Archive for City Scene

Saturday spottings (it Hast to be)

It began with a message from Jennifer Hast:

Alright, this is stupid. Let’s get together in real life. It should have happened already by now.

What are you doing this Saturday evening?

Well, yeah, I suppose it should have. I mean, we’re here in the same (almost) town, and we’ve traded imprecations for some time.

And so:

No, not that. Don’t be rude. Jennifer and hubby Michael and the resident teenager and an old friend descended on Fassler Hall in Midtown, to find this here old guy in a walker. Once I got my head around the fact that several of my medications prohibit things like beer, we spent about four hours getting to know one another and swapping improbable stories that nonetheless were totally true. Brewskis were ingested (not by the teenager or by me), and several pictures were taken. (The Hasts have matching Nikons, because reasons.) The food was highly non-nourishing and therefore delicious; I had their version of a Chicago dog (pickle, sport pepper, tomato, onion, yellow mustard, neon relish, celery salt), which was great fun, not especially neat, and reasonably priced. The atmosphere, of course, was boisterous, but hey, it’s Saturday night.

A splendid time was had by all, and we will have to Do This Again someday.

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Where it all goes (’16)

The property-tax bill has arrived, and it’s marginally higher than last year, owing to a marginally higher assessed value. As always, the County Treasurer duly sends out a breakdown of what is paid to whom, and I reproduce it here for future reference (last year’s numbers in [brackets]:)

  • City of Oklahoma City: $120.39 [$124.57]
  • Oklahoma City Public Schools: $482.54 [$476.19]
  • Metro Tech Center: $125.29 [$123.21]
  • Oklahoma County general: $96.57 [$94.03]
  • Countywide school levy: $33.65 [$33.02]
  • City/County Health Department: $21.05 [$20.66]
  • Metropolitan Library System: $42.27 [$41.47]
  • Total: $922.07 [$913.14]

This year’s millage is 113.43, down from last year’s 114.50. (Record millage: 117.58, 2011.) I’m not complaining.

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A fan to the end, and beyond

There’s something different about one of the 168 chairs at the Oklahoma City National Memorial this week:

Chicago Cubs jersey on an OKC Memorial chair

It’s just what you think it is:

The family of a lifelong Cubs fan killed in the Oklahoma City bombing is helping their loved one celebrate the team’s World Series victory.

After the Cubs snapped their 108-year streak to win the 2016 World Series, Sara Sweet adorned her father’s memorial chair with a Cubs’ shirt.

Sweet’s father, Stephen Williams, worked for the Social Security Administration and was killed in the 1995 bombing. Williams was a lifelong Cubs fan and Sweet reports one of her favorite memories of her late father is gathering to watch the Cubs on TV.

I found this gesture moving, though admittedly your mileage may vary.

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You’re not getting enough fiber

Google Fiber, once believed to be coming to OKC, is apparently not coming to OKC:

Google parent company Alphabet has halted its plans to expand fast Google Fiber internet service to Oklahoma City and other cities throughout the country, the company confirmed Wednesday.

“Going forward we’re focusing on new technology and deployment methods to make superfast internet more abundant than it is today,” a Google Fiber spokeswoman said in a statement. “For now, that means we’re going to pause our operations and offices in Oklahoma City while we refine our approaches. We remain grateful to the city electeds and staff, and especially the communities, for their ongoing partnership and patience, and we’re confident we’ll have an opportunity to resume our discussions once we’ve advanced our technologies and solutions.”

Fiber guru Craig Barratt, then CEO of the Access subsidiary, did not explain, but perhaps this has to do with an earlier acquisition:

The future of Access, to a large extent, seems to lie in wireless. Access purchased the internet provider Webpass in June, giving it the technology to begin deploying over-the-air gigabit internet to homes. In theory, it provides the same service that fiber would, but without as many deployment hurdles.

What I want to know, of course, is whether this will delay Cox’s rollout of Gigablast.

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Saturday spottings (battened up)

About 9:30, the Oklahoman’s Steve Lackmeyer rang my doorbell, not because I’m in any way newsworthy, but because he’d scored an invitation to Hatch, a new breakfast/brunch outfit in the north end of the Buick Building downtown (10th and Broadway), and they allowed him a guest, and he thought I needed cheering up. (Which, to be perfectly honest, I did.) Hatch, a new place from Provision Concepts, opens officially on Monday, so this could have been considered beta testing of a sort. I think they’re ready to go live: my request for “the tallest possible orange juice” brought a large cylinder full of juice squeezed in the last couple of minutes, and the entree — chicken-fried steak with little unexploded hash-brown bombs and two eggs, scrambled, was just dandy. The service was enthusiastic without being annoying. If you’re going for breakfast downtown, consider this a recommendation.

We then spun around various districts in town where things were changing, and a few where they weren’t. I’m not the reporter guy here, but I think I held up my end of the conversation pretty well. And I pointed out some things not even the mighty Lackmeyer had seen before, including this:

There’s a current sign on the opposite corner, but this one has somehow survived from antiquity. (The cross street is Northwest 50th.) Like the Spanish Inquisition, no one expects this sort of thing.

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Such a different deal

I reported on the 26th of July:

Third-party insurance covered none of my $1,324 ambulance bill; EMSAcare took care of the whole thing. Heck of a deal for $43.80 a year.

About thirty days later, EMSA reissued the bill. This time, instead of $0, it was for $1,324. I of course got on the phone, and I have to assume that the weary clerk had been through a lot of this before. “We cover whatever your insurance doesn’t,” he said. “We had to send this bill to justify trying to collect from them. Don’t worry, you won’t be out of pocket.”

I have now heard from CFI Care (not its real initials), which paid them $683.81, based on God only knows what. The EOB shows nothing owed to the provider, so I’m guessing that this is yet another case of Soak The Uninsured.

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Bungle in the urban jungle

I wrote back in 2005:

Nobody knows for sure how long the Survivor Tree will, well, survive. It’s been given the best of care, including treatments to repel the blight, and it’s an integral part of today’s National Memorial, insuring that it won’t be forgotten. But this mute witness to the terrible tragedy of the nineteenth of April has brothers and sisters and cousins all over the city, and I believe that the strength of one, by some genetic anomaly, by the grace of God, by something, somehow resides in them all.

Except for two of them on my block, which subsequently survived multiple ice storms and typically horrendous winds over the next decade, only to meet with the chainsaw today, the result of Stupid Fucking Contractor putting down sidewalks on the wrong side of the street. I had read the original scheme at the time, and I’d complained; a couple weeks later, a revised scheme was released, evidently to everyone except SFC, which doggedly proceeded with the old one despite the fact that it made no sense — why have the sidewalk on the south side of the street on one block and then move to the north side on the next?

Nothing can be done, of course. The wood has been hauled away; SFC will presumably get some sort of bonus for beating a deadline, and the city will disclaim any responsibility for hiring them.

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We don’t need no stupid icons

We need steel-belted radials:

Charcoal Oven signA tire company has entered into contract to buy the Charcoal Oven property at 2701 NW Expressway and build a new facility on that site.

The historic structure and charming grounds and drive-through will be completely demolished to make room for the new use. It had been actively for sale for several months.

This is the original and also the last of the remaining Charcoal Ovens, with the previous locations in Edmond and at Northwest Expressway and MacArthur having been sold off some time ago.

At the time it was built in 1958, it was one of the first drive-through restaurants and has remained in continuous operation since that time by the Wilson family.

Its 52-foot high neon sign has been an Oklahoma City landmark for decades.

Which is something you’ll never say of a Discount Tire sign.

(Via Judge Radar.)

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Remote forage

From early on in The Sparkle Chronicles:

Next day at 5:56, the doorbell rang, and my heart did a couple of half-gainers off Kilimanjaro. It was the evening repast: bean sprouts and hummus and stuff Fluttershy wouldn’t dare feed Angel and sort-of-freshly baked bread and a couple of bottles of what was probably filtered tap water from Wichita. I was sufficiently crazed to demand no change from two twenties. The fellow’s truck — what, he didn’t ride a bicycle? — had just barely cleared the driveway when the feeble little bleep of my thirty-year-old wristwatch announced the hour, and an oval of light appeared on the concrete.

This paragraph was done with a local firm in mind, though I admit I hadn’t actually patronized that firm at the time. Now I have.

Dining Delivery Express of Oklahoma City, better known by its phone number — 858-TOGO — takes orders for participating eateries and arranges for delivery to your very porch. For those of us who aren’t in the mood to go crawl across town, this is ideal, if a tad pricey: a flat $5.99 delivery fee, plus an appropriate tip to the driver. Anyway, this was tonight’s decidedly not vegetarian repast:

858-TOGO invoice for Oklahoma Station BBQ

Ended up being close to $30 when it was all done, but it was worth it, and delivery took less than half an hour, competitive with the pizza parlors. Considering that my typical pizza order ends up over $20, and that barbecue joints are not known for being economical, I’m not about to complain.

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Such a deal, indeed

On the 20th of June, I was loaded aboard an ambulance, and the Health Misadventures of 2016 were under way. I mention this because it’s time once again for this program:

EMSAcare provides you and permanent members of your household with emergency medical transport through EMSA, with no out of pocket expenses. Your membership covers expenses not paid for by your third party insurance. The program is just $3.65 per month and can be included on your utility bill. More than 180,000 Oklahoma City households participate in EMSA’s EMSAcare program.

With the charge for a single emergency ambulance ride now over $1,300, it is easy to see that EMSAcare is the smart choice for you and your family.

Third-party insurance covered none of my $1,324 ambulance bill; EMSAcare took care of the whole thing. Heck of a deal for $43.80 a year.

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Old door, new name

News Item: Kevin Durant’s Bricktown restaurant closed Sunday, but vows to open with a new theme after Labor Day, Hal Smith Restaurant Group said Monday. “The concept will offer an updated atmosphere with a similar menu to what has been available at that location in the past.”

Top Ten new proposals for the restaurant concept to replace Kd’s:

  1. Draymond Green’s Kick It!
  2. Hey, it’s Bricktown, come eat
  3. The Steve Lackmeyer Express
  4. Al Eschbach’s House of Helium
  5. Opubco Imports
  6. Where the Streets Have Several Names
  7. James Harden’s Beard Garden
  8. Bromo Seltzerium
  9. Tag Agent 007
  10. Please, Russ, don’t leave us

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One way only

From the “We Will Not Forget” files:

Maybe the part that leads out of town.

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The incredible shrinking paper

It wasn’t that long ago that the Oklahoman decided to leave the Black Tower on the Broadway Distention to the printers and move the actual news-gathering operations downtown.

Evidently the printers weren’t far enough away to suit the publisher:

The Oklahoman will outsource its printing and packaging operations to the Tulsa World beginning in September, announced Chris Reen, publisher of The Oklahoman and President of The Oklahoman Media Group. The Oklahoman will close its printing and packaging facility at Britton and Broadway.

“We’re fortunate to have newer and more modern presses as close as Tulsa with ownership like Berkshire Hathaway who has a great deal of experience with these sorts of arrangements around the country. The move will create significant cost savings while not sacrificing quality,” Reen said.

Except, of course, for adding a minimum of two hours’ worth of lead time:

Reen said in order to ensure the same timely morning delivery of the newspaper, there will be earlier press times which will impact some late-night news stories and sports scores.

“Timely” is in the eye of the beholder, or maybe the subscriber. I consider delivery after 6:30 am (as it was yesterday) to be excessively late. (I am an afternoon-paper kind of person, but not the sort of afternoon paper that’s spent 11 hours turning yellow in the summer sun.)

Not mentioned in that NewsOK reveal:

I note for reference that GateHouse, under its post-bankruptcy name New Media Investment Group, bought the Dolan Company at the end of 2015, which owned, among other things, the Journal Record.

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Target está cerrando

The one on the largely Spanish-speaking near-southwest side, anyway:

Employees have told OKCTalk that they were informed by management earlier this week that the Target at SW 44th & Western will close its doors in August.

Last November, Target announced it would close 13 under-performing stores but no Oklahoma locations were on that list.

Target has not made any official announcement about more closings but St. Louis papers have reported that a store in that area — near the infamous Ferguson uprising — will soon be shuttered as well.

The chances that this closing has something to do with restroom access? Next to nil, I’m willing to bet.

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Meanwhile on the Distressway

This is going to screw up traffic at least through the summer:

This is approximately the 5500 block of May, about half a mile from me.

I suppose the only real question is why it took so long: the ratio of pavement to patches dropped below 1:1 several years ago.

Addendum: I’ve talked about this bridge before. Apparently someone not capable of judging heights tried to drive under it.

Further addendum: Says it all, doesn’t it?

Screen cap from KOKH-TV

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Squirrel update

Over the weekend, I discovered a dead bishop on the landing squirrel out by the curb. After contemplating the disquieting possibility of hoisting the poor deceased critter from his resting place and dropping him into the refuse bin, I decided that hey, I pay taxes for this, and Monday morning I left a note for the city’s Action Center.

Almost exactly 24 hours later, within the time frame expected, Animal Control failed to find the ex-furball, perhaps because it was in the shadow of said refuse bin. I know this because I sent a second note to the Action Center Tuesday afternoon, and that’s what they told me. Wednesday they were properly contrite, and promised to have it hauled off that day. Which they did.

I think this is only the second time I’ve dealt with the Action Center. Not bad for twelve and a half years, I guess.

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It’s all there in black and white

Or is that “white and black”? Yesterday’s Zebra Race at Remington Park:

If nothing else, this demonstrates the truth of the assertion that if the creatures are sufficiently multicellular and mobile, humans will wager on their speed.

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Saturday spottings (knees up)

At various times through the week, the probability of precipitation on this spring Saturday has been quoted at anywhere from 20 to 60 percent, motivating Trini, once again accompanying me on the Architecture Tour, to bring along an umbrella and an extra jacket. This worked really well to keep the rain away for the entire five-hour duration, during which we hit nine locations of interest and used less (but not much less) than a quarter-tank of gas.

1) 3209 Robin Ridge Road

Krogstad House in Quail Creek

Behind Krogstad House in Quail Creek

Bud Krogstad, one of the original developers of Quail Creek, ordered up the 1.0 version of this house in 1964 from architect Robert Reed; it’s been enlarged twice since, most recently this past year. It’s one of the niftier variations on the Mid-Century Modern theme, and it sits right on the edge of the golf course.

2) 1171 Northwest 56th Street

1169 and 1171 NW 56th St

Billed as “SideXSide,” this is actually two residences on a single lot, 1171 being the one on the west side and the one we saw. (1169 is on the east.) Its relentlessly modern footprint doesn’t seem to fit all that well with the rest of Meadowbrook Acres, a traditional prewar suburb, but this is the going thing: dragging a sleepy subdivision into the 21st century. And it’s really quite appealing on the inside, with all mod cons and not so much as a square inch of clutter in its 1544 square feet.

3) 1161 Northwest 57th Street

1161 NW 57th St

Forget what I just said about Meadowbrook Acres. This is what you find one block north, and if anything, it’s twice as much: four homes — two mirror images — on a double lot. Same architect (Geoff Parker, 405 Architecture), same lack of clutter. (And actually, this shot is of one of the homes on the back of the lot.)

4) 911 Northwest 67th Street

American Energy Partners Fitness Center

When Aubrey McClendon bade goodbye to Chesapeake Energy in 2013, he set up shop as American Energy Partners almost literally just down the street; AELP’s fitness center, an ultra-modern facility about four blocks from the Chesapeake campus, looks as little like a Chesapeake facility as possible, with no nods to 19th-century small-college design whatsoever. The place is utterly bathed in natural light; the racquetball courts look so shiny I’d be afraid to sweat on them. “You should see it at night,” we were told. I believe it.

5) 616 Northwest 21st Street

The ARC

Conference room at The ARC

Once upon a time, this was Sunbeam Family Services, which dates to 1964; fifty years later they moved to bigger quarters north of downtown, and new owner Marva Ellard repurposed it as a group of office suites for lease. The conference room shown is downstairs, as viewed from an upstairs corridor.

6) 322 Northeast 15th Street

322 NE 15th St

Billed as “Positively Paseo,” this baffled me for a moment, since this house, in the 1920s neighborhood Classen’s North Highland Parked, south of the Capitol, is nowhere near the Paseo. Positively Paseo, it turns out, is a nonprofit organization that buys up decrepit homes — or, in this case, a actual vacant lot — and replaces those spaces with new homes that look like they belong there. Sales are then made to folks of low-to-moderate income. This is the first PP completion in this neighborhood, with three more planned. And yes, they’ve done several homes in the Paseo area.

7) 126 Harrison Avenue

PLICO Building

Harrison Avenue is a diagonal through the east side of downtown, leaving some triangular blocks filled with flatiron-shaped buildings. This one, originally built as a hotel in 1924, was boarded up in 1988, reopened last year after Rand Elliott breathed upon it and gave it new life. It’s full of Twenties atmosphere and modern amenities that somehow manage not to clash. Owner PLICO, a healthcare-liability insurer, was recently acquired by Berkshire Hathaway’s MedPro Group, though BH says the operation will remain in the flatiron.

8) 1101 North Broadway Avenue

Buick Building

Interior of Buick Building

Original staircase from Buick Building

Only one actual dealership (Mercedes-Benz/Jaguar/Volvo) remains on Oklahoma City’s Automobile Alley, but some of the old dealer buildings have been lovingly repurposed. This Buick store, built in 1924, became a project for Brian Fitzsimmons and his crew in 2012; each of the four floors is a single office space, with a ground-floor frontage on Broadway that’s been given over to the tony Broadway 10 Bar and Chophouse. The weird curvy thing is an original spiral staircase, now hung outside near the entrance; upstairs, in the REHCO/Midtown Renaissance Group office, is a Buick straight-eight with, yes, valve in head. (The rest of the slogan: “Ahead in Value.”)

8) 36 Northeast 10th Street

Interior of Jesus Saves

There’s a sign out front that says “Jesus Saves,” hence the name. This Thirties building, once a leather bindery, was basically down to just four brick walls and tons of pigeon poop before being reclaimed and turned into a residence. Or, more precisely, two residences, a larger one upstairs, a small one on the ground floor. You’re looking at the upstairs kitchen.

Photo credits: 2) 405 Architecture; 6) Positively Paseo; 8) (rooftop shot) Brian Fitzsimmons; others by me (embiggened on Flickr should you so desire).

We’re already planning next year.

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Presumably not working for tips

A small group of anti-circumcision protesters turned up at Penn Square around midday yesterday, the same group that had hit Springfield, Missouri on Friday:

The protesters here pulled out fake blood, splattered it on their pants and posters, and stood on the corner here for the past hour.

Despite the blood, and graphic pictures, they say the point is not to scare people, but to get you to see their signs which they say point out what they say is cruelty to boys.

The group “Bloodstained Men and Their Friends” are behind the protest. They’ve been traveling across the country with the same message against infant circumcision.

The protesters call circumcision torture to babies, and wear the blood to represent that. Protesters say boys should be able to choose whether or not to get circumcised when they become an adult — instead of being forced at birth.

When it hurts even worse.

Seriously, though: I am not particularly put out about my own foreskin, which hasn’t been seen in six decades or more, but I can’t help but wonder if this particular group has a problem with Jews, though nothing on their Web site suggests so. And to be upfront about it, female genital mutilation strikes me as even worse, but the Men don’t seem especially concerned about that.

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It could only happen here

Or at least, that’s the impression we’d like to give:

A man and a horse were shot in a Thursday night drive-by shooting in northeast Oklahoma City.

About 10:20 p.m., Frederick Leon Jackson, of Spencer, and Carlos Romon Miles, of Jones, were riding their horses back from a rodeo arena, off NE 50 and Post Road, when they stopped in front of a church off NE 41 to smoke a cigarette.

Miles told police he saw a red car approach and someone in the car started shooting as the car passed by, according to a police report.

Jackson was hospitalized with a bullet wound to the calf; his horse caught a round in the upper right shoulder.

This is a pretty remote area — the Spencer post office actually delivers the mail this far out — and definitely not the sort of place you’d tend to expect a drive-by shooting. I suspect the occupants of the vehicle were, um, somewhat impaired at the time.

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Small potatoes

Notice how all these cities fit within the boundaries of Los Angeles.

Then again, you can take the entirety of the City of Angels, park Sacramento next to it, and still not fill up Oklahoma City.

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Lower forms of automotive life

There’s a 23rd Street on the south side, but it pales into relative insignificance next to its northside counterpart, which runs for many miles through neighborhoods of several ethnicities. None of it is particularly picturesque, even the stretch that runs past the Capitol, but the northeast segment has some fairly woeful motor vehicles along its length:

I spend a lot of time driving on 23rd. I can’t stand people “acting casual” to avoid attention from police by doing 5 under the already low and mostly unenforced/disregarded limit of 30. **NEWS FLASH** you’re doing 25 on a 4-6 lane avenue in a hoopty with rusted off mufflers, 3 missing hub caps, and threads of weathered duct tape holding bits of smashed car parts onto the chassis. If a cop wants to shake you down for the substance you might be carrying: he’s just going to point out that you’ve hot glued a maybelline compact in the gaping hole where side mirror used to be. OR just say you were swerving.

I admit here to having once duct-taped an exhaust manifold into place, but it wasn’t an offense to the eyeballs unless you were actually looking under the hood.

With gas prices in decline, though, there are now considerably fewer cars that can double their value just by filling the tank.

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Operation QR

The old, ordinary water bill came Saturday — two days early, which I blame on February — and with it came a preview of the new, extraordinary water bill, which shuffles the content a bit and adds one thing previously unseen: a QR code on the return page, making it theoretically possible to pay your bill by scanning it on a mobile device.

Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but the sample account displayed:

  • has a past-due balance, but no sign of a late charge;
  • contains in the Important Message block the phrase “These are generic topics only”;
  • belongs to a customer in Mississauga, Ontario.

The latter, at least, is sort of explainable: in the past, the city has been known to have outsourced some of its IT development to a Canadian firm, and apparently that relationship continues.

Addendum: Hmmm. The due date is two days early. I blame that, too, on February.

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Another one bites the taco

I knew about May and Britton (the first one listed), but not the others:

I mean, I haven’t been there in ages, but I’m sure they weren’t waiting on me to show up.

Dave at GreaterFalls.com will be devastated. Remind me not to mention this in front of him.

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Metered perplexity

I opened up the water bill, and there, for the first time ever, was a reported usage of 4,000 gallons; I’d never before used more than 3,000 in a month. The details revealed the most likely reason why: the readings, usually 30 days apart, were this time 36 days apart.

Okay, fine, no big deal. Then I look at the actual return slip, and the bill is about half what it usually is. I comb through the details again, and here are two adjacent lines:

REFUSE W/90 GA — $20.42
ADV REFUSE CHG — $40.84CR

They’re refunding two months’ worth of trash pickup? Why? Is this some form of atonement for still not having picked up the late-November storm debris?

Very late addendum: I had tweeted this mystery earlier today, and right before hitting the Publish button, I went back to check the feed. Lo and behold:

Well, I’ll be durned.

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Smaller warnings

Used to be, you’d hear the local sirens going off, and you’d wonder, just for a moment, how far away the threat might be: Oklahoma City spills into three counties — well, four, if you count that tiny sliver of Pottawatomie County — and if there’s an actual warning anywhere in your county, you’d get the Big Blaster. No more:

The important new policy change, adopted Tuesday by the City Council, divides OKC into zones. When the National Weather Service (NWS) issues a tornado warning, only the sirens in zones covered by the warning will sound.

Residents and visitors don’t need to know what zone they’re in, only to immediately take shelter and get more information if they hear a siren.

There are nine zones in the new scheme. It has to be a really farging big storm to hit more than four or five of them.

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Looking at it sideways

“So this,” muses Nicole, “is a real life street sign in Oklahoma City. Real life.”

Well, yes it is:

Corner of Page and Success in northeast Oklahoma City

Not a busy intersection, I’ll admit. (Success Street, sandwiched between NE 19th and NE 20th, runs for about four blocks west starting at Bryant Avenue, interrupted by I-35 north.) Still, you have to view this from the proper perspective. Success isn’t the dead end here; it’s the street that leads away from the dead end, unless you’re headed south on Page, and if you were, you wouldn’t be looking at that sign.

As it happens, I’ve discussed this area before.

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Where it all goes (’15)

The county was a little late getting the property-tax bills out, though of course they’re not going to be cutting taxpayers any slack in getting those bills paid. The actual amount I get to pay is a smidgen higher than last year, due to a small increase in the assessed value and a fraction of a mill added to the actual tax rate. Here’s where all those dollars go, and in brackets, where they went last year:

  • City of Oklahoma City: $124.57 [$120.39]
  • Oklahoma City Public Schools: $476.19 [$462.53]
  • Metro Tech Center: $123.21 [$120.39]
  • Oklahoma County general: $94.03 [$90.78]
  • Countywide school levy: $33.02 [$32.26]
  • City/County Health Department: $20.66 [$20.18]
  • Metropolitan Library System: $41.47 [$40.52]
  • Total: $913.14 [$887.04]

This year’s millage is 114.50, up from last year’s 113.84. (Record millage: 117.58, 2011.) The bank presumably will cut them a check on Monday.

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Let’s have leftovers

This little blurb came with the New and Improved — well, higher, anyway — city utility bill:

The Oklahoma City Council voted in September to devote an extra $8 million for street improvements, addressing OKC residents’ longtime top priority. The $8 million will be distributed equally among OKC’s eight wards. The money comes from a surplus in the General Fund’s fund balance, which has a target range of 8 to 15 percent for unbudgeted reserves.

This leaves said reserves at 13.5 percent, so it’s not like we’re digging deep. Or are we?

The extra $8 million will complement $47.5 million for street, traffic and drainage projects in this year’s budget and $497 million in ongoing streets projects from the 2007 General Obligation Bond.

Oh, and “top priority”? In the last Citizen Survey [pdf], 72 percent of us expressed dissatisfaction with road conditions; no other city services drew even half as many complaints. And hey, at least we’re not in the hole, budgetwise.

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In tune with the universe

Yesterday, yours truly offered this post-commute grumble:

Not quite half an hour later:

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation will present a public meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 6, to provide information and solicit public input on a future project to replace the I-35 bridges over N.E. 63rd St. and to make improvements to the I-35 ramps to westbound I-44 in Oklahoma City.

ODOT will present alternative designs to the public and is requesting input as part of the environmental clearance process before construction can begin. The meeting will include presentation of detailed information and opportunities for the public to ask questions and give input. The public comment period closes Oct. 20.

Reconstruction of the bridges at N.E. 63rd St. and I-35 is scheduled in ODOT’s Eight-Year Construction Work Plan for Federal Fiscal Year 2020. The placement of the bridges is dependent on the preferred alignment of I-35 selected from the study.

Among other things, one of the schemes is to make the westbound onramp to I-44 two lanes, which presumably will reduce the number of doofi who can’t figure out what lane they’re supposed to be in when they start up that new, higher bridge.

Today’s problem, at least, was easily visible: rubberneckers just north of US 62, and some actual rubber in the roadway a few yards beyond.

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