Vandals hit historic church, windows to be boarded up
By Ken Childers
Vandals have struck a historic building owned by the City of Okemah, and steps are being taken to prevent further damages.
A rock was recently thrown through a stained glass window of the 110-year-old Presbyterian Church at 3rd and Ash, and the Okemah City Council has directed City Manager Dustin Danker to board the windows up. The directive was given during the council’s regular meeting held Monday evening at city hall.
The church was deeded to the city in 2001, but it will soon be sold via a sealed bid auction. On Dec. 9, the city council voted unanimously to authorize Danker to sell the building, which has sat vacant and in a state of disrepair for many years. According to Danker, his office is still in the process of putting the bid documents together and will release details in the near future.
Also during Monday’s meeting, the council approved a $50,000 Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP) contract and notice of award. The funds will be used to install 1,600 feet of four inch water line and 400 feet of 6 inch sewer line at the Okemah Municipal Airport. The council also approved documents related to a Federal Aviation Administration reimbursement request in the amount of $9,335 for pavement rehabilitation at the airport.
The meeting agenda also included a request from Mayor Mike Fuller to discuss goals and expectations of the council for 2020. “We really don’t need to talk about it tonight, but all I would ask that each of you, between now and the next meeting in two weeks, think about some things you’d like to see happen in the city that could be directed to Dustin [Danker],” Fuller said. “Feel free to being one to three things you’d like to see happen this year, then we’ll sit down as a council and narrow it down. Any goals we set need to be time-specific and measurable,” Fuller added.
In addition, the council heard a presentation from Oklahoma Municipal Assurance Group (OMAG), a company that provides insurance services to the city. After the presentation, the council was given a “test” by OMAG, in which council members were asked to self-evaluate the city in several areas, including financial stability, the governing body stability, economic development and communication.
After the OMAG test, the city council adjourned then convened as the Okemah Utilities Authority. Actions taken during that meeting included the approval to refinance an Oklahoma Water Resources Board loan. The OWRB informed the city that it had refinanced the bonds pledged to the city, which resulted in savings that are being passed along. The city will save over $30,000 over the lifetime of loan number ORF-10-0007-CW.
In addition, the authority approved a change order request from Wall Engineering on the water tower demolition project. The contract price of $39,600 has not changed, but additional time to complete the project was requested. The original completion date was estimated to be Jan. 14, but under the change order, the completion date is March 1.