Questions & Answers

Q&A with Dr. Bill R. Path

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June 2, 2017 Q&A

Annual festivals and celebrations are vital traditions to communities like Okmulgee, which is why it was such big news when the renowned Pecan Festival returned to downtown Okmulgee last summer after a decade-long hiatus.

Q:What will this year’s Pecan Festival offer?

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May 26, 2017 Q&A

Investment analysis is the process of evaluating costs and measuring them against benefits to determine if a venture is profitable. If benefits outweigh costs, the investment is worthwhile. But if costs outweigh benefits, the investment will lose money and is unprofitable. Since OSUIT is a public institution of higher education with a large portion of our operational costs supported by the citizens of Oklahoma, it is important to share investment related information publicly with the taxpayers who are investing in this institution.

Q:How does OSUIT contribute to the state’s economy?

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May 19, 2017 Q&A

It really seems like Okmulgee is making a lot of progress right now. Every time I open the local newspaper or browse social media, I learn about something that has been improved in this town or something moving in a positive direction. This week, I would like to respond to a couple of questions about the “progress” being made within the Old Post Office.

Q:How are things coming along inside your construction project downtown?

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May 12, 2017 Q&A

This week, with my 100th column submission, I have selected a question that will allow me to highlight how we are all involved with lighting the path ahead.

Q:I can’t afford to buy or renovate a building in downtown Okmulgee, so how else can I play a part in Okmulgee Rising?

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May 5, 2017 Q&A

OSUIT provides students with the skills they need to have a fulfilling and prosperous career. Further, it supplies an environment for students to meet new people, increase their self-confidence, and promote their overall health and well-being. In response to this week’s question, I would like to acknowledge the investment our students make in their own education and spell out the benefits they receive in return.

Q:What is the return on investment for a student who attends OSUIT?

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April 28, 2017 Q&A

The proof of concept for our applied learning model is in the success of our graduates. For decades, they have leveraged their training and internships from OSUIT to become extremely successful in the workforce. So one graduate at a time, OSUIT is satisfying state and regional workforce needs. Every graduate is part of our story of success, and as of last Friday, we have a lot more new stories to tell.

Q:How was graduation last week?

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April 21, 2017 Q&A

OSUIT intentionally chose to take on one of the more challenging projects in downtown Okmulgee because we wanted to encourage others who might be interested in renovating buildings of their own. We wanted to be a partner with this community to help restore the beautiful and historic district of downtown Okmulgee, and we wanted our students to have a worthwhile experience here.

Q:What was it like when you first found the Grand Old Post Office?

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April 14, 2017 Q&A

Have you ever observed a person standing in a public place who was gazing up into the sky intently? Strangers passing by can’t seem to help themselves. They are compelled to stop and look up into the sky as well. They don’t know what the first person is looking at but are curious and want to see for themselves. Before long, a small crowd of sky watchers begins to congregate. More bystanders join them, then more and more. It just shows you that one person can have a bigger impact on human behavior than we might think.

Q:How are we ever going to squash the undeserved bad reputation of our public schools in Okmulgee?

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April 7, 2017 Q&A

The downtown Student Housing Project is proceeding right on schedule.

Q:What has Okmulgee done to support your project?

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March 31, 2017 Q&A

In just a few years, OrangeFest has become one of my favorite events of the year because it brings the OSU Institute of Technology community and the Okmulgee community together for a really fun evening.

This is the third year Okmulgee Main Street and OSUIT have partnered together to bring the festival to downtown Okmulgee with plenty of family-friendly fun, live entertainment, food trucks and, of course, the Glo Run 5K. So, in this week’s column, allow me to answer the question I hear often about what we have planned on Friday, April 7.

Q:What’s happening at OrangeFest this year?

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March 24, 2017 Q&A

I have lived in many different ZIP codes over the course of my lifetime but have found Okmulgee’s code (74447) to be the easiest to remember. When you think about it, a ZIP code is much more than a number to direct correspondence to a town. It’s an identification number that represents a shared lifestyle of people with different beliefs and backgrounds who all live and work together in the same community.

In this column, I normally answer your questions, but today, I would like to pose a multiple choice question to you.

Q:What does the ZIP code 74447 represent in your mind?

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March 17, 2017 Q&A

Have you ever experienced the frustration of deliberately walking from one room to another to get something only to forget what you wanted to retrieve? No matter how long you stood there trying to remember, no matter how hard you strained your mind, you just couldn’t recall why you were there. If we can become so lost and confused just walking from one room to another, is it any wonder why we have so much trouble finding our direction and purpose in life?

This week, I would like to discuss how we can overcome unfortunate circumstances and surroundings to find success in life.

Q:Many in Okmulgee seem to be locked into a cycle of poverty and despair. How can they break out of this cycle?

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March 10, 2017 Q&A

Life for a college student has to be more than just attending classes, studying and taking tests. What a dreadful existence that would be! Students need a social life filled with extracurricular activities. They need to make new friends while they are attending college and gain new experiences outside of the classroom. Let me tell you about some of the new developments in this area.

Q:Construction crews have been working on your fitness building on campus. What are they doing?

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March 3, 2017 Q&A

The OSUIT billboard on Highway 75, north of Okmulgee, has been one of our most visible recruiting tools for many years.If you know a property owner along Highway 75, south of Okmulgee, who might be interested in helping OSUIT promote our college and community by providing a small amount of land for a billboard, please put them in contact with me.

Q:Why are you writing a weekly column in the local newspaper?

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February 24, 2017 Q&A

Word is getting out that Okmulgee is actually rising. It’s more than talk! With major renovation projects happening simultaneously in downtown Okmulgee, 2017 is shaping up to be a landmark year for this community.

Q:What is OSUIT's relationship with the Creek Nation, and what are they doing to help Okmulgee Rising?

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February 3, 2017 Q&A

At the heart of Okmulgee Rising is the beautiful collection of historic buildings in downtown Okmulgee. These graceful and stately sentinels of our past have quietly stood watch over our town for generations and are now ushering in a renewed sense of hope for our beleaguered community. Please allow me to share another update on the renovation efforts on the Old Post Office Complex on the corner of 5th and Grand.

Q:Is the old post office still on schedule?

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January 27, 2017 Q&A

A few weeks ago, I gave you an assignment, and many of you did exactly as I requested. I encouraged you to consider the first impression people get when they visit Okmulgee. So, you got in your cars and scrutinized Okmulgee from all the main roads into town and many of you reported seeing “eyesores” all over town. Yet, this article is not intended to single out any specific examples; it’s just a summary of observations conveyed to me.

Q:What is the first impression visitors get when they come to Okmulgee?

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January 20, 2017 Q&A

Many times, I have said “one of the secrets of our success at OSUIT is that we hire the right faculty members.” They are not just “professional teachers,” they are “professionals who teach.” In response to this week’s question, allow me to tell you about our two most recent “Regents Distinguished Faculty Award” recipients and then about the two most recent “Outstanding Faculty Member” honorees. Each exemplify the finest tradition of teaching excellence at OSUIT.

Q:Who are some of your top faculty members at OSUIT?

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January 13, 2017 Q&A

I have known so many people who live in a town where there is a popular tourist attraction who say they have never visited the attraction. People who live in beach towns that don’t go to the beach—people that live near a mountain resort who have never been to the resort property. Let’s discuss how each of us can become better ambassadors for Okmulgee.

Q:What can I do to help with tourism in town?

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January 6, 2017 Q&A

One of the most gratifying things for those of us involved with the renovation of the Old Post Office Complex in downtown Okmulgee has been the knowledge we are bringing new life to a forgotten and deteriorating building. As with any renovation project, it is necessary for things to be torn apart and ugly for a while, before they can be put back together again and look pretty. This week, let’s talk about the demolition phase of the project.

Q:Why was it necessary to demo so much of the old post office building?

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December 30, 2016 Q&A

People who study group behavior often talk about the “80/20 Rule.” By this, they are describing an observation that in almost any population, 80 percent of the work is done by only 20 percent of the group members. But some argue this ratio may be too generous, asserting that in most groups or organizations, a mere 10 percent of the people do 90 percent of the work. Whichever percentage you accept, the concept is the same—a small minority of people often do most of the work. Let’s consider what the impact would be on Okmulgee if even more of our citizens were actively involved.

Q:What can I do in this new year to help out Okmulgee?

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December 23, 2016 Q&A

Okmulgee is a town filled with beautiful people—genuinely friendly, caring, and outgoing residents who make a good impression on anyone who takes the time to get to know them. But the overall general appearance of our community may prevent some from noticing the inner beauty of Okmulgee. I know “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” but first impressions really seem to be important.

Q:How can we better sell Okmulgee to others?

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December 16, 2016 Q&A

I’ve been noticing all over town, work crews have been busy. Many homes and commercial buildings have been renovated, resided, repainted, and reroofed. It seems like Okmulgee is undergoing an extreme makeover. I’d like to illuminate the “facelift” of the old Post Office with my column this week.

Q:The brick is really looking nice on the old Post Office. Have they been cleaning it?

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December 9, 2016 Q&A

This is the 70th year OSUIT has existed in Okmulgee. Over the years, we have served countless students and been known by many different names, but we have always been committed to quality technical training.

Q:What are the biggest challenges facing OSUIT right now?

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December 2, 2016 Q&A

This time of year, I’m fascinated by the news stories about the buying and spending habits of Christmas shoppers. Market watchers always pay close attention to fourth quarter spending and considered it one of the best indicators of the strength of the economy. For most of us who live in rural and small communities, the prosperity and survival of our small town merchants is always a concern. So this week, I wanted to relay a great top ten list that I saw online about shopping small.

Q:Why should I buy local?

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November 25, 2016 Q&A

At the end of my column every week, I customarily solicit my readers for more questions, but sometimes I ask for your thoughts and comments as well. This week, I would like to publish some of the comments I have received.

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November 18, 2016 Q&A

Recently, Okmulgee hosted a large group of main street managers, volunteers and staff members from around the state in conjunction with a three-day training session conducted by the Oklahoma Main Street Center as part of their annual conference. We were able to highlight many of the exciting projects going on in downtown Okmulgee and provide conference attendees with a wealth of information about our success and answer many of their questions about #OkmulgeeRising.

Q: Can you give us another construction update on the Old Post Office?

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November 11, 2016 Q&A

Since its founding in 1946, the primary mission of Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology (OSUIT) in Okmulgee has been to train a workforce to meet the needs of the country’s infrastructure. Unlike any other institution of higher education in the state (and perhaps the country), OSUIT is a university of applied technology where hands-on learning is the standard.

Q: What makes OSUIT so different from other colleges?

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November 4, 2016 Q&A

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.

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?

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October 28, 2016 Q&A

This past weekend, my wife and I had the distinct pleasure of attending the second annual Okmulgee Main Street 48 Hour Film Festival held at the Orpheum Theater. We have many, many talented people in this town and just as many reasons to be proud of Okmulgee. I’m also proud of the progress on the downtown student housing project. So this week, I wanted to share another renovation update.

Q: It’s so exciting to see construction equipment and workers at the old Post Office. What have they got done so far?

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October 21, 2016 Q&A

Sometimes, it feels like we are in a struggle against the naysayers for the soul of our community. It can be very deflating to hear nothing but “doom and gloom” from certain people when positive things are happening all over town. But don’t give up, and don’t let the naysayers win.

Q: I think my husband is a naysayer. I grew up here and love this town. How do I deal with his constant negative comments about Okmulgee?

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October 14, 2016 Q&A

Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology has purchased the buildings on the northeast corner of Grand Avenue and 5th Street in Downtown Okmulgee. Our plan is to convert them into apartments (lofts and flats) for 75 college students by January 2018.

Q: Can you tell us about the activity going on with your building downtown?

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October 8, 2016 Q&A

In response to my recent column about what it takes to become a college town, many of you had questions about the type of activities or businesses OSUIT students would enjoy and frequent. I believe there is a real market for certain entertainment venues that would cater to college students in Okmulgee. So this week, I would like to discuss this topic further.

Q: What are college students looking for in Okmulgee?

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September 30, 2016 Q&A

One of the best things you can have in life is “a good name.” I’m not talking about a name that is pleasant to the ear, but rather a name that conjures the respect and admiration of others. But to gain such approval, you must first be respectable and admirable. Whether you are a public figure or a private citizen, most people want to be well-regarded by their peers. Most businesses and organizations are the same—they want a good reputation.

Q: I am always hearing people run down Okmulgee. Why does Okmulgee have so many critics?

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September 23, 2016 Q&A

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.

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

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September 16, 2016 Q&A

Negative attitudes are a lot like old wounds. Sometimes, they never fully heal. They just form ugly scars and cause pain. But like old wounds, maybe the opposing perceptions of others can teach us something. They can remind us where we have been and what we have overcome.

Q: Why are you trying so hard to change Okmulgee? It’s a lost cause. What’s done is done!

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September 9, 2016 Q&A

My regular readers will remember a few weeks ago, I published something I called the “Naysayers’ Pledge.” This tongue-in-cheek editorial about how irresponsible personal actions by some residents can actually contribute to the killing of a small town probably generated more comments from readers than any other column I have written thus far. It also spawned some interesting and amusing questions about naysayers.

Q: What is a naysayer?

Q: Where do you find naysayers?

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September 2, 2016 Q&A

At OSUIT, we take great pride in the physical appearance and functionality of our campus grounds and facilities. It is important to us that our campus be well-maintained, safe and attractive for all visitors. While there are improvements being made throughout the year, it seems like a lot of big projects happen over the summer months when many of our students are away from campus on internships.

Q: What kind of campus improvement projects have occurred this summer?

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August 26, 2016 Q&A

When choosing where to go to college, students should really consider the academic reputation and price of tuition, but they more often look at the setting where the school is located. The attractiveness and amenities of the campus certainly factor into their decisions, but students also scrutinize the town where the campus is located.

Q: Does Okmulgee have what it takes to become a “college town?”

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August 19, 2016 Q&A

It has been said that the best kind of security is the kind you never have to think about. On college campuses, we don’t want personal safety to be something students have at the forefront of their mind. We would rather it be the homework they have due, or that test that’s coming up, or the intramural softball game they’re playing later.

Q: How is safety and security taken into consideration both on campus and in the new downtown student housing developments?

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August 12, 2016 Q&A

Okmulgee is in the midst of a downtown revitalization that is almost unprecedented. Numerous renovation projects are underway and we will be seeing many more of our iconic architectural structures coming back to life over the next few years. These are exciting times to be living in Okmulgee.

Q: I would like to live in downtown Okmulgee. Will there be more apartments opening up very soon?

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August 5, 2016 Q&A

We have an insidious problem in this country. The specter of small town decline is spreading as rural communities everywhere are struggling. Concerned citizens watch helplessly as their populations are declining, businesses failing, downtowns are being abandoned, and hometown pride is slowly fading.

Q: What has happened to Ron Drake? Is he still around?

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July 28, 2016 Q&A

The old Post Office, on the northeast corner of 5th and Grand in downtown Okmulgee was constructed in 1918. OSUIT purchased this building last year (along with the building connected to it) and is planning to renovate and reopen them as a student housing complex in time for a centennial celebration.

Q: I haven’t seen any progress on your building in a while. What is going on?

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July 22, 2016 Q&A

Energy efficiency—just a few decades ago it was a radical idea, but now, it has become a featured selling point of almost every product and service we buy. Diligent shoppers used to concern themselves only with unit prices, but now we have many other factors to consider like the effect of a product on the environment or how well it saves resources.

Q: How is OSUIT conserving energy and in turn saving money?

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July 15, 2016 Q&A

New improvements are showing up in downtown Okmulgee nearly every day. The Okmulgee Main Street office has relocated to the southeast corner of 6th Street and Grand Avenue. It is now in the beautifully renovated first floor of the historic Kennedy Building. Local artist, Carmen Taylor, has completed her vibrant mural on the east-facing upper wall of the Sneed Building.

Q: What is the Big Brain Trivia Night?

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July 8, 2016 Q&A

Downtown student housing…I know it seems like it is taking forever, but frankly, I’ve always believed that something worth doing is worth doing right. OSUIT is working with a highly-skilled team of experienced architects, engineers, and builders on the renovation of historic buildings in downtown Okmulgee, and believe me when I tell you, “these professionals are going to do it right.”

Q: Will OSUIT be doing anything else downtown other than housing?

Q: Will OSUIT be bringing any classes downtown?

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July 1, 2016 Q&A

This Fourth of July, as we celebrate the birth of our nation, we do so with flags, fireworks and patriotic fanfare. As generations before us, we pause to reflect on the fact that we live in the freest nation that has ever existed.

Q: We seem to be so divided as a nation anymore. What is there to unite us as Americans?

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June 24, 2016 Q&A

Seems like mankind has always found it easier to tear down than to build up. This week, I offer twelve attitudes or actions from citizens that can “kill a small town.” Lists similar to this have been published in newspapers around the country, but I thought you might find this topic sarcastically amusing.

Q: How do you kill a small town?

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June 17, 2016 Q&A

When I attended the Okmulgee Pecan Festival over the weekend, I saw more than carnival rides and corndogs. I saw a small town waking up from a prolonged slumber and reclaiming an important part of its heritage. Beyond the amazing street performances and lively sidewalk exhibits, I saw the reemergence of community pride on full display.

Q: What are the benefits of working together on a project?

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June 10, 2016 Q&A

The city of Okmulgee was founded during Reconstruction after the Civil War. In 1878, the Creek Nation built a wooden council house, and the city has been the capital of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation ever since. Okmulgee attracted pioneers and later blossomed into a center of commerce during the oil boom in the early 1900s.

Q: Is there too much change taking place in Okmulgee?

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June 3, 2016 Q&A

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.

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

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

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May 27, 2016 Q&A

I am so impressed with the Okmulgee Public Schools for their announced plans to implement one of the state’s first personalized learning high school programs. The Okmulgee Advanced Contemporary Education (ACE) High School will be an innovative learning environment designed to prepare students for success both in the classroom and in life.

Q: So many in Okmulgee live in poverty. What, if anything, can be done to improve this?

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May 20, 2016 Q&A

It seems like every time I visit downtown Okmulgee, I see something new going on. Improvements are happening everywhere I look (e.g. new businesses and restaurants going in, work crews and service vehicles operating up and down the streets, old buildings being renovated, fresh coats of paint, new signs and awnings, fun sidewalk displays, etc.).

Q: What is the latest in downtown Okmulgee?

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May 13, 2016 Q&A

All across the country, communities large and small are rediscovering their historic downtown buildings and infrastructure. Like finding a lost treasure, these old structures are being reclaimed with great care and interest by a new generation. An element that is commonly seen in a successful downtown revitalization is the effective use of public works of art. This week, I would like to concentrate on murals.

Q: I read in the paper that we are going to get another new mural downtown. This is a great idea! What can you tell us about it?

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May 6, 2016 Q&A

I have been told the traffic count on Highway 75 through Okmulgee is more than 30,000 vehicles per day. But how many of those cars and trucks actually stop in town and support our local economy with purchases? Of course, many will stop when they need to refuel their vehicle, but how many of them stop for anything else?

Q: I am grateful that we have some chain restaurants in Okmulgee, but I really want to see our local restaurants do well too. What can we do to promote local restaurants?

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April 29, 2016 Q&A

From the beginning, I have viewed the renovation of the Old Post Office Complex in downtown Okmulgee as far more than just a typical student housing project. It is a community revitalization project that uses the university’s need for student housing as a catalyst for fundamental change within the community of Okmulgee.

Q: My husband is an air conditioning contractor. How can he make a bid to do the work on the OSUIT building downtown?

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April 22, 2016 Q&A

Graduation day is one of my favorite days of the year. I consider myself most fortunate to be at OSUIT where we have three graduations each year. So this means I get to have three favorite days each year.

Q: What is a commencement ceremony?

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April 15, 2016 Q&A

The conventional advice for years has been, “Go to college and get a bachelor’s degree in anything." Well, the rules have changed for first-time job seekers, and this kind of outdated academic advisement is not only ill-informed, it is irresponsible.

Q: What advice would you give to a high school graduate about going to college?

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April 8, 2016 Q&A

For many years, my wife and I have collected “Images of America” history books from different communities we visit. I was so pleased to see that “Okmulgee” is now the subject of one of the books in this series and even more pleased to learn it was authored by Beth Kieffer, OSUIT Library Archivist.

Q: Are there ways the community can help with the restoration efforts of your downtown buildings?

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April 1, 2016 Q&A

It takes more than sharing a zip code to create a sense of community. It requires cooperation and trust as well. At OSUIT, we are proud to share 74447 with the residents of Okmulgee, and we are continually looking for ways to become more closely connected with this community.

Q: What is OrangeFest, and how is OSUIT involved?

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March 25, 2016 Q&A

Let me start by asking you a question this week. Have you ever visited a small town square or main street community where every storefront was occupied? Where every place of business was open for business with no vacancies?

Q: Is there reason for others to invest in downtown Okmulgee?

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March 18, 2016 Q&A

This year, the state of Oklahoma has found itself in the midst of a financial budgetary crisis - the likes of which have not been seen in our lifetime and certainly not since the Great Depression.

Q: Will the state’s budget problems affect your ability to proceed with the downtown Okmulgee student housing project?
Q: How has the state budget impacted OSUIT?

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March 11, 2016 Q&A

A few days ago, OSUIT hosted its annual Scholarship Banquet at which students who received scholarships got a chance to meet the donors who provided scholarships. Students seldom get the opportunity to say “thank you” to the generous people who provide scholarships.

Q: I am a graduate of OSU Okmulgee and attribute my education as the main reason I have been successful in my career. What can I do to help my former college?

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March 4, 2016 Q&A

The Old Post Office building in downtown Okmulgee was originally constructed in 1918. It is my understanding that the main entrance of the building (south) originally housed the Okmulgee Post Office, and the back entrance (north) greeted customers into the W.O. Winn Grocery and Quality Market.

Q: Will your building downtown meet modern construction codes?

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February 26, 2016 Q&A

I do not believe it is an overstatement to say that “Okmulgee is experiencing a renaissance.” Call it what you want (a rebirth, a reawakening, a revitalization, etc.); but make no mistake about it, something special is happening in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.

Q: Define Okmulgee Rising; what does it mean?

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February 19, 2016 Q&A

At OSUIT, we hail our ethnic diversity as being one of our many strengths as an institution of higher education and learning. I am quite proud of the fact that in the latest U.S. News and World Report rankings of Best Colleges, OSUIT made the list of regional colleges with the best ethnic diversity.

Q: How is OSUIT celebrating Black History Month?

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February 12, 2016 Q&A

OSUIT in Okmulgee is a public institution of higher education that has several services available for the entire community. So, please come visit us soon.

Q: What parts of campus are open to the general public?

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February 5, 2016 Q&A

It seems like whenever change occurs (even positive change), some people will oppose it. But one thing I have learned over the years is not to listen to the naysayers because there will always be cynical people who will try to convince you that you can’t accomplish anything. If the naysayers had their way, nothing new or innovative would ever be attempted, much less accomplished.

Q: What does Okmulgee have going for it?

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January 28, 2016 Q&A

I know there has not been much physical evidence of renovations occurring on the downtown properties purchased by OSUIT last spring, but let me assure you, a great deal of work has taken place behind the scenes. These are grand buildings, and giving them the respect they are due requires much planning and forethought.

Q: What are the latest developments with the OSUIT downtown student housing project?

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January 22, 2016 Q&A

Before coming to OSUIT, I spent twenty-six years working at comprehensive public community colleges in different parts of the country. I really thought I had seen everything related to career and technical education, but nothing prepared me for what I found when I arrived at OSUIT. This institution is like a community college on steroids. Let me explain what I mean by that statement, as I respond to the following question:

Q: Why does OSUIT call itself Oklahoma’s Only Institute of Applied Technology?

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January 15, 2016 Q&A

Every day, the future gets just a little closer. That is why OSUIT continues to make and implement long-range plans. We are continually making improvements and enhancements for students who will attend here decades from now.

At this time, I would like to revisit a topic of local interest in greater detail.

Q: When will the old buildings south of campus be removed?

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January 8, 2016 Q&A

One of the most pervasive problems facing rural communities and small cities across the country is that of a declining population. A devastating void is always created when residents move away from a community in large numbers.

I am grateful to the questioner this week for inquiring about this critical problem.

Q: What can we do to get more of our young people to stay in Okmulgee?

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January 1, 2016 Q&A

When my wife and I moved to Oklahoma just over four years ago, before we purchased our house in Okmulgee, we had at least three very well-intentioned locals who tried to advise us not to buy property in Okmulgee. We were surprised by how many people would “talk down” their own town. We didn’t follow their advice and have been very satisfied with our choice to live in Okmulgee. The sad thing is that if this was the type of advice we received, what are other newcomers being told about Okmulgee? Is it any wonder why Okmulgee, over the decades, has one of the fastest declining populations in the state? How are we ever going to change this if we keep telling people not to buy property here?

My focus this week is on a couple of questions that I hear in the community from time to time about OSUIT faculty members:

Q: Wouldn’t it be good if all of the OSUIT faculty could be required to live in Okmulgee?

Q: There always appears to be vacant positions at OSUIT. Why is this?

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December 27, 2015 Q&A

The holiday season always provides us with an opportunity to reflect on those things that are truly important to us in life—things like faith, family, and friends. We often express our gratitude for the houses we live in and food we eat, for the friendships we cherish and families we love. Terms like grace, peace, and harmony have a renewed significance during this time of year as we contemplate our own good fortune and the plight of our neighbor. Charity of heart and mind fill the holidays with good cheer and devotion. We are a blessed people, and as such, we will continue to share the joy of the holidays with those around us.

If you will indulge me, I would like to respond to the most presumptive holiday question of all.

Q: For what are you thankful this year?

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December 13, 2015 Q&A

In a recent online posting, Okmulgee Main Street requested input from the general public to help name our historic downtown. This was one of the recommendations made by Roger Brooks, a community image consultant, when he visited Okmulgee earlier this year.

An email address has been dedicated specifically for your name submissions. So here is your chance to help name our downtown; just email nameourdowntown@yahoo.com with your ideas! All suggestions will be considered.

Q: We have always just called it downtown Okmulgee. Why does it need a name?

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December 6, 2015 Q&A

Families are becoming ever more concerned about the rapidly rising cost of a college education. Many find it difficult or impossible to pay the full price for a child to attend college today, so an increasing number of students pursue some sort of financial assistance.

So, affordability of higher education is a legitimate concern and one that I would like to address in my response to the following question:

Q: How affordable is it to attend college in Oklahoma, and how does OSUIT compare?

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November 28, 2015 Q&A

These are exciting times for Okmulgee, Oklahoma. In recent months, our town has seen a flurry of new business startups. Traffic seems to be picking up all over town, real estate is moving again, and sales taxes have been up—all signs of economic prosperity.

Q: Tell me why I should buy from shops here in town?

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November 22, 2015 Q&A

Typically, when two people work together, they can complete a job faster than can one person working alone. A team that works well together can complete a task more efficiently and more effectively and in less time than when a solo effort is embarked upon. The same is true when two or more organizations or public entities work symbiotically. By combining their talent and resources, they can cut down on redundancies and maximize efficiencies. The next set of questions focus on this principle:

Q: How has the City of Okmulgee shown its commitment to OSUIT’s expansion into the downtown?

Q: What is OSUIT’s commitment to Okmulgee with its downtown project?

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November 11, 2015 Q&A

OSUIT is a unique college that was founded in 1946 as a place where returning World War II veterans could receive robust vocational training that would help them reenter the civilian workforce successfully. Oklahoma has always cared about its veterans, and this is one shining example of how public resources were applied to provide the very best for our returning heroes. To this day, OSUIT has remained true to that original mission and continues to hold its doors open wide to veterans and their families.

In respect to the observance of Veterans Day, let me address the following questions:

Q: Is it true that OSU in Okmulgee started out as a military hospital?

Q: What’s this I hear about Veterans Day?

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November 8, 2015 Q&A

It is true, I could have taken the same funds and built a brand new dormitory building to house a similar number of OSUIT students on campus, but that would never impact this community as much as purchasing historic buildings in downtown Okmulgee and refurbishing them into loft apartments for students. A new dormitory on campus would never have encouraged the private purchase or renovation of a single downtown property and would not have prompted any investments in new shops, restaurants, or businesses anywhere in this community.

Q: How is moving a bunch of college students downtown going to help Okmulgee? Won’t they just cause problems downtown?

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November 1, 2015 Q&A

As news of a tragic accident on the streets of Stillwater spread on the morning of Saturday, October 24, concerned and compassionate people across the state and the country collectively offered a prayer for the victims and those affected by this heartbreaking incident.

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October 25, 2015 Q&A

In many ways, OSUIT is similar to a small city with its own roads, infrastructure and buildings. It has stores, restaurants, parks and recreational areas, walking trails and ponds. It has its own police department, health care clinic, day care center, credit union, laundromat, copy center, greenhouse, carpentry and fabrication shop, post office, fitness center, small engine repair shop, motor pool and gas station. People live on campus and many others work on campus. OSUIT is like a city within a city.

Q: I heard you have purchased some of the land to the north of your campus. Is this true?

Q: Is OSUIT interested in purchasing additional property around its campus?

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October 18, 2015 Q&A

I believe that an organization that fails to plan is an organization that plans to fail. My responsibility as president of OSUIT is to lead this institution into successful endeavors, and I have always chosen to do this proactively—through a strategic planning process using internal input from across the institution and through a master planning process managed by outside experts. Together, these plans create a collective vision for OSUIT in how we organize and expend valuable public resources. To be truly accountable, it is imperative to have a published set of plans that influence the major decisions of the institution and to follow these plans as resources are available.

Q: How do your downtown buildings fit into the Master Plan that was created a couple of years ago?

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October 11, 2015 Q&A

Negative attitudes are a lot like old wounds. Sometimes, they never fully heal. They just form ugly scars and cause pain. But like old wounds, maybe the opposing perceptions of others can teach us something. They can remind us where we have been and what we have overcome. I certainly understand there are some people who are skeptical about the Okmulgee Rising campaign and have convinced themselves that nothing lasting will ever result from it. But with this week’s question, permit me to explain why so many people in this town are doing what they can to improve Okmulgee and see inherent value in the effort.

Q: Why are you trying so hard to change Okmulgee? It’s a lost cause. What’s done is done!

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October 4, 2015 Q&A

When you are anticipating something exciting to happen, it is so easy to grow impatient. If you’re like me, you want to see progress happen overnight. I plant grass seed in my lawn and wonder the next day why I still see bare patches. Intellectually, I know that it takes time, but I still expect to see results right away. The ironic thing is that once my lawn starts to fill in and is growing fast, then I just want it to slow down so I don’t have to mow so often. It is hard to be satisfied with the pace of progress.

The next question voices my own impatience, but I promise, I was not the one who submitted it:

Q: When is this all going to happen?

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September 27, 2015 Q&A

A big challenge with commuter students is lack of campus engagement—how do you get these students involved in extracurricular activities? Most commuter students are only seen on campus briefly between the parking lot and their classrooms. They spend very little time taking advantage of valuable campus resources or services. Being an engaged college student is more than just attending classes and taking tests; it is about getting involved in student life activities, clubs, sports, and special events.

Q: Being so far away, how will downtown students participate in intramural activities and other campus activities?

Q: How will you ensure the safety of students living downtown?

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September 20, 2015 Q&A

A growing number of employers are seeking to fill “middle-skill” job vacancies. These are jobs that require education and technical training beyond high school but less than a bachelor’s degree, and this category currently represents the area of highest demand in the U.S. workforce.

This week, I would like to address a misconception that I sometimes hear from local high school students.

Q: I thought OSUIT was where you go when you can’t get into a real college.

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September 13, 2015 Q&A

Coming Soon!

A college campus can be the source of great pride within a community. It can stimulate commerce and foster greater recognition for the community as a whole. It can be a favorite gathering place for meetings and public events or a popular site visited by tourists. I am pleased to announce that OSUIT in Okmulgee will soon be the home of a spectacular work of art that I believe will become quite an attraction for the community. Allow me to explain as I respond to this week’s question:

Q: Are there things you can do to make the campus in Okmulgee feel more like part of OSU?

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September 6, 2015 Q&A

Over the course of my career, I have worked at six different colleges in five different states, but I don’t believe I have ever worked at any college campus with such an identity crisis as OSUIT. People have heard about OSUIT, but they really don’t know much about it, and more often than not, they use the wrong name when referring to OSUIT.

Names are really important and there has been a lot of confusion about ours in the past. So this week, allow me to address this question:

Q: Why does everyone call your school the Tech?

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August 30, 2015 Q&A

They say “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” So at OSUIT, we are trying to improve how things look when you approach campus. For starters, we have worked with the State Highway Department to erect new highway signs that reflect the correct name of our institution. We have also installed a full color electronic marquee at our east entrance on Loop 56 and a new OSU Spirit Riders display along the Loop. I am particularly proud of these ten foot tall steel figures because they were fabricated in-house—by the skilled maintenance staff of OSUIT. Let me also acknowledge the many long hours spent by our OSUIT grounds crew this summer mowing and trimmed the lawns all across campus. They take pride in their work and do an incredible job keeping up the appearance of campus. All of these first impression improvements complement the recent Okmulgee City Council resolution to rename the Highway 56 Loop to “University Boulevard.”

Now, let me respond to a friendly inquiry about recent improvements on the southwest corner of the OSUIT campus.

Q: I really like the new sign on the corner of 4th & Mission. Do you have any other plans for this area?

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August 23, 2015 Q&A

Whenever you hear someone describe OSUIT, it is difficult for them to do without using the word “unique.” We actually take this as a compliment because at OSUIT, we are proud of our reputation as a trend-setting institution of higher education. OSUIT is not cast from the same mold as so many other colleges and universities. In my opinion, we have too much duplication in higher education in general. We have far too many colleges in the country doing exactly the same things, offering the same programs of study, in exactly the same ways. But at OSUIT, we are different from the rest.

I am grateful for the question this week because it will give me a chance to describe the core mission of OSUIT and explain why we call OSUIT the state’s only university of applied technology:

Q: I have heard that OSUIT is a leading college in workforce development. Is this true? If so, how is it involved in workforce development?

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August 16, 2015 Q&A

Every successful enterprise and business has a good working knowledge of their assets and liabilities. As they plan for their success, they find ways to accentuate their assets and build upon them while minimizing their liabilities and preventing them from becoming distractions.

This week, I would like to weigh the assets and liabilities of our community as I respond to the following two questions:

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing Okmulgee?

Q: What are Okmulgee’s strongest assets?

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August 9, 2015 Q&A

Students come to OSUIT because they value the quality education and vocational training we provide, but many are also looking for something more—they want the overall experience that often accompanies college life. By creating a fashionable downtown urban environment, we hope to be able to provide an experience beyond what we have offered in the past and give potential students another reason to choose OSUIT as their college of first choice.

We envision our downtown loft apartments will soon become the premier and most popular housing offering at OSUIT. We thus intend this housing option to be a privilege reserved for select upperclassmen or more mature students.

Now, let me attempt to tackle some concerns about students receiving a lesser education if they live away from campus.

Q: How will downtown students access food service, bookstore, infirmary, library, etc?

Q: Traditional students who live off campus typically have a lower GPA than students who live on campus. Will this downtown project harm your students academically?

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August 2, 2015 Q&A

It can be said that most students who enroll at OSUIT are actually entering the apprentice phase of their careers. With many industry specific programs and majors, OSUIT provides essential skills training to students before they enter the workforce as full-time employees. But it should also be known that OSUIT is an outstanding academic transfer institution as well. Many students from the Okmulgee area can take all of their freshmen and sophomore classes with us before transferring to another institution of higher education. Essentially, a student can take the first two years of almost any bachelor’s degree right here in Okmulgee and successfully transfer anywhere in the country, and these transfer students can even pick up an Associate in Science degree from OSUIT in the process.

This week, allow me to answer a couple of very direct questions that I hope will result in some local students choosing to enroll at OSUIT.

Q: When do your classes start at OSUIT?

Q: How do I get enrolled for the Fall Semester?

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July 26, 2015 Q&A

At OSU Institute of Technology, we have always believed that institutions of higher education do not distinguish themselves by their similarities, but by their differences, and we have always prided ourselves on being unique.

It is almost unprecedented for a public university to purchase historic buildings away from its campus with the intent to convert them into student housing. When we interviewed architectural firms, it was quite revealing to hear many of them say that they had worked on several student housing projects and on several town center restorations, but they had never heard of a project in Oklahoma that involved both. Most of them cited the unique nature of this project and its potential to make a real difference in Okmulgee as a primary reason for their interest.

I am reminded that there is really no such thing as a “bad” question, but allow me to address two “nagging” questions that many of you may be too considerate to ask.

Q: Why is it taking OSUIT so long to start work on your buildings downtown?

Q: I am an OU fan and don’t care for the OSU flags and banners downtown.

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July 19, 2015 Q&A

“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?

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July 12, 2015 Q&A

The second downtown property that has been purchased by OSUIT for development into student lofts is the 15,000 sq. ft. Bell Building at the northeast corner of 6th Street and Morton Avenue. It is the anchor building of what was referred to as the Bell Block, constructed by Dr. G.W. Bell between 1900-1901. The first floor of the Bell Building was a drug store, and later Guaranty State Bank, and the top floor was the Bell’s Opera House used for professional entertainment, Chamber of Commerce meetings, high school graduations, dances and other special occasions.

This week, I would like to put to rest some questions about OSUIT competing with the private sector.

Q: How can you justify a state tax supported institution competing with the private sector by removing buildings off of ad valorem taxes?

Q: It is rumored the college wants to open a copy center, coffee shop, etc. Why would you do this when there are already people working hard to make a living in these types of businesses in downtown Okmulgee?

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July 5, 2015 Q&A

I have always considered problems to be opportunities in disguise. As a college president, I frequently look for “win-win” solutions to challenges that present themselves. But never in my 30-year higher education career had I seriously entertained the idea of students living so far from campus in university-owned facilities or the possibility of renovating historic buildings to create trendy loft space for students. That was until I met the downtown consultant, Ron Drake, when he first visited Okmulgee about a year ago. I listened intently when he told community leaders “if you want to bring life to your downtown, you need to bring lives downtown.”

Let me tell you about a true opportunity in disguise as I respond to this next question.

Q: Why would OSUIT have an interest in housing students downtown?

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June 28, 2015 Q&A

Like many residents, I was surprised to learn that downtown Okmulgee had a Post Office building even older than the Post Office currently in use. For the purpose of creating student loft apartments, OSUIT purchased the 1918 Post Office building along with the retail building that was added to it in 1919. The two-story, 40,000 sq. ft., old post office complex makes up the city block between Grand Avenue and Central Avenue along the north side of 5th Street. It sets approximately one block north of the square.

This week, I would like to respond to a couple of logistical questions that I have heard about college students residing in buildings like the Grand Old Post Office once it is refurbished.

Q: Has OSUIT taken into consideration transportation challenges for students who may be assigned housing downtown and getting to their classes?

Q: How will we handle the problem of parking downtown if we have all these students living there?

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June 21, 2015 Q&A

Back in January, the Oklahoma Board of Regents for the A&M Colleges, which governs the Oklahoma State University System, gave OSUIT permission to purchase two properties in the historic district of downtown Okmulgee. At their meeting last Friday, the Regents took the next major step in advancing this project by approving architects and a construction management firm to work with OSUIT on the design and renovation of both properties.

I realize that some local residents may not want to get their hopes up for fear that revitalizing downtown Okmulgee is just a “pipe dream” or something that is “too good to be true,” but let me assure you, this is really happening.

By responding to these next two questions, allow me to introduce you to some of the professionals that are being assembled to work with OSUIT on our downtown student housing project.

Q: Who will be the architects on this project?

Q: Who will oversee the construction of this renovation?

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June 14, 2015 Q&A

Oklahoma State University started its operation in Okmulgee in 1946 when the Glennan Military Hospital was purchased and converted into a training facility to help WWII veterans reenter the civilian workforce. The campus that is now known as OSU Institute of Technology has been in continuous operation ever since. It required great vision to see the potential in abandoned military barracks nearly seventy years ago, but look at what OSUIT has become today.

Many people still have great vision in Okmulgee. Allow me to explain as I respond to this next question.

Q: I have heard people talking about Okmulgee Rising, but what does it really mean?

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June 7, 2015 Q&A

Something very special is happening in Okmulgee right now. As a resident, I’m optimistic about the future of our city and encouraged by the Okmulgee Rising sentiment. I am also mindful that residents have high hopes and expectations that this revitalization movement will be more than a passing trend or fantastic whim.

We all want to see sustainable growth and improvements within our community. And I believe we all realize that this will require unprecedented collaboration and investment by many organizations, large and small, and individuals from every walk of life.

As President of OSU Institute of Technology, I want you to know that this university is committed to Okmulgee. It’s our home, and we are proud of that fact. Our interest in the well-being of this community goes far beyond the purchase of a couple of buildings downtown, so I wanted a forum by which I could answer questions about our actions and our intentions.

This week, I’m going to begin with a question that is frequently asked:

Q: Why invest funding into old, dilapidated buildings downtown when you could just build a brand new facility on your campus?

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