Tuesday the Osage County Commissioners met for their weekly meeting, on Tuesday due to the Presidents Day holiday. The majority of the meeting was business as usual, however two agenda items did require additional discussion.
The first were bids to replace the repeater radio system, and installation at two locations along with replacement of mobile radios and base systems for districts #1 and #3. The Commissioners received two bids for products and services those coming from Action Communications at $61,822.20 and from Total Radio Inc for the amount of $80,116.50. However, due to the nature of the items, specifically whether they would be compatible with the County's existing systems including fire and sheriff, the Commissioners chose to accept the bids for tabulation.
The second item which required additional discussion was for new electronic locks and the replacement of the control system at the Osage County Jail. The Commissioners accepted bid last week and were waiting for input and preferences before approval. Following the inspection and jail walk through the Sheriffs Office recommended ordering the locks from Brinks, and ordering the control system through Montgomery Technologies Inc, who installed the previous system in 2004. The new locks will come at a cost of $115,873 and the control system will cost $44,500, both prices included service and installation and were low bids.
The Osage County Commissioners will meet again next Monday at the Osage County Courthouse in Pawhuska.
The Pawhuska City Council met for their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday and approved all actions with little discussion. However, one item during the Public Works Authority meeting was discussed which was regarding the construction of an additional Electric Substation to accommodate expected population growth.
The substation has been discussed at previous meetings and action regarding allotting funds for the future project will not come into discussion until the next fiscal year budget proposal. The current plan is to accrue $8,000 per month for ten years or until the the total amount of the substation can be financed. If the City was to set aside funds at one time they would need to set aside $960,000 plus funds to accommodate for accrued interest over ten years.
The Council also discussed looking at alternative means of applying for grants, as the City is currently only applying for Federal and State grants through INCOG. Interim City Manager Larry Eulert stated the city might want to start looking into contracting a grant writer and possibly look to hire a full-time grant writer in the future to take advantage of the many cooperation grants available to municipalities.
Eulert brought forward the idea after announcing that the City was not chosen to receive a grant to repair the city water reservoir.
Monday the Osage County Commissioners made a motion to appeal an application by the Osage Nation to place 75.916 acres in trust, and the Nation has taken action as a result. If the Osage Nation places the land in trust the county will not receive property tax dollars for the acreage to the amount of nearly $11,000 each year into perpetuity.
Osage Nation Assistant Chief Raymond Red Corn was at the Commissioner meeting Monday an made an appeal to the Commissioners to take no action, as the funds that are brought to the county by the Osage Nation far exceed the $11,000 in tax funds annually. Red Corn also stated that it would be the intention of Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear to take the county to court if they chose to appeal the land in trust action.
Tuesday, the Osage Nation announce and Osage News reported that Principal Chief Standing Bear is holding true to his statement. Osage News reported that the Nation has officially pulled $5,650,000 worth of funds from the Transportation Improvement Plan, a cooperative effort between the county and Osage Nation.
Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear told Osage News that “This vote has set back our relations with the county by years” and that they are “aware that discussions within county government are ongoing in light of the information the Osage Nation has provided them”Chief Standing Bear added that they are “hopeful that we can get to a cooperative footing where we all work together for the benefit of Osage County.”
If the County Commissioners decide to forgo the appeal the motion would be made at the next meeting of the Osage County Commissioners on Monday, February 12.
To read Chief Standing Bear's complete comments visit the Osage News story at: OSAGE NEWS
The Commissioners took a firm stance regarding land in trust at the Monday morning meeting of the Osage County Board of County Commissioners. The agenda item was proposed by Osage County District Attorney Rex Duncan and regarded a parcel of land recently placed in trust by the Osage Nation and approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).
Once the agenda item was announced a lengthy discussion followed and for several reason. In attendance at the meeting was Osage Nation Assistant Chief Raymond Red Corn.
Red Corn brought forward several points for the commissioners to consider before taking action including the amount of funds the Osage Nation already brings to the County.
However, after reviewing the numbers the county would loose out on nearly $11,000 each year in perpetuity if the 75.916 acres were placed into trust. It was District #3 Commissioner Darren McKinney who made the motion to appeal the decision, saying that it is what is best for the county to at least appeal the decision by the BIA. District #1 Commissioner Jerry Howerton did not feel the same an abstained from the vote, the motion was seconded and approved by District #2 Commissioner Kevin Paslay. Assistant Chief Red Corn had a message for the Commissioners from Principal Chief Geoffrey M. Standing Bear before leaving the meeting.
Pawhuska Nursing Home LLC is closing it's doors after nearly 62 years of operation. The nursing home informed its 20 residents and more than 30 employees of the closing earlier this week.
Pawhuska Nursing Homes Owner Justin McGrew stated in a press release that “Like most of Oklahoma’s nursing homes, which rely heavily on Medicaid funding, the Pawhuska facility has been hit hard by budget cuts. Since 2010, Oklahoma nursing homes have lost over $93 million in state and federal appropriations, leaving many of them on the brink of insolvency and closure.”
The Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers, which represents the state’s skilled nursing facilities, estimates that roughly one-third of the state’s nursing homes are at risk of closure.
McGrew stated that he and the staff are working with residents to find them alternative accommodations. The closing will also cause a major loss to the Pawhuska economy as it is one of the larger employers.
Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers CEO Nico Gomez said “Our current level of funding is one of the lowest in the nation, If we want to provide for our seniors and allow them to live in dignity and comfort, the current budget situation is unsustainable. We have got to get these facilities more resources or we will see more closures and more displacement of vulnerable and frail Oklahomans. I hope our lawmakers are paying attention and discussing solutions. Our senior citizens need to know that help is on the way.”
The time is nearing for those who wish to submit absentee ballots in the upcoming Pawhuska election for two seats on the City Council and one seat on the Pawhuska Board of Education. Mayor Mark Buchanan has filed for reelection in Ward 3. Buchanan will be running against John Moreland and Chris Brown. Incumbent Travis Finely for Ward 4 did not file for reelection, instead voters will have a choice between James Malone, John Brazee, and Kyle Yount.
In the Pawhuska School Board race Office 3 is up for election and voters will have the choice of electing Newton Cass, Danny Ferguson, Jennifer Gray, Scott Laird, and Patrick Luey.
Absentee Ballots may be requested through the Election Board Office and must be submitted and received by the Election Board no later than 5pm on Wednesday, February 7, 2018. Absentee voters may apply in person at the County Election Board office or may send their applications by mail, fax, or e-mail. An online version of the form may be filled out and submitted electronically at www.elections.ok.gov.
All voters will have the opportunity to vote on Tuesday February 13, 2018.
Barbara Albritton from INCOG provided a presentation to conclude an INCOG grant project for RWD #20 Monday morning at the Meeting of the Osage County Board of County Commissioners.
The meeting opened with the presentation and a public hearing during which Albritton discussed the $350,000 RWD #20 project, $320,000 was designated for the actually building and repair of the treatment facility, whereas $30,000 was reserved for administrative costs. The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality or DEQ required that specific functions of the treatment facility be implemented such as a new micro-filtration system. However, due to the cost, the engineers for the RWD #20 were able to negotiate to perform necessary repairs to meet the DEQ's modified requirements. Repairs included a new chemical processor and implementation of the districts slow sand filtration system. The commissioners approved the finalized project report and discussed future projects.
Lastly, during Citizens Input, Donna Robbins from the OSU Extension Office announced and introduced several new personnel and educators. Branden Handke will serve as a new Ag Educator, Cyndi Raspberry will serve as a new Nutrition Educator, and Randi Raspberry will serve as an new Assistant for the office. The next meeting of the Osage County Board of County Commissioners will be held next Monday at 10am at the Osage County Courthouse in Pawhuska.
Barnsdall Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Lay outlined the updated plans for the upcoming School Bond proposal on Tuesday at the meeting of the Barnsdall Chamber of Commerce.
While many of the items are the same as initially introduced late last year, the plans Lay introduced Tuesday were the finalized and approved plans. The most significant improvements that will result from the School Bond is the remodel of the “Old Pool Building” and transitioning it into the new Superintendent Office, Family and Consumer Science Classroom with accompanying kitchen, and the new Student Activity Center. In time the Student Activity Center will also be the new High School lunch room so students will no longer need to travel to the Elementary School for Lunch.
The plans also laid out the new Athletic Building which will house new wrestling and cheer-leading mats, two multi-purpose locker rooms for home and away teams, a new weight room, coaches offices, laundry room, and whirlpool to athletic therapy. The new building will be located directly behind the High School and will serve as the teams entrance to the football field, and provide for handicap parking.
The Bond will also see the construction of a new press box with functional restrooms and concession stand all of which will be EF5 rated tornado shelter. Additionally numerous maintenance issues will be addressed and the existing Art Building will be renovated to improve functionality.
Lay outlined the preliminary estimates for the bond proposal however, the official numbers will not be available until February. The School Bond vote is scheduled for April 3, 2018 and needs a super majority, 60 percent plus one, to be approved. The previous school bond failed by four votes.
Tuesday the Barnsdall Chamber of Commerce met for their first meeting on 2018, and first and foremost the Chamber looked forward to upcoming events including Easter.
For the past few years the event has always been held at the park on Main, however the event has been out growing the space. Chamber Vice-President Claud Rosendale proposed that perhaps the event could be moved to the High School football field, while it may be more challenging to hid the eggs but parking would be more readily available and the Chamber would be able to host more kids for the event. Each year the eggs are sponsored by the Chamber and some eggs are filled with cash thanks to the Assembly of God Church and American Heritage Bank. Barnsdall Easter Event is scheduled for March 31, location and times are to be determined.
The Chamber also welcomed the new Executive Director for Osage County Tourism Kelly Bland who was hired for the vacant position at the end of 2017. Bland stated she was excited for the opportunity and is ready to bring more tourism to Barnsdall and all of Osage County. Tune in next week for Talk of the Town when Kelly Bland will be the shows special guest. Talk of the Town airs on KPGM AM1500 FM 99.1 Thursday at 7:40am.
This week at the meeting of the Osage County Board of County Commissioners Jake Bruno provided the end of year update. Bruno said that as per the trend the number of building and land permit requests have decreased, which has provided the Planning and Zoning Department with an opportunity discuss future development in Osage County. Bruno said he has been working with engineers from University of Oklahoma Tulsa campus. The students from OU Tulsa are working with Planning and Zoning along with other Non-Profit agencies statewide to assist proving free architecture and engineering services. Bruno also highlighted once again the importance to contact the Planning and Zoning Office before building, especially if you do not know if your property is in a floodplain.