3 months ago

Eagle Scout project memorializes Orange Beach charter captain

When Garrett Ard started his Eagle Scout project four years ago, the goal was to honor the memory of his late grandfather, Capt. Gloyice Ard, a longtime Gulf Coast charter boat captain.

The culmination of all the work involved in such an endeavor recently sank to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico – in the form of an artificial reef.

What Ard didn’t realize at the time was when the repurposed boat slipped beneath the waves the project also honored the heritage of another Gulf Coast captain. The shrimp boat, the Southern Heritage, used in the project was captained by the late Paul Rogers.

Garrett said he was sitting around a campfire when the idea of building a reef in Alabama’s unparalleled artificial reef zones popped into his head.

“Growing up on the coast, building a reef made sense,” he said. “We didn’t have to do a project that big for my Eagle Scout project, but we decided to go big or go home.”

Garrett’s mom, Kimberly, said guidance from Lee Kibler, the Scoutmaster from Elberta, Alabama, helped Garrett proceed with the reef-building plan.

“Lee said the project needs to fit the scout,” Kimberly said. “He said not every project fits the scout’s capabilities. We just felt like Garrett’s capabilities were up to this project.”

Garrett then started fundraising for the project. He made presentations to the Alabama Reef Foundation and the Orange Beach City Council. The Reef Foundation chipped in $5,000, and Orange Beach City Council donated $10,000 to the fund. Garrett’s presentations to several more community organizations added to the coffers, and one of his dad’s connections provided additional funding.

“We were having a Gulf Council (Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council) meeting in Orange Beach, and I asked Garrett to come because there was somebody there I wanted him to meet,” said Garrett’s dad, Capt. Tom Ard, who has a fleet of four charter boats. “It was Buddy Guindon, one of the largest commercial fishermen in the Gulf. He has a huge seafood market in Galveston (Texas). He donates to a lot of different projects. I told Buddy about the Eagle Scout project, and he and Garrett had a nice talk. Buddy gave us a very generous donation of $5,000. He realized the reef would help recreational fishermen, charter boats and commercial boats. I can guarantee you commercial boats will be catching snapper off the reef for the public market.”

Although the donations were secured, the Ards ran into an obstacle. Suitable reef material was difficult to find, especially in their price range.

“The original idea was to use a barge, but we couldn’t find one or it cost too much money,” Garrett said. “John Giannini at J&M Tackle was going to donate two big shipping containers.”

Tom happened to call David Walter (aka Reefmaker of Walter Marine) and asked about finding reef material. Walter told him about an old shrimp boat that would make a quality reef.

“I asked him how much he wanted for it,” Tom said. “He said $30,000. I told him we had $25,000, and he said, ‘I’ll take it.’”

Because Walter Marine is so busy deploying reefs all over the Gulf, the Ards had to wait in line. When it appeared the shrimp boat reef wouldn’t happen before Garrett’s 18th birthday, they had to amend their reef-building plans to meet the Boy Scouts’ requirement.

With guidance from the Mobile Boy Scouts office, a smaller reef operation preceded the big deployment, but it was also an operation that would have been so familiar to Poppa Gloyice, a jovial character who was a fixture in the Orange Beach charter industry with his boat, the Boll Weevil, a salute to Gloyice’s days as a cropduster pilot.

“We got two chicken coops,” Garrett said. “We built a platform on the back of my grandpa’s boat, and we tied these huge chicken coops on the back of the boat and got to deploy them by hand. It was really cool.”

Tom added, “He got to see how we used to build reefs in the old days. This will be the Boll Weevil’s 40th season.”

Before the shrimp boat could be deployed, Garrett and several of his Boy Scout buddies had to complete the task of cleaning out foam insulation from the bowels of the boat.

“We had to climb inside the boat and pick up these huge chunks of foam and other trash,” Garrett said. “We had to be careful because of all the rusted, jagged metal. We spent an afternoon in the boat, and we got it cleaned up.”

The day to deploy the 50-foot, steel-hulled shrimp boat finally arrived, and the Ards headed out about 14 miles into the Gulf. The superstructure had already been removed from the shrimp boat, and a large steel cylinder with many nooks and crannies was welded onto the hull for improved fish habitat.

“The barge with the shrimp boat left about 3 a.m.,” Garrett said. “When we got there on the Fairwater II (another of Tom’s charter boats), the crane just picked the shrimp boat up and put it in the water. When it caught water, it just went straight down. It was a huge sense of relief – like, ‘Wow, we actually did it.’ We had been working on this for so long. When Dad and I started talking about raising $25,000 to build a reef, it almost seemed unattainable. Then it happened, and it was like, ‘We just did that.’ It was a huge sense of accomplishment.”

Garrett had previously met with Marine Resources Director Scott Bannon and Artificial Reefs Coordinator Craig Newton to discuss the reef project and get it properly permitted.

“Alabama’s artificial reef program was founded by anglers like Garrett’s grandfather, and Garrett’s project is a testament to his legacy,” Newton said. “I’m extremely proud of Garrett’s achievement, and I’m anxious to watch the reef develop over the coming years.”

Director Bannon added, “I am a big supporter of Scouting and was excited to hear about Garrett’s plan to create an artificial reef. It required a lot of physical and administrative work on his part, and I applaud his diligence to see it through to the end. Watching the video of Garrett’s reaction to the reef being deployed was priceless. His contribution to the Alabama Artificial Reef Zone will be enjoyed by anglers for many years to come.”

When the local news media heard about the memorial reef, Garrett gained a great deal of exposure, which led to the revelation of how the reef memorialized another captain.

When word spread about the reef, Garrett was contacted by the daughter of the late owner of the Southern Heritage, the shrimp boat that the Ards deployed.

The message from Amber Rogers Joyner read: “The Southern Heritage was my daddy’s boat, his pride and joy. He loved that boat, and he loved being on the water. Not sure if you know the story along with the boat, but he passed last January. He’d be so happy to know what you’ve done – the Southern Heritage staying in the water and being a place people will be able to enjoy for years to come. Thank you, Garrett! It’s a place I will definitely be taking my children to enjoy.”

Garrett said, “It was kind of the same deal I had with Poppa’s boat, the Boll Weevil. It started out as a memorial reef for my Poppa and it grew into a memorial reef for her dad.”

Unlike his dad, Garrett will not continue the family tradition of becoming a charter boat captain.

Despite his connection to the Gulf Coast and the Gulf of Mexico, Garrett’s interests are in the wild blue yonder instead of the deep blue sea.

He’s headed to Mississippi State University this fall to study aerospace engineering and play trombone in several of the school’s bands.

Garrett, however, will be back home for a trip on his dad’s boat next year to see how many big red snapper are hanging around the Capt. Gloyice Ard Memorial Reef.

David Rainer is an award-winning writer who has covered Alabama’s great outdoors for 25 years. The former outdoors editor at the Mobile Press-Register, he writes for Outdoor Alabama, the website of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

8 hours ago

Tuberville supports #WeWantToPlay movement — ‘Let them play’

Count former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville as a supporter of the player-led #WeWantToPlay movement to save the 2020 college football season.

Prominent elected officials from across the country, including President Donald Trump, and major leaders in the college football world, including University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, on Monday voiced their support for the movement.

In a video message posted to social media, Tuberville added his voice to the mix.

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The current Alabama Republican senatorial nominee said, “You know, college football is the lifeblood of the South, and allowing teams to play this season will bring a much-needed sense of calm to these strange times.”

Tuberville then echoed a key sentiment that Saban outlined earlier in the day.

“With proper medical supervision, college players are likely safer on the field than they are if they’re sent home. And most programs are implementing stricter guidelines than the CDC recommends,” Tuberville added. “If a player wants to opt out, that’s fine. But don’t take this opportunity away from thousands of young men who have worked their entire lives for this moment.”

“I support the players who want to take the field this season, and I hope you will join me. Let them play,” he concluded.

WATCH:

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

9 hours ago

Sierra Club endorses Joe Biden, calls him ‘champion for climate justice’

Emphasizing its agenda of “climate justice,” the California-based environmental group Sierra Club announced its endorsement of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Monday.

In a release touting its intent to elect what it termed “climate champions up and down the ticket,” Sierra Club’s executive director Michael Brune outlined the desire of his group to defeat President Donald Trump.

“We are confident that Joe Biden will be the champion for climate justice that America needs in the White House,” Brune stated. “As Americans head to the polls in November, our country will be facing crises on multiple fronts, including a climate emergency that disproportionately harms communities of color. This may be the most consequential election of our lives, and it is critical that we replace Donald Trump with a leader who understands the scale and urgency of the climate crisis and is ready to take bold action to solve it.”

Sierra Club has maintained an active presence in Alabama this year.

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In May, Secretary of State John Merrill declared Sierra Club an organization “threatening the economic livelihood of Alabama’s own businesses” through what he called a “shortsighted political agenda.”

Merrill cited lawsuits initiated by Sierra Club to restrict Alabama energy production as part of his contention that the group’s effort in the state would kill jobs.

“The Sierra Club, which is based out of San Francisco, California, does not represent Alabama thinking or values,” Merrill wrote. “It is troubling to see out-of-state activist groups working to influence our state’s power supply and its workers.”

In March, Sierra Club was among the environmentalist groups which descended upon the Alabama Public Service Commission to oppose natural gas usage for power generation.

Sierra Club endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

9 hours ago

Madison County Commission says it will not break the law to remove a Confederate monument

Alabama is obviously not immune from the racial strife gripping the United States. In recent months, we have seen statues come down, a state representative attended a birthday party for Nathan Bedford Forrest, small riots and acts of vandalism.

Like most Americans, Alabamians have generally accepted that the Confederate memorials all over the state on courthouse squares and in public parks are going to come down. Some are headed to cemeteries, some are headed to storage, and the fate of many is still unknown.

In Madison County, the Huntsville City Council and the Madison County Commission have both voted to move its controversial Confederate statue, and a new resting place at Maple Hill Cemetery has been selected. However, the monument still remains.

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That monument was vandalized last week, and Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong did not want to use taxpayer resources to clean it up, so it stands defaced and ugly near the steps of the Madison County Courthouse.

Strong appeared on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” on Monday and made it clear he wasn’t going to clean it up or force county employees to do so, but he hinted that if someone wanted to clean it up in the dead-of-night, like when it was vandalized, they should have at it.

In the interview, Strong voiced frustration with recent reporting that indicated he and the Madison County Commission have not reached out to Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office seeking a way to remove the statue and pay a $25,000 fine.

The commission views this as a non-starter. Strong believes attempting to “negotiate” breaking the law is a violation of his oath of office. Instead, he “filed an application of waiver with the committee based on a law that was written in 2017,” he advised.

Strong is worried about precedent, saying, “[T]here’s a lot of hesitation in contacting the attorney general. What happens if the next time someone that somebody desires to remove the name Jefferson Street, Washington Street or they don’t like the name on a building? What do we do? Just go in here and let somebody set a fee, pay the fee, and say hey just remove whatever you want to?”

My takeaway:

This is what should be done. The Alabama Memorial Preservation Act is the law of the land and it has been upheld.

Obviously, Chairman Strong is right. The law needs to be followed, and if it is unwieldy, change the law. If you don’t, we will be seeing attempts to move historic markers, veterans memorials and the like that are followed by the presentation of a cartoonish $25,000 check.

Society cannot just ignore the laws we dislike and pay a fine and move on. The precedent is bad, and the Madison County Commission and its chairman want no part of it.

Listen:


Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN.

10 hours ago

ICE announces arrests of two illegal aliens in Alabama, including for attempted murder

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Monday announced two recent Alabama arrests by its Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division.

According to a release, HSI made the pair of arrests in the Yellowhammer State on July 22.

Agents of the HSI Birmingham office reportedly arrested Christian Martinez, 32, a Salvadoran national and U.S. fugitive, on two state charges of attempted murder, as well as a charge of shooting into an occupied dwelling and another for being an alien in unlawful possession of a firearm.

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HSI Birmingham worked with the United States Marshals Service on Martinez’s arrest on a fugitive warrant at a work site in Mountain Brook. ICE is also pursuing federal charges for unlawful firearm possession. Martinez was booked into the Jefferson County jail and given a $150,000 bond. This is an ongoing, HSI-led investigation, according to the release.

Additionally, HSI Huntsville arrested Iris Ferreira-Cardoso, 49, a Brazilian national, for alleged violations of federal immigration law.

Agents from HSI Huntsville and ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations were part of a federal-local law enforcement collaboration that reportedly arrested Ferreira-Cardoso at a residence in Owens Cross Roads in Madison County. He will remain in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.

ICE advised that both Martinez and Ferreira-Cardoso are aliens who were in the United States illegally.

Martinez is alleged to have illegally entered the country without being inspected or paroled by an immigration officer on an unknown date and at an unknown location.

Ferreira-Cardoso was previously removed from the United States in 2005. He is believed to have returned after that time, allegedly illegally entering without being inspected or paroled by an immigration officer on an unknown date and at an unknown location.

“People in these communities can rest easier knowing that these two violent criminals are not roaming the streets in search of their next victims,” commented Acting HSI Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in Georgia and Alabama.

“The United States should not be viewed as a safe haven for violent criminals fleeing justice in their own countries,” he concluded.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

10 hours ago

Saban: ‘Players are a lot safer with us than they are running around at home’

University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban on Monday afternoon weighed in on the player-led #WeWantToPlay movement to save the 2020 college football season.

In an interview with ESPN, Saban commented on the movement that is in part led by Crimson Tide star running back Najee Harris.

The movement, less than a day old, has quickly gained steam, garnering public reactions already by President Donald Trump, other prominent elected officials across the nation and many in and around college football.

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Speaking to ESPN, Saban pushed back on the notion that student-athletes will inherently be safer if the season is not played.

“I want to play, but I want to play for the players’ sake, the value they can create for themselves,” Saban said.

“I know I’ll be criticized no matter what I say, that I don’t care about player safety,” he outlined. “Look, players are a lot safer with us than they are running around at home. We have around a 2% positive ratio on our team since the Fourth of the July. It’s a lot higher than that in society. We act like these guys can’t get this unless they play football. They can get it anywhere, whether they’re in a bar or just hanging out.”

The legendary coach noted that the SEC has already pushed back the start of its season to September 26 to allow the fall semester to resume before final decisions are made on football.

“It’s going to be a challenge when the other students get on campus, and I get that,” Saban remarked. “But we really don’t know what that entails until it happens. It’s a big reason we pushed the season back, to assess that, which is the prudent way to do it.”

Bama senior All-American offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood also spoke with ESPN, strongly stating his position. He underscored that players need to have a voice as conferences and schools make decisions.

“There’s a lot of noise and bad stuff out there about playing football with the virus going on, but I haven’t really seen anything about what the players want,” Leatherwood told ESPN. “We’ve been grinding all summer, and you don’t want it to be all for nothing.

“The story that needs to be written is that we want to play,” he added. “We take risks every single day, especially in this sport, and life shouldn’t stop. If there is a chance for long-term effects if you get it and people don’t feel comfortable, then don’t play. Everybody is entitled to their right. But we want to play, and we’re going to play.”

Harris, speaking to ESPN, praised Saban’s leadership.

“Coach Saban listens to his players and wants to hear from us first,” the running back advised. “He told us that none of this is about him, but it’s about us. He wants to hear our concerns, and we made it clear that we want to play and feel like Alabama is doing everything they can to make sure we can play safely.”

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth backed Saban on the matter in a tweet.

“I’m with Coach Saban on this one. The player are much safer on campus and at practice than back home. For the players sake, let them play,” he commented.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn