BY JOE DORMAN
I want to start off this week by sending condolences to those who lost loved ones, their homes and other property in the storms and tornadoes over the weekend. As I am writing this column on Monday, we were just allowed to go back to our Capitol offices after tornado sirens sounded about the f-5 which hit the Moore area. I know those in the path of the various tornadoes need our thoughts, prayers and assistance in this time of need, so please do what you can to help. This sentiment includes making donations to groups like the Red Cross in the Central and Western Region at: http://www.redcross.org/ok/oklahoma-city
I am currently visiting with officials to see what can be done about getting money immediately allocated to help with disaster recovery, rather than waiting on the next session to see funds appropriated. The system is set up where individuals receive reimbursement through their private insurance, but state, county, municipal or non-profit entities must qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance through a formula established by the federal government. Once this is approved, the federal government allocates 75 percent of the dollars to help rebuild roads, power lines and other public structures, while the state gives 12.5 percent and the local government entity which has been damaged must pay for the remaining 12.5 percent of the cost. Once estimates are completed for both private and public property, then we must get things ready for those who wish to rebuild in the affected areas. I want to have the state portion of the money ready to go with no unnecessary delay.
I also want to send condolences to the Hardzog and Landers Families in Elgin for the deaths of their loved ones this past week. CC Hardzog passed away from injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident last week. His son-in-law, Keith Landers, died on Sunday in a motorcycle accident. Both of these men have been good friends to me over the years and the times I have spent with them over the years have provided many good memories.
CC would often call me on my cell phone and you could count on each call lasting about an hour.
I truly have cherished those calls over the years and I can thank his daughter-in-law, Terri, for providing him with my number to let him “chew on me” for a while. He would start off discussing an issue, ranging from bumpy bridges to trailer tags, and then we would start talking about life in general. If I did not get the problem fixed soon enough, you could expect another call not too far in the future. He would always end each call by stating that he knew I was probably busy and he needed to let me go, which I would tell him that I always had time to visit with him. I will miss those calls as they always put a smile on my face to get the chance to visit with him.
The same goes for Keith, but with very different topics of conversation, usually politics or work issues. I will always remember that he served as the host of the family parties that I would get to attend. I could hide out by the grill and get “advice” from him, with both of us usually trying to convince the other to change political parties (to no avail).
One year, I had a group of international visitors come to Oklahoma and Terri arranged for a party at her house, with Keith doing the cooking for all in attendance. The guests were taken by CC and the chance to visit with a "real American Cowboy" for the first time and wanted him to come visit them. As of last week, I think CC was still trying to figure a way to drive to Argentina so he would not have to get on an airplane, probably with Keith riding with him. I will miss CC and Keith, but I know they are keeping good company in Heaven with Terri and I will be thankful for the years I got to spend calling them all friends.