When Dianne Connery moved to Pottsboro in 2010, she was ready to retire. After years working in gerontology consulting in Plano, she just wanted to enjoy the view of Lake Texoma and live the small town life in the community of 2,873 about 77 miles north of Dallas. “I didn’t want to work, I didn’t want to volunteer, I didn’t want to meet people—I just wanted to do my own thing,” she says.
104 N. Main St.
But when the Pottsboro Library was going to close due to lack of funds and volunteers, Connery raised her hand to volunteer as board president, eventually becoming director. “When I moved to this small town, I realized one person can make a difference,” she says.
Before her tenure, the library was in a poor state: cramped, unwelcoming, and frequently vandalized. The community faced three major problems: The rural, mostly senior population had limited access to health care; young people did not have access to updated technology; and Pottsboro in general had limited access to broadband internet.
Connery, however, saw nothing but possibility. After 10 years of dogged determination and a stubborn zeal for getting things right, she has succeeded in making Pottsboro part of a countywide broadband coalition bringing high-speed internet to households. The library provides space and technology for telehealth services, allowing older residents to better age in place. Recently, the library won a $350,000 grant from the National Digital Inclusion Alliance to create the Digital Navigator program, which connects tech-savvy teens with senior citizens eager to learn. “The library is working with AI, virtual reality, and 3D printers, and we recently got a new VR headset just for the older adults,” she says.
Connery remains a volunteer to this day. “If they paid me, they would be able to tell me what to do,” she says with a laugh. “If we can identify what needs to be done without a lot of bureaucracy, that freedom allows us to innovate.”
Connery’s Pottsboro Picks
Hagerman Wildlife Refuge
“There are thousands of geese that winter at the Hagerman Wildlife Refuge,” Connery says. “It’s a really spectacular thing to see.” The refuge has more than 9 miles of hiking trails to enjoy and a wildlife drive around the lake where birdwatchers can search for wading birds, birds of prey, and other songbirds enjoying the bustling ecosystem. But to Connery, the best time to visit and hike is in the spring, when the bluebonnets bloom around Lake Texoma Dam.
“There are islands on Lake Texoma, and you can take a boat out, park, have a picnic, and spend the day on various islands,” Connery says. She and her husband love to take their grandkids to the Fourth of July fireworks display on the water. “There were hundreds of boats out last time we went, which to me was more fun to watch than the fireworks,” she says. “It’s pitch-black, and all you can see are the lights from everyone else’s boats.”
Sidewalk Poetry Competition
Pottsboro put a twist on story walks, the popular way to enjoy reading and the outdoors at the same time—they did it with poetry. Last summer, the library hosted a poetry competition for new works by residents to be showcased around town. “We had over 140 entries, half of those coming from our local fifth graders, and the rest coming from community members,” Connery says. A panel of judges from nearby colleges, schools, and local businesses chose 13 poems and locations to display them. The streets were spray-painted with the poems for the public to discover and enjoy.
Connery is a fan of Italian restaurant Napoli’s, where she orders the Shaunda Special. The off-menu item is angel hair pasta with vegetables and olive oil, with the option to add shrimp or chicken. She usually follows that with the tiramisu. “They also have some of the best pizza around,” she adds. “I like the Margherita with mozzarella, tomatoes, and fresh basil.”
Fry ’Em Up Fish Fry
One event Connery never misses is the Locust Community Volunteer Fire Department’s annual Fry ’Em Up Fish Fry fundraiser every August. The event includes a fried fish dinner, live music, a gun raffle, and a silent auction. During the winter storm of 2021, residents lost water and power for nearly a week. Together with the LCVFD and local ranchers, water was trucked in from surrounding areas, and a distribution effort was coordinated through the Pottsboro Library Facebook page. “Small communities don’t always have all the resources we need,” she says. “We really have to depend on ourselves to save ourselves.”