Slow time. What slow time?

I had several people tell me when I started this job that late spring/summer is a nice time to start it, not much going on. They said I’d have time to tackle some projects that there wasn’t time for in the winter months. Well here it is in the third week of June and I’m still waiting for that “slow time” to start!

There are so many activities and opportunities popping up in Frederick, OK. And as I have said on the radio show many times, if you are bored then it’s your own fault. I truly believe that if you can’t find something to do then you must be sitting at home with the lights off and your ears plugged. We’ve got concerts, bible schools, classes, Trade Day, great days to hang out at Lake Frederick, golfing or a swim at the local pool available. Not to mention the opportunities to volunteer with the local food bank, summer feeding program or any one of the vital organizations our community has. There’s just a lot going on and I couldn’t be happier.

This alleged slow time is something I want no part of. A slow time means that we are failing to offer someone in our community the chance to get involved or have a good time. A slow time means we are providing our kids (or adults) with a chance to get in trouble. A slow time means that the businesses in our community aren’t making as much money which directly affects sales tax income to our community. Personally, I like to see that sales tax money collected and used in our town…drive up to North 14th street and you’ll see what I mean.

A slow time in Frederick means as neighbors we aren’t getting the chance to visit with one another and that my friends, will just not do. I sometimes look just as forward to the people I will get to talk to as I do an event itself around here. There are particular places I know that I’ll see certain folks and that’s my time to catch up. For instance, the local bloodmobile is my chance to catch up with Billie Cope, a trip to the Ramona Theatre means that Carol Hefner and I get to gab about what’s going on around town or breading oysters at the Oyster Fry means watching Wendy Howard and Gary Tyler vie for “Most Useful Breader”. Every event attended is a chance to know your neighbors here in Frederick and knowing your neighbors is one of the greatest benefits to our small town. I challenge you this week to attend an event, volunteer with an organization or just take a moment to walk down the street and reap the benefits of living in Frederick.

And don’t forget: Be Kind. Be Heard. Be Local.

If it’s not one hat it’s the other

I witnessed something pretty cool today, something a lot of folks around here may not think twice about because we see it so often. Something that major chain stores spend millions advertising (or bragging) about but we just think of it as “business as usual” around Frederick.
I watched a young man run out the door of his job #2 and head to job #1 to gear up and go fight a fire. You read that right, the employer of his secondary job hired him knowing full well that there would be days he’s on stand by and may need to leave in a rush to the scene of a fire. I found that to be a pretty amazing thing.
We have businesses all over Frederick and Tillman County actually, that hire our firemen, policemen, sheriff’s deputies, etc. to work during their off duty time. Around here it’s called hiring good employees. Business owners know they are dependable and think well on their feet. It’s an opportunity to help these brave men and woman supplement their income or fill their off duty time. These employers don’t ask for commercials, tax cuts or anything like that. They do it because it’s the smart thing to do.
The more I thought about it the more I realized that most of our citizens work double duty around here. Granted, not all of us have adventurous, life saving jobs like our first responders but we still wear many hats each day. That extra effort and commitment to Frederick and our families is one of the great things about this community. We aren’t afraid of a little extra work. We work our 9-5’ers and then go volunteer somewhere, sit on a board of something or have a second job. Then there are those that take on all of the above!
I had someone come in the office yesterday and tell me that he has to tape the name of each business he has to the phone so he can remember how to answer it! I get that and I bet you do to.
Do you remember last time when I told you to Be Kind Be Heard Be Local? Well everything I’ve just said is another reason for me to keep chanting that mantra. When you run into one of these hard working Frederick citizens that has to pause when answering the phone to say the right business, Be Kind and don’t chastise. They may have just worked all night of one job and waking up to take care of you somewhere else. When a man that I know full well just worked all day farming stops on the road to help me dig a kids bouncy ball out of the drainage ditch, Be Heard and tell him thank you for being the kind of guy that makes our town wonderful. When you are choosing where to shop, Be Local and think about all of our businesses who employ our local people; your friends and family who have jobs because we continue to Shop Frederick First.
If you are like my kid you just rolled your eyes at me because I have now repeated something twice that I want you to really listen to. I can take it. But just so you know… your eyes will get tired of rolling long before I quit chanting Be Kind, Be Local, Be Heard!

The punches just keep coming…

If you have paid any attention whatsoever to the news lately you’ll agree that it seems like rural Oklahoma just keeps getting punched in the mouth. Things like school finance, medicaid payments, hospitals closing and the brilliant decision made by the Department of Corrections involving work release centers in our part of the state are frustrating to say the least.
That frustration can often turn into hopelessness which might lead some to want to throw their hands up and say “we’re done”. The only reason I want you throwing your hands up is because you enjoy a good roller coaster or you’re a Cameo fan. Giving up is not something we are not particularly good at around here. I know things are tough and it appears the deck is stacked against us but we are tough and resilient. We have the blood of courageous pioneers in our veins and we don’t walk away from something with out giving our everything. 
What is that “everything” we need to give? Well there is a list, let me tell you about some of it.
As simple as this first things seems, be kind. We live in a great community that cares deeply for one another, we lend a hand when someone is down, we chip in when there is a need… we are kind. The moment we turn on one another and stop being kind is the moment this ship sinks. Period.

Be heard. I think that we all have the impression that because we are small we don’t matter in the larger scheme of things. But I can tell you first hand, that’s just not the truth. Earlier in the year when school finance and potential rule changes kind of hit the fan, our local school system called on you for help. Our administrators asked for you to be heard. To write letters, send emails or make calls to our Legislators telling them we have had enough and there are things we won’t stand for. You did such a good job one of them called our Superintendent and asked him to “call your people off, we know, we get it”. That is the sign of people who will be heard and make a difference. That is just one example, we have made ourselves heard many times lately and it’s working.
Be local. That not only means Shop Frederick First but also Attend Frederick First. All the events that are hosted in town should be full each and every time with Frederick residents eager to support one another. That means going to things other than what your kids or grand-kids bind you to, those things that enrich our culture or inform us. These things must be attended by our local population. We cannot sit by and hope others come to town to support us. Being local also means that the more we spend in our own town, the more we get. We get a larger selection at stores, we get things repaired around town and we get farther away from dependency on others for our survival.
 These are three seemingly simple things but but they are the basis for so many more things. I ask you, actually beg you, to focus on these things and make a conscious decision to be kind, be heard and be local.

Take Action

As you all may know the Department of Corrections (DOC) took action on the Facility Consolidation Plan this past week which closes 15 work release centers in Oklahoma. Seven of those being in southwest Oklahoma to includes our center at Weaver as well as Altus, Hobart, Hollis, Mangum, Waurika and Walters. Their plan is to rent the North Fork Correctional Facility near Sayre owned by Corrections Corporation of America (a private company) and house the medium/maximum security prisoners from the Oklahoma State Reformatory in Granite there. Then move the work release prisoners from the 15 centers to the Reformatory in Granite and save millions. I’ll give you a minute to let your head stop spinning! The contract with CCA is 5.5 years with the stipulation that the DOC does not pay rent for the first 18 months.

My initial thought is that no private company makes money or stays viable giving things away for free, there will be a consequence to this that is yet to be seen causing even more financial havoc on our already struggling state.

Most importantly, many small communities just like ours will be adversely impacted by this measure. The DOC has stated that all employees will be given the opportunity to continue their jobs at the new facility which means all of these communities will not only lose their facilities but residents as well. This means tax dollars go down, the number of students in our school system go down and fewer people to purchase goods from stores that need every customer they can get. Small communities like ours cannot keep taking these punches that are being thrown our way.

The DOC also stated that communities would still be able to use inmate labor from the Prisoner Public Works Program. Well folks, Granite is roughly 63 miles from Frederick. I’m guessing the employees of the groups that use inmate labor have better things to do than drive 2 hours round trip to pick/return inmates to the facility. Who uses inmate labor around here you ask? The City of Frederick, Tillman County, the Historical Society, the Chamber of Commerce, Community Action Development Corporation, the Lake Ranger at Lake Frederick, Frederick Public Schools and the WWII Airborne Demonstration Team. Those are just the places that immediately pop into my head and it also doesn’t take into consideration the special events that the inmates help to put together. To hire workers to fill those spots would be impossible for most of these groups and they will have to lean even harder on volunteers and donations.

I could spend a whole page of this paper talking about the effect that it will have on the rehabilitation of these men. These men are serving their time and allowed to work outside of their facility in order to help train them for the job force once released. This will have disastrous ramifications to some of these guys potentially leading to further incarceration.

Many of you contacted our local Legislators to help stop this ridiculous measure before it was a done deal. Unfortunately, that while Sen Barrington, Representative Coody and several others from the area attended the DOC board meeting, the measure was “ram rodded” through by the new Director. Sen. Barrington said our next step is the Governor. The money still has to be appropriated making Gov. Fallin our last option. Our area Legislators are on our side and doing what they can to help reverse the potential damage.

This is another time when I’m asking you all to put your action where your mouth is, so to speak. Please take a moment to call, email or write to the Governor’s office and let her know as tax payers we will not stand for this. That we cannot and will not continue to support being choked out by the reckless decisions being made in our state. Below is the information to reach Gov. Fallin. I am asking you to make respectful, educated and rational pleas to her.

The Office of Governor Mary Fallin, Oklahoma State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Room 212, Oklahoma City, OK 73105 Local: (405) 521-2342 Fax: (405) 521-3353 or go to www.ok.gov and click on the picture of the Governor at the bottom to reach her email.

Chamber After Hours

We are trying something not quite brand new but a little new and different. I hope you are intrigued! Thursday, May 5 will be the first ever Chamber After Hours event. It will be here in the Chamber office at 100 S. Main from 5-7 pm.

And yes, there will be drinks and snacks! The saying “if you feed them, they will come” is oh so true.
The purpose of having the first event at the Chamber office to help members find out what the Chamber is doing to help your business, let us help you find the perfect spot to volunteer as well as learn more about upcoming Chamber After Hours events.
The goal of the Chamber After Hours events are to provide an opportunity for business and community leaders to network and begin to help one another build our community to be something even better than it is currently. The events will be held quarterly by Chamber members or businesses in their facility or at various attractions throughout the community. This is a simple, cost effective way to build more working relationships throughout Frederick. It also serves as an opportunity for Chamber members to visit businesses in the community and familiarize themselves with those places they may not frequently call on.
Oh, and did I mention there are PRIZES? Every one who comes will have their name entered for one of two prizes which are $50 in Chamber bucks. I think I felt a collective lean in toward computer screens after that.
Seriously, I hope you will join us so that we can all begin to work together for success. We are a hard working community and there is so much more we can accomplish if we learn to help one another and lean on each other’s strengths.
I look forward to working with you all in the coming days and know we can do more for our community!