By STEVEN NALLEY
With the aid of several grant-funded projects, Maben saw growth in 2011 despite receiving damage during the April 27 tornado outbreak.
In April, Katherine Rosenhan of the Maben Fire Department said a tornado, which heavily damaged Wood Junior College, lifted on the west side of the Maben city limits and touched down again near the Highway 15 downtown corridor. Maben Mayor Larry Pruitt said the storm damage was light in the city, with a few trees knocked down and shingles blown off of some houses. The property sustaining the most damage, he said, was a gas station across the street from the post office.
“God blessed us and he protected us,” Pruitt said. “Lights were down for a few days, but 4-County got the lights back up. They did a good job.”
Pruitt also said citizens of Webster County have spent the last year bouncing back from heavy destruction less than a mile from Maben. He also said several members of the Maben community volunteered over the past year to aid the recovery, clean up debris and deliver supplies.
“Those people who lost their lives,” Pruitt said, “our hearts go out to their families.”
Pruitt said Maben spent the rest of the year revamping city facilities and utilities. Maben’s old City Hall was demolished due to unsafe amounts of mold, he said, paving the way for a new building compliant with the Americans with Disability Act.
“It was going to cost a lot to rehabilitate (the old building),” Pruitt said. “We decided to build from the ground up.”
Pruitt said the city received grants in 2009 and 2010 to pay for the new building, along with $50,000 bequeathed to the city for this purpose in a benefactor’s will. He said original plans to break ground on the new facility Dec. 17 fell through, but the foundation should be under construction during the next few weeks.
Maben also finished revamping its sewer system in August, Pruitt said, using about $650,000 in grants and replacing about 80 percent of its sewer lines.
“We were getting a lot of groundwater in our sewer system,” Pruitt said. “It was costing the city a lot because there was a lot of blockage. We haven’t had (a blockage) in six months. It used to be every other month.”
Pruitt said he has seen old businesses grow and new ones join the community over the past year. One new business, Sparks Construction, is a metalworking contractor which recently installed rain gutters at the Maben’s fire station, he said.
Main Street Florist has been in Maben for a few years, Pruitt said, but it has seen a lot of growth this year. Larry’s, a local favorite dining destination, re-opened near the end of the year, serving 600 plates on its first day.
Finally, Pruitt said, Maben held its first farmer’s market program this year, running each Friday from late April to October.
“Volunteers from the community were there, rain or shine,” Pruitt said. “We had a lot of different vendors, and the vendors were saying it was a success. People were coming out from different areas, even from Pontotoc and maybe further. It brought people to our community. Also, it was so friendly that the people learned a lot about our community (and) the great hospitality we try to practice here.”