It’s not often that a city employee – especially the city’s top executive - gets honored for, well, doing his job, unless it is an honor bestowed by a peer group or association. Then again, not too many city employees have pulled the rabbit out of the hat quite like Sulphur Springs City Manager Marc Maxwell.
Maxwell was named the city’s 2008 Citizen of the Year at the Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce banquet Thursday night for one simple reason: He saw a vision of what downtown Sulphur Springs could be — and he worked tirelessly to get that vision rolling.
Some might say Maxwell was only doing his job; that he is supposed to come up with ideas to make this city a better place to live and work. And that would be true. But there is a difference between doing your job and creating a vision. Maxwell’s vision has begun a transformation.
Downtown Sulphur Springs has been a black-hole. There is no better way to describe it. For years, city leaders and downtown merchants have tried to bring the area back to life. Businesses have moved in, only to run back out if they can keep the doors open long enough. We’ve tried an ill-fated Main Street Project program. It failed so badly many wanted to change the name of the actual street. We’ve tried private programs. We’ve tried rebuilding programs and beautification programs. Nothing worked.
That is when Maxwell brought forth his vision. He said it could be done if everyone simply hopped on board. He saw what Main Street and Connally Street and Heritage Square could become and he put his reputation on the line to make it happen.
The first phase has been completed and Main Street has been transformed into a glimmer of hope for downtown. It is unfortunate that an economic downtown has hit just when the retail life of the area should be building, but that will happen in due time. There are businesses in line just waiting for the window to open a little wider. When that happens, downtown will never be the same again.
This vision our city manager brought forth is far from complete. There is much work to be done before we call it a complete success. But just getting the vision started has inspired an entire section of this city. The black-hole is closed and downtown is bulging at the seams waiting to break out.
It’s because of a vision. One that came from the 2008 Citizen of the Year.
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