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I.C. MURRELL — How to invest in Port Arthur

The green trees don’t indicate otherwise, but Christmas is fast approaching.

Who knows? While many are fixated on pumpkins, pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice-flavored anything, there are always a few getting a head start on holiday shopping right about now.

Over the last two months of 2019, shortly before we had to worry about a thing before coronavirus, retail sales in the U.S. grew by 4.1 percent year-over-year to $730.2 billion, which was within the forecast growth rate.

That statistic is courtesy of the National Retail Foundation through

It’s important to note the retail sales doubled what the NRF called an unexpected slump in growth during the 2018 holiday season. A government shutdown and interest rate hikes was blamed in part for that.

E-commerce and other non-store holiday sales grew by 14.6 percent in the 2019 holiday season, the NRF said.

You remember Aries Milo, right? She owns Karson’s Snack Shack at 730 W. 10th St.

According to Milo, holiday spending averaged $855 per person nationwide in 2018. Her goal is to help African American-owned businesses keep a portion of the large jackpot of sales within Port Arthur — but not just during the holiday season.

That’s why Milo established an Instagram page titled webuyblack_portarthur. It’s an online marketplace of black businesses and services offered in the city.

Visiting webuyblack_portarthur is one way to support the local economy.

Another is visiting the Bob Bowers Civic Center parking lot right after church Sunday for PA Reloaded. This event will showcase black businesses in the city — at least 45 vendors are participating — and will include a live DJ and food.

PA Reloaded will be open from noon-6 p.m.

Keeping dollars in a local economy does wonders for a local economy, and we all have two more ways to support it.

But it’s not just money that talks for the betterment of a city. Votes speak louder.

Turnout for the Port Arthur city general and special elections is a bit different from that for the elections included on the Jefferson County ballot. One can only suspect the inconvenience of having to wait in one line to cast the city ballot and then go to another line to cast another would lead to a lower number voting for the city ballot.

Mayor Thurman Bartie didn’t completely rule out inconvenience as a factor, but he was more concerned about voter apathy for local elections, and understandably so.

He’s tickled to know, however, the percentage of registered voters in Port Arthur casting city ballots is exceeding the norm. According to City Secretary Sherri Bellard, 12 percent have cast city ballots through the first six days of early voting, exceeding the rate of 10 percent for the 2019 mayoral election.

Typically for a non-mayoral city election, the turnout rate is 4-5 percent, Bellard said.

Port Arthurans should have a big help in knowing they can vote on the city ballot at any polling location within the city, regardless of precinct, on Election Day, Nov. 3. (The lines will still be separate for city and county ballots, though.) Presently, early voting for the city ballot is only at the Port Arthur Public Library and Jefferson County Sub-Courthouse.

This is a big election season, not just on a federal level but in Port Arthur as well. Six councilmember seats are up for grabs (Mayor Thurman Bartie is in the second year of a three-year term), and nine propositions relating to the city charter are on the ballot.

As a refresher, here are your candidates:

  • District 1: Ingrid West Holmes, Willie “Bae” Lewis Jr. and Mike Mason
  • District 2: Armando Ruiz and Cal Jones
  • District 3: Morris Albright III, Thomas Kinlaw III and Charlie Lewis Jr.
  • District 4: Greg Richard, Kenneth Marks and Jonathan Sanchez
  • At-large Position 7: Charlotte Moses, Rashad Harris and Yadi Cardenas
  • At-large Position 8: Tieranny DeCuir, Raymond Scott Jr., Rosendo Ochoa Jr., Donald Ray Frank Sr. and John Roy LeBlanc

To help determine the path Port Arthur takes economically and in leadership, use your dollars and your voice.

I.C. Murrell is the editor of Port Arthur Newsmedia. He can be reached at 409-721-2435 or at

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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