Short Fitness Center in Pawuska has exercise equipment and a heated pool. Memberships start for as little as $20 per month!

Short Fitness Center Asst. Manager Diane Todd and Manager Matt Tonubbee

The Short Fitness Center in Pawhuska, owned by the City of Pawhuska, is open from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays for those 18 and older to help Pawhuskans get in shape!

Manager Matt Tonubbee, who is a NESTA (National Exercise and Sports Trainer Association) certified trainer, has been working in the field since 1994, and has been on staff since 2003. His hours are 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays. His Assistant Manager Diane Todd is at the Center 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

The Center, which is open to the public, costs just $20 per month for equipment room, or indoor pool privileges, or $30 for both. Tonubbee and Todd are available to help members achieve their fitness goals.

“When people join, we show them how to use everything in here. If they want more specifics about what to do, they come to me,” Tonubbee said.

The equipment room has a variety of machines for cardiovascular training including: Two treadmills, two Schwinn Airdyne bicycles, two eliptical machines, two Nu-Steps (sit-down steppers) and one stair climber.

For strength training there are: a large, multi-station Yukon machine and a Bowflex machine.

The equipment is set up facing a large, flat-scree television, which provides entertainment while members exercise. “The television is available on a first-come, first-serve basis as long as the station chosen doesn’t offend anyone,” Tonubbee explained.

The Center shares its restroom/shower with the outdoor city pool facility. The restrooms are heated and the temperatures in those areas are comfortable except on the coldest days, Tonubbee said.

Although the Center does not have lockers, the pool area does have baskets to hold personal items. Members are responsible for safekeeping items they bring on premises.

In the pool area, which is heated at 85 degrees, there are dumbbells and barbells for strength training. Inside the pool is a self-propelled treadmill. The pool is not a lap-style, but there are times during the day when traffic is slow enough that people can do laps, Tonubbee said. The pool’s depth ranges from 3.5 feet in the shallow end to 4.5 feet in the deep end.

The pool offers a way to exercise muscles with reduced strain on joints. “The clientelle that uses our pool typically have lower extremity issues whether it be arthiritis or joint pain,” Tonubbee explained.

Previously, the Short Fitness Center was owned and operated by the Pawhuska Hospital. However, to conserve the hospital’s budget, the ownership and operation of the Center was turned over to the city of Pawhuska on July 1, 2005.

The Pawhuska Hospital continues to provide acquatic physical therapy at the indoor pool as part of its services to patients of its Physical Therapy Department.

The Center does not offer acquatic or floor exercise classes currently, but would if there were enough interest, Tonubbee said.

Membership is offered on a month-to-month basis or at a daily rate of $5, so members can try out the facilities without making a long-term financial commitment. The Center has 65-70 members currently and is taking new members.

In addition, there are key cards, which provide 24-hour access to the Center. All of the 190 key cards have been issued at present, but members can be placed on a key-card waiting list. Tonubbee routinely requests the return of key cards not being used, so they can be made available to other members, he said.

City of Pawhuska employees receive free memberships and key cards, while family members pay the regular membership fees.

The Center offers a peaceful, friendly atmosphere in which to get in shape. “A large portion of the clientelle are over 50,” Tonubbee said. However, “We’ve started getting younger people in the past ten years,” he added. The Center is open to the public 18 and older.

For more information stop by the Center or call 918-287-1681.

General Federation of Women’s Clubs — Heeko Club Celebrates 100 Years!

Ed and Joyce Ward


The General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC)  – Heeko Club in Pawhuska celebrated 100 years on Feb. 14.

Member and current GFWC Oklahoma President Joyce Ward recently spoke to the local Kiwanis Club about the purposes of this service organization and high moments of the GFWC – Heeko Club.

The Pawhuska gets its name “Heeko” from the Osage word for learning.

To understand the GFWC, one must be introduced to its founder, Jane Cunningham Croly. Croly’s family emigrated to the United States from England and settled in New York.

In 1854, when Croly was 25, she moved to New York City in search of work after her father died. She took jobs at the New York Sunday Times and Noah’s Weekly Messenger, where she began using the pen name Jennie June, and wrote a column called “Parlor and Side-walk Gossip.”

In 1856 she married a journalist named David G. Croly, who as an editor is credited with originating the format of the modern Sunday newspaper.

In 1857 Jane Croly’s popular column became one of the first syndicated columns written by a woman.

Croly’s decision to form a women’s group stemmed from her being denied admittance to an 1868 press club dinner honoring novelist Charles Dickens.

After this unpleasant experience, she formed a club called Sorosis, which is a Greek word meaning “an aggregation; a sweet flavor of many fruits.” Croly invited women’s clubs throughout the United States to attend a ratification convention in New York City in April 1890. Sixty-three clubs attended and formed the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.

Perhaps because it was founded as a federation of women’s clubs, GFWC’s mission is broad. GFWC projects tackle many social issues.

Now an international organization, GFWC has had its hand in so many different projects that it would be difficult to list them all. Here are just a few of the U.S. projects: creation of responsible child labor laws, creation of fair laws for juvenile courts, the establishment of public libraries, support of the Pure Food and Drug Act, efforts to limit the workday to eight hours, assistance to soldiers wounded in war, the Indian Welfare Committee for disenfranchised Native Americans, education on home economics such as canning and storing food during periods of economic hardship, the Equal Rights Amendment, selling war bonds during WW II (which funded the purchase of 431 U.S. war planes), the seat-belt campaign, youth suicide prevention, a crime reduction program called “Hands Up,” the “Brighten the Night” campaign to bring street lights to communities, and programs to end domestic violence.

To learn more about GFWC and Croly’s remarkable life, visit the GFWC website

The moxie of the founder resonates through the GFWC – Heeko Club. In fact, Joyce Ward’s husband, Ed Ward, said that in one city council meeting some time ago the mayor at the time was heard to say, “If you want something done around here, get the Heeko ladies involved.”

To say that the Heeko club is involved is an understatement. The efforts of the GFWC – Heeko Club have changed the face of Pawhuska.

The GFWC – Heeko Club in Pawhuska spearheaded the effort to establish the Osage County Historical Society Museum, the Pawhuska Hospital, the Senior Center and the Step-on Pawhuska tour, to name a few.

GFWC is a generational tradition in Joyce Ward’s family, as it is for many members. Her mother, Rose Downey of Pawhuska, was president of the Heeko Club in 1966 when the GFWC – Heeko Club won a prestigious award — first place in the GFWC International Community Service Award, which awarded the Heeko Club a $10,000 prize.

The Heeko Club won the honor based on their two-year service project (1964-1966) called “Pride in Pawhuska.” This project focused on the Osage County Historical Society Museum, the founding of “Heritage Week” in Pawhuska and free vision and auditory testing for elementary school-aged children.

Most of the funds from this award were donated to the effort to convert the old Santa Fe Railroad train station depot into the Osage County Historical Society Museum, Ward said.

In 1962-1964, the GFWC – Heeko Club’s service project called “Boom Pawhuska” won fourth place and $1,000 for its efforts to improve Pawhuska.

Joyce Ward and her husband, Ed Ward, showed a copy of a 2001 GFWC magazine “Club Woman” article about their donation of a one-of-a-kind cookbook by the GFWC founder to the GFWC headquarters.

Ed Ward explained that he had inherited the books from his mother. When he was going through the books, he found this Jennie June cookbook.

Joyce Ward was delighted to find this single-edition cookbook, which had been published in 1867, in her possession.

Ed Ward said they had had the cookbook appraised, and learned that it was quite valuable.

Nonetheless, the couple decided to donate the cookbook in 2001 to the GFWC headquarters in Washington, D.C.

In addition to recipes, the cookbook contained helpful advice in the margins. One example is: “Eat slowly as if it were a pleasure you desire to prolong rather than a duty to be got rid of as quickly as possible,” or “Never wear anything during the day that you have worn at night, and never wear anything during the night that you have worn during the day.”

Joyce Ward surmises, “This was probably a cookbook for young brides.”

She went to visit the cookbook after the donation at the GFWC headquarters and was moved by the care with which it was being preserved. “It was very emotional – like seeing your child,” Joyce Ward said. Wearing white gloves, “[t]hey went up the ladder and pulled it out and showed it to me … That was the only copy they could ever find. Her family didn’t even know she had written one,” Joyce Ward said.

Joyce Ward is currently Oklahoma President of GFWC. Her two-year state project is to assemble school supplies donated by GFWC clubs throughout the state and deliver them to school children in Afghanistan.

The first shipment of 240 backpacks, and additional supplies for teachers, shipped out with the Oklahoma National Guard when they left for Afghanistan recently.

For more information about Oklahoma GFWC and donating school supplies to this cause, visit their website at

Hello World!

I am a late bloomer who found my passions later in life. When I looked at my child for the first time, I knew I had found my first passion.

I thought my passion list was complete until I began writing about Pawhuska and its people.

I have a B.A. in Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

I moved to Oklahoma in 1996 and lived in the Tulsa area for a decade before moving north, where I found Pawhuska in 2010 and worked briefly for the Pawhuska Journal-Capital. I was recruited to work for the Osage Nation, where I worked from 2011-2014. In March 2014, I started McKee PR Advertising & Design and I continued my journalistic efforts at this website and on the Facebook page by the same name.

I prefer feature writing to hard news, so I leave those journalistic efforts to others.

The features published here generally have uplifting, culturally rich themes — celebrations of the magic that is Pawhuska!