Strom helps Barnsdall look for spillway repair money

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

State Rep. Judd Strom last Thursday said discussions the day previous among state governmental leaders in Oklahoma City regarding the use of federal relief funds had been very positive, and he was encouraged about the possibility that Barnsdall could benefit from that pot of money.

Legislators and other state government leaders met July 21 for talks about the potential uses for Oklahoma’s share of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money. Strom, of Bowring, does not currently represent Barnsdall but the community is expected to become part of the House of Representatives district he represents (District 10) when the results of redistricting take effect.

Barnsdall is looking for help with repairs to the spillway at Lake Waxhoma. Mayor Johnny Kelley said in a recent Barnsdall Chamber of Commerce luncheon that Strom has already been very supportive of him regarding efforts to find financing for the spillway repairs.

“He was reaching out to people and had people calling me,” Kelley said. “He’s worked hand-in-hand with me through this whole deal.”

Strom clarified for the Journal-Capital that no funding decisions were made July 21 regarding the state’s ARPA money. Strom said he had briefed Kelley on the discussions in Oklahoma City. The discussions were bipartisan and bicameral, involving both Republicans and Democrats as well as members of both chambers of the Legislature.

Strom said he could have tuned in remotely via Zoom, but chose to attend in person. The Waxhoma spillway repair project appears potentially well-suited to being funded because it involves infrastructure, because it’s an emergency management need, and because it is a water/utility priority, he explained. Barnsdall draws drinking water from Lake Waxhoma.

Strom indicated he took full advantage of the opportunity to weigh in on Barnsdall’s behalf during the July 21 discussions.

“By the end of the day they were kind of tired of me talking about my little dam in Barnsdall,” Strom said. He emphasized that everything is preliminary at this point, and Barnsdall residents should not allow their hopes to rise too soon.

“These are ongoing and I’m going to be at every one of them until we get this figured out,” Strom said of the state-level ARPA funding meetings.

Strom added that remaining funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act might also be available to Barnsdall.

Strom was a guest of the Barnsdall Chamber at its July 13 luncheon. He introduced himself as a hands-on legislator who enjoys working in the communities he represents.

“I’m not a good politician. Special interest people hate me,” Strom said. He gave an example, commenting that he’s a gun owner and a supporter of gun rights, but he doesn’t necessarily get along with special interest groups promoting gun rights.

“They want you to kiss the ring. They want you to be part of the club,” Strom said. “I’m for guns but I don’t like the way the Capitol works.”