Special Assignment: Apache Oil Discovery and State Title Game Birth Signal Mini-Boom for Balmorhea

BALMORHEA, Texas - (Local 2/Fox 24) - A rural town of about 400 people, primed for a boom, after a big oil discovery and football glory.
 
Balmorhea, known to many across West Texas as the place with the crystal clear water.
 
Now Apache has a huge oil find nearby and the Bears are coming off a state title birth.
 
So there's some positivity in the air, for a "Balmorhea mini-boom."
 
"I think they've got something like 500,000 acres they have leased and supposedly are drilling," Balmorhea ISD Superintendent Manny Espino said. "You can drive around town and you can see where they've already drilled. You can see some of the flares going on."
 
Espino talking about the 'Alpine High,' Apache's significant oil discovery nearby in Reeves County.
 
"They're not producing anything yet," Espino said. "So it doesn't help the school district. We're glad they're here and at some point we should be able to tax some of what Apache's doing and hopefully will help us get some things done and help us with some money."
 
Espino said he hasn't seen much growth in the city just yet, since the announcement of the oil find, but there's many parts of his school district that would benefit from having that extra revenue stream.
 
"There's a ton of things that we could do here as far as the facilities are concerned," Espino said. "Starting with the building, computer labs, the track, the weight room, the bleachers."
 
Nicky Contreras has lived in Balmorhea for all 31 years of her life.
 
She's cautiously optimistic about the city's future, but worried for its most well-known feature, the natural spring swimming pool and the crystal clear water flowing through town.
 
"I'm kind of nervous about the boom that's supposed to happen, about new people coming in and it expanding a little more, about the kind of people that will come and about our water getting messed up," said Contreras.
 
Contreras said Balmorhea residents like herself are still proud of the football team making the state title game last fall, and she thought there might be more people coming into town to share that joy with.
 
"As soon as I heard about the Apache drilling, I thought it was going to be a lot more, but I haven't really seen too many more people," said Contreras. 
 
Balmorhea High School Head Football Coach Vance Jones, reflecting on his Bears' trip to the state title game last year.
 
"It was really high energy, excitement," Jones said. "The town was really jubilated and just really excited about being there and getting to go to AT&T Stadium."
 
Jones also is looking ahead to this upcoming season, because he has every starter returning from last year's state runner-up team.
 
"If we can stay healthy and have a little luck and continue to get better, I feel like we have a real good chance to make another deep run," Jones said. "The community realizes we have a great opportunity this next year to have another really good team."
 
Jones said his team has made the playoffs each of his five years on the job and with the potential of more athletes coming to town with the oil boom, the Bears could be in line to move up in competition in the near future.
 
"We're Division II, which is the smallest division in Class-A and with about 10 more kids, we may be up into Division I, which is playing a lot bigger schools," said Jones.
 
Coach Jones said growing from a 6-man team to an 11-man team however, isn't very likely, and he hopes it stays that way.

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