Oklahomans gather to celebrate environmental excellence, including 3 Ardmore winners

Wulf James-Roby
The Daily Ardmoreite
Murals at the Carter County Detention Center are intended to brighten the interior spaces.

Oklahomans from across the state, four former governors and one lieutenant governor with a strong passion for their communities came together for Keep Oklahoma Beautiful’s 31st Annual Environmental Excellence Celebration held on Friday, November 19th at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Keep Oklahoma Beautiful (KOB), a statewide non-profit, recognizes Oklahomans doing their part to preserve the beauty and sustainability of the state.  

One of our local winners this year was Carter County Sherriff Chris Bryant.

“It was a truly humbling experience,” Bryant said. “It was the first time I’d been to the Western Heritage Museum. I highly encourage anyone who hasn’t been to go see it. It’s an amazing facility.”  

This year, over 60 individuals, communities, businesses, municipalities, state agencies and more from across the state were recognized for their work in the past year. The nominations are presented to a panel of guest judges from across the state, who determine finalists and winners in various categories.

Carter County Sheriff Chris Bryant received his award from the Keep Oklahoma Beautiful organization last week.

“I am extremely honored to be among so many deserving individuals and groups from all across our state," said Jeanette Nance, Executive Director of Keep Oklahoma Beautiful. 

Bryant said he was surprised to be nominated and even more surprised to have won the Law Enforcement category.

“I was honored to be there,” Bryant said. “All the categories in the competition were stunning.”  

Bryant said the face lift to the interior of the Carter County Detention Center was his effort to bring positivity and some scripture into an otherwise ‘blah’ environment.

“County jails can be depressing,” Bryant said. “The folks that are here are here for a reason. They’re not necessarily mad at the staff, but at their situation. A little positivity in the mix helps.”

Bryant said that this has been especially helpful over the last couple of years as COVID restrictions have halted in person visitation. Instead they have been having video visitation.

Bryant said that the CCDC staff kept COVID at bay for as long as they could, by keeping everyone’s health and safety at the forefront.

“We were the last county facility to have COVID show up," he said.

Murals at the Carter County Detention Center are intended to brighten the interior spaces.

Bryant said he was glad and honored to represent Carter County. Ardmore took two other categories this year as well. Julie Maher with Ardmore Beautification Council said Judy Parson, the owner at Garden Tender in Ardmore, took the Affiliate Champion category while the Ardmore Beautification Council took their nonprofit category for service with a population under 40,000.  

Maher says Parson and her crew do tremendous work on landscaping and maintenance around the city, from pruning the crepe myrtles around the city to design and planting in decorative flower beds, including their award winning ‘welcome to Ardmore’ signs.

“She goes above and beyond,” Maher said.  

Those welcome signs were one of the first ABC projects in 1991. Since then, several have been replaced, but this year’s investment into those projects amounted to an additional $37,000.

“Now they’re double sided,” Maher said. “One side says ‘welcome to Ardmore’ and ‘a beautiful city is good business,’ and the reverse says ‘come back soon.’”  

Maher said they hope people take that sentiment to heart. “That was really the foundation of Ardmore Beautification Council,” Maher said. Several trustees for ABC were able to attend the Environmental Excellence Award alongside Maher, including Kay Watson, Janice Sapington and Barbara Santee.