New lights brighten East Texas town and business owners' spirits -, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

New lights brighten East Texas town and business owners' spirits

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JACKSONVILLE, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas city is about to be lit-up unlike ever before. The City of Jacksonville started installing new lights on top of some downtown buildings Wednesday.
The lights aren't just brightening the streets, they're brightening the spirits of those who have called Jacksonville home for their entire lives.

Gerry's boutique in Jacksonville is one of many downtown businesses that will soon have an extra shine every night. Gerry Stovall has spent her entire life in Jacksonville, as have seven generations of her family.

"When I was a little girl, downtown Jacksonville was the place to come. Everything was lit up so I'm looking forward to seeing this being lit up again," says Gerry.

It was out with the old and in with the new as Gwartney Enterprises began installing new LED lights at the Norman Activity Center.

"You can do any color... any effect that you can think of. Whatever you can imagine, we can program the lights to do," says Austin Gwartney of Gwartney Enterprises.

The rainy weather didn't hinder the installation of the new lights. After all, they are weather resistant and don't break like your typical light bulb.

"This is hopefully going to bring new excitement, new business and hopefully people will come to Jacksonville to see these lights. Then that means they'll shop, lodge and eat here and bring more money to this town," says Gwartney.

The lights will shine orange and purple on Halloween. This weekend, the Tomato Bowl will get their new lights, then businesses down Commerce Street will soon follow. But if you ask Gerry, what's happening downtown is much bigger than a light bulb.

"Most of us down in this area want to see this area survive," says Gerry.

Gerry is a survivor herself-- of breast cancer and a heart attack. She's looking forward to seeing Jacksonville's downtown businesses survive, too.

"It's a spirit. It's the spirit of people who have come and gone... people I've known all of my life... people I've adored, admired and cherished--- the friendships. That's what downtown Jacksonville is and will always be in my heart," says Gerry.

The downtown lights should be completed by November 14th for the Light Up Jacksonville Ceremony. Because business owners are paying for the lights themselves, some of the vacant buildings are still looking for sponsors. The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce is coordinating donations to cover the cost of lighting the buildings with no renters.
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