Monday, March 14, 2011

Runestone continued

Concerning the whole Runestone closing/CASC running the park episode, my blog Friday about the changes and the meeting drew a lot of comments regarding the situation.

Somehow, the situation developed into a fight between the Democrats and Republicans, which was not my goal of the blog. It was to discuss my feelings about the meeting and several questions I had about CASC running the park.

*First off, I did not in any way, shape or form want anybody to think I was critical of Carl Albert State College. I appreciate CASC taking on the additional responsibilities and helping to keep the park open.

But, like I mentioned in the blog, CASC is a college and its goal is to educate students, not run museums or former state parks. I know nothing about how the Kerr Conference Center and Museum are being operated, just repeated a comment at the meeting.

*I am also thankful that Sen. Mark Allen worked hard to try and keep the park open. I just feel, like many others, there should have been meetings held to come up with a better situation instead of rushing into doing something.

*I hope there isn’t a lawsuit concerning the park. That would meddle the situation, but it would not surprise me if this did happen.

*The crowd was unruly at times. I can understand the frustration and appreciate Heavener city manager Mike Kennerson’s handling the meeting. As for the lady who complained about her water...

*Partisan politics! The democrat and republican supporters started slinging comments back and forth in the comments. This should not have happened. We should be spending our efforts in doing what is best for the park. The criticism of Gov. Fallin and Deby Snodgrass seemed to offend supporters of the republicans. They need criticism of the way this was handled. And as I mentioned, I voted for Gov. Fallin because at the time, I thought she was the best candidate. Would I vote for her again? Hmm…

*One writer talked about the criticism of Snodgrass. Yes, she stepped into a bad situation. I do feel her salary needed to be mentioned, along with the fact that she was appointed to the job not because of her work experience (she was Gov. Fallin’s inaugural chairwoman and previously worked for Chesapeake as a lobbyist). But this is probably a problem we have with most state departments. As for the remark about school educators and teachers, the superintendents are hired by the school boards. They must have a certificate and be educators. Snodgrass does not.

*One person commented that the previous tourism director was appointed by the former governor. What I was told was the former director was appointed by the tourism committee, not the governor. Not that it probably matters, just wanted to get that straight.

*Rep. James Lockhart was not notified of the meeting and had to find out from a friend. One writer said he should not have left his office early. The house was not in session Friday. He came to Heavener to meet with people. His cell phone number is widely known and he should have been involved.

*There was also a comment about how the state had planned to close the park two years ago. I asked former Sen. Kenneth Corn about this. He said if it was true, it was an internal memo and was never discussed with him.

*Yes, we do have to tighten our belts and look at all areas of the state government. The Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department had to make a five percent cut. How was this done? Not by cutting each park by five percent, which seemed like the logical thing, but by closing seven state parks. Each of the parks is vital to the local, rural communities. I wonder what would have happened if the OTRD tried to close one of the parks in Tulsa or Oklahoma City?

*The park will now be funded by private donations. A non-profit group has been formed, under CASC, to raise funds to keep the park open. It will cost around $80,000 a year. No state money will be used. Instead, our tax money will be spent on parks elsewhere. But the metro areas were spared, don’t want to upset them.

Hopefully the state’s governing body will revisit this issue. The way it is set up is not the answer, in my opinion. Corn said there are funds available for the OTRD to keep all the parks open and that would be the best option for everybody.


  1. Crowder Lake was a state park and now south western college runs it and has for several years...and has done it quite well.....the directors job for tourism is appointed position and this was not the place to debate it, just like the tourism commission spots are appt by the governor, the lt governor chairs the commission....this was corn's opponent in the last election ...which is why our current senator Allen needs to work on the situation and not our former senator. Hardy Watkins was the former director and he decided to take another job and therefore the current governor had to appoint someone. Ms. Snodgrass has taken on a hard postion and deserved more respect than she received as well as our current senator...if our former senator wanted to help he should have worked in conjunction with the current senator as one team and not opposing sides. This is one time when the party lines should have been dropped and the office respected for the common good of the constituents of the area. I also think it was tacky that corn would make comments about casc and the kerr center...casc has been a supporter of his for years, just tacky, if he knew so much he would have known it has been closed for maintenance and repairs during the slow winter months...and even if there was a problem how dare he attack casc in public shame shame on you kenneth corn.

  2. I believe Democracy works best when the people have an opportunity to have their say. The Runestone meeting was emotional because the community and its people have invested so much in that park. It was unfortunate that the Tourism Department did not attempt to work with local leaders for a solution but instead came up with one that has lots of issues to be addressed. There is nothing wrong with Corn voicing his view. He is a private citizen and a taxpayer. He protected the park when he was the senator. I am sure if Senator Allen would have called him, he would have responded to him with a helping hand. The comments about CASC are not out of line. In fact, Corn said they do a good job but the fact remains that the Kerr Museum is seldom open and the Kerr Conference Center is losing money. CASC has formed a subgroup to try to find a solution to the Center that is not receiving enough money for it to operate without a financial burden to the college. Let's not forget the college is facing cuts too. They receive state money and they don't have the resources to take on additional responsibilies either. The point was that CASC can't continue to gather responsiblities without more money. Asking the public to raise 80,000 to 100,000 dollars is not ideal solution. I don't think Corn attacked the college. I believe he has a right to express the view. No politics here just some people have a real concern about the long term future of the park not that of politicans.

  3. I have never been to Rhunestone Park. I am partially disabled and a family member who has been there told me I would not be able to navigate the trail. I did not attend the meeting.

    It is very hard to get people to give up anything they have had for some time, but previous administrations have dug a hole so deep re our State budget, it is going to be tough for the current administration to get us out of. Serious cuts have to be made and it seems reasonable to cut unnecessary expenses and the park is costing Oklahoma taxpayers over $100K a year. Perhaps those critical of larger parks not being closed should find out if they are paying for themselves.

    IF 100,000 people a year are visiting that park it equals almost 300 people a day every day all year. I do not think that is happening.

    Governor Fallin and this new legislature has to find $500 million to trim. The people in Oklahoma must accept what is necessary and what is not.

    Public Safety and Infrastructure are necessary functions of government. Pensions for retired State employees are a promise that must be kept. Entertainment is NOT a necessary function of government.

    Bobbie McAuliffe

  4. I think it has been shown what the savings would be and it's not any where close to 100,000, it's less than 4,000

  5. Okay the state must cut $500 million to get things back in order. Is that before the taxbreaks for the rich or after?

  6. QUOTE: Anonymous said...

    I think it has been shown what the savings would be and it's not any where close to 100,000, it's less than 4,000
    March 14, 2011 12:21 PM


    The figures disputing the $100K savings ignored the fact that employees accepting a transfer would be replacing retiring employees.

    Craig posted the expenses for operating the park vs revenue in his other article about closing the park.

    Bobbie McAuliffe

  7. I still haven't heard a proposed viable solution from Rep. Lockhart. Therefore, if the park is in fact saved by the Friday night proposal, he cannot claim any credit for "saving" the park.
    THAT is his biggest problem. Not partisan, just fact.

  8. I am amazed at how the issue of a park is so blown out of proportion. There are so many other far more important things that need to be addressed in our county. I grew up in Heavener and the town used to be a beautiful community. It is so run down and it breaks my heart everytime I drive through. It is appalling to think that so many people get so angry over a park that doesn't have as many visitors as was stated, but don't get fired up about the state of the community itself. Where are the priorities? Tough decisions have to be made in our homes when money is tight, the same goes for a state. As far as not being sure if you would vote for Governor Fallin again, I would say that you must have not listened to her campaign as she promised to get Oklahoma back on track financially and that is what she is doing. I would say she is keeping her promise.

  9. Did anyone else see the article in the Daily Oklahoman that showed the Tourism Department has 39 million in a revolving fund that doesn't include what the legislature gives them? Something is fishy. Maybe Senator Allen would have better served us if he would find out why they can find the money to keep the park just like it is instead of letting an unelected person may the decision for us.

  10. Having grown up in Heavener, I think that the community should stop throwing stones at one party or another and look for ways to work with CASC to revitalize the Runestone as well as the entire community.

    Heavener is more and more run down every time I visit it. The more run down it is, the less young people are going to want to build their lives there.

    For Heaven's sake! Clean up the downtown, enforce codes to make the city more aesthetically pleasing. Take it upon yourselves to promote the Runestone to bring more people to Heavener. Stop looking to the government to either improve things or keep them status quo.

    No one wants anything to change. Sadly things have been changing anyway, but not for the good. Support CASC as they take over the Runestone, hold more festivals and events at it, take pride in the entire community. Make Heavener a place people want to stop at on their road trips.

  11. I guess everyone missed the point that CASC does not intend to spend any money at the park. If the money is not raised then the park will close and if not enough money gets raised then it will just get run down. People need to look closer at this deal.

  12. Yes it is true that educators must be certified and Ms. Snodgrass is not, they are all paid with taxpayer money. They should all be held to the same standard. In my view, educators even more. It is pathetic to know that there are teachers, administrators, etc. who yes have degrees and certificates, but are passed around in our school systems doing horrible jobs educating our children. Mind you, not all are bad teachers, we have a lot that are wonderful teachers, but to keep paying taxpayer dollars to those that aren't is appalling. That disgusts me more than anything Ms. Snodgrass could do. You won't find anyone around here calling a teacher out for their job performance as Ms. Snodgrass was. Our children's education seems to me is a little more important than keeping a park. Where is the passion and crowds demanding better for our kids? How many times has someone asked a bad teacher how much of my tax dollars are you being paid?

  13. I don't live in Heavener any longer, but I also am taken aback at the way downtown Heavener is beginning to look these days. But, I agree with Craig, CASC is in the business of educating students, and I attended CASC, way back when. Still, I applaud CASC for stepping up in a dire situation.

  14. just one last thing to say...there is a plan in place and I havent seen anyone else step up with a viable plan/noone wanted to see our park go and it really doesnt matter how mad you are at tourism etc.....if there is a lawsuit filed against CASC and we loose the park then THE ONES WHO WERE BEHIND FILING IT WILL BE RESPONSIBLE IF WE LOOSE IT ... think about it/