Reversing Decline

Monday, July 16th 2007, 6:31 am
By: News On 6

TAFT, Okla. (AP) -- Residents of this small Muskogee County community hope its slow decline can be reversed, but others have their doubts that Taft will ever again be what it was during its heyday.

Taft is home to two minimum-security prisons but not much else. There is no place in the town to buy gas or a candy bar, and only two vending machines, both under the porch of a former grocery store.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimated in 2006 that Taft's population was 570, which would be up from 349 in 2000, but city officials dispute the estimate.

Former Mayor Lelia Foley Davis says the town is, quote, "just declining."

Davis and current Mayor Patricia Springs think if a police officer is hired, it would be a good first step toward helping the town grow.

But hiring an officer would cost money, something scarce in a town with a budget of just under $132,000 for the fiscal year.

That amount includes the operational costs of Taft's water department, which also provides the town with its primary revenue source.