Community rallies behind Lawton firefighters during city council meeting, among other items

Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 11:25 PM CST
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Lawton City Council met Tuesday where things kicked off before the city even got into the agenda.

During audience participation, Firefighters and family brought concerns to council about their pay, even though their wages were not on the agenda.

An official with the Lawton Firefighters Association said he wants to make sure there is an established line of communication between the city and firefighters -- when it comes to having any type of discussion.

“The end goal for today was just to let city council know we are here, we are open for any type of conversation they would like to have as far as it relates to firefighter needs and we want to make sure we can establish that line of communication between the two groups,” said Nolan Barry, the Secretary Treasure for Lawton Firefighter Association.

Firefighter wages have been on the agenda in the past, however people at council said they want to make sure they’re heard and their first responders are taken care of and given a competitive wage compared to our peer cities.

“My husband regularly works 48 and 72 hour shifts. We don’t see him a lot. I think the longest shift that someone has worked is120 hours,” said Lauren Atkinson, a wife of a firefighter who spoke at the podium. “These guys are tired, so I wanted to get up there and point out some of the terrible things associated with them not providing them the raises that they’re owed.”

Lawton Mayor Stan Booker said he was not able to comment as they are in a contract.

Council also talked about changes to the School House Slough and Lake Lawtonka. They approved a request for proposal for the management of the Slough convenient store and rates for rentals and leases are in talks to increase by 25% increments over the next couple of years.

However the committee said people in the area want improvements to the lake if they’re going to be paying more, so council made a motion for staff to bring back a plan for the rates to be increased, as well as a plan on how $3 million could be used to improve the lake.

Improvements talked about were things like water and sewage quality and Wi-Fi to the recreational area.

All wards now have something to look forward to when it comes to the city’s parks.

The original $1 million investment in city parks was changed, after Larry Parks, the new director of parks and recreations presented two plans in front of council.

One being for the $1 million and the second being around $1.5 million. The major difference being added bathrooms.

Council approved the $1.5 million plan was approved, but councilmembers shared concerns on the maintenance of these parks to make sure the money doesn’t go to waste.

Overall they were impressed with how fast the recently titled director put the presentation together.

“What a feeling. I’ll tell you, to make a difference and that’s kind of why I got into this job was to make a difference in the community. I’m just ready to break ground, I’m just really ready to go,” said Parks. “I was very excited when council decided to move forward with the plan.”

The department will have to present in front of council again, but Parks said it should be around two months after that when people start to see results