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Countywide & Sun Sept. 26, 2013

It Can Wait
Gordon Cooper Technology Center Seminole Campus morning students pose with a banner showing that they signed a pledge to never text and drive as part of the national "It Can Wait" Stop Texting and Driving pledge day Sept. 19. The popularity of cell phones is linked to a significant increase in distracted driving, resulting in injury and loss of life. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2010 driver distraction was the cause of 18 percent of all fatal crashes. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. "Our goal is to raise awareness of the dangers of texting and driving. No text message is worth a life," GCTC Assistant Superintendent Mike Matlock told students.

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Friday Meeting Set At The Ritz To Discuss Homeless Situation

By JOHNNA RAY At least two meetings to be held within the next few days will aim to bring about ideas and plausible resolutions toward making Shawnee a better city to live and to visit. The first of the two, a town hall meeting to discuss homelessness, is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Ritz Theatre in Downtown Shawnee. This event has a Facebook webpage with details concerning who should attend and what is to be discussed. "All Shawnee residents with a concern, all mental health professionals, clergy, missions, Salvation Army, merchants, law enforcement, attorneys, city officials, representatives, senators, educators, food banks (and) all parties with a verifiable stake in our city of Shawnee, Oklahoma, (should attend,)" said Jim Kinnamon, a Shawnee resident and creator of the Facebook event page. "We, as a city, must admit we have a problem; we must take ownership of said problem," he continued. "The term 'homeless' is a catchall name and has served its purpose but has overstretched its true meaning. We, as a city looking for a resolution, must collectively redefine, reevaluate and be proactive as one city, doing one thing as a team." Kinnamon said the meeting calls to "seek a swift, one-response action that contains cornpassion, fairness and above all, a win-win for the community and the homeless community as we know it." Several city commission meetings have dealt with discussion items and sometimes action items related to homelessness in Shawnee. Several local organizations and churches have worked together in an attempt to help find solutions to what many believe to be a "growing problem" in the city. However, others have argued that places like the Shawnee Rescue Mission encourage an increase in homeless people entering the city. Some of those who opposed SRM's request several months ago for the city to allow an overnight shelter at their building also alleged that a few known homeless individuals vandalized property nearby and harassed employees and residents in the area around the mission. Still, the issue is one that becomes more heavily discussed each year as the weather changes and cooler temperatures remind of freezing conditions soon to come. Last winter, freezing temperatures resulted in the death of one homeless man in Shawnee a result many in the town believe could be prevented this year and in years to come if realistic plans of action can be found through meetings like the one to be held Friday. "Remember that Friday night is one meeting you will want to attend," Kinnamon posted on the event page. "I ask that you all think about the issue at length; look at this with compassion for your fellow human and also a compassion for your city ...We have to look at this as an opportunity to get people, places and things where they need to be." No registration is needed to attend the meeting, which is free. The only requirement, Kinnamon said, is for those who come to remain respectful of each other and their opinions and to avoid shouting, name calling or other actions that "will solve nothing." Another meeting open for the public to attend although there will not be a time set aside for community input or discussion is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 30, at the City Hall commission chambers. This special-call meeting of the Shawnee City Commission is for the discussion of a "water sewer master plan update, a work session to discuss capital projects and discussion of applying for an economic development association grant for (a) sewer line to the north airport property," the official notice states. The agenda does not state that any action will be taken by the commission during the meeting. Rather, it specifies only that an update and discussions are planned.

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