The Duncan Banner

February 1, 2010

Power lunch

Toni Hopper

DUNCAN — Regular coffee drinkers and diners at Daybreak Diner, Kenneth Johnson and Tom Collinsworth found themselves Monday wondering what they could do to help the linemen and workers of Duncan Power.

Doing what coffee drinkers like to do, conversation was centered around the Oklahoma ice storm of 2010. Knowing that the workers, many of them their friends, had been busy since it hit Thursday, they realized a hot meal would probably be more than appreciated.

It didn’t take long for the pair to generate donations. Within minutes of bantering ideas about, donations materialized. And three hours later a room full of linemen were busy eating hot steaming chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes with gravy at the small diner that sits on U.S. Highway 81, just south of Main Street. Owner Mary Allen was prepared to pick up the tab.

“That was not right to have her feed them,” Collinsworth said. “We had to do something.”

The first two donations came from Harold Metheny and the Chisholm Trail Cowboy Church, Johnson said.

“We had about $625 in donations right away,” Johnson said.

For linemen like Tim Scifres of Duncan, and Jimmie Dial of Marlow, the meal was more than an appreciative moment.

“The guys are out there busting their butts for 24 hours, with maybe 8 hours sleep in between, and then to get sleep, hot food and anything else they need to do, it’s just difficult,” Scifres said. “Anyone knows you have to have food, if you go without for three or four days, you get nutty and just don’t make good decisions.”

Scifres said he hopes people are patient and that he hasn’t fared any better.

“I get done and then I go home to a house that’s 30 degrees, too. This is really appreciated and means so much to all of us.”

Dial was also glad to sit down in a warm room and hopes that Marlow also gets restored soon.

Duncan lineman Steve Dennis shared a table with Dial and Scifres and while they enjoyed their hot meal, they also were grateful for a community that is willing to help them continue their job.

“I just appreciate their time and money to help us, and taking care of us in this time of need,” Dennis said.

Allen, who has owned the small diner for five years, has been busier since the storm hit than even during the annual swine conference festival. The downside though is that so many people are without power, but she’s more than happy to serve hot meals all day.

“I just think it’s great how everybody is coming together and I’m glad we can help,” she said, noting that new customers have arrived from Marlow and Rush Springs.

“Customers are donating money,” she said.

The two men who originally started the fundraising said more donations were making it so that even the out-of-town power workers would get free meals through the week.

“We’ve got guys here from Wagoner, Tahlequah and Pryor. Those city workers are all getting fed, too,” Scifres said.

Johnson and Scifres also wanted to acknowledge the quiet efforts of Sharyn McClennen, Duncan Power secretary, and her parents, Joyce and Jack.

“They cooked meals the first few days,” Scifres said. Johnson said it’s that uniting effort of people that will help everyone get through the coming days easier.

— Toni Hopper is a reporter for The Duncan Banner. She can be reached at 580-255-5354, Ext. 132 or by e-mail at: