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Q. I just noticed all the new flags at the county parks which are now being used to warn beach-goers about dangerous conditions. This seems like a good idea. Does the town have plans to implement a similar system on the city beaches?

A. As I understand it, the city is indeed looking into this. There are of course a lot of city beach access points so this project would be a major undertaking.
I agree it is a good idea, but I don't think the current 3-flag system (yellow= okay, but be careful; red = dangerous currents; and blue = reports of dangerous critters) goes far enough. I would like to see the flags flying all over town -- maybe even in Port Isabel and points further up the Valley -- with additional colors/symbols giving guests and residents alike valuable insights into current conditions on the Island. Some of my suggestions:

* Amber with 4 circles = soft sand on the beach north of town -- 4 wheel drive recommended

* Blue streaks with inverted beach umbrella = high winds expected

* Green with white polka dots = somebody's been feeding the seagulls moldy bread

* Bright orange with a circle/slashed bun = all of the Island Circle K's have sold out of kolaches for the day

* Rusty orange with grimacing face and pinched nose = lots of seaweed on the beach

* Lime Green with a trombone = the Bongodogs are playing somewhere on the island this weekend

* Maroon with spiral = the waiting line at Blackbeards is now extending all the way around the block, indicating a 3- hour wait (or more) for a table

* Gold with trowel = the Sob Sand Castle Wizards are back in town

And that's just off the top of my head.... ;-)

Q. My family frequently plans last-minute trips to the Island throughout the year and I am wondering how I can find out if any hotels or condos are offering special deals. Where might I find this information?

A. So glad you asked! The SPIonline.com "room wizard" has gone live -- click a few options and it suggests hotels/motels/condos/beach houses that would be good matches for your needs. Hundreds of site visitors have already made use of this feature, but we're not going to stop there. Thanks to the programming skills of Fred "Fred the Accomplisher" Mallett, we will soon be making it possible for property managers to update their own info in real time - via a simple web-based interface - with special promotions and offers as they become available. This system will benefit both visitors as well as rental property managers who find renting a room for less than the published rate preferable to letting it sit empty.

We also have plans of making this option available for area clubs and bars to keep visitors informed of updated live music performances, promotions, etc.

Stay tuned to www.spionline.com for details!

There are five (5) ways to submit your questions/comments for future Ask Sandy columns: In person; by phone (761-6222) or fax (761-8930); the US Postal System (box 2694,spi,78597) and E-mail: (sandyfeet@unlitter.com). Visit my web-site (http://spionline.com/) for tips on sandcastling, contest info, recent Ask Sandy columns, and my reviews of local businesses.

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