J.T. Collier Memorial Leadership Scholarship

Pride In McAlester is offering a $500 scholarship opportunity to recognize outstanding community leadership in young people and help students reach their academic goals. Applications for the J.T. Collier Memorial Leadership Scholarship Program will be accepted until Friday, March 16, 2018.

The scholarship, named in honor of a founder of Pride In McAlester, commemorates Collier’s legacy as a charitable man who was dedicated to improving his community. Pride In McAlester awards this scholarship to celebrate exceptional students who exemplify PIM’s goal of beautifying and enhancing our town through volunteerism.

To be eligible, scholarship applicants must have participated in a leadership role in community service work and volunteer activities. They must also meet the following criteria of being enrolled as a Senior at McAlester High School and have a grade point average above 3.00 on a 4.0 scale (or its equivalent); and planning to enroll in the Fall of 2018 as a full-time student in an undergraduate course of study at an accredited two or four year college or university.

A scholarship committee will carefully review each application in search of the most deserving recipient.  Judges will consider several criteria, including: leadership experience in community service and volunteer activities; academic grade point average; the content of a typed 250-word essay submission; letter(s) of recommendation; official high school transcript; and number of volunteer hours. The scholarship award is for one year only and is limited to undergraduate study.

You can find the scholarship criteria here and download the application here.

What’s up with McAlester’s Waterlines?

McAlester’s infrastructure has issues. Local issues – state issues – national issues. Roads, bridges, streets, stormwater systems, sewer plants, and water utilities are aging and in many places there isn’t enough funding for governments to make necessary repairs until it’s an emergency. McAlester has experienced this a few times lately, particularly with the water lines.  It is an opportunity to talk about how to conserve water (and maybe a little about changing habits and prepping).

When there’s a water outage and officials call for water conservation…

stop and think critically about your use. Sometimes, every drop someone uses in North Town delays a drop making it to the south side of town and can affect important institutions such as the hospital or nursing homes. When asked to conserve water, you can…

Skip the Shower  – You can probably make it longer than you think and when things get desperate, fill a bucket with water, heat some of it in the kettle or microwave, and take a good ole fashioned sponge bath. You’ll still be cleaner than you were.

Leave the Dirty Clothes and Dishes – It’s almost guaranteed the average McAlesterite has enough extra clothes and stuff hiding away to cope for a few extra days without running the washing machine. Besides, who doesn’t want this excuse to put off laundry and dishes? (You do get a pass on underwear and a few dishes, if you need it. The added benefit of digging to the back of the closet or bottom of the drawers: you’ll end up purging as you rediscover what you don’t enjoy owning.)

If it’s Yellow, Let it Mellow – Don’t flush the toilet when it isn’t necessary. Even if you have water saved in the bathtub or other containers for this purpose, you should only flush it down if it’s brown.

Drink Less Water – I know this is crazy considering how important it is to stay hydrated, but at least skip some of your daily 4 litters.

Taking action to reduce water consumption daily can matter in big ways. According to the United State Environmental Protection Agency, only 1% of water on Earth is consumable. This means that households can take minor steps to make big differences. Try thinking about how your family uses your water and how it compares with the average American household.

Here are a few things you can do every day, regardless of whether the infrastructure has held up or not…

Install a Rain Barrel – During a water outage, flushing your toilet a few times with the water you’ve captured is a nice luxury. The rest of the time, it’s a free way to water your flower garden.

Turn off the Faucet. – Even when standing in front of it, the faucet turns on and off. Don’t run the water while you brush your teeth or wash your hands. It doesn’t serve any purpose letting water flow down the drain while you scrub your teeth or hands. (While we’re at it, have you considered how many paper towels you’re using in public restrooms these days? Try one less and save some paper.)

Wash Full Loads –  Don’t wash a partial load of anything, be it dishes or clothes. Fill up those machines (or sinks) to their maximum capacity to get the most out of your water (and electricity too!)

So far, McAlester has experienced small inconveniences.

A few things to remember about recent events…

We’re Oklahomans – Southeastern Oklahomans, at that. We’re tough in the face of struggle and as many of us remember from the early ice storms, sometimes it is just up to us to be prepared. Compared to a real disaster, we haven’t even hit the radar. Not having running water causes numerous issues in the households and businesses of our city, but our few days or hours don’t compare with the weeks, months, and even years that we could suffer if an event of true destruction were to happen to our city.

Ready.gov has some great tips.

During outages, If you have extra water, check on elderly family members and those with children. Are you a prepper and proud? Share your cleverness and tell the story of your household’s ingenious ways of coping. You’ll inspire someone else to be better prepared for problems that arise without notice. After all, we get by with a little help from our friends, right?

Look to the Helpers – Over the last month (years?!), a small army of McAlester employees have been spending their weekdays, and sometimes weekends, tracking down parts, digging holes, and trying to repair numerous problems. Often, when one thing is fixed, another thing breaks. They are doing rough, dirty, tiring work. We also owe some respect to the leaders trying to solve these big issues, too. The city’s budget problems are complex – so are the state’s – so are the nation’s.

 We Take Water for Granted – Hopefully after our experiences we have a better grasp of the blessings and luxuries we enjoy. We can all get by on less water than we use and if you’re prepared, even a little, you can get by for a few days without it affecting anything more than your standard of convenience.

McAlester Deserves Investment – The water lines and treatment plant belong to the citizens of McAlester. We own them and we must ensure their maintenance and replacement. We are also responsible for the streets, sewage, sidewalks, stormwater, trash, recycling, and more. We deserve a clean, healthy, and beautiful community and the voters of McAlester will face decisions over funding of the City’s infrastructure and institutions in the next year. They will also elect new council members, school board members, and more. It is up to every McAlesterite to make it to the polls to cast their votes. Visit the Oklahoma Election Board website to sign up for election notifications and make sure you’re voter registration is up-to- date.

 

 

National Planting Day 2017

Join Pride In McAlester, Saturday September 9, 2017 at 9:00am, at the McAlester Regional Health Center located of the corner Strong Boulevard and Monroe Avenue for National Planting Day! This year it is our goal to add 50 native Oklahoma Redbud trees (Cercis reniformis) to this city corridor that is accessed by an average daily traffic count of 8,000 vehicles.

The City of McAlester will dig the holes in advance of the work day and provide a planting demonstration. Volunteers will remove the plastic buckets from trees, place the trees in the holes, fill with dirt, and cover with mulch.  All supplies and trees are provided through a Keep America Beautiful / UPS Community Tree Planting Grant to Pride In McAlester, a local Keep America Beautiful Affiliate.

 

This year’s National Planting Day activities will focus on the importance of the native Oklahoma Redbud (Cercis reniformis) as the official state tree to increase awareness of native trees, beautify a busy area of the city, and provide a haven for native birds, insects and other pollinators. During the 1980s, the City of McAlester planted native Redbud trees along Strong Boulevard and Monroe Avenues. Ice storms and severe weather occurrences over the past twenty years in the community have caused significant damage to many of the city’s trees, bushes, and shrubs. Since that time, the City of McAlester, the McAlester Tree Board, and organizations like Pride In McAlester have restored hundreds of trees in public areas. The restoration of these plants is essential for the support of wildlife and the continuance of a healthy, beautiful and vibrant community.

All interested volunteers are welcome to show up Saturday September 9, 2017 at 9:00am, at the McAlester Regional Health Center located of the corner Strong Boulevard and Monroe Avenue. Gloves, shovels, trees and planting supplies will be provided. Bring a friend, or family member and become a part of making McAlester a more healthy, beautiful and vibrant community one tree at a time.  Share the opportunity! 

Books to Green Your Routine

Summer is fully upon us! If you are looking for good reading material to help you green your lifestyle, you can find what you need at the McAlester Public Library. You might need a book for a long car ride or for your free time. We have found children and adult books that you can take wherever you are going. Take the time to teach yourself and your kids to help make your place better and protect the environment.

Children’s section:

Protecting Animals by Darlene R. Stille

Natural Resources by Anita Yasuda

Changing Habits, Living Green by Darlene R. Stille

Clean Air by Elizabeth Thomas

Clean Water by Elizabeth Thomas

Conserving Energy by Elizabeth Thomas

Good Food, Good for Earth by Darlene R. Stille

Protecting Land by Darlene R. Stille

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle by Elizabeth Thomas

Solar Energy: Saving the School Budget by Emily Sohn & Pratricia Ohlenroth

Catch the Wind, Harness the Sun by Micheal J. Caduto

Caring for Habitats by Jen Green

Renewable Energy: Discover The Fuel of the Future by Erin Twamley & Joshua Sheidman

Making Air Cleaner by Jen Green

Reading & Recycling Waste by Jen Green

Saving Water by Jen Green

Using Energy Wisley by Jen Green

How to Save a Species by Marilyn Baillie

Adult section:

True Green Home by Kim McKay & Jenny Bonnin

Renewable- The world Changing the Power of Alternative by Jeremy Shere

The Atlas of Global Conservation by Jonathan Hoekorta

Living Green- The Missing Manual by Nancy Conner

Easy Green Living by Renee Loux

Living Green- A Practical Guide to Simple Sustainability by Greg Horn

 

PSO & MHS Student Council Honor Arbor Day

Pride In McAlester partnered with the McAlester High School Student Council on May 10th to plant trees in honor of Arbor Day. Thanks to funding provided by Public Service Company of Oklahoma and assistance from the City of McAlester, three Cypress trees were planted at Thunderbird Park on East Pierce Avenue.

Cypress trees are native to our area and are prepared to thrive in the Oklahoma climate and wet conditions often found at this City location.

 

The McAlester High School Student Council is a great partner on the beautification of this area this year. The Arbor Day tree planting follows a Fall project to repaint structures and playground equipment you can read about here.Arbor Day is a national initiative of the Arbor Day Foundation and is set aside as a special day of tree planting. It’s been going on since 1872 and you can read all about this great program at arborday.org. The official 2017 Arbor Day was set for April 28th, but the student planting was delayed due to rainy conditions.

Pride In McAlester loves working with student groups, donors, government entities, and others to bring national initiatives such as Arbor Day to our community. Planting trees is just one way we work to Keep McAlester Beautiful! Click updates above to see more projects we’ve completed in McAlester and then check out the Get Involved page to take action to help out.

Free McAlester Hazardous Waste Disposal and Paper Shredding set for April 29th

Pride In McAlester (PIM) will offer free household hazardous waste removal, prescription drug disposal, and free document destruction on Saturday, April 29th for McAlester residents. As part of the Spring Cleanup celebrating the Great American Cleanup™ in Oklahoma, the event takes place at the Former National Guard Armory at 301 E. Polk in McAlester from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Household hazardous waste consists of any chemicals that citizens have in their homes such as cleaners, automotive fluids, yard care products, pesticides, oil-based paints and stains, spray paint, gasoline, lighter fluids, paint thinners, pool chemicals, cooking oil, and lamp oils. Additional items accepted include propane and camping fuel cylinders, batteries of all kinds, ammunition up to .50 caliber, and fluorescent bulbs.

Prescription medications, including liquid medications and syringes, will also be accepted on April 29th. These include any prescription or over-the-counter medications that residents have in their homes that are expired or no longer needed. Storing or keeping chemicals and prescriptions can lead to accidental poisoning of people or pets. Improper disposal will cause pollution of the water supply and natural environments such as streams and lakes.

Free document destruction to help citizens dispose of outdated personal papers is also on Saturday. These include tax records, financial statements, contracts, mail and any other papers that may have the personal information of citizens. The document destruction will occur on-site with a paper shredding truck. It is not necessary for citizens to remove staples, paperclips, or plastic from paper before delivery as these items are separated from the paper after shredding. Destroying outdated documents is important for residents to help guard against identity theft and to help remove potential fire hazards from homes and attics.

Pride In McAlester will continue to accept bulk trash, metal, tires, and electronics on Saturday, April 29th and Sunday, April 30th. PIM provides these services to citizens in order to promote a cleaner, safer, and more beautiful community. Funding for these projects comes from donations to Pride In McAester, the City of McAlester, Keep Oklahoma Beautiful, OGE and Compass Capital Management. Prescription pill collection is provided by the Pittsburg County Sheriff’s Department. For more information, contact Pride In McAlester at 918-426-4444 or visit www.prideinmcalester.com.

McAlester Volunteers Paint Fire Hydrants

Fourteen volunteers met at B and Jefferson Park on Saturday, March 8th to paint fire hydrants in parts of the city’s First, Third, and Fourth Wards.

Pride In McAlester Volunteers were joined by members of the Choctaw Nation Youth Advisory Board Crowder Chapter and within two and a half hours, fifty-one hydrants had a fresh coat of paint!

The hydrant project is possible thanks to a partnership with the City of McAlester Fire Department. They provide paint and a map with the updated hydrant colors indicating green, orange, or red based on output.

Painting fire hydrants not only helps to Keep McAlester Beautiful, but also helps the city be safer by ensuring that fire fighters can easily and accurately identify water pressure in case of a fire in the neighborhood.

2017 Spring Cleanup!

Pride In McAlester is excited to announce the dates and details for the 2017 Spring Cleanup!

On April 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, & 30th we will set up at the Former National Guard Armory at 301 E. Polk Avenue (North 3rd and East Polk) for you to bring your bulk trash, metal, tires, and electronics. Times for Saturdays are 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and Sundays are 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm.

On SATURDAY APRIL 29TH ONLY we will also take household hazardous waste, prescription drugs, and will offer paper shredding.

All of these services are limited to McAlester Residents (no commercial business) and are absolutely FREE. We do accept donations to help fund the nearly $20,000 in expenses.

Here are some more details to help you navigate the Spring Cleanup:

What is bulk trash?

This is all that stuff you have hanging around that needs to be thrown out but is too big or simply too much to fit in your household trash cart. Do yourself a favor and toss it at the cleanup in April!

What about metal, tires, and electronics?

We take anything that is metal or mostly metal and nearly anything that runs off batteries or plugs into the wall. We take all trailer, vehicle, and semi tires, but they must be removed from the rim before you bring them. Bring the rim too, though. We’ll throw it in the metal bin!

How do I haul tree trimmings and brush?

If you have a load that is only tree trimmings and brush, you will deliver it straight to the McAlester Landfill on Highway 270 west of town. They will be open during the same times as the cleanup at the Former Armory (Saturdays 9-3 and Sundays 12-3) You will need to take your water bill or drivers license with you to this location.

What is considered household hazardous waste and prescription drugs?

Oh, where to begin? Household hazardous waste (HHW) are all those chemicals, pesticides, automotive fluids, cleaning supplies, detergents, herbicides, oil based paints, stains, fire extinguishers, batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, cooking oil, and more that you know you shouldn’t throw away, but you don’t know how to dispose of. This is your chance! Want to go further? Include your makeup, lotions, and bathroom soaps. Yes, we know you’re surprised, but there’s bad stuff in those as well.

DON’T BRING YOUR LATEX PAINTS. We’ll have to turn you away. What to do with those? We like this suggestion: Add equal parts kitty litter to latex paint in the can (one part paint to one part kitty litter). If you have more than a half a can, you can also pour the paint into a lined cardboard box then pour in cat litter. Once it’s dry, throw it in your household trash.

We will take all prescription drugs this year, and that includes your liquid medications and syringes (thanks to KOB and OGE)! We even accept the ones that you buy over the counter, so tackle that medicine cabinet and get it to us.

Remember: you can only bring HHW and prescriptions on April 29th from 9 to 3 at the 3rd and Polk location.

How does the paper shredding work?

You bring the boxes and bags paper to us and we direct you to a truck that is set up to shred your documents on-site! All of the paper is recycled into new materials! There’s no limit to how much you can bring, but remember that we only support residents, so no business papers, please.

Is there anything I can’t dispose of at the Spring Cleanup?

Yes. We can’t take a burned house and we won’t take your latex, water-based paint. We’ll take nearly everything else.

How is all of this possible?

The cleanup is supported in so many ways to help citizens like you get the burden of waste out of their homes, garages, and yards. This Spring, we will partner with Republic Services for the roll-off dumpster service, the City of McAlester for the use of the property, heavy equipment, and an employee, Pittsburg County Drug Court for community service participants, Pittsburg County Sheriff’s Department for prescription drug disposal, and Oklahoma Tire Recyclers for, well, tire recycling. We work with Yaffe Scrap Metal Recycling, Environmental Management, and the Electronic Synergy Foundation for recycling and proper disposal of metal, household hazardous waste, and electronics. We’re also hiring Green Country Shredding to come out and do our paper-shredding on site.

The expenses of the cleanup are funded in a variety of ways. First, we received a Keep Oklahoma Beautiful OGE Great American Cleanup Growth Grant to help with expanding our household hazardous waste program to accept liquid medications and syringes. Second, we got a generous donation from Compass Capital Management in McAlester to assist with the paper shredding expense. Third, a lot of in-kind donations come in to support the programs and volunteers. These include water, gloves, reflective vests, trash bags, pizza, donuts, pallets, plastic wrap, boxes, and more. Fourth, funds we receive from the City of McAlester are used to pay some of the cost.

Lastly, and most importantly, citizens just like you make amazing donations at the gate to help us offset the cost of the cleanup. Even giving just a few dollars helps in so many ways.

Want to help out?

If you have any of the in-kind items listed above that you’re interested in giving to us, simply call 918-426-4444 and let us know! If you’d rather give money, just click on the “contribute” link at the top of the page.

You can also volunteer your time to help sort materials, unload trailers, track activities, direct traffic and more. No matter to any time constraints, physical limitations, or lack of experience you might have, we’d love to work alongside you! You must be able and willing to sign a liability release and then we’ll get you set in a job you’ll enjoy. Things do get a little crazy at cleanup, so volunteers must be at least 14 years old to participate. Send us an email at pim@prideinmcalester.com or call 918-426-4444 to volunteer.

Help spread the word! Download our flyer and print it out to hang at your business!

 

 

 

Pride In McAlester 8th Annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet

More than 120 people attended the Pride In McAlester 8th Annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on February 16th at the McAlester Country Club to honor Pride In McAlester supporters from 2016. This year’s banquet brought all nine Pride In McAlester Board Members and Mayor John Browne before the audience to present awards and celebrate PIM’s 2016 accomplishments.The Pride In McAlester Spirit Award went to Matt House and the Buffalo Run Disc Golf Course while Will Rogers Elementary School recieved the Community Sustainability Award. The Community Partner of the Year went to Choctaw Nation Going Green, the Outstanding Student was Brynn Vaughan, and Volunteers of the Year were the Alexander Family.
The Banquet was possible thanks to the generosity of the Presenting Sponsor, Sam Wampler’s Freedom Ford as well as numerous Corporate and Silent Auction Sponsors. This year’s event raised more than $3,000 for volunteer activities!