Saturday, May 20th
USDA Program May Interest Rural Electric Co-ops
A new USDA program offering loans and grants to electric coops to help them upgrade their systems is a topic of interest for the general manager of the Oklahoma Rural Electric Cooperatives Association. Chris Meyers tells OK Energy Today that co-ops will take a hard look at the program offering more than $10 million to boost clean-energy systems in rural areas. Meyers said there is always growth on the system and a need to replace aging infrastructure. He added that with the push toward electric vehicles and other issues they are going to need substantial investments in both rural and urban power grids. Called The NEW Empowering Rural America program (NEW Era), Meyers said it appears that the program is primarily in support of renewables and carbon reduction but there is room for projects that would make the transmission system more efficient and/or resilient.
PSO Agrees to Lower Rate High Request
Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) has agreed to lower a rate increase request by half its original amount. After several months of negotiations PSO officials agreed to lower its request from nearly $300 million to $155 million. Ok Energy Today reports that PSO reached the agreement with the state attorney general's office. A joint stipulation and settlement agreement were filed earlier this month by the attorney general, AARP, and the Public Utilities Division of the Corporation Commission. The proposal will be heard by an administrative law judge next week. Under the original request, residential customers would have seen monthly bills increase more than $14 per month. Under the agreement the increase would be about $3.60 per month. PSO said the need for the increase was driven by the cost of replacing outdated grid infrastructure, investments in renewable wind generation assets, the rising cost of doing business, meeting evolving customer needs such as EV charging stations, and transitioning away from coal.
Oil and Gas Well Activity
We have a number of oil and gas well completion and production reports to pass along. Continental Resources filed reports on a number of wells in Grady and Garvin counties. A couple of wells south of Alex are the Silver Stratton Wells in Section 7 of Township 4 North and 5 West in the Woodford Formation. Combined they were producing about 1,100 barrels of oil and nearly 18,000 Mcf of natural gas per day. In Garvin County, Continental reported five wells on a single pad north of Hennepin producing more than 3,300 barrels of oil and more than 5,000 Mcf of natural gas daily. They were drilled to a true depth of more than 12,000 feet. Continental also reported two wells on a single pad near Ratliff City producing about 1,400 barrels of oil per day. They are the Moonraker Wells in Section 33 of Township 1 North and Three West. The wells were drilled to a true depth of nearly 8,000 feet. EOG Resources reported on the Galaxy Well north of Minco. It's in Section 24 of Township 10 North and 5 West. It was producing more than 460 barrels of oil and 300 Mcf of natural gas at a true vertical depth of 8,900 feet.
Talk Show Topics
Here's what we're talking about this weekend. On our KOOL Konversation our guest is Mike Sanders who is the director of the Oklahoma Broadband Office. On Real Estate Today our guest is Zach McGill who is Vice President of Engineering with HSI Sensing. Find podcasts of both programs under the community tab on this website.
Friday, May 19th
Chix Voters to Decide Sales Tax Plan
to Build New Water Treatment Plant
Chickasha voters will decide if a city sales tax should be implemented in order for the city to build a new water treatment plant. In a special meeting last night the Chickasha City Council set the election for August 8th. The measure calls for a 1 1/4 cent sales tax to cover the estimated $73 million price tag of the facility. Mayor Chris Mosley said a current 3/4 of a cent sales tax expires in December. So if the sales tax proposal is approved there would a slight increase in the local sales tax rate to 4 1/4 percent starting January 1, 2024.
DEQ Issued Mandate for Plant Improvements
Mosley said they have spent the last 18 months working with Municipal Finance Services and the Public Finance Law Group to develop a plan. That became necessary when the State Department of Environmental Quality issued the city an order to make improvements to the city's drinking water.
The city can apply for bonds from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) to pay for the project. The sales tax would be used to pay off the bonds.
City Water Rates Would Increase Dramatically if Sales Tax Doesn't Pass
However, OWRB representatives said the city had to have a contingency plan in place if the sales tax measure doesn't pass. The council last night also approved a resolution to dramatically raise water rates should voters say no to the sales tax increase. Officials say water rates would increase more than 80 percent. The average household using 5,000 gallons of water per month currently pays $34 a month - which would go up to nearly $62 per month - and that doesn't include costs for sewer and trash pick-up services that are also on monthly utility bills.
Officials: Sales Tax is the Best Option
Officials say the sales tax rate is the better option as out-of-town shoppers would help pay for the project. A 4.25 per cent sales tax rate would still keep Chickasha in the middle of the pack of similar sized cities. Blanchard and Purcell are at 5 percent; Tuttle, Pauls Valley, Weatherford, and Clinton are at 4.5 percent; and Newcastle is at 4 percent. The combined total for city, county, and state sales taxes would put Chickasha at a 9.5 percent rate.
Emergency Repairs OK'd for Chix Intersection
The city council also approved an emergency to make repairs to a storm damaged intersection. The intersection of 14th and Missouri Avenue was heavily damaged during torrential rains that occurred last weekend. The emergency means that the city does not have to go out for bids to make repairs. Public Works Director John Crosby says he’ll be working over the next week to find potential contractors and estimates the cost could top $200,000. He estimates crews will have to replace about 50 feet of storm drains in each direction and replace several man-holes. He's hoping to start work in about 30 days and anticipates it would take two months or longer to make the repairs.
USAO Regents Narrow List of Presidential Candidates
The USAO Board of Regents has narrowed its list of potential candidates to be the university's next president. The panel spent several hours interviewing candidates on Wednesday. Officials say 12 candidates applied and that the regents have whittled the list down to four finalists. There will be another round of interviews some time over the next couple of months. Current president John Feaver will be retiring December 31st after leading USAO for more than 20 years and being affiliated with the university since the early 1980s.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $71.86 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $75.86.
Natural gas is $2.59 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,986 and silver is $23.83.
Thursday, May 18th
Chix City Council to Consider Sales Tax Election
The Chickasha City Council will hold a special meeting tonight to discuss scheduling an election asking city voters to increase the city's sales tax rate. Proceeds from the increase - if approved - would help pay for the construction of a new water treatment plant and various infrastructure repairs. During tonight's meeting, the council will consider asking voters to approve a 1.25 percent sales tax rate with the proceeds dedicated to those projects. Mayor Chris Mosley said a current 3/4ths of a penny sales tax being used for capital improvements is set to expire at the end of the year. If voters approve the new rate, the sales tax rate would increase from its current 3.75 percent to 4.25 percent. The proposal calls for the special election to be held August 8th. Earlier this week, the council approved going out for bids to find an engineering firm to design the new water treatment plant. The estimated price tag for a new plant is $73 million and officials said they also will attempt to get state and federal funds to help pay for the project.
Council expected to approve emergency for street repair project
The council will also consider a recommendation to declare an emergency to repair a storm-damaged intersection. Officials want to waive the competitive bidding requirements normally needed for such repairs. However, they say it's critical to the lives and health of residents and if not approved could lead to the destruction of property and cause economic loss the city or its inhabitants. The damaged intersection is at 14th and Missouri Ave. Tonight's special meeting will get underway at 6:30 tonight at city hall.
Chix City Hall to Update Utility Software;
No In-person or On-Line Payments Available Friday
In other news from Chickasha City Hall officials say they will be updating software for utility accounts tomorrow - and they won’t be unable to open or close any accounts while that work is being done. They also won't be able to accept in-person or on-line payments. Officials say customers can use a drop-box in the alley next to city hall or use the kiosk inside the Homeland grocery store to make their payments. The on-line system is expected to be back in operation on Saturday and in-person payments are anticipated to resume on Monday. Officials say customers who are facing a possible cut-off of services have another couple of days to make a payment. That has been extended to next Tuesday, May 23rd.
Chickasha School Year Comes to an End;
Long-time Employees Are Recognized
Today is the last day classes for students in Chickasha Public Schools. A number of staff members were recognized for their long tenure with the district this week. Johnny Riley has been a bus driver 35 years. Those with 30 years of service include Glena Brock at Grand Elementary; Charlotte Tapp at the middle school; and Renee Stallings at Bill Wallace. Those with 25 years of service include the husband and wife team of Zach and Angela Widener. Zach is a high school teacher and Angela is a high school librarian and the cross country and tennis coach. Those honored for 20 years of service include Adult Education teacher Angie Humphrey and triplets Jamie Saunier, Kristen Saunier, and Rachelle Saunier who work in transportation and maintenance. By the way, graduation ceremonies for high school seniors will be tomorrow night at 7 o'clock at the high school activity center. For those unable to attend it will be available on the school district's YouTube channel.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $71.42.
London-based Brent crude is $74.17.
Natural gas is $2.34 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,999 and silver is $23.68.
Wednesday, May 17th
More County Illegal Grow Operations Shut Down;
Sheriff Steps up Efforts to Eliminate Illicit Drug Trade
Illegal marijuana growing facilities in the Alex and Rush Springs areas were shut down yesterday. Local, state, and federal agencies were involved in the raids according to a post on the Grady County Sheriff's Office Facebook page. Sheriff Gary Boggess says it’s part of his work to get illegal drugs out of the area. That includes drug traffickers who are bringing in deadly Fentanyl and other dangerous narcotics which kill thousands of people around the country every year.
The work is the primary responsibility of Capt. Jim Peek who works with the Drug Enforcement Administration. He is commissioned to work nationwide but his primary focus is the Grady County area. In addition to drug investigations he has a presentation which he gives at area schools and civic groups which shows the dangers of Fentanyl.
If you're group would like to schedule a program with Capt. Peek you can reach out to the sheriff's office by calling 405-224-0984.
Suspect Accused of Cattle Rustling
A Caddo County man is charged with cattle rustling. 31-year old Joshua Milton Bybee of Apache is accused of stealing several cows and a calf from a neighbor and selling them at a livestock auction. On-line court records show that Bybee is facing five felony charges of larceny of domestic animals and a misdemeanor for obtaining cash and merchandise by bogus check or false pretenses. He is out of jail after posting a $7,500 bond. He's to be back in court June 29th for a preliminary hearing conference.
State Broadband Office Begins 'Listening Tour'
Officials with the Oklahoma Broadband Office are criss-crossing the state on what they call a 'listening tour'. They are getting public input to help develop a plan to get high-speed internet service to rural Oklahoma. It's called the ‘Let’s Get Digital: Oklahoma Broadband Tour’. Mike Sanders is the director of the office and says the number of Oklahomans who don't have access to high-speed internet is staggering.
Sanders will be in Chickasha next week as part of the listening tour. He'll be at the Chickasha Public Library on Friday, May 26th at 4:30 p.m. Those wanting to attend are asked to register in advance by going to: oklahoma.gov/broadband/outreach
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $70.86 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $75.02.
Natural gas is $2.38 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,989 and silver is $23.85.
A graveside service for Lois Snodgrass will be held at 2:00 p.m. today (May 17th) at Fairlawn Cemetery. Arrangements are with Sevier Funeral Home.
Tuesday, May 16th
Grady County Sees Consumer Spending Increase
Consumer spending throughout Grady County in the most recent reporting period was the highest it's been in about five months. It's estimated that the February number topped $89.5 million. That's an increase of 14.8 percent from January and the best since last September. We estimate consumer spending when we see the sales tax revenue for the county. The April sales tax collections of $672,000 comes from the purchases of taxable goods and services made in February. Here's a breakdown of where that money goes which were all approved by county voters. The Grady County Fairgrounds collected $224,000; Grady Memorial Hospital received $198,000; the 20 fire districts equally shared $112,000 so each one collected $5,600; the seven senior nutrition centers also shared $112,000 so each received $16,000; Tuttle EMS picked up $21,000; and Rush Springs EMS collected $5,000.
Chix School Superintendent Joins City Council
The Chickasha City Council now includes two administrators from Chickasha Public Schools. Superintendent Rick Croslin joined the panel last night. The council unanimously approved Mayor Chris Mosley's recommendation for Croslin to fill a vacant Ward 2 post. Croslin then took his oath of office and joined the panel for the rest of last night's meeting. He'll hold the office through April of next year. Croslin joins Lincoln School Principal Dr. R.P. Ashanti-Alexander who also serves on the council.
Panel approves going out for bids to design new water treatment plant
The council approved going out for bids to find an engineering firm to design a new water treatment plant. The plant would increase the city's water treatment capability from 4 1/2 million gallons to six million gallons of water per day. Estimated cost of the facility is about $73 million. The panel also approved the purchase of a new $112,000 truck to clean out sewer lines.
Zoning exemption for goats, horses in city limits denied
A proposal for a special zoning exemption to allow horses and goats on property in the city limits was unanimously turned down by the council. Davina and Roosevelt May were seeking the exemption to allow the animals on about 7 1/2 acres of property in the 2400 block of S. 24th. Despite a planning commission recommendation to approve the exemption the council denied the request after some neighbors argued against part of the proposal during a public hearing.
Retired fighter recognized; 4th of July parade OK'd
The council also recognized the service of firefighter John Marshall Clift. Mayor Mosley presented Clift with a retirement watch for his 25 years of service. The council also approved a 4th of July parade to go through Shannon Springs Park to be held prior to the annual fireworks display. The Chickasha Chamber of Commerce will organize the parade to include decorated ATVs, motorcycles, and bicycles.
Grady County VFW Faces Crossroads in Meeting
An important meeting will be held for military veterans tonight if they want to keep the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post from closing. Grady County VFW Post 11201 will have an election of officers and if there aren't enough veterans to fill every office the post will have its charter revoked. VFW is for any veteran who has served in a war zone whether they saw combat duty or not. Tonight's meeting will be held at the Grady County Veterans Center downtown Chickasha at 6th and Chickasha Avenue starting at 6:30 p.m.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $71.11 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $74.17.
Natural gas is $2.38 per million BTUs.
Gold is $2,014 and silver is $24.06.
Monday, May 15th
Chix City Council to Seek Bids to Design New Water Treatment Plant
The Chickasha City Council is expected to approve going out for bids to find an engineering firm to lead the work to design a new water treatment plant. A feasibility study is available for potential firms to review. The move should take place tonight during a regularly scheduled city council meeting. The existing water plant treats about 4 1/2 million gallons of water per day. The project calls for the new facility to process up to 6 million gallons of water per day. The estimated cost of the new plant is $73 million with potential funding sources being local funds in addition to state and federal aid. Interested firms are to submit proposals by May 19th.
School superintendent recommended to fill empty council seat
Chickasha School Superintendent Rick Croslin may have some extra duties soon. Mayor Chris Mosley is recommending that Croslin fill a vacant seat on the city council. The seat has been empty since Nate McCalla stepped down from his Ward 2 post earlier this year. The council will vote on the recommendation tonight.
Officials recommend truck purchase to clean sewer lines
The council may also purchase a used sewer jet and flusher truck to clean out city sewer lines. Officials are recommending a 2015 Ford F-450 diesel truck from J and R Equipment of Oklahoma City at a cost not to exceed $112,000. It's a diesel truck which has equipment that can clean lines blocked by tree roots, grease, sludge, rags, and foreign objects. Officials say the truck would be easier to drive and maneuver than a current 16-year old truck which is constantly in the shop. Officials say it costs $3,000 a week to rent smaller models which are in high-demand and that it is hard to find companies to respond to calls in a timely manner.
Local Companies Approved for Dep't of Commerce Program
Several area firms have been approved to participate in a state program that will help them expand their operations. They are taking part in the Oklahoma Innovation Expansion Program (OIEP) through the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. The agency received more than 220 applications after opening the program earlier this year. 178 were approved for a combined total of more than $13 million in assistance. The program will make monthly cash payment awards to companies in the form of payroll tax rebates to help them grow and boost business expansion investments in the state. To receive an award the applications had to be innovative projects which would expand the capabilities of existing companies and lead to supply chain resiliency or be designed to target new markets. Companies were required to have a minimum annual payroll of $625,000 and a minimum capital investment of $50,000. Regional companies approved include HSI Sensing of Chickasha for $150,000; Taylor and Sons Pipe and Steel of Chickasha for $135,000; Rivers Edge Countertops of Newcastle for $40,000; and Matador Foods of Blanchard for $24,000. Department of Commerce officials say every dollar in OIEP funding is leveraging more than $7 in private sector funds.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $70.04 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $74.17.
Natural gas is $2.27 per million BTUs.
Gold is $2,020 and silver is $24.22.