Sunday, January 30, 2011

Want to leave the city? Take a look at Rolla

By R.D. Hohenfeldt
Managing Editor

Most of the people who check The Ozarks Almanac are folks looking for a place to move. Lots of our readers are city people wanting to move to the country to start a farm and lead a quiet, stress-free life or to a small town to live a quiet and stress-free life like Andy and Opie and Aunt Bea. Everyone in the city knows farming and small towns are quiet and stress-free.

Well, folks, consider life in Rolla.

In the Nineties, Rolla was included in a book about the top 100 small towns. Around here, we celebrated that fact and used it as a marketing tool to get more people and more businesses to move to Rolla.

Since then, it has outgrown small-town status and is now a small city, because we've had a lot of commercial growth along with population growth.

We've got a Walgreen's that's still fairly new.
On the opposite corner from Walgreen's, a site that was once a wonderful home-owned grocery store, we now have a strip shopping center with a fitness center next door to an ice cream parlor, plus a video game store and other businesses.
Colton's Steak House just opened.
A new ATT store is going up at the junction of Highways 63 and 72.
The city council and administrator keep telling us that Kohl's is coming; the city approved a tax increment financing plan.

A side benefit to this is that crime is up, too.
We're getting a government grant for the police department to hire a housing officer who will devote full-time to our housing projects.
Every day the local paper has a crime story on page 1. One day last week there was a story about a murder in which an alleged drug dealer allegedly delivered alleged heroin to a woman who died of an alleged overdose; he got charged, but there are many people who think he is being mistreated. It may turn out to be a racial problem.
And last week there also was a story about a fellow being bound over for trial on murder; he allegedly shot his stepson, perhaps accidentally, on a night of drinking with another feller. The stepdad and other feller allegedly threw the stepson's body into a ditch and drove off. This incident allegedly happened in early January and he's already been charged, so I guess the wheels of justice are allegedly speeding up in Phelps County.

So, with all the crime, there's more work for lawyers and paralegals.
Drug use is also up, giving plenty of work to police, sheriff's deputies and paramedics, nurses and emergency room doctors.

I think once word gets out about the growth in both commerce and crime, Rolla will pop up on more city people's radars. They'll be more willing to move here because they'll know we're in the Ozarks but we're not a typical small town; we've become more urbanized, so transplants will feel more at home.

The police chief told the city council that gang activity is up as more young transplants from the city come seeking the good life, so I think my theory is on track. I'm looking for a boom in growth.

If you're a transplant looking to move to the country or a small-town, take a look at Rolla. Won't you join us?

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