Despite officials being on the brink of passing out checks for a buyout of Picher residents, there is still much work to be done in the nation's number one Superfund Site, according to Rebecca Jim, director of the LEAD Agency.

The 9th National Conference on Tar Creek kicks off this week with the theme, “You Cannot Buy-Out Nature.”

Jim encouraged the public to attend events scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Miami Civic Center and learn more about environmental and health issues in the Tar Creek district.

The opening reception begins Wednesday at 6 p.m. The reception is sponsored by the Quapaw Casino and will feature Miami tribal artists Royce Carter and Julie Olds.

Julie Olds' fourth grade teacher at Westview School (off Oklahoma Highway 60) may have ensured art would be always a part of her life by sending a note home saying simply, “Don't let her stop drawing.” Olds was drawing portraits by age 15 and later attended Crowder College and Missouri Southern State College to study art.

“Portraits are still a favorite - once the eyes are right, they show a depth a photograph can miss,” Olds insists.

Carter spent his youth in Albuquerque, N.M., and learned the jewelry trade because of his fascination with metals. He found that he had a knack for “building” production line jewelry pieces that are now found in high-end places like Neiman Marcus.

“I was inspired by Charles LaLoma, a Hopi, who was my hero,” Carter said.

Carter spent years working in shops with experienced elders who answered questions until now his natural talent has gained recognition.

The community is encouraged to attend both days of the conference. There is no charge for Ottawa and Delaware County residents, except for meals.

The LEAD Agency is located at 2205 E. Steve Owens in Miami. To register via email for the conference, contact Jim at rjim@neok.com or call (918) 542-3553.

AGENDA

Thursday, May 17

8 to 9 a.m. - Registration.

8 a.m. to Noon - Displays of Honored Artists, Julie Olds and Royce Carter.

8 to 9 a.m. - Camera Workshop withVaughn Wascovich (limited to eight participants).

9 to 9:15 a.m. - Welcome and introductions, Rebecca Jim, executive director of LEAD Agency; Louis “Red” Mathia, LEAD board president; Brent Brassfield, mayor of Miami, and Jesse McKibben, who will lead the prayer.

9:30 to 10:30 a.m. - Tri-State Mining District update (Tar Creek OU5) by John Meyer, Superfund Division, EPA Region 6, ODEQ, Tar Creek Section.

10:30 to 10:45 a.m. - Seneca youth dancers.

10:45 to 11:50 a.m. - “Cultural Impacts of the Tri-State Mining District.” Moderator is Earl Hatley, Grand Riverkeeper. He will be joined by Paul Barton, environmental director, Seneca-Cayuga Tribe; Tim Kent, environmental director, Quapaw Tribe, and Jim Dixon, environmental director, Peoria Tribe.

11:50 to Noon - Wrap-up/announcements.

Noon to 1 p.m. - Lunch at civic center.

1 to 1:15 p.m. - Youth voice.

1:15 to 1:45 p.m. - Ecosystem function and plant. Community development In metal-contaminated depressional wetlands. Led by Chev H. Kellogg, Oklahoma University.

1:45 to 2 p.m. - Break.

2 to 3 p.m. - Public safety/buy-out issues. Moderator will be Tim Kent, environmental director, Quapaw Tribe. Panel on buy-out, with affected persons as well as Quapaw Tribal members.

3:15 to 3:30 p.m. - Youth voice.

3:30 to 4:15 p.m. - “Harvard Air Quality Study,” by Dr. Ami Zota.

4:15 to 4:45 p.m. - Open discussion/wrap-up.

4:30 to 5:15 p.m. - Church review and reflection session.

4:45 to 5 p.m. - Break.

5 to 6 p.m. - Poster session.

6 to 7 p.m. - Traditional Indian dinner.

7 to 8:30 p.m. - Larry Daylight, social dances. Open to the public.

Friday, May 18

8 to 9 a.m. - Registration.

9 to 9:30 p.m. - Keynote speaker, John Berrey, chairman, Quapaw Tribe.

9:30 to 10 a.m. - “Harvard Study of Metals Bioavailability,” Dr. Jim Shine, Harvard School of Public Health, Children's Center.

9:30 to 11 a.m. - Youth workshop, secondary schools, led by Keith Strevett.

10 to 10:30 a.m. - “Assessment of Time Trends in Bioavailable Metals in the Tri-State Mining District Through Analyses of Tree Rings and Soils,” led by William J. Andrews, Oklahoma University.

10:30 to 10: 15 a.m. - Youth voice.

10:15 to 10:45 a.m. - “ATSDR Public Health Assessments,” by Dr. David Mellard, ATSDR.

10:30 to 10:45 a.m. - Break.

10:45 to 11:30 a.m. - “Watershed Scale Environmental Monitoring to Examine Remediation and Restoration Success: Water Quality and Hydrology,” by Dr. Robert Nairn, Oklahoma University.

11:30 to Noon - Awards, scholarships, Mike Synar Awards and bike drawings.

Noon to 1:30 p.m. - Lunch.

1:30 to 2 p.m. - To be announced.

1:30 to 2:30 p.m. - Youth workshop, elementary school, led by Keith Strevett.

2 to 2:15 p.m. - Youth voice, Seneca Dancers.

3 to 3:15 p.m. - Break.

3:15 to 4 p.m. - U.S. Geological Survey project updates.

4:15 to 4:30 p.m. - Wrap-up led by Rebecca Jim.

4:30 to 5:15 p.m. - Photography workshop with Vaughn Wascovich, wrap-up and critic.

6:30 p.m. - Fish Tournament on Tar Creek in parking lot by KuKu on Main Street (no fishing poles). Enjoy Live bands, speakers and relaxing fun.

Saturday, May 19

10 a.m. - Toxic Tour (bike, walk, or run 5 miles, meet at Quapaw High School, end at the Quapaw Tribe).