We need to be A county, not separate entities in a county
A local businessman looked at the map in the foyer of The Boise City News recently and remarked, “Just looking at the map, this place should be booming.”
He's right; we have a crossroads of major highways basically in the geographical center of our county.
Highway 287 links Mexico with Denver and Canada; thousands of trucks pass through going north and south.
Highways 3 and 412 link us to Oklahoma City and Tulsa and 56 follows the Santa Fe Trail.
North of us we have an airport that although it be both rural and small, can accommodate private jet aircraft.
We are sitting on a transportation gold mine and we should be utilizing it better.
As I write this column on Tuesday morning, I, like many others, am waiting for Tuesday night to hear what ODOT will tell us about the proposed truck relief route around Boise City; part of the planning for the Port-To-Plains traffic corridor from Laredo, Texas to Denver, Colo. and eventually Canada.
Of course these changes are in our future, perhaps decades in our future. But for those of us who can recall Amarillo without I-40 we know that the future arrives quickly.
I have heard unnamed people from either end and the center of the county quoted as saying something like...“What difference does it make to me? I live in Felt/Keyes/Kenton, out in the country. Why should I care what happens in, or to, Boise City?”
Why? From the mid 1950s to the early 1980s Cimarron County was booming. With the arrival of the CIG and the Federal Helium Plants, (both nearer Keyes than Boise City, Felt or Kenton), the county's economy was strong. Those plants brought jobs and people. Some of those jobs employed local farmers; they were able to continue farming because of those plants
As I grew up in Keyes I can remember when that small city had as many as three grocery stores, a locker plant, two gas stations and two lumber yards.
When I got to visit Boise City, there were two more lumber yards, at least three grocery stores, another locker plant, and dealerships that sold Studebaker, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Chevrolet, Plymouth, DeSoto, International, GMC, Chevrolet, Ford, Mercury, Jeep, and Packard automobiles and trucks. There were also dealerships for John Deere, International, M&M, Massey-Harris and Ford tractors.
There were countless restaurants, clothing and hardware stores, at least one upholstery shop and several different service stations and petroleum supply companies. There were two movie theaters, one in Boise City, one in Keyes.
The main economy was then, as it is now and always will be, agriculturally based. But those gas plants and the jobs and people they brought into this county made a big difference.
Now granted, many of these businesses disappeared before the petroleum/helium economy base did; their owners having retired, or died without having an interested family member to continue the business; Studebaker, Packard and International stopped making cars and small trucks.
But, by 1988, after cutbacks at CIG and the eventual closing of the helium plant, the county economy began to slow; the last lumber yard in Keyes closed that year.
Go to the Heritage Center, look in the newspapers on file there and see how the county economy turned down when Keyes lost its plants.
Don't kid yourself, if we, as a united county, make an effort to cash in on the Ports-To-Plains corridor and the truck traffic we have and will have, the entire county will profit from it, be it from jobs or owning a business.
We need to look beyond sports rivalries both new and old. We must look beyond real or imagined business rivalries between our communities and as Cimarron County do our best to bring our prosperity back.
Boise City News