Sabine County jobless rate doesn't surprise community

By Jena Johnson - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - "There's really not a lot of places for employment around here," said Mike Jerge, Human Resources and Project Manager at Chance Construction.

Mike Jerge works at Chance Construction, one of Hemphill's top employers. Sabine County's high jobless rate doesn't come as a surprise to many.

"We don't have a lot of industry," said Janice McDonald, Sabine County Clerk.

"People either have to own their own businesses or find other means to make a living, there's not really that much to choose from," said Nathan Booth, works at Misc. in Hemphill.

Booth said the lack of development is a product of Sabine County's environment. "Hemphill's always been kind of behind the times, it's kind of because people don't want to change the town," said Booth.

Others said that holding on to that mentality is backfiring. "I think that people in the back of their mind, they really like it that way. They want people to go somewhere else, this is more of a retirement community and the best kept secret," said Jerge.

Sabine County's location doesn't play to its favor. "There's just no main road, you'd have to be going to Hemphill to get here," said Jerge.

Jerge said places in the county, like Hemphill, should utilize their natural resources. "Someday put in a water park or some kind of amusement park on Toledo Bend," said Jerge.

Until then, the jobless will have to travel outside of the Sabine County lines to find work. "It's bittersweet, we keep the traditional things, but then we kind of close out, kind of shut out businesses that want to come in and build in the town," said Booth.

People we spoke to said the Sabine County natives who have lost their jobs in other areas, often move back to Sabine County and file unemployment there.

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