Assistant City Manager Kevin Boatright and Ardmore Development Services Director Jessica Scott have been attending a series of leadership classes conducted by the Oklahoma Municipal League.
The Oklahoma Municipal League Community Leadership Development class gathers 24 officials from municipalities all around Oklahoma every other month to listen to representatives from several organizations in the state talk about resources they have available for cities.
Officials also have the benefit of sharing successful initiatives as well as actions they can learn from in order to mutually benefit and learn from one another. Every class session is hosted in a different city, and Ardmore got its opportunity to show the best of itself to class attendees Friday.
Boatright and Scott were sent by City Manager J.D. Spohn to represent Ardmore after the city applied in January. For Boatright, the congregation of several minds who have experienced unique challenges is a great opportunity to hear useful advice. It’s something he thanks Spohn for giving him a chance to have.
“To me, that’s what’s great about the class. There are a lot of people who have quite a few years experience working in municipalities of other cities,” Boatright said. “It’s great to get to talk to others about issues they face on a day-to-day basis, from their success stories as well as their failure, so we can use that to the advantage of the citizens of Ardmore.”
Organizations that have spoken to class attendees include the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission and the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, Boatright said.
Both Boatright and Scott underscored the benefits of meeting with a representative in person for the Water Resources Board for possible grants and low interest loans municipalities can apply for.
“Now we have direct connections there,” she said. “That’s amazing to develop a relationship, you know, since it’s so much better for us than cold-calling somewhere. It makes my job easier and better for Ardmore.”
As Development Services Director, Scott said one of her top priorities is demolishing dilapidated, aged houses throughout the community. She expressed how it seems that she can never do enough work toward meeting her goal, but was encouraged by officials of other cities who experience the same challenges.
Officials from nearby cities like Healdton attended the class, as well as folks as far as Oklahoma City. The class itself seemed like a daunting time commitment for Scott at first, due to how busy she already is.
But after having the opportunity to reap the benefits from picking the brains of other municipalities, she says it’s been all worth it. Scott has learned different bidding processes and other intricacies involved in demolishing old structures, which contributes to her opinion that this particular class has been the best leadership experience she has ever attended.
“I’ve learned our problems are not just in Ardmore, but the whole state,” Scott said. “There’s a lot that goes into getting those houses demolished, and it can be so difficult. But to talk about what’s working and what’s not working with others has been awesome.”
Boatright said the pair will graduate with their fellow 22 attendees some time in January after completing a series of six classes.