Numerous citizens, organizations nominated for Keep Oklahoma Beautiful Awards

Drew Butler
The mural depicting the history of the Chickasaw Nation received a nomination in the team builders - tribal category of the Environmental Excellence Celebration.

The Keep Oklahoma Beautiful organization recently announced the finalists for their annual Environmental Excellence Celebration. The organization is a statewide nonprofit that focuses on preserving and enhancing natural beauty within the state and ensuring a healthy, sustainable environment. Near the end of the year, the individuals and groups that best exemplify these values are then nominated to receive an award.

Four of this year’s finalists are from the Ardmore area. Two individuals, Phillip Capshaw and Kay Laske, received nominations for their personal contributions. The Chickasaw Nation also received a nomination for their contributions to the mural on the east side of Skateland. Ardmore Literacy Leadership and the Arbuckle Area Council Scouts BSA received a joint nomination for their book trade event that took place in February.

The Ardmore Beautification Council is a local affiliate of Keep Oklahoma Beautiful. ABC submitted all of the local nominees, though anyone is welcome to nominate a worthy candidate. Executive Director Julie Maher discussed the nomination process and highlighted the achievements of this year’s finalists.

“The nomination process is a bit like writing a story,” Maher said. “Part of being an affiliate is sharing the things you’re doing to make Oklahoma more beautiful. The nominations are like little short stories about what happened and the impact the nominee has had on the community.”

Prior to submitting the nomination, Maher knew she wanted to recognize Phillip Capshaw for his work clearing the city of trash and litter. After speaking to him about it, Maher ended up nominating him in the individual law enforcement category.

“He does a lot of work to coordinate community service for individuals in drug court to go out and pick up litter,” Maher said. “So after talking to drug court about all the work he does I nominated Phillip to show how he is actively making a difference. He really cares about our community, and he also wants to help people.”

Kay Laske, a member of the ABC board of trustees, received a nomination for affiliate champion. Maher said those nominated in this category go above and beyond in their duties — and according to Maher that perfectly describes Laske.

Maher said she nominated the Chickasaw Nation for their dedication to bringing the mural depicting their history to life.

“We worked together to determine what images should be on there, and they helped facilitate the mural’s presentation,” Maher said. “I think it’s an outstanding piece of history, and I’m so happy they shared it with us.”

Finally, Ardmore Literacy Leadership and the Scouts BSA were nominated for their book sale event. The joint fundraiser asked the public to donate their old, unwanted books that would otherwise end up in a land fill. The event not only helped to promote literacy, it also recycled used books into the hands of someone who wanted them.

Maher said she is extremely proud of all of the finalists. This year’s ceremony is being held virtually due to concerns about coronavirus, and she hopes to hold a small event locally the night of the ceremony on Nov. 20.

“We hope to have an event here where people can socially distance but still watch the awards and announcement of the winners,” Maher said. “We have a lot to celebrate.”