First, the Turtle Cove neighbors voiced concerns about the crime in their area and too little police presence. After several months of making calls, writing emails, setting up town hall meetings, and teaching neighbors to be on watch, needed changes started to happen. Chief Markle saw to it that cameras and lights were installed in various places throughout the neighborhood to help deter criminal types from prowling the park and streets in Turtle Cove. The neighbors praised these efforts on Facebook and Nextdoor, social media sites they used to connect with each other. Residents in surrounding neighborhoods were impressed and a little jealous of all the attention that Turtle Cove was receiving and responded with comments, such as: “How did you get the cameras?” “I wish we could get more patrol cars in our area.” “Our neighborhood needs to get organized!” Citizenry in action was the rule of the day. Then, the police showed up along with code enforcement officers to sweep the area and identify problems of all kinds, even at the homes of the very neighbors who requested this help. Some of the Turtle Cove residents were outraged and accused the police of retaliating against them for waging complaints. Hm.
At a Flour Bluff town hall meeting held at Ethel Eyerly on the evening of February 10, it all came to a head. I watched as tempers flared on both sides when Commander Blackmon explained what happened and why. Some folks defended what the police were doing and applauded their efforts. Chief Markle, a man of sound judgment and cool demeanor, offered an apology for what he saw as a lack of communication between the residents and the police force. One person refused to accept the apology, but just about everyone else did. It was a tense moment for all and felt a whole heck of a lot like the first night at HEB Foundation Camp in Leakey, Texas, with a group of girls who realize that they will have to learn to live together for a whole week!
Now, these girls choose their cabin buddies weeks in advance of the trip. They WANT to be in the company of one another. They are friends who have played, laughed, cried, and done life together, sometimes since kindergarten. Yet, the first day at camp is always the same. Each girl shows up with a different set of house rules. True colors begin to show when selecting bunks and cubby holes. They begin to discover the slobs, the neat freaks, the night owls, the snorers, and the self-righteous among them. Words are said; feelings are hurt; lines are drawn; and the bickering begins. Such is the way on what I call “Adjustment Day.” I allow them to suffer through their new-found living arrangements until after dinner on the first night. That’s when I call a cabin meeting, tell them to figure out how to tolerate each other, step out, and allow the girls to learn to co-exist for the week. Some groups can do it quickly and get on with the business of camp fun, while others work on it all week. It is painful in the beginning but quite rewarding in the end for everyone involved, and the kids almost always have nothing but fond memories of camp.
Well, “Adjustment Day” has arrived in Turtle Cove, and it is going to take everyone a little bit of time to get used to the new way of life in the neighborhood, a way of life they requested. Are some of the neighbors ungrateful, while others are happy to see the change? Were the police retaliating against people who complained about being ignored by law enforcement, or were they doing what they thought the neighbors wanted? Were they simply sending a message to the bad guys who might be watching? Only the individuals involved know the real answers to these questions. All I know for certain is that a select group of neighbors, a council member, and representatives from law enforcement put a plan together to help the situation in the neighborhood. But, as most folks know, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” so the plan must be tweaked until everyone is reasonably happy with it. They need to do just that. Hopefully, there will be enough people who are willing to continue with the plan until they see a positive change in their area. Then, they will be able to look back and speak fondly of the days they spent in Turtle Cove.
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 a glimpse into the past and present of the little community of Flour Bluff. She wrote for The Flour Bluff Messenger, wrote and edited for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper that existed from December 2017 to April 2020, served as copy editor on three books, and continues to tutor students of all ages in the lively art of writing.