ATOKA COUNTY, OK -- In these troubling economic times, some parts of Texoma are still earning money from what is underground. Gas and oil exploration is booming in parts of North Texas and southern Oklahoma.
Several counties in our area, including Marshall, Bryan, and Coal Counties, are seeing large pieces of drilling equipment roll into town.
In Atoka County, they say it's helped bring an economic turnaround.
On an Atoka County road, the trees and cows are a common sight, but behind the barbed wire fence is a large gas rig on an open pasture.
"I never thought there would be any of this oil activity," Clint Bond says he has had six different rigs on his property in the past three years. It's become a trend all across Atoka County.
"As a landowner it's been great. I'm glad to see all the oil companies that have moved into our area. As far as me personally on my property, they have always done everything they've said they would and they've been really easy to work with."
There are currently no rigs in Atoka’s city limits, but the city's still reaping the benefits. New hotels are springing up around town, booked for weeks with work crews expanding the tax base.
"Traditionally southeastern Oklahoma has been a very depressed area economically, and it's pumped a lot of money into our economy, it's been a windfall for our land and mineral owners," Atoka mayor Charles McCall says.
In 2006, Ethan Allen closed its manufacturing plant in Atoka, laying off nearly 200 employees. Some of those workers now work on these oil and gas rigs.
"It’s very nice to be able to transition those jobs to the industrial sector, so it's come at a very good time for us," McCall says.
City officials say they are preparing to make improvements to the roads if needed and other city services, but what's in the ground is turning into more money in the economy.
Officials in Coal County say they are experiencing similar results. They just built a hotel in Coalgate. Property owner Clint Bond says the companies plan to set up wells on his land that will hopefully produce for many years to come.