Chamber Holiday Hours
The Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce will be closed from noon to 1:30 p.m. Dec. 20 for a staff Christmas lunch and Dec. 22 and 25 in observance of Christmas. It will reopen from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 26. Merry Christmas!
Wichita Mountains Classic Branded a Success
The Wichita Mountains Classic presented by Sullivan Supply saw 460 head of cattle Dec. 1-3 at the Comanche County Coliseum. Lawton received an influx of business and hotel nights with students and their families spending the weekend in town as the classic saw contestants from all over Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Colorado and California.
The Lawton Fort Sill Convention and Visitors Bureau is proud of the immense success of its Ag Committee and volunteers.
Click here for more photos.
Redcoats Celebrate the Holiday Season
A festive time was had by all during the 2017 Redcoat Ambassadors Christmas Party Dec. 2 at the Hilton Garden Inn. The Ambassadors played Dirty Santa with lots of fun antics. Creative Holiday Centerpieces were donated by team captains and given away as door prizes. Prizes were also given for the Worst Plaid Shirt and Ugly Christmas Sweater. Winners of the contests were Bill Anders for the his colorful, plaid shirt and the twins, Dave Stewart, Lifetime Redcoat Ambassador, and James Taylor, Ambassador Chairman, shared the title for best Ugly Christmas Sweater. Big shout out to Karolyn Anders and the Christmas Party Committee for a job well done.
Click here for more photos.
Veterans United Celebrates Week of Giving
Lawton's Veterans United Home Loans of Lawton celebrated its Week of Giving Nov. 27-Dec. 1 by giving $10,000 to five local nonprofits, totaling $50,000 from the Veterans United Foundation. Jeannette Klein, branch manager, asked the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce to take part in the week by inviting employees to each giving presentation. The local nonprofits that received $10,000 included the Salvation Army, Lawton Food Bank, Armed Services YMCA, Marie Detty Youth and Family Services New Directions Women's Shelter and Operation Homefront.
Lawton Food Bank
Armed Services YMCA
Albert Rivas Testimony
Albert Rivas joined the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce in February of this year because he understood the importance of supporting his local chamber -- enhancing local ties and supporting small businesses.
"However, this cannot happen without getting involved with your chamber and investing time within the organization to make a difference," Rivas said.
He also joined with the opportunity of networking in mind, which has benefitted him as an individual member.
"I am thankful for the many great friendships that have been created in such a short amount of time," he said. "... Whether it be the New Membership Committee, Lawton Proud or one of the affiliated groups, such as Young Professionals or Leadership Lawton Fort Sill."
As 2017 comes to a close, Rivas has no doubt that he will renew his membership come February 2018.
"When you support your chamber, you have a voice in what direction the overall chamber goes," Rivas said. "You have the capability to be part of positive change and the opportunities are endless to meet likeminded people that have the same passion to enhance the quality of life around us. Aside from the tangible benefits, I will continue my membership because of what we can do as a whole for the heart of Lawton-Fort Sill."
He encourages other individuals and businesses to become members of the chamber because he believes "every community member and business deserves recognition and the opportunity to grow."
"Our main priority as volunteers of the chamber, or as employees of the chamber, is to make sure each member benefits from it," he said. "Those same groups of people are working even harder to create new reasons why being a chamber member is beneficial to you and the people around you. At the end of the day, when you join the chamber it says, 'I support Lawton-Fort Sill.'"
Raising A Family
By Chamber President Debra Welch
Free burgers, bounce houses and an outdoor park supplied an afternoon of fun for my 3-year-old granddaughter on Saturday as we enjoyed the annual Co-Op Buffalo Burger Cookout at Fort Sill with approximately 3,000 other members of area families. The night before, we enjoyed colorful shaved ice treats, music, lights, entertainment and an outdoor park at the annual International Festival with thousands of visitors and local residents. Of course, these events came after our regular sidewalk trip via tricycle to my neighborhood park in Lawton.
It is my great fortune that one of Lawton’s signature events, the Spirit of Survival, has a twelve-week training program that brings family members to town each week to run around the streets of Lawton, while I run behind the fastest 3 year old in history through multiple outdoor parks in the area. Outdoor play areas are her favorites. Lawton is privileged to have so many wonderful parks in our community and fortunate that the city continues to invest in these important venues.
Lawton is also blessed to have great organizations who produce a variety of outstanding events that add to our quality of life. My granddaughter wore her first pair of cowboy boots to the Lawton Rangers PRCA Rodeo this year and protested loudly when she had to leave the sandy beaches at LETRA after several sun-filled hours at Military Appreciation Day. Lawton is a great place for family fun.
In addition to the multitude of free recreational opportunities and special events that we enjoy, education entities are setting new standards in Lawton. We have a university that is recognized for providing higher education at a cost that keeps many students away from student debt. Our public schools have received honors in STEM education, while our technology center is a shining star for local workforce training as well as innovative in entrepreneurial support. Lawton has dozens of organizations dedicated to raising the quality of life for all of our citizens from Success by Six to the Senior Center for Creative Living.
Still, we can do better. We can find the good and share it. When we find a challenge, we can work with others to improve it. We can support our local retailers, attend local events, vote in every election, invest in our schools, volunteer and share our ideas and talents.
While I am not raising a family in Lawton, I am enjoying my family in Lawton, and I meet many people who are proud to have multiple generations of their family members living here. I was attracted to Lawton by a career opportunity, which allows me to work with community leaders to create and promote economic opportunities for others. We welcome your participation.
View From the Blimp
By Chamber President Debra Welch
While floating between 1,000-1,500 feet above Lawton, my view from the Goodyear Blimp Wingfoot Two provided me a new perspective of the city. From a bird’s eye view, I located various local landmarks and my first home in Lawton. This unique, top-down perspective also gave me the opportunity to meet more people in the community and listen to their thoughts about the growth of our community.
Many of my shipmates have lived in Lawton much longer than I have, and they shared historical perspectives of the sights below, identified who owned what and how certain things came to be where they are today. Not surprisingly, each of our viewpoints were first personalized to our own history and experiences, and as we listened to each other, our perspectives became broader in scope. All the conversations caused me to consider how this community developed and why some develop more rapidly while others become stagnate or cease to exist.
A quick comparison of other cities in Oklahoma that have seen great growth and prosperity show common traits. Look at Oklahoma City, Broken Arrow, Yukon, Owasso, Edmond and Norman. The citizens of these cities have voted to invest their personal dollars in projects that will prepare them for growth and prosperity. Just as the projects vary and may include incubators, beautification, sports facilities, sidewalks and convention centers, the project acronyms vary from MAPS to CIP or SIP. And the effect is the same. These investments have successfully been able to attract new industry, new businesses and new citizens to their communities based upon their collective investments.
One consistent factor for these successful cities is that they all substantially invest in their school systems. They all invest more in their schools through millage rates than Lawton. Lawton citizens have voted to move our city forward through many of the same projects listed above, and we have an opportunity to align with other successful cities in Oklahoma by voting to invest in our schools. The Board of Directors for the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce voted unanimously to support the Lawton Public Schools Student Investment Program, which will be put to a vote of our citizens on Nov. 14.
Take a larger, blimp-type view of the significant impact you can make for your community by voting to invest in education in Lawton. Prosperity is a shared vision.
Let Us Thank You
For more information, call 580-355-3541.
Members Benefitting Members
Are you trying to drive traffic to your business? Offer an exclusive benefit to chamber members with our Member to Member Benefits. As a member of the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce, not only do you receive many benefits to help grow and develop your business in our community, but there are also perks from other members once you join.
Click here to see our current Member to Member Benefits. If you're interested in offering a Member to Member Benefit, contact Monica McCleary, membership director, at email@example.com.
BB4B At USO
USO Fort Sill will host the December Breakfast B4 Business at 8 a.m. Dec. 5 at its Fort Sill location, 3265 Crane Avenue. Along with Breakfast B4 Business, there will also be a ribbon cutting for USO.
USO Fort Sill offers weekly programs, light recreation, free wifi and free snacks, among other things, to all DOD ID holders. For more information, visit its website by clicking here.
Those planning to attend will need to attain a visitors pass at the Fort Sill Visitors Center. Click here to access the form and fill out beforehand.
Wichita Mountains Classic Comes Back Dec. 1-3
Lawton will see booked hotel rooms, packed restaurants and shopping galore as a stampede of students and their cattle will make way Dec. 1-3 for the Wichita Mountains Classic at the Comanche County Fairgrounds. Is your business ready? For more information on the Wichita Mountains Classic, click here.
This year's Wichita Mountains Classic show sponsor is Sullivan Supply.
23rd Annual Legislative Reception
For more information, contact the Chamber at 580-355-3541.
Last Week's Business Development Events
Thank you to Heff's Burgers for hosting Breakfast B4 Business this month! Click here for more photos.
And thank you to The Chateau of Lawton for hosting Business After Hours! Click here for more photos.
Save the Date for Our Holiday Open House
Join us in celebrating the holiday season!
For more information, call the Chamber at 580-355-3541.
We're Thankful for Our Members
We are thankful for our members and their support for creating economic opportunities and enhancing the quality of life for Lawton.
The chamber will be closed Nov. 23 and 24 in observance of Thanksgiving. It will reopen 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday.
Shop Local, Shop Chamber This Holiday Season
Before you begin planning your holiday shopping, remember your local businesses. This year, several local businesses will be participating in the top three national shopping holidays -- Black Friday (Nov. 24), Small Business Saturday (Nov. 25) and Cyber Monday (Nov. 27). Click here for the Chamber Directory, and happy shopping!
Lawton Public Schools passes $99.5 million dollar bond
Press release from Lawton Public Schools
Lawton Public Schools (LPS) defied the odds Tuesday by passing the largest bond issue in the history of the district. The $99.5 million measure targets technology, safe rooms, student equipment and replacement of Eisenhower Middle School. The LPS Student Investment Program (SIP) represents an investment larger than all bonds passed since 1972 combined.
“Support from a diverse coalition of community partners has been the key to the success of the Student Investment Program,” according to LPS Superintendent Tom Deighan. “I have never seen a community pull together with such unity.”
Historically, Lawton-Fort Sill has not supported school bond measures. Tuesday’s vote was only the sixth bond passed since 1972.
“The Lawton-Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce was a key factor in this success," Deighan said. "We could not have done this without their direct support and involvement. The chamber represents one of several community partners who assisted in registering voters, sharing information and encouraging people to vote in the November 14 bond election. They have a long history of supporting students and educators."
After the election, Deighan said the approval of the Student Investment Proposal "represents much more than just the financial commitment, it sends a strong message of trust and support to our students and educators."
“We know that Lawton-Fort Sill values and supports education,” he said.
Now that the bond has passed, the district will immediately move forward on the projects. Ground-breaking for the middle school and safe-rooms are planned for the spring; technology and equipment will begin arriving in classrooms next fall.
In recent years, Lawton Public Schools has made several big improvements to include modest raises for staff as well as increases in technology and learning materials. Despite the challenges facing Oklahoma schools, this Southwest Oklahoma school district has reversed the trend locally.
“On behalf of the Board of Education, I wish to express my deepest gratitude to the Lawton-Fort Sill community for supporting our students and educators,” Deighan said, “and thank you for proving to the state and nation that Lawton Can.”
Thomas Inducted Into CareerTech Hall of Fame
Dr. Tom Thomas was inducted into the 2017 CareerTech Hall of Fame on Nov. 8 at the Canadian Valley Tech Center. Below is a video produced by CareerTech outlining Thomas' longstanding career. Congratulations, Dr. Tom!
St. Andrew's to Host 'From Darkness to Light' Concert
“From Darkness to Light: A Concert of Lessons and Carols”
When: 6 p.m. Dec. 14
Where: St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 1313 SW D
Take a break from the busy Christmas rush for a candlelight concert in the quiet of beauty of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. First performed at St. Paul’s in London, this beautiful liturgy tells the story of our spiritual journey from darkness and confusion to the clear light of Christ’s love through scripture readings, prayers, psalms and hymns. Donations from this concert will go toward the continuing hurricane recovery efforts through the Episcopal Relief and Development and to local St. Andrew’s Ministries. For more information call 580-355-9543.
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church Choir, under the direction of Debra Flores, is looking for some extra singers to help celebrate our common spiritual journey in “From Darkness to Light.” The performance will be 6 p.m. Dec. 14, in the St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church sanctuary. Rehearsals are on Sunday afternoons from 12:15-1:15 p.m. starting Nov. 19 through Dec. 10 at St. Andrew’s. One evening rehearsal may be scheduled but not required by all members. For more information, contact Debra Flores at 580-357-6312 (text preferred) or call St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church at 580-355-9543.
Co-Op and Lawton Honored During Celebration
On Nov. 9 at the Hilton Garden Inn, the Lawton Fort Sill Co-Op hosted its annual Dinges Awards Celebration, which highlighted a myriad of cooperative events. The Oklahoma Blood Institute and Fort Sill were honored for their blood drive as having the Most Volunteers and being the Most Impactful. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and Fort Sill were honored as the Most Creative with their Halloween carnival.
The celebration also presented The Hassan Cara Volunteer of the Year Award to Mary Spannagel with Oklahoma Blood Institute. The award is given annually to an individual that has demonstrated unselfish, exemplary service in his or her role as a Co-Op volunteer. Also during the celebration, the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) presented the City of Lawton a Distinguished Service Award recognizing Lawton-Fort Sill’s support of the Homeless Veterans Outreach Campaign.
Mary Spannagel, center, was honored with The Hassan Cara Volunteer of the Year Award. She is pictured with Vicki Hendron, left, and Nate Slate, right.
From left, Joe Gallagher and Doug Wells accept the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Distinguished Service Award from Gus Rodriguez, Fourth AUSA Region President.
November BAH At The Chateau
November's Business After Hours will be hosted by The Chateau of Lawton beginning at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 16. Located at 6302 SW Lee. The Chateau of Lawton is an apartment community for senior adults who want to enjoy life without the stress of home ownership. To learn more about what The Chateau of Lawton has to offer, click here.
Co-Op to Host Dinges Celebration Nov. 9
The Lawton-Fort Sill Co-Op is scheduled to host its annual Dinges Awards Celebration from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Hilton Garden Inn, 135 NW 2nd.
The celebration will highlight a myriad of cooperative events while recognizing specific events as having the most volunteers, being the most creative and/or the most impactful. The celebration will also present The Hassen Cara Volunteer of the Year Award, which is given annually to an individual that has demonstrated unselfish, exemplary service in his or her role as a Co-Op volunteer. During the celebration, the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) will present the City of Lawton a Distinguished Service Award recognizing the city's support of the Homeless Veterans Outreach Campaign.
Military Affairs Bids Farewell to McKiernans
On Oct. 30 at the Lawton Country Club, the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee hosted a farewell reception for Major General Brian McKiernan and Dr. Sharon McKiernan. The committee gifted the McKiernans with a plaque featuring an aerial photo of Lawton and an Oklahoma horseshoe. Click here to view photos from the ceremony.
Support the LPS Bond Proposal, Vote Nov. 14
The Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce is proud to support the Lawton Public Schools Bond Proposal. Our Board Chairman, Nate Slate, explains how the proposal will support STEM education and why it's important. #LawtonCAN
On Nov. 14, Lawtonians will vote on the Lawton Public Schools Bond Proposal. The Lawton-Fort Sill Economic Development Corporation supports this bond issue, and LEDC Chairman Phil Kennedy encourages voters to support this bond as well. #LawtonCAN
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