New juvenile justice facility tops project list

Karen Keith literally embraced a Tulsa County wall map that designated her work area.
‘‘I love this map and my district,’’ she said enthusiastically. ‘‘Everything that is being done and has been completed is the result of people working well together.’’
The District Two County Commissioner will become Board of County Commissioner chair in January and wants to continue the work she started last January.
Highest on that list is securing funding for the new Tulsa County Juvenile Justice Facility to replace the undersized and outdated and worn out complex at Gilcrease Museum Road.
It also includes finishing projects in Sand Springs, Glenpool and Jenks as well as seeing the Gillcrease Expressway completed.
Keith’s upbeat attitude comes because of a good working relationship that exists within the leadership in the county and various departments. Cooperation between the county and various cities has been excellent.
River development work involving Sand Springs and Jenks projects is ongoing. Glenpool is a blossoming community that has needs and its leadership is working hard to make things happen.
‘‘I care passionately about District Two,’’ she said. ‘‘All people have been wonderful in the district and I want to follow through on the various projects.’’
Sand Springs leaders have added their support to the Tulsa Metro Chamber’s One Voice to get the Gilcrease Expressway completed.
A funding source is being examined and House Speaker Chris Benge is working on the project to bring the badly needed bridge into the Oklahoma Highway system. In the past, the bridge has been a Tulsa project, but never had been adopted by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation or even the turnpike system.
Tulsa Mayor Dewey F. Bartlett has added his support to the bridge, noting the huge area along the roadway that could be developed, she said. That development would be a huge economic boost for both Sand Springs and Tulsa. Tulsa’s previous administration under Kathy Taylor also was helpful.
Developing that corridor is an economic engine waiting to be triggered, she said.
Keith looked at various road projects that had been completed while others were ongoing. Each required teamwork.
Teamwork also is required within the courthouse.
‘‘I have to brag about the building operations team,’’ Keith said. They have done amazing things and gone beyond what was asked.
For example, the baseboard in the county commission meeting room was to be a black tile.
Keith asked if something different could be done and a wood baseboard was added instead — at minimal cost.
Unknown to the commissioner, the administrative staff had started working on a new county logo before she took office last January.
The old symbol was neat, but dated, Keith said. The challenge was to develop something new. When introduced, it reflected the city’s American Indian heritage as well as the art deco that Tulsa is noted for. It also included the slogan ‘‘Where History and Progress Meet.’’
Efforts also are underway to create greater access by opening the Denver Street door to the courthouse, a project that will require extensive work, she said.
Keith was introduced to government work under Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune.
She was the go-to person answering questions when LaFortune was unavailable.
She later worked for the Tulsa Metro Chamber.
Keith feels the most important work she did while working for the city was the development of the Vision 2025 plan for community implementation and getting the response.
She found she loved the public policy arena.
Now, she sees problems as an opportunity to fix something, to make a change that will make things better for everyone.
‘‘I couldn’t be in a better spot,’’ Keith said.
More work involving the county and city is ahead.
Keith is meeting with Counselor G.T. Bynum to see where efficiencies might be effected between the two governments.
‘‘We are not talking about consolidation,’’ she emphasized. Rather, it is about utilizing resources that will benefit both.
Parks are one example.
‘‘We want all parks brought up to the county level,’’ Keith said. Richard Bales has done an excellent job with the county parks.
For example, if a county crew is mowing a park near a city facility it makes sense to shift over and mow the additional acreage.
That idea had been considered previously, according to former District Two Commissioner John Selph.
River Parks, a stand alone project, would not be included in these efforts.
Another effort is the recreation of the Armory on 15th Street. That project is headed by Sharon King Davis.
When the work is completed it could become an event center, Keith said.
As the commissioner nears her the start of her second year in office, she is excited about the future.
‘‘Everything I expected when I took office has been exceeded,’’ Keith said. That is because everyone has worked together to make things happen. There are challenges, but they can be met and overcome.



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