Q&A - June 3, 2016

During a public ceremony earlier this week, Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief James Floyd proudly announced formal plans to restore the Creek Council House in downtown Okmulgee.

With this announcement, the enthusiasm behind #OkmulgeeRising is really starting to intensify. I applaud the Chief’s leadership in this historic venture to reclaim a cultural landmark and to promote community pride and development.

This week, let me shine some light on recent developments in downtown Okmulgee.

Q: Last week, I saw signs of construction in your building downtown. What are they starting on?

And so it begins…preconstruction demolition and preservation work has now started on the Old Post Office Complex in downtown Okmulgee. Perhaps you have noticed the design boards and construction permits in the windows of the building or the large dumpsters and barricades outside the building. Tangible evidence that work has started is finally apparent. Saws have been wailing, hammers pounding, and dust flying. Construction crews led by Oakridge Builders of Tulsa have taken the initial steps in this exciting renovation project. They have erected temporary walls, made out of ¾” plywood, to protect fragile architectural elements from the construction process throughout the building. Additionally, Oakridge has started the process of opening up walls and ceilings throughout the building to reveal the engineering and structural components of this nearly 100-year-old facility. With the architectural design phase behind us, we now know exactly which walls are to be saved and which walls will be removed. By removing select surfaces at this time, it will allow subcontractors to better examine the building and provide very accurate bid estimates.

Q: How did the Food for Thought event turn out?

It was quite wonderful to see about 150 townspeople turn out for the “Food for Thought” dinner held on May 26. This event was part of the downtown mural art project and allowed those in attendance to hear presentations from three gifted artists and to cast their vote for their favorite mural concept. Carmen Taylor, an artist with strong local ties, was chosen by a vote of the people to produce the next public art display in downtown Okmulgee. Her concept drawing skillfully blended images of Okmulgee’s past, present and future into one beautiful work of art that reflects this community’s rich cultural diversity. I can’t wait to see Carmen’s design painted to scale. Her mural should be completed by June 27 on the east-facing upper floor of the Sneed Building near the corner of 6th and Severs. The timing of its completion should coincide nicely with the 2016 Muscogee Nation Festival.

We offer our special thanks to all eight artists who submitted designs in this contest and especially to the other finalists, George Alexander and Nick Bayer. Each of their submissions were wonderfully compelling and made this a very close competition.

I would also like to thank all of the local residents who are behind the many great things happening in downtown Okmulgee. These are truly exciting times for our fair city. Please share more of your questions or thoughts with me at osuit-president@okstate.edu.