May 5, 2000
Water is a basic need to sustain life. People, animals and plants can't exist without it, so a source is always needed. When the Cherokee Outlet was being prepared for settlers in 1893, water was a prime consideration of the U.S. Land Office as the department designated town sites. Before the historic land run on September 16 of that year, federal agents looked at Cow Creek and decided it was sufficient to serve this community. That decision almost became an historic blunder.
Cow Creek has always been a narrow stream of turbid, reddish brown water. I don't know where the name originated, but you'd think it probably was a watering hole for the cattle that passed through here prior to 1893 from Texas on the way to hungry diners in Northern and Eastern states. Some 60 years ago, a half-serious attempt was made to upgrade its image by changing the name to "Bovine Brook." That was more pleasing to the aesthete, but it just didn't catch on with the masses. The old stream meanders from south to north across pastures and wheat fields southwest of Perry, crossing to the east and then north where it flows into Black Bear Creek and then on to the Arkansas River. It drains some fairly large ravines and rises and recedes as rainfall fluctuates through each season. A portion was dammed in the 1930s to create Perry Lake, the reservoir that now provides our principal water source. That body and its earthen dam have far exceeded their original life expectancy and we are now looking at an alternative water source to guarantee the survival of this city.
For another aspect, let me quote from Judge E. W Jones' "Early Day History of Perry, Oklahoma, written in 1931, in which he describes conditions as he saw and experienced them. In part, he wrote: "The early day water supply (in Perry) was a problem, not only as a household necessity but as well a fire fighting commodity. The government had one well dug on the town site, in the center of Brogan (now Gene Taylor street) and Flynn streets. A spring on east A street furnished drinking water and (a) laundry resort where one could retire as it was in jungle land and wash out socks, kerchiefs and shirts. Wells were dug for the residence properties and as well for some of the business houses. Bill Cates, the water man, supplied the business houses and as well as the homes with well water from his wagon continually during the day making the rounds."
Judge Jones goes on in a colorful way to describe Perry's water problems of that era and how the city's leaders provided intelligent answers. The point is, Perryans acknowledged that they had a problem and they looked for a proper solution. Thanks to their prudent handling of the matter, our city has survived and grown through the years. Next Tuesday we will have an opportunity to continue the process by approving a modest sales tax increase. This will give us access to Lake McMurtry, located largely in far southeastern Noble county, a pipeline from that lake to our Perry CCC Lake, extension of service to developing areas, elevated storage and an answer to the deteriorating condition of Perry Lake.
This solution can only become reality if supporters register their opinion by voting "yes" at the polls next Tuesday. Our city officials, the people we elected to deal with matters such as this, have attempted to present the facts at public meetings and to answer questions as they were asked. Now, don't assume the proposition will pass without your vote. The cost is something we can handle and we simply can't afford to put it off any longer. A study by professional engineers shows that this is the most viable way to handle the problem. The final decision now is squarely up to you and me. Be sure to vote "yes Tuesday and let's leave our own noble heritage for the good of future residents of this special little community.