Apr. 5—Attorneys with a McAlester law firm thought the concrete oval pad in the middle of the traffic roundabout at Fifth Street and Washington Avenue looked a little bare — so they decided to do something about it.
Blake Lynch and Brecken Wagner of the Wagner & Lynch law firm not only designed the new additions to the oval, they also supplied material for the concept and installed it themselves, along with help from some staffers and other volunteers.
They added artificial turf and white vinyl lettering that spells out "McAlester" and "Oklahoma" on the north and south ends, respectively, in the middle of the roundabout, near the the U.S. Post Office at Fifth and Washington Avenue. It can be read from an overhead view, such as from a drone as well as by pedestrians walking along the portion of the roundabout that's raised above street level.
The white lettering should also be visible to motorists driving through the roundabout.
Plans call for the city of McAlester to install a buffalo statue in the middle of the roundabout once the other work is done. Other possibilities include placing a Christmas tree in the roundabout during the holiday season.
Wagner, Lynch and the others were determined to get the lettering completed during the first phase of their project.
"It's going good," said Wagner as he helped put some of the lettering in place.
The project has been in the works for months. Lynch said he became interested in the oval space in the middle of the roundabout because there was nothing in it.
"At one point, the city was going to do some planting here," he said. Lynch said when he asked about the plan for it, he was told any plans had been put on hold due to COVID-19.
Lynch said he had put artificial turn down is his backyard and it worked well for him. That gave him the inspiration to place artificial turf in the concrete oval pad in the middle of the roundabout. That way, neither the city nor anyone else would have to provide the regular maintenance grass other plants would have required.
When Blake had the design ready, he presented it to the city of McAlester, which accepted it.
Law firm staffers and others who assisted Lynch and Wagner assisted on the project included Office Manager Tayna Turner, Regan Hearod, Amanda Zaccaro and Kim Shipley, along with Karie Wagner, who is married to Brecken Wagner.
As they worked to lay down the artificial turf, and lettering, they occasionally heard honks and shouts from some motorists who were driving by the roundabout.
"A lot of people have been yelling," Lynch said. "It's been mostly positive."
He is hopeful the project will inspire other businesses to help McAlester by partnering with the city on projects.
Contact James Beaty at firstname.lastname@example.org.