OKLA. CITY —
Business booms this time of year for Norman’s Thunderground Storm Shelters.
Even though the company installs no less than 30 storm shelters a week, the wait to get one this time of year is at least two months. By the end of Oklahoma’s three-month tornado season, the company will have installed more than 500 underground shelters, and turned away disappointed customers who hoped for an immediate install.
“There are people out there that can say we can get it to you in two weeks,” said Garett Howerton, director of operations for Thunderground. “They’re either lying to make a sale or there’s a reason they’re not booked.”
But as footage of tornado-ravaged disaster areas — like the one in Quapaw that killed a man last weekend — flash across television screens, shelter companies across the state get bombarded by calls from frantic customers looking for a quick shelter install. By this time of year, the state’s established shelter companies already have long wait lists.
Jay Stephens, co-owner of Tornado King Storm Shelter, says it’s not uncommon to get offered a cash bonus, if he’ll expedite a customer’s install.
The Muskogee businessman said his company doesn’t do the bonus program, but always has “people that get really desperate,” after tornadoes hit and upon hearing that the wait for a storm shelter from his company this time of year is at least six weeks.
“Everyone waits until it’s on our mind,” Stephens said. “That’s the wrong time. If someone wants to order one today, it would be (June) before they can get it.”
He recommends consumers consider installing storm shelters during the off-season, which is typically from June to December.
Adding to consumer chaos this time of year is the fact the shelter industry is relatively new and has few regulations, said Ernst Kiesling, executive director of the National Storm Shelter Association and a research professor in the National Wind Institute at Texas Tech University.
“A lot of jurisdictions do not have building inspectors that are well enough qualified to inspect a storm shelter,” Kiesling said. “It’s nothing like a building. You have a small slab that is anchored to a small concrete slab.”
Safety and a considerable monetary investment is also on the line, so Kiesling said it’s important that people choose shelter companies carefully and ask sound questions so they don’t find themselves trapped inside a bad shelter.
There are horror stories of doors getting ripped off shelters in the middle of tornadoes as people huddle inside, and FEMA has discovered shelters — particularly older ones —that weren’t built in compliance with standards, he said. The first shelter standards weren’t adopted until about 1999, he said.
Kiesling said there are a couple of questions consumers should always ask including, has the shelter been impact-tested; is there an engineering report for the design; how will it be ventilated; and, if it’s going to be installed above ground, how it is going to be anchored.
If a company can answer the questions confidently and directly, Kiesling said they’re probably legitimate, but “if they give you a blank stare, you might want to look elsewhere.”
Another red flag: Claims that FEMA, Texas Tech or the NSSA has certified a company’s shelter. The organizations do not certify individual shelters, he said.
“If it says it’s NSSA approved or FEMA certified it’s a red flag because that’s an advertising scheme that’s not really validated,” he said.
OKLA. CITY —
Business booms this time of year for Norman’s Thunderground Storm Shelters.
- Local News
Candidates disagree with White House’s minimum wage
Gubernatorial candidate Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, said the state needs to have serious growth in high-paying living wage jobs that will provide for Oklahomans.
Dorman cautioned that while Oklahoma’s jobless rate improved in June, the state’s rankings for the well-being of children has dropped from 36th to 39th place, for one of the largest declines in the U.S., according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Project.
The unemployment rate in June dropped to 4.5 percent, down a percentage point from 4.6 percent in May, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, Gov. Mary Fallin said this week.
The state’s unemployment rate was more than 7 percent when Fallin was elected during the brink of the Great Depression. Alex Weintz, communications director for Fallin, pointed out that per capita income in Oklahoma was second in the nation from 2011 to 2013.
The non partisan Congressional Budget office reported in February that raising the minimum wage could kill a half-million jobs in the United States.
According to The Washington Times, CBO analysts reported, “Once the other changes in income were taken into account, families whose income would be below six times the poverty threshold under current law would see a small increase in income, on net, and families whose income would be higher under current law would see reductions in income, on net.”
President Barack Obama in February signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour.
Weintz said the governor believes tax cuts have enabled families to keep more of their money.
No one is talking about the under-employment rate of families working minimum wage jobs, Dorman said.
“It’s all fine and good when you have fast-food jobs that don’t cover the bills and that counts toward your unemployment rate.”
Oklahoma’s minimum wage reflects the federal minimum wage set at $7.25 an hour, a standard set in 2009.
Fallin signed legislation this year to prohibit municipalities from raising their local minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.
“If the minimum wage goes up to $15 in Oklahoma City, all of the sudden you would drive retail, business, service industry locations outside of the city limits and that would be detrimental to the economy, consumers and to businesses,” Weintz said.
Fallin has said that she opposes raising the minimum wage in Oklahoma because it would stifle job growth for small business and lay off workers. A lot of people earning the $7.25 minimum wage are part-time workers and many of them are students, Weintz said.
“We believe raising the minimum wage is not a good way to address poverty,” Weintz said. “A lot of people earning the minimum wage are actually people living with their parents or other people who are employed full time, and in many cases they are middle class families. So it’s not a good tool to reduce poverty.”
Dorman said he does not necessarily support the proposed $10.10 an hour minimum federal minimum wage that is being discussed by Congress.
“I think we need to have a living wage in Oklahoma that is reflective of our economy,” Dorman said.
About 102,300 jobs have been added in Oklahoma since Fallin took office in January 2011, according to her office.
The cost of living in the national economy tends to be higher in some other states, Dorman said.
So a minimum wage increase should be tied to economic gains so that families can pay their bills and afford to care for their children, Dorman said.
Independent candidates for governor include Richard Prawdzienski of Edmond, Joe Sills of Oklahoma City and Kimberly Willis of Oklahoma City.
Firefighters sharpen forced entry skills
Of all burglaries, 60.5 percent involved forcible entry, according to recent FBI statistics.
As a result, many home and businesses are installing a greater number of complex mechanisms on their doors and windows. Edmond Fire Maj. Joe Elam said 10 local firefighters recently sharpened their skills during a forcible entry class offered by IRONS and LADDERS, LLC., of Lawrence, Kan.
Preparing for a fall home garden
Gardening can be a year-around activity for those that have an appreciation for fresh and nutritious vegetables. Some of the best vegetables in Oklahoma are produced and harvested during the cooler weather of fall. Successful fall gardens, however, require some work in the summer growing season. Factors to be considered are location, soil preparation, crops to be grown and how/when to plant.
The major consideration for garden placement is sunlight. All vegetables require some sunlight; the most popular vegetables require full sun. “Full” sun means at least 8 hours of intense, direct exposure.
OBU dance team celebrates National Dance Day
In 2010, “So You Think You Can Dance” co-creator and Dizzy Feet Foundation co-president Nigel Lythgoe created National Dance Day in an effort to help people embrace dance and combat obesity on the last Saturday in July.
This year, on July 26, Oklahoma Baptist University’s dance team will host a fundraiser that allows participants to dance all day for $30. The fundraiser will be in the Noble Complex on OBU’s campus.
Cami Gower, an OBU junior and co-captain/co-founder of the dance team, said the team’s officers have been planning for their upcoming season since April. Gower is a graduate of Deer Creek High School.
“Since then we have been coming up with better ways to reach the community with dance,” she said. “This day of dance was a great way to do it and help the team raise funds.”
Local cops arrest NFL player on marijuana complaint
The Edmond Police Department has released the incident report related to the arrest of ex-Oklahoma State star and current NFL player Justin Blackmon.
Blackmon, 24, a product of Plainview High School in Ardmore, is a 6-1, 210-pound wide receiver in his second year with the Jacksonville Jaguars. At Oklahoma State University, he was a two-time Biletnikoff Award winner as the country’s best collegiate wide receiver.
Women aided in Afghanistan, Rwanda through AT&T
AT&T renewed its support for the PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS program Wednesday by making a $125,000 contribution to the program at Lakeside Women’s Hospital in Oklahoma City.
AT&T has been a major supporter of Peace through Business since its inception in 2007, said Steve Hahn, the new president of AT&T Oklahoma.
Salvation Army pantry closes until September
Due to an increase of need, The Salvation Army in Oklahoma County has distributed all of its food supply. July 23 was the last day of the food pantry operations. In preparation for the move to the Center of Hope at 1001 N. Pennsylvania, The Salvation Army Client Choice Pantry will not resume operations until September.
Payne Co. crash sends Guthrie man to hospital
A two-vehicle crash in Payne County sent a Guthrie man to a local hospital, a trooper stated.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper James Ritze stated a 2005 Jeep SUV and a 2013 Ford pickup were about a mile east of Perkins headed west on State Highway 33. When the pickup slowed for a truck pulling out of a private drive, the SUV struck the rear of the pickup, Ritze stated.
Second Street to get new 7-Eleven
The amended site plan for a new 7-Eleven Convenience Store was approved by the Edmond Planning Commission this week by a vote of 4-0.
Guard adds jobs, revenue to Oklahoma
During a Wednesday morning press conference at Joint Force Headquarters, members of the Guard touted the findings of an in-depth study addressing impacts the organization has in areas including gross state product, employment and tax revenue.
- More Local News Headlines
- Candidates disagree with White House’s minimum wage