The Osage County Board of County Commissioners spend their Monday morning meeting discussing tourism and security. Kelly Bland, Executive Director of Osage County Tourism, appeared before the commissioners to request funding for several items and deliver the executive directors report. Bland requested from the commissioners $1,250 for the Tallgrass Music Festival on June 1st and 2nd, $2,000 for Barnsdall's Big Heart Day for Memorial Day Weekend, and for $525 for three tourism road shows. Bland said that she would make an appearance at each of the events to provide a brief presentation regarding Osage County Tourism, and hand out maps and pamphlets at the tourism road shows. The Commissioners approved all three funding requests.
Discussion then shifted to security as a continuation from the meeting last week. The Commissioners had already approved the purchase of replacement electromagnetic locks for the County Jail as well as a new control system, this week the commissioners signed the contracts with Sweeper Metal Fabricators Corp and Montgomery Technology System. While discussing security, several other items were discussed, in particular action regarding the Courthouse security system and key-less entry fobs. Currently Courthouse employees have magnetic badges to swipe in and out of the building, however the badges have a photo of the employee, their office information, along with access information. The badges have been discussed as a unnecessary security risk, if lost, the finder would have access to the employees office as well as the courthouse without going through the front entry security checkpoint, additionally they would know the employees information. Discussion about returning to a key fob rather than a badge was brought forward and will be considered by the commissioners once they can request quotes.
The next meeting of the Osage County Board of County Commissioners will be Monday March 26, at the Osage County Courthouse is Pawhuska.
Tonight, Tuesday February 27, will be the first of three Town Hall style meetings regarding the upcoming Barnsdall Public Schools Bond. The Bond Issue Community Meeting will take place this evening at 7pm in the Fine Arts Building at Barnsdall High School. The other meetings are scheduled on Tuesday, March 13 and Thursday, March 29, both of which are at 7pm in the Fine Arts Building.
The Barnsdall School Bond will address the dire state of the Schools facilities to conduct necessary repairs and address water drainage. The bond will also see renovation to the “old pool building,” converting the space into an Administrative building, Student Activity Center, and Family and Consumer Science Classroom. A new Athletic Building is proposed 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.
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.
This week the Board of Osage County Commissioners decided which company would be installing their new updated radio system and furnishing mobile radios. The county received two bids last week and tables the bids for tabulation, those bids coming from Action Communications at $61,822.20 and from Total Radio Inc for the amount of $80,116.50. After discussing the options the Commissioners voted to go with Action Communications where aside from being low bid, they could also apply for manufacture rebates through Kenwood.
The Commissioners also came to a final decision regarding how much to charge the Pawhuska Round-Up Club for use of the Osage County Fairgrounds for their Play Days. In previous years, before the County established their new price chart for Fairground Rental, the Pawhuska Round-Up Club was using the facilities at the Fairgrounds free of charge. However, far too many residents and local organizations were using the facility for free and the decision was made to charge all parties. Last year Cavalcade was paying for the Pawhuska Round Up Club, but was not able to budget the funds this year. The Round Up Club had asked if the Commissioners could use facilities for free once again, however the Board felt that if they started by offering one organization the opportunity to use the Fairgrounds for free, many more would request the same. Therefore, the Commissioners deliberated and offered the heavily discounted rate of $500 for the year, plus the use of the concession stand; regular price to rent the Arena is $250 per event, the Round Up Club will use the facilities for seven. Round Up Club representative Justin Carr will take the offer back to the Club to determine if they can afford the charge.
The next meeting of the Osage County Board of County Commissioners will be next Monday at 10am at the Osage County Courthouse in Pawhuska.
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.