November BB4B at Heff's Burgers
November's Breakfast B4 Business will be hosted by Heff's Burgers, located at 3807A NW Cache Rd. Starting at 8 a.m. Nov. 14, come check out the franchise's first location outside of Texas right here in Lawton. Click here to read more about how Heff's Burgers went from selling burgers out of a convenience store to being a franchise.
Southwest Oklahoma Business Expo Wrap Up
The 2017 Southwest Oklahoma Business Expo featured over 50 vendors and 300 visitors. Thank you to those who came out and supported local businesses! Click here for photos.
The Home Chaperone of Lawton Vickie Payne
Continued from Monday Minute 10/30/2017
Mayor Gives State of the City Address
Although a cold and bitter front was sweeping across Lawton, Mayor Fred Fitch delivered a warm and positive State of the City address during a luncheon on Oct. 27 at the Hilton Garden Inn.
The following information is adapted from the City of Lawton 2017 State of the City publication provided during the luncheon.
Fitch began his address by thanking those in attendance and the citizens that have supported Lawton in the previous year and beyond. His address outlined Lawton's success, the city's methodologies and what Lawton hopes to attain and gain within the next coming years. He stated that the 2016-17 fiscal year saw "tremendous progress" with the fruition of some of the Capital Improvement Projects, including the Elmer Thomas Park Splash Pad, Fire Station No. 8 and the Second Street Enhancement Project. The city completed the first year of its internal Wellness Program by expanding employee benefit options and providing merit raises to all employees in every division. The city also boosted the economy by working alongside Retail Coach, a business recruitment firm, for the second consecutive year and by acting upon ideals to keel sales tax local. And last, but not least, Lawton citizens approved $55.3 million worth of arterial and residential street upgrades to Lawton.
Looking towards the future, Fitch focused on five priorities. Priority No. One focused on creating a safer city. The city has worked for the police union to increase the entry-level salary by 20 percent and provided multiple incentive payments to existing officers -- all in an effort to boost recruitment and retention. Law enforcement personnel will see an increase to 199 by the year 2019. And with the construction of the new public Safety Facility and Fire Station No. 8, the city hopes to provide its citizens the opportunity to attain lower home owner insurance rates.
Priority No. Two focused on exploring water conservation and technologies. The city's consulting engineer is near completing the Alternative Water Source Feasibility Study, which has analyzed reuse water and groundwater from the Arbuckle Timberhill Aquifer. Ten test holes were drilled across Lawton and six show promise toward increasing the city's overall raw water supply by 7 to 10 million gallons per day. And Garver Engineering is currently analyzing the level of treatment necessary to provide quality drinking water standard.
Priority No. Three focused on monitoring Fort Sill developments. Fitch said the relationship between the city, community leaders, congressional delegates and military counterparts are second to none. Those efforts resulted in an increase of 800 soldiers at Fort Sill over the past two years. The city furthermore supports Fort Sill's efforts as an integral leader in no only the community but also the United States Department of Defense -- from the opening of the first USO Office, providing for local families, the MFIX 2017 event and experimenting with lasers to defend against Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
Priority No. Four focused on monitoring the general fund budget. Fitch praised the city management for not only delivering a well-balanced budget, but for the city's finance team for producing backlogged audits and working with department heads to reduce expenditures matching given reductions in revenues. The Fiscal Year 1017-18 budget was passed by city council in May of this year and it includes a 2.2 percent utility rate increase that is expected to generate $735,000 for the City of Lawton. Setting Lawton up for long term success will be forward-thinking strategies allowing CPI-recommended increases and more energy and cost effective operations.
Priority No. Five focused on building community partners. Fitch highlighted the the Carey Johnson Oil-EZ Go, Sparq Natural Gas and the City of Lawton's agreement to install Lawton's first natural gas filling station, located on Southwest 6th Street. These public-private partnerships set a new precedent for long-lasting community partnerships. He also boasted in the city's establishment of a Community Relations Director, Tiffany Martinez Vrska, this past year, which demonstrates the city's commitment to visibility, transparency and community engagement. Moving forward, Fitch said Lawton will be marketed as "a city of greatness" and "a city on the move."
Fitch also proposed a sixth priority, which focuses on pursuing technological advancements. He said the city council has authorized staff to work with the Council Committee for Improved Technology to prepare a Request for Proposal. The request will be to provide the city with a comprehensive Information Technology "Efficiency and Opportunity," which will be an analysis of systems, operations and manpower, as well as the level of training and expertise necessary to move forward in replacing the city's antiquated operating system in the next CPI.
Wrapping up his address, Fitch asked for the audience's continued support and prayers for the City of Lawton. He gave final thanks to the event's sponsors and the present members of council. He also urged for the audience's support of the Lawton Public Schools Bond Proposal, which will be on the Nov. 14 ballot. Fitch concluded by saying he's thankful to be the mayor of Lawton and is looking forward to next year.
Click here for pictures from the State of the City Luncheon.
CVB Director Attends Tourism Summit
On Oct. 23, Taylor Burgess, director of the Lawton Fort Sill Convention and Visitors Bureau, traveled to Sulphur for the Oklahoma Travel Industry Association's second Lt. Governor's Travel and Tourism Summit hosted by Chickasaw Country.
This was the second year for Taylor to attend the summit. She spent the day engaging with fellow tourism colleagues from across the state while learning about the best practices to promote our region's tourism. The summit also featured a town hall-type discussion by Lt. Governor Todd Lamb on tourism development in each of the areas visited around the state.
For more information on the Oklahoma Travel Industry Association, visit its website.
Photo courtesy of Oklahoma Travel Industry Association
Inkin Oklahoma Comes to Lawton
Inkin Oklahoma Tattoo Convention will make its first appearance in Lawton Oct. 27-29 at the Apache Casino Hotel. The convention will feature tattoo artists from across the nation. A full list of artists/vendors and a schedule of events can be found at inkinoklahoma.com. The Lawton Fort Sill Convention and Visitors Bureau is one of the sponsors for the Inkin Oklahoma Tattoo Convention.
The convention will bring in an influx of visitors, and is open to the public. Day passes will be sold at the door. For more information, visit the Inkin Oklahoma website.
Young Professionals to Host Mentor Event
Young Professionals of Lawton will host a mentor event titled "Why Lawton?" from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 24 at Cameron University in Ross Hall.
The event will feature a panel discussion of local leaders, including Mark Rodriguez, owner of JAMARK, LLC; Jason Hensley, vice president of City National Bank; Yvonne Landmark, owner of The UPS Store; and Shay Hayes, owner of Viridian Coffee. The panel will focus on why they chose to build their respective businesses in Lawton. During the event, Viridian Coffee will be served and attendees will have a chance to participate in a raffle for two, one-night stays at Spring Hill Suites.
For more information, visit Young Professionals of Lawton's Facebook page. The event is free and open to the public.
Help the Food Bank
Admittance to the Southwest Oklahoma Business Expo will be a donation of two nonperishable food items. All items will be donated to the Lawton Food Bank. According to the food bank's website, last year the Lawton Food Bank fed 13,682 families, equalling to 29,478 individual family members. Therefore, an entry to the Southwest Oklahoma Business Expo will greatly serve those in the Lawton community who need food.
The Southwest Oklahoma Business Expo will take place from 4-8 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Great Plains Coliseum. For more information, contact Sharleen Gehers at 580-355-3541 or by email at email@example.com.
Bison Auction Set for Oct. 19
Th 2017 Bison Auction will take place Oct. 19 at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge corrals. The refuge corrals are located immediately north of the Refuge Headquarters, 12 miles northwest of Cache, Okla. off Highway 49.
The number of animals to be auctioned varies from year to year, but generally consists of cows or bulls which are no longer needed for reproduction within the herd and excess calves of the year.
The auction will began at noon Oct. 19. Starting at 11 a.m. prior to the auction, the Lawton Fort Sill Convention and Visitors Bureau and its Ag Committee will serve lunch to the participants. The lunch is provided by the Great Plains Coliseum and includes a hamburger, chips, potato salad baked beans and a drink for $5.
Buyers and visitors alike are welcome to attend the auction and enjoy Southwest Oklahoma and the refuge hospitality.
Perks While You Work
At the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce, we never stop working for our members. Even if our members are unable to participate in chamber events, we're still working for them. Below is a list of the chamber's "Perks While You Work."
Business After Hours at Expo VIP Reception
This month's Business After Hours will take place during the VIP Reception at this year's Southwest Oklahoma Business Expo. The VIP reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Great Plains Coliseum, 920 SW Sheridan. Tickets will be needed to get into the reception. The tickets will be mailed to chamber members prior to the expo. Attendees must be 21 to enter.
For more information, email Sharleen Gehers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get Noticed by 350 People During the Expo
Do you want 350 people to notice your business in just one day? That's possible if you become a vendor at the Southwest Oklahoma Business Expo.
The expo will take place Oct. 26 at the Great Plains Coliseum, 920 SW Sheridan. As a vendor, you'll also have access to training videos to help your business before, during and after the expo. Don't miss out on this incredible opportunity to support your business.
Click here for the vendor application.
For more information, contact Sharleen Gehers at 580-355-3541 or by email at email@example.com.
Learn What's to Come for Lawton at the State of the City
Mayor Fred Fitch will discuss what's in Lawton's future during the State of the City Luncheon at noon on Oct. 27 at the Hilton Garden Inn Bison Room. Com hear how Lawton's progressing.
Tickets are $20 for Chamber Members and $25 for General Admission. Limited seating available. Purchase of tickets will be available until Oct. 18. Reservations not cancelled within 72 hours will still have to pay. Click here to register.
Sponsorships are available for a limited time. For more information please contact Sharleen Gehers at 580-355-3541 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo taken during the new Public Safety Facility groundbreaking on Oct. 2.
Silver-Line Plastics to Host Meeting in Lawton
Silver-Line Plastics will host its National Sales and Marketing Meeting Oct. 18-19 in Lawton. This will be the first time for Silver-Line Plastics to host its National Sales and Marketing Meeting outside its offices in Asheville, North Carolina. Around 30 of its management will participate in its meetings at the Great Plains Technology Center, touring the Silver-Line Plastics Plant, attending dinner and touring Medicine Park.
The Lawton Fort Sill Visitors and Convention Bureau is sponsoring Silver-Line Plastics' National Sales and Marketing Meeting. Silver-Line Plastics is one of Lawton’s biggest businesses and the Lawton Fort Sill Visitors and Convention Bureau is excited to have them in the community.
Vendors Could Win a Trip for the Whole Family
Vendors participating in the 2017 Southwest Oklahoma Business Expo will be entered in for a chance to win a trip for four to Branson, Missouri, courtesy of Apache Casino. Click here for a vendor application.
The 2017 Southwest Oklahoma Business Expo will take place Oct. 26 at the Great Plains Coliseum. For more information, contact Sharleen Gehers at 580-355-3541 or via email, email@example.com.
New Chamber Member Reception Oct. 4, 2017
We had a great time at the New Chamber Member Reception on Oct. 4, 2017, at the chamber. Thank you to all who came out, and a special shoutout to Cherry Berry for the delicious froyo and to Scott's House of Flowers for the beautiful centerpieces. Click here for more photos.
Breakfast B4 Business at Classic Chevrolet
We enjoyed Breakfast B4 Business at Classic Chevrolet this month on Oct. 3. Thank you to all who attended! Click here for more pictures.
CVB Sponsoring Four First-Time Events in Lawton
For the month of October, the Lawton Fort Sill Convention and Visitors Bureau will sponsor four groups that will make their first appearance ever in Lawton.
Rocky Mountain Education Training Conference held their first conference in Lawton last week on Oct. 5-6 at Cameron University.
The Sliver-Line Plastic National Sales and Marketing Meeting will be held in Lawton for the first time on Oct. 18-19.
Cameron University Camp and Scrimmage Softball Showcase Tournament will take place in Lawton Oct. 21-22.
Ink in Oklahoma Tattoo Convention will be in Lawton Oct. 27-29.
Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America to Host Showcase in Lawton
The Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America will host its 2017 Horn Showcase in Lawton for the third consecutive year Oct. 4-8 at the Great Plains Coliseum. At the showcase, Texas Longhorn cattle are officially measured while competing for the longest horn length and title.
The annual event draws more than 500 spectators and participants from across the world. The Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America’s 2017 Horn Showcase will bring together the best Texas Longhorn cattle in established classes to showcase the breed to cattlemen, future breeders and fans. The 2017 Horn Showcase is free and open to the public.
For a schedule of events, visit tlbaa.org.
Training Available for Expo Vendors
Training videos for how to prepare for the expo, what to do during the expo and how to utilize your resources after the expo will be available for vendors participating in this year's Southwest Oklahoma Business Expo. Vendor applications are due by Oct. 6. Click here for the vendor application.
The 2017 Southwest Oklahoma Business Expo will take place Oct. 26 at the Great Plains Coliseum. For more information, contact Sharleen Gehers at 580-355-3541 or via email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Click here for a sponsorship form.
Business After Hours at Jimmy John's
We had a great time at Business After Hours on Sept. 21. Thank you to Jimmy John's for hosting!
Click here to see more pictures.
McKiernan Delivered State of Fort Sill Address
On Sept. 22, Maj. Gen. Brian J. McKiernan, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, delivered his State of Fort Sill address to a captivated audience at the Cameron University McCasland Ballroom. He had landed in Lawton only two hours prior after an extensive trip to the United States Pentagon. His address spoke of the past success of Fort Sill and its optimistic future.
He boasted of Fort Sill's volunteer efforts within the community, which saw soldiers in local schools and assisting various nonprofit organizations. Fort Sill's Healthy Base Initiative, and multiple other health-based initiatives, has allowed the Army base to be considered a model installation giving it a gold level standard for a healthy generation. The military base has increased its efforts in STEM programs for 5th grade students in 17 districts, which has improved students' math and science subjects by 10 points. McKiernan also boasted about the relationship between Lawton and Fort Sill, which he believes is the best community/military base relationship across bases. He believes he will only see this relationship increase over the coming years.
As for the future of Fort Sill, McKiernan had only positive outlooks. Fort Sill will see growth in its Fires Center of Excellence over the next decade, which will enable the maneuvering of ground forces with field artillery and air defense artillery. He predicts capabilities in the near term to see solutions to the Army, which will lead to the increased capabilities of the National Guard by increasing its weapon strength. Growth across the Army will continue over the next couple of years, which includes enlistees, instructors and support personnel for training. An increase in troop strength and combat training will shape the lay of Fort Sill, including housing and facilities. McKiernan sees significant growth in Fort Sill's future, which means there will be an update to its Visitor Control Center. He said last year the center issued 115,000 short-term passes and 7,500 passes, so the center is seeking an easier process for passes.
He concluded by stating that Fort Sill is continuing to increase its relationship with the Lawton community. Its youth concert earlier this year saw 2,000 attendees and its annual Fourth of July Celebration saw 5,000 attendees. He hopes to utilize the Lawton Fort Sill Convention and Visitors Bureau's Visit Lawton app to make incoming service men and women and their families aware of what Lawton-Fort Sill has to offer. He also hopes to work together more with the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce and local leaders to make Fort Sill a "destination" for families. On the horizon, he sees positive changes for Fort Sill and is optimistic for what it means for Lawton and its bright future.
McKiernan ended his address by stating that he will be departing from his post at Fort Sill in November to be the Deputy Commanding General in the 18th Airborne Corps. But he stated that he is "dragging his feet" on the change in command because it will be difficult for him and his family to leave Lawton. He said Fort Sill is "home" and will be homesick as soon as he leaves, but he plans have his retirement ceremony at the post’s Old Post Quadrangle. McKiernan wished a "thank you" on behalf of his family, the Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill for "the best community relationship our Army has."
Click here for more pictures.
Breakfast B4 Business Hosted by Classic Chevrolet
Classic Lawton Chevrolet prides itself in doing business the "classic" way. Located at 8308 N.W. Cache Road, Classic Lawton Chevrolet is owned by Erv Randle with partner Tom Durant. Classic Lawton Chevrolet is the sister store to Classic Chevrolet in North Texas -- the No. 1 volume Chevy dealer for over a decade. Family owned an operated since 1960, Classic Chevrolet has decade-long streak in leading nation-wide retail sales; is GM's No. 1 parts dealership in the nation; and for 14 consecutive years, it has been named GM Dealer of the Year.
Classic Lawton Chevrolet will host Business B4 Breakfast at 8 a.m. Oct. 3. To read more about Classic Lawton Chevrolet, click here.
Twelfth Annual Spirit of Survival to Take Place
The 12th annual of Spirit of Survival is right around the corner. Various events will make up the weekend's event from Sept. 30-Oct. 1 at Elmer Thomas Park, including the half marathon, quarter marathon, 5K run/walk, 1m Kid’s Marathon and 0.4m Spirit Walk, and new this year, bike rides (14, 26, 51 and 64 mile). All proceeds from the Spirit of Survival go towards the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma.
Click here for the Spirit of Survival website.
City Sets Groundbreaking for Public Safety Facility
From the City of Lawton
SEPTEMBER 22, 2017 -- The City of Lawton is pleased to host the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Public Safety Facility at 10 a.m. Oct. 2 in the lot between Southeast Larrence and Railroad Streets, south of East Gore Boulevard.
The ceremony will feature addresses by Mayor Fred Fitch, City Manager Jerry Ihler, Lawton Police Chief James Smith, Lawton Fire Chief Dewayne Burk, Chamber of Commerce Representative Nathan Slate, Project Engineer Billy Tramel and Dr. Keith Miles of Central Baptist Church.
“This is a great day for the Lawton Police Department and the citizens of Lawton Fort Sill,” Smith said. “This will be one of the focal points that will enhance the downtown center nad make the community a wonderful place to live.”
The facility comes at a construction cost of 33.7 million, funded by the 2015 Sales Tax Extension, and will include a new police station, city jail, municipal court and fire facility. The 112,100 sq. ft. building will house 350 work stations and hold 126 inmates with future expansion opportunities to hold more than 300 inmates. It was approved by Lawton City Council to be designed by Dewberry Architects; a construction bid was awarded to Flintco LLC of Oklahoma City in August 2017.
“The start of the construction of the new Public Safety Facility marks the beginning of a new era for public safety for the city of Lawton,” Burk said. “This new facility will provide opportunities for additional growth and allow personnel to utilize new technology, which should aid in their ability to perform their jobs.”
During the ceremony, a community time capsule with items collected from longtime community agencies and organizations will be presented to attendees and City of Lawton staff. Items within the stainless steel capsule will be vacuum-sealed and then placed in the ground beneath the bell tower to be erected in front of the facility. In 50 years, they will be uncovered. Contributors include the Chamber of Commerce, Cameron University, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and Fort Sill.
“Lawton Fort Sill has a unique culture that should be preserved and celebrated,” said Community Relations Director Tiffany Martinez Vrska. “Our community is branded by wonderful partnerships and people that continue to grow and progress with each passing year. In 50 years, it will be fascinating to uncover and study the items placed in this capsule – to remember our history and see just how far we’ve come.”
The groundbreaking ceremony is free and open to the public. Event formalities and remarks will be followed by coordinated photos. Those who plan to attend are requested to enter off of Larrance Street and follow posted parking signs.
Please call the City of Lawton Engineering Department at 580-581-3385 for additional questions or information.
Business After Hours at Jimmy John's
Since 1983, Jimmy John's has been the launching pad for success story after success story. The franchise founder himself, Jimmy John Liautaud, graduated second to last in his graduating class and had no sights for college. His father encouraged him to join the United States Army, but Jimmy had a vision of opening his own business.
His dad conceded by agreeing to give him $25,000 to open his business, but if it didn't make a profit within a year, it would be off to boot camp. Jimmy's first-love was Chicago street food, mainly hot dogs. He discovered he would need at least $45,000 to open a hot dog stand and decided that was no good. After his discovery, he wandered into a sandwich shop, noticed the minimal equipment and saw his future. He started by learning how to make his own bread by checking out books from his local library. After many baking trial and errors, he came up with a recipe that helped shape Jimmy John's famous French bread. Next he bought deli meat and began crafting a menu.
With four sandwiches, Jimmy opened his first shop in Charleston, Illinois. Within his first year, $155,000 in sales and made $40,000 profit. In more than 30 years since, Jimmy John's has grown into 2,500 locations across the United States, including one location in Lawton, which opened in early 2016. At 5:30 p.m. Thursday, September 21, Jimmy John's Lawton will host Business After Hours where attendees can gather to build connections, enjoy gourmet sandwiches and learn more about the Jimmy John's franchise.
To read more about Jimmy John's story, click here.
Volunteers Needed for Longhorn Auction
On Sept. 21, the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Agriculture Task Force will be serving lunch to 300 attendees of the Longhorn Auction and are seeking volunteers.
The Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge is one of Lawton's top tourist attractions. The refuge attracts visitors from all over to experience breathe-taking sites, outdoor adventures or embark a vibrant wildlife, including the Texas longhorn and the American bison.
Every year, the refuge conducts annual public auctions of excess Texas longhorns and American bison in order to maintain appropriate numbers of the animals within the confines of the refuge. The number of animals to be auctioned varies from year to year, but generally consists of cows or bulls which are no longer needed for reproduction within the herd and excess calves of the year.
Lunch will be served at 11 a.m. with the auction following at noon on Sept. 21 at the Refuge Headquarters. If you or your business would like to volunteer, please contact Taylor Burgess or Shannon Yarbrough at 355-3541.
Strides Taken for Passenger Rail
On Sept. 6, a six member Lawton-Fort Sill delegation team traveled to the Oklahoma State Capitol to participate in an interim study. Lawton City Councilman Keith Jackson coordinated a group from the City of Lawton and the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce to participate in the interim study with a goal to restore the state's passenger rail system.
“Keeping Lawton-Fort Sill represented at the state capitol on transportation issues and opportunities is vital to our continued growth as a city,” Jackson said.
Interim study 17-107 discussed solutions for the completion of the Eastern Flyer route, which is a passenger rail service intended to extend from Oklahoma City to Tulsa, and ideas for the Heartland Flyer, the passenger rail service running between Oklahoma City and Dallas. Lawton's local leaders hope to extend the passenger rail service from Tulsa, through Oklahoma City and into Comanche County.
Bill Phelps, consultant at the State Capitol for the City of Lawton and the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce, arranged for Lawton-Fort Sill to provide a presentation at the interim study. Richard Rogalski, planner for the City of Lawton, gathered the research and made the presentation, which highlighted the number of commuters to and from Lawton. He concluded that if the passenger rail was restored in Comanche County that passengers' productivity would increase, crowded roadways would ease up and the increased benefits the city would receive from an influx of tourism.
According to Debra Welch, Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, the chamber's primary mission is "creating economic opportunities" for the citizens of Lawton-Fort Sill.
"This is just the first step in a long range plan to have Lawton-Fort Sill included in any plans the State of Oklahoma may make in restoring passenger rail service that could enhance transportation options and provide increased connectivity to other states," Welch said.
International Festival Set for Sept. 22-24
Mark your calendars for Lawton's annual International Festival Sept. 22-24 at Elmer Thomas Park. The three-day festival will highlight a myriad of cultures through live entertainment, food and vendors.
The festival will kickoff at 5:45 p.m. Friday with a Naturalization Ceremony and the Parade of Nations. The weekend festival will also feature an interactive children's area and evening concerts from Tequila Azul and Oklahoma Fancy Dancers on Saturday.
The International Festival is free and open to the public.