Okmulgee in the News
By Betty Anderson
The Okmulgee City Council approved a concept design prepared by American Ramp Company for a skatepark to be constructed in Hawthorne Park, review the size and costs of the proposed design phases and to determine the desired project size.
Rick Miller, Public Works Director, who has been working on the project and doing research, gave these findings. “Based upon research done by the Parks and Recreation Board as well as the Public Works Department, we specified that we wanted a permanent concrete facility rather than a flat slab prefabricated facility with steel features installed on the slab. Research indicated that prefabricated skateparks have proven to be inferior, unpopular, and unable to withstand the rigors of daily use. Though adequate for church, backyard, etc. use, their use is discouraged for long-term use by municipalities.”
Part of the funds has been appropriated from the Community Trust.
Mayor Steven Baldridge said that Hawthorn Park is going to be an awesome feature park for Okmulgee with the skatepark, splash pad and walking trails. The high school can use the trails for track, the elementary school is right there; football practice is there, softball games, tennis courts and sidewalks. “Our kids are going to love it.”
Picture left to right: Katie Nicholas, Program Chairman Lion Craig Brydges, and Vince Trinidad.
By Dean Craig Okmulgee Lion
Tuesday's Lions Club meeting featured Vince Trinidad, Executive Director of the Tulsa Sports Commission, and his assistant Katie Nicholas, whose title is Sports Development Manager/Assistant Race Director. Vince has been in this capacity for three and a half years, and Katie has five years with the organization. The Tulsa Sports Commission is a Division of the Tulsa Regional Chamber but they primarily work with the recently-completed BMX Racing event, bringing in an estimated $12 million to the Tulsa economy. The event is held during the week of Thanksgiving, and because the Rio Olympics had concluded, most of the Olympic bicyclists attended the Tulsa event because it is the Grand Nationals and the largest BMX race in the world. It attracted riders from 48 states and 26 countries.
So, what is USA BMX? The sport of BMX racing has never been more popular than it is today, with the inclusion of the sport in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games giving it worldwide exposure. There are now more children participating than ever before, and to build on this momentum, USA BMX has a vision to create a first-of-its-kind facility that the sport can call home. In partnership with the City of Tulsa and Tulsa County, USA BMX's dream will soon become a reality. Through the support of the citizens of Tulsa, a 15 million dollar project has been approved on the site of old Drillers Stadium at Expo Square. This new facility will provide an environment for the top riders in the world to train, and for beginning amateur racers to ride alongside their heroes. For the first time, the sport of BMX racing will have a central hub, which brings with it new opportunities for our sport. USA BMX is seeking strategic partners that want to join us in growing opportunities for kids to stay active and for some to strive for competitive excellence on the international stage. Today is a new horizon for BMX and we would love for you to join us for the journey ahead.
The new National Track facility in Tulsa will attract more than 35,000 BMX racers each year. This venue will host local BMX programming each week including local and state races, camps, and youth clinics. In addition, the track will be designed to host national and international races for both amateur and Olympic-level riders, and the facility will house a state-of-the-art training center for elite level BMX Racers of all ages. This one-of-a-kind dual track facility will serve as the home of BMX racing for years to come.
Features of the new USA BMX National Track include: a fully enclosed Olympic caliber BMX dirt track to host National, World Championship, and Supercross events; an amateur BMX track for novice and intermediate youth racers; 4,000 seat arena; Olympic level high-performance training facility; youth programming including camps, clinics, and local race days; bike shop and repair station; retail, food, and beverage outlets.
So, you can see why Vince and Katie are proud to "tell their story" and the fact that the National Headquarters are moving from California to Tulsa, since Southern California was where this all started. But the races have been coming to Tulsa for the past 19 years, so it makes sense to make Tulsa "home" because of the central location and the proposed covered stadium, eliminating weather-related problems. And, it takes 7,000 cubic yards of dirt (valued at approximately $25,000), which is a special kind of dirt to give the proper consistency for the racing track. They are looking forward to having the facility ready for the 2020 Olympic trials. And all of this will be happening in our front yard. We need to support this event and we need to continue to support our Lions Club with a few more good men and women. Think about it! "WE SERVE".
(Photos and information by Dean Craig, with excerpts from USA BMX Pamphlet)
By Betty Anderson
The City of Okmulgee City Council met and approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Okmulgee and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation allowing for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation to construct a public trail linking 6th St. downtown with the trail already in place at the Municipal Park along with several trailheads within the city limits of Okmulgee. The MOU also states that once the project is completed, the City of Okmulgee will maintain this trail.
The MOU is necessary to the process for Muscogee (Creek) Nation to obtain the required federal funding for the project.
City Manager Roger Ballenger stated that this would allow the Creek Nation to get the 100% funding to do the trail that the City has always wanted to do from downtown all the way to YMCA. This also would involve utilizing the old Nuyaka Bridge to be including in the project. Ballenger stated, “This is very preliminary, we will probably end up doing another MOU.” He added, “I thought it was worth at least starting into.” He informed the Council that it will be a lengthy process.
According to Chris Azbell, Secretary of the Interior for the Muscogee Creek Nation, “Just to be able to fund this in the future, it has to be on their (MCN) inventory.” He added, “If it’s not on the inventory you can’t even be considered to be funded.” He said they have funded trails in several cities but have never funded one in Okmulgee because it has never been on their inventory and this is the first step to get it on the funding list.
Ballenger said, “I want to make one thing perfectly clear; I want to work with the other partners in town, Parks Committee and Trail Committee, even though they are advisory, we want everybody’s input. We have a lot of work to do. We just wanted to get this done so we could get it on the list so that at least we will be eligible.”
City Attorney Lou Ann Moudy informed the Council that they are not approving the plan, just approving the Memorandum of Understanding.
By Betty Anderson
Public Works has been busy working on many projects to give the Community Center a much needed make over.
Rick Miller, Public Works Director, informed the Okmulgee City Council that the new roof is now almost completed and that the new laminated wood flooring in the large meeting room is installed. The majority of the improvements are being done by the Property Maintenance Department which has saved a considerable amount of money.
City Manager, Roger Ballenger, said that the cost of the improvements is within the range which they anticipated. Some of the improvements in addition to the roof which are done or will be done are replacing the guttering, painting outside trim, upgrading the building entrance signage, installing a privacy fence around the A/C units, landscaping the front and sides of the building including an irrigation system and removal of a dead tree. It also includes extending the parking area to the north, striping the parking area, adding a driveway to the back door. On the interior they will be replacing flooring in several areas, upgrading all electric outlets in the large room, painting the interior and doing repairs on the front door, walls and ceiling areas. They also will be refurbishing the kitchen with new appliances and fixtures, restoring the cabinets and adding a stainless steel prep table. Additionally, they will do some maintenance repairs on the restrooms.
Miller reported, “Public Works concurrence with the landscaping plan presented is based upon the understanding with Main Street that recurring maintenance of the plantings will be accomplished by contract at the expense of Main Street.”
Heather Sumner with Main Street invited and encouraged the City Council Members to come and view the progress. Mayor Steve Baldridge asked Sumner about potential renters. She informed the council that they are going into an agreement with Crosstown Church to rent it every Wednesday evening. She also reported that Paradigm Pipeline is going to be holding some Pipeline Safety Courses. She has a wedding reception scheduled and several other rentals for the summer. She said, “A few people that have seen some of the renovations from the outside and have called inquiring. The work has been noticed and it is starting to pick up.”
Pictures courtesy of Heather Sumner
By Betty Anderson
Shawn Fritsche, also known as Maverick, who is the Code Enforcement Officer and Safety Coordinator for the City of Okmulgee has a very busy job and is one of the hardest working guys in the city. He issued 3,572 code enforcement violations for 2016 from overgrown properties to living in travel trailer violations to illegal dumping violations and many more as indicated in this report.
Fritsche wrote on his annual report to the City Council, “5900 Informational Flyers were sent out this year to help educate the public and discuss Keep Okmulgee Beautiful Week. During this dedicated week, the City of Okmulgee painted over graffiti at Northeast Rotary Park & 13th Street Bridge, issued 56 free burn permits, & previous to this week Public Works had a successful recycling event.
Many other wonderful events and improvements took place in 2016 that involved Creek Nation, the Chamber of Commerce, OSU-IT, Main Street, and the City of Okmulgee (too many to name).”
By Betty Anderson
Bob Seebeck, Chairman of the Okmulgee Chamber of Commerce Community Development Committee, addressed the Okmulgee City Council Tuesday evening at their regular meeting. He wanted to thank the Council and all of the city employees who worked on upgrading the community bathrooms located between Morton and Seminole streets in downtown on Main Street. He praised Public Works, Marty Williams, Ken Anderson and Brian Dudley for their part in upgrading this facility.
He says when people come to town and walk in it, they should be impressed. It has new partitions, fresh paint and a baby changing station. The bathrooms are opened 8 am to 8 pm every day.
Kay Rabbit-Brower, Chamber of Commerce Director informed the Council that someone had painted some graffiti on the bathroom brick wall. She said she has been working with Shawn Fristche (Maverick) and maybe working with some Green Country Students on an idea to have a map designed of Okmulgee so people can get a feel for what is available in Okmulgee and where to go. Then they would put it under Plexiglas and put it on that wall to cover up the graffiti.
Rob Robertson, Councilman, said that Main Street and the Chamber of Commerce are working on an arrangement to share some costs on maintaining the bathrooms.
Mayor Steven Baldridge introduced an idea to the Council which he had observed in some of his travels which he thought would be a good idea as a community for the City to possibly acquire bicycles for rental downtown, possibly have a station at OSUIT and possibly Walmart.
Anne Moroney Youth Services is excited to invite all Okmulgee County students in the 5th to 12th grade and their parents to a new youth-parent skills building program for better family communication. The Strengthening Families program is designed to improve student’s grades as well as helping all learn positive communication, goal setting and problem solving skills.
The spring 2017 session will start Monday, January 23, 2017 and end Monday, May 15, 2017. The program will be held from 4:30pm to 6:30pm. The location will either be in Okmulgee or Henryetta depending upon interest. A family meal will be provided for the student and up to two parents. Sessions are designed to be fun yet educational. There is no cost for the program but slots are limited. To sign up or for more information please call Rose or Portia at Anne Moroney Youth Services, 918-756-7700.
Pictured left to right: President Lion R.C. Morrow, Sherri Powell, and Program Chairman Lion Kyle Powell
By Dean Craig Okmulgee Lion
Tuesday's Lions Club meeting was a break from tradition of meeting at the First Baptist Church to meeting at Baptist Village, with a delicious meal of barbeque, entertainment by the Bells 4 Him, and the program by Sherri Powell, Administrator of the Baptist Village. It doesn't seem possible that Baptist Village has been in Okmulgee for the past 30 years, but it has. Of course, it is a part of the largest not-for-profit organization in Oklahoma, beginning with the first campus in Hugo in 1958. The last one of the nine campuses was opened recently in Elk City, the only one in western Oklahoma. All campuses are Christian based and offer independent living and assisted living.
Sherri stated that Baptist Village has 72 units which consists of 50 independent living apartments (one and two bedrooms), six duplexes (two bedroom, two bath), and the rest are assisted living apartments. Baptist Village pays for gas, water and sewer, but the individuals pay for electricity. There is a fund that provides financial assistance for low-income individuals called the Adams Fund, and is totally dependent on tax-deductible donations from companies, organizations, and individuals. No funds are provided from the Baptist General Convention. There are presently nine individuals residing here who receive financial assistance. In fact, there was over $500,000 in financial assistance provided in the State of Oklahoma last year. However, these funds are being depleted faster than the funds being donated. Therefore, a new program is being formulated, called the Mustard Seed, which will fund the Baptist Childrens' Home and the Baptist Villages.
Sherri and her husband, Lion Kyle Powell, are both from Hollis in deep southwestern Oklahoma, were high school sweethearts, both attended Oklahoma University, with Sherri majoring in Fashion Merchandise and having big plans to take her talents to the bright lights of New York City, which, of course, never materialized. And being married to a banker, you get to move around a lot (kind of sounds like the ministry, doesn't it?) But Sherri began working in her parents' nursing home while a high school student and obtained certification as a nurses' aide so she could assist with everything, So she brings a lot of experience to Baptist Village, even though she has only been the director for the past three years. She also has six years' experience with the Department of Human Services in Adult Protective Services. And, speaking from experience of my 28 years with DHS, this will prepare you for anything.
Her first year with the 30 year-old Baptist Village building was the year of plumbing problems. The next year saw heating/air conditioning problems. And there has been continuing updating/decorating with help from employees to enhance the beauty of the building. People who work there are not referred to as employees, rather "friends teams". The Lions Club also has a "friends team" who are looking for a few good men and women to join us and share the blessings of helping those in need. I've been told that no one stands taller than those who stoop down to help a child or someone in need. "WE SERVE".
(Photos and information provided by Dean Craig)
President Felecia Wittman and Rotarian of the Day Kim Stokely present a pen to speaker Aric White. Aric is the owner of Superior Vault Company. After graduating college with an Economics degree, he used the knowledge he had obtained growing up on a farm and maintaining farm equipment to start a burial vault company. Sitting in an office all day wasn’t for Aric, who prefers to work with his hands. He built the molds, mixes his own concrete and designed the hoists for moving the vaults. He also recently purchased Crown Hill Cemetery, a historic black cemetery in north Tulsa near Turley. He had to buy the delinquent mortgage from the lender and foreclose it, which posed some interesting legal questions. Ultimately he was successful. He admitted managing a cemetery has it challenges as his behind the scenes vault company didn’t prepare him for the interpersonal relationships, and sometimes emotional situations that occur with funerals and final resting plots.
OKLAHOMA CITY - Governor Mary Fallin today released the following statement regarding Martin Luther King Jr. Day:
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached a message of tolerance, mutual respect and human dignity that is just as relevant today as it was when he lived. He was a patriot who believed in the great potential of our country and its message of freedom and equality of opportunity. I encourage all Oklahomans to join me in celebrating the spirit of brotherhood and love that Dr. King embraced.”
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Monday, January 16. The governor’s office will be closed in observance of the holiday.