The Woodward News

Local News

July 10, 2012

Rodeo, city review topics at luncheon

Woodward, Okla. — Chamber members heard a report on the upcoming Woodward Elks Rodeo and a review of the past few months in the city of Woodward during Monday's monthly luncheon at the Pioneer Room.

Neal Day, representing the rodeo committee, said several new acts are part of the rodeo this year and that entries are up with 389 contestants for the 82nd edition of the rodeo. Also new this year the city has enclosed the announcer's area and the building used by the rodeo secretary has also been improved, Day said.

Community involvement is a big key for the Elks, Day said.

Next, City Manager Alan Riffel talked about the events of the past few months and how the community and its citizens have handled things.

"It has been a remarkable year for the city of Woodward. The last 4 months have been a whirlwind for the city," Riffel said.

On March 12, the city dedicated the new Conference Center, which also houses the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Initial hopes were to have about 26 events for the first year, Riffel said, but since opening the center has hosted 38 events with more than 5,000 people attending. Several more events are planned through December.

Then came Sunday, April 15, "a long night for everyone in the community," Riffel said.

A killer tornado hit the community, leaving 6 people dead, over 70 houses destroyed and nearly 200 houses and businesses damaged.

By midday on that Sunday, the conference center was being used for a much different kind of event, when it hosted a press conference with Gov. Mary Fallin and other officials from the state who toured areas of the community damaged by the tornado.

Riffel discussed the community's response and recovery efforts and how everyone pulled together to help each other, and continue to do so today.

"Recovery Woodward has played a big role in getting the community back on its feet," Riffel said.

The recovery group includes volunteers from area churches and the community working to help in the long-term recovery for the tornado victims, meeting weekly to work on cases and get assistance to people who need it, Riffel said.

One project developed as a result of the tornado is a new outdoor siren warning system.

"We have added 21 new sirens and updated the 5 existing ones to where they all over lap and all are on a battery back up in case of a power outage," Riffel said. "Apache Corporation donated $350,000 to this project and the city gave $50,000 and it will be fully functional by the end of the week," Riffel said.

The tornado also caught the attention of legendary singer Larry Gatlin who, on April 18, performed a free benefit concert at Crystal Beach Stadium, helping raise $62,000 in just one night for tornado victims.

"It was a moving and healing evening for all that attended," Riffel said.

Riffel pointed out that the city worked on budget issues during the final quarter of the fiscal year and due to continued growth, the city has been able to budget for additional firefighters and police officers.

Riffel said the city is part of a new mobile cop program  that will be introduced thru a pilot program with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Mobile cop will allow local police officers access to more information and allow them to communicate with other law enforcement offices as well, Riffel said.

The city manager revealed that the program "Today in America," hosted by former NFL football star Terry Bradshaw, produced a 4-minute video on Woodward from its history to now.

While the air dates are unknown, Riffel said the show "will be aired 4 times nationally and 8 times regionally and will be used as a marketing tool to get people to Woodward."

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