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STEPHEN HEMELT — Strongest bonds (and best stories) come from great families

The family links are my favorite part of the November/December edition of Greater Port Arthur The Magazine.

One of the coolest aspects of this special holiday edition is the theme of family and greater connections between generations.

One of the remarkable features is an extensive interview with Glenn Alexander II.

The young Port Arthur man is attending the Manhattan School of Music in New York City while he pursues his passion as an orchestra conductor.

One of the pictures in the spotlight story features him and father Glenn Alexander in front of the door to Carnegie Hall in New York City.

They are smiling in the photograph, and the happiness each exudes is rooted in their shared memories of Glenn Alexander II, as a 12-year-old, sitting in front of a grand piano within the walls of First Sixth Street Baptist Church in Port Arthur.

It’s been asked, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”

The answer, of course, is “practice.”

It’s a lesson father knows son has embraced.

“I am really happy to see him doing what he’s doing in the music industry,” the elder Alexander says in the story. “It’s something as a young man I always wanted to do, and the gifting that he had in that area is his. It was only a thought for me, but Glenn just did it.”

According to an article by National Public Radio written last year, less than two percent of musicians in American orchestras are African American.

Alexander is breaking the mold on a nationwide scale; yet, locally he is linking his family’s (specifically his father’s) love of music to his own passions and skills.

We can’t wait to see what he passes on to the generations that come after him.

Alexander’s story is one of more than a half-dozen told in this issue, which hits newsstands this week.

Those interested in picking up a complimentary copy or securing a six-issue mail-home subscription can call the Port Arthur Newsmedia office at 409-721-2400. It makes for a great Christmas gift.

Zeke Mills

Other holiday edition highlights include:

  • Zeke Mills of Groves left his small home at the age of 18 and now is a veteran of world travel, experiencing what many believe is beyond even imagination.

Today he is a production cook at McMurdo Station, a U.S. Antarctic research station on the south tip of Ross Island along the South Pole.

  • Port Arthur’s Bernard Freeman, better known globally as rap superstar Bun B, teaches a class at Rice University with Dr. Anthony Pinn on the connection between hip hop and religion. Our readers are sure to enjoy the breakdown Dr. Pinn and Bun B provided editor I.C. Murrell about the project in this magazine’s cover story.

Bun B, left, at Rice University with Dr. Anthony Pinn

  • Groves artist Paul Oliver has used fiberglass to create so many diverse works of art that he is an industry staple, known far beyond Southeast Texas. Today he operates Advanced Fiberglass Products, an effort that started 28 years ago as a duck blind business.
  • Special thanks goes to former PAISD superintendent Dr. Johnny Brown for penning a guest column about his autobiography, “The Emerson Street Story,” which he envisions a leadership guide addressing issues of race, class, quality of life and faith.
  • Spotlights on the younger generation of Mid- and South County residents include features of University of Texas football commit Jordon Thomas of Memorial High, baker extraordinaire Meagan Hockett of The Avenue Coffee & Café and Port Neches-Grove High quarterback Blake Bost.

This is a can’t miss edition that is sure to connect generations across our community while celebrating what makes us so special — the people. 

Stephen Hemelt is president of Port Arthur Newsmedia. He can be reached at stephen.hemelt@panews.com or 409-721-2445.