With the Veterans Home going elsewhere, Eufaula needs to look ahead. Hopefully, that’ll mean a new plant producing gloves, condoms, medical cold packs and quality jobs — we should hear of the Medical Industries of the Americas’ liftoff very soon — more of some of the nation’s best bass fishing events on Lake Eufaula (we take bills regardless of their fishy smell), the move of Eufaula’s Barbour County courthouse into a more modern facility, and actual discussions of a new Barbour County Medical facility.
As for the Alabama State Board of Veterans Affairs selecting Enterprise for the new Southeast Alabama Veterans Home, OK, we get it ... Enterprise is thriving better than any municipality in southeast Alabama. But, so much for the whispers of giving some place a shot in the arm, because it’s the last town of the 12 in the running that needed a boost.
Meanwhile, we guess they’ll just have to plan weekend fishing trips to Eufaula to see the loveliest sites — lake, historic district, downtown shopping, etc. — in the area. Someone asked if I thought it was politically motivated. Everything is politically motivated.
Word is the 250 jobs the Veterans home will create will not be especially great jobs, although Eufaula certainly could have used them. That’s why the 50 and more jobs created by each of the fast-food restaurants are more than appreciated.
That’s particularly why we should be excited about Medical Industries of the Americas and its possible 300 jobs paying well over the minimum wage.
The late Greg Calhoun and comedian Steve Harvey did a lot of talking about what they were going to bring to the plant, but those promises were as empty as a gifted tin of chocolate covered pecans from Superior Pecans on Dec. 26 (good news, I haven’t eaten any since ... yet).
Regardless, there seems to be more substance in the new plant owners’ conviction. Time will tell, of course, although I’m hearing is that the time is ever so near.
While the hospital has not shed light on anything regarding a new facility, Mayor Jack Tibbs said it is indeed planned, just not certain when ... or where.
We know that the Veterans Home could have turned Eufaula into a thriving community almost overnight, but fortunately, all of the town’s eggs were not in that proverbial basket. If someone will ever take hold of the former Bluff City Inn property and revitalize that area into a tourist destination with unique shops around (there are some very near, anyway), it could be a big economic boost. The traffic count on Highway 431 is already akin to large cities, so what a perfect place for a unique getaway for people in Atlanta, Birmingham, Montgomery, Tallahassee, etc.?
In the meantime, the fishing industry continues to thrive in Eufaula and the lake shows no sign of slowing down. The schedule for 2020 is full again, with TV shows, pros and aspiring pros visiting from now through November.
Eufaula will be alright; it just has to continue fighting so it doesn’t end up like those towns that appear to have just given up. You know the towns I speak of; you drive through them and only stop when you have to because there’s no other reason. Eufaula has plenty of reasons to stop, perhaps roll down the windows and take a picture or three.
Maybe we’ll get to where we’re going, just at a slow and steady pace. Maybe that’ll begin this year.