Phillips' Bartlesville vs Houston, no comparison

Tuesday, January 22nd 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Oklahoma Governor Keating spent Tuesday in Houston, hoping to persuade Bartlesville's largest employer to stay put. Phillips Petroleum announced a merger with Conoco last December.

The company will base its operations in Houston, which means hundreds of high-paying jobs will leave Bartlesville, and hundreds of families are facing a major move. News on Six reporter Tami Marler says Bartlesville and Houston couldn't be more different.

At Bartlesville's Weeze's Café, there's been plenty of talk about hundreds of Phillips jobs - and families - moving to Houston. Mary Johnson just got back from a four-month stay in Houston. She says it doesn't compare to Bartlesville. "You get what you don't get in the city. You have to go quite a ways to get to country like that and it's pretty much wall-to-wall housing." All those people - about 1.8-million - make a lot of traffic, and a bear of a commute. "And it would take me probably 40 minutes to get to work. 30 to 35 to go home because the traffic didn't seem as bad in the evening." The average commute in Bartlesville is about 13 minutes, but the differences don't stop there.

The cost of living in Bartlesville is 64, in Houston 92, which means Houston is more expensive. The unemployment rate is slightly lower in Bartlesville than in Houston. But family income is higher, on average, more than $37,000, compared with about $30,000 in Houston. While Bartlesville property taxes run you about $1,300, you'll shell out nearly $5,000 in Houston. That's based on an average, 2,000 square foot home, which would run $130,000 in Bartlesville, $180,000 in Houston.

“People are people whether they're Bartlesville or Houston, how many murders have you had in the last year? None the past year." District Attorney Rick Esser says Bartlesville has crime just like any other community, but Houston Police investigate more than 450 murders a year. "On the average we have about one every other year fortunately and we'd like to have less than that. But not anywhere near per capita like they have someplace like Houston."

Mary Johnson says she could adapt to the big city, but her husband Steve says she'd have to go without him. "Just the hustle and bustle of the city. I like the rural; we live in the country. And I just don't think I want to go." Phillips employees have also expressed concern over removing their children from Bartlesville schools.

I also did an education comparison between the two cities, using college entrance exams. Bartlesville scored high on the Scholastic Assessment test, ranking well above both the nation, and Houston's Independent School District.

The picture is the same with the ACT test. Bartlesville students scored 22.77 out of 36, while Houston students scored 19.