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Oklahoma Senate committee OKs $8.3 million to restart McAlester prison rodeo

The Oklahoma State Penitentiary
Quinton Chandler
StateImpact Oklahoma
The Oklahoma State Penitentiary

A Senate panel on Wednesday passed a bill that would provide $8.3 million to restart the prison rodeo in McAlester.

Senate Bill 1427, by Sen. Darcy Jech, R-Kingfisher, passed by a vote of 5-0 and heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

According to a bill summary, the funds are to be used for “constructing, repairing, improving, upgrading, and rehabilitation of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary prison rodeo arena.”

Jech said the funds would be a one-time appropriation.

He said there is no commitment for a local match.

“There used to be a prison rodeo in that part of the state, and I am told it was very successful,” Jech said.

The last rodeo was held in 2009, said Kay Thompson, an Oklahoma Department of Corrections spokeswoman.

In 2010, state budget cuts, low attendance and crumbling facilities contributed to the closing of the prison rodeo, according to the agency.

The agency has already invested $1 million in repairing the arena, Thompson said.

“Bringing back the beloved rodeo is very exciting,” said Department of Corrections Director Steven Harpe. “We’re ready to begin the process and see Oklahomans fill the stands and be entertained.”

The venue is expected to host multiple events throughout the year and promote economic development.

Oklahoma Voice is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oklahoma Voice maintains editorial independence.

Barbara Hoberock is a senior reporter with Oklahoma Voice. She began her career in journalism in 1989 after graduating from Oklahoma State University. She began with the Claremore Daily Progress and then started working in 1990 for the Tulsa World. She has covered the statehouse since 1994 and served as Tulsa World Capitol Bureau chief. She covers statewide elected officials, the legislature, agencies, state issues, appellate courts and elections.
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