Alva Review-Courier -

Thompson explains purpose of Oklahoma Academy


Marione Martin

Lynn Thompson with Oklahoma Academy speaks about the annual Town Hall during the Alva Chamber Community Coffee Friday, June 21.

Whether it was the legislative wrap-up, a tour of the firearms simulator or Karen Koehn's cinnamon rolls, a large crowd attended the Alva Chamber Community Coffee on Friday, June 21.

Northwest Technology Superintendent Darin Slater welcomed everyone, saying when he first came to school they had a wellness plan. "I didn't think those (Koehn's cinnamon rolls) were going to be on the wellness plan."

Chamber Executive Director Alex Mantz spoke about upcoming events. "July 19 we meet again for Community Coffee. We meet at Hopeton State Bank," she said.

"We finish out July with Crazy Days and the Crazy Cool Boulevard Cruise. Our theme is 'Don't Siesta, Fiesta.' Get up early for bargains in town and in the evening we'll have the Crazy Cool Boulevard Cruise.

"Another thing I want the 40 and unders to know, the Chamber of Commerce is in pursuit of a young professionals program. We will let you guys know about that as it unfolds."

Mantz introduced Lynn Thompson, communications and development director of the Oklahoma Academy.

"We are a statewide non-profit, non-partisan, policy-based institution," said Thompson. "We were set up by Gov. Henry Bellmon with the intent of if we have better-engaged, more informed citizens therefore we'll have better-engaged, more informed candidates running for office, therefore a better state.

"We have kept that vision all these years. We do that with a premiere Town Hall we set up each year. The Town Hall conference covers a variety of topics. The topic for 2017 was voting engagement. A lot came out of that. We have done well with getting across the state. People are really taking hold of some of those recommendations that come out of that Town Hall."

Thompson said last year's topic might not sound as appealing. "In 2018 it was the tax code, really exciting one there. But it was very interesting to listen to the discussions. The thing about Town Hall is that it is you the citizens. It's not speakers, it's not people telling you what you should think. It's you coming together and coming out with consensus recommendations. "

He said the Town Hall lasts three days starting on Sunday and ending on Wednesday. "It's a lot of time to give up, but excellent information comes out of it. And when we present it back into the communities, to the legislators, they see that it's the people wanting this. It's not us. This is the people's recommendations. This is what they want to do."

The 2019 Town Hall topic is Oklahoma energy. "Whether it's oil and gas, wind, solar, coal, hydro, biomass, that whole area, because the industry's changing and we need to change with it from a policy standpoint."

The co-chairs this year are Mike Mean, former secretary of energy, and Stuart Solomon who was COO and president of PSO. "We're putting together a background resource document right now," said Thompson. "Each participant gets that on Monday ahead of time. It has tons of information in there, and it's not just a short read. It's around 200 pages or a little bit more.

"When they come in they have a really good focus on what impacts their area, because what impacts you here is not what impacts northeast Oklahoma or other places. It's just different."


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