The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 11, 2012

Exchange of ideas: Muskogee officials coming to Enid's Convention Hall

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — East is meeting west today, as a contingent of Muskogee officials come to Enid to see what the city has done and exchange ideas.

Muskogee Mayor Bob Coburn said three council members will make the trip with him, along with 25-30 staff members from various city departments. Some community leaders also will make the trip. They will meet at the newly renovated Convention Hall and talk shop.

“We’ll do an idea exchange with Enid to see what each of us does better. It will be a give-and-take session,” Coburn said.

After general presentations, they will break into small groups for general discussion and tour areas of Enid. Enid has been growing in population, Coburn said, with increasing sales tax, and the city seem to be meeting its needs. Crime is low, schools have undergone recent renovations, the trail system is under construction and a master parks plan is being discussed. Those all are things that Muskogee officials want to study, Coburn said.

Enid came to the attention of Muskogee officials when they started their AIM — Action In Muskogee — process, a vision examination over five meetings. Muskogee officials began to compare some numbers, and at a recent Oklahoma Municipal League meeting in Oklahoma City, they met with City Manager Eric Benson and Mayor Bill Shewey.

Muskogee officials also had a number of staff discussions about common interests, which led to the idea of coming to Enid and bringing staff for the information exchange. Coburn said at the time, Enid had just finished a branding evaluation, which Muskogee currently is doing.

“There is no need to reinvent the wheel,” Coburn said. “We want to do it right. Enid is certainly taking advantage of the wind and oil opportunities, and on this side of the state we have the Kerr-McClellan Port facility that Enid does not have.

“There are pluses for each side of the state.”

The Muskogee group will arrive in Enid at about 10 a.m. today.

Muskogee’s population is 40,000, but Coburn said it has been the same for 40 years, while Enid seems to be growing, according to the census reports.

“That indicates you are doing things well and right,” Coburn said.

A calendar of event shows the group arriving at Convention Hall for a presentation by Enid officials at 11 a.m. The group will have lunch, then Muskogee officials will make their presentations beginning at 1 p.m. Both presentations will be followed by question-and-answer sessions. Group discussions and tours will begin at 2 p.m., followed by dinner and adjournment.

Coburn said the Muskogee group will return home between 9 and 10 p.m.

Benson said he had a couple of informal meetings with Muskogee officials, one in Muskogee at a retail conference and one at length at the OML meeting.

“We’ve been in contact and engaging for several months,” Benson said.

Benson said the two communities’ leaders talked back and forth, and it became apparent each had attributes the other could use.

“I’m very excited about this meeting. We should be flattered they are coming here,” he said.