Community changes as population rises


Progress around city– News businesses Dominoes and a second doughnut shop reside in one of several new shopping centers. Wingate hotel open on Hobbs highway. Traffic increases as city grows. Oilfield traffic clogs streets. Apartment complexes go up behind Dollar General. Best Western hotel opens on Andrews highway. City opens truck route down 11th Street.

Increased traffic, a new truck route, longer lines in businesses and new buildings going up are just a few results of the recent oil boom in Seminole. Seminole has experienced tremendous growth both economically and population-wise over the past few years. With any amount of progress and development, challenges and growing pains arise.

“I think our community is becoming bigger,” senior Justin Hernandez said. “I don’t think it’s affecting us much other than we need to open more restaurants.”

Hernandez was one of many who wanted more restaurants and businesses to meet the rising needs. “Our city is not offering incentives to bring new businesses in,” social studies teacher Tony Carter said. “We need to expand our city boundaries to increase the population and draw businesses in.”

With all high school out for lunch at the same time, the extended lunch/tutorial time didn’t always offer enough time to get served at local establishments.

Another situation that has begun to affect Seminole within the past few months is the passage of alcohol sales within the city after the November election made alcohol sales legal.

“The economy will go up with alcohol sales,” senior Oscar Villa said. “People won’t have to go to other towns to buy alcohol. I’m not sure how authorities will handle it, but I don’t think it will make a noticeable difference.”

A common fear from being able to purchase beer and other alcoholic beverages inside city limits comes from the possible risks of more underage drinking and the possible increase of drinking-related accidents.

“It might be safer selling alcohol here because then people aren’t driving with alcohol from other towns,” junior Brittany Quiring said. “It might decrease drunk driving accidents.”

After the first period of convenience stores rearranging, stocking their shelves, and selling alcohol, the biggest problem seems to come from simply waiting in long lines while identification is checked, etc.

“I have waited in line at convenience stores behind several people buying beer,” junior Luke Wimmer said. “It was awful mainly because you have a place to be, and if you’re only buying one thing and they are buying cases of beer you think, ‘Can I go?’.”

Lines are not just long for alcohol sales, they are long in many businesses due to an increase in population. Because of the population growth, new houses have gone up all over Seminole, and apartment buildings and hotels have shot up as well.

“I think it’s good that there are a lot of new hotels because people come through, and it helps the oil field,” Quiring said. “I also know a lot of apartment buildings are occupied, and that’s good.”

Multiple apartment complexes and two hotels have gone up in the past three years, creating competition for people to reserve rooms due to the constant traffic and oil field industry. The hotels have also opened up spaces for business meetings and gatherings.

“Hotels have been added blessings because people can come to stay,” Chamber of Commerce officer Shelby Concotelli said. “Seminole is now able to host different regional meetings that we couldn’t before.”

The oil industry has been a huge boost for incoming businesses, the community as a whole benefits.

“People can come and more people can stay,” freshman Taylor Roberts said. “It’s convenient, especially for oil field workers.”

The hotels and apartments have made existing businesses boost their plans. Concotelli confirmed that Pizza Hut on Main Street is to soon undergo major changes in order to become a combination Pizza Hut/Taco Bell near the Wingate Hotel on the Hobbs highway.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2013, 7,027 people lived inside the Seminole city limits. This was a 597 person jump from 2010. This number does not include hundreds of people who live in outlying areas beyond the city limits but still attend the school district or shop in Seminole.

“Seminole is blessed by the agriculture and oil industry,” Concotelli said. “Seminole is expanding. Growth is all around us on every highway and more and more is coming into city limits.”

It seems that the city is only getting started with increases in population and continuing to become economically stronger. The two major intersecting highways in town bring in a large amount of business. US 385 (Lubbock to Andrews) and US 180 (Lamesa to Hobbs, N.M.) make Seminole a central location to stop and eat or fill up with gas.

“Seminole is a central point,” Quiring said. “A lot of people stop and travel through.”

As Seminole grows economically and the population density rises, diversity among businesses and people simultaneously changes too. “We are becoming a multi-cultural, urban setting,” Carter said. “We have people moving here from all over the country due to the oil industry. Our Spanish-speaking and German-speaking population continue to grow as well.”

Seminole has been a town that thrives on agriculture and oil for years, but with oil booms, population increases and economic growth even things like alcohol sales and lack of chain restaurants are challenges people are willing to take on.

“Seminole is just becoming a larger town,” Villa said. “It’s going to take a while to get everything together because there are more people coming in.”