OKC community happenings: Summer events, grant recipients and training opportunities

·9 min read


Round Barn plans concerts for July Fourth weekend

ARCADIA — Elm Tree Concerts are planned for Saturday, July 2, and Sunday, July 3, at the Arcadia Round Barn.

Kelly Ray Potts, of Oklahoma City, and Katie Ballew, of Watonga, have been singing together for nine years.
Kelly Ray Potts, of Oklahoma City, and Katie Ballew, of Watonga, have been singing together for nine years.

Katie and Kelly Country Duo will perform on Saturday, and Fred Hill will take the stage on Sunday. Both concerts will be from 1 to 3 p.m. beneath the shade of the giant elm tree on the north side of the barn. The Round Barn also will be open for visitors on Monday, July 4.

Katie Ballew, of Watonga, and Kelly Ray Potts, of Oklahoma City, have been singing together for nine years. They perform country, Western swing, Red Dirt, Southern rock and blues music.

Hill is a singer/songwriter who plays acoustic guitar with harmonica accompaniment. He has performed at Michelangelo’s and the Bluebonnet in Norman, the Chicken Shack in Luther, the Noir, Grandad’s and Java 39 in Oklahoma City and the Patriarch and Frenzy’s in Edmond.

Singer-songwriter Fred Hill will perform July 3 at the Arcadia Round Barn.
Singer-songwriter Fred Hill will perform July 3 at the Arcadia Round Barn.

Admission is free to the Arcadia Round Barn, including all concerts, but donations are accepted. The barn is six miles east of Interstate 35 on historic Route 66 and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

For more information about live music at the barn, call Joe Baxter at 405-833-1350.

Take a balloon ride at Shawnee festival

SHAWNEE — Twenty-five hot air balloons will take flight over Shawnee skies once again at the fifth annual Firelake Fireflight Balloon Fest, set for Aug. 12-13 at Raymond Peltier Park, 1702 S Gordon Cooper Drive.

The Citizen Potawatomi Nation is hosting the free event and invites the public to attend a weekend full of live music, fireworks, a 5K fun run and family friendly activities.

A kid zone with a petting zoo, splash pad and inflatables are among the activities planned for the weekend. Live music will be performed both nights, and guests will have the opportunity to ride in hot air balloons and enjoy the entertainment from the sky. 

A variety of merchandise also will be available for sale from regional artists, craftspeople and retailers at a vendor market. The Outdoor Nation Expo — a hunting and fishing show — will take place at the FireLake Arena. The event will host hunting and fishing vendors and activities for those who enjoy the outdoors. Guests can expect archery and fishing activities inside and out.  

Registration is open for the 5K run. Limited RV spots are available for purchase. Balloon rides will go on sale July 12.

For more information on the Firelake FireFlight Balloon Fest, go to firelakeballoonfest.com.


Norman to receive water meter funding

NORMAN — As part of funding provided through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the city of Norman and Norman Utilities Authority will receive $2 million by way of the Bureau of Reclamation to put toward Advanced Water Metering Infrastructure.

The announcement was made through the Department of the Interior on June 21 and released alongside a list outlining 14 water efficiency projects in eight states to receive grants. Norman was the only successful grant project application in Oklahoma.

“Advanced Water Metering is something we have been working toward for many years," said utilities director Chris Mattingly. "Making this transition will increase accuracy and timeliness of meter reading, as well as allow for advanced leak notification and improved water conservation.”

The system of meters, communication networks and software wirelessly delivers water usage information and service alerts directly to the provider and, in many instances, the customer.

A stipulation of the $2 million grant is that the project must be completed in full. The total project will cost about $15 million, and additional grant funding is still being explored. The first phase of implementation is expected to begin by spring 2023.

OSU-OKC gets funding for fitness projects

Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City soon will launch Cowboy Fit: Wellness Empowerment for Underserved Populations after receiving $500,000 from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) as part of an initiative to promote physical activity and healthier lifestyles, strengthen health policies and improve infrastructure.

Funds will be used to renovate the walking track, install an outdoor fitness pad with exercise equipment, and start a series of wellness educational events.

“A safe and more usable walking track and outdoor fitness pad, coupled with on-site, virtual, and off-site wellness educational events, will empower students, employees, and community members to increase their level of physical activity and decrease their risk for chronic health conditions,” said Jackie Weston, senior director of institutional grants and compliance at OSU-OKC. 

The award falls under a two-part funding opportunity offered by TSET — called Innovations in Active Living and Healthy Eating Grants and Policy and Built Environment Grants — that support immediate, impactful programs to improve the health of Oklahomans. The TSET Board of Directors on May 5 approved the awarding of nine grants between the two funding opportunities that totaled $2.8 million.

“The projects and improvements are exciting, innovative and bring together local partners to tackle the complex issue of improving health behaviors in communities across the state,” said Julie Bisbee, TSET executive director.


Fire department plans 5K, fun run

The Oklahoma City Fire Department will be hosting the ninth annual Project Life 5K and Fun Run on Aug. 27 at Lake Hefner East Wharf.

The 5K and 1-mile fun run event will raise money for the fire department's Project Life Smoke Alarm Program, which enables firefighters to provide and install life-saving smoke alarms free of charge for Oklahoma City homeowners.

For more information, go to https://www.okc.gov/departments/fire/project-life-run. To register, go to https://tinyurl.com/5n8c2ke8.

Week to bring awareness

Oklahoma Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired and friends will celebrate Deaf-Blind Awareness week through July 2, in honor of Oklahomans who are deaf-blind, as well as author, educator, lecturer and disability advocate Helen Keller.

Deaf-Blind Awareness Week has been observed each year since 1984 during the last week in June, in honor of Keller's birthday on June 27.

Made famous by literature, plays and film, Keller continues to be the best-known American who was deaf-blind, although she died 54 years ago.

Following a childhood illness, Keller learned to read Braille and raised print, and to communicate with speech and sign language for the deaf with the help of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, who also had a visual disability.

Deaf-blindness is a condition in which an individual has combined hearing and vision loss, thus limiting access to both auditory and visual information.   

Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a division of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, will host a recognition event from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday, June 30, at the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, 300 NE 18.

“This will be a time for the public to join members of the deaf-blind community, advocates, clients and DRS staff in recognition of Deaf-Blind Awareness Week,” said Tracy Brigham, Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired administrator. “Our program will include speakers, client stories and spotlight services provided by SBVI that empower Oklahomans with dual vision and hearing losses to become employed and live full and productive lives.”

A memorial tree will also be dedicated in honor of retired deaf-blind program counselor Joan Blake, who served Oklahomans for many years and recently died.

For more information about services for Oklahomans who are deaf-blind, call 918-606-9353 or email jbailey@okdrs.gov.

Contact Teresa McDermott at tmcdermott@okdrs.gov or 405-312-1739 for more information about the recognition event on Thursday, June 30.


Courses assist small farmers

Mid-America Technology Center and the Norman Farm Market have announced two scholarships and online training opportunities available to assist small farmers.

“In 2022 we will be focusing on the Market Gardener Master Class and the Neversink Farm Master Class,” said agriculture management instructor Jona Kay Squires, of Mid-America.

The Neversink Farm Master Class has 10 spaces available and a $2,900 scholarship. The deadline to apply for the class is Aug. 10.

“Chosen participants will be required to join in on weekly zoom updates, phone calls or emails as well as volunteer at a local small farm or farmers market for a total of 40 hours in each class,” Squires said. “In addition to this they will be asked to join a panel discussion, host a training session or share their experiences by participating in the training.”

The second class will be the Market Gardener Master Class, and a $2,000 scholarship award for 10 people. That application deadline is Sept. 21.

Jona Kay Squires and Norman Farm Market manager Kate Cooper will facilitate accountability groups for both classes.

“These are proven classes that have taught farmers how to survive and make a living at what they love,” Cooper said. “People can sign up for the classes directly through the providers, but we are administering the scholarships.”

The Neversink Farm Master Class teaches no-till, high intensity farming on a small scale, while the Market Gardener Master Class teaches small scale organic farming in the field of biointensive farming.

“We’re really excited about this grant program because it covers the cost of the entire class and really opens it up to a broader range of people,” Cooper said.

People can apply for either or both scholarships, but only one scholarship per person will be awarded. Two more scholarship opportunities will be announced through the program in 2023, Cooper said. To get an application packet, email jsquires@matech.edu or kcooper@clevelandountyok.com.

Scholarships are made possible through the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry’s specialty crop program.

To learn more about Neversink Farm, their practices and classes, go to neversinkfarm.com.

To learn more about the Market Gardener Master class, go to themarketgardener.com.

Guide provides connection to agencies

The Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services’ online Disability Resource Guide makes it easier for users to find more than 2,500 government agencies, community organizations and support groups for Oklahomans with and without disabilities.

The free guide is available at https://www.okdrs.gov/guide/home.

“The resource guide is helpful for Oklahomans who are looking for disability and non-disability related content,” DRS Executive Director Melinda Fruendt said. “It is useful to our staff and the general public because of the information gathered all in one place.”

The guide originated on paper more than 20 years ago and now exists online.

At the start of the pandemic, the resource guide’s importance grew because of its online availability, and it’s a helpful tool for people to find medical and mental health clinics, and additional resources important to the disability community. It has hospital offices listed from across the state, hotlines and toll-free numbers.

The guide includes services, such as the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services' Transition Program, Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and Vocational Rehabilitation. Other state agencies listed are Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Oklahoma Department of Transportation and more. It also features information for veterans, drug and alcohol rehab centers and disability-related legal resources. The guide is continuously being revised and new resources are added.

For more information, call 800-845-8476.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: What's going on in OKC area? Summer events, training opportunities, more