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C A N A D I A N AUGUST 2012


V A L


ELECTRALITE Lee Oliver: 40 years as Brooksville mayor


SUPPLEMENT TO OKLAHOMA LIVING


Lee Oliver, 78, has been Brooksville’s mayor for 40 years. During his tenure, the town has managed to stay alive unlike other black communities in the state.


Lee Oliver has been mayor of Brooksville for 40 years and has no plans to retire any time soon. “When I’m sure I’ve accom- plished everything I can as mayor, then I’ll consider it,” Lee said. There are still three years remain- ing in his current term as mayor, a position he handles like a full-time job. Lee, 78, also is pastor of St. Johns Baptist Church. Brooksville is home


Lee Oliver was born and raised in Brooksville. He graduated from


the all-black Dunbar Heights in Shawnee where students were bussed after Brooksville’s school was shut down.


Lee said at that time there were no paved roads into Brooksville and black children walked miles or carpooled with relatives and friends to a bus stop. Upon graduation he attended Langston University, an all-black college north of Oklahoma City. “After a semester I realized my brain wasn’t ready so I enlisted in the Army and did tour of duty during the Korean War,” he said.


Lee said he had made up his mind to join his brothers in California when he com- pleted his military commitment. Instead, on a visit home he developed an interest in his hometown church and a hometown girl, Katherine.


“She as 18 years old when I met her and the love of my life,” Lee said. “It wasn’t long for me to realize the smartest thing I’ve ever done is marry her.” Town progress


Lee became as committed to his second love — Brooksville, as he was to Katherine. The town had no waste water system until 1972. This meant residents used outhouses and had no indoor running water prior to that. Getting a grant to build the system required the town to incorporate and it was then a four-member board of trustees was established. It was the first official, state-recognized government of Brooksville. It took four years to get a grant for the water system. The rejections were disappoint- ing, but the town fathers didn’t give up. “We eventually became the only back town in the state to have our own water system, water towers, wells and waste water system,” Lee said


In 1982, Brooksville was awarded $187,000 to update every home in town with indoor plumbing.


The dirt road entering Brooksville was eventually paved, allowing easy access to and from the town, which is north of Shawnee and west of Seminole. Canadian Valley Electric supplies the town with electricity. In 1998, a new City Hall was built partially with grant money but mostly with labor from townsfolk. Lee said it seemed like everyone pitched in. Peaceful living


In 2005, a new community center was built. The center is used for a variety of activi- ties, including the annual Brooksville Reunion in June. For an entire weekend, the town’s population grows from 250 people to about 2,000 people.


Lee said his town is safe, and crime free. Everyone knows each other and watches out for one another. They also have a volunteer fire department with three fire trucks. Currently, one of Lee’s main goals is to attract home build- ers to Brooksville to bring in new housing and people. He’d also like to see a retail business open in hopes of establishing a sales tax base to generate revenue for the city. “We call Brooksville a peaceful living place,” Lee said. “Come to our town and that’s what you’ll experience.”


L


E Y The power of human connections By George I know I am getting old. It just doesn’t feel


like it. My mind still thinks I can do anything. When my body occasionally reminds me maybe not. I pass it off as just being a little out of shape, a condition that I could easily remedy with a little effort. This allows my body and my mind to coexist peacefully most of the time by not really testing either.


But I know I must be old even though it


doesn’t seem so. It was not so very long ago that I was growing up in a home with no air- conditioning, the same as my friends. I went to school for twelve years in school houses without air-conditioners. The windows would open and if we were lucky there might be a little breeze. Air conditioning on the school buses that I rode was not even a consideration. I lived in a college dorm on the OSU campus for four years that had no air conditioning. (The new big dorms on campus at the time did have A/C.) The only air conditioning in the first two cars I owned was the heater in the winter and windows that cranked down in the summer. Life wasn’t that bad.


Somewhere along the way I became accus- tomed to sleeping in an air conditioned house, driving to and from work in an air conditioned car and working in an air conditioned office. Not that my mind believes that I really have to, but let’s not test that thought too far either. Today there are very few homes in the


Canadian Valley Electric service area that do not have air conditioning. Most of us think we have to have this luxury to survive. For a significant number this luxury, air condition- ing, has become a necessity due to their health or physical condition. All of us that live long enough will likely get to that point. However the majority of people in the world today do not have this luxury. This luxury, air conditioning, like many oth- ers, has become available to the masses because of our technology. That almost sounds boastful. This could be better said that these luxuries have become common place because of a seemingly unlimited supply of electric energy brought almost magically to our homes whenever we flip a switch or adjust the thermostat. For most people today it has always been that way. Why would that ever change? Most of that electricity that makes the life- styles that we enjoy today possible is produced


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