The year of 2016 was definitely interesting, to say the least. Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. Harry Potter fans grieved over the loss of their beloved Alan Rickman and Star Wars fans are currently grieving the loss of their favorite princess—Carrie Fisher. It’s also been nicknamed “the year of the earthquake,” which used to be a rare occasion in Oklahoma. Most Oklahoma schools are still dealing with the budget crisis, and too many people lost their jobs. But although Yukon started the year without a city manager and faced a financial crisis, the City of Yukon had another successful year and is finishing the year much stronger than it started.
Here’s a lookback at some of Yukon’s highlights in 2016.
—The City of Yukon struggled with financials in the beginning of the year while searching for a new city manager, but Jim Crosby returned to Yukon as city manager April 1. Before his time began, Mayor John Alberts said Crosby’s prior experience is what separated him from the other applicants because “He has literally been here before.” Crosby previously served as Yukon’s city manager from October 1994 to January 2011. His previous experience has helped the city tremendously and the city’s financials continue getting better. The best part is that the City of Yukon officials are also working toward being more transparent and accountable while moving forward with a balanced budget. Crosby and City Council have also begun discussion about several projects for the city and are being smart about how they’re going to finance them. It’s a continuing process, but the people of Yukon should be proud and impressed with how much the city’s financials and leadership have improved and continue to try to improve.
—Although some of the other school districts in the state have been struggling with state-wide budget cuts, Yukon Public Schools “weathered the storm” and didn’t lose any of its teachers. Plus is still growing. The district welcomed 81 newly-hired teachers at the New Teacher’s Luncheon hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and YPS officials on Aug. 4. The 81 teachers are new hires in August only and do not include numbers since January 2016 or the new teachers who will be joining the district in January 2017. YPS also received the State Superintendent’s Award for Excellence in Career Tech Education from State School Superintendent Joy Hofmeister on Aug. 1 at the 49th Annual Oklahoma Career and Technology Education Summer Conference. The district was also graded above average on the A-F School Grading System instituted by the State Board of Education to measure student learning, and most recently was awarded as one of the 2016 Top Workplaces by The Oklahoman.
—While most of the country was fearing either Police brutality or citizens’ protests and retaliations against the police, the people of Yukon continued to support the Yukon Police Department while receiving gratitude from the YPD. One sign of support from Yukon’s citizens started with Willie Girlinghouse of EmbroidMe, who created bumper stickers that said, “I Value Yukon Police” in July. Girlinghouse made the sticker free of charge to show how important YPD is to each and every one of us. Girlinghouse even began to receive calls from all over the state asking if they could use the idea for the stickers so EmbroidMe’s design and Yukon’s support for the local police became an example for all. Other signs of support from the community included the Back the Blue Luncheon hosted by One Faith Boutique on Aug. 31 and Yukon Rotary Club fundraised enough to get the YPD new body armor from Michael Blackmore, president and CEO at Armor Advantage Co. The YPD opened up the department to the public with National Night Out on Sept. 13 and threw a surprise birthday party for Brayden Fox, a three-year-old autistic boy, in August when his mother was afraid no one was going to show up to the party she planned.
—Some people in the country fear the non-appreciation or negligence of veterans, but the City of Yukon just keeps working on better-honoring the veterans with the opening of the permanent location for the Yukon Veterans Museum on Sept. 10 at 1012 W. Main Street. The museum was previously housed on the top floor of the Yukon Museum and Arts Center, 601 Oak Street, since it opened in July 2013. The location was supposed to be temporary and museum officials had been searching for a permanent home since it opened there. City Council approved an agreement to lease the American Legion Post 160 building to house the museum for a 10 year term beginning July 1 at $1,000 per month plus utilities. The museum is filled with war photos and artifacts from Yukon veterans that is important for the people of Yukon and surrounding areas to be able to see and learn about, according to previous quotes from Curator Rick Cacini and Council members.
—The City of Yukon continued to host fun and well-planned out events throughout the year, despite previous concerns they wouldn’t be able to host them all. The city continued to put on its biggest and most-popular events, including Christmas in the Park which officials unfortunately had to close down last year due to the ice storms, Memorial Day services, Freedom Fest, Concerts in the Park, Spirit Sprint and Chill Your Cheeks 5Ks, Rock the Route, Czech Festival, etc. These events, along with Yukon’s 125th Birthday Bash, holiday-themed events, events and classes at the Mabel C. Fry Public Library and the Dale Robertson Center, along with plenty more kept the people of Yukon having fun and continued to bring people from all over the state into Yukon. Each event uniquely showcases how great the City of Yukon is and how much the city has to offer. Not all cities have the opportunity to offer such a variety of events to their citizens and the people of Yukon are lucky to have all of the events as well as the city staff that make it all possible.
—Some other parks in the state are slowly becoming more rundown, but the City of Yukon continues to improve on its parks and make sure the people of Yukon have parks they can be proud to go to. In 2016 alone, the City of Yukon completed its Park Lighting Project in April, which included LED lights along several nature trails in Chisholm Trail, City Park and Freedom Trail Playground, and gave Freedom Trail Park a new playground in June. Southwest Covenant Schools also participated in the Patriot Project in which 850 students, parents and faculty members partnered with Yukon Parks and Recreation to devote an entire day to working and beautifying Yukon parks. Juniors and seniors helped repaint things, put in more walking paths, upgraded the paths previously there, put in new railroad ties and laid gravel in places that needed it. The fourth and fifth graders helped put up Christmas lights in parts of the three-park complex of City Park, Chisholm Trail Park and Freedom Trail Playground. They also put up fence lights at the City Park baseball field. Other things done included third graders replenishing wood chips at Freedom Trail Playground, sixth graders working in the Boot Hill flowerbeds and sophomores did a big project down in the nature trail.
There are too many highlights to talk about them all but some others include Southwest Covenant Schools’ new Elementary building, Knock Out Bullying Inc. continuously adding new events to stand up against bullying, the City of Yukon and Pets and People working together to better serve the animals in the community, the Manna Pantry receiving a new roof from Oklahoma Strong Roofing & Construction, Spanish Cove working on plans to help better serve their residents, and plenty of new restaurants and businesses coming to town.
Overall, 2016 was a good year for Yukon and I, for one, look forward to what 2017 will bring to the city. Happy New Year!