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Outlook2016

Staff photo by Harrison Grimwood

Construction crews lay asphalt on the final half of the parking lot at while other crews finish up another building at the new shopping center on North Sixth Street and West Shawnee Bypass. Story on Page 2

Staff photo by D.E. Smoot

A heavy-equipment operator at the Port of Muskogee prepares to load raw material imported by Dal-Tile to manufacture its tile products to its south Muskogee plant. Official say manufacturing has a rosy future here. Story on Page 3

Inside • • • • • •

City wants sales tax dollars to stay/2

Officials are bullish on manufacturing/3 CSC enrollment drives expansion/4 Schools look beyond buildings, tech/5

Staff photo by Cathy Spaulding

Connors State College students Jessica Pashica of Muskogee, left, and Breanna Griffith of Fort Gibson walk past the new Nursing and Allied Health building at Connors’ Port Campus. Story on Page 4

City’s downtown projects progress/7 Muskogee’s positive people: — Nicholas Wilks/2 — Ann Ong/5 — Jim Baker/6 — Ivory Vann/7 — Bob Coburn/8

Staff photo by Cathy Spaulding

Alice Robertson Junior High student Cade White operates a camera during a lecture at AR’s New Tech Academy. The Academy opened at the start of the 2016 school year. Story on Page 5


Outlook2016 Muskogee Phoenix

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Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016

Staff photo by Harrison Grimwood

Construction crews put the finishing touches on a building at the new shopping center on North Sixth Street and West Shawnee Bypass, part of the city’s retail expansion.

City officials want sales tax dollars here By Harrison Grimwood Phoenix Staff Writer

City officials are studying the different ways sales tax can be kept and captured in the city. The challenge is fulfilling the consumer needs and wants adequately in Muskogee to reduce sales tax leakage to surrounding communities while capturing sales tax dollars from those communities. “Cities live and die on sales

tax,” said Interim City Manager Roy Tucker. Tucker said taxes represent a sizable chunk of the city’s revenue. Of the ways to increase revenue through taxes, capturing those dollars is preferable to raising the tax rate, he said. Muskogee’s viability as a market for future development is seen through QuikTrip locating a store in town, said Rickey Hayes, founder of Retail Attractions, an economic development

consulting firm. Buzz about the new convenience store and truck stop at the southwest corner of the U.S. 69 and Shawnee Bypass intersection has been building for years. Hayes said right now, the intersection is one of the best for development in Oklahoma. “QuikTrip is a market validator,” Hayes said. “When other businesses see that, it shows Muskogee is a good market.” (See Retail, Page 6)

POSITIVELY MUSKOGEE: Nicholas Wilks

Nicholas Wilks, owner of Erly that Muskogee is changing Rush Coffeehouse, likes with the times. He also the fact that Muskogee appreciates that fact has a lot of economic that “Muskogee is such growth potential. a small town and it’s “I can remember downhome.” town when I was little be“It can be hard being ing very prosperous, and a small business owner I can see Muskogee goin Muskogee, but at the ing back to those days,” end of the day when you Wilks he said. see everyone with an Wilks said that the Erly Rush cup in their business atmosphere in Muskhands, it makes everything betogee “is very encouraging” and ter,” Wilks said.


Outlook2016

Muskogee Phoenix

Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016

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Staff photo by D.E. Smoot

A truck driver empties his trailer of raw materials imported by Dal-Tile to manufacture its tile products to its south Muskogee plant. The material arrives by barge at the Port of Muskogee, where it is stored for later use.

Officials upbeat about manufacturing By D.E. Smoot

either project,” Miller said.”But the long-term perspective and the true Industrial development win in the entire process this past year continued was ... having all the to play out for the most community partners and part behind the scenes, stakeholders rally around but those who are spear- and coalesce to help bring these opportuheading those nities to fruiefforts say the Muskogee tion.” groundwork In addition laid has genCity-County to the creation erated some Port Authority of the special momentum. ADDRESS: tax district, Eric Mill4901 Harold the City of er, director of Scoggins Drive. Muskogee industrial deHOURS: 8 a.m. Foundation velopment for to 5 p.m. approved a the Muskogee SERVICES $17.4 million City-County OFFERED: grant that Port Authority, Oversight of port was awarded operations and said a number industrial developas part of the of local manument. port authorifacturers have NUMBER OF ty’s high-imbeen affected EMPLOYEES: pact strategic by the vola14. investment tility in the KEY PERSONprogram. oil and gas NEL: Port DirecThose incensectors. Extor Scott Robintives were appansion plans son; Dave Davis, special projects proved in an that had been coordinator; Eric effort to lure announced for Miller, director of two projects some of those industrial develexpected to companies, opment; Marie spur capital he said, were Synar, deputy diinvestment delayed as a rector of industrial worth about result but redevelopment. $1 b illi o n main viable. TELEPHONE: (918) 682-7886. and creation Two projWEBSITE: of 1,000 new ects for which www.muskogeemanufacturMuskogee port.com ing jobs. County ComEMAIL: scott@ While those missioners muskogeeport. hopes were authorized the com; dave@ dashed, Miller creation of a muskogeeport. said the abilitax increment com; eric@muskogeeport.com; ty to pull all of tax district marie@muskthe stakeholdfell just short ogeeport.com ers together of becoming and “execute a reality. But at that level” Miller counted the recruiting efforts that demonstrated to other went into that process as prospects the willingness near successes rather of the community to work than misses. together in support of in“The short-term per- dustrial development. spective is we didn’t get The process, he said, can Phoenix Staff Writer

Staff photo by D.E. Smoot

Mounds of glass cullet stored at the Port of Muskogee awaits transport to Brockway Glass, an Owen-Illinois facility in Muskogee. Cullet is the industry term for furnace-ready recycled glass.

be replicated as needed and even “smoother because we have done this before.” “We were able to validate in the minds of others that we are a solutions-oriented community and that we will position ourselves to compete for projects both domestically and internationally,” Miller said. “We laid a foundation with site-location consultants who have other international clients, and when they ... (See Industry, Page 8)


Outlook2016 Muskogee Phoenix

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Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016

Enrollment growth drives expansion By Cathy Spaulding Phoenix Staff Writer

Connors State College keeps striving to accommodate more and more students. Enrollment has shown growth over the past five semesters, said Connors President Dr. Tim Faltyn. He said Connors could grow past 5,000 students within five years. In 2015, Connors had an enrollment of a little more than 3,100. Such growth prompts a building boom at Connors’ Warner and Port campuses. Last year, Connors remodeled and expanded the student union in Warner. In June, Connors opened a new Nursing and Allied Health building at its Port Campus. The 35,000-square-foot building houses laboratories, classrooms, meeting rooms and a lecture hall. The building complements a new health care building on Indian Capital Technology Center’s campus, just to the south. But that is only a beginning. Faltyn said a master plan calls for expanding the new building by 15,000 square feet to house a library, more classrooms and office space. “It would be an extension north of the building,” Faltyn said. Faltyn could not say exactly when the Port Campus space will be added. “It will be when the timing is right and we have the resources to expand,” Faltyn said. “We have already been raising money.” He said some funding for the expansion will come from private sources. More money could come from the state, he said. However, like other public colleges and public schools, Connors faces

Above: Dr. Frank Corrado teaches an anatomy and physiology class at Connors State College’s Port Campus. Corrado said many of his students are pre-nursing students. Right: Connors State College Student Maryah Lane of Fort Gibson checks an English book in a class taught by Sharon Hendrix. Connors officials are working to accommodate growing enrollment. Staff photos by Cathy Spaulding

cuts in state funding. “That means the future is more uncertain than at any time in my career,” Faltyn said. When students are attracted to a program, they get involved. “We offer programs, like nursing, that are attractive to students,” Faltyn (See Connors, Page 6)

Connors State College

CAMPUS ADDRESSES: Warner Campus, 700 College Road, Warner; Three Rivers Port Campus, 2501 N. 41st St. E., Muskogee. HOURS: Warner, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; Port, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays. SERVICES OFFERED: Comprehensive associate degree granting college with degree offerings in agricultural, business, communications and fine arts, math and sciences, nursing and social sciences. NUMBER OF FULLTIME TEACHERS: 48. NUMBER OF SUPPORT EMPLOYEES: 81.

ENROLLMENT: 3,116 per semester in 2015. KEY PERSONNEL: Dr. Tim Faltyn, President; Dr. Ron Ramming, Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs; Mike Lewis, Vice President of Fiscal Services; Ryan Blanton, Associate Vice President for External Affairs; Jody Butler, Interim Campus Administrator, Three Rivers Port Campus; Julie Dinger, Interim Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs; Mike Jackson, Dean of Students; Robin O’Quinn, Interim Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs. PHONE: Warner, (918) 463-2931; Port, (918) 687-6747. WEBSITE: connorsstate.edu.


Outlook2016

Muskogee Phoenix

Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016

Page 5

Alice Robertson Junior High student Cade White operates a camera during a lecture at AR’s New Tech Academy. The Academy opened at the start of the 2016 school year. Staff photo by Cathy Spaulding

MPS looks beyond buildings, tech By Cathy Spaulding Phoenix Staff Writer

When the going gets tough, Muskogee Public Schools teachers and administrators get going. Like many Oklahoma public schools, Muskogee faces deep cuts in state funding over the next few years. MPS Chief Financial Officer John Little said the district faces state funding cuts as deep as $2.5 million by the 2017 school year. Yet, MPS continues to ensure students get a quality education. “Our priority is pro-

viding students with the best possible education available, one commensurate with the best schools in the nation,” said MPS Secondary Education Director Melony Carey. “This includes providing them with advanced studies that will help them matriculate with college and career skills and equip them to face whatever might await them in the future.” Improvements funded by a 2013 bond issue continue to lay a foundation for the future. Many Alice Robertson

Junior High students stepped into spacious New Tech Academy when the 2016 school year began. The $3.9 million facility features classrooms, labs, solar power, wind turbine tower and an interactive digital wall showing the Periodic Table of Elements. “Using rigorous/relevant curriculum and creating worthy assignments will prepare our students for the world of academics and work,” AR Principal Peggy Jones said. The bond issue al-

so funded a Fab Lab at Muskogee High School. The lab enables students to create intricate and usable designs out of metal, plastic, wood and a variety of other materials. “It’s more than just a 3-D printer,” said Fab Lab Manager Nathan Hill. “We’ll have welding capability, a computer controlled plasma cutter, a giant cutting table.” Hill said the lab should be open by the start of the 2017 school year. He said the lab could be (See mps, 8A)

POSITIVELY MUSKOGEE: Ann Ong Ann Ong has lived in said. Muskogee since 1979. “I just believe that “In the last things are coming years, I’ve seen together and that more people more people bemore interested lieve and underin making Muskstand that we can ogee a town be better and do with a wonderful better and enjoy quality of life with a quality of life good educational equal to or better and employment than any other city Ong opportunities for in the country,” our citizens,” Ong Ong said. said. “I’ve lived in New York In Muskogee’s recent City, Omaha, Nashville city council election and rural Kentucky — there were very young every place is what the candidates, and that’s people make it,” she a wonderful thing, she said.


Outlook2016 Muskogee Phoenix

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Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016

Retail

Connors

Continued from Page 2

Continued from Page 4

Throughout 2015, 20 new business building permits were filed with the city, which include developments like ALDI grocery store, DICK’S Sporting Goods and Ulta Beauty, according to city records. One of the major developments is the shopping center on North Sixth Street and West Shawnee Bypass. “DICK’S Sporting Goods is a game changer,” Hayes said. “There was no sporting goods store in Muskogee of their capacity until now.” Hayes said it will be awhile before residents get a feel for the payoff on the city’s side. “It will keep money coming in and Muskogee

said. Dorcas Warner, a pre-nursing student from Warner, said a friend had told her about Connors’ program. She said she likes the small class size and attentive teachers. Connors instructor Frank Corrado said most of his anatomy and physiology students are in the pre-nursing program. “They are motivated and dedicated,” Corrado said. “I’m the luckiest instructor in the world.” According to College and Community Relations Director Ami Maddocks, Connors has a 100 percent pass rate on the state nursing certification test.

Staff photo by Harrison Grimwood

Residents walk in and out of the new store, DICK’s Sporting Goods, at the new shopping center at North Sixth Street and West Shawnee Bypass.

dollars from going out,” Hayes said. The construction costs for those 20 new businesses is about $19.5 million. In addition to those permits, 47 business repair permits were filed with the city, representing a $7.2 million invest-

ment of local businesses back into themselves to try attracting and capturing more sales tax dollars. Reach Harrison Grimwood at (918) 684-2926 or harrison.grimwood@ muskogeephoenix.com.

POSITIVELY MUSKOGEE: Dr. Jim Baker

“In this day and age, dedication in providing new access to (health) care is health care providers and so important,” said Dr. Jim ancillary staff though ConBaker, medical dinors State College, rector of Three RivBacone and Northers Health Center. eastern, he said. “You have the “Not many comVA medical center, munities have the EASTAR, Cornercapability to do stone Hospital and that,” Baker said. Cherokee Nation “We’re building a Health System,” he health system that said. is for the future.” Baker “Muskogee has “We’re beating enormous potential to be the drum of Muskogee a wonderful, diverse comwellness and the accommunity and a health center plishments we’ve seen for Oklahoma extending happen over the past all the way to the Arkansas year,” he said. border, half way to OklahoExamples he gave was ma City, half the way to the the creation of community Texas border and half way gardens, a children’s trito Tulsa,” Baker said. athlon, corporate wellness Not only is the health challenge and several quality outstanding but so community meetings on is the education and the wellness.

Connors also was recently named first in the nation for Native American health care education by Diverse Maga-

zine, Maddocks said. Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.


Outlook2016

Muskogee Phoenix

Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016

Page 7

Staff photos by D.E. Smoot

The Muskogee Arts District Homes development project includes the construction of income-qualified housing west of the Depot District near the central business district.

City’s downtown projects progress By D.E. Smoot

opens doors to funding options that otherwise would be unavailable. Downtown revitaliza- Muskogee County Comtion will be a key issue missioner Ken Doke, for the city officials as District 1, and oththey continue to imple- ers on DMI’s directing ment a five-year stra- board believe a finding tegic plan designed to of blight in downtown move Muskogee forward. Muskogee would allow Interim City Manag- downtown business iner Roy Tucker said the terests to compete on a multifaceted project level playing field with will be approached from developers who have a number of taken advanfronts and tages availCity of will include able through the efforts of urban renewMuskogee the Muskogee al efforts in ADDRESS: Urban Renewnorthwest Muskogee Municipal Building, al and RedeMuskogee. 229 W. Okmulgee velopment “They are Ave., Muskogee, authorities. drawing a lot OK 74401 It also will of attention HOURS: 8 a.m. include the to other parts to 5 p.m. efforts of a reof Muskogee SERVICES OFcently created and sucking FERED: Municicommittee for the wind out pal government. the purpose NUMBER OF of our downEMPLOYEES: of analyzing town,” Doke 457. the revenue recently said KEY PERSONstream made about those NEL: Interim City up of sales incentives Manager Roy and use taxes available Tucker; City Clerk and the nonthrough an Pam Bates; Interprofit Downurban renewim City Attorney al plan. “We town MuskMatthew Beese; Treasurer Jean are not askogee Inc. Kingston; Public ing for any“We havWorks Director thing specific en’t seen a Mike Stewart; yet — we are lot of growth Planning Director just asking in the way Gary Garvin; Rethem (urban of businesstail Business Enrenewal comes in downterprise Director missioners) to town MuskDon Root; Human Resources Direcdo the (blight) ogee for some tor Kelly Plunkett. study and time, but that TELEPHONE: see ... if we is starting (918) 684-6201. can do someto change,” WEBSITE: thing to get Tucker said. www.cityofmusksome traction “What we ogee.com downtown.” will be doing Tucker said as far as city government goes is try making a determination to determine what we that blight exists withcan do help spur that in downtown Muskogee growth everybody wants may be more difficult than it was for the urto see.” Tucker said several ban renewal project area projects, like the instal- where arrested developlation of gateway signs ment appeared obvious. and construction of the A blight study for downnew Muskogee Little town Muskogee, he said, Theatre, are under way would take into considalready or will be soon. eration different factors, He also cited recent ef- like inadequate parking, forts to install the elec- sidewalks and infratrical infrastructure structure that is needed needed for a bigger and to support the increased brighter Christmas dis- demands of a thriving play along Broadway as business district. “Those, and some another component of the city’s renewed focus other things will help on the central business spur the revitalization of downtown,” Tucker district. Urban renewal com- said. “It will be all of missioners, he said, those things working in are expected to initi- conjunction -- it won’t be ate during the coming just one thing alone that weeks a blight study of downtown Muskogee to determine whether the area will qualify as a project area. DMI directors in June requested the blight study after the nonprofit was unable to secure a grant needed to help fund projects they deemed necessary for the redevelopment of downtown Muskogee. A blight declaration and urban renewal plan for a designated area Phoenix Staff Writer

will make that happen.” Other components of the strategic plan expected to implemented this year include efforts to ensure success for the newly created Retail Business Enterprise department. Tucker said the collaborative efforts with other departments and contract consultants will help fill a void left by city councilors’ decision to defund a position for an assistant director. “Some of the things that might be needed include real estate services,” Tucker said, noting those can be provided at a cost well below what the addition of full-time employee would be. “There are certainly steps we can take to make sure that department succeeds as envisioned without adding new staff.” Tucker said there will be continued efforts this year to address infrastructure needs, including a planned comprehensive study of the city’s water distribution system. The study, similar to what was done with streets a few years ago, will assess immediate, intermediate and long-term needs. “Our town was founded in 1898, and much of our infrastructure is more than 100 years old,” Tucker said. “We have worked diligently during the past 20 to 30 years replacing some of it, but there is a lot more that needs to be done -when you flush the toilet you want to make sure it is safely taken away, and when you turn on the tap you want to make

A heavy-equipment operator removes debris from a condemned structure demolished in southwest Muskogee. The project is part of the Foundation 400 Demolition Program funded by a $1 million grant awarded by the City of Muskogee Foundation and matching funds from revenue generated by a five-year 0.18 percent sales tax.

sure safe drinking water comes out.” Tucker said he also expects progress with other parts of the strategic plan, with improved customer service and employee compensation among them. Development of Love-Hatbox Sports Complex and a successful G Fest also will be top priorities. “We will be working with the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame to make sure we have everything in place to make sure that event is a success,” Tucker said. Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix. com.

POSITIVELY MUSKOGEE: Ivory Vann City Councilor Ivory at Love-Hatbox Sports Vann says it’s a “really Complex. positive thing” that the “One of the most imcity is trying to get portant things to an expo center at remember is the Love-Hatbox Sports City of Muskogee Complex. Foundation, which An expo center has helped the city would bring in liveof Muskogee more stock shows and than anything,” “bring people from Vann said. “Without around the area and them, a lot of these state, thus bringing projects wouldn’t Vann money into Muskbe done.” ogee,” Vann said. “And Van said he was also with Three Rivers Plaza, pleased to see the start we don’t have to go all the of “safe and secure meetway to Tulsa now.” ings” where police and fire Vann said he is also department officials would excited about the uphold a community event to coming G Fest musical answer questions. event set for June 16-18


Outlook2016 Muskogee Phoenix

MPS

Industry

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open to the community, as well as students. MPS also is working to get laptop or tablet computers into each student’s hands through a 1:1 program. So far, students in kindergarten and first grade, as well as grades seven through 12 have computers. The bond issue also funded a central data center for the district’s 13 school sites, the Board of Education Service and Technology Center and other MPS buildings. Educators are looking beyond buildings and technology. Muskogee High School Principal Dawna Buck praised MHS’ new University Center. “We have exponentially grown our concurrent enrollment,” Buck said. “This partnership with Connors State College has been an excellent opportunity for our students. We have over 75 students with college credits on our campus.” MHS also is expanding career options. “We are looking forward to increasing the amount of certification tests that our students can take,” Buck said. “We want MHS graduates to

contemplate an Oklahoma location ... Muskogee will be on that list.” Other developments expected to take shape during the coming year include the development and implementation of a strategic marketing and recruiting plan. The plan is the final step in a process that analyzed the Muskogee area’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for industrial development. “This plan will be our blueprint, our road map in terms of identifying and pursuing companies that populate the target industries,” Miller said about a site consultant’s findings from the market analysis that will form the foundation of the strategic plan. “This will enable us to be more strategic in the way we approach our recruiting efforts.” Miller said activity, “in terms of 2016 and leads generated from external sources,” already is 50 percent above what was seen during “the entirety of last year.” He described the level of that activity as “very good.” Other industrial development activities include the involvement of Mill-

Staff photo by Cathy Spaulding

Muskogee Public Schools Technology Director Eric Wells closes a door on a centralized data center. The center is the communications hub of 13 schools, the Board of Education Service and Technology Center and other district buildings.

Muskogee Public Schools

MAIN ADDRESS: Board of Education Service & Technology Center, 202 W. Broadway. SERVICES PROVIDED: Public education from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. HOURS: For BEST Center, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 724. NUMBER OF CERTIFIED EMPLOYEES: 418. APPROXIMATE ENROLLMENT: 6,054. KEY PERSONNEL: Superintendent, Mike Garde; Assistant Superintendent of Personnel and Support

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Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016

Services, Jim Wilson; Director of Secondary Education, Melony Carey; Director of Elementary Education, Clevetta Gray; Chief Financial Officer, John Little; Director of Human Resources, Martha Brians; Director of Maintenance and Facilities, Wayne Johnson; Director of Child Nutrition Services, Kim Hall; District Registrar, Rhonda Warlick; Director of Transportation, Ed Wallace; Athletic Director, Garrett Davis. PHONE: (918) 6843700. WEBSITE: www.mpsi20.org

have the advantage go- ing at (918) 684-2928 ing into a job interview.” or cspaulding@muskReach Cathy Spauld- ogeephoenix.com.

POSITIVELY MUSKOGEE: Bob Coburn

Being re-elected as Elementary School their mayor of Muskogee with “Emerging School of 71.4 percent of Character” from the the vote convinces State Character Mayor Bob Coburn Council. that “what we are Coburn said that doing is the right Muskogee is a thing.” good place to raise “Muskogee is in children and granda great position to children, with two accomplish a lot, of his grandchildren and we’re right at living in Muskogee. Coburn the threshold to do “This makes me great things, and many excited that they want to good things have already live in Muskogee and be a happened with more to part of its growth,” Coburn come,” Coburn said. said. “We want to move As an example, he said forward and upward, and that he had just participat- that’s what we’re going to ed in presenting Whittier do.”

er’s department with a program dubbed “Dream It, Do It.” The program, which Miller said is part of a national initiative, is a collaborative effort spearheaded locally by the Muskogee Educational Consortium. “It puts a more contemporary face on manufacturing careers and the manufacturing workplace -- what manufacturing represents in the 21st century versus the historical perception of manufacturing,” Miller said. “The point is to introduce primary- and secondary-level teachers, and students and their parents to ... manufacturing as a viable career ... with upward mobility that requires a highly developed, technical skill

set.” Port Director Scott Robinson said the authority is continuing efforts to acquire a 150-acre tract at Davis Field, which is owned by the city of Muskogee, despite some snags in the process. That acquisition, he said, is necessary to promote the port authority’s efforts to land some aerospace projects. “We have been targeting potential aerospace development and other projects that need airport access,” Robinson said. “None of those have materialized, but there are at least one or two still in hopper we will continue to work.” Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot @muskogeephoenix.com.


Outlook2016

Staff photo by Mark Hughes

Hereford cows respond to Rowdy Fewel’s call for feeding time. In 2013, the latest data available, Muskogee County had 56,000 cattle and calves; 35,500 beef cows and 600 dairy cows. Story on Page 10

Staff photo by D.E. Smoot

A heavy-equipment operator packs barges queued at the Port of Muskogee with scrap metal, which will be shipped to a recycling plant for reuse. Story on Page 11

Inside • • • • • •

Outlook is good for county farmers/10

Port of Muskogee plans active year/11 ICTC curriculum fits students’ needs/13 County focus is on infrastructure/14

Staff photo by Cathy Spaulding

Indian Capital Technology Center Biomedical Academy teacher Janet Lawrence, right, helps students Summer Bratcher, left, Rachael Sitton and Laurel Bolding with an assignment on bone DNA. Story on Page 13

Hilldale keeps up in tech age/15 Muskogee’s positive people: — Oscar Ray/11 — Janey Boydston/15 — Victor Lezama/16 — Lori Jefferson/16

Staff photo by Cathy Spaulding

Hilldale third-grader Drake Winfield studies his lesson on a tablet computer. Hilldale Elementary recently received tablet computers for each grade level. Story on Page 15


Outlook2016 Muskogee Phoenix

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Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016

Staff photos by Mark Hughes

Rowdy Fewel, rancher and president of the Muskogee County Cattleman’s Association, feeds his cattle. Fewel is the fourth generation to operate the ranch.

Outlook good for county farmers By Mark Hughes Phoenix Staff Writer

Agricultural products and the value of livestock contributed more than $90 million to Muskogee County’s economic impact. That includes $50,557,000 for the market value of agricultural products sold, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture 2012 Census of Agriculture for Muskogee County. Of that amount, crop sales totaled $21,398,000 and livestock sales were $29,159,000, the census states. The agriculture/ livestock census is taken every five years. In 2013, Dr. Derrell Peel, with the Department of Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State University, calculated the direct impact of the beef industry in Muskogee County and concluded it was $40,400,000. “When the indirect impact of the beef industry is included, that adds another $10,707,278,” Peel said. Indirect impact includes items like feed, veterinary services and capital depreciation of pens, fertilizers, fuel, barns and power equipment purchased within Muskogee County, he said. “In general, Oklahoma has had, and will continue to have, a very strong beef industry,” Peel said. “You have lot of forage areas, and if you raise forage, cattle will use it. Muskogee County has plenty of forage areas. “Muskogee County ranks first in the state for forage production, third in vegetable production, seventh in soybean production and eighth for corn production,” said Mandy Blocker, Muskogee County agent for the OSU extension. Peel said that cattle is important all over the state but especially for the eastern part of Oklahoma. “The eastern part of the state gets more rainfall, and it doesn’t take as much land to raise cattle in eastern Oklahoma than as western — you get more rain in Muskogee and less in Guymon,” he said. Last year, the average

Steve Fewel operates a John Deere tractor and moves a bale of hay to an easier access for future use on his family ranch he operates with his nephew, Rowdy Fewel. The family raises Hereford cows for breeding purposes.

rainfall in Muskogee County was 46.75 inches and for Guymon it was 19.3 inches, according to the National Weather Service. In January 2015, Muskogee County had 61,000 head of cattle and calves. Of those, 40,000 were beef cows, 200 were dairy cows and 20,800 were feeder cattle, Peel said. In 2014, the January figures were 57,000 cattle and calves; 38,000 beef cows and 400 dairy cows, according to the USDA Oklahoma Cattle County Estimates. For 2013 Muskogee County had 56,000 cattle and calves; 35,500 beef cows

and 600 dairy cows. Feeder cattle includes unweaned calves, weaned calves in a growing program or replacement heifers saved specifically for breeding, Peel said. Last year, Oklahoma ranked number five in the nation in terms of all cattle and cows, Peel said. But when it comes to beef cows, Oklahoma was ranked number two in the nation, only behind Texas, he said. In the last 25 years the number of farms in Muskogee County peaked at 1,845 in 2007 with the lowest amount of acreage in 1992 at 1,265, according to agriculture

census data. The amount of farm land during that same period was largest in 2007 with 347,372 acres and dipped to 332,566 acres in 1997, the census states. The highest market value of products sold during the last 25 years was $52,689,000 in 2007 and dropped to $30,176,000 in 1987, according to the census. “From an economic standpoint, the future farm income is expected to decline due to the drop of the livestock and crop markets at this time,” Blocker said. “... this is how the market goes — there are good years and bad years.”

The age of Muskogee County farmers has inched upward since 1997 at 55.3 years to 2012 at 57.9 years, the census states. “As the aging population moves further away from the farms to the cities, the age of the farmers tend to increase,” said Wilbert Hundl, state statistician for Oklahoma Field Office, USDA National Agricultural Statistic Service. “I believe it would be a concern to the state,” Hundl said. “We’ve got to get younger people into the farm population in order to get that average back down.” Except for 2002, farm-

ers made their income primarily through other means, the census states. In 2002, there were 928 farmers making money primarily through farming, while another 812 succeeded in an other-than-farming business. “Oklahoma farmers are rich in tradition, and their goal is to provide the best products to consumers ... at the most affordable cost,” Blocker said. “I would say that there is still a positive outlook for many farmers.” Reach Mark Hughes at (918) 684-2908 or mhughes@muskogeephoenix.com.


Outlook2016

Muskogee Phoenix

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Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016

Port of Muskogee plans active year By D.E. Smoot

Phoenix Staff Writer

Port of Muskogee activity weathered historic rainfall and a prolonged downturn of the oil and gas industry in 2015 and optimism remains alive and well for the coming year. “Financially we are doing great, but still there are a lot of risks out there,” Port Director Scott Robinson said, acknowledging the 78 percent drop in crude oil prices that has occurred during the year and a half. “What we are doing is continuing to focus on expanding the footprint of industrial properties controlled by the port authority, keeping our property inventory up to date, and making it more shovel-ready.” That effort, Robinson said, includes having engineering plans in place for all industrial properties being marketed for development, which has been done for several tracts. The requisite environmental studies also have been done and, in some cases, mitigation plans have been completed for properties where wetlands are an issue. Infrastructure development, Robinson said, is being undertaken on a case-by-case basis as needed, but engineering has been completed for planned railroad improvements. A major rail project that is in the works includes track geometry needed to accommodate six-axle locomotives, which are becoming the industry standard, and an expansion of the port’s marshaling yard. “It is one of our main focuses — we have got to improve rail access into the port — that is an extremely important part of our growth strategy,” Robinson said. “Improving rail access means we are changing the geometry to the existing curvature to accommodate six-axle locomotives and safe access for flat-bed cars.” Securing funds for that project, Robinson said, will be the next step, one that was initiated in 2015 and expected to continue this year with the renewed application for a highly competitive federal transportation grant. While the U.S. Department of Transportation rejected the 2015 application, Robinson said federal officials encouraged the port authority to submit a second application. “We were considered a highly rated applicant and encouraged to resubmit for the next round of TIGER grants included

Staff photo by D.E. Smoot

A heavy-equipment operator packs barges queued at the Port of Muskogee with scrap metal to be shipped to a recycling plant for reuse.

in the new highway bill,” Robinson said, noting the 2015 grant cycle drew applicants with $10 billion of projects who were competing for the $500 million available through the federal transportation grant program. “That happens a lot, but I think ultimately we will be successful — it might take two or three rounds.”

POSITIVELY MUSKOGEE: Oscar Ray

Oscar Ray is a Muskten to you.” ogee resident who is very He said that reconnectpositive about his home ing with Muskogee’s hisand the people who live tory is causing its citizens here. to become proud of Musk“I guess it’s the people ogee again. that makes Muskogee “Over the years, look at a positive place all the things that to live,” he said. Muskogee could be “Muskogee is a big and the citizens are city with a smallbeginning to realize town attitude ... that that,” Ray said. you don’t always Muskogee was once find even in smaller the gateway to the cities.” rest of Oklahoma, “With every city he said. “Now that you have people we’ve reconnected Ray from every backwith the city’s heart, ground and every that’s where the religion,” Ray said. “Even greatness comes from.” with those differences, “People from Muskogee people still love each other have been to places all whether black or white, over the world and made Republican or Democrat.” an impact all over the “Muskogee is a place world,” Ray said. “Now, where it’s difficult not to everyone realizes that go anywhere and speak Muskogee is a great place to someone, and they’ll to live and a great place to speak back and even lisbe at and from.”

Robinson said the port authority is continuing efforts to acquire a 150-acre tract at Davis Field, which is owned by the city of Muskogee, despite some snags in the process. That acquisition, he said, is necessary to promote the port authority’s efforts to land some aerospace projects. “We have been targeting potential aerospace development and other projects that need airport access,” Robinson said. “None of those have materialized, but there are at least one or two still in hopper we will continue to work.” With regard to traditional port activities, Robinson said barge traffic in and out of the Muskogee facility was flat — just about a half

percent below 2014 levels — last year. But that, he said, is about 15 percent to 20 percent better than other ports along the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. “We have been very fortunate this year: Tonnage on the river as a whole was down 15 percent this year, and on the Oklahoma segment it was down 20 percent,” Robinson said during a recent tour of the port, where sandbags remained stacked in doorways of buildings that line the inland navigation channel. “All of that was pretty much due to oil and gas — some of it was the flooding — but our tonnage remained (See Port, Page 16)

Muskogee City-County Port Authority

ADDRESS: 4901 Harold Scoggins Drive, Muskogee. HOURS: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. SERVICES OFFERED: Oversight of port operations and industrial development. NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 14. KEY PERSONNEL: Port Director Scott Robin-

son; Dave Davis, special projects coordinator; Eric Miller, director of business and economic development. TELEPHONE: (918) 682-7886. WEBSITE: www.muskogeeport.com EMAIL: scott@muskogeeport.com; dave@ muskogeeport.com; eric@ muskogeeport.com.


SMALL TOWN, IN PROGRESS! F O R T G I B S O N , USA! T HRIVING L OCAL B USINESS • S CHOOL S PIRIT • F AMILY , C HURCH & C OMMUNITY The Fort Gibson Chamber of Commerce has long thought that our town was the best kept secret in Oklahoma. Known for its historic significance both statewide and nationwide, with the Historic Site and National Cemetery, it also claims one of the best school systems in the state and the nation. Nestled along the Arkansas River, between Tahlequah and Muskogee, many residents choose to live here, and commute, because of Fort Gibson’s schools and lifestyle. It is also perfectly situated for the outdoor enthusiasts that enjoy fishing, hunting, rural living, or anything that pertains to an outdoor way of life. The many annual events that the town hosts, brings thousands of visitors from all around the region, namely our Annual Car Show, Corn Festival, various 5K and 10K runs, July 4th Fireworks Show, Annual “Smokin’ the Fort-BBQ & Bluegrass Festival”, and Starlight Christmas Parade, along with the many Historic Site activities, Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day ceremonies at the National Cemetery, and other local group events, we usually have something going on each month of the year. Our historic downtown area is well preserved and offers great growth potential, and it along with the Centennial Park, is one that is often visited by out-of-towners, and a favorite for photo-shoots. With new construction, growing neighborhoods, excellent schools, low crime rate, and easy access to more metropolitan areas, Fort Gibson offers the perfect “down-home” way of life. We truly believe in our motto, “Remembering the Past, Embracing the Future”.


Outlook2016

Muskogee Phoenix

Page 13

Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016

Staff photos by Cathy Spaulding

Indian Capital Technology Center Biomedical Academy teacher Janet Lawrence, right, helps students Summer Bratcher, left, Rachael Sitton and Laurel Bolding with an assignment on bone DNA. The academy is one way ICTC helps prepare students and adults for careers.

ICTC curriculum fits students’ needs By Cathy Spaulding Phoenix Staff Writer

Indian Capital Technology Center students find practical ways to meet needs. In one classroom, adult and high school students learn to “troubleshoot” problems on air conditioners. In another classroom, high school students seek to make a DNA match on bones found at a “crime scene.” In other classrooms, students learn to fix cars, make people beautiful, prepare good things to eat and meet the area’s rising health care needs. ICTC’s four campuses train students to find meaningful careers. Many of those careers are in the health field. In 2015, ICTC opened its health care services classroom and lab building at Muskogee. The building enabled ICTC to add an occupational therapy assistant program and its expand radiological technology program. “We have a lot more space,” said Tracy Porter, rad tech clinical coordi-

Air conditioning wiring work takes steady hands at Indian Capital Technology Center.

nator. The expansion also enabled ICTC to start its Biomedical Academy,

which helps high school students explore biomedical careers while investigating a simulated

crime scene. More health care-related programs are coming soon, said ICTC superintendent Tony Pivec. “We’re hiring a physical therapy assistant instructor,” Pivec said. Future health-care related programs could include respiratory therapy and sonography, he said. Of course, possibilities aren’t limited to the health care field. Okay High School student Dylan Craft is taking a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) course at the Muskogee campus. “I hope to get a job after I graduate,” he said. “The more experience you have, the more you get paid.” He and other HVAC students likely will find a job. “We place about 92 percent of our students,” said Muskogee HVAC instructor David Mabry. The Tahlequah campus has a criminal justice program “that’s very successful,” said marketing and public relations coordinator Anesa Hooper.

Indian Capital Technology Center

ADDRESS: Muskogee Campus, 2403 N. 41st St. East. Tahlequah campus, 240 Career Tech Way; also campuses in Stilwell and Sallisaw. HOURS: 7:30 a.m. - 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. (Hours may vary) SERVICES OFFERED: Four campuses serve 50 public school districts and four private schools. ICTC offers majors in 12 career clusters focuses on meeting the needs of business and industry partners and preparing people for success in the workplace. Also offers diverse selection of short term and online courses as well as customized training programs. NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 226. ENROLLMENT: Fulltime career majors, 1,273; Adult career development and short term courses,

As for future course possibilities, Pivec said “we are continually looking at the job market.” A 30-day truck-driving course will come to Muskogee within the

1,998; Business and industry services: 13,542. KEY PERSONNEL: Superintendent, Tony Pivec; Assistant Superintendent, Roger King; Muskogee Campus Director, Edna McMillen; Tahlequah Campus Director, Robin Roberts; Business/Industry Services and Adult Career Development Director, Kathy Adair; Health Careers District Administrator, Debbie Bartel; Instructional Services/ Student Services District Administrator, Brent Ryan; Information Technology District Administrator, Ravonda Bethel; Adult Career Development District Administrator, Delina Bible; Marketing/Public Information Coordinator, Anesa Hooper. PHONE: (918) 6876383. WEBSITE: www. ictctech.com.

next few weeks, he said. The Sallisaw campus began a truck driving course in January. Future courses will begin (See ICTC, Page 16)


Outlook2016 Muskogee Phoenix

Page 14

Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016

Staff photo by D.E. Smoot

Muskogee County workers clear debris from a rain-swollen creek. Commissioners and their employees are still recovering from flood damage to the county’s infrastructure that occurred as a result of record rainfall during 2015.

County focus on funds, infrastructure By D.E. Smoot

Phoenix Staff Writer

Muskogee County commissioners spent much of the past year swimming their way out from beneath widespread flooding caused by record rainfall and an unexpected budget shortfall. Overcoming those issues presented some tough questions that had to be answered. Commissioners responded with the implementation of new policies they hope will not only keep the

county afloat — both its finances and infrastructure — for years to come. The changes being implemented were made during the first year of service for two commissioners — Ken Doke of District 1 and Kenny Payne of District 3 — who were elected in 2014 to the Muskogee County Board of Commissioners. The policies, Payne said, were set in motion as a way to promote efficiency and transparency in order to address long-term needs.

Home Improvement

022100354302

Muskogee County Board of Commissioners

ADDRESS: 400 W. Broadway, Muskogee, OK 74401 HOURS: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. SERVICES OFFERED: County government. NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: KEY PERSONNEL:

“All of these thing are steps toward functioning more efficiently and making it easier to track our money, and for us and the public that is a good

District 1 Commissioner Ken Doke; District 2 Commissioner Stephen Wright; District 3 Commissioner Kenny Payne, chairman. TELEPHONE: (918) 682-0811. WEBSITE: N/A EMAIL: bocc@readymuskogee.org

thing,” Payne said about commissioners’ response to budget policies. “It’s tax money that goes into the county coffers, and we bear some responsibility

to make that available to taxpayers in a way that is easily found and understood.” Some of the new budgeting policies include the sharing among county officers the responsibility of paying their share of payroll taxes for their employees instead of it coming out of the commissioners’ fund. County officers also were able to implement direct deposit for employee payroll checks, which had been in the works for some time.

Another new policy includes the conveyance of surplus land to municipalities. Those properties have little value to the county but impose a burden on the county treasurer, who is responsible for maintenance and the costs associated with that task. “Another thing we have done that is unique is to give the surplus properties to towns — we have given away a lot of prop(See County, Page 16)


Outlook2016

Muskogee Phoenix

Page 15

Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016

Staff photos by Cathy Spaulding

Hilldale first-grader Keegan Harvey races through rings during physical education class. Hilldale Public Schools is experiencing a growth in enrollment.

Hilldale keeps up in age of technology By Cathy Spaulding Phoenix Staff Writer

Hilldale third-graders gaze at their red tablet computers, reading aloud with teacher Amy Sheets. The students are able to look things up on their computers when they’re not reading along. “Technology is the up and coming thing,” said Patti Bilyard, Hilldale Lower Elementary principal. “It is the wave of the future.” The future recently arrived at the Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary schools in the form of mobile computer labs. Bilyard said each grade level got a cart with 50 tablet computers. She said the carts go from classroom to classroom. The mobile computer labs are one way educators at Hilldale Public Schools work to keep up with technology and academic standards — even in the face of tight budgets. Superintendent Dr. Kaylin Coody said growth can be scary during such frugal times. Coody said the district has no technology director. However, she said “technology opportunities and needs will also grow.” Hilldale Elementary computer lab teacher Pam Coleman said she hopes each student could have a tablet or laptop “in the near future.”

Hilldale third-graders Chase Crowder, left, Trinity Nutt and Addison Whitford read along with their teacher, Amie Sheets.

Coody said she expects student enrollment to keep growing. Enrollment has grown from 1,776 in 2011 to 1,857 currently, according to state and district records. Hilldale continues to add or expand programs. For example, starting this year, students in kindergarten through fifth-grade take art class. “We focus on teaching the elements of art,”

Hilldale Public Schools

POSITIVELY MUSKOGEE: Janey Boydston

“I know we have our of Muskogee, a real asset faults, but I just do love … and really impressed Muskogee, warts and all,” with the airport …,” Boydsaid Janey Boydston said. ston, retired flower “It just seems shop owner and city like things are more councilor. positive than they “Muskogee is have been,” she the best place in said. “The depot the world, and it’s district is going to be because of the peoanother feather in ple,” Boydston said. our cap.” Boydston “It’s a small town The reason why feeling where everythings are more one knows everyone,” she positive in Muskogee is said. “I’ve been in business because “there are more here for 40 years, and people who are willing to Muskogee has been good take a part and put their to me.” shoulder to the wheel and “The future is looking make progress in Muskup, there are more positive ogee,” Boydston said. things on the horizon than “I would encourage the people realize,” she said. rest of them to push Musk“I’m really proud of the Port ogee ahead,” she said.

Hilldale third-grader Drake Winfield studies his lesson on a tablet computer. Hilldale Elementary recently received tablet computers for each grade level.

said art teacher Jamie Triplett. She said the class could help students in other subjects because “art pulls out the creative side of the brain.” Hilldale also works to keep up with ever-evolving academic standards, Coody said. “Our staff is working diligently to align curriculum to improve learning,” she said.

“Teachers are working together to be sure they are covering standards and establishing pacing to be certain it’s all taught in the best sequence,” Coody said. “As we look at new texts, we are verifying that the text does cover what is supposed to be taught.” Teachers give benchmark tests to determine students’ individual needs, she said.

“Standards will continue to be tweaked, and we will know how to address that,” Coody said. “Students’ needs may vary for each teacher, but they will have the resources to do what’s best for each student. Coody added a key to teaching success “Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration.” Teachers regularly meet together in pro-

ADDRESS: 500 E. Smith Ferry Road, Muskogee. ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE HOURS: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. SERVICES OFFERED: Public school education from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. NUMBER OF CERTIFIED EMPLOYEES: 133. NUMBER OF SUPPORT EMPLOYEES: 69. ENROLLMENT: 1,857. KEY PERSONNEL: Superintendent, Dr. Kaylin Coody; Assistant superintendents, Deborah Tennison, Erik Puckett. Principals — High School, Josh Nixon; Middle School, Darren Riddle; Upper Elementary, Shannon Schwarz; Lower Elementary, Patti Bilyard. PHONE: (918) 6830273. WEBSITE: www.hilldale.k12.ok.us.

fessional learning communities to share their expertise. Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.


Outlook2016

Muskogee Phoenix

Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016

Page 16

Staff photo by D.E. Smoot

Materials lay ready for use during the construction of a new bridge across the Grand River near Fort Gibson.

County Continued from Page 14

erty,” Doke said. We are getting ready to convey a bunch to Summit, and we have conveyed everything the county had in Braggs and Oktaha — we are still working with the city of Muskogee for the property the county owns there.” Doke said the county’s economic development plans include efforts to bring Dollar General stores to the county’s smaller municipalities. Doke said he is working with investors and town leaders to move that project forward. Both Doke and Payne said the county’s partnerships with municipalities throughout the county will play a bigger role in their economic development plans. Payne said he looks forward to continue commissioners’ work with the Muskogee City-County Port Authority’s economic development team and the work it is doing. “We had a couple this last year where we were finalists that didn’t come to pass, but they were really good-looking deals as far as jobs and what they would pay,” Payne said about the creation of a tax district that would have provided attractive incentives. “They need to land a fish — get one in the boat — and I look forward to working with them to help do that.”

ICTC Continued from Page 13

April 25 and June 27 in Muskogee and March 25 and May 27 in Sallisaw. Pivec said people passing the truck driving course could work at a variety of businesses. Drivers could get paid $35,000 to $38,000 the first year. “Adult career development is taking off like wildfire,” Pivec said. Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

POSITIVELY MUSKOGEE: Victor Lezama

Even though he could could make a big differhave made more money ence in our community,” in Broken Arrow, Victor he said. Lezama always saw a lot “I’ve seen a huge of potential in Muskogee. growth in Muskogee as “When I retired from the a whole and am proud to military I moved see the city taking to Broken Arrow initiative in downbut I gave it a lot town with the Little of thought … and Theatre and on wanted to be a (U.S.) Highway 69 part of Muskogee’s where we’re really growth,” Lezama seeing progress,” said. Lezama said. So he opened “No longer is it his computer store, talk, we’re actually Lezama The PC LZ, at 111 growing,” he said. W. Broadway and “We’ve started “would always pick my seeing that spirit become customer’s brains about alive again and people their feel for Muskogee, start coming back downwhether we were stagnant town again,” he said. or progressive,” he said. “If my little company “They aways said stag- can show that we can fix nant but they were proud a little bit here and there, of Muskogee but didn’t re- then I would think that othally want to put any effort er senior companies can in to make change, they help fix downtown too,” were afraid it would go Lezama said. down hill,” Lezama said. “We all need to play our So he decided to get part because at the end involved and “show that of the day downtown bea little company like ours longs to all of us,” he said.

With regard to infrastructure, Doke said commissioners “were in survival mode much of the year” as a result of record rainfall that ranged from 76.7 inches in Haskell to 70.3 inches in Webbers Falls. Even with all the rain and subsequent flooding, commissioners said they were able to keep up while implementing a long-term maintenance strategy. District 2 Commissioner Stephen Wright said several major road improvements were completed this past year, and work on three major

bridge projects is expected to begin this year. “People really don’t realize how long it takes to get everything ready for these projects before the actual work can begin,” Wright said, noting the preparation efforts that involve the acquisition of easements, relocation of utilities and regulatory requirements. “But things are coming together on several of those projects, so people will see things are getting done.” Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix. com.

POSITIVELY MUSKOGEE: Lori Jefferson

Cherokee Elementary said. “Our community was Principal Lori Jefferson’s very strong.” positive outlook has Jefferson keeps deep roots. seeking to make “I grew up here,” Muskogee strong. Jefferson said. “I’ve She said she serves worked for the comon the board of munity for as long Neighbors Building as I can remember. Neighborhoods. My mom volun“Things are lookteered for Habitat ing up because of for Humanity.” Neighbors Building Jefferson said she Jefferson Neighborhoods, loves the people of especially the new Muskogee because they Martin Luther King center. are “genuine.” That’s something near to She said that was espe- my heart,” she said, adding cially true while she was that she’s excited to see growing up. the enthusiasm that MLK “We were friendly and Center Director Derrick we helped others,” she Reed shows.

Staff photo by D.E. Smoot

Railroad cars queue in the marshaling yard at the Port of Muskogee, where they are stored before loading and unloading at the inland navigation facility.

Port Continued from Page 11

pretty even compared to the year before.” Robinson attributed that good fortune to the raw material and products used by local industry less reliant on the energy sector. He said DalTile and Owen-Illinois continue to import a lot of material, and the Port of Muskogee remains a hub for rebar, steel coils

and wire that arrives by barge and leaves by truck or rail to other inland destinations. “We get a lot of rebar — we were kind of rebar center — that comes from all over the world,” Robinson said about the steel bars that economists use to help gauge the strength of the construction industry. “None of this comes from the United States, but we ship it all over the country from here.” The Port of Muskogee

is located at Mile 393.8 along the MKARNS near the confluence of the Arkansas, Verdigris and Grand rivers. The inland navigation system is an all-weather channel that links Oklahoma with inland ports along the Ohio, Illinois and Mississippi rivers, and all international seaports through its access to the Gulf of Mexico. Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix. com.

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Outlook 2016A  

A look ahead at industry, government, economic and retail development, education and health care for the Muskogee area for 2016.

Outlook 2016A  

A look ahead at industry, government, economic and retail development, education and health care for the Muskogee area for 2016.

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