Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Coast Guard Honors Plum Beach Lighthouse President

Plum Beach Light
The United States Coast Guard Sector Southeast New England has honored the president of the Plum Beach Lighthouse in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, in recognition of his services.  David Zapatka of North Kingstown, the leader of the non-profit group Friends of Plum Beach Lighthouse, was presented the certificate at the North Kingstown Chamber annual Volunteer Appreciation Night on April 25 at the Quonset O Club.

Zapatka has been instrumental in raising over $120,000 for the preservation of the lighthouse that sits on Narragansett Bay beneath the Jamestown-Verrazzanno Bridge in North Kingstown.  Several years ago the group, under Zapatka's direction, began offering special Rhode Island lighthouse license plates as a fund-raising project for the lighthouse. 

The award was presented to Zapatka by Commander Paul Lattanzi of the Coast Guard.  The certificate reads:

The Commander of U.S.Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England takes great pleasure in presenting a Certificate of Appreciation to Mr. David Zapatka, President, Friends of Plum Beach Lighthouse for his exceptional contribution to the maritime community in Southeastern New England from 2003 to 2012.  Mr. Zapatka distinguished himself through a number of significant initiatives to fully restore the Plum Beach Lighthouse in the West Passage of Narragansett Bay.  

Having been defunct and abandoned for some 60 years, Plum Beach Lighthouse was sorely in need of major renovation.  Upon joining the Friends of Plum Beach Lighthouse, Mr. Zapatka immediately initiated efforts to publicize the condition of the lighthouse, emphasize its historical importance to Rhode Island's maritime heritage, and raise need funds.  His community outreach efforts through such venues as the Wickford Art Festival spread public awareness of the lighthouse, its past, and its condition.  Worthy of particular note is Mr. Zapatka's tireless work with the Rhode Island Legislature to secure designation of a special State license plate commemorating the lighthouse.  He even designed the license plate for the state Registry of Motor Vehicles!  

To date, nearly 5000 of these plates have been issued, and through this program, nearly $100,000 has been raised for the restoration of the lighthouse.  Through his countless hours of work over many years, Plum Beach Lighthouse now proudly shines its beacon once again and stands as a sparkling icon in Narragansett Bay.  Mr. Zapatka's outstanding leadership and dedicated service to the Southeastern New England maritime community, the Coast Guard, and the public are heartily commended and are in keeping with the highest tradition of public service.