Bill Woodall

Bill Woodall

Every day, it seems, the world wide web delivers up a new list of the 25 best gift ideas under $30 or the 50 best tech gifts – priced under $50 – I can still have delivered before Christmas.

(That's nice, but my shopping has been done for a bit. Four teenage grandsons, two adult children, two adult children-in-law and a wife – when you shop as slowly as I do you have to start early.)

These pop-up lists do, though, serve as an entertaining mnemonic, helping me remember the things I'd like to see under my metaphorical tree.

-I'd like to see Kilgore's retail spaces occupied.

We have some wonderful shopkeepers and some swell places to eat. But with the imminent demise of Pat Anderson Furniture, the entire block of Main Street between Kilgore Street and Commerce will be vacant.

-Wouldn't it be wonderful to see the Crim facade and lobby preserved, a head-turner of a public face attached to a newly constructed theater? Replacing the crumbling interior of the theater with a new, functional facility – complete with stage and lights and dressing rooms – would round out the entertainment district and all-but complete the vision pushed forward years ago by Kilgore Historical Preservation Foundation. At that corner, we'd have the Texan as an event space, the Old Post Office History and Art center, the home of the East Texas Pipe Organ Festival and the Crim.

-What a treat it would be to have Kilgore school district leadership, city hall leadership, Chamber of Commerce directors and even a couple of elected Gregg and Rusk County officials as regular participants in downtown Kilgore events.

-If it weren't for the risk that I'd faint, fall over and hurt myself, it would be the answer to many prayers of Kilgore Boys and Girls Club were to find its way into some healthy estate plans. The club has a number of amazing benefactors – you know who you are and the club's members will be indebted to you, literally, for the rest of their lives – but even a small handful of generous bequests would completely revolutionize the way the club members are tutored and mentored.

-Under my imaginary tree, I'd like see 15,000 Kilgoreos participating, imagining, working, sharing, dreaming, building the best small city in America.

-Kilgore's United Fund bit the dust this year... the organization simply ran out of volunteers. As a result, outfits like Helping Hands, Scouts, Fuller Center for Housing, and other local benevolences are scrambling to make ends meet, laboring to fulfill their missions... and falling short. Maybe the best Christmas gift of all would be for those groups to find their stockings filled by compassionate Kilgoreos.

Let's you and me meet under that metaphorical tree. Merry Christmas.

(Bill Woodall is former co-publisher of the News Herald, a husband, a father, a father-in-law, a grandfather and a holiday shopper who is positively horrible at wrapping packages.)

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