Fairfield mayor hopes second oil boom shows increase in business - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Fairfield mayor hopes second oil boom shows increase in business


Southern Illinois counties are gearing up for what could be a second oil boom using the controversial recovery method, fracking, which involves blasting underground rock formations with water, sand and chemicals to release oil and natural gas.

The City of Fairfield has about 5,400 residents, but that number is expected to grow with the oil recovery process called 'fracking.'

Officials say they're being proactive about preparing what could be a complete transformation of the city.

"our area needs an economic boom and shot in the arm and this we believe will provide that," says Fairfield Mayor, Chuck Griswold.

In what the Mayor calls the first wave of economic impact, land surveyors spent several months in Fairfield leasing Wayne County farm land, not for crops, but for oil.

"We haven't really seen what I call the second wave now," says Mayor Griswold. "There's been one well drilled, they moved that rig to another well, but I don't think they've actually undergone the high pressure hydraulic fracking yet."

But when the frack does begin...

"I would say more area businesses will sell more goods and services, restaurants, clothing stores, hardware stores, automotive dealers," says Griswold.

John Williams says hit butcher shop saw an increase in business with more people visiting for sandwiches and steaks. The type he says will fit in well with their small community.

"This community here is unique in a way how it is a tight knit community, people care about each other here," says John.

Griswold says school enrollment will increase along with residential developments and more tax revenue.

The manager at Briarwood Inn says their rooms are continuously booked up, and there are now plans for another hotel to be built on the west side of town.

"It's 40-50 rooms, probably two-story, sort of an adirondack style-pillars and stone," says Griswold.

City officials are aware of what the Mayor calls rowdiness, which is why the city council has already outlawed strip clubs and maintains strict laws on drinking and driving.

"Candidly, we're in the midst of the bible belt here, people go to church on Sundays, a lot of residents here, we wanted to protect our children from as many of the negative things as we could," says Griswold.

Griswold says having more people in town will mean more civic challenges.

"The emergency room at the hospital, I think will see a lot more people," says Griswold. "I think we'll have a lot of traffic, as a result and of course more traffic means impatient drivers, means having more wrecks, meaning we'll probably have to put more police officers on the street."

The mayor tells 14 News that he will be forming a special seven person committee. Those members will be talking with residents and businesses to learn about some of their concerns.

They'll also meet with a special group of people from a town in Ohio that recently underwent a similar oil boom.

The mayor says it's key to try to look at the similar areas and learn from them.

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