Kathy Toth Lowe, Bartlesville

The Oklahoma Senate wants to support a proposed theme park and campground by kicking in $35 million.

As the Tulsa World reported, House Bill 3854 passed through the Senate on a vote of 27-18. It remains subject to amendment, so lawmakers will have to act on it again before it might advance to the governor’s desk.

The proposed Vinita project has a budget of $2.5 billion, with a campground to open next year and a theme park to follow in 2025. The $35 million would go to build water infrastructure.

The venue, announced last summer, would include a 125-acre theme park and the development of about 1,000 acres in all.

There are two groups: excited and skeptical. The excited crowd envisions a fantastic boost to northeastern Oklahoma's economy along the lines of what Disney did for central Florida 50 years ago. Skeptics point out that $2.5 billion is more than the market cap of Six Flags, which owns dozens of amusement parks. They also point to the lack of housing for employees as a significant hurdle.

Those points of view were echoed by legislators who voted for or against the $35 million bill.

“In this situation, we have a huge sea change going on in northeast Oklahoma,” said Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville. “For me, this is much more than just the investment in infrastructure. This is going to change economic development in this entire region.”

Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, was less optimistic.

“We have hundreds and hundreds of cities and towns in this state with high needs for a sure thing as opposed to building a theme park,” she said. “I do not believe this is a good investment of our money. I don’t believe it’s being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”

More worth reading:

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OSBI agents have been looking for months into the deadly robbery at the Yao Qian Shu pot farm 70 miles east of Oklahoma City. They concluded the same man, Yi Mun Lee, was behind it and another robbery by a different crew in Stephens County Jan. 27. Murder charges against Lee and six others were filed Wednesday. [The Oklahoman]

Walters Fights Title IX Rule Changes
In a memo to school superintendents statewide Wednesday, state Superintendent of Public Education Ryan Walters asked districts not to change school policies to comply with the new federal guidelines, saying the changes are “illegal.” Walters said making policy changes before the courts come to a final decision on the rules could put schools out of compliance with current state and federal statutes. [Tulsa World]

Treat On His Strained Relationship with Stitt
“I don’t like the way he’s operating in this building,” Treat said. “I don’t think he has treated me or the Senate fairly or equally.” [Oklahoma Voice]

“I was a kid from Oklahoma who never wanted to be a singer but was told I could sing. And things snowballed.”
—Patti Page

Ciao for now,

Ted Streuli

Executive Director, Epic Text Books

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