Tulsa Metro Chamber Announces Move. History? Check. Influence? Check.
Space to stretch out in? Not so much.
Despite a well-earned reputation as a driving force in the city and region, the Tulsa Metro Chamber has split-level headquarters in downtown skyscraper Williams Tower II.
Now, the organization has announced a move to combine most offices onto one floor in the adjacent Williams building -- plus meeting and conference room space on the building's plaza level.
In describing the move to chamber members, the organization stated that new offices for now are under construction, with specific moving dates forthcoming. One plus being touted is more event space for members.
The new offices will be on the 13th floor.
Trolley Service Catching On. The unseasonably warm temperatures Nov. 2 might have made for good walking weather, but the District Trolley carried its fair share of passengers.
The free nighttime trolley service actually began in early September in the Brady Arts District, but just recently has begun with an expanded route passing through the Deco and Blue Dome districts, said Bob Fleischman, president of the Brady Arts District Business Association.
The trolley operates from 5pm-2am both Friday and Saturday nights, making 13 stops along a roughly 25-minute route.
Fleischman said it's an all-ages ride that can be popular for anyone looking for an easy way to extend their evening. The trolley should also be a boon to downtown residents, he noted.
Downtown merchants have provided most of the funding for the service, Fleischman said, with other groups like the Tulsa Metro Chamber chipping in.
"We would like to see it be a permanent thing. Part of what we'd maybe like to do is prove to the powers-that-be that this is something that will work and people will ride it," Fleischman said, explaining that he's open to corporate sponsors.
Don't look for an extension of the route, however. Shannon Dotson, who own Old Urban Trolley, which provides the 16-passenger trolley used on the route, said it would be "too long" of a route to hit other parts of the city.
"I don't want to make the route something they're going to ride 45 minutes," Dotson said.
Ballard: "Unfinished business on the table."
No, Keith Ballard did not introduce himself as the man following Keith Ballard as head of Tulsa Public Schools.
Gary Percefull, president of the Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education, presented Ballard in a short press conference Nov. 5 at the school board's meeting room, describing a new, broader approach for the district in selecting and developing leaders rather than focusing solely on finding a new superintendent.
In May, Ballard had announced his plans to retire in June of 2013 at the end of his contract. Now, Ballard will stay on through June of 2014.
Ballard then stepped up to the podium, describing his return as motivated "partly because there's unfinished business on the table." The district performed miserably in the latest attempt by the state to evaluate schools. Ballard and education leaders elsewhere have pilloried the evaluation system, but at the podium he only mentioned his displeasure with the results.
In an interview, Percefull said the district has lost some leadership talent recruited away by other districts, a factor in retaining Ballard, he said, praising Ballard's ability to develop leaders. The district's new approach is to seeking out several leaders to fill these vacant positions - possibly with an eye in evaluating them for the top spot.
The move is influenced by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the philanthropic endeavor which has become a major force in education reform nationally. The district will follow "maybe a little bit more sophisticated" approach to recruiting and developing leadership similar to methods that have proven to be successful in larger cities like Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, Percefull said.
What's the likelihood that the next superintendent is already employed by the district?
"I wouldn't even know how to rate the likelihood for that," Percefull said.
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