After listening to heartfelt pleas from two women concerning an accident on Ford Road where a teenager lost her life, the Grove City Council unanimously approved a resolution designed to improve what is considered one of the most dangerous intersections near Grove High School.
The intersection of State Highway 10 and Ford Road has been the site of several, some fatal, accidents.
“This area has been discussed several times,” said Bill Keefer, city manager. “This has been going on for a lot of years. The amount of traffic has increased significantly. There is no safe way to make a left-hand turn.”
The council and members in the audience were visibly moved, some were fighting back tears as they listened to the personal stories from Jill Bybee and Carolyn Stogsdill.
The two women implored the council for a stoplight at the intersection and to change the design of the roadway’s shoulder.
With raw emotion, Bybee spoke about the Sept. 24, 2003 accident that would eventually claim the life of 17-year-old Amber Beamer, a classmate of her daughter.
Beamer was pulling out of the Ford Road intersection turning east on State Highway 10 when her car was hit by another car. The teen died two days later from injuries sustained in the crash.
“My daughter was in the front passenger seat,” Bybee said.
It has been 15 years and one week, Bybee said fighting back tears.
“I just want to remind you that people that we tried very hard to push the highway department to do something – but it was to no end,” Bybee said. “We don’t want any more families to go through what we have gone through."
Stogsdill joined Bybee at the podium, addressing her concerns before the council.
“I was the driver of the car that hit Amber’s car,” said a tearful Stogsdill. “Every time I drive by there and I see that cross, I am reminded of the accident.”
There should have been plans for a stoplight at that intersection when they were building the school, she said.
“We have to protect our children,” Stogsdill said.
Members of the Stogsdill family made a promise to Amber’s family following the accident, that they would continue to work to get something changed.
Family members in the audience implored the council not to let it take another 15 years before something was done.
The resolution, approved by the council, authorizes the submittal of a proposal and grant application to the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration for Infrastructure Improvements along State Highway 10.
The $3.8 million project will widen roadway and add a turning lane, obtain additional rights-of-way for future expansion, and install a traffic signal at the intersection of Ford Road, according to city documents.
Other projected construction will widen entrances with adequate turning radius into the Grove Industrial Park.
Keefer encouraged residents to call their state and federal congressional leaders about securing federal funds for the project.
Funding from other sources will be necessary, he said. The city will need to acquire rights-of-way and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation will have to be aware of each step of the project, Keefer said.
“There is no timeline – but the state is aware of the problem and put it on their eight-year plan,” Keefer said.
That would put the project around 2022, he said.
“A lot of things have to fall into place before we have timeline,” Keefer said.
Councilman Marty Dyer expressed his concerns regarding the intersection.
“I have two daughters and for the next six years they will be traveling that road,” said Dyer. “We have to change this.”
After the meeting, Grove Police Chief Mark Morris said confirmed the dangerous nature of the intersection.
“We have had more fatality car wrecks in that area than anywhere else,” Morris said.. “It is a tragedy that we have so many accidents at that site and we can’t get anything done.”
As traffic has increased that intersection has become more dangerous, he said. Much of the danger is because of the highway shoulder, Morris said.
“We have a lot of rear end accidents in the area,” Morris said.
Morris said on Thursday he spoke to State Rep. Josh West (R-Grove) and State Sen. Wayne Shaw (R-Grove) about the urgency of getting funding for the site and they were aware of the problem and were actively working on the project.
In other business, the council approved a Regional Economic Area Plan Grant Application through Grand Gateway.
The cost of the project is estimated around $57,000. The $47,000 grant is to assist with the cost of renovating the fire station located on O’Daniel Parkway, according to city documents.
“The fire department wants to redo the exterior of the fire departments,” said Assistant City Manager Debbie Bottoroff.
The fire department has $20,000 in their capital budget and they plan to use $10,000 of those funds, she said.
City documents outline the renovation to include removing the replacing the existing metal and insulation from the exterior of the building including the roof and adding a new walk-thru doors and exterior lighting.
An Engineering Services Agreement with Poe and Associates for the Annual Street Repair Program was approved.
The council also voted to amend the city’s ordinance as related to the permitted use table as it pertains to the Medical Marijuana dispensaries and growing facilities.
The Medical Marijuana ordinance was passed at the Sept. 4 meeting and the amended ordinance was tabled at the Sept. 18 meeting so language in the ordinance could be clarified.
The amended ordinance before the city council is to update of the permitted use table in the zoning regulations to make them in line with the zoning references as outlined in the original ordinance.
“It looks good,” said attorney Bryce Harp referring to the amended ordinance.
Also, a change order for the Grove Regional Airport Taxilane Extension Project and amending the 2018-19 City Capital fund budget were approved.
Editor's Note: Carolyn Stogsdill is the mother of Sheila Stogsdill, who works as a journalist for The Grove Sun.