Mayor Will Joyce
Mayor Will Joyce was elected to his first term as mayor in April 2018, reelected in February 2022 and his term will expire in 2026. He was originally elected to Seat 1 on the Council in April 2016.
Will grew up in Stillwater, graduating from Stillwater High School in 1997 and from Oklahoma State University in 2001. Will and his wife Rachelle then moved to St. Louis, where he earned a law degree from Washington University.
Will practiced law and worked with a dispute resolution nonprofit in the St. Louis area until 2011, when an opportunity to work with student business start-ups at OSU brought Will, Rachelle and their four kids home to Stillwater.
Will currently serves as General Counsel at InterWorks, a Stillwater-based technology consulting firm. He has been a member and past president of the Board of Directors at the Oklahoma WONDERtorium, a member of the Chamber of Commerce Infrastructure Committee and serves on the Stewardship and Finance Committee at University Heights Baptist Church.
Will's available free time is usually spent helping out on youth sports teams, proofreading book reports and an occasional bike ride.
Will serves on the following City Council committees: Land Development and Stillwater Public Schools Coordinating Committee
State of The City, 2023
It’s an exciting time to be in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and the State of our City has never looked brighter.
Last year, we talked about Stillwater’s economic renaissance and how it is being powered by – community-wide progress, unified people and our limitless potential.
Collectively, we have had a vision and we have developed plans to make our dreams reality.
Today, I want to dig deeper into how the entire Stillwater community – our City government, our other public-sector entities, and our private businesses and individuals continue to be invested in pushing that Vision Forward.
Through national economic instability, the highest inflation rates in more than three decades, and continuous shortage of materials needed for crucial projects – we have continued to make progress.
We are riding waves of positive momentum all over town – in City-Invested, Private-Invested, and Community-Invested projects – it’s full speed ahead.
All of this is due to you – the people here today and many others – Stillwater community members who are dedicated to creating a culture and environment of growth, optimism, inspiration and inclusion.
People invest where they see opportunity, where they see potential, and where they feel included and valued.
Let’s dive deeper into some of the bigger, more impactful, City-invested projects.
This community gathering space will be made possible due to local individuals – such as the Irby family – and corporate donations from Kicker, Simmons Bank, BancFirst, and more. While the concept for the block has been vetted for several years, the recreational space and amphitheater for live music and educational and cultural events is now fully funded and designed. The City will address street and infrastructure concerns around the block – including drainage problems, parking and aged roadways. The bid process is ongoing with construction anticipated for completion in summer 2025.
Tax Increment Funding - TIF Projects
Five years ago, the City Council passed the most ambitious economic development plan in Stillwater’s history, with the goal of using every tool available to us, including tax increment financing, to spur redevelopment and growth in the central core of our City. Unlike many plans adopted here over the years, the Stillwater (Re)investment Plan has not just stayed on the shelf. To date, the plan has enabled numerous projects throughout Stillwater that would not be here without these community investments and that are now promoting economic growth and development, generating sales tax and creating employment opportunities.
These projects include:
- Full restoration of the dilapidated buildings that now houses Stonecloud taproom and Round House Bakery, and coming soon – Hatch Early Mood Food
- Substantial renovations and restoration for the soon to be open Everyman
- A beautiful new space for Greige Goods – which also opened space for other boutiques on Main St.
- Impressive façade improvements for Social 174 Stilly, Merrifield Office Supply, and ProValue Net.
- Outdoor enhancements for the re-born Finnegan’s Fighting Goat, expansion of Coney Island’s excellent amenities and beautification projects for Stillwater’s Jumpin’ Little economic engine, Eskimo Joe’s.
These public investments are all increasing opportunities for our residents and patrons, and they are just the tip of the iceberg – there is lots more to come!
Another TIF project is the – Hotel and Convention Center with parking garage: The facility will provide our community, and those nearby with large, flexible meeting spaces, something new to this area. This will open the door to markets Stillwater has not been able to support prior to now and in turn will increase revenue and job opportunities. Many thanks to Visit Stillwater for their hard work and investment in this project, as well.
Together Investing in Municipal Excellence - TIME Projects:
Approximately, three years ago we developed this effort to collaborate with residents so they can help us determine major projects of need and funding sources.
Through community meetings and group effort – a new Fire Station #2 proposition was on the ballot in April 2022 and passed overwhelmingly with more than 84% of the vote and prior to that in February 2022, the Transportation Sales Tax passed by more than 71%.
The new fire station is slated for construction to begin in spring 2024 and there are multiple transportation projects occurring and on the horizon that are partially or fully funded through the Transportation Sales Tax – including:
- Block 34 – north & west block full roadway reconstruction
- 12th and Duncan drainage construction – which is in the final construction phase.
Other roadway projects include:
- Airport/Park/Harned Roads, full depth repair locations
- 7th Avenue – Main to Lewis, reconstruction
- Maple-West reconstruction – to address drainage, roads & utilities to prepare for the new hotel and convention center
- Joint/crack sealing at various sites
- Study for Duck St., 6th to Boomer – may lead to converting to 3-lane if the study supports this.
- Husband St. bridge – anticipated to be complete Sept. 30
- 3rd Avenue bridge – anticipated to be complete Nov. 1
Of course, we are all excited about the recent completion of the ODOT project – Perkins Rd./US 177. We now have all four lanes open with intermittent closures of one lane as they finish up entrances/exits for our new ADA crosswalks. The 10’ wide sidewalks along that roadway add to our multimodal community.
Lastly, the Rails to Trails project is a huge win for our cyclists and pedestrians. The unused railroad will be converted to safe, functional pathways, utilizing the Kameoka Trail to connect Stillwater north to south. With recent award of the $1.2 million ODOT grant and formation of the City’s BPAC Committee – this vision is quickly moving forward.
There are other important projects in the research, planning and development, and funding stages that we are focused on, as well. They include:
Stillwater is the Regional Water source and serves more than 79,000 people and covers more than 900 square miles – that includes Payne, Noble, Pawnee, Lincoln and Creek counties. We are focused on securing a parallel pipeline to support at-risk sections of our existing pipeline from Kaw Lake, a secondary water storage and supply at Lake McMurtry, and better pump station and filter system.
We have one of four commercial airports in the state. We are currently planning to increase commercial air services and options which would require a new airport terminal. Stillwater Regional Airport is next door to the new Ray and Linda Booker OSU Flight Center and is the official airport for OSU Athletics. This is an economic driver (or pilot) and educational/career resource.
We currently have an animal welfare facility that is too small and is not a healthy environment for our staff, community members or animals. Stillwater Animal Welfare is under the direction of the Stillwater Police Dept. as it is a safety and code operation, and it serves as a backup resource for the Payne County Sheriff’s Dept.
These projects help set the stage for community partners and private businesses for a collective Vision Forward.
When reflecting on our Vision Forward community – it is important to recognize our Community-Invested partners and the many important projects that are or will soon make a positive impact:
Stillwater Public Schools recent bond election for $195 million to develop a new high school, increasing college and career readiness – as well as phased-in upgrades at other learning sites and extra-curricular spaces.
Stillwater Medical Center has made drastic improvements to their health and wellness facilities. Their new $30 million expansion of the surgical suite will coincide with an update to the Maternal Child Health Unit – creating a new Women’s Health Center and a Level 2 NICU – one of very few in Oklahoma outside of the Tulsa and OKC metro areas. They have also added physicians to meet our community’s demand, made great strides for heart health in order to treat our patients here versus them needing to seek treatment in Oklahoma City or Tulsa, and added a state-of-the-art cancer treatment (MR LINAC). (BCBS, hold)
Oklahoma State University remains America’s Brightest Orange, and also continues to lead with improvements to athletic facilities – which we were able to enjoy renovations at BPS last Saturday. They are also in the process of building a new Ag Hall and continue to enhance the Veterinary Medicine program, added a nursing program this year, multiple in-person and online bachelor and master degree programs. Their most recent collaboration with Our Daily Bread to address food insecurity through the OSU Student Farm is another example of the Cowboy Way. They saw a need within our community and surrounding areas and found a way to address it, while also creating a learning environment and career growth for students.
Stillwater’s Chamber remains focused on bringing in new businesses to help increase our local tax base. Their Grow in Stillwater website will launch within the next couple of weeks and serves as an online resource tool for current and future businesses. Their Purchase on Perkins campaign was an asset to our businesses located in the major road construction area and was another example of their support of our local economy and business owners. Another recent economic development success that in turn will also increase quality of life for our families is The HUB.
As I have mentioned City-Invested and Community-Invested Vision Forward projects – it is important to recognize the impact of our Private-Invested Vision Forward projects.
USA Rare Earth Magnets, LLC: They are near operation-ready and renovated the facility. As explained to us, once fully operational – they will create more than 75 positions with an average median income of $50-$60,000 annually. Soon they will be converting rare earth materials into metals, magnets and other specialty materials that serve critical functions in our everyday lives. USA Rare Earth Magnets is the first of its kind in the United States, let alone in Oklahoma. A manufacturing business such as this located in Stillwater opens the door for other similar businesses to consider our community when seeking a home. This is a win for our economy and tax base.
The HUB: This is a partnership between Stillwater and the Tonkawa Tribe to build a brighter future. It will be a catalyst for economic growth and strengthen our sense of community through providing family friendly entertainment center. The facility will be approximately 60,000 square feet and will include bowling lanes, movie theaters, arcade, pickleball courts, meeting rooms, sports bar and food venue. Huge thanks to Stillwater Chamber of Commerce.
TIF Projects: All of the TIF projects I talked about before have been supported by community investment, but also include substantial private investments by local entrepreneurs who see the needs and opportunities in the hospitality, retail, dining and overall quality of life in our community.
We are dedicated to creating an environment at the City that encourages innovation, investment, growth and overall success.
Across the board, whether we are enjoying electricity thanks to the hard work of Electric Utilities, safe streets thanks to collaborative efforts of Public Works, Engineering and others, or keeping our neighborhoods clean with Waste Management – our City’s departments are dedicated to a safer, healthier and more successful Stillwater.
Stillwater's Vision Forward Awards
I would like to highlight some of our City’s departments and staff who exude Stillwater’s Vision-Forward focus.
Water Utilities Dept. under the leadership of Director James Driskel
James implemented an evening crew to better address customer service as residents arrive home and to reduce overtime and stress on on-call employees. During Mid-South in March, there was a water main leak that affected nearby hotels. The crew began repairs after 9 p.m. to avoid interfering with visitor schedules and worked through the night to ensure water was available the next morning. This customer service focus paid dividends in July and August when we had additional water main leaks that affected many residents in the northeast area of town.
Finance Dept. under the leadership of Director Christy Cluck
Recently, City of Stillwater Finance Department received the top recognition for government accounting and financial reporting. This is the 41st consecutive year they have received this award from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada. This is a testament to the spirit of transparency and full disclosure, and exemplary efforts to public stewardship and accountability of taxpayer funds.
Stillwater Emergency Management under the direction of Director Rob Hill
SEMA is the 5th largest emergency management dept. in the state and the 3rd most active. Whether they are organizing multi-jurisdictional support for our community events, mitigating possible threats to the safety of our residents and visitors, providing assistance to Police, Fire, county or state, or navigating weather threats and warnings to keep us all prepared, leading efforts to ensure there is secure and open radio communication system for emergency responders, installing new storm sirens and increasing that coverage area, or leading training events – Rob and his team are committed 24/7 to safeguarding all of us.
At this time, I would like to venture outside of municipality efforts and highlight some of our community members who exude Stillwater’s Vision-Forward.
OSU Student Farm, Dr. Justin Moss, and Our Daily Bread, Rachael Condley
Their efforts to ensure food security for our community and those nearby are incredible. The farm is a project to rebuild the land with a mission to feed the community in a sustainable way and provide access to fresh produce and more. Future plans include expansion of crops, renovating the old swine barns, and providing a community space that is self-sustaining. Together, they are fighting hunger and feeding hope.
Washington School Alumni Association, Karen Washington, and OSU Director of Public History, Dr. Laura Arata
Their efforts to ensure cultural growth within our community is astonishing. They are increasing education and awareness while honoring those who persevered through segregation and turmoil – telling a story that needs to be heard and understood. Simultaneously, through redevelopment of Washington School – which will serve as a symbol of hope and a meeting place for our united community.
Stillwater artist of Interlaced, Morgan Robinson
His vision of a united Stillwater carried through in creation of Interlaced and commitment to art integration. The sculpture will be located at the 6th Avenue and Western Road intersection to greet residents and visitors. It will serve as a tangible celebration of Stillwater – that regardless of where we come from or where the future takes us – we will all be tied together. The sculpture was selected by community voters. It is fully funded through private donations under the leadership of the Arts and Humanities Council of Stillwater. Installation will begin after the concrete work is complete.
As mayor – I am honored to serve with you and for you.
We will continuously seek opportunities to improve our economy, safe and healthy initiatives, and overall quality of life for our residents.
As I look around this room, I see innovators, influencers, and dedicated visionaries. Due to your efforts, those before us, and those who will continue to Vision-Forward efforts after us – Stillwater will continue to thrive and become even brighter.