Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Chamber Discusses Sallisaw Growth

Jaime Henson, Interim Director of Carl Albert State College

The Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce looked toward the future during its monthly meeting Wednesday at Indian Capital Technology Center.

At the meeting, chamber President Marley Abell discussed upcoming events that are planned around the area, including the Sallisaw High School Boosters’ annual auction set for 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29, at Perry F Lattimore Stadium. Serving for the BBQ dinner will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Abell also talked about a tour and grand opening ceremony at the new Aviagen facility that is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26. The time has yet to be determined, Abell said.

Other events on the horizon include the Bassnanza Fishing Tournament scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 28, at Kerr Lake, as well as Cruizin’ 64 Chili Contest and pop-up shops set for Saturday, Oct. 12. That event will be hosted by Sallisaw Main Street and the chamber and will feature a cornhole tournament for the first time ever.

The chamber meeting also featured several guest speakers, including Jaime Henson, the interim director of Carl Albert State College (CASC); Randy Wood, Sallisaw Public Schools’ superintendent; and Bryan Warner, deputy chief of the Cherokee Nation.

Henson said she was “very excited about being in the position and excited about things going on at CASC,” including the concurrent program that has increased its enrollment by 106 percent. She said the future looks bright for CASC students. “This is only going to make this experience more impactful on students’ future,” she said.

Randy Wood, Supt.of Sallisaw Public Schools

Wood, the new superintendent at Sallisaw Public Schools, echoed Henson’s statements, adding that he “lucked out” by getting to work at Sallisaw because “my heart’s still here.” 

The superintendent also said the school year was off to a great start. “Do people realize how good the Sallisaw school system really is?” he noted. 

Wood pointed out that his goal is to create a comfortable school setting for students that is free of harassment and bullying. “We want them to be happy,” he said, which will make learning that much easier for them.

Bryan Warner, Deputy Chief of the Cherokee Nation

Warner, the Cherokee Nation deputy chief, discussed the importance of collaboration with Sallisaw civic leaders and other people around the area. He said the opportunity for a great future “takes all of us.”

Warner also said the first congressional delegate from the Cherokee Nation was a great step in bringing the nation closer to its goals. 

Warner discussed a $30 million program the nation is undertaking that will improve housing for elderly, handicapped or disabled Cherokees. 

He said 75 percent of the $30 million will go toward improving housing and 25 percent of the money will be spent with area community organizations. Warner said his goal is to modernize the buildings and make them self-sufficient.

The deputy chief also announced the Cherokee National Holiday will be held this weekend beginning with an awards banquet on Thursday. Events include a powwow Aug. 30-31 with a parade scheduled for Aug. 31 at 9:30 a.m. 

Warner pointed out that the Cherokee Nation had recently passed its largest-ever budget. He said $10 million of that budget will fund an area child development center that will serve children from 6 weeks of age to age 5.

“There are so many projects in the pipeline and I can’t wait” to implement them, Warner said, then reminded attendees that “this is not just about Sallisaw. It’s about Sequoyah County” and expanding services, he said.

George Bormann talked about the plans for the new Veterans Center being built in Sallisaw. With an artist’s rendering of the center on display behind him, Bormann said the center should be open in 20-24 months from now. The center is expected to create about 300 jobs with an average salary of $40,000 per year, he said.

With the future on their minds, the speakers sounded a common theme -- the growth of Sallisaw and the surrounding communities.

“If we work together there are no limits to what we can do,” Warner said.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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