Over the course of the past few weeks a number of people have complained to me about Gonzales, the business community and the city. I listened politely, but quite frankly, it irritates me to no end. In my opinion, Gonzales has a bright business future in front of it. We should hold our heads high when we think of our business community. I like the atmosphere and direction the Gonzales business community is headed in. Let’s look at the positives.
BYK is undergoing a $50 million expansion project, with the main office already completed. In February, they will announce the beginning of the next phase of construction in their planned expansion.
On Tuesday of this week, the TNW company hosted a reception at the TXGN Railway yard. On display was a beautiful red locomotive with a Come and Take It placard on the side of the engine. The Come and Take It slogan on the engine was a deliberate decision to recognize the great history of our community, but also to thank the community, the city and its leadership, and the employees who live and work here. TNW specifically stated they love the cooperative business relationship and this area’s can-do attitude.
A direct offshoot of the TXGN rail line is the opening of the new feed mill in the industrial park. Gonzales now has a number of feed mill operations, making it a hub for the ranchers of south central Texas and beyond.
On the square, work is being done to refurbish a number of buildings that have stood vacant in recent years. One building is being renovated to house office space, and two others are being renovated to house retail clients and provide upstairs apartments or lofts overlooking Confederate Square. Not only will this lead to an increased tax base for the city, but having more people living downtown can only benefit downtown businesses.
Another downtown landmark, the Lynn Theater, has had its sign refurbished. The new Lynn Theater sign has a magnificent glow that adds character to the downtown environment during the evening. Downtown is also seeing a spurt of growth in antique stores, making Gonzales a potential destination for out-of-town visitors who love that type of shopping experience.
The owner of the Come and Take It is opening a new restaurant in Yoakum called The Central Station. It will be modeled after the Come and Take It design of his Gonzales restaurant. After the opening of the Yoakum restaurant, the plans are for a roof top patio to be built on the Come and Take It building.
In addition to the new businesses and renovation that is taking place, the city is ramping up its efforts to better promote Gonzales as a history destination. I think what they are doing is a great idea, as history is a year-round destination point and will help differentiate Gonzales from many other rural communities. In fact, Gonzales once again has been invited to provide 32 Immortals to re-enact the arrival of the Immortal 32 at the Alamo in early March. I marched in last year and I’m going to do it again.
There are also unconfirmed rumors of a few other business operations coming to town. That’s a great sign of Gonzales’ booming local economy and even better harbinger of things to come.
None of this could be done, however, without a solid infrastructure in place with city management. At the TNW ceremony on Tuesday, TNW specifically gave high praise to Genora Young and the EDC board. They praised her and the city for being a cooperative partner and said it can only mean more jobs and businesses for the city.
We have to praise the great job that Daisy Scheske Freeman and Liz Reiley-Dubose are doing at the chamber in bringing in more tourists and events. In addition, the good folks who work at J.B. Wells have the arena booked solid for 2020, and the J.B. Wells Expo Center has events going on every weekend through the spring. Ashley Simper, the new tourism director, has been active in bringing some new tours to town and has a great plan on moving forward with the cooperation of the town’s lodging association.
It is a great time to be living and working in Gonzales, and everyone should feel proud of our hometown. The Gonzales school system is making great strides and there are plans coming for major infrastructure improvements.
As the publisher of the paper, I am proud of the vision we have for our town, and we are more than willing to be a cooperative partner for planned growth. Gonzales: our future is bright as long as we all work together and cooperate on what needs to be done for the betterment of our community.
As an aside, I would like to boast a little bit about the Gonzales Inquirer. Over the weekend in Galveston at the Texas Press Association annual convention, your hometown newspaper won an astonishing eight newspaper awards in eight categories, one of the best years in this newspaper’s history. The paper finished in third place in the weekly division, but took home two first-place plaques, two second-place certificates and four third-place awards. The Inquirer took a first-place award for headline writing by Erik McCowan. McCowan’s winning headline was for a story he did on the collapse of a second GBRA dam in three years. The headline was “Another dam failure!” It was a classic headline capturing the essence of the malfeasance of the GBRA and the frustration of people who live on the GBRA-created lakes. The other first-place honor was for editorial writing by yours truly. The editorials were the ones I wrote criticizing the GBRA for its failure to maintain their dams.
We also won two second place awards. José Torres won one of the honors for his consistent outstanding sports coverage. I won the other one for my Publisher’s Perspective columns.
We also won a number of third place awards. One was for the Gonzales Inquirer website which José Torres updates regularly with content provided by staff writer Garrett McGinley, Torres and me. I won the other two third-place awards; one for feature writing I did on Gonzales County veterans and one for news writing for the coverage Erik and I did when we chronicled the EMS scandal a few years ago.
When all the votes were tallied, Gonzales narrowly missed out on being the best weekly paper in Texas. We finished a very close third. If we had won one more award in news or sports photography, page design or special sections, we would have won the best small-town weekly in Texas sweepstakes award. Thanks Gonzales for reading and supporting your hometown community newspaper.