Jefferson County Commissioners approved measures to go forward with the Pleasure Island Revised Breakwater Project and proclaimed May 4 through 12 “National Travel and Tourism Week” at a May 6 meeting at the Jefferson County Courthouse.
Under purchasing items, commissioners awarded LUHR Brothers Inc. a $2,276,451 contract for the base bid and additive alternate No. 1 related to the Pleasure Island Revised Breakwater Project. The $619,690 for the additive alternate is to be paid in full by the city of Port Arthur. Commissioners approved the corresponding interlocal agreement between Port Arthur and Jefferson County for the funds to be contributed to the project, which is meant to provide shoreline protection for Pleasure Island.
Commissioners approved a measure allowing Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick to authorize the president of the Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District Inc. to take necessary action to seek community development block grant disaster recovery funding from the Texas General Land Office or any other required governmental agency. Orange County Commissioners approved a similar measure at their May 6 meeting. See related article on this page.
Ben J. Rogers Regional Visitors Center director Kathi Hughes accepted a proclamation from commissioners declaring May 4 through May 12 “National Travel and Tourism Week” in Jefferson County.
Commissioner Everett “Bo” Alfred read the proclamation, which included statistical data regarding tourism in Texas and Jefferson County. According to the information presented to commissioners, tourism brought 208 million domestic travelers and more than $63.2 billion into Texas last year, supporting approximately 545,000 jobs. Jefferson County benefited from $447 million in direct spending from tourism and travel, and the industry is responsible for a reported 6,730 jobs in the county. Last year, Texas earned $4.1 billion in state and local sales tax revenue, and many economists assert tourism is the largest industry in the Lone Star state, the proclamation read.
Hughes thanked commissioners for the recognition. She acknowledged the convention and visitors bureaus in the area and said her facility is partnered with them to make the area a place people want to visit.
“I want to show a little bit more pride in Jefferson County,” Hughes asserted. “Commissioner (Michael) Sinegal came to me with an awesome idea and a project he was working on. He said that we do not have a county song. … So, I do believe they had a meeting of the minds with Dwight Wagner … and then Danny Moore got involved, also. We now want to bring to the court a song called ‘The Jefferson County Line.’”
“I am a lifelong Jefferson County (resident). I lived all of my life in Port Arthur, so I love it just as much as anybody else around here,” Wagner said. “The challenge was to include every city in the county in the song.”
He gave copies of the song to commissioners and played the tune to the pleasure of the crowd gathered.
“So take me to the place of my birth and never let it leave my heart, take me to the Port Arthur Sea Wall and Port Neches Park, Take me to the Heritage Festival off Nederland Avenue, I wanna be there, I wanna be there,” were some lyrics from the song, which did indeed name every city in Jefferson County and praised the area for various attractions such as the Southeast Texas State Fair and local crawfish boils.
Hughes invited the community to attend a Tourism Roundup on Friday, April 10, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ben J. Rogers Visitors Center at 5055 Interstate 10 South in Beaumont to celebrate tourism in Jefferson County. She said “The Jefferson County Line” could be heard in its entirety at the event.
“Of all the jewels we have in Southeast Texas, Mr. Wagner has been a jewel in my life for the last 40 to 50 years,” Sinegal said, honoring his former English literature teacher.
Judge Jeff Branick, also a former student of Wagner, said of the composer, “He is great encouragement to us. And thank you so much for putting your time and heart into that project. We really appreciate it.”