A somber Board of County Commissioners meeting took place Tuesday, January 19, with First Deputy Roger Smith serving as acting District #3 Commissioner due to Mr. Lane Whitehouse’s recent passing.
District #1 Commissioner and Chairman of the Board Newt Stephens led the Pledge of Allegiance and Invocation and asked that those present take a moment of silence in remembrance of Lane Whitehouse and to pray for his family.
Andrew Goforth, Assistant District Attorney, addressed the Board on the matter. “We are saddened by the passing of Lane,” he acknowledged, and said that “with [his passing] there are some legal matters that have to be taken care of.” Smith will serve as the acting Commissioner for District #3 “until the law provides for a successor.” He said Smith has listed his First Deputy as Justin Mann and has filed it with the County Clerk. “The Governor has been notified [of Whitehouse’s death] and a special election will be called. From there a successor will be chosen by the people,” he concluded.
DA Max Cook spoke briefly and verified that the Creek County Clerk has received the First Deputy paperwork. Stephens stated, “We hope to keep Creek County moving forward and I wish we did not have to [go through this process], however, there are legal matters that have to be handled.”
Stephens also announced that a Memorial Fund has been set up in honor of Whitehouse and that they have already received their first donation. He asked that Creek County Clerk Jennifer Mortazavi oversee the donation process, saying “she has handled it in the past and done a great job.” He finished by saying, “I ask that you keep the Whitehouse family in your thoughts and give with your heart.”
The Board unanimously approved calling for an election of the registered voters in the area comprising South 231st Drive Rural Road Improvement District (RRID) on April 6. This also involves issuing sufficient maps showing the proposed boundaries of the district to each polling precinct where the vote is to take place, directing the County Clerk to cause notice to be given of the election, and directing the County Election Board to conduct the election.
The Board accepted the 2020 annual Commissary Report from the Sheriff’s Office. The report showed that proceeds from the commissary provider were $154,110.98, payments to the commissary provider were $124,336.92, and net profit was $29,774.06. The current adjusted bank balance is $123,056.87.
The Board accepted submitted bids to finish the concrete inside of the Multiplex Barn at the Fairgrounds. Stephens opened bids from 14 local companies, the lowest of which was approximately $46K, and the highest of which was $145K.
Fairgrounds Manager Jon Keiffer stated that although the Fair Board’s next scheduled meeting is February 11, Fair Board President Josh Enlow suggested calling a special meeting to review the bids. Goforth said that the bid specifications state that it must be awarded within 30 days. The Board of County Commissioners ultimately decided to pass the issue for two weeks, until its February 1st meeting, in hopes that the Fair Board is able to have their special meeting by then.
The monthly Allocation of Beverage Tax is to be distributed as follows: Bristow $3,531.56, Depew $398.88, Drumright $2,436.21, Kellyville $963.44, Kiefer $1,411.41, Lawrence Creek $125.80, Mannford $2,577.35, Mounds $978.75, Oilton $849.91, Sapulpa $17,213.01, Shamrock $85.91, and Slick $110.46.
Warner and Smith voted to extend the emergency COVID resolution for one more week. Emergency Management Director Covey Murray reported that as of Monday the 18 there are 22 new cases, 624 active cases, and 80 deaths in Creek County. However, last Friday, there were 67 new cases, 652 active cases, and 74 deaths. “We are dropping on new cases, but the deaths have risen,” Murray said.
Warner said that a month ago the County was in the mid-300s of active cases and that “it has doubled in a month. We certainly are not going in the right direction; I do not see why we would change what we have in place.”
When asked for vaccination updates, Murray said that today the Health Department will continue to vaccinate the 65 and older group at the First Christian Church. The first responders are to receive their second shot 8 days from now, and he will be getting in touch with them today.
After speaking to a Health Department Administrator who oversees several Oklahoma counties, including Creek, Warner said there are concerns due to our elderly residents not having internet in their homes or having problems signing up for their vaccination on the health department’s portal. They have directed these people to call 211 for help with accessing the website, but because people can go to any health department within a 100-miles radius of where they live, many are competing with those in the much larger Rogers and Tulsa counties for a spot.
“This has crippled the 211 system,” reported Warner. “There definitely are some issues with the roll out of the vaccines and the process that need to be addressed by the State. We have people coming here from [Tulsa] to receive shots, when our own community members cannot receive one. I think it needs to be your community first, and if there are any vaccines left over, then you can see who needs one outside of the community.” Murray agreed.