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Former council president remembered

By David Seeley

PDN Editor

Several property issues came before the Poteau City Council during its March meeting Monday night at Poteau City Hall.

For the fourth time, the Council addressed three properties — 601 South Harper Avenue, 503 South Walters Avenue and the former McCroskey Law Building at the corner of South McKenna and Dewey avenues — that were first put on an agenda in December.

Nan Lea Dickerson, representing her mother who owns the South Harper Avenue and South Walters Avenue properties, told the Council that February’s winter weather affected the ability to work on those properties, but she said that once weather improved work would resume on both. Dickerson truly believes the South Harper Avenue property, the old flower shop, is “repairable” if given some more time.

Randy Bridgman, who is currently taking care of the former McCroskey Law Building, told the Council that electricians have started to work on wiring issues, the windows are in and that he is just waiting on the painters to arrive to begin doing their work.

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The biggest concern shared by Councilman Tommy Robertson, which was also echoed by Councilwoman Connie Shockley, was the fear that a negative precedence is close to being set with other properties about stringing out the length of time to get the property close to or totally repaired.

With the aid of Poteau Mayor Scotty White’s recommendation, the Council agreed to give all three pieces of property 30 more days until the April 4 meeting to show not only signs of progress, but quotes from contractors and a timeline for completion.

As for other pieces of property, Devon Niven addressed the Council regarding the property he has put some money down on making payments for at 201 South Saddler Avenue. Niven told the Council that the closing date on the property owned by Ed House is in June, and Niven mentioned all the intended work he plans on doing. However, since City Council legal counsel Marc Bovos was not present at Monday night’s meeting, the motion was made and approved to table taking action on this property until the April 4 meeting when, hopefully, Bovos can be present.

A piece of property at 1700 North Central Street owned by Steve Watson is trying to be remodeled to look more like a shed. While White said that Watson told him action has been done, there was still a motion and approved by the Council to give Watson until the April 4 meeting to not only to continue work on the property, but show progress is being made.

The final piece of property presented before the Council was that at 406 South Church Street. Local attorney Terry Amend told the Council the owner actually lives in California, but was just made aware of all the issues needed to be done to the property. Amend told the board, which was verified by Robertson, that the owner is trying to get with a contractor to begin work on the property. Amend asked the Council to give the owner time, and his request was turned into reality as the Council approved to give the owner until the May 2 meeting to show progress is being made.

Also, the Council approved a specific use permit to establish a commercial brewery with a food component at a business at 315 Dewey Avenue. City of Poteau Planning Commission Chairman Bill Hoffman told the Council that he believed the new addition to the business would be good for downtown Poteau. The Council unanimously approved the special use permit.

White gave away four service pins, but only two of those four individuals were present. Donald W. Reynolds Community Center staff member Tom Herman received a 10-year service pin, while new Poteau Area Recreational Complex Manager and Poteau fireman Daniel Upton got a five-year pin.

Also getting service pins but not in attendance were Poteau fireman Kevin Gee with a five-year service pin and Municipal Court Clerk Tina Crosswell with a 20-year service pin.

While not on the agenda but was failed to be done at the City of Poteau Christmas Banquet, White awarded keys to the city to Hoffman for 28 years of service and Councilman Jim Holstead for 43 years of service.

Clay Bennett

Also, in an unmentioned agenda item, Ukraine natives Vitaly Gofrats and Lidiya Storozinsky with their daughter Diana, who have lived in Poteau for nine months, spoke to those in attendance about what they know is happening in their native homeland with the Russian invasion, and they also presented the city with a replica of the Ukraine flag which was made in Greenwood, Ark.

Prior to the entire night of meetings, White spoke about the loss of Council President Clay Bennett, who passed March 1 after a brief illness and whose services took place Sunday afternoon at the Donald W. Reynolds Community Center.

“As you all see, we’re missing a pretty special guy up here,” White said about Bennett. “It’s been a tough few days, and it will be tough (Monday) night. It’s pretty somber in here because we all lost a piece of us, and the city lost a piece of itself. He did the footwork and paved the way for us. He left us in a good place and something we can all build on.”

White presented Bennett’s daughter, Gwen Bennett-Bliss, who was with her children Blake and Nora, see picture above, with a plaque to commemorate a proclamation made by the Mayors Council of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Municipal League to recognize Bennett for “his years of exemplary service to the City of Poteau.”

The Council approved purchase orders signed and approved by the City of Poteau Finance Committee, approved acceptance of department reports and approved budget transfers for the month of February.

The first meeting of Monday night’s tripleheader was the Poteau Industrial Authority board meeting.

Poteau Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Karen Wages, who got emotional for a brief moment when talking about Bennett, told the board how the Donald W. Reynolds Community Center continues to stay busy with things like Cameron High School’s prom this weekend and later with a Ducks Unlimited event and Poteau High School’s prom.

Wages reminded the board the annual Trash-Off will be April 16 and the 2022 Poteau Chamber of Commerce Banquet will be April 28 — in which she said there is already 850 individuals planning to attend and that there will be a virtual horse race as part of the entertainment.

Wages also said the Chamber is working on the Cavanal Killer, in which registration began Monday, and that since January there has been 14 new members, and “I got two more (Monday).”

In her report, Historic Downtown Poteau Executive Director Mary Parham talked about HDP’s March Madness 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament beginning at 9 a.m. March 19 on Dewey Avenue in near HDP’s office and The Pocket Park. She said there are age requirements in two groups — one group in which everyone has to be at least 30 years of age with their ages totaling 100 and the other group with a minimum age of 18 and ages totaling 60. There will be cash prizes for the first three teams as well as a free-throw shooting contest. She said the goal and balls will be donated at the end of the tournament to the Boys and Girls Club of LeFlore County.

Parham told the board that people are constantly asking her about the HDP Events Center, which “by the grace of God we’re going to get opened at some point,” as well as other downtown buildings, of which three were shown to potential buyers or renters by HDP on Monday.

“I’ve shown at least two or three buildings almost every day for the last two weeks,” Parham said. “We have one person who is wanting to do three-meal-a-day restaurant. We have another one wanting to do a sports bar. They all want something that faces Dewey Avenue. We have a lot of changes to make in order for those people to have that type of progress.”

The board approved purchase orders signed and approved by the City of Poteau Finance Committee, approved acceptance of department reports and approved budget transfers for the month of February.

The second meeting of the night was the Poteau Pubic Works Authority board meeting, in which the board approved purchase orders signed and approved by the City of Poteau Finance Committee, approved acceptance of department reports and approved budget transfers for the month of February.

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