Port Arthur lunch bringing community together

Published 5:57 pm Wednesday, July 13, 2016

If there was one current that washed through the festive gathering at Martin J. “Popeye” Holmes Park in downtown Port Arthur besides the heat, it was good times—or, as Precinct 3 Jefferson County Commissioner, Michael Shane Sinegal, would have put it: “Positive energy.”

Sinegal’s office hosted Lunch in the Park at Holmes Park on the lawn of the Jefferson County Sub-Courthouse, their fifth annual event open to the public that helps foster a relationship between the community and its city and county governments and officials, usually over lots of food. But, mostly, it was an opportunity that cultivated that good vibe.

“It’s about positive energy,” Sinegal said. “With what’s been going on in the world, anybody who knows me knows that I try to make someone smile.”

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It would have been clear to anyone who met or spoke with the county commissioner on Wednesday that he meant what he said. He tries to maintain a casual philosophy on life.

“I try not to get as serious as the next guy,” Sinegal said with a grin. “I try to keep things in perspective. It’s a blessing to be in the position that I am in.”

Sinegal went on to elucidate the relationship between the public and its elected officials at the lunch event, citing it as one not of formality and airs but rather as one “to shake hands” and converse with one another like people.

“It’s about fellowship, community, and positive energy,” Sinegal said, emphasizing the nature of agreement. “Port Arthur needs a lot of healing. We have to understand that we’re one people.”

In the spirit of such camaraderie, the county commissioner gave special voice to the local and county police officers present and to their respective organizations. As with anyone else, Sinegal stressed the importance of communication and a friendly nature with those who serve and protect us.

“If I’m at an IHOP and I see them [police officers], I will go over to them and greet them and ask how their families are,” Sinegal said.

But it was more than just the commissioner and his office that felt the importance of such strong communal ties.

“To me, it’s fellowship and just people being together as one,” Judith Broxton, president of the Golden Foxes, said in response to what her favorite part of the public event was.

For Tonuia Bernard, secretary in Jefferson County Precinct 3, it was the networking that was a draw for her, a space and time for employees and police officers from both the city and county to mingle and interact.

“I like the networking. You get to network with people you wouldn’t normally be able to talk with,” she said.

The Lunch in the Park was held on July 13, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Martin Holmes Park. Admission was free, and the food vendors were varied. Among the servers were Luby’s, Boss Burger, and Marble Slab. Brisco Lake provided live music, and a blood drive was implemented by LifeShare Blood Centers.

Representatives from Jefferson County SWAT were also present to give a tour of a SWAT vehicle to children and any interested attendees.

The event was sponsored by Sinegal and Roosevelt Petry of G.P. Industrial Contractors.