The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

June 8, 2012

Pair square off in Kingfisher County commissioner race

HENNESSEY — Two Republicans will square off June 26 to see who will be the next District 2 county commissioner in Kingfisher County.

Incumbent Ray Shimanek is facing a challenge from Gary Hladik. Both men are from Hennessey, and the winner of the primary will take the office since no Democrat filed.

Shimanek is completing his first term as District 2 commissioner. Prior to becoming county commissioner, Shimanek worked for the county 25 years as an equipment operator and the main bridge builder for the county.

His biggest surprise upon becoming commissioner was how many different things a commissioner is involved with, other than being on the road crew. He also was taken by the vast responsibility a commissioner has and the rules and regulations that apply to all a commissioner’s duties.

“If it’s not spelled out in the state statutes, it’s not legal for us to do it,” Shimanek said.

Another problem is rising costs, which have limited what commissioners can do. The cost of  fuel, shipping and materials goes up about 10 percent to 15 percent per month, he said.

“That limits our resources and budget to do it,” he said. “We’re not getting to do as many (projects) as we’d like to, unless we get some federal grants to do it. We’re applying all the time.”

Shimanek said if he is re-elected there are several bridge projects he is planning. There is bridge work planned on Turkey Creek in his five-year plan. He also plans to build a bridge across Skeleton Creek to replace one that washed out this year.

Hladik works for Kingfisher County District 3. He said he is running because he thinks there is a better way to maintain roads in District 2 than is being done.

“There are some roads going downhill that are not being addressed,” he said. “I’m not taking anything away from the present commissioner, but I think it could be handled in a better way.”

The first thing to do is to improve communication with the public and the county, Hladik said. When people have a complaint, they should be able to call the county and have the situation resolved, he said.

“Roads have deteriorated in the last few years,” Hladik said. “They have become a safety hazard, and I think the commissioner’s job is one of public safety as much as anything. As county commissioner, people can call me personally, and I will go meet with them discuss it and reach a solution. If it can be done right away, it will be; if not and we need to put it aside for a while, I will explain that.”

There are three areas with respect to roads to concentrate on, he said. First are school bus routes, getting the students to and from school safely. Second are mail routes, which mail carriers travel daily six days a week. Third is residential, particularly elderly residents. He said addressing those three areas will cover 70 percent of the county.

He agreed money is an issue. However, he said while there may not be enough money to blacktop roads, there is enough funding to place shale on roads and keep them in good condition year-round.

“Roads for everybody needs to be addressed, and not just a few,” Hladik said.

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