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Okmulgee in the News


James Hodge Chevrolet held a toy run along with a car and bike show on Saturday Dec. 3.   The purpose of the toy drive to provide Christmas gifts for families in need this Christmas season.  This is the second year for the event.

"Mr. Hodge, the Okmulgee Chevy store and management organized the first one last year to carry on each year, " said James Hodge Director Joe Johnson. Each year we expect this to grow and become a great blessing to the people in the community.”

The Okmulgee County Sheriff’s Office assisted as their escort for the run.  Participants drove around the parameter of Okmulgee and entry was one toy.  Toys were unloaded and put under the tree when they arrived back to the Chevy dealership.

The toys are being  donated to the Salvation Army and Jubilee Christian Church where they will find families to distribute them to.  




Photos by Allen Gardner - ONN - See more photos of the even on our Facebook Page.

The Okmulgee Chamber of Commerce is conducting its annual Christmas Lights Contest again this year.

Two awards of $50 will be awarded to residential displays and two awards of $50 will be awarded to commercial displays.

In order to simplify the process, no entry form will be used this year. Simply call the Chamber office at 918-756-6172 with your nomination. If no one answers, just leave your nomination on the voice-mail. Deadline for entries is Dec.19.

Judging will take place on Dec. 20 with winners being announced before Christmas.




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 December 5, 2016 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.


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. Open and possible award of Bid #5 for road materials for six-month period

G. Discussion and possible approval of Contracts for CodeRED Alert Information System

H. Possible approval of holidays to be observed by Okmulgee County for the 2017 calendar


I. Possible approval of Invitation to Bid #6 for legal publications for twelve-month period

J. Possible approval of Invitation to Bid #7 for weekly/monthly rental of smooth drum roller

and/or track-hoe for six-month period

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

Attorney communications:

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

11. Adjourn


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Pictured left to right: President Lion R.C. Morrow, Gene Leiterman, and Program Chairman Lion Raymond Kennedy.

Tuesday's Lions Club meeting was an introduction to the community of OSUIT's new Dean of the School of Culinary Arts, Gene Leiterman, who has been on the job for the past three months. We only learned of this new hire because of Lion Raymond Kennedy seeking donation items for the silent auction to benefit the joint Tulsa Downtown Lions-Okmulgee Lions banquet celebrating 100 years of Lions service, both clubs being recognized as one of the seven "founders clubs" in Oklahoma. We really didn't realize how popular the Thursday smorgasbord at OSUIT was, outside of Okmulgee, until one of the Tulsa committee members suggested that the Okmulgee committee members seek a donation from the Culinary Arts Department, which they so wonderfully provided. We were told that many people from Tulsa enjoy coming to Okmulgee just for the meal put on by the students. What a great testimony and proud moment for the Okmulgee Lions committee members to learn of the popularity of this meal by so many, other than Okmulgeeans.

Chef Gene told the club that he was interested in baking as a small child watching his grandmother and his mother in the kitchen. But he did not choose this path upon graduating high school. Instead, he followed a course that a lot of parents hoped for their child, i.e. lawyer, doctor, etc. So, he enrolled as a pre-med student at Oklahoma University, graduating with a degree but decided that was not what he wanted to do, so obtained a certificate to teach secondary school classes, which he did for a number of years in Norman. He returned to college, obtaining a master's degree in statistics, and moved to Dallas, working in medical sales and marketing. But his passion for cooking never stopped.

While attending a medical conference 15 years ago, next door was a wedding conference slanted toward baking and chocolate "fountains". He sneaked away from his medical conference and was an uninvited guest to the wedding conference. Long story short, he got married, returned to his home of Oklahoma City, and he and his wife opened up a retail bakery and chocolate factory for five years. While in this business, he was asked to serve on the Board of Directors for Platt College, later taking a job as a teacher. He saw an ad in the paper for a Dean of Culinary Arts at OSUIT, applied for the job, and got it.

Chef Gene spoke highly of OSUIT and the passion that the staff has for the Culinary Arts program. Their mission is to educate students to become nationally competitive chefs and food service managers. The vision of the Culinary Arts program will: be student-centered and performance based; develop industry partnerships to address current and emerging industry needs at the local, regional, and national levels; design and deliver customized educational offerings and services; teach basic fine dining and gourmet cooking skills.

There are presently 122 students in the program, 20 students will be graduating with over 90% receiving job placements, maximum of 50 students enrolled with each class. They are planning to open up a class on the OSU campus in Tulsa and are looking at offering short-term classes, also. I believe the Culinary Arts program was one of a few courses offered when OSUIT began in the 1940s. What a wonderful legacy OSUIT has created for Okmulgee, OSU, Oklahoma, and the whole education system. And don't forget to call for reservations, 918 293-5010, for that Thursday student-run buffet. And also don't forget that you are welcome to attend any of our

Tuesday Lions Club meetings as we have some more outstanding programs on our agenda. We're still looking for a few more good men, and women. "WE SERVE".

(Photo and information provided by Dean Craig with excerpts from notes of Gene Leiterman)

Tuesday, 22 November 2016 18:29

Okmulgee Officers receive Commendations

SgtGreshamOkmulgee Police Officer Sgt. Jerome Gresham was awarded one of the first Medals of Valor given by the Okmulgee Police Department. Sgt. Gresham has committed his professional career to the Okmulgee Police Department where he has served for 14 years. Sgt. Gresham had 8 years of prior law enforcement service prior to joining the Okmulgee Police Department. Sgt. Gresham’s achievements include having an Advanced CLEET certificate and a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Langston University. Below are the events which led to Sgt. Gresham’s citation of the Medal of Valor:

On August 19, 2015 around 12:03 a.m., officers of the Okmulgee Police Department were dispatched to the railroad tracks between McDonalds and 13th Street in reference to a suicidal person. While officers were on scene, they noticed a train approaching their location. Officers quickly searched the area and eventually located the suicidal person. As the train got closer, the suicidal person began screaming he wanted to die and started running toward the train in an effort to take his own life. Sgt. Gresham, without regard to his own safety, ran towards the suicidal person and train in order to save the suicidal person’s life. Sgt. Gresham was able to push the suicidal person off of the train tracks and miss being hit by the train by mere inches. Sgt. Gresham and the suicidal person were so close to the train that officers on scene and the train conductor believed they had been hit. Sgt. Gresham and the suicidal person only sustained minor injuries from the fall.

Sgt. Gresham’s meritorious service, selflessness, heroism, and bravery is to be commended with the Medal of Valor. Sgt. Gresham went above the call of duty and was able to save a life.

Next up Officer Jeremiah Brant. Ofc. Brant was the second officer of the Okmulgee Police Department to have been awarded the Medal of Valor. He has devoted the last 15 years to law enforcement and has served the citizens of Okmulgee cumulatively for four of those years. Ofc. Brant is a 1997 graduate of Okmulgee High School and obtained an associate’s degree in Applied Science from Oklahoma State University-Institute of Technology. Below detail the events for leading up to Ofc. Brant’s commendation:2ndOfficerValor

On October 1, 2015 around 5:13 a.m. Officer Brant was on routine patrol in the area of 13th Street and Severs Avenue. A large cloud of smoke directed Ofc. Brant’s attention to a house that was on fire. As he got closer to the house, he noticed the entire north side of the home overtaken by flames. Ofc. Brant notified dispatch and the fire department. While waiting for the fire department, he began checking the home to see if it was occupied. He looked in a window near the north side of the home and saw a man, woman, and infant asleep. The occupants were completely unaware the home was on fire and the home was quickly filling with smoke. Ofc. Brant was able to awake the occupants and gain entry into the home. He assisted in rescuing the occupants he initially saw and while doing so learned more people were asleep upstairs. Ofc. Brant reentered the home and located the staircase. Despite the significant amount of smoke filling the home, he made his way to the second floor. Ofc. Brant was only able to conduct a brief search of the second floor but was able to awaken the occupants on the second floor. Due to the significant amount of smoke, Ofc. Brant had to retreat down the stairs and outside. He met the occupants from the second floor outside on the rooftop of the first story. Ofc. Brant and other officers who arrived were able to rescue the remaining occupants from the rooftop.

The bravery, devotion to duty and courage exhibited by Officer Brant was truly remarkable. Ofc. Brant selflessly put his safety aside by entering the home on two different occasions to rescue the occupants. There would have been a great loss of life had it not been for Ofc. Brant going above the call of duty. Ofc. Brant’s heroism and devotion to duty is awarded with the Medal of Valor.

The Okmulgee Police Dept. would like the public to join them in congratulating and recognizing these officers for their heroic acts.


The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development honored winners of the prestigious award last week

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MESA, AZ – The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) is pleased to announce its 2016 class of “Native American 40 Under 40” award recipients. This prestigious award is bestowed upon individuals under the age of 40, nominated by members of their communities, who have demonstrated leadership, initiative, and dedication and made significant contributions in business and their community. Among the winners this year are seven from Northeast Oklahoma:

· Sarai Lynn Geary, a resident of Okmulgee and member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
· Rojer Johnson, a resident of Morris, OK and member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
· Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton, a resident of Tulsa and a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.
· Mary J. Pratt, a resident of Claremore, OK and a member of several tribes: Osage, Cherokee, and Delaware.
· Princella RedCorn, a member of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and a resident of Tulsa.
· Linda Sacks, a Member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and a resident of Muskogee, OK.
· Travis Thompson, a Henryetta, OK resident and member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

The winners were honored at the 41st Annual Indian Progress in Business Awards (INPRO) Gala at the Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino in Santa Fe, New Mexico on Wednesday, November 16th. The awards are part of the Reservation Economic Summit New Mexico (RES New Mexico), which is a regional event for the premier economic development gathering in Indian Country. National RES in Las Vegas will celebrate its 31st year this coming March.

“The 40 Under 40 award recipients are a diverse group of young men and women from across Indian Country who have all made invaluable contributions to their communities,” said Derrick Watchman, Chairman of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. “We are proud to honor this extraordinary group of leaders. I have no doubt our 40 Under 40 winners will help define the future of Native American business.”

Sarai Lynn Geary is currently a program manager within the Department of Energy’s Office of Indian Energy, where she has developed tribal leader forums and workshops, and created and implemented strategic plans for the office. Previously, she was a director for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Community Research & Development. Sarai has also taught at the College of the Muscogee Nation, where she focused on Indian Lands. She completed her undergraduate degree from the University of Portland, where she majored in Organizational Communication. She has a Law Degree from the University of Missouri - Kansas City.

Rojer Johnson is the recreation manager for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, where he designs and hosts fitness programs and recreational events for tribal citizens and employees. He has been in his current position since 2011. His accomplishments include establishing a wellness center with new equipment, and hiring three new employees to expand its hours of operation. Previously, he was a Patrolman/SWAT Team Officer with the Lighthorse Police Department. He is certified as a personal trainer and youth fitness instructor by the Native American Fitness Council. He graduated with a B.S. in Health and Physical Education from Panhandle State University.

Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton is a freelance reporter based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her work currently appears in the Native American Times, the Tulsa World, the Bigheart Times, Cherokee Phoenix, Native Health News Alliance, Silicon66 and Reuters. She has also held various public relations positions. An Oklahoma State University alumna, including a M.S. in International Studies, Krehbiel-Burton also volunteers on the national boards for Alpha Pi Omega Sorority, Inc. and the Native American Journalists Association where she has won numerous awards for news her writing.

Mary J. Pratt is a Corporate Financial Analyst for Cherokee Nation Businesses. In her position, she reports and analyzes various aspects of the business, including labor utilization, manufacturing/engineering, and distribution/logistics. Previously she served as an Executive Coordinator at Horizon Engineering/Margo Gray & Associates. Mary is a 2012 graduate of Rogers State University with a BS in Forensic Accounting, and is currently pursuing her MBA in IT Management from Western Governors University.

Princella RedCorn serves as Communications Officer for the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, a Native nonprofit addressing violence against Native women. RedCorn is also a documentary film producer for two films on PBS about Native Americans: Standing Bear’s Footsteps, broadcast in 2012, and Medicine Women, will broadcast on November 16th. She has a BA in Broadcast Theater from Creighton University and a MA in Professional Journalism from the University of Nebraska.

Linda Sacks is currently the Vice President of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma (AICCO) and is their 2016 Volunteer of the Year. She developed the state's first ever tribal cooperative, an educational/leadership program called Leadership Native Oklahoma. Linda also serves on the board of directors for Goodwill Industries of Tulsa, is a member of the Oklahoma Centers for Community and Justice, and is a contributing writer for Native News Online. Linda has a B.S. in Journalism from Oklahoma Christian University.

Travis Thompson has worked for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation for over 11 years, where he currently serves as Director of Compliance for Creek Nation Casinos. He has previously worked as a general manager at several of the Nation’s casinos, and was also acting CEO of the Muscogee Nation Trade and Commerce Authority. Travis earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Oklahoma in Native American Studies and Business Administration. In July of 2015, he earned his Masters of Science in Accountancy from the University of Phoenix.

For more information about RES and the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, please visit http://res.ncaied.org

Tuesday, 22 November 2016 17:40

Turkey, Stuffing, and Anxiety

by: Tina Pierce LMFT

I would like some stuffing and anxiety with my turkey please. No one would actually say those words but year after year this is a reality for most people. Before you decide this article is not for you answer the following questions honestly. Have you ever said… I hope my cousin is sober this year. My aunt is coming so I have to make sure my house is immaculate. What if my stuffing is not exactly how grandma used to make it and everyone hates it? Or how many people do I have to deal with this year? If you have caught yourself relating to any one of these questions, then you have suffered with holiday induced anxiety.

So now that holidays are just around the corner and nerves are high. How do you make sure you have the perfect holiday season? The truth is, you don’t. Unfortunately, there is no way to have a perfect day Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other ordinary day. So take a deep breath because no matter what you do sometimes the turkey turns out too dry or the stuffing gets burnt or someone cannot stand the lumps in the mashed potatoes. The reality is that you are only a person and you are not able to make everyone around you happy. In fact, it is not possible for you to make everyone around you happy. You just do the best you can do and do not worry about the rest.

Some of you may be thinking, but you do not know my family. And you are right, I do not know them. But I do know that if you try to control every little detail and stress yourself out you will not be fun to be around anyways. And that is the most important part of holidays, spending time with those you love, remembering those you have lost, and making memories that will last a lifetime. So I will say it one more time, take a deep breath and relax. Take a step outside if it is too heated or congested in the kitchen. Remember that you cannot control anyone else’s thoughts, actions, or feelings. The only thing you can control is your response. So chose to respond with kindness and peace because that is what will make your holiday happy.



Tina Pierce LMFT

You Place, LLC


The You Place offers Family, Marital, Pre-Marital, and Individual Counseling Services for people struggling with a variety of mental health problems including anxiety, depression, ADHD, PTSD, OCD, and more. The You Place also offers consultation and training services and LPC supervision. For more information call today. 918-777-6045

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Pictured left to right: Program Chairperson Lion Heather Sumner, Strawberry Olive, Margaret Hess, and President Lion R.C. Morrow.

Tuesday's Lions Club program was a departure from the regularly scheduled program with Margaret Hess, at her suggestion, in deference to a program with Strawberry Olive, from Creative Oklahoma. Strawberry is very much a real person from England but presently working with Creative Oklahoma, a new pilot program to assist communities with development, leadership, and attracting businesses to the community. What's so magical about this program is that 40 Oklahoma cities applied for this program but only eight were selected, and Okmulgee is one of the eight cities selected.

Although Strawberry was the main program, Margaret Hess was introduced because she was the one who completed the application for Okmulgee to be included in this pilot project. She was contacted in January by two individuals with Okmulgee ties who both serve on the Board of Creative Oklahoma, both within two days of each other unaware that the other had also contacted Margaret to apply for one of the eight slots. The two were the former Jill Wallace and Phyllis Hudecki. The deadline for an application to be considered was January 30, so Margaret got busy and made the deadline, only to be told that the deadline had been extended to March.

As a very young kid (under 10), I remember our church having what we called a "booster band" after Sunday School and before the Worship Service. We would all line up behind the altar and sing choruses, one of which says, "the more we pull together, together, together, the more we pull together, the happier we'll be". I say that only to allude to the fact that all you have to do is look around you to see that this little phrase is prophetic, and look at the cooperation between the Chamber of Commerce, Main Street, OSUIT, the Creek Nation, OADC, the downtown loft apartments, and buildings being renovated by various people. ALL of these entities have had a major impact in Okmulgee being selected for this pilot project. And Strawberry Olive will be with us for a two-year period.

Strawberry Olive has a diverse career spanning private health care, logistics and education in the UK, Germany, and U.S.A. Professional development includes a BA in Education and Drama, and an MBA, and more recently completing a PhD in Organizational Leadership researching Innovation and Creativity. A strong business background covers logistics, process improvement and transformation and data base management for the U.S. Army; training; consultancy, and new business startup in the private health sector and in the education sector new business startup, development and deployment of MOOCs, and more recently new program development as a program director for business, marketing and management undergraduate and graduate programs. A background and expertise in continual process improvement and creative problem solving includes ISO 9000, Creative Problem Solving (CPSI) and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification and experience as well as teaching creativity, innovation, leadership and change management at the graduate level. Strawberry believes that education and learning provides individuals with the tools and support needed to be more informed and confident in their own areas of expertise. This empowers individuals to make life changing choices that can ultimately directly affect not just individuals but the community as well.

She met and married her husband, an American serving in the U.S. Air Force, and, together, they spent 11 years in Germany until coming to the States three years ago. They currently live in Omaha, Nebraska, but Strawberry has been hired by the State of Oklahoma for her position with Creative Oklahoma. She has spent a lot of time already getting acquainted with the various entities in the community. What a delight to have her for this program and I regret that we did not have time to advertise this program, but I have no doubt that we will be having more opportunities to meet her within the next two years. And thank you, Margaret Hess, for giving up your scheduled program in deference to Strawberry.

On a related note, President Lion R.C. Morrow presented a 15-year chevron to Lion Dan Anderson, a 40-year chevron to Lion Jon Giddings (in absentia), a 50-year chevron to Past District Governor Dean Craig. "WE SERVE".

(Photos and information provided by Dean Craig, with excerpts from the biography provided by Strawberry Olive)

The Okmulgee County Rural Water District #2 located in Preston is currently in the process of rebuilding a new office after the recent fire that happened in August 2016.

The office has just been relocated to a temporary location in the old “Home Economics” school building located on Pringey Ave. (Please see the map provided.)  The office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The after hours payment drop slot will remain located on the south door of the District Shop.  You can pay your bill by cash, check or money order. Credit cards are not being accepted at this time.  Automatic Drafts are offered.   

Work will soon begin over the next few weeks to tear down the old burned water office building and a new office will then be constructed. Projected completion should happen the first of next year as weather allows for the construction.

The District #2 Water Board would like to thank the Preston School Board and Superintendent Mark Hudson for making the school building available to use during the transition.


Thursday, 10 November 2016 19:34

Lions who answered the call to serve

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Pictured left to right: Program Chairman Lion Gary Volz, Dakota Nelson, David Nelson, and WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam veteran Lion Jim Vaughn.

By Dean Craig

Tuesday's Lions Club program was geared toward honoring those Lions who answered the call to serve in the military for the Greatest Nation on Earth. And who better to highlight that program than one of our own "local sons", Chief Warrant Officer 3 (Retired) David Nelson, an Army Ranger and Blackhawk helicopter pilot. He was born in Oklahoma City but is a 1994 graduate of Morris High School. And there is no better way to explain his career than to re-print his biography in his own words.

CW3 Nelson entered Army service in January 1995 as a fire support specialist. In 1997 he volunteered to join the Army's elite 75th Ranger Regiment and, after completing airborne school and the ranger indoctrination program, he spent the next six years as a U.S. Army Airborne Ranger. While serving in the 75th Ranger regiment, CW3 Nelson earned the coveted Ranger tab, jump master wings, completed 40 jumps from high performance aircraft and helicopters, and deployed four times to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2003 he was accepted to the U.S. Army flight training program, and in 2004, he attended the Army warrant officer candidate school, followed by flight training. In April 2005, Chief Nelson graduated from flight school as a fully qualified UH60 Blackhawk helicopter pilot. He spent the next six years in the 101st Airborne division, during which time he completed three more 12 month combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan.

After seven combat tours, Chief Nelson spent his last three years in the Army at Fort Rucker, Alabama, where he deployed one more time to Honduras with joint task force bravo, who provides Central America with humanitarian aid, disaster relief, and assists for counter drug operations. CW3 Nelson retired from the Army in January 2015 and brought his family back home to Morris, where he and his wife met, and where his children, Dakota and Natalie, will finish school. In fact, Dakota has already graduated and has joined the U.S. Air Force and will leave for active duty next month.

CW 3 Nelson's awards and decorations include: The Army Service Ribbon; National Defense Ribbon; Six Army Achievement Medals; Five Army Commendation Medals; The Joint Service Commendation Medals; The NATO Ribbon; The Army Good Conduct Medal; The Ranger Tab; Senior Jump Wings; Senior Aviator Wings; British, Canadian, and French Airborne Wings; Three Overseas Ribbons; The Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Ribbon; The Afghanistan Campaign Medal; Three Air Medals; The Meritorious Service Medal; and The Bronze Star. Quite an accomplishment I'd say for someone who still looks like a college student, not even taking in account all he's been through these past twenty years. A BIG salute and heartfelt thanks from a Grateful Nation for all the veterans who have served this country to keep our Nation free, realizing that Freedom is not free, and it came with a horrendous price tag. We are still looking for a few more good men, and women. Won't you join us? "WE SERVE".

(Photos and information provided by Dean Craig and from David Nelson's biography).

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