Jefferson Highway Oklahoma Communities Annual Meeting Luncheon Set November 8

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Jefferson Highway or Highway 69, running in a southwesterly direction from Miami to Durant, Oklahoma, is worthy of its own history book. 

According to an article by Jonita Mullins in Preservation Oklahoma News in 2013, beginning in the 1700s the Osage dominated the region and used the route for trade. In 1915 the Jefferson Highway formation was proposed to honor Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase.  In 1925 the highway was made a federal highway, and the Oklahoma portion was designated U.S. Highway 69. By 1929 the 2,300 miles of the Jefferson Highway would be paved. In contrast, Route 66 was completed in 1938.

It’s obvious that through the years, this route has carried a good part of this area’s history on its back, intertwined with the people, communities and happenings along its byway.

The Jefferson Highway Association works to preserve its rich history and bring to light the importance of this historic route. The annual meeting of the Jefferson Highway Oklahoma Communities and Pryor Area Chamber of Commerce Forum Luncheon takes place November 8 from 9 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. at the MidAmerica Expo Center in the Industrial Park, 526 Airport Road at Highway 695 in Pryor. Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell is slated as a guest speaker for the meeting.

The event will be chaired by Roger Bell, of Muskogee, who is vice president of the national Jefferson Highway Association and the Oklahoma representative of the organization.

“The rebirth of the historic Jefferson Highway route is happening now across the entire route. The entire route has recently been marked by the State of Iowa, new murals are going up in several states, a new Jefferson Highway Park is being completed in Louisiana and one just was finished in Iowa.  In Oklahoma, we are seeing great enthusiasm and initial efforts in many communities.  We hope this meeting will be a springboard towards a more unified effort involving as many communities as possible along the historic route.  Whether the towns are large or small, the Jefferson Highway rebirth can have a significant historic tourism impact on communities along the route,” Bell said.

“We plan to cover several things during our morning program including discussing an official Oklahoma designation of the exact byway route and ways to begin efforts to market the highway. We look forward to meeting a wide variety of guests from all across the route in Oklahoma.

“We are extremely excited that Lieutenant Governor Pinnell has agreed to be part of this important meeting. We were fortunate to meet with him earlier this year at the Capitol, where he pledged his support and enthusiasm for this great project.”

Guest speaker Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell was elected as the 17th Lieutenant Governor of the State of Oklahoma on November 6th, 2018.  Lt. Governor Pinnell serves as Secretary of Tourism and Branding on Governor Kevin Stitt’s cabinet. 

Pinnell also currently serves on the Department of Commerce executive committee, leading the department’s efforts to maximize Oklahoma’s Opportunity Zones and focusing on small business growth. Pinnell served as a member of Governor Kevin Stitt’s transition team with a focus on economic development and tourism as Chairman of the economic growth committee.

Prior to his election as Lieutenant Governor, Pinnell served as Director of State Parties for the Republican National Committee from 2013 to 2017.  A graduate of Oral Roberts University, he lives in Tulsa with his wife, Lisa, and their 4 children.  

Reservations for the meeting and luncheon are required with an RSVP by Wednesday, November 6. PACC and Jefferson Highway member price is $15, non-member price is $25. Sponsors included the Pryor Area Chamber of Commerce and the Jefferson Highway Association.

The Pryor Area Chamber of Commerce is a member of Green Country Marketing Association, one of 11 multi-county organizations working with the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department and others to promote the state tourism industry.

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