Stillwater News Press

July 7, 2013

Stillwater finds friends to cut costs, improve quality

By Nick Woodruff
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — The Stillwater Multi Arts Center and Lake McMurtry are better than ever and the people of Stillwater could say it’s because “We are family.”

Lake McMurtry Friends, Inc. and the Friends of the Multi Arts, Inc. are the reasons Stillwater residents can still enjoy a few things.

Lake McMurtry Friends, Inc. took control of Lake McMurtry approximately one year ago and has already made improvements, said Park Manager Grady Lester. One thing Lake McMurtry now has is two disc golf courses.

Lester said Lake McMurtry Friends, Inc. took control of the lake from the city and celebrated its first year of operation at the beginning of this month. There are three full-time employees and four part-time employees at Lake McMurtry. Lester said the lake will continue to make improvements.

After adding disc golf courses, this year Lake McMurtry is looking to expand its RV spots and add electricity in some areas. The lake is also looking to have many more events on its grounds, including fishing tournaments, Thanksgiving dinners, disc golf tournaments and more.

“We are out here to better the lake,” Lester said. “Our goal is to increase the amount of users at our lake and we consider our lake the best kept secret of Stillwater.”

Lester said it was nice to take control of the lake and this organization takes a burden off the city. It has made things better for Lake McMurtry and he couldn’t have asked for a better first year.

Much like Lake McMurtry and Friends, Inc., Friends of the Multi Arts, Inc. took control of the Stillwater Multi Arts center about a year ago. The Stillwater Multi Arts Center was costing the city of Stillwater approximately $180,000 a year. Friends of the Multi Arts, Inc. almost cut the cost to a third and it only costs its organization about $60,000 a year.

Sissy Osteen, former president of Friends of the Multi Arts, Inc., said the first year was a pleasurable experience.

“It’s been a real cooperative effort between the city and the citizens of Stillwater,” Osteen said. “We managed to work out an agreement that works.”

Osteen said the transformation process went quickly, but it was a juggling experience. The Stillwater Friends of the Multi Arts, Inc. worked cooperatively with the city for the first six months and the organization is now running the Stillwater Multi Arts Center exclusively.

Bill Miller is the director of the Stillwater Multi Arts Center. Miller and 16 members on the board help decide plans. Bonnie Hammond, president of the Friends of the Multi Arts, Inc., said art is more than pencils and paintbrushes on paper. There are activities such as chess classes, too.

Hammond said it is a place for everybody with multiple art platforms. The Friends of the Multi Arts, Inc. lets people join and become a member of the organization.

Like the Stillwater Multi Arts Center, the organization is for the community, too, she said. Membership are $20 and a person receives many perks as a member.

More than likely there will be something within the Stillwater Multi Arts Center for everybody, Hammond said. She said people need to know it is there and that the Friends of the Multi Arts, Inc. is going to keep improving the center every day.

“It’s the community’s center,” Hammond said. “It is for everyone; come by and get familiar with what you can and you never know what is going to change and what is going to happen.”

Even though the organization has been up and running for a year, Hammond said she thinks good things will continue to come to the Stillwater Multi Arts Center. She said she is happy to be the director and be part of what she believes is a great movement.

“I’m part of an organization that fosters an environment to create art,” Hammond said.