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The animals of Laguna Madre are making their way to Colorado.

For a little more than a year, the Laguna Madre Humane Society has been receiving help with their crowding issue from some friends in Denver.

More than 1,000 dogs have made their way northwest in search of a forever home.

It all started when a Colorado resident adopted a dog that had previously been with the society.

After reading the dog’s history, he reached out to the people at the society to give updates on his new pet and keep in touch.

Soon, he connected the society with local shelters in his area.

Now, once a month, trucks carrying the dogs of the Valley are making their way to a new town.

MONEY TROUBLES

With their very limited budget, the society is only able to have three members of full-time staff: a veterinarian, a technician and an office manager.

The rest of their help comes from volunteers.

According to Beth Fedigan, president of the Humane Society, the monthly cost to transport the animals is estimated at $1,000, not including the medical expenses.

“Its so worth it when you see these people and they have smiles on their faces and the dogs have smiles on their faces,” Fedigan said.

All but one of the dogs that were transferred had been adopted.

Dogs being transferred are taken off of euthanasia lists.

“These are all animals that will die if we don’t help them,” Fedigan said.

Shelters like Port Isabel will give the society a two- week notice to remove the animals that will face being euthanized.

To help curb all the costs that the society endures, they maintain a resale shop called Whiskers, located next to the Humane Society.

“Every little bit helps,” Fedigan said.

IN SEARCH OF SPACE

The society doesn’t have a shelter and with the small space they have, they need people to foster or adopt animals.

Currently, there are only about 25 homes in the Valley that have been vetted and are able to foster animals.

While foster homes provide a space for the animals, the society takes on the financial responsibility including food, medicine and vet visits.

Allison, the famous one-flippered sea turtle who wears the world’s first sea turtle prosthesis, will be getting a larger holding tank by the end of the year, big enough for more people to gather around and see her swim.

Construction on Sea Turtle Inc.’s new facility, worth $4.5 million, is one month ahead of schedule, according to officials.

“People are going to see in the upcoming few weeks the roof going up,” said Jeff George, Sea Turtle Inc. executive director.

“We are on schedule to open to the public

in early December.”

George said the staff is very excited about the progress of construction.

The work has not stopped visitors from visiting Sea Turtle Inc. over the summer to check out the turtles swimming in the tanks and for the presentations about the endangered species — all while the new facility is in the making.

The first two phases of construction have been ongoing since the groundbreaking in February.

Phase one is the educational building. Plans are for the building to be fitted with a kiosk and a large,

beautiful aquarium

that people will be able to walk under to view the sea turtles.

George said the educational facility is going to have a lot more educational displays and a larger gift shop.

Phase two is the amphitheater, projected to seat 300 people with a view of the wetlands.

The amphitheater will have stadium seating and will be fitted with an audio-visual theater system to provide top-quality experiences for visitors.

“It’s going to be great for the arts foundation to have evening concerts,” George said. “We are very excited about that.”

A marine life touch tank will give people the opportunity to touch rays, sea stars and other non-endangered wildlife.

The large tanks will hold 150,000 gallons of water. The facility upgrade also will include a larger parking lot.

In 2015, Sea Turtle, Inc. welcomed more than 120,000 visitors. Of those, 8,000 were groups of school children and teachers.

Additionally, Sea Turtle, Inc. hosts countless children from Scouts, daycares, nature camps and children’s homes across the United States.

According to the Sea Turtle website, the current facilities limit the number of children they are able to take in each group and prohibit them from hosting many special programs.

“Fundraising is going really well,” George said. “But we are still out there seeking contributions going into the remaining balance,” George said. “We keep changing things and having a brand new world-class facility is going to draw in people.”

George said the educational team has an obligation to change the attraction.

“We do see a lot of family come year after year,” George said. “And entrance to the new facility will be free, but we still intend to ask for donations and will rely on gift shop sales.”

One of the new attractions may be a behind-the-scenes tour for visitors to see the clinical aspect of the facility at an added price.

“I hope it generates some excitement in the community,” George said.

By RAUL GARCIA Staff Writer

Although it may not look like a long distance from the shore, the lifeguards know that swimming 120 meters to rescue someone is taxing.

At the 2017 USLA Gulf Coast Regional Championship, junior and veteran lifeguards were pushed to their limits.

The competition is fierce, but Haydn Jones, a lifeguard with the Padre Beach Rescue Association, always looks forward to this time of year.

“A lot (of what you learn) is the camaraderie. I always look forward to this time of year, and through this program I’ve met friends from the East and West coast,” Jones said.

This is Jones’ fourth regional competition. He will be attending the national competition for the third time in August.

“It’s on a whole other level. You’re competing against career lifeguards who might be doing the competition for the 10th time,” Jones said.

Padre Beach Rescue Association is hosting the regional championship this year. It is the first time it has done so. The competition features teams from South Padre Island and CameronCounty, as well as from Galveston, Corpus Christi and Port Aransas. The events Saturday included a 2K in the morning, a surf race, a board race and swim rescue.

“It is comparable to running a marathon. It definitely tests you,” said Jim Pigg, who is with the Padre Beach Rescue Association.

The regional championship is a good way to train for the national competition, which will be from Aug. 8-11 in Daytona Beach, Florida, Pigg said. To train for both competitions, the lifeguards of the Padre Beach Rescue Association follow a strict routine.

Every morning before taking their post, they do a one-hour workout. They also do a workout separate from that to train, Pigg said.

Sarah White has been with the Padre Beach Rescue Association for three summers. Daytona Beach will be her first national championship.

“I’m very nervous but also very excited. It’s going to be a good experience,” White said. “You meet lifeguards that do this for a living. It’s so intense, and it’ll be fun to see what it’s all about.”

The competition concludes this afternoon.

 

Officer Gerry Lopez came to the rescue of an infant while on patrol.

According to the Port Isabel Police Facebook page, Officer Lopez was on Highway 100 on Sunday, July 9, when he was flagged down by a distraught couple whose baby was unresponsive in their vehicle.

The department says Lopez quickly began performing CPR on the baby until the child began to breathe again. Port Isabel EMS arrived and transported the infant to a Brownsville hospital.

According to the Port Isabel Facebook page the mother has updated that baby is doing much better.

 

By Raul Garcia, Staff writer

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (AP) – Officials say 50 concrete pyramids have been sunk in the Gulf of Mexico off South Texas as part of an artificial reef to increase fish habitat.

The project, backed by the group Friends of RGV Reef, involves marine scientists in the state’s Rio Grande Valley and elsewhere studying reefs and red snapper populations, the Brownsville Herald reported Friday.

The RGV Reef project features 3-ton (2.7-metric ton) concrete pyramids placed in the water Tuesday, about 8 miles (12 kilometers) off South Padre Island.

The structures, each up to 10 feet (3 meters) tall, were transported and sunk by the landing craft Lil’ Mo, owned by Lil’ Mo Marine Services , which donated its time and the pyramids. The structures, made by Atlantis Marine Habitats LLC, have cavities to shelter adult snapper.

Friends president Gary Glick said 42 of the pyramids were placed in groups of four to form a “trolling trail.” Cinderblocks will be sunk around some of the pyramids and limestone rip-rap around others to determine which is more effective at boosting snapper productivity.

Lil’ Mo has sunk about 6,000 Atlantis-built pyramids for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, and other entities such as the Coastal Conservation Association, which helped fund the RGV Reef project, according to Glick.

“We talk about snapper because that’s where all the research is, and it’s all snapper in the scientific literature,” Glick said. “But we know that when we make things right for snapper, we make things right for all of the less-studied species.”