McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

May 8, 2013

McAlester residents herd to Washington to promote defense industry in the area

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — It’s that time of year again — when a group of McAlester-area residents converge on Washington D.C. for what is called The McAlester Stampede.

Led by the McAlester Defense Support Association, the Second Annual McAlester Stampede is a flurry of events and meetings held at the nation’s Capitol. It’s designed to promote and enhance the defense industry in McAlester.

This year’s Stampede started Tuesday and is slated to continue through Friday.

Heading the MDSA are Chairman Mark Jordan and Vice Chairman Gene Walker.

Twenty-four local delegates from the McAlester area were set to attend the event, three more than attended last year.

“I’m very happy with the community response,” Walker said before the group left for Washington. “It’s obvious the area recognizes the impact the defense industry has on our local economy.”

The McAlester City Council approved funding for McAlester Mayor Steve Harrison and City Manager Pete Stasiak to attend the McAlester Stampede.

A full slate of activities was scheduled, highlighted by meetings with Oklahoma’s U.S. senators and representatives. Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, is ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. He is and hosting some of the events, according to Walker.

A reception is set in the LBJ Room, named for former President Lyndon Baines Johnson, on the Senate side of the Capitol building, according to Walker.

“We have excellent meetings set up in Washington and expect to give them some relevant information and see what kind of response we get to our needs,” Walker said.

An advance group headed to Washington Monday to make sure everything was set for the reception.

In Washington, the group had 30 minute meetings scheduled with Inhofe, as well as Sen. Dr. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, and District 2 U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville.

They also had private meetings scheduled with the rest of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation “one at a time,” according to Walker.

The Senate Armed Forces Committee’s Minority Staff Director is John Bonsell, familiar to some McAlester-area residents as a former member of Inhofe’s staff, where he had served as the senator’s legislative director.

Anthony Lazarski, Inhofe’s former military legislative assistant, is also a professional staff member on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

MDSA representatives planned to meet with both of them.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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