By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Norman Chamber of Commerce President and CEO John Woods was appointed this week to the Long Range Capitol Planning Commission. House Speaker T.W. Shannon announced the appointment Wednesday.
The commission will address Capitol repairs and long-term management of state assets. The Long Range Capitol Planning Commission was recreated with a new mission by Shannon’s House Bill 1910, which was signed into law this year. Under the new law, the commission will be responsible for developing a pay-as-you-go plan to repair the Oklahoma State Capitol and an eight-year plan for the management of state assets.
Woods will serve a three-year term on the commission. He said an initial meeting date has not been set yet.
“I think it will be (set) very soon, as they will want a first report issued by December of this year,” Woods said. “The Senate president has appointments and the governor has appointments, and I don’t know if they’ve made their appointments yet.”
Prior to joining the Norman Chamber, Woods worked at the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
“John Woods will bring a business and community perspective to the commission,” Shannon said. “He also brings his experience of working with legislative leaders to the commission. I am highly confident in his abilities and judgment.”
The committee will be a recommending body providing information to state lawmakers.
“I think it’s an important task, and it’s a real honor,” Woods said. “It’s exceptionally important for the state to determine what we need to do in terms of state facilities.”
The committee will deal with short- and long-term plans.
“It includes everything from the agency buildings that you see around the Capitol complex, our tourism facilities across the state — parks and lodges — it includes Griffin here in Norman,” Woods said.
Woods said the committee will have balance immediate needs where infrastructure is failing with other needs that may be primarily aesthetic. Funding mechanisms will be an important component of any long-range planning.
“It will be a fascinating task with a lot of pieces to the puzzle,” Woods said.
Some facilities, such as state lodges at parks can be revenue generating, but other facilities currently serving taxpayers and/or state employees may have critical infrastructure needs, he said. All those priorities must be weighed.
“Looking at that holistically is good for the taxpayers,” Woods said. “I appreciate the appointment. It’s definitely an honor.”
Also appointed were Chesapeake Oilfield Services CEO Jerry Winchester and Former Rep. Tad Jones. Woods worked with Jones at the legislature during Jones last term in office.
Winchester will serve a one-year term. As the chief executive of the second-largest producer of U.S. natural gas, he is a good fit for the oversight of state assets, Shannon said.
“Jerry Winchester will bring decades of business experience to the management of state assets and I could not be more pleased to find him willing and ready to serve on the commission,” said Shannon, R-Lawton.
Jones, the current executive director of the Grand Lake Association, will serve a two-year term. Jones served in various leadership roles during his time in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, including the role of majority floor leader.
“Representative Tad Jones was a key figure in the House during his long service to the citizens of Oklahoma, and I think his experience in working with state legislators and state agencies will serve the commission well,” Shannon said.
All three appointments will be eligible for reappointment to four-year terms following the completion of their first term.