Today is Part 3 of our “Candidate Conversations”, which is a six (6) part series that began on Friday and ends this Friday. The candidates answers to the leftover questions are presented to you during this series.
Today’s first question is:
What is your vision for Crossett for the next 6-10 years?
The vision for Crossett with a decade of growth should be phenomenal. In 10 years I hope to be getting my second wind and enjoying the fruits of our labor. I see economic growth because we have made our city the shining star of South East Arkansas once again. Our clean, pristine city has people here enjoying what our wonderful community has to offer. We will see another manufacturing site where Plywood once was in addition to the outdoor hunting store, Crossett Pro Shops, that has moved into the old Extrusion plant. We will see growth to the East of Crossett with more jobs offering viability to our town. I see a sports plex that is heavily utilized and bringing in hundreds of people on weekends to help pump up our economy for the hotels and restaurants. Additionally, we will be hosting youth golf tournaments at our new par 3 golf course that has been built in the open area East of the sports plex ball fields. Our Parks and Recreation group will have a difficult time finding somewhere to park because the tennis tournament attendees are taking most of the room from the people wanting to bring their kids to the pool swimming. What a super problem to have. We will have a waiting list for people wanting to rent our cabins that have been built out in the old zoo area and around Lucas Pond. The auditorium will have an agenda calendar with the likes of Carrie Underwood or Nicki Minaj! The playhouse could be back in use and the list goes on………….With city assets generating revenue instead of money pits, there is no reason we couldn’t drop our city tax rate back to 1%. That is ultimately money back into our citizen pockets.
Granted, this is a very lofty goal and definitely outside the box. If we don’t set our goals extremely high, we will always have to settle for mediocracy. We must start by taking care of what we have to make sure our efforts are noticed. Once that is seen, outsiders will notice as well and want to be a part of what we have to offer. I love our town and don’t believe that anything isn’t possible. We will take it one step at a time.
It’s not about me, it’s about US!
I mean it when I say, and I say this a lot, “Crossett IS that important.”. We are part of the moral backbone to this country. It is smalltowns like us that keep America walking the narrow path.
That is why by six years we will look around Crossett and see a cleaner city. By then we will have scaled back to a less is more state that we can maintain.
And it starts with the seemingly tiny tasks we don’t do because they seem so tiny they don’t matter…the stumps in front of the tennis courts on Main Street, the out of control shrubs at the City Auditorium, the mud and grass growing in our gutters, the overgrown sidewalks, litter, overgrown properties (including GP’s along Highway 82), the busted out Andy’s sign at their East side entrance, the list goes on.
We also need to dig into the larger projects like budget improvement, roads, sidewalks and parking lot repair, historical buildings preservation, abandoned property demolition, unsightly properties ordinance enforcement and park cleanups. Because it has never been about what Crossett does not have; it’s about what we have had and did not take care of. Community work days are two fold in their benefits: we clean up our town AND we start to feel ownership because of the work WE are doing therefore keep the projects maintained.
Once we get cleaned up, it will be time to start inviting people in. So that by the 10th year we can be deemed a tourism city.
When I say “tourism” maybe you jump to large scale offerings like amusement parks. That isn’t the version of tourism that fits Crossett.
Look to places like Jefferson, Texas. The town gardening club realized in the late 1800s that their main industry was leaving them. They dug their heels in and turned their waterway and historical homes into tourist attractions. Tourism is still their backbone nearly 150 years later.
We can utilize Lucas Pond for remote control boat races and canoe and paddle board rentals, the Crossland Zoo property for a campground with cabins, the Crossett Harbor kayak trails and perhaps a recreational beach at the port, the Mayor Scott McCormick Sports Complex, a splash pad, the addition of a sensory music garden at Centennial Park, stand alone weekend only carnival attractions at our abandoned parks like Clemmie Wimberly and Casey Jones, a yearly sunflower festival to showcase the several species of sunflowers that grow right here in Crossett, an Arbor Day celebration every year that showcases our wonderful tree city.
Many people’s thoughts turn toward money. From a linear thinking standpoint it seems like you have to have money to spend money. But I am a nonlinear thinker and can see beyond what is put in front of my face. I see in possibilities and this vision is what Crossett needs.
Through my work in Parks & Recreation we have pulled off events and started programs with little to no money. And all of them generated revenue for Crossett because they either got us out of our homes and into town or brought long distance neighbors here.
In six to ten years, Crossett will be a clean, smalltown tourist destination where people can come soak up our wholesome, neighborly ways and maybe take a little piece of us back home with them making the world a bit better place. Yes, Crossett IS that important.
What is your vision for Crossett for the next 6-10 years?
My vision for Crossett falls into five areas:
(1) People: In my mind we have the greatest people in all the world living right here in our small town. We have talented, industrious, hard-working people who have labored hard during their life to make a living for the family and care for their homes, family and neighbors. When our family first moved to Crossett in 1989, I was amazed at the friendliness, warmth and sincerity of the residents of our city. People you never met before speak to you as if they’ve known you your whole life. It’s still that way today. We need to make known this reality to the rest of the nation as we urge businesses and people to locate in our town.
(2) Planning: Before you can make progress in any area of your life you need a plan, a written plan with goals and strategies to meet those goals. Throughout my life, whether as a student in college, a Head Football Coach, a Salesman and Sales Manager for a large Insurance Company or serving as Pastor of six Churches, setting goals and putting on paper the necessary plans to meet those goals have always been a part of my existence. Plans come through ideas, and ideas come from yourself and other interested people around you. My goal as Mayor is to work with the City employees, the Business Owners, the Chamber of Commerce, the Civic Club leaders, the Pastors and leaders of the Churches and other such leaders in our Community to seek their ideas and put together a good, solid plan to set forth a path for all of us to work together in fulfilling. This is the type of plan that will be cussed and discussed with all the residents of Crossett until we can together solidify a program for progress that will take Crossett through the next 10-20 years.
(3) Progress: Progress only comes when you have adequate resources available to build your town. The greatest resource we have is our people, but our people need jobs. It will be my highest priority to work with the Economic Development Board to bring industry into Crossett. I will also tap into the resources I have throughout our Country of people I know who are high up in their company. A question I will have for each of them is, “who do you know?” Who do they know that I can call and ask questions to see if Crossett would be a good fit for their business or industry? You never know until you ask, and I see myself making such calls every day. I also think we can utilize our current residents who also know decision-makers across the country who might aid us in finding such businesses. We need jobs for our great people. We can all work together to help find those jobs and bring them in so Crossett is making progress, for as we progress, we find ourselves having even more pride in our great town.
(4) Pride: Pride comes when life is progressing. As we work in our jobs, we make the necessary money to take care of our family, our Church and community. We then have the available resources as a City to keep our town clean and attractive to us all. It’s difficult to have pride in our community when we drive around and see all the abandoned homes and overgrown vacant lots. It gives the appearance that we don’t care what our city looks like to ourselves and to the people who come visit us. My goal as Mayor will be to clean up the city. It may take 10 years or so to get this accomplished, but I will start the first day on the job. Then, over the course of time as we bring more and more jobs into Crossett, our revenue will grow and that will give us sufficient resources to take down these homes, clean up the vacant lots and hopefully the new people moving in with these new businesses will build new homes in their stead. We will never know until we try, and with me, I will do more than try. I will work hard at getting this done.
(5) Peace: I use the word peace last since peace comes to people when their life is falling into place. When a person has a good paying job, their family needs are met and they have a clean, safe home and town to live in, then we can say they have peace. When people lose their job, or have to take a lesser-paying job, then they cannot say they have peace in their life. Now, for you Christians reading this, you know that the peace of God is much different. But for a person who doesn’t life by faith, peace to them is when life is good. We have to give people the opportunity in Crossett to have a good life. This comes with ample job opportunities, a clean city, a plan for the future in which all can agree and the knowledge that the city government is doing all they can to make our town safe and secure. It’s amazing when things are built up and cleaned up, people all of a sudden start taking pride in their town, and when they have the proper pride, peace just seems to fill their life.
Let the great people of Crossett be a part of the Plan so we make the needed Progress, develop the Pride we once had, and then let’s all live at Peace with each other. I truly believe all of this can happen in Crossett. Why do I believe so? Because we have the greatest people in the world living right here in our city limits!
A vision that includes everyone in the progress of our great City. Opportunities for our youth to learn, play, grow, and stay in Crossett to build a better home. With incentives in place to help advance business offerings and policies that are business friendly, Crossett can grow. By working with State, Federal, and private corporations we can create partnerships that can add jobs and resources to our area. Business expansion teams and mentorship programs for our youth and students will present opportunities for the young entrepreneurs to become employers. Building day use areas for outdoor recreation for all to enjoy that will bring in visitors and revenue. Mountain bike trails built around our beautiful City Park, enjoyed by all who ride them, locals and visitors. Holding several different annual events that bring locals and visitors together for fellowship and commerce will not only attract new jobs but residents to our community. Improved City services performed efficiently and safely with proper equipment. Access around town on sidewalks that are usable, safe, and ADA compliant. We’ll have a plan for City growth and steps to reach the goals in the plan. Help build a better tomorrow, Vote Kevin Cosby #4 on the ballot.
Crossett’s future is very bright and I am so excited about what we can achieve together under my leadership and administration! So much promise is on the horizon!
With the new wastewater infrastructure project we are working on in East Crossett we expect to recruit a couple of mid sized industries that require this improved infrastructure. This will be a huge win for Crossett, Ashley County, and the Southeast Arkansas region as a whole! Along with those, we intend to recruit a few other types of industry to continue diversifying out risk with a wide variety of jobs. Our strategy is to layer different industries so we never again find ourselves in a position where one company reducing business operations has such a large impact on our town.
Combined with the wastewater infrastructure improvements, we are determined to improve our broadband internet infrastructure as well. We submitted the first broadband internet grant and believe this will kickstart our pursuit for stable, reliable broadband internet for our growth and future. This will make us incredibly attractive to industry, business, and citizens alike as well as improve the all around quality of life for all of our current community! While allowing our community to connect and grow with distance education, telehealth,and more, this improvement will build an unprecedented competitive advantage helping us attract new industry, business, and citizens.
I also see a future of very accessible recreational amenities where on a saturday afternoon or any weeknight driving by the sports complex shows kids playing ball with their family and friends. Baseball and softball tournaments fill our weekends. More recreational activities are scheduled at our pool including special needs events. Our city park has disc golf tournaments and several other fun events to bring not only our community together, but bring in visitors from other towns. More events for teens are in the works as well. We are committed to enhancing the quality of life for ALL our residents and pulling in as many that live outside our community as well.
Our dilapidated properties will be cleaned up and our beautiful historic buildings will be restored through the diligent and unrelenting pursuit of grants. Our town will be polished to make it shine, getting a much needed facelift. Lucas pond will have the alligator grass under control and the overall pond cleaned and cleared(including the island) allowing for more bank fishing and just showcasing this jewel of Crossett. Our Auditorium and Main Street building will take much work but will be restored and used to its full potential creating so much fun and excitement in our town. Our EC Crossett Youth Center remodeled and refreshed and utilized by the children in our community and include a new bathroom facility, new basketball courts, walking trail and more! Our 6th avenue Clemmie Wimberly ballpark will be restored and used often by families, churches, and our entire community for fun games of kickball, wiffleball, baseball and softball alike.
The new ambassador program I am kickstarting in partnership with our school system will be going strong helping bridge the gap between our children and our government. The kids will be heavily involved with the city government to bring forth their ideas, concerns and questions regarding our town. This information is so valuable and will help our city officials make better decisions. In turn, we will be educating our children on how city government works, the role of mayor council, clerk/treasurer, city attorney etc to help empower these leaders of tomorrow. Working together, we hope to also instill deeper roots in our community with all the children to help inspire them to stay in Crossett long term .
The 2nd questions for today is:
It’s important to know that leaders can self-assess and learn from the past. What’s a mistake you’ve made, how did you learn from it and how does that influence your leadership now?
I have had a lengthy working career and have certainly been afforded the opportunity to make mistakes. To me, the decisions that matter most are those that affect people. I have dealt with personnel issues in the past and learned from each one. How a personnel issue is initially handled cannot be changed. It is kind of like a “first impression”, you don’t get a second chance. If someone feels they have been mistreated or not been done fairly, changing that decision does not take away the hurt that they initially felt. So doing it right the first time is imperative. Saying I’m sorry is after-the-fact and is seen to have little merit. Each issue is different and there is no cut and dry answer to the same question for each because “Circumstances matter”. I have certainly learned that listening to people and hearing their reasoning and rationale is just as important as the outcome. One can’t read a book and know how that should be done. It takes years of experience which encompasses mistakes and accomplishments as well. Though there are many decisions that need to be made on a daily basis, the one decision about people and how they are treated is a long term event.
I have always been a very driven person that wanted what was best for the company or in this case would be the city. As with most of us, age and maturity help with that voice of reason and understanding and have helped me see the importance of those lessons learned. With that stated, taking the time to deal with the people that make this great city what it is, is the most important daily task a mayor will undertake. As I have previously stated, i will be honest with people and not pander. As your Mayor, I will certainly treat people with respect as we work side by side to accomplish the necessary goals of our city’s needs and daily challenges.
The biggest mistake I ever made was leaving Crossett without the intention of returning. I left in 1993 to go to college. While that is respectable and necessary for some of us, my mistake lay in what happens to many of our youth–leaving without the intention of returning.
As mistakes go, they can snowball; each layer a cry for you to return to your correct path. I made a life away from my true home, Crossett, for 24 years. They weren’t wasted years. Instead they were years that prepared me for my eventual prodigal-like return.
Because of my years in the big city tourism industry, I am better equipped to lead a small town tourist city like Crossett can be. Because of my years in the fast paced television news media I can multi task and get things done. Because of my years creating relationships with the wrong people I am better prepared to enjoy relationships with the right ones here in Crossett. Because I lived in the wrong places I am more appreciative of the right one.
The mistake I made and speak of here has taught me that we need to find ways to entice our kids to make their nest here. I have reached out to another university to build an agriculture branch here. I plan on discussing with UAMCT ways we, the city of Crossett, can help them grow. I hope to create a stronger apprentice program here that allows our youth to work some of the more exciting and enticing jobs in our region. I also hope to help with the formation of a small business incubator that serves as a resource to our entrepreneurs.
This mistake also influences the way I lead people by keeping me mindful that mistakes can lead to improvements. They can be teachable moments. They are in fact proof we are at least trying. I have patience with others because I know what it is like to make mistakes then use them for the betterment of myself and perhaps, through real life guidance, those around me.
Narrowing down the thousands of mistakes I’ve made throughout my life to just one is rather hard. But if I had to recount one that continues to stand out in my mind is when I rejected an offer from the U.S. Army to be a Chaplain in the Army Reserve.
When I graduated from college in 1973, the Draft ended in May of that year, so my #51 draft status became a moot point. I then accepted the offer to be a Graduate Assistant coaching football. Little did I know at the time that I would never pass the physical for the Armed Services due to a torn retina in my eye.
In 1989, the year I moved to Crossett, I was approached by a Chaplain who served in the Air Force Reserve and encouraged me to apply, which I did. The Army was very interested, and I know this because the torn retina, fixed in 1977, is a normal rejection into the Army. I’m guessing since, as a Chaplain, I would not be on any front lines of a war, they overlooked my defect. I was all set to go with the permission of my current Church. Then Crossett First Baptist Church came calling. In order to accept the calling to the Church I had to reject any idea of being a Chaplain, so I wrote the Army with my regrets. Come to find out the Search Committee did not mandate this objection, but it only came from one person in the Church who was adamant about me not being a Chaplain. I should have petitioned the whole Church, but I was under the opinion at the time that the Church as a whole was against the idea. If I had begun the Army Reserve at that moment, I would have served nearly 30 years in the Chaplain position.
What have I learned from this event? Two things: (1) never allow a small group of people to determine your destiny and/or calling in life. People have a tendency to speak from their own personal experience or their own selfish wishes. I truly believe the members of First Baptist Church in Crossett would have accepted my opportunity to serve part-time as a Chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserve. (2) I spend a lot of my life challenging people to “go beyond” what they think they can accomplish. When I find out a person is interested in becoming a Nurse, I challenge them to think beyond and become a Nurse Practitioner. When I talk to someone who is satisfied with the education they currently have, I challenge them to think forward and see the opportunities that a little more education might give them.
It has become my practice in life to never accept defeat or discouragement. Those events in life are simply a challenge to learn and improve. I’ve even starting talking with my own Grandchildren about becoming a Doctor, Lawyer, Professor, etc. In other words, if you spend any time with me, I’m going to talk with you about improving yourself and never becoming stagnant or declining. The old adage that says, “you never know until you try” is one of my favorite statements.
I have a friend in Houston, TX that retired last year after 40 years with Cisco Foods. He told me he was working on his Doctorate in Business Administration. When asked what his plans were for the Doctorate, he said, “I have no plans. I just want my wife to call me Doctor.” I found this amusing and told him, “well, I have a Doctorate and my wife doesn’t call me Doctor.” But at the same time, I congratulated him on his new direction and told him to keep me informed of his progress.
You never know until you try and you never know until you ask. That is what I’ve learned over the years from all of my mistakes and successes. Spend some time with me and I will most likely bring up the subject of how you might improve some area of your life. And, I am very open to suggestions on how I can improve my life.
Hindsight is always 20/20. Looking at mistakes I’ve made, I try to learn from them so that they are not repeated. We must learn from our mistakes. Recently I was caught off guard and wasn’t as prepared for the Covid pandemic as well as I should have been. Having an Emergency and safety background I know the value of a good plan. Basic essentials like food and water should be available for all family members in the event of an Emergency. I’ve always tried to maintain adequate stores to get my family through several days without going out but to stay in for more than a week, wasn’t an option. I didn’t have an adequate supply of medicine, cleaning supplies, or water to last more than a week. It’s hard to get those things when the public starts stockpiling essentials and hoarding toilet paper. Bleach, alcohol, and cleaning supplies were in demand and unavailable for most people to purchase. Over the counter medicines were hard to get and left many people without them. If you found yourself in this same condition of being caught off guard, learn from this and be better prepared for you and your family next time. I have learned the value of better preparation for a major event like the Covid pandemic. I wont be caught without the extra gloves, bleach, cleaning supplies, and meds that were hard to find. I’ll better stock our water and essentials to have more than a weeks worth available. I’ll keep a better inventory of what we need and make sure we have enough. I believe in learning from experiences, they are the best teachers. I learn and adapt as needs change and I look for ways to better be prepared. Let’s all be better prepared for the next time something like this happens. Better prepared for tomorrow, today. VOTE Kevin Cosby #4 on the ballot.
Oftentimes our greatest lessons are learned through our mistakes, and I am no exception. As a councilperson I was approached by several in the community about enhancing Halloween in Crossett by adding a community wide neighborhood trick or treating block party to help provide increased safety and fun by having it a walking event. What I learned from this was that anyone can bring me an idea but moving forward we need to consult with the ENTIRE community because EVERYONE deserves to be heard! I am committed to ensuring going forward all voices are heard and all people are brought to the table and will never make this mistake again!
The intent was to have an entire trick or treating block party with free food, games, glow sticks, in a walking only environment. Diligent planning and personal expense went into the event, planning transportation, parking, school involvement, even a petting zoo. All facilitating the event were onboard, and the plan communicated in the paper for several months. HOWEVER, what I failed to realize at the time proved to be the downfall of the event were fatal flaws. 1. The community should have been personally contacted earlier. By time the fliers had been hung on doors the event had already been planned. In hindsight I realize the fliers should have been for a town hall meeting to DISCUSS the event, not announce it’s plan. At the time I believed the months of discussing it in council meetings and it running in the paper were sufficient communication. But I now see that it was not and a more personal contact method was needed for such a personal event and tradition. 2. The event should have been planned for a neutral area, not in a neighborhood. If ever an event like this were to happen, it should be more modeled after Christmas in Crossett. Despite all my reasoning for doing it in a neighborhood, and planned invitations to go out via the schools, and banners made to advertise, community events should just happen in community neutral places. The biggest influence this has had on me is to push me to constantly seek to ensure I am being completely inclusive and looking at things from more vantage points. I genuinely believed I had covered all my bases with this project, but I was mistaken and I will not make this mistake again. It’s vital to seek out all perspectives, more inputs, more feedback with all that we do and plan to ensure everyone is heard and has a voice.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the next set of questions…same time same place!