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May 22, 2014

Benefactors help veteran’s wife pay off property tax

NORMAN — The Cleveland County Treasurer’s office was awash with whispers Monday morning as a surprise unfolded to help a veteran’s widow.

With proposed legislation under way, property tax exemptions could be a rule set in stone for future spouses of veterans in need of assistance.

Overwhelmed with information, Jennifer Hunt said her first time in the treasurer’s office was one that left her with too many unanswered questions after her husband was killed five years earlier.

Specialist Jason Hunt died in the 2009 base shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas. Eleven others also were killed. These changes not only accumulated emotional weight for her and her three daughters but technical issues, as well, Jennifer said.

Unexpected bills in the mail contradicted what she was hearing about the rules of tax exemptions for widows, stirring stress and fears of potentially losing her house, she said.

“I was told in the beginning that I was exempt,” she said, “but I found out later that that was not the case for me.”

Cleveland County treasurer Jim Reynolds said he learned of Jennifer’s situation two and a half months ago and quickly took action.

“We’re going to do something,” Reynolds said.

With the help of his brother, Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, and the Senate author of the bill, Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, the three constructed House Bill 2621. The bill outlines rules and exemptions for widows with spouses who have been killed in the line of duty.

Reynolds said if the bill passes, widows like Hunt will not have to pay property taxes.

Upon searching for donations, three prominent benefactors have donated money to contribute to Hunt’s account, paying off $5,600 in property taxes from 2011 to 2013.

“I am so glad that we can do this and that people stepped up,” Jim Reynolds said. “It’s not us; it’s others who were able to give and contribute.”

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