Business briefs _ examiner enterprise

Armstrong Bank breaks ground in Dewey

Armstrong Bank will break ground on a new Dewey location at 1 p. m. Monday.

The new building is to be located at 525 N Osage in Dewey and is expected to be completed in the spring of 2017.

“We are really excited about the new building here in Dewey,” said Garrett Chaney, Dewey Market President. “This will solidify our standing as an anchor business in the Dewey, Copan and surrounding communities.”

Armstrong Bank has served Oklahoma since 1909 and has been a member of the Dewey community since 2008.

Downturn hits rural areas hard

OKLAHOMA CITY (TNS) — Oklahoma’s rural areas are being hit especially hard by the energy downturn, the latest Oklahoma Energy Index found. The index contracted for the 13th straight month in January, with energy activity down 31 percent from the year before.

The index for oil and natural gas activity fell to 166.9 in January, down 2.9 percent from December.

“Unfortunately, the ripple effect of the energy downturn continues to be felt throughout the state’s economy,” said Chris Mostek, senior vice president of energy lending for Bank SNB. “Many in the business community are understandably cautious.”

Beckham County, one of the linchpins of the Granite Wash in western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle, saw its jobless rate rise to 5.6 percent in December, up from 2.4 percent in December 2014. Stephens County, part of the new South Central Oklahoma Oil Province, or SCOOP play, saw its unemployment rate rise to 6.5 percent in December, up from 3.7 percent two years earlier.

Russell Evans, executive director of the Steven C. Agee Economic Research and Policy Institute, said the recovery hinges greatly on events outside of the control of Oklahoma oil and natural gas producers.

If fears of a U. S. recession, Chinese financial crisis or breakdown in OPEC production freezes come to pass, the industry’s economic condition would deteriorate further. Evans said if those fears are unfounded, the industry would turn a corner toward recovery in the second half of 2016.

The Oklahoma Energy Index is a joint project of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, Bank SNB, and the Agee Economic Research and Policy Institute.

OG&E hearing to begin Monday

OKLAHOMA CITY (TNS) — A hearing before the Oklahoma Corporation Commission on a $500 million coal scrubber project by Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. is scheduled to start at 1:30 p. m. Monday in Oklahoma City. The hearing is expected to last up to three days, and public comments will be taken each day at 1:30 p. m.

OG&E is making its third try to get scrubber approval for its Sooner coal plant near Red Rock. The utility said it needs to make the upgrades to comply with federal regional haze rules to cut sulfur dioxide emissions by January 2019.

If it can’t get approval, OG&E said it will have to convert the two Sooner coal units to use natural gas.

The utility is not asking for any bill increases at this time. It intends to come back after the project is built for any cost recovery.

The hearing is in Room 301 at the Jim Thorpe Building, 2101 N Lincoln Blvd., in Oklahoma City.

Electric co-ops launch online map

OKLAHOMA CITY (TNS) — The Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives has launched an interactive statewide outage map that includes updates from several electric cooperatives.

The map, online at outages. oaec. coop, will be refreshed every 15 minutes and offers outages by county and co-op service territory. A weather radar layer can be turned on or off.

“This technology enables OAEC to efficiently communicate outage information and restoration efforts within co-op circles and to entities such as the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, Oklahoma Emergency Management and emergency-response organizations, as well as to Oklahoma legislators, media professionals and the general public,” said Chris Meyers, OAEC general manager.

In addition, the map will benefit the co-op mutual aid program that sends line crews and equipment to fellow co-ops that have incurred damages from a natural disaster event. So far, 12 co-ops are feeding outages automatically to the map. Another 15 co-ops are reporting outages manually.

Rose Rock appoints board member

TULSA (TNS) — Rose Rock Midstream LP said Thursday that Ronald Ballschmiede has been appointed a director of its general partner. Ballschmiede, who will be an independent director on the audit committee, replaces Mark Monroe.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Ron to our board,” said Carlin Conner, CEO of the general partner of Rose Rock Midstream. “His energy experience and time spent as a director for SemGroup Corp., coupled with his background in public accounting and audit, will provide a knowledgeable and valuable perspective on the partnership’s business and growth plans.”

Ballschmiede graduated from Northern Illinois University with a bachelor’s in accounting and is a certified public accountant. He will continue to serve on the SemGroup board. Hinojosa’s golden touch Use caution when hiring…

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