Early voting in Oklahoma begins today, and some area voters will have ballot measures to consider by Tuesday. Johnston County voters will decide on local school bond issues, while voters in Wilson will vote to renew a franchise agreement with Oklahoma Gas and Electric for electricity distribution.
Voters can cast ballots at their polling precinct on Tuesday, Nov. 12, but early voting will also be available today and tomorrow between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Voters taking advantage of early voting can cast a ballot at the county election board office where they are registered to vote.
In Carter County, Wilson voters will make a decision on two propositions that both relate to OG&E electric service: Proposition 1 would lease the city’s power infrastructure to OG&E for $72,000; Proposition 2 would allow OG&E to distribute service to Wilson residents and allow access to right-of-ways for service infrastructure.
Both propositions are 25-year renewals with terms that were approved by the Wilson City Council in August. Richard DeLano with OG&E said the company has provided Wilson with electricity for 67 years.
“Any time we have a franchise, it has to be by vote of the people to renew that franchise,” DeLano said. “We pretty much maintain and keep the system upgraded.”
In Johnston County, voters in the Mannsville Public School district will decide on a $535,000 bond issue. While upgrades to security, technology and playground equipment are planned, more than half will be spent on facility and maintenance projects.
Superintendent Brandi Price said the bond proposal is an effort to continue upgrades that go back to at least 2014, when Mannsville Public School last approved a bond for roof and window upgrades. Johnson said that work has since been completed.
“That bond falls off and then this one will go on,” she said, describing the plan of using the new proposal to continue campus upgrades and repairs into the future. According to documents on the school district website, about 21% of principal remains outstanding on the 2014 bond.
According to the current bond proposal, $360,000 will be spent on air conditioning, ceiling repairs, and other maintenance issues; $75,000 will be spent on security improvements; $50,000 will go towards new playground equipment. The remaining $50,000 will be used to acquire and install technology infrastructure, including wireless network access.
Between 2016 and 2019, the student body grew by over 20% and the Oklahoma School Report card improved from an F to an A. “We’ve grown so much in enrollment that we did a slight tax increase, just because we need so much more,” she said.
Also in Johnston County, voters in the Mill Creek School district will decide on a nearly $1.2 million bond. According to documents on the school district’s website, the entirety will be for the construction and furnishing of a cafeteria and storm shelter.
Superintendent Lorinda Chancellor said the school has not had an auditorium since 1996. “It would be a cafeteria slash auditorium, and the entire building is a saferoom,” she said. The new building would serve multiple purposes to improve safety and give students an open space to collaborate and perform. “It would be nice to let them have their own place, with an actual stage, to be able to shine a little bit,” Chancellor said.
Since the new building will also serve as a new cafeteria, the current cafeteria will be repurposed. “We want to turn that into a little indoor gaming area so when the weather’s bad, our kids can still get a little bit of recess,” she said.
Chancellor seems confident there will not be any tax increases associated with the proposed bond. With a 2016 bond for school transportation ending soon, she expects revenue from a nearby wind farm to offset the need for taxpayer money.
A meeting will be held at the Mill Creek School cafeteria tonight at 6 p.m. to give residents the ability to learn more about the potential wind energy revenue and its impact on the school bond proposal.