Q&A - November 4, 2016

Every community experiences ups and downs. For a whole host of reasons, some new business startups succeed, and others fail. Some people remain in the community, and others move away. New jobs are created, and some jobs disappear.

There is an unremitting ebb and flow washing across every town, and Okmulgee is no different. Inevitably, change will occur, and that is not a reason to despair. To avoid being washed out by the tide, we just need to learn how to ride the waves.

 

Q: My friend, who has lived in Okmulgee for many decades, believes the revitalization going on downtown is the best thing to ever happen in Okmulgee, and she says "Okmulgee Rising" is this town's last chance. Do you believe this is true?

I have heard similar comments in the community. As a relative newcomer, I cannot speak with any credibility about past attempts to revitalize Okmulgee. There have been previous grassroots attempts to jumpstart the town’s economy, as I have been told, and some of these efforts met with limited success. But that does not mean the town is a lost cause. It tells me many people in this town believe it is worth saving. But the naysayers would say “just believing in something does not make it true.” Yes, I understand this, but I say “believing in something is essential before you can succeed at anything.” No revitalization attempt in this town will ever succeed if people do not first believe in it.

I think it is more accurate to say that all of the attempts to revitalize Okmulgee (past and present) are cumulative. One improvement inspires another improvement, and then another, and another after that. Citywide transformation takes place one abandoned building at a time, one neglected property at a time, and one negative minded person at a time. I contend the exciting downtown revitalization we are witnessing would not be happening without the successful oil refinery clean up that first took place on the north side of town. Every improvement is linked to the next, and every advancement has a cumulative effect on the community.

Is this Okmulgee’s “last chance” to revitalize itself? I would never say that, but I do think this is Okmulgee’s “best chance” because we have so many different people with different talents and different backgrounds supporting this effort. Okmulgee Rising is more than a catchphrase; it is a movement, and with all the local entities and townspeople doing their part to support it, Okmulgee Rising will succeed.  

Q: Weren't you hired to work for OSUIT? Why do you spend so much time working for Okmulgee?

I believe it's the responsibility of every person to help improve the town where they live. I live and work in Okmulgee. I’m a busy person but proud to volunteer some of my time to serve on local committees and to be involved in my community. I encourage all of my employees at OSUIT to volunteer in their communities, and it would be hypocritical if I was not willing to do the same.

I am still welcoming your questions at osuit-president@okstate.edu.