Newcastle was established in 1908 as a coal mining community. At the time, business was booming. Things are different now. Between the few stores on Newcastle's main strip along highway 380, are empty spaces. These spaces were once occupied by stores, offices, and even a theater. Some who live here feel that if Newcastle could just be more aesthetically pleasing, new business would come.
Mayor Stephen Sosinski says that he, along with others, are ready for progress.
"I'd like to see storefronts with some form of business. Something that causes you to stop and take a look at our city, instead of just driving thru like a lot of people do. We have many people in this town that would like to see change, would like to see growth, would like to see jobs come into the area, and would make an effort to clean the city and to make it desirable to someone who would want to invest."
The people who live in Newcastle are taking action. Last year a group of volunteers organized to beautify their city. A group of residents and city leaders teamed up to clean up their town. In just 12 months, they've made a big difference.
"We cleaned up a lot of things. Tank trucks that were abandoned, old homes we've taken down, trimming trees, anything like that. If there's someone in need in the city that needs something done, I can probably find a volunteer to do it for them," says Sosinski.
Because he is also Newcastle's fire chief, mayor Sosinski has a unique opportunity to see certain areas of the city that need attention.
"You look at things at different angles. Fire hydrants are something we need, we need some of the property to be cleaned of fuel, from debris, which is also a fire issue.'
The mayor isn't just making a list of chores that other people have to complete. He wont ask you to do anything that he himself won't do.
"You'll see me out there with a shovel, or I'll be in a muddy hole fixing a water pipe or a drain. And I think that in itself inspire people to get involved because they must think well he's in there doing that, he's not some big shot, he's doing what we would do, and I'll be out there with the volunteers too."
The residents of Newcastle are already noticing the changes.
"The town looks so much nicer now," says Darlton Dyer, city secretary of Newcastle. "It seems like the beautification thing has helped. It's just picking up and people are neighbors, yards are looking better, so it's kind of catching. They're trying to clean those up, look a little better,"
The people of Newcastle are ready for growth. You can see a shining example of their willingness to do what's needed for their community at their top rated school. Residents passed a multi million dollar bond last year to renovate Newcastle ISD. They voted yes for a 47 cent school tax increase that will be used to fix floors, roofs, plumbing, and electrical issues.
"More business means more jobs, it increases the tax base, and it will bring more people," says Sosinski.
Click here to visit the Newcastle ISD's website where you can follow the progress of the school's renovation.