ESTABLISHED 1835 * INCORPORATED 2022
Hochatown, Okla.- On Tuesday, November 8, 2022 Hochatown residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of the ballot question proposing the incorporation of their community. McCurtain County Election Board Secretary Kelly Donaldson has certified the result of the election as 129 votes in favor of incorporation and 18 votes against.
The final certification was made by McCurtain County Commissioner's Resolution, November 28, 2022.
According to Oklahoma state law, “If a majority of the votes cast are in favor of incorporation as a town, the board of county commissioners shall, within twenty (20) days after receiving the result of the vote, issue an order declaring that the town has been incorporated and naming the date for the election of town officers. The territory shall, from the date of the commissioners’ order, be deemed a body corporate and an incorporated town.” Any registered voter currently residing within the town limits is eligible to become a candidate for one of the five initial town officers’ seats. Due to the statutory periods of public notice required in Oklahoma, the initial election of town officers cannot be conducted until February 2023, at the earliest. The McCurtain County Election Board will oversee the initial election.
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April 8, 1993
HOCHATOWN INCORPORATION PRESS PHOTOS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 26, 2022
Contact: Shellye Copeland
(940) 600-2713 cell
Hochatown files additional lawsuit in District Court (Case #CV-22-97)
Idabel, Okla.- As indicated by counsel last week, petitioners for Hochatown have moved forward and filed legal documents in McCurtain County District Court to compel the McCurtain County Board of Commissioners to act on the communities’ Petition for Incorporation.
Today’s filing is in addition to Hochatown’s legal request, July 19, 2022, in Oklahoma City asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to assume original jurisdiction to hear the case. Hochatown’s Attorneys Liz George and Bob Burke indicated then they would file both places to “cover all the bases.”
State law requires the County Commissioners to determine, within thirty (30) days after a Petition for Incorporation is presented, if the petition has complied with the law that governs incorporation of towns. If the petition is sufficient, the commissioners shall call a special election and put the issue on the ballot and allow Hochatown residents to vote.
The Board of McCurtain County Commissioners is more than 90 days delinquent.
Hochatown delivered a Notice of Intent to Incorporate to Commissioners on March 24, 2022.
The Oklahoma Tax Commission has estimated that as much as $800,000 in municipal tax revenue is being lost for each month that the commissioners delay calling a special election for the voters in Hochatown. It is estimated that 25,000 people are in the Hochatown area each weekend increasing the public safety risk because of the lack of adequate law enforcement and full-time fire protection.
”The residents of Hochatown deserve the right to determine their own destiny. If they want to incorporate as a town and provide basic municipal services to residents and businesses, no one should stand in their way. The law says the commissioners SHALL determine the sufficiency of the Petition for Incorporation. It is not a discretionary duty, it is an absolute duty. That is why we are asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court and the District Court of McCurtain County to order the commissioners to fulfill their statutory duty and act,” said Burke.
PHOTO by Brad Box: Pictured (Petitioners for Hochatown) Todd McDanial, Dian Jordan, Chad Sargent. Sargent stated, “This is history in the making and another step forward in our efforts to allow Hochatown residents to have the kind of municipal services that help keep folks safe.”
Bob Burke and Lysbeth George, council for Petitioners (Hochatown)
Following the July 19, 2022 Hearing.
OK Supreme Court Case #120520
For four months the McCurtain County Board of County Commissioners has thrown up a roadblock for the people of Hochatown who want to incorporate as a town. And, the commissioners' lawyer, in a hearing today before a Referee of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, asked for further delay. The Commissioners want the Supreme Court to refuse to hear the case and instead have the District Court of McCurtain County decide the issue. Representatives of residents of Hochatown have asked the Supreme Court to order the Commissioners to follow state law and vote yes or no on whether or not the people of Hochatown have complied with a checklist contained in state law for incorporation.
It is a critical situation for the area. Hochatown residents want to use municipal tax revenues to establish a police department and a fulltime fire department along with other services the town can provide. The Oklahoma Tax Commission has estimated that as much as $800,000 in tax revenue is being lost for each month that the commissioners delay calling a special election for the voters in the proposed town. It is estimated that 25,000 people are in the Hochatown area each weekend. The Commissioners are risking public safety because of the lack of adequate law enforcement and fire protection and the inability of the Town of Hochatown to be able to provide those services.
It was comical for the commissioners’ lawyer to argue today that the Board of County Commissioners is uncertain whether Hochatown is a historically recognized community. We don't believe the individual commissioners agree with that. There is no doubt Hochatown moved to its present location on U.S. 259 by 1969 when Broken Bow Lake was dedicated. This community existed for many years before in its original location which is now under the Lake. The cemetery and church were moved to their current location as indicated by a historical marker in front of the church.
The people of Hochatown need immediate relief. Therefore, to cover all bases, we intend to file a Writ of Mandamus in the District Court of McCurtain County next week (when the court reopens following internal construction and repairs), asking the local court immediately order the Board of County Commissioners to comply with its mandatory obligations under Oklahoma law and vote on the adequacy of Hochatown's petition for incorporation.
Enough is enough. We call upon the commissioners to accept the adequacy of the petition without further delay and call for an election. The residents of Hochatown deserve the opportunity to decide for themselves whether or not they want to incorporate as a town.
NOTE: There was no ruling today. The court "referee" presents the oral arguments and documents to the justices. This process will take some time.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22, 2022
Contact: Dian Jordan
Hochatown seeks relief with Oklahoma Supreme Court
Oklahoma City, Okla.- On June 22, 2022 attorneys representing Hochatown have filed legal documents to compel the McCurtain County Board of Commissioners to act on Hochatown's Petition for Incorporation.
The formal request is being filed in the Oklahoma Supreme Court in Oklahoma City. Supreme Court case 120520. The request is that the Supreme Court assume original jurisdiction to hear the case.
The state Constitution gives the Supreme Court the authority to order government boards and commissions to comply with a state statute that mandates a certain action. The writ, called mandamus, applies to the Board of County Commissioners of McCurtain County.
In this instance, state law requires the County Commissioners to determine, within thirty days after a Petition for Incorporation is presented, if the petition has complied with the law that governs incorporation of towns. If the petition is sufficient, the commissioners must call a special election and put the issue on the ballot.
Hochatown delivered a Notice of Intent to Incorporate to commissioners on March 24, 2022. The Board of McCurtain County Commissioners is nearly 60 days delinquent.
Bob Burke, a McCurtain County native, Constitutional lawyer and Author, has joined forces with Lysbeth George and Associates to represent Hochatown. "The residents of Hochatown deserve the right to determine their own destiny. If they want to incorporate as a town and provide basic municipal services to residents and businesses, no one should stand in their way. The law says the commissioners SHALL determine the sufficiency of the Petition for Incorporation. It is not a discretionary duty, it is an absolute duty. That is why we are asking the Supreme Court to order the commissioners to fulfill their statutory duty and act,” Burke said. “My dad was county commissioner for thirty years. He and mom were both born in Hochatown. I know they would want it incorporated and to provide important services for the residents.” he added.
Oklahoma City attorney, Liz George, who has already won one lawsuit and appeal against the City of Broken Bow related to this matter said, "The people of Hochatown are determined to do what is necessary to protect their community and preserve its historical character. Incorporation is the first step in that process.”
Dian Jordan, Hochatown community representative, said the continuing delay is preventing the community from municipal services such as adequate police and fire. “We have upwards of 25,000 people in this community on weekends. We cannot keep waiting to address the dangers that come with a crowd this size in a rapidly growing community. It’s a safety issue.” She explained.
IDABEL, OK.- McCurtain County Commissioners included the Hochatown Incorporation topic on Monday’s meeting agenda and then took no action before a crowd of Hochatown residents, business owners and interested citizens.
Chairman Mark Jennings said, “We’ve submitted questions to the District Attorney and received no response therefore we cannot take any action on this item.”
Dian Jordan, who is designated in the Petition filings as the initial Hochatown City Clerk, asked Jennings to be recognized to speak. Her request was denied “That topic is not up for discussion,” he replied. Jordan persisted. She again asked to be recognized to announce that citizens attending could go back to work. Jordan was allowed to make the announcement and thanked everyone for coming and encouraged them to return to work.
“Many people lost half a day of work to attend the meeting only to be denied a discussion as the agenda stated would occur.” Jordan later stated.
The legal documents announcing Hochatown’s Notice of Intent to Incorporate were delivered to the Board of County Commissioners on March 24th, 2022.
County Commissioners have thirty days from the delivery date to approve the petition.
CONTACT: Dian Jordan
MARCH 24, 2022
HOCHATOWN PRESENTS PETITION
HOCHATOWN, OK, - Volunteers hand delivered a Notice of Intent to Incorporate Hochatown to the Board of McCurtain County Commissioners today. The documents include a petition signed by Hochatown's registered voters, maps regarding the proposed territory to be incorporated and other legal documents. The petition's signatures are notarized by a charter member of the community, Sharon Ward.
The documents have been on public display in Hochatown since February 22, 2022 for access and review by Hochatown residents and the general public. Community petition signing events were held and quickly gathered more than the one-third required number of registered voters within the proposed territory to be incorporated.
County Commissioners have thirty days to approve the petition. The goal, upon approval by commissioners, is to have the incorporation set for a vote of the people at the next eligible election, which is slated to be June of this year.
After 6 years of delay, volunteers hope the historic community can begin a process to implement municipal services and improve infrastructure that will ultimately benefit the entire county as Hochatown continues to rapidly grow.