Shawnee’s Chamber board of directors has endorsed the proposition to make the county one-cent sales tax permanent beginning July 1, 2013. A countywide vote on the proposal is scheduled for Aug. 26, the same day of the runoff primary and the Tecumseh municipal election.

Shawnee’s Chamber board of directors has endorsed the proposition to make the county one-cent sales tax permanent beginning July 1, 2013. A countywide vote on the proposal is scheduled for Aug. 26, the same day of the runoff primary and the Tecumseh municipal election.
Chamber board members were unanimous in their endorsement, but they also agreed as part of the motion that both the county and city of Shawnee should strive for better cooperation and work together more on projects when it’s feasible to do so.
The vote by the chamber board occurred on the same day county commissioners were approving the resolution, officially setting the election for Aug. 26.
Richard Kunze, a member of the county sales tax committee, made the pitch to the chamber board. One of the common questions heard from citizens and groups is why the vote is being taken five years before the current one-cent tax expires. The proposition approved in June 2002 extended the tax for 10 years beginning July 1, 2003, and it expires June 30, 2013.
Kunze and the committee responded by saying it will afford a window for long-range planning. They also pointed to the cooperative leadership currently in place, and the original organization and planning group still is in place.
“It works and this should be the last election,” they said.
Kunze and others already had made presentations to the board of local real estate agents and are scheduled to visit with Shawnee Rotarians July 8. They also said they hope to speak to a number of other civic clubs and groups as they push for passage of the tax.
Shawnee city commissioners, on a 4-2 vote earlier this week, have decided to move ahead with advertising for a replacement for City Manager Jim Collard. Voting in favor were Mayor Chuck Mills and commissioners Linda Peterson, Carl Holt and Billy Collier.
Against the idea were Marva O’Neal and Tom Schrzan.
Vice Mayor Pam Stephens was not able to attend, but an e-mail from her dated June 18 reads: “Greetings all. Let’s all join together to find the perfect city manager for our community. Although I am personally eager to start the process, I would prefer to have dialogue among the commissioners and possibly the citizens on what type of person and skills we desire. I want the process to not include expending tax dollars initially for a headhunter until we exhaust our internal options. Are we jumping the gun by advertising this weekend?”
The weekend she was referring to was last weekend, June 21-22.
That e-mail was sent to Phyllis Loftis, acting city manager; human resources director Kellie Howard, and at least four of the commissioners, but not the mayor.
Two e-mails were forwarded to me earlier this week. One was that of Stephens, and the other was one the mayor sent Friday, June 20, to Loftis and what appears to be at least five of the commissioners. Neither e-mail was forwarded to me by Stephens nor Mills.
The one sent by the mayor reads:
“Commissioner Stephens told me before she left that she was in favor of us moving forward with at least the advertising for the position which will not cost us anything. Therefore, I wish to keep the item on the agenda so that we can at least see what the market will bear. We do not have to decide what the hiring process will be until we see what the advertising will produce which will take 45 to 60 days. Commissioner Stephens will be back by then and we can discuss this with a full commission. There is no reason at this point to discuss a head hunter due to the cost. It is our responsibility as the elected leaders of this community to move as quickly as possible to fill the leadership void that we have caused concerning the city manager. To delay will show weakness and some of the indecisive traits that we have accused the city manager of. Best regards, Chuck.”
The agenda he was referring to was for the special city commission meeting held earlier this week on Tuesday evening.
Shawnee Police Chief Bill Mathis spoke to the board of directors of the Shawnee Chamber this week, detailing some of the successes the department has had and what he hopes for the future. The chief noted that the local department is down 10 officers, according to national standards for a city with our population around 30,000 people.
He told the board the department has received a $150,000 truancy grant aimed at curbing local school attendance problems, and that three officers have volunteered to help with a new Police Explorer program he hopes to launch in the fall. Officers will work with young people and acquaint them with police work and activities in hopes of attracting some of them in the future toward law enforcement.
Mathis said that training has increased by 500 percent since he took over the reins in October 2006, and the focus of the training is so officers can provide better service.
“The training is doing what I had hoped, and we are getting Shawnee recognized as a much better training department,” he said.
He spoke of the use of force simulator purchased by the city and now in place, and the creation of a professional standards unit.
The chief is one of the vice presidents of the state Association of Police Chiefs, and he said one of the organization’s focuses in the future will be to work on making the arbitration process in Oklahoma more fair to cities and towns. He said two-thirds of decisions are reduced or overturned in favor of the unions now across the state.
“There are no checks and balances,” he told the board.
Mathis said, “This is a great community. It’s our police department, and I need to have people hang in there with me.”
He added, “We have a few malcontents, but most of them are either on sick leave or on workers compensation.”
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