To preserve the rich history of Flour Bluff, The Texas Shoreline News, will run historical pieces and personal accounts about the life and times of the people who have inhabited the Encinal Peninsula. Each edition will feature the stories gleaned from interviews held with people who remember what it was like to live and work in Flour Bluff in the old days. You won’t want to miss any of these amazing stories.
The Life and Times of Lacy Smith: Part II
Lacy Lee Smith recalls how he got his unique first name. “My mama was going to name me Travis, but she had a friend who had just had a baby and had named him Travis. So, she named me Lacy, after an uncle, I think.” Birth records for the United States indicate that only 5,1154 boys have been named Lacy since 1880. Like his name, Lacy Smith is a rarity.
Lacy’s mother, Rady Elizabeth (Jones) Smith, was born on September 11, 1909, in Marquez, Texas. His father, Rupert Allen Smith, was born on May 11, 1889, In Belton, Texas. Rady and Rupert, married on January 16, 1923, had five children: Ruby Fay in 1925, Joseph Allen in 1927, Johnny Wesley Neal in 1929, Lacy Lee Smith in 1932, and David Kent Smith in 1934. Their marriage ended in divorce, which is part of the reason for Lacy finding his way to Flour Bluff in 1936, shortly after the oil and gas boom in the area. During the Great Depression, the family fished and even worked as migrant farm workers.
“We’d travel West Texas to pick cotton and down to the valley to pick onions and potatoes. In those days, you could only sell a perfect onion or potato. We would pick black-eyed peas, too, and we lived on the culls that were left in the fields. Whatever there was to do, that’s what we’d do,” said Lacy. “Sometimes we’d pick crab meat. We’d walk along the beach in Port Isabel and dip up crabs with a net. Then, we’d build a fire and boil them and get the meat. We got a dollar a pound for crab meat because it was handpicked.”
Lacy tells of a different Flour Bluff than the one everyone knows today. “When we first moved to Flour Bluff, none of the roads were paved. They didn’t even have oyster shell on them; they were just dirt,” he recalls. “There were a few cars, mostly Model A’s, with some Chevrolets and Chryslers. We had a 1938 Ford pickup.”
At the time that, Lacy said the main way into Flour Bluff was across Ward Island. “We drove across Ward Island on an oyster shell road that went on down toward Dimmit’s Island. There were a couple of bridges on that road. Mud Bridge was out on what became Yorktown Boulevard, which didn’t go all the way to the Laguna Madre then. There were very few roads in Flour Bluff,” Lacy explained. “It wasn’t until nearly 1940 that they upgraded the roads with oyster shell. Later, they brought in caliche and gravel from Mathis. That was because of Humble Oil and then the base.” (See information below on how to read the entire story.)
To read this story in its entirety, please click on the Texas Shoreline News link. This will take you to the online version of the print newspaper. There you can finish reading Part II of Lacy’s story and several other articles pertaining to Flour Bluff and Padre Island. We hope you will give this new print newspaper a look. The paper comes out every 1st and 3rd Friday.
Be sure to pick up the next edition of the Texas Shoreline News to learn about Lacy Smith’s good friend and fellow Flour Bluff commercial fisherman, Bobbie Kimbrell. Print newspapers are available at all Southside Corpus Christi To read Part I of this story and access back issues of the Texas Shoreline News visit https://texasshorelinenews.com/.
The editor welcomes all corrections or additions to the stories to assist in creating a clearer picture of the past. Please contact us at Shirley@texasshorelinenews.com to submit or suggest a story about the early days of Flour Bluff.
Be sure to pick up the next edition of The Texas Shoreline News to learn about Lacy Smith’s good friend and fellow Flour Bluff commercial fisherman, Bobbie Kimbrell. The story will appear in The Paper Trail News in early February.
The editor welcomes all corrections or additions to the stories to assist in creating a clearer picture of the past. Please contact the editor at Shirley@texasshorelinenews.com to submit a story about the early days of Flour Bluff.
It’s that time again! The Laguna Little League season is upon us. The league’s president, Tony Keith, is “on the ball” rallying the volunteers, preparing the fields, and calling all who want to play the great game of baseball. In this letter, he hopes “to bat a thousand” with community members who want to help in some way. Tony always “goes to bat” for the children who love playing this sport, and he won’t “throw you a curve ball” in his efforts to make much-needed repairs at the fields located at the end of Waldron Road. So, “touch base” with Tony if you have a child who wants to take part in this great game or if you want to help as a volunteer or make a donation of your time or money to the league. “Play ball!”
A Message from Laguna Little League President
Dear Sir or Madam,
Thanks in advance for your time. Included in this letter is a brief history on Laguna Little League, and sponsorship options in our quest to obtain scoreboards for our fields.
Laguna Little League was established in 1959, and is part of the largest youth sports program in the world. Little League serves more than 2.5 million boys and girls in the United States and 83 other countries. Locally Laguna Little League serves the Flour Bluff, Naval Station Corpus Christi and Padre Island areas. Unfortunately, there is no funding that comes from Little League International. Unlike other leagues, our fields are on leased, Navy/Government land. Nueces County and the City of Corpus Christi use this as a basis for not being able to provide financial support to our league. There is no funding for improvements, utilities, lighting, equipment or maintenance. Everything you see at the fields is completed by volunteers and sponsors.
Laguna Little League has been a mainstay for both the community and our youth. It is a non-profit organization, staffed and administered by volunteers. At Laguna we teach the merits and benefits of teamwork, competition, and sport to kids each year. The kids range in age from 4 to 17 and live throughout our community. While we do have a slight operating budget funded through fundraisers and registration fees; it is simply not enough to create an environment that we feel benefits our players as much as it could.
Our Complex consists of 5 fields, 1 tee ball, 1 minor, 1 major, 1 senior and 1 softball field. Unfortunately, the last 2 seasons have been played with most of the teams not having a functioning scoreboard during their game. Little league scoreboards have a big impact on the game, the teams playing, and the fans watching.
While we understand times are tough economically for everyone, we truly feel that the intangible benefits our youth receive through participating in Little League cannot be tracked with a price tag. The life skills they achieve by participating are invaluable to them as they enter and move through their childhood into adulthood.
As I mentioned, I am seeking support to keep our program alive and active. I have attached a proposal for a scoreboard which we feel will enhance our players’ and our fans’ experience. There are a couple of support options.
Sole Sponsorship $ 6,000.00 – Your logo will be placed on both logo sections of the scoreboard.
Partnering Sponsor – $3,000.00 – Your Logo will be placed on one of the logo sections of the scoreboard
We understand that such donation decisions need to be a two-way street, so we are always ready, willing, and able to help our generous donors receive the recognition they deserve. In return for the sponsorship, the scoreboards will have a place for your logo which will be displayed throughout the year for a minimum of 5 Years. We will also add your logo with a hyperlink to our website to encourage our players and families to support our supporters; this too will be maintained on our website for a minimum of 5 years.
I also want this letter to serve as an open invitation to attend our games and events. Our schedules can be found on our website at www.lagunabaseball.org.
I want to thank you in advance for your time, and I also want to say, on behalf of our players, we hope to see you at some of our games and thank you for being a member of our supportive community.
Like most people, I want to start the new year with a little more knowledge and hopefully a little more wisdom than the previous year. To recognize either, however, it is important to reflect on the year that came before. I learned a few lessons from 2017 that I hope will help me handle the events of 2018 with a bit more understanding, courage, and grace. I am relating these lessons in no particular order.
The storms of life are often unexpected and devastating but necessary. They bring us together and offer opportunities for working together, inspiring hope, giving freely and joyfully, and expressing genuine concern for those less fortunate.
We should put more faith in God and people than Hollywood and government.
When we are assaulted in any way, we must stand up to the offender and let it be known that we don’t tolerate rude or unseemly behavior. We must also report such behavior immediately for the sake of everyone. Imagine what the world would be if everyone treated each other the way they want the person they love most in the world treated.
Hurricanes and snow storms can happen in South Texas within four months of each other. We should delight in the wonder of that.
We need more snow days. They give us a reason to do nothing except play, snuggle, drink hot chocolate, and marvel in how beautiful everything is when blanketed in snow. Even the neighbor’s old shed makes for a great snow photo.
We should listen more, especially to those who struggle to find their voice. Our forefathers understood this and gave us freedom of the press to help do that. That said, we should not allow anyone to be tried in the press. We are a nation that believes in due process. To ignore “innocent until proven guilty” hurts us all.
We should carry a trash bag on our walks and tidy up our paths. This is good for the environment – and our waistlines.
We should be quick to help and slow to criticize. Our opinions aren’t worth much, but our hands and feet are like gold.
We must admit it when we are wrong and forgive those who point it out. Most of us benefit from a bit of humbling now and again.
Investing in people pays higher dividends than investing in Bitcoins. Mentor a child who may not have a responsible adult in his life to teach him about right living. Both of you will change for the better.
Find a way for kids to spend time with farm animals. It teaches them respect and a healthy fear of the big ones and allows them to see how even the smallest one has a purpose.
Patience is still a virtue. Sometimes waiting for what we need or want saves us time and trouble and unnecessary expense.
We should preserve the history of the common people and share it with our children by telling them or writing it down. It is our past, after all, that defines the direction we take in the future.
We must put names, places, and dates on pictures and writings so that “Who’s that?” and “Where are they?” and “When was this?” can be answered.
We should spend more time with four-year-old kids. They have the courage to hold a snake and sing and dance in public. We should nurture this in them – and in ourselves.
We learn what our loved ones cherished by the paper treasures in their attics. Print newspapers and magazines allow us to leave a trail of what we value for those who may one day dig through our old shoe boxes stored in the closet in search of who we really are.
I am certain that everyone who reads this list could easily add to it. So, print it, attach it to a piece of paper where you list your own life lessons from 2017, tuck it into a box or between the pages of a book, and give your children and grandchildren something to think and talk about after you’re gone. They’ll be glad you did. May each of you have a happy and blessed New Year, and may your resolutions turn into actions that make you a better person.
“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
In a little shack at the end of a cotton field outside of Weslaco, Texas, on March 19, 1932, Lacy Smith was born to Rady Elizabeth and Ruppert Allen Smith with the help of a midwife. Soon after, Lacy’s family moved to Loyola Beach near Riviera, Texas. There he started his career as a commercial fisherman. Evenwhen the Texas State Legislature banned commercial fishermen from catching redfish in 1981, he found a way to continue in the business until 2009 when he suffered a stroke.
Lacy was never afraid of the water because he was raised on it. “I used to carry the bait bucket while my mother and father seined for bait. I’d go out in the boat with my mother. She’d row out into the bay, and I’d go with her and catch fish to sell. I was two years old then,” he recalls.
“Nothing about it scared me. I grew up on the water,” he said, saying that he “learned to swim in Baffin Bay when the water was so salty you couldn’t stay under.” Lacy remembered what should have been a scary moment in his life but wasn’t. “One time I fell off my shrimp boat in the Gulf. I was by myself, and I got back on board. Most of the time I worked by myself. You couldn’t get anybody to help you. I had a policy; if I couldn’t do it myself, I didn’t even start it,” said Lacy, a philosophy that guided him through life and made a successful commercial fisherman out of him.
In a 1988 interview conducted by Nathan Wilkey, Lacy described himself as a “gypsy, moving up and down the Texas coast to follow his livelihood, commercial fishing, as a child and as a father of four.” As a child Lacy attempted school in three places: Port Isabel, Loyola Beach, and Flour Bluff. When he arrived in Flour Bluff ready to start the fourth grade, his teacher saw that he was far ahead of the other students and moved him to fifth grade. Lacy remained in Flour Bluff Schools until the first day of his sophomore year when Coach Meixner asked him if he really wanted to be there. When Lacy said, “Not really,” the coach suggested he go on home and focus on his fishing, which he did.
“I sustained my family as a commercial fisherman,” said Lacy.
According to his wife, Lilia, he made a “very good living” as a commercial fisherman.
Lacy Smith and Ricky Allen caught this shark at the mouth of the Bernard River near Freeport, Texas, in the early 1980s. The fins were sold to Japanese markets in California and the body was sold to other markets. The fishermen were trying to overcome the ban on redfish by creating new markets for their catch, according to Smith.
Lacy, like many people in those days, worked hard to survive. In the Wilkey interview, he tells of how his family acquired the necessities of life. “Lacy spoke of his early childhood days when the family would go to town by wagon. They would tie up the horses on the outskirts of town, a meeting place for the families who lived outside of town, and walk into town to buy supplies.”
When Lacy moved to Flour Bluff with his mother and stepfather, Lester “Wild Bill” Wyman, he lived along Laguna Shores in a one-room house that sat between Knickerbocker and what was then Davis Drive (South Padre Island Drive). “They built a bunkhouse for the boys to sleep out back. Later they built lean-tos until it was four or five rooms. They built them one at a time. It would start as a porch; then, we’d turn it into a room,” said Lacy.
“People in Flour Bluff collected rain water in cisterns, usually off their roofs when it would rain. It rained a lot back then. Some people got their water from wells they dug by hand. My mother never had running water while she was alive. She sometimes hauled water in barrels from the school house,” Lacy said.
Lacy’s mother continued to fish and shrimp, but Lacy does not remember eating much of her catch. “She used to shrimp for Red Dot Bait Stand and sell shrimp for a penny a piece. She’d go over there at night and dip up shrimp with a dip net and sell them to Ace Kimbrell. We didn’t eat a lot of fish and shrimp. Our diet was mostly potatoes and beans. We didn’t have meat unless we killed something. We had no means of refrigeration. We killed ducks, geese, rabbits, whatever we could find,” he said.
When asked if they hunted deer, Lacy said, “I don’t remember any deer in Flour Bluff when I was a kid. The pioneer families who lived here had hunted them out.”
Lacy spoke with great respect about his parents. “Mom never forsook us or left us or abandoned us. She always took care of us and was the best at taking care of money. Everybody back in that day did. My daddy kept a ledger. He knew how much he made each day and how much he spent. He could go back thirty years and tell you what he’d done that day.”
Lacy’s stepfather, Wild Bill Wyman, was a machinist from Detroit. “People called him Wild Bill because he showed up in a boat that had that name painted on it. All of us kids used the name Wyman when we attended Flour Bluff Schools.”
“I left home at 14 years old. Sidney Herndon down at the L-Heads put out big boats on percentages. I got a 40-foot boat by myself. It was named The Lee. Trout was 25 cents a pound. I had 285 pounds the first time I went out. I caught them on rods and reels in the Bird Island area,” said Lacy. ““I had a 14-foot skiff with a 7 ½ hp outboard motor and a rod and reel at the start. Later, I ran lines, used gill nets, line seines, dynamite. I fished every way there was to fish.”
NOTE: This article was first published inThe Texas Shoreline News, a local print paper that serves the Flour Bluff, Padre Island, and South Side areas of Corpus Christi.
It’s January 2018 and time to hear from your constable, Mitchell Clark. This publication from me to you on behalf of the Texas Shoreline News will be published every quarter unless something needs to be reported. For current news from your constable or to learn more about me and my office, you can visit us on Facebook at Nueces County Constable Precinct 2 and at my website, constablemitchellclark.net. This site has many informative features to it such as “Listen to the Constable” and my publications on various topics.
I thought this might a good time for a year-end report. During the holidays, I reflected on how much we accomplished in 2017. I remembered all the things we have done for the constable’s office that will help us serve you better. We upgraded our computer system, met the State-mandated continuing education for all peace officers and firearms qualifications, purchased new equipment for my officers which helps keep them safe, bought new uniforms and bulletproof vests, and launched my two new programs: Talk with the Constable and Walk with the Constable.
I am proud that the new equipment, uniforms, and vests did not cost the taxpayers a penny. I secured this money from grants and from donations to my department. Most importantly, none of this would have happened without the hard work of my officers and administrative staff.
One of the changes I made in 2017 was to engage in community policing. As an example, to the extent possible, my officers spend time in the neighborhoods patrolling your homes to help keep you safe. After the hurricane, I suspended paper service and focused my officers in your neighborhoods and businesses to keep an extra eye on you and your property. And yes, even the “ole Constable” was out on the streets on patrol. (Some say that “cop” actually means “constable on patrol.”)
Finally, I have designed and completed the Pct. 2 Wall of Honor. This is a dedication to all the elected Constables who have served this district from its very beginnings in 1952 through today. It will be officially dedicated January 23, 2018, at 10:30 a.m. at my offices located at 10110 Compton Road in Flour Bluff. Come on by and take a look at history or come to the dedication. The cost of this project was paid for through donations and didn’t cost the taxpayers one cent.
Happy New Year to all, and I look forward to serving as your Constable in 2018.
Always there for you!
Constable Mitchell Clark
Constable Clark is the duly elected official for the Pct. 2 Constable’s Office. He has been involved in the Nueces County Constable operations since 1981 and holds a Masters Peace Officers license from the State of Texas. He is a licensed attorney in Texas and Tennessee and in the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a former Marine with assignments as a military policeman with a specialty in corrections and as highly prestigious Marine Corps Drill Instructor @ MCRD San Diego. Constable Clark knows the law.
At 9:30 a.m., on December 12, 2017, the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi firetruck arrived at the Flour Bluff Head Start preschool on Glenoak Drive. Several firefighters quickly exited the big red engine as the children standing on the patio of the Head Start building screamed and waved. These brave men (Captain Weston Beseda, Firefighter Phil Lala, Firefighter Shawn Kotal, Firefighter Eric Santillon, and Fire Inspector Otis Terrell), however, were not responding to a fire. They were delivering Christmas presents to the waiting children.
For several years now, the NASCC Fire Department has put smiles on the faces of the children enrolled in the Head Start preschool program in Flour Bluff. This program services families whose income falls below the federal poverty line by allowing the children to be in a preschool setting where their teachers prepare them for grade school. Many of these children’s parents often struggle with having enough money to give their children gifts for Christmas. That’s why the NASCC Fire Department decided to adopt – not just 1 or 2 of the children at Head Start -but all the children enrolled in the program. This year, there were four classes with almost 70 students in all.
Early each December, a representative from NASCC FD picks up a name card for each child. This card includes the age of each child and a list of items each needs or wants. Often clothing sizes are included because the children may need new clothing. Once these cards are in the hands of the Fire Department, they are disbursed among the firefighters who wish to participate and buy a present or two for a child in need. Presents are then wrapped, sorted, and prepared for delivery. In years past, Santa has helped in the delivery of the presents to the classrooms. This year he relied completely on the five firefighters to get the job done. They unloaded the firetruck and headed inside with presents galore.
There they greeted the children and began passing out the presents. They called each child’s name, and one-by-one, each went forward to receive beautifully wrapped packages. Once all the children were sitting down with their wrapped presents, Captain Beseda counted down for the children to tear open their gifts, “5…4…3…2…1…Go!” At the sound of “Go!” the wrapping paper began flying as the children ripped open their presents, bringing ear-to-ear smiles to every face.
Some say that giving is the reason for the season, and this community project taken on by the NASCC Fire Department proves just that. Not only do these guys take pride in serving our community, they also take pleasure in giving towards community projects such as this. The fire fighters of NASCC Fire Department look forward to continuing placing smiles on the faces of those less fortunate for years to come.
We hope you enjoy this Christmas story about a family who discovers the spirit of giving even though they are too poor to buy gifts for each other. This is another true story from the life of Janice Sautter (J. R. Carter) who grew up in Oklahoma and has lived in Flour Bluff since 1968.
We never did have a really big Christmas like some people do, but what we had was enough. My daddy worked in construction, and when the weather was bad, the money was just not there. And in Oklahoma the weather could get real nasty in the winter. My mother worked, too, but her paycheck would only go so far. Women did not earn very much in those days.
All of us kids knew that when the weather was bad, we just didn’t have money for extra things. We were used to it, so we were never upset about it. That was just the way life was. I know our folks felt bad about it, but we kids were fine with it. We just tried to improvise.
Daddy had bought a small tree at the feed store a few days before and had it in a bucket of water to keep it fresh. We started looking for things to make our own gifts, and we certainly came up with some pretty good ideas at times. Mother had already told us that there would be no gifts this year, so we were already getting prepared to get creative. The most important was a gift for our parents. That is what we always started with.
“What are we going to come up with this year, Margie?”
“I don’t know. I thought you would have some ideas.’
“Well, we don’t have much to work with.”
“Let’s look around the house and see what we can find first,” Margie said.
Margie was very creative. She could usually come up with something. She suggested that we look outside for plants that die in the winter. We could still find some that looked pretty and put them in a vase for the table.
“That would be called a fall arrangement,” Margie told me.
Of course I had to be the one to go outside to look. Margie got earaches, so she had to stay in when the weather was bad. I put on my coat and all the other stuff I had to wear out in the snow so I wouldn’t freeze, and out I went. Daddy was home, and he warned me not to stay out too long. It was really cold, and the wind was blowing really hard. I went across the road to a vacant lot and started looking for something that would look good in a vase. I had a paper bag and some scissors that Margie told me to take. The snow was very light, so I could see things pretty well. I found quite a few weeds that looked somewhat pretty, and I stuck them in the bag. Believe it or not, some weeds are pretty even though they are dead and dried up. I found what I thought would be enough and ran back to the house. I was really getting cold. I went in the house, and I told Margie I had a bag full.
“Let me look at what you got,” she said.
“Well, it better be good enough because I’m too cold to go back out,” I told her.
“You’re not going back out, Ruthie. It’s too cold,” Daddy said.
“Good, ‘cause I don’t want to.”
Margie was looking at all the stuff I brought back. Some she put in one pile; some she threw in the trash.
“What’s wrong with that stuff?” I asked.
“It’s just not right, Ruthie.” Margie kept picking over my finds.
“I got real cold looking for that,” I reminded her.
“It just won’t work,” she said.
“Just won’t work?” I thought. “Why not? It all looks like weeds.”
She took what she was going to keep and laid them on the kitchen table. I noticed she had found some pretty ribbon that was Mother’s. She also had some of that paper ribbon that she could make curls out of with scissors. She had used some of that silk fabric left over from our capes to decorate the vase. Mother had a bag with leftover sewing things that came in very handy. She had even found some of the gold braid that Mother used on the capes.
I don’t have any idea how Margie did it, but in an hour or so, I went back into the kitchen and found she had made the most beautiful thing I ever saw for Mother.
“How did you do that, Margie?”
“I don’t know. I just started working on it, and this is what I ended up with,” she said, putting the final touches on the ribbon.
“Mother will love it. We have to find a place to hide it,” I said.
“I have a place in the closet to hide it,” Margie replied.
“I wish I could make things like you do,” I said.
“You can, Ruthie. Just picture it in your mind and put it together.”
“I’ll never be able to do what you can do. You are like Mother. You can make anything, and it always looks so pretty.”
“Now what about Daddy?” I whispered, so he couldn’t hear me.
“I found this box that we can decorate. We will make him a tobacco box,” Margie said.
“What is that?” I asked.
“Well, sometimes he rolls his own cigarettes; he could use a box to keep the tobacco in so it will stay fresh.”
“Where do you get all these ideas, Margie?”
“They are just in my head, Ruthie. And when I need them, they just come out.”
“I can’t do that. The ideas I get in my head always seem to get me a spanking.”
“Yes, you can. I will show you how. First, stop thinking about the things that get you in trouble.”
She got all the things that she had found in the house and put them on the table. She had a cigar box, a button, and a piece of ribbon. The best item was the red, plaid fabric; it looked like Christmas!
“I can’t do this, Margie. You do it, and I’ll just watch.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I am sure. I will mix up the flour and water for the paste.”
I watched her and was amazed at what she could do. She covered the box with the fabric first. Then she trimmed it around the edges with the gold braid. She punched a hole in the front of the box and pushed the shaft of a gold button through and tied it on the inside with string. Then she glued a little loop to the top of the box; that was to slip over the button to keep the box shut. I just sat there and watched her work her magic. She never changed. All of her life she made beautiful things. She was so talented.
“I think it is done,” she said.
“It is so pretty. Daddy will love it!” I squealed.
“I hope so,” she said, turning the box to see it from all sides.
We took it to the closet and hid it with Mother’s gift. Margie and I had made Christmas cards for Mother and Daddy and Junior, too. Thanks to Margie, it was all finished in one day and just a couple of days before Christmas.
It was Christmas Eve, and Mother had promised we could put up the tree after supper. We knew we would have fun stringing popcorn and making paper chains out of newspaper for the tree. Then, on Christmas day, we would have a good dinner.
She came home from work in a taxi that day because it was so cold. Daddy had already started supper. It smelled good in the house. My daddy was a good cook, too, just like Mother. He made the best fried potatoes with onions. Margie and I had set the table, so we were about ready to eat. Mother had to change clothes of course. She never wore her good clothes around the house, and we were not allowed to do that either. We had to change clothes as soon as we got home from school. I had a couple of spankings for breaking that rule.
We finished our supper and washed the dishes. Then, we were ready to trim the tree. We had been waiting all day for that moment. Mother popped the popcorn and got the needles and thread for all of us to string it for the tree. We also had to cut the strips of paper to make the chains. Junior was doing that. We had one string of bulbs for the tree and an angel that Mother had made a long time ago. She got out a white sheet for the tree skirt.
I poked my finger with that needle a bunch of times. I even bled a couple of times. I think we all did that a few times. Mother made paste out of flour and water to make the chains. It was fun making the chains, mainly because there was no needle to poke my finger. When we had finished making all the popcorn strings and the paper chains, we strung them around the tree. We had the one string of lights and some icicles left from the year before. When we had it all finished, it looked so pretty.
“We did a good job on that tree,” Mother said.
“I think it is really pretty,” I said.
“It is beautiful,” Margie agreed.
It was getting late, and we were all tired. Mother said it was time for bed for all of us. So, we got into our pajamas and went to bed. As soon as we were in bed, I started to wonder how we would get our parents’ gifts under the tree.
“Margie, how do we get the gifts under the tree?”
“We have to wait until we think they are asleep,” she said.
“But what if we go to sleep before they do?”
“I won’t. Don’t worry about it,” she promised.
“I’ll try to stay awake.”
I tried hard to stay awake, but I got so sleepy. When I woke up, it was morning. Margie was still asleep. I woke her up to ask her if she put their gifts under the tree.
“Did you stay awake? Did you get them under the tree?”
“Yes, I did, Ruthie. Go back to sleep.”
“No. I am getting up. I want to see what they think about their gifts.”
“Okay. Let’s get up.”
Junior was still asleep, but he wouldn’t get up. Margie and I got up and went into the living room. Mother and Daddy were in the kitchen drinking coffee and talking. We went into the kitchen, and Mother had her gift sitting in the middle of the table. It looked real pretty.
“It looks like Santa came to see me and your Daddy last night.”
“He did come to see you both,” Margie said.
“But Margie helped him make your gifts,” I said.
“Do you like your tobacco box, Daddy?” I asked.
“I do like it. It is real nice.”
“We are sorry that you didn’t get a gift this year. There was just no money for Christmas.”
“That’s all right. We don’t mind,” Margie said.
“It’s okay, Mother. We have a tree, and we will have a big dinner today.”
We really didn’t mind because we knew there was not enough money. That was the only year that we got no gifts for Christmas. We still had a good Christmas though. Ola, Jim, and the three boys came for dinner. Ola brought us paper dolls for Christmas. That was good. We liked paper dolls. They didn’t have much for Christmas that year either. Well, we all survived it, and we had a good dinner that Mother cooked. What could be better than that? That was a happy Christmas in the life of little Ruthie.
The recent snows in Corpus Christi found children and adults alike busy building snow people all over the city. This story by Janice Sautter tells of a very unusual snow woman built in 1940s Oklahoma. It is sure to make you smile.
It was wintertime in Oklahoma. I didn’t really like winter. If it snowed, it was not quite as bad. At least I could play in the snow. But, Oklahoma has a lot of sleet. It gets so cold in the winter. The wind blows real hard, and I just freeze to death.
Our house was old, and the wind blew in around the windows. Mother hung blankets on the north windows to keep some of the wind out. We had butane gas and just a small gas-burning stove in the living room. Mother kept the oven on and opened the door to keep it a little bit warmer. But, when we went to bed, all the heat was turned off. She said it was too dangerous to leave it on. Then it got bitterly cold!
We had big quilts on the beds to keep us warm. Granny and my mother made them. Some of them were very warm because they were stuffed with feathers. I was thankful we had the quilts, or I would have frozen to death for sure. We had just four rooms in our house: the living room, the bedroom, which had one full-size bed for Margie and me, and a twin bed for my brother, a bedroom for my parents, and the kitchen. We had a big screened-in back porch, too.
I remember when I was little, I would wake up at night and be scared. I could see all kinds of things in the dark that scared me. In the winter when the wind was blowing real hard, I heard noises no one could believe. I would call out to my mother and ask her if I could sleep with her and Daddy.
“Mothe,r can I come sleep with you?”
“No, Ruthie. Go back to sleep.”
“But I can’t. I’m scared.”
“Nothing to be scared of.”
“Yes, there is, too,” I would say.
Daddy said, “Come on, Ruthie.”
I knew Daddy would give in if he thought I was scared. Mother would get mad at him for giving in to me. I would jump out of bed real fast and run to their bed. It was cold, and I was scared that something would grab me in the dark. Daddy would pick me up and put me in between him and Mother. It felt so good to be in their bed. I was warm and safe.
“You be still now,” my Mother said.
“And don’t be kicking me either.”
“I won’t. I promise.”
“If you do, I will make you go back to your bed.”
“I will be real still.”
“My baby Ruthie,” Daddy would say.
I loved when he called me his baby Ruthie. I wouldn’t let anyone else call me baby. But it was all right for Daddy to call me that. He was always on my side no matter what I did. He saved me quite a few times when Mother was going to spank me. He would stand right up to her and tell her “No, you are not going to spank her.”
“What she did is not bad enough to get a spanking,” Daddy said.
“That’s what you always say,” Mother replied.
“Well, I guess it must be true then.”
“No, it’s not true. You just protect her all the time.”
“That’s right. That’s my job to protect her.”
It was the same words every time . I knew them by heart. If she had really wanted to spank me though, she would have done it, no matter what Daddy said. My mother was the boss in our house, especially when it was about us kids. She thought she always knew best about us.
It was a long way to walk to school in the winter. Margie and I always wore leggings under our coats to keep our legs warm. They had suspenders to keep them up. We had wool caps to keep our heads warm. We had galoshes to wear over our shoes to keep them dry. When we had all that stuff on, it was hard to walk. And, if we fell down, it was hard to get up.
One day when we got home from school, my sister Ola’s husband, Jim, was there. He had built a big sled that a whole lot of people could sit on. He was going to hook it up to the car and pull us on it. I thought it was great. We lived on dirt roads, and there was hardly any traffic. He thought it was safe. Daddy was there, and he thought it was all right, too.
Jim and Daddy tied these big ropes to the sled and then to the bumper of the car. He had boards on the front of the sled to keep it from going under the car when he stopped. The snow was real deep. It had been snowing for a couple of days. About five or six of us kids piled on it. Daddy got on to make sure everything was all right. Jim started the car, and we started moving.
We went all the way around the block and were almost back to the house. It was so much fun! We all wanted to go again, but that was not going to happen. Mother pulled up in a taxicab. She was just getting home from work. She paid the driver and got out. She motioned with her hand for Jim to come to where she was.
He drove to the driveway, and she looked at him real mean and said, “What do you think you are doing?”
“Giving the kids a ride on the sled,” said Jim.
“Are you crazy?” she asked.
“I don’t think so, Ellen.”
“Well, I do think so.”
“What if this thing slides under the car? What if that rope breaks? Get off that thing right now!” she told us.
“And you, too, Elmer.”
We all started getting off slowly, hoping she would change her mind. She was pretty mad though, so I didn’t really see that happening.
Jim said, “I’m sorry, Ellen. I just thought it would be fun for them.”
“Getting killed or hurt is not fun. I can’t believe that you helped with this, Elmer,” she said.
Needless to say, the sled ride was over for good. Jim and Daddy got in trouble, and we missed out on a lot of fun all because Mother thought we would be hurt or killed. Jim and Daddy would not let us get hurt or killed, at least not on purpose.
A couple of days later, we had another big snowfall. We had school that day, so we had just got home and were trying to get warm. Daddy was home, too. He worked in construction, and when the weather was bad, he couldn’t work. He helped Mother out around the house when he was not working. He cleaned and started supper so she wouldn’t have so much to do when she got home from work.
Jim was not working that day either because he worked outside, too. I looked out the window, and I could see him in the front yard. It looked like he was building a snowman.
“Daddy, what is Jim doing in the front yard?”
“I don’t know, Ruthie,” he said.
“It looks like he is building a snowman,” I said.
“Well, maybe he is. I hope it’s not something to make your mother mad again.”
“Daddy, can I go outside and watch him?”
“I guess so, but put your coat and leggings on.”
I got my coat and leggings on as fast as I could. I put on my sock hat and went out the door.
“What are you doing, Jim?” I asked.
“Building a snow woman, Ruthie.”
“I never heard of a snow woman.”
“Well, take a look at her.”
I walked off the porch to look, and boy, was I surprised! The snow woman looked just like a lady. She had long straw for hair and eyes that looked real. She had red lips and rouge on her cheeks. She had a red scarf tied around her neck, but that was all she had on. She was a snow woman with no clothes on! I mean she looked like a grown-up woman!
“Jim, I think Mother is gonna be mad.”
“Mad about what, Ruthie?”
“Your snow woman.”
“Well, she looks pretty good to me.”
“But, all the neighbors can see her.”
“That’s why I built her. To look at.”
I had a real bad feeling about this. I went back in the house, and I told Daddy what Jim was building in the front yard. He looked like I had hit him with a ball bat. He grabbed his coat and hat and out he went. He got out there just as Mother was getting out of the taxicab from work. I didn’t go outside. I just watched out the window.
She walked over to the snow woman with this real mad look on her face. She said something to Jim and then to Daddy. Then she raised her foot up and kicked the snow woman down. She said something else to Jim, and he started laughing. Daddy was not laughing.
So that took care of the snow woman. Mother came in the house, and she was talking to herself she was so mad. She just took her coat off and went to the kitchen to start supper.
“You kids stay in this house. Do not go outside.”
“Yes, ma’am,” we all said.
She never knew that I had been outside and got to see the snow woman, or she would have had a fit. Daddy never told her either. Jim got in his car and left. He was just laughing. He really liked to tease my mother. He knew what she would do when she saw his snow woman. I liked Jim. I thought he was funny, and he sure knew how to get a rise out of my mother.
Now this was not a typical day in the life of little Ruthie.
Shots ring out, 14 are left dead, 29 are wounded and the shooter is dead at the scene from an apparent suicide. The motive is not known, but an investigation is underway. Stop. Does this sound familiar?
It sounds familiar because it is. Five of the deadliest shootings in the United States occurred in the last ten years. In 2007, 32 were killed at Virginia Tech. In 2012, we had the Sandy Hook massacre and 27 were killed. In 2016, there was the Orlando night club shooting where 49 died. In 2017, we have had the Vegas attack and the Sutherland Springs attack with a combined total of 84 dead. Since 2007, there have been 54 mass shootings. In the ten year period, from 1997 to 2007, there were 23 mass shootings, and from 1987 to 1997, there were 17 mass shootings. Based on the statistics available from Mother Jones, it appears that mass shootings are on the rise, but why?
The easy answer and indeed what appears to be the only answer is guns. Nearly every article written about mass shootings concludes that guns and assault weapons in particular are the problem. Without guns, there would be no mass shooting; the reasoning goes, but that is like saying, “Without cars, there would be no auto accidents. Both statements are of course true, but neither statement addresses the cause. Cars do not cause accidents. Careless drivers, distracted drivers, sleepy drivers, drunk drivers, and even texting drivers cause accidents, and guns do not cause mass shootings; psychopaths do.
Most articles on mass shootings eventually get around to the psychopath behind the gun, but it is done with great reluctance, and only after guns have been sufficiently blamed. The reluctance to label a mass murderer a psychopath is somewhat understandable. Typically a mass murderer has not been clinically diagnosed as a psychopath, and in fact, the term psychopath has fallen out of favor for a more politically correct term. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (DSM IV) used by psychologists and psychiatrists contains a category called “antisocial personality disorder” (APD) which covers both the psychopath and the sociopath. While it is true, mass murderers exhibit antisocial behavior. It seems to me that referring to their mental condition as an antisocial personality disorder is inadequate to describe the morally depraved mind of a mass murderer. For that reason, I will use the more descriptive term psychopath. With that said, I will attempt to shed light on the question, why is the frequency of mass murder on the rise?
To be accurate both the frequency and the magnitude of mass murder is increasing. The impact of advertising, the moral decay of society and drugs are perhaps three of the contributing factors. Radio, television, and other media coverage of mass murder functions as advertising and encourages other psychopaths to act out at some future time. Often sensational headlines glorify the killing which inspires more killings. Headlines can also offer a challenge. Consider this headline from CBS News, “Two of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history come just 35 days apart.” I can imagine some psychopath reading that headline and saying to himself, wait until they get a load of what I can do. Perhaps a better headline would have been written like this, “Two low-life psychopaths dead at the scene just 35 days apart.” Sometimes headlines convey sympathy for the psychopath like this one, “He was the loneliest kid I’d ever met.” That was the headline for a 14-year-old that killed his algebra teacher and two classmates. The headline might have read, “Deranged 14-year-old murders his teacher and two classmates.” Certainly news coverage of mass murder is necessary, but the media should be careful not to glorify or sympathize with the psychopath and cover mass murder with an awareness that coverage can advertise.
Acting out in our contemporary society appears to be the norm. It matters not whether you are taking a knee during the National Anthem, creating riots in the streets, or merely changing your gender. Acting out is trendy and cool and is usually encouraged in the media. However, being trendy and cool is merely symptomatic of changing values or moral decay in society. As values change, actions that were once forbidden by society are now permitted. The more values change, the more permissive society becomes until you reach the point that psychopaths feel it is okay to act out their macabre fantasies. It is my belief that as values continue to be eroded, mass murders will continue to rise as they have in recent years.
This notion is borne out by the immanent Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung. In Carl Jung’s The Undiscovered Self, Jung mentions an element of latent sociopathy and psychopathy within any given culture. Perhaps 10 percent of a society is composed of latent sociopaths and psychopaths, and 1 percent or less represents actual sociopaths/psychopaths. Most of the latent people will never become dangerous if they are living within a culture that is healthy and morally balanced. In fact, those with inherent psychopathic traits can become very high functioning members of society who excel at careers in business, government, and the arts. However, in the event values continue to erode, latent sociopaths/psychopaths have the potential to become active sociopaths/psychopaths and act out as they see fit. It is a disturbing prospect to consider that the mentally disturbed 1 percent could evolve into 10 percent.
If the prospect of a growing number of psychopaths is not disturbing enough, then consider that the problem is compounded by the use of pharmaceutical drugs. Most readers will have seen more than one commercial for a drug with side effects including suicide and violent behavior. If you doubt the truth of this, then pay attention to the next Chantix commercial you see. Chantix is administered to smokers to help curb cigarette cravings, but it is 18 times more likely to be linked to violent behavior than other drugs. Even more interesting is the unadvertised psychotropic drugs administered to children. Today more than 10 million children are prescribed addictive psychotropic drugs with the warning the drugs can cause suicide in children and adolescents. In fact, according to the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System, the following drugs are linked to violence: Pristiq, Effexor, Luvox, Halcion, Strattera, Lariam, Paxil, Prozac and Chantix. Most of the drugs are antidepressants and are often prescribed for the treatment of ADHD in children. It is probably just me, but it seems we are taking the wrong path when we give children with mental problems a drug that will increase the likelihood of suicide and violence. I am not aware of any studies that link pharmaceutical drugs to mass murder, but it is interesting to note that Stephen Paddock, Devin Patrick Kelley, and Dylann Roof all had mind altering prescription drugs prior to their killing spree. Perhaps we are no nearer to answering the question, which came first the drugs or the psychopath? But should we deny the connection?
We can continue to blame guns for mass shootings because it is easy, and it fits a political agenda. However, if we want to know the cause of mass shootings we need to look elsewhere. After all, “The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions,” according to Claude Levi-Strauss.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.