Dear editor:

This letter is intended to serve several purposes. First, as President of The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Sacred Heart Conference, and on behalf of our 40 active volunteers, I wish to thank you for the excellent coverage you recently provided, detailing the extraordinary support we gave to the two beautiful souls who found themselves stranded in Rockport a few months ago. That we were able to get them mobile and get back home to Hallettsville was indicative of the level of support we try very hard to dispense in crisis situations. Thank you kindly for covering that story of success.

Beginning with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, extending through the COVID-19 pandemic, and continuing through “The Big Freeze” and “The Big Flood,” cases involving the homeless have multiplied beyond our resources and capacity to deal with. Motels are an expensive, temporary, but necessary solution to lack of safe, affordable, local housing, and The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is the only charitable organization in the Rockport/Fulton area, which now houses the truly homeless in local motels. Getting the vulnerable, the elderly, and families with children off the street, even temporarily, gives them time to catch their breath, get a shower, and eat some healthy, donated food, as they inventory resources and devise family plans, often with our counsel. A number of these families were already renting sub-standard housing, which only became more unfit following the weather and medical aberrations listed above. However, rental prices did not go down as quality diminished but went up as the housing market became even more competitive.

Occasionally, St. Vincent de Paul is blessed with the donations of used Recreational Vehicles (RVs), which make excellent transitional housing for those families that have been victimized by the mentioned disasters. At this very moment we have several families that desperately need clean, sanitary, transitional housing in the form of used mobile homes or Recreational Vehicles.

This is a plea to your readers who may have that unused RV sitting in a storage facility, perhaps one the owners have outgrown, to consider donating it to The Society of St. Vincent de Paul to help us help these families in distress. Such donations are tax deductible, and we will provide needed documentation for the IRS. We will also pay for the title transfer and arrange to have it towed and set up for its new owners. Donors may call our office number at (361) 729-4978 during days and hours of operation, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., or at any other time and leave a message with name and number to call.

This past Thursday, I personally visited a little family to bring them food from our food pantry only to find them barely surviving in what can only be described as deplorable, sub-human, conditions. The entire compound was full of burned out, dilapidated, RV shells, surrounded by stagnant pools of muddy water, and the place abounds with rats and snakes, according to this family.

We could not, in good conscience, walk away and leave them in that desperate situation with no roof (literally) over their heads, no way to cook food, nor clean up, nor wash clothes, nor sleep in this heavy heat and humidity. So, we re-registered them at a local motel that very night even though they had already been there for over a week’s prior stay at our expense. Had we known the horrible conditions in which they had been barely surviving, we would have, despite the extra cost, extended that original stay indefinitely, because some things cannot be measured in dollar.

Thanks again for sharing our stories with your readers from time to time. It is greatly appreciated!

Sincerely,

Patrick Ebarb

Dear editor:

Thanks Aransas County Navigation District (ACND), you have disrupted a 48-year tradition in the Rockport-Fulton area - our beloved Seafair.

By not allowing Seafair to close Laurel Street for the first time ever during the celebration, the water activities, the Everything That Floats But a Boat Race, kayak races, car show, and crab races, etc. has to be moved, if possible, or cancelled entirely.

You shrunk down the space that the Seafair committee has to work with, yet you’ve gone up on the rental cost.

Most entities, organizations, and even individuals (look at the number of volunteers) do all they can to make these community festivals a success. This is a chance for our non-profits to make some much-needed money. Our hotels, motels, fill up. The city and county make sales tax money that helps with maintaining our beautiful city.

I hope the Seafair committee looks at another venue for next year.

Remember the saying, “Cut off your nose to spite your face.” I also hope all involved with Seafair remember this when it’s time to vote for ACND commissioners. There should be term limits also - some of you probably have barnacles growing on you.

Very disappointed in you ACND.

This would have been the 48th year, but one year was canceled in the 80s because of a tropical storm, and last year because of the pandemic.

So, come out and support the 46th annual Rockport Seafair … they support the community.

George Riekers

Dear editor:

The recent public hearings regarding the flooding that occurred earlier this month emphasized the maintenance of retention ponds and culverts, especially those in RCC and south Rockport. The real issue may be whether that maintenance is being performed correctly.

Retention ponds, culverts, and bar ditches will accumulate sediment from runoff after every event. That sediment is basically silt and organics which, when dry, will reduce or even prevent infiltration of water into the underlying sand. Unless maintenance periodically removes this foreign material, flooding will get worse over time.

My residence in Oak Terrace has sat relatively high and dry since I moved into it in 2007. It was built before Celia, and FEMA says there is no record of flooding. However, it site adjacent to a very small depression in the road which does not fully drain into the bar ditch between Apple and Market streets. Even though the county performs periodic maintenance, the problem has gotten slightly worse over time.

I’m 82, so I have not cleaned out the grass and soil that has accumulated on the pavement edge in front of my house recently, but when I did it a few years ago I discovered that the five-year chip sealing of the street did not reach to the original edge of the pavement. This has not only reduced the travel lanes by a few inches, it has created a wider barrier to the standing water to soak into the underlying sand.

Every few years a crew with backhoe maintains the bar ditch between Apple and Market. I have not inspected the area closely after the crew finishes, but I believe they need to clean the silt and vegetation out more often and ensure that they expose clean sand when they do so. This would allow more water draining from Oak Terrace to soak into the sand rather than continuing to flow to Market Street and the lower elevations beyond.

The retention ponds in RCC add to the drainage issues there because they will retain less water as silt and organic material accumulates, and that water will not penetrate into the underlying sand nearly as well. Therefore, those ponds should be cleaned out more frequently even if this lessens the aesthetics of the ponds in RCC.

Finally, the issue of seagrass in Little Bay must be resolved so that drainage of polluted fresh water into Little Bay is not an issue. I believe that previously a suggested proposal to open another channel from Little Bay into Aransas Bay needs to be revisited. Such a channel constructed at the south end of Rockport Beach could provide the circulation of water needed to improve the health of Little Bay, while also accommodating more fresh water inflow.

The gatehouse would be located either on the bridge over the channel or just north of it.

All the above can only be accomplished with adequate funding, and that will be the hardest part. A set of very specific projects wrapped in environmental papers might secure the needed funds without having to increase taxes, and that would alleviate the need for one or more bond issues that are unlikely to pass.

Sincerely,

Edmond E. Bates Jr.

Dear Editor:

Regarding your claim in a recent column that children don’t see color.

Consider the following …

Living in northern New Hampshire in 1967 my husband and I took our three children to see the Ringling Brother’s Circus at Boston Garden. Seated in the row ahead and slightly lower from us was a colored family - mom, dad, and two youngsters. When Joey, our blonde and blue-eyed three-year-old, got squiggly I let him stand. He immediately moved to the boy who appeared to be about the same age. Joey had never seen a person of color before. He angled his head around, smiled at the kid then reached out and touched his face and his hair. When I started to pull Joey back, the father looked to me, and with a slight smile and a nod, indicated that it was okay to let them be. It wasn’t long before the two little boys were making faces at each other, giggling and having fun. When the circus ended they hugged goodbye.

Joey grew to six foot three and played basketball on a racially mixed inner city high school team. They were teammates and buddies all.

So yes, children do see that there is a difference, of course they do, but it doesn’t matter unless … as the lyrics to an old song goes … “children have to be taught to hate and fear, it has to be drummed in their dear little ears, they have to be carefully taught.”

Respectfully,

Carolyn McKinney

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