Pawhuska applies for planning grant funds

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Pawhuska city councilors on June 14 approved applying to the state Department of Commerce for a $20,000 grant to update the municipal Capital Improvement Plan.

Megan Douglas, of the Indian Nations Council if Governments, said Pawhuska’s Capital Improvement Plan was last updated in 2015. Douglas said city government would have two years, under the terms of the grant, to complete the update.

Mayor Roger Taylor signed off June 14 on a document designating members of a Local Planning Activities Committee to do the update of the 5-year improvement plan. Members named are Ward 2 Councilor Susan Bayro, Assistant City Manager Tonya Hutson, City Clerk Sandy Henley, Stephen Pippin of Electricity Distribution, Roper Rulo of Water Distribution, Jeremy Smith of the Street Department, Assistant Fire Chief Josh Alexander, and Police Chief Lorrie Hennesy.

The City Council officially held a public hearing June 14 on the subject of applying for the grant, but few citizens seemed to have any idea what was coming.

”I would just like for the public to get a little more notice,” At-Large Councilor Steve Tolson said. Tolson has been an advocate of increased planning by city government, and has personally reached out to other residents for opinions about the needs of the community. He did a Rotary Club presentation on planning for Pawhuska’s future.

Councilor Bayro is also an advocate of planning. She has a master’s degree in International Business and works as a Strategic Planning analyst for the Osage Nation.

The City Council met both June 14 and June 16 last week, conducting budget discussions and interviewing candidates for the city manager job.

The Council, in its capacity as Public Works Authority, approved — on Thursday, June 16 — the expenditure of $55,532.70 to buy supplies needed for an upcoming improvement project on two sections of 21st Street.

District 1 County Commissioner Randall Jones and Jody Burd, Construction Manager for the Osage Nation Roads Department, were also present for the street project discussion.

Jones said the 21st Street project predated his term as commissioner.

”We’re just kind of trying to get it back going again,” Jones said. Redoing the road base will destroy sewer pipe, which is why city government will be purchasing replacement sewer pipe.

Jones said the project is likely to start “pretty quick.”

Mayor Taylor said it would probably be necessary to start quickly to avoid cost increases.

In other business, the Council interviewed three candidates for city manager or interim city manager. The position became vacant again in late May, when Jerry Eubanks resigned after being charged in Kay County with three felony offenses.

The Council on Thursday night interviewed in executive session Bill Sweeden, Laura Teague, and Raymond Red Corn. Mr. Sweeden is a former Osage County commissioner. Ms. Teague, whose family recently relocated to this area, served a decade as a county commissioner in Morgan County, Colorado. Mr. Red Corn has served two terms as Assistant Principal Chief of the Osage Nation.

The Council made no immediate decision regarding the hiring of a city manager. It delayed further consideration of that choice until Thursday, June 23.