We had an interesting discussion about Caddo at last night’s TRAC meeting. Our little group has worked for five years now to make some improvements and create some enthusiasm for our community. I’m proud of our accomplishments- the sidewalks and street lamps, the bulletin board, the new street signs, and other beautification projects. I’m glad that we have helped clean up some areas of town. I’m pleased that the Yard of the Month program has encouraged residents to beautify their homes. I’m happy that the annual BBQ offers some entertainment for others and has generated enough money to support our projects. But I’m sad too. In 2005 at least fifty people were excited about the future of Caddo and proclaimed that they were willing to help with projects and planning. Last night four of us met together. Our largest meeting this past year has included ten people. What happened to everyone else?
I feel that Caddo is at a crossroads. Growth and progress are headed our way from the south. Developers and “city weary” people are going to be looking at our area for property. Retirees from other states are already here, back home where they came from. The potential for change is all around us and some of it will be good.
However, we are also seeing the “end of an era”. Many of the people who were most influential in the community improvements of the last fifty years are now in their eighties and nineties or gone from our midst. And I don’t see very many people stepping up to take their places. Some of us who have tried have not been very successful because for the most part we are NOT business owners or even property owners. Perhaps that is why so many people from 2005 have fallen by the wayside. Despite their enthusiasm and ideas, they lack the power to actually do anything.
Caddo’s downtown is a monument to perseverance. Most of the buildings have been standing since 1905. But most are privately owned and many are neglected. They are used only for storage and not maintained as they should be. Some concerned owners are prevented from improvement projects because of money, or the delicate condition of their property. Sometimes when I drive into town after a storm, I expect to see crumbled buildings in the street. That is a real possibility for at least two buildings if I am any judge of their condition.
Viable businesses in Caddo are struggling for existence. I’m as guilty as anyone of shopping and eating in Durant because I’m “already there”. But this Christmas season I plan to shop in Caddo for at least half of my gifts. I wish I had more time to go to the theater and eat at the café.
Looking ahead I see several possibilities for Caddo, but only those who are in business, on the City Council, or really active and vocal about their wishes will be able to make a difference in the direction we take. I hope more people become involved in the future plans for Caddo. Otherwise we will just wake up one day and wonder what happened to our town.