A host of dedicated Okmulgee Lions spent some "extracurricular activity" time to feed approximately 75 senior students and teachers Wednesday morning. The Lions began arriving around 6 a.m. at the Okmulgee Community Center to prepare for what they are known for---pancake day. This was the Lions' way of giving tribute to the Senior Class of 2017 for their contribution to our community and to say "Godspeed" toward your future, in keeping with the Lions' motto: "WE SERVE".
President Elect Darryl Raley visits with his guest speaker, Tom Pope of Sapulpa. Tom is a member of the Patriot Guard Riders, which is a group of devoted men and women that attend funerals, welcome home and send-off events for military personnel, first responders and honorably discharged veterans. The organization began in 2005 in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and is now a nationwide network with around 150,000 members. Although recognized for their motorcycles, Tom stresses you don’t have to ride to be involved; all that is required is the desire to show respect to those that serve us. The group holds no formal meetings and has no dues. Communication is done through state and national websites. Tom also stressed that they only attend services and events if invited and that they are not a protest or counter-protest organization. For more information, you can visit their website: patriotguard.org.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin tonight released the following statement after jurors reached their verdict in the trial of Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby:
“I ask Oklahomans to respect our criminal justice system and especially the jurors, who heard the evidence from both sides in this case. Those who disagree with the verdict have the right to express their opinions; I just ask that they do so in a peaceful manner. I appeal to Tulsans and others to remain calm. Our thoughts and prayers should be with the Terence Crutcher and Betty Shelby families during this difficult.
...Agents with the Consumer Protection Unit in Elk City today
OKLAHOMA CITY – Agents with Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter’s Consumer Protection Unit are in Elk City today to visit with home and business owners who were impacted by severe weather this week.
Attorney General Hunter said severe weather events bring out fraudulent activity and caution Oklahomans to be aware of potential fraud.
“Having a physical presence with agents on the ground, we will be able to warn individuals in person, which will hopefully raise more awareness about potential fraud,” Hunter said. “It is unfortunate, but scammers wait for significant weather events to prey upon individuals.
“I encourage individuals to seek out agents to get information on how to avoid potential scams. Additionally, individuals or companies that come to the state looking to defraud Oklahomans, need to be made aware that my office will prosecute for any crimes committed.
“My thoughts and prayers remain with those who were affected by severe weather. With storm season continuing in the state, I encourage Oklahomans to have a plan in place to keep their families safe.”
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit offers the following tips to avoid contractor fraud:
Ask for referrals from people you trust and for references from contractors;
Avoid fly-by-night companies and use local companies established in the community;
Obtain written estimates from multiple contractors;
Ensure roofers are registered with the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board by calling (405) 521-6550 or check the online database at http://cib.ok.gov/are-they-licensed;
Be cautious of door-to-door solicitation, contractors who ask for a substantial up-front payment or request cash payment, use high pressure or aggressive sales tactics or resist the use of a written contract;
Do not give out bank account information, social security or driver’s license numbers;
If contractors identify themselves with a federal or state government agency, ask for credentials and call the agency they claim to be with.
A severe thunderstorm warning remains in effect until 10 p.m. for southwestern parts of Okmulgee and Okfuskee counties. Severe thunderstorms were located along a line extending from near Slick to near Okmulgee State Park, moving northeast at 45 mph. Beware of 70 mph wind gusts and quarter size hail that radar has indicated and hail damage to vehicles is expected plus considerable tree damage. Wind damage is also likely to mobile homes, roofs, and outbuildings.
Locations in or near the path include Okmulgee, Okemah, Henryetta, Morris, Weleetka, Dewar, Schulter and Okmulgee State Park
The Okmulgee County Emergency Management Director Timothy Craighton cautions the public to take precautionary and preparedness actions by being aware,” said Craighton. “To be weather aware, is to listen to the weather on the radio or TV and signing up to get alerts throughout the county to be notified of bad weather through our CodeRed.
To enroll, visit the Okmulgee City website at http://www.okmulgeeonline.com. Click on the Residents Tab, then the Emergency Notification System tab and next click CodeRED.
Be sure to save 866-419-5000 in your phone's contact list so you can recognize when a call is from emergency notification.
Craighton said, “the heavy rains is going to be the main issue tonight into tomorrow. Do not drive into flooded Waters, remember, ‘turn around don't drown’ and stay alert. If there's a tornado warning, going to the center most part of your house and protecting yourself with blankets and pillows is still the safest thing to do if you do not have a storm shelter.”
Both Mother Nature and many of the electric utility companies have been very kind to everyone over the past 12-18 months. Unfortunately, it is time to get back to reality. Mother Nature skipped the spring season. Actually, most of us would say we skipped winter and went from fall right into spring. Now we are jumping right into summer. At the same time, many of the utility companies have had an increase in the “fuel adjustment” rates on your electrical bills. If you have a “fuel adjustment” charge as part of your utility rate, you are probably paying more for your electrical usage than you were in December. Many OG&E customers started seeing the increased rates in their February bills. OG&E customers are seeing fuel adjustment increases of 29 percent. Here at the Capitol complex we have several facilities that have decreased electrical usage compared to last year and still saw an increase in cost.
Facility: Attorney General Building
Usage: Decreased 8.5%
Cost: Increased 17.1%
Facility: Connors/Hodge Complex
Usage: Decreased 8.9%
Cost: Increased 8.4%
Facility: Governor’s Complex
Usage: Decreased 8.8%
Cost: Increased 2.7%
We have been fortunate. With the mild weather, most of us have seen a decreases in natural gas usage. This has helped to offset the overall utility costs. The bad news, heating season is over. Cooling season is upon us which means increased electrical usage at the higher rates. With the current budget situation this could not be happening at a worse time.
What can we do? Be as efficient with your HVAC and electrical systems as possible. This does not necessarily mean turn everything off. In some cases this will actually cause an increase in usage if implemented at the wrong times. Get the message out to your agency reminding them that it takes everyone’s efforts to be efficient. Turn off lights when not required. Unplug the phone chargers. Turn off the personal fans. Those are the types of things individual employees can do to assist. In regards to your facility HVAC and electrical operations, get with your maintenance departments and discuss facility operations. If you cannot come up with some energy efficiency options, please contact the State Energy Program office. We can assist you with these evaluations.
Pictured left to right: Trooper Brian Costanza, Terry Costanza, and Program Chairman Lion R.C. Morrow. (Photos by Dean Craig)
By Dean Craig Okmulgee Lion
Tuesday's Lions Club meeting was a long-awaited program by local OHP Trooper Brian Costanza, who talked about his role in bringing multiple-killer, Michael Dale Vance, Jr., to justice. When Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin gave her State of the State Address, she publicly recognized Trooper Costanza and the six other officers who were involved in bringing this fugitive down. Trooper Costanza was named Oklahoma Trooper of the Year, won the Southern Region Trooper of the Year in Phoenix (there are four regions), and got a trip to Philadelphia for the National Award, which was awarded to an Oregon Trooper, who was shot 12 times, with five bullets piercing his body. Regardless, Trooper Costanza is still #1 in our hearts.
Costanza was born in Tulsa but lived in the Twin Hills area, and graduated from Morris in 1996. He always knew from a young age that he wanted to be a trooper. He holds a degree in criminal justice from East Central University and worked for the Okmulgee Police Department for about a year before being selected to attend the OHP Academy. He stated that other than marrying his wife Terry, this was the best decision he ever made. Upon graduating from the patrol academy, he was originally assigned to Washington and Nowata Counties, then Creek County, and then to Okmulgee County for the last 10 plus years.
Recounting the final night of the week-long manhunt, Trooper Costanza stated that there had been several false-alarm sightings of Vance in various places. However, when a positive sighting of Vance in Western Oklahoma was announced, Costanza said he immediately began the three and a half hour trip to the area around Hammon. As Team Leader of the Tactical Team, he felt he needed to be there even though he hadn't been requested. He had previously shared all the week-long events leading up to this fatal night, even discussions with fellow troopers on what to do if they engaged Vance. Needless to say, Costanza was surrounded by fellow troopers who had the right mind-set, the proper training, and the burning desire to get this guy "off the road" before he killed more people, possibly fellow troopers.
When Trooper Costanza arrived in the area, the chatter on the radio from the helicopter and troopers on the ground indicated that Vance was going east on Road 830, exactly where Costanza was located. Spotting the pickup Vance was driving, Costanza joined the chase as the lead vehicle. Because of the drought condition of the dirt road they were on, the trooper said the dust was worse than driving in a deluge of rain. His only thought was, "God, don't let me crash".
He emphatically stated that God had His hand on this event because Vance turned south (to a paved road) rather than north to another dirt road. A road block was set up on this south road and Costanza knew he had to engage Vance before he got to the road block where fellow officers were, and knowing Vance would not hesitate to fire at them. Reaching for his bullet-proof vest and his M4 rifle, Costanza found it impossible to get his vest on, so, grabbing his rifle, he fired through the windshield, forcing Vance to stop his vehicle and exit, using the vehicle as a shield, all while continuing to fire at the troopers following. But Costanza put Vance down, probably saving more lives at the hand of Vance.
I'm reminded of Luke 4:10 that says, "For it is written, He shall give His Angels charge over you, to keep you". I have already alluded to the song by Alabama (in a previous article) that says, "Oh, I believe there are Angels among us, sent down to us from Someone up above". And we are so thankful that no one else was harmed. Thank you, ALL law enforcement for all you do to keep us safe.
On a related note, Lion David Fetgatter won the 100-year celebration glass as the 11th name drawn. The previous 10 names drawn, but not present, were: Barrett Corsini, Philip Wright, ShaVon McClanathan, Renee Dove, Mike Keaton, Richard Larabee, Jim McClendon, Lacey Azbell, Brenda Thompson, and Jon Giddings. We are still looking for a few more men and women to put their name in the "hat". Come join us. "WE SERVE".
Monday, May 15 is the last day applications can be submitted for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's popular Controlled Hunts program.
For $5, sportsmen can put their name in the running for this special slate of unique-to-Oklahoma draw hunts for deer, elk, antelope and turkey. Some of the available hunts are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Others include hunts on Department or other government-owned or managed lands where unrestricted hunting would pose safety concerns or where overharvest might occur.
The online application process must be completed through the Wildlife Department's website at wildlifedepartment.com. Applicants whose names are not selected for 2016 earn preference points toward future years' drawings.
Applications are offered online through a secure process that only accepts applications once they have been filed correctly, and a print-out confirmation page is available for sportsmen to document their submitted application.
Log on to http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/controlledhunts.htm for complete application instructions, including tips on enhancing chances of being selected as well as a full listing of available hunts for elk, deer, antelope and turkey.
Pictured left to right: Skylene Willingham, Braydon Hunter, and Program Chairman Lion Craig Brydges. (Photo by Dean Craig).
By Dean Craig Okmulgee Lion
WOW! And double WOW!! What a powerful teaching experience was given to us Lions by Braydon Hunter, Okmulgee High School senior who has earned his way to the speech National Finals in Alabama in June (17). Lion Craig Brydges was the program chairman and a retired teacher of 36 years, a former Speech and Drama teacher for OHS, who had four students go to Nationals, one of whom won a National Championship. He introduced present OHS Speech teacher, Skylene Willingham, who introduced Braydon Hunter to the club.
In her introduction, Willingham stated that Hunter had come to her and wanted to be in competitive speech, his first year. And the rarity of it all, no one accomplishes the goals that Hunter had, and in his first year. And all this was accomplished by competing against all schools with no class divisions, including schools like Booker T. Washington, Sapulpa, and others. What is so amazing is that nearly all of the competing speech coaches would come up to her and ask, "where did you find this kid"?
Hunter was born in Idabel but the family moved to Okmulgee shortly thereafter, but his beginning school experience was met with disastrous results by being expelled from kindergarten for his disruptive behavior. Again being expelled from the third grade, he returned to Idabel to live with his grandmother to complete the school year. Somewhere along the way, he "got it" and now is a straight A student, participates in sports, with no behavior problems.
Hunter writes poetry and wanted to do a poetry speech but was told that poetry was not a category, so he would need to just do a speech, however, did incorporate some poetry in his speech. What a powerful and impactful 8-10 minute speech he gave, one that was prone to bring tears to your eyes. He declared that he was a ghetto child, which is not a black thing but a ghetto thing. He referred to the movie "Slum Dog Millionaire" and of the increase in poverty among minorities, with 22,000 children dying each day around the world due to poverty. His way out was that he found wisdom. As a result, he will be attending college at Cameron University (Lawton) on scholarship, the first in his family to attend college.
After his very moving speech, Hunter had time for a questions/answer session. My question was what happened to change this behavioral-problem child into this now straight A model student? His answer was, "when I made my mother cry" because she thought I would turn out to be a criminal, and when a teacher told him that she believed in him and that he could be successful at whatever he wanted to do. I cannot help but "editorialize" on the fact that a teacher was just doing her job but performed a miracle. Two occupations that are among some of the lower-paid jobs but require the highest "callings" are teachers and preachers. One prepares our students for the "game of life", and the other prepares us for eternal life. In Japan, some of the highest paid jobs are teachers, because they realize the value of education. And lest anyone thinks the cost of education is high, try ignorance.
In summation, this young man is needing to raise approximately $3,600 for the eight days in Alabama for the national competition. So, if you have some spare funds that you could give, what a marvelous investment it will be to this young man and to this community.
On a related note, the 100-year celebration glass was won by Lion Thomas Taylor, whose name was drawn last week but he was not present. The eight names drawn, but not present, were: Renee Dove, Jon Giddings, Barrett Corsini, ShaVon McClanathan, Philip Wright, Jill Moore, Alicia Dudley, and David Fetgatter. We're still looking for a few more good men and women to enter their names in the drawing. "WE SERVE".
Julius (Jerry) Mitcham, a resident of rural Henryetta passed away Sunday, May 7th, 2017 in Tulsa at the age of 76. Among survivors are his wife Marsha (Henderson) Mitcham, other survivors will be added as the information becomes available. Services are pending with Integrity Funeral Service.