Dena Sherrill, Housing Program Manager for Rural Enterprises of Oklahoma, Inc., had tears in her eyes Tuesday morning during the Durant Economic Development Meeting. Sherrill was giving a follow-up presentation of the Hope for Homes project to the council when the tears emerged.
“Durant really stepped up and made something good happen.” said Sherrill. Hope for Homes is a Group Cares mission trip that helps repair homes for the elderly, low-income and disabled.
According to Sherrill, the mission group’s fundraising committee raised just shy of $30,000 to repair 38 homes in the area and collected over 1,000 cans of food for local food banks
Sherrill said any left over money from the mission will go to fund either another mission trip or to repair more homes the group could not get to during this mission.
The group built wheel chair ramps for many of the 38 homes repaired. Sherrill revealed that one man who had a ramp installed had not left his house in months due to his inability to get his wheel chair outside.
Sherrill received letters of gratitude not only from the local citizens whose homes were repaired but from mission trip participants and their parents as well.
One letter informed Sherrill that the sender’s two sons had been on many trips with Hope for Homes in different cities. The boys said that they had never felt so welcome in any other town they had visited.
Following this presentation, the Medical Center of Southeastern Oklahoma presented a community wellness program: The Oklahoma Certified Healthy Business program.
Jessi Johnson, of the Marshall County Health Department and Raye Hall, a medical social worker gave the presentation revealing the hope that businesses will adopt the program to make their establishments tobacco free.
The program is for businesses and educational establishments as well. The presentation informed the council that schools at the secondary are only bound by state law to be tobacco free between the hours of 7 a.m.-4 p.m.
Three local schools have adopted a 24/7 tobacco free policy. These schools are Durant, Colbert and Bennington public schools. The group has also been working with Southeastern State University with its new tobacco free campus including providing the tobacco free signage around the campus.
Along with their efforts to create tobacco free schools and businesses, a tobacco helpline has also been established: 1-800-quitnow.
An earlier meeting of the Durant Industrial Authority Tuesday morning considered a request to help fund a project to widen South 9th Avenue in Durant. This will take the road from two lanes to three, matching the three lanes being created on the Mineral Bayou Bridge.
The council agreed to help fund the widening of South 9th Avenue. This gives the City of Durant $564,720.44 out of the Durant Industrial Authority’s Job Creation Fund for the project.
The ordinance that governs the Job Creation fund states that the fund may be used to support capital improvements. The council agreed that the widening of the road is considered a capital improvement that would aid in job creation for Durant citizens by providing easier access to businesses in the area.
The entire project to widen and lay new asphalt on the road will cost an estimated $920,400.44. The other $355,680 for the project is funded by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation from a Transportation, Community and System Preservation Program.
Also announced in Tuesday’s meetings were upcoming events for the area including A veterans’ job fair on August 22at the Kiamichi Technology Center, a welcome home for our troops on September 8 at the National Guard Amery and tentative date of October 5 for the ground breaking ceremony for the Stuteville Cheverolette Auto Dealership.