- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:

The Oklahoman, Sept. 15, 2015

Company has provided Sonic boon for Oklahoma City

Time flies when you’re selling burgers and fries. The Sonic Drive-In chain is now as old as people who’ve reached Social Security eligibility.

Sixty-two years ago, in 1953, company founder Troy Smith Sr. opened a hamburger and root beer stand in Shawnee. It was called the Top Hat Drive-In. Six years later, a Top Hat in Stillwater was rebranded as a Sonic, the first of its name.

That site on Main Street in Stillwater is still in business. In fact, it’s been renovated. The store reopened this month in a celebration of Sonic’s heritage.

Much has been written in praise of Oklahoma-based businesses that are excellent corporate citizens - companies such as Devon, Continental Resources, OG&E, Love’s and numerous others. Sonic’s in that category as well.

The firm is based in the state capital but operates throughout the country with its signature curbside speakers and carhop deliveries. Before ubiquitous McDonald’s and drive-thru lanes, drive-ins used carhops to deliver orders.

In recent years, Sonic has added drive-thru service, but its heritage as a curbside speaker/carhop delivery system remains in place. Many of the carhops bring the food while wearing roller skates.

Sonic’s initial slogan (“Service at the Speed of Sound”) echoed the nation’s move into the Space Age, kicked off when test pilot Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier on Oct. 14, 1947, flying 45,000 feet above the Mojave Desert.

Sonic booms were not uncommon in the early days of Sonic Drive-Ins - especially around here. Oklahoma City was chosen by the federal government as a test site for a controversial experiment involving more than 1,200 sonic booms carried out over the city in 1964, a project known as “Operation Bongo II.”

Eight times per day for six months, the booms rattled cupboards in the way earthquakes do today. Talk about Oklahoma City thunder! Remember, too, that the Oklahoma City Thunder were formerly the Seattle Supersonics.

While all that booming was going on in the mid-1960s, Sonic customers were pulling in for a No. 2 burger and tater tots. Even as late as the early 1970s, patrons could get a burger, a side of potatoes and a soft drink for under $1 - without idling and stopping three times to order, to pay and to pick up the food.

Ironically, a glaring exception to the drive-in/car hop experience is the chain’s store near its Bricktown headquarters, which was designed for walk-in customers. It’s one of more than 3,500 restaurants in 44 states. Collectively, they serve about 3 million customers every day, with sales per unit averaging $1.1 million a year.

Stillwater’s Sonic wasn’t the first hamburger joint to have car speakers and car hops, but Sonic perfected the concept and made it a nationwide phenomenon. “Service at the Speed of Sound” has morphed into “This Is How You Sonic,” but much of what Sonic has on offer hasn’t changed - including Smith’s insistence that meals be served with a complimentary mint.

As for its good-corporate-citizen bona fides, Sonic supports the arts and education in Oklahoma and has a nationwide program (“Limeades for Learning”) that’s pumped nearly $3 million into public school classrooms.

That’s serious stuff. Now for some fun: In one year, Sonic sells enough tots to encircle the globe twice if placed end to end and enough cherry limeades to fill more than 50 Olympic swimming pools.

This is a company worth celebrating - a Sonic boon for Oklahoma City.


Tulsa World, Sept. 15, 2015

Scrutiny, context needed to understand the number of times Oklahoma police killed civilians

Twenty-six times this year, Oklahoma police officers have fatally shot people, the highest number in years and part of a sharp increase in the past six years.

It’s a troubling number that deserves some scrutiny, and we think no one would agree with that any more than police, who know that most incidents where an officer kills a civilian could have been an incident where a civilian killed an officer.

The vast majority of police shootings involve highly charged situations where the officer felt his own life or that of others was at immediate risk, and when that is true there is no debate about the proper action. In at least 17 of the 26 cases the person who was shot was armed with a gun, according to reports.

We know police leaders take the situation seriously and are working every day to get a handle on the causes of the trend, and how to reverse it.

Given that background, we think Tulsa police officers deserve notice for their measured handling of an incident last week that easily could have created another statistic.

A man who had threatened police with a tire iron and said he intended to ram his car into a Tulsa police station was taken into custody in the parking lot of the department’s east side division after a two-hour standoff Friday.

Early in the incident, a man (who it turned out had a history of felony convictions and had reportedly been smoking methamphetamine all night) threatened an officer and shouted that he would either kill police or force them to kill him, according to reports.

In the end, the man was taken away in handcuffs. With restraint and good judgment, Tulsa police officers protected themselves, the public and the man.

It is not lost on us that of the 26 police-involved homicides so far this year, none involved Tulsa police officers. There is, no doubt, an element of luck in that, but there is also an element of good training and strong leadership.

Newspapers usually don’t report when airplanes land safely or when honest public officials do their jobs without complaint, but we think Friday’s incident adds some context to the 26 fatal police shootings on the year. In our experience, the vast majority of confrontations between police and potentially dangerous people end with order restored, no one injured and the bad guys in the hands of prosecutors. Thank goodness, and the police.


Enid News, Sept. 15, 2015

Precious resource

Even before an abundance of rain last May, the city of Enid had no plans to discontinue water conservation measures on an annual basis.

In April, Utility Services Manager Scott Morris said the measures - which mandate even-numbered street addresses water outside only on even-numbered days, while odd-numbered addresses water on odd-numbered days - would begin automatically every year.

Although conservation effort for the summer ended in September during the past couple of years, we aren’t surprised that City Manager Jerald Gilbert is telling Enid residents the city is continuing to observe the first phase of water conservation.

For future reference, the second phase would include the measures of the first phase as well as prohibiting sprinkler systems and allowing watering by hand for just one hour a day. The third phase obviously would involve the other phases and enacting emergency water rates to discourage water use.

In the meantime, the city is working to conserve water by notifying utility customers of high billing statements and helping educate residents on water leaks.

Keep in mind the following facts:

- A dripping faucet at a quarter of a gallon a minute equals 10,800 gallons a month.

- A broken service line for one night, leaking at about 15 gallons per minute, amounts to 9,000 gallons.

- An unattended water hose for one night, at 10 gallons per minute, equals 6,000 gallons.

- Drip irrigation at one gallon per minute equals 42,300 gallons per month.

“We’re hoping that people will learn, since we’re going to do it every year, that it’s important to conserve water,” Morris said. “It’s something that our community hasn’t been used to, but most every other community does it and we need to try to be a good steward of the resources that we have. Water is a precious commodity.”

Our community needs a buy-in to conserve this vital resource.

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