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Piedmont resident Greg Winters, PhD speaks to Chamber members during the March Chamber luncheon

Matt Montgomery/Gazette
Piedmont resident and Canadian Valley Technology Center Superintendent Greg Winters, PhD shares pictures and information regarding reconstruction of Canadian Valley Technology Center, after it was decimated during an F-5 tornado, which hit El Reno last June. Canadian Valley Technology Center is proposing a bond issue to county voters for the April 1 election. Winters said if the bond issue passes, taxpayers’ taxes would go up $1 on a $100,000 home or $.50 on a $50,000 home. Watch for a full story in the Piedmont-Surrey Gazette next week.

Planning Commission approves PUD: Council to hold workshop

Boevers: ‘This will increase economic activity’

Ron Cardwell

Bobby Williamson












By Matt Montgomeryeditor@piedmontnewsonline.com

The Piedmont Planning Commission approved a Planned Unit Development (PUD) ordinance Thursday that is a proposed plat of land for 166 acres of residential plots.

The Piedmont City Council tabled the PUD item this past Monday, during their regularly scheduled February Piedmont City Council monthly meeting.

City Councilman Bobby Williamson said the city council, along with the planning commission and local developers want to have a special workshop to visit this PUD topic a little further.

Local developer Phil Boevers said in a prepared statement to The Gazette Wednesday, “SBS is working with the City of Piedmont to develop this area in accordance with the existing PUD which will increase economic activity in Piedmont and benefit the City and its Citizens. The only item currently being discussed is the Preliminary Plat for the First phase of this development which plat complies with city codes. The
preliminary Plat has been approved by the Planning Commission and City Staff.” Read more →

Up in smoke: Pharmacies discontinue cigarette sales; vapor usage steadily increases

By Matt Montgomery

The second largest pharmacy chain in the United States, CVS, announced that it would be phasing out the sale of tobacco products, Feb. 5, at all locations nationwide, with sales stopping completely by October.

More people in Oklahoma have started using vapor cigarettes and quit smoking altogether.

The Vapor Junkie in El Reno said they have noticed a lot more people coming in that want to switch from cigarettes to vapor because of doctors’ orders, a better flavor or just so they can smoke something that isn’t harmful to their lungs.

Vapor Junkie owner Will Rice opened the original Vapor Junkie in Yukon in December 2012. He said he opened the store in part to help people quit smoking.

Rice said most of his customers come into the stores to quit smoking or to quit dipping tobacco. He said once in a while customers come in who like the taste of vapor, but the majorities are those who wanted to quit smoking.

“A good 90 percent of them (customers) are doing it because they want to quit smoking,” Rice said.

When a customer comes in the store, they are asked how many cigarettes they were smoking per day. Based on the amount of cigarettes they smoked and the type determines the amount of nicotine that goes into the vapor juice they buy.

Rice said he thinks a lot more people will go from cigarettes to vapor more often.

“More people definitely want to quit,” he said. “I know people that have been vaping for a year or two and they still haven’t quit, but they’ve gone down basically to the lowest level. They breathe better and a lot of them have actually started working out and exercising. Before, they couldn’t even jog down the street. Now, they’re back to doing all that stuff, before they couldn’t do that because of their lungs.”

Rice dismissed rumors that vapors are as bad as cigarettes. Rice said he has several customers whose doctors have told them to start vaping instead of smoking cigarettes.

He said vapor juice is made with propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine and flavoring.

Even though smoking rates have been decreasing over the past 50 years, tobacco is still a $100 billion industry, and CVS stands to lose $2 billion in revenue by discontinuing tobacco sales.

In a press release announcing the change, CVS Caremark President and CEO Larry J. Merlo stated, “Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health. Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

In Canadian County, several independent pharmacies have never allowed tobacco sales. These include Krittenbbrink Pharmacy in Okarche, United Pharmacy in Yukon, Piedmont Pharmacy and Gifts in Piedmont, Ruke’s Pharmacy and Canadian Valley Pharmacy in El Reno and Miller Drug in Surrey Hills.

Chris Miller, owner and registered pharmacist of Miller Drug in Surrey Hills said he can’t understand why CVS ever stocked and sold cigarettes to begin with.

“I don’t understand why they ever had them to start with,” Miller said. “The Surgeon General has said the health risk causes cancer for years. I can’t understand why a health care provider would stock something like that which has no medicinal purpose, but has severe medical risk.”

Piedmont Pharmacy owner and registered pharmacist John Smith said Piedmont Pharmacy has also never sold cigarettes.

“I think (cigarettes) was a thing of the past,” Smith said. “Drug stores were always a place you could buy cigarettes, but I think with just knowing now what it does to your health, pharmacies aren’t any place that they need to be sold.”

Okarche’s Krittenbrink Pharmacy owner and registered pharmacist Steve Krittenbrink said Krittenbrink Pharmacy has never sold tobacco products and never will.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Krittenbrink said. “Those bigger places like that have always had the attitude that if they don’t get it here, they’ll just go buy it someplace else.”

He said all of the bigger chains like CVS just used tobacco to draw customers into the store to buy other things. He said he’s heard that tobacco sales at a place like CVS weren’t all that high.

He said when he worked at a pharmacy in Emproia, Kan. back in the ‘70s, they sold tobacco products and made just a few cents off of each pack of cigarettes sold.

Craig McAlister, owner of Conrad Marr in Yukon also supports CVS’ new policy. “Our store made the decision to no longer sell tobacco in 2000. Even though selling tobacco was a common practice in pharmacies, we took a step back and realized it was counterproductive to our goal of trying to get people healthy, so we decided to no longer sell tobacco products.”

Members of the Canadian County Against Tobacco coalition welcomed the announcement from CVS as a sign of progress in the fight against tobacco.

In Oklahoma, more than 6,000 people die each year from preventable, tobacco related death. And more than 3,400 kids under age 18 pick up the habit each year.

Miller Drug owner Chris Miller

Vapor Junkie owner Will Rice

“The tobacco industry spends an incredible amount of money in Oklahoma to get kids to start smoking and to keep adults from quitting,” said Jenny Kellbach, Tobacco Prevention Coordinator for Canadian County. “By reducing the number of places tobacco products are sold, we are also reducing the marketing power the tobacco industry has. Over time, this can make tobacco products less acceptable and protect our citizens from unnecessary health problems and loss of life.”

Piedmont Chamber of Commerce cuts ribbon to new business in Piedmont

Matt Montgomery/Gazette
The Piedmont Chamber of Commerce and members of the Piedmont community joined Melisa Ryker, owner of Piedmont Dry Cleaners and Florist, center, in cutting the ribbon during the grand opening of her business Wednesday morning.

Veterans associations seeks donations

By John Bickerstaff
PAVA Committee Spokesperson

As you know, the Piedmont Area Veterans Association (PAVA) is in the process of constructing a building on Edmond Road in Piedmont.

The goal for this building is to have a place to honor the selfless service of our nation’s service members of the United States Armed Forces through preservation, celebration and education.

This organization has made giant strides to keep the project moving forward.

All of the required state and federal documents for the incorporation and by-laws have been completed and we have applied for the IRS 501(c) (19) not-for-profit veterans’ organization.

The deeds for the donated property have been filed and completed. Construction permits have been obtained, building materials are on site and construction is underway. Much of the materials will be donated, as well as the labor efforts.

Thanks to our generous supporters, we have raised over $30,000. This has allowed us to proceed with the construction of the PAVA building. However, further donations are needed in order for us to continue forward. We realize economic times are tough and many people and other organizations are seeking your support as well. Your donation toward this building would help to honor and remember our veterans.
Should you have any questions, please contact John Bickerstaff at mjbickerstaff@prodigy.net.

Horticulture Impressions and D&E Custom Curbs host exhibits during OKC Home and Garden Show

Okarche resident Brian Krittenbrink of Horticulture Impressions, left, and Piedmont resident Duane Johnson of D&E Custom Curbing stand in front of Krittenbrink’s exhibit Thursday afternoon in the Modern Living Building at the State Fair of Oklahoma. Both men will have their prospective booths set up Jan. 17 through Jan. 19, during the Oklahoma City Home and Garden Show at the fair. To learn more about both men’s businesses, see www.decurbing.com and www.horticultureimpressions.com

Dodge City Paintball falls victim to grass fire

By Matt Montgomery

This past Sunday afternoon, a grass fire started on the property of Dodge City Paintball just south of Gregory Road and the Northwest Expressway.
Luckily, the fire didn’t catch any of the buildings or structures on fire and was mostly contained in the fields on the property by area fire departments.
Piedmont Fire Chief Andy Logan said the fire was an intense fire that was difficult to contain because of high winds.
“It was very hard to contain,” Logan said. “The wind speeds at that time were 25 to 30 mph and the fire load was extremely heavy.”
Logan said the fire was started in an area that in and of itself was a difficult area to put out a fire. He said the area in a deep creek bed was an area where the F-5 tornado went through in 2011, so there was a lot of dead timber and debris that fueled the fire. Read more →

Veterans Association building comes together

By Matt Montgomery

The Piedmont Area Veterans Association is one step closer in having a building in Piedmont to call home.
PAVA Spokesperson John Bickerstaff said the red steel has been erected, along with the siding and roof has been put on the building.

He said the next step will be the laying of the bricks. However, he said weather could be a factor in getting things done on time.

“Then after the brick layers, we’ll take a look at the inside,” Bickerstaff said. “We’ve had an interior design committee come up with a layout on how they think it ought to look then we’ll have to get more detail as we go along.”

He said there isn’t a defined completion date yet, but the PAVA is taking everything a step at a time and the building is coming together.

“We’ve made great progress,” he said. “But, I don’t know about the front windows and door, when that is going in. Hopefully today, but I’m not real sure.”

Bickerstaff said the group hasn’t sat down yet to discuss the plans of what the group is going to do when they first open their doors, but did say after the interior is completed with display cases of memorabilia, there will be a grand opening sometime this year.

“We will have it open to the public,” he said. “We have not talked about opening hours yet and how that will be manned, but it will be open to them and we’re just not sure how often yet.”

He said PAVA brochures have been created and can be picked up at several local businesses including, Stones Hardware, F&M Bank, City Stop and Bill’s Barbershop.

Matt Montgomery/Gazette
Workers add layers to the PAVA building last week on Edmond Road in Piedmont.

Those wanting to become members can choose from an annual, 10-year and lifetime membership cards.

Sundance set to make much-needed renovations

By Matt Montgomery

Sundance Airport is making headway in some of the massive restoration project the airport’s CEO and owner Jerry Hunter laid out early last year.

Sundance General Manager Heather Sterzick said the first major project they will get to is fixing the ancient plumbing in the building, in order to meet the standards to accommodate the aviation-themed restaurant they are planning to build.

Sterzick said the sewage project is going to cost $500,000 to do and will be underway in March.

“Unfortunately, the current sewage system we have is not approved for a restaurant,” she said. “We got with Oklahoma City and we are going to tie into their line, to be capable of accommodating a restaurant.”

Last year, Sundance had some rendering of what the new and improved facade and interior of the airport would look like. Those renderings have now been altered, according to Sterzick, and will now have the restaurant as a standalone structure instead of being integrated with the existing lobby structure.

“Mr. Hunter has decided now he is going to locate it on its own,” she said. “It will probably be up to the north, near the road with a view of the runway.”

She said there will be new hangers built on Sundance property, but in the meantime problems with the existing tenants have been ironed out.

“The airport was owned by someone who didn’t properly maintain it,” she said. “We’ve had issues with drainage, lighting, simple stuff that has just gone downhill.”

Sundance has also put up new fencing to prevent wildlife from getting onto the property and entering the runway area.

Sterzick said the design of the main structure of the airport will get a face-lift as well as a pilot lounge.

Another project Sundance is working on is incorporating an aviation class in conjunction with area schools as part of the school’s curriculum, called Sundance Flight Academy. She said they have already spoken to Piedmont schools about the course.

This summer, Sundance is hosting a flight show called Discover Aviation from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., May 24 where guests will get to see the “world’s smallest jet” called the FLS Microjet.

Overall, Hunter plans on investing over $3.4 million into Sundance and has already invested $1.2 million.
The airport is currently at a 95 percent occupancy rate.

Piedmont sales tax receipts increase from 2012-13

By Matt Montgomery

The City of Piedmont saw an increase in the amount of sales tax receipts during December 2013 compared to December 2012.

There was a 10.4 percent increase in sales tax receipts from 140,610.73 in December 2012 to 155,350.65 in December 2013.

Piedmont City Manager Jim Crosby said some of that increase could be attributed to rebuilding from the May 2011 tornado or even population growth.

“Usually part of that sales tax stuff is based on, in my opinion, some of the tornadoes we had,” Crosby said. “The reason it increased that much is some of the rebuilding.”

He said that figure isn’t really based on new businesses coming in because Piedmont hasn’t had but a couple new businesses in the last couple of years.

Crosby also said inflation will take care of part of the sales tax increase every year.
“This year, we’re pretty close to even,” he said. “We’re not that far up.

We’re up a little, but not that much. This is about where we thought we’d be this year.”

Crosby said last year they thought it would have been up more than it was because the tornado was in May 2011 and most of the rebuilding occurred in 2012.

“Some people are still rebuilding from the tornadoes, even though it’s a little slower now,” he said. “People are taking their time for whatever reason. Some are because of insurance companies, and all the various problems they have to go through.”

Population growth is also a factor into sales tax receipts. Crosby said Piedmont’s population is still on the rise at about 6,800 residents at the end of 2013.

“The town is still growing, and it’s going to continue to grow,” Crosby said. “I think with our school district, and some of the surrounding schools getting ‘F’ ratings, next to Deer Creek, we’re at the top.”

He added Piedmont has an extremely low crime rate and the quality of life Piedmont has to offer, people want to live in a city like this.

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