Cushing, GRDA bring “tree power” to the city

Cushing – The long and beneficial public power partnership between the City of Cushing and the Grand River Dam Authority is not always just about electricity and economic development, sometimes it is about the environment too.

 On Thursday, April 14, representatives from both Cushing and GRDA came together to celebrate a special tree planting event in the city, both at the transfer station on the west end of town and also on the grounds of city hall. With a “Tree Power” grant from the American Public Power Association (APPA), GRDA used those funds to purchase and plant seven Redbuds at these Cushing locations.

 “For GRDA, it was an opportunity to help beautify this wonderful city even more,” said GRDA Corporate Communications Director Justin Alberty. “Of course, trees are good for the environment, provide shade and windbreaks and just help to enhance quality of life for the citizens.”

 Alberty added that Cushing was selected for the tree planting in large part due to the recent efforts of the Cushing Pride initiative.

 “The work that has been accomplished by the Cushing Pride volunteers, in helping to clean up the city, is a wonderful thing. So we viewed this tree planting ceremony as a way to give back and reward their efforts,” he said.

 Two of the trees were planted in near the transfer station park area and five others were planted at city hall. Cushing high school students, who participated in the Cushing Pride effort, took part in the event, along with many others representing both Cushing and GRDA. Each of the trees also has special signage, with more information on the Redbud (Oklahoma’s state tree).

 Over the last decade, GRDA has planted several trees as part of its own “A Grand Project” campaign. The Authority has also worked closely with landowners along its rights-of-way in an effort to replace trees may have to be removed during power line construction or repairs.

“GRDA’s mission centers around 5 E’s --- electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency,” said Alberty. “We feel like this special tree planting in Cushing helps us to meet this mission.”

Earlier in the day, GRDA Assistant General Manager of Ecosystems Management Dr. Darrell Townsend also visited Cushing High School, to speak to students about the role his department plays in stewardship efforts of Oklahoma’s natural resources. GRDA manages 70,000 surface acres of water in Oklahoma, including Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir, along the Grand River.

 Cushing is a “public power” community because it owns and operates its own electric distribution system. Since 1953, GRDA has supplied the wholesale power to the city, which then distributes the power and resells it to Cushing homes and businesses. GRDA maintains a presence in the city, with a field maintenance facility located just west of town. Cushing City Manager Steve Spears is also a longtime member of the GRDA Board of Directors.

 Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes.