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warriors-weekend
Welcome Our Wounded Heroes to Port O’Connor

Saturday, May 16 – Warrior’s Weekend

• To take a warrior fishing, please contact: www.warriorsweekend.org

• To assist with night fishing at The Sanctuary, contact Linda Hundley at 361-920-3427.

• To offer lodging call Bill Tigrett at 361-983-2671.

• To help with anything else (and there’s lots to do) ask anyone already assisting. Find them at Port O’Connor Community Center beginning Wednesday, May 13.

The soldiers and heroes of Warrior’s Weekend will be here in just a few weeks. Having them here transforms our small town in a way that no other guests can or will. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to meet some of the few true good guys left in our country today. Many of you will be offering guest housing to some of our warriors. Here are some thoughts from one family who has done so for many years. The names have been changed to protect the privacy of this soldier.

When Mike first came to stay will us five or six years ago, he was in rehab after being severely burned and losing an arm in a roadside bombing. He was not progressing and did not care. He appeared frail, depressed and hesitant, but he was here because one of the directors told him it would change his life to come to Port O’Connor. He said he doubted it. He ate little, caught two or three fish, talked softly and sparingly, but was extremely polite and profusely grateful. After he returned home, we received a short note of thanks and a request that he might return next year, but we were unsure if we’d see Mike again.

The following year Mike returned to stay with us. He had gained a little weight, gotten a new prosthetic, and was much more animated. He caught several fish and excitedly took them home to grill. He quietly told of how Warrior’s Weekend helped him decide to try the new prosthetic. He hugged us before he left and asked if he was welcome to return. We told him of course.
That second year was a real turning point for our friend Mike. He began calling us occasionally. He wrote a note about some computer training he had decided to take, but questioned if he could do it with ‘one burned arm and one fake one. He is working at the top of his field in computer programming today.

Years 3,4,5 and so on brought a familiar stranger to our door as Mike grew and changed and recovered. He finished rehab, joined a support group, participated in an adaptive sports team, even dated a little. In one later year, he reconnected with his family. It was very emotional for him when he told us about it. He had avoided them for a long period of time.

At some point, He began volunteering with a veterans group and started meeting people socially. He wrote about a new girlfriend named Ashley in his Christmas card a year later. It was very exciting. Finally, we got an incredible phone call. Mike wanted to come again and he wanted to bring someone with him. We thought it might be Ashley, but we were in for a surprise.

Mike showed up, happy, healthy and full of life. He was driving, working out, and seemed truly happy. He quietly introduced his friend Sean, and when he opened the door to help Sean out, it took our breath away. He stooped to help Sean, a new amputee, out of the car and into his wheelchair. When introducing us, he said, “I brought Sean for a little POC Warrior’s Weekend therapy. I told him it would save his life. It sure did mine!”

Mike married Ashley this year. They have a baby on the way. We are blessed for having shared this journey with our soldier friend Mike. He feels like part of our family.

So, whether offering guest housing, cooking breakfast burritos, driving a golf cart, building a sandcastle, cleaning a fish or captaining a boat; don’t miss out on Warrior’s Weekend 2015. There are so many reasons to volunteer and lots of need for willing workers. You do not have to have special skills. You can call, come to the meetings, or just show up. I promise they will put you to work. You will be changed from the experience. And who knows, you just may impact someone who needs it more than they can ever say.

Our guests, those soldiers, the defenders of freedom, just ordinary men and women living extraordinary lives; they will leave boot prints on your heart. Guaranteed!
houses-needed

Port O’Connor Cemetery Historical Designation Plaque Unveiled

Archived in the category: Announcements, General Info
Posted by Joyce Rhyne on 16 Apr 15 - 0 Comments
On April 11, following years of research and work, the Port O’Connor Cemetery received its plaque designating it as an Historical Cemetery. Pictured above are some of the Cemetery Committee with Mary Belle Meitzen (far left) of Calhoun County Historical Society.

On April 11, following years of research and work, the Port O’Connor Cemetery received its plaque designating it as an Historical Cemetery. Pictured above are some of the Cemetery Committee with Mary Belle Meitzen (far left) of Calhoun County Historical Society.

Port O’Connor Cemetery

Text from recently installed Historic Marker.

Late in the 19th Century, a small settlement named Alligator Head, named for its particular landscape, developed on the coast of Matagorda Bay in Calhoun County. In 1910, the Calhoun County Cattle Company filed a plat for a town site and named it Port O’Connor in honor of Tom M. O’Connor of Victoria from who the land was purchased. With the establishment of the town, a cemetery site was needed for the rapidly growing community.

The first known burial in the cemetery is that of Lola May McCarty in 1913. The oldest marked grave is that of Juan Pena (1851-1919) but it is highly likely that there are many unmarked graves. Located on the Texas Coast, the cemetery is subject to the harsh effects of the elements. The Hurricanes of 1919, 1941 and 1945 swept the town of Port O’Connor and damaged the cemetery. High winds and rain during these storms destroyed the cemetery and many grave markers were displaced.

The cemetery is the final resting place for many key members of the community. Members of several lighthouse keeping families of the Matagorda Island Lighthouse are buried here. Some graves from Saluria on Matagorda Island were reinterred here due to erosion. Arranged in an east to west formation, the gravestones are comprised of marble, wood, granite, plastic and concrete. Tombstone decorations include ships, anchors, shells and driftwood, reflecting the saltwater heritage of the town. This historic cemetery reflects the determination and survival spirit of Port O’Connor.

Texas House Congratulates Rhonda Cummins

Archived in the category: Announcements, General Info
Posted by Joyce Rhyne on 16 Apr 15 - 0 Comments
Rhonda Cummins

Rhonda Cummins

Rhonda Cummins, Calhoun County Extension Agent, Coastal & Marine Resources, was honored on March 20 by the Texas House with a Resolution congratulating her on being named Port Lavaca Chamber of Commerce 2014 Woman of the Year and recognizing her valuable service to the community.

Rhonda received her Master of Marine Resource Management degree from Texas A&M in 2008. She began her work in Calhoun County on March 3, 2008, and is in her eighth year as our marine extension agent.

“I often explain to people that I am a newer, better looking Joe Surovik,” Rhonda joked. Joe was the first Marine Agent in the U.S. and was hired by Calhoun County in December 1972. He served in this job more than 23 years. Rhonda is the fourth Sea Grant agent to be located in Calhoun County.

In addition to her duties as a Marine Agent, Rhonda serves on the School Advisory Council for Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic School and chair the Outreach Committee. She also serves on the San Antonio Bay Foundation Board of Directors and the Board of Directors of the Texas Chapter of the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association. She is a volunteer coordinator for the GLO Adopt-a-Beach program for Magnolia Beach. Rhonda is a member of Grace Episcopal Church, Galveston and assistant club manager for the Mariner 4-H Club.

Speaking of her job as Marine Agent in Calhoun County, Rhonda said, “Every day is different and never boring. I have the opportunity to make a difference by interacting with the community in many ways including projects that improve degraded wetlands, teach adults and youth about the importance of our estuaries and other topics like kayaking, fishing, and cooking with seafood. One of the best parts of my job is that TAMU pays me to learn new things nearly every day as I help answer questions for people and try to help improve their lives, businesses and communities. I work hard to tailor my educational outreach programs and activities to meet the needs and requests of the people of Calhoun County. I can’t do it all but I do all I can.”

It’s That Time! OK, I hope you have finished or in the process of making plans for the 3rd Annual Crawfish Festival and Cook-off. But with two weeks left you still have time to get a vendors spot or sign up to be in the cook-off and win the title of “WINNER” for 2015. The planning for this event is looking as if it’s going to be the biggest and best, so get your sunscreen and bring the family to King Fisher Park on May 2nd and spend the day. We will also be selling crawfish to the public –3 # crawfish, tater and corn for $20 per plate.

Then you can start planning on spending your time for Memorial Day at the park & beach on May 23rd. In the morning will be the Free Kids Fishing Tournament, ages 3-12 and after lunch there will be a Kite Contest for all ages. Come with snacks, blankets and chairs for an old fashioned, relaxing family day.

Give us a call 361-983-2898 or visit portoconnorchamber.com

New and Renewed Memberships:
Bits & Margie Braudaway
Bob Bonar/State Farm
Roger & Karen Krause
First National Bank
Beacon 44 R.V. Park
Beacon 44 Seafood
Victoria Electric Cooperative
Sonny’s Marine
Dolphin’s by the Bay R.V. Park
Froggie’s Bait & R.V.Park
Larry & Mary Vaughn
Mr. Doyle Adams
Stephen & Susan Gumina
Captain’s Quarters Motel & Suites
Arnold & Keiko Gordon
Carol A.Fox
Jason & Jennifer Hagan
Mary Ann Claiborne
Rust & Chyrl Brhlik
Capt. Tom Horbey
Warrior’s Weekend
Gary & Jane Madden
Coastal Boat Services
POC Rentals
The Dolphin Talk
Commissioner Kenny Finster
Unlimited Logos, Inc.

The next Chamber meeting will be Monday, May 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Port O’Connor Community Center.

crawfish

Locals Win Worldwide Competition by Jasmine Gordon

Archived in the category: Announcements, General Info
Posted by Joyce Rhyne on 16 Apr 15 - 0 Comments
The pilots and volunteers who organized this year’s WOAW event in Albuquerque.

The pilots and volunteers who organized this year’s WOAW event in Albuquerque.

Back in 2011, I was introduced to the Fly It Forward Challenge™ which is hosted by Women Of Aviation Worldwide (WOAW). The challenge is a week-long event which is concentrated around March 8th, International Women’s Day. WOAW conducts multiple contests and challenges to engage the female population and the industry. The annual Fly It Forward™ Challenge rewards the aviation communities and individuals who conduct the most Fly It Forward™ flights during the week. Rules designed to ensure validity of data are strictly enforced to determine the winners among events and pilots registered for the competition.

The week addresses a key barrier to women’s participation in the industry’s technical fields, namely the lack of awareness of aviation and aerospace opportunities available to them. The number of females which comprise the pilot population is a shockingly low number — 6%!

We embraced the challenge and since then have introduced over 1,525 girls and ladies to aviation via their first flight in a private plane or helicopter at three different airports in Texas: Calhoun County Airport, Victoria Regional Airport and Palacios Municipal Airport.

This year we took the challenge to the Albuquerque International Sunport in New Mexico and had the most successful year thus far! In one week our pilots; Dianna Stanger, Ramona Cox, Bobbie Lind, Zack Herrera, Art Tangen, Lanny Tobbing and Darrick Coffield were able to deliver 712 documented flights to local girls and women at Del Sol Aviation. Guests also had the opportunity to meet commercial pilots, peruse industry booths, and thanks to the Air Force’s celebration of 100 years of female pilots in combat, explore an HC-130. Albuquerque is the first event location to count slightly more female Fly It Forward™ pilots than males since the beginning of the initiative.

Over 225 students from local schools and colleges attended the event along with 258 Girl Scouts from the New Mexico Trails troops.

“This was the first time that the Fly It Forward Challenge™ came to New Mexico and I’m really glad I took the opportunity to take some of my female students there so they could experience flying in the aircraft,” said Raquel Foxx, 8th grade teacher at Van Buren Middle School. “All of the people that were there helping my students were super helpful and very nice. If you have not had the opportunity to go and do this I would definitely recommend it.”

I’m very proud to tell you our team is of more than 40,000 who participated in female-centric events organized on four continents to celebrate the 5th annual Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week, March 3rd–8th.

The countless hours of preparation paid off as our team flew away with multiple wins! Dianna Stanger of Port Lavaca was awarded “Most Dedicated Female Pilot Worldwide”. She conducted 111 flights to introduce 441 girls and women. Since 2011, Stanger has introduced 900 girls and women to flying as part of the Fly It Forward™ Challenge and has won the title 3 times. Ramona Cox was awarded the first runner-up in the same category and introduced 164 girls and women to their first flight.

Winner of the Most Dedicated Female Pilot award, Dianna Stanger with Miss Santa Fe, Ashley Fresquez.

Winner of the Most Dedicated Female Pilot award, Dianna Stanger with Miss Santa Fe, Ashley Fresquez.

We also brought back the title of “Most Female Pilot Friendly Airport Worldwide” to the US. The title identifies the aviation community that introduces the most girls and women to flying in a small aircraft during the week and was awarded to the Albuquerque International Sunport. No American aviation community has qualified for this title since Frederick, MD, won the title in 2011.

I was very excited to win the Event Organizer Contest. The WOAW organizer contest is designed to reward the most outstanding organizers, specifically the individuals who take the lead in their community and spend countless hours organizing, motivating, nurturing, and rallying their communities are priceless but too often unsung. I was also awarded first runner-up in last year’s organizer contest and “Most Creative Aviation Advocate” in 2011.

At the end of the day making a difference is what truly matters; but winning a worldwide competition solidifies all of the dedication, time and effort so many people put into making this year’s event happen! We swept the titles from Canada, Australia and other locations around the world.

We are already planning 2016’s event, can you guess where we’re headed next?!?

Winner of the Event Organizer contest, Jasmine Gordon, with Girl Scout, Aislinn Granzin.

Winner of the Event Organizer contest, Jasmine Gordon, with Girl Scout, Aislinn Granzin.

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