Mike Beard has been a building inspector with the city of Harker Heights for the past five years and was recently selected as a director-at-large on the board of the Building Officials Association of Texas.
Beard has been a member of BOAT for the last three years and just took over the new leadership position.
“I was always impressed at the quality of people who were members of this group but I had no idea I was about to see them at their very best,” Beard said.
The 350-member BOAT organization is an affiliate member of the Texas Municipal League. Its membership is comprised of inspectors, code enforcement officers and building officials who work for local government or municipalities in Texas.
The president of BOAT, Michael “Mo” Olsen, said, “Our organization is there to assist municipalities and citizens when they have code questions or issues they feel they can’t solve because they don’t have the knowledge.”
In a telephone interview with the Herald Wednesday, Olsen said the Texas Department of Emergency Management contacted BOAT officials on the Tuesday following the landfall of Hurricane Harvey requesting their assistance in Aransas Pass, Port Aransas, and Ingleside.
“An email went out to our membership and groups begin forming to assist with disaster relief in those three communities,” Olson said.
Beard said, “Due to healing from a broken leg, I was unable to make any trips to the coast but was able to travel to Spring Branch to participate in the BOAT fundraising efforts for relief in the hurricane-ravaged areas.”
Olsen said, “Jim Oak from the city of Garland and myself made a trip to Aransas Pass and did a damage survey to determine what kind of crews we would need on the ground. Between 10 and 20 inspectors responded and we began an assessment of structures. In the first four days, we did about 2,800 inspections.”
The fundraising efforts began with the assistance of Truss Manufacturers Association of Texas, who found out that BOAT had spent over $7,000 on hotel rooms for their first responding inspectors.
“When TMAT found out about it, they said, ‘Hold up. We need to help you.’ We were then contacted by Universal Wood Products and were told that their organization does two fundraisers per year and this one is going to BOAT.”
“They said they were going to raise enough money for us to purchase a trailer and fully equip it with the tools and items you’ll need if another disaster strikes Texas and you have to respond to it,” Olsen, said.
“They went on to say that their board had met that morning and agreed to donate $10,000 to BOAT to complete the furnishing of the trailer.”
Both Olsen and Beard played golf on the course at Spring Branch and all during the tournament people would congratulate and express their appreciation for the work done by the members of BOAT.
After the round of golf, another meeting was held where BOAT learned that another donation had been made.
Paul Johnson of Universal Wood Products said, “Right now you’re close to $13,000 but we’re donating a 17-foot enclosed trailer that will be outfitted with three sets of bunk beds so a normal sleeping unit can be available on site.”
Olsen said, “By the time the trailer is added and everything else, the donation by TMAT totaled $20,000.
Beard said, “This was a Godsend and the fact that they gave us the trailer and put on a fundraiser is just amazing.”
Harker Heights City Manager David Mitchell told the Herald by phone from a conference that Beard is an exemplary employee.
“This doesn’t surprise me that he has joined an organization that reached out to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey and sent teams of inspectors to do the tedious work of determining the extent of the damage and preparing themselves to assist in the disasters of the future. I’m very pleased that Mike is involved in extending his service to us and across the state.”
The Herald asked Olsen about Beard’s sudden upswing to a position on the BOAT board.
He said, “When I saw Mike step up, I saw his passion for the industry and enforcing the codes and a fervor to keep teaching people.
His youth will play a vital role because the guys who are building officials are nearing 65 to 70 years old. I asked him to come join me and help get this organization growing. I’m glad he accepted.”