MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 1, 2013

Goodbye 2012: Year brought changes, pride and fun to Fort Gibson


— By Wendy Burton

Times Editor

It was a busy year for Fort Gibson residents and their families and friends.

From high school sports to reunions to big projects coming to fruition, the Times featured many stories that offer a glimpse inside the heart of a small town.

The town saw its annual barbecue festival, Christmas parade, and corn festival — all declared “great successes” by town officials, residents and visitors.

A new police chief was appointed and the town’s skate park and splash pad opened.

The new municipal park is a project Mayor Steven Hill looks back on as a great accomplishment for 2012.

“I think it’s been hugely popular,” Hill said. “Of course, until the weather got really cold, it was occupied all the time. I think it was something the town needed and very well received.”

And a sports complex got underway after years of planning, with bids for soccer fields and a concession stand out and hopes the fields will be ready for the fall season.

“It will obviously be a benefit to the town and the youth in the community, providing more places to play,” Hill said. “And a big enough venue to host some events that will draw people from out of town and help our local businesses.”

It was a good year for sports.

The Lady Tigers swim team took its second straight Class 5A championship in February.

Varsity football made it to the playoffs and took back “The Rock” from Hilldale High School for the first time since 2006.

High School girls basketball made it to the finals again, not taking home the state title but ending the season 28-2.

A new bridge at the Grand River was stalled and a grant to revamp Clinkenbeard park was given back because of the possibility of Native American graves at the park.

The schools found good reason for academic pride with ACT scores and district report cards coming out on top.

And they had famous visitors, such as John “Charles” Greene, a Fort Gibson native who grew up to become a NCAA referee.

The schools also lost a long-time administrator, Linda Clinkenbeard, as she started a new career as superintendent of Woodall Public Schools and said goodbye to Marilyn Dewoody and Phyllis Kindle.

And students volunteered, did community service and gathered donations for food pantries and families all year long, including helping a family of five who lost their home to fire just before Christmas.

Fort Gibson also grew. The Cherokee Nation Fort Gibson had its grand opening in mid-December, adding 80 jobs to the area and several new businesses opened, including a barbecue restaurant and gun shop.

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.