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June 15, 1995

I didn't make it to the city council's public forum the other night to discuss the 1995-96 fiscal year budget, but I've got a few ideas for Mayor Bud Hollingsworth and the council, even if they are too late to be considered. First of all, I surely sympathize with their problem in dealing with a $1 million reduction in the preliminary estimate of needs. Budget limitations such as that mean a lot of important municipal projects are bound to be postponed, some of them for the second or third time.

I certainly wouldn't know how to deal with a $1 million reduction because I have trouble perceiving just exactly what that kind of money looks like. Also, I'm better at spending than cutting back, so take these thoughts for what they're worth, Mr. Mayor and council members.

The proposed new traffic control lights at Seventh and Fir and Sixth and Fir must be badly needed, judging from the number of times the temporary barrels are rolled out. Those must be two of the busiest intersections in town, along with 15th and Fir. I hope the proposed new lights will include left turn only signals. We have lanes of traffic painted for that purpose, but everyone moves on green now, whether they're going straight ahead or turning. I see a lot of fender-bender accidents reported in this newspaper and I would guess many of them are caused by drivers confused about who has the right of way. (You're supposed to yield to oncoming traffic if turning, but sometimes we forget.) A left turn only signal would help solve that problem.

Could we somehow find the dollars needed to complete the low water bridge on Park Lane between North and South Brookwood? When the bridge was opened, more than a year ago, we were told that railings would be installed but that hasn't happened yet. As pointed out in this column a short time ago, somebody is going to run off that bridge some night and it could result in a serious accident.

Last year, brush and heavy vegetation were cleared out of that little creek which meanders from about 15th street on east to the city stadium property, where it empties into Cow Creek. Drainage after heavy rains, which we have just experienced, is much better in that creek because of that project, but the undergrowth is going to be a problem again if we let it go too long. I hope there are plans to continue regular mowing along the creek bed. Is there anything in the budget for that?

Also, maybe the Animal Control Officers could get a little something to help chase away the hundreds (thousands?) of starlings nesting in this community. Those pesky birds are driving off the robins, cardinals and sparrows we used to see, and even the saucy bluejays seem to be fewer in number here. For no bigger than they are, I do believe starlings also are messier, feather for feather, than other birds. They intimidate the others and frighten them away from choice feeding spots, and they are so NOISY! They're not a new problem here, but they are proliferating at what seems to be an alarming rate. I say let's send them packing by some means before they totally overrun the community. Remember Alfred Hitchcock's movie thriller, "The Birds?" See what I mean?

Or, we could tolerate and even encourage them, and perhaps dub ourselves the starling capital of Oklahoma. No one would challenge us, I bet.

I can't let this mention of our two Animal control Officers, Jack Cross and Floyd Day, go by without handing them a compliment. The other day Laura and I were startled to see a pretty good size black snake stretched out on the patio carpet. (We saw him from inside the house.) I called the police to request assistance from the Animal Control Officers, and one of them was here in no time. I first described the varmint as a "three-foot long black snake." In our eyes, he kept getting bigger by the minute as we awaited the officers, but I know he wasn't actually over six feet, even when I saw him dangling safely from the device they used to pick him up.

They said it was a chicken snake, a new variety to me, but a snake's a snake and I was glad to see him go. Laura has an intense aversion to such critters, too, but she was concerned about what they would do to the one that slithered onto our patio. I told her he probably would be killed, which disturbed her, but the officer assured us that he would just take the snake somewhere out in the country and turn it loose. "Anyplace, just far away from here," we requested.

It was our first sighting of a snake anywhere near that big in the 15 years we've lived in this house, which is just across the street from a pleasant creek with lots of potential habitats for varmints. The officer said we’d probably go another 15 years without seeing any more. That was reassuring, and we greatly appreciated the officer’s swift response to our call for assistance. He was a very capable and polite representative of our municipal workers. Let’s give him a raise, Mr. Mayor.