Eufaula needs, as Mayor Jack Tibbs said earlier this week, a “game changer,” and should we get the fifth home for the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs, it would be a walk-off home run, a hail-Mary touchdown pass, or a half-court buzzer beater for the Bluff City.
Industry would sure to follow if it indeed happens, and this town, with as much natural beauty as any municipality within the borders of Sweet Home Alabama, would finally emerge into the Cinderella it can be. We just need someone to put on the glass slipper.
Even before businesses and houses begin popping up, there will be as many as 250 new jobs, between 150-175 new residents, and upgrades and improvements to existing establishments, most notably Medical Center Barbour. Studies show that the financial impact could be $95 million in the first year as the facility is under construction. The impact of the home could mean $25 million annually after it’s built. Remember, spouses of those hired to work there will look for jobs in the area, too.
A new industry would have been nice (thanks for getting our hopes up, Steve Harvey), the possibility of restoring the Bluff City Inn would be a bigger catch than anything out of Lake Eufaula, and added amenities to the town will make the next baseball or softball event even better than the recent Dixie Softball World Series. But, getting a Veterans Home for a town that loves its veterans would have a residual affect that could be felt throughout the 21st century and beyond.
In a state where cities already flourishing seem to get more plants, particularly Huntsville, it’d be nice to see one of the loveliest towns in the south (see Eufaula’s annual Pilgrimage of Homes as well as its great downtown) get the kickstart it needs to return to prosperity following an economic downturn that left it somewhat bloodied. No, it’s not as scarred as a Selma or Montgomery, but there is certainly room to improve. The Veterans Home would be a near perfect fit both ways; for the town because it already relishes its veterans, and for the veterans because they will have the serenity of the lake, the beauty of the town, and events that’ll be right up their alley.
I guess this is a plea of sorts for those calling the shots to take a long, serious look at Eufaula, then compare it to other communities. Yes, Dothan has a pair of larger hospitals... but it’s Dothan and where will you find serenity there matching what Eufaula can offer? Enterprise has flourished better than any town in Southeast Alabama, but following a remarkably poor audit report just this week for the city government, perhaps that town has found itself behind the proverbial 8-ball.
Come to think of it, maybe Eufaula would be a game-changer for the veterans as much as the new home would be for Eufaula.