The Observer was able to talk to Eclectic Mayor Gary Davenport about some successes and challenges of 2019 and also look ahead to the future of this year. See our questions and Davenport’s answers below:

Q: Looking back at 2019, what were some of the accomplishments of the town?

A: We’re real proud of the Cotton Fest. It was the most successful and largest event we’ve had.

We have been very successful bringing trade days to fruition where the second Saturday of each month there are things going on in the Town of Eclectic where people can participate in and shop and visit merchants. 

The finishing of the Madix Middle Road project — that project took us almost three years to get done.

Those are the big ones in 2019.

Q: What are some of the challenges the town faced this past year?

A: We were really counting on and hopeful to get a grant for the Panther Palace because the need for a good public park for the kids is well evident. That did not come to pass. 

That was a disappointment.

The other big challenge, we lost Fred’s department store. That was a big player in the town retail atmosphere. As of this date, we have not found a replacement for them.

Q: Are you optimistic Eclectic will see growth this year?

A: I think so. I think we have enough things in motion where we will see more housing in Eclectic and we will be able to see positive growth with the school system and residences within the corporate limits.

We’ve enjoyed moderate growth in the surrounding areas. We’ve enjoyed slow growth in the renovation of existing dwellings that several builders have purchased and renovated and made them available for occupancy. I think we will see more of that going on in 2020.

Q: What impact do you think the Business Relations Committee will have?

A: The biggest expectation is to create a means to keep up communication with small and large businesses and add to the hometown feel of Eclectic. 

Also, to have everybody working toward one common goal. That will enhance the family feel and friendliness we offer.

Q: Will Eclectic lose its small-town feel as growth comes to town?

A: No, I don’t foresee that happening anytime in the foreseeable future. I think we are 30 to 40 years before we have to worry about that. 

The growth we are trying to get with Eclectic at this time is we would be lucky to see another 100 homes in the next three years. 

We’re looking at a best scenario population increase of maybe 20%. 

Right now, we are currently based at 1,000 to 1,030 residents in the town limits. Best case scenario, we may be around 1,300 in the next few years.

Q: How important is the 2020 Census for Eclectic?

A: The 2020 Census is very important for us because of two main issues. 

We need to be sure we got a good representation of our town as far as the income brackets that we fit into. We are eligible for grants and government monies and assistance based on income levels.

With the 2020 Census, we get thrown into a larger zip code area than was is actually the town limits. 

For the last five years we’ve fought that issue from the last Census. 

There were some misreadings there because of the lake properties being included in our numbers. 

There were some false numbers which caused us to lose our low to moderate income rating. That is important to getting grants for parks and community projects, road work and things like that. 

Q: What is coming up in 2020?

A: We are doing some intensive work to streets in our town limits. Those have not been taken care of as well as they should have. 

We are looking at getting into the 20th Century with our water and sewer utilities by getting electronic meters installed 

We will save a lot of overtime hours and wear and tear on our city vehicles. 

Also, looking at the financial structure of our town, we’ve made a lot of headway in the last five years paying down debt. 

We are in a better financial position so we can look ahead and do somethings we’ve not been able to do.