Okmulgee City Council Member Everett Horn with Rae Ann Wilson at the Town Hall Meeting about the proposed restoration of the Okmulgee Black Hospital

Okmulgee County News Source

Craighton offering tips
for spring storm safety

The National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Prediction Center is forecasting the development of tornadoes, large hail & damaging winds over parts of the southern and central Plains Wednesday afternoon, evening & overnight.  Much of Northeastern Oklahoma is in this weather prediction.
Okmulgee County Emergency Mangement Director Tim Craighton is provided some important information.
 If you are in a Tornado Watch area, here are three quick tips to keep in mind:
Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information.
In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.
• Be Alert to changing weather conditions.
• Look for approaching storms.
• Look for the following danger signs:
• Dark, often greenish sky
• Large hail
• A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
• Loud roar, similar to a freight train.
If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately. That being in an interior room of your home. If in a manufactured home seek shelter in a storm shelter or well built structure...
Being prepared is being ready not just for this storm, but the one after it.
- Get a KIT
- Make a PLAN
More Info: www.ok.gov/reddirtready

Jury recommends 30 years

for two DUI-related deaths

An Okmulgee county jury has found James Austin Brown Jr. guilty of two counts of manslaughter in the first-degree.
The charges are in connection with a DUI incident committed by Brown - which led to his crossing the centerline of Bixby Road and striking another vehicle. The other car was occupied by Clay Reynolds and Tonia Cruz. Both were killed in the 2-vehicle accident.
The jury recommended 15 years in prison for each charge for a total of 30 years.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney  David Pierce and District Attorney Rob Barris.  The defendant was represented by Dan Good.  The trial was presided over by District Judge Kenneth Adair.
The trial took 5 days to present and render its verdict.
“The jury was very attentive and worked the entire week in this case,” said Barris.  “They sent a very strong message to the defendant and to the families of Clay and Tonia that their deaths were solely Brown's fault and that their lives and legacies left behind are important and valuable.  It was a case where justice was served.”

Legislative Forum is Friday
The Governmental Affairs Committee of the Okmulgee Chamber of Commerce  will host a Legislative Forum on at 8:00am. on Friday, April 4th,  at the Citizens Security Bank meeting room, at 111 East 6th Street in downtown Okmulgee.
The Legislative Forum will be held the first Friday of each month of March, April, May and June of 2014, at the Citizens Security Bank Meeting Room at 8:00am.
Representative Steve Kouplen, Senator Roger Ballenger, Representative Jerry Shoemake will be on site to discuss what the legislative is working on for our community and answer questions as well.  The public is encouraged to attend this event.
For more information on the event, contact the Okmulgee Chamber of Commerce at 918-756-6172.

Group is asking city council
for Colored Hospital funds

Okmulgee Times editor

Members of the Okmulgee County Multi-Cultural Heritage Association are working hard on the preservation and restoration of the historic Okmulgee Colored Hospital.
The immediate goal is to obtain funding to complete three phases of the project. The OCMCHA joined Okmulgee City Council member Everett Horn to hold a town hall meeting on the subject.
OCMCHA board chair Rae Ann Wilson provided an update on the hospital. She also entertained questions from the crowd in the basement of the Okmulgee Public Library. She was joined by Mayor Steven Baldridge, who expressed his support of the projected but noted that he was only one vote on the 5-member council. Both the mayor and Councilman Horn discussed their thoughts on the hospital and the issues with getting the council to approve funding to complete the mission.
In November, the city council heard a request from the OCMCHA to provide $1.1 million to pay for the complete restoration. The council tabled the item without an formal action.
The supporters of the colored hospital project have since gone back to the contractor to asked for revisions to bring down the cost from $1.1 million. Here is what the OCMCHA is hoping to accomplish:
Phase I - Preservation
Secure & Restore Building Envelope, Windows, Exterior Doors, Architect's Fees, Bonds, Fees, General Conditions. Cost Estimate for Phase I is $323,208.
Phase II - Exterior Restoration
Building Egress, Stairs, S. & W. Service Doors, Parging, vegetation, Downspouts, Sidewalks & parking, East porch, Architect's Fees, Bonds, fees, General Conditions. Cost Estimate for Phase II is $39,257.
Phase III - Interior Restoration
Toilets, HV AC Systems, Electrical & Communications, Interior Finishes, Architect's Fees, Bonds, Fees, General Conditions. Cost Estimate for Phase III is $343,208.
$ 705,673
The OCMCHA is asking the city to contribute $500,000 toward the total pricetag. The funds are available to the city from the $3.2 million sale of the Creek Council House to the Muscogee Creek Nation.
In a related issue, voters were scheduled to cast ballots on Tuesday, April 1, to re-direct $700,000 from the council house sale to re-locate the Okmulgee Police Department. The OCMCHA worries that the remaining $2.5 million will be placed in a trust - with only the interest generated from the deposit to be available for local projects. They are asking that the city council carve out $500,000 from the $2.5 million to be spent on the colored hospital project.
There are only four such buildings remaining that were constructed across the nation as colored hospitals. Okmulgee is blessed to have one of the four. Backers want to protect this historic structure - and turned it into a museum that honors the history of the facility. The believe this would provide Okmulgee an incredible tourist site that could attract scores of visitors along U.S. 75 (Wood Drive).
If you are interested in saving this historic building and turning it into a museum, please contact OCMCHA members and join the cause. It would also be wise to talk to your city council representative and tell him you want the council to fund the project with a portion of the council house sale monies.
Here is a timeline of the colored hospital:
1920 - City bond issue election passed, providing for a new "colored hospital" in Okmulgee.
1922 - Okmulgee's black citizens secured $25,000 in donations to complete Okmulgee's "Colored Hospital."
1924 - Okmulgee Colored Hospital formally opened on February 22nd.
1957 - Okmulgee opened a new municipal hospital with a ward in the basement for black Patients and the "Colored Hospital" was closed.
1970 - 80's Building used by Deep Fork Community Action Center, the Okmulgee County Youth Shelter and the American Red Cross.
1984 - Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
1998 - Okmulgee County Multi-Cultural Heritage Association (OCMCHA) formed as a non-profit Partner to assist the City in the Preservation and Restoration of the historic structure.
1999 - IRS 501©3 designation granted to OCMCHA in March 1999.
2006 - OCMCHA secured $4,662 in matching funds and a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and commissioned the "Okmulgee Colored Hospital Historic Structures Report" to ensure accurate and effective preservation of the historic building.
2007 - OCMCHA funded $6,500 in emergency repairs to the roof and falling chimney; $14,000 For architectural plans.
2008 - OCMCHA secured Oklahoma Centennial Commemoration Commission grants and matching funds to help the City fund $55,149 in remediation and restoration work including testing for hazardous materials and conditions, demolition of historicallyinaccurate interior and exterior changes, and restoration of east exterior windows.
2008 - IRS confirmed OCMCHA's 501(C)3 status remains in effect.
2010 - "A Successful Operation" - The Story of the Okmulgee Colored Hospital was presented through the African-American Story in Oklahoma Project.
2012 - OCMCHA joined Oklahomans for The Arts.
2013 - OCMCHA adopted the Okmulgee Summer Multi-Cultural Enrichment Program under its 501(C)3 umbrella.
2013 - Proposal presented to Okmulgee City Council November 19, 2013 requesting authorization of funds from sale of Muscogee Creek Council House to complete preservation and restoration of building.