Steve Paterson has resigned as the president and CEO of the League City Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“On behalf of the chamber board of directors and chamber staff, we thank Steve for his service to the chamber,” Chairman Bill Provenzano said in a letter informing members Paterson tendered his resignation. “Steve has decided to pursue other avenues in his career. We wish him and his family the best in their future endeavors.”
News of Paterson’s abrupt resignation came late Monday. Calls to the chamber, Paterson and Provenzano went unreturned by deadline Monday.
“I wanted to assure all of you that the chamber board and wonderful chamber staff are excited and energized about the upcoming events we have planned and that the transitional period will not inhibit our inspired growth that has continued over the last few years,” Provenzano said.
The former Galveston County Daily News advertising director had been in that position since taking over in 2015, after the previous chamber president also resigned abruptly.
Paterson arrived at the chamber during a tumultuous time for the organization.
He succeeded Laurie Baldwin, who resigned in 2015 after a controversial attempt to drop League City from the organization’s name.
The 400-plus member chamber had absorbed businesses that had belonged to the defunct North Galveston County Chamber of Commerce, and Baldwin oversaw efforts to settle on a new name to reflect its “regional appeal” after the addition of the new members.
In January 2015, the chamber attempted to rebrand itself as the Bay Area Houston Regional Chamber of Commerce. That name lasted less than a month. Because of strong outcry from some members, the chamber changed its name again in February 2015 to the League City Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber officials at the time said Baldwin’s departure was not because of the controversy over the name change.
Paterson’s departure took even some chamber insiders by surprise.
Rick Wade, former chamber chairman, said he wasn’t aware of Paterson’s resignation.
“Steve did great,” Wade said. “He did a wonderful job with the chamber — growing it and taking it to the next level. I can’t complain at all. But I hate to see him go.”
Paterson did not attend Galveston County Day in Austin on March 6. The lobbying trip to Austin is a major event for all the county’s chambers and some members said they thought Paterson’s absence was unusual.
A boom in landscaping and other green spaces along city streets has shifted work onto the city’s parks department and is consuming more of the money earmarked for park maintenance, officials said.
About $2.02 million, two thirds, of the $2.99 million budgeted for parks in the general fund is going for maintaining parks, facilities and streets with landscaping.
The parks funding pays for maintenance of landscaping and trees along roads such as 25th, 27th and 61st streets, city spokeswoman Marissa Barnett said.
As more landscaped corridors, such as 45th Street, are completed, maintenance of the green areas will fall to the parks department, city officials said.
“That’s something that we’re really going to have to pay close attention to,” District 2 Councilman Craig Brown said.
When the city approves a new street project with landscaping elements, it will need to make sure there’s enough money for upkeep, Brown said.
While park maintenance is typically paid for through the general fund, major improvements come from other sources, Barnett said.
Bond elections, partnerships with private entities and the Galveston Industrial Development Corp. fund projects for improvements, she said.
The corporation, which allocates sales tax revenue, has also been shifting some money toward maintenance of the projects it has funded, District 5 Councilman John Paul Listowski said.
Both he and Brown sit on the corporation board.
“The purpose of it is to do capital improvement projects, not to do ongoing maintenance,” Listowski said.
The corporation recently approved about $900,000 for improvements to several city parks and facilities.
There’s still a lot of work to do on Galveston’s park system, but the city has made great strides said Sabrina Dean, president of nonprofit Better Parks for Galveston.
The nonprofit was founded in 2012 to raise money for parks equipment and improvements, Dean said.
There’s never enough funding for parks, partly because equipment is so expensive, Dean said.
“I don’t think there’s enough funding to repair everything that needs to be repaired,” Dean said.
The city can’t afford to defer park upkeep, Brown said.
“When you defer maintenance, then you can really get behind very quickly,” Brown said.
Thinly stretched funding could be a problem if the department gets too many new responsibilities, Dean said.
“It seems like a lot keeps getting forced on them,” Dean said.
The $2.02 million that goes to parks and parkways also maintains 11 baseball fields, playgrounds and pays for litter pick-up, Barnett said.
A national group working to end greyhound racing has asked the Texas Racing Commission to investigate the deaths of four dogs at a track in La Marque.
A Galveston County jury Thursday will decide the fate of a Bacliff man who in 2017 shot his girlfriend in the head while handling a handgun he said he thought was unloaded.
Deputies late Friday took Orlando Martinez, 24, into custody after a jury at the end of a week-long trial found him guilty of criminally negligent homicide, Assistant Criminal District Attorney Rebekah Saunders said.
Martinez was first charged with manslaughter a day after Kaitlyn Trammell, 18, died at Memorial Hermann Hospital from a gunshot wound to the head, officials said.
Deputies responded July 30, 2017 to a report of a suicide at a Bacliff residence, finding Trammell bleeding from the head, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Martinez that night told police Trammel accidentally shot herself in the forehead, according to the affidavit.
But in a follow-up interview, Martinez told deputies he was watching a movie with Trammell and got the gun out for them to look at and the magazine was empty, according to the affidavit.
Martinez said he thought the gun was unloaded and had pointed the gun at Trammell while they were playing and that it had gone off and shot her in the head, according to the affidavit.
Martinez faces between two to 10 years in prison, or probation, after being found guilty of criminally negligent homicide, Saunders said.
Manslaughter carries a punishment range of two to 20 years in prison.
Two other men, Jared Michael Koehler, 26, and Gabriel Martinez, 22, in 2018 both pleaded guilty to tampering with physical evidence and were sentenced to six years deferred probation for helping Orlando Martinez, court records show.