Guest Post: Jenn Morris, The Future Sweeping Down the Plains


park projectPerhaps one of the best things about this little town of ours, is everyone’s ability to look ahead. Years ago, if you would’ve told folks here that this would be one of Oklahoma’s fastest growing towns, they wouldn’t have believed you.

Because even then, they knew just how great Piedmont was. Of course people would start moving here. There are amazing schools, quiet pastures, great sunsets, and salt-of-the earth people. Of course.

Folks were so concerned about the future of this town in 2008, a survey was sent out to all residents asking what type of developments were needed. The number one answer was a park.

But, parks are expensive. So, the idea sat for a few years until a group of citizens organized a committee in 2013 to tackle the issue.

Piedmont had done this kind of thing before. Our jewel of a library was developed and built on the same grass-roots grit. We already had a testament to the power of citizens getting something done.

The same development began happening with the park, and soon the Piedmont Park Project was born. This park would be different than other town parks. The Park Project would be community led and community built.

In order to capture the spirit of the town’s children, the committee called in playground experts, Leather and Associates. The group then went to each grade at Piedmont Schools, had breakout sessions, and drew and discussed what the kids wanted. From that they developed a custom designed playground, incorporating the kid’s ideas, as well as town history.

The big playground plans were revealed in August of 2014 at a town event. Soon after, discussion of a splash pad developed. Committee members realized people wanted the splash pad built first. So, plans were made for that as well.

The Piedmont Park Project continued to move forward as a combination, splash pad and playground. The estimated total cost for the project is $600,000, which includes a parking lot and bathroom facilities.

In order to really start contracting with the splash pad company, the project needs to have $250,000 raised. As of October 2015, they are close, with $218,000, so far.

So what does the Park Project need moving forward? They need support and more grass-roots fundraising ideas. A grant application has been submitted on behalf of the project, which if awarded, will add $50,000 to the total raised. Even with this though, there is a need for possible corporate donors, which committee members are hopeful will get involved.

Of course, more fundraising events are planned. You can find more information on the A Walk in the Park Homecoming event on the Piedmont Park Project Facebook page.

The Park Project is so much more than an idea for our town. It means Piedmont residents won’t have to drive to OKC or other towns in order to find outdoor recreation. It means our kids will have an important part on the development of our town. And it means, once again, a community can mobilize and make a dream a reality.

To find out how you can help go to

(Thank you, Jenn!! For information on how Jenn can help you with your business’ content writing needs, visit She’s a fabulous lady, you’ll love her!)

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Little Theatre on the Prairie


steel magnoliasPrairies need culture.
We have grass, wide open spaces, coyotes aplenty, but sometimes, the spectacular sunsets and cow tipping are just not enough.
(I’m kidding about the cow tipping; that never gets old.)
(Again, I’m kidding. No cows have been harmed, no need to write letters to anyone.)
Culture! We needed culture!
The Out There has benefited from the beneficent ardor of theatre lovers Ben & Lia Oldham, who created The Ensemble Theatre, a fabulous grass roots (see what I did there?) effort to bring a taste of Big City Life into our little ‘burg on the prairie.
I’m thankful they did.
Just last year, the first production of Ensemble was “Steel Magnolias”, the late ’80’s story of women with large hair and larger hearts who commune in a beauty shop to share their lives in a story of triumph, loss, and can after can of Aqua Net.
It’s a beautiful story.
Imagine the genius, though, of performing the play in an honest-to-goodness working beauty shop, complete with twirly chairs and air redolent of high school permanents, the scent of which never really dissipates.
Play go-ers gathered into a tiny viewing space crowded with close fitting chairs and sudden comradery as we watched professional actors bring to life an intimate world of southern charm and lots and lots of pink. We were righttherewiththem, close enough to touch, proximal enough to feel every high and low these strong women characters endured.
Plus, the set was papered with honest-to-goodness salon posters from the eighties. We stepped back in time, again losing Shelby and sharing the laugh/cry of the need to hit Weezer.
Brilliant, I tell you.
macbethThis fall, we gathered in the open of the upcoming public park to witness the poetry of the Bard, the actors resplendent in heavy tapestries and bejeweled crowns to perform “Macbeth”.
Again, the ensemble included several professional actors as well as a few locals and a whole chorus of community children. We, the watchers, sat beneath a chilly but fortunately windless blanket of stars listening to the prosody of Shakespeare’s timeless cadence. Plus, we were only steps away from food trucks and a craft fair.
Heaven in a little plot of land.
All proceeds were generously donated to the Piedmont Park Project fund.
Ensemble Theatre has already begun planning their next production, a spring thing yet to be named but for which I call dibs on front row seats. Considering the last two plays — microcosms of worlds so interesting to explore — whatever glows on the horizon will be wonderful.
For more information, take a look at The Ensemble Theatre, their Facebook presence. To learn about the Oldhams and their children’s theatre company, Kid Co LLC — another blog entry to itself — visit


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…and The Old Store, new and now.

Courtesy of Crick's Pics Photography
Courtesy of Crick’s Pics Photography

Cut ahead several decades to 1999, when, keeping with tradition for the store to be ever a family business, husband and wife team Dennis and Janice Mills bought the building from the Wiedemann clan and again reinvented it, installing a mechanic’s garage in the back and a home store up front. Business thrived, with Dennis running cars in and out the back doors while Janice worked up front with antiques for sale on display shelves as she ran a single sewing machine to grow her ever increasingly thriving embroidery business.
In 2011, Mr. Mills died suddenly, leaving behind a stunned, grieving family, but rather than close the shop, Mrs. Mills and her two daughters kept going, honoring the store’s history of moving forward. It led to natural therapy.
When daughters Heather Giggers and Joyce Leach bought the business from their mom, they saw that a space as large as the store was ripe with possibility. With hard work and perseverance, the embroidery shop now houses seven commercial machines, running seemingly constantly to keep up with demand. The front of the store hosts local vendors who sell crafts and home accessories to a demanding public. Booth space is a hot commodity in our little community Out There.  The City has plenty of shops with vendor space as well, but Piedmont’s Old Store offers sellers creative freedom as well as low rent, giving them a competitive edge over City sellers. The Old Store a secret spot, a destination, to find a deal in a crazy cool eclectic store, different wares around every corner. In fact, space was in such demand by eager sellers that Giggers and Leach added walls, increasing retail space for product snapped up by clamoring shoppers.
But with the shop inside full, stuffed with treasures, where to go? Outside! The ladies have created Junklahoma — how do I describe it? What’s the best definition of something eclectic, rusted, crafty, brilliant, using recycled, refurbished bits of the past to bring them modern love? That’s Junklahoma, and it’s a rampant trend; this September was the second year for the show, with vendor numbers up from last years fifty-four to 2015’s ninety-one. Around fourteen thousand folks wandered the grassy lanes, roaming the booths for treasures, then ooh-ing and aah-ing over adorable tchotchke snapped up as other shoppers jealously asked, “Where’d you get that??” Plans have already begun, fields have been measured, dreams are in play, to expand the market even more next year. (If you’re not busy, come by! Plenty of fabulous finds for everyone!!)
In addition to retail wonder, The Old Store is a haven for the community. It’s the heartbeat of Piedmont, with vignettes in place — a vintage lamppost honoring Mr. Mills, a bench made of a truck tailgate perched beneath a turquoise chandelier, Queen Anne chairs  — around the outside of the store for photo opportunities. Often, entire families are perched prettily on the bumper of the VW bug as a shutterbug captures the moment.
Wide sidewalks lend themselves to tables and chairs for long conversations.
Plus, the tools and jacks have been removed to open up the enormous shop space to now host fundraising events for the upcoming Piedmont Park Project. The last party was a tile-making event in which participants personalized ceramic tiles now glazed and ready to install on  the new playground walls. Live music played as painters ate catered dinners and painted all night. A few weeks later the shop was transformed into haunted house put together by the high school student council, with proceeds benefitting the park as trick-or-treaters grabbed at buckets of candy and food truck wares and then literally danced in the streets during the city wide Halloween festival.
old store bench chandlier
Now the Old Store, so rich with history, has been reinvented, revamped and reinvigorated for the new frontier. It’s a mecca in the heart of a town recently voted the number one growing city in Oklahoma.
Come see it and come back often. It’s a worthy trip.
For more information, or to see more fascinating photos of the history of The Old Store, visit its Facebook page: The Old Store/Monograms by Janice.
Or call! Or write! And then visit! 100 N. Monroe NW, Piedmont OK 73078  405.373.2093

Photo credit: Crick’s Pics Photography (fabulous shots!)

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