Councilman Smith Talks City Business at FBBA General Meeting

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

 

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

Harvey Update

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

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

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

Creative Commons Photo

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

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

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

City Budget

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

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

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

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

Wastewater

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

Water

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

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

Streets

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

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

Don Patricio Road, 2016 (SevenTwelve Photography)

 

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

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

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

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

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

Homelessness

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

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

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

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

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

Election Year Coming

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

Audience Concerns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other FBBA Business

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

 

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

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

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

Judge Loyd Neal Addresses Members of FBBA

Around the State, Business, Corpus Christi, Flour Bluff, Front Page, Nueces County
Nueces County Judge addressing Flour Bluff Business Association

     Nueces County Judge Loyd Neal spoke to a group of about forty people at the regular monthly meeting of the Flour Bluff Business Association held June 14, 2017, at Funtrackers in Flour Bluff.  Neal served as the Mayor of the City of Corpus Christi from April 1997 through April 2003, then was elected Nueces County Judge in November 2006, the first Republican elected to this office in 146 years. In November 2010, Judge Neal was re-elected to his second term starting January 2011.  Neal spent over 40 years in Insurance in Corpus Christi prior to taking office in January 2007. He is currently serving his third and final term, which comes to an end in 2018.

     Neal started his talk by recognizing his partner on the Commissioners Court, Brent Chesney.  He then thanked State Representative Todd Hunter for the work that he has been doing in Austin.  “Along with the leadership of our representative and the hard work of a lot of people, we got passed what is known as Senate Bill 277, which has a big impact on Naval aviation training here. It’s not anti-wind farm; it’s pro- military. We are a pro-military community, and we wanted to make sure that we did everything we could here and in Kingsville to ensure the Navy that we would try to keep Naval aviation training here in the future.” The bill is related to the eligibility of certain property for certain ad valorem tax incentives relating to wind-powered energy devices.

     The judge then gave the group a short civics lesson.  “If you don’t know, the county form of government is different from every other form of government in the State of Texas.”  He explained that it is a constitutional form of government, which means all actions by the commissioners must be spelled out in the Constitution of the State of Texas.  “It’s a lot different from city government, which has a charter, a charter that can be amended. County government can only be changed at the state level with an amendment to the constitution,” said Neal. “The county judge is not in charge. He has two employees. Everyone else works for an elected or appointed official.  So, how do we make it work?  County government works because we work together,” he added.

     Neal went on to say that the budget process, which includes public hearings, will begin in the next few weeks. “I can tell you right now that this is going to be a much tighter budget year,” said Neal.  He attributes this to lower appraised property values. He explained that justices of the peace, constables, and other county elected officials submit their operational funding requests to the Commissioners Court, who will use the information to put together a budget.  County agencies, for the most part, get all of their revenue from property taxes.  “This creates both an opportunity and a challenge to keep our tax rate low.  For the last two years, we have used the effective tax rate, which is good.  We’ve not grown the tax rate beyond the previous year.  I don’t know if we’re going to be there again this year.  We’ll see what the demands are and what we have to do.”  Referring to the County Commissioners Court, Neal said, “We are the guardians of the county budget, and we take that seriously.”

     Neal went on to speak against Senate Bill 2, which will be a major part of the special session of the legislature. “SB 2 will take a lot of local authority, particularly in the amount of revenue that cities and counties could gather, away from those cities and counties and begin to set a trend that is disastrous for local government in the future. They have decided in the Senate that they don’t want local control to be in the hands of the local officials,” said Neal. He then thanked Chairman Hunter and the House for standing up to Lt. Governor Dan Patrick by coming up with their own version of the bill.  “They drew a line in the sand and said no.  That’s the kind of leadership we need and hope to continue to have in Austin.”

     Neal discussed the changes in the county jail that are taking place now.  “We’re expanding the county jail.  We’re in the process of converting space in the McKenzie Annex to add 144 new beds.  It was unused space and space used by probation and the Sheriff’s Department patrol. It will cost about $2 million – or perhaps a bit more by the time it’s finished,” he said.  Neal reminded everyone that some of the increase in the cost is for making the jail ADA compliant, a directive that came from the Department of Justice about two years ago. “We’re all for it, but it’s very expensive,” he added. “It costs more to build a jail cell than it does to build a hospital room. We are looking for better ways to keep people out of jail so that we can stay at or below the allowable numbers of inmates.”  According to Neal, there are about 1000 people a day in the Nueces County Jail.  The cost for each prisoner is $81.00 per day.

     During the Q&A session, Commissioner Brent Chesney announced that Judge Neal would not be seeking re-election.  “I have had the privilege of serving with Judge Neal, first on the city council when he was mayor and now as a county commissioner.  He has made it quite clear that he is not running for re-election, and that’s a real sadness for this community.  We owe him a great round of applause and a big debt of gratitude.  He has told me no many times, but he always did it with a smile and with respect. This man has served with integrity, with honor, and with respect, and he truly does it with a servant’s heart,” said Chesney.  “You still may not get what you want,” responded Neal, which evoked a roar of laughter from the crowd.

     After Judge Neal concluded his talk, those in attendance offered their thanks for his many years of devoted service to the citizens.  Neal still has about 18 months of service left.  All agreed that he will be greatly missed.

Other FBBA News

  • Chairman Hunter attended the meeting with KIII TV 3 in tow to demonstrate how our elected officials will continue to take care of business even in light of the shooting at the baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia, where Republican members of Congress were holding baseball practice.
  • City Council Members Michael Hunter, Paulette Guajardo, and Greg Smith also attended the meeting.  Smith made mention of the many elected officials at the local and state levels who made the meeting and thanked them for being in attendance.  Smith went on to say how he and the other council members are starting to work on Bond 2018.  “Laguna Shores is number one on the list for me,” said Smith. “Finally, after all these years, Laguna Shores is going to be taken care of.”
Justice of the Peace Thelma Rodriguez, Councilman Michael hunter (back), State Representative Todd Hunter, County Commissioner Brent Chesney, Councilman Greg Smith, and Councilwoman Paulette Guajardo

 

  • Nueces County Commissioner Brent Chesney led the group in a moment of silence in honor of those where were victims of  the Alexandria shootings. Chesney followed up with a report on the Sand Castle Run, which earned $38,000 for kids with diabetes to attend camp.  He thanked everyone who played a role in the event.
Susan Lawson
  • Susan Lawson of the Coastal Bend Friends of Aquatics was happy to announce that Parker Pool is open for business.  FBBA Board Member Mark Thomas appealed to those in attendance to sponsor the pool, which serves hundreds of kids, many of whom are indigent.  Admission to the pool is $1 for children ages 3 to 17.  Adults get in for $3.00, with those over 60 paying $1.25. All first responders and military (active or retired) get in free with an ID.
  • The CBFA offers signs with full color printing, graphic design, and grommets for businesses to advertise at the pool.  A 4′ X 4′ sign is $350, while a 4′ X 8′ sign is $650.  Signs will will be displayed until the 2018 season. The pool is available for parties.  Up to 50 guests for 2 hours will cost $200, which covers rental of pool and 2 lifeguards.  For every additional hour, $100 will be charged, plus $25 for each additional lifeguard per 25 guests over 50.  For more information, contact Susan Lawson at 361-779-8634.

  • Flour Fest is coming to Parker Memorial Park on Saturday, October 28!  Vendors and food trucks may secure a spot at the event by visiting the FBBA website and signing up.  Sponsorships for the event are also available.  Contact FBBA Event Coordinator Jonathan Vela for more information:  512-937-8769.
Please follow and like us:

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

Flour Bluff Business Association Holds Candidate Forum

Business, Corpus Christi, Flour Bluff, Front Page, Government and Politics

FBBA

     The Flour Bluff Business Association hosted a candidate forum at their regular monthly meeting on October 12, 2016, at Funtrackers in Flour Bluff.  The turnout of candidates was impressive and noteworthy:

  • Mayor Nelda Martinez (incumbent)
  • Dan McQueen (mayoral candidate)
  • Greg Smith  (District 4 City Council)
  • Dr. Lloyd Stegemann  (District 4 City Council)
  • Chad Magill  (at large incumbent)
  • Paulette Guajardo  (at large candidate)
  • Michael Hunter  (at large incumbent)
  • Joe McComb (at large candidate)
  • Margarita Fratila (at large candidate)
  • Jimie Owsley  (at large candidate)
  • Flo East (Flour Bluff ISD School Board candidate, Place 3)
  • Jeff Rank  (Flour Bluff ISD School Board candidate, Place 3)

     All mayoral and city council candidates thanked the association for inviting them and then launched into their ideas and concerns for the Flour Bluff area.

mayor-martinez

     “One of the biggest challenges facing Flour Bluff is its growth.  We need to strategically manage that growth and look at land use development plans out here in Flour Bluff,” said Mayor Martinez.  She went on to commend the work the city has done in Flour Bluff on the streets but explained how Laguna Shores is a significant safety issue and that this street would be placed on the next bond.  Mayor Martinez thanked the FBBA for its work in the community and the members of the Flour Bluff Citizens Council for coming together.  Martinez is an ex officio member of the organization.

dan-mcqueen

     Dan McQueen, mayoral candidate said, “We need to focus on growing business and high-paying jobs at every opportunity we have.”  He stated that many of his friends who now work on the Black Hawk helicopters at the base will not have jobs in a year.  “The key is all of us uniting and working towards our common goal, and then we’re going to be successful.”

greg-smith-forum

     Greg Smith, District 4 candidate, expressed how pleased he was that Flour Bluff was coming together through the Flour Bluff Business Association and the newly formed Flour Bluff Citizens Council.  “This is exactly what we need.  To get a turn out like this gets the city that Flour Bluff cares, and Flour Bluff votes.”  Smith is one of the founding members of the FBCC.  He went on to explain how important the base is to Flour Bluff. “We need to do everything we can to protect our air spaces and do the things that make the base a good place to fly from.”  He added that many of the streets in Flour Bluff are deplorable and that we need to come up with the funding source to repair and maintain them.  Smith said that anything the city could do to help the school is crucial to growing Flour Bluff since Flour Bluff ISD is the main draw to the area.

lloyd-stegemann-forum

     Dr. Lloyd Stegemann, a Flour Bluff resident who runs a successful medical business in the area of bariatrics expressed a concern about Flour Bluff lacking a unified voice.  “When I hear my neighbors talk about all the issues we’re facing – streets, drainage issues, waste water, homeless issues – they get drowned out.  One of the most important things we can do is make this Flour Bluff Citizens Council work.  I’m going to do everything I can – whether I get elected or not – to make this work, and I encourage each and every one of you who care about Flour Bluff to get involved in that.  Once we have a unified voice, we’re really going to see things happen in our community.”  Stegemann ended by saying that he would be a fiscally responsible leader who understands that the money being spent is not his money, but money earned by the hard work of the citizens.  Stegemann is also seeking a position on the FBCC Board of Directors.

     

paulette-guajardo-forum

     “I – like you – want to prioritize some issues.  We could sit here all day and talk about one issue after the other, and they’re all very important.  I went on a little field trip out here this week, and it is the streets and the storm water that seem to have been neglected, but they are an absolute priority for everyone,”  said Paulette Guajardo, a 44-year-old wife, mother, and business woman who grew up in Flour Bluff and makes her home in Corpus Christi.

magill-fbba-forum

     Incumbent at-large candidate, Chad Magill, spoke with a great deal of knowledge as he outlined the issues that have plagued Flour Bluff for many years.  He, like Mayor Martinez, expressed a desire to put Laguna Shores on the 2018 bond election.  “Laguna Shores, many say, is the Ocean Drive of Flour Bluff.  I agree.  It has some waste water issues that we are addressing now.”  He went on to discuss problems in specific neighborhoods like Turtle Cove, the Flour Bluff Drive debacle where the sewer main was left out of the project, and various other issues that are unique to Flour Bluff.  Magill also commended the community for coming together and forming the Flour Bluff Citizens Council, something that Magill chose to join as an ex officio member.  “The fact that you’re coming together and formalizing your voice is exceptional.  That means you can provide a clear direction to us on council.”

margaret-fratila-forum

     Margaret Fratila, at large candidate, came to Corpus Christi from Romania penniless and in need of work.  She moved into the Glenoak Apartments in Flour Bluff and went to work for Glen Johnson at Johnson Greenhouses.  She told the audience how she went on to earn her master’s degree in business from A & M.  “I feel like Flour Bluff gave me my start.”  Fratila echoed the Flour Bluff issues of poor drainage and streets in dire need of maintenance and reconstruction, and added that she will work to keep the bays open.

joe-mccomb

 

     Joe McComb, former city councilman and former county commissioner, has entered the at-large race.  McComb declined to repeat the obvious issues already highlighted by his opponents and said, “What do we do with the tax money that we have?  Do we want to tax you more to get more?  A concern I have is that the city has a tremendous amount of debt, and we spend a lot of money on that debt in interest.  This year in the budget, if I read right, $75 million will be paid on the principal, and $75 million will be spent on interest.  You can do a lot of things with $75 million.  We ought to reduce the debt as soon as possible.”  McComb went on to encourage everyone to read the twelve propositions carefully, especially Proposition 3, which would amend the City Charter to establish a dedicated fund to be used solely for residential street reconstruction and allow the council to levy a property tax increase to do it.  “I don’t think doing it through the Charter Amendment is the way to do it.”  He went on to say that it is the job of the council to look at the available funding and prioritize what gets funded and to what degree.  “It may require cuts in in other areas to do that.”  McComb ended his talk saying, “I want to be a watchdog for your taxes and address the issues you’ve been promised.”

owsley-forum

     Dr. Jimie Owsley, a veteran, wife, mother, and trauma surgeon, hopes to bring to City Council some of the social issues facing the city, issues she believes ultimately affect our taxes.  “I think the City Council forgets that its job is really public health and safety.  If you take care of those, we’ll have more money to do other things.  That which is affecting Corpus Christi is affecting Flour Bluff, as well.  Poverty in the city is at 20%; crime is twice the national average; and homelessness needs to be addressed.”  Owsley, like McComb, expressed a great concern for the amount of debt the city has.  “We spend a significant amount of money servicing debt and not paying off the debt.  Buying houses is difficult for people because of the increase in taxes.  We need to reign all of that in and become more efficient.  We may just have to wait a little longer to get the things we want.”

michael-hunter-forum

     At-large incumbent, Michael Hunter, thanked everyone for turning out at the last Flour Bluff Citizens Council and at the Flour Bluff Business Association forum.  “When we see the turn out at your meetings, we are encouraged to reach out to you.  We appreciate what you do for our community.”  Hunter then said, “The most important issue in Flour Bluff is infrastructure.  You need quite a bit of help out here with roads like Yorktown Boulevard.  We probably need to widen it.”  Hunter was appointed to the Council to finish out Lillian Riojas’s term.  He was immediately faced with street, water, waste water, and storm water issues.

     Flour Bluff School Board candidates were also present.  Michael Morgan and Jennifer Welp are running unopposed, while Jeff Rank and Flo East are vying for the Place 3 seat.  Click on the video below to see how Rank and East responded to a question from the audience about what the school might do to attract more families with children to the area.

     FBBA President Melanie Hambrick thanked the candidates for taking time out of their busy schedules to speak to the business people and residents of Flour Bluff.  “To our candidates, we really do appreciate and value your commitment to serve our community and city.  We face many issues in our community and elsewhere.  We take great pride in our community, and we hope to have a strong voice in helping you help us move forward.”

For more information on candidates, visit the League of Women Voters site.

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

FBBA Spotlight Business of the Month: Boat Stop

Business, Flour Bluff, Front Page, Government and Politics
ryan-pridgeon
Melanie Hambrick congratulates Ryan Pridgeon of Boat Stop Storage for being the Spotlight Business of the Month.

 

Ryan Pridgeon, manager of Boat Stop Storage, accepted the Spotlight of the Month Award from Melanie Hambrick, President of the Flour Bluff Business Association on September 14, 2016, at the regular monthly meeting.  Boat Stop, located at 502 Graham Road in Flour Bluff, provides secure storage with a private ramp and dock nearby.

“I’m sure you’ve seen the construction that’s going on.  We had 196 units and were at 100% occupancy.  We are just finishing up a separate building that has 70 additional units, and we’re about to start construction on another 70 units after that.  We’ll have plenty of spaces if you know anybody who has a boat and needs to store it.  We also store trailers outside,” said Pridgeon.

Pridgeon went on to say that they have a mechanic on site (Mike’s Marine 361-937-0422).  “He’s a separate business, but he’s at the storage units.  I believe he will be joining the business association, as well.”

There are plans to fix up the existing boat ramp that sits at the end of Graham Road.  “It’ll be a lot nicer with concrete and a parking area,” added Pridgeon.

Other Announcements:

  • New members were announced:  Boat Stop Storage and Grande Communications.
  •  Many candidates running for office were present, including:
    • Jeff Rank and Flo East, Flour Bluff ISD School Board, Place 3
    • Jennifer Welp, Flour Bluff ISD School Board, Place 6 (unopposed)
    • Mike Morgan, Flour Bluff ISD School Board, Place 7 (unopposed)
    • Greg Smith and Dr. Lloyd Stegemann, District 4 Corpus Christi City Council
    • Chad Magill, At-large Corpus Christi City Council
    • Alex Garcia, Justice of the Peace Pct. 2 Place 1
  • An update was given on Flour Fest, which was held on September 17, 2016, at Funtrackers and was deemed a real success by those in attendance.
  • The Flour Bluff Citizens Council will hold its first general meeting on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at Grace Community Church located at 1514 Flour Bluff Drive, at 6:00 p.m.  All who are interested in attending are encouraged to visit the Facebook page  where the bylaws, Membership Application, and information about the organization can be found.
  • Ken Knight of Coastal Wellness , located at 9929 SPID in the Bluff Plaza, announced that they are expanding in November.  They will be adding a coffee and juice bar and a yoga studio.  Coastal Wellness offers free health education and has partnered with the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, and other health-related groups.
  • Javier Wiley, General Manager of HEB Plus in Flour Bluff, announced the passing of Howard Butt, older brother of Charles Butt, CEO of HEB.  He also informed the group about a new service that HEB will launch on Tuesday, September 27, 2016.  HEB has partnered with SHIPT to provide home deliveries, which Wiley said will be beneficial to those living on the Island, those who are unable to go to the store, and those who are too busy to go to the store.  Click here for more information.
  • Captain Tony Hahn, USCG, was the keynote speaker.  Click here for the full story.

October meeting:  The October 12 meeting will be highlighted by a candidate forum.  The FBBA meets at Funtrackers at noon, the second Wednesday of each month.  Stay informed by visiting the FBBA website.

Please follow and like us:

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