Editor, The Ada News:
This letter is to citizens of Pontotoc County, but more particularly to the people of District 2. I want to thank all who supported me in my bid for re-election. Although we fell a little short, I am proud of the accomplishments we were able to achieve in my term in office.
There is one goal yet to be attained that the people can help realize. That is to vote "yes" on Nov. 6 on a proposed tax for volunteer fire departments, Call-A-Ride, Pontotoc County Nutrition Centers and Pontotoc County Emergency Management. This small amount of money, 3/16th of a penny, will support vital services of our county.
Call-A-Ride is very important to our county and depended upon by numerous citizens. It provides necessary transportation for health care appointments such as chemo treatments and dialysis, transportation to jobs and for day-to-day basic needs of our senior citizens. With a $103,000 reduction in funding for fiscal year 2013, Call-A-Ride has had to make some very difficult decisions just to remain open this year. All employees received a 20 percent pay cut, and all part-time employees were let go due to these cutbacks. Your “yes” vote will give Call-A-Ride the funding necessary to continue to supply this service for our community as well as provide an opportunity to apply for matching grants that have been unattainable until now.
As Pontotoc County continues to grow, our nutrition centers become more and more important. Approving this sales tax will provide necessary funds for much-needed improvements and accessories to all nutrition centers and the possibility of new sites around the county.
Pontotoc County Emergency Management and our county fire departments will also receive the funding that is so desperately needed to allow them to continue to protect people and property not only from fires but also in other times of crisis, such as vehicle accidents, medical emergencies and natural disasters. Our volunteer fire departments cannot survive on donations and grants alone.
Being on the Southern Oklahoma Development Association Board the last two years, I witnessed grants being cut tremendously. As citizens of Pontotoc County, we need to step up and help protect our county and the contents of our county. As we all have seen, the wildfires that spread across Oklahoma destroyed more than 120,000 acres of land, hundreds of homes and numerous building. This is a perfect example of how important our volunteer fire departments are. There is no question that we have an outstanding city fire department, however, this department alone could not save our county or the city in the event of a wildfire. The men and women that volunteer give up a lot of their time and effort to help protect the rural areas of the county. They are dispatched to every EMS call, vehicle wreck and fire within their respective district. These volunteers are very special people who are willing to work at the stations, provide repairs and maintenance on the equipment and trucks as well as complete the hours of required training for fire protection, medical care and natural disaster assistance.
Pontotoc County is growing every day, and its citizens should be thankful we have the services available to support its growth. None of these items are possible unless we take the initiative to vote on Nov. 6. Three/sixteenths of one penny is a small price to pay for all the benefits received. I encourage everyone to vote "yes" in support of the sales tax on Tuesday.
Commissioner District 2