Work began Monday on the long-awaited Kihekah Avenue water supply line project, which will make a mess of part of that major downtown thoroughfare during the coming weeks. The completion of the project will, however, help prepare the way for the also long-awaited downtown streetscape project meant to help improve the appearance of downtown.

In other developments that should have long-term positive effects on Pawhuska’s quality of life and attractiveness to business, city councilors decided last week to apply for $136,363 of Community Development Block Grant funds to go along with $136,364 of INCOG REAP funds and a loan of more than $900,000 to pay slightly in excess of $1.19 million for a million gallons of brand-new water tank capacity.

This is a break from the policy approach of the past few years, which was to apply for grant funding to repair and rehabilitate the city’s aging 2-million-gallon water reservoir. The grant applications for that purpose were unsuccessful, and the city has taken a new approach with help from the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG).

City utilities director Bill Bruce said the city will attempt to build and pay for the new million-gallon water tank, and then — perhaps in a matter of years — either rehabilitate the old concrete water reservoir or, in the alternative, demolish it and build a new, steel half-million-gallon or million-gallon water tank.

In other discussion related to Pawhuska’s future development, both Chamber of Commerce executive Joni Nash and City Manager Dave Neely told members of the city council that the city has received interest recently in its offer of a parcel of land on which to construct a chain hotel that would help to house tourists and other guests.

In other publicly discussed city business, the much-anticipated executive session of the council last Friday to talk about City Manager Dave Neely’s employment status turned out to be a grand opportunity to try out the chairs available in the hallway outside the council chambers.

Councilors talked for more than an hour and, when they returned to open session, decided to take no action. Councilor Rodger Milleson, who asked for the closed-door session, seconded Councilor Mark Buchanan’s motion to take no action. The vote was 5-0 to approve the motion.