I.C. MURRELL — ‘Most miserable’ cities also offer opportunity

Published 12:05 am Friday, October 4, 2019

A walk down the Seawall, Boardwalk or Pleasure Island in Port Arthur provides a picture of opportunity.

Downtown, ships from all over the world pour into the economy of this city. A day on the dock gives the mind a break from monotony and provides recreation and a breath of fresh air.

Estimates from the American Community Survey, per World Population Review, reveal that the city in 2015, when I came here, grew in a year’s time by 884 people to 55,449. In 2016, the number went up 221 more persons to 55,670.

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To be fair, Port Arthur experienced a loss of 126 in 2017 and 526 in 2018, much of which can be blamed on the effects of Hurricane Harvey. Still, the city has seen a net increase of 1.2 percent from the 2010 Census population.

In the decades since the 1979 oil crisis, there’s still something in the air about opportunity and the preparation for success in Port Arthur, yet a data-heavy report published by website Business Insider earlier this week does not reflect that. Despite the data, the formula used to rank Port Arthur as the second-most miserable town in the U.S. is not clear.

(A staff member has reached out to Business Insider for further clarification on the ranking, but we have yet to hear back.)

When you feel down and out, how often do you put into numbers your level of misery? Do you say, “Geez, I only get to work a 30-hour week, so I’m 25% miserable?”

Sure, the vacant buildings downtown and worn city streets only offer sketches of a city that once was, rather than a clean bill of aesthetics. But the truth of the matter is this: The Port Arthur that was jumping long ago is still open for business, welcomes those who want to contribute to its spirit of energy and trains the youths today for the opportunities that lie ahead.

That’s not sugarcoating it, folks. That’s being real.

The same Business Insider poll ranked Pine Bluff, Arkansas, as the sixth most miserable city. It’s true Pine Bluff (estimated population 42,271) has lost a significant amount of citizens, and that’s mainly due to the lack of tax base and energy companies Port Arthur boasts. Pine Bluff, however, passed two tax measures since 2011 that have helped fund an indoor swimming center, downtown library and the renovation of an arena where Elvis Presley once sang and Michael Jordan once played basketball.

Hardship only lasts in the mind of those not trained to seize opportunity, and the mind is a beautiful thing to nurture. Port Arthur is well equipped to provide opportunity to those who want it bad enough. Take it from someone who saw it in Pine Bluff.

Thanks for alerting us to our “misery,” Business Insider. We’ll be happy to share our energy instead.

I.C. Murrell is the sports editor of The News. He can be reached at ic.murrell@panews.com

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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