Burns Flat, OK - On March 31, 2011, more than 40 local government employees who worked for the South Western Oklahoma Development Authority (SWODA) lost their jobs.
SWODA managed Clinton-Sherman Industrial Airpark, now known as the Oklahoma Spaceport, under contract with the City of Clinton from July 1993 through December 2006. The State of Oklahoma, through the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority, took ownership of the facility in 2006. Since then, SWODA has contracted with the State to provide maintenance services for the 2,700 acre facility. The facility contains water and sewer systems, many old industrial buildings, a golf course and Clinton-Sherman Airport. SWODA‘s contract with the State was cancelled effective March 31.
SWODA was able to provide maintenance on the Spaceport because since 1993 Altus Air Force Base contracted with SWODA for use of the facility in support of its Air Education and Training Command operations. In November 2010, Air Force Command notified SWODA they could no longer contract with the agency due to the fact SWODA does not own the facility. SWODA was told the Air Force would be contracting with the State for use of the facility and their 10-year contract would terminate on March 31 of this year instead of September 30, 2012.
SWODA is a council of governments governed by a thirty member Board of Trustees including county and municipal officials from Beckham, Custer, Greer, Harmon, Jackson, Kiowa, Roger Mills, and Washita counties. The agency administers numerous federal and state programs to benefit the general public in its eight county district. Programs include services to seniors, community and economic development, rural fire coordination, workforce training, and regional 911 services. Because many programs require local matching dollars to receive Federal or State assistance, SWODA has developed numerous services to generate funding for matching purposes. With the loss of revenues from the Spaceport facility, other programs will suffer as funding shortfalls continue at the State and Federal level.
Employees impacted by the layoff averaged a total 15 years of service with SWODA. Some had more than 30 years of service at the facility. Those losing jobs include twenty-five fire fighters, six air traffic controllers, eight maintenance staff members and two administrators. SWODA hopes no other layoffs are necessary.
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