Reagan County Growing at a Fast Pace 9/13/13
CBS 7 News
Like many other small towns in West Texas, Big Lake is growing. Local residents are seeing changes to their town, they've never seen before. There are more cars passing through big lake now more than ever.
In the early morning hours, Reagan County is how it used to be, small and quiet. Later in the day, it'll seem like an entirely different town. Streets are packed with big rig trucks.
"We've recently added two more specifically to work traffic," says County Sheriff Jeff Carner.
The sheriffs department serves the city and the county. He says he's sending two deputies to Austin for training in how to handle big commercial trucks like these. Sheriff garner says the town also desperately needs another light.
"TXDOT has specific criteria, and I guess, according to this less, we didn't meet that criteria," says Sheriff Garner.
Traffic is only one of the growth problems Big Lake has. The nighttime population is right around 7,000 people but according to the sheriff, during the day, that number doubles and can almost triple.
"It's crazy, it's hard to get gas, you're always behind a trucker," says Garrett Daniels. Daniels works in the area and says it can also be impossible to get lunch. “People bring lunch or don’t eat lunch.”
The town now has food trucks because sit down places are so packed and still there are lines.
"It's busy all day, there's traffic all day," says a Golden Chicken employee.
"This place isn't the small town it used to be and people are going to need to realize that," says sheriff Garner. He said its no longer the kind if place where you don't have to lock your doors. "Between everything, the workload is up about 50%," he says.
The next step for him is getting enough deputies to match the increased workload.
Sheriff Garner says the he hears the population is supposed to rise to about 15,000 in the next few years. Big Lake will no longer be the small town that it once was.
The city of Big Lake and Reagan County are growing at such a fast pace, that Sheriff Jeff Garner had to hire two new deputies in March just as traffic deputies.
He also says if you don't get to lunch by 11:15 AM, you may not get into the restaurant at all.
Since last year, Sheriff Garner says there was a 35% increase in the amount of reports they had to do. According to him, from August 12 to September 9th the Sheriff's Office had 282 calls for service ranging from accidents in the county to arrests for various crimes. He says their workload, is up about 50% overall.
During the day, he estimates the population usually doubles and almost triples.