In the case of our new neighbors working for Sikorsky Aerospace Maintenance at Chase Field, it has become much more apparent in the last week.
Anyone who has driven past the courthouse probably has noticed the work in progress on the old Navy jet, which was in a sad state of disrepair.
When they were asked if they’d like to help clean, repair and repaint the A4 Skyhawk jet in front of the courthouse, “we jumped at the opportunity,” Tim Morrow, special projects manager for Sikorsky, recalled.
He and volunteers from Sikorsky began refurbishing the jet on Monday. They’re hoping to finish the project by April in time for the Chase Field “All Hands” Reunion.
Sikorsky is providing the supplies, such as cleaners, solvents, paint and equipment, for free. The company is charging the county $1 for its services.
And how special that will be to have the jet looking inviting for the Chase Field “All Hands” Reunion scheduled for April 24-26 in Beeville.
A group of Navy veterans who served at NAS Chase Field are looking for local citizens, civilian and military, who served there so they can invite them to this first-ever event. Some of the special events include a “Welcome Back” party and a tour of the base.
Among the special guests will be Don “Bull” Walker, the last executive officer at Chase, and Commodore Tom Wimberley, who will share some anecdotes of their “tour of duty” here.
Yes, many of our longtime citizens will fondly remember the glory days of Chase, along with the patriotic change of command ceremonies, Navy League barbecues, air shows and other gatherings. And, to this day, many people remember Beeville as the town with the “jet on the courthouse square.”
Yet, even bigger than our landmark is the potential for economic growth at the former naval base.
“I want to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, you have something very, very special, that communities all across Texas are very envious of. The Chase complex is something that many communities can never build. Even the dollars they set aside for industrial complexes will never match what you have.”
Texas Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples shared that optimistic message at Bee County Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet last Friday night.
Staples was impressed with Sikorsky’s operations at Chase and with the Bee Development Authority’s efforts to revitalize the former naval air field for commercial enterprises.
It obviously helps immensely to have friends with clout in Austin as expansion plans at Chase could be made possible with funding from the Texas Capital Fund, which is overseen by the Texas Department of Agriculture.
Staples assured the audience Friday night that he was willing to do what he can to help Beeville and Bee County obtain one of those grants. “I look forward to the opportunity to put that money to work here in Bee County,” he said.
If anyone still doubts that anything good can come from working with the BDA on economic development plans at Chase, why not ask a state official (with friendly connections to Beeville) who is in control of some of the grants for such operations?