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Pay increased to keep Oklahoma transportation workers from fleeing

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: January 7, 2013 at 7:40 pm •  Published: January 7, 2013

Beginning maintenance workers who have a license to drive trucks are a “pretty hot commodity” in the energy sector, Ridley said.

“It has really drained a lot of our staff, and we can't keep it going that way,” he said.

The Transportation Department has about 2,290 employees. The department, which has lowered its employees from about 3,200 employees mostly by contracting out work the past 20 years, needs about 2,350 workers to work on projects and have sufficient maintenance workers in the field, Ridley said.

In other action ...

• Commissioners approved granting a maximum of $500,000 to move part of a road in Enid south of the municipal airport. Mike Cooper, of Enid and chairman of the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission, said the roadway is being altered so aircraft can safely land at a runway that is being extended at Woodring Municipal Airport. The $5.8 million runway project is expected to be completed by 2015 when nearby Vance Air Force Base plans to rebuild one of its runways. The longer runway at Woodring will accommodate student pilots and others so Vance's training mission won't have to be relocated to another base.

• Commissioners also approved granting a maximum of $200,000 to build a road to provide access to Forum Energy Technologies in Garvin County. The company is embarking on a $9 million expansion project which will result in the addition of 45 new full-time jobs.