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Thu Oct 18, 2007

OUR VIEW: Rowell served Island well

After more than 22 years of service to South Padre Island, the town’s fire chief and assistant city manager will retire Oct. 31.

Clifford Rowell’s legacy though does not rest in the length of his tenure. He was not the sort of public servant to collect idle years on the payroll, and his service to the town will have a lasting impact.

Rowell joined the town staff as a fire marshal, jailer and building inspector in June 1985 and worked as a building inspector. In 1987, Rowell became the fire chief and emergency management coordinator. Then in 2003, the town added to his duties those of an assistant city manager.

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Posted by: Ryan Henry on Oct 18, 07 | 2:09 pm | Profile

Thu Sep 27, 2007

OUR VIEW: No private courts

In 1966, Texas state legislators enacted a statute to ensure citizens have free access to witness the state’s judicial process whenever anyone is accused of a crime: The proceedings and trials in all courts shall be public.

That statute, article 1.24 of the Code of Criminal Procedures, applies to criminal rather than civil cases, and its message is clear.

State legislators wanted to guarantee we all had a right to a public trial. But the right does not belong to the accused or the judge; it belongs to the public and cannot be waived. The statute does not provide any basis through exceptions or exclusions that would allow a criminal court to close its doors to any member of the public.

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Posted by: Ryan Henry on Sep 27, 07 | 2:42 pm | Profile

Thu Sep 20, 2007

OUR VIEW: Volunteers needed for beach cleanup

Beach cleanup projects that call for volunteers happen with such regularity that the novelty is sometimes lost on those of us living along the coast. This is not necessarily a problem as long as volunteers are plentiful: It simply means agencies such as the General Land Office have been successful in organizing beach cleanups for years now.

We can be thankful that none of these efforts are new. The GLO organizes two major campaigns each year—one in the spring and another in the fall—and other groups have organized cleanups on a smaller scale for South Padre Island, the Laguna Madre and Bahia Grande.

Despite the regularity of cleanups, volunteers have never failed to find an abundance of junk littering our beautiful environment. Since 1986, the GLO cleanups have removed more than 6,700 tons of trash along Texas’ Gulf coast, and each cleanup adds tons to the total.

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Posted by: Ryan Henry on Sep 20, 07 | 5:20 pm | Profile

Columnists hits gold in reflections

Rod Bates’ June 10th Island Breeze article, “Golden Years at the Jetties,” was excellently articulated and a true example of history to the Point. Having also grown up around the Jetties, Rod’s words brought back fond memories. They also expressed some important points.

As a teenager, I worked at Pop’s Surf Rentals, and my best friend worked at the Jetties Restaurant. I jumped off the weather tower, swam, surfed and fished. I hung out, danced, gathered, met friends, checked out the surf and socialized at what Rod calls the “Sea Pavilion.” Later, I worked odd jobs at restaurants and hotels, but I still enjoyed cruising to the jetties, checking out the surf and seeing who was hanging out.

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Posted by: Ryan Henry on Sep 20, 07 | 5:19 pm | Profile

Thu Sep 13, 2007

Our View: Black Goop

Unidentified black goop appeared on South Padre Island’s beaches this week, and the delay in identifying the material and arranging a plan for its cleanup raises questions about how officials could quickly handle a threat in the future.

Authorities did not consider the material to be toxic, but what if it were?

South Padre Island City Manager Dewey Cashwell said he wants to meet with Cameron County, state and federal officials to develop a better plan to manage beach cleanups. Town officials cannot act alone to organize a quick cleanup without regard to state and federal agencies and their regulations, and Island officials are somewhat hampered to respond to calls for action from the community.

Cleanups cannot happen quickly unless agencies are better prepared to work together, and the beaches here deserve an immediate response when pollutants appear. The meeting proposed by the city manager is crucial to protecting our residents and environment.

Posted by: Ryan Henry on Sep 13, 07 | 2:33 pm | Profile

OUR VIEW: Ruling reminds South Padre to protect beach

A ruling Wednesday by a state district judge that homeowners must remove their homes when they encroach on public beaches serves as a reminder that South Padre Island must aggressively commit to beach renourishment programs.

The Texas Open Beaches Act ensures that all citizens can access the coastline and prevents private landowners from obstructing our right to enjoy the state’s beaches, including those on South Padre Island. Because of erosion, some houses along the northern Texas coast have violated that act, according to the Texas General Land Office, which has sought to expel those properties.

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Posted by: Ryan Henry on Sep 13, 07 | 2:32 pm | Profile

Thu Sep 06, 2007

OUR VIEW: Rally for an icon

Through the work of conservationists, a once vanishing Kemp’s ridley sea turtle population is quickly rebounding as an icon of South Padre Island.

The Kemp’s ridley sea turtle population had found a pioneering advocate in the late Ila Loetscher, who brought the critters into South Padre Island’s care by founding Sea Turtle Inc. in 1977 when the turtles became a protected species under U.S. laws. She had already been working to save the turtles for approximately 12 years.

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Posted by: Ryan Henry on Sep 06, 07 | 2:50 pm | Profile

Island’s tax rate cut took courage


The citizens of South Padre Island who did not attend the Board of Aldermen meeting on the tax rate hearing (Aug. 29) missed a demonstration of courage and professionalism by the Mayor, all the Alderpersons and the City Manager.

While the main focus was to maintain the tax rate at the 2006 level, in spite of an increase in property values of over 20 percent, all the government officials named above listened carefully to the public input and their concerns about higher taxes resulting from significant increases in assessed values. After much consideration and expressions of concerns about reducing the budget, the BOA unanimously voted to roll back the tax rate for 2007 by 3/4 of a cent reducing expenditures by about $160,000.

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Posted by: Ryan Henry on Sep 06, 07 | 2:49 pm | Profile

Thu Aug 30, 2007

OUR VIEW: Pay for services

South Padre Island’s Board of Aldermen has a responsibility to taxpayers to limit its spending to legitimate governmental services that benefit citizens.

Each year, the town receives funding requests from outside agencies—such as the Laguna Madre Humane Society, Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Madre, Valley Proud, Sea Turtle Inc., the Port Isabel Public Library and others. In some cases, funding requests increase annually.

Except for Valley Proud and Sea Turtle Inc., all of the agencies funded last year are seeking increases from South Padre Island. The greatest increase has been requested by the Laguna Madre Humane Society, which is asking for $50,000 after receiving $24,000 from the Island last year.

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Posted by: Ryan Henry on Aug 30, 07 | 3:24 pm | Profile

Sat Aug 25, 2007

OUR VIEW: Go Tarpons!

Tarpon Fever is here. This week marks the opening of the high school football season in Texas, and fans in the Laguna Madre area are fired up and ready to cheer their favorite football team on to victory.

Port Isabel High School traditionally fields a top-notch team. Last year the Fighting Tarpons chalked up a 9-3 record and captured the District 32-3A Championship, then made it into the second round of playoffs. Head coach Monty Stumbaugh and his team have their sights set on yet another district title and post-season play again this year.

Fans in the Laguna Madre area are just as rabid about supporting their Tarpons as fans are anywhere in Texas. They will fill the stands at home games and many will travel to other communities to root for the Tarpons at away games.

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Posted by: Ryan Henry on Aug 25, 07 | 3:14 pm | Profile

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