Athena nominations open

The Norman Chamber of Commerce and Ferguson Buick-Pontiac-GMC will present the fifth annual Athena Award to an individual in Norman in September.

The award is presented to an individual who has attained and personifies the highest level of professional excellence in his/her business or profession, has devoted time and energy to the community in a meaningful way, and, most importantly, has opened doors of leadership opportunities for women.

The Athena Award, started in Lansing, Mich., in 1982, is presented in hundreds of cities across the United States and numerous countries around the globe.

Nomination forms for the Athena Award are available at the Norman Chamber of Commerce. Applications are available on the Chamber Web site, or at the Chamber office, 115 E. Gray St. Deadline for submission is 5 p.m. Aug. 10. The award will be presented 5:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.

Sonic coming to Lexington

Plans are being finalized to bring a Sonic Drive-In to Lexington within the next year.

“We just thought maybe we could go expand out there and see what we could do,” said Gary Hendrix, who owns a Sonic franchise in Purcell and will be building the one in Lexington.

The restaurant will be across Highway 39 from the future site of the new high school in Lexington, City Manager Walt Allen said.

The city’s public works trust will vote on whether to donate the property for Sonic at its next regular meeting July 3, Allen said. The city will benefit from the sales tax revenues, he said.

“What a bargain for us,” he said. “Because we’ll retrieve our investment from Dollar General in about nine-10 months, and from Sonic in about six.”

Albertson’s sells Norman stores

Homeland Stores has announced plans to purchase seven Albertson’s stores, including two in Norman.

Albertson’s announced last week it will sell 23 of its Oklahoma locations to four different grocery retailers by the end of July. The company operates stores at 24th Avenue NW and Robinson Street and at 12th Avenue SE and Alameda Street.

Homeland, based in Edmond, currently operates two stores in Norman. After the Albertson’s sale, the company will operate 51 stores in Oklahoma.

Leadership programs

begin in September

Leadership programs offered by the Norman Chamber of Commerce will begin in September, chamber officials have announced.

Stephanie Royse of the Sooner Theatre and Kyle Caldwell of Quality Programs will be co-chairs of Leadership Norman. Co-chairs for the Tomorrow’s Leaders will be Sean Crandall, Arvest Bank, and Lori Thrower, Norman Public Schools.

Applications will be available Aug. 1 and are due to the Chamber Aug. 31.

Home buying for beginners

NEW YORK — Owning a home is a key to the American dream, but with foreclosure rates at a 50-year high in the U.S. it has never been more important to be a responsible buyer. Here are a few steps first-time homebuyers should take before sinking their life savings into a house:

• Assess your credit. Most mortgage lenders use FICO scores to determine loan eligibility. In general, the higher your FICO score, the better your interest rates. With a score of 650 or above, you’re considered a good risk and should have no problem securing a mortgage. If your score is 600 or below, you may want to consider improving it before applying for loans. Also, keep in mind that mortgage lenders are reluctant to lend money to people spending more than 36 percent of their gross monthly income on debt. (For a free credit report, visit

• Determine how much to borrow. Many first-time homebuyers make the mistake of borrowing as much as their banks or credit unions are willing to offer. While most lenders are comfortable issuing loans worth up to 33 percent of your gross income, many financial planners believe 25 percent is a more prudent number.

• Factor in ongoing costs. One of the upsides of renting is that when the pipes break or the refrigerator goes kaput, you can simply call your landlord to have it repaired. As a homeowner, you’ll be charged with these responsibilities. So, before taking out a mortgage be sure to factor in expenses like home improvements, basic maintenance and property taxes.

— Transcript Staff and AP

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