By KELSY LORIN TAYLOR
Web Editor and Feature Writer
LOOKING AHEAD: From left, Tulsa County Commissioner John Smaligo, Owasso Mayor Stephen Cataudella and Superintendent of Owasso Public Schools Dr. Clark Ogilvie look forward to a positive 2010.
KELSY LORIN TAYLOR for GTR Newspapers
Owasso has become a unique and charming community that boasts both previous accomplishments and future plans. Mayor Stephen Cataudella, Economic Development Director Chelsea Harkins, County Commissioner John Smaligo and Superintendent of Owasso Public Schools Dr. Clark Ogilvie look forward to the possibilities that the New Year will bring.
Last year brought a variety of opportunities for the community to expand. “Owasso has grown while nurturing and fostering the way we change. The result we see is cultural and visionary. As we continue to build and support our business community, we are literally paving the way to expand our educational opportunities,” explains Harkins.
One of the most important accomplishments for the schools in 2009 was the passage of a $19.7 million bond issue. “Our district patrons have stepped up to the plate time and again in the past five years with the successful passage of over $100 million in bond issues to support the school system,” exclaims Ogilvie.
The challenging economy revealed the strength that Owasso has in communication and leadership. Cataudella feels that this strength will not only be carried on through the New Year, but will perpetually last. “The fact that the City Council has maintained stable financial policies over the years has allowed our citizens to see that having a strong financial reserve and an expanded retail base is critically important to being able to retain a high level of services.”
The Strong Neighborhoods Initiative was implemented last year that Harkins describes as a reinvestment in the residents of the community. Having already made strides among residents, the Strong Neighborhoods Initiative will continue to reach out to the community in 2010.
The New Year will also bring new initiatives and improvements to the community. Harkins says, “The most positive long-term change in 2010 may well be the recognition that the time has come to improve the livability of our community by starting the process of prioritizing and constructing Quality of Life projects.” The projects may include the expansion of youth sports facilities, parks, pedestrian friendly trails and bicycle lanes.
This year, Ogilvie will continue to ensure that Owasso Schools remain strong during the challenging economy. “Our school system is one of the main pillars of what makes Owasso such an outstanding place to live and raise families.” He explains that the schools will be updating the overall six-year Strategic Plan, which serves as a roadmap for the district.
One of the most important goals that Harkins has made for the new year is to expand the community by bringing in companies that offer great jobs and benefits. “We have much existing business to build upon and markets to expand. Owasso has laid the groundwork for recruiting businesses with a high quality workforce to enter and prosper here.”
The transparency of governmental bodies was recognized at the beginning of the year. “Owasso has been recognized by SunshineReview.com as having achieved its highest grade for openness and transparency in government, and we should continue these practices throughout 2010 and beyond,” says Smaligo.