By Rep. RICK WEST
April 19 marks the 22nd anniversary of the tragic bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. I know this date brings out a lot of emotions in the majority of Oklahomans, but it hits especially close to home for me.
On April 19, 1995, I was working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The agency had an office inside the Murrah building. So when Timothy McVeigh carried out the horrendous terror attack, I lost seven of my colleagues.
Olen Bloomer, Jim Boles, Peggy Clark, Dick Cummins, Adele Higginbottom, Carole Khalil and Rheta Long were needlessly killed in an event that we’ll never forget. These people were good people. They weren’t spies. They weren’t ill-intentioned. They were fathers, mothers, daughters and sons who were working for the government and providing for their families. Their lives, along with the lives of 161 other people, were cut short that day.
I think of them often, especially around this time of year. I think of the ways the USDA employees and the rest of the people inside that building were simply doing what they were supposed to do that day. It’s easy to take things for granted as we go about our lives, but let’s be sure this week to remember how fortunate we are, and let’s pray for those who were victimized 22 years ago.
It feels a little trivial to move onto policy issues, but I did want to share a few important Capitol notes for our community.
My bill to ensure lifetime hunting license holders would not have to purchase bear tags from the Wildlife Department died in a Senate committee last week. Thank you to Sen. Mark Allen for being the senate author and supporting the bill in his chamber. I’m disappointed that senators didn’t see its value, but I’m hopeful the folks at Wildlife will go ahead and right this wrong without an official law on the books. It shouldn’t take legislation to uphold your word.
I also met last week with Sen. Allen and people from the I-49 International Coalition, which is a group trying to create a 1,700-mile uninterrupted trade corridor from Canada to Louisiana. While the highway would be completed in Arkansas, it’s only 6 miles from LeFlore County, and the trade potential would be very beneficial for our community.
Finally, folks from the Department of Environmental Quality are coming down to LeFlore County in a couple of weeks to talk about the water quality at Wister Lake. I’m also looking forward to meeting with officials from the Poteau Valley Improvement Authority. We want to make sure that the source of our drinking water is as good as the catfish you can catch in it.
Remember, I’m on KPRV every Friday at 7:35 a.m., and then I spend time at the LeFlore County GOP Headquarters from 9 a.m. to noon. The address is 1301 S. Broadway in Poteau. And as always, if you want to get in touch while I’m at the Capitol, please do. My email address is [email protected], and my phone number is (405) 557-7413. Thank you, and may God bless you.
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