A year of triumph, tragedy, conflict
The past 12 months in Port Aransas have seen joy and jubilation, tears and triumph.
The year saw pillars of the community, both of long-standing and shorter duration, depart this earthly world, leaving Port Aransas a better, more cheerful place for their having been a part of it.
We “circled the wagons” to protect windstorm insurance rates, and rejoiced as we saw the Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture come to fruition.
We engaged in heated battle over the pros and cons of adding football and volleyball to the athletics program at the school, debated noise and lighting restrictions, and manned battle stations against the H1N1 (swine) flu.
These and many more stories filled the pages of the South Jetty in 2009. Read on for a brief capsule of the year’s events and milestones.
Bill Bauder was selected president of the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce-Tourist Bureau for 2009. Other officers elected were Michael Ahlstrom, first vice president; Stephanie Kenigsberg, second vice-president; Jim Triplett, secretary; and Wendy Moore, treasurer. Elected directors were Suzette Freeman, John Price and Betty Turner. Glenn Martin is also a director.
The Coast Guard station in Port Aransas became only the sixth one in the nation to obtain a new boat that features greater speed and higher technology than its predecessor.
The $1.8 million vessel is known in Coast Guard parlance as a “response boat-medium.”
Visiting classrooms throughout PAISD was part of a whirlwind of activity engaging Dr. Sharon Doughty in her first few days on the job as the district’s new superintendent.
Doughty, who officially took office on Monday, Jan. 12, was selected by the PAISD Board of Trusta whirlwind of activity engaging Dr. Sharon Doughty in her first few days on the job as the district’s new superintendent.
Doughty, who officially took office on Monday, Jan. 12, was selected by the PAISD Board of Trustees from about 60 applicants for the superintendent’s job.
Six unlocked and unattended automobiles and pickup trucks were burglarized. The six vehicles included a 2000 Ford Explorer that contained a purse, a wallet, credit cards and a checkbook that were stolen during the rash of break-ins.
Items taken were a global positioning device from the Dodge and a black sweater.
The Port Aransas Boatmen Inc. formally endorsed a November closure of the commercial and recreational flounder season. The recommendation came after Texas Parks and Wildlife presented several scenarios of flounder season closings to help the species recover from a decline by half of its population since the 1980s.
The city began work to develop a comprehensive plan for the city’s gas department, purchased from private ownership more than 10 years ago. The city has an eye toward making the gas department a self-standing utility in Port Aransas.
City staff reported that most of the system is aging and needs to be replaced because it is inadequate for operations and capacity. The reason for a comprehensive plan is because of several bond projects for street replacement that are on the horizon. The plan is for the city to replace old gas lines when the streets are opened up for repair.
A proposal by Nueces County officials to create a countywide drainage taxing district drew sharp criticism from Port Aransas City Manager Michael Kovacs and prompted the city council to vote unanimously against the idea.
The Port Aransas City Council reduced a park dedication impact fee by 50 percent when it adopted the fee on final reading during its regular meeting on Thursday, Jan. 15.
Council had previously voted 4-3 to adopt a fee of $772 on second reading of an ordinance establishing the fee for new residential unit construction.
The final vote for a $386 fee means that existing residents will pay 72 percent of the cost for new park projects rather than 45 percent at the higher rate.
That means new development – or new residents – will bear 28 percent of the cost rather than the recommended 55 percent they would have had under the higher fee structure.
The red snapper’s popularity with both skilled and amateur fishermen over the years has caused a virtual shutdown of the local wintertime party boat and charter boat business because the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has for more than a decade been targeting an ever-shortening season for red snapper fishing in federal and state waters.
Area party and charter boat operators contend that a two-month red snapper fishing season in federal and now state waters will adversely affect the hospitality and tourism industry in Port Aransas.
Based on recommendations by the Gulf Council, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service in 2007 cut the bag limit for red snapper recreational fishing to two fish at a minimum length of 16 inches, and capped the fishing season in federal waters to a period from April 21 to Oct. 31.
The bag limit in 2006 had been four fish and a minimum length of 16 inches, with a prohibition of fish for the captain and crew of a head boat or a charter boat.
In 2008 the federal fishing season, at a point beyond 9.2 miles into the Gulf of Mexico, was trimmed to June 1 to Aug. 5.
The slowdown in the nation’s economy might have caused Winter Texans and other island visitors to count the change in their pocketbooks more carefully, but except for a dip in sales and hotel/motel tax revenue, the economic outlook for Port Aransas ranged from break-even to good.
City Councilman Mike Hall, co-owner of the Port Aransas Family Center-IGA, said people in town might be buying fewer steaks and more chicken and hamburger meat, but the outlook in the food retail business was good for 2009.
A series of Port Aransas High School English class assignments was bringing joy to a Coastal Bend soldier serving in Iraq.
The English I class, taught by Gary Mott, is exchanging letters with a U.S. Army Cpl. Clint Snider, who was serving as an infantryman near Mahmudiyah, about 20 miles southeast of Baghdad.
Snider is from Aransas Pass, but no one in the PAHS class knew him before Mott assigned them to write to him.
Port Aransas said farewell to one of its native residents in a funeral service on Sunday, Feb. 1.
Lillian Marie Ousley Stiewig died at home on Wednesday, Jan. 28.
Stiewig lived much of her life in Port Aransas. She was raised here, graduating from Aransas Pass High School 1955.
After living in various places with her Coast Guard husband, Foy, they returned to Port Aransas in 1977, and she then went to work at city hall, where she stayed for over 17 years as finance and purchasing clerk, retiring in 2000.
The Port Aransas Preservation and Historical Association board of directors voted to sign a contract with Rick Pratt to serve as director of the new Port Aransas Museum.
The board also elected officers: Nancy Phillips, president; Sharon Stricker, vice president; John Fucik, secretary; and Bruce Reynolds, treasurer.
Excess sand piled on the beach and a federal directive not to move it to the water line had city officials concerned about beach driving conditions during Spring Break.
The city was bulldozing piles of sand into low areas behind the dune lines on the beach since it had permission from the Texas General Land Office, but an attempt to push the excess sand down to the water line was thwarted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – the city sought a permit to move the sand, but it likely would not receive one until the summertime.
The seventh- and eighth-grade Marlin basketball teams sealed district championships with wins over their Falls City counterparts on Thursday, Feb. 5.
By the time the two-day 22nd annual Book Sale ended, 1,121 folks had bought hundreds of books at the sale – a fundraiser that brought in about $7,300 for the library, said Gail Swenson, director of the sale.
Mayor Claude Brown and members of the Port Aransas City Council held a special meeting to voice displeasure with the way the ferries had been operated by the Texas Department of Transportation.
The meeting occurred after it was reported that ferry boat operations across the Corpus Christi Ship Channel had dropped to as low as two boats in service, which extended wait times up to one hour on both the Port Aransas and the Harbor Island landings.
The weather forecast office in Corpus Christi added a new feature to its weather Web site. The Corpus Christi office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service tested marine point forecast and hourly weather graphs for coastal marine forecast zones.
To find the NOAA Corpus Christi home page, go to www.portasouthjetty. com and click on the “Weather Forecast” link that is on the navigation bar on the left side of the page.
Once there, click in the water zone on the map on that page, and another page loads the marine point forecast features.
These forecast Web pages use information from the National Digital Forecast Database to automatically generate forecast wording for the selected grid point and graphical icons.
Bonnie Mulloney, a active member of the Port Aransas Garden Club who was instrumental in the formation of what became Keep Port Aransas Beautiful, Inc., died at her home in Potomac Falls, Va. She was 89.
Port Aransan Betty Noble Turner was honored on Feb. 13, by the Corpus Christi chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Turner received the NSDAR Community Service Award for outstanding voluntary achievements in humanitarian, patriotic, historical and citizenship endeavors. Recipients of the award must be nominated, and then approved by the national NSDAR board.
The “Golden Oldies” celebrated its 10th anniversary of playing music at the Pollock Center with an anniversary party on Tuesday, Feb. 24.
A 70-year-old Winter Texan from Minnesota discovered 10 kilos of cocaine in a knapsack that was partially buried in the sand on San Jose Island, about a mile north of the Aransas Pass jetty on Monday, Feb. 23. The cocaine, estimated to have a street value between $600,000 and $1 million, was recovered by a U.S. Coast Guard Field Intelligence Support Team out of Corpus Christi.
After Coast Guard personnel tested the cocaine, the 10 kilos were remanded to the custody of the Port Aransas Police Department.
Port Aransas expected to soon receive $775,000 in federal funding for the Texas Department of Transportations’s Port Aransas ferry system and the city’s Charlie’s Pasture Nature Preserve project.
City Manager Michael Kovacs said legislation regarding a fiscal year 2009 installment of funds had come out of committee in draft format, and was presented to the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, Feb. 25. The money was earmarked to help TxDOT put a 28-car ferry boat out to bid.
The hours are 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.
The council vote to change the hours at the transfer station occurred after a 30-minute heated debate that at times escalated to several council members talking at once and debating the matter with former city councilman Bubba Jensen.
A survey was conducted over a twoweek period during December on the South Jetty Web site, and more than 150 residents responded. The final tally was 138 to 38, with the higher number in favor of reopening the site seven days a week.
Kathy Quade was promoted to the position of assistant director for administration at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute by Mary Ann Rankin, dean of the university’s College of Natural Sciences. Quade had been executive assistant to the institute’s director. She has been with the institute since 1976.
Southern Living magazine announced that its readership will be welcomed to Port Aransas.
The reason: One of only two Idea Houses sponsored by the magazine this year is in the Cinnamon Shore development in Port Aransas. Estimates by the magazine are that some 12 million people would see the house either in the magazine, in person or online.
Tours of the home were to be offered beginning June 6, with $2 of the $5 admission price going to the Port Aransas Education Foundation. Volunteers for the organization, which raises private money to fund programs, activities and equipment for Port Aransas Independent School District teachers and students, led the tours through Sept. 27.
Marlins coach Brian Flack said he decided to organize the competition, dubbed the Third Coast Baseball Tournament, because so many high school coaches around Texas have expressed interest in the idea of bringing their students to Mustang Island for a few days of baseball and maybe some beach time, too.
While many were talking about football possibly coming to Mustang Island in the not-too-distant future, it came as a surprise to many that the Port Aransas Independent School District once had a pigskin program.
Doyle Marek was one of the football coaches during that era. The program existed from the mid-1950s to about 1964, as best he can remember.
Port Aransas High School senior Ryan Phillips pitched a no-hitter – apparently, the first one in the 10-year history of the PAHS Marlins baseball program.
Phillips’ achievement came as part of a 3-2 Marlins victory over Kingsville Academy on Thursday, March 5.
Port Aransas City Manager Michael Kovacs said he and other city officials were optimistic about the financial health of Charter Communications, which provides television cable access and more recently high speed Internet service to the city’s residents. The company filed Chapter 11 bankrupcty in an effort to improve its financial structure.
Karen Collins, of Port Aransas, became one of the newest members of Clowns Who Care – about two dozen women who are members of the Auxiliary to Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi. The women dress like clowns and make regular visits to Driscoll to bring cheer to patients. “It’s my way to give back,” Collins said. “I’m looking at it as a ministry opportunity.”
The U.S. Army Recruiting Command in Corpus Christi set up a recruiting bivouac on the beach on Mustang Island during Spring Break in hopes of attracting college students to sign on with Uncle Sam.
A private contractor was commissioned by the recruiting command to set up an encampment on the beach off Newport Pass, and set up a rock-climbing wall, a simulated missile firing range, a Guitar Hero booth and many other attractions to expose the U.S. Army to potential recruits during Spring Break 2009.
In one night on the beach, Port Aransas police contended with a stabbing and a hit-and-run, with each incident hospitalizing a man, neither with life-threatening injuries.
The crimes occurred within the same three-hour period at Marker 19 On The Beach, but police had no other evidence the incidents were related, said Lt. Darryl Johnson of the Port Aransas Police Department.
A 65-year-old man was killed by lightning while he was walking on the beach in Port Aransas on Sunday, March 15.
The man was identified as Stan Grassel, a Ransom Canyon resident who was staying at Gulf Water RV Resort.
Some $300,000 for the Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture is part of the $410 billion omnibus bill recently signed into law by President Obama.
The money doesn’t target any specific work but will be used as part of Phase II in construction of the new preserve.
A rock-n-roll band whose members are throw-backs from the 50s and 60s will entertain crowds in January, February and March.
Mark Munson, a Winter Texan from Brainerd, Minn., put a call out in Febru- ary for fellow rockers from the era to join him in forming a band to entertain for fun – not money – next winter. The story in the South Jetty with the headline, “Wanna be a rock star?” drew four musicians.
Law enforcement officials in Port Isabel recovered a boat that was stolen March 14 from Dennis Dreyer Municipal Marina in Port Aransas.
The boat, Over the Limit, was found, undamaged and tied to a dock in Port Isabel, on Saturday, March 21. Valued at $42,000, the 31-foot vessel belongs to Ken Gillespie of Port Aransas.
An 8-year-old Port Aransas housecat named G Kitty was recovering after suffering a gunshot wound that nearly killed him, his owner said.
G Kitty, who got his name because he looks like the “Garfield” comic strip cat, was walking through his neighborhood when he was shot on the night of Monday, March 16, said his owner, Ivette Sullivan.
The person responsible for shooting the cat could be charged with animal cruelty, Animal Control Officer Jim Williams said.
Mayor Claude Brown, not only a man of the people, is also a man of machines, and he built a doozy.
He calls it the “Walkin’ Tall,” and it is 34 feet long and 14 ½ feet tall, to the top of the radar antenna.
It is an “off-road recovery vehicle,” capable of pulling 10 tons with each its front and back winches. He says it can pull just about anything out of anywhere.
He finished the vehicle just in time to cruise the beach during Spring Break. “If I had a dollar for every picture taken of it over Spring Break, I’d be a millionaire,” he said.
Port Aransas Animal Control Officer Jim Williams said he handled four cases of pit bull misbehavior at the beach during Spring Break.
A warming trend, relatively well-behaved crowds and a dash of not-so-ordinary visitors added up to what merchants and city officials say was a successful Spring Break in Port Aransas.
Most high schools and colleges observed Spring Break March 14-22, and a norther that blew into the Coastal Bend March 12 brought rain and temperatures in the 50s for the next few days. The beach was practically deserted during the bad weather. But, by Monday, March 16, temps had climbed into the 70s, and folks started pouring into town.
News of House Bill 911, a proposed revamping of windstorm insurance statutes, has frightened and angered many Port Aransans and thousands of other coastal Texas residents, but state Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, predicted that the bill would not become law.
The bill was authored by Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, chairman of the House Committee on Insurance.
Law enforcement authorities arrested Mickey Wayne Boswell in connection with the theft of a boat from Dennis Dreyer Municipal Marina in Port Aransas.
Cameron County sheriff’s deputies arrested Boswell in Port Isabel on Thursday, March 26, said Lt. Darryl Johnson of the Port Aransas Police Department.
Over the Limit, a 31-foot vessel belonging to Ken Gillespie of Port Aransas, disappeared from the marina in Port Aransas on the evening of March 14 or early the next morning.
The boat, valued at $42,000, was recovered in Port Isabel March 21.
Doug Box announced his retirement as director of the Port Aransas Department of Public Works. He began working as a public works consultant in Port Aransas in December 2007. He was hired as director of the department in April 2008. His last day on the job was scheduled for April 30.
With 28 grants awarded Friday, April 3, the Port Aransas Education Foundation had presented a total of $135,000 to Port Aransas Independent School District teachers and faculty in the last three years. The 28 grants amounted to $57,458.22, and ranged from $295 to $9,947.
Texas coastal officials on Tuesday, April 7, virtually stormed a committee hearing on bills that would impact windstorm insurance rates on the coast.
At the end of the day, all bills were left pending, and that would require vigilance, according to Port Aransas City Manager Michael Kovacs.
Bills introduced by State Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo would have made it next to impossible for coastal residents and businesses to buy windstorm insurance, a move opponents say would be the ruin of tourism and port industries along the Texas coast.
Hurricanes Ike, Katrina and Rita depleted funds in the Texas Catastrophic Windstorm Insurance pool, the insuror of last resort for coastal properties. Finding a means of restoring those funds was the challenge faced by the Legislature.
Port Aransas lost one of its staunchest supporters Monday, April 13, when William Joseph “Bill” Sheppard died in Corpus Christi after a brief illness.
In 1971, he founded Fisherman’s Wharf in Port Aransas, as the business grew, he added two new deep sea fishing boats, the Wharf Cat and the Scat Cat, that are still in service today. He also co-owned the Jetty Boat, which ferried passengers to St. Joseph Island. In 1993, he sold the business and retired.
Sheppard was a supporter of the Port Aransas business community, advocating the the promotion of tourism throughout the state. He also was a generous contributor to youth and civic causes.
Port Aransas school trustees appointed a six-member working group to investigate the possibility of starting football and volleyball programs in the schools.
The Lady Marlins golf team earned a berth at the regional tournament by virtue of a second place finish at district on Monday, April 13. Lady Marlins on the team were Kelsey Ortiz, Katie Voyles, Hannah Jones, Kelsey Abel and Emily Scott.
Port Aransas officially formed a council of the Knights of Columbus.
The Quo Vadis Council in Port Aransas is number 14739, with John Heinen of Port Aransas as Grand Knight.
Nine athletes earned the right to represent Port Aransas High School at the area track meet in Beeville.
Advancing out of district were Emily Scott, Marina Milligan, Kelsey Cartwright, Meredith Berry, Hannah Jones, Savanna Nixon, Kelsey Ortiz, alternate Katie Voyles and Ryan Phillips.
Cliff Strain of Port Aransas was one of five finalists statewide for the 2009 H-EB Excellence in Education Leadership Award at the elementary level.
The awards acknowledge the contributions of public school professionals whose leadership and dedication inspire a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities.
The Leadership Award recognizes teachers with 10 to 20 years of classroom experience. The winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize and a $10,000 grant for his or her school.
Strain has taught in the Flour Bluff Independent School District his entire 19-year career.
Bill Easum of Port Aransas finished first in the Pacific division of the 2008 World Billfish Series and fourth in the world in the year-long World Billfish Series Championship.
In early 2008, more than 30,000 anglers began qualifying for the WBS crown. Only 32 of those anglers made it to the WBS Championship held in December, in Los Suenos, Costa Rica. Five of them qualified to fish the final day of fishing. Easum was among them.
On the final day, each angler fished, one person per boat with three lines. Only non-offset circle hooks and Ballyhoo were allowed. At the end of the day, Easum finished fourth.
The Port Aransas Volunteer Fire Department put out a call for additional firefighters.
“We’re getting a little low on members, but in general, we’re getting older,” said Scott Mack, chief of the department.
Mack said the increasingly higher cost of living in Port Aransas has hurt the fire department’s ability to recruit. Higher rents mean more middle- and lowerincome folks moving away from town, and that means a smaller pool from which the PAVFD may draw new firefighters, Mack said.
H.G. Olsen Elementary School teacher Marilyn Cook was honored with a Teacher of Honor award by Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society in education. Cook was one of only four teachers in the United States to receive the Teacher of Honor award this year, according to Kappa Delta Pi.
Cook is a reading teacher and serves as the Port Aransas Independent School District’s dyslexia specialist.
The financial research firm of Standard & Poor’s raised the bond rating for the city of Port Aransas to double A minus, which was expected to save the city thousands of dollars in bond payments.
Standard and Poor’s ratings show how much of a risk a city is for bond investors. Higher ratings go to cities with healthier finances.
A fund drive was started to “Save Our Steeple” at Community Presbyterian Church.
Built as part of the original church in 1941, the 68-year-old bell tower fell victim to rot and was in need of replacement.
Port Aransas made a great showing at the Corpus Christi Big Game Club 2008 Awards Banquet on Saturday, April 25.
First place winners in every division were from Port Aransas. Most of them were on the Cherokee team.
The club, which homeports in Port Aransas, sponsors a series of tournaments runs all summer long, with points accumulated in each. Winners are those with the most points in each division.
Christie and Britt Barwise of Port Aransas, owners of the Cherokee, a 46- foot Bertram, with Capt. Tray Clark of Port Aransas, won four of the six divisions, including Club Champion team.
A man police suspected of faking his own death in Port Aransas waters could be forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars to the government for the costs of searching for him at the beach, a Coast Guard spokesman said.
A relative reported that Larry James Tate Jr., of Arkansas, disappeared in the surf while swimming near Beach Marker 61 on Sept. 22, police said.
The Coast Guard searched for Tate, a former Rockport resident, for about 24 hours, then called off the search because conditions were unlikely for survival after that amount of time.
Tate’s body never turned up. On Saturday, April 25, officials found out why.
That day, a police detective spotted Larry Tate at a Wal-Mart store in Fort Smith, Ark., said Lt. Darryl Johnson, of the Port Aransas Police Department.
A 52-year-old Arizona man was found dead on the beach in Port Aransas on Saturday, April 25, about two hours after he jumped from Horace Caldwell Pier, authorities said.
Nueces County Precinct 4 Constable Bobby Sherwood identified the man as James Singleton, of Sierra Vista, Ariz. Sherwood said Singleton was a drifter who had been visiting Port Aransas for about a month.
Singleton and two friends jumped off the pier at the same time – between 7:30 and 8 p.m., Sherwood said. Singleton’s body was found about 9:30 p.m. on the beach near Avenue G.
More than 400 people attended the Relay For Life event at Roberts Point Park on Friday and Saturday, April 24- 25, raising more than $61,000 for cancer research and surpassing organizers’ goal of $50,000, according to Lisa Shelton, event chair.
Relay For Life events are held nationwide to raise money and awareness of cancer. The events also honor those lost to cancer. Relays For Life also celebrate survival.
While no cases of swine flu had been confirmed in Nueces County as of Wednesday, April 29, authorities were testing 20 people, county-wide who had flu-like symptoms, according to the Corpus Christi-Nueces County Health District.
Dr. Bruce Russell, a family doctor who practices in Port Aransas, said he saw two patients that week who had the high fever, body aches and other symptoms common to any kind of flu. He said he did nasal swabs on the folks and sent the samples off to Austin to see if they test positive for the swine flu.
Meanwhile the University Interscholastic League cancelled all competitions until May 11 as a precautionary measure.
By late April, no confirmed cases of swine flu had been reported in Port Aransas, but that didn’t mean the disease wasn’t having impacts on Mustang Island.
Foggers filled Port Aransas classrooms with an aerosol disinfectant. Shoppers depleted grocery store shelves of surgical masks. And, while some Port Aransas merchants lost tourist business from customers wary of travel, the town also gained tourism from families that took quick vacations while their children’s schools were shut down due to swine flu concerns.
The luck of the draw did not fall on the side of Abby Kenigsberg and Charlotte Lucke, Port Aransas High School’s entry in the regional tennis tournament.
The draw put Kenigsberg and Lucke up against the Class 1-A tennis powerhouse, Mason, of which their coach, Piper Boies is an alumnus, in the second round of play.
Two Port Aransas teams were winners in the 13th annual Great Texas Birding Classic, a week-long birding competition that concluded Sunday, May 3, with an awards banquet in Corpus Christi.
The Laughing Gals, a team sponsored by the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce Tourist Bureau, was runner-up in the Glider division of the Big Sit. Gliders are birders ages 14 to 18. The Spoonbills, an adult team also sponsored by the Port Aransas tourist bureau, took second place with 102 species.
Texas General Land Office (GLO) Deputy Commissioner Jodenna Henneke, at a Sargassum symposium at The University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute on Wednesday, April 29, said it would be cheaper and easier to educate beachgoers to accept Sargassum instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars scraping it off the beaches and depositing it behind the dune line to get it out of sight.
Bess Mitchell of Port Aransas, earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Missouri at Columbia in 1959, and in April she was inducted into the school’s Gold Medal Society in recognition of her years of experience in the print media.
Incumbents held off challengers in races for school board and city council in balloting on Saturday, May 9.
Charles Bujan in Place 3 talled 373 votes, and Rick Pratt in Place 5 garnered 426 votes. Both were unopposed.
Place 1 incumbent on the school board, Margaret Price, defeated challenger Christina Brundrett-Milligan, 349 to 227.
Ann Appling, unopposed for Place 7, received 420 votes.
The Marlin baseball team earned a berth in the play-offs with an 8-2 win over Runge on Monday, May 11.
The Port Aransas High School girls’ golf team took seventh place in the state tournament held in Austin on Monday and Tuesday, May 11-12. . It was the first time PAHS ever had sent a golf team to state competition.
“I’m extremely pleased with how we played, especially the second day,” said Steve Reaves, coach of the PAHS team.
The city of Port Aransas hired an interim public works director: Tom Ginter, former city manager of Aransas Pass.
The new business manager at the Port Aransas Independent School District is a familiar face. a two-year absence. She is replacing Brian Schuss, who replaced her in August 2007.
Schuss will become assistant superintendent for business management in the Flour Bluff Independent School District in Corpus Christi.
The baseball season came to an end for Port Aransas High School’s Marlins on Saturday, May 16.
The Marlins were dealt a play-off loss by Kingsville Academy in the second game of the series.
The Marlins came within one point of a win on Friday, May 15, at Aviator Field in Robstown with a 5-6 loss to Academy. The gap spread to 6-13 in Saturday’s finale in Sinton.
Matt Coffen pubished a children’s book inspired by his experiences as a kid growing up in Port Aransas.
The book, titled “Time Well Spent,” was published by Tate Publishing of Mustang, Okla.
“I basically kind of wrote it as a tribute to my father for all the times he took me fishing,” said Matt, the son of Larry and Ann Coffen of Port Aransas.
Five first places, one second place and four third places netted the Sweepstakes award for the South Jetty in the Texas Gulf Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest.
Awards were presented Saturday, May 16, in Copperas Cove during the association’s 71st annual convention.
First places were won for display advertising, feature writing, feature photos, news photos and editorial writing.
Second place was won for serious columns, and third places were won for humorous columns, sports photos, news writing and headline writing.
A fence cutting off vehicular traffic was installed at the Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture.
The 1,217-acre chunk of city-owned land will, when complete, feature a system of trails, boardwalks, observation towers and other features that will allow visitors to enjoy the area’s natural beauty.
The low fence installed across a dirt road that extends from Port Street through the nature preserve along the Corpus Christi Ship Channel blocks what was one of several traditional access points to the acreage where Port Aransans for generations have gone to illegally hunt, dump refuse, ride dirt-bike motorcycles and hold open-air parties that often included under-age drinking.
Port Aransas High School awarded diplomas to 38 seniors during commencement exercises on Friday, May 29.
At the top of the class were valedictorian David Thrasher and salutatorian David Gregory Anderson.
The Port Aransas City Council voted 5-1 on Thursday, May 21, to table an ordinance aimed at reducing glare from outdoor lighting in town. However, the ordinance was expected to come up again for third reading at the council’s June 18 meeting.
Even if the council voted down the proposed ordinance then, the panel likely would end up looking at the lighting question again.
Chapter 25 of the town’s zoning code, which generally addresses how people can use their property, was being updated by city staff, and that part of the code includes the subject of outdoor lighting.
By most accounts, the Memorial Day holiday weekend was a blockbuster.
Memorial Day is typically seen as a forecast for the summer to come, so based on the holiday weekend, the business community is looking forward to a profitable season.
A veteran of more than three decades of Memorial Day holidays, Mike Hall was all smiles.
The Port Aransas City Council, at its May meeting, was scheduled to consider a second reading of a revised noise ordinance that would have imposed new restrictions to keep loud music from bothering residents living near nightclubs.
But, when Councilman Charles Bujan made a motion that the council hold a vote for a second reading of the ordinance (it takes three readings to become law), the motion died for lack of a second.
That meant that, for all practical purposes, the ordinance was dead, according to Port Aransas City Manager Michael Kovacs.
Controversy over a new head shop on Cut-off Road led to more heated commentary on the issue of substance abuse among minors in Port Aransas.
A verbal sparring match between Port Aransas High School Principal Travis Longanecker and Mayor Claude Brown at a city council meeting led to a declaration by Longanecker that PAHS soon would fundamentally change how it handles matters involving student alcohol use allegations.
While no cases of swine flu were reported in Port Aransas, it took a toll on the Port Aransas High School Lady Marlin track team at the regional meet in Huntsville.
A double-date with the state golf tournament for some team members also impacted the results.
“With all of the distractions leading up to it -- swine flu, state golf, etc. -- we missed a lot of practices and weren’t very sharp for the meet,” said Coach Steve Reaves.
A police officer would attend all future Port Aransas City Council meetings, the council decided on Thursday, May 21.
The council voted 6-0 to begin stationing an officer in council chambers. Councilman Keith Donley was absent.
The vote came with no public discussion of the matter. The discussion was held in a session that was closed to the public.
Mayor Claude Brown said no incidents or threats prompted the council’s move. He said the decision was made “just because of today’s times, the things that go on in today’s society.” He wouldn’t be more specific.
Port Aransas High School students Ryan Phillips and Hannah Jones were named Athletes of the Year, and Joseph Shrier and Abby Kenigsberg were selected as recipients of the Millie Wise Sportsmanship Award during the annual Marlin Athletic Booster Club’s annual banquet.
A computer science team from Port Aransas High School scored first place in state UIL competition for Class 1A schools. One team member, Kasey Reed, took first place, individually, in the competition.
Besides Reed, a junior, PAHS team members were sophomore Clark Wilson who took fourth, individually; senior Greg Anderson, who came in fifth; and junior John Eggleston, who tied for seventh.
The Legislature passed a bill that’s expected to pump thousands more dollars into routine beach cleanup and maintenance for Port Aransas.
House Bill 2276, sponsored by State Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, was passed by the House and then cleared the Senate. The bill was written to allow Port Aransas to collect a rebate on some of the hotel-motel tax revenue that currently goes to the state. That amount has been estimated to be $334,000 per year.
A proposed new lighting ordinance suffered an abrupt power loss.
The Port Aransas City Council voted 5-1 on Thursday, May 21, to table an ordinance aimed at reducing glare from outdoor lighting in town. The move came after Councilman Mike Hall raised concerns that the ordinance could cost small business owners too much money.
The ordinance was expected to come up again for third reading at the council’s June 18 meeting. Before that, city staff was to develop some alternative language that the council could use as an option for including some city facilities in the ordinance, according to City Manager Michael Kovacs.
The Legislature moved to supply $700,000 for the project to construct a headquarters building in Port Aransas for the Mission Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR).
The funding was part of the final 2010- 2011 budget approved by the Legislature on May 28. The $700,000 provides the state match for $9.5 million in federal funding for the NERR headquarters.
The headquarters will lie in a threestory structure to be built in a lot on the south side of the University of Texas Marine Science Institute complex.
Port Aransas rated high as a weekend destination getaway for folks in the Alamo City. The proof was in the Silver designation awarded to Port Aransas in the San Antonio Express-News Readers’ Choice Awards announced in the Friday, May 29, edition.
The Gold award went to Fredericksburg, a 45-minute jaunt from San Antonio, and the Bronze went to Corpus Christi.
Port Aransas police arrested a Rockport woman for allegedly helping her brother fake his own drowning on a Mustang Island beach.
Police arrested Katherine Tate, 34, on Friday, May 29, said Port Aransas Police Lt. Darryl Johnson.
Tate was accused of lying to police that her brother, Larry James Tate Jr., disappeared while swimming in the surf off Port Aransas on Sept. 22.
Port Aransas officials and residents breathed a big sigh of relief when a windstorm insurance bill that had been stripped of punitive measures that once threatened coastal residents was approved by the Legislature.
The Legislature was challenged with creating legislation that would provide
residents a mechanism for replenishing the Texas
Windstorm Insurance pool that was depleted by Hurricane Ike last year.
A compromise on the bill was reached Sunday, May 31, one day before the state Legislature adjourned and the day before hurricane season started.
Preliminary estimates showed the Port Aransas tax base dropped about $8 million over the past year, and that will mean the city will have to find ways to deal with a shortfall in revenue, City Manager Michael Kovacs said.
The Nueces County Appraisal District informed the city that projections showed the city would have an estimated tax base of about $1,376,491,698, said Darla Honea, city finance. That’s about $8.2 million less than last year’s base.
Kovacs said, “our primary focus will be making no noticeable service cuts. … We want to focus on things we can do better internally.”
Carrobelle “Pudge” Goodwin Roberts of Port Aransas died Saturday, June 6. A resident since 1954, she and her husband, Johnny Roberts, owned and operated a variety of businesses, including Custard’s Last Stand, Beachway Rentals and others. They were both members of the Port Aransas Civic Club, a precursor of today’s civic organizations.
Engineers were surveying the rocky revetment along the shore at the Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture because city officials were concerned that it is slumping and in need of repair.
Portions of the revetment were being undercut by erosion, and sections of rock were shifting away from shore, said Dave Parsons, the planning and projects director for the city.
Thirty to 40 percent of an 800-foot section of the revetment was slumping downward, exposing black sheets of fabric that normally are an underlying part of the structure, he said.
Bob Byrd’s 11-year career with the Port Aransas Independent School District came to an end with his resignation on Wednesday, June 10.
After a closed session, the board returned to open session to unanimously approve a resignation/release agreement with the Brundrett Middle School principal.
Byrd received a lump sum payment of $17,137.29, which is his salary for 75 days of what would have been his 215- day contract for 2009-10, minus payroll deductions, according to Superintendent Sharon Doughty.
The principal at the middle school for the past three years, Byrd taught government, economics, world history (advanced placement world history as well), English and other subjects at Port Aransas High School.
The idea of adding football and volleyball to the extra-curricular activities offered by the Port Aransas Independent School District was put on the backburner after school trustees heard a report Wednesday, June 10, from a committee charged with providing information on what it would take to add the sports.
Tonya May, a committee member who spearheaded the effort to add the sports, told trustees the committee had done all it could toward providing information about costs and staffing for both programs, and that further research, and a decision, would be up to the superintendent and the board.Prior to May’s report, the board heard from two citizen proponents for adding the programs, and six who were opposed.
In the end, no action was taken, but trustees agreed to continue looking into the possibility of adding both sports.
George Leon Barnes of Port Aransas died Saturday, June 13, 2009. He was 60.
Barnes was well known to anyone who ever went to the Port Aransas post office, where he worked after retiring from the U.S. Army after 22 years of service. He served in Vietnam and was a recipient of the Purple Heart. Barnes grew up in California, Japan and, in the seventh grade, moved to the Flour Bluff area of Corpus Christi where he graduated from high school. After retiring from the Army in 1989, he and his family moved to Port Aransas and he started working at the post office.
An angry Port Aransas Mayor Claude Brown loudly accused city council member Glenda Balentine of personal attacks during a council meeting on Thursday, June 18.
Brown’s remarks came after Balentine told the mayor he was “out of line” with his comments about what he called a “lax” goals meeting for the council.
Brown raised his voice and pointed his forefinger at Balentine, who sat next to him.
“I’m sick of your personal attacks towards me, I’ll tell you that right now,” Brown said.
Later, asked what personal attacks he was referring to, Brown said, “I don’t want to keep throwing fuel on the fire. I want it to settle down. I want this to be a productive council.”
Interviewed after the meeting, Balentine said she had not made personal attacks on Brown.
“We (council members) have our opinions, and we’re supposed to deliver those opinions,” Balentine said. “But, apparently, if you have a different opinion than the mayor’s, no matter how civilly you deliver it, it’s considered a personal attack.”
The city enacted a hiring freeze to contend with a shortfall of about $360,000 in revenue for the next budget year, according to City Manager Michael Kovacs.
The freeze would not affect certified police or dispatchers, EMS, firefighters or lifeguards, because those are considered to be critical services, Kovacs said.
The Port Aransas City Council passed a new ordinance expanding the areas of town where glare from outdoor lighting is prohibited.
The council approved a third reading of the ordinance, 6-1, with Councilman Mike Hall voting against it.
Hall said he favored the concept of keeping lights low, but that the ordinance was a “band-aid” approach to a complex issue. He said it was “not well-thoughtthrough” and that it could result in subjective enforcement that might unfairly cost some people a lot of money.
The city council decided to give part of Cotter Avenue an additional name: Jerry McDonald Memorial Avenue.
The move came at the request of Councilman Charles Bujan, to honor the memory of McDonald, the only Port Aransan to die in the Vietnam War.
Kevin Sikes, an incoming senior at Port Aransas High School, was selected by the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association to the first team, All-State Team for third base.
In being named to the Åll-State team, Sikes made history by becoming the first Port Aransas High School baseball player to make All-State.
City Attorney Mike Morris began an investigation into whether Mayor Claude C. Brown had been delinquent in paying property taxes and whether it would mean a violation of the city charter that could lead to Brown’s removal from office by the city council.
Brown, who had not been charged with wrongdoing, said he never has been delinquent and that he would fight any attempt that might develop to remove him from office. He also questioned the motives of the Nueces County Appraisal District, which had told him he had to pay more taxes than he expected on Port Aransas properties in which he has ownership or interests.
Staffing levels were adequate, but keeping a young, fully-staffed corps of volunteers on hand remained a concern for the Port Aransas Volunteer Fire Department.
The problem, according to PAVFD Chief Scott Mack, is that the pool of possible recruits continues to shrink as Mustang Island’s cost of living continues to rise, and folks who don’t make a lot of money keep moving away.
Mack and Port Aransas City Manager Michael Kovacs were taking steps to avoid manpower problems and deal with other firefighting issues in the future. The two were to compile a report designed to help guide the city on matters involving the fire department over the next few years.
Tom Lambertson, 82, died Tuesday, June 23, 2009, in San Antonio. He was a long-time resident of Port Aransas and was Boatman of the Year in 1990.
The Port Aransas trolley began running on a new schedule on June 29.
The new schedule made the trolley’s loop around town 45 minutes long, according to Port Aransas City Manager Michael Kovacs. It previously was an hour long
A puppy died at the Port Aransas Animal Shelter, possibly from the heat. City officials said they had improved conditions at the shelter since then, and they were working on the possibility of installing air conditioning.
A stray female dog and her puppies were impounded a few weeks ago, according to Port Aransas Police Chief Scott Burroughs, whose department oversees the shelter.
The building is not air-conditioned, except for a small office, Burroughs said. The outdoor kennels were not as hot as the inside of the building during the summer, he said.
Before the puppy’s death, Burroughs said he put a recommendation to add air conditioning to the shelter in his part of the budget that will be considered by the city council this summer.
The Independence Day holiday weekend was like Christmas in July.
There were few, if any, rooms left to rent, restaurants turned tables at a fast clip, goods were flying off the shelves of the grocery and convenience stores, folks filled fishing and sight-seeing boats and yet police, emergency medical personnel and firefighters had a comparatively quiet weekend.
The Texas House of Representatives passed a resolution honoring Scott Holt for achievements he made during his career with the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas.
A fisheries biologist, Holt retired from the institute May 1 and serves as a UTMSI research fellow.
The city’s code enforcement director, Joe Lamb, began driving around town at night to find violators of city lighting ordinances. People found in violation will be given some days – maybe 10, maybe 30, Lamb said – to correct the glare. After that, the city could take property owners to municipal court. Lamb was enforcing two lighting ordinances. One was passed in 2002, affecting an area known as the CZ2 Overlay, a business district. The other was passed in June, affecting the rest of town.
Gina McKeever was unanimously approved as the new principal at Brundrett Middle School on Wednesday, July 8.
Superintendent Dr. Sharon Doughty said McKeever was her top choice among seven applicants, three from within the district (including McKeever) and four from outside the district.
McKeever replaced Bob Byrd who resigned in an agreement with Port Aransas ISD trustees in June.
McKeever taught pre-kindergarten last year, and fourth grade for the seven years prior to that, all at H.G. Olsen Elementary.
South Jetty reporter Dan Parker won two awards in the National Newspaper Association’s 2009 Better Newspaper Contest.
Parker’s story about pre-game preparations in the Marlin and Lady Marlin locker rooms earned him first place for Best Sports Feature Story or Series in the non-daily division for newspapers with circulation between 3,000 and 5,999.
A story about former Port Aransas High School academic and athletic standout Christie Campbell losing her battle with cancer earned Parker second place for Best Obituary, non-daily division, circulation less than 6,000.
The Port Aransas Education Foundation was awarded a $5,000 grant to expand educational opportunities, foster creativity, and enhance academic excellence in the Port Aransas Independent School District by the CenturyTel Clarke M. Williams Charitable Foundation on Thursday, July 9.
Twelve members of the Port Aransas Swim Team qualified for the state games in San Antonio.
Lady Meek, Hailey Clark, Maddie Garlough, Allison Hille, Ryan Brown, Forrest Garlough, Logan Kreutziger, Cas Ward, Zach Brown, Elliott Morris, Jenna Ward and James Berry all placed either first or second in regional events to qualify for state competition.
PAST entered 24 swimmers in the Region 16 Texas Amateur Athletic Federation Championship swim meet held in the Corpus Christi Natatorium.
History may have been made Saturday night, July 11, when the Offshore Grand Champion of the 74th Deep Sea Roundup slept with her parents.
Eight-year-old Kendall Owens of Port Aransas went to bed thinking she had the first place red snapper and ling in the junior division of the tournament.
Little did she know that she would make history the next day when she elected to be late arriving at summer camp in order to accept her junior division trophies.
Kendall accepted her trophies, and her mother was about to whisk her away to camp when she got word that they should probably stick around.
To her surprise, Kendall was called back seven times.
When Kendall’s name was called as Top Woman Angler, the youngest ever at the Deep Sea Roundup, “her feet didn’t touch the floor. She floated to the stage,” her mother, Beth Owens, said.
“And when they announced, ‘The Offshore Grand Champion is Kendall Owens,’ the crowd went crazy,” Beth Owens said.
Besides yielding the tournament’s youngest Offshore Grand Champion, the Roundup was a tournament of records and superlatives.
A 111.4-pound amberjack, caught by Dale Rocarek of Leander aboard the Iced Down, set a new tournament record. The fish was 58.9 inches long. The Gunslinger, out of Port Aransas, brought in the billfisherman’s holy grail, a grand slam, with a blue marlin, two sailfish and a white marlin, to win the billfish championship.
According to tournament judge Scott Holt, “This year’s Roundup was one of the best billfish catches in many years.”
Kenny Thompson of Aransas Pass earned honors as the Bay/Surf Grand Champion.
A stalwart of the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce-Tourist Bureau since moving to Port Aransas in 1992, Sam Lesley Poteet Jr., 72, died Sunday, July 12, 2009, after a short illness.
Poteet was managing partner of CCMS (Condominium Consulting and Management Services), which was established in 1984 on North Padre Island in Corpus Christi.
Poteet and his wife, Charlene, moved to Port Aransas in 1992, and in 1995, the business relocated to Port Aransas. In 1997, the Poteets, with their business partners, built Alister Square Inn. In 2000 they built Alister Inn South (which has been sold and renamed Mariners Inn and Suites).
Poteet was past president of the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce-Tourist Bureau and a long-time member of its marketing committee. He also served on the Corpus Christi Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and was a member of the Texas Hotel Lodging Association, American Hotel Lodging Association, Texas Travel Industry Association and Coastal Bend Regional Tourism Council.
A group of Port Aransans formed an organization to help make conditions more comfortable for animals at the city’s animal shelter.
The group, which calls itself Friends of the Animal Shelter, was formed after the June 23 death of a puppy at the shelter, possibly due to heat.
The group’s first mission will be to get a carport-like shade structure built over the outdoor pens, organizer JoAnnPage said.
Two men were arrested in connection with severe injuries inflicted on a 22- year-old Arlington man who had been camping at I.B. Magee Beach Park.
Shawn Bajerski, 27, of Port Aransas, was arrested on Friday, July 17, and charged with aggravated assault, a second degree felony, police said.
Cory Wallace, 21, of San Antonio, was arrested on Wednesday, July 15, on a charge of intoxication assault, a thirddegree felony, according to police.
The victim was Kristopher Allen, who was in critical condition as of Tuesday, July 21, police said.
Port Aransas was named runner-up in the small coastal city category for the “Birdiest City” title.
With 185 species counted, Port Aransas came in second to Dauphin Island, Alabama, which recorded 189 species.
The nationwide contest, coordinated by the San Diego Audubon Society, each year determines the best cities by size for birding after hundreds of avid birders from around the country count the number of species seen from April 1 – May 31.
The Stopher Burger served at the Port Aransas Brewing Company made Texas Monthly magazine’s 50 Best Hamburgers in Texas list.
A team of 31 eaters scoured the state in their quest for the best 50 hamburgers in the state.
The Stopher Burger made No. 44 on the list.
The Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce Tourist Bureau, in concert with its advertising agency, Morehead, Dotts & Associates, entered and won three categories of the Zenith Marketing Awards.
Awards were won for Best Event Program, Best Promotional Brochure and Best Printed Materials for materials produced for the 13th Annual Celebration of Whooping Cranes and Other Birds.
The cover of Southern Living’s August edition featured the dining area of the Idea House at Cinnamon Shore in Port Aransas.
City Council members took no action against Mayor Claude Brown at a meeting July 16 after hearing a report that it was not clear whether the mayor could be considered delinquent in paying his property taxes.
The report came from City Attorney Michael Morris, who conducted an investigation on whether Brown had been delinquent and whether it could constitute a violation of the city charter that could give the council grounds for removing him from office.
Brown consistently denied being delinquent on his taxes, but admitted he was wrong about how he handled taxes on a piece of property where his now-deceased parents once lived, but he said it was an innocent mistake.
Reports that Mayor Claude Brown made threatening statements against public officials were taken so seriously by top city officials that Police Chief Scott Burroughs considered launching a criminal investigation, according to an internal city hall memo obtained by the South Jetty.
Burroughs wrote in the memo that he found evidence that at least three city employees heard Brown, who was having tax problems, angrily state that he was going to kill everyone at the Nueces County Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office and others.
The allegations against Brown became public when City Councilman Keith Donley posed a question to the mayor during a discussion of his taxes at a council meeting on Thursday, July 16.
“Did you threaten to kill everybody in the tax appraisal office?” Donley asked Brown.
“No,” Brown responded. “God, no.”
After Donley and Councilman Rick Pratt pressed Brown on the matter, Brown said an offhand comment he had made during a conversation at a Port Aransas restaurant had been twisted and blown out of proportion.
But City Manager Michael Kovacs said he heard Brown say something different, at a different location. Kovacs said he and Brown were talking during a break in a goals workshop June 16 when the mayor started complaining about his tax situation. He was angry at the county appraisal district and the Nueces County Tax Assessor-Collector.
“He said, ‘I’m going to go over there and kill them all. I’ll start at the bottom, so no one will get out,” Kovacs said.
The memo quoted Kovacs as telling Burroughs that Brown also said “he was going to kill all of the drug dealers, drunks and sons of bitches in Port Aransas,” or words to that effect.”
Burroughs said no criminal investigation was launched because “There are certain elements (that must be present) to have a criminal charge, and we were trying to decide if those elements were present, and there is no evidence there were.”
Brown and Kovacs are licensed to carry concealed handguns, but they stopped carrying their weapons into city council meetings after hearing that council members were uncomfortable with the practice, they said.
News of the guns came to light while the property tax controversy swirled around Brown.
Brown denied making threats and said his remarks were taken out of context and blown out of proportion. He was not charged with any legal wrongdoing.
After a closed session in May, the council had voted 6-0, without discussion, to begin stationing a police officer at all future council meetings.
At the time, Brown said the decision was made “just because of today’s times, the things that go on in today’s society.”
Rumors suggested that the session was held to address the subject of Brown carrying a concealed handgun into council meetings. The rumors couldn’t be substantiated until Brown and Councilman Rick Pratt confirmed them in interviews with the South Jetty in mid-July.
Brown said he had carried a handgun to many prior meetings. As of May, he stopped, he said.
Brown said the law allows concealedcarry permit holders to carry guns into council meetings if there is no posted sign on the premises warning them against it and if no one in authority has ordered them not to do it.
Kovacs said he stopped carrying the gun based on advice from City Attorney Mike Morris.
On May 7, Kovacs wrote an e-mail about guns at council meetings and sent it to Brown, Morris, all five council members and a few city employees.
Voluntary water conservation measures were in the forecast for late August or early September if hot and dry, sometimes windy, conditions continued.
Port Aransas buys most of its water from the City of Corpus Christi, so when that city dictates conservation, whether voluntary or mandatory, Port Aransas follows suit, according to Mark Young, manager of the Nueces County Water Control and Improvement District No. 4, which manages the Port Aransas water supply.
Reservoirs at Choke Canyon Reservoir and Lake Corpus Christi were at 62.9 percent of combined capacity as of Tuesday, July 21.
When capacity drops to 50 percent, which was expected by late August or early September unless significant rainfall occurs, voluntary water conservation would be expected of the public, and municipal operations would be required to observe mandatory conservation measures.
A two-year study to determine the environmental and economic feasibility of a wind farm to produce electricity off the coast of Port Aransas was to be launched as a result of a 30-year lease approved by the Texas General Land Office.
Houston-based Baryonyx Corporation was awarded the bid for the offshore tracts of state-owned submerged land. According to GLO press secretary Jim Suydam, what is called the Mustang Island tract is about seven to 10 miles offshore, just south of the southern city limits of Port Aransas.
The feasibility studies will “take at least two years, during which time we will perform assessments of wind farm interaction with, among others, migrating bird and bat populations,” said Peter Sills, director of corporate communications for Baryonyx.
Sills said other assessments would be conducted on visual impacts, sociological impacts on such issues as employment creation and impacts on existing employment.
A new state law allows police to arrest people for refusing to obey a hurricane evacuation order, but Port Aransas city officials said police on Mustang Island won’t go door-to-door, taking into custody all of the residents who refuse to leave.
Police Chief Scott Burroughs said police don’t have enough resources to do that.
On July 14, Texas Department of Transportation officials announced that a $7.2 million federal grant – stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – would fund the purchase of one new ferry.
The transportation department already had set money aside for purchase of a new ferry even before the grant came. On Tuesday, July 28, TxDOT spokeswoman Frances Garza said her department had decided that it would use the previously earmarked money to buy a second new ferry.
Nueces County commissioners approved $300,000 in federal aid related to damage caused by Hurricane Ike. The hurricane struck the upper Texas coast Sept. 13, 2008, but caused some coastal flooding farther south, including in Port Aransas.
The commissioners court approved the money for Port Aransas on July 22. That was in addition to $57,000 in federal Ike relief that commissioners earlier approved for Port Aransas.
Shovel-wielding workers were cleaning up tar balls that drifted onto Port Aransas beaches.
On Wednesday, July 29, relatively little of the tar ball influx had hit Port Aransas beaches.
Clean-up, statewide, was not expected to last more than a few days, according to a news release issued by the Texas General Land Office.
City staff was planning to sell old cars, stop renting so much storage space and reduce consultant expenditures to help contend with an expected revenue shortfall in next year’s budget.
These cost-cutting moves were in addition to plans to do away with two employee positions, freeze pay increases and make other money-saving moves as the city worked to hammer out a leaner budget for the next year.
The city was making a variety of cuts to contend with a shortfall projected due to lower revenue from building permits, a flat tax base and lower sales tax revenue.
Armed with search warrants, police on Saturday, Aug. 8, seized about three-quarters of the merchandise at a shop called Happy Days and hauled it away. The business, at Cotter Avenue and Cut-off Road, allegedly was selling drug paraphernalia and “obscene devices.”.
The shop’s owner, Yehoram “Ronny” Maymon, declined comment. No one has been arrested, said Police Chief Scott Burroughs.
Keeping in touch is a priority at Port Aransas High School, so Principal Travis Longanecker announced plans to include one-way communication via Twitter this year.
Port Aransas ISD let it be known the district is serious about attendance.
Kids who do not make a habit of attending school regularly put the district in jeopardy of losing funding that is based on attendance. Students who miss school must bring a note signed by the parent telling the reason for the absence. Notes signed by students, even with the parent’s permission, will not be accepted unless the student is 18 or older.
Only seven excused absences will be accepted from parents. In the past, no limit was placed on excused absences.
After seven absences, only medical/ dental or school nurse notes will be accepted for any absence to be considered excused.
A 19-year-old Richland Hills man was arrested after his car plunged off the south jetty, into the Aransas Pass, and he allegedly lied to police about what happened.
Ruben Trevino was booked on Class B misdemeanor charges of making a false report and leaving the scene of an accident, according to Nueces County Precinct 4 Constable Bobby Sherwood.
Trevino suffered no visible injuries. His passenger, Chris Portiles, also 19 and of Richland Hills, had some scrapes on his legs from climbing up barnaclestudded jetty rocks.
Ashley Hawes of Port Aransas was awarded the Girl Scout Gold Award by the Girl Scouts of Greater South Texas Council. This is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn and is earned by only about 5 percent of all Girl Scouts.
A new state law scheduled to go into effect on Sept. 1 would allow the state to issue license plates and registrations for golf carts, effectively banning the vehicles from many if not all public roadways, according to Police Chief Scott Burroughs.
But the legislation allows cities to license golf carts to travel on city streets, and Port Aransas city officials were working on the possibility of creating an ordinance that would do just that, Burroughs said.
Three men were rescued and taken to Port Aransas by Coast Guard personnel on Aug. 3, after surviving for eight days on a capsized boat, miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.
The men departed on July 22 from Matagorda, according to the Coast Guard. Their rescue by a passing boater after surviving long, blistering days with little food and no shelter, attracted national media attention, with stories appearing on CNN and in the Washington Post, among other news organizations.
They were rescued by Kingsville resident Eddie Yaklin and the crew of his 58-foot sport fishing boat, Afordable Fantasy
Meagan Callaway, 18, of Port Aransas took third place in the women’s long board division at the Surfing American U.S. Championships, held Aug. 24-30 in Huntington Beach, Calif.
Brittany Tupaj, who lived in Port Aransas from the ages of 9 to 21, took fourth place in the women’s short board division.
The oldest living Port Aransas native, Viola Mildred Thompson Bujan, 97, died Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009.
Bujan was born May 6, 1912 in Port Aransas. In 1914, her family moved to the Fort Worth area, returning to Port Aransas in 1924.
She was married to Charlie Bujan from 1930 until his death in 1970.
They leased a parcel of land near the ship channel to raise cattle. That parcel is now known as the Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture.
She was a founding member of the Community Presbyterian Church, where she taught Sunday School. She was presented with a certificate for 50 years of service to the church.
In February, 1995, Bujan was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award during the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce – Tourist Bureau Banquet.
An urn containing a man’s cremated remains was recovered after being stolen from a pickup truck in a Port Aransas parking lot.
The urn contained the ashes of Bob Parnell, a 71-year-old Tennessee resident who loved fishing in Port Aransas and visited the town many times over the last 25 years. He died on July 1.
Parnell’s daughter, Patty Revis, of Haslet, neart Forth Worth, drove to Port Aransas with her husband, Jim, to spread Parnell’s ashes in the Gulf of Mexico. But, before they could do it, someone broke into their truck and stole a number of the couple’s possessions, including the urn.
The burglary took place in the parking lot of the condominium just south of the Port Aransas city limits. On Sept. 5, the Revises, who still were in Port Aransas, got a call from the Corpus Christi Police Department officer who said someone had brought the still-sealed urn to the police department.
A Port Aransas vessel was one of seven Texas Gulf coast charter boats targeted in a recently revealed government sting operation that resulted in charges against owners and operators for allegedly operating without proper permits.
The investigation was conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
The Port Aransas boat was the Backlash, a 35-foot Bertram owned by Ron Melvin of Austin. Melvin was charged with running charters without a reef fish charter permit or a federal pelagic charter permit, said Charles Tyer, a NOAA agent who led the investigation.
Violations for allegations mean fines totaling $18,900, Tyer said.
Melvin said he made honest attempts to obtain the right kinds of permits and didn’t realize he may have been operating outside regulations.
Army explosives experts said an object that appeared to be a floating mine discovered on the beach on San Jose Island Sept. 6 actually was a dummy device used for training, according to Nancy Bourget, a Fort Hood spokeswoman. It never was equipped to explode and posed no risk, Bourget said.
Brazos Helicopters owner Mike Birdsell was flying a chopper over San Jose Island when he noticed the big hunk of metal floating in the surf several miles north of the north jetty Sunday, according to Port Aransas Mayor Claude Brown, a friend of Birdsell’s.
Two familiar faces from the U.S. Post Office in Port Aransas became a little less familiar this year when Sandy Allen and Joe Torres retired.
Allen’s last day at work was Sept. 16 after nearly 29 years on the job.
Torres planned to retire on Jan. 2. With 14 years under his belt, he hasn’t been at the post office as long as Allen, but he was the first postal carrier the Port Aransas post office ever had. The service was established a few months after Torres arrived in 1995.
The sun shone brightly – literally and figuratively – on Port Aransas during the summer of 2009.
A survey of several businesses about business activity during the summer in general, the Labor Day holiday specifi- cally and the fall season to come found all interviewed happy with the summer and the final holiday, and with optimism for the fall.
The consensus in the business community was that Port Aransas benefited from the economic downturn because vacationers stayed close to home and that a summer full of sunshine turned profits here.
Retailers repeated superlatives, from “fantastic,” to “fabulous,” and “excellent,” on Sept. 8 after the Labor Day holiday ended.
Workers on Sept. 11 were wrapping up construction of a new shade structure over the outdoor kennels at the Port Aransas Animal Shelter. The kennels were largely unshaded when a puppy died at the shelter June 23, possibly from the heat.
By Sept. 14, a large freshman class had swelled enrollment at Port Aransas High School, but district-wide, enrollment was down by three.
Family members were preparing this month to celebrate the 100th birthday of Annie Gardner Hanks, a Port Aransan who was born on Sept. 22, 1909, in Fredericksburg. Hanks had five generations of relatives living in Port Aransas.
The Port Aransas Independent School District Board of Trustees decided on Sept. 10 that non-profit organizations may use school vehicles for non-school related events, but with strings attached.
Port Aransas school officials said that they have requested H1N1, commonly known as swine flu, vaccines for students and staff from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
A high-tech veterinary gadget valued at more than $27,900 was reported stolen in an auto burglary in Port Aransas on Sept. 14.
Matt Long of Pipe Creek, near Boerne, reported that the medical laser device was stolen from his SUV while it was parked at a condominium on 11th Street.
The Companion Therapy Laser is a relatively new piece of technology that is used by veterinarians for treating everything from arthritis to ligament tears to wounds, said Long, who is a salesman for the company that makes the device.
Ferry traffic director Tommy Lee Rubell Jr., 32, of Aransas Pass was killed when he was struck by a vehicle at the ferry landing on Sept. 22, police said.
A preliminary investigation indicated that the driver, Jeronda Shea Horton, 23, of Aransas Pass, suffered an epileptic seizure moments before striking Rubell, according to Police Lt. Darryl Johnson.
John Williams of Port Aransas shot some striking video footage of a sizeable shark being reeled in by a friend, Dave Parsons, at a rig about 26 miles off Port Aransas.
What made it especially striking was the fact that Williams was filming while swimming in the water, only about 10 feet from the shark while the six-toseven foot animal was being reeled in. The video can be seen on the South Jetty’s Web site, www.portasouthjetty.com., under Video Index.
City council members learned at their September meeting that Port Aransas would get a bigger-than-expected bang for its buck in the planned Phase 2 of street and drainage work that voters approved last year in a bond issue.
Because construction firms’ bids recently came in extraordinarily low for Phase 2, the city learned it would have more than $1 million left over in the project budget that would allow additional work to be done.
Twelve-year-old Asa Matis, a former Port Aransas resident, created some artwork that was to be showcased on holiday cards being sold by Driscoll Children’s Hospital.
Asa, who lives in Corpus Christi, is the son of Frank Matis and Samantha Martin. He is the grandson of Glenn and Judy Martin of Port Aransas.
More than 1,200 folks converged on Jerry McDonald Field to attend Sandstock on Saturday, Sept. 26.
“We were hugely happy with the event,” said Chelle Yarbrough, Sandstock’s communications director.
Community Presbyterian Church was the driving force behind the familyfriendly Christian music festival held to benefit the Port Aransas Helping Hands Food Pantry as well as youth and winter programs sponsored by the church.
The City of Port Aransas Gas Department was awarded the highest rating possible from the Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool for gas system safety.
The city got word Sept. 25 that the TML had given the gas department a 100 out of a possible 100 score for sound management practices, said Port Aransas City Manager Michael Kovacs.
Deb Wilson was minding her own business on Saturday, Oct. 3, helping a customer at her Port Aransas store, A Mano, when in walked Laura Bush.
THE Laura Bush.
The appearance of the former first lady and her accompanying Secret Service detail was a pleasant shock for Wilson and the dozen or so customers who were in the store.
Bush was visiting the Coastal Bend to help the Corpus Christi Public Library system celebrate its 100th birthday.
Fire destroyed an RV at Lyle RV on Tuesday, Oct. 6, but no one was injured.
The RV’s lone resident, Cliff Youngblood, was not home when the fire broke out, said Judy Lyle, the owner of the park, located in the 400 block of West Avenue A.
Texas SandFest was selected to be a qualifying contest for The World Championship of Sand Sculpture in Federal Way, Wash.
As a qualifying contest, winner of the first place solo contest at SandFest automatically will advance to the world championship, and the second and third place solo winners will be entered into a pool of sculptors and be drawn upon as space allows.
Port Aransas Mayor Pro-Tem Keith McMullin was named president of the Coastal Bend region of the Texas Municipal League.
McMullin was appointed president at the Sept. 24 meeting of the Coastal Bend regional chapter in Ingleside.
The TML is a non-profit organization that serves city governments.
Port Aransas police were investigating the death of a pedestrian who apparently was struck by a car that left the scene and didn’t return.
The man was identified by police as Maxie Granados Jr., 60, of Red Oak, a community near Dallas.
Police received a call from a person reporting a man lying on the ground next to the entrance to The Moorings, off Island Moorings Parkway, according to a Port Aransas Police Department.
Police recorded tread evidence in an effort to solve the crime. They took impressions of the tires on a San Antonio man’s vehicle to see if marks on the tires match marks found at the scene of the body was found.
Gerry Wettersten retired as leader of the creative writing group at the JELM Center after 10 years. She and Toni Somers, who retired earlier, were founders of the group. Mari Lee Ross and Pam Ford, both of Port Aransas, took over the job as co-leaders.
A wind-whipped fire destroyed six houses and heavily damaged two others on Friday, Oct. 9, in one of the largest blazes in Port Aransas history.
The flames tore through a section of the Private Marina neighborhood off Channel View Drive before dawn, but no injuries were reported. All of the houses were vacation homes or second residences that weren’t occupied at the time of the fire, according to Scott Mack, chief of the Port Aransas Volunteer Fire Department.
The fire was reported about 3:10 a.m. It took firefighters about three hours to contain the massive blaze and seven to eight hours to extinguish it, Mack said.
The former assistant superintendent of Mustang Island State Park was sentenced to 35 years in prison for aggravated sexual assault of a child.
Juan Francisco Sanchez of Port Aransas was sentenced on Oct. 19 after a plea bargain in which he pleaded guilty to 24 counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and four counts of sexual assault.
If the city’s animal shelter ever becomes a no-kill shelter, it wasn’t going to be anytime soon.
The volunteer group that helps the city-run shelter, Animal Friends of Port Aransas Inc., decided to hold off on efforts to make the facility a no-kill facility; and Police Chief Scott Burroughs, whose department supervises the shelter, recommended against enacting a no-kill policy.
Taking on a “no-kill” policy doesn’t mean that absolutely no animals ever would be euthanized at the shelter, according to Animal Friends and the group’s consultant, Cheryl Martinez, of the Texas Humane Legislation Network. No-kill shelters do euthanize animals sometimes if they are vicious or if an animal’s health is very bad, she said.
“The city of Port Aransas currently makes a reasonable attempt to find homes for domesticated animals that are impounded,” Burroughs wrote. “Most all of the animals that are euthanized are done so because they are wild animals, feral, sick, injured, old, vicious or otherwise not adoptable.”
While researching the no-kill issue, Burroughs said he discovered that the shelter is not in compliance with a few state regulations, including one that re- quires animal shelters to adopt out only pets that have been spayed or neutered. He said he is working on ways to bring the city into compliance.
As October came to a close, it was announced that the GED would resume in Port Aransas.
The Adult Education and Literacy program at the Community Presbyterian Church was to begin accepting applications for the program scheduled to begin in mid-November.
Program coordinator is Harry Shaw.
The previous GED program, founded by Toni Somers in 2005, closed in May of 2008 with Somers’ retirement. The Community Presbyterian Church sponsored that program as well.
In an unplanned departure from tradition, homecoming at Port Aransas High School was scheduled for November rather than January.
The reason, according to PAHS Principal Travis Longanecker, was that the district committee makes up the basketball schedule, and no home games were scheduled for a Friday night during district play. The decision was made with input from the student council to hold homecoming during the Marlin Classic after the Marlin game on Nov. 20, followed by the homecoming dance.
Flu, almost certainly swine flu, was making its way through Port Aransas.
The virus, called “very infectious” by Port Aransas physician Dr. Bruce Russell, was affecting mostly school-age kids, and most of them were not very ill.
Russell’s advice was to see a doctor sooner rather than later, because the medication of choice, Tamiflu, must be prescribed within the first 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.
Port Aransas pharmacist Mark Carter of Carter’s Pharmacy said he had a good supply of the medication and was dispensing “quite a bit” of it.
Port Aransas city fathers were expected to take a look at the subject of wind energy, a topic that could prompt a galeforce debate.
Some say wind energy could save them thousands of dollars on electric bills, but concerns include visual clutter and the possibility that wind turbines could kill birds – an important part of Mustang Island’s environment, both for their beauty and economic draw.
Chester, the most famous cat in Port Aransas, died on Monday, Oct. 26.
Chester, who resided at the Connoisseur gift shop, has been featured in newspapers from Texas to New Zealand, was featured on the syndicated television show “Texas Country Reporter,” and on a California radio show, all because of his astounding girth.
Port Aransas (voting Precinct 19) had the second highest voter turn-out in Nueces County for the Constitutional amendment election on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Only Precinct 28, which encompasses Robstown in western Nueces County, exceeded the Precinct 19 turnout.
Here, 15.19 percent of the 3,062 registered voters cast ballots.
All 11 amendments passed countywide, but in Port Aransas, voters rejected Amendment 1 that would allow a city or county to issue bonds to finance acquisition of buffers areas to a military installation for the prevention of encroachment or construction of roadways or other infrastructure to protect the mission of the military installation. Voters in Port Aransas turned back that amendment with 50.68 percent voting against it, and 49.32 percent voting for it.
The junior varsity Marlin and Lady Marlin cross-country teams cleaned up at district, completing a sweep by Port Aransas High School of the championships on Oct. 28.
Dr. Lee Fuiman, director of The University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute, was named one of the winners of the Coastal Bend Bays Foundation’s prestigious environmental awards for 2009.
Fuiman’s award was specifically for development of the weekly radio program “Science and the Sea,” which he instituted in 2006 and which is now broadcast all around the world. The award category is public awareness.
The city council approved contributing $10,000 to a project to give the foyer of the Civic Center a make-over during a meeting Nov. 5.
With help from Councilman Rick Pratt, longtime Port Aransas resident Lo Leta Gavit was spearheading the project to give the foyer an updated look and a more effective visual introduction to Port Aransas for visitors.
Tom Ginter, interim director of public works for the City of Port Aransas, was hired as city manager of Beeville.
Ginter previously was city manager of Aransas Pass. His last day on the job in Port Aransas was Friday, Nov. 20.
City manager since December 2004, Michael Kovacs announced on Thursday, Nov. 5, that he was resigning to take a post as assistant city manager of Park City, Utah.
John Fucik earned his second and third standing ovations for being named 2009 Citizen of the Year on Nov. 12.
It was in accepting the award during the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce- Tourist Bureau’s banquet that he told the audience his only other standing ovation was in the third grade, and it was a fire drill.
Fucik has provided leadership and service in the Community Presbyterian Church, the garden club, Keep Port Aransas Beautiful, as a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, for the school district as an advisory committee member and mentor, and as a founder and leader in the Port Aransas Preservation and Historical Association.
Also at the banquet, Tony Amos was honored as the ARK Angel of Port Aransas.
Amos has, for some 30 years and counting, monitored the beaches of Mustang Island, nurtured many birds, turtles and other creatures back to health and enlisted others to help him.
The award was an expression of appreciation to Amos for his efforts in the stewardship of Mustang Island, its wildlife and their habitat, and for his untiring efforts to increase public awareness about wildlife and the need for preservation and protection of the environment.
The 2009 Port Aransas High School Marlin cross-country team has raised the bar.
Not only did they earn the school’s first appearance at the state meet, they finished in eighth place against the best runners in the state.
The state meet was held in Round Rock on Saturday, Nov. 14.
Port Aransans Morgan Faulkner and Brittany Tupaj were among several surfers appearing in a 10-page photo feature in an edition of The Surfer’s Journal, an internationally distributed surf magazine, released in November.
Mayor Pro Tem Keith McMullin asked City Attorney Michael Morris to look into whether the Nueces County Appraisal District Board of Directors acted legally when the board withheld surplus budget money for use in the district’s building fund.
The appraisal district wants to build itself a new office building to use as headquarters. The Texas Property Code says surplus money should be given back to cities, counties and school districts. Chief Appraiser Ollie Grant said the appraisal district asked each taxing entity to designate any surplus funds toward the district’s building fund. This was done in a letter sent with the appraisal district’s budget or separately, Grant said.
Certified letters were sent to the taxing entities each of the last three years to make sure they got them, Grant said.
The city council passed an ordinance creating a city registration program for golf carts. The vote was 5-1, with Councilman Charles Bujan casting the lone dissenting vote because he was not in favor of requiring seatbelts.
As part of the registration process, city hall will issue license plates that will include the city seal on them, beginning in January.
The City Council selected Planning and Projects Manager Dave Parsons to be interim city manager.
City Manager Michel Kovacs gave notice on Thursday, Nov. 5, to take a position as assistant city manager of Park City, Utah. His last day was to be Dec. 4, as the council declined his request for an early release on Nov. 25.
Port Aransas High School senior Emily Scott as crowned 2009 homecoming queen in ceremonies after the Marlin game on Nov. 20. She was escorted by Tanner Merrill and crowned by last year’s queen, Hannah Jones.
The Port Aransas City Council on Nov. 19, took a first step toward the possibility of changing city codes to allow installation of equipment that would capture wind energy and turn it into electrical power for homes and businesses. The council voted 6-0 to ask the city’s planning and zoning commission to produce a proposal. Councilman Keith Donley was absent.
The same night, Port Aransas school trustees seemed disinclined to pursue the idea of wind turbine-generated electricity for schools, citing the cost of putting up the turbines and Port Aransas ordinances prohibiting them.
Port Aransas police were investigating the sale of fake drawing tickets by a woman who used the good name of the Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) at The University of Texas Marine Science Institute to persuade people to buy.
Diane Rhinehardt, 46, of Port Aransas, was charged with deceptive trade practice, a Class A misdemeanor under Texas law.
Port Aransas police warned that homes had been hit by an “inordinate number of habitation burglaries” in late November.
Police Lt. Darryl Johnson said the burglaries had no particular geographic commonality, but that most involved the theft of television sets or other high-ticket electronic devices.
Most of the burglaries were also of second homes where nobody was home at the time, Johnson said.
City officials were making plans to begin a mold remediation project at city hall probably in January, according to City Manager Michael Kovacs in his last days on the job.
Concerns arose in 2008 that mold possibly was the cause of a number of employees being out sick and having a hard time recovering, Kovacs said.
A test done with a “sniffer” type device earlier this year showed higher mold levels in the building’s air, Kovacs said.
“It was significant enough that we wanted to go ahead and make sure our employees are healthy,” he said. “We don’t want to cause health problems for them.”
City building official, Joe Lamb, said the city had gotten a quote of slightly more than $38,000 to remediate the mold problem.
The community was shocked by city building official Joe Lamb’s sudden death on Wednesday, Dec. 9, while attending a conference in Houston.
It was suspected that Lamb, a heart patient, died of a heart attack.
In addition to his work with the city, Lamb was active as a coach of three youth soccer teams. His memorial service at Roberts Point Park included his players in uniform who played soccer after the service.
City officials prepared for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture on Tuesday, Dec. 15.
The ceremony was to be at a new pavilion where Port Street ends at the Nature Preserve. The ribbon cutting marked the conclusion of the bulk of the work on Phase One of the nature project. It also marked the first day the city officially opened the preserve to the public, though hikers and cyclists were never really have been barred from the area during work on the preserve.
Port Aransas police officers this month began patrolling equipped with Tasers bought with a $14,000 grant.
Newport Dunes Golf Club was ranked among the top 10 new public golf courses of 2009 by Golf Digest magazine. Newport Dunes, an Arnold Palmer signature course designed by Palmer, Erik Laren and Eric Wiltse, was ranked eighth on the list. It was the only course in Texas to make the list.
Port Aransan Georgia Neblett, who served earlier on the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) board, has been appointed again to serve on a reconstituted board.
Neblett served from 2006 to 2008 on the board, which the Legislature formed to provide wind and hail insurance for Texas Gulf Coast property owners in the event of catastrophic loss.
The community was shocked and saddened by the sudden death of city building official Joe Lamb, 47, who died while at a conference in Houston on Wednesday, Dec. 9.
Lamb also was the city’s fire marshal, flood plain administrator and director of code enforcement.
In addition to his work with the city, Lamb was active in the community, coaching up to three youth soccer teams.
Team members were invited to wear their uniforms to his memorial service at Roberts Point Park and play soccer afterwards.
Mayor Claude Brown confirmed that he will not seek a third term as mayor. His term expires in May 2010.
Brown, 51, a lifelong Port Aransan, won’t be able to run for mayor because he will, he said, move away in mid- 2010 to take a new job in Pearland, near Houston.
He also credited a difficult working relationship with former City Manager Michael Kovacs (who resigned effective Dec. 4 to accept at position in Park City, Utah) and high taxes that he called “absurd” as reasons for his departure.
The Port Aransas City Council decided it wanted a refund from the Nueces County Appraisal District, but district officials didn’t seem willing to provide it.
For the past five years, the appraisal district retained surplus money at the end of each year, putting it into what is now a $2.8 million fund to help pay for building a new office to replace the aging structure that houses the district’s workers in downtown Corpus Christi.
Port Aransans once again reached into their hearts and pockets to provide a Merry Christmas for those who need a little help.
Two weeks before the drives ended, both the Emergency Services Toy Roundup and the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Care and Share were in dire straits. Both were described as “looking grim,” as donations were down from last year.
As both drives came to a close, the respective directors were elated to report that all goals and needs were met in time for the holiday.
As 2009 wound to a close, high winds on Christmas Eve blew scores of bricks off the side of a Mustang Island condominium, and the blustery weather also was the culprit in other incidents around Port Aransas, officials said.
A norther that blew in early on Dec. 24 carried winds with gusts recorded up to 52 mph in Port Aransas, according to the National Weather Service office in Corpus Christi.
At the Sandpiper condominium, portions of the brick veneer fell from the north and south sides of the 12- story structure, said Charles Crawford, president of CCMS, which manages Sandpiper, along with about 10 other properties on Mustang Island.
Some of the bricks fell from the 10th story, but most tumbled down from the 11th and 12th stories. Some fell on an electrical transformer, knocking out power to about half of the building.
No one was injured, Crawford said, but the bricks destroyed three employees’ cars parked next to the building.
By late on the afternoon of Dec. 24, the hard wind had knocked out electricity to about 45,000 homes and businesses in the Coastal Bend, according to Frank Espinosa, a spokesman for AEP Texas, the electric utility. That included “several hundred” buildings in Port Aransas, he said.