Fugitt Foundation latest donor to library project | Community

Another $1.5 million donation brings funding for a proposed library renovation project closer to goal.

The Fugitt Foundation recently committed $1.5 million to a multi-million dollar renovation project at the McAlester Public Library that officials say will bring the facility up to date.

“It just came naturally,” said Tim Diehl, president of the Fugitt Foundation. “When we took a tour of the library, saw the condition and realized how many people this would really help, we immediately agreed.”

Fundraising for the project began with a $1.5 million pledge from the Puterbaugh Foundation, followed by a matching $1.5 million donation from the Southeast Oklahoma Library System, and an additional $1.5 million pledge -Dollars from the City of McAlester.

These commitments will be paid out at $300,000 per year for a period of five years.

The Fugitt Foundation recently pledged an additional $1.5 million, bringing the total to $6 million, with the remainder of the project funded by donations from individuals and small groups.

The Fugitt Foundation was established about a decade ago in honor of Gary Fuggit, the late longtime businessman in McAlester and southeast Oklahoma.

Fugitt moved to McAlester in 1965 to work as a contract buyer at North American and married Ruyana two years later.

He joined his mother and brother as the owner and operator of McAlester Hiway Lodge in 1968 and purchased Big Mac Tank Trucks in 1983 with success in the energy fluid management industry.

Gary also served on the board of directors of the First National Bank and Trust Company of McAlester for 35 years and on the board of directors of the First National Bank and Trust Company of Wilburton for 20 years.

Sarah Lance, a board member of the foundation, said the Fugitts had been helping people in the community for years, including anonymously paying for high school students’ prom attire if they showed a desire to work hard for it.

Diehl said Ruyana comes from a family with a long history of success in raising cattle and they established the Fugitt Foundation about a decade ago to honor his memory and help their community.

“And the special thing about our foundation is that we have a Christian orientation,” said Diehl. “We really want to promote good Christian principles and support everything in the community, in McAlester and in Southeast Oklahoma.”

Ruyana serves as executive director of the foundation, which has a five-member board of directors and aims to invest in community-building groups in McAlester and southeast Oklahoma.

Diehl said the board unanimously decided to make the donation, which would justify the Fugitt name via an entrance, because members believe the project is a way to further advance the foundation’s mission in honor of the Fugitts.

“They believe that a real charitable donation is all about giving and people not knowing, but in this case we just felt the foundation would get their name out there so we could continue.” can do things for the community,” said Diehl.

“We want to leave a good mark on our next generations that our community serves,” said Lance.

The Fugitt Foundation donates to various national charities such as the Parkinson Foundation, but focuses on supporting local causes.

According to Lance, the foundation prioritizes projects involving churches, schools, sports teams, libraries and anything that focuses on children.

The Foundation also partners with King’s House, Shared Blessings and Hope House to work on the Community of Hope, a project to create transitional and foster homes in McAlester.

“There are so many things that are very close to our hearts,” Lance said.

“And we want our money to stay where Gary and Ruyana made it, so we’re constantly reviewing projects in McAlester and throughout Southeast Oklahoma,” Diehl said.

Previous efforts to get a new library building shifted after SEOLS conducted a 2019 survey of customers saying they liked the existing site.

Officials consulted with Tulsa-based firm KKT Architects, Inc. over plans to expand the library’s space to include meeting rooms, study spaces, collaborative workspaces and more in a state-of-the-art facility.

Additional meeting rooms can accommodate four to 120 people, and a conference room is also available outside of business hours.

Friends of McAlester Public Library have purchased two lots on the north side of the library which will be cleared for parking expansion near a new main entrance on the north side of the building.

In the main entrance there will be a reception area, elevators and new learning stairs – with stairs on either side of the theater seating where some children’s classes and presentations can be held.

Friends of the library donated land to the north to serve as an expanded parking lot near the north entrance.

Organizers hope construction will begin in late fall 2023 and last 12 to 16 months.

The organizers started a fundraiser in November 2022 for anyone who would like to donate.

Anyone in the public can donate to the project — as can former Oklahoma Governor George Nigh and others. Anyone can make a pledge by contacting McAlester Public Library at 918-426-0930.

MPL offers an entrepreneurial database with various professional courses throughout the year, cutting-edge programming and expanded services in recent years.

SEOLS recently added a 30 foot bookmobile to serve even more communities with scheduled stops capable of serving more than 100 per day.

The system’s website, SEOLibraries.com, provides access to downloadable music, movies, magazines, newspapers, and more.


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