Editorials: Lauding Policy Institute, Noting Benefit Of Hard Work

The Oklahoman

THE Oklahoma Policy Institute does a marvelous job gathering and analyzing information. Its crunching of numbers on state finances is a valuable tool for journalists, policymakers and the public.

An update is now available for an OKPolicy tool called CountySTATS, which details demographic information for each of Oklahoma’s 77 counties. (Check it out at okpolicy.org/resources/countystats2014).

Here’s something we found interesting: The state’s smallest county has a higher percentage of Hispanic residents than the largest county. Also, a higher percentage of Cimarron County residents are employed in state and local government than in Oklahoma County — 11 percent vs. 10 percent.

As the seat of state government, with a large county government and a number of sizable municipal governments, we’d have thought Oklahoma County would take the prize in government employment, but the county actually ranks 64th in the state by this measure.

In tiny (population wise) Cimarron County, Hispanics represent 20 percent of the population, compared with 15 percent in Oklahoma County and 11 percent in Tulsa County. Oklahoma County does have a smaller share of non-Hispanic whites than Cimarron County because the black population has a much larger share.

One last factoid that we harvested from CountySTATS 2014: In both Oklahoma and Tulsa counties, the percentage of the population engaged in farming is zero. In Cimarron County, 30 percent of residents make a living from farming, helping feed the county’s 2,335 citizens and the rest of the state as well.

Hard work pays off

Congratulations are due Michael Thompson, Oklahoma’s commissioner of public safety, who on Tuesday became the first black general to serve in the Oklahoma Army National Guard. Thompson, 51, was promoted from colonel to brigadier general during a ceremony at the Oklahoma History Center. He enlisted in the Guard at age 20, went to Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He deployed to Kuwait in 2003, to New Orleans in 2005 (as part of Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts) and to Iraq in 2007. As a young man Thompson took classes at night and on weekends to complete his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Langston University. He earned a master’s in applied science from Oklahoma State University and a master’s in strategic studies from the Army War College. During Tuesday’s ceremony, Thompson thanked the many people he has served with through the years. But it’s clear he earned the honor by his own efforts, through hard work and dedication.


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