The signs read “Gene Stipe Boulevard,” but are they the real McCoy?

Stipe Boulevard signs outside the Tag Office in McAlester have been drawing attention from people driving by the building at 1208 N. Main St.

The signs attracting the attention look similar to the Gene Stipe Boulevard street signs which belong to the city of McAlester.

Ron McCoy operates the Tag Office which has the Stipe signs on display outside the building.

The signs read “Gene Stipe Boulevard” — but that doesn’t mean they’re authentic city of McAlester street signs.

“They’re not from the city,” McCoy said.

He said he bought the signs instead from a sign manufacturer, whom he declined to identify. “Several of us have ordered them,” McCoy said of the signs.

He said he placed the green Stipe signs up for a reason.

“I’m showing my support of Senator Stipe,” he said. “I think this whole deal’s a little wrong after what he’s done for this part of the state.”

McAlester city councilors voted in December to change the name of Gene Stipe Boulevard back to its original name of Electric Avenue.

They took the action after citizens passed a petition objecting to having a street named after Stipe in the wake of his convictions in connection with a probe into Federal Election Commission violations.

After the Stipe signs were removed, the city decided to sell them. City Manager Susan Monroe mentioned the possibility of auctioning the signs on eBay to raise money for the city treasury.

However, the city council balked at that proposal.

Instead, city councilors ordered all of the city’s Gene Stipe Boulevard street signs held in storage until they could be sold at a public auction like any other surplus city property,

Since the city of McAlester has already held one surplus property auction this year, the next auction is not expected until after the beginning of the next fiscal year which begins July 1.

McCoy said other factors figured into his decision to put Stipe signs up at the tag agency.

“It’s more of a sentimental thing,” McCoy said. “At this point even his campaign stuff is sentimental.”

“He’s 79,” McCoy said. “Why don’t they leave him alone?”

McCoy said he has a bigger Stipe sign inside his tag office. Asked about the reaction from those who see the sign, McCoy said “Most of it’s been thumbs up.”

McCoy acknowledged that tag agents in Oklahoma are appointed by state senators, even though they’re considered independent operators.

He also acknowledged, when asked, that Stipe had appointed him to be the tag agent in McAlester.

“In 1980 I got appointed,” he said.

McCoy has one regret where the Stipe signs are concerned.

“I wish I could have some bigger ones,” he said.

“When they have the auction, I will get a bigger one.”

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