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Statewide News

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

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(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.

OKLAHOMA CITY (Aug. 4, 2015) – Jon Gaines of Oklahoma City just became Oklahoma’s newest millionaire by winning $2,000,000 in the June 13th Powerball drawing.

Gaines purchased his ticket at Hefner Stop in Oklahoma City. He matched 5 of 5 white balls and added the Powerplay option for an additional $1 per play, which doubled his winnings from $1,000,000 to $2,000,000. After taxes, Gaines walked away with approximately $1,420,000.

Gaines chose his numbers through Easy Pick and says “Don’t expect to win if you don’t buy a ticket!” He added, “Powerplay was the second best $1 I ever spent.”

Since its launch, the Oklahoma Lottery has had four Powerball jackpot winners. Including this most recent prize, the Oklahoma Lottery has awarded 46 prizes of $1 million or more.

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 with funds appropriated by the State Legislature to pay debt service on a higher education capital bond issue; to pay support salaries for public schools and for equipment, scholarships and other purposes at our career and technology education institutions.

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

OKLAHOMA CITY – To date, Oklahomans have received more than $40.7 million in grants, low-interest loans and insurance settlements from the federal government, helping to rebuild the lives of families and help out businesses affected by the severe weather and subsequent flooding during the period of May 5 through June 22.

Nearly 10,000 families have registered for assistance with the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

The disaster assistance, which totals more than $40.7 million, includes more than $15.5 million approved for homeowners and renters, more than $13.2 million in grants for housing, including home repairs and rental assistance, and more than $2.1 million for Other Needs, such as repair or replacement of personal property essential to the home. It also includes more than $8.6 million in payments to survivors through the National Flood Insurance Program and more than $16.7 million in SBA loans.

SBA has issued 1,342 applications for low-interest disaster loans to homeowners and businesses. More than $15.5 million has been approved for homeowners, and more than $1.2 million in loans has been approved for business owners rebuilding after the storms.

Low-interest SBA disaster loans may be available to businesses of all sizes as well as certain private nonprofit organizations. Homeowners and renters are also eligible for SBA loans for uninsured loss. These loans cannot duplicate benefits from other agencies or compensation from other organizations.

FEMA deployed 88 Disaster Survivor Assistance specialists going door to door in the affected 45 counties. To date, they have visited 18,878 homes and 889 community-based organizations delivering recovery information and guidance. These specialists have also registered 647 survivors for disaster assistance. A total of 4,206 people have visited DRCs.

Survivors may apply for state and federal assistance online with any computer, smartphone, or tablet at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services can call 800-621-3362 to register. Hours to register by phone: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. local time, seven days a week.

For more information on Oklahoma disaster recovery, click http://www.fema.gov/disaster/4222 or visit OEM at www.oem.ok.gov.

Okmulgee County Emergency Management is pleased to announce that a Mobile Disaster Recovery Center (MDRC) will open in Okmulgee County. This is to help individuals and business owners who were affected by the severe storms, straight-line winds, flooding and tornadoes occurring May 5 through June 4.

The Okmulgee County MDRC will be open at during two five day time periods:

Location: Green Country Technology Center.
Building #3, 1100 N. Hwy.56 Loop, Okmulgee, OK 74447

Dates: July 23 - 28, 2015 and then on August 6 -11, 2015

Hours: Thursday 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.;
Then Friday, Saturday, Monday & Tuesday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.;
and on Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

You need to act quickly to apply for disaster assistance. Reminder: Individuals and business owners may also to apply for Individual Assistance via:

Phone: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362)      Web: www.disasterassistance.gov

MDRCs are one-stop shops where survivors can get information and guidance about what disaster assistance may be available.  Information from the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Small Business Administration and other federal agencies and volunteer organizations is available at these recovery centers.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Additional Oklahoma residents and business owners affected by severe storms, flooding, tornadoes, and straight-line winds that occurred from June 5-22 may now be eligible for state and federal assistance under the disaster declaration already approved for the state.

At the request of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has expanded the official disaster declaration to May 5 through June 22.

The updated incident period applies to Individual Assistance for residents and business owners as well as Public Assistance for government entities and certain nonprofits.

Survivors who have registered with FEMA already do not have to apply again. Claims for damage or loss that occurred during the additional dates will be processed automatically.

Those with storm damage that occurred during the additional dates who have not yet registered with FEMA are urged to do so as soon as possible. Homeowners, renters and businesses can register online with any computer, smartphone or tablet at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services can call 800-621-3362. Phone-registration hours are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. local time seven days a week. Registration with other agencies or non-profits does not count as a FEMA registration.

The deadline to register is August 26.

Additionally, homeowners, renters and businesses affected during the new Incident Period might also be eligible for low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The designated counties for the Individual Assistance are Atoka, Beckham, Bryan, Caddo, Canadian, Carter, Choctaw, Cleveland, Comanche, Cotton, Grady, Jefferson, Johnston, Kiowa, Latimer, Le Flore, Marshall, Mayes, McClain, McCurtain, McIntosh, Okfuskee, Oklahoma, Okmulgee, Pittsburg, Pottawatomie, Pushmataha, Rogers, Seminole, Stephens, Tillman, Tulsa and Wagoner.

For more information on Oklahoma disaster recovery, click on http://www.fema.gov or visit the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management at www.oem.ok.gov.

Walk IMG 6122

Ryan Ray is on a mission to walk across across America. Ray began his journey in Santa Monica California on February 28 for a 3,010 mile journey to New York on a 26 stop speaking tour that brought him to his hometown of Henryetta. The halfway point of his journey found him visiting with old friends and hosting a speaking celebration at Nichols Park which featured live music, food, and a chance to hear Ray speak.

Ray states that the purpose behind the walk is to inspire everyone to life the life they have always dreamed of. “Once upon a time, my life didn't belong to me. As a professional cubicle warmer, every day was nearly identical to the next. The weeks melted into a series of months, melting into a series of years filled with mundane, menial events. I lived in a largely predictable, purposeless vacuum that lacked any heart. I knew something was off, but I truly believed I was trapped.

One day, all that changed. Inspired to make a simple shift in my perspective, in just thirty days time, I was working in Spain and living the life I had always dreamed of. Now, I’m sharing my experiences with others. In each talk, I’ll share where I’ve been and how I got there—literally and metaphorically—going from a corporate paper pusher living paycheck to paycheck, to: dreaming of a different life, finding the key to open the door to my dreams, traveling through Europe, India, Asia, Northern Africa, Alaska, Central America and beyond, getting clear about my motivations, creating and hosting a TV show with 1.2 million viewers, and more.” states Ray’s website RyanRay.com

Ray, who graduated from Henryetta High School in 1998 relocated to Los Angeles where he is now a motivational speaker and writer. He has traveled to around the world in an effort to live the life he has always dreamed. On July 17, Ray reached Henryetta where he met with those gathered at the Sugar Shack for a meet and greet and a community walk to Nichols Park, a distance of 2.3 miles. The walk ended 6 p.m. when the group reached Nichols Park.

Ray’s speaking event began at 7:00 p.m. with a question and answer session beginning at 8:00 p.m. The first two hundred attendees were given custom-made, signed postcard from Ryan's walk across America. Sovereign Dame and Kaizen Pursuit provided the live music.

Ray is currently travelling approximately 8 to 10 hours a day along Highway 62 where he will cross into Arkansas then continue North through Missouri. For more information or to donate to Ray’s journey, visit RyanRay.com

Photos by Paul Orosco - ONN

By Joe Dorman

Did you know that Oklahoma ranks third in the nation for women killed by men?

Did you know that 11,418 children in Oklahoma were victims of child abuse or neglect during fiscal year 2013. The most recent data show a nearly 58 percent increase in child victims since fiscal year 2010, when 7,248 Oklahoma children were harmed.

Did you know that domestic violence and sexual assault cost more than $727 million each year, with over 7.9 million paid workdays lost, as well?

Aware of it or not, this is an issue that is all around us. I have experienced two instances personally, and each had a lasting impact on me.

A former co-worker and a good friend got engaged, but her joy did not last long. She approached one of our senior staffers and confided to him she had been physically abused and did not know what to do. He offered to help her get assistance. He told me to meet him and we would help her move out of the house where she lived with her fiancé. One of my other co-workers advised me to not get involved because it was a personal issue between the couple. I, of course, did not listen and helped her move, and I look back knowing I made the right decision.

Earlier this month I saw a woman walking down the highway with a child. I turned around to see if she needed assistance. She was distraught and confided that her boyfriend had thrown her out of his vehicle. Due to the condition of her clothing, I knew she was speaking literally. She was walking several miles back home. I offered assistance and let her use my phone. She began crying when she could not remember any phone numbers. Another vehicle pulled up and its occupants said they witnessed the incident. The abandoned woman refused any further assistance for calling authorities, and they offered her a ride home. I hope she is all right, although I cannot help but wonder if there was anything else I could have done.
Each of us can do our part to help stop this cycle of violence.

The YWCA shelter, established in 1974, was the very first in Oklahoma to offer assistance to women. This is an emergency shelter, providing help in obtaining legal services, transportation, housing information, medical care, child care and advocacy services for up to two months. The YWCA shelter is a safe place for women and children to escape domestic violence. Open 24 hours 7days a week, the shelter provides immediate, emergency shelter and supplemental services to more than 350 women and children every year. They can be reached at their 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline: 405-917-9922 or 24-hour Sexual Assault Hotline: 405-943-7273.

The CARE Center in Oklahoma City works with the parent or caregiver, the detective assigned to the case of the child, the DHS case worker. A child specialist will walk the family through a process of easing the anxiety of the child while allowing the person reporting the case to file the proper paperwork. They will then interview the child using video that is admissible in court. Afterward, they provide specialized advocacy to assist with immediate needs and establish counseling services to help over the long term. They also offer assistance with medical exams to make certain the child has not been hurt physically.
Both organizations have fund-raising events on Thursday, Aug. 6, in Oklahoma City. I am serving as a table sponsor for both and encourage you to join me at both these fund-raisers. The minimum donation for each is $100.

The YWCA hosts its Engaging Men breakfast that morning at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, beginning at 7 a.m. Aug. 6. This event provides an excellent networking opportunity among hundreds of professional men across Oklahoma. The program will highlight a testimonial – a personal, dramatic and heartwarming story. This annual event gives each guest a firsthand account of a person whose life has been changed – and a cycle of violence broken.
The CARE Center will hold its first advocacy luncheon, featuring Antwone Fisher. This will be at the University of Central Oklahoma in the Grand Ballroom in the Nigh University Center, starting at 11:30 a.m. Aug. 6.You can listen to Antwone's personal experience about the abuse he overcame and his journey to launch the movie "Antwone Fisher" and become a best-selling author and speaker.

You can contact me at joe@joedorman or by phone at (580) 476-3745 for more information about these events and to RSVP. I hope you are able to attend and help break the cycle of violence we face in Oklahoma.

At least 23 people have been killed in a stampede during a handout of free clothes in the northern Bangladeshi city of Mymensingh, police said.

The stampede erupted on Friday when hundreds of people tried to force their way into a factory compound through a small gate after massing outside the building before dawn, local police chiefs told the AFP news agency.

"We have so far recovered 23 bodies. Most of the dead are poor and emaciated women," Mymensingh police chief Moinul Haque said, putting the number of injured at more than 50.

Kamrul Islam, the senior officer at a police station near the factory, said the death toll could rise.

"Some people had taken the bodies of their relatives before police arrived at the scene," he said.

The owner of the factory and six others have been arrested, Islam added.

Police said up to 1,500 people had massed outside the chewing tobacco factory at around 4:45am after the plant owners had announced they would distribute free clothes to poor people in accordance with Islamic ritual.

Rich Bangladeshis often distribute free clothes to poor people during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

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Stampede erupts when hundreds try forcing their way into factory in northern city of Mymensingh to collect free clothes.

Hey there TGIF - What better day to be National Pina Colada Day!  Well the rain is gone, so if you like Pina Coladas and getting caught in “the rain”  - well that’s out! Yes, it’s National Pina Colada Day (July 10) so what more excuse do you need to crack out your coconuts? And you don't need to be on a beach to enjoy it because Okmulgee is looking good in your neighborhood!

It's the perfect drink if you want to kick back and enjoy the summer heat, but if you are thinking about the kids, we have the perfect recipe for you.

It is called a Blue Pina Colada Party Punch.

1 package Kool-Aid (Blue Raspberry).
3/4 cup of sugar.
2 quarts of cold water.
12 oz. non-alcoholic Pina Colada mix.
2 liter of Sprite.
- Cherries & pineapple to garnish.

Or Try a mock Pina Colada

1 1⁄2-2 cups whole milk
2 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon coconut extract
2 -4 tablespoons sugar (to taste)