BY C.L. HARMON, PUBLISHER
After 13 months and on the 50th anniversary of the Keystone Dam opening, the reopening celebration took place last Thursday. Spectators, Mannford school students, construction crews and dignitaries gathered in freezing winds atop the dam for the momentous occasion. Many members of the press and Corp of Engineers personnel were also present to witness the ribbon cutting ceremony. The dam closed last October for a replacement/renovation after it became apparent to the Corp and various officials that the dam was going to manifest into a much more serious problem in the near future if measures were not taken to correct the problems. One speaker made note that the issues had actually reached the point that chunks of concrete were breaking off the structure. The contract was awarded last July 15 to Kiewit Construction out of Omaha, Nebraska in the amount of $15.6 million, which is approximately 1/8th of original $123 million construction cost at its completion in 1964. The project was scheduled to be completed in 13 months and stayed on schedule, during that time, according to updates reported in The Mannford Reporter. Of that cost, ODOT (Oklahoma Department of Transportation) contributed $6 million to the project and, supported Corps inspections of the project and participated in the design review. As for the ceremony, it began with the Presentation of Colors by Will Rogers High School JROTC. This was followed by the invocation given Lakeside Baptist Church pastor Jason Langley and the national anthem beautifully sang by Miss Creek County, Holly Colpitt, followed. Mannford mayor, Tyler Buttram, opened the ceremony with a greeting to those in attendance and then introduced the speakers. Former Mannford city attorney, Jesse Swift spoke first about the time period during construction and all the problems that were caused by the lack of flood control before the dam was in place. His was a colorful journey of the past and the process it took to make the dam a reality. Keystone Powerhouse mural artist Jay O’Melia spoke next of his contribution to the project through art and his pride for being asked to be such a part of history as the dam represents for this area. Commander Col. Richard Pratt of the Corp spoke and gave acknowledgements to those who were involved in the colossal renovation project and the efforts it took by many entities to work together for a common goal. Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation, Gary Ridley, Tulsa mayor, Dewey Bartlett and construction project manager Robert Craddock also spoke briefly offering their gratitude to those involved in the project. After the speeches, those speakers and others present gathered behind the red ribbon for the cutting ceremony and opened the road for what they hope will be another 50 years of safe existence.