One of the harder things to accept as President of the Chamber is the way people think I’m “SOMEBODY.” Being president is what I do, not who I am. My job requires me to meet with plant managers, elected officials and business owners. I am expected to plan and help enact programs that improve business and promote our city. I enjoy that part of the job and when in those situations I am in contact with important people and I try to represent the chamber in a professional manner. It is an exciting benefit to this career. But the most enjoyable benefit to this position is that it allows me to meet and get to know the real “SOMEBODIES” in the community. On June 18th I was honored to speak to the Port Arthur Neighborhood Action Committee (PANAC) at their awards banquet. At this event, each year, the Fire Department and Police Department recognize their officers that have been recently hired, performed an act above and beyond the call of duty or advanced in rank. PANAC also recognizes the volunteers within the city that have made a difference in neighborhood watch or crime prevention. Now those are the real “SOMEBODIES” in the community.
Without these “SOMEBODIES” (Firemen, Policemen and Volunteers) economic development becomes far more difficult. Yes, tax incentivizes, available land, educated workforce, transportation of products and an ample supply of utilities are important but when you get right down to it, to locate industry in any city you must entice people to move to your city. People require a safe location where they can find work and raise their family. The Port Arthur Fire and Police departments do a good job of keeping our city safe, but the first line of defense is the volunteers. They are in their neighborhood 24 hours a day and they must have the desire to help protect their neighborhood. Not necessarily with guns or firefighting equipment but with their eyes. The volunteers recognized at the PANAC Awards Banquet are doing just that. They were involved in neighborhood watch groups, graffiti removal and building relationships with the Fire and Police Department.
In the movie High Noon, when threatened, the town people hid and left the job of protecting the town to the sheriff. In the movie it worked out because Gary Cooper killed all the bad guys and all was safe. In real life it doesn’t work that way. It is a continuous vigil to remove those who have decided to take what they want instead of working for it. The earlier a fire is reported the less damage done to the property. Volunteers learn to watch for bad guys and fire on their early morning walks, on the way to work or sitting out on the porch in the evening. They form neighborhood watch groups and use cell phones to notify the proper authorities when a threat occurs. They see graffiti and paint over it as soon as possible. I have been told it takes about three times painting over graffiti until the artist finally moves on to another location.
Another asset for a city is a pro-business attitude from its citizens. Port Arthur is blessed with citizens that understand business and the contribution they make to the city. The employees of those industries are allowed and encouraged to become involved with different agencies within the city and therefore become “SOMEBODIES.”
It was a real honor and I appreciate the PANAC for allowing this old country boy from Joaquin, Texas to feel as if he were a “SOMEBODY” for one night.