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OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are ready to assist everyone, including seniors, persons with disabilities and others with an access and functional need before, during and after a disaster.

Oklahoma seniors and those with disabilities are eligible to receive the same services and assistance offered to anyone in the declared disaster areas. However, the means to register for and receive assistance may be different for someone with a disability. That person may require accommodations such as a sign language interpreter or information in alternate formats.

Anyone who experienced losses or damages as a result of Oklahoma’s severe storms, straight-line winds, flooding and tornadoes of May 5 through June 4 has several ways to register for disaster assistance.

They can apply online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, by smart phone or tablet at m.fema.gov, or by telephone at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585. If they use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services, they should call 800-621-3362. Operators are multilingual and calls are answered seven days a week 24 hours a day. Or they can visit a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC).

Some frequently asked questions include:

Will disaster assistance change my benefits?

If you receive Social Security benefits, you will not lose your benefits and they will not be changed or cut if you receive disaster aid from the state or FEMA.
If you receive Medicaid, food stamps, or Aid to Families with Dependent Children, you will not lose your benefits and they will not be cut if you receive disaster aid from the state or FEMA.
A FEMA grant does not add to an applicant’s taxable income.
What are the available accommodations?

For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, DRCs offer several communication methods, from captioned phones to iPads with video remote interpreting access to sign language interpreters. On-site interpreters are also available upon request.

For persons who are blind or have low vision, documents are available in large print and Braille.
For persons who use a mobility device, DRCs have accessible parking, ramps and accessible restrooms.
Remember: If you need an accommodation, just ask.

How will I know what I am eligible for?

Those who live in one of the 33 Oklahoma counties approved for federal Individual Assistance as a result of the storms that occurred May 5 through June 4 may be eligible for disaster assistance.
The only way to know if you are eligible – and what you are eligible for – is to apply. The application deadline for this disaster is July 27.

Anyone with a disability or any access or functional need who requires help registering should not hesitate to contact FEMA.

Published in Statewide News

Meetings have been set across the state for OPEA members to gather to discuss platform planks to be presented at this year’s annual convention. These local meetings are open to all OPEA members and are where OPEA’s legislative agenda begins. Any OPEA member, retired or active, may attend and participate in these meetings.

“If members want to have a voice in OPEA’s future, they need to attend one of these meetings and work with fellow members to decide OPEA’s direction,” said Candice Scarpitti, OPEA membership director. “Our program needs to come up from the grass-roots, local level and be finalized at the convention.”

Platform planks that are approved at the local meetings are then voted on by the membership at the annual convention in August. Those that are approved there are worked on during the year by OPEA staff and membership. If a member wants OPEA to take a certain position on an issue that is important to them they need to discuss it with other members at their workplace, take it to their local platform meeting and propose it.

A platform plank form and a regional map is contained in this edition of The Advocate. We encourage members to complete them at home and then bring their plank to their local meeting. If they can’t attend the local meeting, give your completed form to your Regional Director or another member who will attend. Platform planks sent to the OPEA office will not be considered. They must be heard at the local meeting.

If you have any questions, please contact Candice Scarpitti or call her at (405) 524-6764

The upcoming meeting locations and times are as follows. Additional meetings may be scheduled for future dates:

Region 2:
June 15th, 5:30 p.m., Lawton Public Library
110 SW 4th St., Lawton, Okla

Region 3:
June 17th, 10:00 a.m., Enid Public Library,
Red Earth Room
120 W. Maine Ave., Enid, Okla

June 29th, 6:00 p.m., Pizza Hut
2301 N 14th St., Ponca City, Okla

Region 4:
June 25th, 5:30 p.m. Ardmore Public Library – Smith Room
320 E St., NW, Ardmore, Okla

June 30th, 1 p.m. Salita’s Mexican Restaurant
1102 W. Main, Durant, Okla

Region 6:
June 15th, 3:00 p.m. Norman Central Library, Room C
225 N Webster Ave., Norman, Okla

June 18th, 5:30 p.m. South Oklahoma City Library
2201 SW 134th St., Oklahoma City, Okla

June 26th, 6:00 p.m. Pizza Hut
413 S. Green Ave., Purcell, Okla

Region 7:
June 9th, 5:30 p.m. First National Bank – Motor Bank Community Room
235 N. Wilson, Vinita, Okla

June 23rd, 11:00 a.m. Bricktown Brewery
11909 E 96th St., Owasso, Okla

Region 8:
June 18th, 5:30 p.m. Ollies Restaurant
4070 Southwest Blvd., Tulsa, Okla

Region 9:
June 11th, 5:30 p.m. JL’s Barbeque
5501 S. Mill St. Pryor, Okla

Region 10:
June 23rd, 3:00 p.m., Disabled American Veterans
4815 W. Okmulgee , Muskogee, Okla

June 25th, 5:30 p.m. Okmulgee Public Library
218 S. Okmulgee, Okmulgee, Okla

Region 11:
June 30th, 5:30 p.m. Roseanna’s Italian Food
200 E. Washington, Krebs, Okla

June 15th, 5:30 p.m.
Papa Poblanos
502 Lincoln Rd, Idabel, OK

Published in Statewide News

“This issue has been before us every year....even those people who say they don’t want another dime spent on this project say, ‘I want to see it finished.’ It doesn’t make any sense to the people back at home that we continue to pay debt service on a shell of a building.” Sen. Rick Brinkley in debate on the AICCM funding bill in being considered in the Joint Committee on A&B.

“When it’s finished, even some of the harshest critics have said they are going to take their families there.” Sen. Kyle Loveless in debate on the AICCM funding bill in being considered in the Joint Committee on A&B.

“Don’t you think there is a vast misconception of those in this building, and even more so out in the general public, about who this is for? It is not for the Indians, it is about the Indians. And it’s for Oklahomans.” Rep. Jerry McPeak during questions on AICCM in House Joint Committee on A&B.

“I have to ask, if we’re going to be spending money on this, what would be next? Are we going to join a jelly of the month club? Because as Eddie so famously said, “Clark (Griswald), that’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year long.” Sen. Nathan Dahm on the Senate floor in debate on funding for a proposed pop culture museum in Tulsa.

“We have a tendency to forget our history...our arts are certainly a part of what Oklahoma is about...folks, once we give up on the arts, we give up on a major portion of Oklahoma.” Sen. Thompson, the Senate floor in debate on funding for a proposed pop culture museum in Tulsa.

“From my standpoint as a financial manager, you’ve got low debt, you’ve got low interest rates, you’ve got an infrastructure project that will create a multiplier of ten times what the actual cost to the taxpayers are, and that is what we call in my business a win-win.” Sen. Mike Mazzei on the Senate floor in debate on funding for a proposed pop culture museum in Tulsa.

“If an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, then a museum for a museum makes this state insolvent.” Rep. John Pfeiffer, on the House floor in debate on funding for a proposed pop culture museum in Tulsa.

“I would ask this body here to seriously consider making the baseline not to let us fall below Mississippi. You know, that ain’t asking much.” Sen. Earl Garrison on the Senate floor, during questions about education funding levels in the general appropriations bill.

“We had to figure out how to stop the bleeding going forward on us being able to appropriate less and less money, us being able to not say education, health care, roads are a priority by having funds diverted before we ever had a chance to weigh in....we got some apportionment reform in this bill.” Sen. Greg Treat on the Senate floor, during debate on the general appropriations bill.

“Members, we will take a back seat to no one on transportation: over two billion dollars that we have invested. I don’t know of another state agency that has received state appropriation increases of over two billion dollars that we’ve put into roads and bridges in this state since Republicans took the majority in the House in 2005.” Speaker Jeff Hickman on the House floor, during debate on the general appropriations bill.

Published in Political News

Last known photo of Cody Parrick released

The Okmulgee County Sheriffs Office says they have been exhausting all leads in the search for two Okmulgee missing men.

The two men left on Friday to attend the Rocklahoma Concert in Pryor. The Okmulgee County Sheriff said there has been no contact since before the storms on Friday evening. He reported the two both carried cell phones that have since powered down and now have no signal.  "No bank card activity has showed up since Friday," said Rice.

Sheriff Eddy Rice reported that their office has called in the OSBI today to help with the case.  

“Small leads are trickling in, but we have not had anything substantial to go on,” said Sheriff Rice. “We are collaborating with other agencies to dot every “T” in this case.”

Sheriff Rice said a photo was taken by a photographer on Friday around 7 p.m. of Cody. The photographer claimed he saw Benjamin there also, but he did not want his picture taken.

Cody Parrick

The Sheriff said that air and ground searches have been conducted in a grid search of the area, as well as by boat and use of sonar equipment. He said the Mayes County Sheriff and Emergency Management organized a large search party after an overwhelming amount of volunteers showed up to help on Wednesday.

The men have been identified as Cody Allen Parrick 20 years of age, white male 5'07" 150 lbs,
brown eyes, and black hair. Cody was last seen wearing a grey ball cap, black shirt, and Aviator type
sunglasses. Cody walks with a limp due to Cerebral Palsy, and has a speech impediment.

 Benjamin Baber, white male, 6'00", 320 lbs, blue eyes, blonde hair, 20 years of age is also missing.
Benjamin was last seen wearing an orange shirt, and black pants. Both Benjamin and Cody left the Walmart in Okmulgee, OK located at 1800 S. Wood Drive together at approx. 2:00 pm on Friday May, 22.

Cody and Benjamin are believed to be traveling in a 2005 Pontiac Montana Van, silver in color, bearing
Muscogee Creek Nation Tag# B8E23, and are believed to have been traveling to Pryor, OK for the
Rocklahoma Concert.

Officials with the Rocklahoma Concert verified the men’s three-day concert ticket’s were scanned at the gate in Pryor, OK on Friday May 22, 2015 at 6:11 PM.

If you have any information about the whereabouts of Cody and Benjamin please contact the Okmulgee County Sheriffs Office at 918-756-4311.


Photo courtesy of the Pryor Daily Times

Published in Law Enforcement & Fire

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Legislature could tap the state’s “rainy day” savings account for up to $175 million to provide county commissioners with funds to finance repairs to roads and bridges damaged or destroyed by recent floods and tornadoes, House Democratic Leader Scott Inman said Thursday.

Governor Fallin issued a press release Wednesday in which she announced that she instructed the state Transportation Department “to expedite bidding on county infrastructure projects and to explore additional means of supporting recovery efforts.”

“While that’s helpful, the best way to support recovery efforts would be to draw down some of the balance in the rainy day fund,” Inman said.

The “rainy day” account currently holds $535 million. The Legislature appropriated $150 million of that to balance the state budget for Fiscal Year 2016. That leaves $385 million, and the Legislature could appropriate $175 million of that.

Doing so would require the Legislature to convene in special session at the call of Governor Fallin.

“Expediting the bidding process will do little, if any, good for many of our counties, because they don’t have the money to initiate the repairs that need to be made,” said Inman, D-Del City.

Pushmataha County commissioners, as just one example, are coping with damage from tornadoes and flooding.

District 2 Commissioner Jerry Duncan and District 3 Commissioner Rickie Briggs both have had tornado and wind damage in their districts. And District 1 Commissioner Michael Brittingham said that he, Briggs and Duncan all have “major” damage to their bridges and roads, many of which are closed because of flooding.

In many of the locations “the repairs we’ve made are just temporary,” because several sites have been washed out multiple times, Brittingham said. “In some places we can’t even get to the materials, such as gravel, that we need to make the necessary repairs,” because of flooding, he said.

“We’re really in a bind.”

The economy of southeastern Oklahoma is at a standstill because of the persistent storms, the commissioner noted. “The timber industry is shut down because the roads and bridges are damaged, and tourism is suffering because so many of the parks are underwater.”

Because of a rockslide on U.S. 271 between Antlers and Clayton, residents of the Nashoba area are having to detour up to 100 miles a day “to get to and from minimum-wage jobs,” Brittingham said.

Similarly, U.S. 259 at Pecan Point between Idabel, Okla., and DeKalb, Texas, was closed Wednesday by the Texas Department of Transportation “due to floodwaters running over the highway” south of the swollen Red River.

“Lives, property, livestock, roads, bridges and businesses” in state House District 1 in the southeastern corner of Oklahoma “have been devastated” in recent weeks, state Rep. Johnny Tadlock, D-Idabel, wrote Thursday in a letter to Governor Fallin. “This truly is a disaster area and I ask that it be treated as such.”

Preliminary infrastructure damage estimates from many counties across the state total in the millions of dollars, Inman noted.

“Our counties need financial help now,” Inman said. “It’s called a ‘rainy day’ account for a reason, and what we’ve been experiencing in recent week constitutes a genuine emergency. The Legislature can and should extend a helping hand.”

Published in Political News

Atoka County- SH43 from Stringown at US69 east to Sardis Lake and Clayton.

Bryan County- US70 across the Roosevelt Bridge/ Lake Texoma between Durant
                      and Kingston.  SH199 at the Bryan/Marshall county line (Ft. Washita)
                      SH22 just west of the Bryan/Johnston county line near Nida is
                      closed.  SH91 across the Denison Dam at Lake Texoma closed.
                      SH70E 15 south of Bennington is closed.

Choctaw County- US70 west of Hugo between Soper & Boswell is closed.  SH109
                      south from US70 to US271 south of Hugo.
Coal County    No roads closed

McCurtain County- US259 south of Idabel over the Red River is closed on the Texas side.
                      SH87 south of Haworth is closed

Pushmataha County - SH144 at Albion,   SH271 6 south of Clayton,  SH3 at Rattan Landing
                      5 east of Antlers, US271 6 E. Tushkahoma, SH43 at Sardis Lake Dam west
                      of Clayton

TROOP E- Road Closures due to high water:

SH109 West of US271 in CHOCTAW COUNTY.
SH144 near Albion in northern PUSHMATAHA COUNTY. US271 7 miles south of Clayton in PUSHMATAHA COUNTY. SH3 at Rattan Landing 6 miles west of Rattan and 6 east of Antlers in PUSHMATAHA COUNTY.
SH43 SARDIS DAM IN PUSHMATAHA COUNTY, US271 4 S CLAYTON, US271 6 E TUSKAHOMA IN PUSHMATAHA COUNTY. (SH2 south is the only way in or out of Clayton) SH199 near Ft. Washita in far northwestern BRYAN COUNTY near the Bryan/Marshall county line. SH91 at the south end of the Denison Dam over Lake Texoma closed at the Oklahoma/Texas state line in BRYAN COUNTY. US70 at the Roosevelt Bridge between Kingston and Durant is closed. Traffic was being routed into Texas across on SH82, but SH82 from Sherman, Tx to Gainsville,Tx is now closed due to flash floods. SH22 west of Bryan Co line to Nida and Tishomingo is closed. There are numerous secondary county roads closed due to high water in all counties and conditions


Published in Law Enforcement & Fire

On April 10, the Mounds Police Department requested OSBI assistance with a severe child neglect and child abuse case involving a 4-month-old boy. The Mounds Police Department received a 9-1-1 call that morning concerning a baby in distress. An ambulance was dispatched to 1504 Dorman where medical personnel found an infant in cardiac arrest. Paramedics applied CPR as they drove him to The Children’s Hospital at St. Francis in Tulsa. A doctor treating the child told an OSBI agent the boy suffered from starvation and was in very critical condition.

Several days later, the agent again spoke with the treating physician who said Abel Haynes was emaciated in appearance and for a child at that age to be in this condition he would have to be deprived of food for quite some time. The OSBI agent then spoke with the child’s parents. Abel is the youngest of five children. The children’s father had been out of work and the mother stayed at home. The family had little money to purchase food. The children’s mother admits to having recently cut back on the infant’s formula. Amanda Haynes also admitted she had never taken the baby to any wellness checks or any medical appointments.

Inside the family’s home, officials found very little furniture and only spoiled milk in the refrigerator. The children slept on the floor in one bedroom, the parents in another bedroom, while the infant was left to sleep on the living room floor. With this information and Abel’s severe medical condition, OSBI agents filed warrants last week for the arrest of the baby’s mother and father – Amanda Haynes, 23,  and Cody Haynes, 25.

Saturday, the two turned themselves into authorities at the Sapulpa Police Department. They were booked into the Creek County jail on one felony count of child abuse and four felony counts for child neglect. The four children are now in the custody of the Department of Human Services. The infant will likely remain in the hospital for several weeks.


Published in Law Enforcement & Fire

OKLAHOMA CITY – Incentives are provided in Oklahoma to encourage doctors to practice in rural areas, Tinker Air Force Base sponsors a high-tech educational incentive program that promotes science and engineering, and a measure introduced in the Legislature this year would authorize a tax exclusion for anyone from another state who moves to any Oklahoma County experiencing a population decline.

State Rep. David Perryman contends the state should provide school teachers with a financial incentive to remain in Oklahoma even though surrounding states offer more money.

The Chickasha Democrat has proposed an amendment to Senate Bill 20 that would exempt from state income taxes the first $40,000 in salary earned by any teacher “employed in an instructional capacity by a public school district located within this state…”

“Everyone at the State Capitol gives lip service to the claim that they are going to give classroom teachers a raise, but unfortunately it just never gets done,” Perryman said. “Frankly, it makes a good sound bite, but as soon as the cameras are turned off, it becomes evident that lip service is all that they want to give. This proposal is a genuine attempt to help classroom teachers. If we cannot afford raises, then we should provide income tax relief to teachers throughout the state. It would be a fair, across-the-board benefit.”

Oklahoma has approximately 42,000 classroom and resource (special ed) teachers, records indicate.

SB 20, which pertains to certification of educators from other states to teach in Oklahoma schools, passed the Senate in a unanimous vote Feb. 25 and was endorsed March 17 by the House Committee on Common Education. Now it will be placed on the House calendar for a vote by the full House.

Oklahoma teachers have not received an across-the-board pay raise in six or seven years, Perryman related. Oklahoma’s average annual teacher salary ranks 48th in the nation, making it difficult to attract and retain quality teachers, state school Superintendent Joy Hofmeister told a Senate committee recently.

Public schools collectively have about 1,000 teaching vacancies, and the problem of teacher shortages will worsen if the State Department of Education budget is cut again this year, as expected, Hofmeister said.

Oklahoma universities produce graduates in education, but often they leave for higher paying teaching jobs in other states, Hofmeister lamented.

State Rep. James Lockhart, D-Heavener, noted that a LeFlore County school lost a teacher (a librarian) to Fort Smith recently. “She got a $21,000 raise to do the same job in Arkansas,” Lockhart said. Another eastern Oklahoma school lost a science teacher to Arkansas. “He got a $15,000 raise, just by moving across the state line,” Lockhart said. “These teachers have college degrees, and most have college loans to pay off. Many have family obligations, as well. The best teachers will go where the money is.”

The incentive Perryman proposed would not be unique.

The Physician Manpower Training Commission, for example, provides financial incentives to recruit doctors and nurses to practice in areas that have a shortage of health professionals.

The PMTC sponsors a rural medical education scholarship loan program, a community physician education scholarship loan program, an intern-resident cost-sharing program, a physician placement program, a nursing student assistance program, and community match incentive programs. There have been 633 physicians recipients of PMTC assistance since 1976, the agency reports.

Similarly, select employees at Tinker Air Force Base in the Air Force Sustainment Center’s Engineering and Technical Management Directorate attend the University of Oklahoma or Oklahoma State University to earn master’s degrees in science or engineering. The students’ tuition, fees and textbooks are paid for up to three semesters, and some students draw full salary while enrolled full-time in school.

Advanced degrees are essential for scientists and engineers who hope to advance in Tinker’s Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex.

The State Chamber of Oklahoma, in its Educated Workforce Initiative, supports bonuses or loan forgiveness programs for teachers who are certified to teach in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) areas of study. “Match public dollars invested in STEM with private dollars to encourage public/private partnerships and alignment between education and workforce needs,” the State Chamber recommends.

Perryman also pointed to House Bill 1747, which he co-authored. That measure would provide a five-year, 100% state income-tax exemption to persons who move from another state to one of a number of rural Oklahoma counties that a recent Department of Commerce study identified as projected to experience a long-term population decline. That bill passed the House, 64-11, and is assigned to the Senate Finance Committee.

Published in Political News

Okmulgee County took a little bit of the action to the Two Million Dollar RFD American Rodeo on March 1 in Arlington, TX when Okmulgee’s local Cole Bailey took a shot to win the big cash prize.

Cole being cheered on by his fans at home on the RFD-TV channel gave his audience quite a performance while hoping he went for the top prize.  He only landed a little shy of the target with a 7.30 seconds time in the Tie Down Roping event placing 4th.  

For those who didn’t get to watch the great competition, some top  level cowboys and cowgirls were invited, the exemption choices were made and those that paid their fee at various preliminary qualifying events held around the country and were the top scorers were those competing at The American.  Those invited and exemption recipients were eligible to win $100,000 for first place in their event, and $25,000 for second place.  Each event had a certain number chosen for the Final round on Sunday.  Then those who were the top four scorers in that round were in the Shoot Out.  Top scorer out of the four was the winner for each event.

The Qualifiers were eligible to win $1,000,000 if they were lucky enough to be one of the top four in their event and then in the Shoot Out round got the top score.  If more than one Qualifier won the Shoot Out in their event, they would equally split the million dollars.

The Tie Down Roping event had 17 contestants, and 1st place, in the first round, went to Tuf Cooper of Decatur, Texas with a score of 6.98 seconds.  2nd place went to Timber Moore of Aubrey, Texas with 7.12 seconds.  3rd place went to Reese Riemer, a Qualifier, from Stinnett, Texas, with a 7.25 seconds score.

The Shoot Out was won by Qualifier, Reese Riemer, 24-year-old , with a 7.59 seconds run and he took home $100,000 plus the bonus of $500,000.  Tuf Cooper won the $25,000 second place prize with a 8.38 seconds run.   

It was a great rodeo and gave the 45 thousand spectators in attendance and television audience a look at the best of the rodeo world.

Cole  commented after the event, “It was amazing.  It was the biggest event I ever roped in.”

He said his horse was in just as much awe at the arena as he was when they both came out.

Cole said he was very pleased with how he did and has plans for next year. He said he competed against 18 of some were champions. 

Rodeoing runs deep in his family. "I get sharper and I’ll be ready for next year," said Cole.

His next event will be in Diamond, Ok. 


Cole is bringing his young son up practicing on the steers above.

Published in Okmulgee in the News

Fatality report for the month of December

Department of Public Safety officials report 52 traffic-related fatalities in December 2014 compared to 45 in the same month last year.

Six pedestrians died in crashes during the month of December. The highest daily fatality numbers include 11 deaths on Wednesdays dropping to 10 on Mondays and Fridays. There were six days in the month of December with no reported fatalities.

Two of the fatality crashes were alcohol-related. Forty-eight of the fatality victims were Oklahoma residents and four nonresidents. There were 33 male and 18 female victims. Four of the fatality victims were under the age of 20. The 61 - to 70-year-old age group led the fatality count with 11.

Oklahoma County led the state with a total of eight fatalities, followed by Tulsa County with seven. The highest number of fatalities occurred on city streets with 13. There were 12 fatalities on state highways.

Fifty-four percent of those who died in traffic collisions were not wearing safety belts at the time of the crash.

Published in Law Enforcement & Fire
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