The best word to describe Lawton's newest Mayor, Stan Booker, is Visionary. He has the gift of seeing the big picture. Mayor Booker has a positive vision for the future of Lawton and is proactively working to achieve this goal for our great city.
Stan Booker grew up in Lawton and attended Eisenhower High School and Cameron University. He relishes the opportunity to serve the community he loves and believes he's been given a second chance to give back. Prior to 2015, Booker had lost most of his hearing and had become very frustrated and isolated as a result of being unable to communicate. In May of 2015, Stan Booker received a cochlear implant which restored his hearing, and the experience has been life changing. Booker was inspired to once again serve his community, and through his involvement with the Lawton Rotary Club, he founded the Leadership Institute. He says, "The number one thing we do through the Leadership Institute is help leaders get better, which in turn helps the community." Booker has organized four major Live2Lead events, bringing in such speakers as national leadership expert John Maxwell, former Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphries, former Oklahoma Governor George Nigh, and best-selling author Dr. Rick Rigsby among others. The event has grown from 330 attendees to 1,300. Booker says, "Leadership determines everything in an organization. An organization cannot rise above the quality of its leaders."
It was through his work with the Rotary Leadership Institute that Stan Booker was inspired to run for the office of Mayor. In early 2017, former Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphries spoke at a leadership event and shared how the MAPS (development of Bricktown) project was almost derailed on several occasions. As Mayor, he worked to bring together key groups such as the city, chamber, schools and businesses to keep the project going. Humphries said, "I realized that only the Mayor is in a position to bring everyone together." After the inspiring presentation, four Rotary members approached Stan Booker and asked him to run for mayor.
Regarding his role as Mayor, Booker says, "Eight months in, other than the significance of family, being Mayor is the most fulfilling thing I have ever done. The days are long…most days I am working from 7:00 am to 8:30 pm, but it is so rewarding."
Booker's primary focus for the City of Lawton is efficiency. He says, "The most efficient cities utilize their resources most wisely." The City of Lawton will be conducting an unbiased Efficiency Study to evaluate various departments of the City to determine where efficiency could be improved. Booker says, "Broken Arrow is the most efficient city in our state and region. Although they have more revenue, they are spending less per capita because they are efficient."
Lawton has experienced costly infrastructure repairs. Booker explains, "In Lawton, we contend with issues that most Oklahoma cities do not. Our sewer, water lines and streets are more of a problem because of our clay soil. Currently the City must replace major sewer lines at a cost of $17 million plus $22 million dollars on water lines. The Mayor is working with the City Council to extend the current CIP to cover these major expenses. Booker plans to earmark money for maintenance of our city's infrastructure to prevent this crisis situation in the future. He says, "We need to create a city young families want to live in."
Mayor Booker is a great advocate for the Lawton Police Department, and an upgrade to their technology is important to him. He says, "Our police have been using 1980s technology, depending on a radio and radar. The police and our court system are the highest priority for a technology upgrade. IT is working to build a skeleton structure now, which is the first step." Body cameras and in-car technology will be added very soon. According to Sergeant Matt Dimmitt of the Lawton Police Department, "Mayor Booker's support of the police has significantly improved moral within our department."
An area where Mayor Booker is disappointed in Lawton's progress is funding for our schools. Although Lawton did pass the most recent bond by an overwhelming 73.68%, Booker says, "Since 1975 we have passed only four of fourteen bond issues. Elgin & Cache are at 33 mills and Lawton is at 22 mills for school funding, which means that Elgin and Cache are investing 33% more in their bonds than Lawton. We must support our youth to reduce crime and build a bright future for our city. You can't have a great city if you don't invest in your children."
An early project of Mayor Booker's has been his Litter Initiative. He explains, "When our streets are clean, we feel proud of our city and better about ourselves. When there is litter and debris, we feel bad about ourselves and our city." Just like the good work LETA has done with landscaping to add beauty to our city, keeping the city and streets clean makes a positive difference. A new street sweeper has been ordered and will be in operation soon. Booker adds, "We need to love ourselves enough to keep our city beautiful."
Mayor Booker would like to encourage citizens to attend the next Live2Lead event to be held in November, featuring former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett. Mayor Booker will continue his mission to develop leaders to help create a better community. He is making great strides for Lawton and our citizens.
Southwest Oklahoma is proud that Medicine Park has recently been named one of the most beautiful towns in America. The town was selected fifth from a list of 30 of our country's most beautiful towns by the travel site Expedia.
Medicine Park is nestled at the entrance to the beautiful Wichita Mountains, just north of Lawton and Fort Sill, Oklahoma. This charming "Cobblestone Community" is filled with quaint cottages built using the unique granite cobblestones found in the area.
Expedia selected Medicine Park because of the "charming downtown oozing with character, sparkling waves under the glow of a sunset and wide-open ranges void of human handprints." The town was also chosen for "endearing architecture and preserved nature trails to serene coastlines and mountaintop views."
While in Medicine Park, plunge into the swimming hole at stunning Bath Lake, stroll the town and visit the charming shops and restaurants, or search for American bison roaming the grassy prairie in the neighboring Wichita Mountains.
Medicine Creek, the heart of the Medicine Park, has served indigenous peoples for thousands of years. They believed the waters provided life and healing powers. With the founding of Fort Sill to the southeast in 1869, the rapidly growing population looked for a place to escape the heat of summer. Vacation tents covered the edges of the creek, and on July 4, 1908, Oklahoma Senator Elmer Thomas founded the town, which became the state's first planned tourism resort. He and his partner, Hal Lloyd, purchased 900 acres – what is now the community of Medicine Park. The swimming hole, now Bath Lake, served as the center of town. Tourists flocked to enjoy the mountains, wildlife, swimming, great food and lodging. The resort flourished from the late teens to the 1930s as the "Jewel of the Southwest."
Part of the charming atmosphere of Medicine Park is created by the unique building style and materials used. Granite cobblestones, found locally, made excellent building material for the cottages, walls and shops in Medicine Park. Approximately 250 million years ago, erosion produced gravel deposits of these round granite boulders or cobblestones that are 6 to 18 inches in diameter. It is illegal to remove cobblestones from Medicine Park or the wildlife refuge. A fine of $500 is the punishment for doing so.
The nearby Wichita Mountains and the new Lake Lawtonka attracted thousands of people on weekends and throughout the seasons. Medicine Park became a playground for the State's rich and famous – and the notorious. The town's history includes outlaws and horse thieves, as well as Will Rogers, Wiley Post, Frank Phillips, Bo Wills, Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, Lil Hardin, Colonel Jack Abernathy, Les Brown, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and countless other visitors who contributed to the colorful flavor of Medicine Park.
The resort community thrived until the Great Depression and the advent of World War II. Then the town struggled economically for many years. With incorporation in 1969, and beginning in 1990 with an infusion of new property developers and businesses, the town began a turnaround. Medicine Park began a pattern of growth and has continued its revitalization efforts into the 21st century. Fortunately, developers maintained the charming historical elements of Medicine Park, and new structures blend seamlessly into the community.
Visitors enjoy weekday and weekend stays in more than 20 renovated cabins, a bed and breakfast and a new 20-room hotel. The Old Plantation Restaurant, a national historic landmark, has been renovated while still capturing the flavor of the Old West.
And a rhythm runs through the town. Five music festivals each year run the gambit from bluegrass and Native American flute to Red Dirt, rock and roll, and the blues. New retail shops, two art galleries, restaurants, a bakery, and the swimming hole at Bath Lake draw thousands of visitors. Just minutes from the 60,000-acre Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, the number one refuge in the country, hikers, birders, photographers and other visitors throng to Medicine Park to enjoy hours of natural splendor.
Check out the events, lodging, shops and other sites on MedicinePark.com for even more information.
Sources: MedicinePark.com, Lawton Constitution, Expedia
Spring and Summer are the busiest home buying seasons in our market of Lawton, Cache, Elgin and surrounding communities. If you are considering putting your home on the market, here are tried and true tips to help your home look its best…which will make it more appealing to buyers and help it sell quickly!
Create Curb Appeal. The exterior of your home creates the buyers' first impression. Buyers often drive-by your home before scheduling an appointment to see the inside. They can make a snap decision to rule out a property based on how well maintained and attractive a home is on the exterior, assuming if it's not well maintained on the outside, the inside will be the same. First impressions truly do make a difference.
Draw buyers to your home with these simple exterior improvements:
Your House should be Sparking Clean. Every surface of your home should sparkle. Clean the floors, windows, counters and grout. Steam clean carpets. This is the best way to help your home show at its best. You may want to hire a professional to help with the heavy-duty cleaning. It will definitely be worth the expense.
Clear Away All Clutter. Consider renting an offsite storage unit temporarily to get all clutter out of sight. Clear surfaces, such as countertops and floors, give the impression of more space to buyers. Sparsely filled cupboards and closets give the illusion of ample storage. Purge anything unsightly or unnecessary. Save your collections and personal style for your next home, as they may be a turn off to potential buyers. A few neutral items like vases of cut flowers or a bowl of fresh fruit in the kitchen can add a nice touch.
Rearrange your Furniture. In the living room, symmetrical arrangements are pleasing. Pull your furniture away from the walls and use pairs of sofas, chairs and lamps to create an inviting conversation area.
Choose Neutral Colors. Neutral colors eliminate the risk of buyers thinking their color schemes won't work in your home. You don't need to choose stark white, but instead select neutrals like taupes or grays. Your Realtor or local paint store can steer you toward popular colors that are appealing to buyers.
Remove Family Photos and Personal Items. Buyers want to envision themselves in your home, and that can be difficult when it is filled with your family's photos and personal items. Create a neutral environment that allows buyers to see your house as the next home for their own family.
Create a Gender-Neutral Master Bedroom. Appeal to everyone with a clean, tailored master bedroom, free of personal items and clutter. You can't go wrong with clean, crisp linens, tasteful artwork and an attractive blanket folded at the foot of the bed.
Open your Closets! Open-house visitors will peek inside your closets. Closet space can be a make-it-or-break-it selling point for buyers. Help your closets appear more spacious by removing excess items. Aim to have 20 to 30 percent open space in each closet to give the impression of spaciousness.
Clean Up Toys. The clutter of toys strewn everywhere can be a real distraction to buyers, even if they have kids! When people are house hunting, they are imagining a fresh start. A beautifully organized kids room just might sway them. Box up extra toys and store them offsite, and leave a few favorite toys for your kids for this short time period.
Use "Extra" Rooms Wisely. If you have a spare bedroom that serves as a dumping ground for odd pieces of furniture and boxes of junk, it's time to clean up your act. Each room should have a clearly defined purpose, so think about what potential buyers might like to see here. An office? A guest room? Another kids' room? Whether you buy inexpensive furnishings, rent them, or borrow some from friends, making a real room out of a junk room will have a big payoff.
Try a Pedestal Sink to Maximize Space. If you have a small bathroom but a huge cabinet-style sink, consider swapping it out for a simple pedestal version. Your bathroom will appear instantly larger and updated.
Use only Perfect Personal Accents. Especially in the bathroom, it is important that anything left out for visitors to see is pristine. If you have a beautiful, clean, fluffy white bathrobe, hanging it on a decorative hook on the door can be an attractive accent —but if your robe is nubby and worn, you might want to hide it away. Look at every detail with a visitor's eye — bars of soap should be fresh and clean, towels spotless, the garbage always emptied (you get the idea).
Entice People to Explore the Whole House. By placing something that draws the eye at the top of the stairs, in hallways or in corners, you can pique curiosity and keep potential buyers interested throughout a whole home tour. A piece of artwork, a painted accent wall, a window seat, a vase of flowers, a hanging light or even a small, colorful rug can all work to draw the eye.
Show how you can use Awkward Areas. If you have any room beneath the stairs, or a nook or alcove, anywhere in your home, try to find a unique way to show it off. By setting up a small work station, or built-in shelving, your awkward spot becomes another selling point.
Beware Pet Odors. Really, this can be a big one! When you live with a pet you often become immune to their odors, but buyers are not. If you have pets, get all rugs steam cleaned and be extra vigilant about vacuuming and washing surfaces. Consider cleaning upholstered furniture, as it can hold odors. Also be sure to keep any extra-loved pet toys and doggie bones hidden when tours are scheduled.
Create an Appealing Lifestyle. Help buyers imagine how they might enjoy your home. For example, hang a hammock in your backyard and a place a bench swing on your porch for the perfect touch.
Stage the Outdoors too. Even if your home has only a very small patio, play it up with a cute café table and chairs, a cheerful tablecloth and even a little tray of dishes or a vase of flowers. When people look at this scene, they won't be thinking "small," they will be thinking, "What a charming spot to have breakfast!"
Think Seasonally. Make sure your garden is in beautiful shape in the summer, and that any extra features you have, like a pool or a fire pit, are cleaned and ready to go. Take advantage of the cozy vibe of the season in autumn and winter, by building a fire in the fireplace and simmering hot apple cider on the stove.
Parks Jones Realty celebrates 52 years of serving Lawton, Fort Sill, Elgin, Cache and the surrounding areas this year! The longevity of our company and our outstanding reputation are based on the standards established by our owner, John S. Jones. The values of integrity, excellence, professionalism and education are ingrained in our Realtors and staff, allowing us to offer the very best service to our customers.
Parks Jones Realty was opened in 1966 by founding Broker, John Jones. A native of Virginia, John graduated from Virginia Tech and military service brought him to Fort Sill, where he met and married the former Helen Parks in 1959. John entered the Real Estate profession as a Sales Associate in 1961 and opened Parks Jones Realty in 1966.
Parks Jones Realty initially offered the services of listing and selling properties, as well as property management. Homebuilding was added two years later, which resulted in the building of approximately 500 homes in the Lawton area. Land development was the next step, which included MacArthur Park and Eisenhower Village Additions. These two additions had Lawton's first Homeowners Associations, and these continue to be strong assets for homeowners in these areas today.
Because education has always been important to John, he established a comprehensive training program at Parks Jones Realty, and this tradition continues today. As a result, the Realtors of Parks Jones Realty are recognized throughout the community for the highest level of expertise and professionalism.
John has been an active leader in the real estate profession. He has served as President of the Oklahoma Association of Realtors and as a Director for the National Association of Realtors. John was honored to be selected as Oklahoma's Realtor of the Year in 2003.
Locally, John has served as Chairman of the Lawton Board of Realtors, Chairman of the Lawton Multiple Listing Service and Chairman of the Lawton Home Builders Association. John has been selected twice as Lawton's Realtor of the Year, in 1979 and 1998, and was honored to be recognized as the first recipient of the Eddie McKesson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. The Realtors of Parks Jones Realty follow John's example and are actively involved in leadership roles in the real estate industry.
Throughout John's busy career, he has given tirelessly to the Lawton-Fort Sill Community. He has served as Chairman of the Lawton-Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce and as a member of the Fires Patriots (formerly the Cannon Cockers) since its inception. This organization helps provide critical legislative support to Fort Sill.
The Salvation Army has always been important to John, and he has served on the Salvation Army Advisory Board since the mid-70s, having also served as Chairman of this Board and a bell-ringer each year. John Jones has made a practice of serving the community, and the Realtors of Parks Jones Realty follow his lead and actively give of their time and resources to serve Lawton, Fort Sill and the surrounding communities.
John is currently a member of the Lawton City Planning Commission and has served there more than twelve years.
John and his wife, Helen, have been married 57 years and have raised three children. They now enjoy their five grandchildren, and still relish working everyday with no plans to slow down.
For years, Parks Jones Realty has used the slogan Home is Where the Heart Is. John Jones' and Parks Jones Realty's commitment to excellence are embedded in this slogan. The foundation of relationships begins with the heart, whether within the family or workplace. Parks Jones Realty continually strives to be caring, and we want our customers to know that after fifty-two years of service, Our Heart is Always in the Right Place.
Whether you are looking to purchase the home of your dreams, sell your house, buy investment properties, relocate, or build a new home, Parks Jones Realty can help with all your real estate needs. Located at 4301 NW Cache Road, across from Lowe's and next door to the Olive Garden... you can't miss us! Come by our office to receive a royal welcome... we'll be waiting on you.
Welcome Spring in Southwest Oklahoma! The residential real estate numbers are definitely seeing an improvement in our area over the past year. There are currently 817 homes on the market, which is down from 858 last year at this time. Of the homes for sale, 67% are in Lawton. The remaining 33% are in Cache, Elgin and other surrounding areas.
There have been 1,539 sold and closed properties in the past 12 months versus 1,417 last year. Sixty-two percent of the sold homes were located in Lawton. The average sold price has increased also. In the past 12 months, the average sold price has been $120,321, compared to $117,196 the previous year. The numbers in our market are improving due to a positive outlook as to Fort Sill's future as well as a market of very well priced and affordable homes. We are looking forward to a continuation of good news for our local housing market!
For more detailed information, and to see homes in the affordable markets of Lawton, Elgin, Cache and southwest Oklahoma, contact Parks Jones Realty. As an independent real estate company in the area for 52 years, we have seen the many changes in our market and are most knowledgeable about how to meet and exceed your real estate needs. Call us today at 580-357-0842.
These timely tips will help you keep your home in tip-top shape this spring. The summer heat in Lawton, Elgin, Cache and surrounding areas can be brutal. Preventive maintenance is usually more cost-effective than repairing major damage from neglect. So get outside and enjoy our springtime temperatures while taking care of your biggest investment…your home.
Inspect Your AC System
Now is the time to make sure your air conditioning unit is in good condition, especially before hot weather hits. Change the air filter and consider having a professional service your system.
With binoculars, check your roof for cracked or missing shingles that should be replaced.
Look for damaged areas to your home's exterior, focusing on areas under eaves and near gutter downspouts. Be sure your gutters are carrying away water runoff properly so that there is no water damage or build up. Contact a professional if you notice damage from termites or carpenter ants.
Check your windows for leaks that will allow cooled indoor air to escape and let the Oklahoma heat into your home. Be sure weather stripping and caulking are in good condition. Also inspect weather seals. An indicator of problems may be if you noticed condensation on double or triple- glazed windows during the winter months.
Let the Sunshine In
Clean your windows – inside and out. Use your favorite window cleaner or make a homemade solution of one cup rubbing alcohol, one cup water and a tablespoon of white vinegar. Use a squeegee or soft cloth to clean windows. Remove the screens and clean them with a mild detergent. Then lay them on a dry surface to air dry before putting them back in place.
Spring is the perfect time to clean areas that you often ignore, such as window casings, tops of cabinets and ceiling fans. Clean wood and vinyl blinds with a damp cloth, and vacuum upholstered furniture and mattresses.
Spring Yard Care
Check your sprinkler system to make sure it is working order. Remove leaves and debris in the yard and flower beds. Inspect your lawn mower and garden tools. It's a good idea to have your mower serviced so it will operate well throughout the growing season, which can last into October in southwest Oklahoma.
Get Your Grill Ready
If you have not used your gas grill during the winter months, be sure connections and hoses are secure. Also check burner jets for clogs. Charcoal grills should be cleaned of ash and grease residue. These preparations will allow you to fire up the grill at a moment's notice for a backyard gathering.
No matter how hard you try, it's easy to overlook some spots when you spring clean — because you're blind to what you see and use every day in your own home.
So before you say you're done with your spring cleaning, check to see if you missed any of these tasks:
#1 Clean and Inspect Your Vacuum
A clogged and dirty vacuum can undo any cleaning you've done the minute you switch it on. Blame it on that stinky odor that only vacuums seem to emit.
Best to clean it first:
This goes for your wet/dry vacuum, and handheld one, too, if you have them.
#2 Clean the Undersides of Surfaces
The bottoms and underside edges of dining tables, kitchen countertops, and high-chair trays can get pretty sticky.
While you're at it, if your table has leaves, wipe down those alarmingly icky cracks, too. Don't question what the mystery gunk is: Just clean it and forget it.
Check with your city or county for a spring toxic waste disposal event and plan to do your spring cleaning before that day. That way, you can responsibly get rid of all those dried-out cans of adhesives, varnishes, paints, and finishes clogging up your storage space and your DIY workspace.
#4 Pitch Outdated Pantry Staples
Basics like flour, vinegar, and sauces that are past their expiration date lose flavor, and anything containing oil, like nuts, can go rancid.
To bring a bigger bang to your recipes, also replace any dried spices that have been open longer than a year. Going forward, you can buy smaller portions where bulk spices are sold, so you always have a fresh supply.
Even if you wipe your appliances daily, gunk and crumbs can hide in nooks and crannies — like behind the knobs and under the grill on the range, and cracks around your dishwasher buttons.
You shouldn't need more than some baking soda and soapy water — along with an old toothbrush to reach into crevices — to banish the eww factor.
#6 Give Houseplants a Shower (and Clean the Spots Where They Live)
Take all your plants outside for a nice cleansing shower on a drizzly day. Then inside, tackle the spots where they live: the floor, shelf, countertop. Clean the walls and baseboards, too. And check for water damage. A cracked pot or chronic overwatering can allow moisture and dirt to leach out.
It's inevitable that sometimes icky stuff leaks out and crumbs make their way around the bag. But in the rush to get the new bag in there, cleaning it up often gets forgotten. And the can's lid: Have you looked at it, really looked at it lately? Yuck.
Sanitize with a mixture of soap and bleach (don't forget to wear gloves!) and, if your can is stowed in a cabinet, use a vacuum attachment to suck up dust and crumbs inside the cabinet box. And wash the cabinet, too. There's almost always yucky stuff there.
In our quest to clean the deepest crevices of our homes, many of us forget the stuff right under our fingertips all day long. Literally, light switches, door knobs, cabinet handles, and remotes are some of the germiest places in your house. You almost can't clean them enough.
And speaking of yuck, when is the last time you cleaned your reusable grocery bags? Studies have found bacteria easily moves from your bags to your fridge, countertops, etc. - increasing the chances of food poisoning and cross-contamination.
Throw them in the washer or wash by hand with hot, soapy water.
Spring is one of the best times of the year to put your home on the market in our Southwest Oklahoma market, which includes the Lawton, Elgin, Cache and Fort Sill areas. Working to get your home ship-shape for showings will increase its value and shorten your sales time.
Many buyers today want move-in-ready homes and will quickly eliminate an otherwise great home by focusing on a few visible flaws. Unless your home shines, you may endure showing after showing and open house after open house — and end up with a lower sales price. Before the first prospect walks through your door, consider some smart options for casting your home in its best light.
Be proactive by arranging for a pre-sale home inspection. For $250 to $400, an inspector will warn you about troubles that could make potential buyers balk. Make repairs before putting your home on the market. In some states, you may have to disclose what the inspection turns up.
If your home inspection uncovers necessary repairs you can't fund, get estimates for the work. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home and the repairs. Also hunt down warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for your furnace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other items you expect to remain with the house.
Not every repair costs a bundle. Fix as many small problems — sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, dripping faucets — as you can. These may seem trivial, but they'll give buyers the impression your house isn't well maintained.
Clear your kitchen counters of just about everything. Clean your closets by packing up little-used items like out-of-season clothes and old toys. Install closet organizers to maximize space. Put at least one-third of your furniture in storage, especially large pieces, such as entertainment centers and big televisions. Pack up family photos, knickknacks, and wall hangings to depersonalize your home. Store the items you've packed offsite or in boxes neatly arranged in your garage or basement.
A clean house makes a strong first impression that your home has been well cared for. If you can afford it, consider hiring a cleaning service.
If not, wash windows and leave them open to air out your rooms. Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. Wash light fixtures and baseboards, mop and wax floors, and give your stove and refrigerator a thorough once-over.
Pay attention to details, too. Wash fingerprints from light switch plates, clean inside the cabinets, and polish doorknobs. Don't forget to clean your garage, too.