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Palestine, TX


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#1 eshigginbotham

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 03:17 PM

I took these from my phone so they aren't the greatest quality but it shows Oak St., one the four of our "New Town" east/west roads. The western half of downtown palestine was built by the railroad about 3 or 4 blocks from "Old Town" or the eastern half based around the courthouse square.

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The backs of my family (my Dad, in the wheelchair died 13 days later)

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bad picture

Just to orient you the area inside the loop in Palestine that the pictures are from:

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I think that this encompasses most of the area of Palestine.

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Downtown Highlighted (kind of)
GO FROGS!!!

#2 DrkLts

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 03:21 PM

Looks like a vibrant town to me, what's it like most of the time? Plenty of town activities?

#3 eshigginbotham

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 05:07 PM

QUOTE(DrkLts @ Feb 4 2006, 03:21 PM) View Post

Looks like a vibrant town to me, what's it like most of the time? Plenty of town activities?


There is just now a push that we should have activities so many think there is nothing to do but there is plenty to do especially with Tyler only 45 minutes to the NE. It also seems until now no one noticed that there is the 12-18, 18-24, 24-35 age brackets.

On the first Saturday of every month there are classic movies in the main city park named after John H. Reagan (Palestine native, influential senator of late 19th century, & Confederate Postmaster General). On the same property as the park is the old Reagan High School that is now the Museum for East Texas Culture. The city park system has been upgraded in the past few years adding a second city pool and a large park near the new ever expanding YMCA. Of course there is the Davey Dogwood Park which has been one of the main attractions of the Texas Dogwood Trails festival for over 50-60 years. There are at least 3 other larger parks in town and the city is now building a skate park. The city has also maintained an athletic complex for years with baseball, softball, soccer and football fields (former home of Palestine ISD baseball & softball until on campus facilities were built). About 3 miles outside of town we also have Palestine State Park and the western terminal of the Texas State Railroad (budget cuts for Texas Parks and Wildlife have put the RR in serious danger of closure, trips are now only one way from Rusk State Park to Palestine State Park. Amon Carter Jr. also is having the 610 engine restored.) In the past year a community chorus was established. The Palestine Community Theatre (which is as active as it can be) owns and is currently restoring the old Texas Theater downtown. There are also special train rides with the State Railroad like Murder on the (Dis)Oriented Express with the community theatre, Victorian Christmas and for schools. Our new mayor is all about restoring our downtown & Victorian homes to exacting standards. If you are restoring it pretty much has to look exactly as it could have when it was built. "Old Town" Palestine is a great place to hang out now with a saloon, The Ranch House Restaurant, a sound stage in the arbor and coffee shop and such right next to my church (The First Christian Church (DOC), actually the first congregation in the city (1847) and one of the first Disciples churches in Texas which happens to have been founded by Addison & Randolf Clark).

In the Spring we have the Texas Dogwood Trails Festival for three weekends in March & April. On July 4th we have the Rail Heritage Festival all day and then fireworks that I think has had upwards of 10,000 people attend (pop. 17,584 or something like that). Sometime in the year is the Hot Air Balloon Festival. In the Fall the main festival is the Hot Pepper Festival. Sometime in the past few years we moved the old Neches, TX rail depot the intersection of US 287 & US 84/79 to be our visitor center. Next to it is the city's famers' market.

After years of decline since the 1980s and only surviving with our 3, now 5, state prisons and a Wal-Mart Warehouse plus a Wal-Mart regional distrubution center, Comet School Supplies, Palestine Concrete & Tile and William George Distribution. We lost a lot of oil related business in that time as well as our ALCOA plant, PABCO, Owen's Corning, and a Glass Containers plant. The EPA shut down the former Calhoon Packing plant owned by IBP. We also lost much of our railroad with buyout of SoPac, MoPac and the evetual domination of Union Pacific. In the city charter UP does have to keep an office building with a certain number of employees because of our "relationship" with the International & Great Northern Railway (home office Palestine, TX). However, in the past many years the South Loop has been developing because of the placement of PISD's high school and middle school. Plus our now combined Palestine Regional Medical Center (serves like 7 counties or something). So from South US 287 to US 79/84 we have recently begun to have alot of development. What was at one time was called our mall still has JC Penny, Goodys & an Aarons. However it also has a VA Clinic now and a regional billing and call center for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. Our Wal-Mart Supercenter & new Lowes, Wal-Greens, Applebees, Wendys, 2nd Sonic, 3rd Subway have also been built along this strip. US 79 has a few new developments on it but I think the major one is the Ben E. Keith/Anheiser Busch Piney Woods Distrubution Center. A major project of the Palestine Economic Development Council is the Willow Creek Business Park which opened with 5 or 6 clients in it immediately and more coming. Also American Biodiesal Inc. has decided to locate its main plant on the site of the old ALCOA plant. We are also the Texas frontrunner for recieving a US Dept of Energy, FutureGen "emmissions free", 275 megawatt power plant which would also be located at the site of the old ALCOA plant. The town is somewhat becoming vibrant again. There are two school districts inside the city each with a 3A high school. (8 total ISD's in the county with a pop of ~60k, and you wonder why they can't finance the school well). Construction of the Palestine Family Entertainment Center has begun which is on the site of the Schulmann Dogwood 6 theatre. I think, it will pretty much be a Putt-Putt type place with arcade, mini-golf and go carts.

Our other claim to fame is that we are home to NASA's Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (formerly the NSBF but renamed for the Columbia tragedy that greatly affected the community since we were a main collection point for debree b/c of our empty warehouses). It brings in many world reknown scientists that the new manager of the base is getting more involved with the schools and general community. We also are home to the Anderson County Campus of Trinity Valley CC and UT-Tyler Palestine Campus, which has just been given a permanent home in and arround the Community Forest. While not all of the information about the city probably this is what I can think of off the top of my head. Also this latest economic boom in no way compares to Palestine's hay-day but it is great for the people who live in the area now. Palestine has long been an economic and medical center in East Texas and we now have the leadership in place (except the county commissioners court) to lead Palestine back to its rightful place.
GO FROGS!!!

#4 DrkLts

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 05:29 PM

Thanks for the info, sounds like an interesting place. Especially the NASA ties

#5 eshigginbotham

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Posted 05 February 2006 - 09:45 PM

QUOTE(DrkLts @ Feb 4 2006, 05:29 PM) View Post

Thanks for the info, sounds like an interesting place. Especially the NASA ties


I'm probably the only 22 year old (actually it's probably more like 18-30) from Palestine that can tell you even half of that information. It makes me sad that it there has been about 2 decades of decline but extremely happy that there seem to people who are looking forward, while still wanting to preserve our late 19th & early 20th century prosperity and heritage.
GO FROGS!!!

#6 safly

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 12:12 AM

I've driven through your town enroute to Nacodogches area to Arkansas, but have never had the honor and priveledge to stop on in.

Whenever I hear of Palestine I used to think of East Texas pine woods and high school football. Now it has been exploited as the place where Spaceshuttle Columbia was scattered about.


COWTOWN! Get your TIP ON!
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#7 eshigginbotham

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 12:28 AM

QUOTE(safly @ Feb 6 2006, 12:12 AM) View Post

I've driven through your town enroute to Nacodogches area to Arkansas, but have never had the honor and priveledge to stop on in.

Whenever I hear of Palestine I used to think of East Texas pine woods and high school football. Now it has been exploited as the place where Spaceshuttle Columbia was scattered about.


I think other than the event itself, the renaming of the NSFB to CSFB and a plaque on City Hall I can't think of anything that would bring that connotation. I think most people in Palestine like to be thought of as a town built by the railroad. PISD athletics wants to be remembered for Bill Bradley and the 1950 something state champion football team, newfound star Adrian Peterson and like. The other school district probably wishes it could have an athletic program more like Palestine's.

One day I'll actually have to take real pictures of some our downtown, historic structures and the like. Maybe even try to start something like this site.
GO FROGS!!!

#8 eshigginbotham

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 03:25 PM

Here is some info from the Palestine Economic Development Corporation. Not that it is pertinent to the forum but just to let you know some more about the City of Palestine. A great place to have a primary or second home, retire, or expand or relocate your business. For some reason I love my hometown and want to promote it to everyone even though I currently live in Fort Worth. I hope to be able to return to live, work, and make it the best it can be one day.

QUOTE
Major Employers

INDUSTRY
PRODUCT/SERVICE
EMPLOYEES
PALESTINE



Aerospace Fastners
Distribution of aircraft parts
15

Artifacts
Wholesale giftware/distribution and candle factory
22

Ben E. Keith Company
Wholesale distributors of beer
42

Blue Cross Blue Shield
Insurance/Data Processing
165

CapGemini Energy
Customer Service/Support for TXU Electric
150

Comet School Supplies, Inc.
School Supplies
42

Eilenberger’s Bakery
Baked Foods
47

ETA Global
Fasteners
34

Johnson Lab and Supply
Water utilities and chemical supplies
10

Kenner Well Service
Oil Field Services
22

Key Energy Service
Oilfield Service
70

Lone Star Athletics
Sportswear
12

National Scientific Balloon Base
Atmospheric Research
78

Palestine Asphalt
Manufacture asphalt for paving
10

Palestine Concrete and Tile Company
Manufacture concrete blocks, culverts, steps, etc.
48

Palestine Herald Press
Private owned newspaper printing
70

Palestine Regional Medical Center
Medical Hospital
615

Terry Manufacturing Co.
Custom Cabinetry
22

Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Correctional Facilites
3395

Transit Mix
Bulk Concrete
10

Turman Well Service
Oil Field Service
35

Union Pacific Railroad
Operations, freight claims, property damage, casualty management and maintenance for railroad
205

Union Pacific Car Shop
Railroad car refurbishing
120

Wal-mart Distribution Center 6005
Distribution of products
350

Wal-mart Distribution Center 6036
Distribution of products by trucks
1550

Wal-mart Super Center # 0345
Retail Sales/grocery/garden supplies
457

ELKHART



Elkhart Farmers CO-OP
Blended fertilizer &feed
29

LA Machine & Fabrication
General machine shop
10

Wilson Culverts, Inc.
Steel Corrugated Culverts
15

FRANKSTON



Frankston Paper Box Co. of Texas
Folding paper boxes, rigid boxes & plastic lids
85


GO FROGS!!!




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