The Woodward News

Local News

June 19, 2013

Fanning leaving commission

Woodward, Okla. — After serving the City of Woodward for more than 12 years, former Mayor and Woodward City Commissioner Bill Fanning stepped down from his post Monday evening, stating “family matters” as his reason.

Fanning left quietly after the meeting Monday, but visited with The News on Tuesday about his decision.

“I can talk about it more now than I could last night,” Fanning said. “They will announce today, that my wife Kathryn is going to be the Senior Center Director and I cannot be on the commission with her in that position. I need to get out of the way for that to be an opportunity for her.”

From his spacious corner office as Vice President of Stock Exchange Bank, the 33-year Woodward resident and public servant talked about his highs and lows serving on the commission since 2001.

“Looking back at my very first race in 2001, I had two opponents and I won by 71 percent,” Fanning said. “Back in those days the budget was tough, like $500,000 in sales tax per month and Woodward had a population of 10,000.”

In the last decade though, change and growth are just about everywhere. For a guy who has seen Woodward through the eyes of a green kid from May on weekend shopping trips as well as through the spectacles of a business professional, that’s saying something.

“We now have a population of 15,000 and sales taxes are consistently $1 million per month and we just approved a budget of $43 million,” Fanning said with a smile.

Fanning was born in 1957 to Jerry and Ida Fanning of May. The couple farmed and Fanning’s mother worked as a records custodian at what was then “Western State Hospital.”

“I went to school in Fort Supply,” Fanning said.

He later went on to Oklahoma State University with a major in animal science and a minor in business, which turns out was a good choice for Fanning who, upon returning to Woodward in 1979, ultimately used both his major and minor fields of study.

“I started out as the 4-H agent in the county working for the OSU Extension Department,” Fanning said. “I ended up at the bank and that was almost 30 years ago. My wife used to cry because I switched jobs too much. I guess I quit switching jobs, huh.”

It was hard in Woodward when Fanning came back. Not hard to find a job, he said. Hard to find a place for he and his bride, Kathryn, to lay their heads at night and call home.

“I was excited to get an opportunity to come back to Woodward, but it was then like it is now, no housing - lots of jobs and no place to live,” he said. “The waiting list for the apartments was six months to a year and I literally begged the lady to let me rent her house.”

Three decades and three children later, he’s living his vision for what he believed Woodward could become and it all started with a walking trail.

That walking trail was my first project I got to work on,” Fanning said. “I got to choose the lighting for it and I look at it now and it is still really something.”

But his favorite event was July 4, 2009 when President George W Bush traveled to Woodward and spoke at the dedication celebration for Crystal Beach Park.

“I will never forget it. We had made the nicest key to the city to give to him. It had a “W” on it with the arrows going up through it. I was so excited to give him that key,” Fanning said. “But when I turned to the President and said ‘President Bush, we have something we want to give you,’ he (Bush) said “Oh not another key to the city.’”

Fanning said he was mortified. That was all they had to give the President and so he presented him the key anyway.

“ When I showed it to him though, he loved it. He saw that giant W and thought we did that for him,” Fanning said.

Fanning pushed for quality of life improvements in Woodward. He said it was the voice of children and teens in the area who said “there is nothing to do here,” that galvanized his continued support of new and developing events in the region.

“We have the Mayor’s Blues Concert out at Crystal Beach now,” Fanning said. “It’s fun to have blues bands come here for us.”

He also pointed to the new conference center and the Lakeside Six theaters as well as the new Northwestern Oklahoma University Campus, Fuller Park and the new improvements going on along Main Street as the amazing amount of growth that has taken place in Woodward.

But in some small part of him that men usually don’t share, Fanning feels sad at this crossroad he has come to in his life.

“The people I have worked with, the City, the County…It is like a big family and that is what I am going to miss the most.”

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