The final Legislative Luncheon for 2008 was held Friday at the Cushing Country Club. Speakers included Representative Lee Denney, Payne County Commissioner Bill Deering, City Commissioner Evert Rossiter and a requested appearance by Police Chief Terry Brannon.

Chief Brannon was invited by Rossiter to give updates on the ongoing recruiting process. The Cushing Police Department has been short staffed for approximately three years – partly due to the inability to compete with wages and benefits offered by other law enforcement agencies such as Payne County and Stillwater.

“We are working extremely hard to fill three positions,” Brannon said, “but frankly, I can’t compete with agencies such as Stillwater, OSU and Payne County. We recently lost two officers – one to Glenpool and the other Stillwater.”

Brannon went on to say Cushing is “second to none” when it comes to training their officers – which makes them even more desirable to other departments.

All that being said, Brannon remains optimistic that the right recruits will be found – in fact one has been found already. A patrol dog will take his spot along side the others in July.

During the question session, Deb Burns commended the department for their good work.

“You guys always respond anytime I make a call to you,” Burns said. “These guys put themselves and their lives on the line everyday – I commend you.”

Other topics covered at Friday’s meeting included an update from Commissioner Deering regarding the chip sealcoat problem on 9th Street.

“I didn’t like what I saw,” Deering said. “It will be going to bid for an asphalt overlay. Bids open July 7 and I’m hoping to get approval on it that day.”

According to Deering, it could prove difficult to get solid bids since the price of asphalt keeps going up and distributors don’t want to commit to a locked in price. Once the bids are approved, he said it shouldn’t take more than a week to complete the project – weather permitting.

Representative Denney wrapped up the meeting with a synopsis of the progress made during the 2008 legislative session. “It was a good year – I think we got a lot done,” she said.

She noted that although there were several bond issue packages – roads and bridges, restructuring of dams and some funding for the Native American Cultural Center – the Rainy Day Fund was not tapped.

“We didn’t want to get into that,” Denney said, “next year may be worse due to the economic downturn.”

And there is a good chance Denney will be back again next year – she recently announced she would be running for re-election.

“I take my job seriously,” she said, “I’m your Representative – that’s what we are supposed to be doing. And if I’m not – then just jerk a knot in my tale.”