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CITY Summer │ 2011 CONNECTION Service in the Community How Volunteers are Shaping a Better Tomorrow throughout Owasso —————————————— Block Party 2011

Tips for Summer Living Summer Safety Tips for the Family ——————————— Creating Community Spaces ———————— Code Enforcement

Owasso CARES volunteers pull weeds from flower beds at City Hall. City Contact Information 111 North Main, Owasso, OK 74055 918.376.1500 Hours 8:00 am - 5:00 pm Mon - Fri Emergencies

Animal Shelter 500 S Main Street 918.272.4965 Hours 9:00 am to 5:00pm Mon - Fri 9:00 am to 1:00 pm Sat Parks Office 918.371.7975


Non Emergency Police 918.272.2244 Fire 918.272.5253

Recycle Center 499 South Main 918.272.4991 Hours 10:00 am - 6:00 pm Tue - Fri 9:00 am - 5:00 pm Sat

Utility Billing 918.376.1520 City Manager’s Office 918.376.1502 Community Development 918.376.1540 Community Center 918.272.3903 Human Resources 918.376.1530 Neighborhood Coordinator 918.376.1556 Economic Development 918.376.1518

Museum 26 South Main 918.272.4966 Hours 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm Tue - Fri 10:00 am - 4:00 pm Sat

Public Works Department 301 West 2nd Ave 918.272.4959 918.272.2244 (after hours water/sewer)

Bailey Ranch Golf Course 10105 Larkin Bailey Blvd 918.274.4653

City Council Douglas Bonebrake, Mayor, Ward 5 Bryan Stovall, Vice Mayor, Ward 1

Stephen Cataudella, Ward 2

Charlie Brown, Ward 3

Patrick Ross, Ward 4

Meetings and Agendas 2

In This Issue... 11 Features




Volunteers Needed! How Owasso citizens are giving up their afternoons and weekends to lend a hand


Block Party 2011 Celebrating fifteen years of fun in the sun with our neighbors and friends


Owasso Parks Q & A Answers to all of those burning questions about some of the hottest (and coolest!) spots in Owasso during the summer


Creating Public Spaces How the Community Development Department is working to create a more connected community and shape a higher quality of life


Summer Watering and Yard Waste Tips for ensuring your yard looks its best, while also keeping the City’s stormwater system clear of clippings

On the front cover: Travian and Zerak Weems show off the results of a day of volunteering with hands (and fire hydrants!) painted yellow. 3


CITIZENS THROUGHOUT OWASSO ARE MOBILIZING TO LEND A HELPING HAND IN AN EFFORT TO ENSURE THAT THEIR HOME TOWN LOOKS THE BEST IT CAN, ALL THE WHILE DEMONSTRATING A CULTURE OF GENEROSITY AND UNWAVERING COMMUNITY PRIDE Opposite page: A freshly painted fire hydrant brightens up Main Street near City Hall after the April 30th Owasso Cares Day. Winston Churchill once said, ―We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.‖ Churchill’s comments ring especially true today as citizens across America have rushed to assist neighbors and communities affected by natural disasters.

neighborhoods around the City. Owasso CARES is led by a committee of residents from Owasso neighborhoods that have registered with the Strong Neighborhood Initiative. The program kicked off in September 2010 and has grown into a bi-annual event. The next Owasso CARES Day is scheduled for Saturday, October 1, 2011.

But as Owasso residents are showing, such benevolence doesn’t have to be limited to cases of emergency—Why not start by working to make life better for yourself and your community on a regular basis? As part of the Strong Neighborhood Initiative, the City of Owasso now provides two great opportunities to bring residents, volunteers, and city staff together in a public-private partnership to make a positive impact in our neighborhoods and community.

Around 100 residents have volunteered during the first two Owasso CARES Days, completing projects such as cleaning up neighborhood parks, taking dumpsters to residents in the south section of Original Town and helping residents carry debris to dump in the dumpsters, picking up trash along rights of way, painting fire hydrants, and performing beautification along Main Street.

―I believe there’s a common interest in residents of our city to reach out and help in the community,‖ said Jerry Fowler, City of Owasso Neighborhood Coordinator. ―But sometimes people just don’t know where they’re needed. These two programs provide those opportunities they haven’t had before.‖

Other residents branched off into their own small groups to work on projects within their own neighborhoods. Patricia Hardy and other residents from her neighborhood in Three Lakes spent Owasso CARES day on April 30, 2011 beautifying their neighborhood. Hardy said interest has grown, with about 19 residents involved during the first Owasso CARES day and about 30 residents participating in the most recent.

The first volunteer opportunity is through Owasso CARES (Community and Residents Encourage Service), a one-day event that organizes numerous volunteers to tackle multiple projects in

Neighbors in Elm Creek spent four hours getting their hands dirty, putting up a swing set and playground and working on the lake and the


park. ―We had so much fun and it really brought us closer together,‖ said Hardy. ―We were filthy by the time we were done, but then we had a cookout and talked about what had been done and what we might do in the future. It’s been neat to watch the good things come out in people people who wanted to help, but didn’t know what to do and those who needed help, but didn’t want to ask - it benefited everybody.‖

Hardy, who is originally from Kansas City, Mo., has enjoyed working side-by-side with her neighbors. ―I’m from a much bigger city and I just think Owasso is the greatest place in the world to live,‖ she said. ―Owasso CARES has awakened the neighborly spirit that some of the bigger cities just don’t have. It’s been a real boost to that small-town feeling that is so important to Owasso.‖ Chris Coager has been actively involved in Owasso CARES since its inception and said he has seen the positive impact the program is making in our community. ―We went to Elm Creek Park and there was a lady with a stick trying to dig trash out of the pond,‖ he said. ―When she looked up, there were 15-20 volunteers there to help her and you could see how relieved she was that something was being done.‖ Coager remembers another time when a group of volunteers was working in Original Town and they helped remove a tree from a piece of property for a lady who didn’t have the means to do it herself. ―It’s incumbent on us as citizens to get involved in our community,‖ he said. ―We have such high expectations of the City, but the resources aren’t there to maintain the quality of life we all want to enjoy. We have to get out there and do our part.‖ Coager encourages more people to get involved with the next Owasso CARES day. ―Get to know your neighbors and see what needs there are,‖ he said. ―Get your children involved - they enjoy it and it helps them become more responsible adults.‖

The second volunteer opportunity is the City Volunteer Program to help with needs within the City. For example, you could volunteer to fill in at a clerical position while one of the City administrative assistants is on vacation. Volunteers can help clean up the streets and pick up trash before big holiday shopping weekends, to keep the city looking its best for the season. Watering the flowers in the big flower pots on Main Street, or teaching a class at the community center are other opportunities. ―It’s the little things that can make a big difference,‖ said Fowler. Whether you have talents in web development, writing, photography, gardening, or research, there are opportunities for you to make a difference at the City of Owasso and strengthen the 6

community. Visit the City’s Volunteer Web page at opportunities.html to see a list of needs within the City and click ―Volunteer Application‖ to fill out the application and let the City know the skills and talents you have. For more information about these volunteering opportunities, contact Jerry Fowler by phone at 918.376.1556 or by email at■

Owasso’s Strong Neighborhood Coordinator Jerry Fowler is coming to a neighborhood near you! Residents will have the opportunity to meet with Jerry and discuss opportunities to maintain and grow the quality of life in our neighborhoods and community, so that Owasso is as attractive tomorrow as it is today. ―Our neighborhood socials are an avenue for us to get the word out about the positive difference the neighborhood initiative can make when the City and the residents partner together,‖ Fowler said. The neighborhood initiative motto is ―Building Relationships Today, Strengthening Neighborhoods Tomorrow, Sustaining Community for the Future.‖ How the neighborhood initiative can help:  Build partnerships with neighborhood groups and encourage citizen input to develop open lines of communication  Participate with neighborhood groups to establish Neighborhood Associations  Work with neighborhood groups to develop plans for their neighborhood and community; then work on implementation of strategies to accomplish agreed upon plans regarding neighborhood policies, budgets, programs & events, etc.  Assist individuals and neighborhood groups to resolve issues by providing information and recommendations  Serve as the point of contact between citizens and City departments  Coordinate events such as block parties, volunteering, etc. If you are interested in becoming involved, don’t wait to be contacted. You can get the ball rolling yourself by contacting Mr. Fowler by phone at 918-376-1556 or by email at 7

events involving dozens of streets in a neighborhood. Whichever type suits your neighborhood, the City encourages you to make this a day to renew neighborhood awareness, exchange greetings, and to celebrate the importance of neighborhood relationships.

Celebrating 15 Years of Bringing Neighbors Together Nearly 15 years ago, the City started what has now become a tradition of organizing an annual community-wide social event that has strengthened the participating neighborhoods. Last year, 30-plus neighborhoods hosted a block party, with more than 1,000 residents participating. For the 15th anniversary on Saturday, September 10, 2011, the City hopes to have an even larger participation.

―Last year, one area had a live band, inflatables, and a cookout with hundreds of residents,‖ said Fowler. ―Another neighborhood had just a few families from one block participate. They had some ice cream, sat out in lawn chairs, and visited. But they were all having a good time with their neighbors, which is what this is all about.‖ The Coffee Creek neighborhood had 150-200 residents attend their block party, which was set around their neighborhood pool. Coffee Creek has a homeowner’s association and the association provided the hamburgers and hot dogs and all residents brought a side dish and came for a great time.

―This is a great opportunity to get to know your neighbors,‖ said Jerry Fowler, City of Owasso Neighborhood Coordinator. ―When people come together, it brings a better sense of bonding. A neighborhood is stronger through relationships you build with each other.‖ The block parties are organized through the City of Owasso Strong Neighborhood Initiative. Block parties have varied from a simple gathering of a few folks in a front yard sharing memories and beverages, to elaborate, highly organized

―We had a total neighborhood cookout, with a Jupiter Jump, and a water slide. And we had fishing contests for the kids at our neighborhood 8

ponds,‖ said David Doyle, Coffee Creek resident. ―It was a really nice event and we all had a great time.‖ Doyle said it was nice to get the neighbors together and take the time to get to know each other. It was a good way to talk about a few neighborhood issues, with the HOA board members attending and listening to residents’ concerns. It was also a great way to be exposed to the positive things going on with the city as Jerry Fowler and Rodney Ray both stopped by for a visit, as well as the Police and Fire Departments. ―The camaraderie of the whole day was neat to see and it was great how the City got involved,‖ said Doyle. ―We plan on having another great block party this year.‖

Neighbors in the Central Park edition enjoy the afternoon in the shade while celebrating Owasso Block Party 2010.

Lori Lane said their neighborhood is in original town and they have participated in the City block parties for the past nine years. Last year, about 15 families participated. ―We always have a good time and everyone looks forward to our annual block party,‖ she said. ―Last year, we did a patriotic theme and we blocked off the street and let the kids ride their bikes in the street and we had a cookout. We’re a really close group of families. We have young people with kids and older residents and we all come from different backgrounds, but our kids play together and we know our neighbors. And it all developed with a block party nine years ago.‖ Lane said now all the neighbors feel comfortable borrowing things from each other and they watch out for all the kids and dogs in the neighborhood and watch each others’ houses when they’re on vacation. ―We feel a little bit safer now that we know each other so well and we just enjoy our neighborhood so much more,‖ said Lane.

Elm Creek’s 2010 Block Party Captain stands in front of the tent that housed food and provided the entertainment venue for the band.

Owasso Police, Fire or Refuse division is always a hit with kids. Make a flier and distribute them to all your neighbors. Then plan on having a great time!■

Register Your Block Party Online

Interested in planning your own block party? All your block party needs to get started is you that leader to get things rolling. Plan anything you can imagine - water games, a watermelon-eating contest, face painting, a bike decorating contest and some kind of snack or meal. A visit from the 9

The deadline to register your block party is August 31, 2011. For more information, contact Fowler by phone at 918-376-1556 or by email.

It’s finally summer! With all the heat and free time, residents will undoubtedly find themselves celebrating the season with frequent trips to the pool. If you plan on escaping the heat by hopping in the pool this summer, remember that you can never be too cautious around water:  When swimming, never leave children unattended

and always have a phone nearby.  If you or someone you know has a history of seizures,

always swim with a partner.  Consider investing in a surface wave or underwater alarm. These devices will alert you if your child or a neighbor accidentally falls in.  Secure the perimeter of the pool by having a fence installed with a locking gate. Another ways to prevent or lower the risk of drowning is to enroll your child in swimming lessons early, and practice swimming to safety if they accidentally fall in. Also, learning CPR is a vital skill that can protect you and your family.

Fireworks are a fun and beautiful way to celebrate Independence Day — Yet every year fireworks cause close to 10,000 injuries. It’s hard to believe that something that pretty can be so hazardous. In fact, a metal sparkler burns close to 1500 degrees! However, with some planning and careful lighting, you will keep you and your family enjoying the festivities.  Plan ahead and designate a spectators area. This area should be a safe distance away from where the fireworks are being lit.  The lighting area of the fireworks should be flat and free of dry vegetation and away from homes and small structures.  If children are lighting fireworks, do so under direct parental supervision.  Remember, some fireworks will undoubtedly be defective. It is very important to never attempt to relight fireworks.  City Code prohibits fireworks inside city limits except for “sparklers, fountains, pinwheels and all such types of fireworks that are not explosive or noise making in character and are stationary”. (10-304) 10


How do I turn on the Splash


What are the hours of


How do I reserve a park

Pad at Rayola Park?

operation at the Splash Pad?





The activation button is

The Spray Park is open from

Visit the City’s website and

located on the southwest corner 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., 7 days a of the pad. The button is blue week, beginning on March 14, and is on top of a bright green 2011. pole. You must press the button and hold it for a few seconds.

on the Parks page, click Park Shelter Reservations. Once you complete the form, we will email you. Reservations can also be made by calling 918.371.7975.



How much is the fee for


How do I pay my park shelter

I rented a shelter, but

renting a park shelter?


someone is in it. What do I do?




The rental fee is $25 for two

You can pay over the phone

You can show the other

hours and $10 for each additional hour after that. You must pay your fee within 7 days of making your reservation.

at 918.376.1520, in person at City Hall (111 N Main), or by mailing payment to the attention of the Parks Dept at PO Box 180.

party your permit and ask them to leave. If there is a problem, call the non-emergency Police line at 918.375.1560.




What happens if it is raining

Can I bring a grill to cook

When are Owasso park

on my reservation date?

hotdogs and hamburgers?

restrooms open?




You may reschedule for an

alternate date at no additional charge. However, shelter fees will not be refunded if you are unable to reschedule.

Yes, you may bring a

propane grill as long as it is not a red alert day for fire danger. Charcoal grills are not allowed in City parks. 11

Park restrooms are open from

March 14, 2011 through November 14, 2011. The restrooms are opened at dawn and closed at dusk each day.


Throughout history, public spaces have always been important in any society, as residents and visitors sought out gathering places for social events, networking, learning, and sharing of the latest news and entertainment. Because of this, public spaces became, and remain to this day, a very important part of maintaining the fabric of a community. The communal nature of public spaces in cities throughout the world has led many to become iconic landmarks, such as Times Square and Central Park in New York City, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, and Trafalgar Square in London. These special places offer the opportunity to get to know your neighbor, while building a sense of connectivity and creating a safer and stronger community. Unfortunately with the advent of the automobile, most American communities underwent a transformation as people became more spread out and public spaces became fewer and far between. Central plazas and courtyards were shelved in favor of more open play sports areas 12

and shopping malls set mostly in suburban locations. Central business districts became ghost towns after 5 o’clock, and subsequently, the old plazas and gathering places fell into disrepair. As technological advances changed the way people received news and information, public spaces no longer served as places to catch up on the latest news and events. Newspapers, TV, radio, and, most recently, the internet allow one the convenience of staying at home to get information and be entertained. While improvements in technology and methods of communication have made human interaction instant even across long distances, such advances have led to the creation of an environment in which people are more and more socially disconnected. Rather than stopping in the park to chat with our neighbors, or running in to old friends while walking along Main Street, we simply shoot over a text message or email and forget about interacting on a more personal level. But as researchers continue to prove, social interaction is an important human trait, with studies showing that interaction with others helps build a more stable and prosperous society. Fortunately, years of data documenting the importance of this has brought the need for public spaces back into the public eye and the minds of City planning officials. Realizing the important role that public spaces play, a new trend in today’s development has emerged, and public spaces are being reintroduced, albeit in a slightly different form. Today these spaces are often referred to as lifestyle centers, mixed use developments, traditional neighborhoods, or village centers. This new By actively working to develop a plan for development trend has yet to take hold in future action and development, City Oklahoma, but there are many of these new types of officials, residents, and businesses can development that have been successfully built in other parts of work together to accomplish this goal the country. Retailers and market studies through visionary and creative thinking. have found that incorporating such places into commercial developments actually draws in more people who in turn spend more money in the adjacent stores. In essence, when residents have the opportunity to shop leisurely in an environment that promotes interaction between other residents and visitors, people tend to make a whole or half day event out of what normally would be a quick shopping trip to the local supermarket or store. The recently completed Owasso Quality of Life Initiative explored the concept of civic spaces, and citizens indicated in many of the surveys a desire for places providing abundant recreational and entertainment venues. The final report and planning document that was prepared for the Quality of Life Initiative made several recommendations that, if implemented, would provide these elements in Owasso. Currently, the Community Development department is exploring ways to modify many of the design and zoning criteria to promote and encourage the integration of public spaces with both new and redeveloped areas. As we look toward the future and how Owasso can continue to serve the needs and desires of its citizens, we encourage residents to continue to voice their thoughts and opinions on how Owasso can strengthen the bonds among residents and ensure that the city will be just as attractive twenty years from now as it is today. By actively working to develop a plan for future action and development, City officials, residents, and businesses can work together to accomplish this goal through visionary and creative thinking.■13

By Elissa Stiles It’s been one of those days—at work, at school, at home with laundry, bills, and a house full of sick kids. It’s time for a good coffee break. Time to order a cappuccino, fire up the laptop, talk to a friend, forget about the day, and enjoy some downtime. It’s a time to relax, share some harmless gossip, vent about unfair coworkers, and perhaps do a little innocent online flirting. Or is it? While a coffee break and a few relaxing minutes are often an absolute must, we might want to consider from what exactly we are taking a break. Sure, it’s important to rest after a long day, but what if resting includes relaxing our standards or tuning out good sense and the whispers of our consciences? The experience of logging into Facebook to encounter a friend’s morally or socially questionable post in your newsfeed is possibly a common one. Or perhaps, as a trusting follower or friend, you have received tweets with debatable content or disparaging or suggestive text messages that seem to dance on the border of propriety. Maybe you have even had a slip-of-the-tongue yourself in moments of indiscretion while chatting on Skype or Facebook. Even if you haven’t done or seen anything particularly controversial, chances are you have had moments that make you stop to think. Perhaps another common newsfeed experience (and momentary interruption of your relaxing coffee break) is that desire to skim your own profile after recognizing a name and having a moment of, ―Oh, I forgot I was friends with that person.‖ Twenty-first century connectedness is a gift and a privilege, but its ease of access and viral capabilities make it at times a hazardous tool that must be used with care. In those ―coffee break‖ moments, it’s all too easy to relax just enough to say or do something that can 14

come back to haunt us later, even though our intentions are far from sinister. Often, others are also hurt by these moments of ―harmless gossip‖ or ―blowing off steam.‖ And although we may think we know exactly who else is listening or reading, we’ve all heard horror stories of information spreading like wildfire. But the bottom line lies deeper than potential social harm. Who we seem to be on those coffee breaks—when we are most relaxed and have dropped our usual guards—is who we really are. True character is tested when we think no one is watching, when we’re tired, and when we take a break from everything else in life. So, the next time we have a cup of coffee in one hand and fifteen relaxing minutes on the clock, let us remember that taking a break should never include a break from good character. With vigilance, even in those relaxed and vulnerable moments, we will become adept at quickly rejecting indiscretion and choosing wise actions and words instead. ■

July Contentment — Realizing that true happiness does not depend on material conditions August Benevolence — Giving to others’ basic needs without having personal reward as my motive September Dependability — Fulfilling what I consented to do, even if it means unexpected sacrifice

Take a Break at Bailey Ranch To book a tee time call 918.274.4653 or visit


The additional watering that is necessary for beautiful lawns and gardens can tax the City’s water system during peak usage times this time of year. The peak water usage time is in early evening, when residents have returned home from work. The City recommends residents follow these simple tips for using water inside and outside the home during typically hot and dry summer months. 

    

Invest in a timer attached to the outside faucet to control watering length and time. Additionally, installing an automatic watering system will also keep you from overwatering and watering during peak usage times. Do not water the pavement. Watering areas that do not benefit your landscape is wasted water. Water for shorter periods. It isn’t necessary to water until puddles form and water run off. Install water saver showerheads and take shorter showers. Completely fill the dishwasher before running. The dishwasher uses the same amount of water, whether it is full or partially full. Focus on times you use water. Using water late in the evening or early in the morning helps relieve the City water system during peak times, resulting is consistently adequate water pressure throughout the day. For more water saving tips, visit the City’s website at


City storm drain systems are used to carry away water from rainfall that drains into streets and detention areas. This typically occurs when rainfalls are heavy or the ground is saturated to the point that it cannot absorb any more water. It is very important that City crews regularly inspect and clean storm drains to ensure water can run off during these times and avoid flooding streets and potentially homes. Working together, residents can assist the City in keeping storm drains clear. Please follow these simple tips:    

Do not sweep or blow grass clippings into the street or storm drains after mowing, edging, and weed eating. Invest in a mulching blade and allow clippings to remain on the lawn, providing nutrients for a better looking lawn. Take advantage of the City’s yard waste collection program by obtaining a yard waste cart, or yard waste bags. Yard waste cart is $11.70 per month on your utility bill (billed only during collection months) and collection is from April to November each year. Call 918-376-1521 to request a yard waste cart. Yard waste disposal bags are 10 for $8.00 and can be picked up at the City’s Utility Billing department at City Hall, or Owasso Quick Trip stores. Use the City’s Report A Problem form to report any blocked storm drains that need to be cleared of debris


Constructed in the early 1920s, this historic filling station, initially known as the Griffeth’s Service Station, was once a fixture on the Main Street landscape. First a Shell Station and later a Sinclair in the 1950s, this historic landmark is now part of a plan to reconstruct the building as a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) station for use by City departments and vehicles, as well as by the general public. 18

CITIZEN BOARDS, COMMISSIONS, AND COMMITTEES Audit Committees are a key component in the public sector for promoting good governance practices. Although there is no statutory requirement to form an Audit Committee, it is widely understood that an effective Audit Committee makes a valuable contribution to improving the governance, performance, and accountability of public entities. They play an important role in examining an organization’s policies, processes, systems, and controls. An effective Audit Committee shows that an organization is committed to a culture of openness and continuous improvement. In establishing an Audit Committee for the City, several principals were considered that supported the effective operation of the Audit Committee: Independence – Members of the audit committee are required to be independent of the management team. The membership of the committee is expected to be balanced, objective, independent of mind and knowledgeable. The Audit Committee ensures the City’s auditing firm is independent of management and addresses control and compliance weaknesses. Competence and compensation – Audit Committee members are required to have relevant experience and expertise in an effort to bring valuable insights and perspectives to the areas of audit committee interest. The City’s Audit Committee consists of 5 voting members and two non-voting ex-officio members. All members are appointed by the City Council and serve without compensation for a term of three years, except for the City Councilor who is appointed for a one year term. The five voting members include one City Councilor, not less than one person from the banking or other financial industry, one businessperson, and one non-practicing Certified Public Accountant. The ex-officio, non voting members are the City Manager and the Director of Finance. The general powers and duties of the committee are to recommend to the council an independent firm of certified public accountants to perform the annual audit of the city. The Audit Committee analyzes and reports to the City Council any significant findings in the annual audit report and makes recommendations regarding the findings. Open and transparent communication is the key component to a successful and effective relationship with the governing body and the citizens of Owasso. Through the existence of an independent Audit Committee, City staff hope to communicate that the City’s primary mission is to achieve excellence in the common goals of quality of services for citizens and accountability and transparency with regard to the use of public funds. 19

Red White BOOM! Celebrate Our Nation’s Independence Annual Fireworks Display Friday, July 1, 2011 Fireworks at 9:45 pm 20

City Connection Summer 2011  

The Volunteering and Community Spirit Issue

City Connection Summer 2011  

The Volunteering and Community Spirit Issue