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A fresh start: Local foundation pays all water cutoff notices in Carter County

Drew Butler
The Daily Ardmoreite
News alert

Some citizens in Carter County found themselves the opportunity for a fresh start recently after the McCrory Foundation paid every water bill in the county that was in cutoff status. The foundation had contacted every city and rural water department in the area and came up with a list of accounts totaling almost $40,000. All of those accounts are now paid in full.

The idea to pay the utilities came after Larry Wilkes, a member of the McCrory Foundation’s grant committee, read about a similar project that took place in another area of the country.

“I had read an article about someone in some small town who had come up with the idea to pay for all of the past due balances,” Wilkes said. “I came back and talked to Mary Kate Wilson and Larry Pulliam who are on our grant committee, and they both thought it was a great idea. We decided we would do that for everyone in Carter County, and we thought of it as a fresh start for 2021.”

Wilkes contacted every water department in the county to come up with a total amount of cutoff status accounts. Once the foundation received the totals, they rounded that number up to the nearest $100 and wrote checks to the various departments. In total this amounted to $17,000 to the City of Ardmore, $9,800 to the City of Lone Grove, $4,000 to the City of Healdton, $4,000 to the City of Wilson, and $5,000 to the Southern Oklahoma Water Corporation that takes care of water in rural areas.

Wilkes said the entire foundation enjoyed getting the chance to help out members of the community who are struggling, especially in the economic turbulence caused by COVID-19.

“One of the things we really really enjoy is being able to be proactive when we see a need,” Wilkes said. ‘With COVID and the economy, we’re glad to be able to give people a fresh start. We enjoyed doing it, and we’re fortunate to have the McCrory Foundation and be able to direct the grant funding where it’s needed.”

Kevin Boatright, assistant city manager for the City of Ardmore, said the entire area benefits greatly from all the work that the McCrory Foundation and others similar foundations do for the community.

“One thing we’re blessed with in our area is that we have several local foundations that are very generous when it comes to helping out with various community projects for our citizens,” Boatright said. “This was a very nice gesture from the McCroy Foundation because we often see a significant amount of people — especially around the holidays — who find themselves in this situation. By the time their account gets to cutoff status, they’ve already gone through a cycle of late fees and a cycle of penalty fees, so they are significantly behind on their payments. To have a local foundation step up to help them out will hopefully give them a fresh start for the new year.”