4 minute read

In a lively meeting of the Oklahoma County Board of County Commissioners, the Board approved the allocation of $550,000 to the Jail Trust.

There was also a discussion of whether the acceptance of grant money should depend on where that money would be used.

Also, some neighbors were decidedly uncool with each other. All of that and more, always available at your local BoCC meeting!

Jail Trust Funding

In two separate votes, the Board authorized allocation of $550,000 to the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority, better known as the Jail Trust.

The $100,000 and $450,000 amounts were individually requested by the Trust and approved by the County Budget Board. The money will be used to pay administrative costs of the Trust.

Those costs include legal counsel, the establishment of payroll services, and the hiring of the new Administrator of the County Jail.

As of Monday afternoon’s Jail Transition Committee meeting, the Trust’s new bank account was operational with the use of temporary checks.

Adult Reading Challenge

A representative from the Norick Library came before the council to explain an upcoming program. Engagement Manager Judie Matthews detailed the upcoming Winter Reading Challenge for Adults.

The Challenge will run from January 1 through February 29. Participants can fill out a bingo-style card for reading several types of books. When they complete a card, readers are entered to win prizes including an iPad or Kindle. Hurry and get your library card.

Neighbors Collide

An item from Engineering came on for public hearing. A petition to close a portion of a public easement between Henny Road and pave a 321 feet long section of road. This item was discussed previously during a meeting of the Board.

The main petitioners for the vacation of dedication want a portion of S.E. 23rd Street extended and paved so that another property owner, the daughter of said petitioners, can have paved access off of her property. Previously 15 neighbors, including all but one abutting property owner, had signed the petition to pave this portion of road.

Engineering explained to the Board the cost and potential complications of the project, including what problems would not be the responsibility of the County upon completion.

The seemingly simple case became increasingly complicated as first the cost was explained by County Engineer Stacy Trumbo.

The cost to pave that portion of road would cost over $30,000. The responsibility of the cost could, in theory, be limited to District 2 – where the property is located – or could be defrayed among all three Districts. In contrast, the cost could be left up to the petitioners.

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As this was technically a public hearing, several neighbors came to speak on the issue.

The first neighbor, one who had signed the original petition, said that in spite of signing the original petition, she was concerned.

According to this neighbor, there is a bar in the area. She said that customers at the bar use her neighborhood as a throughway to avoid Sheriff’s deputies. She fears that a new road extension will result in more vehicles in her and her neighbor’s ditches.

Another neighbor spoke. He said his property abuts the property of the petitioner. This neighbor supports the petition. He said that there is nothing in the area other than cattle.

An attorney for a neighbor with complaints about the project came to tell the Board that litigation between his client and the petitioner was recently disposed in the District Court in favor of his client.

That client’s ex-husband, a Santa Claus-looking gentleman with a hand-tooled leather belt, also spoke.

He said he lives on the abutting property with his ex-wife. He said that the paving of this segment of road would create significant problems for him and his ex-wife at the property she owned.

The petitioner, Mr. Tompkins, then addressed the Board. He stated that he would see this through to either have the road paved or permanently closed.

He then — surprising me entirely — gave a list of reasons to not pave the road as he had originally petitioned.

Tompkins also pleaded to the Board that they ignore the concerns of the Santa Claus-looking character as he is not a property owner. Tompkins asked, “So people could come here from Texas or Kansas with opinions about this?” Assistant District Attorney Aaron Etherington replied, “If it affected them, yes.”

The issue was ultimately continued to January 22, 2020. The participants were escorted out of the Board Room by deputies of the Sheriff’s Department so that tensions would take no physical turn.

I tell you, it was a lively meeting of this board.

Sheriff’s Grant

A grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to the Sheriff’s Office came on for acceptance of the Board.

Commissioner Kevin Calvey of District 3 expressed concern.

Calvey asked Danny Honeycutt, Counsel for the Sheriff’s Office if this money would be focused on areas of the county where the Sheriff’s Department was the only law enforcement.

The conversation nearly turned to tabling the grant.

Ultimately, Chair of the Board, District 1 Commissioner Carrie Blumert, asked if the Board could compromise by accepting the grant money with the intention to work with the Sheriff to focus the use of that money on unincorporated parts of Oklahoma County.

The Board meets again on December 18.


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