By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer
Five clean-water advocates will be honored for their dedication to the protection and preservation of the Illinois River, its tributaries and Tenkiller Lake.
The group of five will be inducted Sept. 23 into the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Hall of Fame during Save the Illinois River’s annual membership meeting.
This year’s inductees include the founding members of STIR, a Tahlequah-based organization formed in 1984. Inductees include Kathy Tibbits of Stilwell and Dr. Glen Sizemore, Jack Spears, Ed Fite and Ed Brocksmith, all of Tahlequah.
STIR President Denise Deason-Toyne said the organization’s founders will be recognized for their devotion to STIR’s mission and their work to advance its goals.
“STIR founders created a grass-roots advocacy organization that has contributed to a greater public awareness of Oklahoma scenic rivers,” Deason-Toyne said. “Under their leadership and example, and despite occasional great controversy, STIR fought for and gained significant state and national water protection rules.”
STIR, joined by the state, sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in an effort to stop the city of Fayetteville, Ark., from discharging treated sewage into the Illinois River watershed. With former U.S. Rep. Ed Edmondson, a hall of fame member, leading the charge, the lawsuit landed in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Supreme Court justices ultimately ruled the city could discharge its treated wastewater into the basin, but the effluent from upstream states must meet downstream water-quality standards. Deason-Toyne said the ruling set the precedent that allows the state to enforce standards that protect Oklahoma’s scenic rivers today.
The contributions of the inductees, who will be honored Sept. 23, vary widely. Tibbits, a Tulsa University Law School graduate, is known for her unbridled enthusiasm and the music that tells the story of the Illinois River.
Sizemore, a retired Northeastern State University psychology professor and longtime treasurer for STIR, has been an Illinois River advocate since 1944, when Paden High School students floated the river in johnboats.
Spears, a Tahlequah city councilor and Public Works Authority member who operates Arrowhead Resort, was president of the Tahlequah Chamber of Commerce when he helped charter STIR as a not-for-profit conservation organization.
Fite, whose existence has been linked with the river since he was 5, is an Oklahoma Water Resource Board member. He has served since 1983 as administrator for the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission.
Brocksmith, a former scenic rivers commissioner, retired in 1997 as NSU’s public information officer. Brocksmith has worked closely during the years with the media on Illinois River issues and water conservation.
STIR’s induction ceremony and annual meeting will include live music, dinner and a presentation by Dr. Brad Agnew about the history of the Illinois River.
Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot
If you go
WHO: Save the Illinois River.
WHAT: Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Hall of Fame induction and annual membership meeting.
WHEN: 3 to 7 p.m. Sept. 23.
WHERE: Illinois River Village, Chewey.
COST: $10 for STIR members; $25 for those who want to join STIR and attend the event.
RESERVATIONS: Those who plan to attend must call (918) 284-9440 or send a message by email to info@illinois
river.org by Wednesday.