Letter to the Editor: Durant interesting after all

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Dear Editor,

As I was reading through the October edition of The Southeastern, I was shocked to read the headline “Durant fails at being interesting.” Before jumping to conclusions, I read through the article. However, I was offended by the many allegations of the column.

I am a sophomore on this campus originally from Durant. However, my community involvement doesn’t stop there.

Over the past year and a half, I have become actively involved with many local organizations such as Durant Main Street, Durant Chamber of Commerce and the Three Valley Museum, clocking in 100 hours of service to Durant Main Street alone.

During my time with these organizations, I continue to experience how great our community truly is. If something needs to be done, people are always ready to help.

For eight months I sat on a committee to help organize the visiting Smithsonian exhibit which was in Durant from Jan. 9 to Feb. 19 of this year. There were many people on the committee who represented all walks of life and vocations. These were citizens who were truly interested in making the community great.

There were only five cities in Oklahoma which were selected to receive the traveling exhibit, “Journey Stories.” Durant was one of them.

During this time the museum reported record numbers of visitors through the museum. Additionally, the state coordinator of the exhibit complimented us on how our town did the best job, by a long shot, of any of the towns selected. People came to the exhibit not just from Durant but both out of state and internationally.

In the past 10 years, Durant has grown considerably. Those who are not from Durant would not understand how different our community is and how much has changed.

What used to be flat grassland are now Hot Shots Coffee, Choctaw Casino Resort and Chili’s. Not to mention the many shopping centers that have sprung up at various parts of the town.

After reading the article, I immediately knew I wanted to write a letter to the editor on this subject. In order to make sure I covered all my bases, I dropped the article by my friends at the Durant Chamber of Commerce.

I promptly received a letter from Chamber Manager Melissa Galbraith, stating how wrong the article was in many respects. Additionally, Ms. Galbraith is a recent SE graduate, therefore she knows how the local college life is.

She mentioned how much better our unemployment rate was compared to the current national average. In a college community that is really important for those of us who have to work to help benefit our college education.

Ms. Galbraith even mentioned the lake season and the Choctaw Event Center, which hosts concerts and other activities. The Choctaws have even recently started free Thursday night comedy shows for entertainment.

For the past two years, Durant Main Street has hosted an ice skating rink, which is unusual for our area considering the climate.

Are these things not interesting?

As for the community involvement in the university community, the letter from the Chamber pointed out “I see local businesses buying out all the ad spaces on the football field, at the basketball stadium, in programs and at golf tournaments.” She also pointed out “Because I consider myself an active member of the community, I know those seats at the football, basketball, volleyball, softball, baseball are not exclusively filled with college students.”

Perhaps, the most offensive thing written in the Creasman article was “As much as I would like to see Durant become more of a college town, I don’t see it happening anytime soon.”

Last spring, Durant officials voted to use tax money to build a new cinema. They did this with most of the community in opposition. It’s even been said that the former owner of the Durant Twin Cinema sold his house and presumably left town angry.

So, why would the Durant officials do such a thing? Oh, wait, it’s for that college community they don’t care about.

Durant is trying to do new things to help the college community despite Ms. Creasman’s allegations. Durant was even, in fact, the star of a recent episode of a Lifetime television show and was referenced by Oscar-winner Sandra Bullock in 2009’s “All About Steve.”

Durant is going to continue to grow into an even better community over the next few years as the DFW metroplex continues to expand and Durant’s tax rates remain lower than those in Texas. As more businesses seek new locations such as Durant, more jobs will become available. With more jobs come more people. With more people come more opportunities.

And with new opportunities come more college students. If Ms. Creasman can find no good in anything said here, with all due respect, she has the same right everyone else in Durant does: the right to leave.

Sincerely,

Tyler Slawson