Q&A - July 19, 2015

“Momentum” is defined as the strength or force that allows something to continue or to grow stronger or faster as time passes. Right now, momentum is exactly what we have in Okmulgee. There is a mounting resurgence of interest in restoring and repurposing downtown properties and community pride is growing stronger with each new development.

Momentum is also a very fragile thing. It can be easily sidetracked by malicious rumors or derailed by negativity and spiteful comments. We have within our very community the potential for recovery or for loss—for success or for failure. Okmulgee is quite literally at a crossroads. We have the potential to make great things happen to improve our community or the potential to defeat any and all progress with our denigrating words and actions. I am no fortuneteller, but I do know that Okmulgee will be exactly what we make of it. The future of Okmulgee is in our hands right now. If we wish to see this positive momentum continue, we need more people with enthusiasm to step forward and become involved.

This week, I want to respond to the general question that is on most people’s mind:

Q: What progress is being made downtown?

To the best of my knowledge, 20 historic buildings in downtown Okmulgee have been bought and sold within the past twelve months, and I believe in every case, the new owners are local residents or constituent groups who sincerely want to invest in the future of our community. Through building improvements and renovations, these property owners are preparing for new shops and restaurants to come to town, new offices and service providers, new apartment options and entertainment venues. They are planning for the expansion of existing businesses and public services. Through their efforts, they are laying the foundation for long-term and sustainable growth in Okmulgee. In addition, I know of at least three well-established downtown building owners who have been inspired by recent activities and are now seriously planning their own renovation projects.

Now I am no expert, but this seems like an unprecedented amount of activity for a community of our size. Common now are the sights and sounds of construction in downtown Okmulgee. Every new rollaway dumpster we see downtown represents a new beginning. Every debris chute hanging out of a window, every temporary fence and blocked sidewalk represents a building coming back to life. Every construction vehicle parked in an alleyway, every forklift and crane represents a community at work. Every delivery truck and load of building materials represents a local economy recovering. Every moving van and rental trailer represents people returning. We are beginning to see it more and more. The signs are all around us and they tell an undeniable story. Okmulgee is rising and the evidence is everywhere we look.

If we encourage it, our momentum will carry us forward. If we work with one another rather than against one another, we can make great things happen in Okmulgee. Please continue to send your questions to osuit-president@okstate.edu.