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Stillwater's First News with Bill Van Ness

Conversation opened. 1 read message. FROM THE CITY OF STILLWATER:FROM THE-------------------------FROM THE CITY OF STILLWATER:
-----------------------FROM THE CITY OF STILLWATER:
FROM OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY:FROM Oklahoma State University President Kayse Shrum and First Cowboy Darren Shrum have been named grand marshals of OSU’s 2022 Homecoming festivities by the OSU Alumni Association.FROM OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY:


U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas has championed the rural Oklahoman throughout his entire career.

So, it’s only fitting he is the first commencement speaker after Oklahoma State University announced its strategy to become the preeminent land-grant institution.

Lucas, a 1982 OSU agricultural economics graduate, will speak at the fall 2022 commencement exercises on Dec. 16 and Dec. 17 inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.

In 1988, Lucas, who hails from Cheyenne, Oklahoma, began his career in politics when he was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives, serving three terms from 1989 to 1994. During his service to Blaine, Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Roger Mills and Woodward counties in the Oklahoma State House, Lucas also served as the House Republican Caucus secretary and later as the caucus chairman.

Congressman Frank Lucas has represented Oklahoma's Third Congressional District since 1994. He ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in a special election in 1994. Lucas has been in that role for nearly 30 years, recently winning reelection through 2024.

Lucas represents Oklahoma’s Third Congressional District, which includes all or portions of 32 counties in northern and western Oklahoma, stretching from the Oklahoma Panhandle to parts of Tulsa, and from Yukon to Altus in the southwest. It takes up almost half the state’s land mass and is one of the largest agricultural regions in the nation.

In his role, Lucas has been an advocate for increasing learning in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, commonly known as STEM. He has also been present at several of OSU’s major announcements in the past year, including the launch of the new Counter-UAS Center of Excellence.

He currently serves as the ranking member on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, where he advocates for Oklahoma’s energy, technology and aerospace industries. He is also a senior member on the House Committee on Financial Services. In 2011, he made history as the first Oklahoman to be elected as chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture.

OSU President Kayse Shrum said it is an honor to have Lucas come back to his alma mater for the ceremonies. Lucas was also present for Dr. Shrum’s inauguration ceremony in August.

Commencement will begin at 7 p.m., Dec. 16, with members of the Graduate College being conferred their degrees.

Undergraduate ceremonies will be Dec. 17, starting with the 10:30 a.m. slot, which includes the Ferguson College of Agriculture, the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology and the College of Arts and Sciences.

The ceremonies will wrap up following the Spears School of Business and the College of Education and Human Sciences ceremonies, which begin at 1:30 p.m.

Graduates should arrive 30 minutes prior to ceremony start time and enter through Boone Pickens Stadium’s Gate 1 South. Doors on the east side of Gallagher-Iba Arena will open for guests one hour prior to the ceremony start time.

Commencement can also be livestreamed on your TV through Roku, Amazon Fire and Apple TV via the Inside OSU app, and at

For more information on OSU’s 145th graduation ceremonies, visit



Note: The one-cent sales tax for transportation projects is included in the total tax amounts collected and those funds must be used for specific multi-modal projects. Inflation rates in 2022 are the highest in the past four decades and significantly affect available revenue and expenses.

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.
·         INCREASE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR: $1,019,109 (34.28%)

·         INCREASE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR: $834,598 (29.81%)
·         Note: One cent ($0.01) of collected sales tax is dedicated to the Stillwater Utilities Authority and one cent ($0.01) is dedicated to Transportation projects, as determined by a vote of Stillwater residents.

·         INCREASE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR: $184,511 (106.50%)

·         INCREASE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR: $105,395 (128.35%)

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


The City of Stillwater and Stillwater Community Center Foundation held a groundbreaking ceremony earlier this month to mark the beginning of work on improvements that will make the Stillwater Community Center more accessible for the entire community.

The south parking lot is closed and construction fencing has been installed so demolition can begin. Several power poles were previously moved by the City of Stillwater in anticipation of the project.

The Dining Hall and Event Center where lunch for senior citizens is served by Project H.E.A.R.T. is temporarily closed to the public, although that part of the building can still be accessed through an alleyway off Ninth Avenue.

Project H.E.A.R.T. has shifted to drive-through meal distribution until construction is complete, Community Center Manager Stephanie Kinder said. The main entrances to the Community Center will be the north doors and the south door located on the corner of Ninth Avenue and Duck Street. A loading zone is available on the north side for people who need to drop someone off or unload equipment for an event.

The Stillwater Community Center - constructed as Stillwater Junior High more than 50 years before passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act - has always presented challenges for people with mobility issues, in spite of efforts over the years to make it more accessible.

The new ramped structure will shift the building’s main entrance to the south side, where reconfigured parking and improved traffic flow will allow all residents to enjoy the many events hosted at the facility that has been called “Stillwater’s living room.”

The extended ramp, with switchbacks to make the rise more manageable, will tie the Community Center and adjacent Dining Hall and Event Center together, making both facilities easier to access.

The original design included a modern, pitched cover for the south loading area, but bids came in much higher than expected, Beckstrom explained. The project has been designed so the cover can easily be added later as more funding becomes available, without incurring additional expense for footings. The Stillwater Community Center Foundation plans to keep raising funds for that cover.

Donors who have already provided support include Kicker, the Faye Aileen Rife Brown Foundation, the Stillwater Community Foundation, BancFirst, the Leadership Stillwater Class of 2021 and more than 100 private donors including the Beckstrom family, Dr. Robert Breedlove, Bill Cooper and Sally Banks.

City officials expressed appreciation for the work the foundation has done and excitement to see the project completed.



On Tuesday, November 8, the Stillwater Board of Education voted unanimously to call a February 2023 election to adopt a $195,000,000 bond issue.

The 2023 Bond Issue will consist of two propositions. Proposition I is for $190,000,000 to be used to support the bulk of a number of projects the district hopes to implement if the issue passes, while Proposition II calls for $5,000,000 to provide funds for transportation equipment.

Key projects planned include a new high school to be constructed north of Pioneer Stadium, expansions to and improvements of athletic facilities, maintenance at all sites, academic technology & materials, extracurricular equipment, uniforms, musical instruments, buses, and vehicles.

Plans call for an all-new, two-story high school to be built in the current location of Cimarron Plaza. SPS already owns that property, and businesses located there have been kept informed that SPS intends to use the space in the near future. Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2023.

The bond issue would not raise taxes and is over a ten year period.

Specifics of exactly what the high school will look like or how it will be laid out are still pending. “Inflation, rising construction costs, and changing interest rates means exactly what we can get with these funds changes on a daily basis,” said Superintendent Uwe Gordon. “We’ve been working with our designer, 505 Architects, throughout this process, and as we get closer to the bond vote, we’ll really start finalizing those plans and sharing them with the community on a much more detailed level.”

If construction delays occur, Gordon says it wouldn’t be ideal, but also not overly disruptive. “If we can’t welcome children to the new high school when we hope to, the fact that we still have the current SHS, means we have some flexibility on when things happen.”

Also included in the bond are plans to renovate or replace portions of athletic facilities, including gym spaces and locker rooms that date as far back as the 1960s. The district will also purchase four competitive lanes at a soon to be constructed YMCA facility. New locker room spaces and a weight room facility will be added on to the north side of existing structures and some rearrangement of space will occur.

While this particular bond issue doesn’t include specific plans for capital improvements at sites other than the high school, many district schools have seen recent upgrades, says Gordon. Sangre Ridge, the middle school, and SJHS all received renovations from the 2017 bond, which also included an all new Westwood Elementary that was completed in the fall of 2019. “We’ll also be spending some other, non-bond funds to address specific needs at schools,” he says. “For instance, the open concept classrooms at Sangre Ridge will be enclosed this summer. I’m really excited about that change and the increased safety it will bring.”

As with many school bond issues, other projects are planned beyond facility improvements. “Maintenance isn’t as glamorous or flashy as a new building,” says Gordon, “but it’s necessary to keep those facilities operational and suitable as the spaces Stillwater’s children deserve. With funding, we’ll be able to extend the operational life of spaces like our wonderful Performing Arts Center, and address HVAC needs, roofs, and exterior and parking lot lighting.” Technology, including a one-to-one internet device plan for grades eight through twelve, textbooks, and instruments and uniforms for the performing arts are also included.

Information about the bond, including progress updates, will be available at

ABC News


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