Issues Facing Your Town: Crowell

Wind blown dried out fields is the first thing you see when driving West on Highway 70 into town. That doesn't bode well for business when the main source of income for the average Crowell family is farming or raising cattle.

There is one big issue hanging over everyone's head.

"The biggest complaint is the lack of rain," said Crowell Mayor Gayle Simpson, "you know the drought. We have a real concern with our water, that its not going to be sufficient for us to get through."

Mayor Simpson is being proactive and has started some water restrictions, but more may be needed very soon. The worst drought in decades has taken its toll on all crops and it doesn't stop there.

"(Farmers) are getting ready to take their cattle to the sale, even though they are not ready and prepared to sell their livestock they are going to be forced to without water, "said Chamber of Commerce Secretary Carolyn Henry.

We've seen that issue across other Texoma towns, but in Crowell city leaders also have a fear that has hit many rural towns in the past few decades. Folks are picking up and leaving.

"Since the last census it looks like we have lost about 200 people and yes that is a concern," said Mayor Simpson.  "There's just not a lot of work opportunities for the younger people here."

The mood, however, is not grim. There is a big source of hope on the horizon and it has the whole town excited.

"I think everybody around here is looking forward to the possibility of maybe having a wind farm in the county," said Crowell Police Chief Rusty Moore.

Secretary Henry said, "They would look beautiful on our farm land."

"That would help the community with both money and jobs," said Mayor Simpson.

No concrete plans for a wind farm are in place yet, but city officials believe new power lines coming to town could later translate to wind power in Crowell and Foard County.  A power substation is just about done a few miles southwest of town and this is the main reason city officials are excited for the possibility of wind power.

The hope is that a wind farm would bring more jobs and hence would bring families to Crowell and kids to their schools. Crowell schools may be the brightest light in town. Superintendent Steven Pyburn has only been on the job since July 1st, but he knows that the previous administration left him in a great position.

"We should be able to weather the financial cuts that were set out by the state legislature with no problems," said Superintendent Pyburn. "The students at Crowell will not be affected at all."

If Crowell schools stay the course, it wont be a bad thing. The district is currently recognized by the Texas Education Agency. Also, in 2006 and 2007 US News and World Report Magazine tagged Crowell High School as one of the best high schools in America!

Despite a shrinking population, changes are happening downtown too. A new restaurant is opening soon just down the street from the new Fire Hall Museum. The museum, which is run by relatives of the founder of Crowell, has some incredible items from the 19th century and early 20th century. Its places like this that have city leaders convinced that the town will not only stop losing citizens, but will soon begin to grow again.

"One of our coined phrases is that we do things the pioneer way together," said Secretary Henry, "and we do work very very well together in our community."

Tune in Tuesday at 10pm for full story: Issues Facing Your Town: Crowell Edition.