Land office's commissioners hire
lawyer for Lake Texoma project
The Commissioners of the Land Office voted Thursday to hire an outside attorney to represent the agency and the state's interests concerning the Pointe Vista development at Lake Texoma. The state sold Lake Texoma State Lodge and 222 acres in 2006 to Pointe Vista Development LLC. Pointe Vista, a planned $750 million lakeside residential and resort community, was to be completed in 2011. “We're trying to make progress on the land that was originally sold for the Pointe Vista Development … to try to get some movement on it,” said Gov. Mary Fallin, chairman of the land commissioners. She said she and Harry Birdwell, secretary of the land commissioners, have been talking the past 18 months with the Pointe Vista group “to encourage them to move along on the project itself.” Construction on the project has yet to begin, Fallin said. The old lodge has been demolished and land has been graded. Birdwell said “substantial completion” of a proposed hotel is to be accomplished by May 2014. The company has said in a statement to the Madill Record that the 2008 national recession altered its timeline and that it remains firmly committed to completing the development. Land commissioners voted to cap outside attorney expenses at $250,000.
Sept. 10 execution set for man convicted in 1979 Tulsa slaying
A Sept. 10 execution date was set Thursday by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals for Anthony Rozelle Banks, whose crime went unsolved for nearly two decades. Banks, 60, was convicted of killing Sun Travis in Tulsa in 1979. Travis was kidnapped from her apartment complex and was raped, beaten, shot in the face and dumped in a ditch. The case was unsolved until Tulsa police used DNA evidence in 1997 to link Banks and Allen Wayne Nelson to the crime. Nelson was convicted of first-degree murder and is serving a life sentence. Banks already was serving a life sentence for killing a convenience store clerk when police connected him to the death of Travis.
Land office earnings for public
schools to fall short of '12 total
The Commissioners of the Land Office is on pace to distribute about $93 million to public schools this fiscal year, which ends June 30. Harry Birdwell, secretary of the land commissioners, said Thursday it would be close to the same amount distributed in the 2011 fiscal year, which was then a record-high amount. However, it will fall short of the $102 million distributed last year to public schools, he said. About $78 million has been distributed through May, compared with $98.4 million distributed for the same time period last year. Continued low natural gas prices have resulted in less interest from energy companies for participating in mineral lease auctions on school land, he said. The agency was able to get legislation passed in 2010 that allows it to distribute earnings over a five-year average to level out revenue from mineral lease payments to public schools, which can use the money for operating costs. Without the five-year average, public schools would have been on track to receive about $60 million this fiscal year, an agency spokeswoman said. The mineral lease payments give oil and natural gas companies the right to explore what is underground.
Michael McNutt, Capitol Bureau