LITTLE ROCK – Capt. Stephanie Weatherington’s time as president of the National Association of Boating Law Administrators may be over, but the initiatives undertaken during her term continue to make a difference on the waters of the nation.
One accomplishment during Weatherington’s term as president was the successful completion of a national campaign to promote, adopt and implement mandatory life jacket policies for all marine law enforcement officers. This effort was the culmination of a five-year initiative to enhance the safety of the most valuable and irreplaceable resource on the water – human lives.
“The life jacket policy was one that I had the opportunity to see from concept to fruition during my involvement in NASBLA,” Weatherington said. “We actually began talking about it way back in 2011, so seeing it finally go through was really something I’m proud of.”
Weatherington also helmed the ship through the most successful year of the organization’s 9-year national alcohol awareness campaign, Operation Dry Water. In 2017 more than 625 agencies across the nation joined to increase the amount of contacts to boaters during high-traffic times by 175 percent. These contacts resulted in more than 500 Boating Under the Influence arrests and 8,500 related citations nationwide during the Independence Day weekend alone.
As noted by Chief Executive Officer John M. Johnson’s recent letter to AGFC Director Pat Fitts, perhaps the most far-reaching impact Weatherington had during her term was the reestablishment of NASBLA’s relationship with the U.S. Coast Guard. Weatherington’s personal diplomacy and efforts rekindled the relationship with the U.S. Coast Guard and its state partners in the effort to make our waters safe. All while maintaining her normal duties as the AGFC’s boating law administrator.
“I think getting us all back at the same table and working from the same page is something that I’m most proud of,” Weatherington said. “The Coast Guard had just undergone a change in leadership and we wanted to extend an olive branch to them as the voice of the state boating administrators. We offer many more boots on the ground to help enforce boating laws, so working together in a true partnership was really something we wanted to strive for.”
Weatherington is succeeded by Tom Guess, boating law administrator for the commonwealth of Virginia, who was elected to fill the position during the agency’s annual conference Sept. 10, 2017. She will remain on NASBLAs executive board as Immediate Past President for an additional year in an advisory role.