I.C. MURRELL — This is not the end. It’s your time.
Stop. Look around you. Drive a little closer if you must.
Do you notice anything a little different about Port Arthur, or your own city? Have you read about anything new coming to town?
This is partly what we do at Port Arthur Newsmedia. We track down — with the help of local leaders — the things that are going to impact the city and its tax base, namely businesses.
It’s how every growing city is shaped.
Many establishments, be it a store, school, park or museum — even the waterway, however you want to call it — shaped Port Arthur well before I arrived in town on Aug. 6, 2015 (and I made sure to celebrate every Aug. 6 thereafter as my Texas anniversary on social media).
Put all together, the town wasn’t like anything I had seen. I had lived as far north as Pendleton, Oregon, and as deep south as Greenville, Mississippi, but how this city lights up at night is pretty nice! The way boats sail down the channel during sunset is a view worth taking.
Whatever the people before and during our time did to shape Port Arthur this way, I thank them and the good Lord, too! It’s not the glitziest place (aside from the industry lights) but it doesn’t have to be.
It’s rugged, tough, hardworking, winning and a little worn. I would hope someone describes how I go about business that way, and if I’m a little worn, I find a way to build back up.
Singers, actors, pro athletes and reality series winners have come from this area, and lots of them at that. But you know that already.
That should be enough motivation for someone living here to make a difference. Me? I had more.
As I mentioned in my departure announcement Wednesday, I wanted to continue on as a journalist. I was pulled away from something I did best — sports journalism — to serve as a copy editor in my last location.
Purpose is a valuable thing, and all this time, I’ve known what it is. When you find that purpose — something others even the closest to you may not understand — you know what direction to go.
Moving some 400 miles closer to the Gulf was no problem. Seeing a baseball team win a state championship in June 2017 and staying up overnight nearly three months later to assure neighbors through Facebook Messenger help is on the way amid rising floodwaters was worth the move. Battling a fierce cold and watching a basketball team, nearly all of whom were flooded out of their homes, bring joy to an entire city the following March in San Antonio made it worth coming here.
Uncovering the people that are the key players of this community of communities and the business that’ll keep all of us afloat made coming here worth it. So did holding those responsible for preventable disasters accountable — but giving them a chance to tell their side.
Look, I didn’t enjoy seeing Harvey pouring on us or staying awake because of a sonic boom in the middle of the night before Thanksgiving. But I’ve played on a great team that got us a lot of answers during the recovery.
I’m not like a lot of journalists who brag about going to that next place with time left at their current location. This is a sad occurrence to pick up and leave my home for the last five years and then some.
I won’t do it without thanking every public official, merchant, business leader, coach, athlete, athletic director, faculty member and citizen that told me a story and just plain supported me and this news organization. It’s too many to name, but you know who you are.
This is not a goodbye. I don’t believe in goodbyes. Ask my family if you don’t believe me.
Having to go is the toughest decision made easy only by faith. Now, you are empowered to make a difference.
Give back. Volunteer. Write to your councilmember and Congress representative. Be the change you desire. Study hard in school. If you struggle, work twice as hard. Always believe the positive is attainable.
Look around you. You have an opportunity to do and be anything. Plenty of your neighbors could use your help.
To set the record straight, this is not the end of my career. It will continue in a familiar setting.
But here, it’s your time to shine, now. Always believe.
I.C. Murrell is the editor (through Dec. 29) of Port Arthur Newsmedia. He can be reached at 409-721-2435, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.