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  • Court Newkirk

Time To Dig A Little Deeper

I want to thank and give a round of applause to several people and groups around Okmulgee that have been promoting going farther into the issue of city clean up and beautification. If you’ve heard my presentation on economic development in Okmulgee you know this is a big deal to me. It’s hard to take company executives on a tour of Okmulgee.

Let’s start with a request from Vice-Mayor Richard Larabee from his article a few weeks ago. Richard asked that local citizens start sending him and the City suggestions for ways to beautify and clean up Okmulgee. Richard, I hope your list is long, very long and detailed. We need fresh ideas.

Bruce Mabrey made an excellent presentation before the City Council last month. As far as I know Bruce has lived here in Okmulgee all his life. In his lifetime he’s seen it go from a city of almost 20,000 to less than 12,000 and I bet he’s seen his share of great ideas that either ran out of momentum or died on the vine before they really made an impact.

Kay Rabbit-Brower and the Okmulgee Chamber of Commerce started the beautiful lawn awards several years ago and it’s still going. Don’t forget to nominate a yard in your neighborhood, because someone is putting in the time and money to make it beautiful, please recognize the effort.

Shawn “Maverick” Fristche continues his thankless efforts to enforce the City Codes and support civic groups doing great work on clean up projects.

Each spring a group cleans up out at the spillway at Lake Okmulgee.

Deep Fork Community Development Foundation under Christie Baldridge’s leadership is working on several housing improvement projects and new housing in needed areas.

The Okmulgee Young Professionals have their own trailer full of equipment and are doing wonderful clean up projects throughout the City. The OYPs are led by Lane Pilkington, their president.

I know I’ve probably left out a great leader and a group or two, (sorry if you didn’t get a shout out) but the point is: just look at the critical mass of citizens willing to give their time, sweat and money to move our City forward.

So now, what do I mean that it’s “Time To Dig A Little Deeper”?

I want to use all of the media we have at our disposal: Okmulgee Times, FaceBook, Survey Monkey, local company websites, inserts in bulk mailings, a survey station at City Hall and the Okmulgee Public Library, to survey our citizens and find out what are the top two or three issues and what if anything they are willing to invest, personally?

Allow me throw out the first survey pitch.

  • A lot of us use the City’s Recycling Station on 2nd Street religiously. Is it time to admit we have outgrown that site? Yes, No, Getting Close?

  • Is it time to investigate the expense of curb-side weekly pick up of recycling? Yes? No? Maybe?

  • If it starts as a voluntary system, would this help? Yes? No? Maybe?

  • Would you be willing to pay an additional $2 per week for curbside pickup of recycling? Yes? No? Maybe?

There are a lot of different ways to do curb-side recycling. I’ve lived in 3 cities that have a system. We love it at our house, and we’re willing to pay extra. Each system was a little bit different. The main thing I loved about curbside recycling was that our neighborhoods looked cleaner, the amount we put into the trash to end up in the landfill was greatly reduced, it created jobs for people at the collection and sorting station.

Let’s dig deep on these ideas and really find out where the hearts and minds of our citizens really are on these ideas as they come forward. Okmulgee is not going to become a beautiful small town overnight, but we have to start somewhere and we’re going to have to put some money in the collection plate of community development.

Court Newkirk is the Executive Director of Okmulgee Area Development Corp (OADC). A native of Oklahoma, he has decades of community and economic development experience, some of which was in Okmulgee in the 90s. Court is a big believer that Okmulgee can be anything it wants to be, if we all work together. Contact Court at

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