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Stillwater's First News with Bill Van Ness
Conversation opened. 1 read message. FROM THE CITY OF STILLWATER:


The annual Stillwater Holiday Parade of Lights will be on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, 7 p.m., beginning in downtown at the intersection of Main St. and 9th Ave. The parade route will go north on Main St., turn west at 7th, then turn south on Husband St. and end at the intersection of 11th and Main St.

The continued focus of the first responders is to safeguard and protect attendees and participants. Therefore, additional pre-emptive efforts for this year’s parade include hardening all of the intersections with fortified barriers to ensure street closures and increased officer presence for optimal response times with emergencies.

“We appreciate the proactive, pre-emptive efforts made by our Stillwater Police Department, Stillwater Fire Department and City of Stillwater Emergency Management. Their hard work to plan and prepare for possible scenarios and then implement every precaution, provides us the opportunity to have these events and create special memories with our family and friends,” said Norman McNickle, City Manager.

A change to this year’s timeline includes the parade route completely closed off to incoming and exiting traffic at 6 p.m. Businesses and patrons along the parade route are asked to park vehicles outside of the parade route if needing to move them prior to 8 p.m.

Live coverage of the parade will air on 101.1 KVRO with Bill Van Ness starting before 7pm....

Thursday, Dec. 2 – Festivities Timeline
5 p.m. – Block 34 announcement (at block 34 location)
5:30 p.m. – Parade staging begins
6 p.m. – Parade route roads closed
7 p.m. – Parade begins
7:45 p.m. – Drone show at Block 34
8 p.m. – Festivities concluded



Candidacy filing for Stillwater City Council seat 5, Mayor, will be December 6-8, 2021, at the Payne County Election Board between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Council positions are a four-year term.

The General Election is February 8, 2022. The candidate who receives majority of all votes cast for the office will be elected. If a run-off election is necessary, it will be April 5, 2022.

The Payne County Election Board conducts all city council elections. The Payne County Election Board is located at 315 W. 6th Ave., Suite 207. Additional information is available online at: https://www.paynecounty.org/election-board.

Mayor Will Joyce announced Tuesday he would seek re-election.



November 2021 Tax Apportionment Report


Note: The collection is based off of September transactions that were reported to the Oklahoma Tax Commission in October and apportioned to the City in November.



·         SALES TAX INCREASE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR: $346,571 (14.13%)


·         USE TAX DECREASE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR: $84,379 (32.75%)



For more information about the budget and taxes, visit the City’s Financial Center at stillwater.org/budget.

We also update a sales, use and hotel/motel tax report monthly at stillwater.org/document-center



On Nov. 15, 2021, Stillwater Mayor and Councilors discussed the best ways to move forward with potential ballot propositions – bond for a new fire station ($9M), bond for a new animal welfare facility ($4M), $0.005 sales tax increase for transportation – roads and other multimodal projects, and a request from Visit Stillwater to increase the Visitor Tax (previously the Hotel Tax) from 4% to 7%.

On Tuesday, February 8, 2022, there will be two tax propositions on the ballot for the Stillwater community to vote upon. The sales tax proposition, (paid by all those who make purchases in Stillwater, residents and visitors), will be dedicated to transportation projects such as roadways, sidewalks and walking trails. The Visitor Tax increase, (paid by visitors who stay in Stillwater hotels, bed and breakfasts, and short-term rentals), will be invested in visitor development and quality of life amenities. The last lodging/hotel tax increase was in 1985.
On Tuesday, April 5, 2022, there will be two bond propositions on the ballot for the Stillwater community to vote upon. One proposition will be for a new fire station (to replace current fire station #2), which will improve emergency response times, ensure ADA compliance, and provide safer and more efficient equipment for firefighters. The other proposition will be for a new animal welfare facility as part of public safety, which will increase education and training for pet owners, provide a safe and health facility to meet code requirements, and more.

Since August, City leadership have been hosting public meetings throughout the community to discuss these concerns and other pressing needs. These discussions and planning are part of, “T.I.M.E. – Together Investing in Municipal Excellence” a first-ever initiative for the City and residents to collaboratively identify needs and funding sources. Participation has included in-person meetings and online discussions.

A Citizen’s Action Committee will be formed to ensure all projects and concerns are brought before residents so they can be fully prepared to vote in February and April. For more information, check the website often at: Stillwater.org/time.



Stillwater High School Social Studies Teacher Rusty Atkins will soon be taking on a role in the school district that’s new to him. At a November 9 meeting, the Stillwater Board of Education approved Atkins as the districtwide Indian Education Coordinator, following the resignation of the previous coordinator. 


A 1984 Stillwater High School graduate, Atkins received his bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University and a master's degree from Southwestern Oklahoma State University. He has served the district in a variety of roles for 29 years. Currently in addition to teaching, Atkins also serves as head coach for Stillwater Track and Field and as the Native American Student Association club sponsor. Earlier this year, he was named the National Indian Education Association Teacher of the Year.


“I’m excited to see what the future holds,” says Atkins, “and about the opportunity to work with our native parents with transparency and collaboration. Together, we can set obtainable goals for our students and continue to move forward.” He says he’s excited to share native cultures and to continue to learn and explore many possibilities for the position.


In his new role, Atkins will work to coordinate Title Vll and other federal, state, and local programs to maximize services to eligible students, liaison with student families, and create programming to help assure that the more than 650 SPS Native American students that benefit from the Indian Education program are academically, socially, and culturally successful.


“This is a wonderful opportunity to continue working with students and specifically our native students,” says Atkins. “I appreciate Dr. Moore, Cathy Walker, and the Stillwater Board of Education for giving me the opportunity to continue to build a program and help our native students reach their goals.”


“I couldn’t be more excited to have Rusty Atkins in this role,” says Superintendent Marc Moore. “Time after time over the years, he has demonstrated his commitment to the education of Stillwater’s children, his excellence as a professional, and his dedication to the Indian Education community. We are incredibly proud of the national recognition he has achieved this year and look forward to the exceptional level of service he will bring in this new role, resulting in an increase in educational services provided to our students across the district.”


Atkins will continue teaching for the remainder of this semester. He will assume some duties related to his new role in the coming weeks and transition fully to the new position on January 5. 



On November 1, 2021, the City of Stillwater launched a new hashtag in partnership with many community organizations including Visit Stillwater, Stillwater Chamber of Commerce, Vibrant Stillwater, Downtown Stillwater Association, and Merry Main Street.

The new hashtag has several variations such as #ShopSWO, #WorkSWO, #LiveSWO, #LoveSWO and #DineSWO that are used to promote services, encourage investment in our local economy and increase unity within the community. Another positive impact of using #SWO is to increase awareness and usage of Stillwater Regional Airport since the airport code to book flights in and out is “SWO” and long-time messaging has been #FlySWO.

While hashtags have grown in popularity, some may not be aware of what a hashtag is and benefits of using them. Simply put, it is a label included on a social media post that encourages users to explore similar content and learn more about the subject included in the hashtag.

The announcement of the new hashtag was simultaneous with the kickoff of “#ShopSWO,” a shop local campaign to encourage residents and visitors to support Stillwater businesses for their holiday shopping from Nov. 1, 2021 to Jan. 1, 2022. There are many holiday festivities scheduled and more information may be found online at Stillwater.org/shopswo and visitstillwater.org/stillwater-holidays/.

“We are excited to continue our partnerships with local businesses by sharing and enhancing their marketing of special events and promotions with residents and potential visitors. As we continue receiving announcements from our community partners, we will share their information and utilize the new hashtag so it may be found easily by doing a quick search on social media,” said Cristy Morrison, Visit Stillwater President/CEO.

Businesses, organizations, residents, and visitors are encouraged to utilize the new hashtag on their social media posts. Using #SWO along with its variations when posting will help people follow online conversations and receive updates.

The previous hashtag, #StwOK, used for more than a decade may continue to be utilized by some in addition with the new hashtag. City of Stillwater’s Communications Director Dawn Jones said using both hashtags is not a bad thing and “will continue to increase online awareness and conversations about Stillwater’s hometown hospitality, exceptional merchants and year-round events.”

“By working together with innovative marketing – such as a new hashtag and multiple usage variations of it – we are able to facilitate economic growth and tell our story,” Jones said.

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