number of homeless changes daily, and finding these individuals to talk to them about their personal experiences is challenging and therefore cannot be accurate,” stated Hambrick.

Data based on the 2017 Point-in-Time Survey of 611 individuals in Corpus Christi.  This annual survey is required by the U.S. Dep’t. of Housing and Urban Development.

     “There are lots of factors that contribute to chronic homelessness.  When people are released from public institutio or public systems without adequate discharge planning, they are more likely to become homeless,” said Hambrick.  “Adequate discharge planning is a crucial element to the long-term success of these individuals. Reasons given include release from correctional institutions, release from hospitals, release from mental institutions, children aging out of foster care, and migration for jobs.”  Hambrick added that Corpus Christi becomes a destination for the homeless because of the mild winters and places that lend themselves to living outside, such as bridges, brushy areas, and beaches.

     “All of this does come with a cost to the taxpayer,” said Hambrick.  Though she did not have exact data for Corpus Christi, Hambrick gave the national average, which is estimated between $30 and $40 thousand per individual annually. “This cost is absorbed by many.  For example, the cost for processing and holding of individuals in correctional institutions, hospitals that do not refuse those who seek medical attention, and court-appointed attorneys who represent those who have been arrested, to name a few.”  This does not include the cost to clean up homeless camps in public spaces and parks, which would be absorbed by the Solid Waste Department or the Parks and Recreation Department.

     Hambrick provided data on what services are available for the homeless in Corpus Christi:

  • 10 agencies provide shelter totaling approximately 600 beds (none in Flour Bluff identified and many serve specific populations)
  • 14 identified churches and organizations provide food (none in Flour Bluff identified)
  • 7 agencies, including Timon’s Ministries in Flour Bluff, provide health care and case management services
Kae Berry of Timon’s Ministries (Photo by SevenTwelve Photography)

     Kae Berry of Timon’s Ministries told the group that Timon’s was incorporated in 1999 and opened for business in 2000.  “I started there as a volunteer serving food,” she said.  “A year later I became the director, and I’m still there.”  Berry explained that it really began back in the eighties at St. Peter’s by the Sea UMC on Waldron Road as a shelter for the homeless.  “They were feeding the homeless who camped near there out the back door of the church.  It grew and grew and grew.  Then, other churches got involved, and they formed Timon’s.  When it first opened, we were really feeding only homeless people,” Berry said.  “Because of the development of the Flour Bluff area, the number of homeless in Flour Bluff has diminished significantly.  Currently, only about 5% of the people we feed are homeless, usually the chronic homeless.”

     “Our goal at Timon’s is to help people not be homeless,” said Berry.  “Most of the folks we see are people who are just hanging on by a thread.”  Berry told of how they serve many children whose parents have been incarcerated and who are being raised by indigent grandparents who live on fixed incomes and could barely afford to feed and care for themselves, much less the grandchildren. “Those in need are welcome at Timon’s.  If they don’t behave themselves,” Berry said, “they can’t be there.  There may be more homeless wandering around out here, but we don’t see them because they’ve been banned.”

     Berry said that Timon’s is really working to help the working poor and the disabled poor.  “I don’t feel the government does enough for these people, and that’s who we’re after.  We have a doctor on board who has 1700 charts; most of those people are not homeless.  A few are homeless, and with them most of what we do is wound care, spider bites, and that sort of thing,” said Berry.  “We’re helping the uninsured, and it keeps them out of the ER.  This started in 2012.  We opened the first dental clinic in 2009, the first in the Coastal Bend.  We have 3400 charts for people who come in for dental care from all over the place, not just Flour Bluff.”

     “We also help with things like driver’s licenses, birth certificates, and the kinds of things that get people back on the road so they can get a job.  You can’t do anything without an ID; without a birth certificate, you’re dead in the water.  All of this costs money,” said Berry.  “We move about three tons of groceries out every month.  That is increased since Hurricane Harvey since we’re helping a lot of folks with emergency food.  We’re also helping with their medicines.  This is not the time to be standing in water with your house down around your knees to be without your blood pressure pills.  We’re glad to help folks with these things.  However, if we’re going to spend a farthing on you, you must pass the drug test.  We will feed you and give you groceries because there are children involved, but for anything else you have to pass what we lovingly call the ‘Whiz Quiz’.”

     According to Berry, running Timon’s costs about $323,000 a year to operate, most of which comes through grant funding.  Hurricane Harvey did damage to the Timon’s building, leaving them with a 30-year loan for its repair. When clients do not behave, Berry said they call the police and issue a criminal trespass. Timon’s Ministries is located at 10501 South Padre Island Drive next to Pizza Hut and is open from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. daily.  Berry can be contacted by phone at 361-937-6196 or by e-mail, timonsministries@sbcglobal.net.

Chief Mike Markle (Photo by SevenTwelve Photography)

     Representatives from law enforcement agencies were present at the meeting, including Constable Mitchell Clark and Chief Mike Markle who brought several officers to answer questions.  “We often receive phone calls and emails from the public asking what we’re going to do about the homeless.  Unless a crime is committed, we can’t do much.  Homelessness is not a crime.  I understand the frustration of property owners.  I’m a property owner of Flour Bluff,” said Markle.

     “When crimes are committed by the homeless, we deal with those.  However, homeless folks, more often than not, are victims of crimes rather than instigators of crimes,” said Markle.  “We do have many homeless because they see Corpus Christi and its mild climate as a destination city.  They see this and the very giving and charitable nature of the city as reasons to come here, so they get on a bus or get a ride and head down here. I doubt that Corpus Christi will ever be without homeless.  It is more of an issue of co-existing and everyone maintaining qualities of life while being charitable, while being cognizant of the law, while enforcing the laws so that others aren’t impacted negatively by their presence,” continued Markle.  He encouraged the residents to get in touch with Captain Lee Weber who is the district captain in charge of the Flour Bluff area.  He can be contacted by phone  (361) 826-4052  or email: weldonw@cctexas.com.

Chief Markle and Captain Lee Weber (Photo by SevenTwelve Photography)

     “We are very much involved in homeless issues outside of just police work,” said Markle as he introduced Assistant Chief Mark Schauer,  a 35-year veteran of the police department, who offered additional information about the homeless situation in Corpus Christi and Flour Bluff.  “Chief Schauer has been involved in many homeless initiatives, serving on various boards and working with the Coalition for the Homeless , Metro Ministries, and Charlie’s Place.  He’s also been involved in the Point-in-Time Surveys – as were many of our staff in the police department.”

     “When I got this job, I had been homeless for about five months, but it’s a different kind of homelessness. You can’t paint everybody with the same brush of homelessness.  Some are homeless because of domestic violence, some for drugs and emotional conditions.  You have young people being kicked out of their homes.  The average age of the homeless, as I learned from serving over four years on the Metro Ministries board, is sometimes nine years old.  A mother with kids drives down the average age, and there are lots of mothers with kids who have no place to go,” said Shauer.

Assistant Chief Mark Schauer (Photo by SevenTwelve Photography)

     “In my case, I graduated from college, worked for my dad for a year, and decided I didn’t want to live in Illinois any more.  So, I got in my truck and left.  I camped out of my truck on the beach, under overpasses, even the JFK Causeway, and places where I was kicked out because I didn’t know I couldn’t camp there.  A week before the academy started I rented a room in a mobile home on the other side of town.  That was my first place.  I had money in the bank and a desire to get a job, not really the same as for many homeless.”

     Schauer shared with the audience information about homelessness in Corpus Christi and Flour Bluff that he and other officers received from a two-year survey with over 400 homeless people.  “We learned that a lot of the people interviewed were homeless less than a year.  Many were not from here but didn’t say why they came here.  A lot of them admitted to having drug and psychological problems.  Some who said they didn’t have psychological problems admitted to being treated for psychological problems,” said Schauer.

 

     “If you ask the intake officer at the city detention center, he’ll tell you that he hardly ever sees a PI (public intoxication) for alcohol any more.  It’s all synthetics.  It’s easy to get and extremely cheap. They can share it. They can take a blunt and make it last for days because they can get high with just a couple of hits. And, it’s deadly. If you see people leaning against a building – looking like a zombie or something – almost for sure they’re on synthetics,” said Schauer. “We think it’s a waste of time to give money to these folks, so we put up the ‘Keep the Change’ signs.  We prefer that you give to the shelters, give to Timon’s, give to somebody, but don’t flat out give them cash.  I think it’s the worst thing you can do.”  Later in the presentation, Schauer told the audience how they could tell if synthetic use is going on in their area.  “Look for the cigarillo packages like Swisher Sweets.”

Image result for cigarillos for weed
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

     “We also found out through the survey is that 7% – or about 28 people – said they are just satisfied being homeless.  These are the ones you see all the time,” Schauer said as he described one particular barefooted man whom he sees sometimes 20 times in a day around City Hall.  “He is the face of homelessness for me, but it’s not the representative face because there isn’t one.  Some are mothers.  Some are people who came here for jobs that they didn’t get. This is a complex issue.  All we can do is enforce the law and try to keep it at bay.”

     Shauer said that he worked on the aggressive panhandling ordinance that prevents people from repeatedly asking for money.  “Talking to you is a First Amendment right, but they can’t continually ask you or approach you aggressively.  We can stop it when they’re in the roadway, and we do that a lot.  When we make an arrest for that, it’s an endless cycle.  They don’t have the money to pay, and we don’t have debtors prison.  You can’t hold them.  We arrest them.  They magistrate them and then release them.  We pick them up and try to interrupt their cycle.”

     Some of the homeless activity, Shauer said, takes place on private property, and the police cannot legally get back in there without the permission of the property owner.  “Flour Bluff is unique in that it has large, brushy areas privately owned by oil companies and such, but without their express permission or a direct request, we can’t just go onto the property. Some of these camps are elaborate and look like Apocalypse Now.  If you see them and tell us, then we can address it through the property owner,” he said.

     Shauer explained that many of the people are mentally disabled or emotionally unsound, but there is not a lot of money for them.   “We wish there was.  We commit a lot of people who are out a few days later.  There is no long-term treatment facility unless they are sent to SASH (San Antonio State Hospital),” said Shauer.  “I sit on the board for Charlie’s Place, and they have what they call scholarships for the people we encounter on the streets.  We have a special unit that works around City Hall and out in the Bluff around Parker Park and along Graham Road.  Our bike officers offer them some of these spots at Charlie’s Place, but they don’t always take them up on it, so they end up getting arrested.”

     When asked by a Citizens Council member why these people are not made to work even though they appear to be able to do so.  Shauer responded by saying that some are truly disabled mentally or physically; some will but look for ways to sue the property owner; others do work at Metro Ministries and earn their keep; still others simply do not want to work.  At the Rainbow House, the women are working or going through a job program, and all the kids are in school or in childcare Shauer explained.

     Another member asked what can be done about them urinating or defecating in the park.  “We have ordinances that address that, and they can be ticketed.  We have to see it.  Call us out, and we’ll come out and talk to them.  Most of the time they comply with our requests.”

    Shauer was asked if anyone had used drones to fly over some of the larger brush-covered areas to locate homeless camps.  “No.  We have to respect private rights, too. Just about everything out here (Flour Bluff) is privately owned, and we would need the permission of the property owner to do something like that,” Shauer said.

     Melanie Hambrick talked about possible solutions.  “Many components are necessary for a successful plan to end homelessness,” she said.  “However a plan is just a plan if no action is taken.  It is clearly a waste of time and effort.  This is a community issue, and government can only be part of the solution.”  Hambrick outlined some actions that could be taken immediately, such as locating a coordinated entry center for those in need where they will be met with a process that will maximize potential assistance in changing the homeless person’s current situation.  She added that service organizations that work in tandem with the Texas Homeless Network will provide solutions and pathways for individuals to become self-sufficient.  “This will also aid in our ability to collect true data on homelessness in our area,” Hambrick added.

     Hambrick stated that all who are serving the homeless in some way should take a “collective impact approach” to combat homelessness.  “This means that previously independent and uncoordinated programs in Flour Bluff that address the needs of the homeless should be coordinated to work toward common goals.  Leadership and civic engagement should be collaborative at all levels across all sectors,” she said.  The FBCC meeting ended with an appeal to the churches, businesses, and residents to take an active role in helping solve what is a daunting task for any community.

     At the October 17, 2017 City Council meeting, Amy Granberry, Chairperson for the Advisory Council for Homelessness, Mental Illness, and Substance Abuse briefed the council on four recommendations, echoing what Hambrick presented at the Flour Bluff Citizens Council meeting the night before.  Almost all council members were in favor of moving forward with two or three of the recommendations, but District 4 Councilman Greg Smith lead the charge by strongly suggesting that all four recommendations be acted upon swiftly.  The four recommendations are as follows:

  • Coordinated entry to ensure that all people experiencing a housing crisis have fair and equal access and are quickly identified, assessed for, referred, and connected to housing and assistance based on their strengths and needs.
  • Parks and Recreation Homeless Workers Program, which is based on the City of Albuquerque’s “There’s a Better Way” Program.  Workers will pick up trash and beautify the city and will work in conjunction with the Community Service Workers Program in the Parks and Recreation Department.
  • Tent City / Tiny Homes in which city could partner with businesses to build a tiny home community  by providing city-owned land and CDBG funding to build bathrooms and showers where residents would be charged a reasonable rent fee.
  • Family Reunification Program, which is a one-time use program designed to reunite homeless with supportive family outside of Corpus Christi.

NOTE:  For information on how you can help, contact Lt. Chris Hooper, Melanie Hambrick, or Shirley Thornton

at

fbcitizenscouncil@gmail.com.

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.

Please follow and like us:

Todd Hunter on Harvey, Flour Fest, and Tire Recycling Are Topics of FBBA Meeting

Around the State, Business, Community Organizations, Flour Bluff, Front Page
State Representative Todd Hunter addresses Flour Bluff Business Association (Photo by SevenEleven Photography)

     “Don’t let anybody tell you that we’ve dodged a bullet,” said Hunter referring to Hurricane Harvey, a storm that in just 56 hours grew from a regenerated tropical depression over the Gulf of Mexico into a Category 4 hurricane that made landfall in the area late on August 25, 2017.  “We were the first to be hit by a Category 4 hurricane, and I have never seen such togetherness and camaraderie as we experienced in our community immediately following landfall,” he told a group of about 30 people at the Flour Bluff Business Association regular monthly meeting held October 11, 2017, at Funtrackers in Flour Bluff.  In attendance were council members Paulette Guajardo and Greg Smith, County Commissioner Brent Chesney, Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Thelma Rodriguez, and FBISD school board members Michael Morgan, Jennifer Welp, and Shirley Thornton.

     Hunter spoke of how he fears that our area will be forgotten in a few weeks.   “They’re already doing it in some ways,” Hunter said referring to the individuals and agencies who have been fundraising and providing assistance for storm victims.  “Paul Simon came into the area, but not here.  There was even a benefit held in Austin – for Houston.”

     “Port Royal looks like a MASH unit with outdoor showers, management under a tent with computers, outdoor bathrooms.  But, guess what? They’re holding a press conference at 1:30 today to give a positive plan of when they’re going to reopen.  This is how the Coastal Bend and South Texas are responding.  I want everyone to know who we are and how we’re setting the example for the rest of the nation,” he said referring to the multiple natural disasters occurring across the United States.  Hunter went on to say that he and Brent Chesney had visited almost all of the towns in the Coastal Bend hit by Harvey.  He explained that there is still a great deal of work to be done and that people showing up with tools ready to work is what is needed more than anything else.

     Hunter went on to talk about the effect of the storm on local schools.  “Right after the storm, Port Aransas had no school.  Nobody from government was communicating to my area – again.  I got on the phone to the Commissioner of Education, who did not call me back.  So, I called the governor’s office, and all of a sudden I got a call from the Commissioner of Education, who has never talked with me since I’ve been in office or since he’s been in office,” he said.  Hunter then related that he suggested to the commissioner that a hotline  be set up so that parents  could get information regarding what to do if their child’s school was closed.  “He said this was a good idea, and the hotline was created,” said Hunter.   (That number is 512- 463-9603.)

     “Flour Bluff must be applauded.  They took in Port Aransas kids. I don’t think the state realizes what you’ve done.  You’ve used your local tax dollars to take care of people.  You, the taxpayer residents, took the burden.  For that I am grateful, and it shows what a great community you are.  Gregory-Portland did it for Rockport.  You need to be helped, not forgotten.  So, I’m going to ring the bell more than you’ve ever heard over the next two years.  I’m talking about school funding.  We fund schools through property taxes, but you can’t levy a property tax if there’s no property.  I get a kick out of seeing all the appraisal district vehicles out there.  What are they appraising?  Some people in Port Aransas received tax bills last week on houses that are no longer standing.  In the next legislative session, we’re going to have to take up school funding to figure out what the real formula should be,” said Hunter.  He also spoke of how illogical it is to impose the state test on districts affected by the storm.  He added that he was making no headway in this area.

     Hunter then talked about another hot topic for the next legislative session, mental health.  He explained how it is a real concern, not just a “touchy-feely” topic.  Hunter related a story about displaced children who lost everything in Harvey, including all their clothing and toys.  These items were replaced through donations.  “When the recent rains came, these children cried to their teachers that they needed to go home to put their new clothes and toys on the bed so that they wouldn’t lose them again,” he said. “These are feelings of families and children that the rest of the state doesn’t understand.  I’ve had public officials cry in my arms because they have nothing. This affects a person’s mental health, and this is a serious issue that needs to be funded.”

     Seven days after the storm, the health department called Hunter to let him know they would be spraying for mosquitoes.  “They were going to spray only as far south as Refugio.  I asked them if they knew who got hit first,” he said.  As a result, they sprayed Nueces, San Patricio, and Aransas counties.

     Hunter then spoke about the top complaints after Harvey.  The first two involved FEMA and TWIA.  The third was the Red Cross and their refusal to serve Ingleside. “The fourth was debris hauling, but that seems to be going since most of the haulers have contracts with FEMA.  At one point the road to Port Aransas had a quarter mile long, 25-foot high pile of debris.”  Hunter also explained that he personally experienced eye abrasions from irritants in the area and that asbestos fibers that are floating around could be the problem.

    “If you have concerns in any of these areas, let my office know.  And just know that there’s a lot of fraud and scams going around.  If someone is knocking on your door asking you to sign something, think twice,” he said.  Hunter had such an experience because of the Equifax security breech. He received multiple notifications that he had made a FEMA claim, which he had not.  A group got his information and sent in two FEMA applications with his identifying information and address but a fake phone number and email.  “What happens is that FEMA issues checks to the Green Dot Bank.  Even when I got the Texas Rangers to contact FEMA, they wouldn’t talk to them.  This is your tax money being sent to thieves,” he said.  He explained that the Green Dot Bank is an internet fund where the money is deposited and then just disappears.  He told of how these groups also get credit cards in the victims’ names and do an address switch through the U.S. Post Office.  “You need to have a banker do a credit check to see if anything has been opened in your name without your knowing it,” Hunter suggested.

     “The final thing is that we learn from these situations.  I will be working quite a bit with the schools to make sure their protected in the next session.  I am worried that we’ll have public officials from other areas of the state trying to tell us what to do, which we don’t need.  We’ll have funding proposals that don’t apply well here.  We’ll have new thoughts on education and curriculum that don’t apply here.  We’ll have new catastrophe management concepts that don’t apply here.  And I’m sure we’re going to see wind storm reform come back.  So, just be ready.  My plan is to protect the area,” Hunter said.  He also reminded everyone that desalination would be discussed at the Ortiz Center on November 2 with an update on Hurricane Harvey to be given on November 14, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  John Sharp of Rebuild Texas will be coming in to discuss the aftermath of the storm in Nueces, Kleberg, Aransas, and San Patricio counties.

     “Don’t tell people we’re shut down,” Hunter said.  “We are turning around.  This negative will prove to be a positive.  I’m proud of all of you and of this community.  You continue to set the tone for the area, the state, and the nation.  We will keep the effort moving, so contact us if you need anything.”

Other FBBA Business

  • October 20:  Funtrackers Trunk or Treat Event from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the parking lot.  For details visit the Funtrackers website:  https://funtrackers.com/event/trunk-or-treat/
  • Flour Fest:  will be held at Parker Park on Graham Road from Noon to 8:00 p.m., on Saturday, October 28, 2017.  This family-friendly event will feature live music, food trucks, Kids Zone, local vendors, safety demonstrations by ESD#2 Firefighters, and the Flour Bluff Citizens Council kid-and-dog costume contest, Fur Fest.  FBBA would like to thank the Flour Fest sponsors: County Commissioners Brent Chesney and Mike Pusley, Michael Morgan of State Farm, Roshan Bhakta of Candlewood Suites, Javier Wiley of HEB, Dr. Hassan of the Children’s Center, Walmart #490, Whataburger #123, and the Flour Bluff Citizens Council.

  • Flour Fest Kids Zone Events:
    • 1:00  Corn Hole Contests  (candy and toy prizes)
    • 1:30  Sack Races  (candy and toy prizes)
    • 2:00  Three-legged Races  (candy and toy prizes)
    • 3:00  Fur Fest:  This event is open to kids 12 and under with dogs of any age.  Prizes will go to Scariest, Cutest, Funniest, and Best Couple.  Dogs must be on leashes at all times.  No biters, please.  Judging begins at 3:00 p.m.  Prizes awarded immediately following judging.
    • 4:00  Egg and Spoon Races  (candy and toy prizes)
    • 4:30  4-Way Tug of War
    • 5:30  Pastry Wars (First 15 contestants to sign up in the 10 and under, 11 to 16, and 17 and up categories will compete for Walmart gift cards.)
    • Bounce house all day
  • Tire Recycling Program: The FBBA, in conjunction with Nueces County and DeGoLa Resource and Conservation Development District, will host a tire recycling program on Saturday, November 4, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., to   The FBBA encourages everyone to take part in this program since the city will not pick up tires during the brush and bulky item pick up.
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons
  • FBBA Board Elections: Three board members are up for re-election.  They are Roshan Bhakta, Tom Hollingsworth, and Jonathan Vela.  Dr. Hollingsworth will not be seeking re-election.  Elections and succession planning will take place at the November general meeting.  Nominations may be submitted to Jennifer Welp.
  • Membership Drive:  If a new member joins in the last quarter of the year, the annual dues of $65.00 will include the following year.
  • Community Christmas: This event will take place December 8, 2017, at Funtrackers.  Toy boxes will be set out in November at area businesses.  Let Jennifer Welp know if your business is willing to accept a box for toy donations. This is an opportunity for the businesses to give back to the community we love so much.
  • Next FBBA General Meeting: Wednesday, November 8, 2017, at Raceway Cafe’ at Funtrackers

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.

Please follow and like us:

Flour Bluff Athletic Hall of Fame Announces 2017 Inductees

Flour Bluff, Front Page, Human Interest

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.

Please follow and like us:

Kim Sneed Updates FBBA on FBISD News

Business, Community Organizations, Education, Flour Bluff, Front Page

FBBA president, Jennifer Welp, and FBISD Public Information Officer, Kim Sneed (Photo by SevenTwelve Photography)

     Kim Sneed, FBISD Public Information Officer, addressed the Flour Bluff Business Association at its regular monthly meeting held at noon on September 13, 2017, at Funtrackers in Flour Bluff.  Sneed, who took Lynn Kaylor’s place nearly two years ago, has over a decade of experience in public information.  Sneed spent the first part of her career with Corpus Christi ISD.  Sneed introduced Tracy Dennis, the new Director of Instruction, who joined the district from Judson ISD before speaking to the group about what has been happening at Flour Bluff ISD.

     Sneed said, “Just before Hurricane Harvey came to visit us, the Flour Bluff Board of Trustees adopted the 2017-18 budget of about $52 million, which included a 3% raise for all employees, something a lot of districts have not been able to do.  The board, finance department, and superintendent worked hard to make this possible while keeping the effective tax rate a little below last year’s rate.”

     Sneed went on to give an accounting of the 2013 Bond projects.  “A lot of our bond projects have been completed.  We just finished up at the end of the year the Primary and Elementary library, and it is a beautiful facility.”  She described the library as a place that houses books and study tables in the main area, while providing separate classroom and meeting spaces for the two campuses.

     “The junior high is still experiencing construction on the expansion of the cafeteria.  This campus is also in the process of getting an additional gym.  The bids were just accepted, and the work will be starting soon,” said Sneed.  “Over the summer, the swimmers were able to get into the new natatorium and test the waters.  That gave Coach Hutchinson, who is also the natatorium supervisor, an opportunity to learn the facility and learn to use the state-of-the-art equipment.  They have been having practice in there.  Brian wanted me to let everybody know that the district is working on a plan to allow swim lessons and lap swimming for the public.  The first step to that is to make sure we have lifeguards.”  Sneed went on to explain that more information regarding public use of the pool would be forthcoming in the next few weeks.  She ended the update on bond projects by telling the audience that the bus wash would soon be under construction now that the board has accepted the bids.

    “Hurricane Harvey has created some new challenges for the district.  The district experienced minimal damage, consisting of a few uprooted trees, some water seeping in, and debris on the grounds, but nothing that would impede our work or operations,” said Sneed.  “After taking a drive to Port Aransas, we realized that many kids would be displaced and would need a place to call ‘home.’  We put a plan in place pretty quickly and started school up one week after the original start date.  We held a special registration at the high school for these kids.  It was awesome, and it was emotional.  Many of the Port Aransas folks hadn’t seen each other since before the storm.  They were hugging each other and were so overwhelmed by the support from this entire community.  To date, we have enrolled close to 250 kids mostly from Port Aransas, but also from Aransas Pass, Rockport, Woodsboro, and Houston.”

     Sneed went on to tell of a conversation she had with a close counterpart in Gregory-Portland ISD.  “As of today, they have enrolled 1300 kids.  They were able to accept all of them because they just opened a new elementary school, and they have a sixth-grade campus – that had been a junior high campus – that they were able to reopen.  It has been an entire Coastal Bend area effort to ensure that these kids have some sense of normalcy.”  She went on to thank the City of Corpus Christi, AEP, and out-of-state utility companies that helped get the school back on line.  Sneed thanked the joint efforts of Walmart and the Corpus Christi Police Department for donating school supplies and other groups who made certain the displaced children had appropriate clothing for school by donating spirit shirts to help them feel like part of the Flour Bluff family.

     The Port A ISD faculty and staff have been working hand-in-hand with Flour Bluff to look out for the children from Port Aransas and help them feel more at ease in their new environment.  “We really appreciate their efforts,” said Sneed.

    Attendees were encouraged to take part in H.O.S.T.S. (Helping Our Students To Succeed).  It is a mentor program established in September 2014 to be a partnership of FBISD and dedicated community member serving the needs of our students in grades 3 – 12.  For anyone interested in being a mentor, Sneed encouraged those in the audience to contact Dr. Linda Barganski at Central Office.  “The volunteers usually meet with the kids once a week for 30 minutes to an hour and just be that positive role model for them.”

     “Football season has started!  We only have three home games this year, and one of those is Homecoming on Friday, October 13.  The Homecoming Parade will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, October 9, and will travel along Waldron from Compton to Hornet Stadium where we will have the Swarm and the burning of the FB.  There will be many activities for the students throughout the week, so look for that,” Sneed informed the group.

     “Mr. Schuss and Dr. Alvarado will be in Austin on Friday with intermediate math teacher Jack Marley as he receives recognition as the ESC Region II Teacher of the Year.  Because of Harvey, the actual service center announcement and celebration was postponed but will take place on Thursday, September 21, at ESC II downtown,” added Sneed.

     Several people in attendance asked about the traffic issues.  “We have had a few issues with new bus routes and just getting in sync the first days of school.  We’ve also had changes in start and release times that have added to the traffic problems,” replied Sneed.  She explained that many of the displaced students must be driven to school, which adds to the traffic problems.  “To help alleviate some of this, the displaced students are going to be picked up at Schlitterbahn.  We just ask for your patience,” said Sneed.  Everyone was encouraged to check out flourbluffschools.net for more information.

More FBBA News and Community Announcements

  • Flour Fest is October 28 at Parker Park. Volunteers are needed.  Please contact Jonathan Vela, Special Events Coordinator.
  • High school Homecoming Mums will be customized by the PTA for the displaced students.
  • Add info@flourbluffbusinessassociation.com to your address book so that you can receive emails from FBBA.
  • Javier Wiley from HEB told the group that the new Hornet football helmets are part of a donation from HEB. Curbside is now open as another shopping option.  Shipt is also still available.  Visit hebtoyou.com.  HEB put in an official request to public affairs for disaster relief in Port A (i.e. mobile showers, mobile kitchens, mobile pharmacies).  Wiley handed out $2000 in gift cards to Port A citizens and $1000 to Flour Bluff.  Welp thanked HEB for always being the last to close and the first to open when disaster strikes.
  • The FBBA is partnering with Nueces County and and organization called DeGoLa (Dewitt, Goliad, and Lavaca Counties), a Resource, Conservation, and Development District, to hold a tire recycling program event in Flour Bluff on Saturday, November 4, 2017, and again in March of 2018.
  • Next FBBA General Meeting: October 10, 2017, at noon, at Funtrackers

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.

Please follow and like us: