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Statewide News

SinkholeCAM

ONN Photo Journalist Paul Orosco was on the scene reporting on the large sinkhole that caused travel problems on the government owned Playa del Carmen highway during his travels earlier this week. This the major highway tourists and resort workers take to and from the Cancun.

The road problems happened early around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. Traffic in both directions came to a complete stand still for hours. Alternate routes had to be used and many were through dirt and jungle roads.

Local state authorities think the cause may have been caused by "Cenote" a fresh water sink hole common I the region.

Thanks to Paul Orosco's friend Jonathan Hernandez Lopez for the photos.

OKLAHOMA CITY (Aug. 25, 2015) – Alan Evans of Oklahoma City just became Oklahoma’s first Poker Pick jackpot winner in the August 24th drawing.

Evans purchased his ticket at T & T Convenience Store in Oklahoma City. He matched 5 of 5 cards to win the jackpot. After taxes, Evans walked away with approximately $71,000.

Launched in 2014, Poker Pick is Oklahoma’s first ever combined instant / draw game where players can instantly win a prize, then win again in a nightly drawing. Poker Pick also offers the largest Oklahoma-only top prize of $100,000.

Each ticket displays 5 cards from a deck of 52. Players can win up to $10,000 instantly if the cards displayed on their ticket match one of the winning poker hands listed at the bottom of the ticket. If a player has a hand of “Jacks or Better” they win a prize. Players then have a chance to win up to $10,000 if the cards on their ticket match at least two of the cards drawn in the nightly drawing. A player that matches 5 of 5 cards will win the $100,000 prize. All Poker Pick tickets are Easy Pick (players cannot select their cards).

Tickets cost $2 each and drawings will be held nightly, much like Oklahoma’s other daily games Pick 3 and Cash 5. Tickets may be purchased until 8:59 pm nightly; drawings are held 7 days a week after 9 pm.

About the Oklahoma Lottery

Net proceeds of all Lottery games are used to support improvements and enhancements for Oklahoma education. More than $685 million has been contributed to education since November 2005.

For more information about the Oklahoma Lottery, please visit www.lottery.ok.gov

HENRYETTA, Okla. — To help provide encouraging and positive re-entry conditions for Muscogee (Creek) citizens transitioning back into the community, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Reintegration Program will build a transitional living center and administrative building in Henryetta.

A groundbreaking ceremony will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 21 at the site in Henryetta.

The facility will offer accommodations for up to 39 citizens for a time period of six months to a year.

A vocational technology learning center will also be on site to train citizens in skills such as driving commercial vehicles and welding.

Reintegration Program administrative offices will also be included in the center.

“This new facility will help our citizens transition back to the community and encourage them through accountability in a caring environment,” MCN Reintegration Program Project Coordinator Kevin Green said. “We hope to empower and help foster success with each of our clients and believe that this facility will not only strengthen their ties to the tribe, but strengthen the Nation as a whole.”

The transitional living center and administrative building was designed by Architect 1 and will be constructed by RedStone Construction. It is estimated to be completed in July 2016.

The Reintegration Program strives to protect the public by offering quality re-entry services to Muscogee (Creek) citizens and re-invest positive citizens back into the community. The program bases its services on the principals that every citizen, even ex-prisoners are an important part of the community and are capable of change.

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OKLAHOMA CITY –There is only one week left for Oklahomans who sustained damages from the May 5 through June 22 storms to apply for state and federal disaster assistance.

Residents and business owners in the 45 counties approved for Individual Assistance have until August 26 to seek assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

The designated counties are Adair, Atoka, Beckham, Bryan, Caddo, Canadian, Carter, Cherokee, Choctaw, Cleveland, Coal, Comanche, Cotton, Delaware, Garvin, Grady, Hughes, Jefferson, Johnston, Kiowa, Latimer, Le Flore, Lincoln, Logan, Love, Marshall, Mayes, McClain, McCurtain, McIntosh, Murray, Okfuskee, Oklahoma, Okmulgee, Ottawa, Pittsburg, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Pushmataha, Rogers, Seminole, Stephens, Tillman, Tulsa and Wagoner.

To date, more than $47.5 million has been provided to Oklahoma disaster survivors. This assistance includes $16.9 million in funding for disaster related housing needs and other disaster related expenses, more than $19.9 million in SBA loans, and more than $10.6 million in payments to policyholders with the National Flood Insurance Program.

SBA has issued 1,546 applications for low-interest disaster loans to homeowners and businesses. More than $18 million has been approved for homeowners and more than $1.8 million has been approved for business owners rebuilding after the storms.

There have been more than 10,720 total registrations for assistance. There are several ways to register for assistance. Call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. Or go online to www.DisasterAssistance.gov using a computer, tablet or smartphone.

More information:

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) prepares for, responds to, recovers from and mitigates against emergencies and disasters. The department delivers service to Oklahoma cities, towns and counties through a network of more than 350 local emergency managers.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/femaregion6 and the FEMA Blog at http://blog.fema.gov.

The SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners, and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. For more information, applicants may contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling (800) 659-2955, emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visiting SBA’s website at www.sba.gov/disaster. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call (800) 877-8339.

You want to be an entrepreneur? Well, let’s get started! Potential small business owners will benefit from “Entrepreneurship Basics Series,” a four-part series to provide basics for establishing a business. The September event will take place Thursday, September 10th from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at the We Watkins Technology Center, 7892 Highway 9, Wetumka. Registration is $15 per person and participants may register online at www.reiwbc.org.

The first workshop in the series will help you answer these questions: Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? Will your idea work? How do you get started? Participants will work through the characteristics necessary to become a successful entrepreneur. Other discussions will focus on business structures, financials and registering your business. Additionally, tips will be shared on how to write a business plan, which is essential in getting a business off the ground and growing.

Presenters will include John Blue, Manager, Indian Business Development, Muscogee Creek Nation; Julie Stovall, Vice President, First United Bank, Holdenville; and Christina Culver, REI Women’s Business Center Coordinator.

“This is your opportunity to learn about approaches for starting a business and whether or not it’s right for you,” said Christina Culver, REI WBC Coordinator. “We are here to help guide you and you won’t want to miss this unique workshop!”

Running once a month from September through December, others topics in the series will include:

· Marketing Your Business
· Introduction to Digital Marketing
· Funding Options and Financials for Start-Ups

Event partners include Wes Watkins Technology Center, Okemah Chamber of Commerce, OSU Extension, Henryetta Chamber of Commerce, and REI Women’s Business Center, funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

For more information about this event, call Christina Culver at 800-658-2823. In addition, visit www.reiwbc.org or facebook.com/REIWBC for a calendar of upcoming trainings.

Thursday, 13 August 2015 15:35

RiP schedules groundbreaking

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Reintegration Program will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the new transitional living center at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 21 in Henryetta, Okla. RiP serves to protect the public by offering quality re-entry services to Muscogee (Creek) citizens and re-invest positive citizen back into the community.

Thursday, 13 August 2015 15:32

Bar Association taking donations

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Attorney General’s Office and the MCN Bar Association are taking donations to help supply and benefit Native American children placed in the Murrow Indian Children’s Home as a result of abuse or neglect. Donations can be taken to the Attorney General’s Office through the month of August.

 The University of Arkansas School of Law Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative has joined with the Farm Credit of East Central Oklahoma, the Wallace Center at Winrock International (Washington DC), Morse Marketing Connections (MMC), and the Choctaw Nation, Muscogee (Creek) Nation along with Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative to offer an important “bootcamp” workshop for southern eastern Oklahoma August 13 in the Student Center Conference Room at The College of The Muscogee Nation, 2170 Raven Circle Okmulgee, Ok.

You will hear the latest on food safety regulations and GAP certification, crop insurance and risk management tools, and will be given hands-on experience in what are called “one page” financial, risk assessment and business plan tools. We will also provide information on new markets in the region and how your operation can participate in food hubs that are growing in number across the country as a way to link small, beginning, mid-sized, remote and new producers and their operations into new markets.

The in-person workshop will begin at 12:00 pm with light refreshments and conclude by 5 pm. The workshop will cover the following information:

  •  “One Page” Financials
  • “One Page” Business Planning
  • “One Page” Risk Assessment
  • Food Safety Regulations Update and GAP Overview
  • Risk Management and Crop Insurance Policy Updates
  • Choctaw Nation Update on Promise Zone, Food and Agriculture Plans
  •  Muscogee Creek Nation Update on Food and Agriculture Plans
  •  Food Hubs & Other New Markets
  • New and Old Legal Issues Facing Producers

Webinar Workshop:

In addition to the in-person workshops, a “One Page Cost Benefit Analysis Tool” webinar workshop will also be offered. It will be at least one hour long and will be on Thursday, Aug 20. The webinar requires registration to participate. Please use the link below to register:

Ohttps://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7547274677638746369

This workshop is sponsored through the support of the USDA Risk Management Agency and each of the participating sponsors.

Thank you to the Choctaw Nation for their generous support at each of our locations. Thank you to the Muscogee Creek Nation for their generous support at our final location. Please Attend and Tell Others Who Might Be Interested! See you there!

If you have any questions, please contact Janie Hipp (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Rebecca Sims (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) at 479-575-4434. In Okmulgee you may contact Lizanne Holata at 918-756-5915 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, organized exclusively for charitable, educational and scientific purposes.

Friday, 07 August 2015 18:47

Sales Tax Holiday is August 7-9

Beginning at 12:01 am on Friday, August 7 and ending at midnight on Sunday, August 9, Oklahoma is holding a sales tax holiday giving shoppers the opportunity to purchase certain clothing and shoes free of sales tax. This includes state and any local sales taxes.

This exemption is to help benefit both consumers and retailers in the state. This will help businesses by providing a boost in the economy and the consumer by allowing them to save money when shopping for clothing and shoes, especially during back to school time.

Retailers are required to participate and may not charge tax on items that are legally tax-exempt during the sales tax holiday. The sales tax holiday exempts the sale of clothing and shoes priced at less than $100 from sales taxes.

The tax-free savings applies to the following items:

Clothing and shoes
Priced under $100

Smart Shopping Tips for Oklahoma's Tax Free Weekend:

Practicing good common sense will help you save even more more during tax free weekend. For example, compare prices at several different stores and use coupons whenever possible.

In addition, be careful not to overspend just because the tax free weekend is going on in your area. The regular sales tax rate in Oklahoma is 4.5%, so that's how much money you'd be saving - along with your local sales tax, if applicable. By shopping around, and also using coupons, you might find that the items you're looking for are less expensive either before the tax free weekend or after it takes place.

Deal means pre-paid scholarships for students, financial strength for school

(Shawnee, Okla. – August 6, 2015) St. Gregory’s University announced today a historic agreement, establishing a $5 million prepaid tuition program between St Gregory’s Abbey, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and the University. The Nation, under the leadership of Chairman Rocky Barrett, will provide scholarships to members of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation (CPN). Over the next six years, 60 students will receive up to four years of full scholarships to attend St. Gregory’s.

Chairman Barrett said CPN tribal members, whether traditional age students in an undergraduate program or adults pursuing an associate, bachelor’s or master’s in an accelerated degree program, are eligible to receive scholarships to cover their tuition and attendance costs. He said the scholarships are immediately available and can be used as soon as this upcoming fall semester.

“The Citizen Potawatomi Nation is proud to help more tribal members earn degrees to ensure their own financial security while simultaneously strengthening St. Gregory’s economic sustainability,” Barrett said. “We’re continuing the partnership formed with the monastic community 140 years ago when our ancestors helped two French monks found the school at the original site at Sacred Heart mission.”

St. Gregory’s will use the $5 million scholarship prepayment to meet operational needs, refinance its assets, expand its fundraising activities and conduct a long-term strategic planning process.

“Chairman Barrett has reaffirmed the historic partnership between the Potawatomi people and the Benedictine Monks.” said Greg Main, President of St. Gregory’s University. “This three party agreement between St. Gregory’s University, St. Gregory’s Abbey and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation empowers the University to chart an exciting vibrant future.”

Enrollment in the traditional program on the Shawnee campus has grown nearly 40 percent, Main said. St. Gregory’s launched a new Catholic Nursing Program last year in conjunction with the state’s four Catholic Healthcare Systems. Campus facilities and technology have been significantly upgraded. The first online degree programs, including the Master’s of Business Administration, will be offered in 2016.

“St. Gregory’s has demonstrated remarkable initiative, progress and development during the past four years, and it is well positioned for long term planning and comprehensive refinancing,” said Rt. Rev. Lawrence Stasyszen, Chancellor of St. Gregory’s University and Abbot of St. Gregory’s Abbey. “It is gratifying and fitting that the Citizen Potawatomi, who made possible our original foundation, have ensured the future of Catholic liberal arts education in the state of Oklahoma. They have also enabled us to renew our original mission to serve the American Indian Peoples of this region.”

St. Gregory’s offers a residential campus experience for traditional age students in Shawnee and accelerated adult degree programs for adults in Shawnee and Tulsa. Nursing degree completion classes are also offered in Oklahoma City. The University confers associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees with 37 majors, eight pre-professional programs and five graduate degree programs.

St. Gregory's mission is to educate the whole person in mind, body and spirit.

“I salute Chairman Barrett for securing the future of one of Shawnee’s oldest institutions and major employers as well as Oklahoma’s only Catholic University,” said former Governor David Walters, who worked with Barrett to outline the financing plan. “I appreciate Rocky Barrett’s thoughtful insight and admire the current and historical support provided by the Citizen Potawatomi Nation to St. Gregory’s University.”

“This prepaid tuition grant from CPN gives us the time needed to implement a bold plan to secure the university’s vitality and future growth,” Main said. “Many new and innovative education programs are already being considered.”

St. Gregory’s will launch a strategic planning process in September, expected to involve more than 200 people on various committees. Co-chaired by Archbishop Paul Coakley of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and Bishop Edward Slattery of the Diocese of Tulsa, the six month effort will include civic and Catholic leaders, educators, philanthropists and stakeholders from around the state.

Founded in 1875, St. Gregory’s University is Oklahoma’s oldest institution of higher learning and only Catholic university. St. Gregory’s offers a liberal arts education rooted in the Benedictine tradition of cultivating the whole person – mind, body and spirit. With campuses in Shawnee and Tulsa, St. Gregory’s features both traditional and adult degree programs, including associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. For more information about the University, visit www.stgregorys.edu

stgregorys cpn 1
(from left) Former Oklahoma Governor David Walters, St. Gregory’s University President Greg Main, Citizen Potawatomi Nation Chairman Rocky Barrett and Rt. Rev. Lawrence Stasyszen, Chancellor of St. Gregory’s University and Abbot of St. Gregory’s Abbey.