Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Congratulations to the City of Gatesville on a job well done!


I have tried to remember the first time I heard about the eclipse arriving in April of 2024. My recollection takes me to a meeting I had months ago with Scott Albert, the Gatesville City Manager, and Cheri Shepard, the Special Events Coordinator for the City of Gatesville. They explained how Gatesville would be in the center of “totality” for the eclipse and they were seeking assistance from the newspaper in promoting this experience to the public. At the time, I did not have an idea of what “totality” meant in terms of an eclipse. Slowly, I began to understand that people from all over the world would be coming to Texas to witness this once in a lifetime, astrological event; many of them coming to our town.

It did not take me long to understand the opportunity this natural event provided Gatesville. Presumably thousands of individuals would be coming to the area, and it would be a chance to promote our community, share with the world what Gatesville has to offer, and create friendships and build relationships which would serve our community in the future.

For organizers, the first issue to discuss was how does one throw a party when you have no idea of how many people will attend? Can you imagine being given instructions to plan a dinner party and then being told the meal may be for ten people, or it might be for 500 people? Here is the real catch; you will not be told an exact number until a few hours before the meal is served. When explained in those terms it makes me want to laugh at its folly, but such is exactly the tough spot in which the City of Gatesville found itself. What sort of event do you have when you have no idea of how many people will attend? The answer is simple, you do the best you can, with what you’ve got, and hope for the best.

The average citizen has no comprehension of the extensive amount of time and preparation that went into scheduling the events which occurred in Gatesville over the eclipse weekend. It took months of planning, organization, and structure to make sure those who did come to Gatesville would have a fun and safe experience and wish to come back. This meant police and emergency services had to plan how they would manage traffic, how they would react to an emergency fire if the streets were crowded with visitors, and how to get people to emergency medical care in case of a tragedy.

Fun events had to be planned so visitors would participate in memorable unique experiences. Folks needed to be housed and have a place to eat. It was a huge task, and I am here to proudly proclaim our Mayor and City Council, City Manager, Police Chief, Fire Chief, and all the city staff did a wonderful job to make sure our guests were safe and enjoyed a wonderful taste of Gatesville hospitality. They knocked it out of the park! This event could not have happened without their service to the citizens of Gatesville and their dedication to duty.

I must specifically mention my friend Cheri Shepard, who wrote columns for the newspaper, attended tons of meetings, organized, promoted, brought people together, and otherwise oversaw a huge event and did so tirelessly and with enthusiasm. It was my joy to work with her, and I sincerely appreciate her herculean efforts to make the eclipse a special day in Gatesville.

I am 100% confident that a host of people came to Gatesville on April 8 who had never been there before. They came to witness the eclipse and walked away smiling at the awesomeness of a total eclipse and the hospitality and welcoming nature of our community. The eclipse may have been a time for the sun to darken, but it was a time for Gatesville to shine, and that is exactly what she did. Gatesville demonstrated it can plan an event, the city will support exciting events, and so will the community. My friends, that is success.

This was a big weekend for Gatesville. Thanks to everyone who helped or participated. This is a new beginning of a bright future for our community. Good job to everyone!

Thought for the day: The charm of a small town is the silent symphony of its unspoken unity. Munia Khan

Until next time…I will keep ridin’ the storm out!