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.

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FBBA Spotlight Business of the Month: 1st Community Bank

Business, Community Organizations, Flour Bluff

 

     Assistant Bank Manager Elva Steiner of 1st Community Bank accepted the Spotlight of the Month award from Flour Bluff Business Association president, Jennifer Welp, at the regular FBBA meeting held April 12, 2017, at Funtrackers in Flour Bluff.  First Community Bank is a traditional community bank. Their employees are shareholders of the bank, which means they have a personal interest in creating satisfied customers. Deposits are reinvested in homes and businesses right here in South Texas, helping families and business owners succeed.  “1st Community is committed to this community,” said Steiner.

     According to the company website, “First Community Bank first opened in Alice in 1983. During the next three decades, First Community has grown to include banks in Kingsville, Portland, Padre Island, Rockport and Victoria. Our headquarters and Home Loan Center are in Corpus Christi. We are rooted in South Texas, and we know, understand and serve the residents and businesses of the Coastal Bend at nine convenient bank locations.”

     For more information about 1st Community Bank, visit the Corpus Christi / Padre Island Officers Miles Graham or Elva Steiner at 14254 South Padre Island Drive, Corpus Christi, Texas, or call (361) 949-9310.  The bank lobby is open Monday through Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  The drive-thru hours are Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Other FBBA Business

    The FBBA welcomed newly elected Pct. 2 Constable Mitchell Clark as the keynote speaker.  Constable Clark outlined some of his new programs, such as Walk with the Constable and Talk with the Constable, as part of the changes he is making in his department.  “We want to get out into the community and connect with the citizens,” said Clark.  The constable will be speaking to the residents of Flour Bluff at the Flour Bluff Citizens Council meeting on April 17, 2017.  (Watch for a separate article on Constable Mitchell Clark and his plans for the community.  He is a regular contributor to The Paper Trail News, as well.

     Jeremy Watts of HEB Plus in Flour Bluff invited everyone to take part in the Annual Earth Day clean up of Waldron Road.  The event takes place from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 22, 2017.  “HEB will supply bags, trash pickers, and water and fruit for the volunteers.  We will also have a DJ playing music.  HEBuddy will be on site, too,” said Watts.  “We’re looking for another great year for our Earth Day event.”

      In conjunction with the Earth Day event, the FBCC, with the help of District 4 Councilman Greg Smith and City of Corpus Christi Solid Waste Director Lawrence Mikolajczyk, have secured four Litter Critter bins.  The theme is “Beautify Your Block.”  The FBCC encourages all citizens to take part in both large and small ways.

  • Grab a couple of trash bags and ask a neighbor to help you walk your block and pick up the trash.
  • Join HEB and the Flour Bluff Business Association to clean up Waldron Road.
  • Help an elderly or disabled neighbor do some spring-cleaning.
  • Get a group together to clean a neighborhood park.

     The Litter Critter will be available on Saturday, April 22, 2017, to drop off brush and bulky items from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Volunteers will be available to assist with drop offs.  Anyone interested in helping with the program should contact the Flour Bluff Citizens Council at fbcitizenscouncil@gmail.com. Everyone is asked to adhere to the rules concerning what may be placed into the bins.  Prohibited items include: appliances, tires, household hazardous waste, construction materials, dead animals, flammable or hazardous materials, ammunition, asbestos. Household hazardous waste consists of items such as anti-freeze, solvents, brake fluid, transmission fluid, batteries, cleaning solvent, polishes, oven cleaner, pool chemicals, paint, paint thinner, paint stripper, spray paint, weed killer, pesticides, insecticides, sprays, dusts, poisons, gas, motor oil and filters. Construction materials are defined as sheet rock, shingles, lumber, fencing, concrete, brick, rocks, stones, dirt, soil.

       County Commissioner Brent Chesney gave an update on the sale of the 1914 Nueces County Courthouse.  In an April 12, 2017, report from KRIS Channel 6 News, “Nueces County Commissioner signed a real estate contract with an Ohio-based development group for $1,000. However, the group will have to pay $1.5 million is back taxes.  The group has a track record of successful projects, for example, they turned a 1930’s 12-story hotel into a loft-style apartment in Canton, Ohio. Though it is still early in the acquisition process, the group already has some ideas as to what they want to do with the building. The plans is to turn the building into a hotel. The group says they plan to leave old courtrooms intact, and possibly turn one room into a main dining area and another into a lobby area. It will take about six to seven months of planning and work with the Texas Historical Commission before plans are finalized. The group says the construction process is expected to take about 20 months.”

 

May 10, 2017 General Meeting:  Keynote speaker will be USS Lexington Executive Director Rocco Montesano.

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 Business Association Holds November Meeting: Community Christmas Is Coming!

Community Organizations, Flour Bluff, Front Page

FBBA Community Christmas Promotional Video by Jonathan Vela

 

     Before welcoming keynote speaker Margie Rose, City Manager of Corpus Christi, FBBA President Melanie Hambrick called the regular meeting to order at noon.  First, she welcomed all members, guests, and dignitaries.  She went on to thank Funtrackers for allowing the association to hold their monthly meetings at the Raceway Cafe’.  Hambrick encouraged everyone to access the FBBA website to stay abreast of what is happening within the association.

New Businesses:  The following businesses submitted applications for membership and were approved by the Board of Directors:

Spotlight of the Month:  Unlock Texas, Owner Thomas Corey

thomas-corey
Thomas Corey, owner of Unlock Texas

     Thomas Corey, owner of Unlock Texas, was named the Spotlight Business of the Month.  Unlock Texas is owned and operated by Thomas Corey. With over 10 years of experience, he provides locksmith services, tire changes, jump starts, and fuel delivery. They serve Corpus Christi and surrounding areas 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

     “We started off as a roadside service company, but we are now licensed by the State of Texas to be a full locksmith company,” said Corey. “Thanks to Jonathan Vela for all his help through this process.  We provide many services and offer military and first-responder discounts. We offer a 10% discount to them.  We also provide a community service, a child lockout service when a child is locked in a car or a house, absolutely free.  That’s a little bit of our way of giving back.”

FBBA Board Elections:  

     Elections for the Board of Directors was held.  Jennifer Welp, Jeff Rank, and Shirley Thornton are up for re-election for 3-year terms.  No additional candidates submitted their names for consideration.  All members in attendance filled out and turned in paper ballots.  New board members will be inducted at the FBBA mixer on December 14, 2016.  Directors will take office in January 2017.

Announcements:  

  • Jeff Craft, publisher of The Flour Bluff Messenger, announced that he is celebrating the first anniversary of the newspaper.  Craft went on to say that he will begin publishing a paper every two weeks instead of monthly.  He encouraged everyone with a business in Flour Bluff to advertise in the Messenger.  Ads run for as little as $30 per month.
  • Melanie Hambrick thanked HEB for their generous contribution to Community Christmas.
  • Javier Ramirez was introduced as the new Edward Jones financial adviser working out of the office of Melanie Hambrick on Waldron Road.
  • Anyone wanting to help with the Community Christmas event may contact Jonathan Vela, Events Coordinator, at 361-434-0332.

Next General Meeting:  The next meeting will be a mixer at 6:00 p.m. on December 14, 2016, at Candlewood Suites.  

 

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:

You Don’t Want to Miss Flour Fest on September 17!

Business, Flour Bluff, Front Page

Image result for flour bluff business association

 

     On Saturday, September 17, 2016, from noon to 6:00 p.m., at Funtrackers in Flour Bluff, this small but tight community will come together to celebrate homecoming week and 65 years of the Flour Bluff Business Association.  You don’t want to miss this!  Our community is one rich in history from its unique name, a result of the Pastry War between France and Mexico, to its yearly Santa float that still winds it way through the streets of Flour Bluff bringing candy and smiles to all in the Christmas season.  There is no place like Flour Bluff!

 

 

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     According to local historian, Murphy Givens, “The Sept. 8, 1838, Telegraph and Texas Register reported that Col. Edwin Morehouse was back from Corpus Christi Bay after his militiamen interrupted Mexican smugglers unloading cargo on the Encinal Peninsula, a wedge of land between the Cayo del Oso and the Laguna Madre. The smugglers met a company of Mexicans on shore ready to load the goods on pack horses to carry into Mexico. When the Texas militia arrived, they dumped 100 barrels of flour and parts of a steam engine and ran.  That flour-dumping incident gave Flour Bluff its name, although the first usage of it as a place name has been lost in the footnotes of history.”

     The FBBA will commemorate Flour Bluff’s role in this war by having its own Pastry War, a pastry eating contest.  It is open to people of all ages.  All the contestants must do is sign up at the FBBA table for the battle that begins at 3:30 p.m.  Prizes will be awarded for winners in each contest.  If you love pie and pastries, this could just be the event for you!  Our local celebrities and candidates for local offices are encouraged to take part.  Aprons and napkins will be provided.  Just bring an appetite!

     Of course, the Flour Bluff story will be part of the event.  Greg Smith, lifetime resident and descendant of the Dunn family who settled the area and ran cattle on Padre Island, will tell our story at 12:20 p.m. following the opening ceremonies.

      Live music will be a major part of the day.  The FBBA welcomes Michael Burtts, Cat House (award-winning blues power trio from Corpus Christi), and Jimmy Spacek (considered the Godfather of San Antonio blues).

Michael Burtts
Cathouse
Jimmy Spacek

     Coastal  A’s and Rods will have cool cars and trucks for all to “ooh” and “aah” over, while the FB Fire Department (ESD#2) will let you take a whack at an old car to help raise money for the Santa float, a tradition of Flour Bluff that continues to bring smiles to the faces of young and old alike.

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Free game/ride cards for the first 200 kids!

Live music!

Coastal A’s and Rods Show!

Storytelling!

Take your frustrations out on an old car while raising money for the FBFD Santa Float!

Local vendors!

Sign up for the newly-formed Flour Bluff Citizens Council!

Pastry Wars Pie-Eating Contest for kids and adults!

Spin the roulette wheel to win Keep It In the Bluff memorabilia (t-shirts, koozies, stress balls), Whataburger coupons, Walmart gift cards!

 

 

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:

Cliff Zarbock, “Mr. Real Estate”, Receives Spotlight Award from FBBA

Business, Flour Bluff, Front Page

FBBA

Spotlight Business of the Month

     Cliff Zarbock, local realtor, received the Spotlight Business of the Month Award at the Flour Bluff Business Association regular monthly meeting on June 8, 2016.  As is posted on the FBBA website, “Cliff was born and raised here in Corpus Christi and graduated from Flour Bluff High School. Before getting into Real Estate, Cliff was a school teacher at a local private school. He jumped into Real Estate in 2011 and quickly became ranked in the TOP 5 PERCENT of all the local agents. On average Cliff currently sells 45 homes every year totaling over $6 Million in sales volume. He represents the seller on an average of 50% of those sales making him an expert at representing both sides of the transaction. Whether you’re wanting to buy or sell, Cliff has the experience you’re looking for.  He and his wife Ashley are currently raising 3 children, Zach(16), Ava(3) and Easton(2) with another on the way.”

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     “I am happy to announce that I have moved my office into Flour Bluff at 10001 SPID.  The new name of it is Flour Bluff Realty.  It is a brokerage dedicated for Flour Bluff. If you have questions about Real Estate or need free advice, just come let me know.  I am excited to be part of the association, and I appreciate the board for acknowledging my presence with the Spotlight.  It’s kind of a pinnacle for me.  Growing up in the Bluff, I really have a fond passion for the area.  I feel like we are the heartbeat of the Bluff, and for me to be a part of that feels like I really made it to the top here,” said Zarbock upon receiving the award.

New Members

Six local businesses were accepted into the association this month.  Five are regular members, and one is an associate member.  They are as follows:

  • Awesome Apartments, Andy Taubman
  • Bookkeeping Plus, Crista Walton
  • Coastal Area Properties, James Skrobarczyk
  • Children’s Center, Monica Salazar
  • Sports Fitness Solutions, Jeff Paluseo
  • Better Weight Center, Dr. Lloyd Stegeman (Associate Member)

Contact information for all of the businesses can be found on the FBBA website.  (Click here.)

Other Business

  • Charlie Zahn, Chairman of the Port of Corpus Christi will address the FBBA at the July 13, 2016, regular meeting.
  • The FBBA by-laws have been updated and standardized.  Members are encouraged to read them at the FBBA website and submit comments to the board.  These will be voted on at the July 5, 2016, board meeting.  (Click here to read the by-laws.)
  • Jeff Craft was commended for his work on the Flour Bluff MessengerSusan Lawson gave an update on Parker Pool .  The opening is delayed due to ADA compliance issues.  $2000 is needed for the upgrade.
  • Dr. Lloyd Stegeman was recognized as a District 4 candidate for City Council
  • On May 12, 2016, Oso Mini Storage hosted a mixer for their grand opening.  Melanie Hambrick encouraged other new businesses that are hosting mixers to contact the FBBA so that all could attend.
  • As part of Beautifying the Bluff, four new trash cans have been installed by the City of Corpus Christi at Mud Bridge.  Melanie Hambrick thanked those who had a hand in the acquisition of the trash cans, including Councilwoman Coleen McIntyre.
  • Information was shared about the invasive plant, the Brazilian pepper tree.  It is changing the natural environment and creating a huge problem for property owners.  Various groups are working at eradicating the plant. For tips on doing this yourself, please click here.
  • The next general meeting will be held at Funtrackers on July 13, 2016, at noon.

 

Read more about this meeting at: FBBA Receives Funds from Chesney, Pusley, and Neal

Representative Todd Hunter Address FBBA

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:

FBBA Holds February Meeting

Flour Bluff, Front Page

FBBA

     On February 3, 2016, the FBBA held its regular monthly meeting at noon at Funtrackers on Flour Bluff Drive.  Melanie Hambrick, President of the Flour Bluff Business Association, opened the meeting by welcoming Jonathan Vela, owner of Dani’s Lock and Key, as the newest board member.  The purpose of the FBBA, according to the official website,  is “to initiate, sponsor, promote, and carry out plans, policies, and activities that will tend to further the prosperity and development of merchants, manufacturers, professionals, and other parties engaged in trade who maintain a business location in the area known as Flour Bluff, Texas, for their mutual advantage and protection, and to engage in all lawful activities and operations usually and normally engaged in by a non-profit association.”

Jonathan Vela FBBA
Jonathan Vela, owner of Dani’s Lock and Key

     After recognizing Vela, Hambrick moved on to a report on panhandling in the city and the new ordinance that goes into effect in March.  She explained that the ordinance does not include all of Corpus Christi because city-wide restrictions  have been deemed unconstitutional by the courts across the nation.  Hambrick, who serves on the Advisory Council on Homelessness, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse, voiced a personal concern:  “I am right next to Papa Murphy’s.  We have a lot of panhandling issues.”  Hambrick explained that several initiatives are being put in place to include the entities that serve the homeless.  She explained that citizens should re-think handing cash to the homeless since the research shows that this money is typically used to support bad habits.  It was suggested that gift cards, pre-packaged snacks, and bottles of water or sports drinks be given in lieu of cash.  “Keep the Change” signs are going up around the city to remind citizens to donate their dollars to the charitable organizations, such as Metro Ministries, Timon’s, and the Salvation Army that work to feed, clothe, and house the homeless.  “Although we empathize and understand and want to help, let’s not support bad habits,” Hambrick suggested.

Melanie Hambrick2
Melanie Hambrick, President of FBBA

     The Spotlight of the Month went to Javier Wiley, general manager of the Flour Bluff HEB on Waldron Road.  Wiley explained the recent changes to the store, which was built eight years ago.  “We added close to 4000 new items, and when new items are added, something goes.  That’s just the way it is,” said Wiley.  “A lot of the changes came from customer feedback.” Wiley gave the example of how the chips and beer aisles are now separated.  Other changes include a new Healthy Living Department with bulk bins and a gluten-free section with a freezer section to be added.

     Hambrick thanked Mr. Wiley and said, “We are so grateful to have their participation.  Of the $3000 spent for the toys for the children at the Community Christmas event, HEB contributed $1500.”

Javier Wiley
Javier Wiley, General Manager of Flour Bluff HEB

   “I plan on being more involved and being a good neighbor to everyone.  I want you to count on HEB,”  Wiley responded.  Wiley ended with a brief explanation of how HEB is taking advantage of the E-commerce market by creating HEB.com.   There is even an HEB app that can tell the customer on which aisle a particular product can be found in their local store.  “We’ve been around 111 years.  The leaders in our company saw a need for us to get into this as they were planning 10 to 20 years out.  We want to be the Amazon of the future.”

     The keynote speaker this month was Andy Taubman, a local businessman who re-imagines distressed apartments and turns them into middle market housing, currently serves as the chairman of the Corpus Christi Ad Hoc Residential Street Committee.  Taubman lives on Padre Island but has properties throughout the city, including Flour Bluff.  Originally from Oklahoma, Taubman worked as a Wall Street banker for many years and moved with his wife to Corpus Christi from San Diego, California, four years ago. Taubman said of his choice to move here, “This is the place where I believe people are free; they’re independent; they’re self-aware; and they are able to make a change because they can do what’s right.  We have two small boys, and we want them to grow up in Texas for that very reason.”

     Taubman and his wife own 26 units on Barton Street.  “We are part of Flour Bluff.  This is home to us and something we feel has tremendous opportunity, and we’d like to be a part of it.  When one looks at that business as an example, you can see the difference between a vision and a plan.  The asset was the same; the building was the same; but it was beat down and maybe had people who were up to no good or on the wrong side of the law.  We come in; we re-imagine it; we make it safe; we paint it; we add lighting; we tell the people who aren’t helpful to find some other place to live, and they do.  The people who come in are really wonderful people who know how to build neighborhoods, and that’s what we’re personally doing for Flour Bluff.”

Taubman FBBA
Andy Taubman, FBBA Keynote Speaker

     Taubman explained how his knowledge of the way both big and small businesses run helps him as he looks into the way the city maintains streets.  “From time to time you have to look at what, how, why, and where things are being done,” said Taubman about the role of the streets committee. “And that’s healthy.  To be very clear, this isn’t a process that shows up when there are problems.  This isn’t a process because we stand in judgment.  This is a bunch of people who have a wide variety of experience and expertise who get together and say ‘What are we doing?’  If the goal is to make it perfect, it’ll never happen.  If the goal is to make it better, then we can’t fail because I think we already have done that.”

     Taubman then told the audience that the committee found that the seal coat program was a year behind, a problem related to a program vested in the practice of using a sole provider for a specific job.  “By improving the contracting process, we can get more contractors involved.  We can have better time frames between when the analysis of a street is done and work is done and the payment is made. We can get smaller contractors involved because the jobs would be broken down into smaller increments with shorter time frames.”

IMG_4005

     The second area is related to how streets are chosen for repair.  “The city needs to expand information systems and their processes to be proactive so that they keep lists in mind.”  Taubman said that PCI (Pavement Condition Index) data is not always indicative of actual street condition but is currently the primary source for deciding which streets get fixed.  He said the committee is asking the city staff to look into a better way of looking at street condition, keeping track of street problems and work, and working from lists created by city personnel who actually look at the streets and assess pavement condition, ride quality, and risk.  “There’s no substitution for looking at the streets.  When people make decisions sitting in an office, and they’re disconnected from what they’re managing, it leads to bad decisions,” Taubman said.

     A third topic of discussion at the committee level is that of involving the RTA in assisting more with providing ADA improvements, which are mandated but not funded by the federal government.  “When we looked at the SPMP and overlay processes, we found that 23% of every dollar spent did not go to the street.  It went to ADA.  This is where the RTA can play a big role,” said Taubman.  He went on to say that the RTA can serve their target community and be true to their mission, and every dollar spent on streets will actually go to the streets.

     Taubman ended by saying, “I’d like to thank the city council for giving us this opportunity.  I’d especially like to thank them for giving us the members they’ve given us on the committee.  I can say that this committee functions very well.  I’d like to thank the city staff and the city management.  They’ve been very supportive of our effort and very helpful in getting information to us.  At the end of the day, will the street committee be judged successful?  I don’t know.  We’ve addressed a lot of issues with specific suggestions.  We’ve found a lot of areas for improvement.  What we bring to the table is common sense.  That’s our skill, our special super-hero power that we’re applying.  Can the city absorb common sense as a means of doing business?  I don’t know.  The jury is still out on that one.”

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.

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Magill Speaks to FBBA at January Meeting

Corpus Christi, Flour Bluff, Front Page

     FBBA

     The Flour Bluff Business Association, a task force of business leaders who promote the safety, service, and growth of the Flour Bluff community, welcomed Councilman Chad Magill as its keynote speaker at the January 6, 2016, meeting held at noon at Funtrackers in Flour Bluff.  Magill focused on the new year and talked about “big ticket items” for the city.

     “The EPA expects us to agree to pay $853 million on your wastewater system over the next 12 to 15 years.  We can’t afford it.”  Magill admitted that the system absolutely needs improvements and that the City has been discussing the issue since 2009.  Magill said that part of the reason for his failure to support Destination Bayfront stemmed from the knowledge of the pending wastewater bill.

     “Anytime we spend 72 million of tax dollars on anything but what we have to spend it on, you have to ask if we can afford it,” Magill said.

PlanCC

     Magill told the audience he believed the City should be focused on reconstruction and maintenance of streets, public safety, wastewater, and water supply.  He emphasized the importance of getting the fundamentals right and putting needs before wants.  This led Magill to address PlanCC 2035 (now 2036).  Magill said, “Your city government shouldn’t have to be the ones to create the social environment for success.  We shouldn’t be the ones to pay for free swimming lessons or for free internet service across the city.  We see a lot of those proposed policies in PlanCC 2035.  I have some serious doubts whether that plan moves forward.”  Magill added that he put a plan together based on the existing comprehensive plan and sent it to City staff in December 2015.  “It takes the good from our existing plan – which actually includes public safety – and includes parts from the proposed PlanCC 2035 to create a real-world plan that keeps us focused on our needs.”

      Magill talked about the new harbor bridge and what an amazing feat it was to bring together the Port of Corpus Christi, the City of Corpus Christi, Nueces County, TxDot, and a number of local organizations and finally settle upon the building of a billion-dollar bridge.  He praised the efforts of Representative Todd Hunter who was “a champion for the bridge.”  Magill said that the new bridge should be looked at as an essential part of economic development for the area and that construction should begin as soon as 2017.

 

     The councilman then shifted to the topic of zero-based budgeting.  “You’re going to see – for our generation – the largest push for a zero-based budget in our city government ever.  It’s a challenge to City staff, but City Manager Ron Olson accepted the challenge.”  Magill said that some of his colleagues on council believe he may have challenged staff too much.  “They have concerns.  I understand that, but at the same time, these are your tax dollars.”

      Magill explained that zero-based budgeting will require City departments to justify spending tax dollars by aligning the spending with the mission.  “Everyone has to budget where their dollars go.  You do it.  My wife and I do it.  Shouldn’t we expect that of our City government?”  He sees it as an opportunity for the department heads to shine.  “If they embrace it and do well,” Magill said he would fight for their funding and for them to be successful.  Magill FBBA

     Magill then turned to the topic of Flour Bluff and spoke about his desire to get Laguna Shores Road on the 2018 bond.  “Every time I’m in Flour Bluff, I drive down Laguna Shores to remind me of the need.”  He went on to commend James Skrobarczyk, who was in the audience, for serving on the residential street committee and praised the ad hoc committee for accomplishing so much in a short period of time.

     He explained that they had uncovered some wasteful practices and inefficiencies in the Street Preventative and Maintenance Plan (SPMP).  He offered an example. “Kingsville spends about $2.50 per square foot on overlays while Corpus Christi spends $8.00 per square foot for the same work.”  When asked how that could be, Magill said, “Part of it is inefficiencies of government; part of that is multiple inspection layers; part of that is – frankly – writing contracts that allow contractors to make ‘obscene amounts of profit.’ ” He told the FBBA that he would love to speak to them again in June or July to fill them in on the recommendations from the street committee and how the City will move toward zero-based budgeting.

     When asked if Council member Colleen McIntyre’s proposal last year to raise property taxes by 8 cents to pay for residential street construction is the only form of funding available, Magill said, “The Caller-Times reported that 8 cents of ad valorem property taxes per year would raise $20 million, when in actuality, it would raise $13.6 million.”  After texting Ron Olson that his numbers were wrong, Olson came back a couple of days later and agreed Magill was correct in his calculations.

IMG_4005   “When they’re talking about throwing more taxpayer money at an inefficient system, how much of that money is going to be wasted?  I took an unpopular stance on council, and I said, ‘No, I can’t support a property tax increase without a plan.’ “

     Magill said that oftentimes a government entity will ask for a lot of money first then develop a plan around it second.  “Then they do the work and go on the defense and tell you how good it was. We’ve got to change that process and ask everyone to be open to a change in that kind of thinking.  The missing component is being able to put a plan together, share that with the community – which we’ll do in June or July – and ask how much of this plan would you like to invest in?”

     “Multiple funding sources is the key.  From re-purposing sales tax, we can pay the debt service off on Whataburger Field, and that gives you between $2 and $2.5 million a year.  That’s sales tax, which is mostly a tax that is appropriate for infrastructure.  In good times, you do more; in bad times, you do less.  Then, you look at cutting from within the budget.  We tried a 1% cut last year; that didn’t work.  We held the line on increasing materials and operations costs, but effectively we didn’t save much money.  That’s why we’re going the zero-based route.”

    Magill explained that savings within the budget will go to two things:  One is streets and the other is City employee raises.  “Think about the people who are going to do the work to find those inefficiencies within their own department budgets.  If we’re going to challenge them harder, we have to somehow align goals.  If you tell a department head that he/she needs to save money in the department and that part of the money saved will go into giving that department a raise, then people’s goals are starting to align.  Efficiency is part of good, quality government.”

     “Another funding source is potentially the RTA.  They could be a funding partner, and I think they’re open to that now.  The key here is to go to multiple funding sources with property taxes being the last in line.  If we had raised property taxes last year at 8 cents, your only guarantee is that your property taxes will go up.  If we had passed Destination Bayfront, that would have also added to the cost for the taxpayer.  If we’re going to focus on needs, let’s do it the right way.  The residential street committee is culling the bad from the current program and keeping the good to find out the most efficient way to tackle residential streets.”

     Precinct 4 County Commissioner Brent Chesney and ad hoc street committee chairman Andy Taubman have the same thought as Magill about the RTA redirecting more funds to the streets.  New RTA chairman, Curtis Rock, has not officially weighed in on this possibility.

     Magill answered questions from the audience on the topics of the failed Citizens’ Collection Center (Solid Waste Transfer Station).  He cited the main reasons for the failure as:

  • the $4.65 million price tag, which would have come in the form of a 20-year debt,
  • a raise in solid waste rates, and
  • a petition against the facility with 700 signatures from residents who live near the proposed site on Flour Bluff Drive.

He also discussed the positive aspects of privatization of City services and used the municipal golf courses as an example of how privatization has improved the quality of the golf courses while saving the City money.  Magill FBBA 2

     FBBA member, Michael Morgan, encouraged fellow members to stay in contact with Chad Magill.  “He is very accessible and very approachable.  He’ll tell you the facts, and he won’t rose-color anything.  If you have concerns or want to learn something, of course we have our District 4 representative, but Chad also represents us as an at-large council member.  I just want to thank him publicly for the job he’s doing for us out here.”

 

 

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.

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