Originally printed in the Claremore Daily Progress by Carolyn Ashford, Publisher, on Sunday, August 13.
The Claremore Progress announces a Tuesday public forum to honor 35 individuals and five power couples, all 40-years-old or under, who are Rogers County’s driven, successful business and community leaders.
“We are excited to recognize the outstanding achievements of these young business leaders,” said Kristy Giesler, publisher of the Claremore Progress. “This year’s class of 40 Under 40 is a driven, community-minded group of entrepreneurs, executives and community leaders and we congratulate them on their many successes.”
The winners will be honored with a public reception to be held on Tuesday, Aug. 15 at 320 on Main from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. Among the speakers at the event will be Cong. Jim Bridenstine, Pelco President Phil Albert and Frank Robson, owner of Robson Properties and past chairman of the Board of Directors for RCB Bank. The reception is sponsored by BancFirst, Robson Properties, RCB Bank, City of Claremore, Peloc and the law firm of Taylor, Foster, Mallett,, Downs, Ramsey & Russell.
According to Gielser, 'Given the passion, dedication and innovative spirit of our area, it's not surprising we received more than 120 nominations when we asked for applications. Whittling those nominations down to just 40 honorees was the difficult part. But after reading our honorees' biographies in our magazine, Rogers County Reveal, that is included in our weekend edition, I have no doubt that readers will feel as inspired and hopeful about the future of our county as we do.'
40 Under 40 Class of 2017
• Brent Akin - Design Engineer, Pelco Structural
• Matthew Ballard - District Attorney, Rogers County
• Kyle Beggs - RCI Insurance
• Jennie & BJ Bickford - Cherokee Data Solutions
• Beth Clagg - Chemical Engineer, Nalco Manufacturing
• Jeff Clagg - Sales Director, Compassus Hospice
• Jill Ferenc - Director Planning Services, City of Claremore
• Andy & Sarah Fiegener - Rye Design & Musician’s Haven
• Kevin Fortna - Certified Public Accountant
• Josh Froman - Adventure Signs
• Meggie Froman-Knight - Executive Director, Claremore Collective
• Grant Gingerich - Gingerich State Farm
• Shaunte Gordon - She Does Odd Jobs with Integrity
• Savannah Haddock - Human Resources, St. Francis Health System
• Brandon Irby - Associate Director, Claremore Industrial & Economic Authority
• Jessica Jackson - Executive Director, Claremore Main Street
• Jeri Koehler - Assistant City Manager, City of Claremore
• William Lenard - Patriot Outdoor
• Ben Lepak - Living Chief Civil Division, Office of the District Attorney
• Douglas Meadow - Meadow Buildings
• Justin Michael - Member Claremore City Council
• Chelsea Mize - Cranberry Merchant
• Ryan Moore - Vice President Artificial Lift Systems, Baker Hughes
• Sara Moss - Community & Customer Relations, RCB Bank
• Danialle Munroe - Director of Marketing, Pelco Structural
• Tobie Munroe - Senior Designer, Roe Creative
• Ryan Neely - Financial Advisor, Neely Agency
• Zachary Oliver - Managing Broker, Coldwell Banker Select
• Travis Peck - Director of Sales & Marketing, moreClaremore.com
• John Ray - Campus Pastor, Destiny Life Church
• Alex & Mykah Rolison - owners, 6:19 Nutrition
• Jon Sappington - Undersheriff, Rogers County Sheriff’s Office
• Brad Shankle - Health & Safety Director, Pelco Structural
• Gabe Sherman - District Director, Congressman Jim Bridenstine
• Kyle Stafford - Doctor of Physical Therapy, Summit Physical Therapy
• David Steward - owner, Copper Ridge Chimney & Fireplace
• Jessica Stolusky - Kindergarten Teacher, Catalayah Elementary School
• Delayna Trease - Marketing Director, Summit Physical Therapy
• Chris Walker -Project Management Team, Pelco Structural
• Jessica Wilbourn - Realtor Associate, Coldwell Banker Select
• Sara Williams Braun - Associate Athletic Director, Rogers State University
• Rachael Winfrey - Project Management Team, Pelco Structural
In January 2017 at the State of the City, Jim Thomas, City Manager announced near completion of the priorities and goals set forth as a part of the City's strategic plan through 2020. He also shared the City would begin a new visioning process called Claremore Dreams 2025.
The visioning process to develop Claremore Dreams 2025 is set to take place over nine months with eleven milestones, announcing the results of the data captured at the January 2018 State of the City. August marks the fourth month of the process, with six of the eleven milestones met. The process began with hosting multiple focus groups with City Department Heads, City Council, RSU Administration, Executive Roundtables and a Civic Partner Luncheon.
Priorities within Claremore 2020 were:
Goals within Claremore 2020 were:
The City is asking for citizens to help develop, find ownership and champion the vision behind Claremore Dreams 2025. They are seeking input by traveling into each of the four wards, hosting town halls. These sessions will be a time for the city to listen to input that will help drive the strategic plan for the next eight years. They are open to the public, even if you do not reside within that particular ward. All are encouraged to attend, as well as invite others.
The upcoming town halls are open to the public, even if you do not reside within the ward. RSVP links can be found below.
A copy of the presentation slides from the Think Tank session can be viewed here.
Updates from Claremore Dreams 2025 can be subscribed to here.
Claremore Collective has selected their 2018 Chair-Elect and Leadership Team. The group will take their positions beginning January 1.
Following over twenty public nominations and a rigorous interview and selection process, seven Crew Chair positions were to be filled. The Chair-Elect nominations came from those who have served or are currently serving on the Leadership Team.
Danialle Munroe, Director of Marketing and Assistant to the President at Pelco Structural, will serve as the 2018 Chair-Elect, becoming Chair in 2019. She currently serves as the Government Relations Co-Crew Leader, and was an active member in the organization’s founding year. Munroe stated that she looked forward to “cheering-on young leaders and extending the mission of Claremore Collective through recruiting more talent and membership to take our community to new heights.”
Munroe will be joining Matthew Ballard, who will take the Chair position after serving as Chair-Elect this year. Alongside them will be five Crew and five Co-Crew Leaders representing five key areas: Attraction, Arts and Entertainment, Development, Government Relations and NextGen Leadership.
2018 Leadership Team members include:
Claremore Collective is a group of diverse young professionals and next-level talent assembled as one voice to move our city forward. To get involved, check out more information here or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The Arts & Entertainment crew held their second-ever Culture Crawl on Thursday, June 22. Similar to the first event held in March, this one also sold out! Culture Crawls look to feature an exclusive experience, while showcasing the opportunities and talents within Claremore.
Attendees began the evening in downtown at The District on Main, getting an exclusive look at the upstairs Coca-Cola ghost sign. Next they traveled around the corner as Mike Kennedy shared the story and facts behind the transformation of the Claremore Senior Citizens Center into Main Street Tavern. The evening wrapped up at North Block Common with a pop-up art display by John Hammer of The Hammer Studio, featuring live music with beautiful harmony by Desi and Cody.
Culture Crawls take place once per quarter. If you have an idea of a feature for future programming, contact Sarah or Robert - Crew Leaders.
This presentation of Think Tank was sponsored by Grant Gingerich, State Farm Agent.
1 Million Cups is a free national program designed to educate, engage, and connect entrepreneurs. The program provides a supportive, neutral space and can be found in 100+ communities across the country.
Claremore launched their program in November 2016, with meetings held the first Wednesday of each month at SheBrews downtown from 8:30 - 9:30 a.m. The meetings feature one to two startups, each giving a six minute presentation, followed by twenty minutes of interactive questions from the audience. The final question of the session is always, "What can we, as a community, do to help you?"
Claremore has featured a number of industries and businesses including: building products, photography, jewelry, cabinetry, marketing, social networking website development, and trailer innovation in addition to a locally owned salon and a chiropractic clinic.
360Favs creator, Dakota Green, presented at 1 Million Cups in April. He contributed valuable ideas that have helped further develop his social networking site from those in attendance.
If you would like to present at 1 Million Cups Claremore, you can apply here. For more information, email Liberty Shere, team organizer.
President Larry Rice shared the positive impacts on students the RSU staff and faculty are working toward, amidst stifling budget cuts. He began by thanking those in the audience for their support toward RSU Foundation's recent scholarship fundraiser, Saddle Up for Scholarships. While official calculations are not yet complete, proceeds are anticipated to be over $100,000.
"I never thought I would be asking for a flat budget to higher education," he stated, urging those in attendance to also ask the same of those who represent them in the state legislature. RSU has been asked to prepare budgets for a 10 - 20 percent cut, in addition to the shortfalls that have already taken place.
Following highlights of positive programs, including the addition of their Masters in Business Administration program, President Rice then turned the presentation to newly named Athletic Director, Chris Ratcliff to share impacts of their NCAA Division II athletics.
Mr. Ratcliff began by telling the value of education and those that invested in his life. He was motivated to pursue a degree following the potential of a promising job, being sought after for his coaching talent. However, he lacked the required degree.
He acknowledged the success the 246 student-athletes, making up 14 athletic teams, have achieved not only within their sport but also in the classroom. "The student athletes have a higher academic success rate and graduation rate than the student body as a whole. They have also completed over 5000 hours of community service."
The audience expressed interest in expansion of athletic programs such as lacrosse. Ratcliff explained that during a budget crisis, athletics were often the first to be cut. He expressed confidence in their programs, with the exception of the being in a current situation to begin new programs. He added student athletes provide additional enrollment and non-scholarship revenue up to $2.7 million.
As the session closed, Ratcliff encouraged the audience with his personal mantra, a quote by Maya Angelou, "People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel."
Originally Published in Tulsa World by Randy Krehbiel - 4/18/2017
Link to the original article here.
U.S. Sen. James Lankford likes to describe his constituent meetings as community conversations.
For some of Lankford’s colleagues, these meetings have been more like community arguments.
But Lankford was able to maintain a steady tone through a meeting Tuesday afternoon with about 50 people in Claremore and a succession of five groups of similar size Tuesday evening in a downtown Broken Arrow restaurant.
The unusual format, which Lankford says allows him to interact with more people and answer more questions, also might have contributed to fairly low-key discussions.
While some questions were very direct, no one directly confronted Lankford. He worked his way through each group by pulling names from a red bucket.
A few of the dissenting red cards seen at other Congress members’ town halls elsewhere popped up, but not many.
“I’m trying to bring the volume down,” Lankford said in response to a question about the anger in American politics.
“We’re in this weird cycle of tit for tat, and it just gets louder and louder.”
On another occasion, he blamed social media for some of that and said, “I’m very aware our president is not a good example of how to do social media.”
In Claremore, Lankford surprised a questioner by saying he believes that President Donald Trump should release his income tax returns.
“He promised he would,” Lankford said. “He should keep his promise.”
Health care and health insurance did not dominate the questions but were the largest share, and they tended to get the longest answers.
Most dealt with GOP efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act, but they also covered pharmaceutical costs, family planning, mental health and women’s health.
“What President Obama put out in 2008, 2009, 2010 was a good idea in general concept,” Lankford said.
But “in implementation, it didn’t work.”
Lankford said a health-care reform bill that provides fewer benefits for the people who need them most will not make it through the Republican-led Senate.
“The bill the House put out originally would have included twice as many people with half as much help,” Lankford told one group in Broken Arrow. “That would not get through the Senate.”
Lankford said any health-care reform measure will have to include guarantee issue (meaning health insurance coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions), children remaining on their parents’ insurance until age 26, and a ban on lifetime caps.
Lankford said he expects a health-care reform bill to reach Trump by the end of June.
In just about every session, Lankford took questions about women’s health, abortion and defunding Planned Parenthood.
In each case, Lankford said he favors transferring federal dollars now going to Planned Parenthood to federally qualified health clinics.
Originally Published in Claremore Daily Progress - 4/8/2017 by Shawn Hein
Devery Youngblood uttered some startling statistics to underline his point.
The founding CEO of newly-formed Oklahoma Tomorrow, an advocacy group that promotes an increase in college graduates in the state, was the guest speaker for Claremore Collective Think Tank during Thursday's luncheon inside More Claremore.
Addressing a group of community business leaders, Youngblood quoted the 16 percent cut to higher education funding, or $153 million, in Oklahoma in 2016.
“We're perfectly designed to get the results we're getting,” said Youngblood, referring to Oklahoma ranking near the bottom nationally in education funding.
The ever-growing gap in education funding has helped lead to the formation of Oklahoma Tomorrow, based out of Oklahoma City. The independent non-profit is funded by the private sector. The organization's goal is to support the creation of more college graduates to strengthen the economy and communities in the state.
Youngblood noted the state currently has more than 18,000 “economy-defining” jobs that will go unfilled because of a lack of college graduates. Those industries include engineering, nursing, IT, financial analysts and various managerial jobs.
Youngblood recalled another alarming number after recently meeting with an executive at Tinker Air Force Base, currently the largest single employer in the state.
“They told me right now they could hire every single engineering graduate in the state that will graduate this year and still have openings at Tinker,” said Youngblood, noting the shortage in engineering graduates.
Youngblood said the lack of graduates in such highly technical occupations has a domino effect on Oklahoma.
“Therefore those jobs go wanting and our economy does not move forward in the way it absolutely could,” Youngblood said. “…We are not graduating enough college graduates to drive the economy of today, much less the economy of the future.”
Youngblood said it is up to the private sector to intervene and take a more active role in improving the future of higher education in Oklahoma.
Prior to forming Oklahoma Tomorrow, Youngblood worked nine years for the Chickasaw Nation on economic and community issues. He was twice appointed to the Oklahoma City Community College Board of Regents and spent time as district director and senior advisor to U.S. Rep. Ernest Istook.
Oklahoma Tomorrow, which officially formed in January, includes a 16-person board of directors, each involved in private business.
Those interested in learning more about the organization should visit the website OklahomaTomorrow.org.
The Government Relations Crew welcomed Bryan Frazier to Claremore on Thursday, March 23rd at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum. Bryan was joined by his wife, Leslie, alongside nearly 70 from our community. Joining Claremore Public Schools from Bixby, Frazier remarked that he chose Claremore just as much as we chose him.
Current superintendent, Mike McClaren, will be retiring on June 30th after serving Claremore Public Schools for the past 17 years.
Originally published in the Claremore Daily Progress on 3/29/2016 by Diana Dickinson
Eight of the nine candidates vying for a seat on the Claremore City Council were fielded questions by moderator John Ray and citizens during a city council candidate forum on Tuesday, March 21.
The forum was held at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum at 6:30 p.m., where approximately 100 people attended.
City council candidates who gave a brief introduction and answered citizens’ questions were: Will DeMier - Ward 4; Ken Hays - Ward 3; Mickey Keely - Ward 2; Bryan McDonald - Ward 4; Justin Michael - Ward 2; Don Purkey - Ward 2; Frank Church - Ward 4; and Shelly Taylor - Ward 3. Candidate Pam Ziriax - Ward 3 was not scheduled for the forum due to a scheduling conflict.
An open mic question and answer session was held after the introductions, where candidates were given 90 seconds to respond.
Candidates were asked what they would do to improve the city.
Business-owner, Keely, said one thing he would do to improve the city after being in Claremore for nine years is to provide better representation. “I've seen there is possibly a lack of representation in our city government. Whenever I attended city council meetings, I have seen citizens bring up topics, concerns, oppositions and the city council seems to vote which ever way they want to vote anyway.“
Michael, a business owner said, “One thing I will do to improve my community? How could I be a proper servant to our fellow citizens if I walk into the position as city councilor with blinders on for my judgment? I have immersed myself into the city and inner workings and I will be a steward of Claremore.”
Inspired by the turnout at the forum, Purkey said, “One of the things we have been looking at for some time and getting ready to undertake is the sanitation transfer station, where we are located geographically and what it is costing us to maintain our present situation. We will be working with the county commissioners on this.”
Hays, a former city council member said, “I see the next five years as a lot of opportunities for development in Claremore, especially the Highway 20 bypass, as well as the road extension over to Southaven. I think we need to be thinking about — and looking at — the annexation of more property, possibly out to the Verdigris River.“
Taylor said she would like to see Claremore continue to grow. “We have wonderful things to offer here from the university (Rogers State University) to different businesses here. We could pull in so much more growth and development into our town. More growth and eventually you can keep more tax dollars here in the community.”
Church added he would like to see improvements to benefit the entire community. “Businesses need residents and customers equally as much as residents need businesses for goods and services. All of us need the police and fire department and other emergency services and facilities. If any improvements are made for one group and the others have been given no consideration, then the entire system is a problem,” Church said.
DeMier, “Why did I want to do it (run for councilman)? Easy. I wanted to participate in the growth and betterment of Claremore. Can I say one thing that I want to do? Absolutely not, that is an agenda. You cannot have nine city councilmen with agendas. It's crazy. We've seen it before. What I want to do is keep Claremore progressing in the right way.”
As a former Claremore firefighter, McDonald, said, “I learned how to look at situations, gather information, make some hard decisions…set our plan and set that plan into motion. I'm not afraid to make the tough call that a councilman sometimes is called upon to make in order for a city to run smoothly and efficiently, and I look forward to doing that.”
The open mic session allowed citizens to ask direct questions to a candidate of their choice.
Asked why he considers himself the best candidate for city council, Keely said, “I think I would be a good candidate because I get to speak to new people every day. I get to hear some of the problems and issues going on. I would vote for the wills of the people, of the town. I would like to see a little less regulation so businesses can open. Businesses can grow and expand to live more comfortably in the city.”
Michael was asked what opportunities and challenges in economic development he expects to see in the city. “Unlike some of my opponents, I will say that there are many opportunities. I don't believe we have enough restrictions to keep people from building inside of Claremore. You can’t allow any type of business to put any type of building anywhere.”
For being on the council for many years, Purkey was asked what his plans were to stay relevant with today's changing demographics in Claremore and younger late night crowds. He said, “I try to keep up with the public and listen to people. We do a lot of things on the side that some people do not know about.”
Church was asked how he would strategically address the train issue. “We missed the boat on a sweetheart of a deal that we should have taken a few years ago for $10 million and we would have had an elevated train track. It would have been done. I propose we make four crossings to get us east/west and north/south. “ He said that could be done at Archer, Blue Starr, State Highway 66 and Hwy 20 in front of the police station.
DeMier was asked how he would help support RSU. He said, “We have more students than the University of Tulsa. We need to act like a college town, we need to have benefits for RSU students…We've got a crown jewel in RSU. We need to do more things for the college students.”
Hays added to that by saying, “As far as being a college town, this has been a college town for 60 to 70 years. I see that being a very important aspect to our city and development.”
Taylor was asked if she had any conflict with the City of Claremore to which she replied, “A bogus check that was written — it was not an actual written check — it was an electronic check the city issued earlier than the payment arrangement date it was supposed to. It did result in me going to court for 10 months when it went to the trial, to the preliminary trial, the judge threw it out of court.”
Allegations made against a city official, who was not present during the forum, could not be verified by the Progress by press time Tuesday.