Interim city manager speaks to Kiwanians

Roseanne McKeeJ-C Correspondent

The Interim Pawhuska City Manager, Mike McCartney, who replaced the previous City Manager when her retired recently, spoke to the Pawhuska Kiwanis Club on Oct. 29.

Before accepting the position as City Manager, McCartney had served as the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce Director for a number of years. As City Manager, the development of tourism continues to be a goal, he said.

McCartney addressed the importance of tourism in Pawhuska by speaking of his years of experience at the Chamber of Commerce. Over the years, he learned that “tourism is not going to get us anywhere unless we have somewhere for them to shop.”

Describing past tourism efforts, McCartney said: “People thought everything was going to happen on the east side of town. Our downtown was boarded up. We began taking the plywood off the windows and getting people in them and it’s made a big difference. Now, we do have places for people to shop.

“Osage Outfitters is one of my favorites to talk about. Their grandparents had lived there and great grandparents had lived here. They wanted to come to Pawhuska. They both graduated from Oklahoma State and they wanted to come here.

“They opened up and they’ve been here for a little over a year now. I had no idea how many day-working cowboys we have in Pawhuska. And they are bringing kids to town the dummy roping started and I think they said they had 400 teens – somewhere in there. It’s amazing.”

Next, he provided an update on the Osage Nation’s recent request.

“The Osage Nation had sent in a request to expand Grandview, but last week we got a letter that they’ve withdrawn their request. They’re going to move forward with their second plan … leaving Grandview open.”

Turning to the next event in Pawhuska, he said, “The Christmas Parade is Dec. 6 at 6 p.m.”

Again this year the parade falls on the day of Bedlam when Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma play football, he said.

McCartney joked, “Don’t be crazy because it’s Bedlam! We’ve tried 20 years to get the downtown to where we can get people downtown and shops open like we did when we were kids and we’re almost there, actually, but they’ve moved Bedlam to that Saturday and we don’t ever know until the last minute when it’s going to be … If it’s at 11 a.m. it will be done and you’ll have time to come down and see the parade.”

Regarding the re-opening of the Pawhuska Country Club, he said: “The Country Club — what an asset! We got it back and I hope everyone’s happy. Be sure and support them. They’ve put in a lot of time and effort up there. That’s going to be great for our community. The greens are great!”

Turning to the city’s water quality, McCartney said, “You may have seen in the newspaper there have been some (Department of Environmental Quality) DEQ issues,” which are being addressed, he said.

“We’ve gotten our permits so we can fix our lift stations and we’ve got our alarms on it … We’re working on that and I think we are going to get that straightened out just before too long – before winter. We’re just waiting now on the permit. We’ve sent everything in. The engineers have given us everything we need to get it done correctly, so you’ll see that finished and I don’t think you’ll see any more problems with that.”

Regarding the election on Nov. 4, he explained two items affecting the City of Pawhuska are on the ballot.

“In our charter, the time period for filing doesn’t coincide with the state and the counties, so they’ve asked us to change this to put the time frames that go with the state and the county. That’s something the Osage County election board had asked for. It’s a time change for candidates to file.”

The second city charter issue is to formally change the City Council “swearing-in” induction meeting time from 7:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., so that the induction meeting will be held at the same time as the regular City Council meetings. “This is really a housekeeping issue,” he explained.

The renewal of a one-percent sales tax is also on the ballot. McCartney explained how this tax is allocated to benefit the City of Pawhuska.

“The three-quarter of the one percent tax is for the sidewalks and streets,” he explained.

“One-quarter of the one-percent tax is on the ballot to be used for economic development. “People think that the Chamber of Commerce gets all that, but it does not. They get $60,000.00 of that a year for economic development.”

“Right now, Pawhuska is kind of event-driven. We have to have those events to get people in.” McCartney concluded his speech by sharing how pleased he was that the efforts to increase sales tax in Pawhuska have been successful. “Over the past several years, sales tax has increased in Pawhuska.”