Saturday, December 16, 2017

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Gushers & Dusters: A weekly look at what we liked -- and didn't

Nov. 23, 2017 at 11:14 p.m.

GUSHER: For the start of the holiday season, which brings so many special events and opportunities for us to mingle with our neighbors, help those in need and enjoy twinkly lights, beautiful music and festivities. Downtown Kilgore got us started in fine fashion with its annual Lighting of the Derricks event, and the festivities will continue across East Texas with 11 parades in the next 10 days. Coming weeks will bring us Salvation Army bell ringers, efforts by Angel Tree, Blue Santa, Toys for Tots, Buckner Family Christmas and others who are working to help make Christmas special.

GUSHER: For national recognition of the growing success of Longview's National Night Out parties. Longview/Gregg County ranked 11th in participation for a community with a population of between 100,000 to 300,000. That's an improvement from a year earlier, when our city's efforts to build community ranked 14th. We have no doubt it will be bigger and better next year, as well, and that will have a positive impact on our region.

GUSHER: For a record-setting Thanksgiving Food Drive, which provided a full holiday meal for 1,200 families this year. The drive is a reminder of what can be accomplished with good and dedicated leadership marshaling efforts behind a good cause in a generous community like ours. The food drive brought together efforts by civic clubs, students at all levels, Boy Scouts, churches and many others to get it done.

GUSHER: For the inaugural Reel East Texas Film Festival in Kilgore. The event, which exceeded expectations for the number of movie submissions and offered an opportunity for the City of Stars to offer itself as a location for movies, will be a wonderful addition to our region.

GUSHER: For continuing signs of rebound in our regional economy. We are seeing new jobs, more people at work and rising wages across the area. The latest report from the Texas Workforce Commission showed the Longview-area unemployment rate has dipped to levels not seen since late 2014, when oil prices plummeted. Oil prices are on the way back up, too, hitting two-year highs this week.

DUSTER: For increases in tuition at the state's university systems. Though relatively modest, higher costs will make more difficult our state's efforts to produce more college graduates — which are badly needed by our workforce. University leaders blame the double whammy of inflation and long-term declines in state funding.

GUSHER: For nursing students from LeTourneau University, who have been providing health screenings to clients at Longview's Newgate Mission this semester. The long-term impact, we believe, will be a reduction in health problems for the population served by the mission. The effort is illustrative of LeTourneau's strength in giving students hands-on experiences while benefiting those in need.

— Readers are invited to nominate events as gushers or dusters. They may be emailed to or mailed to Letters, P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.



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