For once, “CBS Evening News” gave viewers a break from seeing oil companies demonized.
At a time when gas has topped $4 a gallon and the media are looking for someone to blame for “pain at the pump,” “Evening News” took a different approach and showed how one oil company is reinvesting its profits – not in politically correct alternative sources of energy, but back into the community.
CBS correspondent Richard Schlesinger opened up the segment at a first grade class, asking one of the school children what she wanted to be when she grew up. She replied, “A half veterinarian, half artist.”
“But unlike most first graders outside El Dorado, [Ark.,] when it comes time to pick a college that teaches half veterinarians, half artists, Allison’s tuition will be paid for by the oil company just down the road, Murphy Oil (NYSE: MUR) – a Fortune 200 company whose CEO, Claiborne Deming, decided the kids needed help,” Schlesinger said.
“And dadgum it if he didn’t find $50 million to make a promise to the people of this small town,” Schlesinger said. “So every kid who goes through the El Dorado School System and graduates from the high school will be given $6,000 a year for up to five years to help pay for college.”
According to the report, the $6,000 annually is enough for tuition at Arkansas’ public universities. And Murphy Oil’s investment is having a positive effect on the community by encouraging people to move to El Dorado. Between 2000 and 2005, the community lost 5.5 percent of its population, but now El Dorado is getting people back. And at a time when housing values are declining nationally, El Dorado’s are on the rise.
“The promise to help pay tuition has paid off in more ways than one,” Schlesinger said. “Just in the last year, people have moved here from 25 states. The town voted to tax itself to build a new high school, and if home values where you live are in freefall, they’re not here. In fact, house prices in El Dorado shot up almost 33 percent in one month.”
Even Schlesinger admitted the “pain at the pump” wasn’t all that horrible for the people of this small Arkansas town.
“In El Dorado, a little pain at the pump is the price of admission to a future that might otherwise be beyond reach,” Schlesinger added.