Cheryl Franklin

Grove Sun

Hundreds of area residents, city officials, legislators and visitors turned out Thursday to celebrate Grand River Dam Authority’s 75th year celebration at in Langley.

GRDA’s CEO Kevin Easley emceed the festivities, which also included the grand opening and dedication of the Ecosystems & Education Center where the event was held.

The new center overlooks the Pensacola Dam on the west side and serves as GRDA’s ecosystem management offices and water research laboratory. It also houses the GRDA Police offices and the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Easley called the center the Crown Jewel of GRDA and said that it is “ a bookend to the 75 years of the GRDA story.”

Several key people involved in the vision and development of the $4.8 million center were recognized during the ceremony, which included the unveiling of a plaque in honor of the late Barbara Connor. Connor served as executive director of the South Grand Lake Chamber, on the board of the Grand Lake Association and was the first female to serve on the GRDA Board of Directors from 1998 – 2003.

“Her vision (for the Center) is now part of the 75 year history of GRDA,” said Easley, who is a former state legislator.

“For 75 years there have been many who have come and gone and we will now continue to the story for decades to come,” he continued.

Those attending also viewed the premier of the new film that will be shown in the visitors’ center showing the history of the GRDA, The Pensacola Dam and Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees. The film was locally produced by Mike Williams.

The new Center boasts a panoramic view of Grand Lake with windows facing the lake and an outdoor patio and viewing area.

One of the hallway rooms in the Education Center features an inlay of Grand Lake in the floor complete with the names of the cities and towns that surround it.

A state of the art water research lab is located in the Education building. Easley said GRDA recently entered into a longterm research agreement with the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University.

“It is an enormous responsibility to be stewards of Grand Lake,” said Easley. “Since ’04 we have made great strides in conservation-restoration efforts, this new building is a testament to that.”

Beck Design, which designed the Oklahoma Historical Museum was the architectural firm for the project 16,000 square foot project.

The Grand Lake Watershed Conference was held after the Grand Opening ceremonies. The two-day conference, developed in cooperation with OU and OSA, highlighted current conservation activities throughout the Grand River watershed and introduced GRDA’s basic plan to address these issues in the coming years.

GRDA was created in 1935 to be a conservation and reclamation district for the waters of the Grand River. GRDA operates three hydroelectric facilities and manages two lakes (Grand Lake and Lake Hudson) and a Coal-Fired ComplexGRDA sells electricity to municipalities, electric cooperatives and industries.