The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 9, 2013

Back in business

Medford cautiously enjoying returning oil field action

By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

MEDFORD, Okla. — Increased plays in oil and natural gas exploration has brought a boost to Medford’s economy.

That means improvement throughout the town, as well as growth in area sales tax revenues and school enrollment.

“I think for the most part everyone is loving it,” said Medford City Manager Dea Mandeville. “It’s brought increased business to the downtown, especially the cafes, the grocery store and convenience store.”

Industry workers have filled properties throughout Medford, even leading to the remodeling of some homes.

“I think the landlords are happy. There’s not very many vacant properties,” Mandeville said. “We’ve even had several houses that sat empty for several years that have been purchased, remodeled and rented.”

Areas schools have reported increased enrollment, and the few problems brought on by the resurgence in the energy industry are problems other towns would be envious to call their own.

“The main thing is housing, especially temporary housing,” Mandeville said. “A lot of these workers have an RV they live in while working here. Sometimes it’s difficult for them to find a place to park.”

She said in the past two years, three new trailer parks have been built in the area because of the boom.

“I would say our sales tax is up 35 to 40 percent,” Mandeville said. “We’ve had probably, with all the houses, we probably have another 15 new water customers.”

The boom also has attracted several food trucks. They set up along the highway during the lunch rush to feed hungry workers. The trucks are there Monday through Friday and bring in quite a crowd, Mandeville said.

Although there were indications the boom was coming, Mandeville said she did not anticipate what has occurred.

“We heard there was going to be some activity going on,” she said. “You go down to the courthouse and see all the landmen in the courthouse looking at land deed books, so you know something was going on.

“It is way bigger than I ever anticipated it would be.”

Mandeville said city officials realize the boom eventually will end and they are trying to not get involved in projects they cannot afford without added benefit of the energy industry in town.

“We don’t want to get wrapped up in projects that will cost more than what we can afford to maintain,” she said.

Mandeville said the city just wrote a grant for a new swimming pool. If approved, some of the money would go toward that project.

She said other capital improvements are planned, such as new awnings, dugouts and fencing for the baseball field and some sewer line replacement.

“We have had so much truck traffic,” she said. “That is going to be an issues for the county when this is all over.”

Mandeville said temporary housing is in great need. She said she wishes someone would build another motel.

“The motel here, there’s just no vacancies. She’s booked.”

The oil boom also has brought related businesses to Medford.

Beck Oil Field Supply of Hennessey has opened an operation in town.

“We’re excited to have them here, Mandeville said. “They’ve invested with us in Medford.”

Best Well Service is open two miles outside of Medford. Mandeville said Remote Oil Field Services also has purchased a building in town and plans on moving operations downtown. There is also a new Subway sandwich shop inside the Jiffy Trip.

“Things are looking up,” Mandeville said. “I think most people know this is maybe another five years and this is going to be over. I think they appreciate we’re going to conserve the money and not blow through it.”

Mandeville said the city plans to take advantage of  the boom but not spend more than it should.

“We’re going to be doing some community improvement projects and improvements to the city,” she said. “There will be some wear and tear in the city when this is all over but not to the extent of what the county and state will be doing.”

Mandeville has worked for the city of Medford for 25 years, 11 as city manager. She said she remembers the last oil boom.

“I can remember in the late-’70s and ’80s when there were oil wells going in then,” she said. “We never thought it would come back like it has.

“For the most part I think people are happy it’s happening.”