In 2007, after the region's devastating ice storm, Calvin Wilson drove around Goodman and picked up 17 loads of limbs.
Wilson drove a tractor with a 16-foot trailer and, with help from his 4- and 5-year-old granddaughters, picked up limbs all over the town of Goodman.
After last year's catastrophic tornado, Wilson helped with clean-up by cutting up a tree in the pouring rain.
His wife of 25 years, who was his childhood sweetheart in the school band, said the U.S. Navy veteran volunteers to better the town.
"He is a loving, caring and honest person," Deborah Wilson said over coffee one recent Saturday morning. "He cares. He can't say no. If somebody wants to borrow something, he lets them."
Wilson was born and raised in Goodman and can lay claim to being part of the last graduating class of Goodman High School in 1966.
After that, the state-mandated consolidation occurred, and residents could vote to then send their children to Neosho, or McDonald County.
Back in the 1960s, Goodman residents enjoyed a café, shoe store, barbershops, a pool hall and a grocery store.
Over the years, however, big businesses offered to build in Goodman, while asking to be sales-tax free for a certain number of years.
Goodman forefathers, however, shot down a lot of offers. Those partnerships could have led to a new sewer system, or a solid sales tax base for years to come. Wilson believes that's the reason, in part, that the city today doesn't have much money in its coffers.
With limited businesses providing a sales tax base, the city doesn't have the funds to repair an aging sewer system or repair badly damaged roads in town.
"We are like a whole lot of little towns. There is nothing here to entice people."
A better sewer system could lend itself to additional businesses. Better roads also would help. But when a city is strapped for money, it's difficult to build an attractive base for businesses and new residents.
"It costs between $800,000 and a million dollars to put in a mile of street," Wilson explained.
Wilson served in the U.S. Navy from December 1967 to 1971. He was assigned to three different ships during his military career, with his last post on an aircraft carrier. During his time in the service, Wilson saw four different tours to European countries.
Along with his military service, Wilson brings 45 years in the trucking industry and lots of business savvy to the picture. He hauled store fixtures and general freight, making store deliveries across the states. His Walmart career took him to Florida, South Carolina and other places during his stint from August 1977 to January 1999.
He lived north of Little Rock for almost eight years and then moved back to Goodman in 1986. When he and Deborah married in 1993, he moved to Centerton but returned home in 2000 to mainly take care of his ailing father. His parents bought the farm on the west side of Goodman in 1947. When his father began to suffer from Parkinson's many years later, he and his brother, Randy, and his sister, Alice, were all still working but knew they needed to help out their dad and give their mom some assistance.
Working hard and helping family was nothing new for Wilson. As a 14-year-old, his family took a two-week trip to California. Wilson was tasked with milking all the cows, then getting to school each day. The two-week trip turned into four weeks. Wilson was in charge of the entire farm, house and himself. It wasn't easy, but Wilson rose to the occasion. He knew his family expected him to take care of things while they were away.
That expectation hasn't changed for Wilson. He seems to gravitate toward challenges, tackling running his own restaurant -- known as the Redneck Café -- to working as a driving instructor for almost eight years now at Crowder College.
In 2007, he decided to run for mayor and served in that capacity for four years. Tom West, the Goodman Police Chief at the time, kept encouraging Wilson to run for mayor, so he finally did.
Since 2012, he's served as alderman.
"To preserve peace in the community," he said, smiling.
Wilson wants to make Goodman a more family-oriented and business-friendly community. He'd love to see businesses join up, expanding the tax base, lending services to residents.
He'd love to see the streets fixed and more solutions put into practice.
Perhaps his biggest -- and most painful -- lesson hit him between the eyes when he first took office as mayor.
"We don't have any money," he said.
Today, officials are facing financial issues. An example, he points out, is the city's sewer plant which collected $119,000 last year. Expenses totaled $111,000. One valve -- which needed replacing -- cost $9,000.
"I don't know the long-term answer," he said.
Wilson is optimistic, however, that a use tax could be voted on and passed by residents, which wouldn't cost a dime extra. The use tax -- in play in Pineville -- is put to the vote by a city's residents. The tax is collected and funneled back to that community. Items that qualify are products that are sold out of state by businesses and individuals and delivered for use in the county.
Wilson hopes the use tax could help out Goodman. It pains him to see his small town U.S.A. struggle.
His brother, Randy, says the alderman just wants to help people.
"He is a big, caring person," Randy said. "He has a heart of gold."
Sweeter the Second Time Around
Calvin and Deborah first became an item when they were in band together. Calvin, a senior at the time, gave his class ring to the eighth-grader, "but Mama didn't know," Deborah said.
In time, however, the romance went sour when other events transpired.
"She throwed my ring in a pond at Siloam Springs after she found out I got married," Wilson said.
"He was writing letters to both of us," Deborah explained.
Letters to two different ladies?
"I didn't say I was an angel," he said, laughing.
The romance, which started years ago, was rekindled after both had married and divorced others, had children and experienced life.
"I went to the Walmart in Jane," explains Wilson. "She was running the cash register, I was driving a truck."
The two began meeting for coffee but, after some time, realized they wanted to make the situation more permanent.
Romance the second time around has been pretty blissful for the pair. With six children, 14 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren, the two feel they had to experience other things in life before coming together again.
The past 25 years have flown by, Deborah said, because the union has been so sweet. "We have the same goal in mind."
At age 69, Wilson is not slowing down. He still works every day, still cares for his community, still cares for his family.
What keeps him going?
"The joy of life," Wilson said. "I'm thankful for every day I can get up and go."General News on 05/03/2018
Print Headline: Hard Work, Big Heart: Wilson Hopes To Better Community