Texas General Land Office honors those working to clear derelict vessels from coastal waters
PORT LAVACA - Manuel Rodriguez tried to hide the smile crossing his face as he walked to the front of the room to take his award.
"I tried to help, that's it," Rodriguez said, clutching the glass statue.
Rodriguez was one of three people who received an Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act award from the Texas General Land Office on Wednesday morning. The awards were handed out during an Information Transfer Meeting held in the Bauer Exhibit Hall at the Calhoun County Fairgrounds.
Rodriguez, the owner of Prestige Oyster, was nominated for the award for his work removing derelict vessels from the coastal waters.
In 2005, the state Legislature gave the TGLO Oil Spill Prevention and Response office the legal authority to get rid of derelict vessels. However, the state never provided any funding for the program, so the only way the vessels would be removed was if people would do so for free.
As the owner of Prestige Oyster company, Rodriguez noticed boats being dumped in the Harbor of Refuge, cluttering the harbor with abandoned vessels.
He got tired of it and removed the boats from the water, doing the work and paying for the disposal out of his own pocket.
"He just did it. He didn't think anyone would even notice that he was doing something," Rodriguez's wife Gloria Rodriguez said.
Dean Schroeder and Jeff Fuller also accepted an OSPRA award on behalf of the Houston-based company Xtreme Scrap and Salvage.
The company worked for months removing rusted barges and other vessels from coastal waters. Schroeder, the owner of the company, brought in equipment to clear the vessels at no charge to the state.
"We're really excited. We've never won an award before," Fuller said, just before the two walked to the front of the hall to accept the award.
Rodriguez, Schroeder and Fuller performed this public service, and it was good to see them recognized, Oil Spill Prevention and Response Manager Michael Baccigalopi said.
Jimmy Martinez, regional director of the Oil Spill Prevention office, nodded in agreement
"It changed the Texas coast," he said.