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Palacios, Tex – In an effort to honor one of its own, Matagorda County Economic Development Corporation announced and presented a new award, the Tiger Lane Community Spirit Award, to Sue Milberger; and also for the first time awarded married couple Marilyn and David Sitz with the 2019 George Holst Award for excellence in community vision and economic leadership during its annual meeting at the Palacios Coastal Education Pavilion Monday night, Dec. 9.

MCEDC Board President and County Judge Nate McDonald told of the tragic loss of long-time MCEDC Board Member Tiger Lane late this summer. He regaled Lane’s significant contributions to Matagorda County and especially to the Sargent community as the reason why the board wanted to honor Lane by naming a Community Spirit award for him. “(Tiger) was a tireless servant to his community of Sargent and a champion of progress in Matagorda County,” said McDonald. “We seek to honor him, his service to our county and his friendship to us on the MCEDC board of directors with the newly minted Tiger Lane Community Spirit Award.” Before continuing with the announcement of the first Lane Award winner, McDonald requested a moment of silence in memory of Lane.

Teri Treadway, MCEDC board member representing the Matagorda Area Chamber of Commerce, presented Sue Milberger, her fellow MCEDC board member representing the Matagorda Area Chamber of Commerce, with the first-ever Tiger Lane Community Spirit Award with the following announcement:

“To say someone has the same community spirit as Tiger Lane is to say quite a mouthful. That is to say this person loves their community and wants to see it prosper; they have their hand in almost every event and activity even if that just means to know about it and be a vocal supporter of those who are trying to accomplish good things; this person looks for ways to take meaningful action to spur positive growth; and if they see a need in the community, they will usually be the first one or maybe the only one to raise their hand to meet it. To have community spirit like Tiger’s you are active, you are positive, you a visionary and you love Matagorda County and especially your small corner of it. I am so pleased to say it was easy for us to find the perfect recipient for the very first Tiger Lane Community Spirit Award. It is going to someone who worked closely with Tiger through their association on the MCEDC board of directors and because of their shared title as Chamber of Commerce president. Someone who, I believe, Tiger would have chosen himself.

Our recipient has been a Champion of Matagorda and Bay City for many years. Since 1976, this person has served as a volunteer or on the board of directors for the Crisis Center; Junior Service League, Bay City Country Club, Garden Club, Lions Club, the Hospice Board and the Holy Cross School Board. Our recipient currently serves as a member of the Matagorda County Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, is the Matagorda Area Chamber of Commerce president, has been an instrumental organizer for the Texas Oilman’s Fishing Tournament and was the resurrecting committee member of the Matagorda Lighted Boat Parade. Our recipient served on a committee that began with the purpose of vetting the pros and cons of commerce on Matagorda Beach and was a key committee member that steered that committee in the direction to focus on enforcement of Beach Permits, Beach Clean-up and a campaign for heightened beach safety that included signage warning of dangerous swimming areas and increased law enforcement patrols. Just like Tiger, our recipient has been a business owner in their small community for the past 12 years. This person owned and operated a lodge and retail store in Matagorda until just this year, when they decided they wanted to take a little more time to be with grandchildren.

Our recipient is a true volunteer—willing, working, helping, assisting, leading, joining, and becoming involved. This person promotes the events they are involved with—engaging for the benefit of the community. And in doing so, they cultivate others to join in. No project is too large or small, our recipient is working with international company LyondellBasell to create possible recycling opportunities on the beach, but they still took time to assume their recurring role as a fantastic witch at the Matagorda Volunteer Fire Department’s Trunk or Treat event!

Together with their spouse, this recipient has been instrumental in bringing some of the largest most influential developments to our county, including Tenaris and Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grill.

It is for all of these reasons and many more I’m sure you can see why this person has been the recipient of the Bay City and Matagorda Area Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year award.

So now, without further delay, it is truly my honor to present the first ever Tiger Lane Community Spirit Award to my good friend AND Tiger’s good friend Sue Milberger.”

George Harrison, MCEDC treasurer, presented an MCEDC Service Award to Bay City Councilman Bill Cornman, a representative of the Bay City Community Development Corporation, who recently finished his term serving on the MCEDC board of directors. Cornman served on the MCEDC board from 2018-2019.

After a brief look back at the inception of the George Holst Award, former County Judge Loy Sneary, last year’s George Holst Award recipient, presented MCEDC’s annual spotlight award to the Sitz’s. Sneary made the following speech in his presentation of the Holst Award:

“This year I am so pleased to present the George Holst Award to two recipients! This dynamic duo joined forces in 1960 and have been doing everything they can ever since to make our county, state and nation a better place to live and work.

Neither one of our award-winning wife and husband was born and raised in Matagorda County but they arrived here in 1961 just in time to meet Hurricane Carla. After surviving that ordeal, she set to work at the Bay City Day Care and he was working for the USDA Soil Conservation Service as a certified engineering technician. To supplement the family income, she acted on her God-given talents and began selling her homegrown vegetables by the roadside – her business was so successful that over time it actually equaled her husband’s salary. That was to be only the beginning of the many businesses this couple would own and run together. In 1975 they became owners and operators of South Texas Corrugated Pipe, Inc. While she worked as the secretary and “Chief Motivational Officer” keeping the business running like a well-oiled machine, he also continued to work as an operator/ draftsman for about a year at Celanese Chemical and an engineering technician for Jackson County Drainage District for about 4 years until 1981. Later, in 1998, he decided to branch out into yet another new territory by jumping into farming and ranching. He produced rice, cattle, trees, and had a pecan orchard. Although, they both decided it was time to retire from their primary business and leave their work at South Texas Corrugated Pipe in the capable hands of their family in 2005, they sure didn’t slow down their dedicated contributions to the community. In fact, in 2014, at the request of local leaders, these two stepped up to the plate and developed land into the Little River Ranch subdivision just west of the Colorado River on Hwy 35 for those seeking to build homes and raise families in our community. Our area’s newest subdivision is has 44 home sites, thanks to our Holst award recipients and their family.

Our recipients’ passion for conserving our God given natural resources has been the catalyst for what I think is perhaps their most notable legacy – that of visionary, Motivator founder, fundraiser and President of the Matagorda County Birding Nature Center. I remember when I was in public service in the 90’s that our George Holst award recipients told me of their vision of developing an area wide nature park. While it sounded like a huge challenge, I also knew of the couple’s total dedication to preserving nature and the environment for future generations so I knew that they not only could but WOULD do it. So, they along with the 100’s of volunteers they led, spent 1000’s of hours forming and running the Matagorda County Birding and Nature Center which opened in 1994 just west of Bay City on Hwy 35. Their leadership was crucial in developing the vision and enthusiasm necessary for an undertaking of this magnitude which included bridges, observation decks and numerous water conservation and erosion control projects constructed with 100’s of dozer and track hoe hours provided by the couple’s close friends James and Karen Kinard as well as grants written and applied for by Barbara Sliva. They led and organized this organization in building one of the best and most successful natural areas in this part of the state. The Matagorda County Birding Nature Center has attracted 10’s of 1000’s of folks from all over the United States and is a place where you can go and just lose yourself in the quite of Nature…and it’s just a couple miles out of town.

Our recipient’s dedication to preserving our natural resources also led them to implement cutting edge regenerative soil health practices on their large Matgorda County ranch. The effort has dramatically increased the organic matter in the soil which reduces flooding, increases plant diversity, and sequester additional Carbon.

Our recipients have also been the driving force behind the North American Audubon Society Mad Island Marsh Christmas Bird Count. It is held every year at Christmas. This cooperative effort between Texas Parks and Wildlife attract both expert and novice birders from all over the US. As a result, our local Bird Count has been #1 in the nation for the last 25 of 27 years. Both the Mad Island Marsh Bird Count and Matagorda County Birding Nature Center have become true attractions to our county.

Over the years, these two have found many ways to serve and improve our county, including her voluntary leadership with her son’s Boy Scout Troup, his 32-year service to the Matagorda County Conservation and Reclamation District, their faithful membership to St. Peter Lutheran Church, and raising two successful role models for Matagorda County who have gone on to become successful business owners in their own right. They have two wonderful grandchildren, and they also have been named Bay City Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture’s Man and Woman of the Year. They have served our community well together and it is my distinct honor to present the 2019 George Holst Award for excellence in community vision and economic leadership to my friends Marilyn and David Sitz.”