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STEPHEN HEMELT — 2021 Progress stories celebrates our unique community

The only thing that makes 2021 believable is knowing the unprecedented 2020 that we are all coming off of.

The COVID-19 pandemic thrust us all into uncharted territory.

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

Is it safe to hang out with my friends and loved ones?

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

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

Coronavirus talk and the now constant political fallout that follows 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 Newsmedia is launching a four-part series this month dubbed “Live, Breathe, Laugh, Love” that profiles the people, businesses and organizations providing a roadmap to a brighter today and tomorrow.

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

There is plenty taking place all around us.

Our “Live, Breathe, Laugh, Love” series publishes each Saturday in April with a different theme each week.

This edition’s theme is “Live,” with upcoming weeks highlighting

examples of “Breathe,” “Laugh,” and “Love.”

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

When helping put this month-long special section together, I called Kim Hoyt, who will be featured in a spotlight story next week.

Hoyt, a longtime Groves resident, was recently named site director at Indorama Ventures Integrated Oxides & Derivatives in Port Neches.

This time last year there were more than 1,500 professionals working at the location as part of a major turnaround. That’s a lot of people and product to be responsible for.

So, naturally, our conversation included talk about those responsibilities and the training necessary to achieve success.

Yet, I was most interested when Hoyt talked about her previous commitments to Groves Middle School and Groves Elementary, where she helped small scale projects like Science Day and the Robotics Club find their footing.

There is greatness all around us, with so many of our friends and neighbors making an amazing impact on their professions. Yet, it’s the personal stories that set this community apart, making it a perfect place to “Live.”

We think you will agree as you look through today’s special edition, as well as the three more publishing April 10, 17 and 24.

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

Our reward for such persistence is opportunity.

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 president of Port Arthur Newsmedia and publisher of the Port Arthur News. He can be reached at stephen.hemelt@panews.com or 409-721-2445.