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It’s Just How We Do

May 23, 2022Doug Peters, President & CEO

It’s Just How We Do

It’s Friday evening, and I hesitate to write this message because we don’t yet know what the weekend holds for those already impacted or potentially impacted by the Mesquite Heat fire.

But rather than wait for early Monday morning to share a few thoughts, I’m going to share some perspective now, and pray for a peaceful weekend for our community.

I’m no stranger to disaster events. Whether it’s a 100 year flood that devastated a community I once served, or more recent challenges like a pandemic, a massive winter storm or a seriously worrisome wildfire, one thing stands true and continues to amaze me: no one competes with West Texas when it comes to taking care of our own.

Before I get too deep into this, I want to recognize and thank Taylor County Sheriff and View Fire Chief (and incident commander) Ricky Bishop for his handling of what has to be one of the most difficult weeks of his life.

Our Sheriff, by most any account (and I’ve heard many) not only masterfully commanded a wildfire that was impacting countless people and families while worrying scores of others (myself included), but he did so while simultaneously dealing with his own potential personal loss. That is leadership.

Thank you, Sheriff/Chief, for a job well done. Our community appreciates you.

Same with Judge Downing Bolls, who worked closely with City leadership, our elected officials in the area, Texas Governor Abbott, US Senator Cornyn, US Representative Arrington and Texas Representative Lambert to make sure the focus was where it needed to be. Thank you, Judge. And thank you to all our elected officials for handling your responsibility well.

Also our rural volunteer fire fighters and their departments. Without them, I’m not sure where our community would be.

There is no way possible to recognize and thank everyone who had a hand in taming this beast of a fire, but I do want to offer a special thank you to Abilene City Manager Robert Hanna for the communication and assurances that the right people were doing the right things on behalf of the people of our area, and that our regional business community was in good hands.

If you really stop and think about what we’ve experienced in the last week (or take a quick scroll through social media channels), you saw personal offers of manpower, homemade meals, places to rest, non-profits like Katie Alford and team at the Community Foundation of Abilene, Marcus Wiley at 2-1-1 and so many others jumping into action to help. Even the prayers – and well wishes – on every social media platform imaginable mattered. They brought hope when hope was needed.

Thank you too to Pastor David McQueen and Beltway Park South for being there when needed. Same goes to the men and women of View Baptist Church. You are appreciated.

Despite the challenge and their own respective fears, they did all they did without drawing attention to themselves or their hard work. They just did what they do. Magnificently.

By the time you read this, I hope that we’ve had an uneventful weekend (and a whole lot of rain) and can really get busy thanking those who handled this. Whether volunteer or paid professional, we are intensely lucky to be in the midst of so many genuinely good people.

For our friends and neighbors who suffered loss, I’m deeply sorry. You will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.

If you’re still reading this, I’d like to make one last observation before closing.

An event like this underscores a long held belief of mine. We are indeed a regional community. City or town limits signs do not define us. We work together, we take care of each other, and we do so without regard for what city, town or county we’re in. If there’s a need, we take care of it. Together.

When it comes time for those who suffered unimaginable loss to rebuild, I have no doubt that all the same people – our neighbors – will continue to do what we do in providing the proper care and feeding of our own.

After all, and as I’ve said many times before, that’s the Abilene way. I’m proud of our community. All of our community.

Onward!

Doug

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