Looking back on 2023, Gladewater City Manager Charlie Smith’s particularly pleased with the amount of antiquated infrastructure that’s been replaced.
Bear in mind, there’s a lot more to go, but there’s been incremental progress, and the City of Gladewater aims to make more before the end of 2024.
Making the observation on the heels of the city’s sesquicentennial celebration, Smith acknowledges it’s part of life in a community with roots that go back to the 19th century – 150 years after Gladewater was founded, today’s city leaders have to look forward to next 50, 100 and 150.
“That’s one of the biggest deals that I’ve seen, and that is extremely important for the city,” Smith said. Fortunately, “I feel like our council is extremely proactive on getting things done.”
For example, streets. They’re a “big deal” on council members’ priority lists, and regular improvements are the name of the game.
“If we had all the money we could spend, they would use it on taking care of stuff,” he added, “but we don’t.”
Taking that into consideration, Smith asks residents for patients in the coming year.
“Be patient with the employees that work for the city,” he said. “The big picture is we’ve got 6,000 people to take care of. People see their problem as being a priority, which I don’t disagree with that because it is a priority to them.
“But, when you multiply that number by the number of people that we serve, there’s a lot of priorities we have to take care of.
Gladewater Public Works personnel, firefighters, police officers, they’re out there working, Smith added.
“While most people are dead asleep, there’s someone out there doing something for the city. I think people forget that.”
Last year, the city did make some gains as far as helping its workers do their jobs. For example, there’s a new air conditioning system in place at City Hall – crews brought some relief to city workers sweltering in the building’s dead air after the high heat and antiquated equipment forced the closure of the building and relocation of services to Lee-Bardwell Public Library last summer.
“That’s made it bearable,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of little things we do that makes it better for our employees.
Likewise, “We got new equipment last year for our employees because some of the equipment they were trying to operate was just wore out.”
There are a lot of ‘wants’ on the list, but right now City Hall is keeping focus not on shiny, new things, but on fixing what’s broken and addressing needs.
Step-by-step, he said, things are getting better and they’ll continue along that path in ‘24.
“We’re going to do our best to make things better this year than what it was last year,” Smith concluded. “I think we’re building some connections with different organizations that we can enhance and work together with other organizations in our city just to make Gladewater even better.
“It’s got a lot to offer.”
– By James Draper