The Norman Transcript

August 20, 2013

Grant funds to bring work force to Moore

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

MOORE — People who need a second chance in the job market will provide helping hands in Moore over the course of the next year.

The Moore City Council approved a yearlong agreement with the Center for Employment Opportunities to provide supervised work crews at no cost in the Pubic Works and Parks Departments’ maintenance division.

The group can provide the partnership opportunity at no cost because of a National Emergency Grant through the Department of Labor. Oklahoma City Metro area Director Pat Viklund said the grant is administered locally through the Central Oklahoma Workforce Investment board.

CEO has had offices in Tulsa since 2011. That office serves about “150 individuals a year, with work crews providing neighborhood beautification, litter removal and landscaping for a variety of public sector partners,” according to company reports. The Oklahoma City office opened this month.

CEO’s program model helps people coming home from prison enter the work force. The company provides life skill education, short-term paid transitional employment, full-time job placement and post-placement services. Program representatives said the program reduces recidivism.

“We don’t work with sex offenders or arsonists,” Viklund said.

City manager Steve Eddy said the level of supervision makes him comfortable with the program. Supervisors are CEO staff and are not criminal offenders.

At each meeting, the Moore City Council has recognized various groups of emergency responders and volunteers who helped with the response and recovery following the May 20 tornado. On Monday night, Emergency Management Director Gayland Kitch introduced Moore Emergency Management volunteers.

The group includes Dan Cary, retired Cleveland County emergency manager, who is backing up Kitch. Some of the volunteers serve as storm spotters to help with early warning to prevent deaths.

Kitch also acknowledged council member Mark Hamm, who has served as an emergency management volunteer.

Community Development Director Elizabeth Jones reported on condemned duplex properties in the area of Southwest 19th Street and Janeway Avenue.

City council members approved the solicitation of emergency bids for demolition and debris removal of several of those properties. The duplexes are rental properties and classified as commercial, so they were not eligible for FEMA funded debris removal.

One owner of several of the properties is a state representative in New Hampshire, council members said.

“He was expecting us to do it,” Eddy said. “When he learned FEMA wouldn’t do it, I think he lost interest.”

FEMA expects commercial properties to have insurance to cover demolition and debris removal costs.

Eddy said there is a pending contract on the property, and Moore will put a lien on the property to recoup its money upon the sale. Jones said one interested buyer from Edmond is hoping to purchase all of the properties and has plans to “do something nicer” with the lots.

Rebuilding is well under way. Eddy said 147 new home permits were issued last month. He also reported that the tornado-damaged shopping center at 19th Street and Santa Fe Avenue is set for demolition by the owner on Aug. 26.

City leaders formally adopted the Central Moore Park Long-Range Master Plan. The plan for a destination park was unveiled at a special meeting last month. Moore voters passed a $24.7 million bond referendum in November to pay for the park.

Council members also approved a contract renewal with the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments for Phase II of the Wasteload Allocation Study at the Canadian River.

Moore’s total share for the study is $190,167. So far, the city has paid $184,127, leaving just more than $6,000 for the final payment.

Joy Hampton