Lake Texoma

Because Life is Better at the Lake

Changes in How Texoma Lives and Works

by




Have people been coming to Texoma to work remotely on their boats, in their campers, or at their second homes during the pandemic? That was a question posed to me. I cannot measure that demographic after contacting several experts in our regional employment sectors. But, just in observance on the Texas side of Texoma, many more people are taking advantage of public recreational areas than usual.

The Wednesday before Memorial Day Weekend was as busy as Saturday everywhere close to the Willis Bridge area. I frequently drive through Hagerman Wildlife Refuge on my way home from Sherman and never see another car on the road. Last Tuesday, I was driving along with several other cars. The marinas and campgrounds stayed busy this Memorial Day weekend which asks Americans to honor the men and women who have died in service to the U.S. military.

Predictions Based on What We Know

The Texoma Council of Governments (TCOG) reported a trend that we are seeing on a national level. Rural areas are growing in population at slow and steady rates. In its 2017-2022 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy evaluation of how Cooke, Fannin, and Grayson Counties should prepare for its growth, TCOG recognized a shortage in available housing. (1) On May 1, USA Today reported that almost one-third of Americans are thinking about moving to suburban or rural areas because of the pandemic and that 43% of city dwellers browsed a real estate website in suburbs and rural areas. This figure is two times more than the rate of suburban residents at 26% and rural inhabitants at 21% looking at real estate outside of their areas. (2)

Even though the availability of internet service providers (ISP) offering the speed and bandwidth needed for people to work from home in the Texoma region has increased in the last two years, it has not caught up with what city ISP offer in many Texoma communities on both sides of the Red River which includes campgrounds and marinas. On March 12, Popular Science announced that millions of American employees and students cannot receive enough internet speed to take care of their needs. (3)

The impact of the pandemic on the workforce and companies is already evident. People want to work from home more often. Globalworkplaceanalytics.com estimates that 56% of the American workforce already work at jobs that are compatible or partially compatible with working from home. This company predicts that this trend will continue after the pandemic. Gallup Poll data showed that 43% of Americans worked from home part-time in 2016.

For years, the majority of companies and their managers required people to be at their desks in their offices because they did not trust employees to be productive while working from home. The exceptions are the internet-based companies like Dell, medical billing agencies, and a few other industries. Freelancers have been working from home for many years; myself included, but my ambition to sell myself is severely lacking because I have no sales talent. Businesses are beginning to realize the large amount of waste of office space via the restrictions of the pandemic and looking into the savings for their companies by downsizing office space. (4)

The environmental impact of the pandemic is also evident. A powerful decrease in traffic, congestion, and pollution, which in turn has reduced greenhouse gases* has not gone unnoticed by many organizations watching out for the earth’s health. Dr. Benjamin Felzer, Leheigh University, associate professor, Marine Biological Laboratory, cites reduced transportation in general as the cause. Increased teleconferencing trends and unnecessary business air travel have helped people shelter at home. Dr. Felzer hopes that as people notice how much cleaner their world is that they will also notice how much of an impact humans have on wildlife and the earth. (5)

A Few Facts

In 2017, Grayson County was the fastest growing with Fannin and Cooke Counties behind. After the 2010 census, Oklahoma gained five congressional seats. (6) On May 26, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that a group of bipartisan citizens that wants to redraw Oklahoma’s districts can move forward with their petition to gather almost 178,000 signatures. This will take the redistricting process out of the Oklahoma Legislature and put it into a nine-member commission if People Not Politicians are successful with their petition. (7) After the 2020 census, Texas will redistrict after April 1, 2021. The new population data could lead TX to pick up three congressional seats. In 2011, Texas gained four new seats. (8)


Before the pandemic, 17% of Texans lived in food insecurity, and that rate was higher for Cooke, Grayson, and Fannin Counties. Unemployment rates in the Texas Texoma Region rose from 3.2% in January to 4.5% in April, and the latest figures stand at 10.8% in May. In Oklahoma, Bryan County had a February 2.7% and a March 2.6% unemployment rate. Love County checked in with 2.2% in February and 2.0% in March. Marshall County had a February 3.3% and a March 3.2% rate. By April, the Oklahoma statewide unemployment rate was at 13.7%. (9)

According to Texas Department of Transportation, statewide traffic in May was 30% lower statewide. Oklahoma Department of Transportation reports a 35% to 40 % decrease in traffic statewide. (10) Governments plan transportation and road projects years in advance.

Driving a personal vehicle is the main source of transportation for Texoma residents. In 2017, 30% of Texan Texomans commuted fifty miles or more to work one way. (4) In Texas, we pay 18.4 cents federal and 20 cents state taxes per gallon for gas. Funding for road infrastructure comes from these taxes. The Texas Railroad Commission voted not to reduce oil production and waived fees for new crude oil storage projects on May 6. (11)

Future Texoma Predictions

In its 2017-2022 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, TCOG predicted in its Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Challenges report that Texoma’s most powerful strength is its location, and the best opportunities lie in local craft food and beverage production. Organic, locally grown food and meat supplies help fuel these opportunities. Arts and culture also play an important part in Texas Texoma’s opportunities. Downtown Denison overflows with creative energy.

TCOG cited housing, transportation, and healthcare as the weak links in the chain of Texoma’s economic health. These three factors affect the lowest wage earners. TCOG’s recommended strategies are to: 1. Create a Vibrant Regional Identity 2. Create a Diverse and Healthy Regional Economy 3. Create a Resilient Economy. (1)

The Future of Texoma Still Looks Pretty Good

The pandemic will not last forever. Businesses are opening up. The lake was extremely busy during the first holiday weekend of our tourist season. In April, the marinas I called were for the most part busy. So are the restaurants. The parks and campgrounds are open. People were coming in from the big cities before Memorial Day weekend. The golf courses that stayed open were busy. The farmers will continue to grow crops and the ranchers will continue to raise livestock.

People who can work from home during the pandemic will lobby to work at home permanently afterwards which will reduce stress and increase satisfaction. City dwellers are looking for rural real estate, so people will continue to move to Texoma. The census will bring on new congressional seats for Texas and Oklahoma. State and local city governments and economic planning commissions have cut their spending budgets so businesses and the public can ride the economic waves of the pandemic.

One of the biggest problems everywhere, not just in Texoma, is unemployment and its associated poverty levels along with the already present families living in food insecurity. Only time will tell when the unemployment rate will fall.

* Greenhouse gases are (carbon dioxide—CO2, Methane—CH4) as well as pollutant gases like carbon monoxide—CO (mainly from transportation) and nitrogen oxide—NO2.

Picture

Courtesy of the Friends of Hagerman Wildlife Refuge

Sources

1. https://www.tcog.com/news/publications/other/2017/07/2017-2022-comprehensive-economic-development-strategy/
2. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/05/01/coronavirus-americans-flee-cities-suburbs/3045025001/
3. https://www.popsci.com/story/technology/work-from-home-broadband-connection-internet-fcc/
4. https://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/work-at-home-after-covid-19-our-forecast
5. https://phys.org/news/2020-05-world-covid-response-impact-environment.html
6. https://ballotpedia.org/Redistricting_in_Oklahoma_after_the_2020_census
7. https://apnews.com/99b55b8e70f547783358eb5d0cb5d451
8. https://redistricting.capitol.texas.gov/
https://lrl.texas.gov/whatsNew/client/index.cfm/2011/6/7/Congressional-Redistricting-in-Texas
9. https://www.deptofnumbers.com/unemployment/oklahoma/
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/release/tables?rid=116&eid=255693
10. https://www.news9.com/story/5e9875e1cc9ea5695635cbf8/construction-project-finish-ahead-of-schedule-due-to-lower-traffic-volume-during-coronavirus-pandemic
11. https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/energy/article/Railroad-Commission-15247644.php



Lumini Services
Kendall Davis is well-versed in the English language. She has 20 years experience as a published author and writing for clients. Her published works include historical articles in museums, magazines, newspaper articles, columns, content marketing, advertising copy, blogging, and academic papers. Kendall also makes her way in the literary world as a copyeditor. Writing about history is her first love interest. If you have editing or content needs on your website or for your books, articles, blogs, or columns, please visit her website to see details and more examples of her work, the services she offers, and contact information. http://kdavis1836.wixsite.com/luminiwrites


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Lake Texoma Current Weather Alerts

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Lake Texoma Weather Forecast

Monday

Mostly Sunny

Hi: 96

Monday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 79

Tuesday

Partly Sunny

Hi: 96

Tuesday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 79

Wednesday

Hot

Hi: 97

Wednesday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 79

Thursday

Hot

Hi: 97

Thursday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 78


Lake Texoma Water Level (last 30 days)


Water Level on 8/11: 617.29 (+0.29)



Lake Texoma Fishing Report from TPWD (Aug. 5)

GOOD. Water lightly stained; 85-88 degrees; 0.85 high. Striped bass and white bass are good on live bait and topwater baits when fish are near the surface. Diving birds are marking feeding schools on the surface throughout the lake. Use sonar to mark schools along the river channel and flats. Largemouth bass are good fishing skirted jigs, TX rigged plastic creatures, chatter baits, and crankbaits in 14-24’. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs by boathouses, marinas and brush piles in 15-25’. Catfish are good on cut bait, prepared bait, and live bait.