NORMAN — Tim and Georjana Mauldin’s family copy of First Lady Michelle Obama’s new book, “American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America,” finally arrived in Norman this past week after a cross-country journey of about 2,300 miles.
Mauldin bought the book at a local book store and took it with him to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., hoping to get Mrs. Obama’s signature on the book. That was the first 963 miles. A DNC staffer picked up the book at an Oklahoma delegation breakfast and vowed to get the signature.
The staff member didn’t get the signature at the convention but didn’t give up. He sent the book to Chicago and Obama’s campaign headquarters, another 620 miles. It was there that she signed the book.
The Postal Service took it from Chicago to Norman, another 713 miles.
The Mauldins will put the book next to a personally signed copy of the President’s book, “The Audacity of Hope.”
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The new head of Boeing’s Oklahoma operation had a bet with a co-worker. One said only about 5 percent of the California Boeing employees who were offered transfers to Oklahoma would accept the offers.
Mahesh Reddy thought it would be closer to 10 percent. To date, about 54 percent of those workers have taken the plunge and moved from the Long Beach plant to Oklahoma. It’s kind of Grapes of Wrath in Reverse.
A big selling point was a visit by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and other dignitaties. They flew into Long Beach and spread the word about the good things happening in Oklahoma.
Some of the workers for Boeing’s C-130 Avionics Modernization Program will come from other Boeing plants and others will be hired locally. They expect a total workforce of up to 2,000. In California, Boeing works with the local schools to help teachers train students in practical aspects of science and math. Look for similar efforts in Oklahoma.
Norman’s Chamber of Commerce has made a big push to make some of those Boeing workers residents of Norman. It’s a short drive from the city’s growing northeast side to the Boeing building near Tinker Air Force Base.
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Norman’s Firehouse Arts Center is a hidden jewel tucked into the heart of Norman. Thousands of local residents have learned to exhibit their creative side at the center, once Norman’s second fire station.
The center is getting statewide recognition. This past week the Firehouse was among the 11 individuals and eight organizations honored for contributions to the arts by the Governor’s Arts Awards.
The Firehouse was named one of three Arts in Education Award winners.
The honors will be awarded by Governor Mary Fallin on Thursday, November 8 during a special ceremony at the Oklahoma state Capitol. The ceremony will begin at 4 p.m. in the 4th Floor Rotunda. A reception on the Capitol’s first floor will follow.
Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Kim Baker said the awards bring recognition to individuals and organizations making a difference in communities throughout the state. “Each year we hear new stories of Oklahomans going above and beyond to enrich their communities using the arts. In communities like Arnett and Mangum, and in cities like Broken Arrow and Edmond, there are passionate people and community-focused organizations that deserve this recognition.”
Add Norman to that list.