By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
Almost exactly one year ago, I used this weekly column to explore and explain some of the more mundane nuts and bolts of newspaper reporting. I wrote about how a small town paper like ours is a jack-of-all-trades sort of enterprise. We cover breaking news, local government, sports, community events and more. And, I wrote, we also cover what newspaper insiders call “grip-n-grins.”
“We call them ‘grip-n-grins.’ Mostly because those events tend to involve exuberant stakeholders, developers and local dignitaries crowded together to shake hands, cut an oversized ribbon with an oversized pair of scissors, or turn over a mound of earth with shiny gold shovels in a ceremonial groundbreaking. Whatever form the celebration takes, the photo op inevitably involves those involved to pause mid-action, flashing their best Colgate smile while a line of photographers click away with their cameras to record the historic moment,” I wrote in my column for the week of Feb. 9, 2017.
And then I offered some local examples of precisely those kinds of stories. One of them was Sea Turtle Inc., which had just that week broken ground on what would ultimately become a state-of-the-art $6 million facility.
And wouldn’t you know it, almost exactly a year later, the nonprofit organization is ready to open the doors of that new facility for the first time.
“This is a facility I think the whole community will be proud of,” said Sea Turtle Inc. Director Jeff George last February as dozens and dozens of people mingled and laughed in celebration beneath a tent with nothing but bare earth, boggy lagoon and the horizon stretching out behind them.
I got a chance to take a sneak peek at the new facility this week, and I can assure you that Jeff George was right. It’s definitely an outstanding facility. The facility was humming with volunteers who were adding some last minute finishing touches when I got a chance to walk through, but even still, I felt like a kid on an adventure.
The new displays — which feature the life cycle of our local Kemp’s ridleys, educational blurbs about the different species of sea turtles which can be found in our waters, and how human activity can impact these rare marine reptiles — were colorful, well designed and engaging. And seeing some of the nonprofit’s permanent resident turtles, like Jerry, swimming in spacious new tanks decked out with larger than life decorative sculptures was simply breathtaking.
I can’t wait to see what the facility will look like once the last of the finishing touches have been added. And, even more, I can’t wait to see what it’s like once it’s filled with people “oohing” and “ah-ing” just like I was.
It was definitely worth the wait.
The new Sea Turtle Inc. facility will open its doors for the first time this Saturday, Feb. 17. It will be open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., so be sure to head on out there. You won’t be disappointed!
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