Laguna Madre leaders share goals and expectations

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

January 8, 2015

It’s common for people to embrace a New Year with ambitious goals and big expectations, not only for themselves, but for many, for those around them they have chosen to lead. Those dedicated to serving and representing the Laguna Madre share some of their resolutions for moving community forward into a new and, optimistically, enriched year ahead.

Joe E. Vega, Mayor of Port Isabel

“I hope to continue with the projects that will improve the quality of life for Port Isabel. One of the projects that we’re hoping to get started on is the Groundbreaking of the first stage of the Arturo Galvan Coastal Park in the next few months and the construction of a hike and bike trail connecting the city park to the county park. We’re waiting on the completion of the field survey and once the survey is completed we’ll start getting the funding from Texas Parks and Wildlife. One of our big projects is still to continue working on the improvements to the Yacht Club Hotel; also, the completion of the drudging through the entrance way of the pier.”

Barry Patel, Mayor of South Padre Island

“We’re looking towards a pretty full year. We have a splendid looking beach right now but there are improvements we’re working on that will enhance the quality of life. We’re adding a park to the community, looking to make repairs on our sidewalks to make them more pedestrian friendly, as well as extending bike lanes. We want to make it a complete vacation so you can bring your flip-flops, your bicycle, and your surfboard. We’re also adding a multi-modal parking facility for cars and bicycles. By about June or July we will have a grand opening for our newly renovated convention center that will be a welcome mat to more meetings and conventions. All this ties in together to having access to the whole Island. These are the type of things I am really looking forward to revamping here. I’m really excited for 2015. I think it’s going to be a fantastic year to visit South Padre Island.”


Susie Houston, Mayor of Laguna Vista

“One of the things I’m looking forward to in 2015 is continuing our street improvements in Laguna Vista. We paved two and are working on more. I’m also looking for to continuing our balanced budget. We just received a grant to provide out police officers with body cameras which will keep our officers and residents safer… it’s just one more added layer of protection. Our town in in the process of finishing updating our zoning ordinance so we are into the twenty-first century. I hope for continued family activities in our community as well. We’re all family here. 2015 is going to be better than 2014.”


Gualberto “Wally” Gonzalez, Port Isabel Police Chief

“My goals in the department have always been to ensure the safety of our community here in Port Isabel and to make sure that everyone here has appropriate police protection. If we’re lacking in anything we try to bring it up. We’ve always kept up with the technology here with all the other police departments in the Valley and we hope to continue that too. It’s very important to be able to communicate with all departments in our area for the benefit of those we protect.”


Randy Smith, South Padre Island Police Chief

“With all the distrust between police and citizens one of the big things is to focus on reassuring the public that their safety and well-being is premier to the organization. We are going to continue to create a favorable environment for our residents and visitors alike. Safety is job number one with mastering the technique of balancing zero tolerance for criminal activity and demonstrating attitudes that align with a friendly atmosphere. It is a skill that we are going to continue to improve on over the next year.”


Lisa Garcia, Point Isabel ISD Superintendent

“Our expectation for 2015 would be for all of our students to reach their maximum potential and find success and be prepared for colleges or careers upon graduation. We want to continue the success that Point Isabel ISD enjoys in athletics, music, academics and UIL. We’re excited about what the New Year is going to bring with Space X on our forefront and we’re looking forward to what that’s going to do to our community as an educational partner and for our economic development. It’s an exciting time to be in the lower Rio Grande Valley.”


Jeff Keplinger, Laguna Madre Water District Chairman

“I think first and foremost one our goals is going to be narrowing down what the district can do to secure additional water. We’re looking at a reclamation facility and I think the board is looking at possible getting a workshop together at the end of this month to process our goals and priorities for this coming year. I think that’s number one on our list- to decide if we want to go with this reclamation facility in which we reclaim waste water and convert it into drinking water.”

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