MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

April 25, 2014

Governor spends day here

Fallin dedicates local plant, visits leaders

Gov. Mary Fallin took a whirlwind tour of town Thursday, dedicating the expansion of a local manufacturing plant as governor then politicking at the Muskogee County Republican Party’s annual banquet.

The governor was a featured speaker Thursday afternoon at the dedication of Vallourec Star’s $11.8 million plant expansion. A portion of the Port of Muskogee-based facility was rebuilt and underwent an upgrade after an August 2012 fire consumed some equipment and structures.

The fire caused more than $6 million worth of property damage. But Vallourec executives turned the loss in to an opportunity to rebuild, improving its production flow, reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and expanding its workforce.

Brian Sampson, general manager of Vallourec’s Muskogee facility, said the investment — supplemented with a $2 million community development block grant through the Oklahoma Department of Commerce — improved the plant’s productivity. He said the addition of the finishing and hot straightener equipment also “allows us to better serve our customers with faster production and improved product performance.”

Fallin lauded the company’s decision to rebuild and invest in its Muskogee plant, which employs 210 people. She also applauded local efforts to accommodate and foster business activity while touting her pro-business record.

“My priority as governor is to help create jobs and grow Oklahoma's economy, (and) Vallourec Star is helping to lead the way in that effort,” Fallin said, appearing in her role as governor. “I am thrilled to see this great company continue to expand and upgrade its facilities in our state.”

Fallin was joined at the Vallourec dedication by U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, a Westville Republican who represents Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District, Mayor Bob Coburn and other Vallourec executives. The company produces seamless pipe used primarily in oil and gas applications, which Fallin said fits well with the energy industry’s strong presence in the state.

After the Vallourec ceremony, Fallin met with editorial board members at the Phoenix and then later with other civic leaders. The governor shifted gears when the sun set, assuming a more partisan role during the Muskogee County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner.

Fallin recalled how Democrats controlled the Oklahoma Legislature in 1990 when she was elected to the first of two terms in the House of Representatives. She recounted how Oklahoma since then has become “reddest state in the nation” and lambasted President Barack Obama “and his liberal policies.”

“To think about where we are today ... and now conservatives running the state of Oklahoma is a tremendous accomplishment thanks to all of you,” Fallin said. “It’s been a remarkable journey, standing up for the things we believe in as a party.”

Even with Republican control of all statewide elected offices, both houses of the Legislature and all seven federal posts in the U.S. House and Senate, Fallin cautioned those who attended the event their “work is not done.” Fallin, who is facing two GOP challengers, said the party must “double down.”

“It’s time to put our foot on the gas and remember how hard it was to get here in the first place, and how long it took us to get to the point where we could actually make a difference,” Fallin said. “Our work is not finished, but we will continue to make that difference with conservative policies.”

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.

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