Claremore Daily Progress

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September 9, 2011

County warehouse growing as District 3 absorbs Catoosa

CLAREMORE — The headquarters of Rogers County District 3 is expanding to keep up with growth as the district assumes responsibility for 34 miles of Catoosa-area roads.

Construction began last month on a $70,000, 1,200-square foot wing of offices and storage at the district’s Claremore warehouse.

The district also plans to add a garage to accommodate plans to expand its fleet of dump trucks and snowplows after absorbing Catoosa from District 2 in last month’s redistricting.

The new district boundaries take effect next January, but commissioners have agreed to transfer maintenance responsibilities immediately.

“We’re taking over quite a lot of area over there,” District 3 Commissioner Kirt Thacker said. “The people expect things to be done, so long downtime on equipment is not acceptable.”

He plans to buy eight dump trucks equipped with snowplows and sand spreaders, expanding his fleet of three snow-equipped dump trucks. That could cost as much as $800,000, he estimates.

The district already needed to improve its response to snowstorms, he said.

With its previous boundaries — a triangle between Inola, Verdigris and Claremore — Thacker estimated crews could clear all roads of 6 inches of snow in about a week. Adding Catoosa would increase that time significantly without more trucks, he said.

“I don’t want to spend the money, but I don’t want people stranded either — school buses unable to get to school, people unable to get to work,” he said.

In an effort to improve maintenance for such vehicles, the warehouse expansion will include the facility’s first maintenance pit like those at commercial mechanic shops, Thacker said.

Workers now have to slide under vehicles on the floor for simple maintenance. They typically work on about 10 vehicles a day.

“With the amount of equipment we have to use now compared to what we will have, we have to have a shop running efficiently like a business,” Thacker said.

The more visible expansion will be the offices, which are being added onto the warehouse’s front facade. The new wing includes a public waiting room, break room and five offices, including a large workspace for the commissioner.

Thacker’s office is too narrow to comfortably look at maps and conduct routine business, he said. The new office will have a conference table.

“We’re out here trying to do it on the hood of our truck, laying maps on over papers on my desk,” Thacker said.

Office staffers will move to the new space to free room for storing financial, disaster and work records, he said. Records now are stored in a makeshift attic above the existing offices.

They’re hard to retrieve and get dusty, Thacker said. Staffers and state auditors need to be able to find records easily, he added.

“The reason we’re building it is because of all the record retention we have to do now,” he said. “When the auditor comes they don’t want to blow dust off the” purchase orders.

Last month, commissioners had to redraw their districts so each would have an equal share of the 86,905 Rogers County residents counted in the 2010 census.

Under their plan, the Verdigris River largely remains the eastern border of District 2, but the district now extends east of the river to Highway 88 in a 5-mile corridor between County Road 450 and Highway 20.

District 3 takes Catoosa south of Highway 266, including the Port of Catoosa and Highway 412 corridor.

Districts 1 and 3 now border at Highway 20 from Claremore to the Mayes County line while Claremore Lake and eastern areas of the city within District 3 move to District 1.

Incorporated areas of Claremore north of Highway 20 and east of Highway 88 are now in District 2, and District 1 takes areas of north Archer Drive, Fry Street and East Will Rogers Boulevard.

Remaining in their current districts are Chelsea, Foyil and Tacora Hills (District 1), Owasso, Keetonville, Oologah and Talala (District 2) and Verdigris, Tiawah and Inola (District 3).

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