Brian Stephens, a resident of Sapulpa for the last 30 years, was appointed to the Ward One, Seat Two, position when John Anderson retired from his seat after 34 years in the City Council. He says that being a part of the City Council comes from a desire to give back to the community that’s served him so well.
“My wife is from Sapulpa, I’ve been here for 30 years. It’s my town, as far as I’m concerned, this town has been extremely good to me and my family and I want to give back any time that I can,” he said during an interview with Sapulpa Times recently.
Stephens officially moved to Sapulpa when he purchased 10 acres off Highway 33 in 1991 and built up a small ranch and called it Cripple Creek Ranch. “My wife used to make fun of me for having a sign that said ‘Cripple Creek Ranch’ on our ten acres,” he said. “And I asked, ‘do we have cows? Do they have babies? Then we’re a ranch!’ It didn’t say ‘Cripple Creek Big Ranch,’ but it’s still a ranch.”
Cripple Creek Ranch, shortened to CCR, has been the business moniker for Stephens ever since, though CCR has come to mean different things, including “Creek County Recovery” and later finally became CCR Construction. “I just kept the CCR because it had been with me for 30 years, plus people my age know about Creedence Clearwater Revival, and recognize CCR.”
CCR Construction specializes in remodels, new builds, build-outs, residential, commercial projects. “I’m a small construction company, but I’ve worked on 38 buildings downtown,” Stephens said. “I enjoy working on things. Making things look cool and nice, I love working on the old buildings. I’d almost do it for free, just to get to work on them.”
Stephens says the historic side of Sapulpa is something worth cherishing, but shouldn’t be the only thing Sapulpa has going for it. “We need to hang on to our history, but we need to grab ahold of what’s coming,” he said. “We are on the cusp of just blowing up. We have SeneGence—and not just SeneGence, but they’re going to build a plant out here—$660 million. Couple thousand jobs. Those people are going to need places to live, places to buy, rent, all those things. So my main goal is to get our infrastructure set up—better roads, better streets, because it’s not coming, it’s here. People just can’t see it yet.”
Stephens says his short time on the Road Safety Committee has opened his eyes to how much Sapulpa actually has going on. “We’ve got like, nine street projects going on right now. We have Hickory and Canyon, and I’m writing them down to check on them. They’re getting after it. It takes time, but it’ll be a nice road when they’re done. The city is such a big, complex system, that people don’t understand how we do it.”
It’s not Stephen’s first foray into local politics: he ran for City Council in 2018 and lost to Charles Stephens (no relation), who later passed away. This time, as nobody filed for John Anderson’s seat, he was appointed to the position by Vice Mayor Carla Gunn.
“I don’t know why she chose me,” Stephens said. “I think we have the same goals in mind, the same principles. We get along. I know it was difficult for her to do. We’re not on the council just to say ‘I’m a city councilman,’ you know—we’re there to get some stuff done and make the city a better place to live.”
Gunn and Stephens hit the ground running, helping to launch a First Responders Appreciation Barbecue on July 25th, hosted by Carla Newton-Hughes, local pitmaster for “A Girl & A Grill.” Stephens says it was a great event that Sapulpa needs more of.
“Infrastructure is not always just metal and concrete, you know, it’s the people. Sapulpa has always been better at this than other cities—but it’s never enough. We need to try to do things … for instance when people see you get pulled over by the police, or the firemen show up at your house, neither of those are good situations. So if our community can see those people in other situations, and at other places and settings and get to know them, then we all know each other, so that when we do come in contact with each other, it’s a little easier. That was a great thing, and we need much, much more of that.”
Stephens says other members of his family have been leading by example for longer than he’s been serving in the City Council: “Jordan’s group (called Young Minds, Big Hearts) have collected over three or four hundred stuff animals to give to the police department, for them to give to kids whenever you get pulled over. Anything to soften the conditions or help people get along better, to make things easier—that’s a good thing.”
Sapulpa is “right on the edge” of being the next big thing
“Ten or twelve buildings downtown have been purchased by out of state people,” Stephens says. “All the land out on highway 33 that has been sold, was sold at a much higher price. There are all these people on the outside looking in say ‘this is about to bust’. It always frustrates me, the public says, “they don’t want new business in town. That’s not how it works. These big corporations, that have these big chains, they go by what they call demographics. And if you don’t fit in them, you don’t even come across there—they don’t even see you. And we are right on the edge of the household income, a couple thousand dollars from being on those lists.”
It’s a common complaint for Sapulpa residents to see nearby towns getting new restaurants, such a Chick-Fil-A in Sand Springs and Glenpool and they wonder why Sapulpa is being passed over for similar options. Stephens says it’s because so far, Sapulpa isn’t showing up as a prospect. “It’s not like they pick between the three of us, we’re not even on the list,” he says.
So what exactly does Sapulpa need to do, to get listed as a viable option for these businesses? Stephens says it’s coming.
“The household income needs to be higher by about two grand a month. The (SeneGence) plant alone will do that. Well, not alone, but we’re gradually getting closer. That’s going to make a huge change,” he says.
“I want Sapulpa to be a better place to live. That’s all my goal is. Sapulpa has been very, very good to me over the last 20 or 30 years. I just want it to be a better place to live. Cleaner, nicer, with nice, busy streets. that’s the sole reason that I got into city council, period.”