Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lake Tourism Boosts Families, Southern Oklahoma Economies

By Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant

Hello again, everybody! As summer begins to fade, a treasure trove of memories about it will remain vivid for years to come in my family.

My son, Jacob – as he will tell you – is two-and-a-half, “the boss” (he gets “time out” for that statement), and he absolutely loves trains. We also have discovered he is a lake-loving little boy.

Jacob absolutely loves Lake Texoma. He loves to fish – even petting the stripers we catch. He loves the sandy beaches, playing in the water, digging his toes in the cool sand, and building sand castles complete with motes.

There is nothing like finding a sandy beach, spreading out a blanket and having a picnic with your family. On holiday weekends like Labor Day, finding a vacant section of beach isn’t always easy.

We got to meet visitors from across the nation, people who never would visit our communities without the lake amenities. The amount of money that comes to our area as a result of lake tourism is almost beyond imagining. Those dollars create thousands of jobs on Lake Texoma that further boost area economies.

Jacob will grow up knowing how incredibly blessed we all are to have this lake literally in our backyards. He, and all the children of his generation, will grow up on a Lake Texoma that has – for the first time – a chance to reach its potential on the Oklahoma side.

The new $750 million Pointe Vista development will remake a portion of the lake around the old Texoma Lodge into a world class resort and conference center. Southern Oklahoma is excited about the possibilities.

Those of us who have lived most of our lives here have hoped for development on the Oklahoma side of Texoma, and the prosperity it brings. We grew up watching development on the Texas side of the lake; we heard plans for our side of the lake, only to see them vanish into thin air.

A new proposal for a billion-dollar resort near Denison, Texas put new urgency on the plans begun with a law I wrote four years ago. Had we done nothing, the lodge would have continued to deteriorate and again we would have watched Texas move ahead of Oklahoma.

With Pointe Vista moving forward, we are years ahead of the proposed Texas development. Finally, after almost three-quarters of a century, the Oklahoma side of Texoma stands to lead in lake development rather than watching helplessly as Texas moved farther ahead.

The key for Oklahoma was a willingness to do things differently, to take a chance on a new idea. New development at Texoma will lead to a brighter future for my constituents, economic expansion for southern Oklahoma, and the creation of one of America’s greatest lake destinations – for our generation and those, like Jacob’s, yet to follow.

We cannot wait to see the finished product.

Thanks again for reading the “Senate Minute,” have a great week, and may God bless you all.

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