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December 15, 2017

The Week Ahead: Feb 7 – 12


It’s only Friday, but next week is big so here’s a rundown of some highlights:

  • Luther Alumni Planning GroupALUMNI PLANNING: Sunday at 1pm at the Community Center. It takes a lot of hands, ideas, calls, begging and imagination to plan big events. And this is a big one. Luther Alumni and friends are always welcome at this meeting. We’re talking parade, banquet, bands – maybe a dance. And getting alumni to come (you know who you are!) They need sponsors and helpers and PARADE ENTRIES. Mostly they need everyone to SAVE THE DATE – LUTHER LION ALUMNI DAY IS MAY 7. The group meets about every other week on Sunday afternoon. The meeting is earlier this week (Sunday at 1pm at the Community Center) so we can get back to the TV for the Superbowl on Sunday night. Go Lions! (Panthers & Broncos)!

 

  • ELECTION: The Luther School Board Election is Tuesday, Feb. 9. The latest article on candidates Jennifer Edmunson and Steve Broudy is here.

    Before then, here are some ELECTION FACTS:
    • Did you know? The Luther School District spans THREE counties: Oklahoma, Lincoln and Logan.
    • How many voters? 3,008 according to the County Election Boards in each county. Breakdown: 2,662 in Oklahoma County; 226 voters in Logan County, and 120 in Lincoln County.
    • When and where? The polls are open  7 am – 7 pm at about nine precincts in all three counties. Do you know your polling place? Or did you vote absentee? By the way, Logan County’s Election Secretary says early voting will include Saturday, Feb. 27 before the presidential primary on Tuesday, March 1.
    • Who will vote? Oklahoma County Election Board Secretary Doug Sanderson says school board elections bring out a lower turnout typically between 8 – 15% of total registered voters. If he’s correct, that means less than 500 voters will fill out a ballot for this important election. However, the failed school bond election last October brought out 739 voters (635 votes were against). And the citizen petition drive to call for an audit of the schools garnered 351 valid voter signatures last November from the same pool of voters. Perhaps we enjoy our right to vote in these parts. With many elections this year- we’ll have a lot of opportunities to exercise this right.

 

  • TOWN BOARD: While the election returns come in for the school board, the Luther Town Board will be holding its regular monthly meeting. Only two of the five town board members attended a free training last week sponsored by OMAG (insurance group) on training elected officials. Still, other town employees and citizens attended to hear the speakers say that elected town officials must get along, respect each other and be professional. Easy! Luther town has a difficult path ahead with challenges to modernize water and sewer systems and to attract more business (not necessarily Walmart!) to the area to help support the infrastructure and grow. Step one, the training indicated, get along.
    • The Town Board wants to hear from the Police Chief at Tuesday’s meeting. The trustees voted at the January meeting to require the Police Department to submit a monthly report of its calls and activities after they did not receive such a report that night. It did not, however, take board action to get Fire Chief Jason Miller and Town Clerk Laura McCuddy to share their informative reports as requested. All three reports: police, fire and town are expected to be on this agenda, along with a new agenda item, public comments (two minute limit from town residents).
    • By the way, the town has a new website. Check it out and sign up to receive information if you don’t want to read all about it here.
  • That just gets us through Tuesday, and it will already have been a full week. Look for a story soon about college intent signing for Luther Lions Stand-Outs Maurice Wright and Dewayne Rhoads.

 

10 Responses “The Week Ahead: Feb 7 – 12”

  1. Heather
    February 5, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    How does the number of registered voters compare to those who are eligible but not registered? Has any one ever considered holding an event to help people register?

    • February 5, 2016 at 1:28 pm

      What a great idea. Okay, now to think … how do we find out HOW many people are in the area. We can get a pretty decent number on town residents, but the rural area – across three counties? We might have to wait for the 2020 census. It seems like there has been quite a bit of change since the 2010 census in numbers of folks who’ve moved out here (like myself anyway).

      • Heather
        February 5, 2016 at 1:55 pm

        Maybe just spread the word asking if there are eligible citizens interested in receiving assistance with voter registration. What about the signatures that were not accepted with the audit petition? Were those people not registered or just out of district?

  2. Alice Childers
    February 5, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    HI, I just moved back to OK October 2014. I have never voted in my life and have no clue how. I am unable to get around a lot of people because of my P.T.S.D. Can anyone help me figure out how to do this?

    • Shelby
      February 5, 2016 at 4:11 pm

      You can download the voter registration form here:
      https://www.ok.gov/elections/Voter_Info/Register_to_Vote/
      Add a stamp and send it in. Once you are registered, you can find your polling place and look up upcoming elections and sample ballots here:
      https://www.ok.gov/elections/Voter_Info/Online_Voter_Tool/
      Or request an absentee ballot here:https://services.okelections.us/AbsenteeApplication/

      It is too close to the Tuesday election to be registered in time, but you’d possibly have time before the presidential primaries! Hope this helps!

      • February 6, 2016 at 9:26 am

        Shelby, I love this. Thank you for posting this. It’s what neighbors do for each other! And welcome to the area Alice!

    • Heather
      February 5, 2016 at 5:21 pm

      Alice, if you are up to it you can go see Mary Lou at the tag office. She’ll have the applications. You can fill it out there or take it home and mail it in yourself. Or if you have a printer you can download the application from http://www.ok.gov, fill it out, and mail it in.

      • February 6, 2016 at 9:27 am

        Heather! Thanks for posting this. So helpful. Mary Lou is the best.

  3. Robert Schroeder
    February 6, 2016 at 10:35 am

    I think these numbers tell the story. When this doesn’t relieve the congestion and other listed items on DrivingForwardOK will they then float bonds to widen the new EOC turnpike?

    Against EOC Turnpike

    Traffic Count I-35, I-40, I-44, I-240, Turner TP, Kilpatrick TP.

    I’ve been wondering about how much traffic flows on these roads and I found a web site (http://www.acogok.org/transportation-planning/congestion-management/traffic-counts/) that shows the daily total traffic count (going both ways) on them. Most of the data is from 2010. The TP information is from 2014.

    Click on the map and enter Oklahoma County. Then just browse around to find the roads you want and the data at different locations. You will find a bunch of small blue squares with data like: 37,400 (10) which indicates a daily traffic count in 2010. The 37,400 is the total for vehicles going in both directions.

    A brief summary:

    1. I-240 and I-35 Junction:
    South side of I-240 about 135,000 (10)
    North side of I-240 about 120,000 (10)
    West side of I-35 about 101,000 (10)
    East side of I-35 about 66,000 (10)
    2. I-240 and I-40 Junction:
    West side of I-240 about 37,000 (10)
    East side of I-240 about 53,000 (10)
    Southwest of I-240 about 17,000 (10)
    3. I-35/I-235 and I-40 Junction:
    West of I-35 about 108,000 (10)
    East on I-35/I-40 about 121,000 (10)
    South of I-40 about 137,000 (10)
    4. I-35 and I-40 (Ft Smith) Junction:
    West on I-35/I-40 about 121,000 (10)
    North of I-40 about 73,000 (10)
    East of I-35 about 88,000 (10)
    5. I-35 and I-44 (near NE 63rd) Junction:
    South of I-44 about 67,000 (10)
    West of I-35 about 55,000 (10)
    North of I-44 about 95,000 (10)
    6. I-35 and Turner/Kilpatrick Junction:
    West of I-35 about 28,000 (14)
    East of I-35 about 29,000 (14)
    South of the TPs about 77,000 (10)
    North of the TPs about 67,000 (10)
    7. Turner TP and Hogback Junction:
    East of Hogback about 27,000 (14)

    If you draw each of the Junctions you’ll probably come to the same conclusion I did. The friendly Oklahomans from West OKC, Mustang, Piedmont, Yukon, El Reno, etc are feeding into the I-35 freeway and going north or vise-versa. Little traffic seems to be going east of Tinker (I-40) or east on the Turner. I’m not claiming to know the work place or travel desires of others. If there are more recent numbers I hope they will be shown and discussed at the February 18th meeting. Also, what happens next if the EOC TP doesn’t reduce the “congestion”. Maybe exlax will.

    Robert Schroeder
    2/5/16

  4. Robert Schroeder
    February 6, 2016 at 10:43 am

    An older News9 posting I thought was interesting.

    Oklahoma’s Turnpikes: Who Is Profiting?
    Posted: Jul 16, 2010 6:34 PM CDT Updated: Jul 20, 2010 12:04 PM CDT
    http://www.news9.com/story/12821676/oklahomas-turnpikes-who-is-profiting

    By Jennifer Loren, The Oklahoma Impact Team
    OKLAHOMA CITY– What started out as one toll road connecting Oklahoma City and Tulsa has turned into a multi-billion dollar web of turnpikes across the state. Sixty-three years later, Oklahoma drivers are still paying that bill. Some lawmakers and citizens fear the Turnpike Authority has too much power.

    Oklahoma has 10 turnpikes, more than 600 miles of pavement, making the state second in the nation for miles of toll roads.

    “The turnpike is a scam on the people of Oklahoma,” said Gary Richardson, 2002 gubernatorial candidate.

    Richardson is an outspoken opponent of turnpikes. He ran for governor in 2002. His platform included putting the turnpikes under ODOT and getting rid of tolls.

    “I believed it’s a scam then and I know it’s a scam today,” said Richardson.

    Richardson believes Oklahoma taxpayers should know more about the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, how it pays for the roads and where their toll money goes. He blames the turnpike authority itself and state lawmakers for glossing over the truth.

    “The state of Oklahoma does not make one red cent off the turnpike,” said Richardson.

    The State of Oklahoma does not make any money off the turnpikes.

    Like many states which lack adequate transportation funding, the toll roads are built with bonds and the bondholders are profiting off these toll roads, not the state.

    So who are the bondholders? They are people, institutions and organizations all over the world who invest money in bonds and earn interest on that investment. In return, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority must meet certain financial requirements. Those requirements are lined out in a covenant. The covenant requires the authority to keep a certain amount of money in its accounts at all times or else the bondholders can take over toll collecting operations.

    “That is just not a responsible way to do state business,” said State Senator Randy Brogdon.

    As chairman of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Brogdon said that set-up is dangerous. In other states, bondholders are authorized to sue the turnpike organizations if they default, but not take over operations. Brogdon said Oklahoma gives bondholders and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority too much power over state transportation issues. He said it wasn’t set up that way in the beginning.

    With little money available for transportation projects, state lawmakers created the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority in 1947. They also provided for construction of the state’s first turnpike, the Turner, between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. It was financed with $38 million in bonds. Toll collections would pay off that debt and the Turner would become a free highway. But that soon changed.

    State lawmakers liked the idea of pay-as-you-go roads so much they told the turnpike authority they could sell more bonds, build more turnpikes and keep collecting tolls until all turnpikes are paid off.

    “We propose to make it possible for the drivers of Oklahoma to have these better roads and to pay as we go,” said Governor Henry Bellmon in a 1965 news conference. “These bonds we’re talking about are all self liquidating bonds. They don’t cost the general fund a penny. And it is far different than the national administration of running our nation into debt further and further every year because they don’t have the political courage to pay as they go.”

    Today, the Turnpike Authority’s debt sits at $1.1 billion and it won’t be paid off until 2028. The authority pays about 5 percent interest on that debt. So the bondholders will profit close to 60-million dollars from Oklahoma turnpikes this year alone.

    “You know they’ll never probably pay the debt off,” said Senator Brogdon. “They don’t have any intentions of paying the debt off. When they get close, they’ll pass another bond issue, uh, extend that indebtedness so they can keep that money coming in.”

    One reason the turnpike authority would take out more bonds would be for more projects.

    It turns out, the state has pre-approved the Turnpike Authority to build up to 25 more turnpikes.

    “We don’t have any plan to construct new turnpikes at the moment,” said Tim Stewart, Deputy Director of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.

    Stewart said the turnpikes they’re pre-approved to build would not make enough money to make sense, at least not right now.

    “The conditions could change in the future that may change that. But we don’t see that right now,” said Stewart.

    Right now the state’s in a recession. That’s even more reason, according to critics, people should be concerned about the autonomy of the turnpike authority. After all, it did raise tolls 16 percent in the middle of the downturn.

    Senator Brogdon was so angry about the timing of that hike he authored a bill requiring the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to get legislative approval before raising tolls.

    “If we really need to raise the rates then let the legislature do that, not have unelected bureaucrats making that decision,” said Brogdon.

    The bill was defeated, but 16 other senators voted for it.

    Critics say, ultimately, the only way to fix the system will be through major reform. They say the governor is the only person with the power to reform the turnpike authority. He appoints the director and the board who make all the important decisions.

Have a thought? Please share. And thanks.

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