LIFT: It's Time to Stop Painting Over Rust in Texarkana

by Hayes McClerkin

From my navy days I can still picture the sailors chipping away the rust before they started to paint. The purpose was to create a situation that would not cause the need to keep painting the ship over in the same place. Texarkana has been painting over rust for the past few years. Leadership Texarkana’s Leadership Initiative for Texarkana (“LIFT”) is providing an opportunity for our community to address the problem.

The world and our community are changing, and good leadership is required to meet the challenges the future holds if we are going to see our city prosper. Texarkana College is a good example of doing what is required to meet the future. An extreme problem existed but the leadership of the college took the challenge and, for lack any other expression, saved the institution from the errors of prior leadership.

Texarkana is facing a similar situation. We are two cities in two different states but live together in one community. To keep the community moving forward in the future there must be JOINT effort to see that we, as a community, meet and enjoy the economic fruits of our JOINT efforts.

Texarkana is blessed to be the future crossroads of two interstate highways, I-30 and I-49. We have more than enough water to meet our present and future needs, as long as we don’t get greedy and try to make money by the sale of it to other cities. We have 3 institutions of higher learning that will meet our educational and workforce needs for years to come.

We now, jointly, need to create a leadership workforce that will address our problems. Cooper Tire and Red River Army Depot did not become parts of our community without joint effort. On a personal level, there is no room at my table for anyone who says, “That can’t be done.” Anything can be done with the right people, who have the right attitude and talent, even though it might be a rough and difficult climb.

Texarkana has problems, not just the state line, but many more that in reality can be blamed on ego and greed. Downtown Texarkana is a challenge. Outsiders look at our downtown community and turn away when they see the neglect and few spots of success there. This is a community problem and must be jointly addressed. The list could go on and on but I think it best to let others in our community identify and address what they think as being problems that need answers, and this is where LIFT is the vehicle to address the many problems. We need to get as many TEXARKANIANS on board, as possible, to jointly blend together in making Texarkana a greater place to live and work.

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