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Awards Gala Reveals County's Top Ten


October 15, 2020

Natasha Dunagan

The 2020 Pottawatomie Power Top Ten were announced at a gala held Saturday, Oct. 10 at Crossing Hearts Ranch. Pictured above are the top nominees chosen by a rolling pole by their peers. From left but not in order, John "Rocky" Barrett, Angi Mohr, Randy Gilbert, Melissa Dennis, Linda Capps, Suzanne Gilbert, Dr. Joe Taron, Dr. Kathy Laster, Rachael Melot, and Ed Bolt.

Pottawatomie Power was spelled the other way Saturday night - it was Potawatomi Power in the #1 and #2 slots of the county's most influential.

Citizen Potawatomi Nation Vice-Chairman Linda Capps, made her first appearance on the Top Ten list - and started at the top. Coming in at #2 was CPN Chairman John A. "Rocky" Barrett, making his third appearance in the Top Ten. The two have been leaders of the powerful tribe for many years.

They and others were honored Saturday night, Oct. 10, at a gala held at Crossing Hearts Ranch attended by the top 25 nominees and sponsors. The Countywide & Sun hosted the event, culminating its latest once-per-decade rolling poll, which sought to identify the most powerful individuals in the county.

Several sponsors made the event cost-free for the attendees, including platinum sponsors BancFirst, First United Bank, and The Citizen Potawatomi Nation; gold sponsors Gilbert Insurance/Gilbert & Sons Trucking, the Tecumseh Chamber of Commerce, Vision Bank, and an anonymous donor; and silver sponsors Ronnye Perry Sharp/Broadway Building and SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital Shawnee.

At the event, attendees were served dinner, enjoyed desserts, then settled in to hear the keynote address and find out the final standings.

Sen. James Lankford had previously been scheduled as the keynote speaker but had to cancel due to COVID-19 exposure. However, the senator was able to deliver remarks remotely, via a pre-recorded video message to attendees.

"Leadership is not about a title, and most Oklahomans who are leaders don't have a title," Lankford said.

Lankford said a leader is someone who sees a problem and engages with it, rather than leaving it for someone else. Leadership is seeing a need and filling it, he said.

Oklahomans have a well-earned reputation for taking care of themselves and their neighbors, Lankford said.

"That's the Oklahoma standard," Lankford said. "People helping people."

Sen. Lankford thanked the attendees for their service to their communities and encouraged them to get the next generation involved in their roles.

Prior to the awards being announced, Countywide & Sun's publisher Suzie Campbell recognized the efforts of a couple who did not make the top ten but have been a fixture of their community for some time.

"For 37 years," Campbell said, "Wayne and Gloria Trotter have been a constant voice for the citizens of Pottawatomie County."

The Trotters, previous owners of The Countywide & Sun, were given a gift basket and a standing ovation.

After announcing everyone who had been named among the top 25 most influential people in the county, the top ten were announced from tenth to first position.

The list of the county's movers and shakers included leaders both young and old, and for the first time since the contest's inception, the majority of the list consisted of women. Six out of the top ten most powerful people, including the number one spot, were women.

Dr. Joe Taron was specially honored for appearing on the list for the fourth time, in 1990, 2000, 2010, and this year.

In the coming weeks, The Countywide & Sun will be speaking with these community leaders to get a sense of what leadership looks like from the county's most powerful individuals.

Here are the top 10 most powerful individuals in Pottawatomie County, as determined by the Pottawatomie Power Poll.

10. Dr. Joe Taron

9. Shawnee Mayor Ed Bolt

8. Suzanne Gilbert

7. Randy Gilbert

6. Rachael Melot

5. Angi Mohr

4. Kathy Laster

3. Melissa Dennis

2. John "Rocky" Barrett

1. Linda Capps

Former State Senator Charlie Laster, who was #6 ten years ago, quipped that in 2010 "Kathy was Charlie Laster's wife. This year I'm Kathy Laster's husband!"


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