Okmulgee in the News
By Betty Anderson
The electrical wiring around the Council House Square and in other areas of downtown Okmulgee is in desperate need of updating. During the Pecan Festival last year it was discovered that there was not enough electric service in the downtown area to handle the three (3) day event. It was discussed at that time it might be beneficial to the City, Chamber and Main Street to look into upgrading the electric around the square and adding additional service. The Chamber had to rent generators last year to supplement the required electricity.
The City Council voted to approve to authorize a joint venture between the City of Okmulgee Community Trust and the Okmulgee Chamber of Commerce for the installation of electric service in the downtown area around the Council House Square and extending down to Muskogee Avenue by providing the funding, not to exceed $20,000 to the Okmulgee Chamber of Commerce.
The account for electric service will be in the Chamber’s name, which will make it easier when there are events happening in the downtown area. Based on cost estimates, the material cost will run close to $20,000 and the installation should be about the same. The City will purchase the materials, which will be the City’s contribution and the Chamber will hire the electrician to do the installation for their contribution to the project. The City will cover the Chamber’s contribution at the time of installation and the City will hold out $5,000 each year, until paid, from the Tourism monies given by agreement to the Chamber each year.
By Betty Anderson
Vicki Jones reminded Okmulgee City Council that April is Autism Awareness Month and she wanted to ask if the City would color the City of Okmulgee’s fountain blue again and promised to show up with a banner and to gift them with the signature blue cookies. Jones said, “Together is better, you never know who you may run into, whether they have Autism or any other type of limited ability. The more we know about what Autism is, the better the community can better accept it and respect it.”
The Autism Society celebrates National Autism Awareness Month by promoting Autism awareness, Autism acceptance and draws attention to the tens of thousands facing an Autism diagnosis each year.
For more information and to sign up for the Autism Society Newsletter you may go to this link:
PREMIUM BEEF SALE
The 35th Annual 4-H/FFA Premium Beef Sale will take place at the Okmulgee County Fairgrounds on March 21st, 2017 at 7:00 pm. Please note that this sale is on a Tuesday evening. In the past, the sale was on a different night of the week. The Carcass Sale is sponsored by the Okmulgee County Cattleman’s Association. 4-H and FFA members from Okmulgee County will sell their halves of beef from the Okmulgee County Beef Performance Program at the public auction. We will have 50 halves of beef available to the general public. This auction provides a great opportunity for anyone to be able to purchase a top quality half of beef for their own use.
Carcass data and pictures of each steer will be shown for the 4-H/FFA members. The carcass data includes quality grade (prime, choice, select, and standard) as well as loin eye size, fat cover, internal fat and hot carcass weight. The highest bidder of each carcass half will have the beef cut and wrapped to their preference at Walke Bros. in Claremore for 75 cents per pound of the hot carcass weight.
Participants in the program are required to complete a market steer record book. This consists of recording their calves weight and weight gain. It also includes calculating cost of feed, veterinary cost, trucking, income, and prize money. Management and feeding practices are included as well. This record book is utilized for 150 days during the time the animals are being fattened. The performance program consists of three areas that the animals are being judged. The first being rate of gain; the second area is carcass data and the third area is show points. 4-H/FFA members are responsible for showing their calves in the Fall Fair and the Spring Livestock Show. 4-H/FFA members in this program include students from Okmulgee County only.
Winners of the program have won trophies and cash awards. The Bell Ringer award goes to the steer that has earned the most points during the course of the competition. The Reserve Bell Ringer earns the second highest number of points. The Carcass Champion has the highest number of points in the carcass division. The Rate of Gain Champion gained the most weight during the course of the competition. Finally the Show Ring Champion is determined by a judge. There are Show Ring winners in the fall and spring shows.
For more information about this program contact the Okmulgee County OSU Extension Office at 918-756-1958.
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation invites you to join in a project dedication for the restoration of the Council House on March 21, 2017 at 10 a.m. This historic project represents a new day for the Nation as we begin to restore the Council House and tell the stories of the Muscogee people who came before, the battles they fought, and the legacy they wished to leave for the entire Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
From 1878 to 1906, the Creek Council House functioned as the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s seat of government in Indian Territory. However, following a series of Federal decrees, tribally-owned buildings and schools in Indian Territory transferred to US governmental control and jurisdiction. It was eventually sold as federal government property to the City of Okmulgee in 1919.
After almost 90 years, the Nation regained ownership over the Council House in 2010. This is the only pre-statehood structure that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation owns. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service in 1961 and reflects its importance not only to the Muscogee people, but also its historical significance to the United States.
The completely renovated Council House will for the first time present the history, context, and present-day operations of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation tribal government. The exhibits will be designed to spotlight key government activities and historical events that took place within the Council House between 1878 and 1906. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation will once again use various rooms for tribal governmental meetings and it will be a contemporary space serving contemporary Tribal government functions. The restoration of the Council House will be complete in 2017 and open to the public in mid-2018. Please join us as we celebrate the beginning of the careful restoration of the Council House.
Attending will be:
Chief Floyd, Principal Chief, Muscogee (Creek) Nation
Speaker Lucian Tiger, National Council, Muscogee (Creek) Nation
Mike Payne, CEO, Onefire Holding Company
Sean Kouplen, Board Chairman, CODEC
John Griffin, Selser Schaefer Architects
Warren Ross, President, Ross Group
Christopher Azbell, Okmulgee Main Street President & Secretary of the Interior, Muscogee (Creek) Nation
The event location: Muscogee (Creek) Nation Council House, 106 W. 6th, Okmulgee, Oklahoma, 74447
Reception to Follow: Morty’s Smokehouse, 104 Morton Ave., Okmulgee, OK 74447
Rain Contingency Location: Mabrey Bank Meeting Hall, 111 East 6th St., Okmulgee, OK 74447
About Muscogee (Creek) Nation Council House Restoration
More Information: http://creekcouncilhouse.omeka.net/
AGENDA FOR REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOARD OF
As required by Section 311, Title 25 of the Oklahoma Statutes, notice is hereby given that the Board of County Commissioners of Okmulgee County will hold a regular meeting on March 20, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. The meeting will be held in the County Commissioners Conference Room in the County Courthouse, located at 314 W. 7th, Okmulgee.
NOTE: The Board may discuss, vote to approve, vote to disapprove, vote to table or decide not to discuss any item on the agenda.
1. Call to Order, Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance
2. Possible approval of minutes from regular meeting
3. Input by the Public on any non-agenda items
4. Order of Business:
A. Discussion and possible approval of Officers’ Reports
B. Discussion and possible approval of Blanket Purchase Orders
C. Discussion and possible approval of Employee Acknowledgment Forms
D. Discussion and possible approval of submitted Utility Permits
E. Discussion and possible approval of Private Property Agreements
F. Discussion and possible action concerning Burn Ban for Okmulgee County
G. Discussion and possible approval of Resolution to dispose of equipment
H. Discussion and possible approval of Lease Agreement for Health Department
building in Beggs
I. Possible approval of monthly Appropriations
5. Report from Emergency Management Director
6. New Business
7. Discussion and possible approval of claims and/or signing of documents
8. Vote to go into Executive Session to discuss a confidential communication matter with the Board
of County Commissioners’ Attorney
25 O.S. §307(B) (4) Executive Sessions: Confidential communications between a public body and its attorney concerning a pending investigation, claim or action if the public body with the advice of its attorney, determines that disclosure will seriously impair the ability of the public body to process the claim or conduct a pending investigation, litigation, or proceeding in the public interest.
9. Vote to return from Executive Session
10. Discussion and possible vote on matters discussed in Executive Session
Name/Title of Person Posting This Notice: Becky Thomas/County Clerk
Date: March 16, 2017 Signature: __________________________________
Pictured, left to right: Lion Dolph Hayden, Lion James Thompson, Lion Brenda Thompson, and President Lion R.C. Morrow. Photo by Dean Craig
By Dean Craig Okmulgee Lion
Tuesday's Lions Club regularly scheduled program had to be cancelled and re-scheduled, but not to worry because we had the two newest members waiting in the wings to give their 15 minutes-of-fame speeches. This is the one time that members can boast, brag, complain, or share information they probably wouldn't normally share, and not worry about being fined for "advertising" by the Tail-Twister.
First up was Dolph Hayden, Executive Director of the Okmulgee County Family YMCA. Dolph stated that his grandparents and his parents were all native Okmulgeeans, however, his father got a job in California in the fiberglass industry, and that was where he was born. Another business opportunity presented itself so the family moved to Ohio, where Dolph began his education from kindergarten through the fourth grade, before his parents decided to move back "home".
He attended Okmulgee Schools from the fifth grade through high school graduation in 1979, participating in football and wrestling. He and his wife, Page, were high school sweethearts but her path took her to the University of Oklahoma, while his path took him to the U.S. Navy because he was not all that enamored with school at that time. He spent two years in Memphis and two years in Key West as a jet airplane electrician, flying all over the world as a radar jammer.
Upon his return to Okmulgee, he and Page re-united and married, and he enrolled at "Tech" (as OSUIT was called then) in electronics and "bagging" groceries at Warehouse Market. He continued his education at Northeastern State University, earning a bachelor's degree and, later, obtained a master's degree. Computer Technology was just emerging around that time so he was hired to teach a software class part-time through Green Country Technology Center and OSUIT. He was "hooked" on teaching, becoming a full-time instructor in Electronics at OSUIT for the next twenty-plus years. With his military time, plus his teaching years, he was able to retire at a young age due to the points-system. He retired as the Dean of the Electronics Department.
When the Director position for the YMCA became available, he decided to apply for it, even though he had not worked in the YMCA system, and thinking he probably wouldn't get the job, but he did. So, for the past three years, this has been his passion. When he attended his first Oklahoma Directors' meeting in Oklahoma City, he expected a room full of people. Instead, there were 12. His point was that not many cities the size of Okmulgee has a YMCA facility, particularly not as nicely-built as ours, which speaks volumes for the people who initially supported this project. Continued support of the community is vital, particularly financially. Any support that can be provided, whether financial, volunteer, or just enjoying the programs or the facility, is needed to continue this much-needed asset to the community.
Next up was Brenda Thompson, whose husband James Thompson, has been a long-time active member, not only of the Lions Club, but the entire community. Brenda was born and raised in Eugene, Oregon until her senior year of high school when they moved to California. She married a Californian graduate of Oral Roberts University and moved to Oklahoma in 1977, raising her three daughters in the Tulsa area. Brenda and her girls attended Christian Chapel, an Assembly of God Church, and were very active in all church programs, including Royal Family Kids. This is a national organization that sponsors a week-long camp for foster care children and, according to Brenda, was the reason one of her daughters adopted a child.
Brenda says her area of expertise is in catering, decorating, and planning wedding receptions, banquets, and weekly Wednesday evening meals for 160-190 people. She was employed by the church from 1996-2015 as the Executive Administrative Assistant for the Senior Pastor, the Youth Pastor, the Minister of Music, and any other staff who needed anything. Brenda recently used her talents to decorate the Lions Club Sweetheart Banquet held at Morty's and she did an excellent job. Brenda said that the Lions Club is a natural fit for her because she is accustomed to serving and being of service.
The Lions Club is pleased to welcome these two new members to share in the blessings of service to this community. We still have a few slots remaining for a few more good men and women. "WE SERVE".
P.S. Remember, we will be serving pancakes next Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church. We will be looking for you.
The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety has learned of a telephone scam targeting Oklahoma citizens, with the caller claiming to represent the DMV.
In one example, a resident reported a phone call from a man who said he worked for the DMV, declaring that the resident had cut him off in traffic. He said he would have her driver license suspended unless she paid him $200.
Citizens should be aware that the Department of Public Safety (not “the DMV”) handles driver licenses in Oklahoma, and DPS officials do not make phone calls threatening to suspend licenses or attempting to collect money.
Anyone who receives this type of call is advised to hang up without giving out any personal information. Do not send money to the caller.
Rotarian of the Day Felecia Wittman is shown with guest speaker Dell Dunham and newest Rotary member, Matthew Martin. Dell is an instructor with the High Voltage lineman program at OSUIT. Okmulgee is one of the few institutions in the country offering an associate’s degree for this career. During the 5 internships these students receive, the average pay is enough to cover their college tuition during the 2 year program, allowing them to graduate debt free if they manage their money well. Dell shared a video the Visual Arts department made for recruitment for the High Voltage program. The video has won awards for the college and was even shown on national television during NASCAR. To view the video, you can go to YouTube and search High Voltage Heroes. Students in the program are learning the newest technology in the industry, including helicopter power line repair. Graduates’ beginning pay averages $60,000 to $70,000 a year, before storm overtime.
Pictured left to right: Lion Dean Craig; WW II, Korea, and Viet Nam veteran Lion Jim Vaughn; Dr. Stephen Perkins, and Program Chairperson Lion Beth Flud. (Photos by Dean Craig)
By Dean Craig Okmulgee Lion
Tuesday's Lions Club meeting was more than just a history lesson provided by Dr. Stephen Perkins, OSU Associate Professor of Anthropology, by giving us first-hand information regarding the exhuming and identifying WW II remains on the island of Tarawa. He explained that he had called a colleague, who told him he had just returned from Belgium looking for the remains of a downed WWII pilot from a military plane that had been uncovered. Dr. Perkins told his friend if he was ever invited to do that again, he would be interested in going, never thinking that he would get the call. But, he did! When they were landing on Tarawa, Dr. Perkins' friend commented that they had fenced-in the landing strip so they won't have to run the pigs off to land the jet.
History Flight, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to finding and recovering MIA's, especially from WW II, through the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, sponsored the trip. Tarawa was one of the bloodiest and costliest (Marine casualties) three-day battle (November 20-23) during WW II. The U.S. Marines lost about 1,000 men but the Japanese lost 4,690 men. The Marines only captured 17 Japanese because those who weren't killed committed suicide because it was considered "not honorable" by the Japanese people to be taken prisoner. And, because of the tropical heat on the island, this caused bodies to rapidly decompose, so the bodies were just "interred" in long graves dug by bulldozers. The plan was to return after the war to get the bodies, but this didn't happen. In 1949, the U.S. Military Department declared all WW II MIA's (approximately 73,000) "unrecoverable" and the cases closed. Counting the Korean Conflict (which was described as a "police action" by President Harry Truman because it was not declared a war by the United Nations), there remains about 78,000 MIA's.
What is so ironic is that a lot of WW II debris still remains on Tarawa. The population is around 16,000 people, on a rather small area, with 30% unemployment. Their main source of income is the selling of fishing rights to the Chinese and Japanese, figuring that if they didn't sell the rights, the Chinese and Japanese would just fish there illegally, anyway. Dr. Perkins had current pictures of the rusting debris of tanks, bunkers, iron pill-boxes for machine-gun bunkers, and the Vickers 8-inch guns pointed to the south because that is where Japanese Admiral Shibiazaki thought the U.S. Marines would attack. Instead, the Marines out-smarted the Japanese forces and over-ran the Admiral's bunker from the north and he and his junior officers were killed while trying to flee. Within three days, the Marines had secured Tarawa. Dr. Perkins believes there are still about 700 remains on the island.
The Japanese had occupied Tarawa on December 8, 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor, because the island was such a strategic and vital advantage point. One of our guests was Charles Otto, whose cousin, Cpl. Dmitri Otto, USMC, was killed on the first day of fighting on Tarawa and is listed on page 445 of a book by William L. Niven, "2015 Tarawa's Gravediggers: One of the Greatest Mysteries of WW II Finally Solved". Another book Dr. Perkins mentioned was by Joseph Alexander, "Utmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa". There was a lot more information that I couldn't squeeze in for this article, so that's why you need to attend our meetings to hear "the rest of the story", as the late Paul Harvey would say. And we're still looking for the rest of our new members that we need. Come join us! "WE SERVE".
P.S. Don't forget--we will be serving pancakes 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church on March 21. Y'all come, ya' hear!
OKLAHOMA CITY - After losing millions in previous budget reductions in FY17, officials at the Department of Public Safety and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol are viewing a potential 15 percent budget cut for FY18 as a significant risk to public safety for the public, local law enforcement and State Troopers.
On March 7, DPS was requested to compile a list of the impacts of a potential 15 percent across-the-board budget cut. The analysis resulted in alarming concerns from DPS/OHP officials.
OHP Chief Rick Adams said, “The perilous security environment created by a 15 percent budget cut places citizens at increased risk, local law enforcement at risk and our troopers’ lives at risk. This is a gathering Public Safety Crisis that can only be fixed by adequate funding, and everyone will feel the impact. Further triaging of resources, further cuts in mileage and no manpower replacements – all at a time when 26 percent of the OHP is eligible for retirement – makes this evolving situation far more sinister than budget crises of the past.”
Adams continued: “The OHP is the only state law enforcement agency with a permanent presence in all of Oklahoma's 77 counties, to proactively prevent crime and traffic deaths. Troopers routinely protect Oklahomans from ‘things that go bump in the night’ as we carry out a wide range of mission demands. Those missions range from traditional traffic and commercial motor carrier enforcement, patrolling our waterways, providing statewide air support, antiterrorism efforts, bomb team capability, dealing with natural and manmade disasters, providing forces to quell riots and civil disturbances, the interruption and interdiction of criminal activity, conducting many types of criminal investigations, protecting the Governor and securing the capitol complex, and tracking down many of the state’s most dangerous criminals. Which of these missions do we abandon?”
The next threat to Oklahomans could come from anywhere, without warning, Adams said, requiring the OHP to bring decisive action with a well-trained, well-equipped force flexible enough to adapt to any situation.
“These cuts will force deeper operational restrictions, elimination of missions, possible closure of Headquarters, furloughs, and possible layoffs of troopers and other DPS employees. This Public Safety Crisis harms DPS and the OHP and will put lives at risk."
Assistant Commissioner Gerald Davidson stated that, with an additional 15 percent cut, DPS will not be able to maintain our current reduced level of services. This level of cut would be catastrophic to public safety. The following is a short list of actions the agency will have to consider:
The certainty of 23 furlough days for troopers and DPS personnel
A Reduction in Force (RIF) of both troopers and DPS employees across the state is highly probable
A hard hiring freeze on DPS and OHP personnel. Any reduction of DPS/OHP personnel will directly impact the public by increasing response time by OHP in the case of emergencies or the need for assistance. Additionally, the public will experience substantially increased wait times for all services provided by DPS such as driver license issuance and reinstatement, obtaining accident records, handicap placards, etc.
A halt of ongoing maintenance of the state’s radio system which is utilized by, and would impact, not only law enforcement at the state level, but also hinder local fire departments and municipal police departments’ ability to respond to local incidents
A halt of ongoing upgrade and replacement of aging computer networks, which will affect the Real ID rollout
Closure of select driver license stations around the state, as manpower reduces. This could potentially reduce the number of testing stations from 36 to 12. This will result in increased drive times to obtain driver license/ID cards as well as increase wait times at these facilities
No future OHP Academy until 2019 or beyond. OHP is currently 154 troopers under minimum manning requirements. Delaying an Academy until 2019 or 2020 would put OHP strength just above 650 of the 950 minimum requirement. This critically low staffing number means response times to collisions and other emergencies would be drastically increased
OHP future patrol car purchases would only be considered on a case-by-case basis. Troopers will drive patrol cars considerably longer, which compromises the safety of troopers responding to emergencies
OHP mileage restrictions and other resource-saving measures will deepen, impacting courts, other state agencies and local jurisdictions
OHP Aircraft operations will fly only life safety missions and would no longer be available to provide assistance for non-life-threatening events
Elimination of the OHP Motorcycle Division, liquidation of assets and cancellation of Motorcycle Safety programs
Downscaling of the OHP Training Division; will no longer be able to assist in sponsoring CLEET Basic Course
OHP Marine Enforcement Division and Dive Team will be forced to only respond to calls on State Lakes and would no longer be available to respond to private property incidents (i.e. private property drownings)
Possible closure of aging OHP Troop Headquarters and consolidation of communication centers
Reduced OHP manpower provided to State and Federal Task Forces
Further reductions of current OHP manpower at the capitol complex
Additional cuts of services could become necessary
“A budget cut this significant is unsustainable for DPS/OHP,” said DPS Commissioner Michael C. Thompson.
“The department exists to help protect the public, and this cut makes our mission incredibly challenging. The proposed cut for FY18, on the heels of deep FY17 cuts, will cripple our agency’s ability to serve Oklahoma. Difficult choices are inevitable if this cut becomes a reality.”
In order to answer media questions about this issue, DPS and OHP will be hosting a press conference at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 9, at the Robert R. Lester Training Center at 3600 N. Martin Luther King in Oklahoma City. Members of the media are invited to attend. Please notify DPS Public Affair