Council adds Juneteenth as city holiday
New, improved lighting is coming soon to the Okmulgee Public Library.
During their regular session Tuesday, the Okmulgee City Council approved a quote from First Light of Tulsa in the amount of $35,584 for materials and installation of various lighting throughout the library.
In a memo to the council, City Manager Rickey Pearson noted that the lighting at the library has been a problem for many years. With such high ceilings, it is difficult for staff to make repairs or even change out the bulbs. Also a number of the can lights are not working, as the bulbs that are used put off so much heat that it melts the receptacle and must be replaced before new bulbs are installed.
Two quotes were received for the project, however, the one from First Lights includes installation and rebate from PSO and has a seven year warranty. New LED lighting will be installed, which will also help save electricity.
A Resolution to recognize the designation and dates of certain days as holidays for the City of Okmulgee was approved. Juneteenth was added to the holiday listing for city employees.
During last month’s session, Councilman Marcus Jeffrey stated that some citizens approached him about the matter, and thinks “it’s something that needs to be discussed and considered. If we teach our children to celebrate July 4 – it’s a day of freedom for our country – I think this should also be celebrated as a day of freedom.”
However, police and fire department employees are excluded since they are covered by a collective bargaining agreement. Any changes in their holiday listing must be done through the collective bargaining process and authorize the City Manager or Interim City Manager to issue an Administrative Order annually to specify the dates on which the designated holidays are to occur.
Some good news was shared with the counsel when discussing awarding the bid for the removal of structures located on private property deemed dilapidated.
There were originally 22 structures on the list for removal, however, the board was informed that 16 of those had been removed due to the owners choosing to repair the property.
The low bid was from American Demolition in the amount of $236,182, however that will be adjusted since the 16 were removed.
City staff informed the council that a new list will be started soon with those being added later following the notification period.
Agenda items approved were:
• Minutes of July 18 regular session
• Ordinance rezoning the property at 5395 N Wood Dr. from residential single-family (RS-1) to commercial general (CG). The owner intends to sell the property and sought to have it rezoned, which would conform to the long-term land use plan. The Planning and Zoning public meeting was held Aug. 1, with the members recommending approval.
• Purchase of a new 2023/2024 Chevy 2500 4WD Crew Cab from Joe Cooper Chevrolet in the amount of $49,099 (state contract pricing). This purchase replaces a 1999 truck that has been in use by the city.
During the Information Items portion of the meeting, the council was informed that the Starbucks permit has been completed and plans are for construction to begin in Feb. 2024.
A new officer has been hired at the Okmulgee Police Department, but there are still openings for at least six additional officers, according to Chief Joe Prentice.
“We’ve had quite a few applications submitted, but we’re struggling to find viable candidates,” the chief said. “A large number don’t pass the written test. Some don’t pass the physical agility….half didn’t even show up for the test. And we’re having difficulty getting them through the background check. For instance one individual applied, passed the written and the physical agility test. When we started with the background, we found an excess of $7,000 in unpaid fines out of different counties.”
When asked about the starting pay for police officers, city staff stated it is $22.47, and the applicant must be 21 years of age, high school diploma or equivalent, a good driving record, and no felony convictions or convictions of crimes of moral turpitude.
Councilman Steve Baldridge asked the members to possibly consider offering a sign-on bonus, such as $5,000 signing bonus if they stay for five years.
“And you know we can work out the details,” Baldridge said. “And if they … decided to leave early, then we would have a clawback; but also that we give the city employees a referral bonus for people that want to be officers. You know we’ve had these openings for years and years and years. And you know, we’ve talked about this situation, with people moving on to other larger police forces. And, you know, every year we’re going to be faced with this. We need to provide safety to our citizens. And I think having a full staff – I know that you’ve been working hard on it – I’m just suggesting that we add another tool that will help you land qualified applicants because we definitely want qualified applicants.
“We want people that care for our community and our citizens, are level headed and that they have good backgrounds. But I would just suggest to the council that we consider doing something like that, that would help us to recruit these officers … I just want us to think about it. And discuss it. I really think that we should go that way.
“The other thing that I was looking at was I noticed that a lot of our CDs are coming due where they’re going to mature. And I would suggest that we do a CD analysis with First National, Mabrey, Edward Jones and possibly Western Sun and we can do stairstep you know, you can do short term investments for three months, six months, one year, or, you know, up to five years or whatever, but I did notice that a lot of our CDs were coming mature. So the rates are really low. And I think that we need to look at that,” Baldridge said.
During the meeting of the Okmulgee Economic Development Authority, the trustees entered into executive session to consider confidential communications pertaining to a possible economic development. No action was taken after return to open session.