Wilburton Mayor Karin Woodruff is among 11 finalists for the 2006 Mayor of the Year awards.

Sponsored by the Oklahoma Conference of Mayors, the awards honor the state’s top mayors, representing both small and large Oklahoma communities.

Woodruff, who has been mayor of Wilburton since winning a special election in 2001, said, “It’s an honor just to be nominated. It’s nice to be recognized.”

Since becoming the first woman mayor in the community’s history, Woodruff has overseen numerous improvements in the Latimer County city, including work on a new wastewater treatment plant and water plant.

More than $4 million in grants has gone to the community since Woodruff became mayor and, in what she sees as a highlight of her term, the city’s largest employer, Franklin Electric, changed its plans to close its doors in Wilburton and is instead opening a new training center in the community.

She’s worked closely with Wilburton Main Street even before being elected — and was instrumental in Wilburton being selected as a Main Street Community due to ongoing beautification and improvement projects.

A nomination letter stated Woodruff “… has a passion for Wilburton and its citizens that is shown by the long hours she works. … She is an excellent example of a person staying the course, staying focused and remaining resolute in spite of adversity and difficult situations.”

Woodruff is among five nominees representing communities with populations of less than 5,000.

Other nominees in the small community category are Elaine Carr, West Siloam Springs; Karen Hawkins, Cherokee; Marlena Campbell Hodson, Carney, and Bill Longest, Hooker.

Nominees for the Mayor of the Year for communities with more than 5,000 residents are Julie Daniels, Bartlesville; John Gumerson, Guthrie; Peggy Keenan, Poteau; Richard Stone, Ponca City and Donna York, Ada.

The awards will be presented Saturday during the Oklahoma Municipal League’s annual awards breakfast at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

The OCOM awards recognize the dedication and commitment brought to the highest elected post in municipal government.

Criteria for consideration requires nominees to be an OCOM member and in elected office at the time the award is given. In addition, nominees must complete a minimum of three years service in an elected office and their municiplality must belong to the OML.

Contact Doug Russell at drussell@mcalesternews.com.

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