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Ordinary People. Ordinary Things. with Melissa Radke

May 29, 2018

I lived in Nashville Tennessee for 16 years. It was beautiful. There were rolling hills. We had four perfect seasons. The shopping and the culture were to die for. A friend visited me and said it was like being in a Hidden Valley Ranch commercial. It was beautiful and wonderful.

In spite of the culture and beauty, it’s not the scenery of a town that plants you there, it’s the people who you share that place with. Today’s episode is about my home town of Lufkin, Texas and how sometimes we end up in the very place that we thought we needed to escape.

My friend and guest today is Tara Watson-Watkins the Lufkin Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director. Tara was Miss Texas and left Lufkin for ten years for school and her career. She has been back for 14 years and loves promoting Lufkin and small town life in general. Today, we talk about the advantages of small town life and living in Lufkin and similar small towns.

You can find Melissa here:

Podcast Web Page
Facebook Page
@MsMelissaRadke on Instagram
@msmelissaradke on Twitter

Show Notes

  • [02:47] Tara Watson-Watkins loves Lufkin and loves being able to promote her hometown. She gets to tell people why they should visit Lufkin, and reminds the residents why they should love to be home.
  • [03:51] Tara was also Miss Texas. She truly has a love for Lufkin and small towns in general.
  • [04:02] Tara left Lufkin for ten years. She went to school at Texas Christian University and then worked at Pfizer pharmaceuticals and another company.
  • [04:23] Tara knew it was time to come home when her father passed away, and her mother had an accident falling off of a ladder.
  • [04:59] Tara has been home now for 14 years.
  • [05:16] How many women and young girls just want to get out of their small towns.
  • [05:48] Tara may go to bigger cities to shop and get her fix, but there is no better place than being home.
  • [06:11] What small-town life provides. There is such a networking opportunity of friends and family that aren't even blood relations.
  • [06:56] In a small town, it's important to take advantage of the opportunity to get to know people. Go into it with open eyes and an open heart.
  • [07:44] Moving back to Lufkin changed Melissa's outlook on everything.
  • [07:54] In a small town, you can have no blood relatives and yet have a community. Take the time to appreciate the heart of a small town.
  • [08:13] If you make the effort, people will make the effort with you. Embrace the people that are there, because small-town people are the best.
  • [09:04] How moving back to your hometown can be a culture shock and feel like starting over.
  • [09:37] Melissa decided to make herself approachable and started smiling at people.
  • [10:32] What Tara loves about Lufkin. It's a special town. Being a part of the community is a full circle moment for Tara. She loves being able to leave her car running and know it will be there when she gets back.
  • [12:19] In small towns, you also make friends who play jokes on you.
  • [12:47] The Lufkin community is the most giving community that Tara has ever been a part of.
  • [13:22] How the community comes together to make a difference.
  • [14:43] Lufkin is the home of Lufkin industries an oil and gas equipment company. It was the town's largest employer, but was purchased by a larger company and started outsourcing jobs. The town lost a lot of employment. Especially, when another employer Temple-Inland was acquired by International Paper.
  • [15:33] Because of these job losses, the city and Chamber of Commerce have been working hard to bring new industry to the town.
  • [16:31] Lufkin is bringing back jobs and industry.
  • [16:41] Lockheed Martin is also bringing in a new plant. There are definitely things on the horizon.
  • [17:49] When people say negative things about Lufkin, Melissa wants to engage.
  • [18:35] There are a lot of things for families to do in Lufkin.
  • [19:30] Tara wants her children to grow up appreciating their small town. She has worked hard to instill a sense of volunteering and giving back.
  • [23:23] Doing an educational push to shop local. All of Melissa's merchandise is produced locally. If they succeed, they are succeeding with Lufkin.
  • [27:21] A great story about when Tara was Miss Texas, and she went to Target and denied being Miss Texas.
  • [28:48] When Melissa was at The Dollar Store, a man was going to rob the store, but his wife was in line and prevented it.
  • [29:19] Tara shares a CVS story about discretely trying to buy a pregnancy test.
  • [30:53] Melissa's Red Ribbon Week video was on CNN and how a store clerk kept her grounded.
  • [33:57] The lightning round with Tara.

Thanks for joining us on Ordinary People Ordinary Things. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and leave a nice review. Just like your mother taught you.

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