ACOG Celebrates 50th Anniversary With Open House, Awards of Excellence

The Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG) will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Thursday, December 15. Elected officials, local, state and federal stakeholders and the media are invited to an open house at the organization’s new office location, 4205 N. Lincoln Boulevard. The come-and-go event is scheduled from 3:30 to 6 p.m., and will feature hors d’oeuvres and tours of the new facility. In addition, the first-ever ACOG Awards of Excellence will be announced directly following the ACOG Board meeting around 2:15 p.m. Five individuals and/or organizations will be honored including:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Outstanding Board Member
  • Outstanding Federal Partner
  • Outstanding State Partner
  • Outstanding Private Sector Partner

According to John G. Johnson, ACOG Executive Director, the organization wanted to do something during its anniversary year to recognize the people and organizations that have faithfully partnered with ACOG. “Fifty years is significant milestone for any organization,” Johnson said. “We wanted to use it as an opportunity to springboard an annual awards program. We are so excited that going forward every year we will have an opportunity to formally recognize the people and organizations that contribute to our programs and projects in such significant ways.”

ACOG Background

Originally established in 1966, ACOG is one of 11 Councils of Governments in the State of Oklahoma, and one of several hundred planning organizations across the country. Federal law provided the initial impetus for creating regional councils. The national legislation authorized organizations directed by local elected officials to prepare a variety of regional plans at the sub state level.

In 1970, Oklahoma’s governor further established 11 sub-state planning districts. Subsequently, the local governments served by the planning districts created the 11 COGs using the sub-state planning district boundaries. By coordinating regional approaches and solutions applicable at the local level, ACOG has become a highly successful vehicle for change.

ACOG is an organization of, by and for local governments that allows member entities to work in partnership to address issues or problems common to many jurisdictions. This regional cooperation serves to strengthen both the individual and collective capabilities of local governments.

50 Highlights From 50 Years

50 Highlights

1966: ACOG hires Keith Smith as an administrative coordinator to oversee the formation of ACOG.  He later assumes the job title of Executive Director. The first three ACOG members are Oklahoma, Cleveland and Canadian Counties, followed by 13 municipalities.

1967: L. Douglas Halley begins his tenure as the second Executive Director of ACOG.

1968: An ACOG delegation travels to Washington D.C. to seek federal funds for rapid transit.

1969: ACOG staff present a crime control planning report to the board outlining 44 proposals including the hiring of full-time police officers in nine communities that have none.

1970: Oklahoma’s Governor establishes 11 sub-state planning districts.

1971: ACOG publishes its first parks and open space plan for the region.

1972: L. Douglas Halley resigns from his post as Executive Director of ACOG.

1973: ACOG hires Larry Goodman, Director of the Panhandle Regional Planning Commission, Amarillo, as the organization’s third Executive Director.

1974: ACOG staff present the first citywide carpool plan to the ACOG board for approval.

1975: ACOG Board approves the 2000 Water Plan designed to help increase water supply in Central Oklahoma.

1976: ACOG publishes the 1976 Central Oklahoma Regional Transportation Plan 1995.

1977: Amendments to the Clean Air Act lead to ACOG working with other state agencies to develop a transportation plan to reduce air pollution in Central Oklahoma.

1978: Goodman resigns as Executive Director of ACOG. The board hires Zach D. Taylor, a native Oklahoman working at the Lane Council of Governments in Eugene, Oregon, to fill the position.

1979: Congress approves a $653k appropriation to finance a study of the Garber-Wellington Aquifer.

1980: ACOG holds town meetings on air quality transportation control plans in Oklahoma City and Norman. Also, ACOG evaluates possible construction of trolley lines as possible solution for “keeping city air safe.” Estimates the cost of a trolley line on Broadway Extension would be $79 million.

1981: ACOG officials travel to Washington D.C. to meet with Congressional delegation on the importance of general revenue sharing and continued funding for local water projects. Also, ACOG receives a small federal grant to study establishing bike paths in local communities; makes plans to form first bike committee for the region.

1982: President Reagan proposes state-level takeover of federal programs in the State of the Union Address. Anticipating the shift, ACOG officials visit Washington D.C. and take with them a prepared response to economic realities. The bound document is titled: The New Federalism: A Central Oklahoma Perspective.

1983: Crimped by cutbacks in federal aid, ACOG raises member dues.

1984: ACOG officials offer four transportation solutions to relieve growing congestion on Broadway Extension.

1985: ACOG receives a $1.5 million grant from the EPA for a wastewater treatment study. Also, ACOG begins a two-year, 9-1-1 study. Once completed, it’s followed by a second, two-year phase of design and implementation.

1986: ACOG’s director of water resources announces water is plentiful in the heavily used Garber-Wellington Aquifer.

1987: Emergency 9-1-1 service appears on city ballots throughout Central Oklahoma. 13 Cities vote to establish service. Later, it’s designed and implemented by ACOG.

1988: Officials announce the cost of emergency 9-1-1 service will increase 50 percent over what voters were told it would cost. ACOG announces fees to municipalities will not increase.

1989: ACOG initiates enhanced 9-1-1 emergency telephone service throughout Central Oklahoma, effectively securing 9-1-1 ACOG as a major pillar of the organization.

1990: John G. Johnson is elected mayor of Midwest City, eventually serving as board officer and later chair of ACOG. Upon the resignation of Odell Morgan, ACOG Deputy Director, Johnson is hired as Deputy Director.

1991: ACOG’s Clean Air Committee discusses strategies for maintaining good air quality; advocates for COTPA to provide free bus service on days when air quality problems are more probable.

1992: ACOG issues first-ever Ozone Alert Day; warns citizens of the potential for poor air quality throughout the day and the possible economic implications of said conditions.

1993: Nearly 19,000 Oklahoma children are injured in car accidents. Another 418 die in wrecks. The news prompts ACOG to initiate a car seat safety program in coordination with seven Central Oklahoma fire departments.

1994: S. Senator Don Nickles and U.S. Representative Mike Synar ask ACOG to establish Central Oklahoma Clean Cities, a U.S. Department of Energy program to advance the use of alternative fuels vehicles in fleets.

1995: A bomb kills 168 Oklahomans inside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Among those who die are numerous ACOG stakeholders and friends including several employees of the U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration. Later, ACOG employees largely craft the Memorial’s official mission statement: We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever…”

1996: Under the leadership of ACOG, Central Oklahoma is designated the first regional Clean Cities in the nation. Also, ACOG purchases the URL org; launches agency’s first website. In addition, John G. Johnson, ACOG Deputy Director, helps lead statewide advocacy efforts on behalf of a bill that establishes the Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP).

1997: ACOG’s Stop Red Light Program receives national recognition.

1998: ACOG staff accurately predict the drought of 1998 through ongoing modeling efforts; ACOG and ODOT work together to study alignment of remaining portion of the “Outer Loop.”

1999: An F-5 tornado, one of the largest outbreaks in history, hits Central Oklahoma. Thirty-six people are killed and 8,000 homes are destroyed in the southern and eastern parts of Oklahoma City as well as in Bridge Creek, Moore, Del City, Tinker Air Force Base and Midwest City.

2000: ACOG survives Y2K

2001: ACOG moves offices to Bricktown in February. In September, terrorists blow up the World Trade Center. The event impacts every town, city, region and state in the nation and simply becomes known as 9/11.

2002: ACOG helps bring the 8th Annual National Clean Cities Conference to Oklahoma City.

2003: ACOG transportation staff take initial steps to create a formal bicycle/pedestrian program.

2004: The first group of Oklahoma legislators subject to SQ 632, hit their term limits permanently changing the dynamics of lawmaking in Oklahoma.

2005: Voters approve a 50-cent wireless fee on wireless phone bills, allowing the system to be rebuilt for mobile technology.

2006: ACOG helps coordinate a region-wide snow route map involving 16 different municipalities.

2007: ACOG sponsors the region’s first Bike To Work Day.

2008: ACOG Executive Director Zach D. Taylor dies unexpectedly at the age of 60. Within the year, a portion of the Centennial Expressway is named in his honor along with a local park. John G. Johnson, former ACOG chair, former Deputy Director and current outside legal counsel, is hired as the fifth Executive Director of ACOG.

2009: ACOG launches an 18-month Regional Transit Dialogue; brings together public and private interests to collaborate on the future of public transportation in Central Oklahoma including goals for a downtown Oklahoma City intermodal hub to link commuter transit to Edmond, Norman, Midwest City and Tinker Air Force Base. Also, 9-1-1 ACOG celebrates 20 years of service to Central Oklahoma. Establishes first tangible brand, and ACOG joins Facebook and Twitter.

2010: Oklahoma City Council approves a partnership with ACOG, which leads to the hiring of a consultant to study the costs and possible locations for a downtown transit hub.

2011: ACOG Boards approves Encompass 2035, ACOG’s 7th Long Range Transportation Plan outlining $7.6 billion in transportation improvements over 30 years.

2012: ACOG officials strongly advocate for the passage of a bill that would make it possible to establish a Regional Transit Authority in Central Oklahoma. Passage of the bill fails, but in 2014, a similar bill, HB 2480, is re-introduced and gains passage thanks in large measure to coordinated advocacy between ACOG and the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.

2013: The U.S. Economic Development Administration designates ACOG an official Economic Development District (EDD).

2014: ACOG advocates for passage of HB 2540 to ban texting while driving. The bill fails, but is reintroduced in 2015 and passes.

2015: Six Central Oklahoma mayors – Oklahoma City, Del City, Edmond, Midwest City, Moore and Norman — gather in Santa Fe Station to sign an historic agreement to advance regional transit service in the region and establish the Regional Transit Authority Task Force.

2016: Central Oklahoma Clean Cities celebrates its 20th. ACOG officials work with numerous stakeholders statewide to advocate for the passage of HB 3126. The bill passes and is signed by the Governor creating the Oklahoma 9-1-1 Management Authority. ACOG moves to a new office location in the State Capitol Corridor. ACOG celebrates its 50th anniversary.

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