OPINION COLUMNS

Decatur: A great place to live

By Jeannine Eaton | Published Saturday, December 29, 2012

The holidays are always a great time for reflection, and recently I was thinking about what a great town we live in. There are always negatives about a city, but here are a few of the positives about Decatur.

Jeannine Eaton

Jeannine Eaton

First, we are without a doubt the Cowboy Capital of Texas. Trevor Brazile has won more world championships than I can count and now a younger generation, Tuf and Clif Cooper, are coming on strong. Recently in Las Vegas, Trevor won his 10th all-around cowboy title and Tuf won his second consecutive world title in tie-down roping.

To keep Decatur’s name at the top of the cowboy list, for the second year David’s Western Store and National Ropers Supply set up a retail store in one of the big hotels in Las Vegas and many Decatur residents spent a week or more out there working in the store.

Second, Decatur has one of the best health-care systems of any city of 6,000 persons. Wise Regional Health System has grown to more than 1,000 employees and offers top-notch family and specialized care for all of Wise County and many surrounding counties. A new community health clinic on the hospital’s west campus is designed to offer health care for low-income residents.

That quality inpatient and emergency room care is matched by a countywide EMS system that when combined with the county’s fire departments offers unequaled emergency care for all of us. Hats off to Wise County Commissioners for providing funding for these special services and to the countless volunteer firefighters throughout the county.

Third, is the beautiful Decatur Civic Center. Our friends from throughout Texas marvel at how a community our size can have such an outstanding facility. We always tell them we have it because of the vision of the Decatur City Council, the Economic Development Corporation board and dozens of citizens dedicated to the community.

Fourth is the marvelous cooperation between the city’s churches to provide for those less fortunate. I particularly think about the First Baptist Church, Decatur Church of Christ, First United Methodist Church and the Oak Grove United Methodist church who among others unselfishly support the Wise Area Relief Mission. Rick Ross, the pulpit minister of the Decatur Church of Christ is chairman of the WARM board.

But WARM isn’t the only innovative program for the needy. Former Mayor Joe Lambert and the Rev. Ken May, pastor of the First Baptist Church, spear-headed a program a couple of years ago called Decatur Cares that provides food for children during the summer break. The program served almost 200 children this year with weekly food supplies.

Fifth, we often joke about Decatur being the fast-food capital of North Texas and for our population, we may be right. But the national chains aren’t the only successful dining spots that draw crowds week after week. There are many home-owned restaurants that pack in the crowds day after day. I’m particularly thrilled about the restaurants that are filling the courthouse square with diners day and night. Main Street never looked so bright at night.

Sixth, how could we overlook the Decatur Public Library – voted the best small-town library in America? City Manager Brett Shannon said he was thrilled when the library was honored, but knew that larger cities would soon be recruiting our excellent librarian, Cecilia Barham, and he was right. We’ve lost her to North Richland Hills, but a new librarian is on the way and Cecilia has assured the library board she will be close by to help her successor.

My list would not be complete without a special appreciation to our local government. With the shameful gridlock in Washington and Austin, you can count on our city and county government and our school system to keep us on track with quality, honest and innovative leadership. While we may be disappointed occasionally by a less than honest elected official, it is so rare that it makes big news when it happens.

Finally, it is the generosity of its citizens that makes Decatur great. Look at any issue of the Messenger and you will likely see a story of some individual, company or organization providing gifts for those less fortunate. You can multiply those public stories many times as many persons quietly and without fanfare give of their time and money to help others.

Every Decatur fire truck I see has a slogan painted on the side that explains the department’s mission. It says “To Help Others” and that personifies a city that I’m proud to call home.

Jeannine Eaton is the retired business manager of the Wise County Messenger and served for more than 20 years as a director of the Wise Regional Health System. She has been a Decatur resident for more than 35 years.

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