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April 29, 2014

Hometown figure named Citizen of the Year

MARLOW — A beloved native son who never moved further than two houses from his boyhood home was named Citizen of the Year on Monday by the Marlow Chamber of Commerce.

Jason McPherson, a two-time president of the chamber who is Marlow’s city administrator, was moved to tears by the award, presented at the chamber’s annual banquet.

The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

McPherson, 40, said he “had no clue” he would win the award.

He was particularly moved that his mentor and personal hero, the late Les Dawson, a Marlow banker who announced the high school athletic teams’ contests on the radio, had once won the Citizen of the Year honor.

“So far as I’m concerned, this is Les Dawson’s second one,” he told the chamber audience gathered at First Baptist Church.

McPherson followed in Dawson’s footsteps as the radio voice of Marlow High School’s football and basketball teams after Dawson left Marlow in 2000.

Dawson passed away last year, which added to the emotion of the evening.

As a high school student who served as manager for the basketball team, McPherson watched with awe as Dawson provided the radio play-by-play for Outlaw basketball games. In 1998, Dawson allowed  McPherson to call his first game on the radio. That gave him his opening for the KXFI-AM radio job when Dawson, a banker, left Marlow two years later for a new job.

“This next year will be my 15th season,” McPherson told the Duncan Banner in an interview.

In introducing McPherson’s award, his mother Karen was quoted as saying, “He never wanted to live anywhere else.”

McPherson, a 1992 graduate of Marlow High School,  did not dispute that as he accepted congratulations from his many friends.

“It’s my town,” he said.

McPherson, 40, was Marlow’s acting administratrator last summer before he was given the full title. He officially took over the city’s administrative reins at an exciting time for the town of 4,000.

Marlow on June 15 will officially celebrate an extensive makeover of its downtown area, the town’s historic armory is in the final stages of its transformation into the city library and the school district is nearing completion of a new, state-of-the-art elementary school.

Chuck King, the Marlow chamber’s new president, said the aesthetic changes downtown are especially important because “eye appeal” helps convince people to shop locally.

“That keeps businesses open. That keeps the tax dollars rolling,” King said.

The Marlow chamber presented two other awards at its banquet.

The Community Improvement Award was presented to Victory Health and Hospice, a company based in Tishomingo with branches in eight Oklahoma towns and two others in Texas. Its Marlow branch is run from an older building downtown the company took over and restored, adding to the Marlow improved downtown look.

The Free Enterprise Award was given to Central Burial and Vault, a 26-year-old company founded in Oklahoma City that originally chose Comanche as its satellite office in Stephens County. The company moved its local offices to Marlow in 1988, expanded three years ago and now employs 10 people.

 

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