Keynote Speaker: Councilman Greg Smith
Newly-elected District 4 Councilman Greg Smith addressed the Flour Bluff Business Association members at the general meeting held January 11, 2017, at Funtrackers in Flour Bluff. Smith, a native of Flour Bluff and small business owner, has been a community activist for many years, especially in the areas of windstorm insurance, desalination, water, electrical transmission, and coastal erosion and protection. He is currently a member of the FBBA and of the newly-formed Flour Bluff Citizens Council.
Smith gave an update on some of the issues the City of Corpus Christi is facing. He spoke about the $870 million budget ($2.4 million per day) and how the city is carrying one of the highest debt levels in the nation in terms of debt compared to revenue. He added that this debt level could very easily prevent the city from borrowing money for much needed street repairs. “We have borrowed to the limit,” said Smith.
Smith outlined a few of the big-ticket items. He assured everyone that the pension fund is much better than before, with $70 million going to the Corpus Christi Police Department and $50 million going to the Corpus Christi Fire Department. When discussing recent city efforts to consolidate the waste water plants, he asked, “Do we really need to consolidate our plants?” Presently our sewer cost is second highest in the state.
The new councilman said that there are lots of good people who work for the city, and he commended them on the jobs they are doing. “This council expects more out of staff,” Smith said, as he spoke about necessary changes that the council would be discussing at their retreat on January 13, 2017. He expressed how he wants to see a culture of value developed within the city departments so that progress can be made. Smith wants everyone to be more aware of what is being spent and how purchasing technology should offer some savings in another area of the department. He spoke of a $337,000 software for Development Services that was intended to streamline the department, how it had not met the expectations that many had in terms of customer service, and how it failed to eliminate any positions. He ended by saying that industry is very interested in Corpus Christi and that he was looking forward to the retreat where he believed the conversation would continue to be centered around streets, water, and waste water and emphasized that the “status quo is not acceptable.”
Other FBBA Business
Out-going president, Melanie Hambrick, was recognized by newly-elected president, Jennifer Welp, for her service on the board. Hambrick is credited with actively growing the association and building positive relationships with local, state, and federal agencies. President Welp will lead the new board which includes Vice-president Roshan Bhakta, Secretary Shirley Thornton, Treasurer Jonathan Vela, Programs Director Michael Morgan, Membership Director Lynn Kaylor (appointed to replace Jeff Rank who resigned in December), Director Mark Thomas, Director Tom Hollingsworth, and Director Cliff Zarbock (appointed to replace Melanie Hambrick who resigned in January). Welp expressed how she is looking forward to serving with the new board and growing the association even more.
Welp thanked all the Flour Bluff businesses, Flour Bluff ISD school groups, and board members who made Community Christmas a success. Over 300 children received gifts at the event, while dozens more were distributed by the Flour Bluff Fire Department via the Santa Float. Still more were donated to Driscoll Children’s Hospital when the need for more gifts was shared with the FBBA. Businesses and organizations who helped with Community Christmas include:
- HEB Plus
- Fleet Reserve
- Walmart #490
- Colonia del Rey
- Ethel Eyerly
- Children’s Center
- ESD#2 (personally delivered Santa and Mrs. Claus to the event)
- County Commissioners Brent Chesney and Mike Pusley
- County Judge Loyd Neal
- Flour Bluff HS NHS
- Eisenhauer’s School of Twirling
- Flour Bluff Intermediate Choir
- Jack and Jill (Santa stage, lighting, and Christmas tree)
- Monette Bright
- All the small businesses and individuals that donated toys, supplies, or time
Welp recognized new member Hilde Hermann of First Direct Financial, a credit card processing company located in Flour Bluff. Member Susan Lawson reminded everyone to support the Parker Pool Patriots. Elaine Motl of Barefoot Mardi Gras updated the group about the plans for a bigger and better Mardi Gras Beach Parade on February 25, 2017. The event is a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters and the island charter school. The board of directors held a financial workshop immediately following the regular meeting.
Next month, the FBBA will host its regular meeting at noon on February 10, 2017, at Funtrackers. The keynote speaker will be Jim Lago, the host of the long-running morning show “Lago in the Morning,” on KKTX radio here in Corpus Christi. Lago was recently named to the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.
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. She also writes and edits for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper.