helping troubled youth and their families
New Family Justice Center
For years, one of Tulsa County’s most pressing needs has been to better serve youth that find themselves in challenging situations. The old juvenile bureau was outdated and not configured to provide a comprehensive approach to helping youth and their families with needed services.
Karen began working to pull together a plan. First, by listening to those on the front lines in youth services, family courts and law enforcement. She visited centers around the nation to learn about the most effective practices and programs exist to help turn youth on to a better and more successful path.
She led the initiative for a public vote to build the new Tulsa County Family Center for Juvenile Justice which opened in 2019.
Today, the center serves about 4,000 youth a year with prevention, justice and treatment programs. Their mission is “improving our community through prevention, diversion, intervention and empowerment with the youth and families we serve.”
"Leading the charge were County Commissioner Karen Keith and former District Judge Doris Fransein, who also served as chief judge of the juvenile court.
We thank them for their devotion to this cause.
The facility would never have been built had it not been for their hard work, persuasiveness and perseverance."
Tulsa World Editorial, Nov 26, 2019
Keeping Communities Safe
Rural Fire Protection
Karen believes that a strong rural fire system remains a top priority for Tulsa County. Led by faithful and skilled firefighters, these rural fire departments keep families and properties safe.
The Volunteer Keystone Fire Department continues to serve above and beyond under challenging circumstances during these past years of severe drought. Tulsa County Road Department personnel also work hand in hand with Keystone by employing county road apparatus to create fire lines.
Working with the leadership of Berryhill Fire Department and with citizen input and a public vote, we extended the fire protection district to protect the Oakhurst community and lower their insurance rates.
Construction is underway for the new Berryhill station on 41st street. County crews are currently moving dirt and building the road that will lead to this new facility. Many thanks to the hardworking crews from District 2 who are getting this project underway!
Creating Quality Jobs
Economic Development and Tourism
- Karen partnered with local officials and with the Tulsa Regional Chamber to secure USA BMX headquarters at the Tulsa County Fairgrounds.
- Karen worked with the Chamber and fairgrounds staff to secure and retain high quality equestrian events at the Tulsa County Fairgrounds, including the Arabian Horse Show.
- She serves on the Downtown Coordinating Council and Streetscape Committee to transform the ascetics of the downtown Tulsa area.
- Karen serves on the VisitTulsa Advisory Council which focuses on presenting Tulsa as a destination city for conventions and high-quality events which generates tourism dollars via hotel/motel and sales tax dollars for our community.
- Karen also serves on the Board of Directors for the Oklahoma History Center helping to shepherd the completion of the Oklahoma Pop Museum.
Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, who is also the state’s Secretary of Tourism and Branding, told the crowd that tourism is the third largest industry in Oklahoma, generating more than $1 billion in tax receipts.
“We can be, and will be, a top-10 tourism state,” Pinnell said, promoting the appeal that OKPOP will have for the city and the continuing rapid growth of the downtown arts district.
Tulsa World, Oct 23, 2019
Fighting for Tulsa County's fair share of funding
Roads and Bridges
When Karen first came into office, she worked to make sure that our road and bridges funding centered on the priorities brought forth by the needs of our citizens. Working with the county’s engineering division they worked to improve the processes and efficiencies to stretch our road dollars to the max. Below is a list of projects and improvements specific to District 2.
- Road and rail crossings for the Polson Industrial Park near Oakhurst. This industrial site created 100 jobs in 2015 and an anticipated 200 additional jobs by the end of 2016.
- After years of planning and incremental work on the Gilcrease Expressway, work is now underway on this critical expansion. The project connect L.L. Tisdale to I-44 and completes the Western loop around the Tulsa metro area. It will help relieve urban traffic congestion during peak periods. The project involves a funding partnership between the OTA, City of Tulsa, Tulsa County, Indian Nation Council of Governments, Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the federal government and private investors. Construction is set to begin in the spring of 2020 and be competed in the Summer of 2022. The project incluldes 22 bridges, 7 large multi-cell box culverts, 20 smaller box culverts and improvements at 4 interchanges.
- Secured Rural Economic Action Program (REAP) Grants to repair roads and replace signage in two unincorporated areas of Tulsa County.
- Working with Muscogee Creek Nation Transportation Division to place several Tulsa County roads on the Creek Nation inventory for future repairs and maintenance through cooperative agreements.
- Worked with the City of Tulsa and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, to seek alternative routes and shorten the time span for work on the 23rd Street bridge. This was a critical step in supporting business and ensuring viable routes for commercial traffic along the 21st street corridor.
Keith — whom Bynum called “the patron saint of long term causes in our community, and she always ends up being right” — said she’s ecstatic that the expressway is no longer a shelved plan for the future.
Oct 23, 2019
Partnering to help those in need
Homelessness abounds in Tulsa and in rural communities. Those on the front lines involved in the mission to prevent and help aid the homeless know that there is not a single solution.
To that end, Karen helped forge a partnership to utilize and repurpose the recently closed Tulsa County Juvenile Bureau facility into a place for up to 55 homeless to have their own temporary space. Services will help residents with programs from the Mental Health Association, the Salvation Army, The Tulsa Day Center, Morton Comprehensive Health Services, Tulsa Transit, Iron Gate and others.
The hope of the coalition partners is to help get residents on the right track and transitioned to permanent housing within 90 days or less.
working to control Tulsa County flood zones
Arkansas River Levees
For years, Karen has worked with local and federal leaders to bring attention to vulnerabilities in Tulsa County’s levee system. The levees are critical to protecting more than 6,500 acres of property along the Arkansas River for about 26 miles from Sand Springs to Jenks.
2019 was a year of reckoning for the aging levee infrastructure and devastating floods happened. Homes were flooded, roads washed out and lives disrupted.
Working with leaders from Vice President Pence, Senator Jim Inhofe, the Army Corps of Engineers and local elected officials, Karen continued to push the issue for attention and funding.
Today, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) applauded an announcement by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $3 million grant to Tulsa County, Oklahoma, to improve critical infrastructure needed to protect communities and businesses from flood damage. The EDA grant, which is located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone, will be matched with $750,000 in local investment and is expected to retain nearly 1,560 jobs.