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1980’s Resort To Eufaula | Little town that could – Mayor Joe Johnson

Eufaula: Little town that could
Eufaula Mayor Joe Johnson said: “I couldn’t have done anything without their help. I’m certainly not egotistical enough to
think Eufaula would not have grown without me.”
Mary Rule, managing editor of the Indian Journal, the states oldest consecutively published
newspaper, said Johnson is a “progressive”
He was covering city council meetings for the newspaper, saw what was going on and decided
he could do a better job, he said. He ran successfully for mayor at the age of 24.
Johnson spearheaded the drive to get the 1-cent sales tax passed. He said he feels they were
fortunate to get it passed before “the shortfalls the state was going to experience came to a head.”
“I can name a number of communities where it has failed,” Johnson said. “They expect returns from
the state and federal agencies, but they’re not willing to give locally.”
Randy Nobles, director of the eastern Oklahoma Development District, said “All towns of
similar size are growing in eastern Oklahoma, but Eufaula’s growth is more pronounced. I think its an
attitude of elected officials, community leaders and an active Chamber of Commerce.”
“They’re very good at grantsmanship,” Nobles said. “It’s a willingness, an attitude, and having
good people there to package projects.”
Stan Kelly is the man who knows how to wrap the package. Johnson said Kelly had been
writing grants for Eufaula for about six years. Nobles said Kelly had done the same thing for Checotah.
Eufaula has received grants from ‘the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation, the Environmental
Protection Agency, Housing and Urban Development, the Development of Economic and community
Affairs and the Economic Development Administration. The list is like alphabet soup.
Johnson agrees grantsmanship has been an integral part of Eufaula’s progress, but said “don’t
misunderstand this. They don’t just call you and ask you if you want some money. If we don’t ask for
it, we don’t get it.”
He feels the residents of Eufaula contributed to the pool of available state and federal funds
“The better job we do of returning their taxes to them, the lower we are able to keep local rates,” He
1980’s Resort To Eufaula Video
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