Q&A - September 23, 2016

Unsung heroes—when was the last time you thought about the many hardworking people who provide the goods and services you utilize every day? We live in a consumer-based society, and most of us would find it difficult to survive a single day without the many producers that provide the commodities we regularly use.

With today’s column, I would like to recognize all of the city officials and workers who daily provide essential services to our community.

Q: Seems like everything in this town is falling apart. Does anybody at City Hall care about Okmulgee?

First of all, it is a gross exaggeration to say “everything in this town is falling apart.” Okmulgee is over 100 years old. Much of the planning and layout for our town occurred in the early 1900s. Yes, we have more than our fair share of old buildings, narrow streets, and issues with aging infrastructure; however, this town has a lot going for it. Many good things continue to happen in Okmulgee, but this topic will wait for a later column.

Just as it is unfair to characterize something as being antiquated simply because it is old, it is also unfair to accuse people of being uncaring just because they lack resources. I personally know many of our City Council members. I know our Mayor and the City Manager. I have become acquainted with many of our city workers, and I’m going to tell you, “These people do care about Okmulgee, quite deeply.” They have dedicated themselves to serve the needs of its residents. They want to see growth and prosperity return to Okmulgee just as much as anyone else. They prioritize the use of public resources judiciously, but the biggest challenge they face is insufficient funding to cover all of the city’s needs. They work very hard to stretch the available dollars as far as possible and certainly don’t deserve the ridicule they so often receive.

With the broken water main last week in Okmulgee, every business owner and resident in town was reminded how dependent we are on the public services provided by our city. We take it for granted that when we turn on a tap, fresh water will just pour out. But we forget it requires vigilance for this precious resource to reach us. Maintaining and repairing old pipes is both labor intensive and costly, and I feel our city did a remarkable job responding to this crisis.

I can only speak for myself and my institution, but I would like to say “thank you” to the city officials and workers who keep our town operating with limited resources. Thank you for providing many of the essential services we all need. Without your efforts, OSUIT (and I suspect other businesses) would not be able to operate here in Okmulgee.

Before we all go back to taking fresh drinking water for granted, let’s remember to show some gratitude to our hardworking city officials and staff. They deserve our respect and appreciation.

Please continue to email your comments and questions to osuit-president@okstate.edu. Your input helps me in the development of future columns.