Bill G. Shirel, 87

Born February 17, 1934

Died June 10, 2021

Russell Gilbert "Russ" Hayes, 92

Born June 22, 1928

Died June 9, 2021

Virginia Lee Tutt, 82

Born January 16, 1939

Died June 8, 2021

David Ronald Franklin, 75

Born September 4, 1945

Died June 8, 2021

Robert Lee Barker, 78

Born May 23, 1943

Died June 8, 2021


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Friday, May 7, 2021, 8:22 AM

The governor has given final approval to Senate Bill 8, which will officially designate the route that largely follows State Highway 69 as the “Historic Jefferson Highway Route,” named after former President Thomas Jefferson. The measure was authored by Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair.

The Jefferson Highway is the oldest highway to pass through Oklahoma, spanning from the Kansas to Texas borders. It passes directly through Muskogee, designated by “JH” signs. Nationally, the Jefferson Highway was one of the earliest in the country, completed nearly a decade before Route 66. Originally established in 1915, the route cut through the heart of the Louisiana Purchase Territory and covered 2,300 miles from Winnipeg, Canada to New Orleans.

The entire historic route, including the portion cutting through the state, has recently been reidentified by the reformed Jefferson Highway Association organization.

Under the bill, any costs associated with official signage may be provided by private sources, and permanent markers will be designed in consultation with the Jefferson Highway Association.

Rep. Avery Frix, R-Muskogee, carried the measure in the House.

“I’m excited to see Senate Bill 8 signed into law,” Frix said. “This highway has been a big tourist attraction recently, and we’re hoping with the designation of this artery as the Historic Jefferson Highway this will be something similar to what has been done with Historic Route 66.”

The measure will go into effect on Nov. 1 of this year.