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Stillwater's First News with Bill Van Ness
 
 
Conversation opened. 1 read message. FROM THE CITY OF STILLWATER:

FROM THE CITY OF STILLWATER:

On Monday, Dec. 6, 2021 at the beginning of the regularly scheduled City Council meeting, Councilor John Wedlake, who served in Seat 3, resigned effective immediately citing personal endeavors.

“Our citizens remain very well represented and in the hands of an adept Council,” Wedlake said.

Councilor Wedlake was elected to his first term in January 2017 and was re-elected for his second term in February 2020. Council positions are a four-year term, his term would have expired in February 2024.

“We appreciate Councilor Wedlake’s dedication to act in the best interest of our residents, his depth of knowledge, and his commitment to lead during difficult times for our community. I wish him the best in his future endeavors and truly appreciate his time of service as Councilor,” said Mayor Will Joyce.

Stillwater City Council will appoint a replacement for Seat 3 within sixty days of this announcement.

Per Section 2-10., Stillwater City Code:

The city council, by majority vote of its remaining members, shall fill vacancies in its own membership, including the office of mayor, for any unexpired term.

If the city council fails to fill a vacancy in its membership within sixty days after the vacancy begins, then the mayor and councilors shall issue a proclamation calling a special election to fill the vacancy for the unexpired term. The special election shall be held on the first date available for a special municipal election as determined by the official state election board calendar. There shall be no primary election for this purpose. The candidate receiving the greatest number of votes at the election shall be elected, and shall serve for the unexpired term. The provisions of this charter relating to regular elections shall govern such special elections insofar as they are applicable.

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STILLWATER CHRISTMAS
PARADE OF LIGHTS WINNERS

Corporate/Business:
1st – Simmons
2nd – City of Stillwater Electric Distribution
3rd – Stillwater Elks

Community Groups:
1st – Payne County Livestock 4-H Club
2nd – Stillwater FFA
3rd – Mistletoe Dandies

Band:
1st – Perkins- Tryon Midnight Regiment
2nd- Stillwater Pipe Band

Best use of Theme
Stillwater Elks Lodge

Best use of Lights:
Stillwater FFA

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FROM THE CITY OF STILLWATER:
On Thursday, leadership from the City of Stillwater and KICKER® hosted an event at the area of block 34 to release information on the first phase of development for the park and amphitheater.

The concept for the block has been vetted for several years to create a recreational space for the community that would be beneficial for all residents and organizations throughout the seasons. Identifying funding sources for development has been a concern until the recent contribution of $3.5 million from Stillwater Designs/KICKER.

Of the contribution, $2.7 million will be allocated for construction. KICKER® will also fund design and engineering, which is currently underway. The remaining $800,000 will go toward programming and maintenance expenses throughout the next 10 years. The Stillwater Community Center Foundation will receive the balance of the donation. The funds will be used to develop and deliver fourteen evening music events plus other programming each year for ten years on the block.

The City of Stillwater will be responsible for infrastructure and oversight needs. If additional funding is needed for completion of the area, it will be raised by the Block 34 Architecture and Development Committee. The committee will be formed in coming weeks.

Architectural renderings for the park and amphitheater provide a visual of the multi-use, public space that includes the outdoor performance stage, multi-purpose pavilion, restrooms, storage, water fountain, art features, bermed lawn and seating, stone benches, area for food trucks, other vendors and amenities. The architectural renderings and construction documents were also donated by KICKER®.

The plans and design are consistent with the Block 34 Trust Authority’s vision, which has developed throughout the past four years including a town hall and 50 public meetings.

The location and position of the amphitheater was strategically planned based on optimal audience viewing with lighting, time of day and seasonal changes. The covered stage will be optimal for hosting outdoor plays, concerts, movies, cultural and educational events.

Directly adjacent to the park are approximately 150 public parking spaces, with hundreds more near the area.

The Block 34 Trust has maintained the goal to provide a gathering spot, “an outdoor living room,” for the community. To ensure the goal is met, the lead architect for the amphitheater is Stanton Espinoza and for landscape architect is Dan Alaback, both Oklahoma State University graduates.

Groundbreaking and construction are expected to begin near summer 2022. For more information about the history and development of the block 34 area, go online to: stillwater.org/block34.

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FROM THE CITY OF STILLWATER:

November 2021 Tax Apportionment Report

SALES AND USE TAX TOTAL COLLECTION: $2,972,774

Note: The collection is based off of September transactions that were reported to the Oklahoma Tax Commission in October and apportioned to the City in November.

·         SALES AND USE TAX INCREASE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR: $262,192 (9.67%)

SALES TAX TOTAL COLLECTION: $2,799,527

·         SALES TAX INCREASE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR: $346,571 (14.13%)

USE TAX TOTAL COLLECTION: $173,247

·         USE TAX DECREASE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR: $84,379 (32.75%)

HOTEL/MOTEL TAX TOTAL COLLECTION: $82,117

·         HOTEL/MOTEL TAX INCREASE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR: $41,512 (102.23%)

For more information about the budget and taxes, visit the City’s Financial Center at stillwater.org/budget.

We also update a sales, use and hotel/motel tax report monthly at stillwater.org/document-center

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FROM THE CITY OF STILLWATER:

On Nov. 15, 2021, Stillwater Mayor and Councilors discussed the best ways to move forward with potential ballot propositions – bond for a new fire station ($9M), bond for a new animal welfare facility ($4M), $0.005 sales tax increase for transportation – roads and other multimodal projects, and a request from Visit Stillwater to increase the Visitor Tax (previously the Hotel Tax) from 4% to 7%.

On Tuesday, February 8, 2022, there will be two tax propositions on the ballot for the Stillwater community to vote upon. The sales tax proposition, (paid by all those who make purchases in Stillwater, residents and visitors), will be dedicated to transportation projects such as roadways, sidewalks and walking trails. The Visitor Tax increase, (paid by visitors who stay in Stillwater hotels, bed and breakfasts, and short-term rentals), will be invested in visitor development and quality of life amenities. The last lodging/hotel tax increase was in 1985.
 
On Tuesday, April 5, 2022, there will be two bond propositions on the ballot for the Stillwater community to vote upon. One proposition will be for a new fire station (to replace current fire station #2), which will improve emergency response times, ensure ADA compliance, and provide safer and more efficient equipment for firefighters. The other proposition will be for a new animal welfare facility as part of public safety, which will increase education and training for pet owners, provide a safe and health facility to meet code requirements, and more.

Since August, City leadership have been hosting public meetings throughout the community to discuss these concerns and other pressing needs. These discussions and planning are part of, “T.I.M.E. – Together Investing in Municipal Excellence” a first-ever initiative for the City and residents to collaboratively identify needs and funding sources. Participation has included in-person meetings and online discussions.

A Citizen’s Action Committee will be formed to ensure all projects and concerns are brought before residents so they can be fully prepared to vote in February and April. For more information, check the website often at: Stillwater.org/time.

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FROM THE CITY OF STILLWATER:

On November 1, 2021, the City of Stillwater launched a new hashtag in partnership with many community organizations including Visit Stillwater, Stillwater Chamber of Commerce, Vibrant Stillwater, Downtown Stillwater Association, and Merry Main Street.

The new hashtag has several variations such as #ShopSWO, #WorkSWO, #LiveSWO, #LoveSWO and #DineSWO that are used to promote services, encourage investment in our local economy and increase unity within the community. Another positive impact of using #SWO is to increase awareness and usage of Stillwater Regional Airport since the airport code to book flights in and out is “SWO” and long-time messaging has been #FlySWO.

While hashtags have grown in popularity, some may not be aware of what a hashtag is and benefits of using them. Simply put, it is a label included on a social media post that encourages users to explore similar content and learn more about the subject included in the hashtag.

The announcement of the new hashtag was simultaneous with the kickoff of “#ShopSWO,” a shop local campaign to encourage residents and visitors to support Stillwater businesses for their holiday shopping from Nov. 1, 2021 to Jan. 1, 2022. There are many holiday festivities scheduled and more information may be found online at Stillwater.org/shopswo and visitstillwater.org/stillwater-holidays/.

“We are excited to continue our partnerships with local businesses by sharing and enhancing their marketing of special events and promotions with residents and potential visitors. As we continue receiving announcements from our community partners, we will share their information and utilize the new hashtag so it may be found easily by doing a quick search on social media,” said Cristy Morrison, Visit Stillwater President/CEO.

Businesses, organizations, residents, and visitors are encouraged to utilize the new hashtag on their social media posts. Using #SWO along with its variations when posting will help people follow online conversations and receive updates.

The previous hashtag, #StwOK, used for more than a decade may continue to be utilized by some in addition with the new hashtag. City of Stillwater’s Communications Director Dawn Jones said using both hashtags is not a bad thing and “will continue to increase online awareness and conversations about Stillwater’s hometown hospitality, exceptional merchants and year-round events.”

“By working together with innovative marketing – such as a new hashtag and multiple usage variations of it – we are able to facilitate economic growth and tell our story,” Jones said.

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