Next week I’m going to address why our local government entities need to fully support the formation of an Economic Development Corporation, as presented, for a minimum of three years, but this week, I’m going to address two other topics.

The first is what an asset we have in Aransas County in the Rockport Little Theater (RLT).

When I was a kid my parents dragged me to the Baytown Little Theater for productions such as “Man of La Mancha,” and other similar titles so attractive for young teens. Admittedly, I was a little turned off, but as I got older I began to enjoy the productions put on by the Rockport-Fulton High School drama department, the RLT, and the productions across the bridge, as well as a few in New Braunfels my brother-in-law was in.

I never shed a tear at one, but I came close to doing so in the last two I attended – Mama Mia at Harbor Playhouse, and Oliver!, RLT’s production here in Rockport.

I had seen Mama Mia in Las Vegas with true professional actors performing. However, the production at Harbor Playhouse was done by Texas A&M – Corpus Christi students and regular people with a dream living in the Corpus Christi area.

From what I understand, Mama Mia isn’t an easy production, especially for non-professional actors, but they were great. The intimate venue (compared to Vegas) played a role in the enjoyment level, as well.

Now, fast forward to last Thursday. It was a paper night for me, but if I didn’t go to Oliver! that night, I’d miss it completely because I was out of town last weekend.

In a word (okay, four actually), “I was blown away.”

Everyone did a great job, and enjoying local talent is an added treat. Some of the folks I knew had some talent, but with others I was clueless.

Last Thursday I was introduced to eight-year-old Luke Picarazzi, and was blown away by his performance in the lead role – Oliver.

I have no idea how an kid his age can sing, dance around and remember lines, and not stumble around looking like, well, an eight-year-old kid.

The point I’m trying to make is the RLT is a huge bargain when it comes to entertainment, and who knows, the next big stage star might just end up hailing from Aransas County.

I’m keeping my eye on little Luke. A lot can change in kids as they grow older, but this kid has talent.

I can’t wait until RLT’s next production, unless it’s “Man of La Mancha.”

Congratulations to Geer

and airport staff

The second accolade I’d like to give is to Aransas County Airport Manager Mike Geer who was recently named 2019 General Aviation Airport Manager of The Year by the Texas Department of Transportation. His picture, along with Aransas County Judge C.H. “Burt” Mills, who was with him when he received the award in Galveston, was featured on the front page of a recent edition of this newspaper. However, the simple picture and cutline didn’t equal the accomplishment.

A TxDOT press release about the award arrived about a week after Geer received the award, so I wasn’t able to use it.

I’d like to share a few paragraphs from that press release, information, which was not readily available when I published the news about Geer’s award.

In part, it said:

“He is an aviation public speaking advocate, educating the public about the importance of the airport to the community. He has taken giant steps toward creating a positive relationship with the Airport Advisory Board and fostered a culture of training and cross training within the ranks of airport personnel that includes elevating training standards to meet FAA requirements for the airport, which conducts charter flight operations.

“Geer completed the airport’s master plan and developed a customer resource management program, which collects raw data from aviation-based tourism, reformats it, and communicates it to local business owners to demonstrate the value of a high-functioning airport within the community.

“With laser focus, he made customer service the airport’s highest priority - right behind safety.

“Nearly two years ago, an event happened that changed everything. August 25, 2017, the day Hurricane Harvey made landfall at peak intensity at the airport, brought forth challenges never imagined.

“Geer, whom had stayed the night riding out the storm with his staff and a few family members, was greeted by total devastation after the storm passed.

“Nine hangars were destroyed. The airport’s electrical infrastructure suffered extensive damage. An entire plane was lost and transported by storm winds to the opposite side of the airport from where it was originally parked.

“Geer and his team went to work, clearing the primary runway of debris, communicating with state and federal agencies that the airport was open to helicopter operations, all within 24 hours. He worked feverishly to spread the word that the airport was open and could sustain daytime fixed-wing operations within 72 hours.

“They orchestrated and directed further cleanup of the airport ramps and taxiways, which opened the door to the airport becoming a hub for relief supplies delivered by aircraft as well as trucks, and managed the placement and staging of more than 250 utility trucks and pieces of equipment on the airfield. ‘Geer, as airport manager did whatever it took to bring this airport back to nearly normal operational levels post-Hurricane Harvey and transformed it into a crisis-response staging center,’ said David Fulton, TxDOT’s director of aviation. ‘This demonstrates the true value of a manager fulfilling many roles when it’s necessary to keep a facility operating and relevant when its core operations are suspended.’

“Currently, the airport is up and running at about 90 percent from an airport services standpoint and is back to normal on fuel delivery services.”

At a recent commissioners’ court meeting, a humble Geer gave recognition to airport staff for the recognition he received, noting it wouldn’t have been possible without them.

I only have one suggestion for Geer … if there’s ever a need for entertainment at the airport … he might want to consider hiring little Luke.

Until next week, have a good week.

Mike Probst can be reached at publisher@rockportpilot.com.

(1) comment

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