The County committee meetings include discussions of ARPA funds, marijuana complaints, and zoning changes

The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) heard an application to allow a fireworks stand in Kiefer from June 15th through July 5th at their Monday morning meeting. This item was recommended for approval by the Creek County Board of Adjustment (CCBOA) and Creek County Planning Commission (CCPC) last Tuesday, the 18th. 

The applicant, Justin Rovang, has operated the business for two summers, unaware of the County’s regulations. The tract contains 2.5 acres and is located at 15369 South 49th West Avenue. The CCBOA is also requiring an inspection of the fireworks stand by the Kiefer Fire Department, reported County Planner Wendy Murray. This was unanimously approved by the BOCC. 

At their meetings on the 18th, the CCBOA and CCPC also discussed amendments to County zoning and subdivision regulations. This was a first reading by both groups—each will make recommendations to Murray, who will take them to the BOCC for a final say. They will also be posted publicly for at least three weeks before final amendments are made. 

During the discussion at the CCPC meeting, issues and complaints about marijuana laws and regulations arose from both Planning Commissioners and attendees of the meeting. These concerned whether or not the odor can be considered a pollutant if air filters can be required for grow and processing sites, decriminalization issues, and other moral and political ramifications of the legalization of medical marijuana.  

In response to a member of the audience complaining about the State’s marijuana laws, Chair Randy Wood said, “Sir, most of us probably agree with you. You’re preaching to the choir. But we can’t do anything. The Federal Government or Creek Nation would have to do something.” 

The BOCC approved the purchase of two 140 Graders from Warren Cat out of the Use Tax Funds for Highway Districts #1, #2, and #3. District #1 Commissioner Newt Stephens said that the County will need this heavy equipment for upcoming redistricting legislation.

Justin Mann, First Deputy of District #3, received a $250,995 quote for the machinery from a Source Well contract. Source Well is a public agency that offers competitively-solicited purchasing contracts for products and equipment to member agencies. 

District #2 Commissioner Leon Warner stated, “[the County is] in dire need of funds to prepare its roads” because of the “February freeze,” which “caused abnormal expenditures.” He discussed two pipeline projects in his district and the damage they are causing the roads. “We hope to work with [the pipeline companies] once the projects are complete to repair damage. We are just trying to maintain them currently, so they are passable.”

Assistant District Attorney Andrew Goforth confirmed that a little over $6.9 million of American Rescue Plan Act 2021 (ARPA) funds were deposited into County accounts from the U.S Treasury on Friday afternoon. He said that the funds are being held in a non-interest-bearing account, until they receive clear guidance from Senate Bill 858 and the Department of the Treasury.

Internally, said Goforth, the County must decide how it wants interested parties to make applications to the BOCC. “We need to define a process for the monies” as well as application and evaluation processes. “Do we do that here at BOCC, create a group to review applications and then bring them here, or go over them in executive session?” he asked. “We will probably have a July 1st spending date…When we have decided how to proceed, we need to have weekly meetings and develop the initial report that is due on August 31st.” 

Warner agreed that a process needs to be defined, “sooner, rather than later. I have gotten several calls from interested entities and agencies. We need to look at what will benefit the most people and have a fair process on how we evaluate each application.” 

Regarding SB848, which has been inactive since May 11th, Goforth said that he is “going to tap legislative committees” to see if it is going to remain stagnant or move forward. “Bottom line, we need more information from the Treasury and Senate bill” before making any decisions, he said.  

Don Engle, County Treasurer, informed the Board that the Oklahoma State House, Senate, and Governor signed into law a Rainy Day Fund for Counties. He said that the “Auditor’s office is preparing a letter” with guidance to let the County know if they can create a RDF or not.