Ron Fishburn

On its face, the agenda item before Purcell’s city council on Monday seemed simple.

Name the new office building at the city airport for the late Ron Fishburn.

But it turned into a major stumbling block when mayor Ted Cox said the city needs a written policy on naming public property.

Fishburn, who died in December 2019, was a flight instructor and flew helicopters on three combat tours in Vietnam.

His military honors included the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Legion of Merit, the nation’s highest peacetime honor.

He retired from active duty as a lieutenant colonel and returned to Purcell, where he served 18 years on the city council and several terms as mayor.

While professing great admiration for Fishburn, Cox said the city needs a policy “on how we name things.”

“By no means I’m not against this,” he said. “I’m good either way.”

Citing today’s counter culture, Cox admitted he is “scared” what can come back on the council in the future.

“You never know what will happen down the road,” city attorney Greg Dixon said. “You have to protect the council.”

City manager Dale Bunn said there is a draft of a proposed form for naming city property.

Among qualifications on that form are a requirement the individual be a member of the community for a certain length of time.

“They have to qualify for it, like Giving Time,” Bunn said.

Council member Jay Tate brought the nomination before the council.

He pointed out the Airport Board had already approved naming the building for Fishburn and that’s why it was now before the council to accept or reject that board’s recommendation.

Tate read a list of Fishburn’s accomplishments in the Army and as a civilian.

Fishburn’s son, Graham, is currently on the city council. He was silent during most of the discussion before thanking Tate for his comments about his father.

The council eventually approved the measure on a unanimous vote.

In other business, the council:

  • condemned a dilapidated vacant house at 520 Apache, clearing the way for the structure to be demolished by the city;
  • approved a $35,623.57 change order for the rehabilitation work of the Red Hill water tower after the contractor determined the tank’s diameter is 60 feet, not 54 feet as reported;
  • approved the Purcell Rural Fire Board’s request to purchase gear for $8,570.50 and new radios for $11,750;
  • tabled action on the Parks and Recreation Board’s recommendation setting the city’s Independence Day celebration and fireworks show on July 2, a Friday;
  • approved a measure directing Bunn to establish time limits for parking on Main Street between Canadian Avenue and 3rd Avenue;
  • approved an ordinance requiring owners to clean up after their animals that defecate on city property;
  • approved a resolution for the city to apply for 50-50 grant funding for new playground equipment and a new pavilion at Purcell Lake;
  • approved an ordinance implementing tiers for medical marijuana processing;
  • approved the city’s diamond level membership and $26,000 annual dues in the Heart of Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce;
  • approved a $28,750 contract with Dillon & Associates for the city’s 2020-21 fiscal year audit;
  • discussed with city engineer Kenny Sullivan an option to direct drainage in the 500 block of South 6th Avenue; and
  • took no action on complaints by Diana Ramirez about parking issues and an overgrown lot in the 200 block of North Canadian Avenue.
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