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Jerald Gilbert, Scott Morris and Ryan Sudlow (from left) raise a new flag Monday at Public Library of Enid and Garfield County on National Vietnam Veterans Day. (Billy Hefton / Enid News & Eagle)

ENID, Okla. — After three years of planning, canceling and re-planning, more than 100 city managers in Oklahoma finally will make their way to downtown Enid for an annual three-day conference.

Starting Wednesday afternoon and continuing through Friday at Stride Bank Center, this year’s summer conference of the City Management Association of Oklahoma will promote the profession of city management and administration through classes and forums.

Enid City Manager Jerald Gilbert and Assistant City Manager Scott Morris will attend on behalf of the city, while other officials such as Rob Houston, director of Visit Enid, and city communications director Derrick Silas will lead session blocks.

City management professionals from the state’s biggest municipalities also will participate in sessions on best practices with city councils and staff, open meetings, crisis communication and women in management.

Networking hours also are planned for all three days — first with a golf tournament and breakfast at Meadowlake Golf Course, then dinners and social hours at downtown businesses Napoli’s, Enid Axe and Enid Brewing Company.

Gilbert said he didn’t believe the conference had been held in Enid before.

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Enid City Manager Jerald Gilbert

Enid was preparing to host the conference last year, but COVID-19 warranted CMAO shuttering any in-person plans, Gilbert said.

The last in-person CMAO event was held in January 2020, he said.

However, the cancellation turned out to be fortuitous, he added, because the Best Western Glo hotel next door to the event center — where conference attendees are receiving a discounted nightly rate — hadn’t been completed by last summer anyway.

CMAO leadership decided to go ahead and book Enid for the next summer, instead.

“It’s a nice, prestigious thing they agreed to have it here,” Gilbert said. “It worked out perfectly for us with the timing.”

Morris said the association instead held several virtual conferences and sessions during the height of the pandemic in Oklahoma.

“You can get so much more from in-person conferences,” Morris said. “It’s hard to do networking on Zoom.”

As it turns out, COVID-19 still is on the agenda — an hour and a half roundtable discussion is set for Thursday morning on “the good, the bad and the ugly” of COVID, led by Steve Whitlock, executive director of Oklahoma Municipal Management Services.

Another session on an update of the American Rescue Plan Act — the federal COVID stimulus package passed in March — will be held Friday morning.

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Ewald is copy editor and city/education reporter for the Enid News & Eagle.

Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Send an email to aewald@enidnews.com.

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