That was the reaction from OPEA’s Lawton Chapter as it was announced that, during the previous weekend’s Delegate Assembly, the group had been given the “Art Jackson Award” from the association, which goes to the outstanding chapter of the year.
During a regular lunch meeting on August 29 at the Jim Taliaferro Center, Chapter president Hank Swearingen, who had kept the news secret all week, presented his group with the plaque given to him the previous weekend at the Delegate Assembly in Claremore.
“It was very hard to keep my mouth shut all week,” Swearingen said. “But I didn’t want our members to know until we could all get together.”
Swearingen said he is very proud of his chapter as they have continued to fight for state employee issues.
“Earlier this year we sponsored a legislative forum and over 100 members braved the cold elements to ask the tough questions to our lawmakers,” he said. “Now we are going to have a similar event this fall before the elections.”
According to Swearingen, the chapter will need to cross agency lines to help get things accomplished.
“While the chapter was born at the Taliaferro Center, we need input from the Lawton Community Corrections Center, DHS, OJA and the Health Department to show both our agency heads and our legislators that we are serious about our pay, overtime, retirement and many other issues facing state workers.”
Also recognized at the meeting was longtime Chapter secretary Patti Crumb.
“We’re going to miss Patti and her hard work on behalf of the Chapter,” Swearingen said.