By Joshua Allen
ONL Staff Reporter
Changes continue to ebb and flow within Okemahʼs municipal governing body as the city grows and develops methods to stay relevant and progress during what can sometimes seem to be tumultuous times in this 21st century.
One of those changes came in the form of a promotional position upgrade for both the city and City of Okemah Billing Clerk Vicky Landers.
The City of Okemah last month named Landers to the position of Community Planner — doing so is an important part of the Cityʼs attempt at securing several state grants and completing projects around the town, Landers said.
“We have so much going on right now, and Iʼm truly excited for Okemah and its citizens,” she said from behind her workspace at City Hall Tuesday afternoon. “I love this city, and we here at the City just want to make things better for everyone that lives here and visitors.”
Safe to say, Landers mission is to improve — and keep improving — the quality of life for those in Okemah and those yet to come.
The title of Community Planner — a position commonly referred to as City Planner — comes with added responsibilities for Landers, while still maintaining her duties and obligations as the municipalityʼs billing clerk.
As of late, the new Community Planner has been busy running lead on marketing for the City of Okemahʼs “Operation: Okemah Cleanup Trash-Off,” which started Monday and will roll through Saturday, concluding with a county-wide event thatʼs in collaboration with Associate District Judge Maxey Reillyʼs Okfuskee County cleanup day.
Other projects on Landersʼ plate include an Interstate 40 project that will see the installing of two new welcome signs at the Highway 27 exit, going both ways.
These signs, Landers said, are not your typical ‘welcome sign.ʼ They are large, eye-catching rock and stone signs with a large rock foundation, which Landers said she will be seeking donations for to go with matching funds.
Also at the Highway 27 exit off I-40, on the on and off ramps going east and the on and off ramps going west, Landers said the City is planning to add white vinyl fencing the distance of the ramps, hoping to draw the attention of travelers and passersby as they travel the busy interstate.
Another project is something the new Community Planner said the citizenʼs of Okemah have wanted “forever” — that is having the capability of hanging banners and Christmas lights across the cityʼs thoroughfares.
“Dustin (Danker, Okemahʼs City Manager) has worked with the (Public Service Company of Oklahoma) tirelessly to get approval for banner poles that will allow us to hang Christmas lights and banners across both Woody Guthrie and Broadway,” Landers said.
These banner poles, she said, will be in three locations: at Glenn Johnson and Woody Guthrie, at 1st and Broadway and at 7th and Broadway.
Another big project is the “chasing of the Main Street Grant,” she said, “And Iʼm definitely chasing it, and I think we are going to get it.”
The Main Street Grant is a statewide grant with tough selection criteria, the planner said. The funds are to be used on the Main Street of the awarded city, which, in the case of Okemah, would be Broadway.
Outside the aforementioned big plans, Landers said in June the City of Okemah will begin hosting a routine, outdoor and free movie night, showing movies outside and downtown for everyone to enjoy.
The exact dates for when the “Downtown Outdoor Movie” events are forthcoming, as Landers sinks more into her chair as the City of Okemahʼs new Community Planner.
“I am thankful the leadership had enough faith in me to put me in this very important position,” she said, concluding the interview with the Okemah News Leader. “I will work very hard … I have already, and Iʼve only just started. I am so excited to see what all changes — for the better, of course — are coming for Okemah.”