Center is expecting economic boom in 2009

CENTER, TX (KTRE) - Nothing pleases Center Mayor John Windham more than to open up architectural plans for new construction in the city he leads. "It's going to be a bigger building year for us in '09 than in '08," said the mayor as he unrolled plans for a new 26,000 square foot civic center. Bulldozers are pushing dirt on the donated 8 1/2 acre tract. The donation enables the city to use hotel motel tax it's been saving over the last two years in other areas. "Close to a million dollars in land," estimated the mayor. "We can take that money and put it in this building we plan on paying for. So it's really a big, big deal for us."

New streets lead to at least two new businesses, including a CVS pharmacy. Most of the development is off the square of Center, but the mayor is quite pleased that his downtown area is quite alive. You won't find many vacant buildings along the Center square.

New housing is also on the drawing board. There will be garden homes built for retirees and 39 apartment units. They're primarily for lease hounds brought in by the volatile oil and gas industry. This is where uncertainty can settle in. Financial reports as recent as today show profit records that are the highest they've been in over a hundred years crumbling away as crude prices plummet. "Let's look at it this way. We didn't have any of it before, two years ago. Nothing. So whatever we get is great," is the mayor's perspective.

The mayor remains optimistic. Mayor Windham is watching closely oil and gas exploration in the northern part of Shelby county. He says if an anticipated major discovery is made Center and Shelby County's economy could benefit for decades.