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Messages Of Hope From Shawnee Commissioners


Messages of hope during the COVID-19 pandemic were at the forefront of discussion at the Shawnee city commissioners’ meeting Monday.

The commissioners held their first teleconferenced meeting Monday to follow social distancing recommendations as the number of COVID-19 cases in the state grows. There were only three items on the agenda, which were all approved, but the board took the opportunity during commissioners’ comments to try and provide comfort to Shawnee citizens.

“We’re living in a very unique time. None of us have lived through anything similar to this in our lifetimes,” said Commissioner Ed Bolt. “Shawnee has always been a community of caring and creative people. I really appreciate everyone’s efforts to work together through this situation. We’re going to get through this, so please take care and be safe. “

All of the other commissioners echoed Bolt’s statement.

“There’s so much we can do to help our fellow man in our city, and in fact, in our country,” Ron Gillham said. “We’re all Oklahomans and we will win this and come out the other side. We’ll have a glorious future going ahead.”

Some of those things that can help the community were brought up by Gillham and other commissioners.

Gillham said people should be aware of touching their faces even when wearing face masks because masks don’t cover eyes or ears.

“When you’re protecting yourself, you’re also protecting other people,” he said.

He also had a recommendation for landlords and rental property owners.

“So many people are hurting in different ways: people are going paycheck to paycheck. If you have rental properties, I would suggest being very easy on the way you handle those as far as people being able to keep that up.”

Economic struggles were also brought up, and James Harrod said it’ll be more important now than ever to shop locally.

“Local businesses are going to be really struggling,” he said. “They’re going to be losing at least a month of revenue and still have all their expenses. One thing to think about is our sales tax is going to be going down, so when you can, shop Shawnee.”

Mayor Richard Finley agreed and said it’s up to the community to help local businesses stay open.

“Local businesses are the backbone of our community, and without your help, they will not reopen their doors once it’s safe again,” Finley said.

There were also a lot of “thank yous” to go around.

Finley thanked the Shawnee community for working together through this time.

“I want to thank the community for the efforts to protect yourselves, your families, your neighbors, and your friends,” he said.

Darren Rutherford brought up state and county COVID-19 statistics.

“I want to brag on the city of Shawnee and the citizens as a whole,” he said. “Our proximity to Oklahoma City, and how good our statistics still look at this point, tells me we’re doing the right thing as a city; our citizens are doing the right thing. We just need to keep up the work and we’ll get through it. It’s going to be good on the other side.”

Oklahoma County, with 303 confirmed cases as of April 7, and Cleveland County, with 203 confirmed cases, border Pottawatomie County and are two of the hardest-hit counties in the state. Pott. County has 19 confirmed cases.

“I appreciate the efforts we’re taking as a community to keep each other well,” Bolt said. “The simplest way to battle this virus is to be diligent in keeping our distance from each other. I know it’s not a lot of fun sometimes, but it’s necessary.”

One of the items the board approved was a budget amendment for Gifts and Contributions accounting for various donations that have been made since July 1, 2019.

The donations listed were:

• Cops & Kids donations - 100.00

• Santa Fe Depot - 10.00

• Police Dept. - 20.00

• Fire Dept. - 260.00

• Senior Center - 15,000.00

• Horses in the City - 2,400.00

• Animal Shelter - 1,000.50

• Bingo - 610.00

Total - 19,400.50

The other two items were the ratifications of Finley’s emergency proclamations and the renewal of the “Nine-One-One Emergency Number Ordinance” for the period of April 6, 2020, to April 5, 2023. Ashley Neal, finance director and city treasurer, said the ordinance is the same as the previous ordinance.

After learning of the resignation of Emergency Manager, Don Lynch the Countywide and Sun contacted City Manager Chance Allison for a short phone interview Tuesday. He said, “I would like to applaud the efforts and nearly 20 years of support and experience our previous Emergency Manager, Don Lynch, has provided during his outstanding service to the City of Shawnee. Our community is forever indebted to Don for building the robust City/County Emergency Management program that has been an example of exemplary public service through the years.”

“As the Shawnee City Manager, it is my responsibility to execute and direct the City’s emergency management response to the spread of the Coronavirus,” said Allison. “Effective last week, Police Chief Mason Wilson and Fire Chief Rodney Foster will be leading the City’s emergency management operation plan, bringing their decades of experience in public safety and public health to ensure the mission at hand is accomplished. They are providing direct and continuous support to my efforts to ensure we are providing for the safety of our community, our business partners, and the future of Shawnee, which I offer my heartfelt thanks.”

Allison said, “During this time of crisis, I would like to take this opportunity to thank and commend the citizens of Shawnee for their courage to make bold changes to fight the coronavirus. In addition, I would like to thank and commend the City of Shawnee staff for their continuous and courageous efforts to do more with less while they navigate a new normal and learn new colleagues’ job duties. Each has met the challenge presented with good spirits and a can-do attitude.”

During the meeting Monday, Finley suggested Shawnee residents turn on their porch lights at 8 p.m. Friday night to symbolize the light on the other side of the pandemic and “to send a message that there’s a light in these dark times,” he said.

“It is the light of life, the light of hope for better days to come. God bless you and keep us in his life.”


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