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Rare opportunity: We can come to Coast Guard’s aid

 

Furloughs and withheld paychecks to area “Coasties” — it’s all part of the continuing, federal government’s partial shutdown — have given this community a rare and precious opportunity: We can come to the Coast Guard’s aid.

Greater Port Arthur and Sabine Neches area waterways have been blessed by the presence of these brave men and women who have, without fail, taken to the water to rescue our imperiled mariners and area pleasure boaters alike.

They’ve kept faithful watch over our ports, facilitating waterway commerce, guarding our environment, planning for manmade and natural disasters and responding for our safety in fierce storms.

Ours is a Coast Guard community. Coasties in some form have served here since 1879, two decades before there was a Port Arthur. They are neighbors and friends.

The inspection office was located here during World War II; in 1976, services morphed into the Marine Safety Office, Port Arthur. In 2005, that was transformed into the Marine Safety Unit — MSU Port Arthur.

Mid-January brought this startling and sad development — as part of the Homeland Security department, the Coast Guard was made subject to the ongoing, nation’s Capitol spat involving President Trump and congressional Democrats over southern border security. The partial government shutdown that followed stopped paychecks to the Coast Guard this week, undercutting the stability for Coasties and their families. They continue to serve without pay.

Fortunately, the International Seafarers’ Center in Port Arthur and the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce have launched an effort to help Coast Guard families stationed in and around Greater Port Arthur.

Contributions should be made to the Seafarers’ Center in Port Arthur. Checks should be written to PAISC, with Coast Guard Foundation written in the memo field.

The Seafarers’ Center is a 501c3 not-for-profit entity, and donors can receive a donation letter for tax purposes. If contributing in person, take contributions to the Seafarers’ Center at 401 Houston Ave., Port Arthur.

Sadly, regulations limit how much aid our Coast Guard members can receive — the $22,000 donations goal would maximize the limits to each of the 218 local Coast Guard members at about $100 each — but donations would represent a heartfelt and meaningful contribution to our local Armed Forces representatives. It’s our way to say thanks — and we care.

Locally, the Coast Guard is stationed at the Coast Guard Marine Station Unit in Port Arthur, U.S. Coast Guard Station Sabine, Aids to Navigation Team Sabine, Coast Guard Cutter Stingray and Liquefied Gas Carrier National Center of Expertise at MSU Port Arthur. Their services are invaluable to the safety and economic well-being of our local population.

The Coast Guard has always been there for Greater Port Arthur. Let’s remember that in their time of need.