The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 12, 2014

City committees are like a 2nd pair of eyes

Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — At any given point, more than 100 people serve on boards and commissions associated with Enid city government.

Those 21 boards vary in size and scope, with some merely advisory and others offering substantial input on policy. Some boards contain elected officials; others have only an honorary Enid City Commission member.

Some even come mixed with county officials or representatives from stakeholder groups.

Will Gungoll’s day job is an Edward Jones financial adviser. Outside that, though, he serves on three city panels: Park Board, Board of Adjustment and Enid Public Transportation Authority.

When he moved back to Enid in 2011 his old friend, City Manager Eric Benson, suggested he take a look at some open seats.

“So I ended up getting on a couple of them. It’s like all volunteer positions; they’re not going to tell you no for very long,” Gungoll said.

And why serve? His family and business is here to stay.

“We just as well better make it as good as we can and make everything the way we like it to be,” he said.

Still, Gungoll downplays his contribution.

“It’s not like I do that much,” he joked. “Maybe here and there, there’s some work outside of the actual meetings that has to get done on my end, but it’s not too terrible. Really I give up about three or four hours a month.”

Enid Woodring Regional Airport Director Dan Ohnesorge said he appreciates the value his advisory board members bring to the table.

“The value is they see things I don’t see. Sometimes they’ll have questions on things I haven’t thought of,” he said.

An analogy he uses is that outsiders “trip on the furniture.”

“I’ve been here for five years now, so I unconsciously walk around the furniture. So they see things sometimes I won’t see,” Ohnesorge said.

That outside view recently proved useful. Air Force Lt. Col. Dave Chael, a member of the Aviation Advisory Board, brought up an issue with the airport’s runway night lights.

Woodring’s tower crew goes home at night, and the runway lights are powered down. Pilots flying in after dark can automatically turn on the runway lights from the air. The problem? The system only works for one of the airport’s two runways. Chael could only land on the north-south runway in a crosswind. Expanding the automated system to the second runway is deemed too costly.

“We decided that when the wind is strong from the northwest, we’ll just ask the tower to leave those lights on all night in case someone comes in,” Ohnesorge said. “There’s a perfect example of something I hadn’t thought of before, but he brought up the issue. We came up with a really good solution.”

Gungoll was part of a Park Board that recommended playground equipment spending and renovation of existing city green spaces.

“I suppose one of the things we discussed, and is now becoming policy, is taking care of the parks we’ve got,” he said. “It would be great to have new parks, but we’ve got to take care of what we’ve got. We’re doing that now.”

On the Board of Adjustment, he joins others to hear and decide zoning appeals.

“Whatever the variance is, is it something that causes a detrimental impact on our town? Probably not? Then we need to get it done for business’ sake,” he said, noting Napoli’s painted sign and the signage installed for the new CVS pharmacy. “I go at that stuff with a pro-business mindset.”