Pinnell: State looking at tourism trail for movie

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

FAIRFAX -- Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell on Friday said the state of Oklahoma is very interested in doing something special to encourage tourism in connection with the anticipated release of Martin Scorsese’s movie based on David Grann’s bestselling book “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Pinnell indicated there is interest in the creation of some kind of tourism “trail” that visitors could follow to various sites, to learn more about the events portrayed in the film.

Pinnell commented on the subject during a break in a meeting Friday in Fairfax, convened by a group called Friends of Fairfax. The recently created nonprofit is interested in the revitalization of the town of just over 1,100 people, where events described in Grann’s book took place. A portion of the shooting of Scorsese’s film was conducted in Fairfax.

Friends of Fairfax on Friday held an afternoon session at the local senior citizens center, attended by area residents but also by state elected officials, a staff member for a U.S. senator, and representatives of the Osage Nation, the local hospital and businesses. Attendees took part in breakout sessions to discuss the Fairfax community’s needs in the areas of public infrastructure, housing and business recruitment. Comments were written down and shared with the full group after the breakout sessions concluded. Kay Bills, a spokeswoman for Friends of Fairfax, said there are plans to seek federal grant funding. Bills solicited letters of support for the grant application.

Pinnell said he is interested in working with Friends of Fairfax, and with persons trying to raise money for a new roof for the Tall Chief Theater in the town. The theater would be an ideal location for holding meetings, he said.

Coleman promotes Civil Rights Trail

Among the attendees at the Fairfax meeting was State Sen. Bill Coleman, R-Ponca City. Coleman, now in his second term, commented supportively of legislation to create a state Civil Rights Trail for tourism and educational purposes. Coleman told fellow attendees that there would be a hearing on the Civil Rights Trail legislation Monday morning, Feb. 13. He told the Journal-Capital that Sen. Kevin Matthews, of Tulsa, is the author of the Civil Rights Trail legislation. The bill number is Senate Bill 1194.

Sen. Coleman said that the proposed Civil Rights Trail would start at the Standing Bear Park, Museum and Education Center in Ponca City. It would also include a stop in Fairfax, he said. The trail, as envisioned, would conclude in Oklahoma City with a civil rights center to be built in honor of the late Clara Luper, he said. Luper (1923-2011) was a school teacher and civil rights advocate. Standing Bear (1829 or 1834 -1908), in an 1879 trial in federal court, argued that American Indians were persons within the meaning of the law. He became the first Native American to be judicially granted civil rights under U.S. law.

Others in attendance Feb. 10 at the Fairfax meeting included State Rep. Ken Luttrell, R-Ponca City, along with representatives of the the State Chamber of Commerce, the Ponca City Chamber of Commerce, Blue Sky Bank, and the Fairfax Community Hospital. Crystal Campbell, a member of the staff of U.S. Sen. Markwayne Mullin, was on-hand and briefly addressed the group.