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DR. BETTY REYNARD — College has front row seat to Port Arthur’s downtown re-emergence

While perusing Facebook lately, I came across a page dedicated to the rich history of Port Arthur called Gulfway Drive Memories.

It was fascinating to see the old photos and to read area residents’ shared recollections of the city’s storied past.

It is truly amazing to see through others’ eyes how Port Arthur has changed over the years. The stories embrace the charm of the city from the past 100 years.

The pride in Port Arthur and its past is important. I’m glad to see it has a place to live in today’s virtual world.

Certainly, it would be foolish to pretend that the city hasn’t seen rough times over the past several decades. We would also be remiss, though, in ignoring that we are in the midst of a renaissance, especially in the once-vibrant downtown area.

It’s understandable that some folks would wax reminiscent of better years in our past. It’s much harder to have faith in the future. I promise it won’t be faith wasted where Port Arthur is concerned.

Downtown is transforming right in front of our eyes as Motiva renovates some of the most iconic and historic buildings on the southwest side of the city.

This construction will bring new life to the downtown area and, I believe, that vibrance will expand out from there to include other areas of the city.

At Lamar State College Port Arthur, our key focus is on education and workforce training. We work hard every day to make sure people from all walks of life have the opportunity to pursue their life goals.

But we also understand that appearances mean a great deal, especially when recruiting students to our school. We take great pride in our campus.

From the absolutely gorgeous Gates Memorial Library, which celebrated its 100th birthday a few years ago, to the brand new Sheila McCarthy Umphrey Industrial Technology Center, the LSCPA campus is a gem sitting right at the edge of the Sabine-Neches Intracoastal Waterway.

We continue to seek new ways to expand the campus, taking the opportunity to construct new buildings that expand our educational opportunities while also adding to the aesthetics appeal of the area along Procter Street and Lakeshore Drive.

The old Port Arthur News building is transforming into a new educational and business facility. The Port of Port Arthur continues to expand physically and innovate in the services it offers to customers from around the world.

Soon, Procter Street will buzz with activity as Motiva’s facilities open downtown and with that, more businesses will follow. No doubt we will see restaurants, drug stores, convenience stores and other service businesses gravitating toward that downtown growth.

We are on the verge of yet another great chapter in the history of Port Arthur. Certainly, the great memories of times past should never be forgotten.

But we should be just as eager to embrace today’s greatness. One day, our children will look back on these days as their own Gulfway Drive Memories.

Dr. Betty Reynard is president of Lamar State College Port Arthur. She can be contacted at reynardbj@lamarpa.edu.