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Sharpton's previous District 1 updates.

District 1 News

January 19, 2014 Road Repairs Underway as Winter Weather Permits

We have been hauling gravel in and out of the district barn. Gravel on roads gets thin after a few weather cycles and we are consistently adding more when and where we can. Winter also presents a challenge when it comes to doing deep patch work, as we are always at the mercy of the asphalt plants. In the winter they just don't make as much product. And speaking of asphalt, Don McBride, owner of Logan County Asphalt, travels Broadway often. He noticed the settling of an oil pipeline affecting a new section of roadway near the bridge. Mr. McBride approached me and offered to bring out the necessary supplies to do a demonstration for District 1 employees on how the cold-mix he manufactures can be used to repair such problems. He and the county employees repaired it at no material cost to the county. I would like to voice my appreciation to Logan County Asphalt for the willingness to improve that area.

The weather for the next 10 days is looking a little more conducive to finishing some of the repairs we have been trying to complete. This week I met with a company regarding a project at Santa Fe & Shadow Lakes where some culvert pipes that have been deteriorating. I know how much of a problem it would be to shut that road down to replace the culverts, as well as others around the county, so I am always looking for new, better, and more efficient ways to make repairs. The company I met with uses a machine to reline small diameter culverts with a special cement mixture. Larger pipes are done by hand. I am looking forward to receiving the cost estimate, and hopeful it will be something Logan County can afford to implement.

January 5, 2014 Upcoming Projects

With the beginning of a new year I look forward to various projects moving forward. It becomes very frustrating to recognize that most of the slow progress with projects is associated with rules and procedures implemented by bureaucracy. If citizens would push back against federal and state governments a little harder with more frequency, things would change. Folks seem to either profit off the current designs of government or are afraid to rebel against them. The red tape of government pushes the cost of projects skyward and extends the length of planning, design and construction into years rather than months.

The Coltrane Road project is on schedule with very few right-of-way acquisitions remaining. I would like to thank all of the folks that have signed off already. The faster and more cooperative people are, the quicker roads get built. We are now transitioning into the phase of moving utilities. After all phone lines, cable, gas, electric and energy pipelines are moved, construction can begin.

We have project numbers for three new road improvements. This does not mean we have funding yet, but it does allow us to move forward with planning, design and environmental clearance to receive finding. The three projects are for repaving one mile of Bryant north of Waterloo, two miles of Santa Fe beginning at Waterloo, and two miles of Kelly north of Waterloo. Like I said, these are not funded yet, but we have begun the process that allows Logan County to move forward to be in a better place to compete for funding.

REAP grants have been awarded for this year; unfortunately, District 1 fell short this year. Six grants were funded and we ranked seventh. That does mean we are the first alternate if there is any reallocated money. Had we not received a 10-point deduction for having been awarded a grant last year, our project would have been approved for funding this year. The District 1 project that ranked highest this year was Camp Rd east of Hwy 74F.

We have much more happening than I have room to write about in this one article, but I will update you with more next time. As always, thank you for reading and for your support.

October 7, 2013 222% Increase in 10 Years

A few weeks ago I asked the Oklahoma Department of Transportation if they had a record of all of the Logan County Projects associated with ODOT for the last 20 years (click HERE for PDF). ODOT sent me a list and if you go to marksharpton.org or marksharpton.org you can read it. Two of the projects are in the City of Guthrie, so the county had nothing to do with those. However, I could not help but compare that in the 10 years before I was given the honor to serve, the county had 9 projects totaling $3,266,238.00. I was not involved in that 10 year time frame, and I do not know all of the circumstances related to what was done then, and judging is not my intention. However, since I took office to serve Logan County, there are 29 projects totaling $11,711,554.00. This list of projects is for the entire county that the board of commissioners has approved and worked together to fulfill. This list does not include county projects that utilize county money only. This is more than a 222% increase in the amount of projects in Logan County using the state system. When it comes to “bringing home the bacon,” (that’s politician talk for getting you money), Logan County had a financial increase of over 258% in the same time frame. I just wanted to share what the Board of Commissioners has been getting accomplished, working together for the good of the county has a whole. We might still bicker about our own Districts but we support each other getting projects done anywhere we can. The other county officers have been supportive and a real change has happened in the willingness to help and work through issues in a positive manner. I believe the Board of Commissioners has had a huge influence on improving the functioning of local government. We are not finished and we will continue to bring “bacon home” and keep morale up by working together.

District 1 events this week include work on replacing the wooden bridge deck on College just east of Kelly. The wood has been removed and concrete will be replacing it. That will help maintenance costs tremendously. The deck should be poured early next week and we will allow it to be opened for traffic as soon as possible.

The new asphalt overlay of Simpson Road from Sooner to Coltrane should be completed early next week. Patching was done this week and the overlay is being completed as I write. Shouldering up and striping still need to be done. The new surface will be much smoother and last longer. We look forward to moving westward on Simpson and continuing to improve more of the roadway as quickly as money and the system of red tape allows.

Mowing is an ongoing endeavor and will remain so until we make it throughout the whole district. Remember, snow is coming and any help you can give mowing your right of way helps the county deal with winter weather. This is because if the north and west sides of the roads are mowed, it cuts down on snow drifts that accumulate and make the road impassable.

County crew also are continuing to repair potholes. With our small crew and limited resources, it’s hard to stay ahead or catch up on this, but we are working on it. Feel free to give us a call if you have a concern or wish to report any area of special need.

September 23, 2013 Weekly Update

There has been much talk lately about energy exploration in Logan County. I want to make sure the real numbers are out there. I do not pretend to fully understand the Oklahoma Tax Credit Program. I find those programs are normally made in a way that can’t be understood, and a lot of times by those who administrate the program. Logan County has a large and increasing energy exploration in the Nemaha Ridge. It is a formation that extends from about Oklahoma City to south of Omaha. This may someday be a boon for Logan County. As of now, we have yet to see exactly how much money Logan County will receive. That is because there is a 14-month lag time in the reporting that reflects gross production allocations, according to the Oklahoma Tax Commission. Currently I have a historic record in a graph of the amount of diesel, gas and gross production taxes Logan County received for roads from 2006 – 2012.

From January 2006 to January 2012, the gross production average trend was more of a downward direction. The average for the entire county per year was $2,207,154 for roads. Graph available at marksharpton.org and marksharpton.org

Costs in this same time frame have gone up drastically. In District 1, salaries in 2007 were about $290,884. We have been able to keep 10-13 people employed, varying of course. Using 10, because it is easy, equates to an average of about $29,000 a year per employee, or $15.00 an hour and less. As of 2013, the payroll expense based on how many employees District 1 has today averages $30,771 or $16.00 an hour. All employees do not make the same amount. But salaries are relatively steady. What I find very interesting is that the Federal Reserve / Treasury Department manipulated economy has gone belly up for most of the nation, with housing bubbles bursting, auto manufacture bail outs, wars and a runaway Federal deficit. In approximately the same time frame, the federally mandated minimum wage went up. From 1998 -2007, it was $5.15 an hour. In 2008 the wage rose to $7.25 an hour. I cannot help but wonder; do mandated minimum wage increases turn a good economy sour? Especially when we have to pay the poor performers more money, money that will necessarily have to come from better preforming workers. This type of economy has to lead to less spending and more cost to the individual. On top of this, when any employer is forced to pay more money for inexperienced, entry level workers, versus prime workers, the retirement contributions rise. Maintaining a performance-based pay scale cannot be fully implemented. To wrap up my weekly rambling….as of right now today the County is not seeing huge financial increases due to energy exploration. Hopefully that will change. But right now we do have huge amounts of damage being done to the roads while we wait for the 14 month benefit to catch up to us.

District 1 News

May 22, 2013 Frequently Asked Questions About Storm Sirens and Shelters

Due to recent tornadoes, the county is receiving inquiries from the public about where to register storm shelters so that emergency personnel can locate them in the event of a disaster. I generally advise those who ask this to contact Logan County Emergency Manager David Ball at 282-0494. David will assist you in identifying and contacting the fire district in which you live since that entity is in charge of registering storm shelters. When you call David, it helps if you are prepared to provide cross streets or section line roads regarding your location so that he can identify the fire district in which you live.

Another question commonly received following a disaster is whether the county has a program to help fund the purchase of storm shelters. No county funding is available for this, but the state has a program which can be accessed at www.soonersafe.ok.gov. This week, District 1 staff spoke with Oklahoma Emergency Management about the program and learned that funding for shelters is awarded according to a lottery system and that there have been 22,000 applicants. Awards have already been issued for 2013, but according to OEM, individuals can still fill out applications for when new funding becomes available. In the past Logan County citizens have participated in the program and were awarded funding.

Additional questions we receive are about the availability and location of storm sirens throughout the county. Here's a little history...

In 2009, in the interest of public safety, the Logan County Board of Commissioners initiated and began implementing a county-wide outdoor warning system. The county purchased a computer and software to be used by emergency management to activate sirens in rural areas where there was no existing coverage. The first four sirens were purchased with grant funds obtained through the Rural Economic Action Program (REAP) administered by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG). Two of these early warning devices were placed within Cedar Valley Township and two within District 1. These sirens were activated in fall 2009.

The commissioners and Cedar Valley again applied for REAP funding and in January 2010, received notice that their requests for the purchase and installation of additional sirens had been approved. The commissioners asked David Ball to purchase the new equipment and coordinate the installation. The additional sirens were up and running in March 21, 2011. A total of ten are now operational. As opportunity and funding allow, we would like to continue expanding the system throughout the county. However, the capability to do so will depend on whether more grant money becomes available, since each siren costs approximately $25,000.

Siren locations are near the intersections of Broadway and Camp, Kelly and Triplett, Hwy 74 and Forrest Hills, and at Seward and May. Others are at Sooner Fire Department at Midwest and Camp and at Woodcrest Fire Department at Douglas and Charter Oak. The remaining four sirens are within Cedar Valley and the Cimarron Golf Course.

David Ball provided the following information to pass on to the public:

"Just a reminder...These warning systems are primarily designed to alert citizens who are outdoors. They are not designed to penetrate buildings and warn those inside structures. Citizens should not rely upon a siren as their only source of warning. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) All-Hazard radio with Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) technology is a good method for receiving warning messages indoors. Additional sources are those available from radio, television, subscription services (that use text messages, e-mails and telephone messages) and social media.

"When the Logan County Outdoor Warning System is activated, the public should take shelter and seek more information. Taking shelter is a personal responsibility that includes moving indoors into a sturdy structure, going to a safe room or into a storm shelter. Seeking more information may include accessing various electronic media to learn the nature of the threat and its location and timing as to the impact upon your area.

"Logan County will not issue an 'All Clear' signal. Citizens must remain aware of their own environment to know when the threat no longer exists by monitoring a weather radio or other information source.

"The county siren system will be activated when the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning affecting locations within the siren activation area. The sirens are set up for a three-second weekly test every Wednesday at noon. The tone or sound when fully activated will be a long, steady, three-minute blast."

For more information about the outdoor warning system, contact the Logan County Office of Emergency Management at 282.0494.

May 19, 2013 Broadway Paving Complete - Striping Soon to Follow

This week Atlas Paving Company began the process of resurfacing three miles of Broadway from Waterloo to Simpson Road. As of Friday, May 17, the project was completed.

Another improvement on the roadway will be the application of new safety striping. ODOT conducted a bid letting for the striping on Thursday, May 16 and will award the bid June 3rd. According to ODOT, low bidder was Action Safety Supply at $27,752.30. The bid cost included safety striping not only for Broadway but for multiple areas of roadway within District 1.

The new paving and striping will tie into a previous 2 1/2-mile asphalt overlay on Broadway which was completed in 2010. That project began at Simpson and ended one-half mile south of Seward Road.

Another project near completion is the new bridge on Charter Oak Road west of Santa Fe. Contractors finished pouring traffic rail last week and are now turning their attention to the roadway. There are still culverts, rip rap and sod to install, as well as guardrail, but we anticipate the bridge opening to the public soon.

Photo: Week of May 13, 2013...Atlas Paving Company begins and completes resurfacing on three miles of Broadway Rd. from Waterloo to Simpson. The roadway will be striped sometime after June 3 when ODOT awards a bid for the pavement markings.

May 12, 2013 Is Something Wrong with "Sustainable Development"?

As a county commissioner I am often in regional planning meetings where I continually hear the word "sustainable" or "sustainable development." If you begin to pay attention, you will hear it too, or read it in news articles and reports generated by government planning agencies. What does the word mean and why is it used so frequently? It sounds good, but is it? In an effort to educate myself on the subject, I attended a recent conference in Tulsa to hear Rosa Koire, a recognized spokesperson on the topic. I found what she had to say troubling. Here is some of what she said and encouraged us to share with others....

"Sustainable Development was created and defined by the United Nations in 1987, and the action plan to implement it was signed onto in 1992 by President Bush and 178 other nations. It was called Agenda 21, the Agenda for the 21st century. Considered unsustainable under this plan are middle class lifestyles, single family homes, private vehicles, meat-eating, air conditioning, appliances, dams and farming.

President Clinton began to implement it in the US in 1993 by giving the American Planning Association a multi-million dollar grant to write a land use legislative blueprint for every municipality in the US. It is called the "Growing Smart Legislative Guidebook with Model Statutes for Planning and the Management of Change." This was completed in 2002 and is being used to train planners in universities, colleges and government planning offices throughout the nation. "Growing Smart" is sometimes referred to as Smart Growth.

"Growing Smart" is in planning departments and its principles are in city and regional plans right now. In addition, there is "The Local Agenda 21 Planning Guide" put out by the United Nations and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). Urban areas are being consolidated and rural areas emptied of people through restrictive land use policies, gasoline costs, loss of rural road maintenance, closure of rural schools, closure of rural post offices, water well monitoring, smart meters and regionalization pressures. "Smart Growth" is not just the preferred building style for UN Agenda 21/Sustainable Development; it is the ideology. Moving people into centralized urban areas in high density housing creates the perfect opportunity for domestic surveillance. This ideology is being used as the justification to radically change every city in the US and to impose regulations dictated by unelected regional boards and commissions. It is remaking government. This affects private property rights and extends to every facet of our lives: education, energy, food, housing and transportation."

As a county commissioner, I can assure you that I have seen efforts underway to implement "sustainability." It is occurring at various levels of government. On Friday, May 24, 9:30 am to 4:00 pm, Kevin St. Jacques, part of the National Complete Streets Speakers Bureau will be in Guthrie to present a workshop which I believe is related to this issue. A public form is scheduled the same day at 6:00 pm at Guthrie City Hall Council Chambers. Specific information about this event is posted at www.marksharpton.org. Additional information about "sustainability" is available at http://americanpolicy.org/agenda21/. I encourage you to research this topic for yourself in order to understand how it may affect your life.

May 4, 2013 Broadway Paving Scheduled for Mid-May

In December 2012, District 1 contracted with Atlas Paving Company to resurface three miles of Broadway from Waterloo to Simpson. Weather and a backlog of projects delayed the paving, but we received word today that work is scheduled to begin Monday, May 13. Since the project will require a week to complete, please be aware that at times portions of roadway may be closed and/or there may be delays and detours. If the project is delayed by rain or if Atlas gets ahead of schedule, we will try to pass the information on to you. Safety striping will also be applied to the new pavement since District 1 obtained federal funding for this through the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG). ODOT will be opening bids for the striping on May 16 and awarding the bid in June. We will know the start date for the striping project after ODOT conducts the pre-work conference. If you have questions about these projects you are welcome to call the District 1 shop at 282-3581 or email marksharpton@sbcglobal.net. Thank you for your patience as we work to implement these improvements.

May 4, 2013 Update on Charter Oak Road Bridge

In spite of unseasonably cool temperatures last week in April, contractors were still able to pour the concrete deck for the bridge on Charter Oak Rd. west of Santa Fe. The deck has been covered since then and workers are now forming up to pour traffic rail. This pour is scheduled for Tuesday, May 7, if weather allows. Traffic rail is the last of the actual bridge concrete work to be done and then focus will change to the roadway. Other work yet to be completed includes applying rip rap and sod for erosion control and installing guardrail. The ODOT inspector on the job has proven helpful in updating us on the project and will notify us when the new 103' bridge is open to the public. Actual construction on the bridge began Jan. 28, 2013. Inclement weather delayed work at times but overall, we are pleased with the progress made. This is the fourth major bridge to be constructed within District 1 in the last two years. In 2011, a new 152' bridge was built on Simpson Road west of Broadway and a 107' bridge on Council Road over Cottonwood Creek. In March of this year, a new 227' bridge across Cottonwood Creek at Broadway and Camp was completed. ODOT conducted the final inspection on this project in April. All of these projects were funded 80% through the Surface Transportation Program administered by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG). Match money was provided through state programs. In Logan County we are trying to do our part to lower the number of deficient bridges in Oklahoma.

District 1 News

April 28, 2013 Why Certain Roads Get Paved

Periodically we receive questions from the public about how commissioners determine which roads to pave. There are multiple factors taken into consideration, but of major significance is average daily traffic count (ADT). Each week in District 1, we move a traffic counter from one section line roadway to another. We do this in order to gather data for filling out applications when we apply for transportation funding. Roads with high ADT are much more likely to score points that qualify us for federal dollars, while roads with minimal use are unlikely to even be considered. This is especially true since the county competes for funding with large entities like Edmond, Oklahoma City and Norman.

Population is also a factor commissioner take into account when choosing which roads to pave, since by statute we are obligated to do what best serves the most people. Safety issues, fatalities, injuries, whether a road is a school bus route and how the road connects to surrounding roadways are also considerations. Some roads only qualify for funding if they are classified as "major collectors" by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). There are complexities in classifying a road as a major collector since FHWA requires that major collectors connect. We cannot classify a road as a major collector if it is isolated from other collectors. We must meet certain criteria which goes through an approval process before reclassification can take place.

And finally, in regard to paving roads, cost must be considered. An asphalt overlay of one mile may amount to $100,000 or more. Since we receive an average of approximately $30,000 per month for road maintenance, and most of this is used for fuel, rock, signs, utilities, tires, parts, repairs and services, major road improvement projects must be funded through other sources.

It takes dedication to find funding for roads. First, one must learn the programs and the process. Priorities in paving also change constantly because of new development within the county. We are always working to keep pace with new growth and are always gratified when we are able to see a new bridge constructed or a road paved. It is our goal to absolutely pave every foot of roadway we can get funding for. More information about District 1 projects is posted at www.commissiondistrict1.c

March 24, 2013 Road Improvement Update

Paving and striping plans move forward....

At a special meeting on Wednesday, March 20, the Board of County Commissioners signed contract agreements with ODOT for a paving project on Simpson Road and various safety striping projects. Completing this paperwork was another step in the process of moving these projects to bid. The striping is for seven areas of roadway including parts of Kelly, Simmons, two areas of Charter Oak, Western, Penn and Broadway. The paving will cover one mile of Simpson from Sooner to Coltrane. ODOT will conduct a letting in May for the striping and in June for Simpson. Pavement markings are funded 100% through the Surface Transportation Program (STP) administered by ACOG. The county, however, must provide a 20% match for the paving project. Estimated costs for the twelve miles of pavement markings are $70,000. Projected costs for Simpson are $340,000. The county's portion will be approximately $68,000 and funding from the County Bridge and Road Improvement (CBRI) program will be used to provide this.

Other activities this week included patching areas of Broadway in preparation for Atlas Paving Company to overlay three miles from Waterloo to Simpson. The patch work was complicated by the fact that the asphalt companies on the District 1 bid list were not making product due to temporary closure. This meant road crew had to drive to Oklahoma City to get patching material. In cold weather it is a challenge to get the asphalt back before it cools and hardens beyond usability. The crew will also be patching and preparing 1/2 mile of Charter Oak east of Santa Fe in preparation for an asphalt overlay. Atlas Paving will perform this work as well. Charter Oak between Santa Fe and Kelly is one of the areas scheduled for safety striping.

If you have questions about these projects or others, you are welcome to call the District 1 office at 282-3581.

March 7, 2013 Broadway Bridge Completed

Broadway bridge is open! Can't say it simpler than that. As of March 6, motorists may cross the new bridge at Camp and Broadway. This week the weather finally allowed contractors to apply the final layer of asphalt to the north and south approaches, erect guardrail and stripe the new pavement. The final task ODOT completed before officially opening the roadway was erecting a stop sign at the newly paved intersection of Camp and Broadway. Sodding the site will take place within the next few weeks but this should not interfere with use of the road.

Your patience and understanding while this improvement was underway meant much and I thank you for it. I also appreciated the exceptional service provided by the ODOT inspector who served citizens well with conscientious oversight of the project and readiness to respond to all our inquiries.

As mentioned in recent updates, in December 2012 we encumbered funds to pave three miles of Broadway from Waterloo to Simpson. This week I spoke with Atlas Paving Company regarding the project and learned they hope to begin laying asphalt within the next few weeks. Inclement weather set them back so we have to wait for them to complete other projects before beginning ours. However, when paving is complete, the new asphalt will tie in to the two and one-half miles of Broadway which were paved in 2010, starting at Simpson and continuing north.

Broadway is one of the most heavily traveled major collector routes in Logan County, second only to I-35. With the bridge done, and when resurfacing of the three miles is complete, this roadway will have undergone significant improvement.

Photo: This photo of the new bridge at Broadway and Camp was taken moments after safety striping was applied and just shortly before ODOT opened it up for traffic.

March 1, 2013 Striping Projects and One Mile of Resurfacing Scheduled for Bid Letting this Year

Seven road safety striping projects and one mile of resurfacing on Simpson Road from Sooner to Coltrane planned for 2013....

On Thursday, Feb. 28, the Board of Directors of the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG) provided the final necessary vote for funding three miles of safety striping on Broadway from Waterloo to Simpson. This project will be let by ODOT this year in conjunction with six other pavement marking projects within District 1. Areas to be striped include parts of Kelly, Simmons, two areas of Charter Oak, Western, Penn and Broadway. In December 2012, we encumbered funds to pave the same three miles of Broadway and selected Atlas Paving as contractor for the project. Atlas has been waiting for weather which is warm and dry enough to allow them to begin work.

Another District 1 project which goes to bid through ODOT this year in June is a paving project on Simpson Rd. from Sooner to Coltrane. ACOG approved $282,880 in federal funds toward resurfacing this mile and included the project in the 2014 Transportation Improvement Plan. However, we requested it be moved to 2013 due to readiness and the Board of Directors agreed. Simpson qualified for funding since it is classified by the Federal Highway Administration as a major collector.

Next week I will update you on progress we are making toward paving five miles of Coltrane from Waterloo to Seward Rd. This major project is being funded with both state and federal dollars. Most recently, ACOG approved $4,000,000 in federal funds toward the project. This money becomes available next year. However, preliminary work is already underway and is being paid for through the state County Improvements for Roads and Bridges (CBRI) program.

District 1 News

February 8, 2013 Bridge Construction Begins on Charter Oak Road

On January 22 I attended a pre-work conference at ODOT's Stillwater office to discuss construction of a new 103' bridge on Charter Oak Road west of Santa Fe. The process for replacing the previous 50' one-lane structurally deficient bridge began in Nov. 2008 when we submitted a Programming Resolution for the project to ODOT. That was the first in the 36-step design process required when projects are federally funded.

After selecting an engineer, the bridge site was surveyed, hydraulic and geotechnical studies were performed and plan-in-hand meetings conducted between the county, the engineer and ODOT. One of the most time-consuming steps involved obtaining environmental clearance, a process which took many months. Once the environmental study was complete, we began working to acquire right-of-way. This included conducting a title search for each property, sending that information to ODOT, receiving back the forms needed for negotiating with landowners, completing and returning these to ODOT, filing documents at the courthouse and ensuring throughout the process that we complied with all federal guidelines. After that, utilities were relocated. This required coordination with various entities.

Finding funding for the project was also a fundamental part of the process. In April 2012 we were awarded 80% of the estimated $865,000 needed for the project through the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG). We obtained the remaining 20% match through the state's County Improvements for Roads and Bridges (CIRB) program. Securing this funding required a trip to Alva, Oklahoma, where commissioners from surrounding counties voted at a Circuit Engineering District meeting to approve the funding.

In Nov. 2012, ODOT awarded a bid for the project to Reece Construction Company for $634,981.60. Work began Jan. 28. The old bridge was dismantled, head walls removed and dirt work begun. Contractors are clearing, grubbing and performing excavation for installation of pilings. The county was also active in removing trees, logs and flood debris from the site. An ODOT inspector will be on hand to supervise the project and will provide us with updates as it progresses. Currently this section of roadway is closed. The schedule provided by the contractor indicates this is a three-month project extending through April. Weather, of course, is always a factor. It is good to see the tangible beginning of a bridge which will be constructed in a way that should eliminate some of the flooding issues of the past and enable safe passage for emergency responders. If you have questions about this project or others, you are always welcome to call the District 1 office at 282.3581.

Photo: This 50' structurally deficient one-lane wooden bridge on Charter Oak Road west of Santa Fe is undergoing replacement. The new 103' bridge will enable emergency vehicles to cross and is designed to help prevent the accumulation of flood debris.

February 1, 2013 More Funding Approved for Resurfacing Coltrane Road

In 2006, the Oklahoma legislature set aside money in the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges Program (CIRB) to help fund major road and bridge projects counties could not afford on their own. These projects were placed on a five-year plan and submitted to ODOT. Each road district within the county chose projects for funding and District 1 selected five miles of Coltrane Road for resurfacing from Waterloo to Seward.

When we submitted engineering plans for Coltrane in 2006, the estimated cost was $2,000,000. In 2008, the estimate rose to $4,000,000. Now it is $11,689,730. Costs are based upon the guidelines we are told we must meet to enable the project. Since this is a major undertaking, it was divided into phases. Four million was allocated for Phase I for 2013. This phase provides for the first mile of Coltrane from Waterloo to Simmons.

If you have driven Coltrane Road recently, you may have noticed surveyor stakes in various locations. This is part of the preliminary work underway. Most of the current staking on this mile indicates temporary right-of-way the county will need during construction. Due to a higher traffic count, this mile will have curb and gutter and a turning lane. The remaining four miles will be two-lane. Staking is under the oversight of Coates Field Service, a company we hired to acquire right-of-way as needed along the length of the project.

Coates recently mailed notifications to landowners along Coltrane to inform them of the project and that if right-of-way is needed, an appraiser or evaluator will be contacting them to determine value. Coates indicated they are getting good response from residents looking forward to this major improvement. Currently the only county mile of Coltrane with pavement is between Waterloo and Simmons. The remainder of the road is gravel. Paving the entire length of this major collector will provide a quality roadway connecting Guthrie to south Logan County and to other major collectors within the area.

On Thursday, Jan. 31, we received more excellent news in regard to this project. At a meeting of the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments, (ACOG), where District 1 recently applied for additional funding for Coltrane, we learned that the Board of Directors officially approved $4,246,174 for use in 2014. This money will be applied toward paving the northern four miles of the project.

If you have questions about this improvement or other projects, you are welcome to contact the District 1 office at 282.3581.

District 1 News

January 25, 2013 Funding Approved for Resurfacing Simpson Road

Breaking News It is an advantage to the county when the Federal Highway Administration classifies a road as a "major collector." That is because federal funds are available to improve roads which qualify as such.

One roadway in District 1 classified as a major collector is Simpson Road, from Sooner to Broadway. Recently we applied for federal transportation dollars to resurface this 3.5-mile section of roadway and learned we were approved for funding.

Our first effort to fund a major improvement on Simpson was through the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG). ACOG is a regional transportation planning organization of which Logan County is a member.

ACOG annually accepts applications for major collector projects and ranks them based on a point system. This is a competitive process since larger cities like Oklahoma City, Edmond, Norman and others also apply for this funding.

However, points are awarded according to a project's preparedness and we are learning the importance of completing the steps that enhance our chances for funding.

Last year we submitted an application for resurfacing a mile of Simpson from Sooner to Coltrane. This project was approved for $282,880 of funding for FFY 2014. Because much of the planning stage has been completed, ACOG agreed to move the project up a year. According to ODOT, a tentative letting date for this one-mile improvement is June 2013.

Much of the funding to resurface the remaining 2.5 miles of Simpson from Coltrane to Broadway will be provided through the Surface Transportation Program administered by the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma (ACCO).

In December, the ACCO Board awarded Logan County $500,000 toward the estimated $674,963 needed for this phase of the project which is scheduled for FFY 2017.

Again, preparedness means everything, and we are already working through the steps that will enable us to move this project forward should the opportunity arise for earlier funding.

Since federal funds pay only 80% of the cost of these projects, the county must provide the remaining 20%. We are working to arrange that as well.

If you have questions about these projects or others, I will be happy to answer them at 282.3581.

January 22, 2013 Broadway Road and Bridge Update

This week the ODOT inspector at the Broadway Bridge construction site provided an update on the project. He indicated that contractors would be pouring the last of the traffic rail on Friday and that the bridge structure itself will be completed.

The next step will be to remove protective mats from the deck and spray it with curing compound. After that crew will grind the surface for skid resistance. Surveyors will be out to provide subgrade so dirt can be cut to the profile of the road leading to the bridge. If weather permits, dirt work can be completed within four working days.

A reclaimer will be brought in to mix fly ash into the soil for stabilization and then the roadway will be compacted in preparation for asphalt and striping. General cleanup of the site will also be underway and at some point sod will be laid for erosion control. If there are no delays due to rain, snow, ice or extreme temperatures, we anticipate completion of this project in February, as scheduled. The weather is also a factor in regard to when Atlas Paving will be able to begin resurfacing Broadway Rd. from Waterloo to Simpson. We have encumbered funds for this project and are waiting for temperatures that are at least 40 degrees and rising. On Friday we learned that an application we recently submitted to ACOG for 100% federal funding for $18,870 of pavement markings on Broadway was also approved. This will not only enhance the new paving surface once it is completed but will contribute to public safety. If you have questions about these projects or others, you are welcome to call the District 1 office at 282.3581. Information on District 1 activities is also posted at www.marksharpton.org.

January 11, 2013 Extra Efforts Underway to Improve Condition of Rural Roadways

Some of the rain everyone hoped for finally arrived, but when it did, roads throughout the whole county fell apart. The irony is that rural living which appears so attractive when it is sunny becomes an issue on rainy days. Getting out of the city and away from the crowd to be in tune with Mother Nature is a thing of delight until inclement weather turns an idyllic little country road into a mud ball.

Due to extended drought, many rural roads were topped with dust. The last two light rains Logan County received converted that dust into soup. As a result, previously serene country dwellers and service personnel who use county roads for pick-up and delivery are needing help.

Each of the commissioners are working to provide assistance. Not only are District 1 truck drivers hauling in rock from Pawnee to improve roadways, but we've ordered an extra $20,000 of rock from Joe Brown Company to be trucked in to expedite the effort. Grader operators are also out reshaping roads to improve drainage.

We certainly share the concern of the public about roadway conditions and will be addressing needs as quickly and capably as possible.

You are always welcome to call me at the District 1 office with your concerns.

January 4, 2013 Progress Continues on Broadway Bridge

Breaking News We continue to get periodic calls at District 1 from people inquiring about when bridge construction on Broadway will be done. The answer is that the contractor has through February to complete the job.

We understand the desire of those who use Broadway frequently to have the road open again, especially since the detour route is unpaved. The irony is that not only has severe drought made maintenance on the detour challenging, but recent rainfall complicated the situation.

Ideally, to grade a road effectively, we need a certain amount of moisture in the soil. Without it, the washboards removed by grading re-appear within a day or two, making the effort almost meaningless.

During drought, an excessive amount of "fines," or dust, move to the surface. Then, when we get a slow, gentle rainfall like the last we received, roadways turn to mush, creating a real hardship for those who travel them. A hard fast rain is actually preferable since water will run off quickly with less damage to the base.

Each of the road districts are facing issues created by extreme drought and will be sending out graders and gravel as best they can to improve conditions.

The good news is that progress is being made on Broadway bridge. On December 20, contractors poured the deck, then wrapped it in swaddling clothes over the Christmas holidays.

If you were in the area, you probably noticed the structure was thoroughly blanketed to protect the new concrete from frigid temperatures. Thermometers were installed to monitor highs and lows and heaters were installed beneath the bridge to maintain the steady warmth needed for the concrete to cure.

Karl, the ODOT inspector who is dependably on site to monitor the work, informed us that this week the blankets and plastic will be removed. The next stage will be to build the ramp to the bridge if the soil is not frozen. Asphalt work and striping will follow as soon as weather allows.

District 1 News

December 27, 2012 Reap Funds Awarded for Academy Road Resurfacing Project

Breaking News Each year as money is available, the legislature sets aside funding for the Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP) program. The purpose of REAP is to offer cities, counties and less populated towns an opportunity to fund infrastructure projects.

Each year Logan County applies for this grant money, which is administered through the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG). For 2013, the legislature allocated $547,792.00 in REAP funds, the same amount as last year.

ACOG mailed application packets to the county in July 2012 and held grant workshops in August and September. County staff attended and submitted applications by the October 31 deadline.

On December 13, the ACOG Board of Directors voted to approve funding for projects which scored highest based on nine areas of criteria, including population, project readiness and local effort.

There were 43 eligible applications this year. One of those approved for $45,000 in funding was a project for resurfacing and repairing 1/2 mile of Academy Road just south of University Avenue in District 1.

The county must front the cost for this improvement since REAP is a reimbursement program. Before we can begin work, we must wait for ACOG to issue a contract. This is usually done in July. The contract must be signed by the Board of County Commissioners and returned to ACOG. Once we receive an order to proceed, the improvement can begin.

Logan County has benefited significantly from REAP funding in the past and we are glad the public will again have the opportunity to enjoy the result of the county's participation in this program.

December 17, 2012 State and Federal Funding Enable Major Improvements in County Infrastructure

I have mentioned in the past that without state and federal funding sources, it would be difficult for the county to make major road and bridge improvements. This is because currently each commissioner district receives an average of only $214.00 per month per mile for maintenance of the county highway system. The current cost to pave a mile with 2.5 inches of asphalt is $84,506.

This does not include the expense of road base preparation, right-of-way clearing or drainage improvements. Bridges are even more costly. The one on Broadway which went to bid through ODOT earlier this year and which is now under construction is costing $1,115,636.70. Replacing a bridge on Charter Oak Rd., an upcoming project, will be $634,981.60.

Where did we get funding for these projects? From a combination of state and federal transportation programs. However, the funding did not just drop into our laps. We acquired it through much effort and intense planning, beginning at the county level.

First of all, we had to learn about funding sources and how to prepare applications knowledgeably. We invested time in attending transportation meetings, many per month, which is something we continue to do.

There are times when "running around to meetings" pays big dividends for the citizens of Logan County. This allowed us to gather information and stay abreast of opportunities for funding. We became familiar with what we refer to as the "alphabet soup" of the trade; CBRI, CIRB, CED, ETR, ACOG, ITTC, STP, TIP, CDBG, REAP and more. These are programs and resources related to transportation funding. Familiarity with these, followed by hours of hard work, has enabled the commissioners to bring in millions of dollars for road and bridge improvements throughout the county.

To learn more about the process and projects, go to www.marksharpton.org.

December 10, 2012 Property Tax Does Not Pay for Roads

Since tax season is upon us and annual ad valorem statements have been mailed to property owners, it seems important to mention again that property taxes do not fund roads. This is a widespread misconception and one we repeatedly try to clarify.

The huge majority of property tax funds public education. This is indicated on the tax statement you receive from the county treasurer's office. On your tax statement, the portion of property tax which the county receives fall under the classification of "County General" and "County Health." County General provides for the courthouse, supplies for the jail and salaries for elected officials. County Health funds the Health Department. "County Wide 4-Mil" is funding for schools, as are all remaining categories related to education.

The amount you pay in property tax is determined not only by the fair market value assessment of your property, but by bond issues which make your taxes go up or down, depending on when they are approved or paid off. Many people are not aware of when bond elections are held and therefore are surprised to find an increase in their property tax for no apparent reason.

Fuel tax, gross production tax and motor vehicle collections fund roads. The Oklahoma Tax Commission collects these taxes and distributes the money to the county each month.

In Logan County, where collectively the commissioners have 1200 miles to maintain, we received $214.00 per mile per month for road maintenance during last fiscal year. That amount per mile would purchase five tons of asphalt for patching potholes, or 23 tons of rock, which equates to one truckload. None of it was paid for with property tax. Were it not for special transportation funding programs, major road and bridge improvements would be impossible.

The next time you hear someone say that property tax is used for roads, I hope you will help to enlighten them.

December 5, 2012 Road Paving and Bridge Building Continue

In District 1 we have a ten-man crew who perform maintenance on 275 miles of county roadway. I often tell people this is approximately the distance from Guthrie to Corsicana, Texas. When you think of it that way, it helps you understand what a challenge the county faces with a limited workforce and a constrained budget. However, we are grateful for what we accomplish.

Sometimes our efforts are enhanced because of citizens who assist the county in enabling improvements. Some of these are the residents of Oak Tree Addition who donated over $60,000 to improve deteriorating roadways within their neighborhood.

Last week the District 1 crew finished preparing those roads for paving. County workers ground up, graded, packed, patched, watered and broomed road base within the addition so Atlas Paving could begin laying asphalt, a job they quickly completed.

Now the road crew has returned to Broadway to continue patching areas along the three-mile route from Waterloo to Simpson which is also scheduled for repaving. Today we encumbered funds for asphalt so that when repairs are completed, this project can advance as well. In the meantime, please drive carefully throughout work zones.

Progress also continues on Broadway Bridge as construction workers prepare framework for pouring the deck. When the bridge and the three miles of new paving are complete, Broadway will have undergone significant improvement. This is a process we hope to continue throughout District 1 as resources become available.

Photo: A cooperative effort between District 1 and homeowners who donated over $60,000 enabled this paving improvement on streets within Oak Tree Addition. The job was completed by Atlas Paving Company on Dec. 4, 2012.

District 1 News

November 17, 2012 Beams Now in Place on Broadway Bridge

Breaking News We receive frequent calls at the District 1 office from citizens wanting to know when the new bridge on Broadway Road will be completed. Our standard reply is that the contractor has until Feb. 2013 to finish the work.

However, it was real encouraging this week to watch significant progress underway as twelve huge concrete beams weighing 43,690 pounds each were delivered to the site and hoisted into place.

Soon thereafter, construction workers began cat walking the beams, forming the framework which will enable them to pour a concrete deck.

The new bridge will be four feet higher in elevation than the old structure, approximately seven feet wider and over sixty feet longer.

The ODOT inspector is faithfully on the site overseeing the project and keeping us updated about its progress. He is knowledgeable, conscientious and always ready to answer our questions. If weather remains favorable, the contractor may just have the opportunity to beat that Feb. deadline.

The new access road from Broadway to Camp is also progressing. We have been pleased at how well the temporary road the District road crew constructed has held up and believe that the geotextile or "fabric" which they placed on the road before applying gravel is a contributing factor.

We are considering applying textile to the new road also since it requires minimal maintenance and has proven effective in preventing erosion and preserving road base.

We appreciate your patience as we work to make these improvements and invite you to call the District 1 shop at 282.3581 whenever you have questions.

Photo: Twelve concrete beams weighing 43,690 pounds each were delivered to the bridge construction site on Broadway in mid-November.

November 2, 2012 Over Nine Miles of Paving Improvements Planned

Nov. 2, 2012 District 1 Activity Report on paving improvements, bridge construction, guardrail and safety striping projects...

We are multi-tasking at District 1. Current projects planned or underway include preparing to pave three miles of Broadway from Waterloo to Simpson and various streets within Oak Tree Addition; construction of Broadway Bridge at Camp Road; replacement of the bridge on Charter Oak one-half mile west of Santa Fe, paving Simpson from Sooner to Coltrane, and numerous guardrail replacement and pavement marking projects.

On Broadway Road, the road crew is working to excavate and restabilize areas of base failure prior to Atlas Paving Company laying asphalt. On Broadway Bridge, construction continues with Feb. 2013 as the target date for completion.

In Oak Tree, homeowners donated over $60,000 to the county to improve roads within their addition. We borrowed equipment from Oklahoma County to use in grinding up deteriorated areas of roadway so we could stabilize base before Atlas begins paving. We are working to coordinate the Broadway and Oak Tree projects while we have use of the borrowed equipment. This, in addition to the fact that we have only a nine-man crew, means we juggle to perform ordinary maintenance and these special projects.

The bridge on Charter Oak recently went to bid through ODOT and bids will be approved Nov. 5. After that we await notice from ODOT regarding the pre-work conference and the date for when the project begins.

Environmental clearance on Simpson between Sooner and Coltrane should be completed in December. This one-mile paving project will be funded through the Fiscal Year 2014 Transportation Improvement Program administered by ACOG.

Each step completed in the planning process means we have a greater opportunity to request that the project be moved up. We have done this successfully in the past on other projects and hope to succeed again.

The guardrail replacement and pavement marking projects were funded through ACOG as well and we are pushing them through the process as rapidly as possible in order to ask for early funding.

As I mentioned last week, right of-way acquisition is also beginning on a major five-mile paving project planned for Coltrane. Much is underway and I will keep you informed on our progress.

District 1 News

October 21, 2012 Caution Urged on Broadway as Road Repair Begins

"Change is not made without inconvenience, even from worse to better." Anyone with experience in home remodeling can probably relate to that quote. We all enjoy improvements, but the process of making them creates temporary inconvenience. The same is true in regard to road repair. It is not uncommon for people to complain about a road needing repair, but once the process begins, it creates a whole new set of issues.

Last week the District 1 road crew began working on Broadway Rd. in preparation for an asphalt overlay of three miles from Waterloo to Simpson Road. Part of the process prior to repaving has been to grind up areas with base failure in order to compact and stabilize them so the new overlay will not fail. We have tried to mark all areas with signage where there are uneven surfaces, but some signs have been stolen or removed. We replace them but realize this does not assure they will remain in place during off hours. The best advice I can give is for motorists to be aware that there may be rough areas within the three mile stretch where we are working and that it is important to drive carefully. The end goal is provide a smooth, solid surface which connects to the 2 1/2 mile paving project completed on Broadway in 2010. That project began at Simpson and continued north to near the site where a new bridge on Broadway is currently under construction.

Another project moving toward the construction stage is a bridge replacement on Charter Oak Road one-half mile west of Santa Fe. I mentioned in last week's update that the project would go to bid through ODOT on October 18. We received word this week from an ODOT official that the low bidder was Reece Construction at $634,981.60. We were pleased at this news since the original cost estimate was $865,000. While this project may also create some temporary inconvenience during the construction phase, the result will be improved approaches and a new 103' two-lane bridge that will replace the current one-lane 50' wooden deck structure. Please bear with us as we work through the process of trying to bring Logan County roads up to standard.

October 13, 2012 Bridge Replacement Project on Charter Oak Road Goes to Bid

Breaking News I've mentioned before how satisfying it is when plans for a major road or bridge project finally become a reality. This month, on October 18, ODOT will open bids for the construction of a new 103' bridge over Chisholm Creek on Charter Oak Road. The new structure will replace the wooden one-lane bridge located one-half mile west of the Oak Cliff #2 fire station at Santa Fe and Charter Oak.

The process for replacing this bridge began back in Nov. 2008 when we submitted a Programming Resolution to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation for the project. That was the first in the 36-step design process required when projects are federally funded.

After selecting an engineer, the bridge site was surveyed, hydraulic and geotechnical studies were performed and plan-in-hand meetings conducted between the county, the engineer and ODOT. One of the most time-consuming steps involved obtaining environmental clearance, a process which took many months. Once it was determined that no endangered species were dwelling on, beneath, about or under the bridge, we began working to acquire right-of-way.

This included conducting a title search for each property, sending that information to ODOT, receiving back the forms needed to negotiate with landowners, completing and returning easement agreements to ODOT, filing documents at the courthouse and ensuring throughout the process that we complied with all federal guidelines. After that, utilities had to be relocated. This also required coordination and negotiation with various entities.

Finding funding for the project was a fundamental part of the process. Since Logan County is a member of the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments, (ACOG), we have an opportunity each year to submit applications requesting funding for major road and bridge projects. We compete with many entities for this funding, so we felt fortunate in April 2012 when we were awarded 80% of the $865,000 needed for the project. We still had to come up with the remaining 20%. While attending a quarterly conference of the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma, we were able to coordinate a plan with our Circuit Engineering District and ODOT to obtain the remaining 20% local match needed. This required a trip to Alva, Oklahoma, where commissioners from surrounding counties formally agreed to approve the funding.

ODOT will approve bids in November. After that, the project will proceed according to the contractor's schedule. Hopefully, early next year motorists and emergency responders from Oak Cliff Fire Station #2 will have a new bridge on Charter Oak which they can cross without hesitation.

Photo: This 50' structurally deficient one-lane wooden bridge on Charter Oak Road west of Santa Fe is scheduled for replacement. The new structure will be 103' in length with improved approaches and designed to help prevent a build up of flood debris. The project goes to bid through ODOT on Oct. 18, 2012.

October 9, 2012 Major Road and Bridge Projects Underway in District 1

In addition to routine road maintenance, several major projects are underway in District 1. One is the replacement of the bridge at Broadway and Camp Road. This project began in mid-summer and continues to progress well.

Contractors have begun driving pilings for the bridge and are also busy constructing a permanent access road to Camp off of Broadway, just west of the bridge. The old intersection had to be relocated due to the scope of the bridge project.

A tentative date for completing the new 227' bridge is February 2013.

Preparations are also underway for paving three miles of Broadway Road from Waterloo to Simpson. Oklahoma County was kind enough to loan us a "reclaimer" machine for grinding up areas where there is road base failure.

Members of the District 1 crew will be out patching Broadway during the next several days, so please drive carefully in work zones. The road may have intermittent areas of roughness while repairs are underway.

Road crew have also been working within Oak Tree Estates just north of Waterloo. Residents of this addition donated $60,000 to the county for repair of deteriorating roadways within their neighborhood. We have been grinding up old pavement in preparation for an asphalt overlay on various streets.

Our office is also currently working to complete grant applications by October 31 for road funding through the Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP). We are preparing applications for Davis Rd., Academy, Santa Fe and W. Camp.

While REAP allows us to submit four applications, only one project can be funded and it must rank high enough to compete with other entities. In December or January, we will know which projects were funded.

Staff has also been working to finalize a contract with a right-of-way acquisition company and ODOT in preparation for paving Coltrane Road. I will provide more information about these efforts in future updates.

Photo: Progress continues on the new bridge under construction at Broadway and Camp Rds. On Saturday, Oct. 6, contractors began driving pilings. The project began in mid-summer and should be completed in February 2013, weather permitting. The new 227' structure will have 12' lanes and 4' shoulders.

District 1 News

September 14, 2012 Dispelling Assumptions

We get some pretty interesting calls at the District 1 shop, including one I received this week. It was about a turkey with its head stuck in a fence near a well. The caller contacted us with concern about the well, assuming that Logan County Commissioner District 1 was Logan County Rural Water District 1. Well...(pun intended) that's just not so. This confusion occurs frequently. Not only do we receive phone calls related to rural water issues, but vendors occasionally bill us for each other's purchases. What many do not realize is that the two entities are totally separate and differ in purpose. Another erroneous assumption commonly made is that county commissioners have the power to make and enforce laws. We do not. The powers of county commissioners are limited to those established by the legislature and enumerated in Oklahoma Statues, Title 19, Chapter 10, Section 339. If you are interested in learning exactly what those powers are, they are posted on the oscn website at http://bit.ly/NrqAOm.

Sometimes we are contacted by citizens genuinely bewildered about what to do in certain situations. Frustrated, they look to commissioners to resolve a variety of issues, including speeding motorists, quarrels among neighbors, complaints about dogs and yards filled with trash. These matters must be addressed by law enforcement, the health department or in civil court. Without legal authority to intervene, we can only try to point them in the right direction. This is not always what people wish to hear, but we are bound by the constraints of the law, which, in my opinion, is far better than being bound by the head, in a fence, near a well.

September 5, 2012 Frequently Asked Questions - Part 2

In a previous column I addressed common questions county commissioners receive from the public. This is a continuation of that article.

Q. When can you patch the potholes in my road? A. Our intent and desire is always to make repairs as soon as possible. We like to please you by responding quickly to your requests and understand the frustration created by driving over or around potholes. We feel it ourselves. As commissioners, that frustration is compounded when we know of the need to make repairs but do not have adequate means to do so. Contrary to popular belief, property taxes DO NOT pay for road repair. Property taxes primarily fund public education. A small portion goes into the county general fund and some to the county health department, but none toward roads.

Q. If property tax doesn't pay for road repair, what does? A. Road maintenance money comes from fuel tax, vehicle tax collections and gross production tax. The Oklahoma Tax Commission sends us varying amounts each month, depending on how much fuel motorists have purchased. The irony is that when people don't drive because of high fuel costs, we get less at the county level for roads!

Q. What are other factors regarding road repair? A. First of all, we must have the money to purchase products to make improvements. The asphalt plant must also be producing. Their production schedule depends upon weather and demand. Most of the time they have what we need, but there are times when material is unavailable. When it rains, we must wait for roadways to dry sufficiently for asphalt to adhere. There are also occasions when repairs planned for a certain day are delayed due to a variety of events, such as equipment failure, a downed stop sign, dead deer in the road, fallen tree obstructing traffic, utility relocation issues, wildfire or sick employees. If work is not performed in what you consider a timely fashion, you are always welcome to contact us to follow up on your area of concern and to inquire about the reason for delay.

Q. I understand that most major paving projects in the county are funded through competitive federal programs. Is there a simpler way to get a road paved? A. One option for paving a road is a cooperative effort between the county and individuals who donate toward a specific road improvement. In the past, the county has performed right-of-way clearing, drainage work and base stabilization. Developers or homeowners have then paid for the purchase and application of asphalt. Title 60 of Oklahoma Statutes, Section 381 authorizes counties to accept such donations. Section 382 exempts gifts accepted on behalf of the county from any form of tax. The Internal Revenue Code, in Section 170(c)(1), defines a "charitable contribution" as a gift to or for the use of any political subdivision of a state if the gift is made for exclusively public purposes, which a public road is. Whenever citizens donate to the county, there are procedures the Board of Commissioners follow to ensure transparency. We place an item on the meeting agenda and prepare a resolution stating what the donation is for, the location of the project and the amount donated. This information is kept on file as public record in the county clerk's office. In the past, citizens have donated to the county for the purchase of tin horns, shale, gravel and asphalt.

Q. Why does the county maintain some roads and not others?

A. There are private roads and areas within city limits where the county is not allowed to work.

If you have questions about this information or other county issues, feel free to contact me at 282.3581.

September 5, 2012 Frequently Asked Questions

While the role of the Board of County Commissioners is to serve as the main administrative body for the county, our duties also involve road and bridge maintenance and responding to questions from the public. Some of the most common questions we receive include the following:

Q. Can I buy a tinhorn from the county?

A. The county does not sell tinhorns (steel drainage pipes). However, we can buy one for you at county cost if you wish to make a donation to the county for the purchase of such. The tinhorn must be installed on county right-of-way. Typically donations are in the form of a check made out to the road district in which installation takes place. The check and a resolution regarding the donation and its purpose are run through a Board of County Commissioners meeting for approval. This information is then entered into the meeting minutes as part of public record.

Q. Will the county install the tinhorn for me?

A. Yes, if it is on county right-of-way. You may either purchase a tinhorn on your own and have it delivered to the installation site or we can purchase it for you as described above. In either case, we ask that you mark the area with stakes or paint to indicate exactly where you wish to have the tinhorn placed. We will call OKIE to request a locate identifying all utilities within the work area. A locate can take up to 48 hours. However, actual installation depends upon the weather and work schedule of our road crew.

Q. How do you decide on which roads to pave?

A. Factors considered in regard to paving a road include average daily traffic count, population, safety issues, fatalities and injuries, whether a road is a school bus route and how the road connects to surrounding roadways. Cost is also a major factor, since paving one mile can amount to $100,000 or more. Since we receive an average of only $35,000 per month in our maintenance and operations account for the upkeep of about 275 miles, we must find other sources of funding for major paving projects. One such source is the Surface Transportation Program for Urbanized Areas, a program administered by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG). Each year the county faithfully applies for this funding and as a result, has been approved for millions of dollars to use toward numerous road and bridge improvements. However, many larger entities compete for this funding as well, so it is sometimes hard to get. The Federal Highway Administration classifies roadways as major collectors, minor collectors and local roads, and major collectors are the ones which qualify for funding. This eliminates a lot of county roadways. Even major collectors may not qualify for funding due to the fierce competition of other entities vying for limited federal monies. Priorities in paving also change constantly because of new development within the county, We are always working to keep pace with new growth.

In future columns I will share other common questions we receive at the district level.

August 12, 2012 What Have We Been Up To?

It is a practice in the District 1 office that employees document their activities each day as they return from various work sites. Not only does this documentation indicate that county employees have been working for you but the information has proven helpful in seeking reimbursement for emergency repairs through state and federal programs.

While this information provides tangible evidence of work in the field, sometimes administrative tasks behind the scene are less obvious. However, it requires both to provide quality service to county residents. Here's a glimpse into this week's activities in District 1, as well as ongoing tasks.

Monday morning began with meetings of the Board of Tax Roll Corrections and the Board of County Commissioners. The BOCC agenda contained not only routine items but also the appointment of a member to the Cashion 522 EMS Board and the signing of an interlocal agreement with the City of Guthrie for one-time maintenance on the road to the gun range. This facility is used by both city and county law enforcement officials.

The interlocal agreement is the fourth between the county and the city recently. I have certainly appreciated city manager Matt Mueller and his willingness to work with the county to enable various improvements within the area. I am sorry he is leaving us and wish him the very best at his new job in Texas.

Thursday's agenda also included a meeting, held at the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG). This was in regard to comprehensive economic development for Oklahoma.

A review of the calendar indicates that during an average month, it is not uncommon for there to be between 10 and 15 meetings to attend. These often include three County Commissioner meetings, two Circuit Engineering Board meetings, three or more meetings at ACOG, a meeting of the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma, occasional meetings with ODOT, meetings related to Workforce of Oklahoma, and a variety of others. That is why I appreciate and rely on staff and the road crew to assist in daily operations.

Some of the crew's duties this week included blading the detour route for the Broadway Bridge project and preparing to stabilize road base on portions of Seward where drought has created sand pits.

Crew also installed a culvert on Forest Hills Road between Maple Ridge and Oakwood Drive, widened the road, reworked drainage and added gravel to the area, with more to be applied.

Additional activities included mowing and completing asphalt work on Broadway north of Hwy 33, thanks to the help of Commissioner Monty Piearcy and his crew who provided machinery, time and assistance with this task. There is still guardrail to install and cleanup work to perform on this project.

The crew also cut back trees on Academy Rd. north of Lakewood Drive and north of Seward and Academy in an effort to open up roadways for safety and visibility, and have performed maintenance on the District 1 dozer, trackhoe, backhoe and tractor.

Areas of Simmons and Simpson from Sooner to Broadway were patched, and Academy mowed from Hwy 33 to Seward and Prairie Grove from Academy to Broadway. Most of this work was performed in triple digit heat.

Staff has also been coordinating with ODOT, our engineering company and the firm we are preparing to contract with to move forward on the Coltrane paving project. A plan-in-hand meeting for several pavement-marking and guardrail projects funded through ACOG is scheduled for next week and preparations are underway to submit grant applications for roadway funding through the REAP program.

And as always, routine work continues; conducting traffic counts, maintaining records, making repairs, communicating with the public and government officials. All in a week's work....

Let us know if we can be of help to you.

Photo: County employees work to clear right-of-way and re-establish road base on Cory Road in District 1. Efforts like these are ongoing as time and money allow.

District 1 News

July 26, 2012 Burn Ban Update

Due to severe drought, counties are beginning to implement burn bans. In Logan County, residents have contacted the commissioners' office about whether or not we will be implementing one. This is not an action commissioners can take arbitrarily. When we assumed office, we took an oath to uphold the law, and the law is what governs the implementation of a burn ban. Specifically, the law states that prior to passage of a burn-ban resolution, the Board of County Commissioners must declare the existence of extreme fire danger. As defined in the law, and according to Oklahoma Forestry Services, extreme fire danger means all four of the following conditions exist: 1. Moderate, severe or extreme drought conditions exist within the county as determined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 2. No more than one-half inch of precipitation is forecast by the National Weather Service for the next three days 3. Fire occurrence is significantly greater than normal for the season and/or initial attack on a significant number of wildland fires has been unsuccessful due to extreme fire behavior 4. More than 20% of the wildfires in the county have been caused by escaped debris burning or controlled burning activities At this time, according to officials who monitor this information, all of the criteria has not been met. If and when it is, the Board of Commissioners can call a meeting to consider a burn ban resolution which takes effect immediately. Each resolution is effective for 30 days. The Board may also cancel a ban before 30 days expire, but this must be done by resolution also. A link to the law and information about how a burn ban is legally implemented is posted on the Oklahoma Forestry website at http://www.forestry.ok.gov/. The forestry website also allows you to view a map of counties beneath a burn ban and the resolution pertaining to each.

On a practical note, while a burn ban may minimize the likelihood of some fires starting, it is not a cure-all. It will not prevent an accidental spark from agricultural equipment from starting a fire. It will not prevent a careless person from tossing a cigarette out of an automobile. It will not automatically instill wisdom into those who typically have none. What it will do is enable a judge to fine people who set fires during a burn ban up to $1,000 or imprison them for one year, or both. Using common sense is still the best prevention of wildfire. As one Logan County fire department official said, "It helps us if they (the citizens) help themselves."

July 26, 2012 Broadway Bridge at Camp Rd. Closed Monday, July 23

Broadway Road just south of Camp Road was closed on Monday, July 23 so construction could begin on a new bridge. According to the contractor, Bridgeco LLC, the road could be closed for up to six months. We hope less time will be required, but in the meantime, thank you for your patience as we work to make this improvement.

The narrow bridge currently in place will be replaced by a wider structure with 12' lanes and 4' shoulders. Please be aware that if you use the marked detour route you will be on unpaved gravel roads which at this time of year and under present drought conditions, are very dusty. Driving slowly will lessen the dust and improve visibility.

In an effort to make travel for local residents as convenient as possible, we have constructed a temporary road just north of Camp which will provide access to Broadway. The current intersection at Camp and Broadway is closed. We realize using side roads can be an inconvenience and therefore encourage motorists to choose alternate routes such as I-35 or Hwy 74 when possible.

The Board of County Commissioners and the City of Guthrie recently signed an interlocal agreement allowing the county to temporarily work within city limits on Seward and Academy, which form part of the detour route. We appreciate the willingness of the city to assist in enabling this safety improvement which will benefit all.

If you have questions about this project or other county matters, I will be happy to take your calls at 282.3581.

June 23, 2012 Road Maintenance Costs

I have often wished that property owners would have to write two checks when paying their annual ad valorem tax. This would help taxpayers realize the breakdown of where their money goes and how little the county receives. Recently, in reviewing a tax statement for one of the more expensive homes in Logan County, I noticed that the property tax was $14,550. Of that, $1,727.87 went to general government. The county health department received $431.85 and the remaining $12,390.28 went to public education. None went to roads, because property taxes do not fund roads. Fuel tax does. Since one of the comments commissioners frequently hear is "I pay enough in property tax! My road should be improved," I wanted to share some facts with you that explain the challenge we face in funding roads. Based upon figures put together by the county budget maker, the county receives approximately $4,140 per mile for road maintenance. We've just opened bids for the new fiscal year for rock. The price of gravel when we pick it up at the quarry now ranges from $9.25 to $11.00 per ton. It takes 40 loads of rock to apply 4" of gravel on one mile of roadway. This means that as of July 1, it will cost $9,250 to $11,000 per mile for rock. Since the county receives jsut $4,140 per mile, you can understand the struggle we face in maintaining hundreds of miles of roadway. And that does not take into consideration the many other expenses involved in preparing a road base prior to applying rock. For example...the 1 1/2" crusher run that we use on District 1 roads comes from quarries in either Cushing or Pawnee. Weather is a factor in determining which quarry we use. When inclement weather sets in, the Cushing quarry is sometimes closed. This means our drivers must travel to Pawnee. The drive time to Pawnee and back is approximately three hours, compared to the ninety-minute round trip to Cushing. However, it can require a half-day of waiting at Cushing for a truckload. Generally, the wait in Pawnee has been less lengthy. Our drivers can average three loads a day from Cushing or two per day from Pawnee. It requires much more time to transport rock to the shop than to deliver it from the shop to county roads. Then factor in manpower, fuel and the equipment needed to cut back vegetation from right-of-way, establish drainage ditches, grade, compact and prepare roadbase so that applying gravel is not a waste, and you can see how expensive and time-consuming it becomes to improve just one mile of roadway....with the availability of that $4,140. Fortunately, we sometimes have access to funding in addition to what we receive from fuel tax. The county's major road and bridge improvements are financed through state and federal programs. More information about the source of that funding is contained within articles posted on the website at www.marksharpton.org.

June 17, 2012 Bridge Closing on Broadway for New Construction

I want to offer a reminder that the bridge on Broadway Rd. at Camp is scheduled to be closed in July.

Bridgeco Contractors Inc., low bidder for the $1,115,636 project, plan to begin the process for constructing a new 227' structure with 12' lanes and 4' shoulders.

The current bridge is 73 years old, narrow and rated as functionally obsolete. Meeting oncoming traffic on the bridge, particularly semi trucks which frequently use the route, can be nerve-wracking.

We have installed signage on the north and south sides of the bridge, informing motorists of the July closing date, but wish to re-emphasize it so those who typically travel the road can plan an alternate route if they so choose.

The specific start date we were given by the contractor was July 2, but construction dates are always subject to weather and contractor scheduling. If you travel this route frequently, please feel free to call the District 1 office at 282.3581 to inquire about the status of the road closing.

We will be installing detour signs just prior to closing the bridge.

If you are traveling north on Broadway, traffic will be rerouted east on Seward to Bryant/Academy, then north to Triplett and west back to Broadway.

The detour for those traveling south will be to go east on Triplett to Bryant, south on Bryant to Seward, and west on Seward back to Broadway. Plans are underway to improve these roadways to handle the additional traffic flow.

We were informed by the contractor that replacing the bridge could take up to six months. Weather is always a factor, but we hope to have the project completed as quickly as possible.

Eighty percent of the cost of the Broadway bridge replacement project was approved for federal funding through the Surface Transportation Program (STP). The remaining 20% match was through the County Bridge and Road Improvements (CBRI) fund. Since Broadway is one of the most heavily-traveled major collector roads in Logan County, second only to I-35, replacing this narrow structure with a wider bridge will enhance public safety and accommodate modern vehicles and the ever-increasing traffic flow.

Photo: This 73 year-old narrow bridge on Broadway over Cottonwood Creek just south of Camp Road is scheduled for deconstruction in July. It will be replaced with a new 227' structure with wider lanes and shoulders.

May 22, 2012 Preparation Continues on Plan to Pave Coltrane

This week further progress was made on a project District 1 is implementing to pave five miles of Coltrane Road from Waterloo to Seward. On Thursday, we met in Oklahoma City with our engineering firm and members of ATT&T, ONEOK, ONG, and DCP Midstream to plan for relocation of utilities within the scope of the project. The engineering firm appointed a member of their staff to assist in coordinating relocation efforts so that when construction begins, there are no obstructions. We appreciated the cooperative spirit of those who attended and their willingness to work with us to make this project happen. This $11,689,730 project will be funded through the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges (CIRB) program. CIRB was enacted by the legislature in 2006 through HB 1176. Through it, state funds were set aside and continue to be each year for the purpose of construction or reconstruction of county roads and bridges of high priority on the county highway system. Each of the commission districts are participating in this program and are working their way through the maze of steps required to reach the construction stage of their particular project. The "maze" I refer to is brought about by federal regulations applied to the use of this state money. For example, one stage of each project requires environmental clearance, or a "NEPA" study. NEPA stands for the National Environmental Protection Act. Steps involved in NEPA include studies from tribes, cultural resources, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Fish and Wildlife (USFWS), the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), a biological study, a hazardous waste study and sometimes a noise study. Some studies can take up to 45 days before the information is passed on to the next entity for the process to continue. The studies are not done simultaneously and each one must be reviewed by ODOT and sometimes by Federal Highway. A NEPA study can delay a project for many months. Once we have received NEPA clearance on a project, we begin acquiring right-of-way (ROW). That process, in regard to Coltrane, goes something like this: 1. We interview and select a ROW acquisition company from an ODOT approved provider list. The company selected will be in charge of appraisals, relocation assistance, acquisition and right-of-way staking. 2. The Board of Commissioners sign a 45 page contract with the ROW company for these services after ODOT approves the fees. 3. The company then subcontracts with an appraiser who establishes property values for the 84 parcels we must acquire. 4. We send a letter to approximately eleven "review appraisers" on an ODOT approved list, inviting them to interview for the job of reviewing the first appraiser's valuations. The contract we sign with the review appraiser consists of 21 pages. 5. Finally, the ROW company begins sending out offer letters to landowners. This is followed by much more paperwork between the county and landowners. I hope all of this provides some insight into why major projects require so much time to accomplish, and why we are happy whenever another phase is completed. When federal, and in this case, state CIRB funds are involved, federal regulations really slow the process. And this does not at all explain the entirety of steps involved. Perhaps I can address more of those in another article. Should make good bedtime reading.

May 13, 2012 Multiple Tasks Underway in District 1

An American proverb says, "If you can't ride two horses at once, you shouldn't be in the circus." I find that if you can'tmulti-task, you probably shouldn't be in county government. Recently in District 1, we have been up to our ears in multi-tasking. Sometimes it is a good thing, because it means many road and bridge improvements are underway, but occasionally we get involved in a project we did not anticipate. One such project to which we've devoted significant time and effort is a major repair on Broadway Road just north of Hwy 33. Heavy rainfall on April 14 carved out a huge section of roadway by a pond. The road had to be closed due to a 15' cave hollowed out beneath a still intact 10" layer of asphalt. After barricading the road, we removed the asphalt overlay and borrowed a pump to drain the area in which we needed to work. It had just begun to dry when it rained again, causing additional delays. The project was also complicated by various utilities within the roadway around which heavy equipment operators had to negotiate in order to preserve water and phone service to local residents. District 1 purchased four new 48" x 30' tinhorns which were banded together and carefully positioned beneath utility lines to establish new drainage. This project is still underway as we work through additional repairs. Staff has been compiling costs for the project and calculate that at this time, expenses for men, machinery and materials amount to $27,000. Of that, over $4000 was used to purchase tinhorns. We still must buy asphalt and replace guardrail. The good news is that the county emergency management director has informed us of a state funding source through which we may apply for reimbursement. Efforts are underway in District 1 to do so. Other tasks we are working on beyond that of ordinary maintenance involve preparation for two bridge projects, one on Broadway just south of Camp Rd. and the other on Charter Oak Rd. west of Santa Fe. Coordination is underway with utility companies for relocation of all facilities within the scope of these projects. We are also ordering signage to prepare a detour route off Broadway when the bridge closes July 2. This week we also interviewed a land company regarding acquisition of right-of-way for a five-mile paving project on Coltrane Rd. We are multi-tasking in District 1, and if you hear a distant rumble, it is probably a trackhoe and bulldozer enroute to the next project.

May 3, 2012 Bridge Work on Broadway Road to Begin July 2

News Update from Commission District 1 May 4, 2012 On Thursday, April 26, staff from my office attended a pre-work conference at the ODOT Stillwater Residency in preparation for replacing a narrow bridge on Broadway Rd. between Seward and Camp Roads.

Staff met with ODOT engineers and Bridgeco Contractors Inc. to discuss the project which is scheduled to begin Monday, July 2. The bridge, located immediately south of Camp Road, will be closed during construction and a detour route is planned. Camp Road at Broadway will also be closed. We will provide more information on the detour route as the construction date nears. Bridgeco informed us that completing the project could take up to six months. The existing 73 year-old narrow "functionally obsolete" bridge will be replaced with a 227' structure with 12' lanes and 4' shoulders.

On March 15 of this year, ODOT conducted a bid letting and awarded the $1,115,636.70 project to Bridgeco, the low bidder. Eighty percent of the cost of the project was approved for federal funding through the Surface Transportation Program administered by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG). The remaining 20% match was through the County Bridge and Road Improvements (CBRI) fund.

Since Broadway is one of the most heavily traveled major collector roads in Logan County, replacing this narrow structure with a modern bridge will enhance public safety for the many motorists who travel this north-south route.

April 26, 2012 Multiple Projects Underway in District 1

News Update...April 26, 2012

When the Board of County Commissioners meet at 9:00 a.m. Monday, April 30 for their regularly scheduled meeting, work that is underway to improve county infrastructure will be reflected on the agenda. District 1 will present ten programming resolutions for approval by the commissioners for projects recently funded through the Surface Transportation Program administered by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG).

Nine of these projects will be funded 100% through federal safety funds. This means the county is not obligated to provide the 20% match commonly required when federal monies are involved.

Five of the projects are for pavement markings, inclusive of one mile of Charter Oak Rd. from Penn to Western, two miles of Simmons from Bryant to Sooner, two miles of Kelly Ave. from Waterloo to Charter Oak, three and one-half miles of Western Ave. north of Waterloo and two miles of Penn from Waterloo north. Since each of these roads are major collectors, they meet the qualifications for federal funding.

The remaining resolutions are for three areas of guardrail on Seward Rd. and a resurfacing project on Simpson Rd. from Sooner to Coltrane. The resurfacing project will require a 20% match from the county.

Total funding approved by ACOG for all nine projects is $416,342. After learning earlier this year that our applications for the projects were approved, we began the process to complete the series of steps which will allow us to reach the bid letting stage. These include programming resolutions, preparation of plans, a plan-in-hand meeting between the county, the engineer and ODOT officials, environmental plans and clearance, right-of-way plans and clearance, final plans, and finally, the bid opening. When work actually begins, it is because many steps have been completed to make it happen.

District 1 will also have a contract agreement with ODOT on Monday's agenda for paving five miles of Coltrane Rd. from Waterloo to Seward. This multi-million dollar project will be funded through the state County Improvements for Roads and Bridges Program (CIRB) and will be completed in phases. Many steps are involved in this process also. Soon we will soon be working with ODOT to select a right-of-way acquisition firm for the project.

One of the simpler agreements on Monday's agenda will be a lease purchase agreement between ODOT and District 1 for a new John Deere tractor and boom mower. While other projects sometimes require 36 steps, this one might just come in under five.

April 13, 2012 Progress Made on Effort to Replace Charter Oak Bridge

It has been a busy week in county government, and a good one in many ways. On Monday we welcomed a new road superintendent to District 1. His name is Keith Trolinger. Keith is an adjunct instructor in Edmond where he provides municipal students with information on street, right-of-way and drainage maintenance. He has a military background, a Master's degree in Business Administration, pavement maintenance training and over 20 years of supervision and project management experience. I look forward to what he will accomplish for residents of District 1 and have already observed his positive contribution in making improvements.

This week we also attended a meeting of the Intermodal Transportation Technical Committee at the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG). This committee meets to assist with long-range transportation planning. District 1 had an item on the agenda, asking for 80% of the funding needed to construct a new bridge on Charter Oak Road half a mile west of Santa Fe and Oak Cliff Fire Station #2.

We were pleased that the board unanimously approved our application and agreed to fund $692,000 of the $865,000 estimated total needed for the project. The application now moves forward for final approval at the ACOG Board of Directors meeting on April 26.

This was also the week that the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma hosted their quarterly conference in Norman. While attending classes at that event, we were able to coordinate a plan with Circuit Engineering District and ODOT officials on how to obtain the remaining 20% local match of $173,000 needed for the new bridge. As a result, I will be traveling to Alva, Oklahoma on April 18 to attend a meeting where that will be an item of discussion and hopefully, approval.

As mentioned in previous articles, there are many steps in making major projects materialize. That is why it is always exciting when the needed elements come together. This week, they seemed to do so. With the help of many, we will try to make it a trend that continues.

Photo: On April 12, 2012, the Intermodal Technical Transportation Committee at ACOG voted to approve 80% of the funding needed to replace this one-lane wooden bridge on Charter Oak Road 1/2 mile west of Santa Fe.

District 1 News

March 22, 2012 ODOT Conducts Bid Letting for Broadway Bridge

Broadway Rd. in District 1 is one of the most heavily traveled major collector routes in Logan County. Plans to replace a "functionally obsolete" 71-year-old narrow bridge on this roadway have been underway for some time. On March 15, ODOT conducted a bid letting and on April 2 plans to award the $1,115,636.70 project to low bidder, Bridgeco Contractors.

A new 227' bridge with two 12' lanes and two 4' shoulders will be constructed. This will accommodate modern vehicles and enhance public safety for motorists who travel this north-south route. The project, which is just south of Camp Rd., could begin anywhere from mid May to mid July, depending on the contractor's schedule. Eighty percent of the project will be federally funded through the Surface Transportation Program and twenty percent through the County Bridge and Road Improvement Fund (CBRI).

Plans for replacing another bridge in District 1 moved forward this week as well. We delivered sixty-five pages of right-of-way acquisition paperwork to ODOT in order to complete another in the 36-step process toward replacing a single-lane wooden bridge on Charter Oak Rd. This bridge is located one-half mile west of Santa Fe Rd. and Oak Cliff Fire Station #2. Plans are to build up roadway approaches and replace the existing structure with a new 103 ft. bridge which will allow emergency vehicles to cross.

Our engineer is now in the process of preparing an application to submit to the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments, asking for 80% in federal funding for this project. If the Board of Directors approve our request at their April meeting, which we anticipate they will since we have told funding is available, the project will be included in the FFY 2012 Transportation Improvement Program.

Replacing each of these bridges will allow us to continue the progress we are making toward improving infrastructure in Logan County.

March 11, 2012 Citizen and Government Cooperation Enable Improvements on Shoestring Budget

I recently attended a Homeowners Association Meeting where members of the HOA were exploring options for funding road improvements within their addition. Since the county has limited resources and approximately 1206 miles to maintain on a shoestring budget, resourcefulness on the part of citizens is much appreciated. In fact, citizen donations and cooperative efforts between local government and the public have enabled a variety of improvements throughout the county. Copies of donation resolutions we keep in our office and on file at the county clerk's office reveal that since January of last year, in District 1 alone, the public has contributed $38,566 toward the purchase of asphalt, tin horns and rock. Numerous donations have been made in other road districts as well.

Some may ask, "Why are donations needed? Don't we pay property taxes to maintain roads?" Though this myth prevails, the answer is no. Property taxes do not fund roads. The majority of property tax funds public education. The small portion the county receives pays for upkeep of the courthouse and jail, the county health department and salaries of elected officials.

The prevalence of the property tax myth is why periodically I like to provide an update about the amount of funding commission districts have to work with to provide road maintenance.

Based upon 2011 figures, the average amount of Highway Cash the county receives each month is $253,389. This is divided by three road districts. The approximate amount each district receives is $84,463. District 1 uses their portion to pay the following averaged monthly expenses:

$27,408 for 12 employees $2250 for FICA $4400 for retirement $15,568 for lease/purchase of equipment $200 for travel $33,985 for maintenance and operations (M&O) M&O pays for fuel at approximately $7500 @month, rock at approximately $6000 per month, and asphalt up to $10,000 per month, depending on weather and the opportunity for patching, as well as signs, tires, utilities, repairs, parts and services. Major paving improvements which can range in cost from $76,000 per mile upward are funded through special state and federal programs. To qualify for these, we must meet stringent criteria. Some funding is available only for roads which are classified as major collectors. Other funding is based on federally-regulated safety issues, population and traffic counts. We have to compete with many entities for this funding. That is why when citizens come forward with initiative to work together to make their own improvements, we appreciate their efforts and do our best to assist in the endeavor.

February 25, 2012 The Role of County Government

This week I had the privilege of attending an educational presentation by Logan County Clerk, Troy Cole, who did an excellent job in providing information to a group of citizens on the role of county government. As part of her presentation, Ms. Cole distributed a handout compiled by OSU Extension Economist Dr. Notie Lansford, who provides training to county employees and officials. I am passing on to you excerpts and a paraphrase of this information, courtesy of Dr. Lansford.

By Oklahoma law, there are nine county offices where officials are elected by voters of the county. These include three commissioners, a county clerk, assessor, treasurer, sheriff, a court clerk and a district attorney. Each elected officer serves a four-year term. The terms stagger where every two years at the November general election, there are ballots for several county offices.

There are three county commissioner districts in each county in Oklahoma. The districts are approximately equal in population. A county commissioner is elected by voters within his or her district. Many citizens perceive a county commissioner as mainly responsible for maintaining and constructing roads and bridges. While these are required duties, the board of commissioners is the chief administrative body for the county, responsible for setting and administering county policies.The commissioners are required to hold, at the county seat, a regular meeting on the first Monday of each month to transact county business. Generally, more frequent meetings are held and an agenda is posted in advance at the courthouse.The agenda can include legal, personnel and fiscal matters. Board meetings are open to the public.

By law, the commissioners must act as a board when entering into contracts or agreements affecting the county. Actions taken by the board are voted on and approved by a majority of the commissioners. Among the powers granted by law to the board are the authority to:

•Sell or purchase public land or buildings for the county • Call a county bond election for approving a public project • Incur public indebtedness in the county's name • Approve payroll and payments for equipment or supplies purchased or leased by the county • Receive and approve bids on major purchases or con­struction projects • Maintain an inventory of property owned or leased by the county which exceeds $500 in value • Audit accounts of county officers • Develop personnel policies for county em­ployees • Designate and publish (in conjunction with the county excise board) holidays on which county of­fices may close • Lease tools, machinery or equipment to another county, political subdivision or state agency, or jointly buy equipment with other counties • Maintain and construct roads and bridges in the county highway system.

The board of county commissioners plays an integral part in receiving and expending county funds. As the county's chief administrative body, the board makes major financial decisions and transactions and has the official duty to ensure the fiscal responsibility of other county officers who handle county funds. The board also has the power and duty to audit accounts of all officers who receive and manage county funds.

The board has a role in the county budget process. Near the end of each fiscal year, the board must collect from each elected and non-elected county official a financial statement showing their expenditures and remaining revenues for the current fiscal year and their estimate of needs for the upcoming fiscal year. The county clerk assists in these duties. This information is published in a newspaper and submitted to the county excise board. Final authority for funding each county office lies with the excise board.

Unlike the misconception that county commissioners are only elected to build and maintain roads and bridges, they are foremost policy makers and business managers for the county, working to provide the public with a fiscally efficient system of county government.

February 17, 2012 Donations to Local Government May Be Tax Deductible

"People can give their money to the Feds to use, or get it back and see it in front of their house." That was my thinking the other day after receiving an email from the Assistant District Attorney indicating that donations to the county are tax deductible.

While many of the road and bridge improvements completed in the county are funded through state and federal programs, several have been enabled through donations from the public.

Whenever citizens donate to the county, there are procedures the Board of Commissioners follow to ensure transparency. We place an item on the regular meeting agenda for consideration and prepare a resolution stating what the donation is for, the location of the project and the amount donated. This resolution is kept on file as public record in the county clerk's office. In the past, citizens have donated to the county for the purchase of tin horns, shale, rock and asphalt. All of course must be for use on public roads or within county right-of-way.

Title 60 of the Oklahoma Statutes, Section 381 authorizes counties to accept gifts. Section 382 exempts gifts accepted on behalf of the county from any form of tax. The Internal Revenue Code, in Section 170(c)(1), defines a "charitable contribution" as a gift to or for the use of any political subdivision of a state if the gift is made for exclusively public purposes, which a public road is. If you have made such a donation within the last year, you may wish to make your tax adviser aware of it, in the event that it qualifies as a deduction on your tax return.

February 10, 2012 The Year in Review - Road and Bridge Improvements

At the beginning of each year we receive a request from the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG) asking that we provide information on transportation improvements which have been implemented or completed during the past calendar year. ACOG uses this information for accident analysis and for long-range planning purposes. After compiling the information, we thought it might be of interest to you as well. Projects which District 1 recently completed within a year's time include the following:

  • January 2011 - One mile of Simmons between Bryant and Broadway was paved through funding the county received as reimbursement from FEMA

  • April - One mile of Pine between Industrial and Prairie Grove Rd. was resurfaced through use of REAP grant funds.

  • April - One mile of Kelly between Charter Oak and Simpson was paved through the cooperative efforts of a developer and District 1.

  • July - A100 year-old one-lane bridge on Council Rd. between Charter Oak and Simpson was replaced with a two-lane 107' concrete structure. This project was funded 80% through ACOG's Transportation Improvement Plan and 20% through the County Bridge and Road Improvement Fund (CBRI)

  • August - 3 1/2 miles of Western Avenue were paved from Waterloo to one-half mile north of Simpson. Eighty percent of the cost for this project was provided through the Surface Transportation Improvement Plan administered through ACOG. The 20% match was through the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges (CIRB) fund administered by ODOT.

  • September - Road safety striping was applied to the two miles of newly paved portions of Pine and Simmons. These pavement marking projects were funded 100% with federal safety funds administered through ACOG.

  • October - A one-lane wooden deck bridge originally constructed in 1920 on Simpson Rd. between Broadway and Kelly was replaced with a new 152' two-lane concrete bridge. This project was also funded 80% through ACOG's Transportation Improvement Plan and 20% through the County Bridge and Road Improvement Fund (CBRI).

  • December - One mile of Santa Fe north of College was paved through the use of REAP grant funds, citizen donations and the cooperative efforts of Districts 1 and 3.

  • January 2012 - One mile of MacArthur Blvd. from Waterloo to Simmons was paved through use of county funds and a REAP grant.

These projects add up to 8 1/2 miles of road paving projects, two major bridge replacements and two miles of road safety striping. In a future article, I will share news of upcoming projects for which we have received funding. The good news is that major improvements are being made throughout the county, in addition to those completed and implemented in District 1. I can truly say that each of the Commissioners and staff are working hard to bring infrastructure improvements to Logan County.

Photo: This new 152' concrete bridge on Simpson Road between Broadway and Kelly was completed in October 2011. It replaced the one-lane wooden deck structure originally constructed in 1920.

District 1 News

January 20, 2012 County Projects Approved for Over $2 Million in Funding Through ACOG TIP

In the last few months, Logan County, working in conjunction with our engineer, spent time preparing applications to seek road funding through the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) administered by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments.

The TIP is a four-year program outlining transportation improvements to be made in the Oklahoma City Area Regional Transportation Study (OCARTS) area. It is prepared annually by ACOG under the guidance of various committees and is submitted to the Governor, the Federal Transit Administration, and the Federal Highway Administration through ODOT.

Each year cities, towns and counties in the OCARTS area have the opportunity to apply for transportation improvements through this program. Since Logan County is a member of ACOG, we have access to the TIP program. However, we compete with many larger entities whose projects often score higher than ours for funding. Nevertheless, on January 13, members of ACOG voted to recommend funding for eleven projects in Logan County. This recommendation still has to be adopted by the ACOG Board of Directors on January 26, but we anticipate their approval as well.

Projects approved for funding include one mile of resurfacing for Simpson Road from Coltrane to Sooner and pavement markings for two areas of Charter Oak Rd., Kelly Ave., Simmons Rd., and Western and Pennsylvania Avenues. Safety projects approved for funding include guardrail for Seward Rd. west of May and Seward Rd., east of Kelly.

Other road resurfacing projects approved for funding include Charter Oak from Air Depot to Douglas and Douglas from Waterloo to Forrest Hills Rd.

These projects add up to well over two million in funding for infrastructure improvements in Logan County within the next four years.

January 12, 2012 One Mile of MacArthur Avenue to be Paved

County crew will be working this week and next to prepare one mile of South MacArthur Avenue for paving from Waterloo Road to Simmons Road.

On October 14, 2011, the Board of Commissioners opened and awarded a $77,035 bid to Atlas Paving Company for the project.

Early last year, $30,724 in grant funds were approved for MacArthur through the Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP) administered by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG). However, the county could not go out to bid or begin work until contracts were signed in July and ACOG issued a notice to proceed.

County funds will be used to supplement project costs. District 1 road crew will be clearing right-of-way and Atlas will broom the surface prior to paving.

In 2003, residents of South MacArthur contacted District 1 about upgrading the road. Many years earlier, the roadway had been chip-sealed, but eventually it deteriorated into a few patches of pavement with gravel scattered between.

In 2004, with the help of $16,000 in citizen contributions, MacArthur was improved with chemical soil stabilization and double layer chip-seal.

As the area continues to grow and additional residents move in to Logan County, the increase in traffic impacts roadway quality. The new asphalt overlay will extend the life of the road and improve it for use by residents, businesses, postal, school and delivery services. Weather permitting, the project will be completed soon.

January 6, 2012 County Working to Provide Updated Voting Information to Public

Elections Scheduled for for February 14, 2012

Last week's update addressed boundary changes in commission districts brought about by the 2010 census and redistricting. These changes create challenges as each district assumes responsibility for road maintenance in new areas and residents try to determine which elected official represents them. Information about which commission district you reside in is available at http://hd31.org/146

Another challenge the county faces is how to go about notifying voters in a timely manner about polling location changes. This is an issue the Logan County Election Board is working to address.

The current status of notification to voters as indicated by the election board is that new voter ID cards are being sent to those whose precinct number has changed. If your polling place has changed, but your precinct number did not, you will not receive a new card, at least at present. However, an effort is underway by the election board to try to ensure that voters receive proper notification if their polling place is different than before.

One quick way to determine the location of your polling place and see if it has changed is to go to http://www.ok.gov/elections/ppl/index.php

Other helpful information about voting is available on the state election board website at http://www.ok.gov/elections/

More changes this year include new voting machines and a requirement at the polls for voters to provide identification. Voters without ID can sign an affidavit and vote with a provisional ballot but this will be separated from other ballots until election officials validate the eligibility of the voter.

The Logan County Election Board will conduct a mock election on Monday, January 9 through Thursday, Jan 12 , between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at Broad and Vilas in Guthrie. Voters will have an opportunity to see the new voting machines and to cast a mock ballot prior to the February 14, 2012 elections.

Questions regarding polling places, early voting and election dates can be answered by contacting the election board at 282-1900.

District 1 News

December 30, 2011 Census Creates Changein Commission Districts and Voter Precincts

The 2010 census indicates that Logan County's population increased from 33,924 in the year 2000 to 41,848 in 2010. This documented growth of almost 8000 did not come as a surprise. Those who have driven the southern part of the county are probably aware of all the residential and commercial development taking place there.

In fact, staff has maintained records indicating that since the year 2000, approximately 49 new housing additions have sprung up. Thirty of those were in Commission District 1, sixteen in District 2, and three in District 3.

This population increase is significant to the county for various reasons, including how the growth affects the road funding we receive from the state. A formula created by the legislature determines how much each of Oklahoma's 77 counties receive, and within that formula, population is a significant factor. It affects portions of the gasoline, diesel and motor vehicle collection taxes which go into a county's highway fund.

Every ten years, Commissioners are required to redraw road districts based upon the latest census. By law, each district should have equal population so everyone will have the same amount of representation in government. This principle is known as one-man, one-vote. Earlier this year, the Logan County Board of Commissioners met its legal obligation to redistrict, and as a result, road district boundaries have changed.

District 1 will pick up from District 3 territory west of Guthrie and south of the Cimarron. District 3 is represented by Commissioner Monty Piearcy.

District 2, represented by Commissioner Michael Pearson, will pick up approximately 2,000 residents from District 1, including those who reside between Waterloo and Simmons Rd. from I-35 to Coltrane, and those between I-35 and Sooner, from Simmons to Seward. This change placed the Green Oaks Addition into District 2.

The redistricting plan also moved portions of the Guthrie area and all of Langston into District 3.

Not only did commission districts change, but some voting locations did as well. Voters should receive notification in the mail from the Logan County Election Board in regard to this. If you have not, or are uncertain about which precinct you are in, contact the election board at 282-1900 for clarification. This year, voters are required to present identification at the polling place.

If you are interested in viewing redrawn commission districts, information is available at http://hd31.org/146.

December 17, 2011 Efforts Always Ongoing to Seek Road Funding

Every year, in an effort to improve county roads, District 1 devotes time and effort to filling out grant applications to apply for road funding. Since what we receive monthly from the Oklahoma Tax Commission is inadequate to enable us to make major road improvements, we continually apply for outside funding. One of the programs we submit applications to annually is the Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP). This program is administered by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments and funded through money the legislature sets aside each year to help less populated towns, cities and counties with infrastructure projects. As a result of applying for these funds, thousands of dollars have been brought into Logan County by each of the commission districts. Due diligence on the part of each district has resulted in various roads improvements which the county never could have afforded on its own. Some of the paving improvements REAP funds have paid for in the past within the boundaries of District 1 include one-half mile of Academy south of University, one mile of Pine St. between Industrial and Prairie Grove, a mile of MacArthur north of Waterloo, a mile of Pennsylvania south of Highway 33, as well as pavement on various roads within Cedar Valley, which that township applied for. Currently, REAP funds are helping pave one mile of Santa Fe north of College Avenue and scheduling is underway for an asphalt overlay on one mile of MacArthur north of Waterloo. All of these REAP projects add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in improvements. One small drawback of being awarded a REAP grant is that those entities who receive an award one year are penalized ten points on the following year's application. The purpose of the penalty is to try to equalize opportunities for other applicants. Since District 1 was awarded a grant last year for MacArthur, we suffered the 10 point penalty, but still managed to make the short list as the first project for alternate funding in the new REAP cycle. This means that if any funds remain from projects which other entities fail to follow through on, we will receive money to apply toward an asphalt overlay on Santa Fe Rd. just north of Hwy 33. This year the legislature allocated $547,792 in funding for REAP. There were 49 eligible applications requesting nearly $6.3 million for projects. Tables showing the ranking and rating of all projects can be found on page VI-A of the Dec. 15 ACOG Board of Directors agenda at http://bit.ly/vck3I9.

Photo: Santa Fe Road north of College Avenue is currently being paved through a combination of REAP grant funds and citizen donations.

December 9, 2011 Dispelling the Myth...

Since tax season is upon us and annual ad valorem statements have been mailed to property owners, it seems important to mention again that property taxes do not fund roads. This is a widespread misconception, as is the belief that if you buy gas within the county, the money stays here. It does not. Fuel taxes are collected by the Oklahoma State Tax Commission and then distributed to the 77 counties based on a formula. The huge majority of property tax funds public education. The specific breakdown of how ad valorem tax is used is indicated on your tax statement. The amount you pay is affected not only by the fair market value of your property, but by bond issues, which make your taxes go up or down, depending on when bonds are approved or paid off. Many people do not realize when bond elections are held and therefore are surprised to find that their property tax has gone up for no apparent reason. For instance, in Edmond, voters have approved 55 consecutive school bonds, and yet, in one election, in 2009, out of 9,394 voters, only 81 ballots were cast. The portion of property tax which the county receives falls under the classification of "County General" and "County Health." County General provides for the courthouse, supplies for the jail and salaries for elected officials. County Health funds the Health Department. "County Wide 4-Mil" is funding for schools, as are all the remaining categories related to education. Money for road maintenance comes from a totally different source. Fuel tax, gross production tax and motor vehicle collections pay for roads. The amount we receive varies considerably, depending partly upon how much fuel people purchase during a given time. Once this road money, or "Highway Cash," reaches the county, it is distributed into various accounts in each road district to pay for employees and equipment. The remaining portion goes into an account we refer to as the "Maintenance and Operations" fund. This pays for fuel, signs, asphalt, salt, sand, parts, services, utilities, tires and supplies. The average monthly amount District 1 received in this account over the last year was approximately $32,000. However, this can fluctuate wildly. In December 2010, each commission district received well under $10,000 for road maintenance. During that month, District 1 had $7532 to apply toward maintaining 275 miles of roadway, about the distance it is from Guthrie to Corsicana, Texas. If you have questions about any of this information, or other county matters, feel free to contact me at 282-3581.

December 2, 2011 Plans to Replace Bridge on Charter Oak Rd. Move Forward

Breaking News

One of the most striking photos we have at the District 1 shop is of a huge accumulation of flood debris. The photo catches your attention when you walk into the office and new visitors often stop to observe or comment on it.

It's quite a marvel, the tangle of trees and limbs and miscellaneous objects amassed by fast moving water and then deposited around the old wooden bridge on Charter Oak Road west of Oak Cliff's fire station #2.

Much of the debris has since washed downstream, but when heavy flooding occurs, the process begins all over again and the road and bridge must be closed.

However, plans are underway to change this. Thanks to the cooperation of landowners in the area who have worked with the county in allowing us to acquire right-of-way, we plan to replace the bridge. Not only will this mitigate some of the reoccurring issues, but a new structure will allow fire and emergency vehicles to cross.

The process for replacing this bridge over Chisholm Creek began in November 2008 when we submitted a Programming Resolution to the Department of Transportation.

We performed a title search for each landowner and notified them of the proposed project so the lengthy environment clearance process could begin.

A plan-in-hand meeting with ODOT and engineers was conducted in September 2009 and we submitted an application to the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments for funding for the project.

Our next step will be to notify utility companies of the potential need to relocate their lines.

As the process moves forward, we are nearer our goal of replacing an outdated, inefficient structure with a new 103 ft. bridge.

This year District 1 replaced structurally deficient bridges on Simpson and Council Roads, and in 2012, will replace the narrow bridge on Broadway Rd. north of Seward.

Replacing the Charter Oak Bridge will allow us to continue the progress we are making in improving Logan County infrastructure.

Photo: District 1 is working to replace this one-lane structurally deficient 50' beam span bridge with a new 103' structure.

November 20, 2011 There's More to Paving Than Asphalt

This week our road crew has been working to prepare one mile of Santa Fe Road north of College Avenue for paving. The county received a grant and citizen donations to improve this section of roadway. However, before asphalt can be applied, much preparation must take place.

This includes mining shale from a pit in Cashion so it can be applied to the road base for stabilization. Early this month District 1 rented a Bomag recycler for this purpose. After shale is cut from the pit, it is loaded into dump trucks and transported to the job site. Once it is deposited on the roadway, a grader operator spreads the material and another equipment operator compacts it with a roller. This process is repeated until all the soft areas of the road base are firm enough to cover with asphalt. Ditches are cut to improve drainage, and tinhorns, or culverts, are placed across the roadway as needed. This requires the use of a backhoe, and again, an operator.

Preparing Santa Fe and other roads for paving requires many hours of labor and a lot of helping hands. Before tangible work can even begin, paperwork must be processed. First of all, someone had to apply for the grant. That required clerical help. Once the grant was awarded, the project had to go to bid. That required the services of the county clerk's office. Once the bid was awarded by the commissioners, purchase orders had to be made and processed so that fuel, shale, tinhorns and equipment were available for use. Once the road is paved, (and that is a process in itself), vendors have to be paid. That means more paperwork. So... the next time you have the opportunity to drive on a newly paved surface, please take a moment to appreciate the efforts of so many who helped make it possible.

November 3, 2011 Plans to Replace Narrow Bridge on Broadway Rd. Move Forward

Working through the 36 steps involved in a major road or bridge project can be likened to eating an elephant one bite at a time. We took the first bite in 2007, when District 1 began the lengthy process of working to replaceBroadway Bridge over Cottonwood Creek south of Camp Rd.

Built in 1939, this narrow 72 year-old structure is now rated by engineers as "functionally obsolete." Since Broadway is one of the most heavily traveled major collector routes in Logan County, it was important to replace the structure with a bridge that accommodates modern vehicles.

Initial steps toward reconstruction began when we placed the project on the county's five-year plan. After that, we submitted a programming resolution to ODOT and selected engineers to oversee surveys and hydraulic and geotechnical studies. Plan-in-hand meetings were conducted and environmental clearance began, a process which can require 12 to 18 months.

Right-of-way acquisition followed as we initiated a title search for each landowner and sent legal descriptions to ODOT for their review. ODOT returned easement agreements to us to complete in accordance with federal regulations and to file with the county and the Department of Transportation. Utility companies also had to be notified of the scope of the project so they could make re-locations.

Once these preliminaries were completed and approved, there were still funding issues to resolve. Through a program administered by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG), District 1 applied for and obtained 80% of the money needed for the project. That meant we still had to come up with a 20% match. Just this week, we obtained approval for $250,000 through the Emergency Transportation Revolving Fund (ETR) to use as a match toward the approximate $1,091,342.00 needed for the project. This means the bridge can go to bid in March 2012, when ODOT conducts a spring letting. If all goes as planned, next year, a new 227' structure with 32' lanes and 4' shoulders will materialize as a result of all the planning. Not only will it accommodate modern vehicles and contribute to public safety, but it should be able to support all the paperwork involved in getting us to this point.

This narrow bridge which engineers rated as "functionally obsolete" is scheduled for replacement. The project will go to bid through ODOT in March 2012.

October 14, 2011 Active Role in ACOG Benefits Public

One of my goals upon becoming Commissioner was to encourage Logan County to become active in the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments. ACOG is a transportation planning association composed of city, town and county governments. The role of the organization is to address transportation issues that impact growth and travel demands in the Central Oklahoma region. As a member of ACOG, we attend monthly meetings in Oklahoma City to stay abreast of the programs which provide opportunities for road and bridge improvements.

Over the years, involvement in ACOG has enabled the county to apply for a substantial amount of state and federal funding. This has been used to pave roads, install storm sirens, purchase signs, apply pavement markings and build bridges.

Some of the most recent improvements in the county include 3 ½ miles of asphalt paving on Western Avenue, bridge replacements on Simpson and Council and safety striping on various roadways throughout commission districts. Funds in the amount of $988,000 have also been authorized by ACOG to replace the narrow bridge on Broadway over Cottonwood Creek just south of Camp Rd.

The majority of funding for these projects was through the Surface Transportation Program Urbanized Areas (STP-UZA). Applications for this program are submitted annually. This year the deadline is December 15. By March, final determinations will be made as to which projects qualify for funding.

We are busy right now gathering information and working with our engineer to prepare applications for various infrastructure improvements. We choose projects which best meet the criteria so that chances for funding are enhanced. An active partnership with ACOG has proven to be beneficial to our community in the past and we are working to ensure that improvements continue in the future. Mark Sharpton

October 7, 2011 Bid Opening Planned for Road Improvement Projects

On October 14, the Board of Commissioners are scheduled to open and award bids for three asphalt paving projects. These include one mile of Macarthur Blvd. from Waterloo to Simmons Rd., Santa Fe from College to Cooksey and two miles of Midwest from Waterloo to Charter Oak.

Late last year, grant funds were approved for both Macarthur and Santa Fe through the Rural Economic Action Plan administered by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG). However, the county could not go out to bid or begin work until contracts were signed in July and ACOG issued a notice to proceed.

Macarthur was approved for $30,724 of funding and Santa Fe for $58,887. Each of the projects are projected to cost more than this, but county funds and citizen donations will help provide the difference.

District 1 applied for REAP funding for Macarthur, and District 3 prepared the REAP application for Santa Fe. However, since commission districts have changed due to redistricting, paving Santa Fe will be a collaborative effort between Districts 1 and 3. In District 2, the process has begun for clearing right-of-way in preparation for paving Midwest.

We are now into a new REAP cycle and each of the districts are preparing applications for other road improvement projects. Each district may submit four applications but only one project per entity can be awarded, and this is only if it qualifies for funding. Criteria established by the legislature mandates that REAP grants must benefit "rural" areas, where population is 7000 or less within a five-mile radius. This automatically eliminates many areas of District 1, where growth in the last few years has been significant.

Within the REAP program, the less the population, the more points an application receives. This is one reason Santa Fe and Macarthur were funded. As indicated by the census, population in the five-mile radius of these areas ranges from one to two thousand residents.

It is interesting to observe how our funding opportunities shift due to growth in the county. Some roads qualify for improvement due to low population, and others because of high traffic count. To stay abreast of this and the various funding programs is challenging, but on October 14, as we open and award bids, we will be continuing the process of making improvements in Logan County.

District 1 News

September 23, 2011 Pavement Marking Projects Set for Sept. 26

This week we received word from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation that four safety striping projects in Logan County are scheduled to begin Monday, Sept. 26. Striping will be applied to nine miles of roadway. These include Pine Street between Industrial and Prairie Grove, Simmons between Broadway and Bryant, Douglas from Waterloo to Forrest Hills, and Pine between Seward and Charter Oak.

Earlier this year, commission districts one and two submitted applications to the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG), asking that these projects be included in the 2011 Transportation Improvement Program for urbanized areas. ACOG's Transportation Committee and Board of Directors both approved the requests and the projects went to bid through ODOT in July. Action Safety Supply Co. was low bidder, at $13,656.20 for the combined projects.

No match is required from the county for these improvements, since safety projects are 100% federally funded. However, only roads classified by the Federal Highway Department as major collectors qualify for funding. Please exercise extra caution through these areas as contractors begin their work next week.

September 16, 2011 County Begins REAP Grant Application Process for 2012

On Sept. 9, staff from each commission district attended a REAP workshop at the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments inOklahoma City. REAP, the Rural Economic Action Plan, is a grant program authorized by the Oklahoma legislature to offer cities, counties and less populated towns an opportunity to fund infrastructure projects.

The purpose of the Sept. 9 workshop was to provide information on how to prepare applications for 2012. The amount of funding available next year will be approximately $559,000. Many entities compete for this money, so competition is stiff. Applications will be ranked and scored by ACOG staff, with points given for population, local effort, project readiness and other criteria.

In District 1, REAP grants awarded in the past have paid for improvements on Pine Street, Academy, and Pennsylvania. Grants to Cedar Valley helped pave Broadway north of Hwy 33, May Ave. and Canyon Road. Road signs, thousands of dollars worth of gravel and ten outdoor warning sirens were also been purchased through the program. REAP has enabled each of the commission districts to pave various roadways.

Grants awarded last year to Logan County included $30,724 for road repair on Macarthur north of Waterloo and $58,887.49 for Santa Fe north of Hwy 33. Preparation for completing these projects is currently underway.

October 31 is the deadline for submitting applications for the REAP program. ACOG staff will review applications in November and December. After that, the Board of Directors will select and approve awards. Selected entities accept their grants in January and February, but contracts are not mailed to recipients until June or July of 2012. This is because ACOG must wait to make sure the legislature can fully fund the REAP program and that there are no budget cuts. Work cannot begin on approved projects until a Notice to Proceed letter is received from ACOG. After that, projects can go to bid. Start dates depend on the contractor's schedule, and of course, weather.

Since REAP is a reimbursement program, the county must front the costs for any projects awarded. If funds are low, we sometimes have to wait and save in order to be able to do this. REAP is a great program, but like many other things, it takes time. However, we are eager to participate in the process again, with the hope of "reaping" results for Logan County.

Differences in City and County Government

The recent wind storm which damaged so many trees in south Logan County generated several phone calls regarding debris removal.

Some who called mentioned that the city removes debris, and they wondered if the county could do the same.

We explained that municipal government provides debris removal because those who live within city limits pay a waste management fee. The county does not collect a fee to provide this service.

The authority granted in statute to use county-owned equipment is limited to property owned by the county, with exceptions made for helping out public schools, certain colleges, the state and cities with limited population. Statutes regarding use of county vehicles do not mention use on private property, even for storm debris removal.

All of this reminded me that the public is often unaware of differences between city and county government. In this article, I would like to address some of the differences.

While cities can enact ordinances, the Board of Commissioners can exercise only the powers specifically granted to them by the legislature.

We do not have authority in regard to animal control, dilapidated houses or private housing additions. These issues can sometimes be addressed through Homeowners Associations and covenants, or, as a last resort, in civil court.

County government does not provide utilities commonly supplied by incorporated cities, such as electricity, water, sewer, garbage pickup, or natural gas. Rural water districts and rural electric cooperatives provide these utilities.

County government does not provide public school services like kindergarten through twelfth grade or career technology training.

County government does not provide local police service commonly found in incorporated towns and cities. However, the county sheriff does provide law enforcement in rural areas and some very small towns that do not have a police force. And, counties do not typically provide public parks and recreational facilities. These are not a function of county government.

Finally, there is a huge difference between city versus county budgets. A quick call this week to the City of Edmond indicated a budget of over $215 million. According to an Aug. 13 article in the Guthrie News Leader, the City of Guthrie has a budget of approximately $18 million. The budget for Logan County is slightly over $4 million.

The county budget does not include funding for roads. Road money comes from fuel tax and vehicle fees collected and disbursed by the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

The average monthly amount the county receives from the Tax Commission is less than $300,000. This is divided by the three road districts and then subdivided to pay for equipment, employees, etc., leaving each district about $33,000 per month for road maintenance. With that, we maintain 1205 collective miles throughout the county.

Dr. Notie Lansford, an OSU County Training Program instructor, sums it up pretty well...

"Given the numerous public services provided by many government or quasi government organizations, it is not surprising that there is sometimes confusion as to what county government does and does not provide."

More information about the role of Logan County Government can be found at http://bit.ly/qUsuEO. And as always, I am happy to answer your questions at 282.3581.

August 16, 2011 Storm Damage Q&A

Due to the number of calls we've been receiving at District 1 from those who suffered recent storm damage, I wanted to address the questions we are being asked. The most common being....

"Does the county have a plan to remove storm debris?"

The answer is...regretfully,...no. We haven't the means to do so. Our nine man crew has all it can do currently to maintain 275 miles of roadway within District 1. Manpower and resources are limited, and our first obligation is to ensure roadways are free of debris. By statute we cannot enter private property and even removing debris from right- of-way is secondary to maintaining roads. Additionally, our one small dump truck would be insufficient for the amount of debris removal which exists. However, county officials and road crew have assessed and photographed storm damage, should any funding sources open up to assist the public.

In the Edmond area, monthly trash service fees assessed to municipal residents help pay for debris removal. No such system is in place within unincorporated areas of Logan County. The revenue the county receives is from fuel tax and motor vehicle collections and must be used for road and bridge maintenance.

Is the burn ban still in effect?

Yes, as of August 12. The county ban has expired but the governor enacted a burn ban which covers all of Oklahoma.That ban supersedes county declarations. For information about the state ban, go to http://www.forestry.ok.gov/burn-ban-information.

If I can't burn the debris, where can I take it for disposal?

Guthrie has a recycling and convenience center which will dispose of waste, but there is a charge by the yard. The number for that facility is 282-2978. There are also landfills in Oklahoma City where you can haul debris. Location information for these facilities is posted on the web.

We talked to staff at the landfill located on NE 36th and Sooner, where we were told the charge per pickup is a minimum of $50.00 and/or $6.50 per cubic yard. Hours are 6:30 to 4:30 Monday-Friday and Saturday 8:00 to noon. The number is 427-1112.

Please let me know if you have further questions and I will do my best to address them.

August 13, 2011 Multi-mile Paving Project Nears Completion

A District 1 project which had been in the planning stage for quite some time is almost completed. Three and one-half miles of Western Avenue north of Waterloo Road was recently paved and striped. Some shouldering up and erosion control remains to be done, but the project is nearly finished.

The process for this project began several years ago when we asked the Federal Highway Department to reclassify Western as a major collector. The reclassification request had to go through several board meetings for approval before it ever reached FHWA.

First the Board of Commissioners had to approve the request, then the Transportation Committee and the Board of Directors at the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG). Finally the request was sent to ODOT and FHWA officials for approval. After the reclassification request received official sanction in 2008, the funding process began. Major collectors qualify for federal funding programs which local roads do not, but competition is stiff to access these funds.

An application must be made which justifies the project. The reclassification of Western as a major collector was based upon growth and development in the area, as well as changing traffic patterns. Fortunately, we qualified for federal dollars. However, those dollars paid for only 80% of the project. That meant we had to find the additional 20% before ODOT could allow the project to go to bid. Thanks to the cooperation of fellow commissioners, we obtained the 20% through the County Improvement for Roads and Bridges (CBRI) Fund. ODOT conducted a bid letting in January 2011 and awarded the $781,209 project to Atlas Paving Company, low bidder, on February 7. A pre-work conference was held June 7 and work began in early July. Now that the project is nearly complete, it appears that all the planning and preparation paid off. Enjoy the improvement!

Photo: Years of planning finally pay off in a 3 1/2 mile paving improvement on Western Avenue north of Waterloo Rd. in District 1

istrict 1 Road and Bridge Improvements in Review

January - July 2011

On June 30, county government closed its fiscal year. It was a clear reminder that we are halfway through 2011. In light of that, it seems timely to review the progress we have made in District 1. In January, our first major project was to repave one mile of Simmons Road between Bryant and Broadway. The new asphalt offers motorists and emergency responders from Oak Cliff Fire Station a safer, smoother route. In March, we installed two more outdoor warning devices in rural areas of District 1. These were purchased with grant funds obtained through the Rural Economic Action Program (REAP). A total of ten are now operational throughout the county, all funded through the same program. In April, also with REAP funding, we added an additional layer of asphalt to Pine Street from Industrial to Prairie Grove Rd. We were approved for funding to apply safety striping to the road as well. ODOT recently conducted a bid letting for the striping, and we are waiting to hear back about the start date for the project. Striping for Simmons Rd. and various roadways in District 2 were also included in this letting. April saw a one mile paving improvement on Kelly Ave. between Charter Oak Rd. and Simpson. This project was a cooperative effort between District 1 and a developer. The county prepared the road base and paid for a portion of the asphalt. The developer provided paving service and covered the majority of costs. In May, construction began on two bridges, one on Council Rd. over Cottonwood Creek and the other on Simpson over Spring Creek. The 100 year-old bridge on Council has been replaced by a new 107.5' double-lane concrete structure which allows vehicles to cross simultaneously and provides emergency responders a more direct route to surrounding areas. Work continues on the new 152' bridge on Simpson Road just west of Broadway. The old bridge, constructed in 1920, was positioned near a railroad crossing where accidents have occurred. Approaches to the new bridge will be raised, enhancing visibility for motorists as they near the crossing. K&R Builders are currently working on this project. In May we met with ODOT to review plans for paving Coltrane Road. This project, from Waterloo Road to Seward Road, will be done in phases. Environmental clearance procedures are underway and should be completed this fall. After that, right-of-way acquisition can begin. In early July, Atlas Paving began preparing Western Avenue for resurfacing from Waterloo Rd. to 1/2 mile north of Simpson. Workers are patching and readying the road base for 3 1/2 miles of asphalt. This month District 1 workers have also been "reclaiming" Meridian Road north of Waterloo. Employees have been removing heavy overgrowth from right-of-way and reshaping the road to improve drainage. Through FEMA, we obtained hazard mitigation funds for making long term improvements to areas of Meridian which are subject to flooding. Workers have been applying geotextile to the roadway to prevent erosion. As you can see, much of the funding for these projects came through state and federal programs. We worked to obtain the means for these 6.5 miles of paving and infrastructure improvements and are grateful for the dedicated employees and transportation officials who helped make it happen. These coordinated efforts, not only in District 1, but in other commission districts as well, are moving us forward in improving Logan County roads and bridges.

July 17, 2011 Road Maintenance Efforts Underway

It was great to get a call recently from an appreciative resident who took the time to thank the District 1 road crew for patching potholes in their neighborhood. In this triple digit heat, working all day with hot asphalt is a grueling job for our employees, but one which must continue. In fact, this week, we ordered over $12,000 worth of asphalt in order to catch up on needed road repairs. The May tornado interrupted regular road maintenance and just now time and money are merging to enable us to step up our efforts.

We faithfully post on the project list the various requests we receive through email or phone calls. Sometimes these projects must be placed on hold until funding and weather allow us to work. At these times it is not a lack of desire but a lack of means which can delay rapid response. However, we are excited that we now have product on hand to meet some of these needs. I thank you for your patience in the interim and hope that you will give our sweating road crew a thumbs up as you carefully maneuver around the areas where they are hard at work.

July 8, 2011 Reap Grants Contracts to Arrive in July

Each year as money is available, the legislature sets aside a certain amount of funding for the Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP).

The purpose of REAP is to offer cities, counties and less populated towns an opportunity to fund infrastructure projects. Each year Logan County applies for this grant money through the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG).

In December 2010, ACOG received 65 eligible applications from various entities seeking a share of the $589,023.94 allocated by the legislature for REAP.

The three Logan County road districts were among the applicants. Each had projects which made the list ACOG recommended for funding. The applications were ranked and scored by ACOG staff, with points given for population, local effort, project readiness and other criteria.

Projects included $30,724 for road repair on Macarthur north of Waterloo in District 1, $58,887.49 for chip seal on Santa Fe north of Hwy 33 in District 3, and an alternate project in District 2 for $100,000 of road repair on Post Rd. from SH105 to Industrial Rd. Funding for the District 2 project will depend on whether ACOG de-obligates money from previous REAP projects.

This month, ACOG will be mailing contract agreements to Logan County for projects which were funded. These must be signed by the Board of Commissioners and returned to ACOG. Once we receive an order to proceed, we can begin preparation for making the scheduled road improvements.

Logan County has benefited significantly from REAP funding in the past and we are glad county residents will have the opportunity to enjoy the result of the county's participation in this program once again.

July 7, 2011 Commissioners Enact County Burn Ban

At an emergency meeting on Wednesday, July 6, the Board of Commissioners enacted a burn ban for Logan County.

By statute, the Commissioners can only implement a ban when statutory criteria for enacting it has been met. Criteria includes the following:

Prior to the passage of a burn ban, the Board must declare the existence of extreme fire danger. This means the following conditions MUST exist:

1. Moderate, severe or extreme drought exists as determined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

2. No more than 1/2" of precipitation is forecast for the next three days

3. Fire occurrence is greater than normal for the season and/or initial attack on a significant number of wildland fires has been unsuccessful due to extreme fire behavior

4. More than 20% of wildfires in the county have been caused by escaped debris burning or controlled burning activities, and...

5. Commissioners must also document that a majority of the county's municipal and certified rural departments agree that extreme fire danger exists.

Once a burn ban is enacted, it becomes effective immediately for up to 30 days. It can also be cancelled before 30 days expire, if conditions warrant. Cancellation must be done in the same manner in which the ban was implemented, by resolution.

On the same day that a ban is implemented, notification must be made to the Departments of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Public Safety, Tourism and Recreation, Wildlife Conservation, local news media and local law enforcement officials.

Boards of Commissioners may include certain exceptions within a burn ban, and these can differ from county to county.

Accessing the Oklahoma Forestry website allows you to view a map illustrating counties beneath a burn ban and the resolution pertaining to each.

When in effect, Logan County burn ban resolutions are posted online at marksharpton.org under the "NEWS" link. The resolution the Commissioners passed July 6 is currently posted there.

July 3, 2011 A Letter to Logan County Residents from Commissioner Mark Sharpton

Due to severe drought, we have been receiving a number of phone calls from citizens concerned about the threat of wildfire. Some have asked why when surrounding counties have implemented a burn ban, Logan County has not.

First of all, though Cleveland, Oklahoma and McClain counties have enacted a burn ban, the use of fireworks and outdoor grilling are still allowed in unincorporated areas.

It is a priority of the Logan County Board of Commissioners to follow the law. To do otherwise would render the law meaningless. By statute, we can only implement a burn ban when the criteria for enacting it has been met. Should circumstances change and requirements be met, we are not opposed to enacting a ban. In the meantime, we do our best to explain to the public that we are subject to the guidelines of the law, and hope you understand.

The following information, excerpted from a previously published article, explains again the criteria.

Enacting Burn Ban No Light Matter

Due to drought conditions in Oklahoma, it is not uncommon to hear that various counties throughout the state are banning outdoor burning.

The decision by a Board of County Commissioners to enact a burn ban is more complex than some realize. It is not done lightly, since there are statutory requirements which MUST be met.

In this article, I want to explain the process for implementing a burn ban, as practiced by Logan County under the guidance of Oklahoma Forestry Services.

To reduce the threat of wildfire, Article 16 Section 16-26 of the Oklahoma Forestry Code authorizes the Governor to declare a ban on outdoor burning, based upon drought conditions and the recommendation of the Forestry Division.

County commissioners are also authorized to exercise similar authority at county level. They may enact a burn ban for up to 30 days, provided they follow certain procedures and meet specific conditions.

Prior to the passage of a burn ban, the Board must declare the existence of extreme fire danger. This means the following conditions MUST exist:

1. Moderate, severe or extreme drought exists as determined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

2. No more than 1/2" of precipitation is forecast for the next three days

3. Fire occurrence is greater than normal for the season and/or initial attack on a significant number of wildland fires has been unsuccessful due to extreme fire behavior

4. More than 20% of wildfires in the county have been caused by escaped debris burning or controlled burning activities, and...

Commissioners must also document that a majority of the county's municipal and certified rural departments agree that extreme fire danger exists.

Once a burn ban is enacted, it becomes effective immediately. It can also be cancelled before the 30 days expire, but this must be done by resolution.

On the same day that a ban is implemented, notification must be made to the Departments of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Public Safety, Tourism and Recreation, Wildlife Conservation, local news media and local law enforcement officials.

Boards of Commissioners may include certain exceptions within a burn ban, and these can differ from county to county.

Accessing the Oklahoma Forestry website allows you to view a map illustrating counties beneath a burn ban and the resolution pertaining to each. When in effect, Logan County burn ban resolutions will be posted online at marksharpton.org under the "NEWS" link.

Using common sense when it comes to outdoor burning is still the best prevention of wildfire. Mowing grass, keeping leaves and debris away from structures and using caution when conducting outdoor burning may prevent loss of life and property. As one Logan County fire department official said, "It helps us if they (the citizens) help themselves."

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District 1 News

June 18, 2011 More Than Roads and Bridges

While many of a county commissioner’s duties involve maintenance of roads and bridges, there are also administrative tasks to tend to. This update provides some insight into those activities.

Take last Wednesday, for instance…

At 6:45 a.m., I arrived at the District 1 shop and met with the road crew to outline projects for the day. Two employees left for a welding class in Fairview, Oklahoma. Others were hauling multiple loads of dirt and rip rap to complete a FEMA project.

After checking email and making phone calls, it was time for the 8:15 a.m. meeting of the Logan County Trust Authority.

This entity, composed of the three commissioners, meets monthly at the courthouse annex to approve expenditures related to the Drug Court and Election Board.

We also review receipt of payments for rent collected on county-owned property used by Oklahoma Workforce and the Central Oklahoma Community Action Agency.

At the annex I picked up the mail to discover a hand-written note from residents of Highland Hills who were grateful for rock recently applied to their road. I passed it on to staff who would post it at the shop for the road crew to enjoy as well.

The regular 9:00 a.m. mid-month meeting of the Board of Commissioners was next. The county is nearing the conclusion of the fiscal year, so the agenda was particularly long.

By Oklahoma statute, county contracts and lease agreements must be renewed annually, so these comprised a good deal of the four-page agenda.

It is also the time of year when we open bids for rock hauling, tires and election ballots. By about 10:30, all 34 items on the agenda had been addressed.

Back at the shop the phone continued to ring. A reporter from News Channel 9 called to request an interview about fireworks and the burn ban. A half-hour later I stood in the parking lot with the sun in my eyes explaining that county residents are allowed to use fireworks because there is no burn ban on and that we can only enact one when the criteria to do so has been met.

Inside the shop, calls continued.

There were questions to answer about tornado damage, a 1000 gallon fuel delivery, vehicle repairs, a bridge project, an upcoming audit, a worker’s comp issue, zoning requirements, how to locate a property owner, the need to hire a replacement for an employee moving to another job, when to pick up a vehicle, and a variety of other matters.

The simplest to deal with was the person who called the wrong number. Pleasantly missing from most of the calls were complaints. It had been a good day, and that thank you note was a very nice part of it.

The Board of County Commissioners meet at the courthouse annex to transact business at least three times a month. These meetings are open to the public.

May 27, 2011 Western Ave. Pre-Construction Conference Set for June 7

On May 26, we received notice from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation that a pre-work conference to review plans for paving 3.5 miles of Western Ave. is scheduled for June 7.

District 1 personnel and members of Atlas Paving Company and ODOT will meet in Stillwater to discuss materials, equipment and scheduling for the project which begins at Waterloo Rd. and extends to 1/2 mile north of Simpson Rd.

ODOT conducted a bid letting in January and awarded the $781,209 project to Atlas, low bidder, on February 7.

Funding for 80% of the project was obtained through the Transportation Improvement Program administered by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG).

The remaining 20% was provided through ODOT's County Improvement for Roads and Bridges fund.

Money was available for Western because the Federal Highway Department reclassified it as a major collector.

Major collectors qualify for federal funding programs which local roads do not. The reclassification was based upon growth and development in the area, as well as changing traffic patterns.

Plans for paving Western began with the request for reclassification. After ODOT approved a programming resolution for the project in 2008, we signed an engineering contract with Melburger Brawley and applied for funding.

At ACOG, we compete for funding with many larger entities with greater populations and traffic counts.

Because of this, we have a difficult time scoring well. In a sense, we are little fish in a big pond.

However, larger entities sometimes lose funding when their projects are not ready. Or, if they find funding from another source, it leaves thousands of dollars on the table.

If we have a project ready, it places us in a prime position to secure money for Logan County. That is what happened on Western.

Now that the pre-construction conference is upon us, it appears that reclassification, planning and preparation is about to pay off for Logan County citizens.

May 19, 2011 Meeting Held to Review Plans for Paving Coltrane Road

On Wednesday, May 17, District 1 completed another step toward paving Coltrane from Waterloo Rd. to Seward Rd. when we met with ODOT officials and members of Melburger Brawley Corporation to review engineering plans for the five-mile project.

This major improvement will be funded through the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges program (CIRB).

Created in 2006 when the legislature approved House Bill 1176, the program set aside money from vehicle licensing and registration fees for the construction of county roads and bridges that are of the highest priority as defined by the Transportation Commission.

Funds were targeted toward costly improvements counties could never afford on their own.

The plan, developed through the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Circuit Engineering Districts (CED), is updated annually.

In 2006, when we submitted a project request for Coltrane to the CIRB program, estimated costs for the 5-mile improvement were $1,397,433.

In 2008, the estimate rose to approximately $4,000,000 and this year, to $8,500,000. Due to such tremendous cost increases, the plan for Coltrane will be completed in phases.

Phase one will include the first mile north of Waterloo, where traffic count is the highest. Plans for this mile include curb and gutter and a three-lane design.

Two million dollars in state funding is budgeted for this phase, and if the project comes in under that amount, the remainder will be applied to the next phase.

At the May 17 meeting we were told by ODOT that environmental clearance procedures are already underway and should be completed sometime this fall. After that, right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation can begin.

I will keep you informed on the progress we make on this project. If you have questions, please call me at 282-3581.

PHOTO: ODOT officials, engineers and District 1 staff met at the intersection of Waterloo and Coltrane on May 17, 2011, to review plans for paving Coltrane.

May 13, 2011 Safety Striping Approved for Newly Paved Road

Pine Street and other county roads to receive pavement markings....

Two $50,000 Rural Economic Action Program (REAP) grants awarded to District 1 in 2008 and 2010 were used to pave Pine Street between Industrial and Prairie Grove Roads.

Preparation for this project began in May 2009 when we rented an asphalt recycler to grind up the old roadway so drainage improvements, base compaction and re-stabilization could take place.

The first $50,000 grant, coupled with county funds, allowed us to apply a thin layer of asphalt to the roadway. In the process of preparing the road base, we encountered quicksand and soft spots.

In order to strengthen and preserve the roadway, we applied for another grant which was used to add an additional lift of asphalt. This project was completed April 6, 2011.

On May 3 of this year, through the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments, (ACOG), we requested 100% federal funding for pavement markings on Pine Street.

Our request was considered and approved at the May 12 meeting of the Intermodal Transportation Technical Committee (ITTC). If the ACOG Board of Directors also approve our request at their May 26 meeting, ODOT will include the project in a July bid letting.

Also included in the July bid letting are pavement marking projects for Simmons Road between Bryant and Broadway, Douglas Blvd., Waterloo and Forrest Hills Rds., Pine St., Charter Oak and Seward Rds. These projects were previously approved through ACOG.

Efforts to improve roadways in Logan County are always ongoing. We obtain most of our funding for major projects through state and federal programs. The county's membership in ACOG provides access to these programs and we are hopeful that soon, motorists in Logan County will enjoy the very visible result of our labor.

May 2, 2011 Statute Governs Burn Ban Decision

One recent issue triggering calls to District 1 has been the burn ban.

Citizens have been contacting the county to ask if the ban is lifted. The answer is yes. It expired Thursday, April 28.

However, the question has arisen as to why a ban is not immediately removed once we receive rainfall. It is because by statute, the procedure for lifting a ban must be done in the same manner in which it was enacted.

A burn ban is implemented in a formal meeting when the Board of Commissioners approve a resolution to that effect, once all requirements for enacting it have been met.

In order to lift a ban before it is scheduled to expire, the Commissioners must meet again and pass a resolution.

Typically, the Board meets three times a month. These meeting dates are scheduled annually in December and are filed with the Secretary of State, as required by law.

This schedule is strictly adhered to. However, special and emergency meetings may be called by the Commissioners, but these must comply with the requirements of the Open Meeting Act.

The Open Meeting Act, implemented to ensure that the public understands what government is doing, requires a 48-hour notice prior to a special meeting. This creates a time delay in acting upon issues, such as lifting a burn ban.

Removing a ban immediately when drought conditions moderate would be ideal, but elected officials are bound by statute in the method for removal.

In a previous article, I shared information on the requirements that must be met in order to implement a burn ban. That article is posted on this website and is entitled "Enacting Burn Ban No Light Matter."

The statute which applies to this issue is accessible at: http://www.oscn.net/application/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=75244

Again, using common sense when it comes to outdoor burning is the best prevention of wildfire. Keeping your lawn and right of way clear may help prevent the loss of life and property.

If you have questions about this issue or others, you are always welcome to give me a call at 282-3581.

April 22, 2011 Spring Road and Bridge Projects Underway

Spring weather is setting the stage for road and bridge improvements in District 1.

A pre-work conference with ODOT, District 1 and K & R Builders is planned for Tuesday, April 26 to discuss two bridge replacement projects let through ODOT last year.

Bridges to be replaced include a one-lane structure on Council Road between Charter Oak and Simpson and a one-lane bridge on Simpson just east of Kelly.

The bridge on Council over Cottonwood Creek is 100 years old and is closed to traffic. The bridge on Simpson over Spring Creek was constructed in 1920.

New 107.5' and 152’ concrete bridges will be erected to replace these existing structures. ODOT has indicated work on the projects should begin in May.

Paving Western Avenue is another project scheduled for this spring. In January, Atlas Paving Company was awarded a bid through ODOT to resurface Western Ave. from Waterloo to ½ mile north of Simpson.

In our most recent conversation with the contractor, we were told the start date for this project is June 6 or before.

District 1 obtained 80% of the funding for this 3 ½ mile improvement through the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG), and the remaining 20% from state funds. Western Ave. qualified for funding since it is classified as a major collector.

Recently completed projects in District 1 include one mile of asphalt resurfacing on Pine Street between Industrial and Prairie Grove Road and one mile of new pavement on Simmons Road between Bryant and Broadway.

The Pine project was completed April 6 and was funded through a $50,000 REAP grant and county funds. Plans are underway to apply for funding for pavement markings on this section of roadway.

Through ACOG, we also recently applied for safety striping on the newly paved portion of Simmons Road between Bryant and Broadway. Our application was approved and ODOT has scheduled a July bid letting for this project.

One mile of Kelly Avenue from Charter Oak to Simpson was also paved this year through the cooperative efforts of a developer and District 1.

We will keep you abreast of other projects as they continue to materialize.

*Pine Street between Industrial and Prairie Grove Road received a fresh asphalt overlay on April 6, 2011. The new resurfacing was funded through a $50,000 REAP grant and county funds.

March 28, 2011 County Installs More Warning Sirens

In 2009, in the interest of public safety, the Logan County Board of Commissioners implemented a county-wide outdoor warning system. To initiate this system, the county purchased a computer and software to be used by emergency management to activate sirens in rural areas where there was no existing coverage. The first four sirens were purchased with grant funds obtained through the Rural Economic Action Program (REAP) administered by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG). Two of these early warning devices were placed within Cedar Valley Township and two within District 1. The sirens were activated in fall 2009.

Districts 1 and 2 and Cedar Valley again applied for REAP funding and in January 2010, received notice that their requests for the purchase and installation of additional sirens had been approved. After REAP contracts were signed with ACOG in mid summer, the commissioners asked David Ball, Logan County Emergency Management Director, to purchase the new equipment and coordinate the installation.

As of March 21, 2011, the new sirens are in place. A total of ten are now operational. This is a good start. As opportunity and funding allow, we would like to continue expanding the system throughout the county. However, the capability to do so will depend on whether more grant money becomes available.

Siren locations in District 1 are near the intersections of Broadway and Camp, Kelly and Triplett, Hwy 74 and Forrest Hills, and at Seward and May. District 2 sirens are at Sooner Fire Department at Midwest and Camp and at Woodcrest Fire Department at Douglas and Charter Oak. The remaining four sirens are within Cedar Valley and the Cimarron Golf Course.

David Ball provided us with the following information to pass on to the public:

"Just a reminder...These warning systems are primarily designed to alert citizens who are outdoors. They are not designed to penetrate buildings and warn those inside structures. Citizens should not rely upon a siren as their only source of warning. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) All-Hazard radio with Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) technology is a good method for receiving warning messages indoors. Additional sources are those available from radio, television, subscription services (that use text messages, e-mails and telephone messages) and social media.

When the Logan County Outdoor Warning System is activated, the public should take shelter and seek more information. Taking shelter is a personal responsibility that includes moving indoors into a sturdy structure, going to a safe room or into a storm shelter. Seeking more information may include accessing various electronic media to learn the nature of the threat and its location and timing as to the impact upon your area.

Logan County will not issue an "All Clear" signal. Citizens must remain aware of their own environment to know when the threat no longer exists by monitoring a weather radio or other information source.

The county siren system will be activated when the National Weather Service issues a tornado or hazard warning affecting locations within the siren activation area. The sirens are set up for a three-second weekly test every Wednesday at noon. The tone or sound when fully activated will be a long, steady, three-minute blast."

For more information about the outdoor warning system, contact the Logan County Office of Emergency Management at 282.0494.

March 23, 2011 Seeking A Common Sense Approach to Paving County Roads

In previous updates I mentioned that major road and bridge projects involve a 36-step process which can span months and even years.

I posted an illustration of these steps on the home page of my website at www.marksharpton.org, attached to the article entitled "One Step at a Time."

While certain steps are clearly necessary, federal regulations can cause needless delays. One project caught in this bog of bureaucracy is Coltrane Road.

To illustrate the lengthy time frame for this project, I must begin with the year 2006, when the legislature approved House Bill 1176.

This bill set aside money from vehicle licensing and registration fees for the County Improvements to Roads and Bridges Program (CIRB).

The purpose of CIRB was to construct roads and bridges on the county transportation system that are of the highest priority as defined by the Transportation Commission.

Funds were targeted toward costly improvements which counties could never afford on their own.

The CIRB legislation required a 5-year plan for road and bridge projects. This plan, developed through the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Circuit Engineering Districts (CED), is updated annually.

In 2006, we submitted a paving project request for Coltrane to the CIRB program. The engineer estimated costs for the 5-mile improvement from Waterloo to Seward to be $1,397,433.

In 2008, the cost estimate rose to approximately $4,122,433. I was recently informed by our engineer that this year, when the plan is updated by the Transportation Commission, we are looking at $8.5 million. You can imagine our dismay!

At some point, in enacting HB1176, it appears a decision was made to require county CIRB projects to meet federal construction standards.

I was told this was done so that when matching funds from a federal source are combined with CIRB funds, the projects will comply with federal guidelines.

However, HB1176 funds are state monies. Not all county projects will be matched with federal funds. We are using no federal dollars in combination with the Coltrane project.

If Logan County, as well as other counties, could opt out of meeting federal guidelines when no federal funds are involved, we could save a substantial sum of money. And perhaps, just perhaps, speed up this process.

Federal mandates elevate costs tremendously. We could pave five miles for far less than the newly projected cost of $8.5 mil and still provide a quality roadway for Logan County citizens.

We are in the process of petitioning transportation officials to reconsider the policy of requiring counties to comply with federal guidelines when only state funds are used.

I notice this year there is a real move on for efficiency in state government. I will be advocating for what I believe to be an efficient, common sense approach toward paving county roads.

In the meantime, we are moving forward with plans to pave Coltrane.

A plan-in-hand meeting between our engineer, the county and ODOT is scheduled for April of this year and environmental clearance procedures are underway. These should be completed by August or September.

I will keep you informed on the progress we make on this project.

March 9, 2011 Bridge Improvements Just Around The Corner

Progress continues on the plan to replace three bridges in Logan County. Referred to as “twin” bridges because of similarity in design, two of the structures are located on Industrial Road immediately east and west of Macarthur Ave. Both are one-lane pony truss bridges with wooden decks.

The third bridge scheduled for replacement is a rock arch structure on Macarthur Ave. just north of Industrial Rd. This bridge, which borders Districts 1 and 3, was damaged when a semi-truck attempting to cross collapsed a portion of the bridge.

The Board of Commissioners met with Mehlburger Brawley Engineering at their Feb. 28th meeting and approved specifications for replacing the existing bridges with pre-cast three-sided concrete structures.

Brawley will prepare hydraulic studies and assist the county in advertising for bids. The bid opening is scheduled for March 31. Brawley will also coordinate with utility owners and help with relocation plans as needed.

Funding for the three bridge replacements will be through the County Bridge and Road Improvement Fund. CBRI funds are sent to the counties each month by the Oklahoma Tax Commission and are derived from fuel tax.

Replacing these bridges, two of which are currently closed, will enable school buses and emergency vehicles to cross and will re-establish convenient routes for local residents.

February 28, 2011 One Step At A Time

At tax time, many people feel overwhelmed by the complexity of IRS returns and the multitude of bureaucratic regulations. It is a season when a desire to downsize the federal government returns in full force.

We often have that feeling in county government when we begin a major road or bridge project and start working through the 36-step design process. In fact, the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma provided a flow chart which documents all these steps. I plan to post it on the website under the District 1 link at marksharpton.org.

The lengthy process begins by placing a road or bridge project on the county's 5-year plan. The Commissioners then approve a programming resolution for the project and submit it to ODOT. An engineer is selected and the county and ODOT begin completing the mass of paperwork required by state and federal authorities.

Some of the 36 steps include surveying the project site, performing hydraulic and geotechnical studies and holding plan-in-hand meetings with engineers and ODOT.

Environmental clearance is a dreaded part of the process which can delay a project for 12 to 18 months. Obtaining right-of-way also consumes time. First the county must conduct a title search for each property and send legal descriptions to ODOT. ODOT reviews the documents and sends a packet of forms back to the county which must be completed in compliance with federal guidelines before the project can begin.

Utilities must be moved and this involves contacting all the companies involved in the area and making them aware of the scope of the project and the need for relocations.

Once all of these preliminaries are completed and approved by ODOT, the project is funded and placed on a letting. ODOT opens and approves bids and then we wait for the contractor to schedule the work. This can take several months, especially with weather as a factor.

That's why when a project actually, tangibly begins, we are pretty happy.

We have learned that a crucial factor in making a project materialize is shepherding it through the process. We work to ensure that every entity involved helps move it forward. Without oversight, projects can drop into a deep dark hole. We are always striving to perfect our knowledge of the most efficient route through the 36-step hurdle that will bring significant road and bridge improvements to Logan County.

February 23, 2011 Census Figures and Road Funding

New census figures indicate that Logan County's population increased from 33,924 in the year 2000 to 41,848 in 2010.

This documented growth of almost 8000 did not come as a surprise. Those who have driven through the southern part of the county recently are probably aware of all the residential and commercial development taking place there.

In fact, my staff has maintained a record indicating that since the year 2000, approximately 47 new housing additions have sprung up. Twenty-eight of those were in District 1, sixteen in District 2, and three in District 3.

This population increase is significant to the county for various reasons but of special interest to the Commissioners is how the growth will affect road funding.

Road maintenance money comes from fuel tax, motor vehicle collections and gross production tax. It is collected by the Oklahoma Tax Commission and distributed monthly to Oklahoma’s 77 counties based on a formula approved years ago by the state legislature.

Within the formula, population is a significant factor for how funds are distributed to the county. It will be interesting to observe how the census affects the funding and when the funding changes take place. We have contacted various entities to obtain this information and are awaiting a response.

It has also been interesting to note the breakdown of census figures in regard to each of the county's three road districts. According to the numbers, District 1 has an overall population of 16,694, District 2 has 13,737 and District 3 has 11,365. These figures include both incorporated and unincorporated areas of each district.

When you estimate the approximate population in unincorporated areas alone, numbers indicate that District 1 has 14,034 or 51% of the county's rural residents.

Unincorporated District 2 has 10,352, or 38%, and District 3 has 3,106, or 11%. Not only does each Commissioner have responsibility for maintaining infrastructure in these rural areas, but we also help maintain roads within small towns in each district. It stands to reason, the heavier the population, the more demand on roads.

It is easy to conclude from these numbers that county government is the primary entity providing infrastructure for the majority of Logan County's 41,848 citizens. We are often the first in the process for meeting people's needs. That is why we are hopeful that increased numbers will result in increased funding.

February 12, 2011 Dist. 1 Road and Bridge Projects Planned for Spring 2011

In approximately five weeks spring arrives, and we are lining up projects which can begin as the weather warms. Major improvements planned in District 1 include replacing several bridges and paving one mile of Pine St. in Guthrie as well as portions of Western and Kelly Avenues.

A quick call to ODOT this week confirmed that on Feb. 7, the contract was approved for paving 3 1/2 miles of Western Ave. from Waterloo to 1/2 mile north of Simpson. A tentative start date for the project is April/May, depending on the contractor's schedule, and of course, Oklahoma weather.

Atlas Paving, Inc. indicated that they hope in mid-February to begin paving Pine St. between Industrial and Prairie Grove Rd. We also hope this month to complete the unpaved portion of Kelly, just south of Simpson.

A REAP grant will help fund the Pine Project. Federal and state funds will pay for Western Ave. and Kelly is being paved in a cooperative effort between the county and a developer. The county prepared the road base on Kelly between Charter Oak and Simpson and will pay for approximately 1/3 mile of asphalt. The developer will pay for the rest.

Bridges to be replaced include a structurally deficient one-lane bridge on Council Road between Charter Oak and Simpson and a one-lane bridge on Simpson just east of Kelly Ave. The bridge on Council is 100 years old and is currently closed to traffic. It will be replaced with a 107.5' concrete structure.

The bridge on Simpson Rd. over Spring Creek was built in 1920 and is located a few yards from a railroad crossing where accidents and a fatality have occurred. Approaches to the new 152' concrete bridge will be elevated for safety and visibility. Both bridges will be constructed to enable emergency vehicles and school buses to cross.

ODOT awarded the bid for bridge replacement to K&R Builders, Inc. who indicated the start date for construction would be March, and at the latest, April.

We are also working with District 3 to replace three bridges near the intersection of Industrial Rd. and Macarthur Ave. The County Bridge and Road Improvement (CBRI) fund will finance these improvements. Two of the bridges are within the boundary of District 3 and the other within District 1.

Preparing for major bridge replacements can be a 36-step process, so it is exciting to be nearing the start date of these and other projects...weather permitting.

In January 2011, District 1 workers began preparing the road base on Kelly Ave. between Charter Oak and Simpson for an asphalt overlay

January 31, 2011 Concerted Effort Underway to Improve Road

In June 2009, Pine St. between Prairie Grove Road and Industrial Road was paved after District 1 received a $50,000 Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP) grant to improve the roadway. Prior to paving, the old street was ground up, compacted and re-stabilized. Drainage improvements were also made.

In 2010, District 1 received another $50,000 grant in order to strengthen the roadway by applying an additional lift of asphalt.

District 1 employees recently began patching Pine in preparation for the new asphalt application. Deficient areas have been cut out and packed with gravel in order to stabilize the soft spots. Gravel areas have been left without asphalt temporarily so traffic can pack the rock and firm the base.

Even in this time of drought, certain portions of the roadway have retained moisture, contributing to the formation of weak areas. I encourage motorists to travel more slowly while repair work is underway, since there may be loose gravel and some roughness.

We will also be installing a new culvert at the intersection of Pine and Industrial to prevent the flow of water over the roadway. Paving is scheduled to begin Feb. 15 and will be performed by Atlas Paving Co.

In conjunction with this project, a bid was also approved by the Board of Commissioners for paving Pine St. in District 2 from Pine to Seward. The total paving project in District 2, which will be funded through Industrial Access Funds, begins at the I-35 bridge on Camp Rd. and continues to Pine, then goes south on Pine to Seward Rd. Both projects are scheduled to start in mid February.

Last year, District 2 also received a REAP grant for paving Pine St. from Simpson to Charter Oak, which they hope to complete within the next few months.

Additional efforts are underway on their part to obtain a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for paving Pine from Prairie Grove to Camp. The grant application is currently being prepared in order to meet the March 31 deadline.

As has been mentioned in previous columns, major repairs for county roadways are possible only by accessing state or federal funding programs. Energetic efforts are underway in each of the three road districts to do so. There is much to share about other upcoming projects in all the districts, and I hope to address these in future articles. As always, I welcome your questions at 282-3581.

January 21, 2011 Western Avenue Paving Project Goes to Bid

On Thursday, Jan. 20, a multiple mile paving project scheduled for Western Avenue went to bid through ODOT. Low bidder for the 3 1/2 mile asphalt overlay, which begins at Waterloo Rd. and ends 1/2 mile north of Simpson Rd., was Atlas Paving, with a proposal of $781,209.50.

District 1 obtained funding for 80% of the project through the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) administered by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments. The remaining 20% was provided through the County Improvement for Roads and Bridges (CIRB) fund administered by ODOT.

Federal funding was available for Western because a District 1 request to the Federal Highway Administration to reclassify it as a major collector was approved. Following approval, an application was submitted to ACOG, asking that the project be included in the Transportation Improvement Program.

Initially the proposal for Western was placed in an unfunded pool of projects, but because projects from other entities dropped off the list or were financed through other means, funding became available for Logan County.

On Feb. 7, ODOT is scheduled to approve the bid for Western and the project should begin in early Spring.

Throughout the county, the commissioners continue to work together to access funding that will enable them to improve roads and bridges. The project on Western required the approval of the commissioners for the 20% funding which was needed. Motorists who use the new and improved roadway can enjoy the benefit of the board's cooperative efforts.

January 11, 2011 Paving Project Completed on Simmons Rd.

On Jan. 7, a one-mile asphalt paving project on Simmons Road in District 1 was completed. In mid October, the Logan County Board of Commissioners awarded a bid to Atlas Paving Company to resurface Simmons from Bryant to Broadway.

The project, which began at Oak Cliff Fire Station and continued west, improved the roadway for both emergency responders and local residents.

In December, the District 1 road crew began cutting ditches and improving drainage on the roadway in order to prepare it for the 2 ½” asphalt overlay. Paving began Jan. 6 and was completed by Atlas the following day.

Funding for the project became available in September when District 1 received reimbursements from FEMA and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for storm disaster repairs the county completed.

District 1 is now preparing paperwork to submit to the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG), requesting that road safety striping for Simmons be included in the 2011-2014 Transportation Improvement Plan. We have the opportunity to apply for federal funding for striping because Simmons was recently reclassified by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as a major collector.

Since striping is considered a safety project, federal dollars pay 100% of application costs, with no match money required from the county. These funds have enabled us in the past to stripe portions of Sooner, Western, Broadway, Santa Fe and Pennsylvania.

Efforts to upgrade additional roads will continue as funding and opportunity allow.

January 3, 2011 Drought Contributes to Road Roughness

A recent visit to the National Weather Service website confirmed that Logan County is in a stage of moderate drought. The drought takes its toll not only on crops and lawns, but on county roads and motorists.

A lack of moisture contributes to what is commonly referred to as "washboarding" of the roadway. This resembles a corrugated rumble strip that rattles your teeth and your vehicle as you attempt to maneuver down dirt roads. The condition generates a number of calls to the various County Commission Districts, along with a request that the road be graded. We do our best to respond to these requests, but due to the drought, the roughness quickly reoccurs.

The U.S. Department of Transportation published information about this condition, indicating that it brings about more complaints than any other. They say that some of the primary causes for washboarding are the driving habits of people and a lack of moisture. Driving habits are evident when you see washboarding at intersections, going up or down hills, leading into or out of sharp curves and near driveways. These are where drivers tend to accelerate hard or brake aggressively.

Prolonged dry weather can really aggravate the problem. This is because the crust that forms on the surface of a good gravel road will loosen. This allows particles to "float" and align into a washboard pattern under traffic. While grader operators can smooth the road temporarily, in dry weather, the washboards will return rapidly. That's why when we do receive some moisture, we pull off other jobs to try and grade as many roadways as possible to eliminate the rough condition.

According to the DOT, with the best of maintenance, washboarding can never be completely eliminated. While it is a juggling act to maintain over 1200 miles of Logan County roads in cooperation with Oklahoma weather, it is a job we are willing to do as best we can. We encourage residents to give us a call when a roadway needs graded.

January 3, 2011 The Role of County Commissioners

On Monday, Jan. 3, 2011, Special Judge Luke Duel administered the Oath of Office to three Logan County elected officials who will serve four-year terms.

Those officials included newly elected County Assessor Tisha Hampton, re-elected District 3 Commissioner Monty Piearcy, and myself. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve the citizens of Logan County and thank you for the trust you have placed in each of us to fill these positions.

Typically, the public perceives the primary role of a county commissioner as one of maintaining roads and bridges. While commissioners do have direct control over the county highway system and are obligated by law to maintain the roads which "best serve the most people," they also function as the governing board of the county, with many administrative tasks to perform.

Included in these duties are the following responsibilities:

  • making general financial plans for the county, including the county budget

  • auditing the accounts of all officers handling county money

  • auditing and approving claims

  • calling for bond and special elections

  • organizing and directing 911 services

  • approving county payroll

  • approving bids

  • developing personnel policies

  • making appointments to various county boards, including the jail trust, hospital trust, EMS, Flood Plain Board, Board of Health, Excise Board, and others

  • selling and purchasing public land or buildings for the county

  • working to improve the efficiency of county government

  • representing the county on a variety of boards, including the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG), Circuit Engineering Board (CED), the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma (ACCO), Workforce Board and Central Oklahoma Community Action Agency (COCAA)

Additional information about the role of county commissioners and other elected officials is available at the "OSU County Training Program" website. Another way to learn about regular administrative tasks of local county officials is to review the Board of Commissioners' meeting agendas posted online at marksharpton.org.

As always, I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

District 1 News

December 15, 2010 REAP Grants to Help County Roads

Each year as money is available, the legislature sets aside a certain amount of funding for the Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP). The purpose of REAP is to offer cities, counties and less populated towns an opportunity to fund infrastructure projects. Logan County applies for this grant money through the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG). For the 2011 REAP cycle, ACOG was allocated $589,023.94. Each of the three Logan County Road Districts applied for funding. We were allowed four REAP applications per district. However, only one project per district could be awarded. Our applications ranged from requests for road improvement projects to storm sirens. Last week we learned that ACOG received over sixty-five applications from various entities. Each application was ranked and scored by ACOG staff. Points were given for population, local effort, project readiness and other criteria. Each of the three Logan County Road Districts had projects which made the list which ACOG staff is recommending for funding. This month, the ACOG Board of Directors will vote on whether to approve funds for Logan County projects, including $30,724 for road repair on Macarthur north of Waterloo in District 1, $58,887.49 for chip seal on Santa Fe north of Hwy33 in District 3, and on an alternate project, $100,000 for road repair on Post Rd. from SH105 to Industrial in District 2. Funding for the District 2 project will depend on whether ACOG de-obligates money from previous REAP projects. Traditionally, ACOG votes to fund recommended projects 100%. Hopefully this will continue. Logan County has benefited significantly from REAP funding in the past and we are glad county residents will “reap” the benefit from our current participation in this program. The entire list of REAP applicants and projects is available at http://acogok.org/calendar/ on the Dec. 16 ACOG Board of Directors Meeting Schedule link, pg. 25-29.

December 7, 2010 Preparing to Pave Simmons

In mid October, the Logan County Board of Commissioners awarded a bid to Atlas Paving Company to resurface one mile of Simmons Rd. between Bryant and Broadway. Last week, the District 1 road crew began cutting ditches and improving drainage on the roadway in order to prepare it for a 2 1/2" asphalt overlay. Funding for the project became available in September when District 1 received reimbursements from FEMA and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for storm disaster repairs the county had completed. The project, which begins at Oak Cliff Fire Station and continues west to Broadway, will improve the roadway for both local residents and emergency responders. The long range plan is to seek federal funds for future improvements. The first step in that process began back in June when the Board of Commissioners sent applications to FHWA asking that due to changes in growth and travel patterns, Simmons and other roadways throughout the county be reclassified as major collectors. Because of an act of Congress in 1968, procedures were developed to classify public roads according to their most logical use in regard to traffic flow. This system classifies county roads as major collectors, minor collectors or local roads. Major collectors are more likely to qualify for federal funding programs. Last week we received word that FHWA approved our reclassification requests. Since portions of Simmons and other roadways are now officially considered major collectors, we can begin developing cost estimates and submitting applications to apply for federal funds. In fact, our engineer is already working on applications to submit to the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG), asking that various roads be included in the new Transportation Improvement Plan. While there is no guarantee our applications will be approved, we are doing our best to meet the criteria which will enhance our chances for funding. In the meantime, we will make needed improvements on Simmons with the resources we have on hand.

Photo: In early December, the District 1 road crew began clearing right-of-way on Simmons Rd. between Bryant and Broadway. Drainage improvements are part of the preparation process prior to paving Simmons.

December 1, 2010 Winter Weather Preparations Underway

Someone who recently returned from a trip up north related his experience of driving on icy roads in Iowa. His encounter with certain motorists led him to remark that Iowa stands for "Idiots Out Wandering Around."

While I am sure this pithy description cannot fairly be applied to all residents of that area, it is a reminder that there are certain precautions everyone should take regarding winter weather. The first is simple. If roads are slick, stay home unless you HAVE to be out. Although Oklahoma typically receives less snow and ice than Iowa and other northern states, we are still preparing for the cold. We have purchased tons of salt, sand and a new spreader for applying it to paved roadways within District 1. We also utilize four motor graders to clear snowdrifts from both paved and gravel roads. While these machines are not effective for removing ice, they do enable us to help people get out of their driveways.

Our practice in District 1 is to clear the most heavily traveled roads first, including paved areas of Broadway, Bryant, Sooner, Simpson, Simmons, Seward, Charter Oak, Western, Kelly, Santa Fe and Penn. We always appreciate the patience of residents who understand that with over 52 miles of paved roadways to cover, it may take awhile to reach the more remote areas. However, we try our best to respond to calls from all who need assistance. It is our goal to do our best to provide for public safety when winter storms strike.

If you do need to commute in icy conditions, information about snow routes within Logan County and the metropolitan area can be found at http://www.acogok.org/snow/ on the website of the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG).

November 24, 2010 Bond Issues Impact Your Property Tax

An Edmond School District bond issue goes to a vote of the people on Tuesday, Dec.14, 2010 and this reminded me that some people simply do not realize that school bonds affect the amount of property tax we pay. I find that few citizens are even aware of these elections and of the long-range economic effect they have.

I recall going to vote on a bond issue once and noticing that only 8 people had voted at my precinct. In fact, at a special election in 2009, out of 9,394 voters, only 81 ballots were cast. I found this disturbing, since the decision of a few affected the majority. Somewhere along the way, I concluded it might not be a bad idea if most bond elections were held on a major election date, so more people would be aware of what was about to affect their pocketbooks and their lives. Frequently, when a bond proposal is introduced, the remark is made that "this will not raise your taxes." This usually means that the current bond you are paying taxes on is about to sunset, but a new one is being proposed which will keep taxes at the current level. The truth of the matter is, a 'yes' vote means you will be paying more property tax than you would without the bond.

The Logan County 2010-2011 Tax Levies Form I recently reviewed indicated that school bond or “sinking fund” indebtedness throughout the county ranges from 7.14 to 32.36 mills, depending on the school district your property is in.

In the Guthrie School District, bond indebtedness, which is listed on your tax statement as "School Dist Sink," is currently 7.14 mills. This means that for property appraised at $100,000, the approximate amount of tax you would pay toward the sinking fund would be $85, in addition to the other taxes listed on your annual statement. If your property was in a school district with bond indebtedness of 32.36 mills, you could pay an annual tax of approximately $388 toward the sinking fund.

Guthrie Public Schools provided the following information about bond indebtedness in the Guthrie School District:

Currently, building bonds from 2003 exist in the amount of $575,000, with a maturity date of 7-1-2011. Bonds issued in 2007 for $350,000 and $405,000 have a maturity date of 6-1-2011 and 6-1-2012, respectively. Each will include interest for 6 months and all bonds will be retired as of 6-1-2012. As these bonds are paid off, property tax in the Guthrie School District should decrease.

There may be emergency situations when public support for a bond proposal is warranted, such as when the City of Jones High School burned, or when other obvious improvements are needed. However, I find too frequently that while there may be merit to certain aspects of a bond proposal, these often become intertwined with "fluff" which is not needed. That is why it is so important for the public to be informed about the bond proposals and their long-term effect.

Property taxes are one of the biggest concerns to citizens, yet very few turn out to vote on bond issues. If this is important to you, I encourage you to get informed and participate in the process.

November 21, 2010 Frequently Asked Questions

A recent email from a District 1 resident reminded me of some commonly asked questions commissioners hear. I have shared them below, and included a response. Q. "Do we need to buy our vehicle tags in Logan County to ensure the fees are appropriated back to us?"

A. In researching this issue, we contacted the Oklahoma Tax Commission and other knowledgeable individuals who assured us that it does not matter where you purchase a vehicle tag. We were told that tag fees go into "one pot" and that the state distributes the money back to the counties based on population. You can view the formula the state uses to disburse funds on the website at marksharpton.org under the "County Budget" link.

Q. Does my property tax pay for road maintenance?

A. No! The huge majority of ad valorem tax funds public education. Some goes into the county general fund and some to the health department. Road money comes from vehicle tax collections and gross production tax. The amount of property tax you pay may vary depending on which school district you live in.

Q. What is the sales tax rate in Logan County?

A. Logan County's sales tax rate is 9%. The state receives 4.5%, the City of Guthrie 3.75%, the county jail .25%, the roads .25%, and fire departments .25%.

Q. Why does the county maintain some roads and not others?

A. There are private roads and certain areas within the city limits where the county is not allowed to work.

In District 1, some of these areas include Seward Rd. 1/2 mile east of Broadway, around the lake and over to I-35, Forrest Hills Rd. just east of Bryant Lane to just east of Oakwood Drive, and Lakewood Dr., east of Bryant/Academy. Some roads are marked with signs indicating where county maintenance begins and ends.

Q. "Can I buy a tinhorn from the county, and will the county install it for me?

A. The county does not sell tinhorns (steel drainage pipes), but we can install them. However, installation is only permitted on county right-of-way. We are not allowed to install tinhorns on private property. Installation time depends on the weather and the work schedule of the road crew.

Q. How do you decide which roads to pave?

A. The availability of funding is always a major factor. Some roads, such as major collectors, qualify for federal funding. Minor collectors and local roads may not.

The cost for paving one mile can amount to well over $100,000, so having the resources to pave hundreds of miles of roadway is a real challenge. (Budget information is posted on this website each month.)

Other factors considered in regard to major paving projects include average daily traffic count(ADT), population, safety issues, fatalities and injuries, whether a road is a school bus route, and how the road connects to surrounding roadways.

Priorities in paving change constantly because of new development within the county. We are always playing catch-up to keep pace with new growth. That is why there is an ongoing effort to identify and access funding sources. Most major county road and bridge improvements are funded through grants or state and federal programs.

If you have questions about this information, you are welcome to email marksharpton@me.com

November 4, 2010 Preparation is Key to Road and Bridge Improvements

Abe Lincoln said, “I will prepare and some day my chance will come.” That adage has proven true within the last year for each of the Logan County Commissioners. In every road district, preparedness resulted in a major road or bridge improvement. Learning the preparation process has come about through the commitment of commissioners and staff who take the time to attend meetings of the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG), the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma (ACCO), and Circuit Engineering District (CED) meetings. At these sessions, we become familiar with the programs and the processes which provide opportunities for funding. Once we acquire the knowledge, we implement it. The efforts have paid off, not only in District 1 with recent paving improvements on Kelly and Penn, but in District 2 where a new bridge was constructed on Prairie Grove east of Westminster, and in District 3 where one was completed on County Rd. 71 between Penn and May. These improvements, which the districts could not afford on their own, were possible because each office devoted time to preparing the projects to fit the funding criteria. Preparing a major project is about a 36-step process. It includes programming the project with ODOT, selecting an engineer to design plans and to provide cost estimates, performing geotech and hydraulic studies, securing environmental clearance and right-of-way, moving utilities, filling out applications and submitting them for approval through ACCO or ACOG to apply for funding, holding plan-in-hand meetings and pre-work conferences. All of this can take months, if not years. Federal funding, when it becomes available, provides 80% of costs. The county must provide the remainder. For major projects, accumulating the 20% match can be a real challenge. However, it is required before the project can go to bid. Oversight and management are also crucial. Attention to detail can make the difference on whether a project progresses or loses funding. Staying on top of all this requires commitment. That is why we celebrate the completion of these recent projects, and prepare to begin new ones.

Federal funding enabled District 1 to pave two miles of Pennsylvania Avenue north of Waterloo Road.

October 19, 2010 Who is "We"?

I heard a story about an organist who performed magnificently one night. He received a standing ovation at the conclusion of the first half of his performance. The little boy behind the curtain who controlled the bellows to provide air to the organ stepped out and said, "We did great, didn't we?" "Who is 'we'?" sneered the organist. When the concert resumed, the organist took his place and pressed the keys with a flourish. No sound came out. Again he tried....no sound. From behind the curtains came a little voice. "Now who is 'we'? Who is the ‘we’ of county government? While elected officials are often front and center, the ‘we’ of the various districts include the employees who perform the daily tasks that meet the needs of the people we are elected to represent... ...like the truck driver who makes a repetitious three hour trip to the quarry twice a day to bring loads of rock back to the yard. ...or the road crew who work in temperature extremes of heat and cold. Or the mechanic in the shop, smudged with grease and grime, changing brakes and drums to keep equipment in good repair. ...or the office staff who manage projects to meet deadlines and field phone calls from constituents. All of these are the 'we' of county government. Our job is made simpler because of them, and we rely upon their dedication. The next time you notice a county worker doing a good job, I hope you'll give them a thumbs up and a thank you. ‘We’ couldn't do without them.

July 22, 2010 A Step Closer Toward Paving Western

On July 8, 2010, District 1 Commissioner Mark Sharpton sent out an update about progress being made toward paving 3 ½ miles of Western Avenue from Waterloo Road to ½ mile north of Simpson Rd. Today another step was taken in moving the project forward. Members of the Intermodal Transportation Committee met in Oklahoma City at the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG), and voted unanimously to approve including Western Avenue in the 2010 Transportation Improvement Plan.

The vote today means that 80% of the federal funding needed for the project was secured. District 1 will have to fund the remaining 20%, and the plan to do so is already underway.

"We have an avenue open for obtaining the match money to make this project happen," Sharpton said. "It's exciting to see this come together. Today's action means the project can continue toward a bid date of January 2011."

More information on District 1 road and bridge projects is available at www.marksharpton.org .

July 24, 2010 TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE APPROVES SHARPTON'S REQUESTS TO RECLASSIFY SIMMONS AND SIMPSON ROADS

On June 10, 2010, District 1 Commissioner Mark Sharpton submitted paperwork to the Logan County Board of Commissioners, requesting the reclassification of various roads in Logan County, including Simmons and Simpson Roads. The board approved the requests and Sharpton forwarded the documents to the Intermodal Transportation Committee, which met on July 23 at the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments in Oklahoma City.

At their meeting, the committee voted unanimously to approve the reclassification requests, which asked that Simmons and Simpson be changed from local roads to major collector status.

Once these requests are approved by the Federal Highway Administration, District 1 will have the opportunity to apply for federal funding for major improvements on the roadways.

"We are moving through the process required to find funding," Sharpton said. "Each positive decision made by the transportation committee helps us get there."

Sharpton said that prior to 2003, there had been limited efforts to reclassify roads in Logan County, and that as a result, there were limited avenues for funding major improvements.

Because of an act of Congress in 1968, procedures were developed to classify public roads according to their most logical use in regard to traffic flow. As a result, the Rural Collector System for counties was developed. This system classifies county roads as major collectors, minor collectors or local roads. Major collectors are more likely to qualify for federal funding programs.

In recent years, successes in getting Pennsylvania and Kelly reclassified have enabled District 1 to access federal funds. "Two miles of Penn and one mile of Kelly were paved this year because we took the necessary measures to change these roads into major collectors," Sharpton said. "Western was also reclassified, and on Thursday, the Transportation Committee approved it for funding as well."

Sharpton said a 3 ½ mile paving project on Western from Waterloo Rd. to ½ mile north of Simpson is scheduled for next year.

"By statute, we must do what best serves the most people. That is one reason there is an overall effort among the current board of commissioners to enact a plan that meets the changing growth and travel needs within the county."

For more information about District 1, go to www.marksharpton.org

July 20, 2010 Bridge Projects In District 1 Move Forward

New Bridges to Contribute to Public Safety

July 17, 2010

The process for constructing two new bridges in District 1 moved forward July 15th, as the Logan County Board of Commissioners approved Commissioner Mark Sharpton's application for the final 20% needed to fund the projects.

Sharpton had already obtained approval for 80% of the federal funding needed to replace a one-lane 90 year-old bridge on Council Road between Charter Oak and Simpson, and a one-lane 50' bridge on Simpson, just east of Kelly near the railroad tracks.

The 80% funding was approved by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments on June 24th, where a vote was taken to include the two bridges in the 2010 Transportation Improvement Program.

Since federal funds require a local match, Sharpton applied for the 20% through the Emergency and Transportation Revolving Fund Program created by the State Legislature in 2008.

To obtain this money, counties must first submit an application and contract agreement to their local board for approval. Having gained unanimous support of the board, Sharpton will now forward the paperwork to the proper entities to be processed. ODOT has indicated they will submit the projects for bid in October.

"The design process for replacing bridges is about a 20 step procedure," Sharpton said. "It takes patience and planning to see these projects through. That is why it is so exciting to be nearing the point of construction."

Sharpton said the new bridges will be built to standards that accommodate school buses and emergency vehicles, and that the roadway approach near each bridge project will undergo some improvement.

"This will provide better visibility, especially on Simpson, where the road will be raised to accommodate the height of the railroad crossing. Overall, these projects will contribute to public safety and add to ongoing improvements in Logan County."

July 9, 2010 Progress Continues on Efforts to Pave Western

July 8, 2010

District 1 Commissioner Mark Sharpton received encouraging news today about ongoing efforts to pave 3 ½ miles of Western Avenue from Waterloo Road to ½ mile north of Simpson.

Sharpton said that after today's communication with ODOT and other planning officials, it appears the project is shaping up for 2011.

Soon after taking office, Sharpton requested the Federal Highway Administration to reclassify Western as a major collector. FHA approved the request, which allowed District 1 to apply for federal funding.

Part of the process for obtaining federal funds is to submit an application to the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG), asking to be included in the Transportation Improvement Program, Sharpton asked the county engineer to prepare the data necessary to meet the application criteria.

The proposed project was evaluated by ACOG and placed in the "unscheduled pool" of projects. However, because the projects of other entities fell off the list, or were financed through stimulus money, funding became available for Western.

The official vote on whether the project will be included in this year's funding stream will occur at the August 12th Board of Directors meeting at ACOG in Oklahoma City. All indications are that the project will be approved, but the primary consideration for funding is if the project is ready to go.

That is why District 1 has been coordinating with ODOT and other entities in an ongoing effort to ensure that everything is in order. Sharpton said today the ODOT official in charge of the project indicated environmental clearance should be completed by early August and that Western could go to bid in January 2011.

"We are working to make this happen," Sharpton said. "We are following through with all the paperwork, planning and preparation needed. Earlier this year, ODOT requested that we send letters to landowners that specialists would be in the area, assessing the road and right-of-way. Next year I'm hoping they will see specialists paving the area."

July 1, 2010 Reclassification of County Roads May Provide Funding Opportunities for District 1

Sharpton Seeks Funding Source for Simpson and Simmons Roads

On June 10, 2010, District 1 Commissioner Mark Sharpton submitted paperwork to the Logan County Board of Commissioners and to the Federal Highway Administration, requesting the reclassification of various roads in Logan County, including Simmons and Simpson Roads. Sharpton said the requests for reclassification are based upon growth and development in the area, as well as changing traffic patterns.

The board approved the requests and Sharpton forwarded the documents to Federal Highway, where there are indications the requests will be approved.

Because of an act of Congress in 1968, procedures were developed to classify public roads according to their most logical use in regard to traffic flow. As a result, the Rural Collector System for counties was developed. This system classifies county roads as major collectors, minor collectors or local roads. Major collectors are more heavily traveled roadways and are more likely to qualify for federal funding programs.

"Federal Highway only allows Logan County a certain number of major collectors," Sharpton said. "These must link to other major collectors and meet other criteria."

"Over the years, roads in Logan County that were previously classified as ‘local roads' now have the traffic count that qualifies them to be major collectors. If we can persuade Federal Highway to approve our requests, it will open up opportunities for us to seek funding for significant repairs and improvements."

Sharpton said he also submitted the paperwork to the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG), a regional planning organization. The items should be on ACOG's August agenda. Once the requests are approved by ACOG and Federal Highway, the county can begin developing cost estimates and completing the applications necessary to apply for federal funding.

"Learning the programs and the process of all this has been important," Sharpton said. "We've developed a knowledge of the system that enables us to push projects forward, and it benefits the people. We reclassified Kelly Ave. in January of 2009, and it was paved this year. We changed Western to a major collector, and are progressing toward paving it. With the cooperation of the Board of Commissioners, I believe we are moving this county forward."

District 1 News

June 23, 2010 OUTDOOR WARNING SYSTEM EXPANDING IN LOGAN COUNTY

While county commissioners are elected to represent the residents of their individual districts, they also serve the entire county. One way in which District 1 Commissioner Mark Sharpton has worked collectively for Logan County is by implementing a county-wide outdoor warning system.

To initiate this system, Commissioner Sharpton asked the Board of Commissioners to approve the purchase of a computer and software to be used by Emergency Management to activate sirens in rural areas where there was no existing coverage.

The board approved the request and in 2009, the county obtained the programming equipment needed to set the plan in motion. The first four sirens were purchased with grant funds obtained through the Rural Economic Action Program (REAP). Two of these early warning devices were placed within Cedar Valley Township and two within District 1, near Broadway/Camp and Triplett/Kelly. These sirens have been operational since last fall.

Cedar Valley, District 1 and District 2 again applied for REAP funding and in January of this year, each entity received notice that their requests for the purchase and installation of additional sirens had been approved.

After REAP contracts are finalized this fall, commissioners can begin the process of purchasing the new equipment.

New siren locations in District 1 will be at Seward/May and SH74/Forrest Hills. District 2 sirens will be installed at Sooner and Woodcrest Fire Departments. Proposed locations in Cedar Valley are at Hogan/Hwy33 and May/Whitehouse.

Sharpton says efforts to expand the system throughout Logan County will continue as funding and opportunity allows.

June 15, 2010 Activity Report From District 1

On June 30th, the fiscal year for county government draws to a close. This is not only a busy season for county officials, but a good time to review District 1 activities. The past twelve months presented both opportunities and challenges for District 1.

An unanticipated opportunity came about as the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) received special federal funding, some of which was passed to counties for road and bridge improvements.

District 1 was approved for some of this funding, which made it possible to pave several roadways. These included (1) mile of County Line Rd. near Cashion between Seward Rd. and Forrest Hills, (2) miles of Pennsylvania Ave. between Waterloo Rd. and Charter Oak, and (1) mile of Kelly Ave. north of Waterloo.

According to ODOT, each of these projects had to be "shovel ready" in order to qualify for funding. They also had to be considered "major collectors" by the Federal Highway Administration. The paperwork for the projects had to be completed on a fast track to meet short notice deadlines. Our office and county engineer, in conjunction with staff at the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG), swung into action to make it happen.

Since these were projects beyond the scope of the normal county budget, we appreciated the opportunity to obtain these funds for making improvements.

Another paving project completed this year included 2 1/2 miles of new asphalt on Broadway Avenue.

Each year, ODOT receives 6 million for the State Transportation Program. These STP funds are for use by counties. District 1 applied for a portion of this money in 2005 to pave Broadway from Waterloo to Seward Road. Our application was approved. However, the area sustained growth faster than the pace of government funding. Due to high traffic count at the south end of the project, federal regulations mandated major roadway changes which the county could not afford. This was disappointing, as it required altering the scope of the project and omitting an area which needed it most.

We were given the option to get something or nothing. We chose something, and ODOT approved a 2 1/2 mile overlay which began at Simpson Rd. and continued north.

This improvement, along with the other projects completed within the last twelve months, equates to 6 1/2 miles of new roadway in District 1.

We also learned in June that funding for bridge replacements on Council and Simpson Roads may be available sooner than expected, and that our recent requests to Federal Highway to reclassify several roads in District 1 as major collectors, enabling us to apply for federal funding for improvements, may soon be approved.

These issues will be addressed in greater detail in future updates. As always, feel free to contact me with questions at 282-3581 or email marksharpton@sbcglobal.net . More information about District 1 activities can be found at www.marksharpton.org .

April 28, 2010 Budget Breakdown

April 22, 2010

A few weeks ago, I posted an update explaining that property taxes do not fund roads.

I indicated that many people are unaware that the huge majority of their property tax pays for public education. The county receives a portion of the tax, but it is used to fund the county health department, pay for courthouse utilities and upkeep, supplies for the jail, and salaries for elected officials. None is allocated for roads.

Road maintenance money comes from another source. It is derived from gross production tax, fuel tax and vehicle collections. Referred to as "Highway Cash," this money is distributed to 77 counties each month through the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

In this update, I want to offer information about how "Highway Cash" is used, once it reaches the three County Commission Districts.

On April 1st, 2010, Districts 1, 2 and 3 each received $67,972.58. From this, each commissioner met the obligations of numerous sub-accounts. District 1 allocated its Highway Cash into the various accounts as follows:

Equipment Lease/Rentals $17,150.00 (This account provides funding for 13 pieces of equipment, including 4 trucks, 4 road graders, a track hoe, 2 pickups, underground fuel tanks and a trailer for hauling equipment to job sites.)

Travel $300.00 (Pays for commuting to pre-work conferences with ODOT, meetings with the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments, Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma, Circuit Engineering District, Workforce Oklahoma and OSU Training Classes)

Personal Services $26,600.00 (Pays for 12 employees, including heavy equipment operators, CDL drivers, mechanics, road crew and office staff)

FICA $2,250.00

Retirement $4,400.00

Insurance $1,300.00

Maintenance and Operations $15,972.58 (This money, used for maintaining 275 miles of roadway within District. 1, pays for asphalt, gravel, fuel, signs, posts, tinhorns, tires, grader blades, utilities, parts, supplies, services and repairs. Recent expenditures from this fund include the following:)

Supplies, parts and services $2346 Fuel $7873 Asphalt for Patching $1327 Utilities $1293 Rock $ 437 Shale for building road base $1265

Funding for major road improvement projects must come from sources other than "Highway Cash" since that resource is so limited.

Because paving one mile of roadway can cost between $150,000 and $200,000, funding must be obtained through grants or federal and state programs. As your commissioner, I and my staff work diligently to access the programs which will enable us to improve roads in Logan County. Doing so has enabled us to pave seven and one-half miles within the last year.

More information about recent projects in District 1 may be found on this website, or at www.marksharpton.org.

April 8, 2010 Kelly Avenue Paving Project Scheduled to Begin in April

In 2009, special federal funds were made available to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and to counties for road improvement projects.

Regulations required that the funding be used on roads considered "shovel ready" and classified as "major collectors." While this excluded most roads in District 1, which are considered local roads and minor collectors, it did provide funding to apply toward paving one mile of Kelly Avenue, just north of Waterloo Rd.

On April 6, 2010, District 1 Commissioner Mark Sharpton attended a pre-work conference with ODOT in Stillwater and learned that the project is scheduled to begin in late April. Plans include deep patching, followed by a 3 ½" asphalt overlay and roadway striping. The contractor selected for the project through the ODOT bidding process is Markwell Paving Company of Oklahoma City.

Sharpton said getting to pave Kelly was an unexpected blessing, since the county is so strapped for money. "I'm glad for those who live where they can enjoy the improvement," Sharpton said, "And I want the public to know we will be looking for ways to improve other areas also."

If you have questions about this project or other county issues, you are welcome to call Commissioner Sharpton at 282-3581 or email marksharpton@sbcglobal.net. More information about District 1 is available at marksharpton.org and www.marksharpton.org .

March 17, 2010 District 1 Commissioner to Provide Educational Updates About County Government

In the interest of providing the public with information about how county government works, Commissioner Sharpton will post periodic updates on this site. The first in a series begins below.

"I pay property tax! Why isn't my road paved?! This is a question often heard at county level, especially at tax time when citizens open their mail to discover their annual ad valorem tax statement. However, ad valorem, or "property taxes," do not fund roads! The huge majority of property tax is used to fund education. The exact breakdown of how property tax is used can be found in the box at the top of the annual tax statement you receive from the County Treasurer. Categories within that box may include: County General, County Health, County Wide 4-Mil, School District Gen., School Dist. Bldg., and School Dist. Sinking Fund. The ad valorem tax the County receives falls under the classification of County General and County Health. County General provides for courthouse utilities and upkeep, supplies for the jail and salaries for elected officials, while County Health funds the Health Department. The County Wide 4-Mil is funding for schools, as are the remaining categories related to education. Money to maintain roads is derived from fuel tax, gross production tax, and motor vehicle collections. This money is called "Highway Cash," and is collected by the Oklahoma Tax Commission and distributed monthly to Oklahoma's 77 counties, based on a complex formula approved years ago by the state legislature. You can view this formula on this website under the "NEWS " link. In Logan County, road maintenance money, or "Highway Funds," are divided equally among the three county commission districts, as is done in 66 of Oklahoma's 77 counties. Each commissioner chooses how funds are spent within his district. This information is also available under the "NEWS " link. Highway Funds are primarily used to pay for maintenance and operations, employees and equipment. Maintenance and operation costs include asphalt, gravel, fuel, signs and posts, tinhorns, tires, grader blades, utilities, parts, supplies, services and repairs. If you have questions regarding information presented here or about county government in general, you are welcome to contact Commissioner Sharpton at 282-3581, or email marksharpton@sbcglobal.net .

March 8, 2010 Road Maintenance Underway in District 1

Now that the weather has finally moderated, the District 1 road crew is out patching roadways damaged by winter storms. Road repairs were initially delayed by cold, wet weather, since the hot asphalt used for pothole repair hardens and becomes unworkable at cold temperatures.

Additional delays have been caused by the unavailability of asphalt. The plant we purchase product from has been shut down for the last two weeks and just today we have been notified that it is again operable. In the meantime, in order to repair some of the most heavily traveled roads which suffered significant storm damage, we have purchased cold mix asphalt, which costs approximately $38.00 more per ton. On a limited budget, this constrains the extent of the repairs we can perform, but we will do the best we can with the resources available.

We learned yesterday that FEMA monies should be available for winter storm damage in Logan County. It is our intention to apply for this funding. We do appreciate your patience as we work to respond to your requests and assure you that we take your phone calls and emails to heart. We also appreciate those who have taken the time to thank our crew. It is our pleasure to serve you, and we will do our best to do just that.

For more information about District 1, go to www.marksharpton.org.

Sincerely,

Mark Sharpton

Commissioner, District 1

March 8, 2010 Roads in District 1 to Receive New Pavement Markings March 5th and 6th

Motorists traveling Santa Fe Road, Pennsylvania Avenue and Sooner Road can enjoy a safety improvement after this weekend, according to Commissioner Mark Sharpton. Sharpton met recently with ODOT officials and the Action Safety Supply Company and learned that three road striping projects in District 1 are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, March 5th and 6th.

Areas to undergo striping include Santa Fe Road from Waterloo to Simpson, Pennsylvania Avenue from SH 33 to Industrial Road, and Sooner Road from Waterloo to Seward, for a total of nine miles.

District 1 applied for funding for the project through the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG), where Sharpton represents Logan County on the Board of Directors. "Each year, entities within the urbanized area may apply for federal safety funds," Sharpton said. "Portions of District 1 qualified for the funding which requires no matching dollars. The funding is designed to be used on roads designated as major collectors," Sharpton said, "which is why we chose the nine miles we did."

Sharpton encourages motorists to proceed with caution throughout the work zone and to expect some delays, as well as an improvement in roadway visibility.

February 8, 2010 Resurfacing and Speed Limit Changes Coming to Broadway Road

District 1 County Commissioner Mark Sharpton announced that in mid-January, contractors began the process of preparing Broadway for 2 ½ miles of asphalt overlay from Simpson Road to ½ mile north of Seward Road.

Sharpton secured state and federal funding for the project in 2005 through the Surface Tranportation Program (STP) administered by the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma. "We were pleased to be approved for this project," Sharpton said, "but disappointed that our original plans to repave Broadway from Waterloo to Seward were altered by ODOT due to federal regulations. "We were well into the planning stages when we were informed that the traffic count of 5567 cars per day on the southern part of Broadway was too high for a simple asphalt overlay. Federal requirements mandated we widen the roadway, provide clear zones and make other costly alterations that simply were not possible with the funding available and on such short notice," Sharpton said. Sharpton's contention that making the southern three miles of Broadway smoother with a simple asphalt overlay would be safer than allowing it to continue to deteriorate did not seem to matter in the face of federal regulations. "While the government mandated these expenditures, it did not provide funding for them," Sharpton said. "This made it impossible to pave the areas needing it the most. We were given the option to either accept a partial project or get nothing. We opted for what we could get and will continue to seek alternative funding for other needy areas of Broadway." Sharpton requested that motorists navigate carefully during construction and also said that at the conclusion of the project, the speed limit on Broadway will be changed. "Since we were unable to resurface the south part of the roadway and because of continued development in the area, the speed limit from Waterloo to Simpson will be reduced from 55mph to 50mph. This will bring the speed limit into line with the Oklahoma County part of Broadway and hopefully, contribute to public safety. As always, Sharpton welcomes input on this and other issues of importance to county residents. You may contain District 1 at 282.3581 or email marksharpton@sbcglobal.net. More county information is available a

Road and Bridge Improvements in District 1 - June 2009

To inform citizens about progress in Logan County, Commissioner Mark Sharpton offers the following update on road and bridge improvements in District 1. These projects, plus ordinary road maintenance and administrative duties, keep the Commissioner and his staff busy in their efforts to improve transportation infrastructure within the county.

It is the pleasure of Commissioner Sharpton and his staff to serve you. We welcome your comments at marksharpton@sbcglobal.net, or invite you to call the District 1 office at 282-3581.

Pine Street

One mile of Pine between Prairie Grove Road and Industrial Road was paved on June 9. Preparation for this project began in May when District 1 rented an asphalt recycler to grind up the old roadway so drainage improvements, base compaction and re-stabilization could take place. District 1 received a $50,000 Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP) grant to apply toward this project and also used auction proceeds and funds from the county's Circuit Engineering District (CED) to pay the remainder of the total $74,584.23 in paving costs.

Pennsylvania Avenue

Penn, from Waterloo north one and one-half miles, has been reshaped and re-stabilized in preparation for an asphalt overlay. This project is scheduled to go to bid through ODOT in July. If bid costs come in low enough, it may be possible to extend the project to a full two miles.

County Line Road

A section of County Line Road from Hwy 74F south to Forrest Hills will be repaved following a July bid letting through ODOT. This roadway within the city limits of Cashion qualified for federal funds since County Line is a major collector maintained by Logan County. Engineering costs were paid for through District 1's County Bridge and Road Improvement Fund at ODOT.

Broadway Road

A July bid letting has been scheduled by ODOT for asphalt resurfacing of Broadway from Simpson Road north to the railroad crossing. We are excited about this 2 ½ mile improvement, but also disappointed that original plans to repave Broadway from Waterloo Road to Seward Road have been altered.

Due to the high traffic count just north of Waterloo, (5567 cars per day), government officials indicated we must widen the southern three miles of the roadway, provide clear zones and make other costly alterations that simply are not affordable at this time. Our contention that making the southern three miles of Broadway smoother with a simple asphalt overlay would be safer than allowing it to continue to deteriorate, did not seem to matter in the face of federal regulations. However, we will continue to seek for alternative funding to repave the worst areas of this roadway, and, in the meantime, anticipate a late summer completion of the 2 ½ miles we are allowed to pave.

Coltrane Road

This five-mile road project is currently on the five-year County Improvements for Roads and Bridges Program (CIRB). The plan calls for gravel portions of the roadway to be upgraded to asphalt and existing pavement to receive an asphalt overlay. Scope of the project is between Waterloo and Seward. Engineering begins in 2010 and paving in 2012. On June 24, Commissioner Sharpton approved the selection of an engineering firm for this project.

Western Avenue

The groundwork has been laid for resurfacing portions of this major collector from Waterloo north to Simpson Road. A programming resolution and engineering contract was signed by the Board of Commissioners in preparation for when funding becomes available for this project.

Road Safety Striping

Three road safety striping project applications submitted by District 1 for inclusion in the ACOG Urbanized Area Surface Transportation Program were approved for FFY 2010-2013. As a result, portions of Sooner Road, Santa Fe and Pennsylvania will receive pavement markings. Safety striping on Sooner will extend from Waterloo to Seward. Markings on Santa Fe will extend from Waterloo to Charter Oak, and Pennsylvania will be striped from SH-33 to Industrial Road. Estimated federal funds for these projects total $195,040. Since these safety improvements are 100% federally funded, no matching monies are required from District 1.

Storm Sirens

District 1 is currently working with Emergency Management Director David Ball on implementation of a county-wide outdoor warning system. Both District 1 and Cedar Valley Township were awarded REAP grants for the purchase of two storm sirens each. The sirens are already in place within Cedar Valley and areas of District 1 near Broadway/Camp and Triplett/Kelly. Installation of the computer is also underway and we should be able to test the system's operability in mid July.

Safety Signs

District 1 was approved for $68,988 for the purchase and installation of High Reflective Safety Signs throughout the district. Funding for this project was obtained through the ACOG Urbanized Areas STP-UZA FFY 2009 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The signs will be paid for 100% with federal funds set aside specifically for safety projects. ODOT has scheduled this for an August bid letting.

Bridge Projects

Simpson Bridge over Spring Creek

District 1 recently obtained right of way from BNSF Railroad and other landowners in preparation for replacing a wooden bridge on Simpson Road between Kelly and Broadway. A new 152' concrete bridge will be constructed and approaches to the bridge elevated to enhance safety and visibility. District 1 received notification that on June 19, 2009, the ODOT Right-of-Way Division cleared the project for FFY 2010. Construction will begin when funding is available in the County's Road and Bridge Improvement Account at ODOT.

Council Bridge over Cottonwood Creek

All of the paperwork needed to proceed with replacing this 99 year-old bridge that has a structural sufficiency rating of 19.7 out of 100 has been completed and sent to ODOT. Logan County has obtained both right-of-way and environmental clearance and conducted a plan-in-hand meeting with the engineer and transportation officials. Located between Charter Oak and Simpson Road, this functionally obsolete bridge which will not allow two vehicles to pass simultaneously will be replaced with a 107.5' concrete structure. The project will be sent to bid as soon as funds become available in the county's ODOT account.

Broadway Bridge at Camp Road

Final right-of-way and utility clearance documents were mailed to ODOT in June, completing the paperwork necessary for this functionally obsolete bridge to be replaced with a 227.5' concrete structure. We received notification on June 24 that the project was cleared for FFY 2010.

Charter Oak Bridge over Chisholm Creek

This wooden bridge, located 3 miles south and 2.4 miles west of Seward, has been programmed for replacement. A contract for engineering and design was signed November 2008 and the project will progress as funding becomes available.

December 4, 2008 Academy Road Paving Project Completed

On December 2, 2008, contractors began and completed the process of paving one-half mile of Academy Road just south of University Avenue in Logan County. District 1 County Commissioner Mark Sharpton said the majority of funding for the $72,775 project was provided through a $50,000 grant awarded through the Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP). Sharpton said District 1 submits applications annually for the funding which is appropriated by the legislature and administered by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG). “Since 2003, the district has benefited from $599,878.16 in REAP funding. REAP and other grants enable us to make ongoing improvements within the county,” Sharpton said. Sharpton said upcoming projects in District 1 include reworking and compacting the road base on Pennsylvania between Waterloo and Simmons and preparing one mile of Pine Street between Industrial and Prairie Grove Road for paving. The Pine project will also be financed through a REAP grant, Sharpton said.

Macarthur - 1 mile stabilization and single layer

chip seal between Hwy 74 and Forrest Hills.

Seward Rd. - .635 miles upgrade with single layer

chip seal between Broadway and RR

Broadway - .64 miles upgrade with single layer chip

seal between Seward and RR

2007

Forrest Hills - 1 mile upgrade with asphalt from

Broadway to Bryant Ln.

Macarthur - 1 mile upgrade with second layer chip

seal between Hwy 74 and Forrest Hills

Kanaly's Berry Farm - 1 mile upgraded with single

layer chip seal

Canyon Rd. - 1 mile of asphalt overlay from Broadway

to Hogan Road

Broadway - 1/2 mile of asphalt overlay on Broadway

from Hwy 33 north

Current and Future Projects

Kelly Ave. - 1 mile asphalt upgrade from Simmons

to Charter Oak (Nov. 07)

Charter Oak - 6/10 mile asphalt upgrade between

Kelly and Kevin's Way (Nov. 07)

Simmons Rd. - 1 1/2 miles of asphalt upgrade from

Coltrane to I-35 (one mile overlay and 1/2 mile new

asphalt (Nov. 07)

Academy Rd. - 1/2 mile of asphalt upgrade from

19th street south ( Spring 08)

Pennyslvania Ave. - 1 mile asphalt overlay from

Hwy 33 to Whitehouse Rd. (Dec. 07)

Road Striping - on Western Ave. (Waterloo to

Simpson), on Coltrane (Waterloo to Simmons), on

Broadway, (Waterloo to Hwy 33) - (Spring 08)

Simmons Rd. - 1 mile asphalt overlay between

Bryant and Coltrane - (tentative schedule - Spring/

Summer 2008)

Broadway STP - 5 miles of asphalt overlay between

Waterloo and Seward (tentative schedule - 2010)

Coltrane - 5 miles asphalt overlay and new asphalt

between Waterloo and Seward Rd. (2012)

Each year as funds are available, the

Oklahoma Legislature appropriates money

into a grant program called the Rural

Economic Action Plan, or REAP.

Cities, towns and counties may apply

for up to $50,000 of this funding for economic

development and transportation

projects.

Applications are submitted to the

Association of Central Oklahoma Governments

(ACOG) in Oklahoma City, where

they are scored using a point system.

Since REAP grants are for rural development,

areas with lower populations rank

higher.

Each year District 1 faithfully applies

for this money and, since 2003, has been

awarded a total of $460,209.76. These

grants enable District 1 to complete

projects our budget would normally prohibit.

Grant awards include the following:

2003

$50,000 - Country Home Estates

2004

$24,891.30 - Davis Glenn Estates

$50,000 - Cedar Valley-Whitehouse Rd.

2005

$35,000 - Timberlake Estates

$50,000 - Cedar Valley-May Ave.

2006

$50,000 - Penn - South of Hwy 33

$11,510.32 - Street Signs

$50,000 - Cedar Valley-Canyon Rd.

2007

$50,000 - Academy Rd.-South of 19th

$50,000 - Broadway-North of Hwy 33

$38,808.14 - Storm Sirens-Cedar Valley

In 2007, District 1 was also awarded a

$150,000 grant by the Department of

Commerce to pave Simmons Rd. between

Coltrane and I-35. (Scheduled for Nov. 07)

2004

Council Rd. - 1 1/2 miles of gravel

upgraded to asphalt-north of Waterloo

Macarthur Blvd. - 1 mile gravel

upgraded to double layer chip seal

from Waterloo to Simmons

Kelley - 1 mile of gravel upgraded to

double-layer chip seal from Waterloo to

Simmons

Simpson - 1 1/2 miles of gravel

upgraded to double layer chip seal

from Broadway to Bryant

Bryant - 1/2 mile upgraded from

gravel to asphalt from Simpson south

Country Home Estates - 1 1/2 miles

upgraded from gravel to single layer

chip seal

Kanaly's Big Sky - 1 mile overlay with

single layer chip seal

2005

Whitehouse Rd. - 1 mile of asphalt

overlay between May and Penn

Sooner - 5 miles of asphalt overlay

from Waterloo to Seward

Charter Oak - 1 mile upgrade from

gravel to asphalt between Western and

Penn

Western Ave. - 3 miles of asphalt

overlay between Waterloo and Simpson

Timberlake Estates - 1 1/4 miles

upgraded from gravel to asphalt

2006