Chairman says county, ON relations OK

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com

District 2 County Commissioner Kevin Paslay, the chairman of the county board, voiced optimism Monday about the future of the relationship between county government and the Osage Nation.

Paslay commented during a wide-ranging discussion with Skiatook City Manager Dan Yancey, who asked if the county would be receiving funds from the Osage Nation for roadwork. Yancey alluded to recent problems in the relationship between the county and the tribe.

“We’re working on our relationship right now,” Paslay said. He acknowledged the relationship had undergone a strain, but said he didn’t think it was a really big deal.

“Really, in my opinion, it was a minor deal,” Paslay said regarding a disagreement with the Osage Nation.

“I have great respect for the Osage Nation, and I want to work with them as best we can,” Paslay continued. “In my opinion it was a minor thing.”

He said that his decision-making process as a commissioner has taken into account the needs of all 48,000 county residents. Paslay also said he has paid visits to Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear and Assistant Principal Chief Raymond Red Corn.

In other business Monday, the county commissioners voted 3-0 to erect a new building in Fairfax to provide space for offices, storage and a workshop for District 3.

District 3 Commissioner Darren McKinney said the current shop building in Fairfax doesn’t leak, but it is too small for the equipment the county needs to store. McKinney said the county will keep the existing building in addition to putting up the new one.

County Clerk Shelia Bellamy said the balance of the Use Tax Fund, from which money would be drawn for the construction of the new building, was more than $627,000. McKinney assured her the new District 3 building won’t cost nearly that much.

The commissioners also decided Monday to counter an offer made by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation on a county tourism gazebo at Hominy. The gazebo is in the path of a road project. ODOT had offered the county $21,000 for the gazebo. County tourism director Kelly Bland on Monday suggested the commissioners ask for more than that, and the commissioners voted 3-0 to ask for $25,000.

Bellamy reminded the commissioners the money would go back in the county tourism fund.

At the beginning of the Monday discussion of the tourism gazebo, McKinney said he had talked to someone who had been involved with the construction of the gazebo. That person said it probably cost about $3,700 to build in the first place, and might cost $4,500 now, McKinney said.

Bart Waits of Universal Field Services, who represented ODOT at the commissioners’ meeting, said ODOT could respond to Osage County’s request for $25,000 by agreeing, by rejecting it or by offering a settlement somewhere in between $21,000 and $25,000.