Most recently, Earth Biofuels gained state and regional headlines with the opening of its new plant in Durant. High-profile celebrities and investors in the company like Willie Nelson and Morgan Freeman brought much of that attention to town. The Daily Oklahoman and Tulsa World both carried lead stories about the plant, complete with photos.
The new casino also brought the focus to Durant when it opened in March. The Associated Press carried a full feature story about the facility, the complex around it, and the impact gaming has had on southern Oklahoma.
In December, Bryan County made national news with the outbreak of wildfires. The 10,000-acre Achille fire was the first in a series of major blazes this past winter. Video footage was shown on the major news channels, as well as NBC Nightly News.
The state of Oklahoma is close to signing a deal with a New York developer, who wants to buy 750 acres of shoreline at Lake Texoma, including the state lodge, and both golf courses, and develop it. That story has received a lot of play in the Dallas-area press. That's not too surprising, since Dallas would be the chief market for the development.
These stories have cast Durant and Bryan County in a positive light. Even the wildfire outbreak was positive. It focused attention on the dedication, and strain, the drought and wildfires have put on local volunteer fire departments.
Durant has been the fastest growing rural city in Oklahoma for the past two years, and Bryan County's growth rate has catapulted it into the top 10. One of the counties we trail is our neighbor to the west. Marshall County is the third-fastest growing county in Oklahoma.
Our area still has its share of problems, to be sure. But every once in a while, it's a good idea to take a step back and see how the rest of the country is seeing us, and remember that in spite of all the local problems, the future still looks very bright.
- Steve Boggs