Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

January 2, 2014

2013 a year to remember

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat — While 2012 was certainly a year of trial and change for communities across Garvin County, 2013 did its best to pick up full steam ahead with no shortage of these memorable headlines:

• Pauls Valley General Hospital: Grabbing attention at the top of the fold in the Democrat on a weekly basis at times, many believed better days were coming to PVGH via what was supposed to be purchase through larger hospital entity, St. Anthony.

When negotiations with the hospital authority broke down in late January/early February, city officials scrambled to prevent closure.

Solutions eventually included taking on an emergency loan and credit package in July, another due diligence through Mercy, severing ties completely with St. Anthony in November and a new management agreement shortly after with New Light Health Care.

There were also two attempts to put a half-cent sales tax on the ballot to help fund the hospital as both were later rescinded.

• County Sales Tax: County commissioners set a date of March 4, 2014 in December to allow voters to decide whether to renew their existing half-cent sales tax for another seven years.

• Southern Oklahoma Resource Center: Though 2012 came with the biggest headline of intended closure for the former state school, it wasn’t until several months into this year that transitions from institution based care to the community began.

• Changes in local government: The year also featured quite a few changes in leadership, most of them in town.

This started off with the city council race loss of former Mayor Tim Gamble to Patrick Grimmett, continued months later with the resignation of Mayor Billy Riddle, who was replaced at least for the interim by Mike Parrish and resulted in the current mayorship of Gary Alfred.

Hal Blevins also called it quits on the PV Council and was replaced subsequently by Lorin Jacobson.

Maysville also gained three new councilmen after the resignation of three that came during repeated council meeting disputes during the year. Those stepping in were Bryson S. Tate, David Uhles and Debra Degering.

John Blake bid farewell to his time at the courthouse as he retired as the county associate district judge in July. He was replaced by appointee Steve Kendall. Garvin County also got a new election board secretary Doylene Cunningham.

• Opening of the Water Park: After a few construction delays and re-inspection, the PV Aquatics Center in Wacker Park finally greeted visitors this summer at the end of July.

• Recycling Center: Due to combined citizen, city and area organization efforts like the PV Community Foundation and the Garvin County Community Living Center, the PV Recycling Center officially opened in May.

Aside from having to drop glass as an accepted item, the center is considered a successful addition.

• Changes in Community operations: There was a changing of the guard for president of the PV Chamber of Commerce as well when Della Wilson left after several years in the position. She has since been replaced by Sherry Wing.

Samantha Robb also left Main Street Pauls Valley to pursue a career with health insurance back in the fall with that position is still open.

• End of the Drought: After two years of intense drought that rivaled dropped water levels of the dust bowl, the spring saw much needed rain relieve the area.

The lakes providing drinking water for recovered after limited water rationing began.

• The late Steve Stokes of Pauls Valley was posthumously honored with the naming of a section of I-35.

Someone who dealt with disabilities his whole life, his efforts to help people with disabilities have better access to buildings and facilities of all kinds helped bring changes all across the state.