The Town Restoration Association of Caddo met this week with Cecil Carter, coordinator for the Southeastern Oklahoma Economic Development Network. Just as a reminder, the mission of TRAC is to provide visionary leadership, focus on historical preservation, and promote economic growth to enrich the quality of life in our community. That's the "big picture". That's the statement that keeps us on track (pun intended) and reminds us of our purpose. Cecil is guiding us through our strategic planning and helping us write out our goals in "achievable steps". He's giving us advice about grants and making us aware of various resources available to our committees.
Planning for anything is a challenge. Planning for the future of a town is a daunting task indeed. That's why TRAC encourages new members. That's why we solicit professional advice. That's why we meet together and brainstorm ideas. That's why we're attempting to break our goals down into smaller steps. But we don't want to just talk about change, we want to make things happen.
Three of the major goals of TRAC are (1) preserving our wonderful downtown buildings, (2) improving our main street, and (3) attracting more people to our community. The problem is that each of those are broad goals and each is fraught with challenges.
Preserving the downtown buildings requires the cooperation of building owners, the city council, and numerous other citizens. Citizens have to care about the downtown area and have to help take care of it. We all need to do more local shopping to support the people who are putting their money and time and energy into local businesses. We need to be present at city council meetings to voice our opinions about safety issues, beautification, and maintenance.
TRAC plans to continue the sidewalks and streetlamps from downtown Caddo to the bank. We also want to put flower beds and benches in front of the community building and improve the lighting on our "Welcome to Caddo" archway. This will create a more inviting entry into our town. It will also make walking much safer and easier for our elderly residents. Of course a project of this size requires careful planning, lots of money, and many hours of labor. We're confident we can accomplish this goal even if we have to do it a block at a time.
Attracting more people to Caddo is a long-range goal that will impact everything and everyone in our community. We need more tourists! We need a few more resident families. But first of all we need a new attitude! Ask most long-time residents why anyone would want to visit Caddo and you'll likely get silence. That's what happened when Cecil asked the TRAC group to tell him what a tourist would want to see in our area. No one answered! We had to think about it for a few minutes. It's usually the newest members of the community who are the first to speak. They love Caddo's nostalgic downtown. They love our museum. They love the warm-hearted people. They love the location. Then they start listing the area entertainment, the lake, the shopping, the natural beauty. Those of us who have lived here for a long time have started taking some of those things for granted! We need to look around with fresh eyes and be ready with an answer when friends and family, or even strangers, ask us not only why we live here, but why they might want to join us.
No, this isn't going to end with a plea for membership or money. Not yet. What I want to ask for today is your interest and encouragement. I want to ask for your input and cooperation. If you live in Caddo, have friends or family in Caddo, or just visit occasionally, let us know your views and concerns. Don't drive by something and think "I wonder why they don't clean that up!". Don't visit and think "I wish they had….". Don't keep a good idea to yourself! Talk to us. Click on the "comments" button and tell me what you think. Talk to a TRAC member. Stop by Craighead's and talk to Belinda. Come to a meeting: third Monday, 6:30pm, in the museum. The mission of TRAC is to provide visionary leadership, focus on historical preservation, and promote economic growth to enrich the quality of life in our community. With your help we can accomplish anything!