Bland: $25,000 payment will serve the people

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com

Osage County tourism director Kelly Bland said Dec. 19 that a $25,000 payment by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to buy from the county a tourism information facility that is located in the path of a road project will be used to benefit the people of the entire county.

Osage County commissioners Dec. 17 voted to accept a $25,000 compensatory payment from ODOT for a structure located in Hominy that has been referred to both as a “kiosk” and a “gazebo.” Its purpose has been to provide a place for county tourism officials to make informative literature available to local residents and visitors. The “kiosk” or “gazebo” sits on property that will be affected by roadwork.

ODOT initially offered the county $21,000 for the structure. At Bland’s urging, the commissioners countered that offer by asking for $25,000. The state transportation department accepted that request and increased its offer to $25,000.

County Clerk Shelia Bellamy clarified that the money would go back in the county Tourism Fund.

Bland on Dec. 19 recalled that District 3 Commissioner Darren McKinney recently said he had learned that building a new structure similar to the old one might cost in the neighborhood of $4,500. She also recalled that a Fairfax resident had suggested the construction of something similar for that community.

Bland said she had not yet heard from Hominy officials about their desires regarding a future tourism-information facility. She also said the county Tourism Board did not meet this month, to give subcommittees a chance to meet and to give board members more time with their families during the holiday period.

Bland also said she had recommended to Tourism Board members that money that might be needed to build a new kiosk or gazebo in Hominy be held until municipal leaders in that community make their wishes known. She also voiced interest in doing something for Fairfax.

“If Fairfax wanted one, I think that would be a great idea,” Bland said. She explained her desire is for all the funds to be reinvested in Osage County.