New bill payment center to open soon

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Interim City Manager Tonya Bright last week provided the Pawhuska City Council with a written update on several community projects.

Bright told the council in her report that the operation of the new municipal payment center is soon to commence. The city purchased in late 2020 what had been American Heritage Bank’s drive-through location, just west of the police station. That building has been converted into a payment facility, where residents can take care of their bills for municipal services without having to get out of their vehicles.

Bright told the Journal-Capital on Friday that the opening date for the payment center is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 8.

Bright also told the council in her report that work is ongoing on what she described as a “mass communications system” that is anticipated to be in place by the end of February or the beginning of March.

“This will create an after-hours call center where people can report power outages or water leaks,” Bright reported. “This will also be able to send out mass text messages for the areas affected.”

Bright said this communications system will have additional features that she will discuss as the launch date approaches.

With regard to road repairs, Bright reported to the council that she recently met with representatives of the Osage Nation Roads Department regarding some roads that are in “major disrepair.”

“This is in the beginning stages, but I believe we will be able to make some improvements within the next 60 days, as well as major road projects in the future,” Bright reported.

Bright also reported to the council on the status of the city’s Streetscape project, the refurbishment of the 2-million-gallon water reservoir/tank, and the repair of the Lake Pawhuska dam.

Bright told the council that the Streetscape project had been delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but she has spoken with the project architect, Robert Shears, and a new tentative start date of January 2022 has been agreed upon. Bright has also reported that Shears said state officials had given permission to proceed with additional planning for the Streetscape project.

With regard to the water tank project, Bright reported that Pawhuska has been approved for two grants – one for $136,363 and another for $136,364 – and the city is awaiting word on an amount to be provided by the Indian Health Service. Construction on the project is currently scheduled for May of this year, she said.

Turning to the Lake Pawhuska dam project, Bright reported that she thinks it should be possible to put the project out for bids by the end of February. The city has been awarded nearly $300,000 of outside funding to help pay for the dam repairs, she said.

City government is also working with the Osage Nation on a broadband Internet project that is projected to bring Wi-Fi to downtown Pawhuska. This project has been financed with federal CARES Act money.