(Cushing, Okla.)  It was a busy night at City Hall as the Cushing Board of Commissioners held its regular monthly meeting on Monday, Sept. 21st.

Highlights included a special presentation by David Walls of Crown Energy Resources, LLC and reports from a member of the Cushing Regional Airport Advisory Board and Code Enforcement.

Walls told commissioners Crown Energy learned of the need for a speed awareness monitor and made the decision to donate the funds needed to purchase one for the Cushing Police Department. Walls said because of Crown Energy’s interest in safety, they thought this would be a great opportunity to give back to Cushing and promote safety near the new middle school. The cost of a speed awareness monitor is $6,795. The monitor currently being used on Main near the Harmony Road intersection belongs to the Sac and Fox Nation who has graciously loaned it to the City as long as needed. The monitor that will be purchased from funds donated from Crown Energy is expected to be placed on the east side of the Harmony Road intersection to monitor traffic traveling west on Highway 33.

Police Chief Tully Folden told commissioners as officers continue to monitor the area, a significant reduction in the number of speeders has been noted since placing the monitor on East Main.

Earl Downs, member of the Cushing Regional Airport Advisory Board, reported on activity at the airport, along with some general information.

Did you know?

Cushing Regional Airport (CRA) is one of 390 public use airports in Oklahoma.

CRA has four runways – including a jet runway and two turf runways.

A jet runway requires a minimum of one mile of pavement.

CRA’s turf runways are above average in quality. Downs, an experienced pilot, said on a scale from one to ten, he would give CRA’s a seven. (ten being the best)

Several businesses are housed at CRA – including Central Air Service, a small air cargo company; Jones Aviation, which also offers some types of aircraft repair; along with Air Evac, Cushing Flight Service and SkyDive Oklahoma.

Approximately 28 airplanes “live” at CRA at any given time.

Downs, speaking as an aviator and not as a representative of the CRA Advisory Board, said he would like to see more economic development for the airport. “Some of these businesses at CRA bring in business from outside the community. I would like to see more of that.”

Downs also reported the repairs to one of the runways is nearing completion. City Manager Steve Spears echoed that saying the project is coming in “ahead of schedule and under budget.”The CRA Advisory Board will be looking to appoint one new board member in the near future. Anyone interested may contact City Manager Steve Spears or Jim Clements.

Commissioners also heard a report from Eric Smith of Code Enforcement. Smith said there have been some changes over the past couple of years as to how they deal with non-conforming structures and weed/grass/junk notices. One change has been to send letters before moving toward litigation. Another has been by using door hangers announcing up-coming clean up days on homes that may need cleaned up. Smith said the changes have led to more cooperation from citizens and savings to the City.

Non-conforming structures reports:

July 2013 – June 2014:

A total of 10 non-conforming structures were identified by Code Enforcement.Of those 10, five were demolished by the City, two were demolished by the owner and three were rehabilitated by owner.

July 2014 – June 2015

A total of 14 non-conforming structures were identified by Code Enforcement.Of those 14, four were demolished by the City, seven were demolished by the owner and three are still pending completion (owner demo, city demo).

July 2015 – August 2015

A total of 10 non-conforming structures have been identified by Code Enforcement.Of those 10, one has been demolished by the owner, four are pending completion by owner and five pending hearings.

Weeds/Grass/Trash/Junk reports:

July 2013 – June 2014

577 total weeds/grass/trash/junk notices

Of that total, 398 owners complied and 179 work orders were issued.

July 2014 – June 2015

551 total weeks/grass/trash/junk notices

Of that total, 367 owners complied and 184 work orders were issued.

July – August 2015

145 total weeks/grass/trash/junk notices

Of that total, 54 owners have complied, 51 work orders were issued and 40 are pending hearings.

Smith said he would love to see citizens rally behind beautifying Cushing much like they rallied in support of the Cushing Tigers football team last season.

Chairman of the Board Terry Brannon was instrumental in having various board members and department heads report on their areas from time to time at regularly scheduled commission meetings.

In regular business, commissioners voted to approve a resolution authorizing the City Manager to issue a purchase order to the City of Perkins in the sum of $20,000.00 for the purchase of a 1992, E-One, 1,250 GPM Top Mount fire engine for the Cushing Fire Department.

Fire Chief Chris Pixler said Cushing’s Engine 11, a 1982 Boardman 1,000 GPM fire engine, failed a pumper service test in June 2014. Fire department personnel investigated the issues and discovered most of the piping and connections had nearly rusted through and the impeller fins worn to the point water flow is greatly compromised. The pump, original to the truck, is no longer manufactured.

In order to continue to provide reliable fire protection for the community and achieve the best possible ISO rating, Pixler said it is necessary maintain three operable fire engines.

After determining the repair of Engine 11 would not be cost effective, the best option was to find a good used fire engine. Pixler said they searched around the country for a decent used fire engine and found the one in Perkins.

“We, along with the city mechanic, have driven, pumped and inspected this truck,” Pixler said. “After this inspection, we determined the truck would need a few repairs, along with tires, but would serve the community well. The City of Perkins was asking $30,000.00 for the appartus, however, we explained to them the repairs that were necessary and the most we could recommend to our City Manager was $20,000.00, which they are agreeable to.” Pixler said Perkins is purchasing a new truck, which is why they are selling this one. Cushing’s Engine 11 is expected to be scrapped, due to the need for significant repairs.

Commissioners approved the purchase unanimously. (Commissioner Trace Rowe was out of town and not present at the meeting.)

In other business, commissioners approved applications from American Energy – Woodford, LLC to drill oil and gas wells near the City Lake. Spears said the requests had been reviewed and everything was in order. Don Myers, representative of American Energy, was on hand to answer any questions. Commissioner Don Amon asked the question on many people’s minds – whether or not the drilling of such wells are causing the earthquakes around Cushing.

Myers said he believes the earthquakes are not caused by the drilling, but by natural causes. “We do not drill to a depth that earthquakes are created,” he told commissioners.

An application for drilling within the city limits was removed from the agenda prior to Monday night’s meeting. City Attorney Stewart Arthurs noted the recent passage of Senate Bill 809 will greatly hinder the City’s ability to regulate drilling within the city limits.   Click here to read information on Senate Bill 809

Spears reported on the Aquatic Center saying it was hard to tell if this year’s rates increase made any kind of impact since no data had been compiled previously. Reports showed 23,695 people attended the Aquatic Center during the season. A considerable amount for such a wet summer.

Spears also reported:

Construction will begin soon on the new animal shelter

New park equipment has arrived and will be installed soon. A new 9-hole Frisbee golf for Northwest Park is also in the works and should be installed sometime in the fall.

The next “Coffee with the City Manager” will be held Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 7:30 a.m. at McDonald’s.

Cushing Pride, a program to engage citizens and unite people in the beautification of Cushing, is underway. Cushing High School graphics department will be creating a logo.

Regular monthly meetings of the Cushing Board of Commissioners are held the third Monday of each month.  Meetings are open to the public.