Town Hall Meeting brings large crowd

Over three hundred Bolivar residents and property owners packed Crystal Beach Community Church on Monday evening to participate in a Town Hall Meeting organized to discuss issues relating to the recent ‘Jeep Weekend’ and explore ideas to prevent the illegal and destructive behavior during this out of control weekend. Over the last six years, statistics show an increase in criminal conduct and medical emergencies.

After opening comments by Pastor Kaye Sims and Pastor Valerie Hudson, moderator Jimmy Sims introduced the Panel: Gunner Newberry, Crystal Beach VFD Chief, Kate Newberry, President of Galveston County Emergency Services District #2, Sheriff Henry Trochesset, County Commissioners Joe Giusti and Darrell Apffel, Constable Derrick Rose, and Lee Crowder, County Road Administrator.

Audience members were given the opportunity to ask questions of the Panel and suggest possible solutions, including beach closure, one-way traffic routing, more arrests, business closures, and mass gathering laws.

The following summary is provided by Susan Shafer:

As a loyal follower of civic issues, here are my takeaways from tonight’s meeting. (Entirely my opinions.)

  • I was greatly impressed that over 300 people showed up, and even more listened online. The crowd was well-informed, respectful and prepared. I was a little sad that elected officials on the panel responded to most suggestions with answers about what they CANNOT do. The savvy attendees already knew those things. They came with hope that our leaders would get creative and proactive and would bring solutions.
  • There was overwhelming support and praise for our law enforcement officers and first responders. I hope they felt it.
  • The BIG takeaway? We are being told their hands are tied because we are not a city and cannot make ordinances like Galveston or Surfside.
  • My takeaway? There are county and state ordinances that can be applied. Noise, obscenity, etc. The county can enact safety measures. No sobriety testing allowed? License plate checks, unsafe driving, the use or perceived use of drug dogs, etc. There are many safety laws addressing the occupancy of buildings. What about public spaces? Does the Open Beaches statute allow public spaces to be overcrowded to the point of no exit or access for emergency responders?
  • Will it require money? The county commissioners repeatedly said they are responsible for budgeting and money and that they have never denied resources for this event.
  • The people who asked questions offered solutions and had information to back up their ideas. Not one person went off the rails, though the crowd made it clear when they felt some elected officials needed to stop talking.
  • Thankful to everybody who made this happen and I am looking forward to the next steps. Pretty sure it will be our residents who turn the tide on this. I think it is also important for our elected officials to remember that the people causing this havoc are not their constituents and don’t vote for them.
  • Mostly, I am filled with gratitude to be part of this community.


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5 Responses to “Town Hall Meeting brings large crowd”

  1. Lisa Dickens Winzen says:

    Thank you for this overview of the meeting. We we not able to attend the meeting so this is very helpful. I’m not sure if you can answer this question. There was a small section of the beach that was blocked off during Jeep weekend. How was this done?

    Thanks, Lisa

  2. Thanks Tom and Susan for the thorough report and analysis.

    It is quite obvious (from the meeting and decades of experience) that more government is not the solution. This is a job for We the People, in my humble opinion.

    Go Topless/Jeep weekend needs a new name, a new mission … something other than getting wasted.

    One astute reader mentioned the hazard to the habitat of our beloved Sea Turtle. How about a beach based “Turtle Fest” or some other name … where local residents and turtle lovers the world over come to the beach for the event, all in the name of saving the endangered species.

    Could flooding the beach with sober, peaceful turtle lovers work to change it? Who knows. I certainly don’t, but I do know one thing … the peninsula’s appeal to many folks is that it is Not Galveston, with all of its dictatorial rules and regs. With enough hard work and creativity we may just be able keep it that way!

    Best of luck to all,

    ~~ j ~~

  3. Derik Lattig says:

    I’d suggest looking at it from a “green” standpoint.

    What damage are these vehicles and visitors doing to the environment?
    If local and State Government won’t help, then file a complaint with the EPA or NOAA. Get the Fed’s involved and the State and local will have to comply.
    I’m sure pictures of trash, damaged beaches etc. would not set well with Officials.

    Maybe talk to the EPA/NOAA about petitioning to make Crystal Beach and endangered nature area which if passed by lawmakers that would likely ban the Jeeps.

    Just a few thoughts, Thanks, Derik Lattig

  4. Kelly Adams says:

    I have my granddaughter with me so was not able to attend. I’m glad to hear of the large turn out to support our town. Will there be future meetings to keep the community informed of any updates on the solutions discussed?

  5. Carlis Cole says:

    Together, as proven last evening, our Community came together as a united front in support for one another. Yes we have hurdles but we will continue Keeping Bolivar Safe and Beautiful. In memory of Charles, his loving wife, Carlis Cole

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