Top students honored, Foran takes oath

Robert Smith
Pawhuska High School valedictorian Blake Allen, left, and salutatorian Cassidi Hindman, right, received plaques Monday evening fom the city of Pawhuska. They are shown here with assistant city manager Rex Wikel. Robert Smith/Journal-Capital

Pawhuska city officials Monday honored the 2019 Pawhuska High School valedictorian and salutatorian as mayor and vice mayor for the day. The city presented plaques to Valedictorian Blake Allen and Salutatorian Cassidi Hindman during a council meeting in the evening and the students offered reactions to a day spent learning about city department operations.

“It was fun getting to hang out with may dad a little bit at the fire department,” Allen said. Her father, Gip Allen, is fire chief. She allowed as how the police deartment was an enjoyable experience, too.

“I’m very honored that we got this opportunity,” Hindman said, reflecting on having learned what it takes for the city to provide its residents with water each morning when they get up and turn on a faucet.

What the students were given a chance to engage in during the Monday council meeting was a bit of political tea leaf reading. After city attorney John Heskett administered the oath of office to new Ward 2 councilor Jourdan Foran, the councilors chose officers from among themselves. This is usually a pretty routine moment, but Monday it provided an illustration of an apparent budding split on the council.

Rodger Milleson nominated John Brazee to serve as mayor. Brazee seconded the nomination. Foran, Roger Taylor and Mark Buchanan then voted “no,” defeating the nomination.

Foran then nominated Taylor to continue serving as mayor. Foran, Taylor and Buchanan voted “yes” while Milleson and Brazee voted “no.” Taylor remains the mayor.

Foran offered to nominate Brazee for vice mayor, but he and Milleson both turned down the post. Buchanan was named vice mayor by a 3-2 vote and chaplain by a 4-1 vote (Milleson voted for Buchanan, who is a Christian minister, for chaplain).

The factionalism that reared its head during officer selection did not apply to all things. For instance a request from The Pioneer Woman Mercantile to hold a public fireworks display on July 4, to close traffic in the 600 block of Kihekah Avenue on July 3-4 for a street fair and to serve beer on Kihekah Avenue and on the sidewalks during the July 4 street fair was next on the agenda. It passed without opposition.

“This is similar to what we had last year,” Taylor said. “It was a great event.”

In other business Monday, the council approved spending $10,000 on new mosquito-spraying equipment, $2,936.22 on radios for the ambulance service, and $10,000 on lawn mowing equipment for the Parks and Cemetery Department.

In their capacity as trustees of the Pawhuska Municipal Trust Authority, the councilors learned from Joni Nash, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, that Pawhuska recently played host to 75 members of the American National CattleWomen (ANCW). The visitors came from nine states and held a convention in Pawhuska, using local venues for their events.

“They just went on and on about how great they were received here,” Nash said.

The city council has also issued a notice of its intent to meet at 5 p.m. Thursday to consider going into executive session to talk about hiring a permanent city manager.