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City of Stillwater News

Posted on: September 9, 2023

Mayor Joyce Focuses on Vision Forward in State of the City

Vision Forward Awards

(STILLWATER, OK) – Stillwater is riding a wave of positive momentum thanks to a culture of growth, optimism, inspiration and inclusion among community members, Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce told attendees during his State of the City address Friday at the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce’s annual event. He presented the inaugural Mayor’s Vision Forward awards to recognize people and organizations that develop and encourage environments of innovation, investment, growth and success. 

That culture has led to investment - through commitment, creativity and capital - across the community. 

“People invest where they see opportunity, where they see potential, and where they feel included and valued,” Joyce said. 

During his address, the Mayor highlighted projects, services and initiatives that embody the culture he calls Vision Forward. Those included City investments, private investments and community partners like Stillwater Public Schools, Stillwater Medical Center, Oklahoma State University, Visit Stillwater and the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce.  

The school district recently passed a $195 million bond issue to build a new high school and upgrade other facilities.

The hospital system is completing a $30 million expansion of its surgical and women’s health units, adding a level 2 NICU to meet statewide demand, and continues to add physicians to meet community needs and add services that allow patients to be treated close to home. 

The university continues to modernize facilities and develop programs that prepare students and serve society. It recently launched a partnership with Stillwater’s Our Daily Bread Food and Resource Center that offers learning opportunities for agriculture students while addressing food insecurity in the community. 

The Chamber of Commerce continues to focus on economic development and is preparing to launch a new website that will provide online resources for existing and future businesses. It supported local merchants impacted by two years of construction along the Perkins Road commercial corridor and developed a deal that will improve quality of life for residents by bringing a new entertainment complex to Stillwater.   

The City is making small investments generated by Tax Increment Financing districts to spur private projects that bring large amounts of private investment. One such project is a new hotel and convention center. 

Residents approved new transportation sales tax and bond propositions in 2022 that are funding the construction of a new fire station and road improvements. Through that sales tax, the City of Stillwater is able to invest in improved transportation infrastructure and roadways throughout the city. 

A grant-funded Rails to Trails project will convert unused railroad to a safe and beautiful multi-use pathway connecting the city north to south. 

More major projects that will require both community and government support are on the horizon. Stillwater’s regional water system needs significant improvements to ensure reliability for the 900 square mile area it serves. Stillwater Regional Airport, an economic driver for the community, needs a new, larger terminal to grow service. And finally, the Animal Welfare facility is undersized to meet current demand and doesn’t provide a healthy environment for animals or people. The facility will need to be replaced with a modern one that meets the community’s increased needs. 

“Collectively, we have had a vision and we have developed plans to make our dreams reality,” Joyce said. “Through national economic instability, the highest inflation rates in more than three decades, and continuous shortage of materials needed for crucial projects – we have continued to make progress.” 

That progress includes private investment like the development of USA Rare Earth Magnets, LLC, which is building the first of its kind rare earth manufacturing business in the U.S. and The Hub, a 60,000 square foot family entertainment complex with bowling, movie theaters, an arcade, pickleball courts, food and drink and meeting space that is being developed by the Tonkawa Tribe of Oklahoma. 

Joyce also highlighted City of Stillwater departments and staff dedicated to creating an environment that encourages the Vision Forward mindset. He presented the Mayor’s Vision Forward awards to the Water Utilities department - represented by Director James Driskel - for innovation and customer-service focus, the Finance Department – represented by Director Christy Cluck - for demonstrated excellence in transparency and financial stewardship and Stillwater Emergency Management – represented by Director Rob Hill - for its efforts to safeguard the community. 

He then turned to the community, honoring the OSU Student Farm - represented by Department Head of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture Dr. Justin Moss - and Our Daily Bread - represented by Executive Director Rachael Condley - for their joint efforts to address food security and improve nutrition by making fresh produce available to Payne County residents in need while OSU develops larger plans to expand the farm’s impact. 

“Together, they are fighting hunger and feeding hope,” Joyce said. 

He also recognized Washington School Alumni Association President Karen Washington and OSU Director of Public History Dr. Laura Arata for fostering cultural growth in the community through the preservation of Washington School, Stillwater’s segregation-era Black school. 

“They are increasing education and awareness while honoring those who persevered through segregation and turmoil – telling a story that needs to be heard and understood,” Joyce said. 

And finally, he honored Stillwater artist Morgan Robinson for his efforts to advance art integration in the community by designing “Interlaced,” and the Arts and Humanities Council for their efforts to fund the sculpture through private donations and their efforts to art integration, as well. The sculpture will be at the intersection of 6th Avenue and Western Road with a visual celebration of community connection. Installation will begin after the concrete work is complete.

“As mayor – I am honored to serve with you and for you,” Joyce said. “We will continuously seek opportunities to improve our economy, safe and healthy initiatives, and overall quality of life for our residents.”

To read the full Mayoral State of the City and watch the Vision Forward videos, go to:

Vision Forward Awards

Photo, front row, left to right: Dr. Laura Arata, Christy Cluck, Rebecca Brienen
Back row, left to right: Rachael Condley, Dr. Justin Moss, Mayor Will Joyce, James Driskel, Rob Hill
Not picture: Karen Washington and Morgan Robinson


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