Like many of the speakers at the national championship ring ceremony Sept. 22, Claremore City Manager John Feary congratulated the members of the 2021-22 Rogers State University softball team on their national championship.
But Feary went a step further with the public announcement that the city will be placing permanent signage at the north, south, east and west entry points to the city to honor the team’s national victory.
“Last summer, after the team won the national championship, (RSU Vice President for Development) Steve Valencia reached out to me and inquired about some signage, similar to what you see in other communities, referencing the softball national championships,” Feary said. “I loved the idea, thought it was a great idea, and we (the city) just happened to have purchased a brand-new sign machine that had the ability to print all kinds of things for street signs, road signs, etc.”
Feary said he connected Valencia with Public Works Director Jonah Humes, with whom he discussed designs and costs – roughly $950 per proposed sign.
“We sat on it for a while and gave it some thought, finally deciding we (the city) would take care of (the cost of) the signs – we wouldn’t charge the university,” he said. “We felt this to be a community service, reflecting our great partnership with RSU, which is probably the strongest it’s ever been right now.
“The City of Claremore is very proud that we have a university in this community, and we need to showcase it,” he continued. “I’d be happy if I had to reprint every year, with even more national championships.”
“We are grateful for the partnership we have with the City of Claremore under the leadership of Mayor Flanagan, City Manager John Feary and members of the city council,” said RSU President Dr. Larry Rice. “Our championship run united the RSU and Claremore communities. Producing these signs will allow us to always celebrate our national title.”
The signs, which will read “Welcome to Claremore – Home of Rogers State University Hillcat Softball – 2022 NCAA DII National Champions,” will measure four by six feet and be placed on each of the four roadways entering the city from each direction. Each sign will have reflective paint and conform to regulatory state traffic sign codes.
Although a date has not yet been set for the signage placement, especially with the ongoing re-alignment of Highway 20 to the west, Feary said once the signs are printed, it “wouldn’t take long” to place them, announcing RSU’s championship softball team to all motorists who come into Claremore.
“The university has a huge economic impact in this community. It’s just a part of who we are, and this is one small way for us to show how proud we are of RSU and show our support of the school and its athletic and academic endeavors,” he said.
In addition to publicly announcing the city’s sign donation during the ring ceremony, Feary also presented the university with a pair of mock-ups of what the signs will look like. He also read a proclamation of congratulations on behalf of himself, Claremore Mayor Bill Flannagan and the City of Claremore.