As a relative newcomer to McAlester, I am disturbed by city recognition paid to a person who has been convicted of a federal crime. I am speaking specifically of Gene Stipe and the boulevard that bears his name. As I understand it, Mr. Stipe was convicted of conspiracy to violate federal campaign ﬁnance laws and has been sentenced to ﬁnes, in-home detention and five years probation. It seems that I cannot go a week reading the newspaper without some reference to Mr. Stipe and his conduct, either past or present.
I wish to make a simple proposal to the city council, and that is, rename Gene Stipe Boulevard to Veterans Boulevard in honor of those who are truly deserving of such municipal recognition.
I do not know Mr. Stipe personally, I only know what is reported as part of the public record. And as a result, it is disturbing every time I drive down Gene Stipe Boulevard. Mr. Stipe had his chance at civic notoriety, honor and respect, and in my opinion he forfeited it all when he chose to violate the law.
The city of McAlester is at a turning point and a message can be sent loud and clear: If you violate the law, the people of McAlester will not honor you.
By renaming the street Veterans Boulevard, we acknowledge and honor the sacrifice of all the young men and women who have fought and continue to ﬁght and die for our way of life.
By renaming the boulevard — a simple act that sends a strong message to good and bad alike — do the right thing.
D. R. White