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STEPHEN HEMELT — PI: Unpolished jewel needs city help

Port Arthur City Councilmembers discussed volunteerism, potential tourism attraction and city services during more than half an hour of discussion this week when talk turned to Pleasure Island.

Led by three speakers who requested time to speak during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting, the focus quickly shifted to city leaders who promised change.

Councilwoman Charlotte Moses was the most emphatic.

“We need to follow through with whoever is supposed to take care of that to make sure it is done,” Moses said. “How do we get (Ronald Moon) some help with the cleaning? Is our parks department cleaning or assisting with the cleanup out there?”

Moses stressed Moon and other volunteers should not have to clean six miles of levee on a near daily basis, picking up loose trash for deposit in trashcans.

“We appreciate your volunteerism, but I’m going to stay on it until you get some assistance,” Moses said.

“We’ll see what the city will do to assist you, as well, and follow through on what we did say we would do, which were the signs being up and not having someone drop the ball.”

Most of Moon’s presentation this week centered on his progress bringing clean vistas and experiences to visitors to the island’s north levee. He brought councilmembers numerous pictures of smiling faces displaying fresh catches.

He said the island’s north and south levees provide 12 miles of bank fishing for residents, out-of-towners, workers and opportunities for bird watchers, as well as those who want a scenic drive.

“It’s beautiful, right there and all we need to do is a little more to keep it nice, clean and enjoyable,” Moon said.

The Port Arthur native said increased patrols enforcing alcohol restrictions and the introduction of posted signs stressing the hours from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. would go a long way to aiding growth in community participation.

Moon did express concern after collecting and displaying for authorities his discovery of two .23-caliber shells and a bunch of shotgun shells.

“It’s becoming a target range out there,” Moon said, later adding, “The people, believe me or not, are starting to use the trash cans, because they see me out there every day picking up trash. The only ones that are not helping us are the ones drinking alcohol. Every Saturday and Sunday morning I go out there and pick up 20 to 40 beer cans right there at the first set of pipes.”

Moon said there is a sign posted saying alcohol and glass containers are not allowed on the levee.

The entire first part of Tuesday’s meeting included discussion about Pleasure Island, which included a request by Reginald Trainer to install cameras on the island to log the license plates of those coming in and out.

“How can we bring in a new business if we can’t secure our people on the island,” he asked.

A third speaker, John Beard, brought up the need to upgrade the island’s clubhouse as a hosting site for community functions and as a revenue generator.

It’s been written in this newspaper before: The 18-mile, manmade island that rests in natural splendor in Lake Sabine is a beautiful place, rightfully treasured by those who live and visit there.

It’s already an attraction that our city can be proud of; by working together, it has the potential for so much more.

Stephen Hemelt is publisher of The Port Arthur News.