The Duncan Banner

March 23, 2014

A Q&A with Mike Nelson

The Banner Staff
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Mike Nelson

Q. City Manager Jim Frieda said recently if the half-cent sales tax extension for economic development is not approved by voters, he will immediately seek voter approval for the city to assess its own half-cent sales tax to address its water and street problems. If elected and the sales tax extension is defeated on April 1, would you favor Frieda’s plan?

A. I would support almost any plan that would allow the City of Duncan to address the streets and infrastructure issues we are faced with EXCEPT borrowing monies. The people voted in 2007 to not fund the needed program and monies were borrowed at that time. Currently, we are paying 1.3 million dollars per year to fund that debt. I do not favor taking on new debt at this time.

Q. Do you think the Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation is doing a good job with its approach to improving the city? Would you like to see changes made in its approach? If so, what changes?

A. The Board of the Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation has allowed their president, Lyle Roggow to spearhead two projects that I find very promising. First, is the business incubator.    This helps small businesses in their start up and early growth phases. It also provides rental income back to the Foundation.    Erle P. and Vida Halliburton came to Duncan after World War I with a dream and a handful of employees. Essentially, the Duncan area was their incubator, and we all see how that turned out.    Secondly, Mr. Roggow implemented the “Career Pathways” program by working with our local schools and many other organizations. This program focuses youth on science, technology, engineering and math to guide our youth to fill positions that manufacturers need. This is a flagship program and Duncan is the example. Historically, DAEDF has focused on industry for valid reasons.    I am glad to see them branch out and expand their focus.

Q.  Do you feel the city’s selection process in  choosing which streets should be improved during the beginning stages of repairs is fair and reasonable?

A.     It would be difficult to improve on something that has not occurred. I have only seen an arbitrary list of streets intended to show the public how much could be done with the proposed sales tax portion anticipated if the tax is voted by the people. There is a list of about 250 streets that was set to receive work if the General Obligation bond had been passed which amounted to around ten million dollars. The people voted no to this bond. In that list, every street in Duncan was rated from 1 to 10 with 1 being the best and 10 the worst. This list is still up on the City of Duncan website. Each street was rated in relation to pavement condition, drainage, whether or not there was a water main or other utilities under it, and if added capacity was needed as determined by traffic studies. The intent on that list was to get the most bang for our buck. It is my personal opinion that the major and minor collector streets should be addressed first and that the repairs should be spread evenly between the four wards and not concentrated to just one specific area of town.

Q. Which approach do you favor in developing the city’s water supply infrastructure?

A. Our water supply infrastructure is old and breaking down. The current drought along with the hot summers and icy winters is taking its toll on all the lines. My feelings are that you can only patch so much and then you need to really find the funds to begin replacing these lines. Duncan is fortunate to have several billion gallons of water stored in our lakes northeast of town. The ability to move that water into the water plant needs to be improved as well as the ability to move the water to the consumer.    A systematic approach must be taken to repair/replace water lines over the next few years

Q.  What changes, if any, would you like to see Duncan make in the quality of life it offers to its residents?

A.    Duncan was recently ranked in the top 15 cities in the state of Oklahoma. It pleased me that the first questions asked by the citizens was what can we do to improve that ranking. Currently there are plans to build the splash pad at Douglass Park and to use recycled material to build a shaded area at the current splash pad off Chestnut and B. The Kiwanis Club operates and maintains Kiddie-land in Fuqua Pak which has been a landmark in Duncan for generations. There have been funds budgeted to improve parking at Abe Raizen Park. The city council passed the Heritage Trail walking path in March 2011. That project should begin this year with 80% of the monies coming from grants. Duncan continues to maintain the largest outdoor swimming pool in Oklahoma. The Compassion health care center on 10th street offers free health care. We have many food and clothing programs offered by local churches. The list could go on and on.

Ronald Reagan said that “we can not help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” That is the spirit in Duncan. Our organizations, civic clubs, churches, schools and libraries all work together to provide free or affordable services for members of our community. We strive to be a family friendly town. Working together, we can build a better Duncan.