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'New opportunities': Grants helping small-town Talala expand

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Posted at 6:39 PM, Apr 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-17 11:50:40-04

ROGERS COUNTY, Okla. — Leaders in the Rogers County town of Talala have big plans for the community's future, starting with an expanded and refurbished building at the heart of the town.

"There's not a whole lot going on around here. Anytime we want to do anything, we need to go outside of our town, so it takes our tax dollars, our money to those other towns," Talala resident Lynsey Peterson said.

Mayor Kandy Damron admits their city hall is a bit cramped and missing some useful rooms.

"(An expansion) is needed now, and it’s needed for the future. And we’re trying to plan," Mayor Damron told 2 News. "Everything we do, we try to plan for the future to make sure that going forward, everything is in place.”

Working from the sole police department room, Chief R. Scott Eaton decided to apply for grants to get more space. It worked.

"It is absolutely huge," Chief Eaton said.

It's huge enough the city won't have to ask for any money from its residents.

Instead, funds will come from the Cherokee Nation's public safety grants, a donation from Cherokee Tribal Council members Kevin Easley, Jr. & Dora Smith-Patzkowski, a grant from Grand Gateway Economic Development Association, and $25,000 in city reserve budget.

The plans include a new city council conference room, a community room, new bathrooms, and police offices.
The city only just hired an architect for the project, so exact square footage estimates aren't available yet. However, the chief added that the police department would expand eastward about four times its original size.

"Knowing that the town is progressing, being able to see (effort) from their government is going to be huge," Eaton added. "And I think this building will be kind of a focal point for that when it's finished, and that will in turn hopefully help with additional businesses coming into town."

Peterson said that, along with modest improvements to the city park and museum, Talala is opening more opportunities.

"We can do like baby showers, family gatherings. It'll be some place for our seniors to go that's local," she said. "It'll be a great addition to our teeny, tiny town."

City leaders expect the additions to be finished by March 2025.

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