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Paula LaKay (Apple) Gilpen, age 67, died Sunday, July 27, 2014, at her home in Oklahoma City.
Paula was born April 14, 1947, in McKinney, Texas, to Clifford and Mabel Irene (Isaacs) Apple. Paula grew up in Frederick, Okla., married Walt “Tom” Gilpen in 1964 and settled in the Mustang/Oklahoma City area in 1968. She was a teacher at the Mustang United Methodist Preschool for many years, as well as a Cub Scout leader and a vacation Bible school and Awana’s teacher at her home church, First Baptist of Mustang. Paula was very involved with her boys’ and grandchildren’s activities, as well as spending time with a special group of ladies. Her time was spent with her grandchildren, doing crafts, and scrapbooking.
She was preceded in death by her parents.
Paula is survived by her husband, Tom, of 49 years and 11 months; two boys, Tommy and wife, Misty of Tuttle and Bruce of Oklahoma City; also by grandchildren, Rebekah Thomas, Bailey Gilpen and Christopher Thomas; and one brother, Jerry Apple and wife, Sandra.
Services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday, July 31 at First Baptist Church of Mustang, with interment to follow in Mustang Cemetery.
Online condolences may be made to www.mcneilsmustangfs.com.
By Traci Chapman
Mustang Kiwanis Club has a big problem. Its food pantry shelves are bare, yet the need is still there – and growing.
“It’s a very serious situation,” Lila Hoover said. “We have a lot of families and seniors who depend on us, and we don’t have food to give to them.”
Donations have been down over the summer, but that’s when the need actually spikes. In addition to a growing number of seniors who depend on the food bank, families who count on school meals to help supplement their food supply are left fending for themselves, Hoover said. It’s times like this the organization truly needs more and more donations, she said.
“We receive food donations from schools’ harvest drives, but those donations usually don’t come in until late October or middle November,” Hoover said.
The food bank is open from 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. each Saturday. In addition to helping residents in need each week, Kiwanis also provide a special meal at Thanksgiving and Christmas for about 115 families, all of which have students attending Mustang schools, Hoover said. When the organization receives fresh vegetables, it passes those on, in addition to primarily dry and canned goods received from benefactors.
In May, Kiwanis provided food baskets for 41 families, including 47 children and 91 adults. In June, that number dropped slightly – 35 families comprised of 40 children and 62 adults. In just the three weeks of July, the organization has given out 29 food baskets for 37 children and 65 adults.
“We are really seeing a surge in seniors who need help,” Hoover said.
Service is the heart of Mustang Kiwanis Club, Hoover said. Chartered in April 1971, the club has 32 active members. In addition to the food pantry, Kiwanis interacts with the community, particularly with a goal of helping area children, she said. Key Club is a service organization for teens and is a “strong force” at Mustang High School, Hoover said.
“It teaches leadership through service to others,” she said.
Builders Club is like Key Club, but for slightly younger youth, Hoover said. Aimed at providing students with leadership activities that improve self-esteem and increase civic pride and interaction, clubs are active at both Mustang and Mustang North middle schools.
The area’s youngest children are also recognized through a partnership between Kiwanis and Mustang schools. Terrific Kids is an academic and character development achievement program for children between 6 and 12 years of age.
Schoolchildren are not the only recipients of Kiwanis’ work, however, Hoover said. The organization is key in providing a Christmas dinner for area troops headquartered out of Mustang Armed Forces Reserve Center. Last year, about 650 soldiers and their families were treated to the holiday meal and related activities, Hoover said. The organization also sponsors its annual Western Days pancake breakfast, a garage sale aimed at raising funds and twice-a-year carnivals.
“Kiwanis clubs also provide excellent networking opportunities for professionals,” Hoover said.
Mustang Kiwanis Club meets on Saturday mornings at 7:30 a.m. at the old police station, behind Mustang Historical Museum.
Donations can be cash or food items and are tax deductible. To make a donation or learn more about Mustang Kiwanis, call Hoover at (405) 625-3128 or Glen Muse at (405) 376-2695.
“By working together, members achieve what one person cannot accomplish alone,” Hoover said. “When you give a child the chance to learn, experience, dream, grow, succeed and thrive, great things happen.”
Two benefits are slated to help Mustang families this weekend.
Clyde Slimp, Stan Moss and friends will hold a benefit concert Friday, July 25 at Wild Hero Coffee.
The benefit is for Kyle and Kim Grant and their baby, Cohen Randall Grant. Cohen was born March 11, 2014, seven weeks premature. Admitted to the NICU and placed on a ventilator, Cohen remained on the ventilator for three weeks as doctors attempted to remove it from his lungs. He was finally transferred to Oklahoma City’s Children’s Hospital “to receive more specialized care in hopes of determining a diagnosis,” his parents said.
After the transfer, doctors learned Cohen suffered a loss of oxygen at some point during Kim’s pregnancy, causing him to sustain brain damage. The couple was able to take Cohen home April 28.
Because of his condition, Cohen requires 24/7 care and is treated by “countless” specialists, the couple said. That’s where Clyde Slimp came in, trying to raise funds for the baby’s ongoing treatment, as well as the medical bills already incurred by the family.
The concert will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and all proceeds raised will go to the Grant family, Slimp said.
A baby is at the center of a second benefit, set for Mustang Masons Lodge No. 407 on July 26.
The Vowell family recently lost their infant son and face a rare disease that makes it impossible to have their own child. Lavane and Lancer Vowell have decided to adopt a child, and Mustang Masons said they wanted to help kick-start an effort to help the Mustang couple.
A barbecue benefit dinner will be held at the lodge from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. July 26, which will include a silent auction and raffle. Online donations can also be made at www.youcaring.com/adoption-fundraiser/fill-our-empty-arms/176095.
“We know in our hearts that we could love and provide for a child,” Lavane Vowell said. “There is nothing that we want more.”
For more information, call (405) 474-5385.
By Kyle Salomon,
The annual Mudd Volleyball Tournament in Mustang had another successful year last weekend with 136 teams participating in the two-day event.
For the 13th consecutive year, the Muscular Dystrophy Association held its annual Mudd Volleyball Tournament in Mustang, and for the 13th consecutive year, the amount of money raised was higher than the previous year.
The 136 teams that participated in the tournament were the most in event history. All of the proceeds from the weekend will go to the Oklahoma region of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. First-year event coordinator Moira McCarthy said the 2014 version was a major success.
“I’m just really touched and happy that so many people are willing to help and are committed to this event for such a good cause,” McCarthy said. “It takes a lot to get a team together and to have 136 teams come out is truly amazing.”
The cost for each team to play in the tournament ranged from $300 to $425. The estimated total raised was $100,000, which is the most the Mudd Volleyball Tournament has raised in its 13 years in Mustang.
“Our goal is to make it fun for everyone that is involved,” McCarthy said. “We heard a lot of wonderful things from people who participated in the event about what a great time they had throughout the weekend. We had a lot of volunteers from 7-Eleven help us with everything from setting up to taking stuff down.”
The Mudd Volleyball Tournament had 17 total sponsors with 7-Eleven being the main sponsor for the event. The other 16 sponsors included Muscular Dystrophy Association, Newby Vance Mobility Sales and Service, John Vance Auto Group, Bob FM 96.9, Oklahoma City Party and Tent, Monster Energy, Budweiser, Wild 104.9, Digi Print, Silver Stallion, BTP Productions, Frito Lay, Pepsi, 96.1 KXY Oklahoma’s Classic Country, Katt Rock 100.5 FM and JAK’D Up Tees.
“There is no way this event would be possible without the help from our awesome sponsors,” McCarthy said. “All of our sponsors were really happy with how the tournament turned out. We all had a really successful weekend.”
The championship match of the tournament took place late in the afternoon on Sunday between the Good Bad and Muddy and the Mudd Dogs. The Mudd Dogs were undefeated coming into the final match, while Good Bad and Muddy had one loss. The championship match was the first one to win three games.
The scoring system was the first team to score 11 points won the game with the winning team having to win by two or more points. Only the serving team could score points.
Good Bad and Muddy swept the Mudd Dogs three games to none in the championship bout to capture the 2014 Mudd Volleyball crown.
After the final match, the championship team signed their autographs on a volleyball for Kenneth Carpenter and took a photo with Kenneth’s mother, Amanda Taylor.
For the past eight years the tradition has been for the winning team to autograph a ball for 11-year-old Kenneth and take a photo with his mother.
Taylor said the Mudd Volleyball Tournament is a special event for her family.
“We are so very thankful that this tournament supports such an important cause,” she said. “There are so many grateful donations. This is very personal to our family. We have been playing in this tournament for eight years and to see it grow the way it has is very special.”
Kyle Salomon is the sports editor at the Mustang News and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Ray Dyer and Traci Chapman
Four Fort Worth men are in custody after an alleged burglary of Mustang Walgreens and a high-speed chase. And El Reno police believe the case may be connected to last week’s break-in at the Walgreens here.
Mustang police received a call at 4:35 a.m. July 19, when a resident phoned to say he had seen four suspects leaving the Walgreens store.
“The citizen reported seeing suspects exit the store, enter a white vehicle and leave eastbound on East state Highway 152,” Mustang Capt. Dennis Craig said in a release. Mustang police tried to stop the vehicle, but it sped off. The high-speed chase began, running eastbound from state Highway 152 to Interstate 240, east to the Interstate 35 turn-off, Craig said. At that time, the car crashed into a concrete barrier as the driver attempted to take the southbound highway. Officers logged speeds over 100 miles per hour during the chase.
“During the pursuit, occupants were throwing items from the suspect vehicle,” Craig said. “Officers recovered items, clothing and prescription medications stolen from Walgreens,” the officer said.
One man was arrested at the scene, while three more were found and apprehended with the assistance of Oklahoma City Police Department’s Air-1 and K-9 officers. While one man was immediately taken to Mustang Jail, two of them were taken by Oklahoma City Police to a local hospital for dog bite treatments, officers reported.
Taken into custody were Kenneth Wayne Tolbert, 23; Hylon Alford Solomon, 23; James Richard Wooden, 24; and Christopher Allen Williams Jr. All four men listed Fort Worth, Texas, addresses, Craig said.
According to MPD’s incident report, the suspects allegedly broke in the front door of the business, as well as a second door into the pharmacy. Walgreens pharmacy manager was missing several bottles of narcotics, according to the report. Some of the missing drugs were among those recovered along the roadway, officers reported.
El Reno Chief Ken Brown said the Mustang Walgreens incident looked very similar to the “smash and grab” that occurred here earlier in the week. Brown said two of the suspects in the Mustang case were wearing similar “if not the same clothing” as those thieves who were recorded breaking into the El Reno store.
Brown said investigators have found there have been similar break-ins at Walgreens in the Oklahoma City area. He said lawmen are talking with investigators in the Fort Worth area. He said the Texas investigators reported they have experienced similar incidents all targeting Walgreens that are not 24-hour pharmacies within the last two weeks.
Brown said it has also been learned the vehicle used during the Mustang burglary was stolen and “we believe the vehicle used in El Reno was possibly stolen as well.
“We are confident at least two of the four arrested from the Mustang burglary were also involved in the El Reno burglary,” Brown said.
The thieves used a rock to break the glass front door and then raced to the pharmacy area, reportedly taking narcotics.
The case is under investigation and prosecutors have not yet filed charges, according to Oklahoma State Courts Network.
The Central Oklahoma Water Resources Board voted Friday to test a water well on SW 29th and Mustang Road to see if the quality of the water can be treated for human consumption.
Karl Stickley, an engineer with Guernsey, estimated it would take $80,000 to pull the water from the well and have it tested. Stickley said starting the project will depend on when the city of Yukon pays its COWRA dues.
“This is what I’d like to do if we have the money,” Stickley said.
COWRA is a consortium of municipal governments as well as the county that has been looking for ways to wean the area off water dependence on Oklahoma City. Members pay annual dues to help fund the effort.
Stickley said owners of the Mustang property, formerly used as a sod farm, drilled a water well several years ago with hopes of using the water to irrigate their farm. However, the water was unfit for that purpose, Stickley said. He said it is not known if the well casing deteriorated since it was first drilled.
Stickley said if the well has held together it might not cost more than $8,000 to pump water from it, “if we get lucky.”
Stickley said it is known that the water is too brackish now for consumption.
“The water is not usable, but what we need to know is if it can be treated easily,” he said.
Stickley said local drilling companies are extremely busy this time of year, but it may be possible to get a contractor at the site by August.
Three companies responded to a bid COWRA sent out. The lowest bid came in at $94,109.50, according to minutes of the June 27 COWRA meeting. The minutes said Frontier Logging has access to a well “approximately one-half mile east of Mustang Road, on the south side of SW 29th. The firm is said to have no knowledge of the condition of the casing, however, the owner of the property has agreed to sign access agreement. The well will require a power source and, possibly, rehab before water testing can be done. The total bid for this well site and two other test sites, $94,109.50.”
The other two bids, one firm from Kansas, the other from Texas, were both more than $375,000.
The COWRA board, according to the minutes, discussed three options: Go with bids; cut back depth; or not do test well in the Duncan and use available information.
Other discussion, the minutes said, included “make sure all contingencies are understood and lay out all options for comparison in order to make good decisions, also, reset date or project to September/October may attract more bidders.”
The “Duncan” is a water basin inside the area where the engineers said COWRA should look for a source of brackish water.
COWRA members are looking at the possibility of building a brackish water treatment plant, if the water source can be found. The project has been estimated at anywhere from $60 million to $100 million.
Mustang News sports editor Kyle Salomon is listing his current top-30 Mustang High School athletes in a six-week series of columns counting down. This is week are Nos. 16-20.
Here is a look at my top 30 Mustang High School athletes list Nos. 16-20, starting with No. 16.
16. Zach Davis, senior, football
Zach Davis is the definition of a journeyman on the Mustang football team. The senior defensive back saw time as a running back for the Bronco offense as a sophomore, was a starting cornerback on the defense his junior season and this year will be a starting safety for the Broncos.
Davis will be the defensive leader for the Broncos on the gridiron this fall when Mustang takes the field in early September against rival Yukon. Having him at the back end and in the middle of the defense will free Davis up to make plays in a bigger area of the field compared to just one side of the field as a cornerback.
Davis has added size to his frame, which will allow him to come up and make plays at the line of scrimmage in the run game for the Bronco D. His one-on-one matchup days against receivers are finished, but Davis will play a big role in the MHS pass defense as well.
Look for Davis to make another huge step in his progression as a football player and become an even bigger force for opponents to deal with this fall.
17. Kyra Fuller, senior, cross country and track
Kyra Fuller enters her senior year as an athlete with something to prove. She had the nearly impossible task of taking over for 2013 Mustang graduate Emily Helms as being the face of girls cross country.
Helms won eight individual state championships between cross country and track, so for Fuller to step into those shoes would be a more than daunting task. The senior has not disappointed in her time as the face of girls cross country as a part of the girls track team.
Fuller has dealt with several injuries in her career that have slowed her down in key races, but if the Lady Bronco can stay healthy for her senior year in cross country and track, she will be a force to be reckoned with come state championship time.
18. Cade Fulton, junior, baseball
Cade Fulton is one of the best up and coming pitchers in the state. His size, arm strength and potential will have college recruiters and professional scouts all over the Mustang baseball facility for the next two years.
Fulton was counted on down the stretch last season for the Broncos. It seemed like every time Mustang needed a big win down the stretch of the year, Fulton was on the bump for MHS.
Fulton will be counted on next season to be a leader for the Broncos as a junior. His performance on the mound will dictate how successful Mustang will be on the diamond next year.
If Fulton continues to progress the way he has the past two seasons, the 6-foot-5 right-handed slinger will be one of the top pitchers in the entire state.
19. Keegan Radichel, senior, soccer
Mustang returns a lot from that squad and Radichel will be one of those pieces counted on to carry Mustang soccer back to the top of the state.
Radichel has the ability to be a game-changer every time his foot touches the ball. If the Bronco boys are going to be successful next spring on the soccer field, Radichel will be a big reason why.
20. Logan Haller, sophomore, basketball
Logan Haller was counted on late in the season last year for Kevin Korstjens and his staff to provide a spark off the bench for the Lady Broncos basketball team.
Haller didn’t disappoint as the year went on, she improved every time she took the court. The sophomore forward will have a bigger role for the Bronco girls this year on the hardwood and will compete for a starting job.
Haller already looked like a much more confident player this summer in the team camp the Lady Broncos hosted at Mustang High School. If Haller can continue to develop her game and her confidence, the young Lady Bronco will have a solid sophomore year.
Kyle Salomon is the sports editor at the Mustang News and can be reached at email@example.com
Not too long ago, someone told me I was “obsessed” with Facebook.
Initially, well, I was kind of insulted. After all, I’m not one of those people who document every move I make, every meal I eat, with a post. I was fairly active on the site, but no more so than most of my friends.
Then, something happened. It wasn’t anything really serious, just a bad situation that left me feeling rather isolated and alone. It wasn’t really a big deal, in the scheme of things, but in my little world, it was a doozy. It was one of those times you just feel down for a while, one of those situations where family really helps.
The problem for me was we don’t have nearby family — or so I thought. Like so many other people these days, we moved away from our families and long-time friends, establishing a life in Mustang. Of course, we have friends here, and good ones, but we don’t have the luxury some people have in living in the community we were raised in.
And that’s where Facebook comes into it. That’s why maybe I am obsessed with social media after all.
Facebook can certainly show the best and worst of people. Some interactions are — for lack of a better word — horrendous. It’s terrible to see how people can treat each other, from the anonymity of a computer screen. But it can also be a very positive thing. It helps people reconnect, allows friends who are separated by distance overcome that and interact more often and with more substance. When’s the last time you wrote a letter? Facebook helps people share who they are and what’s important to them.
And it was through that online connection that I learned just how lucky I was, how much support and what kind of friends I was blessed to have.
You see, I wasn’t alone — not in the fact we don’t have family nearby and not in dealing with a difficult situation on my own. Without even knowing what was going on — or even, really, that something was going on at all, friends from long ago were joined by people I have never met in person in showing the true meaning of caring and friendship.
People were there for me in a way it’s difficult to describe. We’ve all seen it — individuals gather to offer encouragement and support, prayers and words of advice. The interesting thing about this wasn’t the response of my long-time friends, people I grew up with and who know me. It was those people I’ve never met or barely know, those whose knowledge of me comes completely from what I’ve written (and the silly photos I’ve posted) on a social media site.
It was those people who made me realize just how alone I was not. Were they sitting right there with me? No. But, there were plenty who offered to, who said they were there in spirit and would be in person, if that’s what I needed. They helped me work through a bad situation, but they also did something more — they went beyond their own lives in a way some people never do.
That’s the beauty of something like Facebook. It gives us the ability to touch someone’s life in a positive way, offer them support, encouragement, a light where they might not have seen one. It doesn’t matter if someone is facing a health issue or a family matter. Maybe they’ve lost someone, maybe they just need prayers, need to know there is someone who cares and is thinking of them.
Most of us feel empathy. We see a story that touches us and we might “like” it or make a comment. But, we can move beyond that and remember that the best of who we are can be expressed through our interactions with others. Even if those interactions come through a computer screen.
Our society has changed since I was a child and even a young adult. Many of us are more spread out, we have moved far beyond where we started or even where we thought we might go. Look at the impact the internet as a whole has had on our lives and our jobs. It can be negative, surely, but oh how positive it can be.
For me, I want to work to help others more – through volunteering, community service, giving back for a life that’s truly been a gift. But, what I can do – and what we all can do, every day – is let someone know we care. If that’s all Facebook and other social media ever is, then it’s a pretty darn good thing. And, yes, I’m obsessed with that.
Baseball without tobacco?
Like all baseball fans, I was saddened to learn of the death of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn in June, and I followed closely the outcry from fans and the sporting world for Major League Baseball to ban smokeless tobacco use among players. I thought it would be a great idea, but would never happen … smokeless tobacco is just a part of the game, right?
So imagine my surprise when my ESPN text alert the week of the MLB All Star Game said the commissioner of baseball and the players association were aiming to eliminate smokeless tobacco use in baseball.
MLB has made some efforts to curb smokeless tobacco use among players, like banning its use in the minor leagues, not providing dip to players, and not allowing tobacco use during interviews. But can professional baseball survive without tobacco, something that seems to have been married to the game as long as anyone can remember? I think yes, and it would be for the best.
Players like Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals and Addison Reed of the Diamondbacks have publicly come out to say they are kicking their tobacco habits because of Gwynn’s death. But if baseball can ban the use of smokeless tobacco, future generations of baseball players, from high school through the pros, may not have to quit – because they never started.
Kids want to do everything their favorite players do – from wearing the same cleats and copying their batting stance, to using (or simulating the use of) smokeless tobacco. The tobacco industry already spends millions of dollars marketing smokeless tobacco as grown up and manly; kids don’t need to have that message reinforced by their favorite baseball players. Already here in Oklahoma, 21.2 percent of male high school students – more than one in five – use smokeless tobacco.
A ban on smokeless tobacco in professional baseball would not only benefit the health and well-being of current players, but also that of future generations of baseball players at all levels. I commend the commissioner and the players association for even approaching the subject and look forward to seeing what the outcomes are during their next collective bargaining.
Tobacco Prevention Coordinator, Canadian County
By Traci Chapman and Ray Dyer
Word that the Oklahoma Water Resources Board is launching a “comprehensive” study of a water basin that stretches from Yukon to Watonga came as a surprise to members of the Canadian County authority that has been searching for a water source.
Central Oklahoma Water Resources Authority, COWRA, has been working for years to find a “secure” water source for the area. The driving force behind the effort is the desire of communities to wean themselves of water dependence from Oklahoma City.
But the news that OWRB is jumping into the search for new water sources was described by one COWRA member as a “significant development,” a development several officials said they knew nothing about.
Canadian County District 2 Commissioner David Anderson was one of several members of the county authority who said they were not aware of OWRB’s intentions. COWRA has been following the lead of Oklahoma City lobbyist Shawn Lepard, who has helped guide the water expedition for several years.
It was COWRA’s payment to Lepard that caused El Reno Mayor Matt White to lead the effort to pull the town away from the COWRA table a few years ago. Two years ago, that decision was reversed by a new council that agreed to pay “back dues” of more than $100,000 to reactivate El Reno’s COWRA voting rights.
At the time El Reno left COWRA, Lepard was being paid about $90,000 per year. COWRA’s entire budget was less than $100,000. The money now paid to Lepard by the authority has been trimmed to under $50,000.
Recently, COWRA has been seeking a contractor to drill test wells between El Reno, Union City and Mustang in an effort to find a source for brackish water. The firm hired to help lead that effort, Guernsey Engineering, has been unable to find a drilling firm that will do the test wells at the cost it estimated.
“Our engineers gave us an estimate of the cost to drill the wells and the bids that came back were over half more than what they expected,” Anderson said.
El Reno City Manager Tony Rivera said he too was caught off guard by the OWRB announcement. In an email, Rivera said he was forwarding the inquiry to Lepard to “see if he knows anything.” Mustang City Manager Tim Rooney said Thursday afternoon he also did not know about the OWRB study until fellow COWRA members forwarded a press release concerning it to him. The press release was issued that same day. COWRA authority members received the release from El Reno Tribune and Mustang News reporters.
Lepard said he had been working with the state water board since 2010 and he is “glad to have their support. It’s awesome,” Lepard said. Even so, he said COWRA would continue to work on its own to find a secure water source for the county. He said the county should not look to the state to do for it what “it should be doing for itself.”
“Of course, we don’t want to go back to the Arbuckle days, when we were actually working against the state,” Lepard said, referring to the failed plan to build a pipeline and pull water from the southern Oklahoma water basin that exists in the Tishomingo area.
Cole Perryman, OWRB director of communications, said Thursday 12 “Hot Spot” basins were identified in a 2012 update of the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan. Those areas were identified as having the “most significant” issues pertaining to water supplies expected over the next 50 years.
Basin 51 is located between Yukon and Watonga and runs through El Reno. It will be used to study “marginal” water to prevent shortages in the future, Perryman said. Officials classify “marginal water” as treated or reclaimed wastewater, oil and gas flowback, brackish water, stormwater and sources tested with “elevated levels of key constituents,” Perryman said.
“Basin 51 was found to have a high potential, according to what we’ve seen so far,” he said.
The basin was pinpointed during several public meetings held during spring 2014. The OWRB representative said he was not certain if COWRA officials had attended any of the public meetings. Lepard said a meeting was held in Yukon and was “I believe lightly attended.” He said he did not attend, but “I believe Richard Raupe attended.” Raupe, mayor of Okarche, is the chairman of COWRA.
OWRB Executive Director J.D. Strong said the meetings generated a lot of interest. He said he did believe representatives from COWRA were there.
“We had strong attendance at each of our Hot Spot public meetings earlier this spring and that has assisted the advisory council in its mission,” he said. “The public meetings brought together agriculture producers, water providers and interested citizens residing in the state’s 12 Hot Spot planning basins.”
None of the COWRA board members contacted said they knew about the meetings or had been given a report about them by fellow board members or Lepard.
Lepard said he planned to update the COWRA board at a meeting set for Friday in Yukon.
“I was planning to discuss this with them at tomorrow’s meeting,” Lepard said. He said he was unaware OWRB was planning to issue the press release about its plans.
Both the studies and meetings evolved from the Water for 2060 initiative, an offshoot of the Water for 2060 Act approved by the Legislature in 2012. The initiative set a statewide goal to limit water consumption in 2060 to 2012 usage levels. The Water for 2060 Advisory Council will issue a final report to state officials sometime in late 2015, Perryman said.
“The OWRB is doing this in conjunction with the federal government, which is providing some funding,” he said. “OWRB is providing in-kind payment through the services of its employees.”
OWRB and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were partnering to support the advisory council, Perryman said.
In addition to the Yukon to Watonga study, two other areas will also be studied, one near Duncan, the other near Altus.
Rivera later said it was most likely Lepard who helped get the Yukon to Watonga area included in the OWRB study. He added, however, that he was “peeved” that he or other members of the COWRA board were not told of the OWRB developments.
District 3 Commissioner Jack Stewart said he too was unaware of the OWRB plan or the public meetings, one of which, in Yukon, was in his district.
Strong, who lives in Yukon, phoned from a meeting in Minnesota to say COWRA should continue its independent search for a water source. He said OWRB could help finance the estimated $60 to $100 million project if it materializes.
“We did a $70 million-dollar project for Broken Arrow last year, so we certainly have the ability to help finance large projects.”