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January 1, 2013

2012: The year that was

A last look back at the year gone by

CLAREMORE — With a new year ringing in, many Rogers County  residents find themselves reflecting on the year gone by, pondering the ups and the downs of 2012.

For our part, the Claremore Daily Progress pauses for one last look back at the people and events that made the news and shaped the last year.

Rogers County Commissioners.

Some might ask where does it end as story after story unfolded after the release of the Oklahoma State Auditor’s report.

Commissioners Kirt Thacker and Mike Helm took turns in the hot seat.

Thacker was the center of attention due to a criminal complaint that was filed on behalf of a citizen.

The issue dealt with Thacker’s work on private property for the Rogers County Cherokee Association.

Helm’s list of issues was much longer where any topic from vendor gifts to illegal dumping could be included.

The FEMA fund disaster left residents along Keetonville Road asking if or when they would ever get relief from the 2008 flood that destroyed the roadway.

Residents along the Owasso side of Helm’s district received the benefits of the $13 million alternate project list.

Helm used the millions to pave roads and purchase equipment, including a drill rig that none of the county employees are qualified to operate.

Helm’s right hand man, or woman Robin Anderson was not excluded from these issues as she worked to along side him.

Anderson solicited as number of different vendors on behalf of District 2 and the state association of county commissioners.

The request varied from meals to expensive door prizes.

Anderson also was associated with the auditor’s report for provided incomplete documentation of FEMA records.

Ultimately the many different topics of discussion landed the two commissioners right in the middle of an investigation by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

The OSBI investigation continues into the beginning of 2013, leaving residents asking questions.

If the issues of the commissioner’s office were not enough to raise an eyebrow or two budget discussions left some a little uneasy.

June of 2013 will likely bring a million plus shortfall for the county government as the commissioners added a number of new departments and positions.

An E911 director, human resources director and the creation of the new departments came at a significant price to the budget.

Additionally the construction of the new E911 center has yet to see significant development other than costing the county approximately $400,000 a year in operational costs.

Altogether the trial of Rogers County will leave plenty of room for discussion in the New Year.

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