Monthly Partners of Ottawa County, Inc. (POCI) meeting highlights upcoming community events, action group plans and names new board president.

MIAMI- It is time to dust off the old bicycle and lace up those running shoes because the LEAD Agency’s annual Recycle Tar Creek Bike is set for Earth Day Saturday, April 22, in Commerce.

Participants will have the opportunity to explore the downstream portions of Tar Creek with a guided tour of the Superfund Site. Experts now estimate that Tar Creek will be clean again in under a decade.

Rebecca Jim, LEAD Agency’s Executive Director and Tar Creekkeeper, announced the event during the monthly Partners of Ottawa County, Inc. (POCI) meeting on Thursday.

POCI is a 501(c)(3) organization working for the betterment of families, especially children and youth. Projects the coalition is involved with are Bright Futures Miami, Man-Up/My Life and Running Wild. The mission of POCI is to promote and support Ottawa County as a driving community dedicated to improving quality of life, fostering hope and creating opportunity.

Bike rider registration begins at 8:30 a.m. in Sills Park. Spokes will be turning at 9 a.m. for the short one-mile bike ride where riders will pass by the Mickey Mantle Home, travel on Route 66 and view the subsidence holes. There will be a $5 fee for this ride.

The 20-mile long bike ride will also begin at 9 a.m. and riders will travel along Route 66, make historic stops, examine restored land and receive a guided tour of the Tar Creek Superfund Site. This route will also explore the mining districts of Cardin and Picher. The fee for this ride is $25.

Travelers will ride along paved roads and helmets are required. For non-cyclists, walkers and runners alike can participate in the fun walk in the park at 10 a.m. for free. To register, contact the LEAD Agency at 918-542-9399 or sign up online at

Next, the coalition has been approved for the AmeriCorps Program where a group of volunteers will assist with projects throughout the community for several months. The AmeriCorps members will be housed at The Harbor for the remainder of their stay.

In other news, Jordan Barlow of INTEGRIS was appointed as POCI’s new president by the executive board. Former president Keli Keener announced her resignation during last month’s meeting. Barlow, formerly the chair of the Poverty Action Group Committee, will be replaced by Sarah Johnston.

Mackenzie Garst, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Ottawa County, was nominated to be the chair of the coalition’s Youth Development Group. The Community Wellness Action Group will be absorbed into the other action groups.

“We’re absorbing that and using the objectives to reflect the overall mission of POCI,” Barlow said.

In Wraparound updates, Bethany Street of Grand Lake Mental Health Center (GLMHC) announced that the “Celebrating Families” Group has begun. The 15-week program works to help strengthen family bonds and communication that have experienced substance abuse. The program addresses the effects of substance abuse and moving past patterns. The Wraparound Service is an intensive home-based service for children and families who are at higher risk. For more information, contact GLMHC at 918-540-1511.

In April highlights, Adrian Arnold, Healthy Living Assistant Coordinator, gave a presentation on the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) program and the opportunity for grants.

TSET provides Healthy Communities Incentive Grants to communities throughout Oklahoma for the purpose of supporting improved health for every Oklahoman.

The Healthy Living program targets the two main health problems Oklahomans face, cancer and cardiovascular disease, by preventing and reducing tobacco use and obesity.

The three main goals of the program are to prevent and reduce tobacco use, increase overall physical activity in the county and improve nutrition.

In event news, Northeastern Tribal Health System (NTHS) will be offering a Veterans Services and Benefits Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 21 in the center’s Education Room. Individuals are encouraged to bring a copy of their DD214/Separation Papers and 2016 Family Income information to apply for medical and compensation/pension benefits. Assistance will be available to complete VA required forms. For more information, contact Jennifer Wofford at 918-332-4360.

The third annual Turtle Classic 5k & Kids Fun Run is set for June 3 and will be hosted by the Boys & Girls Club of Ottawa County. The location is set at the club’s future home- the Armory Building in Riverview Park. The club is in current need of sponsors for the event. For questions call, Mackenzie Garst at 918-540-1641 or visit the club’s Facebook by searching “Turtle Classic 5K & Fun Run.”

For additional updates on POCI events, visit