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Archive for: August 2013

City releases statement; Demise of Piedmont Police Department a real possibility

The City of Piedmont has issued a press release confirming the City Council’s united support in favor of eliminating the Piedmont Police Department and utilizing the countywide law enforcement provided by the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office.

“This is actually supported by every single member of the council including myself,” Mayor Thomerson said of the proposed change to Piedmont law enforcement.

Although the council has been working with the Sheriff’s office for the last couple months to explore this option, the proposed change comes as a surprise to most Piedmont residents. Councilman Charles Coffman said the council had hoped to continue analyzing this possibility before bringing it to the public’s attention by holding a special session in the middle part of September.

“It was not our intention to make it a surprise for anyone,” Coffman said. “We had a plan to discuss it further but somehow it got out.”

During the last city council meeting, the Piedmont city council met in executive session to discuss police contracts. After the executive session, no mention of the topic of the discussion or any decisions or resolutions made during the session were made known. According to one source, the session included a presentation from Canadian County Sheriff Randall.

“The Canadian County Sheriff’s Department came and made a sales pitch,” Councilman Bobby Williamson said. “As a city councilman responsible for the future of Piedmont, I owe it to the citizens of Piedmont to explore all options that could save the city money.”

According to the press release, Piedmont is already under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff’s office as provided for by the Oklahoma Constitution which designates the Sheriff as the leading law enforcement officer of each county and further states municipal police departments such as Piedmont’s are effective only at the pleasure of the Sheriff.

According to Mayor Thomerson, the savings to the City would be used to repair Piedmont’s roads. A recent ‘no’ decision by voters on a bond issue as a possible solution to funding repairs on some of Piedmont’s roads left the City in a dilemma: Where to find the funds to improve Piedmont’s roads without the benefit of the additional funds which would have been provided by the proposed bond.

“We all came into office wanting to do something about roads. The citizens resoundingly said no to the bond issue, which frankly we as a governing body did a poor job of marketing. We’re trying to think outside the box,” Mayor Thomerson said regarding the proposed restructuring.

One option open to the City is to do nothing and leave the roads in their present poor condition, or they will need to cut spending in order to free up the necessary resources for the much-needed road repairs. Changing the way Piedmont’s law enforcement is currently structured is one option the council is considering.

“It’s a viable option and one that we have to seriously consider,” said Mayor Thomerson. “This is an opportunity to find funding without cutting the community short in terms of law enforcement coverage and protection.”

“What that bond issue told us was that the citizens aren’t ready to have that kind of investment. It tells me it would be difficult to go down that path. So that’s why we had to start looking in other directions. The failure of that bond did lead us to explore other avenues because we’ve got to have safe streets for the citizens,” said Councilman Charles Coffman.

During a recent budget review, the City Council determined Piedmont is paying the “gold package” price for the current law enforcement. With tax dollars already going to the Canadian County Sheriff’s Department, it seemed they had happened upon a possible solution to the “knot that must be untied” as the conundrum of road repairs in Piedmont has come to be known. With a substantial savings to the tune of 5% of the City’s total budget, approximately $300,000, the City of Piedmont opened discussions with the Canadian County Sheriff’s office in which, according to the recent press release, the Sheriff expressed a willingness to increase their presence in the eastern part of Canadian County. A proposed schedule of duty for a “Piedmont Division” and estimate of needs has been submitted for the City Council’s review by the Canadian County Sheriff’s Department. According to Councilman Charles Coffman, the Canadian County Sheriff’s department has been looking into increasing their presence in the eastern part of the county so this gives them an incentive to be a part of it.

“I think it will garner strong consideration from the council. I think it’s a good idea myself,” said Coffman. “We actually gain coverage and law enforcement. Instead of reducing services or raising taxes this is a win win. You get more services for less money. The road repairs are a complex problem. It appears we don’t have the resources and there was really nothing on the horizon.”

The proposed schedule would have a Lieutenant/Captain present in Piedmont Monday through Friday between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Additionally one deputy would be present all day Monday and Tuesday with shifts being 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. and 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.. Wednesday through Sunday schedule shows two deputies present during the 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift and the 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. shift. One additional deputy is scheduled on Sundays from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. This schedule provides the same level of coverage on a day-to-day basis with an increased presence during the night.

The Sheriff’s department has a forensic team and nine k-9 units which would add to Piedmont’s law enforcement resources. During an interview with Mayor Thomerson, she cited a recent incident where an individual was stopped for a suspected DWI. The officer involved was unable to take the driver in for a blood test to determine his blood alcohol level; he had no backup and his leaving would have left the city unprotected. That would not happen with the Canadian County Sheriff’s Department providing full-service to our community. They would have send another officer to maintain that presence. “We will have a greater and more consistent police presence,” said Mayor Thomerson. “We’ve got good coverage during the day, but at night we’re actually short,” she said regarding the current service provided by Piedmont’s police department.

Discussions regarding the change in law enforcement could take several months. Councilman Coffman explained this is not something that is being considered lightly. Piedmont is a growing city and will need a police force capable of handling that growth. This solution has the potential to give Piedmont more resources for less money. Recommendations have been made to the Sheriff’s Department asking that the current police station continue to provide the operational base for law enforcement providing them with local holding cells, an evidence room and at least three offices. Officers in good standing have been recommended to the Sheriff’s Department for potential employment.

Williamson sworn in; Council votes to join COPRA in legal action against Apex Wind Energy and Kingfisher Wind, LLC

Councilman Bobby Williamson was sworn in at the City Council meeting Monday, August 26.

By Robert Flippo                                                                                                                       editor@piedmontnewsonline.com

The Piedmont City Council convened Monday evening for their monthly meeting. With the induction of new Ward 2 Councilman Bobby Williamson and agenda items addressing the future of wind energy, the meeting promised to be exciting.

That promise was reflected in the presence of a large crowd that filled the seating and left citizens to stand in the back in order to watch the proceedings.

The evening began with the swearing in of Bobby Williamson. Mayor Valerie Thomerson administered the oath of office to the new councilman, who stood with his family to receive the oath.

“I’m honored to be here,” Williamson said in his closing remarks of the evening. “I love Piedmont and I hope my decisions reflect that.”

The biggest developments came at the end of the evening, when the Council addressed wind energy.

First, the council voted 3-2 to amend the city code which already banned the construction of industrial wind turbines within city limits to officially declare industrial wind energy conversion systems to be a nuisance.

Read more →

Gone fishing: Catfish Cove relocates

By Robert Flippo

editor@piedmontnewsonline.com

The Catfish Cove restaurant on Piedmont Road has officially closed. The restaurant’s lease ended on August 15 and the owners chose not to renew the lease for another year.

Hoss Cooley, the owner of the building Catfish Cove occupied, had given the owners a year of free rent in order to help the restaurant get on its feet. However, Catfish Cove was never quite able to get its feet on solid ground. According to Cooley, the owners chose not to renew the lease because they said if they had to pay rent they would not be able to make a profit.

“Catfish Cove had great food but the people of Piedmont never supported it,” Cooley said.

Unfortunately, this was not the first restaurant unable to make it at that location. Multiple restaurants have come and gone despite Cooley’s high hopes.

Read more →

Update on Road Construction

The following information has been released by the City of Piedmont regarding the ongoing construction on Washington Avenue and Waterloo:

Washington Ave W:

The City of Piedmont wants to update everyone on the road work on Washington Ave W.

Starting this Saturday, the 17th, the road will be cleaned and prepped. It will be open to local traffic only on Saturday. On Sunday, the 2nd coat of oil with chip and seal will be applied starting at approximately 8am and the road will be closed to all traffic at this time. We do strongly suggest all residents to avoid driving on this oil coat. The road should re-open by approximately 1pm. Of course these plans are contingent on the weather. This should complete the repairs to Washington Ave W.

As always, we thank you for your cooperation and patience. Have a great weekend!

Waterloo:

The City of Piedmont wants to update everyone on the road work on Waterloo Rd.

This Saturday, the 17th, the first oil coat will be applied. The road will be closed to all traffic from approximately 8am thru the evening and the second oil coat will be applied on Sunday. The road will remain closed to all traffic on Sunday until approximately 5pm, of course weather permitting. We expect to finish up on Waterloo Rd. by Monday or Tuesday of next week. We will update you further next week.

Thank you for your patience as we continue to try and improve some of our city roads.

Stay safe and have a great weekend

Nancy Armstrong,
Executive Assistant
City of Piedmont
PO Box 240
Piedmont, OK 73078
405-373-2621

Williamson wins recall race

 

Bobby Williamson wins election

Celebrations are all around for the Williamson’s supporters at his watch party as news of the victory is announced.

Piedmont has elected Bobby Williamson to represent Ward 2 in a recall election which ousted  current councilman Vernon Woods.   Taking  53 percent of the vote, Williamson beat out Woods who received 37 percent of the votes while Don Rubley received 9 percent .

“I’m very excited about it.  The voters of Ward 2 have spoken and I’m ready to represent them,” Williamson said in a phone interview.  “I want to thank my family, friends and supporters and I’m very excited to work for the citizens of Ward 2 and Piedmont,” Williamson added.

Don Rubley congratulated Williamson on his win. “Congratulations to Bobby and he’ll have our support in the future,” Rubley said.

Spirits were high at Williamson’s watch party after news of the victory was reported. “He’s an honest, straight forward guy who is willing to listen to the people of Piedmont and the people in his ward to try to solve problems,” said Tony Waltrip, a resident of Ward 2 who attended the watch party.

Woods declined to comment on the results of the recall election.

UPDATE: Construction on 164th had been delayed due to weather

By Robert Flippo
editor@piedmontnewsonline.com

The road construction on 164th between Piedmont Road and Cemetery Road has been delayed due to weather. The road was supposed to be closed Thursday, Aug. 8 and Saturday, Aug. 10 and will instead be closed Saturday, Aug. 10 and Sunday, Aug. 11.

Crews were scheduled to put down the first coat of sealer on Thursday but had to postpone because of rain. Weather permitting the crews will put the coat of sealer down on Saturday. Then on Sunday, they will put down the first coat of chip seal. Monday, they will put down the second coat of chip seal one lane at a time so the road will remain open.

Additionally, construction has begun on Waterloo between Piedmont Road and Mustang Road. The work on Waterloo is in its early stages but expect the road to close in the near future.

Follow us on Twitter for updates on road closings and other news.

PHS volleyball shows promise in preseason scrimmages

By Evan Grice

sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

Piedmont volleyball player Dazanah Bailey rises above the net for a kill attempt Friday night at Choctaw High School during a junior varsity match against Northwest Classen.

A new era of Lady Wildcat volleyball officially got under way this weekend at the Choctaw Activities Center, as Piedmont was one of six competing teams taking part in a pre-season scrimmage festival.

While the first day of action ended in disappointing fashion with a straight set defeat to the host Lady Yellow Jackets, PHS was able to win of its matches against Northwest Classen, and end the night 1-4.

An unfortunate reoccurring theme which took place over the course of Piedmont’s matches during day one of the scrimmages, were opponents getting out to early leads.
Against the Lady Comets in game one that was exactly what happened to the Lady Wildcats.

NWC found itself up big early 8-1, before PHS made a run but ultimately fell in the opener by a score of 15-10.
Game two was a much closer affair, as the Lady Wildcats recovered from another early deficit, only this time the comeback was completed as Piedmont evened the match with a 15-11 second set victory.

In the finale against the Lady Comets, the Lady Wildcats turned the tables on their opponent, as it was them who jumped out to an early 6-1 lead, before emerging vi

ctorious 10-4, and winning the match.After a straight set defeat to the Oklahoma Storm to open the day, the Lady Wildcats ran into another strong opponent in the Lady Rockets from Mount Saint Mary.
MSM was in no mood to let up on the intensity, as PHS was swept aside by scores of 15-10, 15-5.

Things got a little better for the squad against the Lady Patriots from Putnam City West, as Piedmont put up a strong fight in all three sets.
However, it was PCW who had the last laugh as the Lady Patriots won by scores of 15-13, 11-15 and 10-6. Read more →

PHOTOS: Band cools down

The Pride of Piedmont cool down during practice with the help of Captain Brandon Jeter of the Piedmont Fire Department. Read more →

Ambulance response times to increase




By Robert Flippo

editor@piedmontnewsonline.com

EMSA, Emergency Medical Services Authority, which Piedmont relies on for ambulance service, has increased the allotted time for ambulances responding to emergencies. The change increases the response time from eight minutes and 59 seconds to ten minutes and 59 seconds.

This move came at the recommendation of an independent report conducted by the OU School of Community Medicine.

According to the study mortality rates are most affected by patient care starting within the first five minutes of the call, which is the responsibility of the first responders. Increasing the response time is meant to ensure the safety of ambulance drivers.

EMSA will be classifying calls into two categories: Priority 1 and Priority 2. Priority 1 calls are “critical situations, such as heart attacks, strokes, drownings and traumatic motor vehicle collisions” and Priority 2 calls are “nonlife-threatening situations such as, falls, broken limbs and minor injury motor vehicle collisions.”

For Priority 1 calls, ambulances will drive with their lights and sirens on.

For Priority 2 calls, ambulances will not run their lights and sirens and will be obeying normal traffic laws. This is also meant to increase ambulance safety by limiting the amount of time ambulances spend driving with lights and sirens on. The study showed 74 percent of all crashes involving ambulances occurred when the ambulance had its lights and sirens on.

These new changes will start November 1 and the big question is how will this effect Piedmont.

“We’re really concerned about it,” Andy Logan, Piedmont Fire Chief, said.

The ambulance response time for Piedmont is already long. The average response time is around 18, a full eten minutes longer than EMSA’s current target response time and eight minutes longer than the new target response time. Read more →

Chamber holds Meet the Candidates event for Ward 2 election

Marion LeCrone, President of the Chamber of Commerce, introduces the Ward 2 candidates.

By Robert Flippo

editor@piedmontnewsonline.com

The Chamber of Commerce held a meet the candidates event Tuesday, July 30 to prepare citizens for the Ward 2 City Council election on August 13. The three candidates for the election are Donovan Rubley, Bobby Williamson, and the incumbent Councilman Vernon Woods.The event began with Marian LeCrone, President of the Chamber of Commerce, making introductions and explaining the format for the event. Each candidate got to speak for ten minutes and they drew numbers at random to determine the order. Bobby Williamson went first, Vernon Woods second, and Donovan Rubley third.

Each candidate was asked to specifically answer what made them want to run for City Council, what their plan for roads will be and their views on wind power as well as any other remarks they wished to give.

Bobby Williamson spoke first and the theme running through his speech was growth for Piedmont. His focus was on the future of Piedmont and what the city has the potential to be. He emphasized that decisions need to be made not just to remedy a situation in the moment, but also positively impact Piedmont down the line.

Williamson said that it is time for Piedmont to come up with a comprehensive, long range plan for Piedmont’s roads. To Williamson, the key to Piedmont’s roads is to encourage development.

“One sure way to get the money to make our roads better is by growing our tax base,” Williamson said.

By working to bring new businesses to Piedmont, Williamson hopes to be able to pay for road repairs without having to raise the sales tax rate, which is already among the highest in the state. According to Williamson, bringing new businesses into Piedmont should be the number one priority.

As far as wind power, again Williamson’s views are tied to a desire to see Piedmont grow. For Williamson, the problem with having wind turbines on the edges of town, is that it will limit the growth of Piedmont in those directions.

Next, Vernon Woods took the podium. His first action was to address the elephant in the room, his recall. Woods said that the recall petition claimed he showed an unwillingness to listen to his constituents and that he favored wind power in Piedmont.
“What is said there is unfounded and it is totally wrong,” Woods said. Read more →

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