Mike Raney, market president/lender for First Security Bank of Mayflower
How long have you lived in Mayflower? 53 years
What do you remember about the days surrounding the oil spill? Word spread quickly that the spill had happened. Everyone was concerned about safety. The odor was immediate, but the city and county reacted quickly, and then Exxon flooded our city with workers. Equipment began showing up everywhere. It was somewhat chaotic, but Mayor Randy Holland and County Judge Allen Dodson did a great job of taking command and began guiding us through the worst of it.
What was your level of concern about the environmental damage? What about the smell? The oil seemed to be contained to a major drainage ditch that travels through the center of town, but then word came that it had made it into a swampy area that feeds Lake Conway. Everyone was concerned at first about health issues because the odor was so bad the first few days. After the odor diminished, concern was great for our neighbors in Northwoods subdivision who were being evacuated from their homes.
What about the response from officials and from Exxon? The city reacted immediately, which headed off a real disaster and saved the lake. The county was there quickly, and County Judge Allen Dodson and Mayor Holland were able to calm things by taking control and communicating to our citizens what was happening. Exxon seemed to respond well and spared no expense in starting the clean-up efforts. Most were guarded in their trust of Exxon at first, but we trusted our leaders to protect the citizens’ best interests.
What has the past year been like around town? How quickly did things get back to normal? The past year has gone from shock and fear and skepticism at first, to now when the spill is hardly mentioned. In the first few months, there were multitudes of workers and machinery around town. There was much concern about lasting effects on health, about the hardships on those living in or near the impacted homes and the economic effect on home values in our community. Slowly, the workers and equipment became less and less. Today, our city is close to being back to normal and the spill is seldom talked about.
How has your life been affected by this over the past year? Living just outside the city limits of Mayflower, the odor was bad for a few days, but soon went away. I was more affected in my job as a loan officer for First Security Bank and the many questions and concerns of Northwoods residents and other community members about home values being affected and about the ability to sell their homes.
Do you feel confident about the future in Mayflower? I am very confident about the future of Mayflower. We live in a great community that has all of the potential in the world for growth. We continually get new businesses. We have a very good school system. We are minutes from the convenience of Conway and Little Rock, but still have that small town feel. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.