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Coastal Visions: Images of Galveston County

A full-color photography book showcasing the Galveston County area, paired with the histories of companies, institutions, and organizations that have made the region great.

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<strong>Coastal</strong><br />

<strong>Visions</strong><br />

IMAGES OF<br />

GALVESTON<br />

COUNTY<br />

Photography by Robert Mihovil<br />

Text by Leslie Watts<br />

A publication <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>


Thank you for your interest in this HPNbooks publication. For more information about other<br />

HPNbooks publications, or information about producing your own book with us, please visit www.hpnbooks.com.


<strong>Coastal</strong><br />

<strong>Visions</strong><br />

IMAGES OF<br />

GALVESTON<br />

COUNTY<br />

Photography by Robert Mihovil<br />

Text by Leslie Watts<br />

A publication <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

HPNbooks<br />

A division <strong>of</strong> Lammert Incorporated<br />

San Antonio, Texas


The tugboat Crosby Rambler pushes a barge on the Intracoastal<br />

Waterway that carries traffic from Brownsville, Texas, to southern Florida.<br />

This photograph was made from the bridge just north <strong>of</strong> High Island on<br />

Highway 124, the most northeastern point <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>.<br />

First Edition<br />

Copyright © 2012 HPNbooks<br />

All rights reserved. No part <strong>of</strong> this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without permission<br />

in writing from the publisher. All inquiries should be addressed to HPNbooks, 11535 Galm Road, Suite 101, San Antonio, Texas, 78254. Phone (800) 749-9790.<br />

ISBN: 9781935377825<br />

Library <strong>of</strong> Congress Card Catalog Number: 2012939449<br />

<strong>Coastal</strong> <strong>Visions</strong>: <strong>Images</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

photography: Robert Mihovil<br />

narrative: Leslie Watts<br />

design: Glenda Tarazon Krouse<br />

contributing writer for sharing the heritage: Brenda Thompson<br />

HPNbooks<br />

president: Ron Lammert<br />

project managers: Joe Bowman<br />

Larry Sunderland<br />

administration: Donna M. Mata<br />

Melissa G. Quinn<br />

book sales: Dee Steidle<br />

production: Colin Hart<br />

Evelyn Hart<br />

Tony Quinn<br />

Omar Wright<br />

PRINTED IN MALAYSIA<br />

COASTAL VISIONS - <strong>Images</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

2


4 Introduction<br />

5 <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>–Land and Water<br />

6 Chapter1 Rich Heritage<br />

28 Chapter2 Unified Community<br />

48 Chapter3 Vibrant Lifestyle<br />

70 Chapter4 Essential Enterprise<br />

92 Chapter5 Visionary Populace<br />

114 <strong>Galveston</strong> Partners<br />

193 Sponsors<br />

194 About the Photographer<br />

195 About the Author<br />

Contents<br />

3


Introduction<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> is as diverse as its people. From its earliest days, the land encompassed<br />

today by <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> has been central to the history <strong>of</strong> Texas. First inhabited by Native<br />

Americans as early as the 1500s, progressing to the swashbuckling days when pirates roamed<br />

the Island, <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> watched as Texas grew into an independent republic and later<br />

a state. The largest and most progressive community in Texas until the late 1800s, <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

led the state in the development <strong>of</strong> commerce and culture, and the Port <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> was<br />

widely described as the “Queen <strong>of</strong> the Gulf”.<br />

Stretching from the nation’s fourth largest city <strong>of</strong> Houston’s outlying southern suburbs,<br />

to the Gulf’s sandy beaches and coastal waters, <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> <strong>of</strong>fers a wide range <strong>of</strong><br />

geography and lifestyles. Located adjacent to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, the county is<br />

home to bustling industry including petrochemical, medical, technology, business, education,<br />

and tourism. <strong>Galveston</strong> has been known for almost 200 years for its natural deep water<br />

harbor which is home port for numerous cargo ships and cruise lines. It also encompasses<br />

historic neighborhoods, exclusive second-home enclaves, small fishing villages and quiet<br />

middle-class communities. Despite such diversity the character <strong>of</strong> the region is unified and<br />

shaped by the governance and public service shared by nearly three hundred thousand residents.<br />

Combining the fun benefits <strong>of</strong> a coastal community with a strong job-producing economy<br />

and educational opportunities, <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> is a great place to live, work and play.<br />

Year-round activities include indoor and outdoor sports, cultural events and performing arts.<br />

Colleges and universities, including branches <strong>of</strong> Texas A&M and the University <strong>of</strong> Texas, <strong>of</strong>fer<br />

advanced degree and certification programs. With nationally recognized health care facilities,<br />

it also provides a wide range <strong>of</strong> medical services and medical education programs.<br />

In addition to full-time residents, vacationers from across the nation descend on <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> each year for recreation, relaxation and special events such as Mardi Gras and other<br />

festivals. Reminiscent <strong>of</strong> the heady days <strong>of</strong> the 1940s, construction is slated to be complete<br />

in May <strong>of</strong> 2012 for the new “Pleasure Pier” on <strong>Galveston</strong>’s Seawall. This will add additional<br />

shops, restaurants and rides to a county already packed with fun family activities.<br />

I hope you enjoy reading this book and seeing the pictures depicting life in <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>. This book may inspire you to pay a visit to <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>, and, once here, to stay<br />

and enjoy what <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> has to <strong>of</strong>fer.<br />

Mark Henry<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Judge<br />

COASTAL VISIONS - <strong>Images</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

4


A map <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> shows the dramatic diversity <strong>of</strong> physical landmarks within the<br />

county boundaries. The county stretches from coastal plains in the north to low-lying<br />

barrier islands in the south. Nearly half the county area is comprised <strong>of</strong> water,<br />

primarily <strong>Galveston</strong> Bay. Through <strong>Galveston</strong> Bay runs the Houston Ship Channel.<br />

Along the dredged channel tanker ships, container ships and numerous barges<br />

navigate, carrying over 220 million tons <strong>of</strong> cargo annually. Most vessels enter<br />

the ship channel through <strong>Galveston</strong> Harbor pass, although many others enter<br />

by way <strong>of</strong> the Intracoastal Canal, which also runs through the county, in a<br />

northeast-southwest direction. The Port <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> and the Port <strong>of</strong> Texas City<br />

are both within the county boundaries. The Port <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> is the departure<br />

point for numerous cruise ships, while the Port <strong>of</strong> Texas City is designed to move<br />

petrochemicals to and from Texas City refineries. The main highway artery in the<br />

county is IH-45, which runs from Dallas to <strong>Galveston</strong>. In the northern part <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>, growing communities are home to thousands <strong>of</strong> residents who work in Houston,<br />

as well as in <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> enterprises. Cattle ranches and other agricultural operations are located<br />

throughout the western part <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>. <strong>Galveston</strong> Island and Bolivar Peninsula annually<br />

attract over 5 million visitors to the county, and provide location for thousands <strong>of</strong> second homes. The<br />

geographic diversity <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> is reflected in the diverse population and economy <strong>of</strong> the county.<br />

Land & Water<br />

EAST BAY<br />

High<br />

Island<br />

Kemah<br />

Friendswood<br />

League City<br />

Bayview<br />

Bacliff<br />

Gilchrist<br />

45<br />

Dickinson<br />

San Leon<br />

GALVESTON BAY<br />

Bolivar Peninsula<br />

Algoa<br />

Santa Fe<br />

Alta Loma<br />

La Marque<br />

Texas City<br />

Port Bolivar<br />

Hitchcock<br />

Bayou Vista<br />

45<br />

Tiki Island<br />

WEST<br />

BAY<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Island<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>–Land and Water<br />

5


Chapter<br />

1<br />

Set aside in<br />

1840-41 to provide<br />

a public burial place on<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Island, the Old<br />

City Cemetery was laid out<br />

on the far western edge <strong>of</strong> the<br />

populated area. Encompassing<br />

four city blocks, the land was<br />

divided into a complex <strong>of</strong> smaller<br />

cemeteries, some with specific<br />

religious and secular affiliations.<br />

This tombstone in the Episcopal<br />

area stretches upward toward puffy<br />

gray clouds and blue sky, and the<br />

surrounding ground area is covered<br />

with a blanket <strong>of</strong> bright yellow<br />

Coreopsis wild flowers.<br />

COASTAL VISIONS - <strong>Images</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

6


RICH<br />

Heritage<br />

Possibly <strong>Galveston</strong> Island’s most recognized building, the Bishop’s Palace,<br />

shown here at dusk, was constructed between the years <strong>of</strong> 1887 and 1892 as the<br />

private home <strong>of</strong> lawyer, investor, lobbyist and politician Walter Gresham and his family. Designed<br />

by well-known <strong>Galveston</strong> architect Nicholas Clayton, the home was purchased by the Roman Catholic<br />

Church in 1932 to be used as the <strong>of</strong>ficial residence for the bishop, but reappointed as a “house museum” in 1963.<br />

Named among the top 100 such structures in North America by the American Institute <strong>of</strong> Architects, it is open for tours.<br />

Chapter 1<br />

7


lways, there is the sea.<br />

Ebbing and flowing, powerful<br />

and molding, it was laying<br />

the groundwork for the future <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> long before humankind knew the<br />

world was round.<br />

Historians are unsure as to when and for<br />

how long the first Native American population<br />

groups made their homes on the area’s islands<br />

and coastal plains, but it is for certain that<br />

they, like today’s inhabitants, were drawn to<br />

the region’s beauty, climate and the abundant<br />

resources it provided.<br />

Although evidence suggests the existence<br />

<strong>of</strong> a 5,000-year-old Native American burial<br />

ground near Caplen on the county’s Bolivar<br />

Peninsula, experts agree that tribal groups<br />

such as the Karankawas surely had established<br />

a regular presence on <strong>Galveston</strong> Island during<br />

the sixteenth century.<br />

COASTAL VISIONS - <strong>Images</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

8


At about this same time on the other side<br />

<strong>of</strong> the globe, however, inhabitants <strong>of</strong> those<br />

distant lands had begun to experience<br />

growing curiosity about what lay beyond<br />

their own European horizons. Although<br />

explorers were sent out from several nations,<br />

it was Spain that by the sixteenth century<br />

was making great inroads into North and<br />

Central America, dispatching militia and<br />

missionaries to establish a foothold on the<br />

new lands they had found there. Of these<br />

early Spaniards, the one most connected<br />

with <strong>Galveston</strong> was Cabeza de Vaca—and,<br />

yes, this does translate as “head <strong>of</strong> (a) cow.”<br />

Opposite: Bill Silverberg plays the role <strong>of</strong> pirate Jean Lafitte in a performance <strong>of</strong><br />

Pirates and Petticoats during the Jane Long Festival on Port Bolivar.<br />

Above: In a demonstration using blanks but real gun powder, members <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Orange <strong>County</strong> Regulators and The Single Action Shooting Society participate in a<br />

staged gun battle during the Jane Long Festival on Bolivar Peninsula. The event is held<br />

at Fort Travis Seashore Park and includes sharp shooters, cowboy poetry, bunker tours,<br />

food booths, longhorns, live music and the dramatic presentation Pirates and Petticoats.<br />

Chapter 1<br />

9


COASTAL VISIONS - <strong>Images</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

10


One <strong>of</strong> few survivors <strong>of</strong> a Spanish group<br />

exploring the upper Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico, de Vaca<br />

and his compatriots were blown ashore in<br />

1528 somewhere along the Karankawas’<br />

coastal hunting ground. Although initially<br />

well-treated, the group was eventually<br />

imprisoned by the Karankawas for about<br />

six years before de Vaca made a successful<br />

escape southward to Mexico. Cabeza de Vaca<br />

had a lasting influence on the Karankawa’s<br />

sand bar, however, by providing what is<br />

thought to be some <strong>of</strong> the first known<br />

written accounts <strong>of</strong> the island and<br />

its inhabitants.<br />

As part <strong>of</strong> Spain’s continued interest in<br />

the new world, Bernardo de Galvez, a military<br />

hero who served during the 1780s as viceroy<br />

<strong>of</strong> Mexico, ordered a survey <strong>of</strong> the coastline<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico. In honor <strong>of</strong> his sponsor,<br />

navigator Jose de Evia gave the name<br />

Bahia de Galvez to the gulf’s largest bay, and<br />

the entire area—island, city and county—<br />

eventually became known as <strong>Galveston</strong>.<br />

As the nineteenth century dawned, vigorous<br />

westward expansion <strong>of</strong> the fledgling<br />

United States made it necessary to push a<br />

number <strong>of</strong> New Orleans undesirables a little<br />

further down the coast from that thriving<br />

port. As a result, <strong>Galveston</strong> soon became an<br />

attractive location for various freebooters,<br />

pirates and privateers trying to keep one step<br />

ahead <strong>of</strong> the law. The most notable <strong>of</strong> these<br />

was Jean Lafitte, who—after being chased out<br />

<strong>of</strong> Louisiana waters—moved his business<br />

interests westward and found <strong>Galveston</strong> the<br />

perfect setting for a new colony.<br />

Opposite: Anne Willis <strong>of</strong> Crystal Beach<br />

plays the “Spirit <strong>of</strong> Jane Long” in Pirates<br />

and Petticoats during the Jane Long<br />

Festival on the Bolivar Peninsula. Jane<br />

survived the winter <strong>of</strong> 1821 on Bolivar<br />

Point, during which time she gave birth<br />

to one <strong>of</strong> the first Anglo children to be<br />

born in what would later become Texas.<br />

According to a local historian, Jane helped<br />

plan the Texas Revolution and is called<br />

“The Mother <strong>of</strong> Texas” because <strong>of</strong> her<br />

strength and bravery.<br />

Above: Dr. James Long, portrayed by<br />

Sid Bouse, proposes marriage to his<br />

future wife, Jane, as played by Dr. Melanie<br />

Wallace, during the production <strong>of</strong> Pirates<br />

and Petticoats, an original dramatic<br />

presentation during the Jane Long Festival<br />

on Port Bolivar.<br />

Chapter 1<br />

11


Hope Leskowitz and brother, William, <strong>of</strong> Seabrook peep through<br />

the iron gates at the old Fort Travis bunker on the Bolivar Peninsula.<br />

Named Campeche, Lafitte’s fortified compound<br />

eventually boasted around 1,000<br />

inhabitants, and what is thought to be the<br />

site <strong>of</strong> Maison Rouge, Lafitte’s personal home,<br />

is easily located today by a historical marker<br />

on the island’s bay side, near the Port <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>. To the west, close to an area that<br />

archeologists believe was a Karankawa settlement,<br />

another historical marker tells how, on<br />

this site in 1821, the “freebooter” Jean Lafitte<br />

and his men fought the last Native Americans<br />

in the “Battle <strong>of</strong> the Three Trees,” after which<br />

both groups disappeared from the land<br />

known as <strong>Galveston</strong>.<br />

Opposite: A prickly pear cactus adds color to the vegetation<br />

growing atop a long abandoned Fort Travis bunker on the Bolivar Peninsula.<br />

COASTAL VISIONS - <strong>Images</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

12


Chapter 1<br />

13


Top: Re-enactors representing<br />

Union forces return fire during<br />

a re-enactment <strong>of</strong> the Civil<br />

War’s 1863 Battle <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong>.<br />

The event included a living<br />

history encampment.<br />

Above: Played out on both land and sea, the 1863 Battle <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> ended with Confederate<br />

forces driving out the Union ships that had occupied <strong>Galveston</strong>’s harbor since October <strong>of</strong> 1862.<br />

The Confederate re-enactors shown here are all members <strong>of</strong> the nineteenth century Living History<br />

Association, 1st Texas Infantry, 8th Texas Calvary. Celebrating their “victory,” left to right,<br />

are Matte Schlageter, Ed Welch, Fred Anthamatten, Jeff Thompson and Mike Bringhurst.<br />

COASTAL VISIONS - <strong>Images</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

14


Top: Depicting a Confederate solider, a member <strong>of</strong><br />

the nineteenth century Living History Association fires<br />

his flintlock rifle during a re-enactment <strong>of</strong> the Battle <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>. <strong>Galveston</strong> Historical Foundation marked<br />

the anniversary <strong>of</strong> the 1863 Civil War battle, the<br />

most important military event in <strong>Galveston</strong>’s history,<br />

with this dramatization on The Strand, located in<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Island’s historic downtown district.<br />

Right: David Smith portrays a Confederate soldier in the<br />

re-enactment <strong>of</strong> the Civil War’s 1863 Battle <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong>.<br />

The event was sponsored by <strong>Galveston</strong> Historical<br />

Foundation to mark the anniversary <strong>of</strong> the most<br />

significant military encounter in <strong>Galveston</strong> history.<br />

Chapter 1<br />

15


The elegant Landes-McDonough Home, located on <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

Island’s Post<strong>of</strong>fice Street, was built in 1887 for Henry A. Landes,<br />

a cotton trader, merchant and community leader. Landes became<br />

mayor <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> after the great Storm <strong>of</strong> 1900. Although the<br />

basement <strong>of</strong> the home was flooded during Hurricane Ike in<br />

2008, the main floors suffered relatively minor damage.<br />

COASTAL VISIONS - <strong>Images</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

16


The civilized world was on the move,<br />

however, and the continent’s western lands<br />

were in the crosshairs for many Americans<br />

and others seeking a better life. “GTT”—<br />

standing for “Gone to Texas”—was a wellknown<br />

term for many restless adventurers,<br />

and <strong>Galveston</strong>, with its natural deep-water<br />

harbor was an ideal point <strong>of</strong> entry for people,<br />

supplies, and new ambitions.<br />

Although <strong>Galveston</strong> entered the nineteenth<br />

century still under the control <strong>of</strong> Spain, its<br />

jurisdiction passed to Mexico in 1820, and<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>, in 1825, was designated a provisional<br />

Mexican port <strong>of</strong> entry with a Mexican<br />

customs house. Things were changing quickly<br />

and following the Texas republic’s declaration<br />

<strong>of</strong> independence from Mexico in 1836,<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> received <strong>of</strong>ficial recognition<br />

in 1838 as part <strong>of</strong> the new nation.<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>’s first luxury hotel, the Tremont,<br />

was opened in 1839, and The <strong>Galveston</strong> News<br />

began publication in 1842.<br />

It was a time and land <strong>of</strong> opportunity,<br />

and—not unexpectedly—the prosperity<br />

being enjoyed on the island, which became<br />

known as the “Queen <strong>of</strong> the Gulf” because<br />

<strong>of</strong> its busy port and resulting luxurious<br />

lifestyle, also spurred the growth <strong>of</strong> new<br />

communities on the county’s mainland areas<br />

to the north.<br />

The Santa Fe Area Historical Foundation Depot<br />

Museum, as seen through early morning fog,<br />

takes on the mystery <strong>of</strong> yesteryear.<br />

The depot is located in Hitchcock.<br />

Chapter 1<br />

17


The inland areas <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> were<br />

flourishing by the end <strong>of</strong> the nineteenth<br />

century. The Miller-Brautigam Home shown<br />

here holds the title <strong>of</strong> the oldest remaining<br />

house in the City <strong>of</strong> Sante Fe. Constructed<br />

in 1896 <strong>of</strong> cypress wood for Henry Miller,<br />

owner <strong>of</strong> the Alta Loma Lumber Company,<br />

it was purchased in 1930 by the Albert<br />

Brautigam family. In 1995 it became the<br />

home <strong>of</strong> Sante Fe Mayor Ralph Stenzel.<br />

Farmland for crops and livestock beckoned,<br />

along with deciduous trees and fresh<br />

water. For those making their way to and<br />

from the island port, there was a need for<br />

food, shelter and fresh supplies. Horses needed<br />

new shoes, wagons required constant<br />

repairs and surplus cargo had to be stored.<br />

As a plus, <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>’s more inland<br />

locations <strong>of</strong>fered additional protection from<br />

the storms and “overflows” that <strong>of</strong>ten plagued<br />

the low-lying island city.<br />

Railroads soon were being built as an<br />

alternative to rough wagon trails, and these,<br />

too, encouraged communities to sprout up<br />

in support <strong>of</strong> the specialized needs <strong>of</strong> the<br />

new “iron horse.” Initially a Karanakawa<br />

community, then later named Butler’s Ranch<br />

after first resident George W. Butler, the<br />

area known today as League City was the<br />

chosen location in 1854 for the <strong>Galveston</strong>,<br />

Houston and Henderson Railroad. The town<br />

<strong>of</strong> Santa Fe took its name from a railroad line<br />

established in that area in 1877.<br />

During the Civil War soldiers traveling<br />

between Houston and <strong>Galveston</strong> enjoyed stopping<br />

<strong>of</strong>f for buttermilk at a farming community<br />

about half way between the two points.<br />

Known then as Buttermilk Station, this later<br />

became the City <strong>of</strong> La Marque. Friendswood<br />

was so named by a group <strong>of</strong> Quakers—<strong>of</strong>ficially<br />

known as the Society <strong>of</strong> Friends—who<br />

arrived by train in that area in 1895.<br />

COASTAL VISIONS - <strong>Images</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

18


To the east <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> Island, the Bolivar<br />

Peninsula, with gulf access on three sides and<br />

a mainland connection to the north, attracted<br />

its own special group <strong>of</strong> early settlers. In<br />

1815 the peninsula had been accessed and<br />

named for Simon Bolivar by explorer Henry<br />

Perry. A few years later Dr. James Long <strong>of</strong><br />

Natchez, who had his own plans for the area’s<br />

development, established Fort Las Casas on<br />

the peninsula. As a result <strong>of</strong> Long’s wife, Jane,<br />

giving birth to a daughter there in December<br />

<strong>of</strong> 1821, Bolivar is <strong>of</strong>ten credited with being<br />

the birthplace <strong>of</strong> the first Anglo child to be<br />

born in Texas, and Jane is frequently referred<br />

to as the “Mother <strong>of</strong> Texas,” although this title<br />

may also be a result <strong>of</strong> her alleged participation<br />

in the planning <strong>of</strong> the Texas Revolution.<br />

The peninsula’s subsequent development<br />

on its southern point included an early<br />

settlement established in 1893 that became<br />

known as Port Bolivar. The peninsula also<br />

became known for its production <strong>of</strong> food<br />

crops and long-fiber “sea island” cotton, and<br />

later served as the location for <strong>Galveston</strong>’s<br />

second Fort Travis, with construction beginning<br />

in 1898 and ending in 1943. The first<br />

drilling for oil in <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> also<br />

began on the peninsula’s High Island in 1901.<br />

The sturdy Victorian-era Frank B. Davison<br />

Home was constructed <strong>of</strong> cypress in<br />

1895-97 for Frank B. and Florence Haven<br />

Davison. Davison was a prominent civic<br />

leader and pioneer in Texas City. Open for<br />

tours, the home is located in the historic<br />

area <strong>of</strong> Texas City and is one <strong>of</strong> a number<br />

<strong>of</strong> community museums paying tribute<br />

to <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>’s early mainland<br />

settlers and their contributions to the area’s<br />

future development.<br />

Chapter 1<br />

19


The reverse silhouette <strong>of</strong> a<br />

longhorn is featured in this<br />

metal work sculpture by<br />

John Barber. It can be seen<br />

in one <strong>of</strong> the windows<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Butler Longhorn<br />

Museum in the League City<br />

Historical District.<br />

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Opposite, bottom: Photographed from the third floor, looking toward the stage and box<br />

seats, the interior <strong>of</strong> The Grand 1894 Opera House provides insight into the levels <strong>of</strong><br />

sophistication and luxury that existed on <strong>Galveston</strong> Island in the late nineteenth century.<br />

At the time <strong>of</strong> its construction, The Grand included a hotel and shops in addition to its<br />

luxurious 1,500-seat theater and large stage area. Painstakingly restored, it today hosts<br />

world-class and local theatrical productions year round.<br />

Above: A full-mount longhorn named Classic Ace is on display at the Butler Longhorn<br />

Museum in the League City Historical District. Named for Milby Butler, the museum<br />

tells the story <strong>of</strong> Butler’s role in supporting the amazing comeback <strong>of</strong> the Texas longhorn.<br />

Chapter 1<br />

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Opposite, top: Located in a replica <strong>of</strong> the first house built in Friendswood,<br />

the Friendswood Heritage Museum is operated by the Friendswood Historical<br />

Society and dedicated to “preserving and portraying our unique history.”<br />

Friendswood was founded as a Quaker colony in 1895 by the F. J. Brown and<br />

T. H. Lewis families in search <strong>of</strong> their “promised land.” The museum’s exterior<br />

replicates the original 1895 house built by Frank J. Brown upon his arrival<br />

in the area.<br />

Opposite, bottom: Historian and author Joycina Day Baker enjoys a quiet<br />

moment in the parlor <strong>of</strong> the Friendswood Heritage Museum, where she is shown<br />

holding a book she published on Friendswood history. The museum is housed in<br />

a replica <strong>of</strong> the Frank J. Brown home, the first house built in Friendswood.<br />

Above: This barn at the Friendswood Heritage Museum is a reconstructed<br />

replica made <strong>of</strong> 100-year old lumber reclaimed from cotton warehouses<br />

originally located on <strong>Galveston</strong> Island. The machinery shown under the barn’s<br />

overhang is a fig sprayer, such as those that would have been used to maintain<br />

fig trees during the community’s heyday as a major provider <strong>of</strong> fresh figs and<br />

other produce.<br />

Right: The organ at the Friendswood Heritage Museum is a 1906-era<br />

Mason & Hamlin pump organ from the original Quaker church in Friendswood.<br />

Chapter 1<br />

23


Above: Located on Skyline Drive near the Texas City Dike, the Half Moon Shoal<br />

Lighthouse replica serves as a landmark and museum in the Bay Street Park area.<br />

Right: The Saint Mary Mission Church is located on Highway 518 in League City.<br />

Constructed in 1910, the Gothic Revival structure was relocated and restored by<br />

parishioners in the late twentieth century. The Roman Catholic church was the<br />

social center <strong>of</strong> the community during its earliest history.<br />

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Chapter 1<br />

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As <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> entered the twentieth<br />

century, the success enjoyed by the Port <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> predictably gave rise to other shipping<br />

expansion, including further development<br />

<strong>of</strong> Port Bolivar and the founding <strong>of</strong> a<br />

new port in Texas City.<br />

The dredging <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> Bay to help<br />

maintain necessary depths and the building <strong>of</strong><br />

a series <strong>of</strong> jetties created an awareness <strong>of</strong> yet<br />

additional options to improve water transport<br />

in the area. These improvements resulted in<br />

the eventual construction <strong>of</strong> today’s Gulf<br />

Intracoastal Waterway, a protected canal-style<br />

channel that stretches from Brownsville to<br />

Ft. Meyers, Florida. On a clear day, the view<br />

from the top <strong>of</strong> the canal’s bridge at <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>’s northernmost point <strong>of</strong>fers a panorama<br />

<strong>of</strong> busy tug boats, flat coastal plains with<br />

grazing cattle and working oil wells—and, on<br />

the southern horizon, the sparkle <strong>of</strong> distant<br />

gulf waters crashing against a sandy shore.<br />

Today, the story <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> is still<br />

a work-in-progress. Although the numerous<br />

cities, towns, villages and other populated<br />

places <strong>of</strong> the county have contributed their<br />

own special histories to the diverse tapestry<br />

<strong>of</strong> modern-day <strong>Galveston</strong>, their greater gift<br />

is a spirit <strong>of</strong> unity that is directed toward<br />

the county’s future and realizing the dreams<br />

<strong>of</strong> tomorrow.<br />

Opposite: A functioning windmill near<br />

Hitchcock is a scenic reminder <strong>of</strong> the<br />

importance <strong>of</strong> agrarian activities in<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> during the nineteenth and<br />

twentieth centuries. Located on land owned<br />

by Westwind Helicopters, Inc., the windmill<br />

still pumps water into a nearby pond.<br />

Above: The Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico is greeted by<br />

sand dunes and a picket fence at San Luis<br />

Pass on the southwestern end <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Island.<br />

Chapter 1<br />

27


Chapter<br />

2<br />

Highland Bayou Park in La Marque<br />

<strong>of</strong>fers a scenic venue for community gatherings,<br />

festivals and general recreational activities.<br />

The 230-acre site provides local families and corporations<br />

with playgrounds, fishing ponds, picnic tables and a boat ramp<br />

plus facilities for volleyball, tennis, basketball and horseshoes.<br />

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UNIFIED<br />

Community<br />

The strong town-and-gown relationship between business and education in <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

is illustrated by the placement <strong>of</strong> many graduates in local area enterprises. Here,<br />

a graduate <strong>of</strong> Texas A&M University at <strong>Galveston</strong> talks on the radio as<br />

she pilots a tug boat into Pier 10 at the Port <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong>.<br />

Chapter 2<br />

29


Above: Dedicated on May 30, 2010, to the men and women who served in the armed forces <strong>of</strong> the United States, this striking 16-foot wide flag sculpture<br />

made from aluminum is part <strong>of</strong> the Veterans’ Memorial in Friendswood. Located adjacent to the city hall, the sculpture rests on black marble with the words<br />

“honor,” “gratitude,” “respect” and “remembrance” engraved into its base.<br />

Opposite, top: Although the large flag sculpture at Friendswood’s Veteran’s Memorial is constructed <strong>of</strong> grayish aluminum, its highly polished surfaces reflect<br />

the vibrant colors <strong>of</strong> its surroundings. Here, its stars have taken on blue and yellow reflections from the sky and dormant grass. The sculpture recognizes the<br />

many military contributions made by <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> citizens.<br />

Opposite, bottom: Heading out to sea to harvest nature’s bounty is a community affair in <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>. Here, the shrimp boat Dying Breed is cheered<br />

by an enthusiastic crowd as it makes its way past the Kemah boardwalk during the community’s “Blessing <strong>of</strong> the Fleet,” an annual event each May.<br />

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lways, there is the sea.<br />

Insisting, cajoling, threatening,<br />

consoling, it is both boon and<br />

bane for those who make their homes and<br />

pursue their livelihoods on its coast. In<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>, the Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico and its<br />

authority over neighboring coastal land areas<br />

have created an invisible yet inseparable bond<br />

between the communities and peoples who<br />

live within reach <strong>of</strong> their power and influence.<br />

Encompassing almost 450 square miles, <strong>of</strong><br />

which more than half are water, <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> by nature and nurture presents its<br />

own special challenges and rewards. In<br />

addition to some 400 miles <strong>of</strong> beachfront,<br />

there are bays and bayous, lagoons and lakes,<br />

playgrounds and parks to manage. Several<br />

hundred thousand permanent residents,<br />

representing a broad spectrum <strong>of</strong> income<br />

levels and lifestyles—plus a year-round influx<br />

<strong>of</strong> tourists numbering into the millions—also<br />

must be accommodated by the county’s<br />

infrastructure and public services.<br />

Chapter 2<br />

31


The Gottfried Moller Rain Water Pump Station, located on the Bay Street<br />

Extension in Texas City, is part <strong>of</strong> the community’s flood control and water<br />

management system. It is located near the levee on Dollar Bay near Moses<br />

Lake and incorporates an Archimedes’ principle screw-type design system.<br />

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The act <strong>of</strong> balancing growing commerce<br />

and heavy industry with sensitive lifestyle<br />

and environmental issues—coupled with a<br />

growing awareness <strong>of</strong> the importance <strong>of</strong><br />

community well-being—is today providing<br />

numerous opportunities for creative problem<br />

solving throughout the county.<br />

From pre-school to graduate school,<br />

educational programs for the county’s young<br />

people are being developed and finely tuned<br />

to ensure that the leaders <strong>of</strong> tomorrow will<br />

have the job skills needed to compete in the<br />

work force <strong>of</strong> the twenty-first century.<br />

Ensuring a quality lifestyle for the community<br />

is also <strong>of</strong> paramount importance to<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> leaders. Numerous public<br />

parks and recreational areas <strong>of</strong>fer the county’s<br />

citizens a broad range <strong>of</strong> choices for leisure<br />

and fitness activities. Free concerts and<br />

cultural events entertain and educate, and<br />

area businesses regularly sponsor community-wide<br />

projects to enhance the local quality<br />

<strong>of</strong> life. A number <strong>of</strong> groups also have been<br />

formed to help protect the county’s diverse<br />

environment, and protected wildlife and<br />

nature preserves dot the county.<br />

Through special activities and memorials,<br />

citizens regularly join ranks to show their<br />

appreciation to the county’s military men<br />

and women. Various festivals, including the<br />

Blessing the Fleet in Kemah and the Bolivar<br />

Peninsula’s Crab Festival, provide an opportunity<br />

for local citizens to celebrate the<br />

importance and show their support <strong>of</strong><br />

county economic drivers such as the seafood<br />

and fishing industries.<br />

Established in 1891 to provide training for<br />

future physicians, the University <strong>of</strong> Texas<br />

Medical Branch at <strong>Galveston</strong> has grown<br />

from a single school with 23 students and<br />

13 faculty members to a modern center <strong>of</strong><br />

academic medicine and health science with<br />

more than 70 major buildings, 2,500<br />

students and 1,000 faculty members.<br />

Occupying 84 acres, UTMB includes four<br />

schools, three institutes for advanced study<br />

and a major medical library. It also<br />

maintains a network <strong>of</strong> hospitals and clinics<br />

<strong>of</strong>fering a full range <strong>of</strong> primary and<br />

specialized medical care throughout the<br />

Gulf Coast area, and is affiliated with the<br />

adjacent Shriners Hospitals for Children—<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> and other treatment and research<br />

facilities. This ro<strong>of</strong>top vantage point <strong>of</strong>fers a<br />

view across <strong>Galveston</strong> Bay to the refineries<br />

<strong>of</strong> Texas City in the distance.<br />

Chapter 2<br />

33


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Opposite: An ornate<br />

four-face clock is a<br />

popular landmark in<br />

Walter Hall Park in<br />

League City. The clock<br />

was produced by Electric<br />

Time <strong>of</strong> Medfield,<br />

Massachusetts, and was<br />

dedicated April 8, 1999.<br />

Above: Cindy Clement plays with her granddaughter Lacey Higgins during one <strong>of</strong> the free<br />

summer band concerts that take place weekly behind Ashton Villa on <strong>Galveston</strong> Island.<br />

The Tuesday evening <strong>Galveston</strong> Beach Band performances are among the island’s most<br />

beloved summer traditions. Offered free <strong>of</strong> charge, they regularly attract locals and visitors<br />

alike to enjoy musical selections that range from jazz, pops and big band sounds to show<br />

and patriotic tunes. Each concert also features a children’s parade, in which kids both young<br />

and old wave American flags as they “march” around the venue in time with the music.<br />

Left: John Tarver,<br />

popular saxophonist<br />

with the <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

Beach Band, blows<br />

sweet and low during<br />

one <strong>of</strong> the group’s<br />

weekly summer<br />

concerts, <strong>of</strong>fered<br />

free <strong>of</strong> charge each<br />

Tuesday evening<br />

behind Ashton Villa<br />

on <strong>Galveston</strong> Island.<br />

Chapter 2<br />

35


Located at Walter Hall Park in League City, the waterfall at Helen’s Garden is a favorite<br />

venue for nature lovers and area photographers. Named in honor <strong>of</strong> Helen Hall, wife <strong>of</strong><br />

legendary League City business leader Walter Hall, the lush garden area is located in the<br />

heart <strong>of</strong> the community’s historical district and includes walking paths, benches, waterfalls,<br />

fountains and restrooms. Helen Hall is <strong>of</strong>ten referred to as the “matriarch” <strong>of</strong> League City and,<br />

as a civic leader in her own right, was a charter member <strong>of</strong> the local library board <strong>of</strong> trustees.<br />

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With down-home entertainment and camaraderie,<br />

the <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Fair and Rodeo<br />

spotlights the county’s support for agricultural,<br />

farming and ranching activities. Young and<br />

old delight in rodeo activities, midway attractions<br />

and various shows and competitions<br />

that involve livestock, music, art, barbeque<br />

and beauty queens. Established in 1938 the<br />

fair’s foundation is based on the county’s<br />

commitment to youth, education and agriculture,<br />

and proceeds go toward scholarships for<br />

high school seniors from <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>.<br />

Enriching and giving back to the community<br />

is an important part <strong>of</strong> the petrochemical<br />

industry’s mission throughout <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>. Here, Jose Ramirez plays on the<br />

colorful playground equipment at Carbide<br />

Park while his brother Elias Ramirez takes<br />

a snow cone break on the bottom <strong>of</strong> the<br />

park’s slide.<br />

Chapter 2<br />

37


Above: Championship horsemanship<br />

and rope handling take center stage before<br />

a large crown at the <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

Fair and Rodeo’s popular calf roping event<br />

in Hitchcock. Other activities during the<br />

fair include cook-<strong>of</strong>fs, art and talent<br />

shows, livestock shows, auctions and<br />

beauty contests.<br />

Opposite, top: Bull riding events can send<br />

everyone scrambling for safety at the<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Fair and Rodeo in<br />

Hitchcock, an annual celebration <strong>of</strong> the<br />

county’s farming, ranching and<br />

agrarian roots.<br />

As concerned citizens work together for<br />

the betterment <strong>of</strong> the county as a whole,<br />

major industries ranging from health care,<br />

education and tourism to shipping and<br />

petrochemical processing also work with<br />

county leaders to ensure that economic<br />

growth does not interfere with citizen<br />

well-being, and vice-versa. Further underlining<br />

the need for both cooperation in and<br />

coordination <strong>of</strong> any far-reaching effort is<br />

the area’s diversity in population groups<br />

and cultures.<br />

A recognition <strong>of</strong> the necessity <strong>of</strong> working<br />

together is not a new concept in <strong>Galveston</strong>.<br />

Tribal society was probably an ideal social<br />

arrangement for the area’s early habitation.<br />

Maintaining a unified community was a major<br />

factor in the ability <strong>of</strong> the Karankawa Indians<br />

to maintain life as they procured food and<br />

shelter under challenging circumstances.<br />

Similarly, the pirate groups that followed<br />

were also well aware that their strength lay in<br />

a communal loyalty to an identified leader,<br />

however questionable his trade.<br />

Opposite, bottom: Bull riding is always<br />

filled with excitement and sometimes<br />

unexpected results at the <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

Fair and Rodeo in Hitchcock.<br />

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Chapter 2<br />

39


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40<br />

Later, as <strong>Galveston</strong> evolved from a small<br />

trading post on an elongated sand bar at the<br />

edge <strong>of</strong> the nation’s frontier to a major center<br />

<strong>of</strong> organized—and civilized—commerce and<br />

culture, its needs changed as well. The sense<br />

<strong>of</strong> community that was earlier necessary<br />

to maintain life became key to the region’s<br />

prosperity during the mid-to-late nineteenth<br />

century. Unification for survival gave way to<br />

unification for destiny.<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>’s emerging nineteenth century<br />

business leaders—the men who were creating<br />

the largest and most prosperous community<br />

in the newly formed Republic <strong>of</strong> Texas—<br />

well knew the importance <strong>of</strong> working together.<br />

It had been unification <strong>of</strong> purpose in the<br />

1830s that had allowed a group <strong>of</strong> relative<br />

newcomers to put together a consortium<br />

known as the <strong>Galveston</strong> City Company that<br />

purchased and platted almost 5,000 acres<br />

<strong>of</strong> island property. The resulting lots were<br />

quickly sold to aspiring <strong>Galveston</strong>ians<br />

and eventually became the basis for the City<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong>.<br />

In 1843 city leaders took the idea <strong>of</strong><br />

community unification even further in their<br />

establishment <strong>of</strong> an <strong>of</strong>ficially recognized and<br />

very active chamber <strong>of</strong> commerce. Even<br />

before Texas became a part <strong>of</strong> the United<br />

States, <strong>Galveston</strong>’s business community was<br />

busy encouraging like-minded citizens to<br />

join together in laying the groundwork for<br />

economic development.


Opposite, top: Young people concentrate on<br />

the action as they attempt to round up goats<br />

during the Goat Scramble event at the<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Fair and Rodeo<br />

in Hitchcock.<br />

Opposite, middle: Tiny cowboys and<br />

cowgirls fill a trailer during the opening<br />

parade <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Fair and<br />

Rodeo along Highway 6 in Hitchcock. The<br />

event places special emphasis on the<br />

participation <strong>of</strong> young people, and proceeds<br />

go toward scholarships for <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> high school seniors.<br />

Opposite, bottom: Andrew Harrity checks<br />

on his rabbit before the rabbit judging at the<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Fair and Rodeo in<br />

Hitchcock. Since 1938, the fair and rodeo<br />

has embraced a county-wide mission <strong>of</strong><br />

promoting youth, education and agriculture.<br />

Above: Heidi McMillen <strong>of</strong> Sante Fe, with<br />

her face painted like a chipmunk, watches<br />

the rodeo action from a high rail during the<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Fair and Rodeo in<br />

Hitchcock, an annual county-wide event<br />

that is dedicated to serving <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> youth.<br />

Chapter 2<br />

41


Left: The Mutton Bustin’<br />

competition requires a<br />

strong handhold at the<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Fair<br />

and Rodeo in Hitchcock.<br />

The fair and rodeo<br />

provides scholarship<br />

funding for area high<br />

school seniors.<br />

Right: Ouch! This rider<br />

is tossed during the<br />

Mutton Bustin’<br />

competition at the<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Fair<br />

and Rodeo in Hitchcock.<br />

Founded in 1938,<br />

the fair and rodeo is<br />

dedicated to the youth<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>.<br />

Although the Civil War slowed progress<br />

in <strong>Galveston</strong> just as it did throughout the rest<br />

<strong>of</strong> the nation, by the late 1860s, <strong>Galveston</strong>’s<br />

fortunes were once again on the upswing.<br />

The county’s commitment to taking care <strong>of</strong><br />

its own was advanced further with the<br />

establishment <strong>of</strong> public schools for white<br />

and African-American students. In 1870,<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> began publication <strong>of</strong> the first<br />

African-American newspaper in Texas.<br />

In 1890, in an unsurpassed gesture <strong>of</strong><br />

altruism, private funding provided for the<br />

island’s John Sealy Hospital to be opened<br />

with a stated mission <strong>of</strong> ensuring that even<br />

the most needy citizens <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> could<br />

receive proper medical care. A nursing school<br />

was founded concurrently to help staff the<br />

hospital and, a year later, the first statesupported<br />

medical school was opened nearby.<br />

Today both these schools and the hospital<br />

are integral parts <strong>of</strong> this century’s University<br />

<strong>of</strong> Texas Medical Branch at <strong>Galveston</strong>, which<br />

now includes two additional schools plus<br />

three institutes for advanced study, a major<br />

medical library and numerous clinics and<br />

patient care facilities.<br />

Progress was coming to mainland areas as<br />

well during the late nineteenth century. With<br />

the construction <strong>of</strong> railroads, bridges and businesses,<br />

the more northerly communities were<br />

realizing their own identities as integral parts<br />

<strong>of</strong> the <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> whole. In addition<br />

to the expansion <strong>of</strong> ranching and agricultural<br />

interests, they, too, were establishing schools,<br />

post <strong>of</strong>fices, commercial ventures, and, <strong>of</strong><br />

course, their own governmental groups and<br />

chambers <strong>of</strong> commerce. At the turn <strong>of</strong> the<br />

century, the discovery <strong>of</strong> oil in the area and<br />

the resultant growing importance <strong>of</strong> the<br />

petrochemical industry catalyzed mainland<br />

development and remains a major driving<br />

force in the county’s economy today.<br />

Additional progress came out <strong>of</strong> peril in<br />

the aftermath <strong>of</strong> the 1900 storm, when the<br />

need to quickly and efficiently rebuild<br />

supported the establishment <strong>of</strong> the nation’s<br />

first commissioner form <strong>of</strong> government for<br />

the City <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong>. The efficiency <strong>of</strong> this<br />

organizational plan was such that by 1920,<br />

some 500 U.S. cities had adopted it.<br />

As the necessity for cooperative efforts not<br />

only within but between communities became<br />

more and more evident, the <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

Commissioners Court was established to<br />

manage the administrative aspects <strong>of</strong> the<br />

county as a whole. Forming a protective<br />

umbrella <strong>of</strong> centralization for a number <strong>of</strong><br />

vital services, including the judicial system<br />

and health and emergency services, this<br />

group consists <strong>of</strong> sixteen elected <strong>of</strong>ficials and<br />

is headed by the county judge, who also is<br />

elected by <strong>Galveston</strong> citizens.<br />

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Above: The Starship 2000<br />

ride holds appeal for young<br />

and old at the <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> Fair and Rodeo<br />

in Hitchcock.<br />

Right: Bootz Crash the<br />

Clown, also known as<br />

Mike Stultz <strong>of</strong> Dickinson,<br />

and Frank Schurwon <strong>of</strong><br />

Texas City, members <strong>of</strong><br />

the El Mina Shrine<br />

clowns group, entertain<br />

spectators during the<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Fair and Rodeo’s<br />

opening parade on Highway 6 in Hitchcock.<br />

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The most visible part <strong>of</strong> the county<br />

court’s work is emergency planning and<br />

services, including creating and updating<br />

the county’s plan for handling weather and<br />

environmental emergencies. A crucial element<br />

in this planning is designing the<br />

county’s evacuation procedures, a necessity<br />

in coastal communities that must always<br />

be aware <strong>of</strong> their proximity to the gulf and<br />

alert to the possibility <strong>of</strong> tropical storms<br />

and hurricanes.<br />

Other proactive measures, such as yearly<br />

county-wide hurricane preparedness meetings,<br />

were a vital factor in the county’s ability<br />

to ride out Hurricane Ike in 2008 with a<br />

remarkably low rate <strong>of</strong> injury and death,<br />

compared to previous similar storms.<br />

For those areas where city emergency<br />

and law enforcement services are not already<br />

provided, the county helps ensure citizen<br />

safety and well-being through the sheriff’s<br />

<strong>of</strong>fice and funding assistance for volunteer<br />

fire and emergency departments.<br />

Today, as in the past, each area <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> has its own special needs and<br />

goals, but there is growing awareness that all<br />

are part <strong>of</strong> an even greater whole. By working<br />

and playing together, sharing resources and<br />

building for a better tomorrow, the county’s<br />

citizens themselves, in cooperation with local<br />

governing bodies, are creating a structure for<br />

future growth and development, a <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> that will take them healthily and<br />

happily into the twenty-first century.<br />

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Opposite: Water management is an<br />

important part <strong>of</strong> life in <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>.<br />

Here, the Hitchcock Diversionary Canal,<br />

as seen from an overpass on Second Street<br />

near the <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> public boat<br />

ramp, provides a scenic sunrise view as it<br />

functions to drain excess water from inland<br />

areas into the bay.<br />

Left: Here a brown pelican perches on the<br />

pilings <strong>of</strong> an old fishing pier on High Island.<br />

The area also is home to a rookery.<br />

Known nationally for their conservation<br />

efforts, the communities along the Bolivar<br />

Peninsula are widely recognized as a bird<br />

watchers’ paradise.<br />

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A great Blue Heron reflects the fading light<br />

<strong>of</strong> a golden day at Pier 19 in <strong>Galveston</strong>.<br />

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St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church on High Island is easily<br />

recognized by the multiple birdhouses on its property. One <strong>of</strong> the<br />

birdhouses has even been designed to look like the church.<br />

Nationally recognized as a bird watching paradise, the<br />

community is known for its preservation efforts.<br />

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Chapter<br />

3<br />

Following a nice hit to center field, Damone Gasaway <strong>of</strong> the “Tsunami”<br />

team looks for the ball after he flies past third base. Third baseman Zach Gallagher <strong>of</strong><br />

“Powerhouse” awaits the throw from the outfield. The game took place at a replica <strong>of</strong> Fenway Park<br />

at the Big League Dreams Sports Park in League City. The park also <strong>of</strong>fers baseball and soccer facilities.<br />

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VIBRANT<br />

Lifestyle<br />

The 1877 tall ship Elissa requires lots <strong>of</strong> tender, loving care.<br />

Here, she is being secured at Pier 21, next to the Texas Seaport Museum<br />

operated by <strong>Galveston</strong> Historical Foundation. Elissa is maintained by an enthusiastic<br />

volunteer corps, who learn the ancient crafts associated with her upkeep and also how to sail her.<br />

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lways, there is the sea.<br />

Energizing, entertaining and<br />

source <strong>of</strong> recreation and<br />

relaxation, it sets the tone for <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>’s vibrant lifestyle—a lifestyle that<br />

combines the inherent fun and benefits <strong>of</strong><br />

living near the coast with a strong jobproducing<br />

economy, numerous educational<br />

opportunities and exemplary health care and<br />

public services.<br />

A belief in the superiority <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>’s environment—coupled with gratitude<br />

for being so fortunate as to be allowed to live<br />

here as well—seems <strong>of</strong>ten to imbue its<br />

citizens with a spirit <strong>of</strong> pride and prosperity<br />

that is independent <strong>of</strong> many other earthly<br />

circumstances. Young, old, rich, poor, or<br />

in-between—the great majority <strong>of</strong> residents<br />

and visitors, for the most part, are just glad<br />

to be here.<br />

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Opposite, bottom: Out at third!<br />

No. 7, Anthony Matamoras<br />

<strong>of</strong> the “All Out Sports 2” team<br />

is tagged out at third base by<br />

“Fo9ers” Thomas Shoppe<br />

during a baseball tournament at<br />

Big League Dreams Sports Park<br />

in League City. “All Out Sports<br />

2” beat the “Fo9ers,” and the<br />

game was played at a replica<br />

<strong>of</strong> Fenway Park.<br />

Right: Pow-wow on the mound—<br />

“Salinas” team players have a<br />

meeting on the pitcher’s mound<br />

during a baseball tournament<br />

against the “Rebels” at Big<br />

League Dreams Sports Park<br />

in League City. The game<br />

was played at replica <strong>of</strong><br />

Wrigley Field.<br />

Below: Out at second! A player slides headfirst into second base, but not before being<br />

tagged out at a s<strong>of</strong>tball tournament at League City’s Big League Dreams Sports Park.<br />

The game was played at a replica <strong>of</strong> Fenway Park.<br />

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Opposite, top: The annual Lone Star Motorcycle Rally is among<br />

the largest <strong>of</strong> such gatherings in the world. Each year, thousands<br />

<strong>of</strong> motorcyclists from throughout the nation rev up their engines<br />

and head to <strong>Galveston</strong> Island for a weekend <strong>of</strong> fun and frolic.<br />

Opposite, middle: Sponsored by the Lakewood Yacht Club, the<br />

Harvest Moon Regatta attracts several hundred participants each<br />

year. This photograph was taken under excellent weather conditions<br />

from <strong>Galveston</strong> Island’s Pleasure Pier on the Seawall.<br />

Opposite, bottom: Collin Carpenter <strong>of</strong> Texas City fires his Russianmade<br />

30-caliber Saiga at the Texas City Municipal Shooting Range.<br />

The all-weather facility includes 28 shooting stations for all legal<br />

caliber rifles, 11 stations for hand guns and separate areas for skeet<br />

and trap. It is one <strong>of</strong> very few legal and licensed outdoor gun ranges<br />

in the area, and concealed handgun certification also is <strong>of</strong>fered.<br />

Above: Luis Armendariz <strong>of</strong> Friendswood wade fishes in the fog at sunrise<br />

along Skyline Drive in Texas City. Using salt water lures as he fishes for<br />

“reds,” he reports the area is known as a “very good fishing spot.”<br />

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Those born on <strong>Galveston</strong> Island proudly<br />

hold forth collective bragging rights for<br />

their B.O.I or “born on the island” status. In<br />

defense, anyone new to the area—usually<br />

defined as having been an island resident for<br />

anything shorter than a lifetime—can make<br />

his or her own claim to being an I.B.C.,<br />

or “islander by choice.” Citizens <strong>of</strong> the<br />

county’s mainland communities have similar<br />

pride in the unique attributes <strong>of</strong> their own<br />

hometowns. As a result, the competition<br />

between various communities as to who is<br />

“on top” during any particular week is<br />

<strong>of</strong>ten fierce, whether based on the recent<br />

accomplishments <strong>of</strong> a successful favorite<br />

son or daughter, the securing <strong>of</strong> a new<br />

commercial venture, the acquisition <strong>of</strong> a<br />

resident celebrity or the current rankings <strong>of</strong><br />

rival high school football teams.<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>’s growing reputation as<br />

one <strong>of</strong> the state’s most desirable areas in<br />

which to live, work and play is supported by<br />

growing population numbers in several communities<br />

and a stream <strong>of</strong> new businesses.<br />

Offering a diversity <strong>of</strong> people, job and educational<br />

opportunities, housing and leisure<br />

activities, <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> is working<br />

toward <strong>of</strong>fering something for everyone.<br />

The population itself includes roughnecks,<br />

poets, bankers, commercial fishermen, astronauts,<br />

accountants, cowboys (and cowgirls!),<br />

physicians, construction workers, ship captains,<br />

teachers and rocket scientists, and each<br />

brings his or her own unique experiences,<br />

ideas and talents to the mix.<br />

Educational and occupational diversity in<br />

the county is supported by several public<br />

school systems, a number <strong>of</strong> private and<br />

church-run schools, schools for special needs<br />

students and several colleges and universities<br />

that <strong>of</strong>fer academic opportunities that range<br />

from two-year associate degrees and pr<strong>of</strong>essional<br />

certifications to post-doctoral studies<br />

and cutting-edge research posts.<br />

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Opposite: The Society <strong>of</strong> Friends Church in Friendswood was<br />

founded by Quakers who immigrated to the area in 1895.<br />

Above: Religion plays an important role in <strong>Galveston</strong>, and groups<br />

representing non-denominational beliefs as well as most major<br />

denominations meet regularly within the county. “Most sacred heart<br />

<strong>of</strong> Jesus, have mercy on us” is the inscription at the base <strong>of</strong> this<br />

impressive granite statue located on the front steps <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Queen <strong>of</strong> Peace Catholic Church in La Marque.<br />

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A pair <strong>of</strong> horses <strong>of</strong>f FM 159 in La Marque greet each<br />

other in early morning light. <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> <strong>of</strong>fers many<br />

opportunities for horse lovers not only to enjoy riding but<br />

also to maintain horses on their own properties.<br />

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Amarillo<br />

Red<br />

Above: Amarillo Red, a twenty-two-year-old Registered<br />

Texas Longhorn, grazes contentedly on ten acres <strong>of</strong><br />

clover and lush grass in Sante Fe. The longhorn<br />

is one <strong>of</strong> the Stanley family’s many pets.<br />

Right: Texas Cowgirl, a twenty-three-year-old<br />

Registered Texas Longhorn, and Amarillo Red,<br />

(above), are two <strong>of</strong> the magnificent breed owned<br />

by Sharon and Larry Stanley <strong>of</strong> Sante Fe.<br />

The Stanley’s numerous pet animals also<br />

include dwarf ponies, a peacock, chickens,<br />

goats and an English Labrador.<br />

In addition to two main community colleges,<br />

the state’s two major universities—Texas A&M<br />

and The University <strong>of</strong> Texas—maintain extensive<br />

educational facilities in <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>,<br />

specializing, respectively, in maritime and<br />

marine science and in medicine, nursing and<br />

allied health science. A young person—without<br />

leaving the county—can learn how to<br />

weld or speak Chinese, but can also study to<br />

be a brain surgeon.<br />

Texas Cowgirl<br />

Continuing education and leisure learning<br />

courses are also popular and <strong>of</strong>fer instruction<br />

in computer skills, performance and visual<br />

arts, foreign languages, construction, culinary<br />

and similar skills, plus dance and other physical<br />

activities such as yoga, tai chi and Pilates.<br />

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Below: Hayley Vineyard, “Junior Miss Good Ole’ Days,” and Paige Molis, “Miss Good Ole’ Days,” wave from a lime green vintage automobile<br />

during the parade for Hitchcock’s annual Good Ole’ Days Festival. The event also includes barbeque, a talent show and other entertainment.<br />

Opposite, clockwise, starting at the top left:<br />

At left, “Little Miss Good Ole’ Days” contestant Harmoney Jennings wears a fluffy red tulle skirt and a black top with sparkles.<br />

The annual Hitchcock Good Ole’ Days Festival includes beauty pageants, entertainment, barbeque, a talent show and parade.<br />

Hannah Alvarez, a contestant for the title <strong>of</strong> “Tiny Miss Good Ole Days,” wears a blue and white flowered dress for her pageant appearance<br />

during the Hitchcock Good Ole’ Days Festival. The annual event is sponsored by the Hitchcock Chamber <strong>of</strong> Commerce.<br />

On stage, Allyssa Schattel, wearing a cowgirl hat and carrying a bouquet <strong>of</strong> yellow roses, competes for the title <strong>of</strong> “Little Miss Good Ole’ Days”<br />

during the Hitchcock Good Ole’ Days Festival. The popular annual event boasts a turnout larger than the population <strong>of</strong> the host city<br />

<strong>of</strong> Hitchcock itself.<br />

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Right: Queen Victoria, as portrayed by<br />

Anne Boyd, plays a major role in the annual<br />

Dickens on The Strand festival held on<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Island each December. Here<br />

“her majesty” is showered with artificial<br />

snow as she greets her subjects during the<br />

Queen’s Parade as it passes in front <strong>of</strong> Old<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Square. Sponsored by <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

Historical Foundation, the family-friendly<br />

festival has been named among the world’s<br />

top events <strong>of</strong> its type.<br />

Below: Pirates swagger down the historic Strand during the Queen’s Parade, a highlight <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> Island’s<br />

Dickens on The Strand, an annual event sponsored by <strong>Galveston</strong> Historical Foundation. Turning the city’s<br />

historic downtown area into a Victorian cityscape each December, the weekend festival <strong>of</strong>fers several<br />

parades, ongoing free entertainment, street vendors, traditional foods, costume contests and numerous<br />

period-appropriate events.<br />

Real estate diversity throughout the county<br />

supports myriad choices in housing styles and<br />

prices. Multimillion dollar estates featuring<br />

the latest in construction technology, water<br />

front communities with adjacent boat docks,<br />

historic homes with hand-hewn architectural<br />

elements, modest first-home bungalows and<br />

easy-living retirement condominiums are all<br />

part <strong>of</strong> one <strong>of</strong> the nation’s healthiest and most<br />

reasonably priced real estate markets. There<br />

are also wide open spaces that allow their<br />

owners the opportunity to raise and ride<br />

horses, or indulge in such pets as longhorn<br />

steers, chickens, goats and peacocks.<br />

From baseball to Broadway-style musicals,<br />

diversity is also the name <strong>of</strong> the game when<br />

it comes to <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>’s opportunities<br />

to enjoy life and leisure. Year-round activities<br />

include indoor and outdoor sports, cultural<br />

events and performing arts. Again, the diversity<br />

is such that residents and visitors can attend<br />

a rodeo one night and an opera the next, or<br />

enjoy a morning touring an oil rig museum,<br />

an afternoon “on safari” in a wildlife park, and<br />

an evening <strong>of</strong> fine dining and dancing.<br />

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Above: Christopher Read<br />

<strong>of</strong> League City portrays an<br />

1890s steamship captain<br />

as he participates in the<br />

“Sideburn Competition”<br />

during <strong>Galveston</strong> Island’s<br />

annual Dickens on<br />

The Strand festival.<br />

Left: Bret Bailey <strong>of</strong> Flower<br />

Mound, Texas, twirls his<br />

mustache on stage<br />

during the “Mustache<br />

Competition,” one <strong>of</strong> the<br />

many events featured as<br />

part <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> Island’s<br />

annual Dickens on<br />

The Strand festival.<br />

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The area’s arts and events calendars include<br />

regular performances <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

Symphony, amateur and pr<strong>of</strong>essional theater,<br />

and other performance art productions that<br />

appeal to a wide range <strong>of</strong> audiences. Exhibits,<br />

lectures, concerts and spectator sports are<br />

<strong>of</strong>fered in abundance even in the county’s<br />

smaller communities, and there is hardly a<br />

week that does not include a major fun-filled<br />

festival or activity, many <strong>of</strong> which support<br />

worthwhile charitable and civic projects.<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>’s special events range in<br />

mood from down-home casual to downtown<br />

fanciful, and many focus <strong>of</strong> themes celebrating<br />

the county’s history. For a half-century,<br />

Hitchcock’s Good Ole’ Days Festival has<br />

attracted residents and visitors alike to enjoy<br />

a weekend <strong>of</strong> revisiting its glorious past, and<br />

interest in the event has become such that<br />

the number <strong>of</strong> those attending is now larger<br />

than the population <strong>of</strong> Hitchcock itself.<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Island’s Dickens on The Strand<br />

holiday festival has been named one <strong>of</strong> the<br />

top events <strong>of</strong> its type in the world. On the<br />

first weekend <strong>of</strong> December, it transforms<br />

the island’s historic downtown area into a<br />

Victorian London cityscape with costumed<br />

re-enactors, parades, shopping and family<br />

activities, including ongoing street entertainment,<br />

period appropriate foods and wares,<br />

lectures, tours and events featuring the works<br />

<strong>of</strong> nineteenth century author Charles Dickens.<br />

Above: Real estate choices in <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> range from vintage Victorian styles to<br />

new, modern, upscale developments with all the trimmings. The two historic homes shown<br />

here are located on <strong>Galveston</strong> Island’s Post<strong>of</strong>fice Street and survived not only the<br />

Great Storm <strong>of</strong> 1900 but Hurricane Ike in 2008.<br />

Opposite: A stately black and white lighthouse lends nostalgic charm from its modern-day<br />

position on the south shore <strong>of</strong> Clear Lake. The 99-foot structure is situated on the tip <strong>of</strong><br />

Beacon Island, a private island adjacent to the South Shore Harbour Marina, and was<br />

designed to intentionally resemble the lighthouse at Cape Canaveral, Florida.<br />

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Outdoor activities also thrive in <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>’s coastal climate. The Texas City Dike<br />

attracts visitors and residents alike who<br />

want to try their luck “hooking a big one”<br />

<strong>of</strong>f the world’s longest man-made fishing<br />

pier. Also in Texas City, an outdoor shooting<br />

range <strong>of</strong>fers plenty <strong>of</strong> space to practice one’s<br />

marksmanship and also <strong>of</strong>fers concealed<br />

handgun certification.<br />

Popular athletic activities include outdoor<br />

favorites such as hiking, jogging, bicycling,<br />

roller skating and skate boarding. Even<br />

water sports such as swimming, surfing and<br />

boating are possible during what might be<br />

considered an “<strong>of</strong>f season” in other areas.<br />

Tennis, golf and fishing also enjoy year round<br />

popularity, with a number <strong>of</strong> tournaments<br />

and organized events.<br />

Team sports in almost all major categories<br />

—especially baseball, football, basketball<br />

and soccer—are local favorites on both the<br />

juvenile and adult levels. League City’s Big<br />

League Dreams Sports Park provides replicas<br />

<strong>of</strong> several well-known sports fields to provide<br />

an enhanced experience for those competing<br />

in tournament play there.<br />

Cutting-edge bands and music groups find<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> audiences receptive to new ideas<br />

in music, especially during such events as the<br />

annual Lone Star Motorcycle Rally, but there<br />

is no shortage <strong>of</strong> choices for those with<br />

more traditional tastes. Churches, synagogues<br />

and other places <strong>of</strong> worship representing the<br />

world’s major beliefs also have found a welcoming<br />

home in <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>, and religion<br />

plays an important role in many citizens’ lives.<br />

Opposite: A modern Gulf Coast boating<br />

community, Waterford Harbor <strong>of</strong>fers<br />

643 luxury floating docks, with extra wide<br />

piers on both sides <strong>of</strong> each slip. Surrounded<br />

by beautiful homes, the easily accessed<br />

marina is located on Clear Lake and<br />

linked to <strong>Galveston</strong> Bay.<br />

Above: Waterford Harbor in Kemah is<br />

known for its luxurious waterfront homes,<br />

floating docks and substantial bulkheads.<br />

The upscale boating community is located<br />

<strong>of</strong>f FM 2094.<br />

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Below: Caroline Pielop <strong>of</strong> Houston, still wearing her bright yellow and blue life vest,<br />

hugs her teddy bear from the dock at the Harborwalk Marina in Hitchcock. Her father,<br />

Stuart Pielop, and brother, Ben, watch from the boat Long Run following an afternoon <strong>of</strong><br />

fishing at the north jetties. They caught one bull red. Pielop says he likes everything about<br />

Harborwalk, including the marina, floating docks, security, club house and restaurant.<br />

Opposite: The Suzy Q, a 38-foot sailboat owned by Richard Sherman, rests at her dock along<br />

West Shore Drive in Clear Lake Shores. The Watergate Marina is shown in the background.<br />

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Boating figures predominantly in several<br />

other seasonal favorites, including community-sponsored<br />

boat parades, fleet blessings<br />

and the Lakewood Yacht Club’s annual<br />

Moonlight Regatta that traverses <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

Bay each fall. Boat tours <strong>of</strong> the Port <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> give participants a chance to view<br />

waterfront areas that provided much <strong>of</strong> the<br />

impetus for <strong>Galveston</strong>’s founding, and the<br />

1877 “tall ship” Elissa, one <strong>of</strong> only three<br />

historic square-riggers that still sails, is<br />

open daily for tours and is always looking<br />

for volunteers to help maintain and learn to<br />

sail her.<br />

For those interested in other aspects <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>’s past, there are numerous<br />

opportunities to explore the area’s rich history<br />

through self-guided and docent-led tours,<br />

museums and special events such as<br />

homes tours and historic re-enactments.<br />

Several local libraries maintain exhibits <strong>of</strong><br />

historic photos and mementos, and the area<br />

additionally <strong>of</strong>fers museums and exhibits<br />

dedicated to railroading, aviation and sailing<br />

as well as other significant aspects <strong>of</strong> the<br />

county’s early days.<br />

One <strong>of</strong> the most treasured aspects <strong>of</strong> life in<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>, however, is the opportunity<br />

it <strong>of</strong>fers for sitting back and just relaxing.<br />

Yes, there are activities galore and a seemingly<br />

never-ending list <strong>of</strong> fun things to go and do<br />

and see, but there are also those times that<br />

seem perfect for doing nothing, which may<br />

be the most favorite pastime <strong>of</strong> all.<br />

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Four colorful chairs<br />

wait for occupants on a<br />

West Shore Drive dock<br />

in Clear Lake Shores.<br />

The Watergate Marina is<br />

shown in the background.<br />

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Above: This sunset scene looks out toward Tiki Island from<br />

Tiki Tom’s RV Park and Fishing Pier. Tiki Tom’s <strong>of</strong>fers access to six acres<br />

<strong>of</strong> protected grassland, oyster reefs and four 250-foot piers. Located on<br />

Jones Lake on West Bay, just <strong>of</strong>f I-45 at Tiki Island, the area also has<br />

a reputation for <strong>of</strong>fering great bird watching opportunities.<br />

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Chapter<br />

4<br />

Dolphins<br />

play in <strong>Galveston</strong> harbor near<br />

the bows <strong>of</strong> tugboats Andrew K. <strong>of</strong> Bay Houston<br />

Towing and The Judge <strong>of</strong> Suderman Young Towing.<br />

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ESSENTIAL<br />

Enterprise<br />

Two tug boats guide a massive<br />

tanker toward the Port <strong>of</strong> Texas City.<br />

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Above: An oil well pumps busily on High Island at sunrise.<br />

Although residents <strong>of</strong> the area were among the first in <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> to discover oil on their land, oil slicks had been noted on<br />

nearby Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico waters as early as the sixteenth century.<br />

Opposite: The ferry boat Robert H. Dedman heads out across<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Bay toward Bolivar Point at sunset. In the background<br />

is the shoreline <strong>of</strong> Pelican Island, and a Texas flag, located on<br />

another ferry passing close by, can be seen in the foreground.<br />

The free ferry service is operated by the Texas Department <strong>of</strong><br />

Transportation and provides service between <strong>Galveston</strong> Island<br />

and the Bolivar Peninsula 24 hours a day.<br />

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lways, there is the sea. Provider <strong>of</strong> transport,<br />

purveyor <strong>of</strong> food and fun, it and the land it embraces<br />

on the upper Texas coast <strong>of</strong>fered both the compelling<br />

rationale and rich resources necessary for <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>’s founding and its future development.<br />

The role <strong>of</strong> the county’s coastal location has been—and will<br />

continue to be—central to the area’s development. Past and<br />

present economic drivers—including shipping and its ancillary<br />

services, petrochemical procurement and processing, seafood<br />

production and commerce, agriculture, insurance, education,<br />

health care and tourism—are all connected in some way to its<br />

favorable coastal location, climate and natural resources.<br />

Cotton transport by sea played a major role in <strong>Galveston</strong>’s<br />

early commercial development. Ships from its port ran the Union<br />

blockade during the Civil War in an effort to maintain the area’s<br />

strong hold on global cotton transport, and in 1873 a local Cotton<br />

Exchange was organized to further <strong>Galveston</strong>’s dominance in<br />

the cotton market. By 1900 the Port <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> was the leading<br />

U.S. port for the export <strong>of</strong> cotton and wheat.<br />

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Opposite, top: A mechanic checks out an<br />

Era Helicopter at Scholes International<br />

Airport. The vehicle is especially designed<br />

for making emergency rescues in the Gulf <strong>of</strong><br />

Mexico at distances <strong>of</strong> 150 miles-plus from<br />

shore. Scholes International Airport began<br />

service in 1931, and can today handle all<br />

types <strong>of</strong> planes up to a Boeing 767. It is a<br />

major staging point for air service to<br />

petrochemical rigs in the Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico.<br />

Opposite, bottom: Scholes International<br />

Airport in <strong>Galveston</strong> is a major center for<br />

air service to the <strong>of</strong>fshore energy industry.<br />

Here, a helicopter from PHI, Inc., fleet<br />

stands ready to continue the company’s role<br />

in serving customers’ <strong>of</strong>fshore operations in<br />

the energy industry.<br />

Left: The control tower at Scholes<br />

International Airport on <strong>Galveston</strong> Island is<br />

equipped to handle a variety <strong>of</strong> air traffic.<br />

The 1,200-acre airport includes a newly<br />

renovated airport terminal, 24-hour fixed<br />

base operator, 24-hour weather service,<br />

24-hour ARFF station on field, navigational<br />

aid and precision approaches providing<br />

all-weather capabilities. With two<br />

6,001-by-150-foot runways, the airport<br />

is capable <strong>of</strong> accommodating all types <strong>of</strong><br />

planes up to a Boeing 767. The facility<br />

began service as a municipal airport in<br />

March <strong>of</strong> 1931 on a 120-acre tract with<br />

two shell runways. In this photo, the streak<br />

<strong>of</strong> light in the background was made by a<br />

helicopter taking <strong>of</strong>f from the airport.<br />

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The ship Maritime Champion is loaded with grain at the automated Archer<br />

Daniels Midland <strong>Galveston</strong> Grain Elevator, located at the Port <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong>.<br />

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The need for an alternative to muddy<br />

wagon roads had been apparent from<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>’s earliest days, and the <strong>Galveston</strong>,<br />

Houston and Henderson Railroad Company<br />

was chartered in 1853 to join <strong>Galveston</strong> with<br />

points north. More than 150 years later, rail<br />

transport remains essential to the county’s<br />

economic well-being as a vital part <strong>of</strong> servicing<br />

the area’s petrochemical refineries and<br />

transporting a variety <strong>of</strong> goods to and from<br />

local ports.<br />

Not even “King Cotton” could compare<br />

with oil, however. Although the first hint <strong>of</strong><br />

possible petroleum deposits in the area<br />

occurred in 1543 when explorers on an <strong>of</strong>fcourse<br />

Spanish ship noted an unusual sheen<br />

on the water near what is now High Island,<br />

it was 1901 before exploratory drilling was<br />

initiated in the area. Today, a large number <strong>of</strong><br />

on- and <strong>of</strong>f-shore wells operate throughout<br />

the area, but the county’s most notable connection<br />

with the petrochemical industry<br />

comes from the numerous refineries whose<br />

massive processing plants are major contributors<br />

to the local economy.<br />

Aviation also figures into <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>’s essential enterprise. Although much<br />

<strong>of</strong> its flight activity today centers around<br />

service to the petrochemical industry, Texas<br />

City became a national aviation leader in<br />

1913 when nine planes were assigned there<br />

as part <strong>of</strong> the nation’s First Aero Squadron,<br />

an event that is considered the birth <strong>of</strong><br />

U.S. Air Force. Air mail service, provided by<br />

open cockpit bi-planes, was begun between<br />

Houston, <strong>Galveston</strong> and Dallas with the<br />

establishment <strong>of</strong> Contract Air Mail Route 21<br />

in 1928.<br />

Located in Santa Fe, Haak Vineyards and<br />

Winery is <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>’s first and only<br />

winery. Its illuminated, old-world style<br />

chapel, reception pavilion and scenic<br />

vineyard make is a popular site for special<br />

events, and it also hosts regular tours,<br />

wine tastings and other activities.<br />

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Rail transport continues to be an essential part <strong>of</strong> the machinery that keeps<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> on the move. Here, Union Pacific locomotives are shown<br />

at the intersection <strong>of</strong> Highway 519 and Loop 197, with a petrochemical<br />

complex in the background.<br />

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Today, <strong>Galveston</strong> Island’s Scholes<br />

International Airport serves as a major<br />

staging point for air service to the Gulf <strong>of</strong><br />

Mexico’s petrochemical industry. Founded in<br />

1931, Scholes began service on a 120-acre<br />

tract <strong>of</strong> land boasting two shell runways.<br />

Today, the airport has grown to occupy<br />

1,200 acres and provides vital support for<br />

numerous local and non-local ventures.<br />

Equipped to handle a variety <strong>of</strong> air traffic,<br />

Scholes is used by a number <strong>of</strong> companies to<br />

handle fleet helicopters and private planes.<br />

Airport features include a newly renovated<br />

airport terminal, 24-hour fixed base operator,<br />

24-hour weather service, 24-hour ARFF station,<br />

highly technical navigational aids and<br />

precision approaches providing all-weather<br />

capabilities. With two 6,001-by-150-foot<br />

runways, Scholes can accommodate all types<br />

<strong>of</strong> planes up to a Boeing 767.<br />

Scholes is also a leader in its ability to<br />

support quick response to deep water<br />

emergencies. Today’s Era Helicopters located<br />

at Scholes can make emergency rescues in<br />

the Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico at distances <strong>of</strong> 150<br />

miles-plus from shore, and are setting new<br />

standards for prompt, safe rescue on the<br />

open seas.<br />

Railroading played an important role in the<br />

early development <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>,<br />

and railroad depots dotted the mainland<br />

countryside. The 1902 Dickinson Railroad<br />

Museum shown here is open for tours.<br />

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Below: The petrochemical industry plays a vital role in <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>’s economy.<br />

Here a major refinery in Texas City is both illuminated against the night sky and reflected<br />

in the water at its base.<br />

Opposite: This aerial view <strong>of</strong> the Bollinger Shipyard in Texas City shows a petrochemical<br />

refinery complex in the background. Repair and support services for the ship, barge and rig<br />

industries are important parts <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>’s diversified commercial enterprise.<br />

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Luxury homes surround the yachts and sailboats tethered to South Shore Harbour Marina’s floating docks.<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>’s proximity to the coast was a<br />

decisive factor in its selection in the 1880s<br />

as the site <strong>of</strong> the state’s first public medical<br />

school and later, in 1962, as the appropriate<br />

location for Texas A&M University at<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>’s campus concentrating on maritime<br />

studies. Both schools are recognized<br />

today as leaders in their respective disciplines.<br />

UTMB, in particular, has grown from its<br />

initial one-building campus for 23 students<br />

and 13 faculty members to a modern 84-acre<br />

campus with more than 70 buildings, 2,500<br />

students, four schools and 1,000 faculty<br />

members. UTMB is additionally affiliated<br />

with the nation’s first Shriners hospital to<br />

specialize in the treatment <strong>of</strong> pediatric burns,<br />

and is the home <strong>of</strong> the state’s only and the<br />

nation’s largest Biosafety level 4 laboratory<br />

on an academic campus.<br />

UTMB also contributes to the local economy<br />

through its role as one <strong>of</strong> the largest<br />

employers in the Houston-<strong>Galveston</strong> area.<br />

Not only do its schools require their own<br />

administrative and other personnel, but a<br />

large network <strong>of</strong> patient care facilities<br />

throughout the county and beyond must be<br />

staffed on a variety <strong>of</strong> levels.<br />

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Yachts and sailboats line the floating<br />

docks at South Shore Harbour Marina.


As seen from above, a man and<br />

woman carry supplies to one <strong>of</strong><br />

the numerous boats docked at<br />

South Shore Harbour’s floating dock<br />

complex that provides water craft<br />

shelter on all sides.<br />

Yachts line the floating docks at the South Shore Harbour Marina.<br />

The South Shore Harbour complex includes a resort, spa and conference center<br />

with 25,000 square feet <strong>of</strong> space that can accommodate a variety <strong>of</strong> meetings and gatherings.<br />

It is conveniently located only minutes from Houston’s Hobby Airport, NASA’s Johnson Space Center,<br />

the Kemah Boardwalk, the Big League Dreams Sports Park and historic League City.<br />

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Land-lubbers and sailors alike appreciate the<br />

Topwater Grill’s nautical decorating theme<br />

and fresh seafood. Located in San Leon,<br />

the restaurant provides a docking area<br />

for those who choose to arrive by water.<br />

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Tourism is also moving toward becoming a<br />

major economic driver in <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>.<br />

Building on a decades-long appreciation <strong>of</strong><br />

the area’s coastal location, the county’s development<br />

as a regional recreational center,<br />

water wonderland and cruise ship port is<br />

moving into the arena <strong>of</strong> big business today.<br />

In contrast to the time when the arrival <strong>of</strong><br />

a “pleasure ship” in <strong>Galveston</strong> was big news,<br />

today’s cruise ship industry is making the Port<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> one <strong>of</strong> the fastest growing cruise<br />

ports in the nation, and many <strong>of</strong> the today’s<br />

most modern vessels regularly line the docks<br />

alongside the port’s recently remodeled cruise<br />

ship terminal. Already either a home port or a<br />

seasonal port for several <strong>of</strong> today’s major<br />

cruise lines, the island is attracting even more<br />

cruise ship traffic each year as additional lines<br />

include it in their ports <strong>of</strong> call.<br />

At the other end <strong>of</strong> water travel enterprise<br />

is the free ferry service between <strong>Galveston</strong> and<br />

the Bolivar Peninsula. Considered part <strong>of</strong> the<br />

state highway system, the service is operated<br />

24 hours a day by the Texas Department <strong>of</strong><br />

Transportation. Capable <strong>of</strong> accommodating<br />

motor vehicles as well as walk-on passengers,<br />

the ferry provides not only essential transport<br />

between the island and the peninsula, but<br />

<strong>of</strong>fers an up-close view <strong>of</strong> the bay’s busy shipping<br />

channels, Pelican Island and the wreck <strong>of</strong><br />

SS Selma. As a special treat, playful dolphins<br />

<strong>of</strong>ten display their own special form <strong>of</strong> entertainment<br />

as they frolic alongside the various<br />

vessels traversing <strong>Galveston</strong>’s open waters.<br />

Opposite, bottom: Sail or drive to<br />

The Topwater Grill in San Leon.<br />

Boaters can dock at the door <strong>of</strong> this<br />

restaurant known for its fresh seafood<br />

and a choice <strong>of</strong> al fresco or indoor dining.<br />

Above: The <strong>Galveston</strong> Island Convention<br />

Center at the San Luis Resort combines<br />

well appointed executive conference facilities<br />

with the amenities <strong>of</strong> a relaxing resort<br />

overlooking the Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico.<br />

Here, the two-story, 140,000-square-foot,<br />

multi-function property reflects its own<br />

image along the <strong>Galveston</strong> Seawall.<br />

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With so much opportunity for boating, it’s<br />

no surprise that the county is one <strong>of</strong> the<br />

nation’s leaders in pleasure craft ownership<br />

and <strong>of</strong>fers numerous facilities for boaters.<br />

Private docks, public launching ramps and<br />

other maritime-centered facilities can be<br />

found throughout <strong>Galveston</strong> to service water<br />

craft ranging from solitary kayaks to luxurious<br />

yachts and speed boats.<br />

Floating docks and high-level surveillance<br />

and security are among the progressive<br />

features to be found at many area marinas as<br />

they seek to provide the latest in convenience<br />

and service. The surrounding residential<br />

communities also <strong>of</strong>ten include some <strong>of</strong><br />

the county’s most exclusive and luxurious<br />

housing choices.<br />

Adding extra impetus to the area’s growing<br />

economy are several luxurious conference<br />

and resort centers, located on the mainland<br />

and on <strong>Galveston</strong> Island. Providing support<br />

for the county’s growing demand for largeoccupancy<br />

facilities to handle state, national<br />

and international conferences and meetings,<br />

these modern centers are capable <strong>of</strong> supporting<br />

all types <strong>of</strong> gatherings that can benefit from<br />

their high-tech amenities, pr<strong>of</strong>essional service<br />

and warm hospitality in a resort setting.<br />

Other areas <strong>of</strong> county enterprise are<br />

similarly tapping into the visitor and tourism<br />

industry to attract guests from around the<br />

nation to local museums, parks and events<br />

that center on <strong>Galveston</strong> history or coastal<br />

activities. A plethora <strong>of</strong> festivals celebrate<br />

local produce and other foods, as well as<br />

the county’s diverse cultures and ethnic<br />

groups. The Blessing <strong>of</strong> the Fleet kicks <strong>of</strong>f the<br />

shrimping season in several communities,<br />

and the Crab Festival is a major event on the<br />

Bolivar Peninsula.<br />

Opposite: The Texas Gulf Coast is known<br />

for its fresh seafood industry. Whether<br />

providing the “fruits <strong>of</strong> the sea” to<br />

restaurants across the nation or cooking<br />

it up in local eateries, <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

purveyors know that fresh is always<br />

best. This combination platter from<br />

Crazy Allen’s Swamp Shack in Kemah<br />

includes shrimp, crab, crawfish,<br />

gumbo and corn on the cob.<br />

Below: Supporting <strong>Galveston</strong> Island’s<br />

growing tourism industry, the “Wolfpack”<br />

is among Schlitterbahn <strong>Galveston</strong> Island<br />

Water Park’s most popular rides. Open<br />

year round, the family-owned facility<br />

provides water activities and<br />

recreation for all ages.<br />

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Below: Chasity Morris <strong>of</strong> San Antonio and daughter Rosslan, wearing ear<br />

plugs, enjoy one <strong>of</strong> the many concerts at the Texas Crab Festival in<br />

Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula.<br />

Bottom: A young festival<br />

participant walks on water<br />

while staying dry at the<br />

“Bubblee” attraction during<br />

the Texas Crab Festival<br />

in Crystal Beach on<br />

the Bolivar Peninsula.<br />

The activity features<br />

huge beach balls in which<br />

a person can stand.<br />

Once the ball is zipped up,<br />

walking on water without<br />

getting wet is just a step away.<br />

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<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>’s numerous shopping<br />

options range from giant malls to small boutiques.<br />

There are several centers that feature<br />

nationally recognized up-scale stores, but<br />

there are also discount shopping opportunities<br />

throughout the area. Concurrent with the<br />

nation’s growing awareness <strong>of</strong> the importance<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>of</strong>fering “walking city” environments for<br />

commercial enterprise, many <strong>Galveston</strong> communities<br />

are working to revitalize their original<br />

downtown areas to provide village-style<br />

venues that include restaurants, small shops,<br />

entertainment and other attractions in keeping<br />

with modern tastes.<br />

Left: The seafood industry is celebrated in<br />

many <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> festivals and<br />

events. Here, Eric Thomas enjoys a pony<br />

ride at the Texas Crab Festival, held at<br />

Gregory Park in Crystal Beach on the<br />

Bolivar Peninsula. The event includes a<br />

crab cook-<strong>of</strong>f, crab races, volleyball and<br />

horseshow tournaments, a “crab legs”<br />

contest for people, and a “Weiner Dog<br />

Nationals” race for dachshunds.<br />

Below: Adults become kids again at the<br />

Texas Crab Festival in Crystal Beach on the<br />

Bolivar Peninsula. Here, April Bierbower <strong>of</strong><br />

Spring, Texas, and friends enjoy a “train<br />

ride” in brightly colored plastic barrels,<br />

hooked together and pulled by a tractor.<br />

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Above: The 130,000-ton cruise ship Magic, launched by Carnival Cruise Lines in 2011, sits alongside Texas Cruise Ship Terminal I at its home<br />

port on <strong>Galveston</strong> Island. One <strong>of</strong> the world’s newest cruise ships, the Magic has 1,845 staterooms. Pelican Island is shown in the background.<br />

Opposite: A mix <strong>of</strong> old and new can be seen in this ro<strong>of</strong>top view <strong>of</strong> historic downtown <strong>Galveston</strong> at dusk. Taken looking down Twenty-third Street<br />

toward the Port <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong>, it shows the lights <strong>of</strong> the historic Tremont Hotel’s ro<strong>of</strong>top bar on the left, and the restored Washington Building<br />

is on the right. Center stage is the 3,690-passenger Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ship, Magic, docked at Texas Cruise Ship Terminal 1.<br />

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Despite its growing urbanization, however, <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

continues to maintain many areas with large acreage dedicated to<br />

cattle raising, farming and other agricultural endeavors. Santa Fe’s<br />

Haak Vineyards, the county’s first and only vineyard and winery,<br />

<strong>of</strong>fers not only quality beverages for sale, but tours, wine tastings,<br />

festive dinners and facilities for meetings, weddings and other<br />

special events.<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>’s simpler lifestyle and less crowded roads are also a<br />

part <strong>of</strong> its appeal as a “bedroom community” to numerous<br />

Houston workers. Several <strong>of</strong> the county’s residential areas are<br />

among the fastest growing in the state, and League City and<br />

Friendswood in particular—located virtually on the south door<br />

step <strong>of</strong> NASA’S Johnson Space Center—have attracted many who<br />

have big-city jobs but, on a personal level, enjoy a closer-tonature,<br />

less congested way <strong>of</strong> daily life.<br />

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Chapter<br />

5<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> is going places.<br />

Here, the new <strong>Galveston</strong> Causeway,<br />

a part <strong>of</strong> I-45, is shown as it links<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Island with the <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

mainland. The causeway was designed to include<br />

lighting both above and below the elevated span.<br />

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VISIONARY<br />

Populace<br />

The design and testing <strong>of</strong> NASA’s Orion Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle is part <strong>of</strong> the ongoing work at Johnson Space Center, located<br />

only minutes from <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>’s League City and Friendswood communities. In addition to providing a look at the<br />

nation’s first interplanetary spacecraft designed to carry astronauts on long duration, deep space missions, this full-scale<br />

mock up <strong>of</strong> the Orion spacecraft serves as a vital test lab for navigation, rendezvous and docking operations.<br />

When paired with additional propulsion and life support systems, Orion will eventually be able to take<br />

humans to Mars. S<strong>of</strong>tware engineers at Lockheed Martins’ Space Exploration Development Lab in<br />

Houston work with NASA astronauts, spacesuit designers and aerospace engineers to test<br />

avionics, s<strong>of</strong>tware and sensors in flight-like scenarios. The lab enables early testing and<br />

development for spacecraft systems and components, which will help reduce<br />

cost and risk during vehicle production and actual spaceflight.<br />

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lways, there is the sea. Inspiring and<br />

empowering, it has drawn to its shores and coastal<br />

plains those in search <strong>of</strong> adventure, opportunity<br />

and advancement. Providing a temperate climate,<br />

ample food supplies and means <strong>of</strong> transport for commerce and<br />

travel, the coastal area known today as <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> has,<br />

from its earliest days, attracted people <strong>of</strong> vision.<br />

Early inhabitants braved a total unknown to establish their first<br />

settlements, and later immigrants liked what they already knew,<br />

but envisioned creating more. By the mid-nineteenth century,<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> was nationally recognized for its many innovations<br />

and “firsts,” a tradition that is continuing today in many <strong>of</strong> the<br />

county’s twenty-first century endeavors.<br />

Among those whose dreams for <strong>Galveston</strong> have contributed to<br />

its present day position <strong>of</strong> leadership in academic medicine and<br />

related research are the visionary scientists and physicians who<br />

joined the state’s new medical school in 1891. Today the University<br />

<strong>of</strong> Texas Medical Branch at <strong>Galveston</strong> continues to draw illustrious<br />

faculty and researchers to <strong>Galveston</strong>, with international attention<br />

being focused on its study <strong>of</strong> rare diseases and their prevention.<br />

Opposite, top: An emu steps out in the early morning mist at the entrance <strong>of</strong> the Bayou<br />

Wildlife Park. “By living with the animals for the past thirty years, I’ve learned things<br />

not found in many books,” says Clint Wolston, owner and developer <strong>of</strong> the park.<br />

Opposite, bottom: White spotted deer are among the numerous wild animals that can<br />

be viewed at the Bayou Wildlife Park. The park includes more than eighty acres <strong>of</strong><br />

woods and prairies and contains<br />

approximately 500 animals<br />

representing fifty different species<br />

from Africa, India, Asia, Australia<br />

and North and South America.<br />

Right: A large white rhino is one<br />

<strong>of</strong> the endangered species at Bayou<br />

Wildlife Park. Clint Wolston,<br />

owner <strong>of</strong> the park, is shown on<br />

a golf cart in the background.<br />

He has developed the eighty-acre<br />

park as a private animal reserve<br />

over the past thirty years.<br />

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Left: The new 5,300 square foot<br />

Dickinson Independent School District<br />

Education Support Center is a<br />

Collaborative for High Performance<br />

Schools (CHPS) facility and is designed<br />

for high performance environments that<br />

are energy and resource efficient, healthy,<br />

comfortable, well lit, and that contain<br />

amenities needed for quality education.<br />

Below: The exterior <strong>of</strong> the Dickinson<br />

Independent School District Education<br />

Support Center is shown here.<br />

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Located on <strong>Galveston</strong> Island, the <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

National Laboratory at UTMB is home to<br />

the state’s only and the world’s largest biocontainment<br />

laboratory on an academic campus.<br />

The facility’s eight-story, high-security<br />

National Biocontainment Laboratory houses<br />

several Biosafety Level 4 research laboratories<br />

for exotic disease diagnosis and research.<br />

Within the high-tech facility, scientists are<br />

engaged in efforts to translate research ideas<br />

into products aimed at controlling emerging<br />

infectious diseases and defending society<br />

against bioterrorism.<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> also is recognized as a<br />

choice residential location for many who<br />

work in the nation’s nearby space industry<br />

at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Today,<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>—a land that was once<br />

explored by those who navigated by the stars<br />

—has become the home <strong>of</strong> many who in<br />

modern times are navigating to the stars.<br />

In their ongoing mission, NASA scientists<br />

are working on the Orion project to develop<br />

the nation’s first interplanetary spacecraft<br />

designed to carry astronauts on long duration,<br />

deep space missions. When paired with additional<br />

propulsion and life support systems,<br />

Orion will eventually be able to take humans<br />

to Mars. Providing a vital component for<br />

testing navigation, rendezvous and docking<br />

operations, the JSC lab supports the development<br />

<strong>of</strong> spacecraft systems and components<br />

that will help reduce cost and risk during<br />

vehicle production and actual spaceflight.<br />

Visionaries with architectural expertise<br />

were key to nineteenth century <strong>Galveston</strong>’s<br />

reputation for excellence in construction, and<br />

local developers today are continuing this<br />

ongoing quest for safe, sustainable housing<br />

that is pleasing to the eye and a pleasure<br />

to occupy. Combining carefully engineered<br />

infrastructure systems with modern technology<br />

and innovative materials, a number <strong>of</strong><br />

county builders are achieving new levels <strong>of</strong><br />

security, durability, economy and beauty in<br />

today’s homes and public buildings.<br />

Located on the campus <strong>of</strong> the University <strong>of</strong><br />

Texas Medical Branch at <strong>Galveston</strong>, the<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> National Laboratory at UTMB<br />

is an eight-story, high-security National<br />

Biocontainment Laboratory housing biosafety<br />

level 4 research laboratories for exotic<br />

disease diagnosis and research. The GNL is<br />

the largest biocontainment laboratory in<br />

the world on an academic campus. Within<br />

the high-tech facility, scientists are engaged<br />

in efforts to translate research ideas into<br />

products aimed at controlling emerging<br />

infectious diseases and defending society<br />

against bioterrorism. The GNL complements<br />

and enhances UTMB’s decades <strong>of</strong> prominence<br />

in biomedical research, and additionally<br />

provides a world renowned resource for<br />

training researchers in infectious diseases.<br />

The GNL provides specialized research<br />

capabilities to develop therapies, vaccines<br />

and diagnostic tests for naturally occurring<br />

emerging diseases as well as microbes that<br />

might be employed by terrorists.<br />

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The Quaker City String Band, shown here on<br />

Ship’s Mechanic Row in <strong>Galveston</strong> Island’s entertainment district,<br />

traditionally performs in several <strong>of</strong> the city’s Mardi Gras parades,<br />

including “Z Krewe,” the “Children’s Parade”<br />

and the “Knights <strong>of</strong> Momus Grand Night Parade.”<br />

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Above: The Quaker City String Band, which has<br />

performed in the Philadelphia Mummer’s Parade<br />

since 1931, plays a big part in <strong>Galveston</strong> Island’s<br />

annual Mardi Gras celebrations. Here, band<br />

members—wearing clown costumes to reflect a<br />

theme <strong>of</strong> “My Kind <strong>of</strong> Clown”—are being led by<br />

Jimmy Good as they perform in the Mardi Gras<br />

entertainment district at Old <strong>Galveston</strong> Square.<br />

Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday,” annually brings out<br />

revelers by the thousands who enjoy this traditional<br />

pre-Lenten celebration with parades, balls and other<br />

celebrations. Reinstated in 1985 as part <strong>of</strong> the plan<br />

to support the re-development <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong>’s<br />

historic downtown district, the event has enjoyed<br />

spirited growth as part <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong>’s commitment<br />

to the parallel and concurrent missions <strong>of</strong> historic<br />

preservation and encouraging new areas <strong>of</strong> tourism.<br />

Left: Two members <strong>of</strong> the Quaker City String Band<br />

wear huge, colorful clown heads as they perform<br />

with banjoes on <strong>Galveston</strong> Island’s<br />

Seawall during the Mardi Gras<br />

Chapter 5<br />

Children’s Parade.<br />

99


With their fancifully decorated and color coordinated umbrellas, Allison and Bob Brown<br />

were among the participants in the “Funky Uptown Umbrella Brigade” parade. The event<br />

took place during <strong>Galveston</strong>’s 2012 Mardi Gras and marked the continuation <strong>of</strong> an ongoing<br />

rivalry between <strong>Galveston</strong> supporters and a Romanian group to secure the Guinness World<br />

Record title for the largest choreographed umbrella dance on the globe. The <strong>Galveston</strong> event<br />

attracted 1,503 dancers in 2012, setting a new world record as they performed the hokey<br />

pokey in <strong>Galveston</strong>’s Victorian-era downtown entertainment district.<br />

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Sustainability, conservation and the minimization<br />

<strong>of</strong> environmental costs in the county<br />

are being specifically addressed through<br />

such projects as the Dickinson Independent<br />

School Districts Education Support Center.<br />

Containing 5,300 square feet <strong>of</strong> space,<br />

the structure is a Collaborative for High<br />

Performance Schools (CHPS) facility and is<br />

designed to provide a high performance<br />

environment that is energy and resource<br />

efficient, healthy, comfortable, well lit, and<br />

that contains the amenities needed for<br />

quality education.<br />

Harkening back to the time when <strong>Galveston</strong>’s<br />

successful nineteenth century business leaders<br />

provided incentives for overall economic<br />

development, today’s community leaders<br />

similarly seek to provide a catalyst for<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> and its economic well-being.<br />

Among <strong>Galveston</strong>’s modern visionaries<br />

are descendants <strong>of</strong> early <strong>Galveston</strong> business<br />

magnate William L. Moody. Using the family’s<br />

vast resources acquired from cotton trading<br />

and transport, railroads, insurance and<br />

investments, Moody’s son William L. Moody,<br />

Jr., granddaughter Mary Moody Northen<br />

and other family members later established<br />

the Moody Foundation and Mary Moody<br />

Northen Incorporated. Today, these organizations<br />

provide generous continuing support<br />

for numerous <strong>Galveston</strong> area initiatives<br />

related to education, environmental issues,<br />

historic preservation and health care,<br />

especially research on traumatic brain injury.<br />

This night view <strong>of</strong> The Strand Historic<br />

Landmark District on <strong>Galveston</strong> Island<br />

illustrates the successful realization <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> leaders’ vision to restore and<br />

rejuvenate the city’s downtown area.<br />

Where buildings stood dilapidated and<br />

empty only a few decades earlier, residents<br />

and tourists alike now enjoy a vibrant<br />

downtown filled with opportunities for<br />

shopping, sightseeing, dining and<br />

entertainment as well as a<br />

horse and buggy ride.<br />

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Above: Alongside Offatts Bayou on <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

Island, a brown pelican is silhouetted against a s<strong>of</strong>t<br />

background showing a solitary sailboat and Moody<br />

Garden’s Rainforest Pyramid. One <strong>of</strong> the island’s<br />

most popular attractions, Moody Gardens includes<br />

a multi-acre resort complex and numerous<br />

educational and recreational attractions.<br />

Right: Completed in 1895, the 2,800-square-foot<br />

Moody Mansion was the home <strong>of</strong> William L.<br />

Moody, Jr., and his family. Based initially on<br />

cotton, the financial empire established by Moody<br />

grew to include banking, ranching, insurance and<br />

hotels. Mr. Moody purchased the house just after<br />

the 1900 storm, and members <strong>of</strong> the Moody<br />

family went on celebrate more than eighty<br />

Christmas seasons there. Containing many <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Moody family’s furnishings and personal effects,<br />

the four-story structure has been fully restored,<br />

and visitors can tour numerous areas that depict<br />

the elegant life <strong>of</strong> a powerful <strong>Galveston</strong> family.<br />

Opposite: As seen from Eagle Point in<br />

San Leon, the rising sun illuminates a handful<br />

<strong>of</strong> broken shoreline pilings as they jut out into<br />

the water. The distant ship on the horizon is<br />

heading out to sea.<br />

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Incorporating advanced technology and<br />

materials, Beachtown on <strong>Galveston</strong> Island’s<br />

East End combines traditional style with<br />

easy maintenance in a pedestrian-friendly<br />

community that includes individual homes<br />

and townhomes.<br />

The eponymous Moody Gardens, which<br />

had its inception in providing care and rehabilitative<br />

therapy for those suffering from<br />

brain injury, has grown to include a nationally<br />

recognized center for education, recreation<br />

and large meetings <strong>of</strong> all types. Among the<br />

most popular destinations in the Houston-<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> area, the complex includes a<br />

luxurious hotel and convention center, lush<br />

gardens, aquarium and rainforest pyramids,<br />

MG3D, 4D and Ridefilm theaters, exhibits<br />

and venues in which visitors can observe<br />

live animals—including penguins—in re-creations<br />

<strong>of</strong> their natural habitats, a fresh water<br />

“beach” and rides on a life-size steamboat.<br />

Another <strong>Galveston</strong> visionary whose early<br />

altruistic work continues to benefit <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

today was Harris Kempner. Originally from<br />

Poland, Kempner made his way from New<br />

York to <strong>Galveston</strong>, from where he expanded<br />

his business interests throughout Texas<br />

and established another <strong>of</strong> the state’s great<br />

nineteenth century fortunes. Today, descendants<br />

<strong>of</strong> the original Kempner family and<br />

others work through the Harris and Eliza<br />

Kempner Fund to improve the general<br />

welfare <strong>of</strong> the community, especially in<br />

those areas concerned with securing and<br />

maintaining equal rights and promoting<br />

programs <strong>of</strong> education and healthcare.<br />

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Proudly waving in the late afternoon light,<br />

a large American flag displays its colors in<br />

front <strong>of</strong> the Bolivar Lighthouse base.<br />

Visionaries in <strong>Galveston</strong> also include those<br />

who are dedicated to helping the county realize<br />

the future financial potential <strong>of</strong> rediscovering<br />

its past. Through special events and the rehabilitation<br />

<strong>of</strong> historic structures, local citizens<br />

throughout the county today are developing<br />

an emerging and pr<strong>of</strong>itable industry around<br />

the fast-growing business <strong>of</strong> historic tourism.<br />

Among those groups providing a major<br />

impetus for restoration efforts on <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

Island is Mitchell Historic Properties, whose<br />

guidance is provided by members <strong>of</strong> the family<br />

<strong>of</strong> George Mitchell, a leader in the development<br />

<strong>of</strong> Texas energy and one <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong>’s<br />

most prominent visionaries <strong>of</strong> modern times.<br />

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Screams<br />

<strong>of</strong> delight and terror<br />

fill the air as the Silver Bullet<br />

wooden roller coaster careens down<br />

its track at the Kemah Boardwalk. One <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>’s most popular entertainment<br />

venues, the Kemah complex includes<br />

educational and entertainment<br />

options plus a variety <strong>of</strong><br />

dining and shopping<br />

choices.<br />

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This stunning lighthouse<br />

replica is a popular landmark<br />

in the Kemah Lighthouse<br />

District and signals that<br />

visitors are closing in on<br />

the area’s boardwalk,<br />

shops and restaurants.<br />

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A chain-saw pelican carved<br />

from yellow pine is among<br />

the items available at the<br />

Eagles’ Nest in Kemah<br />

As a <strong>Galveston</strong>ian himself, Mitchell was<br />

among the first to see the economic potential <strong>of</strong><br />

revitalizing his aging hometown and turning it<br />

into a unique destination for tourists and a<br />

viable commercial venture for the residents <strong>of</strong><br />

his home community. Instrumental in the rescue,<br />

rebuilding and revitalization <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong>’s<br />

historic downtown, Mitchell also was a catalyst<br />

in the reactivation <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> Island’s Mardi<br />

Gras celebration. Now celebrated in several<br />

additional communities, the pre-Lenten event<br />

each year attracts thousands <strong>of</strong> tourists and<br />

local residents alike, who participate in<br />

parades, balls, parties and other festivities.<br />

One island-based group known as the<br />

“Funky Uptown Umbrella Brigade” took the<br />

concept <strong>of</strong> visionary to a new level during<br />

Mardi Gras 2012, when 1,503 costumed<br />

revelers—dancing the “Hokey-Pokey” in<br />

unison—secured the Guiness World Record<br />

title for the largest choreographed umbrella<br />

dance in the world to date.<br />

Other <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> residents have<br />

realized such visionary goals as establishing an<br />

80-acre wildlife park that serves as a refuge for<br />

fifty different species <strong>of</strong> animals, or turning the<br />

sleepy, bay-side fishing village <strong>of</strong> Kemah into<br />

a giant wonderland <strong>of</strong> carnival-style amusements<br />

with a scenic boardwalk, restaurants<br />

and shops. It also includes an educational area<br />

that features a historic School House Museum.<br />

For historian A. Pat Daniels, the vision was<br />

more personal—to ensure that the SS Selma, a<br />

concrete World War I oil tanker, was accorded<br />

her rightful place in <strong>Galveston</strong> history.<br />

After striking a jetty in Tampico, Florida, only<br />

a year after its initial launch in 1919, the<br />

Selma was towed back to <strong>Galveston</strong>. Without<br />

knowledge <strong>of</strong> how to repair her, the government<br />

decided to scrap the unusual vessel, and<br />

she was taken to her final resting place near<br />

Pelican Island’s eastern shore, where she<br />

remains today. In 1992, however, she was<br />

purchased by Daniels, a former reporter and<br />

editor for the Houston Chronicle, the Houston<br />

Post and <strong>Galveston</strong>’s The Daily News. Thanks<br />

to his efforts, the Selma is now listed in the<br />

National Register <strong>of</strong> Historic Places, has been<br />

designated a state archeological landmark by<br />

the Texas Antiquities Committee and is recognized<br />

with a Texas Historical Commission’s<br />

Official Texas Historical Marker.<br />

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Above: The School House Museum in the<br />

Kemah Lighthouse District occupies a<br />

vintage school building, originally located<br />

on Highway 146. Relocated to its present<br />

site, the structure has been restored as a<br />

museum and visitor center.<br />

Left: A whimsical painting <strong>of</strong> teacher and<br />

pupil adorn this plywood cutout in front <strong>of</strong><br />

The School House Museum in the Kemah<br />

Lighthouse District.<br />

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Among <strong>Galveston</strong>’s most visionary projects,<br />

the rescue and restoration <strong>of</strong> the 1877<br />

iron barque Elissa was one that focused<br />

international attention on the importance<br />

<strong>of</strong> maritime historic preservation. Here, the<br />

National Historic Landmark motors out to<br />

the Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico from the Bolivar Roads.<br />

The smoke through which she is moving is<br />

the result <strong>of</strong> a grass burn-<strong>of</strong>f on the nearby<br />

Bolivar Peninsula<br />

Today, <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>’s continuing<br />

progressive leadership, pr<strong>of</strong>essional opportunities<br />

and an enterprising yet relaxed way <strong>of</strong><br />

life are in the forefront as its citizens focus on<br />

a future <strong>of</strong> continuing progress and prosperity.<br />

Known for their commitment to the<br />

celebration <strong>of</strong> diversity and the ability to<br />

embrace challenges as well as opportunity,<br />

the people <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> maintain a<br />

“can-do” spirit that is constantly looking for<br />

paths to a better tomorrow.<br />

Hard-working, fun-loving, mindful <strong>of</strong> its<br />

past, supportive <strong>of</strong> its future—it is a county <strong>of</strong><br />

peoples whose history <strong>of</strong> success is based on<br />

centuries dedicated to new beginnings and<br />

dynamic, innovative leadership. Like the forces<br />

<strong>of</strong> nature that through the ages have carved its<br />

beaches and bays and molded its coastal plains,<br />

the vision <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>’s people is<br />

based on invention and re-invention—ebbing<br />

and flowing, reaching and growing—and the<br />

awareness that always, there is the sea.<br />

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Kissed by the incoming tide at sunset,<br />

a Lightning Whelk shell is a treasured find<br />

on <strong>Galveston</strong> Island.<br />

Above: The SS Selma, a concrete World<br />

War I oil tanker, rests <strong>of</strong> the sandy bottom<br />

along Pelican Island’s eastern shore. After<br />

striking a jetty in Tampico, Florida, only a<br />

year after its initial launch in 1919, the<br />

Selma was towed back to <strong>Galveston</strong>.<br />

Without knowledge <strong>of</strong> how to repair her, the<br />

government decided to scrap the vessel and<br />

she was taken to her final resting place<br />

where she remains today. In 1992, the SS<br />

Selma was purchased by historian A. Pat<br />

Daniels, a former reporter and editor for<br />

the Houston Chronicle, the Houston<br />

Post and <strong>Galveston</strong>’s The Daily News.<br />

Thanks to his efforts, the Selma now is<br />

listed in the National Register <strong>of</strong> Historic<br />

Places, has been designated a state<br />

archeological landmark by the Texas<br />

Antiquities Committee and is recognized<br />

with a Texas Historical Commission’s<br />

Official Texas Historical Marker. Despite<br />

her compelling history, she is best known<br />

today as marking the location <strong>of</strong> one <strong>of</strong> the<br />

area’s most popular fishing spots for<br />

flounder and trout.<br />

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This view <strong>of</strong> historic downtown <strong>Galveston</strong> from the<br />

harbor shows architecture that spans the centuries<br />

while embracing a vision for the future. The high-rise<br />

American National Insurance Building stands in stark<br />

contrast to the 1877 tall ship Elissa at dock.<br />

Chapter 5<br />

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114


<strong>Galveston</strong><br />

Partners<br />

Pr<strong>of</strong>iles <strong>of</strong> businesses,<br />

organizations, and families that have<br />

contributed to the development and<br />

economic base <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

Quality <strong>of</strong> Life ...........................116<br />

The Marketplace ........................136<br />

Building a Greater <strong>Galveston</strong> .....162<br />

GALVESTON PARTNERS<br />

115


Quality <strong>of</strong> Life<br />

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116


Healthcare providers, school districts,<br />

universities, and other institutions<br />

that contribute to the<br />

quality <strong>of</strong> life in <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

The Grand 1894 Opera House......................................................118<br />

Moody Gardens ® ........................................................................120<br />

Moody Gardens ® Golf Course<br />

Moody Gardens ® Hotel ..........................................................121<br />

Texas City Independent School District .........................................122<br />

Texas A&M University at <strong>Galveston</strong> .............................................124<br />

College <strong>of</strong> the Mainland..............................................................126<br />

City <strong>of</strong> La Marque .....................................................................128<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> College ......................................................................129<br />

City <strong>of</strong> League City....................................................................130<br />

Abundant Life Christian Center ...................................................131<br />

Beachtown ................................................................................132<br />

SCENIC GALVESTON, Inc...........................................................133<br />

City <strong>of</strong> Texas City......................................................................134<br />

Gulf Greyhound Park .................................................................135<br />

QUALITY OF LIFE<br />

117


THE<br />

GRAND 1894<br />

OPERA HOUSE<br />

Above: The exterior view <strong>of</strong> The Grand<br />

following Hurricane Ike renovations, 2009.<br />

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF THE OPERA HOUSE STAFF.<br />

Below: A view <strong>of</strong> the interior <strong>of</strong> The Grand<br />

1894 Opera House, orchestra level, 2010.<br />

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MARK BRITAIN.<br />

Although William Shakespeare held forth<br />

that “All the world’s a stage,” <strong>Galveston</strong>’s Grand<br />

1894 Opera House holds forth a stage for all<br />

the world.<br />

Surviving fire, flood, hurricanes, changing<br />

public taste and neglect, the historic landmark<br />

theatre has, for more than a century,<br />

welcomed a cast <strong>of</strong> performers and productions<br />

ranging from internationally renowned<br />

warblers to local tots in tap shoes. Young and<br />

old, pr<strong>of</strong>essional and amateur, onstage and <strong>of</strong>f,<br />

thousands have played both major and<br />

supporting roles in its colorful history.<br />

Following its opening on January 3, 1895,<br />

Anna Pavlova, William Jennings Bryan,<br />

Ignace Paderewski and Sarah Bernhardt were<br />

among those who graced The Grand’s stage<br />

during its early years. More recently, Tommy<br />

Tune, Bernadette Peters, Hal Holbrook, Willie<br />

Nelson and Itzhak Perlman have filled the<br />

house. Despite such star power, however,<br />

The Grand’s mission also traditionally has<br />

included serving its community as a performance<br />

venue for local graduations, recitals and<br />

other events.<br />

Constructed in a mere seven months and<br />

built at the behest <strong>of</strong> the local business<br />

community, The Grand complex originally<br />

included shops and a hotel in addition to the<br />

luxurious theater that boasted box seats,<br />

state-<strong>of</strong>-the-art acoustics, and a thirty-eight<br />

by thirty-six foot proscenium stage.<br />

Such “thespian temples”<br />

were considered a must for<br />

any self-respecting nineteenth<br />

century city <strong>of</strong> note,<br />

and served as a center <strong>of</strong> culture<br />

and civic activity. As<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> in the late 1800s<br />

was the most prosperous<br />

and progressive city in the<br />

state, it had the ability—and<br />

some would say, the duty—<br />

to <strong>of</strong>fer the best in theater<br />

facilities and entertainment.<br />

According to one historian,<br />

there was a saying that if a<br />

traveling stage production<br />

had not “played The Grand,”<br />

it had not played Texas.<br />

Yet, as with many great<br />

dramas, The Grand’s life<br />

has included both triumph<br />

and tragedy. Although today<br />

it holds the title <strong>of</strong> “The<br />

Official Opera House <strong>of</strong> the State <strong>of</strong> Texas,” the<br />

elegant structure was just over five years old<br />

when <strong>Galveston</strong>’s “Great Storm” <strong>of</strong> 1900 left<br />

it partially destroyed. Despite major damage,<br />

however, the importance <strong>of</strong> having a theatre in<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>’s downtown area was such that<br />

crews went to work almost immediately, and<br />

The Grand reopened in slightly over a year.<br />

As the twentieth century progressed, a new<br />

threat emerged as motion pictures more and<br />

more supplanted traditional stage productions<br />

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in popularity. Although such greats as Tex<br />

Ritter (with his horse), George M. Cohan and<br />

the Ziegfeld Follies continued to play “live” at<br />

The Grand for a number <strong>of</strong> years, sequential<br />

efforts to remodel it into a “movie house”<br />

during the first half <strong>of</strong> the 1900s resulted<br />

in the obliteration <strong>of</strong> many <strong>of</strong> its original<br />

features. As its usage evolved, The Grand’s<br />

ownership and management changed also,<br />

and over the years, it was renamed first the<br />

Martini Theater and then the State Theater.<br />

Falling into disrepair during the 1960s,<br />

the theater was closed in 1974. Recognizing<br />

that demolition was a possibility, a group <strong>of</strong><br />

concerned citizens formed a grass-roots<br />

preservation effort, and purchased the property<br />

that same year.<br />

A first priority was to make the facility<br />

usable. After completing enough repair to<br />

prevent further deterioration and make it<br />

stageworthy—and despite dust, mold, limited<br />

seating and inadequate heating and air<br />

conditioning—the venue began <strong>of</strong>fering a<br />

limited bill <strong>of</strong> entertainment while supporters<br />

set about raising money for what became a<br />

twelve year, $7 million restoration project.<br />

The Grand’s next decade was filled with<br />

painstaking research and hard work as<br />

preservation architect Killis P. Almond, FAIA,<br />

spearheaded the restoration project. Photos<br />

were studied, and original features discovered<br />

under layers <strong>of</strong> sheetrock and paint. A<br />

remnant found on a balcony floor was used<br />

as a pattern to weave replacement carpeting,<br />

and lost and damaged woodwork was<br />

replaced with vintage lumber from Virginia.<br />

On January 18, 1986, The Grand raised<br />

its new scenic curtain on a gala re-opening<br />

performance by Steve Lawrence and Eydie<br />

Gormé. Enthusiasm was such that the theater’s<br />

attendance and <strong>of</strong>ferings quickly<br />

expanded. In 1989 a “Serious Fun” program<br />

was introduced for children, which grew to<br />

include The Grand Kids Festival.<br />

Marking its own centennial with a community-wide<br />

celebration on January 3, 1995, and<br />

the commemoration on September 9, 2000, <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>’s recovery after the 1900 storm, the<br />

dawn <strong>of</strong> The Grand’s second 100 years was<br />

bright with expanded programs and facilities.<br />

Annually, some 200 bookings attracted over<br />

100,000 patrons, <strong>of</strong> which it was estimated<br />

eighty percent came from “<strong>of</strong>f the island.”<br />

In October 2007 a major capital campaign<br />

was introduced, which included a Sidewalk<br />

<strong>of</strong> Stars initiative, to help provide ongoing<br />

support. The Grand’s future seemed secure.<br />

Less than twelve months later, however,<br />

Hurricane Ike roared ashore, and along with<br />

much <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> Island, The Grand suffered<br />

major damages. In an outpouring <strong>of</strong><br />

support, patrons and performers from near<br />

and far <strong>of</strong>fered assistance and rearranged<br />

show dates.<br />

With Jerry Jeff Walker<br />

scheduled to perform at The<br />

Grand on January 3, 2009—<br />

an exact 114 years after The<br />

Grand’s inaugural opening—<br />

that became the target date<br />

for The Grand’s post-Ike<br />

debut. Amid a flurry <strong>of</strong><br />

rebuilding that consumed<br />

the next ninety-two days,<br />

executive director Maureen<br />

Patton—in typical “the show<br />

must go on” style—told contractors,<br />

“We don’t have to be<br />

finished; we just have to be<br />

ready [to re-open].” Patton<br />

knew The Grand would serve<br />

a vital role in the healing <strong>of</strong><br />

the <strong>Galveston</strong> community,<br />

and the quick re-opening<br />

brought needed visitors back<br />

to the Island, contributing to<br />

economic recovery as well.<br />

Today, The Grand is once<br />

again at the state’s cultural<br />

forefront as it shares the<br />

magic <strong>of</strong> live theatre with ever wider audiences.<br />

Even its beloved nine foot Steinway<br />

concert piano, which during Hurricane Ike<br />

was submerged in ten feet <strong>of</strong> sewage-contaminated<br />

salt water, has been given a new role to<br />

play. After its rescue from the flooded orchestra<br />

pit, the instrument’s inner golden harp<br />

was refinished and, under the gifted touch <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> metal artist John Weber, transformed<br />

into a sculptural masterpiece that<br />

today holds its own center stage as The<br />

Grand’s elegant conference room table.<br />

Maureen M. Patton, executive director <strong>of</strong><br />

The Grand, seated at the Steinway piano<br />

conference table. The table was crafted from<br />

the remains <strong>of</strong> The Grand’s nine foot<br />

Steinway piano destroyed by Hurricane Ike.<br />

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF JOHN GLOWCZWSKI.<br />

QUALITY OF LIFE<br />

119


MOODY<br />

GARDENS ®<br />

Above: Moody Gardens property.<br />

Below: Cotton-top Tamarins in the Moody<br />

Gardens Rainforest Pyramid.<br />

Visit a tropical rainforest. Explore four<br />

different oceans <strong>of</strong> the world. Attend a<br />

function or simply relax at the onsite AAA<br />

four-diamond rated hotel, convention center<br />

and spa. Play a round <strong>of</strong> golf at one <strong>of</strong> the<br />

most scenic courses in Texas.<br />

Relax on white sandy beaches and dip a<br />

toe in the crystal blue waters <strong>of</strong> a beautiful<br />

lagoon. Enjoy a film at the 3D, Ridefilm or<br />

4D Special FX theaters or go cruising on the<br />

Colonel Paddlewheel Boat. Choose from a<br />

variety <strong>of</strong> casual or fine dining options at one<br />

<strong>of</strong> Moody Gardens’ restaurants.<br />

And do it all in one place—Moody<br />

Gardens ® , one <strong>of</strong> Texas’ most popular and<br />

unique tourist destinations with more<br />

than two million visitors every year.<br />

Located on <strong>Galveston</strong> Island and<br />

saturated in botanical beauty, Moody<br />

Gardens ® is a 242-acre educational and<br />

leisure resort that truly has something<br />

for everyone. The most unique options<br />

are located inside three magnificent pyramids<br />

that punctuate the resort’s skyline.<br />

The centerpiece is the Rainforest<br />

Pyramid ® , ten stories <strong>of</strong> clear glass reaching<br />

skyward and home to a living tropical rainforest<br />

complete with crashing waterfalls,<br />

trees, caverns, flora and fauna. An amazing<br />

variety <strong>of</strong> wildlife and a new, dramatic<br />

tree-top canopy entrance and trail <strong>of</strong>fers<br />

guests a “bird’s eye” view <strong>of</strong> this truly breathtaking<br />

experience. Free-roaming Cotton-top<br />

Tamarins, Saki Monkeys, Two-toed Sloths,<br />

exotic birds and butterflies are <strong>of</strong>ten just a few<br />

feet away. Other new exhibits get guests close<br />

to other endangered animals including an<br />

ocelot, frogs and many other reptiles and<br />

animals for a rainforest experience like no<br />

other. The new canopy entrance and tree-top<br />

trail is just one part <strong>of</strong> a massive $25<br />

million enhancement project, which<br />

was completed in the spring <strong>of</strong> 2011.<br />

Opened in 1999 with an original<br />

price tag <strong>of</strong> $50 million, the Moody<br />

Gardens Aquarium Pyramid ® is one<br />

<strong>of</strong> the largest and most fascinating<br />

aquariums in U.S. with 1.5 million<br />

gallons <strong>of</strong> water playing host to more<br />

than 10,000 marine animals ranging<br />

from penguins and seals to sharks and<br />

thousands <strong>of</strong> tropical fish. In addition<br />

to four exhibits representative <strong>of</strong> the<br />

four points on the compass—the<br />

North Pacific, South Pacific, South<br />

Atlantic and Caribbean—there are<br />

also tide pools, “touch tanks” and<br />

unique viewing opportunities as well as<br />

underwater classrooms and learning experiences<br />

for guests <strong>of</strong> all ages within the tenstory<br />

tall structure <strong>of</strong> blue glass.<br />

Other exciting attractions at Moody<br />

Gardens ® include the Discovery Pyramid ®<br />

where visitors can experience the mysteries<br />

<strong>of</strong> science through a myriad <strong>of</strong> interactive<br />

exhibits; an extraordinary 3D Theater with<br />

a giant six-story screen; a Ridefilm Theater;<br />

a man-made, but beautiful tropical beach<br />

surrounded by blue lagoons; the Colonel<br />

Paddlewheel Boat; a seasonal holiday ice<br />

skating rink; a seasonal Festival <strong>of</strong> Lights;<br />

and a full menu <strong>of</strong> unique dining and<br />

shopping opportunities.<br />

Moody Gardens ® began in the mid-1980s<br />

with a horse barn, a riding arena with a hippotherapy<br />

riding program for people with head<br />

injuries and an extraordinary vision to create<br />

an island tourist destination. Today Moody<br />

Gardens ® is one <strong>of</strong> the premier educational/<br />

leisure facilities in the Southwest. It also provides<br />

horticultural therapy as well as education<br />

and employment for persons with a wide range<br />

<strong>of</strong> physical and emotional disabilities.<br />

For more information, call 800-582-4673<br />

or visit online at www.moodygardens.com.<br />

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MOODY<br />

GARDENS ®<br />

GOLF COURSE<br />

Moody Gardens ® Golf Course is an above<br />

par golf course named by Golf Digest as one<br />

<strong>of</strong> America’s Top Ten Newly Renovated<br />

Courses and one <strong>of</strong> the Most Scenic and<br />

Best Outlying courses in the Houston area<br />

by Houstonchron.com Golf Guide.<br />

Formerly known as the <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

Municipal Golf Course, the 2008 redesigned<br />

course is the inspired product <strong>of</strong> the<br />

renowned architects <strong>of</strong> Jacobsen Hardy<br />

Golf Course Design. The facelift represents<br />

a $16-million contribution to the city<br />

by Moody Gardens ® and the culmination<br />

<strong>of</strong> a vision to provide a first-class public<br />

golf course for residents and visitors. It is<br />

owned by the City and managed by<br />

Moody Gardens ® .<br />

Fully clad in Paspalum turf—a playing<br />

surface especially designed for seaside<br />

courses—Moody Gardens ® creates a tropical<br />

air with eighteen holes meandering through<br />

upland and lowland native areas as well<br />

as the natural wetlands habitat <strong>of</strong> beautiful<br />

Sydnor Bayou and perfectly accented with<br />

more than 500 palm trees.<br />

For more information or to schedule<br />

a tee time, call 409-683-GOLF or visit<br />

www.moodygardensgolf.com.<br />

Moody Gardens golf course.<br />

Moody Gardens ® Hotel, Spa and Convention<br />

Center does not just sit amidst the magic <strong>of</strong><br />

Moody Gardens ® , it is an integral part <strong>of</strong> it.<br />

This AAA Four-Diamond hotel features<br />

428 spectacular guestrooms, two restaurants,<br />

bars, a spacious convention center, tropical<br />

pool, full service spa and many other<br />

amenities. The hotel is designed to perfectly<br />

mirror the botanical beauty <strong>of</strong><br />

Moody Gardens ® .<br />

Among the finest accommodations<br />

on <strong>Galveston</strong> Island, each guestroom<br />

features stunning panoramic<br />

views and indulgent amenities.<br />

For those planning a meeting, convention,<br />

memorable wedding or<br />

other special event, the Hotel<br />

Convention Center includes more<br />

than 100,000 square feet <strong>of</strong> state-<strong>of</strong>the-art,<br />

custom-designed function<br />

space with a pr<strong>of</strong>essional sales and<br />

catering staff to handle every detail.<br />

Speaking <strong>of</strong> catering, the hotel<br />

employs one <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong>’s finest<br />

executive chefs and culinary teams<br />

serving event attendees, hotel guests and<br />

patrons <strong>of</strong> both Shearn’s Restaurant; an<br />

upscale AAA Four-Diamond dining experience,<br />

and The Terrace Restaurant, which<br />

<strong>of</strong>fers delicious fare in a tropical setting is<br />

designed to bring the outside indoors.<br />

For more information, call 409-741-8484 or<br />

visit online at www.moodygardenshotel.com.<br />

MOODY<br />

GARDENS ®<br />

HOTEL<br />

Moody Gardens Hotel lobby.<br />

QUALITY OF LIFE<br />

121


TEXAS CITY<br />

INDEPENDENT<br />

SCHOOL<br />

DISTRICT<br />

It may take a village to raise a child, but it<br />

also takes the whole community to educate one.<br />

Fortunately, the Texas City Independent<br />

School District (ISD) and its loyal community<br />

figured that out years ago. As a result, the<br />

school district made up <strong>of</strong> 30,000 residents<br />

and 5,500-plus students is not only fully<br />

accredited by the Texas Education Agency, but<br />

has also carried the Accountability Rating <strong>of</strong><br />

“Texas Education Agency Recognized School<br />

District” and has consistently met Adequate<br />

Yearly Progress or AYP-requirements as<br />

defined by the United States’ federal No Child<br />

Left Behind Act.<br />

“Much <strong>of</strong> our school district’s success is<br />

due to the recognition that it takes a cooperative<br />

effort among educators, students, parents<br />

and the entire community to create a school<br />

system that works,” former Superintendent <strong>of</strong><br />

Schools Bob Brundrett, Ph.D., said during a<br />

2011 interview. “And, time and time again,<br />

such a shared commitment has made a huge<br />

difference in the lives <strong>of</strong> our students.”<br />

A good example <strong>of</strong> this shared commitment<br />

came in November <strong>of</strong> 2007 when a<br />

committee <strong>of</strong> 125 community members diligently<br />

studied facilities, made suggestions and<br />

informed residents about the needs <strong>of</strong> the<br />

local school system. As a result, the people <strong>of</strong><br />

Texas City overwhelmingly passed a school<br />

bond election for more than $122 million,<br />

which has paved the way for multiple<br />

improvements and additions to the school<br />

system from a brand new intermediate school<br />

and elementary school, both <strong>of</strong> which opened<br />

in August <strong>of</strong> 2009, to the Simpson Education<br />

Support Center and a new high school, which<br />

opened doors in 2011.<br />

In addition to the newly opened or planned<br />

schools, Texas City ISD includes a Pre-K Head<br />

Start Program and four elementary schools for<br />

students kindergarten through fourth grade—<br />

Heights Elementary, Kohfeldt Elementary,<br />

Northside Elementary and Roosevelt-Wilson<br />

Elementary. There is also Levi Fry Intermediate<br />

for students in grades five and six, Blocker<br />

Middle School for students in grades seven and<br />

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eight, and Texas City High School for those in<br />

ninth through twelfth grade. Improvements<br />

have been plentiful for these existing system<br />

schools as well as the system’s technology<br />

infrastructure and athletics facilities all seeing<br />

complete renovations and major upgrades<br />

from the 2007 school bond.<br />

The school system has an assessed value <strong>of</strong><br />

more than $3.5 billion and a trophy case<br />

teeming with local, state and national awards<br />

that have been bestowed upon its schools,<br />

students and staff throughout the years.<br />

Many <strong>of</strong> its graduates have gone on to write<br />

and direct world-renowned movies, play pr<strong>of</strong>essional<br />

sports, lead military units and preside<br />

as judges in courts. They have become<br />

doctors, lawyers, business owners, mayors<br />

and teachers; and many have returned to<br />

Texas City to raise their own children who<br />

are now on their path to success.<br />

And, yet, those responsible for the Texas<br />

City ISD refuse to allow the system to rest on<br />

its laurels.<br />

“We are devoted to continuous improvement<br />

in every area <strong>of</strong> our school system and<br />

to our guiding principle, ‘Every Child Will<br />

Learn’,” Dr. Brundrett said. “It is in pursuit <strong>of</strong><br />

this fundamental belief that we focus all <strong>of</strong><br />

our efforts in preparing our individual students<br />

for their future by building relationships,<br />

making learning relevant and rigorous<br />

and developing each student’s unique talents<br />

and skills.”<br />

In addition to its regular curriculum-driven<br />

academic programs, Texas City ISD has a<br />

special Gifted and Talented Program available<br />

to develop the intellectual and creative<br />

potential in K-12 students who indicate a<br />

need to go beyond the regular curriculum.<br />

There are also programs and support for<br />

second-language learners, those who need<br />

extra academic assistance in order to succeed.<br />

Complementing these top-notch academic<br />

programs, the Texas City ISD additionally<br />

<strong>of</strong>fers many extracurricular and co-curricular<br />

activities from clubs, job partnerships,<br />

fine arts, athletics, vocational skills programs,<br />

dance team or cheerleading to<br />

help motivate students to reach their<br />

potential. Additional opportunities are<br />

provided through The Foundation for<br />

the Future—a nonpr<strong>of</strong>it, tax-exempt<br />

and independently registered community-based<br />

organization which promotes<br />

enrichment, innovation and excellence<br />

in education throughout the school system.<br />

With the steadfast belief that there<br />

is a strong correlation between the quality<br />

<strong>of</strong> life in a community and the quality <strong>of</strong> an<br />

educational system, the Foundation’s goal is to<br />

make up the difference in funds needed to provide<br />

an even higher quality <strong>of</strong> education to<br />

Texas City students and, in fact, to date has<br />

awarded more than $1 million in grants to<br />

teachers for innovative programs that enhance<br />

the educational environment.<br />

“Public schools have helped to create our<br />

community and will continue to be the<br />

backbone <strong>of</strong> the future work force as long as<br />

we ensure that they remain among the best in<br />

the nation,” said Foundation Executive<br />

Director Deborah Laine. “Come see what<br />

can happen when a community and school<br />

district work together.”<br />

For more information on the Texas City<br />

ISD, visit online at www.tcisd.org.<br />

QUALITY OF LIFE<br />

123


TEXAS A&M<br />

UNIVERSITY AT<br />

GALVESTON<br />

Above: The 135-acre George Mitchell<br />

campus <strong>of</strong> Texas A&M University at<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> on Pelican Island.<br />

Opposite, top: Marine Biology doctoral<br />

students Sarah Piwetz and Sylvia Bonizzoni<br />

survey the <strong>Galveston</strong> Ship Channel for<br />

dolphin activity.<br />

Opposite, bottom: Kathryn Perry, Texas<br />

A&M University at <strong>Galveston</strong> class <strong>of</strong><br />

2011, serves at sea today as a Merchant<br />

Marine Officer.<br />

On the Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico coast near the<br />

Houston, Texas, ship channel, generations<br />

<strong>of</strong> a special campus community have<br />

gathered to teach and learn about the sea.<br />

This community, Texas A&M University at<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>, has populated research laboratories<br />

and expeditions, marine and military<br />

vessels, boardrooms and classrooms <strong>of</strong><br />

the world.<br />

With nearly 2,000 students, TAMUG is<br />

an integral branch <strong>of</strong> the internationallyacclaimed<br />

Texas A&M University. Celebrating<br />

its fiftieth anniversary, TAMUG proves its<br />

worth as a premier university for ocean and<br />

coastal studies. Its impact upon the State <strong>of</strong><br />

Texas, coastal communities <strong>of</strong> Texas, the<br />

business, industries and enterprises <strong>of</strong> the<br />

entire U.S. Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico is far reaching.<br />

At its 130 acre campus on Pelican Island—<br />

adjacent to the <strong>Galveston</strong> ship channel<br />

near the mouth <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> Bay—TAMUG<br />

creates a small college atmosphere <strong>of</strong>fering<br />

remarkable marine and maritime academic<br />

and research experiences. In addition to<br />

academic degrees, TAMUG <strong>of</strong>fers outreach<br />

programs ranging from Sea Camp for<br />

school-aged students to Roads Scholars<br />

for seniors.<br />

This by-the-sea campus environment<br />

complements unique curricular <strong>of</strong>ferings<br />

with nationally recognized and accredited<br />

programs. TAMUG provides ocean-oriented,<br />

four-year courses and graduate programs<br />

preparing students for excellence in business,<br />

oceanographic and physical sciences, biological<br />

sciences, engineering and transportation,<br />

administration and liberal arts.<br />

In recent years, TAMUG consistently<br />

ranked among the top ten public universities<br />

in Texas (in research grant dollars generated<br />

per full-time faculty researcher).<br />

Additionally, TAMUG is home to the Texas<br />

Maritime Academy, one <strong>of</strong> six state maritime<br />

academies in the United States and the<br />

only mariner-licensing program on the Gulf<br />

<strong>of</strong> Mexico.<br />

In fact the branch campus owes its existence<br />

to <strong>Galveston</strong> community’s desire to establish a<br />

U.S. maritime academy in <strong>Galveston</strong>.<br />

The academy provides students all the<br />

training required by federal law to obtain a<br />

U.S. Coast Guard unlimited tonnage license<br />

(deck/engine) in the Merchant Marine along<br />

with a bachelor’s and master’s degree from<br />

a tier one university. Other opportunities<br />

include the Strategic Sealift Officer Program<br />

(SSOP), in which qualified cadets attend<br />

Naval Reserve Officers Training Corp courses<br />

(NROTC), which lead to a commission in<br />

the Naval Reserves. These cadets are also<br />

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124


eligible to receive $8,000 per year in student<br />

incentive program (SIP) funds. Inter-service<br />

transfers to other branches <strong>of</strong> the military are<br />

also possible. The Texas Maritime Academy<br />

Corps <strong>of</strong> Cadets also <strong>of</strong>fers the naval Reserve<br />

Officers Training Corps (NROTC) for students<br />

who desire to receive an active duty<br />

commission in the Navy.<br />

At the heart <strong>of</strong> the academy and the entire<br />

learning community <strong>of</strong> TAMUG is respect<br />

for traditions, the sea and each other. In his<br />

book, Aggies by the Sea, Regents Pr<strong>of</strong>essor<br />

Stephen Curley describes the spirit and<br />

traditions <strong>of</strong> TAMUG.<br />

“Texas A&M University at <strong>Galveston</strong> is <strong>of</strong>,<br />

for, and by the sea. It combines its love for all<br />

aspects <strong>of</strong> the ocean with the traditions <strong>of</strong><br />

Texas A&M University to bind and define its<br />

extraordinary community <strong>of</strong> ‘Sea Aggies.’”<br />

QUALITY OF LIFE<br />

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COLLEGE OF<br />

THE MAINLAND<br />

Above: COM students walking on Eckert<br />

Lake trail.<br />

Below: Faculty and staff members.<br />

College <strong>of</strong> the Mainland has a firm grasp<br />

on the ABCs <strong>of</strong> higher education in <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>. At COM, one <strong>of</strong> the area’s fastest<br />

growing local colleges, A is for affordable,<br />

accessible and applicable programs; B is for<br />

a better and brighter futures; C is for<br />

community interaction and inspiration; D is<br />

for diverse campus and curriculum; and E is<br />

for “Education for Everyone.”<br />

From opening day on September 14, 1967,<br />

with 414 students meeting in a renovated high<br />

school, COM has grown to an annual enrollment<br />

<strong>of</strong> more than 4,000 credit and 10,000<br />

continuing education students who enjoy a<br />

modern, centrally-located main campus <strong>of</strong><br />

approximately 120 acres in Texas City, plus a<br />

second smaller campus known as Learning<br />

Center-North <strong>County</strong> in League City.<br />

Students are the focus at COM, and the<br />

college is known for its progressive, proactive<br />

approach to higher education. Offering one <strong>of</strong><br />

the state’s most affordable tuition structures,<br />

COM also provides financial assistance to<br />

qualified students through scholarships,<br />

grants and work-study programs. To ease<br />

scheduling difficulties, weekend and online<br />

courses are available in some areas <strong>of</strong> study.<br />

Even the enrollment center is designed for<br />

student convenience, and <strong>of</strong>fers a “one-stopshopping”<br />

point <strong>of</strong> entry, with comfortable<br />

seating, a small play area for children, registration<br />

and cashier stations, and a dozen<br />

semi-private computer carrels for use by<br />

students during the enrollment process.<br />

Offering courses that range from fine arts<br />

and nursing to industrial arts and law enforcement,<br />

COM’s programs have garnered local,<br />

regional and international recognition.<br />

Accredited by the Southern Association <strong>of</strong><br />

Colleges and Schools, COM is widely recognized<br />

for academic excellence. Its Process<br />

Technology Program is the first in the nation to<br />

<strong>of</strong>fer an associate degree in PTEC and has been<br />

recognized by the state as setting the standard<br />

for all similar programs. The school’s Nursing<br />

and Allied Health Program graduates frequently<br />

score a 100 percent pass rate on national<br />

exams, and the Pharmacy Technician Program<br />

has recently received national accreditation.<br />

Programs holding state accreditation include<br />

Police and Fire Technology, Real Estate,<br />

Cosmetology, Nursing and Allied Health<br />

Education. COM’s Child Development Lab<br />

School was the first in <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> to<br />

receive national accreditation, and its Partners<br />

in Alternative Certification for Teachers<br />

Program provides a short-track option for<br />

those holding non-education degrees who<br />

want to become accredited educators.<br />

Additionally, qualified local high school students<br />

can “get a jump” on a career or further<br />

education through COM’s Dual Credit Program.<br />

Operating in cooperation with area school systems,<br />

this program allows teens to take courses<br />

for credit at COM during their high school<br />

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years. As a result, a number <strong>of</strong> area young people<br />

have received their associate degrees or<br />

pr<strong>of</strong>essional certifications from COM prior to<br />

their high school graduations. Those going on<br />

to four year colleges and universities have <strong>of</strong>ten<br />

found that the course work they completed at<br />

COM allows them to obtain advanced placement<br />

or enter at a second-year level.<br />

Older students <strong>of</strong>ten enroll at COM to<br />

complete requirements for deferred or second<br />

careers, or to help themselves move up in<br />

their current pr<strong>of</strong>essions. Others just want to<br />

learn for learning’s sake by enhancing their<br />

knowledge in fields that have long interested<br />

them. One recent student had not been in a<br />

classroom for forty-two years before enrolling<br />

in COM’s Process Technology program, but<br />

two days after turning seventy-two—and with<br />

a grade point average <strong>of</strong> 3.7—he received his<br />

Associate <strong>of</strong> Applied Science degree. One <strong>of</strong><br />

the nation’s oldest community college honors<br />

graduates, he was inducted into Phi Theta<br />

Kappa, the international honors society.<br />

COM also serves low-income, first-generation<br />

college-bound students through its TRiO<br />

Upward Bound Program. With funding provided<br />

by the U.S. Department <strong>of</strong> Education,<br />

TRiO combines a rigorous program <strong>of</strong> course<br />

work with special academic support and<br />

culturally enriching activities. This program’s<br />

success is affirmed by the number <strong>of</strong><br />

participants who have gone on to<br />

enroll at community colleges and<br />

four-year universities.<br />

Just as COM attracts a diverse mix<br />

<strong>of</strong> students, it <strong>of</strong>fers a diverse selection<br />

<strong>of</strong> courses, and also works with<br />

local business and industry to ensure<br />

that its programs are attuned to<br />

current employment opportunities.<br />

Nursing and healthcare programs are<br />

the most popular, but there are also<br />

courses for graphic arts and design,<br />

drafting, civilian firearms, security<br />

and loss prevention. For the business-minded,<br />

there are accounting,<br />

bookkeeping, and computer technology<br />

courses; languages <strong>of</strong>fered<br />

include Spanish, Chinese, Arabic<br />

and even sign language. The industrial<br />

technology program features<br />

welding, machinist/millwright, electrical,<br />

air conditioning and heating.<br />

COM’s Risk Management Institute’s<br />

safety classes are available free <strong>of</strong><br />

charge to employers, employees and<br />

the general public. For those who<br />

wish to study abroad, faculty-led<br />

tours are also open to the public,<br />

with participation on a credit or<br />

non-credit basis.<br />

COM’s bond with the central<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> area extends far<br />

beyond traditional education, however.<br />

Individually and collectively,<br />

its students, faculty and staff participate<br />

in a number <strong>of</strong> civic projects<br />

and charities. The pleasant, parklike<br />

campus serves as a recreational<br />

area for local citizens, and the<br />

school also provides a cultural center<br />

for the community with activities<br />

that include lectures, art exhibits,<br />

concerts and theatrical productions. In addition<br />

to continuing education courses, COM’s<br />

Senior Adult Program for those older than<br />

fifty-five <strong>of</strong>fers field trips to local and out-<strong>of</strong>town<br />

destinations, in addition to courses in<br />

computer skills, bridge, Spanish, art, line<br />

dancing, yoga, Pilates and tai-chi and water<br />

exercise classes at COM’s indoor, heated pool.<br />

Above: COM <strong>of</strong>fers workforce training.<br />

Below: COM students in the<br />

Enrollment Center.<br />

QUALITY OF LIFE<br />

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CITY OF<br />

LA MARQUE<br />

Above: Highland Bayou Park.<br />

PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVEN RAMIREZ.<br />

Below: Gulf Greyhound Park, La Marque.<br />

Located at the geographic center <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>, the City <strong>of</strong> La Marque is<br />

“right on the mark” when it comes to<br />

blending small city charm with modern<br />

convenience and life-style.<br />

La Marque’s favorable location has been<br />

apparent since its earliest days, when it was<br />

known as Buttermilk Station, a name taken<br />

from the Civil War practice <strong>of</strong> soldiers’<br />

stopping <strong>of</strong>f to purchase buttermilk on their<br />

marches between <strong>Galveston</strong> and Houston.<br />

With only six families in 1867 and an economy<br />

based on dairy products and agriculture,<br />

the town grew from 100 to 175 people during<br />

the 1890s and included several fruit farms, a<br />

Baptist church and a small school with fourteen<br />

students. It was during this time that the<br />

community, which also had become known as<br />

the Highlands for its location near Highland<br />

Bayou, was renamed La Marque by postmistress<br />

Madame St. Ambrose. By 1914, four<br />

railroads served the community, and the population<br />

had grown to 500. In the ensuing years<br />

<strong>of</strong> the twentieth century, business and commerce<br />

expanded to include over 300 businesses<br />

and a population <strong>of</strong> more than 14,000.<br />

Today, La Marque’s proximity to Houston’s<br />

Clear Lake region and the coastal cities <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> and Texas City provides a rare<br />

opportunity for its residents to enjoy the best<br />

<strong>of</strong> two worlds—a community where family<br />

life is prized and neighbors know one another’s<br />

names combined with easy access to<br />

employment and business opportunities.<br />

Known for its low cost <strong>of</strong> living, La<br />

Marque is ideal for business and residential<br />

investment. Much open acreage has modern<br />

infrastructure already in place for future<br />

development, and it is proximally located<br />

to major land, air, rail and sea routes that<br />

connect it to the world. A twenty-four acre<br />

retail plaza and the revitalized downtown<br />

area <strong>of</strong>fer diverse shopping experiences<br />

and housing choices range from historic<br />

homes to new construction. Residents<br />

include young families with modest bungalows,<br />

couples with growing families and<br />

needing larger homes close to good schools<br />

and recreational facilities, and retirees who<br />

want a peaceful community with easily<br />

accessed medical care.<br />

Recognized also for educational excellence,<br />

La Marque students are served by<br />

several public school districts, private<br />

schools and academies. Higher education<br />

is provided by College <strong>of</strong> the Mainland,<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> College and Texas A&M-<strong>Galveston</strong>.<br />

La Marque is not limited to all work and<br />

no play, however. Tourism in La Marque<br />

took a major leap in the 1990s with the<br />

construction <strong>of</strong> Gulf Greyhound Park, the<br />

world’s largest dog racing track. Additionally,<br />

Highland Bayou Park <strong>of</strong>fers 230 acres<br />

dedicated to baseball, basketball, tennis,<br />

playground and pavilion facilities, a fishing<br />

pier, wetlands for bird watching and hiking,<br />

Other local favorites include horseback<br />

riding, camping and water sports.<br />

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GALVESTON<br />

COLLEGE<br />

Many institutions <strong>of</strong> higher learning talk<br />

about being an educational beacon, but<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> College has the lighthouse to prove it.<br />

From its earliest days in 1967, when it<br />

began classes with a single building—the<br />

refurbished St. Mary’s Orphanage—and a<br />

modest curriculum, the school has endeavored<br />

to be “a beacon <strong>of</strong> light, guiding lifelong<br />

learning” for local residents. Today, occupying<br />

a twelve acre complex and <strong>of</strong>fering programs<br />

in many <strong>of</strong> the nation’s fastest growing<br />

academic disciplines, <strong>Galveston</strong> College also<br />

displays the historic cupola from <strong>Galveston</strong>’s<br />

South Jetty Lighthouse, on loan “for use in<br />

perpetuity” from the U.S. Coast Guard.<br />

Such affirmation has been a constant<br />

throughout <strong>Galveston</strong> College history. The<br />

announcement <strong>of</strong> its founding garnered<br />

front-page headlines in the December 1, 1966,<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Daily News, and many <strong>of</strong> the<br />

school’s educational and athletic programs, as<br />

well as additions to the campus itself, reflect<br />

the mutually supportive relationship between<br />

the school and its home community.<br />

With a central focus on training for careers,<br />

not just jobs, and in keeping with its informal<br />

motto <strong>of</strong> “Go for it,” <strong>Galveston</strong> College <strong>of</strong>fers<br />

numerous two-year degree programs and a<br />

variety <strong>of</strong> one-year programs and short-term<br />

certifications that can lead to career opportunities<br />

both on and <strong>of</strong>f the island.<br />

Concentrating on such diverse areas as<br />

healthcare, information technology, business,<br />

culinary arts and technical training, the institution<br />

is dedicated to “building <strong>Galveston</strong>, one<br />

mind at a time,” and aggressively creates accessible<br />

learning opportunities to fulfill individual<br />

and community needs by providing highquality<br />

educational programs and services. In<br />

a departure from traditional curricula, an<br />

innovative two-year welding degree program is<br />

geared to local employment, and an associate’s<br />

degree program in industrial systems is helping<br />

resupply the local workforce in these areas.<br />

Aware <strong>of</strong> the importance <strong>of</strong> addressing the<br />

shifting economies <strong>of</strong> its home community,<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> College also is a leader in distance<br />

education. It is one <strong>of</strong> the few colleges in the<br />

United States <strong>of</strong>fering online courses in cutting-edge<br />

disciplines such as computerized<br />

tomography and magnetic resonance imaging.<br />

Members <strong>of</strong> the community join in college<br />

activities through public lectures and continuing<br />

education and leisure learning courses.<br />

School athletic teams, known as the<br />

“Whitecaps,” participate in numerous intercollegiate<br />

sports under the National Junior<br />

College Athletic Association and the Region<br />

XIV Athletic Conference.<br />

Supported by state funding, local taxes<br />

and tuition, <strong>Galveston</strong> College is one <strong>of</strong> the<br />

most affordable higher education opportunities<br />

in Texas. Additionally, the <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

College Foundation has for more than a<br />

decade <strong>of</strong>fered Universal Access, a “free<br />

tuition program” for local high school, homeschooled<br />

and GED graduates. For additional<br />

information visit www.gc.edu.<br />

QUALITY OF LIFE<br />

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CITY OF<br />

LEAGUE CITY<br />

Clockwise, starting from the top:<br />

A creekside view.<br />

Heads up.<br />

Helen’s Garden in League City’s<br />

Historic District.<br />

Boutique shopping in League City.<br />

The citizens and leadership <strong>of</strong> League City<br />

have every right to be proud. After all, the<br />

community they call home has been designated<br />

one <strong>of</strong> the 100 Best Small Cities in America<br />

and its burgeoning population is pro<strong>of</strong> that it<br />

is deserving <strong>of</strong> this title.<br />

Encompassing fifty-five square miles in<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>, League City’s population<br />

growth over the past two decades has been<br />

nothing short <strong>of</strong> phenomenal. The population<br />

has risen four to six percent every year while<br />

growth for the rest <strong>of</strong> the state has averaged<br />

less than two percent annually. With a current<br />

population estimated at 83,500, the city is the<br />

largest in the county.<br />

Though it lies within the Houston metropolitan<br />

area, League City has much to <strong>of</strong>fer in<br />

its own right. Aerospace, petrochemicals,<br />

healthcare, upscale commercial, boating and<br />

visitor attractions make up the majority <strong>of</strong> its<br />

economic base and household income levels<br />

and educational pr<strong>of</strong>iles are well above the<br />

Houston-area average.<br />

And, simply put, it is beautiful. League<br />

City is home to the luxurious South Shore<br />

Harbor Resort area with its yacht-filled marina.<br />

Its Main Street area is more like a city in a<br />

park—with majestic oaks lining both sides <strong>of</strong><br />

the street and with gardens, ponds, bandstands<br />

and enchanting landscapes serving as a<br />

backdrop for the many historic homes which<br />

have been transformed into charming shops<br />

and eateries. The city’s northern border is<br />

accented by beautiful Clear Lake, which is not<br />

only the home <strong>of</strong> the nation’s third largest<br />

pleasure boat anchorage, but also provides<br />

access to <strong>Galveston</strong> Bay and the Gulf <strong>of</strong><br />

Mexico. Moreover, the city is home to three<br />

beautiful golf courses and is in the midst <strong>of</strong><br />

implementing a master plan that calls for 212<br />

miles <strong>of</strong> trails and pathways, which will not<br />

only improve mobility throughout the city,<br />

but will increase recreational opportunities<br />

for pedestrians and bicyclists alike.<br />

First settled nearly 200 years ago by<br />

Stephen F. Austin, League City actually gets its<br />

name from J. C. League who began acquiring<br />

land in the county in the late 1800s. He<br />

renamed his holdings League City in 1896, a<br />

name that stuck when the city was finally<br />

incorporated in 1962.<br />

Today’s League City is governed by a mayor<br />

and seven council members who join the city’s<br />

paid personnel in striving to provide the best<br />

services possible.<br />

“We are extremely proud <strong>of</strong> our city and<br />

look forward to continued growth as more and<br />

more people learn about our upscale neighborhoods,<br />

top-quality schools and recreational<br />

lifestyle,” said Mayor Tim Paulissen. “Home to<br />

rocket scientists and entrepreneurs, you could<br />

say we are where business meets pleasure.”<br />

For more about League City, please visit<br />

www.leaguecity.com.<br />

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ABUNDANT LIFE<br />

CHRISTIAN<br />

CENTER<br />

More than a church, more than a school,<br />

more than a congregation, Abundant Life<br />

Christian Center embraces a Bible-based<br />

global mission. With one <strong>of</strong> the largest<br />

church memberships in <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>,<br />

ALCC’s focus is on “ministries that reach<br />

neighborhoods and nations.”<br />

ALCC’s rapid growth has taken it from a<br />

ten person meeting in Pastors Walter and<br />

Cindy Hallam’s home in 1985 to a current<br />

congregation <strong>of</strong> approximately 4,000 worshippers.<br />

Racing to stay ahead <strong>of</strong> its quickly<br />

increasing numbers, ALCC locations through<br />

the past twenty-five years have included a<br />

local motel, a funeral home, a refurbished<br />

grocery store and its first sanctuary, dedicated<br />

in 1987, that was capable <strong>of</strong> seating 500.<br />

Today, ALCC members enjoy a multi-acre<br />

complex in La Marque that <strong>of</strong>fers an accredited<br />

kindergarten through grade twelve charter<br />

school, recreational areas that include a skate<br />

park and other activities, an Internet and c<strong>of</strong>fee<br />

cafe, a book store and gift shop, numerous<br />

<strong>of</strong>fices and meeting rooms, a children’s<br />

education area and a spacious, state-<strong>of</strong>-theart<br />

75,398 square-foot sanctuary, dedicated<br />

in 1994 and capable <strong>of</strong> seating 4,000.<br />

“People are the purpose” is a popular<br />

phrase at ALCC, and in addition to regular<br />

morning and evening services on Sunday<br />

(complete with valet parking) and one on<br />

Wednesday evening, there are in-house and<br />

outreach ministries operating throughout<br />

each and every day. Supporting its mission to<br />

serve as a “place <strong>of</strong> love and healing,” the<br />

congregation is active in providing food to<br />

the needy, transportation for those without<br />

rides to medical and other critical appointments,<br />

and ministerial support for all.<br />

In addition to men’s, women’s and the innovative<br />

“Joyzone” children’s ministry, ALCC<br />

provides music and audio/visual ministries,<br />

plus the Chosen Youth Ministry for young<br />

people and the Abundant Life Ministries <strong>of</strong><br />

National Destiny Program (ALMOND).<br />

Of special importance to the congregation<br />

is Casa Angelina, an ALCC orphanage in<br />

Guatemala, named after Pastor Walter and<br />

Cindy Hallam’s middle daughter, Angela, who<br />

died in a plane crash in 2002. Dedicated to<br />

the Lord’s service, Angela was a gifted writer<br />

and musician, and today the orphanage carries<br />

on her work with dedication to serving<br />

young people through the provision <strong>of</strong> food,<br />

clothing, housing and education for approximately<br />

seventy impoverished street orphans.<br />

Reaching out at every opportunity, ALCC’s<br />

main campus hosts a number <strong>of</strong> live productions<br />

and dramatic presentations, including<br />

“Road to Emmaus,” an Easter drama based<br />

on scripture and initially conceptualized by<br />

Angela. Other annual events include the<br />

“Heartbreak Hotel-Hotel Hallelujah” and “Tour<br />

<strong>of</strong> Hell” multimedia presentations, and the<br />

Hallelujah Harvest event, held on October 31<br />

<strong>of</strong> each year. In addition to the onsite public<br />

charter school, Bible clubs and reading and<br />

recreational programs, ALCC’s youth activities<br />

include Vacation Bible School and an overnight<br />

camp in Columbus, Texas. With these events<br />

and ministries, Abundant Life Christian Center<br />

reaches thousands every week.<br />

Abundant Life Christian Church is located<br />

at 601 Delaney Road in La Marque and on the<br />

Internet at www.alcc.org.<br />

QUALITY OF LIFE<br />

131


BEACHTOWN<br />

With a visionary’s gift for<br />

successfully bridging the gap<br />

between dream and reality, T<strong>of</strong>igh<br />

Shirazi has created in <strong>Galveston</strong>’s<br />

Beachtown an oasis <strong>of</strong> common<br />

sense and uncommon beauty.<br />

Today, the “new urbanist” community<br />

on the island’s eastern<br />

shore is setting new standards<br />

for construction, aesthetics and<br />

sustainability in coastal living.<br />

Set adjacent to a 700 acre nature<br />

preserve and bounded on its<br />

southern shore by the Gulf <strong>of</strong><br />

Mexico, the development has been<br />

described as a “distinctive, appealing…architectural<br />

gem” unlike<br />

any other on the Texas coast.<br />

Framed with graceful arches<br />

and double galleried porches,<br />

Beachtown homes overlook sun-kissed<br />

dunes, palm trees and pristine lagoons.<br />

Arranged in traditional-style “villages,” they<br />

are centered about a town square <strong>of</strong>fering<br />

shops, recreational opportunities and other<br />

amenities. By incorporating architectural elements<br />

popular during <strong>Galveston</strong>’s Victoriaera<br />

“golden age,” the entire development has<br />

been meticulously designed to pay tribute to<br />

the island’s heritage, while also addressing<br />

environmental concerns, supporting modern<br />

lifestyle preferences and incorporating state<strong>of</strong>-the-art<br />

building practices and materials.<br />

Planned by Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co.,<br />

the firm that created Florida’s Seaside and<br />

Rosemary Beach, the community was<br />

designed with tree-lined passage ways that<br />

connect the lagoons to the beach. Featuring<br />

the architecture <strong>of</strong> numerous New Urban<br />

Guild Architects, including Michael G. Imber,<br />

Steve Mouzon, Eric Brown and Eric Moser,<br />

Beachtown <strong>of</strong>fers single family residences,<br />

townhomes and spacious l<strong>of</strong>ts.<br />

In addition to being recognized with the<br />

Palladio Award for architectural excellence,<br />

Beachtown has been featured in the New York<br />

Times and Wall Street Journal. It also was<br />

selected to showcase a <strong>Coastal</strong> Living magazine<br />

“Idea House,” and featured in Texas Architect<br />

Magazine where it was noted for its “casual<br />

seaside luxury.” In the aftermath <strong>of</strong> Hurricane<br />

Ike in 2008, Beachtown was singled out by<br />

ABC news for its ability to ride out the storm<br />

with only minor damages.<br />

This level <strong>of</strong> storm resistance is <strong>of</strong> utmost<br />

importance to Shirazi. Set directly on the<br />

beach front, all Beachtown homes are built<br />

to meet or exceed the “Fortified…for Safer<br />

Living” standards as established by the<br />

Institute for Business and Home Safety and<br />

the most rigorous construction standards<br />

established for coastal communities.<br />

Incorporating impact-resistant glass, steel<br />

portals, and concrete pilings and beams such as<br />

those used in highway construction, the living<br />

areas <strong>of</strong> Beachtown’s homes rise some twenty<br />

plus feet above sea level and provide improved<br />

levels <strong>of</strong> safety, security and durability,<br />

As the “beloved place” Shirazi first visualized,<br />

Beachtown today truly is his dream<br />

come true—“a total environment, a place to<br />

enjoy a sustainable, simple life by the sea.”<br />

As a plus, nature herself seems to concur;<br />

Beachtown boasts the island’s only sandaccreting<br />

shoreline, with its beaches building<br />

at a rate <strong>of</strong> about three feet a year.<br />

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SCENIC<br />

GALVESTON,<br />

INC.<br />

How many cities in America can boast a<br />

spectacular transportation approach traveling<br />

through natural and restored gateway wetlands?<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Island can!<br />

Mile after mile to and from <strong>Galveston</strong>,<br />

travelers on Interstate 45 pass 1,058 acres <strong>of</strong><br />

picturesque and pristine marsh—a stunning<br />

estuarial corridor accented by 1.9 miles <strong>of</strong><br />

shoreline and teeming with nature.<br />

But, this gateway has not always been<br />

quite so scenic. In fact, less than two decades<br />

ago, it was a proliferation <strong>of</strong> billboards, bait<br />

camps, levy walls, landfills and fireworks<br />

merchant stands, not to mention the soon-tobe<br />

home <strong>of</strong> an unsightly cabaret compound.<br />

“When we organized in 1992-93, our<br />

intertidal nursery wetlands were being<br />

environmentally and visually destroyed,” said<br />

Chairwoman Evangeline Whorton, referring<br />

to the all-volunteer nonpr<strong>of</strong>it habitat<br />

conservation service organization—SCENIC<br />

GALVESTON, Inc.—which she founded<br />

along with vice chairman Richard Kirkpatrick<br />

shortly after attending an eye-opening<br />

Livable Communities Conference in Austin.<br />

From the start, the goal <strong>of</strong> SCENIC<br />

GALVESTON (SG) was to acquire, restore<br />

and perpetually protect this natural corridor.<br />

And, even though the group did not have<br />

money, it did have friends—friends like<br />

John M. O’Quinn whose $500,000 contribution<br />

matched a North America Wetlands<br />

Conservation Act grant and jumpstarted<br />

SG’s efforts.<br />

Over the years, SG acquired and restored<br />

thirteen owners’ parcels on both sides <strong>of</strong> I-45<br />

between Bayou Vista and the southern end <strong>of</strong><br />

the Santé Fe Overpass and, in 2010, <strong>of</strong>ficially<br />

dedicated it the John M. O’Quinn Interstate<br />

45 Scenic Estuarial Corridor. Today, this<br />

corridor is not only a unique nursery ground<br />

preserve for wildlife, birds, aquatic species<br />

and disappearing coastal plant communities,<br />

it is also permanently deeded as a publicenjoyed<br />

conservation habitat appreciated by<br />

kayakers, canoers, photographers, fishermen,<br />

bird watchers, hikers, students and the like.<br />

It is also a catalyst for industry such as<br />

ecotourism, commercial and recreational<br />

fishing, shrimping, oystering, and vacation<br />

destination, just to name a few.<br />

But that is just part <strong>of</strong> the story.<br />

Today, with more than 900 volunteers,<br />

SG has raised 11 million dollars and acquired<br />

almost 3,000 acres. In 2001 it received Texas’<br />

first <strong>Coastal</strong> Impact Assistance Program grant,<br />

allowing for the acquisition <strong>of</strong> 1,500 acres<br />

in the contiguous Virginia Point Peninsula<br />

Preserve (VPPP) to protect premiere wetlands,<br />

native prairies, and almost five miles <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Bay shoreline. Another 350 acres is<br />

being added, which will permanently safeguard<br />

2,000 acres on VPPP that would have otherwise<br />

been lost to petrochemical development.<br />

As for the future, SG has its sights set on<br />

continuing to recover, restore, and protect the<br />

last remaining one percent <strong>of</strong> coastal Texas.<br />

Why? Because SG knows—as the group’s<br />

catchphrase coined years ago by a renowned<br />

environmentalist states—“Acre for acre, wetlands<br />

constitute the most ecological productive<br />

community our planet has to <strong>of</strong>fer.”<br />

Above: The enchanting West Marsh <strong>of</strong> the<br />

John M. O’Quinn I-45 Scenic Estuarial<br />

Corridor invites millions <strong>of</strong> visitors to enjoy<br />

and work in the marshes at Mile Markers<br />

6-7 <strong>of</strong>f Interstate 45 in <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>.<br />

Below: The O’Quinn Pavilion, a Carl<br />

Brunsting AIA design, is the focal meeting<br />

place at Reitan Point for hundreds <strong>of</strong><br />

volunteers who participate regularly in<br />

cleaning and maintaining public<br />

non-intrusively used habitat conservation<br />

preserves owned by SCENIC GALVESTON.<br />

QUALITY OF LIFE<br />

133


CITY OF<br />

TEXAS CITY<br />

City <strong>of</strong> major industry and an international<br />

shipping port—city <strong>of</strong> lush green parks, friendly<br />

neighborhoods and vibrant lifestyle—the<br />

City <strong>of</strong> Texas City embraces many identities.<br />

Officially incorporated in 1911, the City <strong>of</strong><br />

Texas City traces its origins back to the<br />

1890s, when a group <strong>of</strong> investors saw the<br />

potential for a port on the north shore <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Bay. Under the name <strong>of</strong> the Texas<br />

City Improvement Company, the group purchased<br />

10,000 acres <strong>of</strong> land and over the next<br />

two decades, the fledgling port community<br />

rapidly expanded. A railroad line was laid,<br />

and the port’s ship channel was deepened.<br />

Schools, churches and businesses soon<br />

opened, cotton and grain shipping gave rise<br />

to affiliated industries, and 1908 saw the<br />

start-up <strong>of</strong> the city’s first oil refinery.<br />

Trees and open spaces abound while<br />

numerous fountains and outdoor sculptures<br />

adorn many public venues. From its advantageous<br />

location on the northern edge <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Bay, Texas City also enjoys a<br />

diversified economy that includes residential,<br />

commercial, environmental, retail, marine,<br />

healthcare, entertainment and tourism<br />

related businesses.<br />

With forty-four parks occupying 800<br />

acres, recreation facilities range from the<br />

world’s longest manmade fishing pier and<br />

a world-class natatorium to neighborhood<br />

tennis courts and splash parks. Other attractions<br />

include golf, boating and exploring<br />

wildlife sanctuaries. Heritage Square <strong>of</strong>fers a<br />

glimpse into the area’s historic past, and at<br />

Bay Street Park, a F-100 Super Saber Jet sits<br />

alongside a vintage biplane replica in<br />

tribute to the area’s having served as the<br />

birthplace <strong>of</strong> U.S. military aviation.<br />

The park also contains a ship’s anchor,<br />

one <strong>of</strong> several exhibits commemorating a<br />

massive dock-side explosion that in 1947<br />

killed hundreds and leveled a major portion<br />

<strong>of</strong> the city. In tribute to the community’s<br />

resilience and ability to recover from<br />

that and other disasters, a statue <strong>of</strong> the<br />

mythological Phoenix—also known for its<br />

ability to “rise from the ashes”—dominates<br />

the convention center plaza.<br />

Left: Texas City Dike is a levee that extends<br />

five miles southeast into the mouth <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Bay.<br />

Right: Phoenix Foundation located at Doyle<br />

Center Century Plaza.<br />

Since that time, Texas City has grown to<br />

become a center for many <strong>of</strong> the nation’s<br />

largest and most progressive petrochemical<br />

operations, but it is not a typical industrial<br />

community. Environmentally savvy, business<br />

friendly and extremely community-minded,<br />

it received the 1997 All-America City Award<br />

and also has been recognized by Money<br />

Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Food & Wine<br />

Magazine and the U.S. Conference <strong>of</strong> Mayors<br />

for its livability.<br />

Creating a better tomorrow has been a<br />

Texas City goal for more than a century, and<br />

today it is taking a leadership role in meeting<br />

the challenges <strong>of</strong> a changing world as it<br />

balances safety and environmental issues<br />

with commerce and community well-being.<br />

Inspired leadership and dedicated citizens<br />

have always made the difference in Texas<br />

City, and today this city by the bay is making<br />

a difference across the nation.<br />

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GULF<br />

GREYHOUND<br />

PARK<br />

When a slim and sleek greyhound sprints<br />

across the finish line at Gulf Greyhound Park,<br />

he is not just crossing any finish line—he is<br />

crossing the finish line <strong>of</strong> the world’s largest<br />

greyhound racing operation.<br />

Indeed, since the sounds <strong>of</strong> the bugle<br />

summoned the first set <strong>of</strong> canine racers for<br />

the track’s debut race on November 10, 1992,<br />

more than ten million fans have enjoyed live<br />

greyhound races and pari-mutuel wagering<br />

opportunities at Gulf Greyhound Park and,<br />

in the first decade, have taken home more<br />

than $1.4 billion in prize money.<br />

Year round—rain or shine—they come to<br />

the $55 million complex, which is located on<br />

100 acres in La Marque, Texas, and features<br />

a four-level, 315,000 square foot, climatecontrolled<br />

facility as well as an expansive<br />

parking lot with 8,000-plus parking spaces.<br />

The track seats 6,600 with a total facility<br />

spectator capacity <strong>of</strong> 14,000 and there are<br />

318 teller windows as well as 1,100 closedcircuit<br />

televisions throughout the complex so<br />

that fans can monitor races, learning how to<br />

bet or watch a favorite sporting event.<br />

Dining options are also plentiful with a<br />

variety <strong>of</strong> food and beverages to meet every<br />

patron’s taste and budget. On the second level<br />

<strong>of</strong> the facility is a complete food court with<br />

a variety <strong>of</strong> menus as well as the Terrace<br />

Clubhouse that seats approximately 900 people<br />

for full-service dining before and during<br />

performances. The Clubhouse tables overlook<br />

the track, providing patrons with an excellent<br />

view <strong>of</strong> the races. Also, inside the Clubhouse<br />

is the Terrace Bar featuring all the amenities <strong>of</strong><br />

a hometown bar with a big screen television<br />

and many other smaller televisions throughout<br />

as well as friendly tellers for placing bets<br />

or punching winning tickets. Reservations<br />

to the Terrace Clubhouse and Bar are recommended.<br />

In addition to the second-level <strong>of</strong>ferings,<br />

there are numerous other concession<br />

and beverage areas throughout the facility.<br />

The track itself is a quarter mile made up<br />

<strong>of</strong> a sand composition surface with courses<br />

<strong>of</strong> 5/16ths, 3/8ths and 7/16ths <strong>of</strong> a mile.<br />

Fourteen kennels are located on the grounds<br />

with each capable <strong>of</strong> housing up to sixty-two<br />

greyhounds and equipped with hot water<br />

supplies, whirlpool, central heat, heat alarm<br />

and fire alarm systems, plus twenty-four hour<br />

security. The park is owned and managed<br />

by Gulf Greyhound Partners, Ltd., a Texas<br />

controlled partnership.<br />

Gulf Greyhound Park is open seven days a<br />

week with simulcast races on Mondays and<br />

Tuesdays and live racing Wednesday through<br />

Sunday. The park is located once block west<br />

<strong>of</strong> 1-45 South at Exit 15, 30 miles south <strong>of</strong><br />

Houston and just 15 miles north <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong>.<br />

For more information, call 1-800-ASK-2WIN<br />

or visit online at www.gulfgreyhound.com.<br />

Above: And they’re <strong>of</strong>f!<br />

Below: Down the stretch to the finish line!<br />

QUALITY OF LIFE<br />

135


The Marketplace<br />

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<strong>Galveston</strong>’s retail and commercial<br />

establishments <strong>of</strong>fer an<br />

impressive variety <strong>of</strong> choices<br />

ERF Wireless, Inc. .....................................................................138<br />

Kleen Supply Company ...............................................................140<br />

Hygeia Enviro-Clean, Inc............................................................142<br />

AMOCO Federal Credit Union .....................................................144<br />

Matthews, Inc. ..........................................................................146<br />

The Law Firm <strong>of</strong> Alton C. Todd....................................................148<br />

J&J Telecommunications..............................................................150<br />

Texas City-La Marque Chamber <strong>of</strong> Commerce .................................152<br />

HomeTown Bank, N.A. ................................................................154<br />

A-1 Fire Equipment Co. ..............................................................155<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Chamber <strong>of</strong> Commerce..................................................156<br />

Texas First Bank .......................................................................157<br />

Better Business Bureau ...............................................................158<br />

ROBCO Facility Services.............................................................159<br />

GIA Insurance...........................................................................160<br />

Leslie Watts..............................................................................161<br />

Mihovil Photography ..................................................................162<br />

THE MARKETPLACE<br />

137


ERF WIRELESS,<br />

INC.<br />

Right: ERF Wireless coverage—Texas region.<br />

Whether a banker, teacher or business owner<br />

behind a desk somewhere in rural Kansas, a<br />

rancher living in the vast plains <strong>of</strong> Oklahoma or<br />

a worker moving to yet another oil drilling site<br />

in the most remote location <strong>of</strong> Texas, everyone<br />

needs to stay connected these days.<br />

But for many living and working in the<br />

more rural and sparsely populated areas <strong>of</strong><br />

America, staying connected has not always<br />

been easy. ERF Wireless, Inc., <strong>of</strong> League City,<br />

Texas, in <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> is quietly going<br />

about a business model that is changing that<br />

situation for many Americans.<br />

ERF Wireless, Inc., is a public company, founded<br />

by ex-NASA manager Dr. H. Dean Cubley<br />

in 2004. ERF Wireless provides<br />

wireless broadband communications<br />

products and services on a<br />

nationwide basis to enterprise,<br />

commercial and retail users and<br />

focuses on vertical markets such<br />

as regional banks, the oil and gas<br />

industry, education, healthcare,<br />

enterprise, and residential customers<br />

located in areas that have<br />

limited services.<br />

“Cable or telephone-line DSL,<br />

it is not a viable option for those<br />

who work and live in the most<br />

rural un-served areas <strong>of</strong> our country<br />

or for those whose business<br />

requires them to frequently move about,” said<br />

ERF Wireless founder and chief executive <strong>of</strong>ficer<br />

Dr. H. Dean Cubley. “We fully understand<br />

the need in rural America for quality broadband<br />

communications and at ERF Wireless<br />

we are confident that wireless broadband<br />

technology is not only viable, but is the most<br />

logical solution in these situations.”<br />

Indeed, ERF Wireless firmly believes<br />

that for rural America wireless broadband<br />

has already become the “third pipe” as<br />

both an alternative and extension to DSL<br />

and cable modem. In many cases,<br />

this is a superior alternative<br />

because it is not only versatile,<br />

it is also less expensive than a<br />

wired solution, faster to implement<br />

and fully configurable for<br />

one or more applications.<br />

This is where ERF Wireless—one<br />

<strong>of</strong> America’s largest wireless Internet<br />

service providers (WISPs)—enters.<br />

“Our company has already<br />

developed an extensive wide-area<br />

wireless broadband network in<br />

North America and Canada by a<br />

combination <strong>of</strong> acquiring, constructing and<br />

contracting for our wireless broadband<br />

network coverage,” said Cubley, adding that<br />

his company as <strong>of</strong> 2011 is already actively<br />

working in five states including Texas,<br />

Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana, and New<br />

Mexico, and already has wireless network<br />

coverage available in Colorado, Wyoming,<br />

Arkansas, and Alberta, Canada.<br />

While ERF Wireless has many thousands<br />

<strong>of</strong> residential and commercial customers<br />

within the rural wireless broadband network<br />

coverage, the heart <strong>of</strong> their business strategy<br />

is to utilize these networks, in addition, to<br />

service the more pr<strong>of</strong>itable vertical markets.<br />

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In some vertical markets, such as the company’s<br />

largest—the rural needs <strong>of</strong> the oil and<br />

gas industry—Cubley says that wireless<br />

broadband is really the only logical solution<br />

for meeting modern digital communications<br />

needs. Previously VSAT satellite terminals had<br />

been the norm for this market but modern<br />

drilling and exploration s<strong>of</strong>tware utilized by<br />

the oil and gas companies has made the VSAT<br />

solution unacceptable due to the inherent<br />

time delay (“latency”) <strong>of</strong> the VSAT.<br />

“The drilling would be over by the time a<br />

copper or fiber connection was laid,” he said.<br />

“These “nomadic” operations simply cannot<br />

go to the local telephone company and get<br />

service that supports the way they operate.<br />

We can literally follow them wherever they go<br />

and can be at a new site in a matter <strong>of</strong> hours.”<br />

To provide the wireless broadband service to<br />

these rural oil and gas locations ERF Wireless<br />

has formed a wholly owned<br />

Energy Broadband (“EBI”)<br />

subsidiary company. EBI utilizes<br />

a large fleet <strong>of</strong> mobile<br />

broadband trailers (“MBT”)<br />

that contain erectable fiftyfoot<br />

towers that are utilized<br />

to connect back to ERF<br />

Wireless’ extensive broadband<br />

network coverage to<br />

complete the connection.<br />

When the oil and gas customer<br />

needs the circuit established, EBI can<br />

respond within a matter <strong>of</strong> hours. When it<br />

comes time to move to the next drill location,<br />

EBI folds the tower down and moves right<br />

along with the drilling crew.<br />

Another example <strong>of</strong> a vertical market in<br />

which ERF Wireless has found great success<br />

is the regional banking industry. Employing<br />

leading-edge wireless broadband technology<br />

and its proprietary CryptoVue ® Network<br />

Security Appliance, ERF Wireless has established<br />

in these very rural locations an extremely<br />

competitive advantage and is the nation’s<br />

leading provider for secure wireless networks<br />

in the regional banking industry. To date, our<br />

regional bank customers have replaced expensive<br />

T1 telephone networks by<br />

utilizing our CryptoVue security<br />

appliance together with wireless<br />

networks that we designed and<br />

built. These banks are now connected<br />

across three states at more than<br />

one hundred banking locations.<br />

Another vertical market, initiated<br />

in 2011, in which ERF Wireless<br />

is very active is the rural education<br />

sector, which is in areas within or<br />

near locations where ERF Wireless<br />

already has network coverage.<br />

These educational applications have<br />

many things in common with the regional<br />

banking application because they are in<br />

extremely rural settings, but need the advantages<br />

<strong>of</strong> broadband connectivity just as their<br />

more urban counterparts. ERF Wireless can<br />

effectively provide a quality wireless broadband<br />

solution in many <strong>of</strong> these school districts<br />

and has already implemented many <strong>of</strong><br />

these educational networks to date.<br />

In addition to the company’s headquarters<br />

there are regional <strong>of</strong>fices in Pampa, Lubbock,<br />

Odessa, Justin, and Plains, Texas.<br />

For more information on ERF Wireless, visit<br />

www.erfwireless.com or www.erfwireless.net.<br />

Above: Energy Broadband provides wireless<br />

broadband directly to the remote<br />

customer locations.<br />

Below: ERF Wireless BranchNet wireless<br />

network for regional banks.<br />

THE MARKETPLACE<br />

139


KLEEN SUPPLY<br />

COMPANY<br />

Below: Carlos Peña and his father, Mario<br />

Peña, founder <strong>of</strong> Kleen Supply Company,<br />

August 1988.<br />

Bottom: Loyal staff works on orders and<br />

keeping up with customers’ needs. Left to<br />

right: Russ O’Connor, Frank Macaluso,<br />

Johnny de los Santos, Rafael Galindo,<br />

Berta Peña, Diane Peña and Carlos Peña.<br />

The happy, cartoon-like octopus over the<br />

front entry has his tentacles full. Sporting<br />

mops, brushes, sponges, a bucket and broom,<br />

he is a one busy guy, but not nearly as busy as<br />

the real-life owner inside.<br />

Carlos Peña, <strong>of</strong> Kleen Supply Company in<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>, is a man <strong>of</strong> many missions, a fact<br />

quickly apparent with a brief look around his<br />

large store. In addition to row after row <strong>of</strong><br />

industrial cleaning equipment, supplies and<br />

related items, and a special shop featuring<br />

pool and patio products, Peña’s <strong>of</strong>fice area is<br />

that <strong>of</strong> a hands-on executive, but one with<br />

strong family and some unusual community<br />

and international ties.<br />

Evidence <strong>of</strong> his many projects are, as anticipated,<br />

arranged across his desk, and a shelf<br />

displays photos <strong>of</strong> his wife, children, grandson<br />

and other family members and friends. Then<br />

there are photos <strong>of</strong> Peña participating in<br />

various community events, and a photo from<br />

London when he visited<br />

with the Archbishop <strong>of</strong><br />

Canterbury and a photo <strong>of</strong><br />

Peña meeting with Pope<br />

Benedict XVI at the Vatican<br />

in Rome.<br />

Now the Pope and the<br />

Archbishop have very little<br />

to do with Kleen Supply,<br />

but Peña’s life has much<br />

to do with all three, as well<br />

as the presiding Bishop <strong>of</strong><br />

the Evangelical Lutheran<br />

Church in America. As one<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong>’s most civic-minded business<br />

leaders, he has also become one <strong>of</strong> its most<br />

altruistic, and today not only manages the<br />

largest cleaning supply business in <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>, but also is in his second term as vice<br />

president <strong>of</strong> the ELCA and is on the board <strong>of</strong><br />

the World Council <strong>of</strong> Churches, a position that<br />

takes him literally all over the world.<br />

Kleen Supply’s mission statement—“To<br />

provide the best service and care possible”—<br />

could also be a defining statement for Peña’s<br />

mission in life, both personal and public.<br />

Described as a person who has an “eye for<br />

possibility,” he is deeply committed to his<br />

company, his community and his church, and<br />

whether he is trying to find the best product<br />

for a challenging cleaning project, presiding<br />

over a local civic group, or meeting with<br />

world religious leaders in Geneva, his focus is<br />

on “service” and “care.”<br />

That “eye for possibility” trait could also be<br />

said <strong>of</strong> Peña’s father, Mario, who founded<br />

Kleen Supply in the family’s <strong>Galveston</strong> garage<br />

in August <strong>of</strong> 1971, the same year the younger<br />

Peña was graduating from <strong>Galveston</strong>’s Ball<br />

High School. Since that time, the business has<br />

grown from several pallets <strong>of</strong> merchandise on<br />

a garage floor to the current cleaning-supply<br />

emporium <strong>of</strong> 26,000 square feet.<br />

Although his father <strong>of</strong>ten said, “Once you<br />

work for yourself, you’ll never work for anyone<br />

else,” Peña did not immediately join the<br />

family business. In love with the trombone<br />

and equipped with a degree in music education<br />

from the University <strong>of</strong> Houston, he spent<br />

three years as a band director in <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

schools before joining Kleen Supply in 1979.<br />

During that same time frame, a romance<br />

also emerged between Peña and an attractive<br />

U <strong>of</strong> H coed named Diane, also from<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>. They both laugh as they recount<br />

how the relationship began. It was during the<br />

Lenten season and she needed a ride to her<br />

Lutheran church for Wednesday vespers. She<br />

asked him—as a casual acquaintance with a<br />

car—to drive her. He agreed, though he still<br />

jests about whether it was divine intervention<br />

or because he knew that the event would be<br />

followed by a covered dish supper. Whatever<br />

the cause, he soon joined her church and her,<br />

and they were married in 1978.<br />

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Today, the Peñas jointly run the multimillion<br />

dollar Kleen Supply business, with the<br />

help <strong>of</strong> a small but long-term staff. “We have<br />

loyal employees and loyal customers,” says<br />

Diane, adding that the fact that many <strong>of</strong> their<br />

employees have been with them for more<br />

than fifteen years—and include his mother<br />

and her father, who still work on a part<br />

time basis—is illustrative <strong>of</strong> the stability and<br />

family spirit <strong>of</strong> Kleen Supply.<br />

Herself a teacher and then a school administrator<br />

for many years, Diane retired from<br />

her career at about the same time that Peña<br />

was first elected to the ELCA vice presidential<br />

post during the group’s 2003 Churchwide<br />

Assembly in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.<br />

Assuming heavy responsibility was not<br />

new to Peña. A director <strong>of</strong> Texas First Bank<br />

and a member <strong>of</strong> numerous University <strong>of</strong><br />

Texas Medical Branch and civic boards, he has<br />

served as president <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> Historical<br />

Foundation and on the Gulf Coast Regional<br />

Governing Board <strong>of</strong> Christus Health. He also<br />

has received the Young Lawyers Association <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Liberty Bell Award and been named<br />

a Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow.<br />

Recognizing, however, that this new “job,”<br />

the ELCA’s highest ranking lay position,<br />

would require an enhanced level <strong>of</strong> commitment<br />

and extensive travel, the couple decided<br />

that she would stay in <strong>Galveston</strong> and tend to<br />

the daily needs <strong>of</strong> the business while he took<br />

on what they both saw as a larger calling.<br />

“This is the way God has chosen to use me<br />

at this point in my life,” says Peña, citing the<br />

fact that owning his own business is a major<br />

factor in allowing him the freedom to accept<br />

such a demanding position. He quotes his<br />

father again, saying, “Put the time into your<br />

own business, and you’ll do well and have the<br />

ability to do other things.”<br />

In addition to specific duties such as<br />

chairing the ECLA executive committee and<br />

board <strong>of</strong> directors, Peña also has ad hoc<br />

responsibilities assigned by the church’s<br />

bishop. “When the bishop calls and says,<br />

‘I need for you to go to Jerusalem, or Indonesia<br />

or Ramala or Istanbul,’ I go,” he says.<br />

Meanwhile, back at the store, there are<br />

orders to be placed and deliveries to be made.<br />

Although the emphasis is on cleaning and<br />

paper products—toilet tissue being the most<br />

popular item—Kleen Supply’s inventory is<br />

diverse and includes pesticides, safety and<br />

emergency equipment, c<strong>of</strong>fee, condiments<br />

and wholesale concession and food items—<br />

even candy and snow-cone syrup. “If there’s<br />

a demand, we carry it,” laughs Diane.<br />

Above: Kleen Supply Company, May 2011.<br />

Below: Experienced warehouse crew gathers<br />

orders for prompt delivery. Left to right:<br />

Jessie Hernandez, Richard Hernandez,<br />

Rafael Galindo, and Eddie Perez.<br />

THE MARKETPLACE<br />

141


HYGEIA<br />

ENVIRO-CLEAN,<br />

INC.<br />

Left to right: Dolores Cuchia with founder<br />

and father Anthony J. Cuchia, Sr.<br />

Cleanliness can mean the difference<br />

between a productive and apathetic workplace;<br />

between a fruitful and listless learning<br />

environment or, for that matter, any other<br />

place that people choose to live their lives<br />

each and every day. It can mean the difference<br />

between sickness and health, even the difference<br />

between life and death and is the very<br />

reason the people <strong>of</strong> Hygeia Enviro-Clean,<br />

Inc. take their jobs so seriously.<br />

On any given day, anyone who lives or<br />

works within the 100 mile or so radius<br />

encircling Hygeia’s home-base will very likely<br />

come into contact with the services and<br />

products it provides. The company’s figurative<br />

fingerprints are everywhere—from inside<br />

the janitor’s mop bucket, public restrooms,<br />

restaurants, shopping malls, retail stores,<br />

schools, churches and industrial plants to<br />

inside a myriad <strong>of</strong> medical facilities.<br />

A six-plus decade family business now<br />

headquartered in neighboring Houston, it is<br />

a major distributor <strong>of</strong> commercial and industrial<br />

cleaning supplies and equipment. It<br />

employs approximately thirty people, each<br />

one fully dedicated to exceeding customers’<br />

expectations by delivering excellent customer<br />

service and quality products which help<br />

clients not only create a healthier and safer<br />

environment for today, but one which is<br />

sustainable well into the future.<br />

“We strive to contribute to the success<br />

<strong>of</strong> our customers and to always provide not<br />

only the top <strong>of</strong> the line maintenance supplies<br />

and equipment, but to also support those<br />

customers with on-going knowledge <strong>of</strong> new<br />

and improved products, equipment and<br />

methods,” Vincent Leone, Sr., owner, president<br />

and CEO, said in a recent interview.<br />

An example <strong>of</strong> Hygeia Enviro-Clean’s<br />

constant quest for the latest products and<br />

innovations to benefit its clients came about<br />

recently when many institutional clients were<br />

faced with new environmental standards and<br />

certifications, which forced them to search<br />

for more maintainable alternatives to the<br />

harsh, synthetic hand soaps and sanitizers<br />

they were using. Hygeia provided these<br />

clients with a worthy alternative when it<br />

teamed up with a flourishing skin care<br />

company that had developed high-quality<br />

hand hygiene products that blend environmentalism<br />

with infection prevention.<br />

Located at 11314 Windfern Road in<br />

Houston, Hygeia Enviro-Clean’s headquarters<br />

includes a large warehouse distribution center,<br />

a retail showroom, a training center as<br />

well as management and sales <strong>of</strong>fices, all<br />

housed in a modern 12,500 square foot<br />

facility built in 2005. This facility’s warehouse<br />

is stocked with the most requested products<br />

so that customers may purchase onsite or<br />

order for delivery by either phone or the<br />

company’s website at www.hygeiaec.com.<br />

Perhaps, however, the most unique aspect<br />

<strong>of</strong> the facility is the Hygeia Training Academy,<br />

a specially designed and equipped training<br />

center where clients can learn the latest in<br />

products and techniques. The training center<br />

has fully functional demonstration fixtures<br />

and six different types <strong>of</strong> flooring, all ideal for<br />

practicing the correct application <strong>of</strong> the latest<br />

commercial cleaning and floor care products.<br />

In addition to the Houston headquarters,<br />

the company also has a division with <strong>of</strong>fices<br />

in Beaumont. This division continues to promote<br />

public awareness <strong>of</strong> maintaining the<br />

environment utilizing the present and ongoing<br />

development <strong>of</strong> cleaning supplies and<br />

equipment. The Beaumont <strong>of</strong>fices and warehouse<br />

distribution center are located at 7550<br />

College Street in Beaumont and serves the<br />

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“Golden Triangle”—Beaumont, Orange and<br />

Port Arthur—with deliveries as far as Lufkin,<br />

a radius <strong>of</strong> more than one hundred miles.<br />

Enviro-Clean was founded as Hygeia<br />

Chemical Company in <strong>Galveston</strong> in 1944 by<br />

Anthony J. Cuchia, Sr. Cuchia ran the company,<br />

growing it from little more than a dream<br />

into a thriving company with <strong>of</strong>fices in two<br />

cities—<strong>Galveston</strong> and Beaumont. It was a<br />

family business from the start with all <strong>of</strong><br />

Cuchia’s children affiliated with the company<br />

at one time or another. In fact, eldest daughter<br />

Dolores worked for years as her father’s<br />

secretary and <strong>of</strong>fice manager. A second<br />

daughter, Toni, took charge <strong>of</strong> the Beaumont<br />

branch after it was opened in 1961 and, in<br />

later years, yet another daughter, Patti, also<br />

managed the Beaumont operation.<br />

Even after the senior Cuchia died unexpectedly<br />

in 1965 and the business was<br />

divided into two separate corporations—<br />

Hygeia Chemical Company, Inc. <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

and Hygeia Chemical Company Inc. <strong>of</strong><br />

Beaumont—both remained in the family. The<br />

founder’s son, A. J. Cuchia, Jr., took over the<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> operation following his graduation<br />

from Texas A&M University and still operates<br />

it under the name <strong>of</strong> Hygeia Chemical<br />

Company today. Dolores and husband,<br />

Vincent Leone, Sr., purchased the Beaumont<br />

division, eventually changing the name to<br />

Hygeia Enviro-Clean, Inc. Leone remains at<br />

Enviro-Clean’s helm.<br />

“It is our commitment and goal to continue<br />

what Mr. Cuchia, Sr., started in 1944,”<br />

Leone said. “A company dedicated to providing<br />

outstanding products and service and to<br />

remain committed to environmental sustainability—past,<br />

present and future.”<br />

For more information on Hygeia Enviro-<br />

Clean, Inc., visit online at .www.hygeiaec.com.<br />

President and CEO Vincent Leone, Sr.<br />

THE MARKETPLACE<br />

143


AMOCO<br />

FEDERAL<br />

CREDIT UNION<br />

Whether borrowing or saving, playing or<br />

graying, AMOCO Federal Credit Union<br />

stands ready to help its members reach their<br />

financial goals with personally attuned programs<br />

to address modern-day lifestyles.<br />

Whatever the need—a new or better car, a<br />

starter or larger home, an improved education,<br />

a long-awaited vacation or secure retirement—AMOCO<br />

FCU’s mission is “to serve<br />

and satisfy” its members.<br />

Throughout its more than seventy year history,<br />

the organization has built a reputation<br />

for providing strong, long-term monetary<br />

guidance and vigilant management <strong>of</strong> its<br />

members’ resources. Begun in 1937 as the<br />

Pan-Am Employees Federal Credit Union, its<br />

certificate <strong>of</strong> organization was signed by<br />

William J. Myers, then governor <strong>of</strong> the Farm<br />

Credit Administration that played a major<br />

role in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s<br />

New Deal to help the struggling<br />

nation recover from the 1929 stock<br />

market crash and the subsequent Great<br />

Depression and Dust Bowl disasters.<br />

Inaugurated with 169 members and<br />

$28,000 in assets, the Pan-Am Employees<br />

FCU was dedicated initially to serving<br />

the financial needs <strong>of</strong> employees <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Pan American Refining Corporation <strong>of</strong><br />

Texas City and even had its <strong>of</strong>fices located<br />

within the refinery complex. A 1947<br />

expansion, however, opened the credit<br />

union to include employees <strong>of</strong> Amoco<br />

Chemicals in Texas City and Amoco (Pan<br />

American) subsidiary. Changing its name<br />

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in 1955 to Amoco Federal Credit Union to<br />

correspond with the new name <strong>of</strong> its sponsor<br />

company, Amoco Oil Refinery, the credit<br />

union grew during the post WWII years to<br />

include 3,100 members and $2.6 million in<br />

assets in 1957.<br />

With the merger <strong>of</strong> British Petroleum and<br />

Amoco Oil in 1998 to form BP Amoco and a<br />

subsequent decision in 2004 to call the company<br />

BP, the credit union made the choice to<br />

maintain the Amoco name because it represented<br />

stability and familiarity in the community.<br />

The one change that was made was to<br />

redesign the name so that it became the<br />

acronym AMOCO FCU, standing for A<br />

Member Owned Cooperative Organization<br />

Federal Credit Union.<br />

Although financial challenges—and the<br />

credit union’s name—may have changed over<br />

time, AMOCO FCU today remains steadfast<br />

in its ability and dedication to helping members<br />

manage their financial lives and build for<br />

the future while providing for the present.<br />

One <strong>of</strong> the largest and most progressive credit<br />

unions in the Houston/<strong>Galveston</strong> area,<br />

it today lists assets <strong>of</strong> more than $540 million<br />

and includes a diversified membership<br />

consisting <strong>of</strong> more than 300 local sponsor<br />

companies and 62,000 members.<br />

Offering a full range <strong>of</strong> financial products<br />

including checking and savings accounts,<br />

loans, credit cards, investments, insurance<br />

and financial planning, AMOCO FCU<br />

additionally seeks to educate its members <strong>of</strong><br />

all ages about sensible money management<br />

and to help improve individual financial<br />

conditions and foster financial literacy in<br />

the community-at-large. Dedicating financial<br />

resources as well as the time and talents <strong>of</strong> its<br />

staff, AMOCO FCU sponsors programs such<br />

as A-Zone Accounts for members under twenty-two<br />

years <strong>of</strong> age, and BALANCE, a program<br />

designed to help members acquire financial<br />

control <strong>of</strong> their daily lives. For members fiftyfive<br />

and over, it <strong>of</strong>fers the Platinum Club that<br />

meets quarterly and <strong>of</strong>fers group travel events.<br />

In one <strong>of</strong> its most innovative programs and<br />

the first such event in the Houston area,<br />

AMOCO FCU in 2009 initiated an “Earn or<br />

Burn Challenge” with a grand prize <strong>of</strong> $20,000.<br />

Selecting four families out <strong>of</strong> 200 applicants<br />

from its membership, the credit union set up a<br />

reality-show format to follow the “contestants”<br />

as they worked toward specific financial goals<br />

over a ten month period. Each family was<br />

assigned a “coach” and charged with the challenge<br />

<strong>of</strong> improving its financial health and creating<br />

new spending and saving habits. Progress<br />

was monitored on a monthly basis, and a blog<br />

set up to allow others to observe how each<br />

family was addressing its challenges over the<br />

contest period.<br />

At the end <strong>of</strong> the contest, although there<br />

was only one grand prize winner, all the families<br />

felt they had “won” in that they all had<br />

achieved significant financial improvement<br />

and had developed important skills for better<br />

life-long understanding and control <strong>of</strong> the<br />

financial aspects <strong>of</strong> their lives.<br />

Such support on a one-to-one basis is a<br />

major key to AMOCO FCU’s growth. The<br />

satisfaction and loyalty <strong>of</strong> members and the<br />

commitment <strong>of</strong> its employees and volunteers<br />

have been apparent throughout its history.<br />

Functioning as a financially healthy institution<br />

during even unstable economic times, it<br />

was a one-branch credit union until 2005,<br />

when the decision was made to open a second<br />

branch in Bay Colony. Within the first six<br />

months <strong>of</strong> that branch opening, 1,000 new<br />

members joined AMOCO FCU and the tellers<br />

performed approximately 250,000 transactions.<br />

Four more new branches opened in the<br />

next four years, and, going back to the original<br />

idea <strong>of</strong> <strong>of</strong>fering onsite services for refinery<br />

workers, a one employee “microbranch” was<br />

opened in 2007 at the BP refinery.<br />

Through donations, sponsorships and volunteerism,<br />

AMOCO FCU and its representatives<br />

and employees actively participate in a<br />

diverse array <strong>of</strong> civic and charitable organizations.<br />

Active with all nine local chambers <strong>of</strong><br />

commerce, it has formed additional partnerships<br />

with nonpr<strong>of</strong>it groups and participates<br />

in numerous programs and events each year<br />

that focus on community, health and wellness,<br />

youth, education, and other select groups.<br />

It also partners with other area credit unions<br />

through the Gulf Coast and Houston Chapter<br />

<strong>of</strong> Credit Unions, and is recognized as a leader<br />

in the credit union community for its support<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Children’s Miracle Network.<br />

THE MARKETPLACE<br />

145


MATTHEWS, INC.<br />

Above: James A. “Jimmy” Matthews, Sr.<br />

The story <strong>of</strong> Matthews, Inc., is more than<br />

just a story about a fuel and tire service. It is<br />

the story <strong>of</strong> a true family business—a story <strong>of</strong><br />

a son and a grandson who continue to build<br />

on the legacy started by family patriarch,<br />

James A. “Jimmy” Matthews, Sr., nearly seven<br />

decades ago.<br />

An extremely hard working man, the senior<br />

Matthews started Matthews, Inc., in 1942<br />

as a full-service fuel and tire station selling<br />

Republic Oil. From the start, the foundation<br />

he laid for his business was the same foundation<br />

<strong>of</strong> honesty and integrity that he lived by.<br />

He was also careful to follow the guidelines<br />

established by the industry organizations<br />

which he so proudly served—organizations<br />

such as the Texas Service Stations Association<br />

and Texas Association <strong>of</strong> Petroleum Retailers<br />

for which he served as regional vice president<br />

and president, respectively.<br />

The industry’s code <strong>of</strong> ethics was his code<br />

<strong>of</strong> ethics as he committed himself to creating<br />

a service station where integrity meant more<br />

than pr<strong>of</strong>it; where honesty meant more than<br />

volume; and where honor was the watchword<br />

in sales and service. What is more, he<br />

instilled each <strong>of</strong> these beliefs and principals<br />

in every one <strong>of</strong> his employees as well as in<br />

the two generations <strong>of</strong> Matthews’ men—<br />

James A. “Ossie” Matthews, Jr., and James A.<br />

“Trey” Matthews III—who would eventually<br />

take over the business.<br />

Ossie grew up working with his father<br />

down at the shop. Back in the 1940s and<br />

1950s, the company was not only a service<br />

station, but was also a paint and body shop.<br />

Ossie learned all facets <strong>of</strong> the business from<br />

his dad and was thrilled when his own son,<br />

Trey, showed an interest in the business as<br />

well. Trey started working down at the shop<br />

after school and on weekends when he was<br />

just fifteen years old and had the wonderful<br />

opportunity to work with<br />

both his father and his<br />

grandfather for many years.<br />

He is next in line to take<br />

over the business once Ossie<br />

retires, just as Ossie did<br />

when his father retired.<br />

Indeed, today, Ossie and<br />

Trey proudly continue to<br />

carry the torch passed to<br />

them by the senior Matthews<br />

and can be found daily at the<br />

facilities <strong>of</strong> Matthews, Inc.,<br />

located at 531 Texas Avenue,<br />

where the company has been<br />

located since 1945. It is here<br />

that they succeed in keeping<br />

up the family tradition <strong>of</strong><br />

honest, reliable tire sales and<br />

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services to a host <strong>of</strong> customers<br />

every day, some <strong>of</strong> them being<br />

third generation themselves.<br />

In addition to commercial and<br />

retail tire sales and service,<br />

Matthews, Inc., also <strong>of</strong>fers a variety<br />

<strong>of</strong> other services to include<br />

countywide road service calls,<br />

wholesale fuel sales and deliveries,<br />

a gas station and more. To<br />

provide these services, the company<br />

employs seven <strong>of</strong> the most<br />

dedicated, loyal, hardworking<br />

and skilled employees as well as a<br />

fleet <strong>of</strong> four vehicles—two tire service repair<br />

trucks and two fuel delivery trucks. The trucks<br />

and teams are steadily on the go repairing and<br />

replacing tires all around Texas City and the<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> area, including inside many<br />

<strong>of</strong> the area’s oil refinery plants, some days all<br />

day long. The company specializes in Cooper<br />

Tires and Hankook Tires.<br />

The Matthews, Inc., station is also constantly<br />

busy during operation hours with cars<br />

and trucks needing fuel or tires; with one <strong>of</strong><br />

the most unique features being the station’s<br />

full-service gas pumps. While most stations<br />

have long given way to the self-service pump,<br />

Matthews, Inc., has <strong>of</strong>fered full service since<br />

the day it went into business in 1942.<br />

“Many <strong>of</strong> our customers are companies that<br />

come to us to fill up their company vehicles,<br />

but we also still have a lot <strong>of</strong> personal<br />

accounts that still come in as well. Some are<br />

the elderly or disabled or just customers<br />

who have been using our full-service pumps<br />

forever,” said Ossie. “And as long as<br />

there is a need for full-service at the gas<br />

pump, we will be providing it.”<br />

In addition to caring about its customers,<br />

the owners and employees <strong>of</strong><br />

Matthews, Inc. also truly care about the<br />

community in which they live and work,<br />

actively giving back by sponsoring<br />

various organization and events including<br />

sports teams, cook-<strong>of</strong>f teams, Texas<br />

City Independent School District events<br />

and Texas City-La Marque Chamber <strong>of</strong><br />

Commerce events, just to name a few.<br />

“If anyone ever wonders what it takes<br />

to withstand the test <strong>of</strong> time, we think<br />

that we have found the answer. At least<br />

at Matthews, Inc., we feel the secret to<br />

our success is simple—knowing our<br />

customers on a first name basis and<br />

always putting them first,” Ossie said.<br />

“That’s the way dad started the business<br />

almost seventy years ago and that’s the<br />

way it will always be done as long as we<br />

are around.”<br />

For more information on Matthews,<br />

Inc., call (409) 945-0277.<br />

Left to right, James A. “Ossie” Matthews, Jr.,<br />

and James A. “Trey” Matthews III.<br />

THE MARKETPLACE<br />

147


THE LAW FIRM OF<br />

ALTON C. TODD<br />

Above: Alton C. Todd.<br />

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF IMAGING STUDIOS.<br />

Below: The Todd children, left to right,<br />

Jeff Todd, Kamilah Todd, Seth Park,<br />

Kari Todd, Mike Todd, Jennifer Evans<br />

and Matt Todd.<br />

Cows, pizza parlors, railroads and<br />

refineries—whatever a client’s concern, The<br />

Law Firm <strong>of</strong> Alton C. Todd, located in<br />

Friendswood, upholds the philosophy <strong>of</strong><br />

“Your Case is Our Cause.”<br />

Named one <strong>of</strong> the Top Ten Texas Super<br />

Lawyers by Texas Monthly, Alton C. Todd, the<br />

son <strong>of</strong> a farmer and mail carrier, is known for<br />

his tenacity and success in the courtroom and<br />

also his willingness to take on cases that<br />

other attorneys might reject.<br />

“An attorney too big to try a small case<br />

is too small to try a big case,” says Todd,<br />

who was included in the 2008 Bar Register<br />

<strong>of</strong> Preeminent Lawyers, elected a fellow<br />

<strong>of</strong> the International Academy <strong>of</strong> Trial<br />

Lawyers in 2009, and included on the<br />

Best Lawyers in America’s list <strong>of</strong> the Top 100<br />

Lawyers <strong>of</strong> Texas.<br />

“Whatever a potential client’s situation is,<br />

I take his or her issues seriously because<br />

those issues are serious to that client,” adds<br />

Todd, who also was recognized by Texas<br />

Lawyer Magazine as the state’s Best Civil Trial<br />

Lawyer and The Personal Injury Lawyer for<br />

Serious Suits.<br />

The magazine also reported that <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

lawyers overwhelmingly pick Todd as the<br />

“go-to” personal injury lawyer for really big<br />

suits, and a fellow attorney was quoted as<br />

saying “He’s a very, very good trial lawyer. His<br />

word is his bond.”<br />

Such accolades are matched only by Todd’s<br />

own enthusiasm for the practice <strong>of</strong> law.<br />

“I love going to work everyday,” he says.<br />

“This is a wonderful pr<strong>of</strong>ession—it gives me<br />

the opportunity to help others and make a<br />

positive difference. It is my responsibility to<br />

present evidence in the best light possible for<br />

my clients, and I enjoy that challenge.”<br />

Additionally appreciative <strong>of</strong> the advantages<br />

<strong>of</strong>fered to him by <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>, Todd<br />

says, “The practice <strong>of</strong> law here has given me<br />

a phenomenal opportunity that I could never<br />

have experienced elsewhere. In particular,<br />

I feel very strong and positive about the<br />

county as a whole, and especially about<br />

where we are in Friendswood today.”<br />

Todd’s climb to the top <strong>of</strong> the state’s legal<br />

roster was not an easy one. With a wife<br />

and young twin sons, Todd put himself<br />

through law school by working five nights<br />

a week and Saturdays on a freight shipping<br />

dock. He additionally served on the board<br />

<strong>of</strong> editors for the school’s law review<br />

journal, and during the summers, installed<br />

swimming pools.<br />

Although Todd initially intended to stay<br />

in the Dallas area, upon receipt <strong>of</strong> his doctor<br />

<strong>of</strong> jurisprudence degree from Southern<br />

Methodist University, he was intrigued by a<br />

job <strong>of</strong>fer from an insurance defense firm on<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Island, and the young family—now<br />

with a fourth child on the way—relocated to<br />

the Gulf Coast in 1971, the same year he<br />

passed the Texas Bar. Remembering those<br />

early times, Todd jokes that his life then<br />

centered on “babies, state bar and boarding<br />

up.” Four years later, however, opportunity<br />

beckoned again, and Todd—now with five<br />

children—moved to Alvin, where he joined<br />

the practice <strong>of</strong> Wellborn, Britt and Brown.<br />

Later, drawing on his twenty-five years <strong>of</strong><br />

experience in personal injury cases, Todd<br />

formed his own eponymous firm that was<br />

relocated to Friendswood in 2000.<br />

Today, The Law Firm <strong>of</strong> Alton C. Todd<br />

occupies the historic 1938 residence<br />

constructed for Friendswood founder Cecil<br />

Brown, and its <strong>of</strong>fices provide both a tribute<br />

to the history <strong>of</strong> the area and a testimony<br />

to Todd’s ongoing commitment to the<br />

community. In addition to recognitions <strong>of</strong><br />

Todd’s pr<strong>of</strong>essional honors and the firm’s<br />

numerous civic activities, a museum-like<br />

gallery <strong>of</strong> historic photos shows the town<br />

during its formative years, including an early<br />

1900s post <strong>of</strong>fice, grocery store and other<br />

street scenes. Todd, himself, shares many<br />

values with the Brown family, especially those<br />

supporting hard work and education.<br />

From the Midwest, the Browns arrived in<br />

the area during the winter <strong>of</strong> 1895 and had<br />

the unusual experience <strong>of</strong> disembarking from<br />

their train just after the Texas Gulf Coast had<br />

experienced a rare and record-setting snow<br />

fall. The family soon identified suitable land<br />

and, despite having no actual money, was<br />

able to arrange satisfactory terms for the<br />

desired acreage with owner J. C. League, a<br />

founder <strong>of</strong> nearby League City. As members<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Religious Society <strong>of</strong> Friends—<strong>of</strong>ten<br />

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eferred to as Quakers—the Browns named<br />

their new community Friendswood.<br />

Drained by four creeks, the area was<br />

favorable for farming, and Friendswood was<br />

soon known for its production <strong>of</strong> figs,<br />

Satsuma oranges and strawberries. The everindustrious<br />

Quakers also began preserving<br />

some <strong>of</strong> their figs, and thus became one <strong>of</strong><br />

the first “factories” in the area. In addition,<br />

Brown set up a sawmill, and used timber<br />

felled during the 1900 hurricane to build<br />

Friendswood Academy, which graduated its<br />

first class in 1907.<br />

Today, Todd is likewise working to ensure<br />

that Friendswood’s twenty-first century<br />

young people also receive an exemplary<br />

education. Dedicated to the success <strong>of</strong> his<br />

community’s future citizens, he says,<br />

“Education is a big deal here—our students<br />

even compete nationally in academic<br />

decathlons. We realize that education is a<br />

vital investment in their—and our—futures,<br />

and the more knowledge they have, the more<br />

opportunities they will access.”<br />

Todd’s own children, too, are following<br />

their father’s example, accessing their own<br />

individual and sometimes unconventional<br />

roads to success. Currently, their choices<br />

range from one son’s joining his father’s firm<br />

in the practice <strong>of</strong> law to the youngest<br />

daughter’s combining university studies with<br />

serving as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader.<br />

Left to right, Clint McGuire, Alton C. Todd,<br />

and Jeff Todd in front <strong>of</strong> The Brown House.<br />

THE MARKETPLACE<br />

149


J&J TELECOMMUNICATIONS<br />

When are good connections no longer<br />

“good” enough? When <strong>Galveston</strong>ian Eddie<br />

Janek and his J&J Telecommunications Inc.<br />

are poised to point the way to “great.”<br />

As founding owner <strong>of</strong> the island-based<br />

business communications leader, Janek is well<br />

acquainted with the importance <strong>of</strong> great connections.<br />

Widely recognized for its innovative<br />

high-tech and service-oriented operations, J&J<br />

is dedicated to ensuring that its customers<br />

experience only the best in equipment, the latest<br />

in cutting-edge s<strong>of</strong>tware, and unparalleled<br />

personalized service and technical support.<br />

“Customer satisfaction is a major commitment<br />

at J&J,” says Janek. “In addition to<br />

<strong>of</strong>fering optimal technology and service, we<br />

take a personal interest in our customers’<br />

individual needs. We also believe that if a<br />

situation is ‘mission-critical,’ downtime is not<br />

an option, so we provide twenty-four hour<br />

emergency call-out services, seven days a<br />

week, and free loaner equipment.”<br />

Eric Froeschner, J&J’s global sales and<br />

marketing director, agrees saying, “Customers<br />

who outsource their IT service and support<br />

with J&J are assured <strong>of</strong> 100 percent quality<br />

and reliability. We are not satisfied until our<br />

customers are satisfied. Whether we’re building,<br />

supporting or administering a system—<br />

or developing a custom IT solution—J&J will<br />

find a way to do it better, faster and more<br />

cost-effectively.”<br />

J&J’s reputation as a leader in business<br />

communications was further reinforced in<br />

the aftermath <strong>of</strong> Hurricane Ike in 2008. Word<br />

quickly spread <strong>of</strong> how customers using J&J’s<br />

innovative connections were able to maintain<br />

communications before, during and after the<br />

storm made landfall.<br />

Crediting the power <strong>of</strong> a cutting-edge<br />

“hosted voice solution” with J&J’s ability to<br />

provide its customers with uninterrupted<br />

communication during Ike, J&J CEO Scott<br />

Kellogg points out that most local businesses<br />

using more traditional systems lost service<br />

during the storm.<br />

“By use <strong>of</strong> this system, J&J enabled its<br />

customers—one <strong>of</strong> which was <strong>Galveston</strong>’s<br />

largest insurance company—to maintain<br />

contact with their customers and employees<br />

throughout this major disaster,” says Kellogg.<br />

“It was a situation that brought numerous<br />

other businesses here to an abrupt halt for an<br />

extended period <strong>of</strong> time.”<br />

Aware that small to mid-sized companies<br />

have specific needs, Janek additionally notes<br />

that J&J Telecommunications is especially<br />

equipped to serve them. “Our engineers are<br />

the brightest and best in all areas <strong>of</strong> computer<br />

networks and IT solutions, from basic cabling<br />

and messaging to network security and<br />

collaborative workgroup solutions,” he says.<br />

“We also <strong>of</strong>fer one <strong>of</strong> the most comprehensive<br />

and affordable support and maintenance<br />

packages in the industry and by choosing J&J,<br />

a business is getting customer service that<br />

caters to its specific requirements.”<br />

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Janek points out that J&J technicians can<br />

be used to supplement a company’s existing<br />

support staff or, alternatively, J&J can take full<br />

responsibility for administering and managing<br />

a communications network. “It’s like having a<br />

complete support staff at a fraction <strong>of</strong> the cost<br />

<strong>of</strong> hiring full-time personnel,” he says.<br />

In the more than twenty-five years since Janek<br />

founded the company with his son Craig in<br />

1984, few areas <strong>of</strong> modern life have changed so<br />

dramatically as business communications. J&J’s<br />

own growth reflects this trend, and the company<br />

that initially served only <strong>Galveston</strong> provides<br />

services today throughout the United States.<br />

To maintain its edge on industry progress,<br />

J&J requires intensive initial training and ongoing<br />

continuing education for its design, installation<br />

and service staff. Janek, however, makes no<br />

apologies for the fact that today he leaves the<br />

high-tech and specialized areas to the young<br />

“whiz-kids” such as Scott and Bill Fennelly,<br />

J&J’s CFO, who have joined J&J in recent years.<br />

“The telecommunications industry is one<br />

that is constantly ‘pushing the envelope,’”<br />

Janek says. “It’s just good business on my<br />

part that I step back and let these young<br />

techno-gurus take the lead when it comes<br />

to mastering the ever more sophisticated<br />

demands <strong>of</strong> today’s cutting-edge technology.”<br />

What has not changed, however, is J&J’s<br />

philosophy on service.<br />

“New communications technology is only<br />

as good as the people who design the systems<br />

to meet an individual business’ specific<br />

needs, then install and maintain it,” Janek<br />

says. “It’s J&J’s time-honored commitment to<br />

service that more than anything else sets us<br />

apart from the others.”<br />

The importance Janek places on service<br />

has been reflected throughout his life, both<br />

personally and pr<strong>of</strong>essionally. A teenager<br />

during the early 1940s, he attempted to enlist<br />

in the military at age fifteen, but his ruse was<br />

ultimately discovered and he was sent home.<br />

A year later, however, he succeeded in joining<br />

the Navy, and served in the South Pacific<br />

during World War II and later in Korea.<br />

In July 1946, Janek had the opportunity to<br />

twice witness the making <strong>of</strong> history with the<br />

testing <strong>of</strong> the atomic bomb in the Bikini Atoll<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Marshall Islands. He chuckles when he<br />

notes that in addition to being warned to close<br />

their eyes lest their eyesight be damaged, he<br />

and his fellow crew members had been cautioned<br />

that witnessing the blasts might make<br />

them sterile. Today, Janek—who earned some<br />

twenty military medals—notes that he is not<br />

blind and is also the father <strong>of</strong> three children.<br />

As a major civic leader, Janek’s role in the<br />

greater <strong>Galveston</strong> community also has been<br />

filled with history-making activities. A past<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> commissioner and former<br />

board member <strong>of</strong> several groups including the<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Airport Commission, Port <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Wharves Board and <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

Navigation District, Janek was appointed by<br />

Texas Governor Rick Perry in 2011 to the<br />

Board <strong>of</strong> Pilot Commissioners for <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> Ports. Janek additionally has been<br />

recognized with a special resolution for his<br />

numerous contributions to the <strong>County</strong> Judges<br />

and Commissioners Association <strong>of</strong> Texas.<br />

THE MARKETPLACE<br />

151


TEXAS CITY-<br />

LA MARQUE<br />

CHAMBER OF<br />

COMMERCE<br />

Above: Local legislators at a business<br />

luncheon, including Representative<br />

Craig Eiland, Senator Mike Jackson,<br />

and Representative Larry Taylor.<br />

Below: The Texas City-La Marque Chamber<br />

<strong>of</strong> Commerce building.<br />

Bottom: Safety Council ribbon-cutting<br />

ceremony with local plant managers<br />

and businessmen.<br />

Imagine a complex <strong>of</strong> multiuse rooms—<br />

meeting rooms, conference rooms, sitting<br />

rooms, rooms with copying and communications<br />

equipment—each one proudly bearing<br />

the name <strong>of</strong> a vital area business. Imagine<br />

these rooms radiating like the spokes <strong>of</strong> a<br />

wheel <strong>of</strong>f a central receiving area “hub”<br />

that buzzes with activity and friendly voices<br />

as area business leaders drop by regularly<br />

on <strong>of</strong>ficial and non<strong>of</strong>ficial business. Imagine<br />

wall-to-wall display cases loaded with maps,<br />

brochures, driving guides, reference materials<br />

and background information on local life<br />

and leisure. Imagine clean rest rooms and<br />

hot c<strong>of</strong>fee.<br />

If you can wrap your mind around all<br />

this, you are close to experiencing the reality<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Texas City-La Marque Chamber <strong>of</strong><br />

Commerce, around which all things related<br />

to the well-being <strong>of</strong> these two coastal communities<br />

seem to revolve.<br />

Founded in 1969, the Texas City-La Marque<br />

Chamber <strong>of</strong> Commerce has much to show for<br />

its years <strong>of</strong> service. With a focus on improving<br />

its community’s economic development<br />

and quality <strong>of</strong> life, it has served as a defining<br />

and unifying force throughout the area’s<br />

development as a major economic and industrial<br />

player on the Texas Gulf Coast. Also<br />

drawing strength from its diversity, the<br />

organization’s membership reflects the area’s<br />

global interests and includes members from<br />

as far away as China.<br />

The group’s all-inclusive role is summed<br />

up in its mission statement: “The Texas City-<br />

La Marque Chamber <strong>of</strong> Commerce is an<br />

organization <strong>of</strong> businesses and individuals<br />

whose purpose it is to create a positive<br />

business environment, assist in economic<br />

development, support public and private<br />

institutions, promote tourism and community<br />

involvement and, in general, enhance the<br />

quality <strong>of</strong> life in our communities.”<br />

Acting as a catalyst for a number <strong>of</strong> organizations<br />

within the community, the chamber<br />

and/or its committees touch virtually every<br />

aspect <strong>of</strong> life in Texas City and La Marque.<br />

Whatever the concern—education, industry,<br />

business or the environment—it is almost<br />

guaranteed that there is a chamber group that<br />

is deeply and personally involved.<br />

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The education committee works through<br />

local schools to provide scholarship opportunities<br />

and each year hosts a new teachers’<br />

breakfast. Other area concerns and commitments<br />

are served through activities such as<br />

a speaker’s bureau, the annual “Trash Bash,”<br />

a Hurricane Forecast Luncheon and an<br />

industrial trade show. Other regular events<br />

include a golf tournament, shrimp boil,<br />

community picnic and “FunFest.”<br />

Reflecting its “Partners in Progress” motto,<br />

the organization has received unparalleled<br />

support from its community.<br />

Naming rights on rooms,<br />

and even chairs, and the<br />

donation <strong>of</strong> supplies and<br />

services have resulted in a<br />

building that is completely<br />

paid for today, leaving this<br />

chamber looking forward<br />

to a future <strong>of</strong> new growth,<br />

partnerships and collaboration<br />

in its continuing work<br />

to create a even better place<br />

to live, work and play.<br />

Clockwise, starting from top left:<br />

Texas City Dike.<br />

The Texas City vs. La Marque football<br />

game, “Battle By the Bay.”<br />

The Spirit <strong>of</strong> Texas City biplane at Bay<br />

Street Park.<br />

Halfmoon Shoal Lighthouse on Texas<br />

City Levee.<br />

The Delaney Cove subdivision in<br />

La Marque.<br />

The Davison Home, a historical home in<br />

Texas City.<br />

Children fishing on Texas City Dike.<br />

THE MARKETPLACE<br />

153


HOMETOWN<br />

BANK, N.A.<br />

Above: Friendswood downtown,<br />

601 South Friendswood Drive.<br />

Below: <strong>Galveston</strong> Main Bank,<br />

1801 Forty-fifth Street.<br />

Whether it is the home team, home cooking,<br />

or home, sweet home—there is no doubt<br />

that there is no place like home. For many<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> area residents, there is also<br />

no place like HomeTown Bank for handling<br />

their business and personal financial needs<br />

and services.<br />

Commencing operations on <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

Island on June 12, 1966, under the name<br />

<strong>of</strong> Bank <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong>, National Association,<br />

the bank was founded by a group <strong>of</strong> local<br />

business leaders who believed <strong>Galveston</strong>ians<br />

<strong>of</strong> the 1960s needed a bank more centrally<br />

located to residents living on the western part<br />

<strong>of</strong> the island.<br />

Changing its name to HomeTown Bank,<br />

National Association, in 1999 to better support<br />

the expansion <strong>of</strong> its services to mainland<br />

areas, HomeTown Bank has since opened a<br />

number <strong>of</strong> new <strong>of</strong>fices<br />

and currently has 2<br />

banking locations on<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Island, 1 in<br />

League City, 1 in Alvin,<br />

and 2 in Friendswood.<br />

HomeTown Bank has<br />

enjoyed a long history<br />

<strong>of</strong> consistent leadership<br />

and pr<strong>of</strong>itable operations.<br />

Throughout its<br />

first half century <strong>of</strong> serving<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>,<br />

it has had only four<br />

chairmen and three<br />

presidents. A founding<br />

Director and long-time<br />

Chairman <strong>of</strong> the Board<br />

was Michael J. Gaido, Sr.,<br />

a member <strong>of</strong> the restaurant<br />

and hotel family <strong>of</strong><br />

the same name. Upon Gaido’s death in 1993,<br />

Jack Miller, <strong>of</strong> the Schreiber and Miller<br />

Furniture in <strong>Galveston</strong> and La Marque,<br />

served as chairman for many years before<br />

being succeeded by Michael J. Gaido, Jr.<br />

Other bank leadership has been provided by<br />

President Douglas Lee, who served more than<br />

twenty years before Jimmy Rasmussen was<br />

named to that position in 1989.<br />

Taking its name seriously is a full-time mission<br />

at HomeTown Bank. With a philosophy<br />

<strong>of</strong> hiring local people, serving local people<br />

and sharing its ownership among some 500<br />

shareholders, HomeTown Bank strives to<br />

welcome each customer like a member <strong>of</strong> the<br />

family, including hosting outreach social and<br />

community events several times a year.<br />

Through the provision <strong>of</strong> personalized,<br />

boots-on-the-ground service by real people, a<br />

neighbor-to-neighbor working environment<br />

has been created by HomeTown Bank, even<br />

during times <strong>of</strong> disaster. In the aftermath <strong>of</strong><br />

Hurricane Ike and at a time <strong>of</strong> international<br />

financial crisis when larger, national banks<br />

were failing, HomeTown Bank was recognized<br />

in the Congressional Record <strong>of</strong> the<br />

111th Congress <strong>of</strong> the United States for the<br />

bank’s ability to provide immediate attention<br />

and emergency service to its home community<br />

through more than $6 million in bridge<br />

loans to local area business.<br />

Services provided by HomeTown Bank<br />

range from traditional checking and saving<br />

accounts to consumer and commercial lending;<br />

certificates <strong>of</strong> deposit, online banking<br />

and bill pay, Cash Management, Commercial<br />

Remote Deposit Capture, Debit MasterCard,<br />

and worldwide ATM access services. For<br />

additional information on HomeTown Bank,<br />

visit www.htbna.com on the Internet.<br />

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When Hurricane Ike blew through<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Island in September 2008 bringing<br />

110-mph sustained winds and towering<br />

twenty-two foot waves, A-1 Fire Equipment<br />

Co., like the majority on the island, lost<br />

everything—everything, that is, but its will to<br />

survive and rebuild the very island on which<br />

the company was founded in 1967.<br />

“We lost both <strong>of</strong> our shops and our <strong>of</strong>fice,”<br />

said owner and operator Mark Priddy, who<br />

purchased the established fire equipment<br />

company in 2002 and merged it with his<br />

existing company, <strong>Galveston</strong> Fire and Safety.<br />

“But because our clients and neighbors come<br />

first, we chose to focus on helping them get<br />

back up and running.”<br />

Because they needed some place to work<br />

from immediately, Priddy purchased a facility<br />

in nearby La Marque and his team set out to<br />

help rebuild the island. They worked nonstop,<br />

seven days a week for more than a year<br />

making sure each <strong>of</strong> their clients had what<br />

they needed in the way <strong>of</strong> fire protection.<br />

Then, like today, they performed thousands<br />

<strong>of</strong> inspections and provided, serviced and<br />

installed everything from fire extinguishers,<br />

fire alarm systems, restaurant systems,<br />

marine fire systems and flame and gas detection<br />

systems to carbonic and hydrostatic<br />

testing systems as well as access control and<br />

closed circuit television. They worked on,<br />

restored and rebuilt structures to include<br />

businesses, government and school facilities,<br />

colleges and residential facilities and also<br />

installed systems on and inspected the boats<br />

<strong>of</strong> the U.S. Coast Guard as well as those that<br />

service the oil rigs <strong>of</strong>f the coast.<br />

Today, A-1 Fire still operates from its <strong>of</strong>fice<br />

in La Marque and has earned its rightful designation<br />

as a household name on <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

Island and all along the Texas coastline. It<br />

services 3,000-plus customers, many who<br />

have themselves or, who by carrying the<br />

torch <strong>of</strong> their forefathers, have laid the<br />

very foundation <strong>of</strong> the area, clients such as<br />

George Mitchell Properties, Landry’s Seafood,<br />

Port <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong>, Moody Gardens, College<br />

<strong>of</strong> Mainland and <strong>Galveston</strong> Community<br />

College, just to name a few.<br />

In addition to its traditional services, the<br />

company has recently added a second division,<br />

A-1 Restaurant Services, which focuses<br />

on kitchen hood cleaning. The company<br />

employs a dozen skilled and dedicated associates<br />

and has annual revenues which consistently<br />

top $2 million. It is fully-licensed and<br />

certified with the State <strong>of</strong> Texas; an accredited<br />

member <strong>of</strong> the National Fire Protection<br />

Association; and a proud sponsor <strong>of</strong> the youth<br />

program at the annual <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Fair.<br />

For more information, stop by the company’s<br />

<strong>of</strong>fice at 3202 Main Street in La Marque, call<br />

409-744-4438, or visit the company website at<br />

www.a-1fire.com.<br />

A-1 FIRE<br />

EQUIPMENT CO.<br />

THE MARKETPLACE<br />

155


GALVESTON<br />

CHAMBER OF<br />

COMMERCE<br />

It is not just about ribbon cuttings with<br />

giant wooden scissors, nor the plaques,<br />

awards and framed news clippings that cover<br />

the walls at the <strong>Galveston</strong> Chamber <strong>of</strong><br />

Commerce. The most distinguishing feature<br />

<strong>of</strong> Texas’ first—and oldest—chamber <strong>of</strong><br />

commerce is its total understanding <strong>of</strong> the<br />

word “business.”<br />

Founded in 1845 the <strong>Galveston</strong> Chamber<br />

<strong>of</strong> Commerce was made <strong>of</strong>ficial “by law” by<br />

the Eighth Congress <strong>of</strong> the Republic <strong>of</strong><br />

Texas. Local business leaders whose names<br />

are attached to the <strong>of</strong>ficial documents <strong>of</strong><br />

that event include such historic notables as<br />

S. M. Williams, founder <strong>of</strong> the Texas Navy,<br />

and M. B. Menard, who later became a<br />

founder <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> itself.<br />

A similar pioneering<br />

spirit has since energized<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>’s chamber for<br />

more than 160 years.<br />

Through natural disasters<br />

such as storms, fires and<br />

fever epidemics, through<br />

economic prosperity and<br />

down-turns, the <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

Chamber <strong>of</strong> Commerce has<br />

played a vital and pivotal<br />

role in the unfolding commercial<br />

development <strong>of</strong> not<br />

only its home community,<br />

but the entire Gulf Coast<br />

region <strong>of</strong> the United States.<br />

From the beginning,<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>’s leaders knew the importance <strong>of</strong><br />

working together. With one <strong>of</strong> the best natural<br />

deepwater ports in the world, the island<br />

early on attracted shipping and maritime<br />

interests, and with shipping came businessmen,<br />

entrepreneurs, adventurers and workers<br />

<strong>of</strong> every description.<br />

With such diversity, however, there had to<br />

be consensus and a common ground for the<br />

men and women who were going to shape<br />

Texas history and commerce as it branched<br />

out over the remainder <strong>of</strong> the nineteenth century<br />

into banking, railroads, cattle and cotton.<br />

The <strong>Galveston</strong> Chamber <strong>of</strong> Commerce was<br />

specifically designed to provide this broad<br />

base for businesses <strong>of</strong> all types. With its<br />

guidance, the island city <strong>of</strong> the 1800s soon<br />

became known as “The Queen <strong>of</strong> the Gulf,”<br />

and for many decades was the most prosperous<br />

and progressive city in the state. Today,<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>’s chamber—with its to-the-point<br />

mission “To Promote and Advocate for<br />

Business”—is still the unifying organization<br />

for local growth and development.<br />

Combining creative foresight with an ability<br />

to tap into innovative business ventures<br />

attuned to the world’s changing needs,<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>’s twenty-first century chamber continues<br />

its dedication to building a strong local<br />

economy through more businesses, better<br />

businesses, and jobs with competitive salaries<br />

and fringe benefits. Additionally, its programs<br />

foster better schools, enhanced educational<br />

opportunities and a decrease in crime.<br />

Through commercial stimulation, the<br />

chamber is also paving the way for public<br />

programs and community amenities that<br />

enhance <strong>Galveston</strong>’s overall quality <strong>of</strong> life,<br />

contributing to not only increased resident<br />

satisfaction but the building <strong>of</strong> the tourism<br />

industry through growing numbers <strong>of</strong> conventions,<br />

meetings and vacationing visitors.<br />

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Teaming up Lone Star State values with<br />

all-star employees and family-friendly service<br />

is a winning strategy at Texas First Bank.<br />

With a motto <strong>of</strong> “Helping Texans Build Texas”<br />

and headquartered in Texas City, Texas First<br />

Bank is <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>’s largest, locallyowned<br />

family <strong>of</strong> community banks.<br />

Initially founded in Hitchcock in 1962 as<br />

First State Bank, the organization was purchased<br />

in 1973 by an investor group headed by<br />

current Board Chairman Charles T. “Chuck”<br />

Doyle. Renamed Texas First Bank, the<br />

organization grew steadily under Doyle’s<br />

leadership and, by the end <strong>of</strong> the<br />

twentieth century, had established banking<br />

centers in all thirteen <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>’s incorporated areas. Today, it<br />

includes twenty banking centers and<br />

has expanded into Brazoria, Chambers,<br />

Harris and Jefferson Counties, as well<br />

as <strong>of</strong>fering additional services through<br />

Texas First Mortgage, Texas First SBA<br />

Lending, Texas First Investment Center,<br />

and the Rust-Ewing and Sullivan<br />

Insurance agencies.<br />

Steadfastly maintaining its conservative<br />

roots, Texas First Bank has solidly<br />

and pr<strong>of</strong>itably withstood world market<br />

fluctuations without losing its family<br />

focus. Deeply committed to customer<br />

service and satisfaction, it combines<br />

responsible management with innovative<br />

programs, such as online account<br />

opening, and was the first bank in Texas<br />

and the second bank in the nation to<br />

<strong>of</strong>fer the VISA Extras program. Texas First Bank<br />

was voted Best <strong>of</strong> the Bay’s “Best Bank” and<br />

named among the area’s “Top Work Places” by<br />

the Houston Chronicle, and received Golden<br />

Eagle and Silver Eagle marketing awards from<br />

the Independent Bankers Association <strong>of</strong> Texas.<br />

In 2009 the Independent Community Bankers<br />

<strong>of</strong> America Magazine Independent Banker<br />

named Texas First Bank one <strong>of</strong> the topperforming<br />

banks in the country.<br />

A five-term mayor <strong>of</strong> Texas City and the<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Daily News’ “Citizen <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Century,” in 2000, Doyle has been a major<br />

player in the development <strong>of</strong> the bank and <strong>of</strong><br />

Texas City. The recipient <strong>of</strong> numerous honors,<br />

including IBAT’s “Chairman’s Award” and<br />

being named “Texas Banker <strong>of</strong> the Year,” he<br />

served as the first community banker on<br />

the Federal Advisory Council to the Board<br />

<strong>of</strong> Governors <strong>of</strong> the Federal Reserve in<br />

Washington, D.C., and was a director <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Federal Reserve Bank <strong>of</strong> Dallas. He also is<br />

known for his work with area youth, including<br />

playing a prominent role with the Boy<br />

Scouts and helping found the “LEADS” leadership<br />

program for area high schools with the<br />

Texas City ISD Foundation for the Future.<br />

Deeply committed to maintaining the<br />

altruistic and family nature <strong>of</strong> Texas First,<br />

Doyle today has three <strong>of</strong> his sons working<br />

with him, and, following their father’s lead,<br />

each is also heavily involved in civic affairs.<br />

Matthew is vice chairman <strong>of</strong> the bank’s<br />

board and currently Mayor <strong>of</strong> Texas City;<br />

Christopher is bank president/CEO and<br />

heads the Salvation Army advisory board;<br />

and Patrick is currently <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

Commissioner, serves as the bank’s legal<br />

counsel, and is active in Scouting. The threesome<br />

and their father also have given the<br />

Doyles the distinction <strong>of</strong> being the only family<br />

to have four members named among the<br />

Texas Jaycees’ “Outstanding Young Texans.”<br />

TEXAS FIRST<br />

BANK<br />

Left to right holding their Outstanding<br />

Young Texans awards are: Legal Counsel<br />

<strong>of</strong> Texas First Bank, Patrick Doyle;<br />

Chairman <strong>of</strong> the Board, Charles T. Doyle;<br />

Vice Chairman, Matthew T. Doyle;<br />

and President/CEO Christopher Doyle.<br />

THE MARKETPLACE<br />

157


BETTER<br />

BUSINESS<br />

BUREAU<br />

For going on nine decades, consumers and<br />

businesses in <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> have enjoyed<br />

the protection and assistance provided by the<br />

Better Business Bureau <strong>of</strong> Greater Houston<br />

and South Texas.<br />

Perhaps better known as simply the<br />

BBB, this bureau is one<br />

<strong>of</strong> a network <strong>of</strong> 110 private<br />

business organizations<br />

located throughout<br />

the United States and<br />

Canada. Like its sister<br />

organizations across the<br />

continent, it was born out<br />

<strong>of</strong> concern for the deceptive<br />

advertising practices<br />

prevalent during the early<br />

twentieth century and<br />

actually morphed from<br />

the existing Associated<br />

Advertising Clubs <strong>of</strong><br />

America. History tells us,<br />

in fact, that it was during<br />

a meeting <strong>of</strong> this group,<br />

which was presided over<br />

by the club president and<br />

held at the Rice Hotel in downtown Houston,<br />

that the area BBB was <strong>of</strong>ficially founded on<br />

February 28, 1922.<br />

Today, this BBB serves a metropolitan area<br />

that encompasses <strong>Galveston</strong> and seventeen<br />

other Texas counties. It promotes mutual<br />

trust between more than 8,000 accredited<br />

businesses and a population that has grown<br />

from less than 300,000 when the BBB was<br />

first founded to more than six million today.<br />

The organization employs sixty people and<br />

has four <strong>of</strong>fices in the region.<br />

According to the organization’s board <strong>of</strong><br />

directors, which is made up <strong>of</strong> fifty members<br />

representing the counties it services, the<br />

BBB is in the business <strong>of</strong> creating and<br />

maintaining better business throughout its<br />

service area. It works diligently to create a<br />

trustworthy business community, which<br />

breeds success for both consumer and<br />

accredited businesses alike.<br />

Indeed, it is a simple, but successful<br />

premise. Because companies that are invited<br />

to join the BBB as Accredited Businesses<br />

must meet the BBB Standards for Trust and<br />

maintain all requirements <strong>of</strong> Accreditation,<br />

consumers can feel confident in patronizing<br />

BBB-accredited businesses. Likewise, when<br />

consumers feel more confident about a<br />

business, accredited businesses usually enjoy<br />

a growing customer base.<br />

Specifically, the BBB gathers and archives<br />

information about businesses and their<br />

reliability, whether accredited or not; alerts<br />

the public to fraud against consumers and<br />

businesses; provides information on ethical<br />

business practices, and acts as mutually<br />

trusted intermediaries between consumers<br />

and businesses to resolved disputes. Core<br />

services include business review reports,<br />

fraud prevention, charity accountability and<br />

effectiveness education, complaints and<br />

dispute resolution, consumer and business<br />

education, truth in advertising and wise<br />

giving charity reports.<br />

Additionally dues-paying Accredited<br />

Businesses can utilize a number <strong>of</strong> services<br />

to help improve their business from dispute<br />

handling and resolution, training, various<br />

advertising and marketing tools and a<br />

speakers bureau, just to name a few, as<br />

well as complete access to a host <strong>of</strong> valuable<br />

business information resources available only<br />

through the BBB.<br />

For more information, please visit online at<br />

www.bbbgalveston.org.<br />

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When R. C. Williams founded ROBCO<br />

Facility Services in 1977, his <strong>of</strong>fice was the<br />

trunk <strong>of</strong> his car.<br />

Today, however, ROBCO has a headquarters<br />

<strong>of</strong>fice in Texas City and two satellite <strong>of</strong>fices<br />

and is one <strong>of</strong> the premier facility management<br />

companies in Texas. ROBCO provides a wide<br />

range <strong>of</strong> services in six main areas—janitorial,<br />

lawn care, pest control, greenbelt mowing, box<br />

moves and ancillary service. The employee roster<br />

has grown from one to approximately 100.<br />

When asked what makes the company<br />

successful, the now retired founder who has<br />

since turned over the company to his son,<br />

Emery Williams II, is quick to tip his hat<br />

to the employees. “We feel that our greatest<br />

assets are our employees. Through hard<br />

work, good management and a working<br />

relationship based on commitment, we are<br />

able to maintain a consistent and highly<br />

trained workforce with high quality work<br />

performance,” the elder Williams said.<br />

The company is particularly proud <strong>of</strong> its<br />

stellar safety record. It has had no recordable<br />

incidents with the Occupational Safety and<br />

Hazard Association (OSHA) in almost a decade<br />

and has been recognized time and again by the<br />

committee that presents the Houston Business<br />

Round Table Safety Excellence Awards.<br />

“With quality and safety procedures<br />

second to none in the industry, our clients<br />

can trust us to work in their highest security<br />

and most restricted areas,” says Emery, who<br />

now serves as company president.<br />

ROBCO provides superior services both<br />

inside and out for facilities <strong>of</strong> all sizes and<br />

types—from commercial <strong>of</strong>fice buildings,<br />

industrial facilities, chemical plants and<br />

refineries to undeveloped and newly developed<br />

properties as well as recreational and<br />

school properties. Its client list includes<br />

well-known corporate citizens such as BP<br />

Refinery, Praxair Incorporated, First Choice,<br />

BP Amoco Chemical Company, Ineos Nova,<br />

LLC, Oxbrow Carbon and Minerals and<br />

BP Chemical, Inc., just to name a few.<br />

Indoors, the company’s janitorial service<br />

record is spotless and staff and management<br />

are constantly researching to identify the most<br />

efficient, cost-saving and green methods to<br />

perform cleaning services.<br />

Outdoors, ROBCO provides top-notch<br />

landscaping services to include design and<br />

complete lawn care and pest control treatments<br />

and maintenance to protect and bring<br />

out the aesthetics <strong>of</strong> <strong>of</strong>fices and facilities alike.<br />

ROBCO’s Greenbelt Mowing division provides<br />

services such as tractor mowing, tree<br />

removal, weed and tree trimming, grading<br />

services, seasonal clean-up and maintenance.<br />

The Moving Division provides pr<strong>of</strong>essional<br />

moving services for commercial clients.<br />

Additionally, the company is also equipped<br />

to provide an array <strong>of</strong> ad hoc services on<br />

demand such as pressure and steam washing<br />

and herbicide spraying.<br />

ROBCO Facility Services is located at<br />

428 Texas Avenue, Texas City, 77590. For<br />

more information, call 409-945-5539 or visit<br />

www.robcoservices.com.<br />

ROBCO FACILITY SERVICES<br />

R. C. Williams.<br />

THE MARKETPLACE<br />

159


GIA INSURANCE<br />

Above: Southeast corner <strong>of</strong> Market and<br />

Twenty-first Streets, 1893.<br />

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF THE ROSENBERG LIBRARY.<br />

A small collection <strong>of</strong> broken red bricks<br />

and mortar bears silent witness to the real<br />

business at <strong>Galveston</strong> Insurance Associates.<br />

Sharing display-case space with gleaming<br />

civic awards and vintage photos, the<br />

crumbled masonry from a long ago storm<br />

ravaged building is a somber reminder that<br />

human life, health and property must never<br />

be taken for granted.<br />

The oldest independent<br />

insurance agency in <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> and the largest on<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Island, GIA has<br />

shared more than 120 years <strong>of</strong><br />

history with its home community.<br />

During that time, the<br />

company has dealt with fire,<br />

flood and storm. It has seen its<br />

clients through sickness and<br />

health and been there to provide<br />

security and support<br />

through many <strong>of</strong> life’s most<br />

major moments.<br />

As an Independent Insurance Agency, GIA<br />

is not limited to selecting policies from only<br />

one insurance provider, but has the ability to<br />

‘shop’ for competitive rates and provide<br />

individualized coverage through a variety <strong>of</strong><br />

personal and business insurance products.<br />

Additionally, GIA’s long tenure in the insurance<br />

business provides extra assurance <strong>of</strong> dependable<br />

representation in that it has over the years<br />

cultivated favorable and stable relationships<br />

with a number <strong>of</strong> carefully chosen, reputable<br />

and financially sound insurance companies.<br />

From its <strong>of</strong>fices today on <strong>Galveston</strong> Island<br />

and in Friendswood, Texas, GIA can help<br />

clients select insurance for nearly all personal<br />

and business interests, including farm and<br />

ranch coverage. In addition to life and health<br />

insurance for individuals, families, groups<br />

and employees, GIA <strong>of</strong>fers homeowners,<br />

windstorm, flood, automobile, boat, yacht,<br />

motorcycle and other “valuable property”<br />

policies. Commercial coverage includes business<br />

and commercial property protection,<br />

plus liability, windstorm, flood, workers’<br />

compensation, business vehicle and bonding<br />

policies. GIA can also assist with financial,<br />

business, retirement and estate planning.<br />

GIA’s history includes helping <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

recover from numerous weather disasters.<br />

Founded in 1892 by Charles Rhodes Brown,<br />

one <strong>of</strong> the first presidents <strong>of</strong> the Independent<br />

Insurance Agents <strong>of</strong> Texas, the company had<br />

been in business only eight years when<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> experienced the Great Storm <strong>of</strong><br />

1900. Slightly over a century later, GIA once<br />

again played a leadership role in disaster recovery<br />

when Hurricane Ike struck in 2008. GIA’s<br />

president, Garry P. Kaufman, was president <strong>of</strong><br />

the Independent Insurance Agents <strong>of</strong> Texas<br />

(IIAT) when Hurricane Ike made landfall.<br />

As the state’s largest writer <strong>of</strong> flood insurance<br />

and among the first agencies in Texas<br />

to have a website, www.gia-tx.com, GIA is<br />

committed to providing ongoing<br />

service in advance <strong>of</strong>, throughout<br />

and immediately after catastrophic<br />

events. In advance <strong>of</strong> Ike,<br />

it relocated computer servers,<br />

workstations and a management<br />

team inland to College Station,<br />

allowing GIA to be “online” and<br />

fielding calls from customers even<br />

as Ike was making landfall. The<br />

day following the storm, the company<br />

president was back on<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Island personally helping<br />

process client claims, and<br />

three days later, GIA’s mainland<br />

<strong>of</strong>fice reopened to provide assistance<br />

twelve hours a day to the<br />

neighboring community.<br />

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160


A <strong>Galveston</strong> resident since the late<br />

1980s, journalist Leslie Watts currently<br />

pursues a freelance career in writing<br />

and editing—and sometimes helping<br />

others write and edit—books, articles,<br />

institutional publications, press releases,<br />

speeches, scripts, advertising and<br />

other materials. In addition to a<br />

journalism career that has included<br />

both print and broadcast communications,<br />

Watts has taught high school<br />

algebra and middle school English.<br />

Graduated with honors from<br />

Louisiana State University in Baton<br />

Rouge, Watts earned her bachelor’s<br />

degree in journalism, specializing in<br />

radio and television broadcast. She<br />

also has studied computer science at<br />

the University <strong>of</strong> Houston and worked<br />

on a Master <strong>of</strong> Science degree in<br />

mathematics at the University <strong>of</strong><br />

New Orleans.<br />

Her career has included serving as<br />

director <strong>of</strong> continuity for WAFB-TV in<br />

Baton Rouge, where she helped organize<br />

programming and also wrote and produced<br />

news and feature stories, commercials and<br />

public service messages.<br />

She joined the Houston Chronicle as a food<br />

and wine writer and assistant to the food<br />

editor, and was later named senior fashion<br />

writer. During her almost ten years at the<br />

Chronicle, she produced several weekly<br />

columns, contributed general features to the<br />

newspaper’s lifestyle section, and assisted in<br />

the sports department during football season.<br />

She also provided coverage <strong>of</strong> figure skating<br />

events and personalities during Houston’s<br />

Olympics Festival.<br />

In anticipation <strong>of</strong> the 100th anniversary<br />

<strong>of</strong> the founding <strong>of</strong> the medical school at<br />

the University <strong>of</strong> Texas Medical Branch at<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>, Watts was hired as the event’s<br />

Centennial Writer to oversee the writing and<br />

publication <strong>of</strong> materials related to the centennial<br />

celebration. In this role, she produced the<br />

centennial’s quarterly newsletter and authored<br />

numerous publications including two commemorative<br />

books, Century <strong>of</strong> Service and<br />

Centennial Reflections. Upon completion <strong>of</strong><br />

the medical school’s anniversary celebration,<br />

she continued to write for the university<br />

and assisted with special projects for the<br />

UTMB president’s <strong>of</strong>fice and other upper-level<br />

administrative areas.<br />

Her freelance career has included serving<br />

as a contributing editor for Continental, the<br />

in-flight magazine for Continental Airlines,<br />

during which she for several years authored<br />

the airline’s monthly Cityside column on<br />

Houston, and also served as the Houston<br />

restaurant reviewer and features writer. Other<br />

publications in which her work has appeared<br />

range from the Journal <strong>of</strong> the American Medical<br />

Association and Texas Medicine to the Handbook<br />

<strong>of</strong> Texas and Liquor Store Magazine.<br />

Watts enjoys spending time with her four<br />

children and seven grandchildren, and is<br />

also an active volunteer. She has served on<br />

a number <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> boards related to<br />

church and civic activities, including the<br />

Grace Episcopal Church Foundation Board.<br />

She also has chaired <strong>Galveston</strong> Historical<br />

Foundation’s homes tour committee and<br />

preservation and conservation services<br />

committee, and continues to work with that<br />

organization’s Dickens on the Strand festival<br />

and other local and Houston-area projects.<br />

LESLIE WATTS<br />

Leslie Watts.<br />

THE MARKETPLACE<br />

161


MIHOVIL<br />

PHOTOGRAPHY<br />

Freelance photographer Robert Mihovil.<br />

Photographer Robert Mihovil is a man<br />

<strong>of</strong> passion—passion for his family, passion<br />

for historic <strong>Galveston</strong> Island and passion<br />

for photography.<br />

Although his work has appeared in<br />

numerous local, national and international<br />

publications, his loyalty to his home<br />

community—and his affection for it as a<br />

favorite subject—has been paramount in<br />

his career.<br />

“I have always been proud to be a B.O.I.,”<br />

says Mihovil, referring to the “born on<br />

the island” acronym used by many native<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>ians to ensure that everyone is<br />

aware <strong>of</strong> their island heritage. A fourth<br />

generation <strong>Galveston</strong>ian, Mihovil adds that<br />

he even has had the same phone number<br />

for fifty-three years and except for the time<br />

he spent earning a bachelor’s degree in<br />

journalism at the University <strong>of</strong> Texas main<br />

campus in Austin, he has been an island<br />

resident throughout his life.<br />

Many <strong>of</strong> his fellow citizens and pr<strong>of</strong>essional<br />

acquaintances recognize that he could<br />

have set his sights on far-reaching fame,<br />

but Mihovil is adamant about his home<br />

community’s place at the center <strong>of</strong> his life.<br />

“I never aspired to be a world famous<br />

photographer,” he says. “I am perfectly<br />

satisfied and completely content being the<br />

big fish in our little island pond. I have a<br />

wife, family and friends who love me. I have<br />

an adult daughter who speaks to me and a<br />

photography career that I’m still passionate<br />

about after thirty-two years. Although I have<br />

opportunities to travel on many exciting<br />

assignments, I am very active in my neighborhood<br />

and community and I especially<br />

enjoy sharing with others my love and<br />

appreciation <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong>.”<br />

Mihovil also admits to being a perfectionist,<br />

not only with regard to the technical<br />

aspects <strong>of</strong> his photography but with the<br />

selection <strong>of</strong> subjects and the locations in<br />

which he photographs them.<br />

In his preparation for gathering the images<br />

featured in <strong>Coastal</strong> <strong>Visions</strong>: <strong>Images</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>, Mihovil contacted representatives <strong>of</strong><br />

all the county’s chambers <strong>of</strong> commerce as<br />

well as local historians and civic leaders from<br />

throughout the area’s various communities.<br />

“It was important to me that <strong>Coastal</strong> <strong>Visions</strong><br />

be truly representative <strong>of</strong> the county as<br />

a whole,” he says. “I wanted every area<br />

in the county to have input into the<br />

selection process <strong>of</strong> what really constitutes<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>’s vision and which<br />

subjects were truly representative <strong>of</strong> our<br />

coastal lifestyle.”<br />

Mihovil is happily married and has<br />

one daughter.<br />

He is a regular contributor for Coast<br />

Magazine, Guidry News and Texas Journey. His<br />

work also has appeared in <strong>Coastal</strong> Living,<br />

National Geographic, Newsweek, Offshore,<br />

People, Smithsonian, Texas Highways and<br />

Texas Monthly. The Austin-American Statesman,<br />

Boston Globe, Houston Chronicle, New York<br />

Times and USA Today have also published<br />

his work.<br />

His photographs have additionally<br />

been chosen for the covers <strong>of</strong> such<br />

publications as the <strong>Galveston</strong> Park Board<br />

<strong>of</strong> Trustees Visitor’s Guide, the <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

Chamber <strong>of</strong> Commerce Directory and AT&T<br />

telephone directories distributed throughout<br />

the county.<br />

In addition to his own freelance career,<br />

Mihovil and his friend/photo assistant Carl<br />

Schutz host photography excursions for the<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Island Arts Academy. During these<br />

hands-on programs, they help participants<br />

set up their own digital cameras, provide<br />

instruction in basic photography skills,<br />

share photography tips and finish up with a<br />

photography “field trip.”<br />

Mihovil also teaches photography each<br />

summer at Sea Camp, an outreach program<br />

for students thirteen to eighteen years <strong>of</strong><br />

age at Texas A&M <strong>Galveston</strong>. Remembering<br />

that his own interest in photography<br />

began at a similarly early age, he says “The<br />

first camera I ever owned, I won selling<br />

Worlds Finest Chocolate when I was twelve.<br />

I sold twenty-four cases to win the<br />

first prize, which was a stereo. I selected<br />

the second prize instead, however—a<br />

Kodak camera.”<br />

Mihovil Photography is located at 2402<br />

Church Street, <strong>Galveston</strong> Island, Texas 77550.<br />

For additional information please go to his<br />

online web gallery at www.mihovil.com.<br />

COASTAL VISIONS - <strong>Images</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

162


PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MIHOVIL PHOTOGRAPHY.<br />

THE MARKETPLACE<br />

163


Building a<br />

Greater <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

COASTAL VISIONS - <strong>Images</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

164


<strong>Galveston</strong>’s real estate developers,<br />

construction companies,<br />

heavy industries, and manufacturers<br />

provide the economic foundation<br />

<strong>of</strong> the region<br />

Mitchell Historic Properties ........................................................166<br />

BP Texas City Refinery ...............................................................170<br />

BP Texas City Chemicals.............................................................171<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Economic Alliance.............................................172<br />

United Way <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Mainland........................................173<br />

Ocean Star Museum ..................................................................174<br />

Gulf Copper..............................................................................176<br />

CenterPoint Energy....................................................................178<br />

First Choice Power ....................................................................180<br />

HDR, Inc..................................................................................182<br />

Port <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> ......................................................................184<br />

Hitchcock Industrial Development Corporation ...............................186<br />

Blimp Base Interests, Inc. ...........................................................187<br />

Prudential Premier Properties–Beach or Bay ..................................188<br />

Marathon Petroleum Corporation .................................................189<br />

Valero Refinery .........................................................................190<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>-Texas City Pilots.........................................................191<br />

Dow Texas City Operations .........................................................192<br />

BUILDING A GREATER GALVESTON<br />

165


MITCHELL<br />

HISTORIC<br />

PROPERTIES<br />

Above: Young George Mitchell in knickers.<br />

Below: George and Cynthia Mitchell pictured<br />

at the former Wentletrap Restaurant.<br />

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF THE ROSENBERG LIBRARY,<br />

GALVESTON, TEXAS.<br />

Probably few people enjoying the late<br />

1920s <strong>Galveston</strong> beachfront paid much attention<br />

to a small boy gathering shells—shells he<br />

later would sell to a local merchant but this<br />

appreciation <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong>’s natural beauty<br />

combined with a talent for entrepreneurship<br />

came early for George Mitchell.<br />

Most likely, not many more noticed the<br />

same boy at age twelve as he spent his<br />

summer biking through <strong>Galveston</strong>’s neighborhoods,<br />

identifying the many different<br />

varieties <strong>of</strong> Oleanders, the island’s <strong>of</strong>ficial<br />

flower, to be found across the city. This<br />

youthful desire to honor his island heritage<br />

blended with a commitment to its preservation<br />

also forecast George Mitchell’s most<br />

daring adult mission.<br />

Today, as founder <strong>of</strong> Mitchell Historic<br />

Properties, George is recognized as having<br />

taken on an unparalleled adult role as a leader<br />

in the rescue <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong>’s historic architecture,<br />

the preservation <strong>of</strong> the island’s heritage,<br />

and the rebirth <strong>of</strong> his home community as a<br />

center <strong>of</strong> business and tourism.<br />

The internationally recognized geologist,<br />

engineer, oilman, businessman, developer,<br />

philanthropist and preservationist has been<br />

not only a catalyst but a major player in the<br />

rehabilitation <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong>’s nineteenth and<br />

early twentieth century downtown and its<br />

resultant elevation to the status <strong>of</strong> The Strand<br />

National Historic Landmark District, as<br />

designated by the National Park Service.<br />

With investment in the <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

community totaling more than $175<br />

million, MHP administers the operations<br />

and preservation <strong>of</strong> more than<br />

one-fourth <strong>of</strong> the buildings on The<br />

Strand and the adjacent Pier 21 area,<br />

and oversees some twenty historic<br />

buildings and three hotels.<br />

Where fifty years ago there stood<br />

entire city blocks <strong>of</strong> dilapidated and<br />

sometimes abandoned Victorian- and<br />

Edwardian-era buildings, there is today<br />

a bustling downtown with sparkling<br />

retail emporiums, art galleries, <strong>of</strong>fices,<br />

residences and restaurants. Because <strong>of</strong><br />

George and other similar visionaries,<br />

today’s tourists and locals alike can<br />

leisurely stroll <strong>Galveston</strong>’s charming<br />

historic downtown as they shop, work, dine<br />

and play. Some are even fortunate enough to<br />

now call it home.<br />

The man behind much <strong>of</strong> this <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

renaissance—George Phydias Mitchell—was<br />

born in 1919 to Savvas Paraskevopoulos and<br />

Katina Eleftherion. Savvas had emigrated<br />

from Greece in 1901, and while working on a<br />

railroad crew was faced with a company paymaster<br />

who complained <strong>of</strong> his employee’s<br />

multi-syllabic Greek last name. Savvas solved<br />

the problem by adopting the Irish paymaster’s<br />

own name—Mike Mitchell—and then passed<br />

the last part on to his own progeny.<br />

After moving to <strong>Galveston</strong>, where George<br />

was born, the family lived above their small<br />

dry cleaning shop in a <strong>Galveston</strong> neighborhood<br />

referred to as the “League <strong>of</strong> Nations”<br />

because <strong>of</strong> its diverse racial and ethnic<br />

composition. Hardworking but unschooled,<br />

George’s parents stressed the importance<br />

<strong>of</strong> education to all four <strong>of</strong> their children,<br />

and, following his graduation in 1935 from<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>’s Ball High School, George had<br />

planned to enter Rice University in preparation<br />

for medical school. At age sixteen, however,<br />

he was declared too young for admission<br />

to Rice, so he decided to mark time by<br />

working with his brother Johnny in the oil<br />

fields that were sprouting up all over Texas.<br />

In the heady atmosphere <strong>of</strong> the burgeoning<br />

petrochemical industry, a career in medicine<br />

was soon set aside, and George headed <strong>of</strong>f to<br />

Texas A&M to study geology and petroleum<br />

engineering. Working his way through college<br />

by operating a laundry concession, waiting<br />

tables, and selling candy, stationery and book<br />

cases that he made himself—and also finding<br />

time to captain the university’s tennis team—he<br />

graduated in 1940 at the top <strong>of</strong> his class.<br />

The next decade was filled with momentous<br />

events for the aspiring young entrepreneur.<br />

On Thanksgiving Day 1941, during a train ride<br />

returning to Houston after a football game,<br />

George met Cynthia Woods, who became<br />

the love <strong>of</strong> his life. The couple married on<br />

Halloween 1943 and began a life-long partnership<br />

in which they not only raised ten children<br />

but also became one <strong>of</strong> the region’s most<br />

significant couples, widely recognized for their<br />

civic leadership.<br />

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Following service during World War II as a<br />

captain with the U.S. Army Corps <strong>of</strong> Engineers,<br />

George began his petroleum engineering career<br />

in earnest. He led a gas exploration “wildcatting”<br />

operation that in 1952 hit one <strong>of</strong> the largest<br />

strikes in history, laying the foundation for what<br />

would eventually become Mitchell Energy and<br />

Development Corporation, one <strong>of</strong> the nation’s<br />

premier independent energy companies.<br />

Above: Hotel Galvez & Spa is the only<br />

historic beachfront hotel on the Texas Gulf<br />

Coast. In preparation for the hotel’s 100th<br />

anniversary, all Gulf facing windows will be<br />

replaced with operable, divided light<br />

windows reminiscent <strong>of</strong> the hotels<br />

original design.<br />

Left: The Tremont House is located in<br />

historic downtown <strong>Galveston</strong> and is a<br />

wonderful example <strong>of</strong> adaptive use <strong>of</strong> a<br />

historic building.<br />

Despite the demands <strong>of</strong> a busy pr<strong>of</strong>essional<br />

life, which came to include the development<br />

<strong>of</strong> The Woodlands, a planned community<br />

north <strong>of</strong> Houston, George made sure his growing<br />

family made time and space for regular<br />

visits to <strong>Galveston</strong> south <strong>of</strong> Houston. It was a<br />

favorite place to come and relax, a place where<br />

George could indulge in his passion for fishing<br />

and where the children learned to share their<br />

parents’ appreciation <strong>of</strong> and commitment to<br />

the island.<br />

The Mitchells also began to direct their<br />

attention toward providing a solid foundation<br />

for <strong>Galveston</strong>’s future economic growth<br />

through the development <strong>of</strong> the western part<br />

<strong>of</strong> the island, but were additionally concerned<br />

about the continuing deterioration <strong>of</strong> numerous<br />

architectural treasures on the east end.<br />

In particular, they saw the widespread blight<br />

that threatened the historic downtown.<br />

In 1972, on a visit to Charleston, South<br />

Carolina. George learned <strong>of</strong> an innovative<br />

program that included a buying-and-selling<br />

“revolving fund” program that was being used<br />

to help temporarily rescue historic structures<br />

from the wrecking ball and stabilize them until<br />

a suitable permanent owner could be found to<br />

continue the structure’s restoration.<br />

Below: The Hutchings-Sealy Building is<br />

situated on the corner <strong>of</strong> Strand and<br />

Twenty-fourth Street in the heart <strong>of</strong> historic<br />

downtown <strong>Galveston</strong>. The building <strong>of</strong>fers<br />

retail space on the first floor as well as <strong>of</strong>fice<br />

space on the second and third floors.<br />

BUILDING A GREATER GALVESTON<br />

167


Left: Old <strong>Galveston</strong> Square is a high-traffic<br />

retail location in the center <strong>of</strong> historic<br />

downtown <strong>Galveston</strong>. The building <strong>of</strong>fers<br />

highly visible retail space on the first floor<br />

as well as retail/<strong>of</strong>fice space on the second<br />

and third floors.<br />

Right: The Thomas Jefferson League<br />

Building on The Strand.<br />

A group from <strong>Galveston</strong> Historical<br />

Foundation was dispatched to study the<br />

Charleston program and, with the support <strong>of</strong><br />

several local foundations and others, a<br />

similar fund was established for the island.<br />

The Mitchells purchased the 1871 Thomas<br />

Jefferson League Building on The Strand in<br />

1976, and with its renovation, opened the<br />

upscale Wentletrap Restaurant.<br />

In 1982, George shared in a speech to the<br />

island’s Rotary Club a major plan for his home<br />

town that included increasing year-round<br />

tourism, developing additional residential areas<br />

on the island’s west end and revitalizing the<br />

entire downtown area. His personal goals<br />

included the opening <strong>of</strong> two hotels, a marina<br />

and upscale condominiums, and establishing a<br />

trolley line to run from downtown to the beach.<br />

The first hotel, the San Luis Resort and<br />

Condos, was new construction, but was built<br />

on historic property that had served as Fort<br />

Crockett during World War II. The land came<br />

with elevated military bunkers and vintage<br />

gun emplacements, which were left intact and<br />

can be seen today still strategically overlooking<br />

the Gulf with the magnificent San Luis<br />

complex sitting high on the hill above them.<br />

The second hotel was The Tremont House,<br />

which occupies the 1879 Leon and H. Blum<br />

Building in the historic downtown area.<br />

Constructed more than a century earlier, the<br />

building like much <strong>of</strong> downtown <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

had fallen into severe disrepair at the time <strong>of</strong><br />

the Mitchells’ purchase.<br />

With his typical visionary approach and<br />

perseverance, however, George personally<br />

oversaw its transformation from a massive<br />

but shabby commercial warehouse into the<br />

119-room Tremont House, one <strong>of</strong> the Texas<br />

Gulf Coast’s most charming and luxurious<br />

historic hotels and the first <strong>of</strong> any significance<br />

in <strong>Galveston</strong>’s downtown area in six decades.<br />

With fanfare such as the city had not seen in<br />

years, the hotel’s opening in February 1985<br />

was accompanied by the Mitchells’ revival <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>’s traditional Mardi Gras celebration,<br />

complete with a gala parade, costumed revelers<br />

and a formal ball.<br />

Another rescue effort took on mythological<br />

aspects. As Hurricane Alicia left <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

in its wake in 1983, it also left the<br />

Washington Building—constructed in 1873<br />

as the Washington Hotel—almost totally in<br />

ashes, the result <strong>of</strong> an electrical fire sparked<br />

by the storm. The Mitchells had already<br />

purchased the building and plans had been<br />

drawn up for its rehabilitation, but all that<br />

was left were portions <strong>of</strong> two walls, one <strong>of</strong><br />

which had to be supported by a lumber brace<br />

to keep it from falling.<br />

In typical Mitchell fashion, the rehabilitation<br />

program, which now included rebuilding<br />

as well, went forward, and what emerged was<br />

a charming reinforced concrete-framed replication<br />

<strong>of</strong> the original building to house retail<br />

areas, <strong>of</strong>fices and the city’s oldest law firm.<br />

The space in back <strong>of</strong> the Washington was<br />

reconfigured to include a park-like courtyard<br />

that fronted a bakery and c<strong>of</strong>fee shop aptly<br />

named The Phoenix, and which for many<br />

years after was a favorite early morning stop<br />

for George, who would quietly drop in,<br />

inconspicuously take a table in the corner and<br />

visit with a close friend or two over c<strong>of</strong>fee.<br />

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The Mitchells have not limited<br />

themselves to saving only <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

buildings. The badly deteriorated 1877<br />

“Tall Ship” Elissa had initially been slated<br />

for the City <strong>of</strong> San Francisco, but<br />

George and other community leaders<br />

were able to negotiate a deal to bring<br />

her to <strong>Galveston</strong> instead, where today,<br />

gloriously restored, she serves as the<br />

main attraction at the Texas Seaport<br />

Museum and is one <strong>of</strong> three National<br />

Historic Landmarks in <strong>Galveston</strong>.<br />

George also followed through on his<br />

1982 vision to create a trolley line,<br />

whose vintage-like vehicles <strong>of</strong>fered<br />

regular passenger service across the island<br />

from Pier 21 on the bay to the beachfront on<br />

the gulf until they were severely damaged<br />

by Hurricane Ike in 2008. Also a part <strong>of</strong> the<br />

George’s plan to strengthen the link between<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>’s harbor and The Strand, the Pier 21<br />

complex includes the Harbor House Hotel &<br />

Marina, constructed in 1993, in addition to a<br />

theater, shops and restaurants.<br />

Although they cannot claim the BOI<br />

(“Born on the Island”) status <strong>of</strong> their father,<br />

the children <strong>of</strong> George and Cynthia Mitchell<br />

seem to share much <strong>of</strong> their parents’ commitment<br />

to the island. Son Grant Mitchell has<br />

turned his cinematic talents to the production<br />

<strong>of</strong> several multimedia presentations on the<br />

island’s history, including The Great Storm and<br />

The Pirate Island <strong>of</strong> Jean Lafitte, both <strong>of</strong> which<br />

are shown at Pier 21’s Great Storm Theater.<br />

Daughter Sheridan Mitchell Lorenz has joined<br />

her parents in civic projects such as the<br />

development <strong>of</strong> a local affordable housing<br />

initiative known as The Oaks, and applied<br />

her expertise in architectural preservation and<br />

interior decoration to the accurate restoration<br />

and refurbishment <strong>of</strong> the 1911 Hotel Galvez.<br />

Additionally, the Mitchells’ granddaughter<br />

Lori Mitchell currently oversees design choices<br />

for all the family’s <strong>Galveston</strong> properties<br />

with the same care and attention to detail<br />

shown by her grandmother and aunt.<br />

It was at Cynthia’s encouragement—she is<br />

reported to have said to her husband, “If you<br />

really care about <strong>Galveston</strong>, you will buy that<br />

hotel”—that George in 1992 purchased the<br />

Galvez for $3 million. The initial rehabilitation<br />

that followed totaled around another $20<br />

million, but few grand hotels <strong>of</strong> the past have<br />

been so painstakingly researched and meticulously<br />

rebuilt to their earlier splendor. Photos<br />

from its premiere years, when the Galvez was<br />

known as the “Queen <strong>of</strong> the Gulf,” were carefully<br />

examined by Sheridan and her mother,<br />

and later modifications removed and earlier<br />

design elements restored. Even the paint colors<br />

<strong>of</strong> the original lobby were replicated to create<br />

an oasis <strong>of</strong> spacious, palm-shaded vistas connected<br />

by “tea and cream” columns and arches.<br />

There was yet another great challenge coming,<br />

however. When Hurricane Ike struck in<br />

September 2008, destroying much <strong>of</strong> the<br />

rehabilitation efforts <strong>of</strong> the past half century,<br />

MHP was again a leader in the recovery and<br />

rebuilding <strong>of</strong> the historic district. Launching a<br />

massive clean-up and restoration program,<br />

the organization commandeered an army <strong>of</strong><br />

workers to address the damages, and following<br />

the example <strong>of</strong> George and other stalwart<br />

islanders, much <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> quickly and<br />

heroically rebounded.<br />

The following year, when the “Spirit <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>” award was presented to George by<br />

the <strong>Galveston</strong> Chamber <strong>of</strong> Commerce, many<br />

felt he should receive a “Heart <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong>”<br />

tribute as well, for that is what he had truly<br />

given. And indeed, as the evening unfolded<br />

and his many contributions throughout the<br />

years were being extolled, one could catch a<br />

glimpse every now and then <strong>of</strong> the young<br />

George with his shy, boyish smile, and totally,<br />

unabashedly still head-over-heels in love with<br />

his island home.<br />

Due to high demand for waterfront property<br />

for dining, retail and entertainment, the<br />

Pier 21 complex provides a destination<br />

along the pier. Pier 21 <strong>of</strong>fers retail space.<br />

BUILDING A GREATER GALVESTON<br />

169


BP TEXAS CITY<br />

REFINERY<br />

Above: West Plant.<br />

Below: Board operator, Cynthia Cappa.<br />

Workers at the BP Texas City Refinery<br />

have been producing vital transportation<br />

fuels for the American marketplace since<br />

1934. Originally the site was owned by<br />

Pan Am, and later Amoco before that<br />

company merged with BP in 1998.<br />

As the third largest refinery in the United<br />

States and BP’s largest refinery worldwide,<br />

the Texas City plant has a crude capacity <strong>of</strong><br />

475,000 barrels per day. The refinery can produce<br />

up to 3 percent <strong>of</strong> the U.S. gas supply.<br />

During 12 hours <strong>of</strong> normal production,<br />

the Refinery’s workers<br />

can produce 21 million gallons<br />

<strong>of</strong> gasoline, enough to fill up 80<br />

miles <strong>of</strong> a 36-inch pipeline.<br />

Locally, the refinery is the<br />

largest private sector employer<br />

and taxpayer in <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>. The site’s 2,000 plus<br />

workers are proud to provide<br />

a variety <strong>of</strong> fuels, chemical<br />

feedstock and other refined<br />

petroleum products for customers<br />

across the country.<br />

Less than ten years after<br />

its construction, the refinery’s<br />

workers made a lasting impact<br />

on history. During World War II,<br />

U.S. Government funds resulted<br />

in the construction <strong>of</strong> three new<br />

units at the facility, where its<br />

workers produced vital jet fuel<br />

for American and Allied forces.<br />

The site saw continued growth following<br />

the war to keep up with post-war demands.<br />

By the 1960s, the plant had the capacity<br />

to produce 240,000 barrels <strong>of</strong> crude a day.<br />

During the next decade, a waste water<br />

facility was built as part <strong>of</strong> a modernization<br />

project. Further expansions and investments<br />

continued from the 1980s to 2000s aimed at<br />

improving capability, reducing emissions and<br />

producing a cleaner fuel.<br />

From 2005 to 2009, BP invested more<br />

than $1 billion and more than 60 million<br />

hours to renovate the 1,200-acre facility.<br />

Those renovations included major updates<br />

to 28 major process units, a rebuilt 27-mile<br />

steam system, new flare systems and a 62,000<br />

square feet employee services building.<br />

Located in south Texas City, the refinery has<br />

access to the world through the Port <strong>of</strong> Texas<br />

City and numerous pipelines.<br />

With a daily employee and contractor<br />

work force that can reach as high as 7,000,<br />

the site’s annual economic impact on the<br />

Texas economy from operating revenues<br />

and spin-<strong>of</strong>f revenues totals more than<br />

$20 billion.<br />

BP works to be a good corporate neighbor<br />

with employees participating in numerous<br />

community services projects and has<br />

raised nearly $1 million annually for the<br />

United Way. The company’s Fabric <strong>of</strong><br />

America program has enabled employees to<br />

give more than $1.1 million in contributions<br />

to local organizations.<br />

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170


BP TEXAS CITY<br />

CHEMICALS<br />

The 300 workers <strong>of</strong> the BP Texas City<br />

Chemicals facility are proud to run the<br />

world’s largest production plant <strong>of</strong> both<br />

paraxylene and metaxylene.<br />

The 220-acre site includes four manufacturing<br />

process units—three paraxylene (PX)<br />

and one metaxylene (MX). The PX production<br />

capacity is 2.5 billion pounds per year<br />

and the MX production capacity stands at<br />

500 million pounds per year.<br />

The principal use for paraxylene is purified<br />

terephthalic acid (PTA) which is used primarily<br />

in making polyester for textile fibers and<br />

fabrics for various products such as bottles<br />

containing groceries and cleaning products,<br />

magnetic tapes, micr<strong>of</strong>ilms and containers.<br />

The PX output from BP Texas City<br />

Chemicals is primarily shipped to BP’s PTA<br />

plant in Cooper River, South Carolina, and<br />

then exported to facilities throughout<br />

Asia. PTA is the key raw material used to<br />

manufacture polyester fiber, resin and film.<br />

The main use <strong>of</strong> metaxylene is purified<br />

isophthalic acid (PIA) which is used to<br />

make soda bottles, fiberglass auto bodies,<br />

surf boards, snowmobile housings, outboard<br />

motor covers, industrial cooling fans and<br />

vaulting poles.<br />

The MX production at BP Texas City is<br />

under long-term sales contract to a third party<br />

in the United State for conversion into PIA.<br />

The Chemicals plant purchases most <strong>of</strong><br />

its feed stocks directly from the adjacent<br />

BP Texas City Refinery.<br />

The chemical plant is located on the<br />

south side <strong>of</strong> Texas City and was acquired<br />

by BP in 1998 from Amoco along with the<br />

neighboring refinery.<br />

BP Texas City Chemicals implements a<br />

deepwater dock facility at the Port <strong>of</strong> Texas<br />

City which is leased from the Texas City<br />

Terminal Railway Port Authority.<br />

BP workers are proud to support local<br />

charitable and service organizations like the<br />

Salvation Army, the <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Food<br />

Bank, Ronald McDonald House, D’Feet Breast<br />

Cancer, the Bay Area Council Boy Scouts, and<br />

school districts throughout <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>.<br />

On the next two pages, BP is proud to sponsor<br />

the presentations <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

Economic Alliance and United Way <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> Mainland. Both agencies have been<br />

excellent partners with BP Texas City in improving<br />

the quality <strong>of</strong> life for many citizens, families<br />

and businesses throughout <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>.<br />

BUILDING A GREATER GALVESTON<br />

171


GALVESTON<br />

COUNTY<br />

ECONOMIC<br />

ALLIANCE<br />

The <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Economic Alliance<br />

was formed in February 1998 to provide<br />

economic development services for <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>. The current executive director is<br />

Don Gartman. The Alliance is a membership<br />

organization composed <strong>of</strong> cities, business,<br />

education and industry leaders in <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>. Its board <strong>of</strong> directors represents a<br />

wide cross section <strong>of</strong> the membership.<br />

The principal function <strong>of</strong> the Alliance is to<br />

facilitate the location and development <strong>of</strong> new<br />

business and industry into <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>.<br />

Since its inception, it has worked with many<br />

new businesses to create new jobs and inject<br />

capital into the local economy. The Alliance<br />

works very closely with city economic development<br />

entities to attract business that is<br />

consistent with the growth plan <strong>of</strong> the city.<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> boasts a wonderful variety<br />

<strong>of</strong> communities, from the tourist centered<br />

economy <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> Island, to the industrial<br />

base <strong>of</strong> Texas City, to the scientific and<br />

technical focus <strong>of</strong> Northern <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>.<br />

Each community is unique and has its own<br />

priorities for development.<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> is committed to creating<br />

an environment that encourages economic<br />

growth and the creation <strong>of</strong> jobs. It provides a<br />

well educated workforce, strong community<br />

support, excellent medical facilities through<br />

the University <strong>of</strong> Texas Medical Branch, and a<br />

wide variety <strong>of</strong> lifestyle experiences. More<br />

information about <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> cities<br />

and the <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Economic Alliance<br />

may be found at www.gcea.us.<br />

Although its principal function is to facilitate<br />

the location <strong>of</strong> new business and industry<br />

into <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>, in 2005, the Alliance<br />

decided to extend its work to the support <strong>of</strong><br />

small business development within <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>. It formed the <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

Economic Alliance Foundation for the primary<br />

purpose <strong>of</strong> raising the necessary match<br />

funding to bring the services <strong>of</strong> a Small<br />

Business Development Center to <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>. The Foundation entered into an<br />

agreement with the University <strong>of</strong> Houston to<br />

host the <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Small Business<br />

Development Center, which saw its first client<br />

in 2006. Since that time, the Center has<br />

assisted in the formation <strong>of</strong> over 100 new<br />

businesses, the creation <strong>of</strong> over 400 new jobs,<br />

and the infusion <strong>of</strong> over $23,000,000 into the<br />

economy <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>. The Center provides<br />

one-on-one business advice and counseling<br />

at no cost to the business owner, and<br />

a variety <strong>of</strong> training classes at very low cost.<br />

Visit www.gcsbdc.com for more information.<br />

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UNITED WAY<br />

GALVESTON<br />

COUNTY<br />

MAINLAND<br />

There is a United Way in almost every large<br />

city across the United States and several other<br />

parts <strong>of</strong> the world. Each United Way is as different<br />

as the diverse communities it serves.<br />

The organization now known as United Way<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Mainland has been serving<br />

the people <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>’s mainland<br />

communities since 1955. Then, it was called<br />

United Fund. Now it is called United Way<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Mainland. Then, and now,<br />

the mission is still the same: mobilizing the<br />

caring power <strong>of</strong> people to help one another.<br />

Each year, this United Way raises funds with<br />

the help <strong>of</strong> industrial and community advocates<br />

to support programs at local nonpr<strong>of</strong>its<br />

and to provide direct community services.<br />

The United Way was born out <strong>of</strong> necessity.<br />

It was created by men and women <strong>of</strong> good<br />

will as an answer to the waste and frustration<br />

<strong>of</strong> many competing appeals for funds, numerous<br />

and incessant demands for volunteer time<br />

and the fragmentation <strong>of</strong> human services.<br />

In the early years <strong>of</strong> this organization, the<br />

campaign goal was about $200,000 for 11 social<br />

service agencies. The 2012 campaign goal was<br />

$2,324,000, which was designated to fund more<br />

than 60 programs that improve the health,<br />

income and education <strong>of</strong> people who live in<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>’s 13 mainland communities.<br />

Year after year, employees from the industrial<br />

plants and local business leaders give<br />

a portion <strong>of</strong> their wages to United Way<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Mainland. The petrochemical<br />

businesses that call Texas City home have<br />

played an integral role in keeping the doors<br />

open for vital social service programs in<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> by supporting United Way.<br />

The support that this United Way has<br />

received from the industrial employees and<br />

contractors goes beyond financial donations.<br />

In 2012, United Way <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

Mainland had plant managers from every<br />

large plant in Texas City serving on their<br />

board <strong>of</strong> directors. These community leaders<br />

have been instrumental in improving the<br />

health, income and education <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong> by remaining proactive and steadfast<br />

in their commitment to United Way.<br />

United Way <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Mainland is<br />

a local phenomenon that evolved gradually<br />

through community efforts to help people. It<br />

also served to coordinate the agency activity<br />

into a galvanizing force to strengthen the<br />

impact <strong>of</strong> the individual on his or her<br />

community. United Way <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

Mainland continues today, as they have in the<br />

past, to be actively involved in coordinating<br />

vital health and human services to provide<br />

maximum impact to the people who live and<br />

work in <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>.<br />

Below: Eagle Scout Will Roberts, Texas City<br />

Mayor Matt Doyle, and BP Texas City<br />

Plant Manager and Business Unit Leader.<br />

BUILDING A GREATER GALVESTON<br />

173


OCEAN STAR<br />

MUSEUM<br />

Above: Ocean Star Offshore Drilling<br />

Rig Museum.<br />

Below: Boy Scout Troop 266 working on<br />

Geology Badge activities.<br />

Ahoy! Welcome aboard the Ocean Star for<br />

a first-hand adventure aboard an <strong>of</strong>fshore<br />

drilling rig. Whether charting a course for<br />

entertainment or education, visitors will find<br />

her ready to take them on a heady, industrialstrength<br />

voyage <strong>of</strong> discovery within a<br />

comfortable, modern museum setting.<br />

The only known facility <strong>of</strong> its type, the<br />

Ocean Star, a “jackup” drilling rig, <strong>of</strong>fers the<br />

opportunity to physically enter the world <strong>of</strong><br />

the <strong>of</strong>fshore petrochemical industry. This<br />

great leviathan <strong>of</strong> the deep—deep water<br />

drilling, that is—is a marvel in technology,<br />

and although Ocean Star is now retired from<br />

active duty and permanently berthed at<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>’s Pier 19—she still has many<br />

lessons to teach.<br />

Within the renovated three-story interior,<br />

complete with elevators, innovative exhibits<br />

illustrate the evolution <strong>of</strong> drilling and the<br />

petroleum industry from 2,000 B.C. to modern<br />

times. Technological advances in the<br />

exploration for, capture and transport <strong>of</strong> oil<br />

and gas are clearly illustrated in multi-media<br />

presentations, and, through interactive<br />

exhibits, visitors can experience what it is like<br />

to operate a cyberbase driller’s<br />

chair or mount a “Billy Pugh”<br />

personnel basket, the main<br />

method <strong>of</strong> transporting people<br />

and supplies from ships onto the<br />

rig itself. Visitors also will see a<br />

display <strong>of</strong> “pigs,” a pipeline<br />

cleaning device, and learn why<br />

these devices squeal.<br />

Detailed models <strong>of</strong> the ocean<br />

floor are a lesson in Gulf Coast<br />

ecology and geology, and exciting<br />

videos, photographs and intricate scale models<br />

<strong>of</strong> the various type <strong>of</strong> ships, drilling rigs,<br />

<strong>of</strong>fshore production facilities and other<br />

equipment used to extract petroleum and<br />

natural gas products from under the sea<br />

dramatically illustrate the when, where, why<br />

and how <strong>of</strong> the North American drilling<br />

industry from the late nineteenth century to<br />

modern times. A Hall <strong>of</strong> Fame features industry<br />

pioneers, and an oil careers exhibit<br />

includes an interest pr<strong>of</strong>ile survey and a<br />

hands-on, hats-on display <strong>of</strong> uniforms.<br />

Outdoors at the Ocean Star, metal gangways<br />

and decks rattle underfoot, and the heft<br />

and height <strong>of</strong> the rig’s decks and their onboard<br />

equipment are stunning. Standing on<br />

the drill floor, it is a 193-foot shot, straight<br />

up to the top <strong>of</strong> the derrick, and at her<br />

working weight <strong>of</strong> 5,096 tons, the Ocean Star<br />

was a formidable presence during her fifteen<br />

years <strong>of</strong> service in the Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico.<br />

Equipment on view ranges from seismic<br />

equipment, “Christmas trees” and a “monkey<br />

board” to the giant block-and-tackle system<br />

used to control the drill’s descent, drill bits,<br />

coring bits, power tongs, drill collars, a<br />

blow-out preventer, a helicopter and the<br />

all-important crane used to move men and<br />

material on and <strong>of</strong>f the rig.<br />

Attracting approximately 40,000 visitors a<br />

year from across the nation and around the<br />

world, the Ocean Star is open year-round and<br />

has received enthusiastic reviews, including<br />

being listed as a “Must Visit” museum by Go<br />

Guides Destination, named “Best Museum in<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>” by Islander magazine, and referenced<br />

as a point <strong>of</strong> interest by Newsweek and<br />

Corporate & Incentive Travel magazines.<br />

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In addition to tours for the general public,<br />

the Ocean Star <strong>of</strong>fers “on board” accredited<br />

teacher workshops and education supplies<br />

such as “Knowledge Boxes” and “Playing With<br />

Petroleum Kits” that are estimated to impact<br />

some 90,000 students annually. There are also<br />

Tour Plus Programs designed for students in<br />

grades three through twelfth, overnight programs,<br />

Boy Scout and Girl Scout badge workshops<br />

and monthly family day events. For<br />

those unable to visit the Ocean Star, a Mobile<br />

Offshore Learning Unit travels to schools<br />

throughout the state. The Ocean Star is additionally<br />

available for event rentals.<br />

The museum also depicts the ties between<br />

modern lifestyles and the need for petroleum<br />

through an exhibit <strong>of</strong> toys, shoes, cell phones,<br />

computers, deodorants, disposable diapers,<br />

household cleaners, paints, cosmetics and<br />

medicines that are all connected to <strong>of</strong>f-shore<br />

oil and gas production. Transportation and<br />

climate control are also an integral part <strong>of</strong><br />

today’s world, and although progress is being<br />

made in the development <strong>of</strong> alternative energy<br />

sources for these, it is estimated that fossil<br />

fuels will be needed to help power them for<br />

many decades yet to come.<br />

Oceanic and other exhibits illustrate the<br />

many steps taken to protect the environment<br />

during oil and gas exploration and extraction.<br />

Rig platforms are shown supporting the<br />

growth <strong>of</strong> coral and other marine life, and a<br />

video on the Texas coast’s Flower Garden<br />

Banks points out that it is recognized as one<br />

<strong>of</strong> the world’s healthiest reef systems despite<br />

the presence <strong>of</strong> some 400 oil and gas wells<br />

within a ten mile radius <strong>of</strong> the sanctuary.<br />

Safety and comfort are paramount concerns<br />

for personnel <strong>of</strong> <strong>of</strong>fshore rigs, which<br />

operate under the auspices <strong>of</strong> the U.S. Coast<br />

Guard. The Ocean Star displays such specialized<br />

equipment as escape pods, some <strong>of</strong><br />

which can hold up to twenty-eight men,<br />

a barometric treatment facility, and, for<br />

deep-water surveillance and construction,<br />

protective dive suits and remotely-operated<br />

under-sea vehicles. There are also exhibits to<br />

show how rig workers live on a daily basis in<br />

their floating home, with ship-style cabins,<br />

recreational areas and kitchens known for<br />

their exceptional food. During her working<br />

days, the Ocean Star had a<br />

crew <strong>of</strong> forty-nine, but<br />

today’s larger rigs may<br />

have as many as ninety<br />

workers on board that<br />

range from “rough necks”<br />

to computer specialists.<br />

The Offshore Energy<br />

Center, a nonpr<strong>of</strong>it educational<br />

organization formed<br />

in 1989 and headquartered<br />

in Houston, is dedicated to<br />

expanding the awareness <strong>of</strong><br />

the vast energy resources<br />

beneath the world’s oceans,<br />

and chronicling the unique heritage and<br />

technological accomplishments <strong>of</strong> the industry<br />

that discovers, produces and delivers these<br />

resources in a safe and environmentally<br />

responsible way. OEC receives no federal or<br />

state funding and is supported by the community<br />

and the industry. Special displays at the<br />

Ocean Star honor those individuals and companies<br />

who have provided major financial and<br />

in-kind donations to the museum, and the<br />

OEC additionally sponsors an annual fundraising<br />

gala and golf and fishing tournaments.<br />

Built in 1969 by the Bethlehem Steel Yard<br />

in Beaumont, Texas, the Ocean Star served <strong>of</strong>f<br />

the Louisiana coast before being retired in<br />

1984. Acquired in 1995 by the OEC, she was<br />

refurbished, rebuilt, relocated in <strong>Galveston</strong>,<br />

and reopened as a museum in 1997.<br />

Top: Visitors pause their audio guided tour<br />

for a photo on the rig floor.<br />

Above: Children from Dickinson ISD on a<br />

guided tour during a field trip.<br />

BUILDING A GREATER GALVESTON<br />

175


GULF COPPER<br />

Gulf Copper is golden on the upper Texas<br />

coast. Specializing in ship and drilling rig<br />

repair and upgrades—and operating under<br />

the <strong>of</strong>ficial name <strong>of</strong> Gulf Copper Drydock and<br />

Rig Repair—the progressive company has<br />

brought to <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> not only a new<br />

industry but also created much needed jobs<br />

and provided a major economic boost with<br />

the opening <strong>of</strong> its latest facility on Pelican<br />

Island in 2005.<br />

One <strong>of</strong> the leading rig repair companies in<br />

the Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico, Gulf Copper describes<br />

itself as “employee-owned, customer-driven.”<br />

According to Vice President Leonard Hale—<br />

who oversees <strong>Galveston</strong> operations—the<br />

company is dedicated to establishing itself as<br />

the long-term preferred provider <strong>of</strong> marine<br />

and industrial fabrication and repair services<br />

in all the markets it serves.<br />

“We intend to be our customers’ project<br />

partner and solution provider not just in<br />

the present but for months and years to<br />

come,” says Hale. “Through our programs <strong>of</strong><br />

seeking continuous improvement in both<br />

productivity and the quality <strong>of</strong> our work,<br />

Gulf Copper is committed<br />

to building value for<br />

our customers, employee/<br />

owners, vendors and the<br />

communities in which<br />

we operate. Individually<br />

and as a company, we are<br />

adamant about adhering<br />

to safe practices in the<br />

workplace, protection <strong>of</strong><br />

the environment and<br />

ethical dealings with all<br />

our stakeholders.”<br />

Gulf Copper was founded in 1948 when<br />

three employees <strong>of</strong> Farmers Copper in<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> moved to Port Arthur, Texas, to<br />

begin an independent enterprise dedicated<br />

to the fabrication and installation <strong>of</strong> copper<br />

piping aboard ships.<br />

When the original owners retired in 1979,<br />

the Port Arthur company was purchased by<br />

Morris Albright and Bill Picton, who expanded<br />

its operations to include full topside ship<br />

repair with a machining division. Over the<br />

years, Gulf Copper further diversified to service<br />

the commercial marine, <strong>of</strong>fshore shipping,<br />

oil and gas, petrochemical, power generation,<br />

construction and transportation industries.<br />

A second branch was opened in Corpus<br />

Christi in 1990, and since that time, Gulf<br />

Copper has grown to become an international<br />

leader in marine repair, and today operates<br />

additional locations in San Diego and Guam.<br />

In the first six years following the opening<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Pelican Island facility, the number <strong>of</strong><br />

employees at that location grew from 150 to<br />

more than 800, <strong>of</strong> whom more than 500 have<br />

become shareholders through the company’s<br />

Employee Stock Ownership Plan. This plan<br />

was initiated in 1998 when Gulf Copper<br />

decided to further reward the numerous<br />

talented people on its payroll and initiated a<br />

program in which employees such as welders,<br />

fitters, machinists, electricians and laborers,<br />

among others, could share in the ownership<br />

<strong>of</strong> the company.<br />

With some 3,000 feet <strong>of</strong> quayside space<br />

and dry-docking capabilities for most jack-up<br />

drilling rigs as well as smaller semi-submersibles,<br />

Gulf Copper’s <strong>Galveston</strong> facility is<br />

widely recognized for its diversity and ability<br />

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to provide a broad range <strong>of</strong> services for its<br />

customers, including fabrication, blasting,<br />

painting, machining, mechanical, electrical,<br />

scaffolding and other marine-related work.<br />

Additional areas <strong>of</strong> Gulf Copper specialization<br />

include modification, reclassification,<br />

topside repairs, installation, staging, sea fastening<br />

and modular fabrication. It also provides<br />

support for the surveying, repairing,<br />

retr<strong>of</strong>itting, maintenance and general services<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>of</strong>fshore vessels, including jack-ups, semisubmersibles,<br />

barges, MSVs and others.<br />

With deepwater facilities in both Port<br />

Arthur and <strong>Galveston</strong>, Gulf Copper is advantageously<br />

located to the U.S. Gulf Continental<br />

Shelf and the U.S. Gulf Deepwater Oil Fields.<br />

As a dynamic local hub for some <strong>of</strong> the most<br />

demanding repair in the maritime industry,<br />

the company is able to support a client list<br />

that includes major and independent <strong>of</strong>fshore<br />

drilling rig contractors, <strong>of</strong>fshore oil and gas<br />

operating and service companies, national oil<br />

companies, major U.S. commercial ship operators<br />

and the U.S. government and military.<br />

Such diversity <strong>of</strong>fers its own challenges,<br />

however. “We know that every customer and<br />

every job is unique,” says Hale, “Gulf Copper<br />

has the manpower and expertise to devise a<br />

solution that fits a wide range <strong>of</strong> requirements,<br />

and our highly trained staff will listen<br />

to a customer’s needs and create a solution<br />

that is tailored to a specific project.”<br />

Partnership with the community also is an<br />

important focus for Gulf Copper. In addition<br />

to being known for its generous corporate<br />

donations, it participates in local fund drives<br />

and sponsorships within its home communities.<br />

Following Hurricane Ike in 2008, it<br />

provided extensive repair services and materials<br />

at cost for <strong>Galveston</strong>’s severely damaged<br />

Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and<br />

Museum. Upholding its mission as a major<br />

supporter <strong>of</strong> activities that involve a community’s<br />

youth or those in need, Gulf Copper’s<br />

activities in these areas include the Salvation<br />

Army’s Red Kettle Drive, the Southeast Texas<br />

Food Bank, Toys for Tots; Cell Phones for<br />

Soldiers and Newspapers in the Schools.<br />

It is also a major supporter <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

Seafarers Center, a nonpr<strong>of</strong>it, multidenominational<br />

organization aimed at serving the needs<br />

<strong>of</strong> the men and women<br />

who live and work at<br />

sea. “The welfare <strong>of</strong> the<br />

seafarer and his or her<br />

care while in port is<br />

important to us,” says<br />

Hale. “By providing<br />

these workers who are<br />

far from home with<br />

much needed amenities<br />

such as reading<br />

materials, news outlets,<br />

and phone services<br />

with international<br />

capabilities, we can<br />

provide a sense <strong>of</strong> welcome and comfort.”<br />

Gulf Copper additionally participates in the<br />

work <strong>of</strong> the ARC Center <strong>of</strong> Southeast Texas,<br />

a branch <strong>of</strong> the oldest and largest nonpr<strong>of</strong>it<br />

volunteer organization in the state committed<br />

to creating opportunities for people with<br />

intellectual and developmental challenges.<br />

The most poignant <strong>of</strong> Gulf Copper’s volunteer<br />

activities, however, is its participation in<br />

the Mary Madeline Project to provide comfort<br />

and support to grieving families who have<br />

suffered the death <strong>of</strong> a baby. Founded in<br />

memory <strong>of</strong> Madeline Marie Erickson, who<br />

died at the age <strong>of</strong> seven weeks, this nonpr<strong>of</strong>it<br />

organization provides infant-size burial gowns<br />

and blankets to local hospitals.<br />

For additional information on Gulf Copper,<br />

visit www.gulfcopper.com.<br />

BUILDING A GREATER GALVESTON<br />

177


CENTERPOINT<br />

ENERGY<br />

Below: In December 2008, CenterPoint<br />

Energy received approval from the Public<br />

Utility Commission <strong>of</strong> Texas (PUCT) to<br />

deploy more than 2 million smart meters<br />

across its electric service territory in and<br />

around Houston. Electric smart meters are<br />

part <strong>of</strong> Energy InSight SM , CenterPoint<br />

Energy’s system <strong>of</strong> integrated smart<br />

technologies, designed to give consumers<br />

more control over their energy consumption<br />

while improving electric reliability and<br />

power restoration. The company continues<br />

to work toward a bright electric future<br />

with the implementation <strong>of</strong> a self-healing<br />

intelligent grid that will use smart meters,<br />

power line sensors, remote switches and<br />

other automated equipment to improve<br />

power reliability and restoration in<br />

central Houston.<br />

For CenterPoint Energy, “Always There ® ” is<br />

more than a slogan, it is a pledge. Rain or<br />

shine, sleet or snow, more than 8,800<br />

CenterPoint Energy employees understand<br />

the necessity <strong>of</strong> reliable energy delivery.<br />

Headquartered in Houston, CenterPoint<br />

Energy, Inc., is a domestic energy delivery<br />

company that includes electric transmission<br />

& distribution, natural gas distribution, competitive<br />

natural gas sales and services, interstate<br />

pipelines and field services operations.<br />

CenterPoint Energy and its predecessors<br />

have long been dedicated to the <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

community. A leading energy delivery company<br />

with more than 2 million electric end-use<br />

customers in its 5,000 square mile service territory,<br />

the company’s electric business powers<br />

more than 64,000 customers in <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>. From the very first flip <strong>of</strong> a switch,<br />

which turned on electric lights in <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

in the late 1800s, the island has undeniably<br />

had its share <strong>of</strong> devastating storms. From the<br />

Hurricane <strong>of</strong> 1900, which holds the record<br />

for the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history, to<br />

Hurricane Carla in 1961, Hurricane Alicia in<br />

1983 and Hurricane Ike in 2008, CenterPoint<br />

Energy has been true to its pledge <strong>of</strong> being<br />

“Always There ® .” Ike, the third costliest hurricane<br />

to ever make landfall in the U.S. at that<br />

time, caused great destruction and wiped out<br />

electrical power for more than 2.1 million<br />

customers. It was the largest power outage in<br />

both company and state history. CenterPoint<br />

Energy employees and more than 11,000<br />

linemen and tree trimmers from across North<br />

America worked day and night, restoring<br />

power to all who were capable <strong>of</strong> receiving it<br />

in just eighteen days.<br />

Though it has a proud past, CenterPoint<br />

Energy is also investing in leading-edge technology<br />

for a new energy future. The company<br />

is installing and building an intelligent grid.<br />

Smart meters will promote energy conservation<br />

and give consumers the ability to better<br />

monitor and manage their electric use. With<br />

intelligent grid communication equipment,<br />

the company will have the ability to reroute<br />

power around problems automatically, thus<br />

minimizing service disruptions, which will<br />

result in fewer and shorter outages.<br />

In <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>, CenterPoint Energy<br />

has also been providing safe, reliable natural<br />

gas service since the 1920s. In its six-state<br />

natural gas service territory, the company has<br />

more than 107,000 miles <strong>of</strong> main and service<br />

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lines, and delivers natural gas to more than<br />

3.2 million residential, commercial and<br />

industrial customers, about 57,000 <strong>of</strong> which<br />

are in <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>. Natural gas is<br />

domestically abundant with enough resources<br />

and proven reserve to satisfy current demands<br />

for 100 years. It also <strong>of</strong>fers more savings,<br />

greater comfort and less impact on the environment.<br />

CenterPoint Energy’s natural gas<br />

distribution business is also making intelligent<br />

investments by installing remote electronic<br />

transmitters on customers’ existing<br />

natural gas meters enabling the company to<br />

read meters remotely, virtually eliminating the<br />

need for a meter reader to enter a customer’s<br />

yard. This technology could also serve as a<br />

foundation to provide on-demand gas usage<br />

information to consumers, and to shut-<strong>of</strong>f gas<br />

meters automatically when gas leaks or unsafe<br />

levels <strong>of</strong> carbon monoxide are detected.<br />

CenterPoint Energy and its employees are<br />

not only “Always There ® ” for our communities<br />

after a storm, but daily. Giving graciously<br />

<strong>of</strong> both time and money, employees log<br />

hundreds <strong>of</strong> thousands <strong>of</strong> hours volunteering<br />

for worthwhile causes, and join the company<br />

in financially supporting charitable causes<br />

such as United Way, Habitat for Humanity,<br />

Junior Achievement, March <strong>of</strong> Dimes and<br />

numerous other organizations. The company<br />

is also proud to invest in the area’s future<br />

by sponsoring educational programs and<br />

providing financial support to help <strong>Galveston</strong>area<br />

students reach their goals.<br />

For more information on CenterPoint<br />

Energy, Inc., please visit the company online<br />

at www.CenterPointEnergy.com.<br />

Below: Community involvement is a way <strong>of</strong><br />

life for the employees <strong>of</strong> CenterPoint Energy,<br />

who contribute hundreds <strong>of</strong> thousands <strong>of</strong><br />

volunteer hours to worthwhile causes each<br />

year. The company cares about the well<br />

being <strong>of</strong> its community and supports<br />

charitable causes such as United Way,<br />

Habitat for Humanity, UNCF, Junior<br />

Achievement, March <strong>of</strong> Dimes and<br />

numerous other organizations. The<br />

company also proudly sponsors many<br />

educational programs around the city,<br />

providing financial support to help students<br />

reach their goals.<br />

BUILDING A GREATER GALVESTON<br />

179


FIRST CHOICE<br />

POWER<br />

First Choice Power is in the business <strong>of</strong><br />

providing electricity to people and businesses<br />

all over Texas. But they would tell you their<br />

real job is looking out for their customers and<br />

putting “you first.”<br />

With friendly, face-to-face service. A team<br />

that listens to you and finds answers. By<br />

helping you use electricity smarter—for a<br />

lower electricity bill and a better environment.<br />

That is how they do it.<br />

That commitment does not stop with<br />

electricity. They are actively involved in the<br />

community, giving time and resources to<br />

programs that do things like fund grants<br />

for nonpr<strong>of</strong>its and teachers and provide one<br />

million meals to Texans in need with a<br />

program called Food First TM .<br />

“Because, like you, we’re proud <strong>of</strong> the<br />

places we work and live,” said Gabe Sims,<br />

manager <strong>of</strong> the Texas City local <strong>of</strong>fice. “We<br />

understand you have a choice when it<br />

comes to buying electricity, and we want to<br />

be your company—a company you actually<br />

like. A company that is always surprising<br />

you with helpful service and great benefits.<br />

The kind <strong>of</strong> company you tell your friends<br />

and co-workers about.<br />

“And from what we hear, we are,” he<br />

added. “In fact, your enthusiastic support<br />

has helped us grow to be one <strong>of</strong> the largest<br />

retail electric providers in the state. Most <strong>of</strong><br />

our new customers come to us based on<br />

word-<strong>of</strong>-mouth from friends and family. In<br />

fact, more than half <strong>of</strong> our customers are<br />

from referrals.”<br />

As part <strong>of</strong> PNM Resources, Inc., First Choice<br />

Power is “Texans serving Texans.” They are<br />

small enough to provide personalized customer<br />

care, but large enough that customers<br />

know they will be here for the long haul.<br />

“We’ve grown our business by taking care<br />

<strong>of</strong> our customers the way we would take care<br />

<strong>of</strong> our family, led by a first-rate leadership<br />

team—good people who know a lot about the<br />

energy industry and also know the value <strong>of</strong><br />

doing what’s right,” Gabe said.<br />

A certified retail electric provider in Texas<br />

since 2001, First Choice Power has been<br />

around since the start <strong>of</strong> deregulation in<br />

January <strong>of</strong> 2002. But its Texas roots run much<br />

deeper. It has ties to a seventy year heritage <strong>of</strong><br />

serving Texans, and many customers know<br />

them as the affiliated retail electric provider <strong>of</strong><br />

TNMP (Texas New Mexico Power).<br />

Gabe Sims and Laura Flores <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Texas City local <strong>of</strong>fice review a<br />

customer’s account.<br />

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It is not just its company history that is<br />

long—they also have a long history <strong>of</strong> giving<br />

back to communities they serve. First Choice<br />

Power supports nonpr<strong>of</strong>it organizations,<br />

teachers and communities throughout Texas,<br />

including a partnership with Gleanings from<br />

the Harvest and Reduce your Use Grants TM for<br />

Mainland Communities, United Way, Santa Fe<br />

Texas Education Foundation, Odyssey<br />

Academy in <strong>Galveston</strong>, Resource & Crisis<br />

Center <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>, HRA Village<br />

Incorporated in Texas City, and M. I. Lewis<br />

Social Service Center in Dickinson.<br />

“Every time I turn around, I see them<br />

involved in the community, and the police<br />

department could not ask for a better supporter,”<br />

said Neal Mora <strong>of</strong> the Texas City<br />

police department.<br />

So whether you are shopping for a new<br />

electricity provider or you are a longtime<br />

First Choice Power fan, you will find<br />

they are working hard every day to earn<br />

your business.<br />

Contact the local store at (409) 949-9260<br />

or stop by 915 North Twentieth North in<br />

Texas City—for a cup <strong>of</strong> c<strong>of</strong>fee or a chat.<br />

Above: Brad Senter (center) receives<br />

$10,000 for being the customer with the<br />

most referrals through the First Choice<br />

Power Turn on a Friend Program.<br />

Below: Customer Cathy Touchton stops by<br />

to talk about her bill with Jay Campbell.<br />

BUILDING A GREATER GALVESTON<br />

181


HDR, INC.<br />

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF SCOTT DOBRY PICTURES.<br />

When H. H. Henningson founded what<br />

would eventually become HDR, he not only<br />

fulfilled his personal dream to lift small<br />

midwestern communities from their frontier<br />

status, he laid an incredible foundation for<br />

one <strong>of</strong> the largest and most respected architectural-engineering<br />

companies in the world.<br />

Indeed, almost a full<br />

century since Henningson<br />

first unfurled the blueprints<br />

for his new civil<br />

engineering firm in 1917,<br />

the company has continuously<br />

evolved and expanded<br />

in scope and size and<br />

is today an expertise-driven<br />

international firm that<br />

delivers its services through<br />

a strong local presence; a<br />

company that is diligently<br />

and assuredly changing the world, project by<br />

project, community by community.<br />

Although today HDR has more than 185<br />

<strong>of</strong>fices worldwide—including fifteen in Texas<br />

and five along the Texas Gulf Coast—<br />

Henningson Engineering Company, as it was<br />

first known, began with just one <strong>of</strong>fice in<br />

Omaha, Nebraska. From that <strong>of</strong>fice, twelve<br />

employees designed water and sewer systems<br />

for new cities and towns throughout the<br />

Midwestern frontier. The company grew<br />

quickly, however, tripling in staff in the first<br />

few years and expanding its services along the<br />

way, even helping to organize the public<br />

power districts that would finally deliver<br />

much-needed electricity to the rural areas <strong>of</strong><br />

Nebraska in the 1930s.<br />

From the beginning, Henningson was a<br />

firm believer that a company is only as strong<br />

as its employees, and like HDR’s management<br />

today, was always vigilant about hiring only<br />

the best, most talented and most loyal<br />

employees. Many <strong>of</strong> those employees grew<br />

their careers along with the company as a<br />

result. Two staff members even went on to<br />

become equal partners in the venture, with<br />

their names eventually being added to the<br />

company shingle. Willard Richardson and<br />

Charles Durham both joined Henningson in<br />

the 1930s and, by 1946, were named partners.<br />

In 1950 the company <strong>of</strong>ficially changed its<br />

name to Henningson, Durham and Richards,<br />

Inc., or HDR for short. Henningson retired<br />

from the company in 1953, making Durham<br />

president and Richards, vice president.<br />

Under the leadership <strong>of</strong> Durham and<br />

Richards, the company continued to grow by<br />

leaps and bounds and, in 1955, further<br />

expanded its capabilities to provide total inhouse<br />

service to clients, including a new<br />

architecture department. Soon after, the company<br />

opened a second <strong>of</strong>fice and boasted an<br />

overall employee roster <strong>of</strong> 215. By 1977 the<br />

company celebrated its sixtieth birthday with<br />

18 <strong>of</strong>fices, a roster <strong>of</strong> 771 employees and a<br />

growing presence on the international front<br />

adding projects such as the $1.4 billion King<br />

Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia<br />

to its resume.<br />

The 1980s brought the addition <strong>of</strong> new<br />

specialty services—such as recycling, landfills<br />

and materials recovery—and continued<br />

growth in the company’s core services <strong>of</strong><br />

transportation, environmental, resource<br />

management, water, healthcare, science and<br />

technology and civic.<br />

HDR crowned the twentieth century by<br />

being named one <strong>of</strong> the top fifty architectural<br />

and engineering firms in the nation and by<br />

the dawn <strong>of</strong> the new century had won three<br />

large management assignments in Arizona,<br />

Missouri and Texas; was hired as part <strong>of</strong> the<br />

design-build team to renovate the Pentagon;<br />

and won a contract to design the Hoover Dam<br />

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Bypass project, a $240-million four-lane<br />

highway connecting Nevada and Arizona and<br />

crossing the Colorado River via the western<br />

hemisphere’s longest concrete arch bridge.<br />

In 2005, HDR reorganized into regional<br />

formats in order to help manage the company’s<br />

flourishing growth and completed a number<br />

<strong>of</strong> mergers and acquisitions spurring even<br />

more growth and a wider array <strong>of</strong> services. In<br />

2008, for example, it merged with CUH2A to<br />

create the most comprehensive science and<br />

technology design firm in the world.<br />

An entirely employee-owned company<br />

since 2003, HDR currently employs more<br />

than 7,800 pr<strong>of</strong>essionals worldwide and is led<br />

by Chairman and CEO George A. Little, PE,<br />

HDR Architecture President, Doug S. Wignall,<br />

AIA, RAIC, LEED AP, HDR Engineering<br />

President Eric L. Keen, PE, and a host <strong>of</strong> other<br />

executive team and board members. The<br />

company has stamped its name on thousands<br />

<strong>of</strong> completed projects in fifty states and sixty<br />

countries, many <strong>of</strong> which have led to a<br />

trophy-case burgeoning with awards and<br />

honors—two <strong>of</strong> the most recent being a<br />

number one ranking in Modern Healthcare’s<br />

2011 “Annual Construction & Design Survey<br />

<strong>of</strong> Healthcare Architects” and a number eleven<br />

ranking in Engineering News-Record’s 2011<br />

“Top 500 Design Firms.”<br />

A <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> project recently won<br />

honors when the Dallas Chapter <strong>of</strong> the<br />

American Institute <strong>of</strong> Architects awarded a<br />

2011 Citation Award to the HDR-designed<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Fire Station #4, a fire and rescue<br />

station located at the Scholes International<br />

Airport on <strong>Galveston</strong> Island. Designed to<br />

withstand extreme weather conditions, the<br />

station will serve as the primary fire and<br />

rescue support for island residences and the<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> airport. It will be a self-contained<br />

unit capable <strong>of</strong> maintaining critical services,<br />

even in the face <strong>of</strong> a hurricane.<br />

Another local project completed by HDR<br />

is the Houston-<strong>Galveston</strong> Regional Transit<br />

Framework Study, a comprehensive needsbased<br />

assessment <strong>of</strong> transit operations and<br />

capital needs in the Houston-<strong>Galveston</strong> area.<br />

Completed and presented in 2010, this study<br />

serves as the framework for developing a<br />

regional public transit plan that includes<br />

short- and long-term recommendations<br />

through 2040.<br />

Recently, the City <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> selected<br />

HDR to lead an ambitious planning project<br />

designed to ensure public and private actions<br />

align to improve the community’s livability,<br />

sustainability, and competitiveness. This<br />

planning effort, known as Progress <strong>Galveston</strong>,<br />

is organized in three parts: 1) completing<br />

an update to the City’s Comprehensive Plan;<br />

2) preparing a series <strong>of</strong> Specialized Plans<br />

addressing important issues such as historic<br />

preservation, mobility, parks and recreation,<br />

disaster recovery, and coastal management;<br />

and 3) rewriting and streamlining ordinances<br />

and regulations affecting the development <strong>of</strong><br />

private property.<br />

For more information on HDR, Inc., visit<br />

www.hdrinc.com.<br />

BUILDING A GREATER GALVESTON<br />

183


PORT OF<br />

GALVESTON<br />

Sea birds soar overhead and palm trees dot<br />

the landscape as seagoing vessels from around<br />

the world ply the busy waters <strong>of</strong> the Port <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>. On almost any given day for much <strong>of</strong><br />

the past 200 years, this natural deep water harbor<br />

with easy open-ocean access has presented a<br />

similar scene <strong>of</strong> ever expanding—and <strong>of</strong>ten<br />

record-setting—coastal commerce set against a<br />

backdrop <strong>of</strong> picturesque natural beauty.<br />

As the first and oldest<br />

port in Texas, the Port <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> has played a pivotal<br />

role in the development<br />

<strong>of</strong> not just <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

but the American Southwest.<br />

Repeatedly asserting itself as a<br />

leader in maritime travel,<br />

commerce and trade, it has<br />

time and again asserted its<br />

claims to fame. During the<br />

1800s, as cotton became<br />

king, the Port <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

led the world in its export, and the city it called<br />

home became known as the “Queen <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Gulf.” More recently, the Port <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> has<br />

continued to set records with such diverse<br />

achievements as earning the title <strong>of</strong> the Premier<br />

Cruise Port in the Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico and, on a<br />

very different note, breaking the U.S. record as<br />

an international exporter <strong>of</strong> live cattle.<br />

Located only 9.3 miles from the open sea at<br />

the entrance to <strong>Galveston</strong> Bay and contiguous<br />

with the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway, the 850-<br />

acre Port <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> is a self-supporting enterprise<br />

with annual operating revenues <strong>of</strong> more<br />

than $20 million and an estimated statewide<br />

economic impact <strong>of</strong> more than $1 billion.<br />

Served by both major western railroad lines, it<br />

is approximately a one-hour drive from Houston,<br />

the nation’s fourth largest city, to which it is<br />

linked by the interstate highway system.<br />

Supporting its leadership role in domestic<br />

and international shipping, the Port <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> includes two state-<strong>of</strong>-the-art cruise<br />

terminals with three cruise ship berths, a<br />

short-line terminal railway, an export grain<br />

elevator and facilities to handle a diversified<br />

mix <strong>of</strong> traditional and non-traditional cargo.<br />

Its capabilities include “roll-on/roll-<strong>of</strong>f” and<br />

container cargo, dry and liquid bulk, export<br />

grain, refrigerated fruit, plus general and<br />

special project cargo. It also is home to ship<br />

and rig repair facilities, one <strong>of</strong> which operates<br />

the largest dry dock west <strong>of</strong> the Bahamas.<br />

Never resting in its quest to provide optimal<br />

conditions and cutting-edge opportunities<br />

for the maritime industry, the port’s<br />

recent improvements have included<br />

such projects as deepening the harbor,<br />

adding an additional cruise terminal,<br />

and installing what is believed<br />

to be the world’s largest mobile gangway.<br />

The port’s ability to handle<br />

special cargo projects is spotlighted<br />

by its success in 2011 with the largest<br />

ever “load-out” <strong>of</strong> livestock in any<br />

one shipment from a U.S. port. This<br />

included the successful transport <strong>of</strong><br />

almost 6,000 head <strong>of</strong> cattle, a number<br />

<strong>of</strong> whom were pregnant, to Russia to<br />

replenish depleted herds there.<br />

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The Port <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> is also an international<br />

leader in the cruise industry and hosts<br />

several <strong>of</strong> the largest and newest ships representing<br />

the world’s top cruise lines. As the primary<br />

point <strong>of</strong> embarkation for cruises to the<br />

western Caribbean, the number one cruise<br />

port in Texas and the Premier Port on the Gulf<br />

<strong>of</strong> Mexico, it is among the nation’s busiest<br />

cruise ports and has been ranked among the<br />

top twenty cruise ports in the world. As an<br />

additional plus, the Port’s convenient location<br />

adjacent to the Historic Downtown <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

Strand District allows passengers and crew<br />

members to easily explore numerous shops,<br />

restaurants and other attractions, all within a<br />

short walking distance.<br />

The excellent reputation <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> as a<br />

cruise ship port is further reinforced by the<br />

decisions made by such industry greats as<br />

Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean<br />

International to designate <strong>Galveston</strong> as a yearround<br />

home port and seasonal home port,<br />

respectively, for their largest ships, some boasting<br />

passenger capacities <strong>of</strong> up to 4,000.<br />

Combined with additional planned cruise line<br />

deployments, it is estimated that approximately<br />

one million passengers annually will soon<br />

include the Port <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> in their travels.<br />

Such statistics are in stark contrast to the<br />

port’s earliest days, when it was little more than<br />

a trading post. That began to change in the early<br />

1800s, when French privateer Louis Michel<br />

Aury was commissioned by Mexico to establish<br />

a port in <strong>Galveston</strong> that could be used in<br />

Mexico’s fight for independence against Spain.<br />

Aury was unfortunately called away on business<br />

about the time Jean Lafitte, having just<br />

been run out <strong>of</strong> New Orleans for pirating<br />

activities there, was looking for a new<br />

location for his headquarters. Lafitte<br />

quickly took advantage <strong>of</strong> Aury’s absence<br />

and moved his own operations to the<br />

island, establishing a fortified village commune<br />

he named Campeche. With homes,<br />

saloons, gambling and boarding houses—<br />

plus Lafitte’s own mansion, known as<br />

Maison Rouge–the settlement eventually<br />

boasted a population <strong>of</strong> around 1,000 and<br />

purportedly operated quite pr<strong>of</strong>itably<br />

until its activities were eventually closed<br />

down by the United States.<br />

In 1825, while still<br />

under Mexican rule,<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> was designated<br />

a provisional port and customs<br />

entry point by the<br />

Congress <strong>of</strong> Mexico, and<br />

six years later a Mexican<br />

custom house was established<br />

on the island. With<br />

the break away <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Republic <strong>of</strong> Texas from<br />

Mexico, <strong>Galveston</strong> became<br />

the homeport for the Texas<br />

Navy in 1835 and was<br />

declared by the Texas<br />

Congress as an <strong>of</strong>ficial port<br />

<strong>of</strong> entry in 1837. By the<br />

time Texas renounced its<br />

status as an independent<br />

republic and became a<br />

part <strong>of</strong> the United States in 1845, the Port <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> had grown to become a major center<br />

<strong>of</strong> international shipping and commerce, a<br />

position that has distinguished it ever since<br />

among the great ports <strong>of</strong> the world.<br />

Port <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> is located on the Internet<br />

at www.port<strong>of</strong>galveston.com.<br />

BUILDING A GREATER GALVESTON<br />

185


HITCHCOCK<br />

INDUSTRIAL<br />

DEVELOPMENT<br />

CORPORATION<br />

First settled by a group <strong>of</strong> French pioneers<br />

in the 1820s, Hitchcock, Texas, is not only<br />

one <strong>of</strong> the oldest communities in <strong>Galveston</strong><br />

<strong>County</strong>, but it is one <strong>of</strong> the most resilient and<br />

robust anywhere.<br />

Its story in fact is one <strong>of</strong> not just surviving,<br />

but thriving—surviving the nation’s most deadly<br />

hurricane in 1900, the Great Depression and<br />

even an invasion <strong>of</strong> insects that completely<br />

destroyed all <strong>of</strong> its local crops, yet always finding<br />

a way to turn it around, reshaping itself to<br />

make the most <strong>of</strong> all situations. It has been an<br />

important agricultural center and the “Vegetable<br />

Shipping Capital <strong>of</strong> the United States.” It has<br />

been a vital military center and the home <strong>of</strong> two<br />

major military installations—the Army’s Camp<br />

Wallace and a U.S. Naval Air Station known as<br />

Blimp Base. And, today, fueled by more than<br />

7,000 community-spirited citizens and led by<br />

committed and capable organizations such as<br />

the City <strong>of</strong> Hitchcock, the Hitchcock Chamber<br />

<strong>of</strong> Commerce and the Hitchcock Industrial<br />

Development Corporation (HIDC), it is still<br />

thriving and growing—this time as the gateway<br />

to the Golden Gulf Coast.<br />

Indeed, its strategic location only 20 minutes<br />

from <strong>Galveston</strong> and just 35 minutes from<br />

Houston and their deep water ports makes this<br />

71 square-mile community the very hub <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Greater Gulf Coast area, an asset that leaders<br />

say has not only brought them much success,<br />

but that also <strong>of</strong>fers unlimited potential for<br />

future growth. Major shopping malls, hospitals,<br />

colleges and recreational facilities are<br />

only minutes away and the Highland Bayou<br />

and Intercoastal Waterway gives Hitchcock a<br />

Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) as well as ample<br />

waterfront property open for both residential<br />

and commercial development—developments<br />

such as the exclusive, gated and masterplanned<br />

community <strong>of</strong> Harborwalk located<br />

on West <strong>Galveston</strong> Bay and including 850<br />

acres and sites for 550 homes, a marina, a<br />

beach club, restaurant and boat slips.<br />

Within the city limits are many conveniences<br />

including a medical clinic, a dental<br />

<strong>of</strong>fice, several eateries, a shopping center,<br />

banks, a modern library, a number <strong>of</strong> churches<br />

as well as a host <strong>of</strong> other businesses to<br />

satisfy the needs <strong>of</strong> the community. The<br />

Hitchcock Independent School District <strong>of</strong>fers<br />

instruction kindergarten through twelfth<br />

grade as well as a Head Start program and<br />

two private schools. The entire community is<br />

served by a well-equipped, skilled volunteer<br />

fire department, which keeps insurance rates<br />

low for businesses and residents alike and<br />

city services are top-notch including a dedicated<br />

and well-trained police department.<br />

For more information on the City <strong>of</strong><br />

Hitchcock; the Hitchcock Chamber <strong>of</strong><br />

Commerce; or the Hitchcock Industrial<br />

Development Corporation, a nonpr<strong>of</strong>it corporation<br />

which actively <strong>of</strong>fers assistance to<br />

developers in securing municipal services<br />

and issues bonds for construction <strong>of</strong> new<br />

business, visit www.hitchcockidc.com.<br />

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Occupying approximately 300 acres <strong>of</strong><br />

choice coastal plain on the former site <strong>of</strong><br />

World War II’s Naval Air Station in Hitchcock,<br />

Texas, today’s Blimp Base Interests, Inc., <strong>of</strong>fers<br />

prime industrial storage facilities, exceptional<br />

service and convenient location.<br />

With clients such as General Electric,<br />

BP, Mitsubishi Power Systems <strong>of</strong> America,<br />

Republic Helicopter, Dixie Equipment<br />

Company, Dynami, Inca Refinery, CCR,<br />

Depco and others, Blimp Base Interests<br />

includes a fifty-five acre Free Trade Zone,<br />

climate controlled warehouse and lay-down<br />

yard storage with superior land elevation.<br />

Founded in 1998 with only twelve acres,<br />

the company has been successful far beyond<br />

expectation, according to owner Joe Wilburn.<br />

Attributing much <strong>of</strong> its growth to his proactive<br />

business philosophy and deep commitment<br />

to service, Wilburn only half-jokingly states,<br />

“I never say ‘no,’” and cites numerous instances<br />

in which he has been able to provide clients<br />

with far more than mere storage.<br />

Drawing on his background in the petrochemical<br />

field and as a commercial and<br />

community developer, Wilburn is able to tap<br />

into a wide-spread network <strong>of</strong> industrial and<br />

related contacts, and is making a reputation<br />

for his company as the “go to” source for<br />

difficult projects.<br />

“When a client comes to me with an<br />

emergency in Louisiana, the contacts I’ve<br />

made over the years allow me to coordinate<br />

pick-up <strong>of</strong> the items he needs, locate trucks<br />

for their transport and expedite delivery,”<br />

Wilburn explains. “If someone has a building<br />

to move, I can help with that, too,” he adds.<br />

Within hours after Hurricane Ike struck in<br />

2008, Blimp Base Interests was up and running<br />

as a major staging area for emergency response<br />

efforts. As the warehousing<br />

and distribution point for<br />

BP’s Humanitarian Assistance<br />

Team, thousands <strong>of</strong> generators<br />

and tons <strong>of</strong> emergency<br />

supplies were distributed<br />

from the site, incorporating<br />

logistics that stretched to<br />

London, Japan, and other<br />

distant locations.<br />

Four 150-foot tall concrete<br />

pillars, the striking remnants <strong>of</strong> a 300<br />

by 1,000 foot blimp hangar built in 1941,<br />

mark the entrance to the complex <strong>of</strong>f<br />

Highway 2004. Here, lighter-than-air dirigibles<br />

ventured forth to defend the Gulf <strong>of</strong><br />

Mexico against German submarines, and the<br />

area is rich with reminders <strong>of</strong> its military<br />

heritage. Pigeon Street was so named because<br />

it led to coops for the messenger pigeons used<br />

to transport information from air ships back<br />

to land. The original base fire station is used<br />

today for <strong>of</strong>fices and a conference room, and<br />

remains <strong>of</strong> a rail line show where half-track<br />

tanks were brought in for refurbishment<br />

during the Korean War. The hangar itself was<br />

the largest wooden building in the world in<br />

1968, when it was demolished—except for its<br />

supporting concrete columns that refused to<br />

budge, even when dynamited.<br />

Additional information is available on the<br />

Internet at www.blimpbase.com.<br />

BLIMP BASE<br />

INTERESTS, INC.<br />

BUILDING A GREATER GALVESTON<br />

187


PRUDENTIAL<br />

PREMIER<br />

PROPERTIES–<br />

BEACH OR BAY<br />

Prudential Premier Properties–Beach or<br />

Bay is located at 2275 Highway 87,<br />

Suite 18-A in Crystal Beach.<br />

Combining the delight <strong>of</strong> gifted matchmakers<br />

with the know-how <strong>of</strong> experienced<br />

real estate brokers, Mary Ellen Smith and<br />

Kelli Untermeyer, owners <strong>of</strong> Prudential<br />

Premier Properties–Beach or Bay, are dedicated<br />

to building beautiful relationships on<br />

Bolivar Peninsula.<br />

By tapping into their own personal and<br />

pr<strong>of</strong>essional enthusiasm for the area, Smith<br />

and Untermeyer have elevated Beach or Bay<br />

to a leadership role in arranging win-win real<br />

estate transactions on the scenic coast just<br />

northeast <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> Island.<br />

“Our mission is to promote Bolivar<br />

Peninsula, whether we are negotiating purchases<br />

or sales,” says Smith. “Whatever our<br />

client’s focus—first home, retirement property,<br />

primary residence, secondary home, investment<br />

property or rental—we are dedicated to<br />

matching people to the properties that meet<br />

their specific needs. This is a wonderful place<br />

to live, and we want to ‘share the wealth’.”<br />

This commitment to its home community<br />

was behind the company’s decision in 2006<br />

to pursue a national connection and expand<br />

client representation. After careful research,<br />

Beach or Bay teamed up with Prudential, a<br />

global leader in financial investing and real<br />

estate marketing, and, in Smith’s own words,<br />

“With this international connection, we<br />

helped bring the world to Bolivar’s doorstep.”<br />

Emphasizing the area’s significance, Smith<br />

adds, “There is only so much coastal property<br />

available, and our area is highly desirable.<br />

First <strong>of</strong> all, it is beautiful, and secondly, the<br />

prices are still relatively low. As home to the<br />

Bolivar Lighthouse and Fort Travis, it has<br />

great historic significance, and also <strong>of</strong>fers an<br />

incredible closeness to nature that includes<br />

world famous bird sanctuaries and several<br />

Audubon Society projects.”<br />

Community affairs are another major focus<br />

for Beach or Bay agents and staff, and Smith<br />

has served on the <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Parks<br />

Board and the Bolivar Peninsula Special<br />

Utility District Board. Other agency activities<br />

include membership in the Bolivar Peninsula<br />

Chamber <strong>of</strong> Commerce, <strong>Galveston</strong> Chamber<br />

<strong>of</strong> Commerce, Lighthouse <strong>of</strong> the Krewe and<br />

the Bolivar Cultural Foundation.<br />

Despite its international reach today, the<br />

company’s beginnings were modest and all<br />

has not been smooth. Before the first <strong>of</strong>fice<br />

was up and running, Smith and fellow founding<br />

realtor Joyce Cooley would sometimes<br />

find themselves writing contracts on the<br />

hoods <strong>of</strong> their cars. After a family illness<br />

forced Cooley’s retirement, Smith operated<br />

the company alone until Untermeyer, a<br />

broker associate with another major Bolivar<br />

company, joined Beach or Bay in 2008,<br />

just after Hurricane Ike struck the area.<br />

Fortunately, the company was able to quickly<br />

start rebuilding, and—along with many<br />

others on the peninsula—was soon looking<br />

forward to an even brighter future. Today, a<br />

wall hanging at the <strong>of</strong>fice entry greets visitors<br />

with the message: “At the beach, it’s all good,”<br />

and no one could agree more than Smith<br />

and Untermeyer.<br />

COASTAL VISIONS - <strong>Images</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

188


MARATHON<br />

PETROLEUM<br />

CORPORATION<br />

Having the strength and endurance to “go<br />

the distance” has been part <strong>of</strong> Marathon<br />

Petroleum Corporation’s (MPC) heritage<br />

since its founding in 1887. Established in<br />

northwestern Ohio, a leading center for crude<br />

oil production in the late nineteenth century,<br />

the company has proven its ability to adapt to<br />

changing economic, political and market<br />

conditions, and emerge still a leader nearly<br />

125 years later.<br />

In addition to its Texas City refinery, MPC<br />

maintains similar facilities in Illinois, Ohio,<br />

Michigan, Louisiana and Kentucky. As a<br />

leading economic force in <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>,<br />

MPC’s Texas City site employs some 200<br />

workers and has a production capacity <strong>of</strong><br />

76,000 barrels <strong>of</strong> crude per day.<br />

MPC’s ties to its Texas City home include a<br />

strong focus on community well-being and<br />

enrichment. Among the core principles guiding<br />

MPC’s approach to doing business are its<br />

commitments to health and safety, environmental<br />

stewardship, integrity, corporate citizenship<br />

and inclusive culture. MPC’s local<br />

activities include participation in a number <strong>of</strong><br />

civic, charitable, educational and cultural<br />

organizations, ranging from The 1894 Opera<br />

House to the <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Food Pantry.<br />

Founded as the Ohio Oil Company, the<br />

company was purchased in 1889 by John D.<br />

Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust, under which<br />

it operated until 1911, when President<br />

Theodore Roosevelt’s trust-busting campaign<br />

allowed it to resume independent operation<br />

under its earlier name. In 1930 ‘The Ohio’<br />

purchased the Transcontinental Oil Company,<br />

acquiring the Marathon product name, the<br />

Pheidippides Greek runner trademark, and<br />

the “Best in the Long Run” slogan. In 1962 it<br />

acquired its Texas City refinery from<br />

Plymouth Oil Company, and also <strong>of</strong>ficially<br />

adopted the Marathon Oil Company name.<br />

Today, the Marathon Petroleum Corporation,<br />

the parent company <strong>of</strong> the Texas City facility, is<br />

headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, and ranks in<br />

the top 100 <strong>of</strong> the Fortune 500. Employing<br />

more than 25,000 employees, it maintains<br />

refining, marketing and transportation operations<br />

throughout the nation’s Midwest, Gulf<br />

Coast and Southeast regions and is the nation’s<br />

fifth largest company <strong>of</strong> its type.<br />

Among the keys to MPC’s success is the high<br />

regard in which it holds the health and safety <strong>of</strong><br />

its employees, contractors and the neighboring<br />

community. Deeply committed to minimizing its<br />

environmental impact, it is continually looking<br />

for ways to reduce its environmental “footprint.”<br />

MPC additionally upholds the highest standards<br />

<strong>of</strong> business ethics and integrity. Enforcing strict<br />

principles or corporate governance, it strives for<br />

transparency in all its operations. Dedicated also<br />

to making a positive difference in the communities<br />

where it operates, MPC values diversity<br />

and strives to provide its employees with a<br />

collaborative, supportive and inclusive work<br />

environment where they can maximize their<br />

full potential for personal and business success.<br />

BUILDING A GREATER GALVESTON<br />

189


VALERO<br />

REFINERY<br />

The year was 1908, and a new era was<br />

dawning over <strong>Galveston</strong> Bay. Petroleum—<br />

“black gold”—was restructuring the way<br />

America lived, and a new refinery was breaking<br />

ground on the Texas Gulf Coast.<br />

Operated initially as the Texas City Refining<br />

Company, that same refinery has continued<br />

operations for more than a century and today<br />

is one <strong>of</strong> fourteen refineries that make up<br />

Valero Energy Corporation, headquartered<br />

in San Antonio and North America’s largest<br />

independent refining company.<br />

Specializing in the production <strong>of</strong> highquality<br />

transportation fuels, the Valero Texas<br />

City Refinery occupies 300 acres <strong>of</strong> land<br />

strategically located along the Texas City ship<br />

channel. The refinery is able to process almost<br />

250,000 barrels <strong>of</strong> crude oil and other feedstocks<br />

each day, and makes gasoline, ultra low<br />

sulfur diesel, jet fuel and other high-grade<br />

petroleum products.<br />

Reflecting the company’s commitment to<br />

excellence, Valero early on recognized the need<br />

for enhancing safety, reducing emissions and<br />

being a good neighbor, which included building<br />

relationships within its home community,<br />

<strong>of</strong>fering progressive employee benefits and<br />

providing quality products for customers.<br />

Since acquisition by the Valero Energy<br />

Corporation in 1997, the Texas City Refinery<br />

has doubled its refining capacity while reducing<br />

emissions by half. Its participation in the<br />

Volunteer Protection Program (VPP) sponsored<br />

by the Occupational Safety and Health<br />

Administration (OSHA) has resulted in its<br />

being named Valero’s first “Star Site” and later<br />

being recertified as a VPP “Star Among Stars.”<br />

It also has been recognized with the National<br />

Petrochemical and Refiners Association’s<br />

Award for Safety Performance.<br />

Valero workers are considered the company’s<br />

top asset, as evidenced by an all-employee<br />

bonus program and highly competitive<br />

health benefits. The company also reaches out<br />

personally to workers in need. In one case,<br />

the company plane was sent to bring home<br />

an employee who was seriously injured while<br />

on vacation in an area that could not provide<br />

satisfactory medical treatment.<br />

Volunteerism and giving back to the community<br />

is important to Valero employees.<br />

Valero is perennially among the largest<br />

per-capita donors to local United Ways, and<br />

employees volunteer with the American<br />

Cancer Walk, Boy Scouts, Benefit for Children<br />

Golf Classic, Chamber <strong>of</strong> Commerce,<br />

Hospice, Life-Flight, Rotary Club, Special<br />

Kids programs, women’s and children’s<br />

shelters, and programs for hurricane victims,<br />

orphanages and the elderly. With financing<br />

supplied by Valero, an in-house volunteer<br />

program also identifies, organizes and implements<br />

projects such as landscaping, painting,<br />

and repairing <strong>of</strong> homes and recreational areas<br />

for nonpr<strong>of</strong>it organizations.<br />

COASTAL VISIONS - <strong>Images</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

190


GALVESTON-<br />

TEXAS CITY<br />

PILOTS<br />

Part art, part science, part experienced<br />

“spot-on” navigational judgment—the task <strong>of</strong><br />

maneuvering the world’s largest moving<br />

objects through confined areas in a busy<br />

port facility is all in a day’s work for the<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>-Texas City Pilots.<br />

With approximately 5,000 vessels a year<br />

entering and leaving <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> ports,<br />

safety is the primary focus for the area’s statelicensed<br />

compulsory pilots. When dealing with<br />

navigation, even a single minor miscalculation<br />

could cause a major disaster, and pilots are a<br />

main line <strong>of</strong> defense against shipping mishaps.<br />

Ships entering and leaving the county’s<br />

ports range from luxurious cruise ships packed<br />

with vacationing passengers to giant oil<br />

tankers under the guidance <strong>of</strong> foreign crews.<br />

Pilots are on duty twenty-four hours a day,<br />

seven days a week, and provide not only<br />

shipboard guidance into and out <strong>of</strong> port but<br />

work to minimize the environmental impact<br />

that a busy port can generate through fires,<br />

collisions, damaging currents and contamination<br />

from fuel and cargo.<br />

With a history <strong>of</strong> having served as<br />

“Sentinels <strong>of</strong> the Ports <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

since 1845,” pilots have traditionally considered<br />

themselves the “eyes” <strong>of</strong> the county’s<br />

ports. Keen observation, skilled judgment<br />

and precise communications are essential<br />

elements <strong>of</strong> their work, and pilots employ<br />

a variety <strong>of</strong> skills, including diplomacy,<br />

to maintain port efficiency and safety.<br />

Piloting duties include boarding ships<br />

waiting for port entry and conducting an<br />

intensive exchange <strong>of</strong> vital information with<br />

the ship’s master, who may or may not have<br />

ever sailed into the port before or speak<br />

English as a first language. The pilot provides<br />

specific information about the port, and the<br />

master provides specific information about<br />

the ship and its cargo. After this exchange,<br />

further navigation into port is under the<br />

control <strong>of</strong> the pilot, who, in cooperation with<br />

the master and crew, directs the vessel’s<br />

movement for the remainder <strong>of</strong> the journey.<br />

The training to become a pilot is demanding<br />

and includes ten years <strong>of</strong> shipboard<br />

experience, holding a master’s license and the<br />

satisfactory completion <strong>of</strong> a two-year apprenticeship<br />

program. Each pilot is considered<br />

an independent contractor and must be a<br />

United States citizen. In Texas, pilot associations<br />

are governed by the state-appointed<br />

Pilot Commission, named by the governor<br />

and charged with overseeing and regulating<br />

tariffs and ensuring that all pilots are trained<br />

and equipped to service their customers.<br />

The <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> pilots’ headquarters<br />

on Pelican Island include comfortable living<br />

facilities for on-duty pilots, <strong>of</strong>fices, repair and<br />

maintenance facilities, and, most importantly,<br />

the high-tech communications center. It also<br />

houses an impressive collection <strong>of</strong> nautical artwork,<br />

log books from the 1800s and vintage<br />

photos, including one from 1905 showing the<br />

first steamship to visit the Port <strong>of</strong> Texas City.<br />

BUILDING A GREATER GALVESTON<br />

191


DOW<br />

TEXAS CITY<br />

OPERATIONS<br />

It was an uncertain time on May 21, 1941,<br />

when 249 men—Carbiders as they were<br />

called—turned the first valve that began<br />

producing ethylene at what is today known<br />

as Dow Texas City Operations. Production at<br />

the Union Carbide Texas City plant began<br />

just in time for its products to be in strong<br />

demand—and even indispensable—just a<br />

few months later when America went to war.<br />

While there have been both challenging and<br />

rewarding times over the last seven decades,<br />

the site’s future looks promising.<br />

By the mid 1950s, Texas City Operations<br />

was producing and shipping products, adding<br />

dock facilities and modernizing equipment.<br />

The site had also become a family affair, with<br />

many relatives working side by side—in fact,<br />

throughout the site’s history, Texas City<br />

Operations has employed multiple generations.<br />

Though employees were socially active<br />

during non work hours, the site was also<br />

characterized by community involvement,<br />

with many employees playing a meaningful<br />

role in local government and in the education,<br />

social, service and charity organizations that<br />

help give the city and county their character<br />

and direction. They were active in school<br />

classrooms and on athletic fields, mentoring<br />

young people and making life more comfortable<br />

for the elderly and poor.<br />

In the 1970s, the site began shutting down<br />

some units as business needs dictated.<br />

However, this decade also<br />

brought the introduction <strong>of</strong><br />

new technologies to Texas<br />

City Operations. In 1971,<br />

Carbide signed an agreement<br />

with the newly formed Waste<br />

Disposal Authority, a unique<br />

government and industry collaboration<br />

to improve water<br />

quality along the Gulf Coast.<br />

The new facility was built in<br />

1973, utilizing Carbide technology,<br />

to biologically clean<br />

waste water streams. The<br />

mid-1970s also saw the construction <strong>of</strong> a<br />

new vinyl acetate plant, using state-<strong>of</strong>-the-art<br />

technology, as well as the construction <strong>of</strong><br />

the low pressure OXO technology, a breakthrough<br />

in production <strong>of</strong> OXO alcohols that<br />

is still used to this day.<br />

A bigger change was on the horizon for<br />

Texas City. In August <strong>of</strong> 1999 the directors<br />

<strong>of</strong> Union Carbide Corporation and Dow<br />

Chemical Company approved a merger, one<br />

<strong>of</strong> the largest in the history <strong>of</strong> the chemical<br />

industry. Dow brought to the site a renewed<br />

emphasis on employee health and safety and<br />

today, it is clear through the site’s strong<br />

safety culture that the safety <strong>of</strong> the people<br />

who work at the site always comes first.<br />

Seventy years <strong>of</strong> operations is an impressive<br />

milestone, particularly in an increasingly<br />

competitive global marketplace. But throughout<br />

its history the people <strong>of</strong> Texas City have<br />

repeatedly demonstrated a can-do spirit and<br />

genuine concern for the site, the community<br />

and one another. With the perseverance and<br />

commitment that defines Texas City, the next<br />

seventy years look bright.<br />

COASTAL VISIONS - <strong>Images</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong><br />

192


Sponsors<br />

A-1 Fire Equipment Co...........................................................................................................155<br />

Abundant Life Christian Center ..............................................................................................131<br />

AMOCO Federal Credit Union................................................................................................144<br />

Beachtown..............................................................................................................................132<br />

Better Business Bureau............................................................................................................158<br />

Blimp Base Interests, Inc.........................................................................................................187<br />

BP Texas City Chemicals.........................................................................................................171<br />

BP Texas City Refinery ............................................................................................................170<br />

CenterPoint Energy.................................................................................................................178<br />

City <strong>of</strong> La Marque...................................................................................................................128<br />

City <strong>of</strong> League City .................................................................................................................130<br />

City <strong>of</strong> Texas City ...................................................................................................................134<br />

College <strong>of</strong> the Mainland..........................................................................................................126<br />

Dow Texas City Operations.....................................................................................................192<br />

ERF Wireless, Inc. ..................................................................................................................138<br />

First Choice Power .................................................................................................................180<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> Chamber <strong>of</strong> Commerce...........................................................................................156<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> College ...................................................................................................................129<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Economic Alliance......................................................................................172<br />

<strong>Galveston</strong>-Texas City Pilots .....................................................................................................191<br />

GIA Insurance ........................................................................................................................160<br />

Gulf Copper ...........................................................................................................................176<br />

Gulf Greyhound Park..............................................................................................................135<br />

HDR, Inc. ...............................................................................................................................182<br />

Hitchcock Industrial Development Corporation......................................................................186<br />

HomeTown Bank, N.A. ...........................................................................................................154<br />

Hygeia Enviro-Clean, Inc. .......................................................................................................142<br />

J&J Telecommunications.........................................................................................................150<br />

Kleen Supply Company ..........................................................................................................140<br />

Leslie Watts ............................................................................................................................161<br />

Marathon Petroleum Corporation ...........................................................................................189<br />

Matthews, Inc.........................................................................................................................146<br />

Mihovil Photography ..............................................................................................................162<br />

Mitchell Historic Properties ....................................................................................................166<br />

Moody Gardens ® .....................................................................................................................120<br />

Moody Gardens ® Golf Course<br />

Moody Gardens ® Hotel......................................................................................................121<br />

Ocean Star Museum ................................................................................................................174<br />

Port <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> ....................................................................................................................184<br />

Prudential Premier Properties–Beach or Bay............................................................................188<br />

ROBCO Facility Services.........................................................................................................159<br />

SCENIC GALVESTON, Inc. ....................................................................................................133<br />

Texas A&M University at <strong>Galveston</strong> ........................................................................................124<br />

Texas City Independent School District...................................................................................122<br />

Texas City-La Marque Chamber <strong>of</strong> Commerce.........................................................................152<br />

Texas First Bank......................................................................................................................157<br />

The Grand 1894 Opera House................................................................................................118<br />

The Law Firm <strong>of</strong> Alton C. Todd ..............................................................................................148<br />

United Way <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Mainland ................................................................................173<br />

Valero Refinery .......................................................................................................................190<br />

SPECIAL THANKS<br />

League City Chamber <strong>of</strong> Commerce and<br />

North <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong> Chamber <strong>of</strong> Commerce<br />

SPONSORS<br />

193


About the Photographer<br />

R O B E R T<br />

M I H O V I L<br />

Photographer Robert Mihovil is a man <strong>of</strong> passion—passion for his family, passion for historic <strong>Galveston</strong> Island and passion for photography.<br />

Although his work has appeared in numerous local, national and international publications, his loyalty to his home community—and<br />

his affection for it as a favorite subject—has been paramount in his career.<br />

In his preparation for gathering the images featured in <strong>Coastal</strong> <strong>Visions</strong>: <strong>Images</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Galveston</strong> <strong>County</strong>, Mihovil contacted representatives<br />

<strong>of</strong> all the county’s chambers <strong>of</strong> commerce as we