Dr. Stegemann Educates FBBA on Cost of Obesity in the Workplace

Business, Flour Bluff, Health

     Dr. Lloyd Stegemann spoke to the members of the Flour Bluff Business Association at the regular monthly meeting held July 12, 2017, at Funtrackers Raceway Cafe’ in Flour Bluff.  Dr. Stegemann is President, and Chief Bariatric Surgeon at the Better Weigh Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. He specializes in the treatment of obesity and subscribes to a health action plan that involves community leaders, businesses, schools, elected officials, faith based organizations, and healthcare professionals to get every individual to understand the effect that their weight has on their health. Dr. Stegemann focused his presentation on how obesity affects businesses.

     The doctor asked the audience members to find their BMI (Body Mass Index) on a chart like the one below.  He then went on to cite some very disturbing numbers.  “About 24% of the population falls into the overweight category.  That’s almost 90 million people in the United States.  When you go above a BMI of 30, which is about 30 pounds overweight, you move into a Class 1 Obesity,” said Stegemann.  “About 98.7 million Americans, or 36% of the population, are classified as obese.”

     Dr. Stegemann shared a study from the Center for Disease Control, to show how the American obesity problem has changed in the last few years.  “We have a significant problem across the United States,” said Stegemann. “The really scary part is that the obesity rates in our children are very high, particularly in comparison to other countries.  The problem with that is that if you are obese by the age of five, there is a 98% chance that you will be obese as an adult.  So, getting this under control at the earliest ages is critically important.”  According to a 2015 non-scientific report in Men’s Health Magazine, Corpus Christi topped the list for “fattest cities” in America.  “Since America is considered the fattest nation in the world, then that makes Corpus Christi the fattest city in the world.  We have a lot of work to do,” added Stegemann.

CDC Obesity Trend Map
This set of maps, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offers a state-by-state look at the tremendous increase in adult obesity over the past two decades. In 1990, no state had an obesity rate higher than 15 percent. By 2010, no state had an obesity rate lower than 20 percent, and 12 states had obesity rates greater than 30 percent.

     Dr. Stegemann asked everyone to consider the following statements and determine whether each is true or false from their own perspectives.

  • Obesity is a disease.
  • Weight loss is easy.  Just eat less and exercise more.
  • Fat people are usually lazy.
  • Employers should care about their employees’ weight.
  • It is okay to fire an employee because he/she is obese.
  • Employers should cover evidence-based weight-loss treatments.

     He followed this activity with important information related to each and a quick video on the Set Point Theory of Obesity, the reason people lose a few pounds then regain them rather quickly.

     “In addition to the many medical problems caused by obesity, carrying extra weight just creates lots of life problems.  Simple tasks like tying your shoes, playing with the kids on the floor and getting up afterward, going fishing and getting on and off the boat become very difficult.  Obesity also sets a person up for weight-bias discrimination. People over a certain weight have to pay for two seats on an airplane. You’ll notice that people who are severely overweight do things like pick out their path in a restaurant prior to getting up to cross the room so that they don’t bump people along the way.  Just sitting in a booth becomes very challenging.  There is a significant decline in the quality of life for these people,” said Dr. Stegemann. “A new study even points to obesity as a possible key factor in developing Alzheimer’s Disease,” said Dr. Lloyd Stegemann.

 

     “What about the economic impact? What is the direct cost for treating the medical problems related to obesity?  It comes out to $428 billion a year – direct cost for treating the medical complications related to weight. That’s about 14.3% of all health care spending in the United States.  This is particularly true and important for treating Type 2 Diabetes,” said Stegemann, “which consumes 26% of the 14.3%.”  To put the numbers in perspective, Dr. Stegemann said that in 1962 the annual spending on diabetes was less that one billion dollars.  In 2014 the number was 112 billion dollars.  “It is a significant problem,” said Stegemann.  “These are the direct costs.  The indirect costs include lost time at work and loss of productivity while at work which comes to $989 billion in indirect costs.  In 2014, the total of direct and indirect cost related to obesity came to $1.42 trillion dollars.  That’s a staggering number.  In fact, it’s over 8% of our GDP.”  He explained that these numbers do not take into account the 320,000 deaths each year associated with obesity.

     “Obesity is now the number 2 killer in the United States behind smoking.  It is expected that obesity deaths will overtake smoking deaths within the next five years based on the current trends,” said Stegemann.

 

     “Why should the employer care about an employee’s weight?  It costs them money,” said Stegemann.  “People who are overweight have a lower rate of productivity and miss more work due to weight-related illnesses or doctor appointments.  Over time, those numbers start adding up.”  Obese employees have 36% more in medical costs, with 77% higher costs for prescriptions. When companies go back to renew health insurance plans, the prices start going up. “As employers, we carry a much higher economic burden.  We pay more in both business and personal taxes.  That $1.2 trillion has to come from somewhere.  Part of that certainly comes from taxes,” he added.

     “What I want everyone to walk away with today is that it doesn’t take a tremendous amount of weight loss to start seeing positive results.  With as little as 5% weight loss, you will start to see dramatic improvements in health and increases in productivity,” said Stegemann.  “Helping your employees’ bottom line certainly helps your own bottom line.”

Other FBBA News

  • FBBA President Jennifer Welp welcomed State Representative Todd Hunter and Hannah Chipman of Brent Chesney’s office.
  • Welp thanked Brent Chesney, Michael Morgan of State Farm, Roshan Bhakta of Candlewood Suites, and Dr. Mohamad Hassan of the Children’s Center for sponsoring the upcoming Flour Fest event on October 28, 2017, at Parker Park from noon until 8:00 p.m.  More sponsors are needed as are volunteers to run the various events.  Anyone interested should contact Jonathan Vela, FBBA Events Coordinator at 512-937-8769 or visit the FBBA website at https://www.flourbluffbusinessassociation.com/ .
  • Javier Wiley accepted the Spotlight of the Month Award for HEB Plus in Flour Bluff.  The store is celebrating its 10th anniversary on Saturday, July 29, 2017.
  • Welp thanked Jonathan Vela’s father, Juan Vela, for selling the Keep It in the Bluff t-shirts and spreading the word about the businesses of Flour Bluff.
  • Susan Lawson gave an update on Parker Pool.  Sponsors are still needed to assist with keeping the pool up and running. For more information visit the website at http://parkerpool.org/ .
  • Welp asked the business owners to consider hosting a mixer in the near future as a way to network with other businesses.
  • Shirley Thornton announced the Flour Bluff Citizens Council would host an educational presentation on how area development plans work, who writes them, and what the city plans on doing to update the Flour Bluff ADP, which has not been updated since 1993.
  • Welp recognized new members:
    • Neal Ekstrom of  NCE Waste Environmental Service, 361-772-5449
    • Chad Mills, Julia Mills, and Rusty Ashurst of R/C Remodeling (361) 777-9248 or  361-846-1148 or 361-438-0954
    • Criselda Torres of Red Cactus Funk & Junk located at 9450 SPID #6A, 361-549-6351
    • James and Dottie Fortner of Annaville Air Conditioning, 361-767-2665, 4860 FM 1889, Corpus Christi, TX 78410
    • Lord of Life Lutheran Church, 361-937-8158, http://www.lordoflifecorpuschristi.org/
  • The next general meeting will be held at Funtrackers at noon on Wednesday, August 9, 2017.  The guest speaker will be local historian James Moloney.
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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.
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City Park Director Addresses Flour Bluff Citizens Council

Business, Community Organizations, Flour Bluff, Front Page, Outdoors
Corpus Christi Director of Parks and Recreation Stacie Talbert Anaya addressing Flour Bluff Citizens Council at January 23, 2017, general meeting
     A crowd of about 60 people gathered at 6:00 p.m. on January 23, 2017, at Grace Community Church in Flour Bluff to listen to Stacie Talbert Anaya, Director of Parks and Recreation, describe what her department does city-wide and what is planned for parks in Flour Bluff. Dr. Lloyd Stegemann, FBCC Chairman of the FB Parks and Recreation Committee and newly-appointed member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee for Corpus Christi introduced Ms. Anaya to the audience, pointing out that she lives and works by the motto “The world needs play.”
FBCC members listen while Stacie Talber Anaya, Director of Parks and Recreation, explains what is in store for Flour Bluff parks.
     Ms. Anaya told the citizens council that Parker Park is being upgraded as part of a 2012 voter-approved bond.  New walking paths, lighting for the tennis and basketball courts, improvements to the covered picnic area, and new playground facilities are just part of the plan.  A plan for planting more trees is also in the works.  Parker Pool, which is no longer managed by the city, is not part of the renovation project.  The community was encouraged to assist the Parker Pool Patriots in keeping the pool functional.  (To donate to the cause, visit their website.)
Recent construction at Parker Park
     Plans for an extension of the Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve and Learning Center, a 162-acre nature preserve accessible by using the walk-in entrances along N. Oso Parkway and from the Holly hike and bike trail, sits just across the Oso from Flour Bluff.  Anaya said that she and her group are working on making the park accessible to the Flour Bluff community via a hike and bike trail across the existing railway bridge. She said that the plan includes the walkway, fishing spots along the bridge, and perhaps even a trail head parking area at the corner of Flour Bluff Drive and Division Road, a property purchased two years ago by the city to build a citizens collections center, a facility opposed by those who live and own businesses closest to the area.  Anaya’s  idea for the property received many nods from the crowd who also want to see the property used for a more family-friendly space.
Map showing connection of Oso Wetlands park to Flour Bluff side of Oso via old railway tracks
     Anaya also discussed how the Community Enrichment Fund dollars (funds received from developer fees, other donations and interest earned in the Community Enrichment Fund) are used.  The Unified Development Code (UDC), requires that the fees be used for the acquisition or improvement of parks most likely to serve the residents of the subdivision. Community Enrichment Funds shall be used only for parkland acquisition, park development and park improvements including utility extensions required to serve recreational areas. The last appropriation of Community Enrichment Funds was approved by City Council on July 19, 2016.  The next appropriation will be made following approval at the January 24, 2017, council meeting.
    Adding to the discussion of parks and recreational areas in Flour Bluff was community activist and former president of the Flour Bluff Business Association, Melanie Hambrick, who outlined the plans for Redhead Pond (an area purchased to protect freshwater wetland habitat for wintering waterfowl and other birds). Redhead Pond offers a unique opportunity to view large concentrations of wild birds on Laguna Shores Road in Flour Bluff. Ms. Hambrick has long wanted to work with Texas Parks and Wildlife to make this a place for families and visitors to enjoy.  (To volunteer for the Redhead Pond Project, contact Melanie Hambrick at 361-728-7393 or mlhambrick@aol.com.)
Melanie Hambrick
Map of Redhead Pond Wildlife Management Area, Corpus Christi, TX 78418
 
     Joining the FBCC members at the January 23, 2017, general meeting were City Manager Margie Rose, At-large Council Members Paulette Guajardo and Michael Hunter, District 4 Councilman Greg Smith, and Gaye White of Todd Hunter’s office.  Pastor Jess Cole of Grace Community Church offers the church for the FBCC meetings, of which the group is very appreciative.
Better in the Bluff
     As an added bonus, Better in the Bluff t-shirts were raffled to the members in attendance.  Anyone who wishes to purchase a shirt at a cost of $16 ($4 goes to the FBCC for each sale) may visit Caption Tees by following this link.
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Representative Todd Hunter Addresses FBBA

Around the State, Business, Corpus Christi, Flour Bluff, Front Page

FBBA

     State Representative Todd Hunter addressed the Flour Bluff Business Association members at the regular monthly meeting on June 8, 2016, at Funtrackers in Flour Bluff.  Representative Hunter  is serving his sixth term in the Texas House of Representatives.  Hunter recognized candidates for local office and elected officials who were in attendance and thanked them for their willingness to serve the area.

IMG_5634

Hunter updated the audience on:

  • Education:  Funding of public schools has been determined legal.  Independent school districts have autonomy to function as they see fit within the confines of State law.  Making sure that schools offer recess daily, a topic brought up by an audience member, is in the hands of the districts.  Hunter said, “If you have trouble with TEA, then contact me, and I’ll help you as I can.”  He went on to say that Flour Bluff ISD in partnership with Del Mar offers job training for the cruise ship industry.  Later in the Q&A session, Hunter spoke strongly against standardized tests and the expense related to it.
  • Cruise Ships:  Hunter has actively worked to bring the cruise ship industry to Corpus Christi.  Talks will begin in September, and he wants Flour Bluff involved.  Brownsville is in the running, too.  “We win either way.  If we don’t get it here, you’ll get enough attention that you’ll get increased travel tourism anyway.”
  • Desalination:  Hunter recently toured the desalination plant in El Paso, Texas, to see what they are doing.  Their problem is getting water to run through the plant, which is not the issue for Corpus Christi.  In the fall, he will begin pushing ocean/sea water desalination for our area.  He encouraged those who want to get involved to contact his office.
  • Windstorm:  Weather events in Dallas and San Antonio has Hunter concerned that Corpus Christi will be targeted.  It continues to be an issue for coastal cities.  He would like to see the Texas Department of Insurance and the Texas Windstorm Association abolished because they are not consumer-friendly.  Last September, the new law went into effect.  To beat the start time of the law, TWIA held an emergency meeting to raise rates by 5% and was backed by the Texas Department of Insurance.  “That’s bad government,”  said Hunter.  “I plan to go in and try to reverse that.”
  • Transportation:  Hunter discussed autonomous cars now in the Austin area, a test city for Google and these kinds of vehicles.  It is predicted that in three years these cars will be everywhere.  As a result, state legislators and transportation departments are scurrying to create laws to catch up with this kind of technology.  “How do you do school zones?  How do you handle accidents?” asked Hunter.
  • Space travel:  In Brownsville, Waco, and West Texas, three different billionaires are buying land and doing space travel tourism.  They are already doing rocket launches, which affects private property rights.
  • Drones:  Texas A&M Corpus Christi is a drone-testing site.  Hunter said, “John Sharp, Chancellor of Texas A & M, said that in three to five years, technology will exist to send drones over ranch and agricultural land.”  He explained that these drones would actually be able to do soil tests and even test for diseases by entering the hides of the ranch animals.  That creates a whole new area for laws to regulate such activities.  “Science and computers will have an overall impact on the laws,” he said.
  • Budget Forecast:  In December, the legislators will receive the certified budget, which is based on the last two years. It will be down because gas, oil, and energy is down.  Because the budget must be balanced, legislators can only budget and allocate what they have. “Overall, you’re going to do well.  Things are good in Texas,” Hunter added.
  • Panama Canal and Cuba:  “One of the reasons I’m pushing these cruise ships is because Panama Canal and Cuba are opening up, and we are closer to those locations than a lot of areas in the state.”  He hopes this will improve the transportation industry in the state.
  • Power on Film and Power on Music:  Hunter explained that the video game industry is twice as big as the film industry.  There are even local companies in the Corpus Christi area.  In 2014, Power on Film and Video Game Industry took place in Corpus Christi. In October of this year, the Texas Music Power On will take place in Corpus Christi.  “It’s a good moneymaker and brings good jobs,” said Hunter.  “Right now they go to Louisiana.  I need to do everything I can do to bring it to Texas.”

     “I’m honored to be your representative, and I’m always going to fight for the Coastal Bend. I don’t think we get a fair shake, and I think sometimes they run us over,” said Hunter.  He also explained that he is not thin because he is sick or afflicted by cancer; he just lost weight.  He closed by encouraging everyone to contact his office and get involved in the discussions surrounding the issues that affect the Flour Bluff area.  FBBA President Melanie Hambrick thanked Rep. Hunter and awarded him an FBBA certificate of appreciation.

Read more about this meeting:

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

FBBA Receives Funds from Chesney, Pusley, and Neal

 

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Flour Bluff Town Hall Meeting Has Big Turnout

Flour Bluff, Front Page
Hogan and Skrobarczyk
Dan Hogan and James Skrobarczyk

Flour Bluff residents, Dan Hogan and James Skrobarczyk, organized the Flour Bluff Town Hall Meeting held on January 12, 2016, at the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Innovation Center located at the corner of First National Drive and South Padre Island Drive.  A group of about 125 people showed up to hear from several community leaders.

Justice of the Peace Thelma Rodriguez started the meeting by fielding questions about the duties of her office and how she works with school officials to do what is best for the students.

State Representative Todd Hunter followed her with a presentation on the local implications of state legislation for windstorm insurance.  Hunter said that James Skrobarczyk accompanied him to Austin and stood with him as they battled the Department of Insurance.  “After 12 years, we got the bill passed.  Finally, Nueces County is going to be treated like human beings,” Hunter said.  He told the audience that insurance companies are already creating policies as they begin to compete for business in the coastal areas.  “They’re high, but they’re coming down.  You are going to see a rate reduction, but there will be a 12- to 14-month transition period.”

Todd Hunter Town Hall Meeting
Rep. Todd Hunter

Hunter also addressed the possibility of cruise lines in Corpus Christi.  He said that the problem is that Brownsville wants it, too.  “We’re going to bring travel tourism here.  We’re going to set up a local group – a resource group from my area – to back us up when we start having these State hearings,” Hunter added.  He encouraged interested parties to contact his office if they want to be part of that group.

Hunter ended his part of the meeting with information on the expansion of Hwy 361 and the safety issues related to the roadway leading from Port Aransas to Flour Bluff.

 

 

Sheriff Jim Kaelin, who has served 9 years as sheriff, said that nothing is as important to this community as a safe, sanitary, secure jail.  “People need to understand that inmates in the jail have been accused of crimes.  Any one of us could wind up there.  Penitentiary inmates have been convicted of crimes.”  Currently, 900 of the 1068 beds are filled.  Kaelin said that increasing capacity has been slow, but the bed count has grown by 50 since he took over.  He is currently working on adding 144 beds by opening two areas in the annex.  The construction plans have been approved and that renovation could get the county through the next 10 or 15 years without added expense to the taxpayers.

Sheriff Jim Kaelin
Sheriff Jim Kaelin

An audience member asked the sheriff to talk about the inmate commissary.  “Our ratio of officers to inmates is 1:48.”  Kaelin said that in order to get chronically non-compliant inmates to follow rules, certain privileges are offered:  use of pay phones, weekend visitation by family members, television in the day room, co-mingling with other inmates, and commissary privileges.  The inmates use their own money to purchase items at the “jail store.”  The 42 cents made from each dollar goes into an inmate benefit fund that pays for shoes, uniforms, mattresses, bedding, and cleaning supplies.  $400-$500 thousand per year goes into the account.  Currently the balance is around $800,000.  “This saves the taxpayer from footing the bill for these items,” Kaelin said.

Kaelin finished with offering advice to the attendees on using cell phones to take pictures of suspicious cars, people, and activities to help monitor what is happening in their neighborhoods.  Skrobarczyk added that the Next Door website is another way to connect with neighbors and look our for each other.

Cdr Todd Green
Cdr. Todd Green

  

Cdr. Todd Green with CCPD, addressed concerns raised by audience members on several topics, including stray dogs, ways to protect their own property, knowing their neighbors, and calling the police.  Green responded to questions and concerns about ongoing problems in the Turtle Cove neighborhood.  He encouraged all to call the police every time something occurred, which one man said they had already been doing.  Another officer suggested that citizens take advantage of the CCPD social media websites and form Neighborhood Watch groups.

Captain David McCarty
Captain David McCarty

Captain David McCarty introduced himself and said that he took over the Bravo District on January 11, 2016, and wanted everyone to be able to put a face with a name.  He said he looked forward to working with and getting to know the residents of Flour Bluff.

Andy Taubman, Chairman for the Ad Hoc Residential Street Committee for Corpus Christi, addressed the group on what the committee is finding as they research the SPMP (Street Preventative Maintenance Program) and the standard practices.  “The phase the City is in right now is truly reactive.  There’s not a lot of planning, record keeping, or accountability in the system.  The committee is trying to get the City to emerge from this reactive behavior to a proactive behavior,” said Taubman.  They are trying to convince the City to repair the streets in a neighborhood rather than addressing pot holes only as they are reported by residents.

Andy Taubman Speaker
Andy Taubman

Other problems include master plans that have not been digitized and have missing elements, such as a missing sewer in the plans for Flour Bluff Drive.  One man spoke of his street that has 47 houses and not a single fire hydrant, which is a problem with the master plan according to Taubman.  To report problems, Taubman suggested that residents use the City website  so that a work order can be made.  Questions were raised about various streets, including Caribbean and Purdue.  James Skrobarczyk, who also serves on the committee, said, “There’s a lot issues where Flour Bluff has just been left behind.”

Greg Smith, longtime resident of Flour Bluff and member of ISAC (Island Strategic Action Committee), said, “Several communities are putting together an Area Development Plan, which falls under the Comprehensive Development Plan.  It would be a good idea if Flour Bluff got a group together and met and NOT be left behind.  That would allow the people of Flour Bluff to come up with their own plan instead of the people from Massachusetts coming up with a plan.”

The final minutes of the meeting included Melanie Hambrick, President of the Flour Bluff Business Association, who spoke about the Homeless Commission and the concerns surrounding the new ordinance to ban panhandling downtown.  She said the concern of many residents and businesses is that enforcement of the new regulation could actually bring more homeless to Flour Bluff.

Melanie Hambrick

A representative from Brent Chesney’s office (Precinct 4 County Commissioner) was open for questions from the audience.  After several comments about people fishing from Mud Bridge on Yorktown in Flour Bluff, she offered to talk to them after the meeting.  She also volunteered to help create the Flour Bluff area development committee through Chesney’s office.

Chesney rep

Since many questions were left unanswered, Dan Hogan suggested later in the meeting that another gathering be held in February just to address concerns of crime with Chief Markle and to cover other city issues with the Council members Magill and McIntyre who were unable to attend.

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