Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

January 2, 2014

City officials review 2013, discuss plans for new year

TAHLEQUAH — As one year ends and a new one begins, city officials are looking to continue a number of projects that were spurred by 2013’s capital improvements project.

The biggest city project of 2013 – and perhaps one of the biggest undertakings in the city government’s history – kicked off early last year with the passage of a new city sales tax that will garner more than $21 million.

Mayor Jason Nichols said passage of the tax increase was important for the city’s continued growth.

“The most important thing is, frankly, the improvements to the streets in the community that are a result of the project,” said Nichols. “We had probably another half-dozen street projects that were under consideration, but we selected street projects that presented the most balance between urgency and available resources.”

The $21 million is also paying for upgrades in equipment and other resources for emergency personnel; a renovation at the Tahlequah Public Library; and the addition of a community center that will be connected to Northeastern State University’s newest facility.

Nichols and other city leaders recognize the community center project spurred – and could continue to ignite – some amount of controversy. Under the agreement between the city and NSU, the city will have five guaranteed uses within the community center per year.

“But the benefit goes way beyond those five uses,” said Nichols. “This is one of the more misunderstood components of the capital improvements plan. And that is completely understandable. This kind of partnership is not something that many municipalities have an opportunity to engage in because they aren’t fortunate enough to have an institution of higher learning in their community.”

Nichols said partnering with NSU gives the community an avenue for expanding economic development.

“The biggest benefit to the citizens of Tahlequah is that thousands, perhaps tens-of-thousands, of extra visitors will come here annually and spend their money,” said Nichols.

“Obviously, you like that if you are a small business owner and someone out of town fills up their gas tank at your store, eats at your restaurant, or stays in your hotel. That’s profit for those business owners; but, it’s also tax money for Tahlequah coming from a lot of people who don’t live here. For every item bought by one of those visitors, there is a piece of road built, part of a police officer’s salary paid, or some maintenance performed in a park that wouldn’t have been done otherwise.”

Nichols said those visitors to the community center, in essence, have left a “donation” to Tahlequah’s economy and infrastructure.

Aside from the capital-improvements projects that kicked off in 2013, Nichols is also glad to see the council working to beautify the city through various codes. Councilors last year introduced ordinances outlining enclosure of large trash bins by commercial entities; landscaping rules; and regulations for removing graffiti from local properties.

“Some of those still have yet to go into effect, but once they do, we know they will help keep the community clean and raise property values while also making the city safer,” said Nichols.

Looking to the                   coming year

The new year will bring a flurry of activity that Nichols believes will grab the attention of most local residents in some form or fashion.

“We’ll start to see the tangible benefits of the capital improvements project,” said Nichols.

 “Street projects will be started; and once we get approved from the Department of Environmental Quality, the new solid-waste transfer station will open.”

Nichols said the city hopes to obtain a grant to help clean up the current site of the solid waste department, which will eventually be at the end of a new greenway trail.

“There are a lot of regulations [in cleaning up a transfer station], so it can get fairly expensive,” said Nichols.

The new trail should be complete by the end of 2014, Nichols said. The city will also see “substantial work” at Phoenix Park, and work on the second phase of the new sports complex on West Allen Road.

“The pool will be completed, the splash pad [in downtown Tahlequah] will be completed; library renovations will be complete, and the new police station will also come online.”

Police Chief Nate King said the new police department will be a welcome change for officers and employees. Though the city’s detectives are now housed away from the police department, the new facility will place all employees under one roof.

“We’ll have a squad room with lockers, a shower facility, a dedicated room for interviews, and the jail will also be there,” said King.

Tahlequah-Cherokee County Emergency Management will also move to the new jail facility – known to many residents as the old National Guard building near West Choctaw and the State Highway 51 bypass.

Aside from ongoing improvement projects, Nichols said the city will also make some smaller changes in 2014.

“There are going to be some things we do internally that might not be brick-and-mortar changes, but that will result in efficiency and savings for the city and therefore the taxpayers,” said Nichols. “The way we operate and conduct our business needs to change in some areas. I believe a lot of small changes will result in some larger benefits.”

jnewton@tahlequahdailypress.com

1
Text Only
Local News
  • ts-Tax-free-main.jpg Shopper's delight

    Tax-free weekend coming up Aug. 1-3, just in time for back-to-school savings

    Attention, shoppers: Oklahoma’s Tax-Free Weekend is coming up, beginning at 12:01 a.m., Friday, Aug. 1.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • ballard-amanda.jpg Woman pleads no contest to molestation

    A Tahlequah woman accused of having more than 20 sexual encounters with a 13-year-old boy has pleaded no contest in exchange for a 15-year prison sentence, though 10 years have been suspended.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • svw-arch-society.jpg Archaeologist: Spiro Mounds may have been ancient music haven

    People gathered from across the country at the “center of the universe,” bringing with them different styles of music and instruments, each thought to have its own power and importance.
    This could be the description of a modern music festival, but to Jim Rees, it is a picture of the Spiro Mounds 1,000 years before Columbus came to the Americas.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Two headed for trial for conspiracy to kill judge and others

    Two of the four people accused of conspiring to kill a Cherokee County judge and several other targets were bound over for trial Friday following a preliminary hearing in Tahlequah.

    July 28, 2014

  • Woman accused in embezzlement sought for arrest

    Court officials have issued a bench warrant for a woman who previously pleaded to embezzling more than $40,000 while she worked for Tahlequah attorney Park Medearis.

    July 28, 2014

  • CN, UKB battle over trust land application

    Two Tahlequah-based tribes presented oral arguments Friday in a protracted fight over a land-in-trust application.

    Over the course of five hours, attorneys for the Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, Cherokee Nation Entertainment and the Department of the Interior made their cases before Northern District Judge Gregory Frizzell in a hearing that was originally scheduled for February.

     

    July 25, 2014

  • ts-NSU-Main-1-a.jpg No NSU pool, for now

    NSU experiencing delays in fitness center construction

    Earlier this month, Northeastern State University announced it is experiencing delays in the renovation of its fitness center and pool.
    The facility was officially shuttered Sept. 17, 2012, and at the time, the projected completion date for renovation was this fall.

    July 25, 2014 3 Photos

  • jn-Suspect-1.jpg Officials: Images of suspects may help nab church burglars

    Cherokee County investigators hope surveillance footage captured around the Crescent Valley Baptist Church in Woodall helps lead to the suspects accused of breaking into the complex and setting fire to one building this week.
    According to Undersheriff Jason Chennault, cameras captured footage of two suspects on bicycles early Tuesday morning, July 22.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • svw-movie-night.jpg Local library hosts family movie night

    Nova Foreman and her two daughters were about to leave the Tahlequah Public Library Thursday, when they saw the Family Movie Night flyer.
    The three decided to stay and enjoy a movie they had not yet seen at the free, theater-like event.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • svw-Keys.jpg Grant to fund stepped-up Keys PE program

    Kair Ridenhour’s new office is filled with pedometers.
    Ridenhour officially started his new position as assistant elementary principal at Keys Public Schools on July 1.
    But his other role at the school – that of physical education project coordinator – prompted the influx of pedometers.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Stocks