Anyone interested in having their voice heeard in face-to-face meetings with their state elected leaders in Austin is invited to make the five-hour drive to the capitol city alongside city officials during Golden Triangle Days in Austin, held Feb. 27 through March 1.
During the three-day conference, delegates and guests from the Orange and Jefferson county areas will meet with state leaders and make their opinions known to officials at the state level. Those in attendance will not only attend structured meetings with the state representatives but also have an opportunity to talk one-on-one with heads of departments, mingle during lunch and dinner mixers and join in a round of golf after the business is over.
The weather should be perfect for a road trip, but Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce President Mary Ann Reid said it’s more of a business than pleasure trip for Orange and Jefferson counties’ city and county leaders.
“This is the time for our small businesses and big industry to have their voices heard,” she said. “We’d love to have anyone interested in joining us because these issues affect everyone in the community. What happens in industry affects everybody. It’s thinking beyond ourselves now because it all comes back to affect us. Now is the time to make a difference, to do something bigger than yourself.”
Reid exemplified her statement by touching on the issue of education. Even for taxpayers who don’t have school-age children or aspirations of furthering their own education, she said, the issue affects the community as a whole.
“Those kids that maybe don’t matter so much to you now are going to be your nurses, your caregivers,” she said, adding to the list police officers, doctors, judges, etc. “We need to fight for these dollars to train them right so we have a quality of life in the future.”
The agenda of issues slated for group conversation was still in the works at press time, but Reid said the group is seeking confirmation that funding already promised is still on the way. According to Reid, that includes “funding in higher education and protecting our resources.”
The legislative priorities for Golden Triangle Days, according to information from the group executive summary, represent the crucial business issues in and around the cities of Beaumont, Orange and Port Arthur. In the agenda, the Golden Triangle adopts positions on education, the TCEQ, economic development and transportation issues. Reid said the members of the community attending the meetings will be able to voice their own opinions in these matters, as well as others.
Participants will converge on the three-day affair with a pre-event reception hosted by former state Sen. Carl Parker on Feb. 27 from 2-4 p.m. And after registration, guests will be treated to an evening of music and food starting at 6 p.m. at the “Meet the Maestro” event held in honor of Chelsea Tipton II, new resident music director for the Symphony of Southeast Texas.
The following day, participants will rise early and meet for breakfast at the state capitol before breaking off into a series of meetings. During that time, a resolution honoring Golden Triangle Days will be awarded to delegates from the group. A “Cajun Reception” will follow, with entertainment provided by Mark Chesnutt and the Floyd Domino Band, and food cooked up courtesy of Big Rich Courville and Courville’s Catering. On the last day of the event, guests will attend a breakfast with Senate Education Committee Chair Sen. Florence Shapiro, then scurry over to a 9 a.m. rally with the governor. After a little free time, guests are then called on to get together for a relaxing round at the Wolfdancer Golf Club starting at noon.
Anyone is invited to register as a delegate. Delegates may attend all Sunday through Tuesday events at the $75 per individual registration fee. Golf tournament entry fees separate.
Non-delegates may attend the Sunday and Monday receptions only and pay a reduced rate of $50 per individual. An additional $25 will be assessed per attendee for registrations made after close of business Friday, Feb. 18. Registrations will close Wednesday, Feb. 23. According to Reid’s count, more than 300 people have already signed up, but the more the merrier.
“We welcome everyone to come,” she said, regardless of their views on the issues. “We have transportation issues that are different, but since it’s regional we all can work together. But if your ideas are different, you can have a sidebar meeting with TxDOT. You may not know who to contact to express ideas or opinions you may have, and this is the perfect time to go and find who you need to talk to. A lot of time you want to say something and get on the phone and get the runaround. It’s different when you’re on the phone or in person with somebody.
“This is the big thing. Now is the time to step up and have your voice really heard by the people who need to hear it.”
For more information, contact the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce at (409) 838-6581, the Orange Chamber of Commerce at (409) 883-3536, or the Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce at (409) 963-1107.