Region’s ‘Smarts’ are our ticket to a better tomorrow

Published 12:15 am Saturday, April 4, 2020

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No one expected 2020 to be anything like this.

The COVID-19 coronavirus has thrust us all into uncharted territory.

Where can we go? Who can we see? Is it safe to touch that?

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I’ve asked myself all those questions in recent weeks, which makes me the same as each and every one of you.

Thankfully, common sense and general goodwill have prevailed throughout Port Arthur and Mid-County in the three weeks since Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick issued the initial declaration of disaster.

Coronavirus talk threatens to dominate our life. And although it certainly deserves a significant amount of our attention, it can’t be all we think about.

There is certainly more to discuss and share with our community.

With that in mind, The Port Arthur News is launching a four-part series in April dubbed “2020 Vision For Success,” profiling the people, businesses and organizations providing a roadmap to a brighter future.

One of the few silver linings in times of distress are the examples of ingenuity and invention that inevitably occur.

There is plenty of that taking place all around us.

Our “2020 Vision to Success” series publishes each weekend in April with a different theme each week.

This edition’s theme is “Smarts,” with upcoming weeks highlighting examples of “Power,” “Us” and “Strength.”

I invite you to please take advantage of these special sections. Each comes with tremendous sponsorship from local businesses and organizations. Consider their services and products in the future, as now more than ever, we must all shop and support local.

The “Smarts” issue is especially eye-opening as we take a peek behind the curtain to explain how some of our most successful ventures got that way, and more importantly, stay that way.

When helping put this section together, I called Dr. Ben Stafford to discuss job opportunities for the young or starting over that pay enough money to support a healthy family and enjoyable life.

His answer was illuminating and hopeful. It was also useful, considering Stafford is a dean at Lamar State College Port Arthur overseeing workforce and continuing education.

He described ongoing efforts with Golden Pass LNG and Port Arthur LNG as “the Spindletop of our generation.”

“Anyone who wants a job in this area will get a job in this area,” he said. “We are enormously blessed with the workforce potential in this area and the ability for our local residents to work and make a living wage.”

Stafford’s department has three focuses:

  • Finding the unemployed and getting them the best paying job in the shortest amount of time.
  • Finding the underemployed and preparing them for their next promotion.
  • Keeping the local workforce “the pride of the state, so Texas continues to lead the United States in jobs and workforce.”

I know we’re strong enough to pull through this COVID-19 crisis. Hurricanes and explosions have come and gone, yet something special always remains.

Our reward for such persistence will be opportunity.

Those that show off their “Smarts” in 2020 are uniquely positioned to thrive in the years to come.

We have a lot of great stories to tell. Many thanks to our friends and neighbors who helped us spread the word to a deserving community.

Stephen Hemelt is the publisher of The Port Arthur News. He can be reached at or 409-721-2445.