Urban Fold

Small Towns Work to Keep Young Population

Towns in East Texas have watched their children graduate high school and leave town for generations- in some towns, up to 90% of graduates flee. Job development is key to keeping the kids down on the farm, but older locals balk at growth.

"How do small towns keep more of their young? It's a question that leads to bigger issues affecting rural Texas, said Julie Kelly, spokeswoman for the Office of Rural Community Affairs.

"Some people pass away and their children inherit land (in their hometown), but they've already moved to suburban areas," Kelly said. "There's a lot of concern."

Kelly's state agency provides grants for communities to improve infrastructure - a way to become more attractive to prospective employers and new residents, she said. For example, an electronic records project in the Panhandle links pharmacies and clinics in two small towns to a large Amarillo hospital, thereby overcoming a small-town health care obstacle.

For towns such as Daingerfield, Linden and Overton, however, the formula for sparking population growth is much more complicated, particularly when some townsfolk want to keep things just the way they are."

Full Story: Small area towns fight flat growth, flight of youth

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