Officials during a Sept. 21 Tahlequah City Council meeting approved a group membership deal for all full-time employees.

M’Lynn Pape, director of Human Resources, said she has been working with HUB International for several months in regard to a “doable and low-cost wellness initiative” for city employees.

“The idea is to encourage our employees and enhance their well-being through holistic resources addressing the eight key pillars of wellness, with the most common being physical, mental, social, and financial,” said Pape.

Arron Edwards, direct of the Northeastern State University Fitness Center, and Pape negotiated a price for the full-time employees, and discounted prices for family memberships.

“The cost to the city would be $5,000 for a one-year membership for all full-time employees at The Fit. Essentially, the cost of that is less than a chicken nugget Happy Meal per month for every employee,” said Pape.

Mayor Sue Catron said approximately 130 full-time employees would be paying a total of $3.20 a month, if interested.

The board gave recognition to Ward 4 Councilor Trae Ratliff, who is also Tahlequah Sports League president, for his efforts on TSL operations.

During the annual review of TSL, Ratliff said there were challenges due to the COVID pandemic over the last one and half years of the two years the sports league has been active.

“I think, all in all, everything has gone better than planned with the exception of when we had planned to start in March 2020, [but] we had to push our start date back to June,” said Ratliff. “This year, we did start on schedule in March and we had 568 kids between softball, baseball, and T-ball playing in our spring programs.”

The league was just shy of 400 kids for fall sports this year.

“In the past, the way that Boys & Girls Club ran the flag football program, it was in a field, there wasn't any atmosphere, there were no lights, and the games weren’t all on one day,” Ratliff said.

TSP partnered with NFL FLAG, a division former pro football player Brett Farve is associated with, and has advocated for youngsters to steer away from tackle football.

“Thirteen years is typically [how long] those kids [play], if they first are able to play tackle football until they graduate college. That’s a long time to be knocking heads with some other kids,” said Ratliff.

Flag football is held Monday evenings at Anthis-Brennan Sports Complex, in the outfield of the softball fields.

Catron praised Ratliff and the TSL Board for revamping the program and impacting lives.

“It’s really sad just to look at the difference between what I had, what [Ward 2 Councilor Keith Baker] had, what [City Administrator Alan Chapman] built for his kids back in the mid-80s/early 90s,” Ratliff said. “It’s not fair... and I don’t usually like to use that term, but the next two years Tahlequah is going to be 6A again, like it was when I was in high school.”

Ratliff began to choke up as he explained that local kids didn’t have the same resources as that in Jenks, Owasso, and Broken Arrow communities had.

“For them not to have that and to be expected to be able to play at that same level, it’s not fair,” he said.

Catron added that visions and dreams don’t become a reality without work on the backside. Ratliff stated that athletics took a place in a lot of people's lives, whether or not they’re successful in life.

“If I hadn’t had it, I sure as hell wouldn’t be a City Councilor. I’d probably be calling [City Attorney Grant Lloyd] to come bail me out,” Ratliff said, jokingly.

In other business, the board gave its approval to award a bid for the LED street lighting project.

Grant writer Shelldon Miggletto said there was a bid opening in the previous week, and they received a bid from WESCO Electric with a price of $333 per unit.

“We would be able to purchase 261 lights and consume that entire $80,000 budget for the second phase of LED lighting,” said Miggletto.

The project will be completed in conjunction with the Tahlequah Public Works Authority.

Street Commissioner Kevin Smith asked the board for action on the surplus of capitalized equipment in his department.

Smith said a 15-foot brush hog that had been rarely used knocked the transmission out of a tractor because it was too heavy. The second piece of equipment was a chip and seal machine that should be used on rural roadwork.

“After speaking with [the Oklahoma Department of Transportation], they recommend that type of application be used in a rural area, because of the twisting and turning on the chips and the oil that peals right up,” said Smith

The third item was a 9-wheel roller that goes with the chip and seal machine.

What's next

The next Tahlequah City Council regular meeting is Monday, Oct. 4 at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.

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