Norman

Jason Smith, president of the Norman Economic Development Coalition, addresses the audience during the organization’s annual summit Thursday at the John Q. Hammons Conference Center in the Embassy Suites in Norman.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Norman education, civic, and business leaders are worried about employee recruitment and college student retention. They outlined their concerns Thursday at the Norman Economic Development Coalition’s annual summit.

Lynne Miller campaign sign
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

Voters across Oklahoma went to the polls yesterday for mostly local elections. Here’s a brief recap of some of the more significant races we’re following:

New Norman Mayor, Council Runoff

Norman will have a new mayor and two new city council members, but two of the three candidates for the Ward 6 post are headed to a runoff.

SandRidge Energy
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

One of Oklahoma City’s major energy producers unveiled its latest earnings reports earlier this week.

It wasn’t good news – it really hasn’t been for any of the state’s energy giants as they continue to feel the effects of this nearly two-year downturn in commodity prices . On Tuesday, SandRidge Energy announced it lost $74 million in the fourth quarter of 2015 – down 58 percent year-over-year and missing Wall Street expectations.

Stocked Shelves at McFarland Food Pantry
Patrick Smith / KGOU

The week before Thanksgiving, in a small building behind McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church, about a dozen volunteers organized food and supplies into shopping bags The church-sponsored food bank is open every Tuesday and Thursday to serve Norman-area residents.

Karen Toby, a volunteer who helps operate the food pantry every week, says since they aren’t open on holidays, most of the people come in on Thursday and the following Tuesday to get their food.

Sarah Hurd / KGOU

It’s a cool Tuesday evening at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds in Norman. Trucks and trailers are in the parking lot with watermelon, pumpkins, and other produce. Each vendor sets up a tent in front of a trailer. On their tables, staples are laid out in baskets and bags. Elza Elam’s table has a full array of produce for this evening’s market including tomatoes, okra and peas.

Lake Thunderbird, near Norman, Okla.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Norman voters in January approved a water rate increase to pay for much needed improvements at the city’s water treatment plant, and in 2014, the city council decided to meet Norman’s future water needs through reuse and wells, rather than rely mor

Signs dot the lawns of supporters of Norman Forward along South Lahoma Ave.
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

Voters will decide Tuesday on one of Norman’s largest capital improvement projects in recent memory. Norman Forward is a 15-year half-a-percent sales tax that’s expected to raise more than $200 million for more than a dozen quality-of-life initiatives. But some citizens are concerned it’s too much over too long of a period.

“We can pick the most popular projects and build slowly instead of trying to bite it off all in one chunk,” said Norman resident Jim Seifried.

A Norman Forward sign on Flood Ave. across from McKinley Elementary.
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

For months, drivers around Norman have probably noticed red-and-blue "Norman Forward" signs adorning medians, parking strips, and front lawns.

On Tuesday, the City Council approved an ordinance to put a half-penny sales tax on the ballot this fall that's more or less Norman's version of Oklahoma City's MAPS 3 proposal.

Journal Record managing editor Adam Brooks says the 15-year sales tax extension's goal is to raise $209 million to fund revenue bonds.

Storm debris piled along 36th Ave. NW just north of Tecumseh Road in Norman
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The City of Norman is starting debris collection Wednesday after tornadoes and straight-line winds caused heavy damage in the northwest part of the city a week ago.

The city is working with TFR Enterprises of Leander, Tex. to remove tree branches, vegetation, trash, and other debris from the street right-of-way, which is definied as an area 15 feet behind the edge of the street. 

Kevin Anders, standing at the lectern, who represents Midwest City on the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District board, engaged in an exchange with council members Tuesday about whether he would support the water reuse plan.
Sarah Terry-Cobo / The Journal Record

Tuesday night the city council in Midwest City approved a non-binding resolution rejecting a water proposal that would put treated wastewater back in Lake Thunderbird.

The large reservoir about 10 miles east of Norman is shared by the two communities, as well as Del City. All three draw raw water from the lake, but two city officials disagree over how and where to treat the wastewater in the supply chain.

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