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Committee to review contracts for COCAA, SEFF, Shawnee Forward

Vicky O. Misa

The City of Shawnee's Community Service Contract Review Committee is slated to assemble via video conference at 3 p.m. Monday to consider Fiscal Year 2020-21 contracts. The requests are with the Central Oklahoma Community Action Agency/ Central Oklahoma Transit System (COCAA), Safe Events for Families (SEFF) and Shawnee Forward.

COTS Program

Central Oklahoma Community Action Agency (COCAA) is a nonprofit that operates the Central Oklahoma Transit System (COTS). COCAA is requesting continued financial support from the city to maintain COTS program services. COCAA employs 26 staff members — 11 who are staff for the COTS.

COTS operates nine mini vans for on-demand transportation pickups in Pottawatomie and Seminole Counties.

For the 2019 year, COTS ran 175,224 revenue miles and provided 19,838 passenger trips. The majority of those — 18,022 or 90 percent — were Shawnee residents.

The City's funding is just a part of the COTS annual budget. Other funding sources that assist with the annual budget includes Community Service Block Grant, ODOT 5311 grant, ODOT 5339 grants, State Revolving Funds, and revenue received from the fares collected.

COTS Director Tina Lowery is requesting $70,000 for continued support of the program. The funding would be used for drivers salaries ($43,680) and fringe fuel ($12,000), as well as vehicle insurance ($5,000), maintenance and repair ($9,320).

SEFF

SEFF hosts multiple events in downtown Shawnee throughout the year. Currently SEFF has only one part-time employee and uses volunteers to put on the events.

SEFF festivals are usually free to attend and are accessible to everyone in the community.

As a nonprofit, SEFF is dependent upon donations to support its efforts.

According to the agenda, an economic impact study in 2015 indicated that SEFF's events left a $3.5 million foot print for the Shawnee area at that time.

“As events have grown, so has the impact,” the request states. “We now host the largest Halloween and Christmas events in the state.”

The Redbud Festival has been added since that time and downtown's Third Friday Block Parties continue to grow.

“We are asking to remain at the funding request of $63,000 to help our efforts,” the request reads. “We use these funds to solicit the remaining funds needed to continue to operate and grow these great events.”

The request includes continued support for downtown Christmas decorations.

Shawnee Forward

As a fairly new organization, Shawnee Forward, Inc. will begin its third year of existence in July of 2020.

“In 2018, the Shawnee Economic Development Foundation merged with the Greater Shawnee Area Chamber of Commerce to allow for the elimination of any duplicated services and to better align our mutually delivered services to the businesses and residents of the community,” the contract request reads. “Individually, these organizations had been in existence for over 50 years.”

There is currently one full-time employee — the economic development director — who is supported by the marketing director, who now spends half his time on the economic development marketing needs of the organization. The membership director is also available as needed to support the needs of the economic development activities.

“Our request of $307,000, (unchanged from the current level of funding), will be focused on where we can accomplish the greatest return on investment for those we serve,” the request states.

Those areas reportedly will include, but not be limited to continued business retention and expansion efforts to assist in creating and retaining the largest number of wealth-producing jobs for the area, along with a realistic approach to attracting new business.

How to connect, participate

To watch the meeting, it will be broadcasted live on Vyve Channel 3 or via the City of Shawnee’s website at http://www.shawneeok.org/services/video_multimedia/city_connect_live.php.

Check it out

Members of the contract review committee are:

• Mayor Richard Finley

• Vice Mayor and Ward 3 City Commissioner James Harrod

• the Rev. Ray Belford

• Ken McDowell