By Chesley Oxendine
Fort Gibson annexed South Georgetown Road more than 13 years ago, and many of the street’s residents are wondering why the town hasn’t extended city water to the area.
“It will be 14 years next month,” said citizen Laverne Hammontree to the Fort Gibson Board of Trustees during their Nov. 26 meeting. “We need water.”
According to an agreement made during annexation, the town should have installed city water within ten years of annexing the location, said Mayor Steven Hill.
Hill said there was some confusion, however, regarding the role of Cherokee Nation, who initially approached Fort Gibson about providing help with the project.
“They came to us about providing engineering and materials, and we would provide the labor,” the mayor said. “However, they came in the middle of a budget cycle and wanted to get started right away, and we didn’t have the money set aside for it.”
Hill said the Cherokee Nation’s interest in the project seemed to “cool” after that first exchange, but the board will reach out to determine what help the tribe would give.
“14 years is too long to wait,” he said. “If that help isn’t there, then we need to figure out how to fund it on our own.”
Another topic of prolonged discussion during the meeting proved to be the planned improvements to Boydston Circle, Walnut Street and Pierce Street. Greg Armstrong of Holloway, Updike & Bellen, Inc. Consulting Engineers provided a bid on the project from Rossco Construction for $363,584.15.
Of that bid, $50,000 was an optional fund dedicated to the sidewalks on those streets, which became the subject of debate among the board.
Trustee Myra Cookson said there were too few sidewalks in Fort Gibson already, and that getting rid of the walkways would put children traveling on foot to school in danger.
“I would hate to lose those sidewalks,” Cookson said. “We don’t want kids walking to school in the middle of the street.”
The board decided on working toward having a sidewalk on one side of the road and approved the bid in full. Which side would be decided by engineers working on the project.
The rest of the meeting covered the following agenda items:
• Fort Gibson Police Department, at the request of Chief Clint Vernon, changed the title of “First Sergeant” to “Lieutenant.”
“This helps avoid confusion in the chain of command,” Vernon said. The board approved the motion unanimously.
• The board confirmed the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is “in talks” with Cherokee Nation concerning a traffic light at the intersection of U.S. 62 and South Georgetown Road.
Kathy Carson said the communications with Cherokee Nation “look favorable.”
• The board heard from dog catcher Jim Whitehead and BRB Roofing’s Darla Briggs on transporting animals to northern states where stricter spay and neuter laws would promote adoption instead of euthanasia. The board elected to discuss the issue in more detail at their next meeting after finding out how much more or less transportation would cost.
• The board approved Armstrong Bank’s pre-payment of $100,000 in the purchase of the Spencer’s Market property.
The next board meeting convenes at 6 p.m. Dec. 10 at Fort Gibson Town Hall.