McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

March 29, 2013

McAlester Stampede prepares for Washington effort

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — It’s time for another McAlester Stampede.

McAlester Stampede is the name given to an effort by a group known as the McAlester Defense Support Association for a visit to Washington D.C. The  MDSA is a private group formed to support the defense industry in the McAlester area.

This year’s McAlester Stampede is set for May 7-8.

Purpose of the visit is for local residents and community leaders to speak to senators, congressmen, the defense department and members of the military about the area’s support for the defense industry in McAlester.

The McAlester Stampede held its inaugural effort in 2012, with a number of local community leaders and others joining the effort in Washington.

Gene Walker and Mark Jordan, the vice chairman and chairman of the McAlester Defense Support Association, attended the Tuesday night meeting of the McAlester City Council to speak in support of the city administering funds to pay for McAlester City Manager Pete Stasiak and McAlester Mayor Steve Harrison to attend this year’s event.

The item had been placed on the council’s consent agenda for the council to consider and act upon expending funds of $1,500 each for the mayor and city manager to attend the stampede.

However, during a discussion of the item, Stasiak said folowing a review of the expenses, it’s been determined the expenses should be $2,000, not $1,500, each.

Walker addressed the council regarding what the MDSA contends is the importance of the McAlester Stampede.

“This needs to be done as an annual event,” Walker said.

He noted the group conducted the first McAlester Stampede last year.

“We did it because Congressmen and senators said we were really behind the 8 ball,” Walker, said, referring to demonstrating community support in Washington D.C. for the defense industry in McAlester.

Walker said he believed the efforts had a positive impact.

“We tell them what our concerns our,” he said. “We were able to influence, I believe, the entire delegation,” he said. “I feel we’ve began to reverse that attitude about McAlester.”

He told the councilors that there is a lot of work conducted during the trip to Washington D.C., including a number of meetings which he feels are important in getting McAlester’s concerns across to those in the nation’s capital.

During these times of budget cuts and sequestration, it’s especially crucial to both show McAleter’s support and make its concerns known regarding the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant and the rest of the defense industry in the area, he said.

Walker said he feels it’s important for the city of McAlester to represented in Washington.

“We ask you to send these two representatives to Washington,” Walker said. Having the mayor and city manager sitting in the meetings is valuable, he said.

“It does, by itself, bring credibility to the event,” Walker said .

Following a discussion, the council  conducted a split vote to approve the measure, providing funding for Harrison and Stasiak to join the McAlester Stampede. Ward 5 Councilor Buddy Garvin and Ward 6 Councilor Sam Mason cast the only “no’ votes on the proposal.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

 

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