Sand Springs City Council approves permits for city's first marijuana dispensaries

Police Chief Mike Carter was recognized for 25 years of service at Monday’s City Council meeting.

Medical Marijuana took center stage at Monday night’s Sand Springs City Council meeting.

Specific Use Permits (SUPs) were approved for a medical marijuana cultivation facility, as well as a dispensary, owned by Dr. Cannabis, LLC at 3417 S. 113th W. Ave., Suite B3. An SUP was also granted to Therapeutic Herbal Care, LLC to open a dispensary at 1126 E. Charles Page Blvd.

Council denied an SUP to David Dietrich for the purpose of opening a cultivation facility at 15208 W. Weaver Road. The facility would have been located in a predominately residential area, and numerous neighbors requested that Council deny the permit. At a recent Planning Commission meeting, nearby residents cited concerns about the effect that a cultivation facility would have on the neighborhood’s water pressure.

Nature’s Candy Dispensary was subject of discussion surrounding their name. The organization agreed to legally do business as Nature’s Apothecary at a Planning Commission meeting earlier this month, due to objections to the use of the word “candy” in regards to a medicinal substance. New objections were raised by Councilman Jim Spoon to the use of the word “apothecary.” According to Spoon, businesses dealing in marijuana are banned from using the word “apothecary” by the Oklahoma Board of Pharmacy. A motion was approved to award an SUP to the business on conditions that they not use any terms relating to pharmacy or candy. The dispensary will be located at 3417 S. 113th W. Ave., Suite A2.

In other news:

Oklahoma Municipal League representative Pam Polk presented a certificate to Police Chief Mike Carter in recognition of 25 years of service. Fleet Technician Michael O’Dell was not present, but will also be receiving the award.

Council unanimously voted to approve a resolution of support for the Sand Springs Public Schools’ General Obligation Bond Propositions 1 & 2. The propositions total $32,850,000 and will provide funding for transportation equipment and the construction of a new Ninth Grade Center and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Academy on the grounds of Charles Page High School. The measures will go to a vote of the people on March 5th.

Council unanimously voted to affirm dilapidation public nuisance hearing findings for a fire-damaged residential building at 405 West 7th Street.

Council unanimously voted to approve a Beautification Wall project at the City’s Water Treatment Plant on the corner of Highway 97 and Morrow Road. The funding for the project was passed by voters as a G.O. Bond measure in November of 2017. Council awarded the construction project to Crossland Construction Company, Inc. in the amount of $1,113,807.60. Council also awarded an administration and inspection contract to Keithline Engineering Group, PLLC in the amount of $98,118.87.

Council approved an ordinance authorizing the City of Sand Springs Police Department to remove individuals from private and public properties, without involving the property owner. The measure gives property owners the ability to inform the department of individuals banned from their property, and authorizes officers to remove that individual without first establishing contact with the property owner. This also includes nonspecific entities, such as bans on loitering or semi truck parking.

Council approved an ordinance authorizing the City Manager to determine individual salaries.

Council approved a $250,000.00 Title Sponsorship agreement with the Sharna and Irvin Frank Foundation, including naming rights and expanded hours with paid staff at the Keystone Ancient Forest visitors’ center. Voters approved funding for construction of a visitors’ center in a 2017 G.O. Bond election, but the sponsorship agreement will provide additional funding for increased visitors hours and a larger facility.

Council approved $100,322.00 for the purchase and instillation of communication equipment for the Billie A. Hall Public Safety Center.

Council approved granting an easement to OmniTrax for railroad property abutting the upcoming Main Street project in downtown. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation will be bidding the project in February of this year, with construction set to begin soon after. Main Street will be rebuilt from 1st Street south to its current terminus, with a new section of road connecting Main Street west to Highway 97. A new frontage road will also be built to connect Main Street to the Lincoln Avenue On-Ramp onto Highway 412.

OmniTrax operates the Sand Springs Railway, which runs railways across Main Street, Morrow Road, and Highway 97. The easement will allow the railway to continue normal operations throughout the construction project.

Sen. Boren files legislation to increase funding for textbooks and other instructional materials

State Sen. Mary Boren has filed legislation aimed at putting more resources directly in the classroom for textbooks and other teaching materials.  Her legislation also requires funding allocated for instructional materials is used for that purpose. 

Boren, a former educator who has previously worked for both the State Department of Education the State Regents for Higher Education, said Senate Bill 206 would increase the per pupil amount for textbook and other instructional materials, which includes things like e-books, software and other related materials.  The measure would increase that amount from $55 to $200.

“When I worked for the Department of Education in 2001, the state was providing $55 per student.  Even though costs have risen dramatically since then, that amount is still just $55—plus, during the economic downturn, districts were given the ability to redirect those funds to other areas,” said Boren, D-Norman.  

“The combined result is school after school with tattered, outdated and insufficient textbooks and instructional materials and teachers and supporters being forced to plead for donations.  If we want our children to be able to compete, they need current textbooks and materials.  Forcing teachers and supporters to turn to outside fundraising may help in wealthier districts, but in many communities throughout the state, the resources simply aren’t there and our children are not getting the instructional materials they need to succeed. After looking at other states and visiting with Oklahoma teachers and administrators, it’s clear that $200 is a much more accurate reflection of the actual cost of instructional materials.”

Boren pointed out that since statehood, Oklahoma’s Constitution has required the state to provide textbooks.

“The vision for our public schools was that all children would have an equitable educational opportunity but without adequate state support it cannot happen,” Boren said.  

Boren’s legislation would also expand textbook selection committees at the local level to make sure teachers from each school within a district are included in that process.

“Those committees are evaluating material for every grade level, but under the current structure, you may or may not have teachers from all grade levels included,” Boren said.  “My language will include teachers from each district’s elementary, middle and high schools on those textbook committees.”

Boren said the investment made in teacher salaries last year was a critical starting point for education in Oklahoma and hopes her legislation will represent the next step.

“As we consider turnaround strategies for our state, it must include an examination of the level of investment our students deserve.  Senate Bill 206 gives us that opportunity,” Boren said.


Senator Allison Ikley-Freeman appointed to serve on five Senate committees

OKLAHOMA CITY –   State Senator Allison Ikley-Freeman was selected this week to serve on five Senate committees for the 57th legislature by Senate Democratic Leader Designate Kay Floyd. Ikley-Freeman represents District 37 which includes Sand Springs.

The Tulsa Democrat was appointed to serve on the Education, Appropriations and Budget and Rules Committees. She will also continue to serve on both the Senate Committee for Health and Human Services and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.

“I am honored to have been chosen by Senator Floyd to serve on these committees,” Ikley-Freeman said. “Ensuring access to health care and mental health care services are just two of my passions and my professional experience as a mental health therapist brings a unique perspective and skillset to my role as a legislator.” 

Ikley-Freeman holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in clinical mental health. She continues to work in her community providing mental health services and fighting for increased access at the Capitol.

Members will return to the Capitol for an organizational day on January 8, 2019, and the 2019 session will formally begin on February 4.

Sand Springs schools take steps to prevent future carbon monoxide scares

After a recent carbon monoxide scare at Clyde Boyd Middle School, Sand Springs schools are taking steps to make sure it never happens again anywhere in the district.

Superintendent Sherry Durkee gave updates on the district’s reaction to a half-week school cancellation at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting. CBMS and the Sixth Grade Center were closed for several days last week after students began exhibiting signs of carbon monoxide exposure.

An investigation into the school’s HVAC system revealed 8 out of 47 units at CBMS had become compromised, all of which have now been shut down, and replacements have been ordered. Workers are checking units throughout the district now and detectors are being installed in every single classroom throughout the district.

Durkee says she’s never even heard of a problem like this, that many districts do not have detectors, and some of those districts are reaching out to learn from the experience. Sand Springs will be educating all teachers on detecting signs of carbon monoxide poisoning going forward despite it not being a state requirement.

It’s common for HVAC units to develop leaks over time, and the mass failure was due to many of the units being purchased at the same time and aging simultaneously. The district already has quarterly inspections, exceeding those required by State law.

The Board also approved a resolution allowing Durkee to spend up to $75,000 following an emergency declaration without having to seek Board approval.

The middle school already has fifteen more minutes of instruction time than mandatory each day, so the lost days will not need to be made up.

In other news:

Charles Page High School Performing Arts Instructor Andrea Campfield was awarded a Sandite Spirit Award for her work with the CPHS Drama Department. She recently wrote and directed “When Merry Comes Home For Christmas,” which the Sand Springs Community Theater performed this past weekend.

CBMS students Kaitlyn Gurley and Hunter Cathey were given Sandite Spirit Awards for large donations they made to the Shop With a Cop program that helps provide Christmas presents for underprivileged youth in the area.

CBMS Life Applications for Students (LAFS) teachers Coy Caviness and Brad Ehmke were presented with Coins of Excellence.

The Board voted to rescind ballot language passed in the previous monthly meeting in favor of more specific verbiage that includes band equipment, wrestling mats, desks, and other items that will be purchased following a March bond election. None of the bond election plans have changed, Superintendent Sherry Durkee simply wanted to offer more transparency to the public on what the money will be going to specifically.

The Board voted to enter into an agreement with KKT Architects for designs for the new Central Ninth Grade STEM Academy Project.

The Board approved out of state travel for six district employees to attend the Solution Tree Response to Intervention at Work Conference in San Diego in March.

The Board accepted the resignations of Tammy Green and Dawn Jones, paraprofessionals at the Early Childhood Education Center, and Northwoods Fine Arts Academy, respectively.

The Board approved the hiring of a U.S. History teacher for CPHS, a science teacher at CBMS, and a paraprofessional at ECEC.

The Board voted to accept the resignation of Office No. 1 Board Member Krista Polankski. Because Polanski served more than half her term, the Board is able to either appoint a new member or leave the spot vacant till the next regular election.

George Rodrigue - Shiny Happy Blue Dog art exhibit makes Oklahoma debut in Sand Springs

The internationally-acclaimed Shiny Happy Blue Dog art exhibit made its Oklahoma debut Saturday evening at the Sand Springs Cultural and Historical Museum.

The paintings are the work of the late George Rodrigue, a Louisiana cajun who died in 2013. The blue dog is inspired by the loup-garou (cajun werewolf) and modeled after Rodrigue’s dog Tiffany. The series was used in ad campaigns by Absolut Vodka and Xerox Corporation in the early 1990s and can be seen in the Central Perk coffee shop on the hit television series Friends.

Rodrigue’s career began as a child after being diagnosed with polio. According to his widow, Wendy, his mother bought him a paint set to occupy his time while bedridden. His early work focused on the things he could no longer go out and see in person.

George and Wendy made a large effort to bring his art to schools and use it as an education tool, a mission continued by Wendy and her current husband Douglas Magnus, who was a lifelong friend of Rodrigue. Rodrigue also painted a series of vibrant blue dogs for children’s hospitals, giving the kids a bright distraction from their time in hospice. Those pieces are exclusive to children’s hospitals and do not make their way into museums or other showcases.

Rodrigue-Magnus tours the country with her late husband’s work, and visited several Tulsa-area elementary schools prior to the weekend opening, including Sand Springs’s Northwoods Fine Arts Academy. She also spoke at the Sand Springs Museum’s grand opening.

The exhibit will be open through February 17, 2019 and admission is free. The museum is located at 9 East Broadway in the historic downtown Triangle District. The 1929 art deco masterpiece is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and still bears the “Page Memorial Library” designation on the outside.

Bringing the exhibit to Sand Springs was the idea of Northwoods Art Instructor Jennifer Fox Barretto, who spent the last year fundraising, advertising, and working behind the scenes to secure the event.

Museum Hours:
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Tuesday
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Wednesday
1:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Thursday
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Friday
12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Saturday
1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Sunday

Bill Knight Auto partners with Sand Springs Education Foundation in Driven to Give Day

Bill Knight Lincoln donated $8,000 to the Sand Springs Education Foundation last year.

Bill Knight Lincoln donated $8,000 to the Sand Springs Education Foundation last year.

For the sixth time, the Sand Springs Education Foundation (SSEF) will partner with Bill Knight Auto for "Driven to Give Day." 

The event will be held on Saturday, October 20th, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Charles Page High School parking lot at 500 North Adams Road. This is a FREE event.

Participants, 18 years or older, can come and test drive a new Lincoln. For each test drive, the SSEF will receive $20. Participants are asked to fill out some basic information before the drive and immediately after the drive to complete the process and help secure the donation. NO obligation, NO sales, NO return contact unless the participant agrees.

What an easy way to come help the SSEF raise $8,000! All Sand Springs teachers are also encouraged to stop by and do a test drive and put their name in the drawing for $500 to use in their classroom. This year the SSEF will give away $500 to two district teachers. 

Sand Springs Board of Ed hands out awards at October meeting

Charles Page High School students August Nelson and Elizabeth Watts were presented with Sandite Spirit Awards at this Monday’s Board of Education meeting. The two juniors scored in the top 1% of ACT scores in the country and are National Merit Semi-Finalists. Nelson’s family accepted his award on his behalf as Nelson was busy competing with the Sandite Academic Team.

Cross Country coaches Mike Burdge, Virginia Williams, and Gloria Smith were presented with Pacesetter Awards for their work in organizing the Inaugural Case Cross Country Invitational. The successful 5K meet drew more than twenty teams and a thousand runners from across the state.

Clyde Boyd Middle School teacher Kenneth Cole was presented with a Coin of Excellence to go along with the two awards he recently received at the Tulsa Regional Chamber’s Flight Night STEM Expo.

In other news:

The district is still looking to fill a vacant Special Education position at Central Ninth Grade Center.

Beloved CPHS biology teacher Bo Jestice has resigned and is moving to Colorado.

Hometown philanthropist Montie Box recently made a large donation to send Sand Springs elementary students to Biztown, a simulated city ran by Junior Achievement of Tulsa.

Board of Ed recognizes Susan Cox for donating kidney to CPHS cheer coach

Sand Springs Board of Education member Rusty Gun (left) and Charles Page High School Cheer Coach Carrie Schlehueber (center) present Susan Cox (right) with a Pacesetter Award.   Click here to view full photo gallery.

Sand Springs Board of Education member Rusty Gun (left) and Charles Page High School Cheer Coach Carrie Schlehueber (center) present Susan Cox (right) with a Pacesetter Award.

Click here to view full photo gallery.

The Sand Springs Board of Education handed out a handful of awards at their September meeting.

Susan Cox was presented with a Pacesetter Award for donating a kidney to Head Cheer Coach Carrie Schlehueber. Cox is the Director at DaySpring Villa, a shelter for victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking.

Board of Ed member Rusty Gunn described Cox as “someone who is selfless in their life,” even before donating her kidney.

According to Gunn, Cox heard that Schlehueber was in need of a kidney and went in to find out if she was a match without even being asked. “That kidney was always hers,” said Cox. “I was just holding it for her.”

Schlehueber is expected to return to work on October 1st.

The Charles Page High School Student Council was presented with a Sandite Spirit Award for their work prior to the 2018-2019 school year, decorating the hallways and working around the school every day in the week before the year began. The Council consists of Stephanie Ayala, Logan Bateman, Caleb Bundy, Katie Gonzales, Chloe Graves, Savana McCabe, Abigail McGehee, Emily Phifer, and Kristen Taylor.

“When you see these kids that are here tonight, you see that public education works,” said CPHS history/leadership teacher Frank Cooper. “Every one of these kids is a product of public school education and they are competitive, academically motivated, engaged, enthusiastic.”

The Sand Springs Rotary Club was presented with a Sandite Pacesetter Award for helping to provide school supplies to teachers. The Rotary Club also hosted a luncheon recently for new teachers and gave every new teacher $70 worth of gift cards to local restaurants.

Sheila Bright was presented with a Pacesetter Award for offering her facilities at Bright Morning Farm to the school faculty for a conference before the school year began. Not only did Bright provide her facilities for two days free of charge, she also brought in a yoga instructor on day two.

Kevin Stitt, Jadine Nollan win Republican nominations in runoff

Four-term incumbent Jadine Nollan won the Republican nomination for House District 66 in a runoff Tuesday evening, defeating Sand Springs City Councilman Brian Jackson.

With all precincts reporting, Nollan defeated Jackson with 59.87% of the 3,125 total ballots cast. Jackson received 1,254 votes. 

Nollan is a Sand Springs native, Charles Page High School and Oklahoma State University alumni, and former Sand Springs Board of Education President. She will meet Democratic nominee Angela Graham in the November election.

Gateway Mortgage executive Kevin Stitt defeated former Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett with 54.56% of 302,077 ballots for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Former Party Chair Chris Powell won the Libertarian Party nomination with 59.07% of 926 votes over Rex Lawhorn. They will meet Democratic nominee Drew Edmondson in the general election.

Matt Pinnell defeated Dana Murphy with 58.14% of the vote for the Lieutenant Governor nomination. State Senator Anastasia Pittman secured the Democratic nomination in June and the two will also face Independent Dr. Ivan Holmes, former chair of the State Democratic Party. 

Cindy Byrd defeated Charlie Prater in a close race with 50.17% for the State Auditor and Inspector Republican nomination. She will face Libertarian nominee John Yeutter.

Incumbent Mike Hunter won a close race for the Attorney General nomination with 50.05% over Gentner Drummond. He will face Democratic nominee Mark Myles.

Incumbent Superintendent of Public Education Joy Hofmeister handily fended off Linda Murphy with 56.68% of the vote. She will face Democratic nominee Dr. John Cox and Independent Dr. Larry Huff. 

Leslie Osborn defeated Cathy Costello with 52.35% of votes for the Commissioner of Labor nomination. She will face Democrat Fred Dorrell and Independent Brandt Dismukes. 

Bob Anthony attained 53.61% of the vote for the Corporation Commissioner Republican nomination over Brian Bingman. Ashley McCray won the Democratic nomination with 65.08% over Blake Cummings. They will face Independent Jackie Short in November. 

McDonald's franchisee Kevin Hern defeated former Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris with 54.92% of the vote in the U.S. Representative Republican runoff for District 1. Tim Gilpin won the Democratic nomination with 59.38% over Amanda Douglas. 

Incumbent Republican District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler defended his nomination against Ben Fu with 56.61% of the vote in District 14. He will face Democrat Jenny Proehl-Day in November. 

Free Back 2 School Bash today at Tulsa Tech


The Sand Springs Ministerial Alliance’s annual Back 2 School Bash is set to kick off at 2:00 p.m. Sunday, August 12th at the Tulsa Tech Sand Springs Campus. 

In addition to fun activities like inflatables and food, there will also be free backpacks, school supplies, haircuts, dental checkups, and flu shots.  

The celebration will last from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. at 924 East Charles Page Boulevard. 

Board of Ed formally approves teacher pay raise schedule, district struggles with recruiting

The Sand Springs Board of Education formally voted Monday evening to enact a new teacher pay schedule in accordance with House Bill 1023XX. 

In March the Oklahoma legislature approved a historic $447 million tax hike to help fund public school teacher salaries. Salaries for Oklahoma teachers will increase anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000 this school year.

State Representative Jadine Nollan used the opportunity to remind the crowd of the many previous pay raise attempts that failed to pass either the legislature or state ballots. "Tonight, for me, is a very special night," said Nollan. 

The Sand Springs Women’s Chamber was presented with a Pacesetter Award in recognition of a $4,500 donation they made to the district. The Women’s Chamber is dedicated to promoting children’s literacy in Sand Springs.

Charles Page High School sophomore Sean Kuehn was presented with a Sandite Spirit Award for his involvement in the Technology Student Association. TSA is a student-led organization focused on preparing students for the work force. Kuehn previously won the TSA National Championship in Public Speaking at the National Conference in Atlanta.

Gary Watts was presented with a Coin of Excellence for his work in the district. Watts has worked with SSPS since 1990 and was previously Chief Financial Officer for the district.

Student safety was a large topic of conversation. The district will be assigning Student ID badges for grades 6-12 beginning this school year that will be mandatory at all times. “We’re not atypical, most 6A schools do that,” said Superintendent Sherry Durkee.

Durkee says the district is also working with the Sand Springs Police Department to stage an intruder drill at the high school this year. 

The Board approved an Interlocal Agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding with the police department to help pay for a school resource officer for the upcoming school year.

"That officer will be on district site during the day, all the time," said Durkee. 

SEE RELATED: City Council approves SSPD Resource Officer for Sand Springs Public Schools

Durkee also addressed the continuing statewide teacher shortage. The passage of HB1023XX is intended to help stem the shortage, but thousands of Oklahoma teachers have already left for neighboring states in recent years.

Prior to the pay raise, Oklahoma teachers were at the bottom of the nation in average pay and some Texas school districts have been openly recruiting Oklahoma teachers with billboards in the Oklahoma City metro area. 

Last week the Oklahoma State Department of Education approved 853 emergency teaching certifications, bringing the total number for 2018-2019 to 1,238. Last year they approved a record 1,975. Emergency certifications last for two years and allow schools to employ instructors who aren't traditionally qualified with a state teaching license. 

"Out district today now employs ten emergency certified teachers," said Durkee. "We've struggled a little bit for the first time with hiring teachers and having staff ready to go in August." Specifically two special education positions have remained open until this week. "I think at this point the district is fully staffed, which is a good thing. I was sweating a little bit up until literally today."

The district is also trying to reestablish some positions that were previously eliminated due to budget constraints, state revenue failures, and funding cuts. "Over the course of the last two years, through attrition, we let go of over fifty positions from administration to maintenance, custodial, and paraprofessionals. We are slowly but surely trying to recapture some of those positions," said Durkee. "This year we will be reinstituting two library media specialists, one teacher at Northwoods, a science teacher at Charles Page High School, and a paraprofessional at ECEC."

"I feel like we've made a turn for the better, but caution is always the best way to move forward."

Harper's Hut Shaved Ice & Java unveils new "Little Free Library"

Harper's Hut Shaved Ice & Java added a new "Little Free Library" to their Sand Springs snow cone stand Tuesday.

The miniature outdoor library is accessible at all hours and runs on an honor system. Readers of all ages are encouraged to take a book or leave a book that they have finished reading.

According to the Children's Literacy Foundation, 61% of low-income families have no age-appropriate children's books in their homes. The Little Free Library organization aims to help the low-income community share their resources and encourage reading.

The Harper's Hut library is an official Little Free Library and also contains books for adults and teens as well. 

The Harper's Hut library is the third little library in Sand Springs. Other locations are 11 South Vermeer Ave and 4201 South Walnut Creek Drive.

Sand Springs has two public libraries, but they are only open 53 hours a week, most of which conflicts with school or work for many people. The 24/7 self-help model of little libraries offers an alternative for children in desperate need of literature.

Harper's Hut is a Sand Springs company with half a dozen locations in the Tulsa metropolitan area. The original Sand Springs stand was opened in 2014 by William Nozak and is located at 1124 East Charles Page Boulevard.

Harper's can also be found at the Case Community Park splash pad and at 3110 South 65th West Avenue in Berryhill. Nozak says he is also working on a little library for the Berryhill location.

City Council approves SSPD Resource Officer for Sand Springs Public Schools

The Sand Springs City Council approved a $34,211.00 expenditure to provide a School Resource Officer for the Sand Springs Public School District at Monday night's regular monthly meeting.

Sand Springs Police Chief Mike Carter said the proposal was partly a response to school shootings across the country and partly an opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of students. In addition to providing security, the SRO will also oversee the department's truancy program.

"We're one of the few communities that has a truancy program," says Carter. "It's not about just writing citations, it's about finding out if there's other family dynamics that are causing that student to miss school. Besides the lost education opportunity, we may find other problems that are happening with that student in that family."

The department has a history of providing school resource officers, and at one point had as many as three. Eventually economic downturn left the department with dwindling resources and the position was eliminated about five years ago.

In other news:

Council approved a dilapidation public nuisance resolution ordering the demolition of 400 North Cleveland Avenue on or after September 5th if the property owner does not begin repairs.

Council renewed a ten-year tax incentive agreement between the City of Sand Springs and Reasor's LLC. The City recruited the grocery store chain to Sand Springs in 2011 through a $2 million incentive, creating more than sixty jobs at the long-vacant Wal Mart facility in Prattville.

Council accepted a $65,045 bid from Tim Mills Fence Company for 6,400 feet of white vinyl fence. The company will have until October 1 to complete the installation along the city's highway corridors. 

Council approved the purchase of a Toro Reelmaster mower for the City sports fields. The $55,027.93 mower will be funded initially by the City but will be reimbursed over a three-year period by the Baseball, Soccer, and Softball organizations who lease the parks. 

Council approved a $188,702.47 contract with L&M Office Furniture to furnish the new Billie A. Hall Public Safety Center. 

Council approved a $113,387.00 contract with Southwest Solutions to purchase storage lockers, explosive cabinets, high density shelving, gun lockers, armory storage cabinets, etc. for the new Billie A. Hall Public Safety Center.

Following the Council meeting, the Sand Springs Municipal Authority approved $99,547.24 to purchase two new Toro Greenaster 3150-Q lawn mowers and a Toro Workman utility vehicle for the Canyons at Blackjack Ridge golf course. 

Astronomy Night at Keystone Ancient Forest set for Friday July 20

Sand Springs, OK - The City of Sand Springs Parks Department along with the Broken Arrow Sidewalk Astronomers and the Keystone Ancient Forest Trail Guides invite the general public to a rare astronomy night on Friday, July 20. The gates open late at 9:30 p.m. and guests will be allowed to stay until after midnight. There will be NO hiking during this event. Trails will be closed.

An evening of star and planet gazing (weather permitting) is planned for this free event thanks to the help of the Broken Arrow Sidewalk Astronomers. This group will share as many as six high-performance telescopes (transportable) which range in size from 4-18 inch glass diameter to view the planets and stars. A brief introduction on astronomy will begin at 9:30 p.m., with viewing happening until the event concludes after midnight.

"This is a great opportunity for people to enjoy the Keystone Ancient Forest in a unique way," stated Jeff Edwards, Parks Director for the City of Sand Springs. "Even though it will be a late night to see the heavens, this is a great summer event for kids and families."

Astronomy activities will require a night free of cloudy overcast. For the latest updates on this and other hiking events, please follow the Keystone Ancient Forest FaceBook page. Pets are not allowed for this event. Porta potty service is available.

For more information about the City of Sand Springs Parks Department, contact their offices Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. at (918) 246-2561 or visit

Representative Jadine Nollan endorsed by James Lankford for fifth term

Incumbent Representative Jadine Nollan was recently endorsed by U.S. Senator James Lankford. (SUBMITTED).

Jadine Nollan is a household name in the Sand Springs community. After ten years on the Sand Springs Board of Education followed by eight years in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, she’s asking for House District 66 voters to trust her with another term in the State Legislature.

A lifelong Sandite and 1977 Charles Page High School graduate, Jadine Cox met her future husband, now City Councilman Phil Nollan, at Oklahoma State University. The two have been married for 37 years and have three kids, two granddaughters, and a cat. Each of their children attended Sand Springs Public Schools.

“This is a job that will take as much as you will give it,” says Nollan, who is a full time representative with no private sector career. “I try to be really devoted, I do a lot of research. I try to be in the community.”  Before running for State office she was the director at Sand Springs Community Services, assisting the low-income community with clothing, school supplies, and food. She also served multiple terms as the Sand Springs Board of Education President.

Nollan is the chairwoman for the Higher Education and Career Tech committee and also serves on the Appropriations and Budget Education committee, the Children, Youth, and Family Services committee, and the Common Education committee.

“One thing I learned during the teacher walkout after talking to teachers from all over our state is there are still a lot of issues we need to look at and try to improve in their situations. I do think that we need to continue to discuss how we can make our school systems strong,” says Nollan.

“Our school districts are the ones that actually develop a strong workforce. We have to have a strong workforce in order to have strong businesses. We have to have strong businesses in order to have a strong economy.”

Keeping with that mission, Nollan authored House Bill 2155 which passed both chambers and was signed into law by Governor Mary Fallin in May of 2017. The bill required the State Board of Education to adopt a statewide system of college and career planning tools that would help parents, counselors, and teachers to develop an individualized career-based learning plan for students. 

“One goal I have and would like to see take place is making a very clear pathway for our students to be able to earn an Associate’s degree by the time they finish high school. Our biggest workforce needs right now are Associate’s degrees and career-tech certifications. So I’d really like to see us focus on that.”

She also authored HB3220 which will help streamline the process of approving emergency certifications for teachers during the current statewide teacher shortage. That bill was signed into law in May of 2018.

HB3225 is another bill Nollan is excited about authoring. “When I was elected I found out we had millions of dollars in tax credits that the State was paying, but we weren’t tracking them at all.”

The Legislature created the Incentive Evaluation Commission in 2015, but HB3225 takes it a step further and will put all State incentives online for anyone to view them.

“The State has these blank checks that they’re writing for these incentives, but we don’t understand how they’re growing. I had this idea that kind of snowballed into a real time dashboard concept for tax credits that would measure and monitor the growth of them. What the bill does, is it directs the Oklahoma Tax Commission to develop a real-time dashboard and put it on their website. That way, with the constant turnover in the legislative body, it would allow them to have a resource for future legislators to be able to determine how those are growing.”

The bill garnered bipartisan support and passed the Senate unanimously before being signed into law this May. The OTC has until January of 2020 to develop and launch the program.

Nollan says she supports the will of the people regarding State Question 788 legalizing medical marijuana, but says the Legislature will have to work to create a strong framework for the industry. She is concerned with how the state workforce might be affected should voters ever push to legalize recreational marijuana.

Minimum wage should remain at its current level, according to Nollan. “Of course you want people to be able to survive, but I also think that businesses need to be able to determine those rates so it doesn’t put the business in jeopardy.”

Nollan also wants to provide context surrounding a controversial attempt by House Democrats to end the Capital Gains tax deduction during the latest session.

Senate Bill 1086 passed 30 votes to 9, but according to Nollan there was an agreement in the House that Republican leadership would vote to increase the Gross Production Tax on new oil wells if Democrats agreed not to push for Capital Gains. After HB1010xx passed, raising GPT from 2% to 5%, Democrats then attempted to suspend House rules to vote on SB1086.

Nollan says she would be open to considering SB1086, but because House leadership didn’t expect it to go to the floor, the bill never went through the standard process of committee review. “The unintended consequences had not been vetted or researched,” says Nollan. She says the House never takes bills straight from the Senate and votes on them without going through committee first.

Nollan wants to remind voters of all the progress that the Legislature has already made in the past few years, especially HB1023xx which raised Oklahoma teacher pay to second in the region with an average increase of $6,100. The Fiscal Year 2019 education budget, which already passed the legislature, includes a 19% increase in education funding with allocations for textbooks and support staff raises.

She also points to the Energy Stabilization Fund created in 2016, which banks energy revenue during boom years to help stabilize the budget during oil busts.

“67% of our legislative body after this cycle will have less than two years’ experience. There’s some issues with regard to institutional memory. It’s such a huge learning curve whenever you first start: understanding the process and understanding such a wide variety of issues that our state has to deal with.”

“That’s something that I think is noteworthy,” says Nollan. “It does put a lot of power into the hands of the lobbyists, the agency heads, the bureaucrats, when there’s such a large turnover in the legislative body.”

Nollan holds an “A” rating from the Research Institute for Economic Development, a 100% rating from the National Federation of Independent Business, an apple from the Oklahomans for Public Education group, a 100% rating from Oklahomans for Life and the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, and “A” ratings from the National Rifle Association and the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association. She has endorsements from U.S. Senator James Lankford, the Tulsa Regional Chamber, and the Oklahoma State Chamber.

The Republican Primary will be held on Tuesday, June 26th. Nollan will face Emily Delozier and Sand Springs City Councilman Brian Jackson. If no candidate receives at least 50% of the votes, then the top two candidates will advance to a runoff election on August 28th. The winner will face the Democratic nominee on November 6th.

Sand Springs City Councilman Brian Jackson running for House District 66

Sand Springs City Councilman Brian Jackson is throwing his hat in the ring for the House District 66 election. The Republican candidate is a thrice-elected councilman and has been awarded an apple by the Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education political action group. 

Education is the cornerstone of Jackson's campaign, an issue which he says is "the purest form of economic development." He points to proper education funding as a solution to fixing both the State economy as well as overcrowded prisons. 

"From the womb to the classroom, that's how I describe my philosophy," says Jackson. "Education gives you options...Incarceration breaks up families, continues the cycle of poverty, and creates a reliance on government."

He says the teacher pay raise included in House Bill 1023xx is just a start and that school funding and salaries need to continue to go up. He is opposed to forced consolidation of school districts.

"I'm a Republican that's not afraid to reinvest in our Oklahoma," says Jackson. "We do that by these taxes. You've done tax breaks here and there with businesses and income tax."

Jackson praises the revenue package passed with House Bill 1010xx and says that he would go a step further by raising gross production tax to 7% on new oil wells. The GPT was raised from 2% to 5% during the latest session. He also wants to look at raising income tax and ending the capital gains tax deduction. 

Jackson is a Charles Page High School graduate from the Class of 2002. His wife, Barbie, is a fifteen year veteran teacher in the Sand Springs Public School District. The two have a daughter, Bella, in the second grade.  He earned his Associate's Degree through the Tulsa Community College West Campus in Sand Springs and a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University in Tulsa. He has spent the last ten years as Development Manager for Junior Achievement of Oklahoma and has spent nine years on the Sand Springs City Council. 

One of the most important things Jackson wants voters to know is that he plans to be an "open-door legislator." In fact, he plans to remove his office door altogether so that constituents can always access him. 

Jackson plans to vote "Yes" on State Question 788, legalizing medical marijuana. "If there is something out there like marijuana that can change someone's life - I'm for that. I don't want to be hindering anyone. I think it's a moral issue if you're standing in the way of something that could be beneficial."

Regarding tax incentives, Jackson says they're "the nature of the game nowadays." He points to the City of Sand Springs's recruitment of Reasor's and Wal-Mart as evidence of the success of tax incentives. "You have to do your research to make sure on each individual case, if it makes business sense. We really need to evaluate each one to make sure it's providing fruit."

Jackson is hesitant to raise the minimum wage saying that the current rate provides an individual incentive for employees. "You show your employer that you've got drive and skill and passion for that job, you're not going to stay at the minimum. When the government starts intervening in that, that goes directly to the consumer."

Jackson would have voted "No" for the Constitutional Carry bill that was passed by the legislature and vetoed by Governor Mary Fallin. He says that Oklahomans already have the ability to get an open or concealed carry license, and that removing the screening process would create a "Wild West scenario" that could escalate potentially dangerous situations.

He opposes Senate Bill 1140 which allowed for religious adoption agencies to refuse to work with LGBTQ couples. "I'm a person that believes not to discriminate against people. That bill discriminates. We have thousands of children in Oklahoma that are waiting for a loving family."

Jackson previously ran for a House seat in 2006 and for Senate District 37 in 2016 and 2017. Should he win the primary and November general election, he would have to surrender his City Council seat. Jackson just began a three-year term in May of 2018 and the City of Sand Springs would have to have a special election to replace him. 

The Republican Primary will be held on Tuesday, June 26th. Jackson will face incumbent Jadine Nollan and Emily Delozier. If no candidate receives at least 50% of the votes, then the top two candidates will advance to a runoff election on August 28th. The winner will face the Democratic nominee on November 6th. 

Emily Delozier endorsed by former Congressman Tom Coburn in House District 66 election

House District 66 candidate Emily Delozier shakes hands with former U.S. Congressman Dr. Tom Coburn after receiving an endorsement from the conservative activist. (SUBMITTED).

After back to back revenue failures in 2016 and 2017, the Oklahoma Legislature made a big push in their latest sessions to increase their tax base and diversify State income. House Bill 1010xx created a historic $447 million revenue package to help fund public school teacher pay raises and to try and prevent future budget crises.

Of the five candidates running for House District 66, only one opposes that package. Emily Delozier is running with the most conservative platform of the three Republican candidates, and points to the latest newsletter from the State Treasurer as justification.

“At $970.9 million, May Gross Receipts to the Treasury are a record high for May collections,” announced State Treasurer Ken Miller. “As has been the case each month for more than a year, Oklahoma’s economy is showing signs of ongoing expansion.” According to the May newsletter, gross revenue for the past twelve months is up $1.2 billion over the prior year.

The HB1010xx tax increases have yet to begin, leaving some conservative leaders calling for a complete veto of what they see as an unnecessary package. Delozier, together with conservative advocates including former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, helped found the group Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite with the goal of undoing that legislation.

“The corporations don’t pay the tax,” says Delozier. “They pass it on to somebody else.” She says the taxes on cigarettes, gas, and diesel will only negatively affect the average Oklahoman.

The OTU does not oppose the teacher pay raises themselves, passed in HB1023xx, but simply the funding mechanism behind those raises. The group is currently circulating a veto referendum petition to place State Question 799 on the ballot this November. SQ799 would put HB1010xx to a popular vote, but would leave the pay raises intact.

Despite the positive economic upturn, Denise Northrup, Office of Management and Enterprise Services director, told the Oklahoma Board of Equalization Monday that another revenue failure could be expected if SQ799 passes.

All four competitors for HD66 have declined to sign the OTE petition, while Delozier has a copy and welcomes signatures. Her work to oppose the largest tax hike in Oklahoma history has drawn endorsements from Dr. Tom Coburn, the Osage County Republican Party, and the Oklahoma Republican Assemblies over the incumbent Republican, Jadine Nollan.

"Poor leadership in Oklahoma has allowed legislators the easy way out, by throwing new taxes at old problems, instead of doing the hard work of implementing tax reform," said Coburn. "Abortion, Second Amendment rights, tax reform, jobs and educational funding are too important for business as usual, which has not worked. Emily DeLozier will serve well the Taxpayers of HD 66."


Delozier, 70, is a lifelong fourth-generation Sandite with kids and grandkids in the Sand Springs area. She holds a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Tulsa and three Associates Degrees from Tulsa Community College. She attends First Baptist Church and is an active member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

“Our mom has always told us, if you didn’t like the way something was being done, just do it yourself,” says Delozier, who has been dissatisfied with Nollan’s tenure in office.

“Right now they’re telling us nationwide that they don’t have enough employees to fill the job market…it’s not hit Oklahoma yet.” According to the May Treasurer’s Report, unemployment stands at 4.0% with more than 74,000 Oklahomans seeking jobs.

Delozier is critical of the HB1010xx tax increase on cigarettes and cigars, which she claims will have adverse effects on the State’s lower income communities. “Oftentimes people smoke because they use it as a coping mechanism…they’re unemployed or underemployed and don’t make enough money.”

“My stance on the revenue problem is that there isn’t really a revenue problem.” Delozier points to government mismanagement as responsible for much of the State’s problems, pointing to high profile cases in the Health Department and Department of Transportation (ODOT).

ODOT recently drew allegations of mismanagement when it appeared that $230 million was missing from the County Improvement for Roads and Bridges account. State Auditor Gary Jones later found that the missing funds were appropriated by the Legislature to deal with the 2017 State Budget crisis.

In May a grand jury found that the Health Department hid more than $30 million of State funding in Federal and County accounts while also claiming a $30 million budget gap and laying off nearly 200 employees.

Delozier calls for forensic audits of all State agencies, consolidation of public school districts and eliminating superintendent positions, and ending tax incentives as ways to improve State services without raising the budget.

“In theory (tax incentives) sound nice, but the truth is it kind of discriminates…Some of these really big guys are getting it at our (small businesses') expense. People want to do business in Oklahoma anyways. If we would fix our infrastructure that would attract more business here. They have to be able to deliver our goods without falling in a giant pothole. I don’t think tax incentives are fair to other businesses or to the taxpayers.”

Delozier is open to raising the minimum wage, but is critical of the Fight for Fifteen campaign, saying that much of an increase will lead to automation and elimination of jobs.

Delozier would like to end privatized prisons in Oklahoma, saying that the for-profit system has created a pressure to fill the penitentiaries and has catapulted Oklahoma to first in the nation in per capita incarceration.

State Question 788, which will put medical marijuana on the ballot along with the HD66 election, is a no-go for Delozier. “We already have legalized CBD oil, which is nonpsychotropic, and it can help veterans with PTSD and children that have seizures. But they’re wanting the THC in the plant, which is psychotropic.”

Delozier opposed HB3375, known as the “Ball and Dice Bill” which legalized games such as craps and roulette at tribal casinos. “I don’t think we need any additional gambling in Oklahoma.”

Delozier supported the Constitutional Carry bill that would have authorized citizens age 21 and older, as well as military personnel 18 and older, to carry a handgun either openly or concealed, without a state-issued license or permit. Senate Bill 1212 passed both chambers but was vetoed by Governor Mary Fallin.

“There’s a lot of cleanup that needs to be done,” summarized Delozier. “Abortion is strong on my mind. If I could do something to bring that to an end, I would feel like I had completed my life’s mission.”

Ultimately Delozier sums up her positions as being for less government, less taxes, and more tax reform. She previously ran against Nollan in 2016 and received 25.7% of the vote.

The Republican Primary will be held on Tuesday, June 26th. Delozier will face incumbent Jadine Nollan, as well as Sand Springs City Councilman Brian Jackson. If no candidate receives at least 50% of the votes, then the top two candidates will advance to a runoff election on August 28th. The winner will face the Democratic nominee on November 6th. 

Sand Springs teacher Angela Graham running for House District 66

In the midst of a statewide teacher walkout, thousands of public educators rallied outside the State Capitol building to lobby for increased education funding. While many construction workers refused to cross the picket line to work on the Capitol remodel, one group of individuals was eagerly encouraged to enter the building: legislative candidates.

382 candidates filed to run for the House of Representatives, many with a goal of affecting major change in what some perceive as a stagnant legislature with no dedication to fighting for everyday Oklahomans. Among them was Angela Graham, who hopes to secure the Democratic Party’s nomination on June 26th for House District 66, representing Sand Springs and Northwest Tulsa.

Sandite Pride News sat down with Graham for an interview this past week at Napoli’s Italian Restaurant in downtown Sand Springs. Graham, a native Sandite, likes to keep her tax dollars as local as possible to support the small town economy. Graham currently resides in Sand Springs and both of her children attend public schools.

Graham graduated Charles Page High School in 1999, earned an Associate’s Degree in Elementary Education, and graduated from the University of Phoenix with a Bachelor’s in Human Services and Mental Health. She currently teaches Pre-K at Deborah Brown Community School in downtown Tulsa.

Now she wants to teach the State Legislature a lesson on how to treat its citizens.  

Foremost on Graham’s mind is creating a diverse and sustainable tax base to fully fund education, infrastructure, and social services.

“When we are in a revenue failure, we should be looking at every option to get sustainable revenue for schools and roads and bridges,” says Graham.

Graham wants to end the Capital Gains tax deduction, which allows Oklahomans to avoid paying taxes on income from the sale of Oklahoma real estate or stock in Oklahoma-based firms.

She also wants to take another look at increasing the gross production tax on new oil wells. Oklahoma oil wells are taxed at 7% after their first 36 months, but were previously only taxed at 2% for the first three years. House Bill 1010xx, passed in the latest legislative session, raised that rate to 5%.

“The oil is here. They’re going to pay 7% or 9%, they’re going to stay in Oklahoma.”

Graham is a strong critic of the Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite! organization, which is circulating a veto referendum petition to undo HB1010xx.

“They’re not really concerned about everyday Oklahomans and regressive taxes…they are concerned about protecting special interests and big oil in Oklahoma. They’re not really fighting for everyday Oklahomans.”

She also feels like HB1010xx contained many regressive taxes, and sympathizes with legislators who didn’t feel comfortable voting in favor of that package.  

“I absolutely understand legislators that refused to sign that because they didn’t want poor folks being taxed more. And I also understand legislators that listened to their constituents and signed that because it was a place to start. Sometimes the vehicle for change isn’t perfect.”

Specifically Graham wasn’t fond of what she calls “moral taxes” on cigarettes and cigars.

She is also opposed to consolidating administration or looking for wasteful spending in public school districts. “I think that’s already been done. We’ve cut everything that we can, we’ve combined everything we can combine. Schools in West Tulsa that affect our district have been shut down. It’s always okay to look at wasteful spending, but there’s nothing left to cut.”

“We’re not in the mess because there’s fraud and abuse at such a rampant level that it’s caused a revenue failure for ten years. We’re in this mess because we don’t have sustainable revenue.”

She was against the “David Boren” one-cent sales tax that was defeated as a State Question in 2016, saying it was a regressive tax that disproportionately affects low income and impoverished Oklahomans.

On the workforce, Graham wants to see labor unions strengthened, wants to undo Oklahoma’s right to work laws, and wants to avoid offering tax incentives to large companies that don’t provide high-paying full-time jobs for their employees. She also supports raising the minimum wage to $15.

“There’s a problem in Oklahoma with stagnant wages with a minimum wage that keeps people poor, and those are large corporations that then also reap the benefits of their employees spending food stamp money in those same businesses.”

“When we pay living wages to everyday Oklahomans, they invest it back in the economy. Every penny that low income middle class workers make – they spend it. They’re not accruing more wealth. It’s good economics to pay them more money because it helps the sales tax, it invests in property tax, it’s just good business and it’s also moral to pay a fair and living wage.”

Graham wants to see a major overhaul of the criminal justice and foster care systems in Oklahoma.

“We are spending an insane amount of money criminalizing everyday folks in Oklahoma. When we are spending more to incarcerate grown adults than we are on per pupil spending – that’s a problem.”

She also wants to eliminate the cash bail system and wants to help ex-cons expunge their criminal records.

Graham opposed the passage of SB1140 which allows private adoption agencies not receiving tax dollars to refuse to adopt to couples whose lifestyles are in conflict with the moral or religious beliefs of the agency, specifically LGBTQIA families. That bill also drew condemnation from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who responded by banning State-funded travel to Oklahoma.

“We have a broken foster care system in Oklahoma. We have thousands of children in Oklahoma that are in desperate need of loving families. We should never make it harder for loving families to adopt children in need. It’s discriminatory, it shouldn’t have been introduced. It’s an attack on a vital part of our community.”

Graham would also like to see the foster care system expanded to provide services for young adults who “age out” of the system when they turn eighteen.  

Low voter turnout is a big point of concern for Graham, who would like to see Election Day become a national holiday. As a state she would like to see automatic voter registration with an opt-out available.

Graham personally opposed the recent Constitutional Carry bill passed by the legislature and vetoed by Governor Mary Fallin. Despite coming from a family that hunts and partakes in recreational shooting, she still believes that gun owners should go through State licensing to carry sidearms in public.

“I would have personally been opposed to (Constitutional Carry), however I understand that the polling from most of the folks in House District 66 were for it. And so when I’m elected there will come a time when I might be personally opposed to something, but if my district is telling me to vote that way, even if it goes against my party, I’m going to be required to represent their needs. And if I ever do have to draw a line in the sand, I would be transparent and make sure they understand my reasoning.”

Graham has never before run for public office, but has served in a number of volunteer capacities, including as Precinct Chair for the Democratic Party. She is an anti-racist worker with Aware Tulsa, the local chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice. She has also volunteered with the Parent-Child Center of Tulsa, working with their anti-bullying coalition.

Of the 125 legislative seats up for election this year, nineteen candidates filed completely unopposed and 99 filed unopposed within their party. Three Republicans filed for the District 66 seat, including incumbent Jadine Nollan.

Graham will take on former restaurant owner Rusty Rowe in the Democratic Primary on June 26th.

SEE RELATED: Tulsa restaurateur Rusty Rowe campaigns for Oklahoma House District 66

House District 66 candidates focus on education at Sand Springs Chamber forum

Left to right: Jadine Nollan, Angela Graham, Brian Jackson, Emily Delozier. Not pictured: Rusty Rowe.

All five candidates for Oklahoma House District 66 spoke at a forum sponsored by the Sand Springs Chamber of Commerce Monday afternoon at the Tulsa Tech Sand Springs campus. 

Three Republicans and two Democrats spoke on issues ranging from infrastructure to mental health, but the focal point of the luncheon was the state of public education funding. 

Democrat Angela Graham is a Pre-K teacher, lifelong Sandite, and Charles Page High School graduate. 

"We have a broken legislature...that has chosen to stop fighting for us," says Graham, who is running on a heavy education platform and hopes to bring raises to Oklahoma teachers and support staff.

Additionally she wants to see all Oklahomans with health insurance, and wants to reduce statewide incarceration particularly among the female population. A big point for Graham is to undo Oklahoma’s “right-to-work” status and strengthen labor unions.

Democrat Rusty Rowe is a former restaurateur, owning and operating Mod's Coffee and Crepes in downtown Tulsa for seven years before closing shop in December of last year. He lives with his wife of ten years and two children in northwest Tulsa. 

"I decided to run because I feel like our current group of legislators have been given opportunities to invest in teachers, students, working class people, and small business owners like myself, and it seems like they often put the needs of their donors before the needs of their people," said Rowe. "I want someone who's listening to the entire district. Not just the Republicans, not just the Democrats - everybody."

"I've been talking to a doctorate of economics...a mayor, city officials, the chief of police, city planners, teachers, school administrators - to make sure that when I say something, it's been researched and I have some teeth to it. I'm not just armchair quarterbacking things."

Current Sand Springs City Councilman and former Senate District 37 candidate Brian Jackson is running as a Republican. Jackson is the Development Manager at Junior Achievement of Eastern Oklahoma and his wife is a public school teacher in Sand Springs. His daughter also attends Sand Springs Public Schools. 

"We need a representative that doesn't give up, that will go against the political parties and remember it's about the people," says Jackson.

Jackson was censured by the Republican Party of Tulsa County during the 2016 Senate race for vowing to support Democratic candidate Lloyd Snow against Republican incumbent Dan Newberry, who Jackson considered to be anti-education. The Oklahoma Republican Party's State Central Committee voted in May to uphold a ban preventing Jackson from accessing the OKGOP Datacenter Program.

Republican Emily Delozier is a fourth generation Sandite with a Bachelor's degree in business from the University of Tulsa and three Associate of the Arts degrees from Tulsa Community College. 

Delozier spoke in opposition of raising taxes, and in favor of consolidating school districts to eliminate administrative overhead and return education dollars to the classroom. 

Incumbent Republican Jadine Nollan is a lifelong Sandite and former Sand Springs Board of Education member. She spoke regarding her past eight years in office and the difficulties the legislature has overcome during her tenure.

"When I was elected in 2011, our country was in a national recession...Oklahoma went into an oil bust...we had pensions that were failing...we had crumbling roads and bridges...we had a worker's compensation system that was one of the most expensive in the nation, we had a capitol building that had been neglected and was unsafe," said Nollan. "We were not tracking any of our tax credits, evaluating them, measuring them, or monitoring them at that point...We had a revenue problem and we were not going to be able to cut our way out of it, though a lot of people still believe that we could."

Nollan pointed to the Oklahoma Incentives Commission, the Energy Stabilization Fund, the Governor's Closing Fund, a revamp of the worker's compensation system, the rainy-day fund, an eight-year plan for transportation, and the Capitol remodel as legislative successes.

According to Nollan, State pension funds are all nearing solvency and the Oklahoma Tax Commission is developing a real-time dashboard to measure and monitor tax credits online. 

Nollan holds a 93% rating from the Research Institute for Economic Development, a 100% rating from the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a 50% rating on The Oklahoma Constitution conservative index, a 100% rating from Oklahomans for Life, a 59% rating from the American Conservative Union, a "Pro-Public Education" assessment from Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education, an "F" on the Sierra Club environmental scorecard, and an "A" on the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association scorecard. 

All candidates but Delozier vowed not to sign the Oklahoma Taxpayers United referendum petition overturning a historic revenue bill passed this past legislative session to fund teacher pay raises. If the petition garners 42,000 signatures by July 18, a State Question will appear on the November ballots asking Oklahoma voters to veto the package. 

HB1010xx is expected to raise $447 million in annual revenue by increasing the gross production tax to 5% on all new oil wells, increasing the cigarette tax by $1 per pack, increasing the gasoline tax by three cents, and increasing the diesel tax by six cents. The money is intended to fund pay raises averaging more than $6,000 for Oklahoma public school teachers.

An opinion published by the Oklahoma Attorneys General states that if HB1010xx is overturned, teacher pay raises will remain intact, but the funding mechanism will be removed and legislators will have to find other ways to back the raises. 

Not only has Delozier signed the petition she is also an active member of Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite and has copies of the petition available for signatures. 

"You don't want something that's going to raise the price of all goods," said Delozier. "It's not good for Oklahoma. We still have people trying to get on their feet and get a job. You can't raise the price of hauling everything and not expect to raise the price of everything."

The primary election will be held June 26th with the deadline to request absentee ballots set for June 20th at 5:00 p.m. Early Voting will be the 21st-22nd from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and the 23rd from 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. 

Tulsa restaurateur Rusty Rowe campaigns for Oklahoma House District 66

On Monday, April 9th, nearly two hundred female attorneys descended on the Oklahoma State Capitol building to lobby on behalf of public educators. Among them was University of Tulsa student Colleen McCarty, whose trip to Oklahoma City inspired her husband, Rusty Rowe, to make the drive two days later. 

Rowe, 35, took the opportunity to file for candidacy in the race for State Representative of District 66. He will take on Angela Graham in the Democratic primary on June 26. Sandite Pride News recently sat down for an interview with Rowe.

Rowe and McCarty will celebrate their tenth anniversary in July. The two have a six-year-old daughter and an eighteen-month boy. The couple owned and operated Mod's Coffee and Crepes in downtown Tulsa for seven years before closing in December. During his time in the restaurant industry Rowe was Vice President on the Art Deco District Owners Association Board for six years. 

"I've been running other peoples' restaurants and my own restaurants for fifteen years and I never really had time to jump into the political realm. This is the first time everything really lined up and I felt a calling to do more than I've been doing."

Rowe identifies as a moderate, and has voted for both republicans and democrats in recent elections. "If it's a good idea, I don't care if there's an 'R' or a 'D' next to your name. It should be supported and fleshed out." 

"I don't think they did enough," said Rowe, regarding the most recent legislative session.

Last month Governor Mary Fallin signed into law House Bill 1010xx, creating $447 million in new revenue and generating an average pay raise of $6,100 for public school teachers.

"The only reason it's historic that it got that much, is because of how much they've cut out of education," claims Rowe. "They lowered the budget 28%, and now they're bragging about raising it 19%. That's not an accomplishment."

Education isn't the only department to take a hit in Oklahoma. According to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, the Fiscal Year 2017 budget is 15% less across the board than the budget for 2007 when adjusted for inflation. In that stretch of time, Oklahoma public school enrollment has risen by 50,000.

"We don't have reliable revenue sources anymore. You need to be investing in things that bring in money. If you don't have a good education system, you don't have people getting good-paying jobs and buying things. That's our two biggest sources of revenue, income tax and sales tax."

Rowe was also wary of HB3375, legalizing craps and roulette at tribal casinos, and an increased cigarette tax included in HB1010xx. "I'm happy for any revenue streams, but we're counting on people's addictions to fund our state, while battling addiction. It doesn't seem sustainable."

Consolidation of school districts is a cost-saving solution often proposed by Oklahoma conservatives, and is something Rowe is at least willing to consider.

"I think we need to look at everything, every aspect of it. Look at what other states have done that have had success. Base it off proven policies, not just armchair quarterbacking."

"I'm not opposed to looking at how many superintendents we have over how many schools. There's probably consolidation that would help. I don't want to consolidate actual schools, because a lot of time schools are the identity of the town."

"But, if there's a superintendent that could be over multiple schools and the data proves that it would not hurt the schools and would save money to do that, I think that's worth looking into."

Criminal Justice Reform was another cornerstone of Rowe's concerns. 

"We need to up revenues everywhere we can, and a lot of the time that's not raising taxes. My father went to drug court for a DUI. He would get called in randomly for tests to see if he had anything to drink. It removes the danger he posed, but it kept him in his community. If he would have went to prison, when he got out he wouldn't have his apartment, he wouldn't have his job, and he'd be in poverty."

"Instead of making him a tax burden forever and making us pay to house him, he continued to work, continued to buy groceries, continued to generate income tax, continued to generate sales tax, and continued to pay into the system and into his community."

Regarding medical marijuana, Rowe believes it should legalized and regulated similarly to any other prescription medication. Not a recreational marijuana advocate, he is open to legalization with regulations similar to those leveled against cigarettes and alcohol.

Rowe is a big proponent of social services due to his own familial reliance on government assistance during his childhood.

"My parents got a divorce and my mom raised my brother and me. She had to use Emergency Infant Services to get me diapers and formula. She had to use Domestic Violence Intervention Services. She's an extremely strong person. She asked for help when she needed it, and she was able to work her way up to not needing it anymore."

Rowe wants to bring reform to government assistance programs and introduce sliding scales for assistance based on income, so recipients don't need to maintain low income to receive help. 

He splits with his party on minimum wage, believing that the "Fight for $15" campaign is unrealistic and should be somewhere closer to $10-12.

"I owned a small business. Mom and Pop shops can't afford to pay somebody $15 an hour. You're going to shut down small businesses, bigger businesses are going to automate half their workforce, so you've just had a big net loss of jobs."

Rowe believes in ending tax incentives for the wind energy industry now that farms have been built throughout the state. 

"When I owned a restaurant, I wouldn't put my best-selling menu item on sale. People are already buying that. You take the new one that you want people to get interested in, and you put that on sale. And that sale only lasts a certain amount of time."

He also wants to raise gross production tax on new oil wells to 7% and wants the government to avoid subsidizing dips in the oil industry. 

"It's not the government's job to bail out your company because you didn't do what other companies have to do and pivot. Take your welders that are used to building pipelines, have them build wind farms. Take your engineers that are used to building loops, have them start working on solar efficiency. A company needs to be smart and start investing in that other stuff."

"People are different, but there are some core things that we all share. We all want safety for ourselves and our family. We all want the opportunity to pursue our own happiness. These are common things that both sides want."

Of the 125 legislative seats up for election this year, nineteen candidates filed completely unopposed and 99 filed unopposed within their party. Three Republicans filed for the District 66 seat, including incumbent Jadine Nollan. 

All five candidates for District 66 will be speaking at the Sand Springs Chamber of Commerce Open Forum on June 4th at Tulsa Tech's Sand Springs campus at 12:00 p.m. Rib Crib will be catered in and RSVP is required. Contact to reserve your seat.