Our hometown is simple. We are Friday night bleachers and Sunday morning pews. We are meals around a dinner table and weekdays on the clock. We are back road rides and back patio visits. Crossett, we are simple, and that is simply wonderful.
But just in case you are of the mentality that bigger is better and more is mandatory, I am here to tell you, quite bluntly and with the utmost assurance, that you are wrong. Somewhere in the shuffle of the bigger populations of the bigger cities that seem to enjoy the erroneous accolades of having everything and having it right, life can get lost. There is a certain charm in not having everything at your fingertips. It pushes you to get creative and to find the worth of stillness and silence.
This is what Crossett is about, creativity and the beauty of that pause where the truth of life resides. Once you realize that Crossett — without having everything, has it all — you can begin to shower her and those blessed enough to call her home with the love, gratitude and kindness she has given you.
Not so long ago there lived a lady who absolutely adored Crossett. Ushered here on the wave of families brought so a husband or father could work in conjunction with the mill, she chose to bloom where she was planted...and bloom, and bloom and bloom. Janice Clark was an artist, a journalist, a writer — no, those are not quite the same — a philanthropist and a true neighbor.
The walking trail that circles our city park is named after her. I hope to re-erect the sign that told us so right at the lip of the Wiggins Cabin property where the trail passes that historic landmark. She taught independent art classes to area brush and canvas enthusiasts, living on in their strokes and sketches, color palettes and vision. Echos of her march across old editions of the Ashley County News Observer she wrote community items for, preserving the way she saw our tiny corner of the world.
And through acts of kindness like helping prepare and deliver sandwiches and lemonade to the town’s men who gathered to rebuild Wiggins Cabin after a fire destroyed parts of it, she showed us how to be a true Crossett resident.
Janice Clark died in the year 2000. But the way she embraced and became the true spirit of Crossett — kind, colorful, confident and curious — remains an example to those of us still here. It is why we at Parks and Recreation have named an award for her: The Janice Clark Millwhistle. It will be awarded once a month to someone nominated by you, reader, who matches Clark’s enthusiasm for your hometown. Someone who loves Crossett so much they can’t help but take care of her so people well beyond his/her time here can enjoy her.
To nominate someone for this award, simply message me on the Crossett Parks and Recreation Facebook page, call me at 870-500-0303 or drop by City Hall and ask for me; I am usually no more than five minutes away. We can have a good ol’ face-to-face conversation.
We need to honor these neighbors and beyond that we need to connect them so that their passion for this town grows and passes on to others.
Also, if you have an anecdote about Janice Clark, let’s visit. There is much written by her but not much written about her, and that should be fixed.
And, as always, if you happen to catch a person loving Crossett, snap a photo and send it the the Crossett Parks and Recreation Facebook page or my phone number listed above.