Lamar University leaders talk upcoming Port Arthur virtual parks town hall: “We are very excited”

Published 3:58 am Monday, March 8, 2021

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An upcoming, virtual town hall meeting co-sponsored by Port Arthur Newsmedia and Lamar University aims to educate the city’s voters about the upcoming Port Arthur parks proposition election.

The online event is slated to run from 3 to 4 p.m. March 10 and can be viewed live on the newspaper’s and university’s Facebook and YouTube pages. It focuses on a Port Arthur election proposal giving voters the chance to reallocate sales tax funds to improve two of the city’s parks, making them premier parks, and to refresh/renovate the senior recreation center.

Taking part in the event will be Mayor Pro Tem Charlotte Moses and a representative from the city’s parks department.

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Lamar University Department of Communication and Media Chair Natalie T.J. Tindall, Ph.D, said this an opportunity for community members to hear from a representative of the city’s parks and recreation department and city council to better understand the issues, what they mean and the costs.

To participate, go to The Port Arthur News Facebook page during the live chat and submit questions. The segment will be recorded so readers can share in the event after the fact.

Stephan Malick, instructor with the department of communication and media, said this is a sharing and listening event, whether one person or 100 people take part. The university is looking to partner with Port Arthur News in more of these community forums going forward.

Informing citizens

Lamar University’s involvement in the virtual town hall came about partly through discussion.

The event was created by two LU students as a way to engage readers and is also part of a contest on how to better enhance local news and the connection between local newspaper and various audiences.

“This is just one step in the process,” Tindall said, adding the department has been thinking and working on the topic for the past five months. “We are very excited to do this and help our local media here to engage with readers. “

Local journalism, she said, is vitally important to the functions of communities — without having local journalism, who would report on the happenings of city council and city government and school boards?

Tindall was surprised at the number of individuals who do not read their local newspaper and rely only on national news. But those national news outlets are not going to report on the local topics important to residents.

Malick also stressed the importance of local news, saying the big news organizations don’t report on things that make a local impact, such as property taxes and how it effects homeowners or school taxes.

A proposition will be placed before voters on May 1, asking to reallocate $1 million of sales tax revenue per year for three years from the Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation to be used to upgrade parks at Rose Hill and Adams, as well improve the senior recreation center.

If approved, the proposition would be in effect for three years with a possible three-year extension.

April 1 is the last day to register to vote or make a change of address effective for the May 1 election.

The first day of early voting is April 19. The last day of early voting is April 27.