STEPHEN HEMELT — Teamwork at Port of Port Arthur gala is example of our best in action

Published 12:03 am Sunday, May 22, 2022

When Joe Deshotel took the stage Thursday night in Port Arthur, he joked with many in attendance that it might be his last time serving as a state representative at a public forum.

Deshotel, a Democrat, was honored last week as the Maritime Person of the Year at the Annual Texas National Maritime Celebration.

In a twist only possible in Southeast Texas, the featured speaker this week was state Rep. Dade Phelan, a Republican.

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Both men, who represent parties that increasingly find little they can work together on, put down their swords for the night and lobbed light-hearted jabs at each other while promoting what should be important to everyone.

The gathering took place at Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center on the campus of Lamar State College Port Arthur.

A packed house was on hand, and all proceeds benefited Camp SeaPort and the Port Arthur International Seafarers’ Center. It was great to see Deshotel and Phelan helping lead the charge in that effort


Seeing two veteran state representatives of Southeast Texas, each at different spots on their public service arc, reminded me of just what is possible when those with considerable talent add work ethic and ambition to the mix.

Thankfully, Port Arthur and Southeast Texas are not in short supply of any of those ingredients.

One such person that matches that breakdown recently hit the radar of Port Arthur Newsmedia. His name is Jeremy Daniels, and, in fact, it’s more accurate to say Daniels reappeared on our radar.

Because it was noted back in January of 2017, that the then Memorial High School senior was wise beyond his age.

Veteran reporter Mary Meaux profiled him for a “Bright Futures” spotlight, where he shared his thoughts on the process for picking his eventual field of study in college.

Let me tell you, Daniels picked it just right, securing a tremendous education at Prairie View A&M University, which led to the acceptance of position with Hewlett Packard Enterprises.

Port Arthur Newsmedia will continue reporting Daniels’ story with a featured column in Volume 3 of Greater Port Arthur The Magazine, which hits newsstands later this month.


Local education and giving back is important, and that philosophy was easily on display recently during a conversation I had with Divon Williams.

It was in late April that the City of Orange Economic Development Corporation board went to unanimous vote to appoint her as the EDC Board President.

Williams is a former teacher and deeply committed to her city and community.

She embodies everything Southeast Texas stands for and the promise for a brighter future.

“Being involved in all the projects, being able to see all businesses that are considering coming to this community and the existing businesses that are here, is great,” Williams said. “What are their expectations? What are their needs? It’s been so fulfilling to be a part of that process, either helping bring businesses here or helping the businesses that are already here grow.”

That is only possible if we act and get involved.

It doesn’t have to be at the Austin-level like Deshotel and Phelan or the corporate-level like Daniels or the municipal-level like Williams.

Focus on what you’re passionate about.

That could be youth softball, environmental conservation or greater communication between police and neighborhoods.

The opportunities for impact are all around us, and the best part is, our friends and neighbors have already provided the blueprint on how to get involved.

Stephen Hemelt is the president of Port Arthur Newsmedia, which publishes and The Port Arthur News. He can be reached at or 409-721-2445.