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.