VERDIGRIS - Town Trustee Rusty Magiera has a simple explanation as to why Verdigris has become a popular place to live.
"It's more like a big neighborhood than a town," said Magiera, who's resided in Verdigris since 1995. "People don't turn a blind eye and just move on. They take care of each other.
"It has an incredible mixture of the old families blending with the new people. It's just a good fit."
The numbers bear him out.
On Oklahoma 66 between Catoosa and Claremore, Verdigris is the fastest growing town in Rogers County. The community's population jumped 119 percent from 2000 to 2010, going from 1,821 to 3,993, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Verdigris was incorporated in 1980, and 21 years later, voters approved a 2-cent local sales tax. The town now boasts about 27 businesses, which this past fiscal year took in about $300,000 in sales tax revenue, according to the Oklahoma Tax Commission.
"Claremore is moving south, and Catoosa's kind of moving north," Verdigris Mayor Keith Crawford said. "It's forcing things our way in a good way."
Since Tulsa-based QuikTrip arrived in 2007, sales-tax numbers have gone up about 25 percent, Crawford said. A Dollar General store came to town late last year, and a Vietnamese restaurant opened in June, he said.
Magiera credits the planning commission for making smart choices.
"The items that they bring forward to the board are well thought out," the trustee said. "They truly take their time getting things right. Because the job is nonpaying, the people involved do it for the passion. It's truly people who want to see the community do well."
There are growing pains, though.
The town is looking for its third police chief since the municipality established the position in August 2008. Mark Cleveland, who had been on the job less than a year, was let go about two years ago.
The community also still doesn't have a grocery store.
"There are people who want absolutely nothing, and there are people who want us to be Owasso today," Crawford said. "It's not easy. Somewhere in between is the answer.
"We do try to balance it out. I think we do a good job of it. We just have to put ourselves in everyone else's shoes."
Population changes in Rogers County
Rhett Morgan 918-581-8395
firstname.lastname@example.org SUBHEAD: Verdigris saw a 119 percent spike in population from 2000 to 2010.
Original Print Headline: Rogers County town growing fast