Ramps open

The boat ramps are now open in Aransas County (see story about amended stay at home order). Boaters took advantage of the ramp openings almost immediately. Everyone is reminded to use common sense and caution as Aransas County slowly opens back up under the guidelines set forth by Gov. Greg Abbott. It is important to remember that not practicing social distancing, as well as all the other guidelines put forth to stop the spread of COVID-19, could mean going back to strict stay at home orders under which we’ve lived the past several weeks.

On the heels of Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement Monday, April 27 regarding Phase 1 plans for reopening the state, Aransas County Judge C.H. “Burt” Mills, Rockport Mayor Pat Rios, and Fulton Mayor Jimmy Kendrick announced, via a Facebook Live broadcast Wednesday, April 29, those things which will reopen in the county, and those things which will remain closed.

The Governor’s Phase 1 plan went into effect Friday, May 1.

(Note: See amended stay at home order below.)

The major changes are:

• All boat ramps are open

• All beaches (including Rockport Beach) are open

• Retail businesses, except for those specifically noted in the Governor’s order, can open at 50% of the outlet’s capacity.

• The curfew is lifted

• Short-term rentals (hotels/motels, etc.) are allowed.

One major restriction that remains is all city parks (that includes Memorial Park) will remain closed for the time being.

(Note: In a letter released Wednesday, April 29, it was noted the city’s Park Department staff is focusing on a backlog of maintenance and has a lack of staff to properly maintain sanitation of park equipment and bathrooms, as well as to insure social distancing of park patrons.)

“I’m extremely proud of Aransas County residents for abiding by the rules the past 5-6 weeks,” said Mills. “My belief is because you did this we (are in a good position to follow the state’s Phase 1 plan to reopen).

“We need to continue using common sense, practice social distancing, washing our hands, and only meet in groups of less than 10 people.

“We don’t want to go back to our ‘Stay at Home’ order.

“That being said, staying at home isn’t a bad idea if you can do it.

“Stay safe, use common sense, and respect others.”

Rios also thanked residents for doing their part to help keep the community safe.

He then outlined the newest COVID-19 statistics, noting Aransas County still only has two confirmed cases, and those two individuals have recovered.

Counties surrounding Aransas County have reported the following number of cases (as of April 29): San Patricio County, 13; Calhoun, 30; and Nueces County, 99.

In regard to Rockport, specifically, Rios said, “We’re going to take our opening a little bit slower in certain areas.

“Our parks will remain closed a little bit longer, and our public buildings will remain closed.”

He noted all city operations will continue online, as it is currently, or by appointment. No payments will be accepted in person.

“All city services are available,” said Rios.

“We thank everyone for your patience, and appreciate everyone’s cooperation.”

Kendrick, making his last public statement as mayor (he did not seek re-election), said Fulton Town Hall remains locked, and people should call or make an appointment.

Fulton is not putting up swings at Fulton Harbor Park, but the park itself will reopen.

“The decisions (we) have made did not come lightly,” said Kendrick.

He thanked Mills and Rios for their friendship during the past 2-1/2 years.

“I appreciate these two guys,” said Kendrick. “For the last 2-1/2 years we’ve fought through a lot together, I mean, a lot.”

Recalling decisions made in the past, Kendrick said, “We’ve made a lot of difficult decisions since Harvey, and I don’t wish this on nobody else who every becomes a mayor or county judge.

“We’ve always done (what we thought was best for your safety).”

“We ask that you be careful,” said Kendrick. “We want people to stay alive, we want you to stay healthy, we want everyone to have a good time, but do social distancing, that’s what we ask for most of all.”

Kendrick thanked a multitude of people, including his Police Chief Rick McLester, the county, Rockport, and Fulton staffs, and all essential employees who have worked tirelessly to provide needed services to residents.

In a letter released Wednesday, April 29 under the signatures of the judge and two mayors, the leaders said, “The directives made over the past few weeks have not been easy for our residents. While we apologize for the inconvenience, our decisions were based solely on the health and safety of citizens. We appreciate your efforts and ask that you continue to practice the social distancing, health measures, and respect for others that you’ve so successfully employed over the past few weeks.”

(Note: Gov. Abbott’s announcement about reopening was published in the April 29 edition of The Rockport Pilot.)

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