Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

October 21, 2013

Hard hat a memorial to TPWA super

TAHLEQUAH — Some people know the story behind it, but many do not.

If driving westbound on West Choctaw Street, a glance toward the left side of the street will reveal a Tahlequah Public Works Authority hard hat hanging from a 50-foot utility pole at S. Morris Avenue.

“A lot of people ask about it,” said Gary Stevens, superintendent of the TPWA’s electric division. “They joke about whether we’ve found the rest of the person.”

The hard hat, secured to the pole with a spike, honors former electric superintendent Leon Blair, who died of cancer several years ago.

TPWA staff wanted a workplace memorial which was simple and poignant, and selected a pole within easy view of the TPWA facility between Choctaw and West Keetoowah Street at South Lee Avenue.

“Leon is remembered as just an all-around good guy,” Stevens said. “I was on call with him for about four years, and he was excellent to work with. He was a great friend. I still carry his uniform name tag in my wallet.”

Stevens said his favorite story concerning Blair was his foray into the film biz.

“He didn’t tell us for the longest time,” Stevens said.

“He played one of the raccoon hunters in the original ‘Where the Red Fern Grows’ movie. We couldn’t believe it, but you watch the film and there he is. I understand they used a lot of people from this area as extras, so I guess it make sense.”

Blair was also known for his sense of humor, Stevens said.

“He always told people he could drop his hat and beat it to the ground,” Stevens said. “He would try to bet people $20, but no one would take him up on it because they didn’t want to lose their money.”

All knew Blair was exaggerating, but Stevens said Blair was a supremely competent utility pole climber.

“We didn’t have bucket trucks back then,” Stevens said. “You climbed the poles using spikes. Leon could climb up and down poles like a squirrel.”

While the hard hat is meant to memorialize Blair among his TPWA colleagues, Stevens said it was also installed as a gesture to his family.

“We always thought of him as more of a friend than a boss,” Stevens said.

“He never acted like a boss. I personally thought of him as a father figure, and I always told him he was my dad at work.”

srowley@tahlequahdailypress.com

1
Text Only
Local News
  • ths-jazz-2.jpg THS jazz band gets up early to hone performance skills

    It means getting up an hour earlier, and it doesn’t count as a class, but the jazz band at Tahlequah High School enjoys the dedication of a group of enthusiastic students.
    The THS Jazz Band practices every day at 7 a.m., an hour before the start of classes. It numbers 17, and is led by Director Orien Landis.
    “They have to do this before school and they get no class credit, but we have a full band,” Landis said. “They are really excited about this.”

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Easter-basket-kid.jpg Easter traditions date back centuries

    Some Christians may lament a partial shift of focus, but a Christian holy day - perhaps the most holy of all – is this Sunday, and it will be marked with celebrations all around the world.
    The Christian holiday of Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. For centuries, the observant have fasted, reflected or done penance in the weeks leading to the holiday. But today, many also associate the holiday with the Easter bunny, candy, and kites. In 2013, Americans spent $2.1 billion on Easter candy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Some oppose minimum wage hike; others decry strong-arming by state

    President Barack Obama and the U.S. Senate recently announced a push to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour, to $10.10. On the heels of the announcement, an initiative petition was introduced in Oklahoma City to raise the minimum wage to the suggested $10.10. If it gained 80,000 signatures, it would be put to a vote of the people.
    This legislative session, a bill passed prohibiting municipalities from setting a minimum was or vacation and sick-day requirements. Gov. Mary Fallin signed the bill into law earlier this week.

    April 18, 2014

  • Phone scam takes $500 from couple

    Authorities are warning Cherokee County residents to watch for a costly phone scam that recently targeted a local couple and ended in their loss of $500.
    According to sheriff’s deputies, a couple contacted authorities after losing $500 to the scam. The couple received a phone call from a man who identified himself only as “Mr. Green.” He told the couple they had won $1.5 million through Publisher’s Clearing House, but to collect the money, the couple would have to purchase a $500 money card to cover various fees.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missing local teen found dead

    The body of a missing 17-year-old boy was found in southern Cherokee County on Thursday, sheriff’s investigators said.
    Brikk Pritchett was reported missing earlier this month after disappearing on March 30, a day before his 17th birthday.

    April 18, 2014

  • ts honor flight 1.tif Flight of honor

    World War II veteran Charles Harra flew missions for the Army Air Corps, and if you ask him which flight was his most memorable, he’ll say it was his 35th mission.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man charged after leading authorities on wild chase

    Prosecutors have formally charged a man who allegedly led authorities on a wild high-speed pursuit across Cherokee County in late March.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sex offender bonds out after failing to register

    A Cherokee County man is out on bond after being arrested last week for failing to register as a sex offender.

    April 17, 2014

  • jn radiator shop.jpg ‘Greenbelt’ progressing

    Crews this week began to demolish an abandoned radiator shop at the corner of South Street and Guinn Avenue.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts slut walk.tif SlutWalk shines spotlight on crime

    “Two, four, six, eight, stop the violence, stop the rape; slut, slut, ho, ho, yes means yes and no means no!”
    This was the battle cry across the campus of Northeastern State University, as the student branch of the American Association of University Women held its third annual SlutWalk Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Stocks