Restoring spirit back into a historic Kilgore neighborhood
POSTED: Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 10:02pm
UPDATED: Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 10:14pm
Kilgore, Tx (KETK) — One Kilgore man came home from years of internationally touring in music to a neighborhood he doesn't remember. Closed down businesses, boarded up houses, pot hole filled roads. It's not the reputation he wants his neighborhood, Dansby Village, to have so he's doing something about it.
LaMont Wheat said his neighborhood was torn apart by drugs.
"The community got a bad reputation and I think as a result of that reputation, there was a lack of interest in investing and maintaining in that community," said Wheat.
Even though law enforcement made a clean sweep of the area, it's drug reputation still lingers. That's why, in October Wheat started the "Kilgore RESTORE! Project."
But, before they rebuild the community, Wheat knows the community must first rebuild its spirit.
"By restoring that sense of pride, actually anything that the Habitat, the Kilgore Legacy Foundation, the groups can support that community and facilitate it, then they will have pride in themselves," said Wheat.
The school he attended, CB Dansby, used to be a segregated school called the Kilgore Color School. But, they tore it down and sold the land for $10. He wants to put a historical marker there and create community events on that land. He has one planned in the Fall called the "Canning Festival," where everyone is invited to come and sell and trade canned fruits and vegetables.
Transforming trash filled streets to family-friendly biking and walking trails, Wheat hopes one day children will be able to create new memories, similar to his, 40 years ago.
Resident of the Dansby Village, Nina Zachery agrees.
"It used to be a nice community. We had motels, hotels, all that on this street and now we don't have nothing," said Zachery.
Zachery remembers growing up in this neighborhood, working in her mom's café.
"We closed the cafe down, we so much as buried the café under the ground."
Boarded up businesses and dirt roads, littered with pot holes, serve as a reminder of what this community used to be.
"They don't even go up that street, if they do there going to throw out some junk."
Zachery would love to see her childhood neighborhood revived. But, getting started seems to be the hardest part.
"We don't have anyone to keep our community clean," said Zachery.
Wheat has about 200 interested folks to help him with this project and he said anyone that is interested, would help restore the old community back to the historic, prestigious Dansby Village.
People can donate to support RESTORE PROJECT here: https://fundly.com/restore-project-dansby-village