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Okmulgee in the News


By Valerie Rice - ONN

Okmulgee Main Street was proud to present a very special award to a very special young family that live in the downtown Council House District of Okmulgee at the Harvest Spoon Chili Festival.  

The Larabee’s were recognized as “Residents of the Year”.  Richard Larabee, his wife Crystal and son Parker were the first tenants to take up loft living in downtown Okmulgee in the Park on the Square.  Since that time the family has become an integral part of Okmulgee and a valued asset to the community. They have become involved in many volunteer hours to improve Okmulgee. Richard Larabee became a Main Street Board member and is now chairing the Roger Brooks Task Force committee.  Where he goes, you will find his wife volunteering as well on most Okmulgee projects and they take pride in having their son Parker learn and grow with them in volunteerism.

Most notably however, is how the Larabee’s have cared for the downtown Council House Square area, basically their own front yard.

Back in May, Okmulgee Main Street Volunteers participating in a beautification project for the downtown area called Transformation Tuesday to place new planters, tables, chairs and park benches around the Square and filled the planters with flowers and plants to spruce up downtown.  The project was a joint effort between Okmulgee Main Street, Okmulgee Chamber Tourism Council, the Roger Brooks Task Force and the City of Okmulgee.

When the project was done, there was the question of “who would maintain these beautiful plants?”

That is when the Larabee’s raised their hands and truly stepped up to the dedicated responsibility of watering and caring for the plants.  It was not an easy job.  The summer season did not bring much rain, however the Larabee’s worked almost daily, taking around watering cans to see that the plants got enough to drink month after month.

So if you have been able to enjoy this beauty in downtown Okmulgee, you know who is responsible and you can thank a Larabee for keeping it beautiful for all to enjoy!

Photos by Allen Gardner - ONN

Wednesday, 26 October 2016 18:14

Okmulgee Lions learn about Pilot Dog Program

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Pictured left to right: President Lion R.C. Morrow, Jill Porter, and Program Chairperson Heather Sumner.

by Dean Craig Okmulgee Lion Program Chairman

Tuesday's Lions Club program was a re-scheduled program from a previous time that had to be cancelled due to illness, and during the interim, changes can occur. In this case, the Pilot Dog that had been assigned to Jill Porter didn't work out and the dog had to be sent back. Miss Porter is the daughter of former Okmulgee Fire Chief, Tom Porter, and is a valedictorian graduate of Morris, class of 1999, furthering her education at OSUIT and East Central University in Ada, with plans of becoming a teacher. She has accomplished all this despite being born with very limited vision and cerebral palsy.

The Pilot Dog Program is based in Columbus, Ohio, a large urban city with a lot of people and a lot of traffic, where her dog was trained. The goal is to match a person and their personality with the dog's personality and training. The dogs sleep in a cage at night and are on a leash most of the working day. Her class started out with seven member but had dwindled down to three when she completed her training. When the dogs are in their harness "working", people would ask her if they could pet the dog (which is a no-no), and sometimes say to the dog, "I know I'm not supposed to pet you but your owner won't see me".

Jill explained that her dog experienced "culture shock" in coming to rural Henryetta and was scared of chickens and cows, and the neighbor living behind her has chickens. Of course, not being able to drive leaves her dependent on relatives, friends, or public transportation, but not all people want a dog riding in their car, and public transportation only is available 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. She presently is a volunteer teacher's aide at Henryetta Elementary for kindergarten, first and second grades. Her goal is to make more people aware of the vision-impaired and the problems they face. Jill had also been told that she would be in a wheelchair by age 25 due to her cerebral palsy but that hasn't happened because she has received good physical therapy in Okmulgee. She is trying to learn to play the piano, citing good exercise for her, on a piano that had been given to her by Lion member Jim McClendon. Her plan is to wait before seeking to be paired with a smaller dog rather than Labs, German Shepherds, or Boxers that are currently being offered, and maybe another dog will work out. What a delightful young lady, who deals daily with the situations that life has dealt her, but epitomizes that old adage "when life gives you a lemon, make lemonade". By the way, Jill is a member of the Henryetta Lions Club. "WE SERVE".

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Tuesday's Lions Club program was sort of like one of the late Yankee's catcher Yogi Berra's s misquotes, "it's almost like deja vu all over again", because we had another cancellation from the regularly scheduled program. In this case, a death in the family of a close friend. David Garrett, a former Henryetta native and former radio voice of the Dallas Cowboys for several years (and also for the New Orleans Saints for one year) was the scheduled program, and he was going to try to make both events (the Lions program and the funeral), which would prove to be an impossibility, so I encouraged him to be with his friend's family, which I believed to be the right thing to do. Craig Way, the 15-year radio voice of the Texas Longhorns, missed his only broadcast of the Red River Rivalry Saturday to be with his wife, Laurie, who was in the hospital suffering from cancer. She passed away Saturday evening. We have re-scheduled David for November 1.

But not to worry, because we have another new member waiting in the wings to give his 15-minutes-of-fame speech--David Fetgatter, a former Okmulgee resident who has moved back, and also is a former Lion. David was born in Centralia, Illinois to a long lineage of German immigrants dating back to the 1800's, with the name Fettkotter, who were mostly coal miners. However, his father got a job with an oil company, which just happened to have an office in Pauls Valley, and his father was transferred there. Thus, David moved to Oklahoma at age 15, graduating from Pauls Valley High School and then East Central University in Ada.

He began working in grocery stores at age 16, later was a manager for Humpty-Dumpty Grocery in Shawnee, and came to Okmulgee in 1972 to work for Cox Brothers IGA, where the present Arby's is located. When the Cox Brothers sold their store, David re-located the IGA Store to the 2000 Center. He left Okmulgee in 1990 and lived in Tulsa for 17 years, eventually working for Walmart Neighborhood Markets for 15 years before moving back to Okmulgee last August.

David was very active in the Okmulgee Community when he first came here, helping form the Okmulgee Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, was a board member for the Okmulgee Memorial Hospital, as well as a board member for the Country Club. He was also a good member of the Lions Club. David stated that he is glad to be back in Okmulgee with his son, Scott, one of his five children. We are also glad that David is back in Okmulgee and has chosen to re-join the Lions Club because we can put him to good use, particularly next week with our semi-annual Pancake Day coming up next Tuesday. Y'all come, ya' hear? "WE SERVE"
Pictured left is Lion David Fetgatter receiving a commemorative coffee cup from President Lion R.C. Morrow.
(Photo and information provided by Dean Craig)

The Henryetta Chamber of Commerce invites those that have classic cars, hotrods, or anyone that wants to “Cruise Main Street” to attend the October 22nd “Cruise Knight.” Activities begin at 6:00 PM and conclude at 10:00 PM. Spectators are invited to visit downtown and take a step back in time when one of the big enjoyments was cleaning up your favorite ride and Cruising Main Street. Cruising Main Street (aka Dragging Main) was a tradition for years in small towns across the nation and many times it would result in impromptu car shows as cruisers stopped and admired each other’s cars and eventually it would in a burnout challenge or an outlaw quarter mile drag race. Though we want have “outlaw drags,” we will have cars and bikes on display and a burnout contest. For more information regarding the event and vending please contact Staci Alsover at 918-652-4407 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016 16:50

Update on Real ID Enforcement

The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety was notified today that the State of Oklahoma’s request for an extension of time to become compliant with the REAL ID Act has been denied. Included in the message was notification that Oklahoma has been issued a grace period that will end on January 29, 2017. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security:

“Starting January 30, 2017, Federal agencies are prohibited from accepting driver’s licenses and identification cards issued by [non-compliant] states for official purposes.”

What this means is that after January 30, 2017, anyone who does not have a form of identification that is REAL ID compliant will not be able to enter a federal building or facility, military base, courthouse, etc. Oklahomans are strongly encouraged to plan ahead before visiting any federal building or facility.


Beginning January 30, 2017: Federal agencies are prohibited from accepting driver’s licenses and identification cards issued by non-compliant states for official purposes.

Beginning January 22, 2018: A driver license or state ID issued by a state that is not in compliance with the REAL ID Act and has not been granted an extension by DHS will not be accepted to board a commercial aircraft within the U.S.

The Henryetta “Main Street Halloween Trick or Treat” is scheduled for Monday, October 31st beginning at 3:30 PM and ending at 5:00 PM. Participating merchants will display a “Jack-o-lantern” on their front windows. The event attracts hundreds of youth annually and helps to ensure a safe Halloween for our young ghost and goblins. If you are a merchant and want to participate please contact the Chamber of Commerce at 918-652-3331 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

OKMULGEE, OK. - The Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1189 in Okmulgee are sending their support and thanks to the Oklahoma Army National Guard troops who have been deployed to the Middle East since June with much needed personal supplies in care packages addressed to each soldier.

Carol Smith, Post 1189 Auxiliary President, along with other officers of the Auxiliary visited with the administration officer and NCO at the local armory for advice on what the individual soldier needs that he or she would not otherwise be able to easily obtain while on active duty in the Middle East. Okmulgee’s local armory is home to Company A of the 777th Aviation Support Battalion which is headquartered at Camp Joseph

T. Robinson in North Little Rock, AR. The Oklahoma National Guard website describes Company A as the ONG 90th Troop Command’s “777th Distribution Company providing water distribution, fuel distribution, warehouse operations, and transportation as necessary. The unit has supported multiple State Active Duty missions and is currently deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.”

After learning what the troops’ most desired needs are, the Auxiliary purchased items such as shower shoes, soaps and shampoos, moistened hand wipes, easily pocketed packaged snacks, chewing gum, ballistic shatter proof UV protection safety sunglasses, and other needed items helping to make each soldier’s life a little easier while performing their duty overseas. The Auxiliary will be preparing the care packages on October 15th with the help of National Guard members assigned to the local armory who are administratively supporting the deployed troops. This activity and preparing the packages for overseas mailing will be carried out at the local VFW Post 1189 located at 1427 North Okmulgee Street in Okmulgee.

Nationally the Auxiliaries of VFW Posts throughout the U.S. have nearly 465,000 members in more than 4,000 Auxiliaries who volunteer millions of hours and fundraise millions of dollars for charitable projects that benefit veterans, military service personnel and their families. Anyone 16 years or older that have a relative who is a member of the VFW or eligible to be a member of the VFW is eligible to join the Auxiliary and take part in assisting America’s Veterans and Troops. If interested in becoming a member of VFW Post 1189 Auxiliary in Okmulgee, contact Auxiliary President Carol Smith, 918-232-5621.

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Pictured left to right: Jim Kennedy, Program Chairman Lion Kyle Powell, Missy Wilson, and President Lion R.C. Morrow.

By Dean Craig - Lion Member

Tuesday's Lions Club meeting was one of those necessary local programs regarding the United Way and the tremendous financial support given to the 60 agencies in the six counties that are a part of the Tulsa United Way. Those counties are: Tulsa, Okmulgee, Okfuskee, Creek, Rogers, and Wagoner. Melissa Wilson, better known as Missy, Human Resources Director for the First National Bank, is the representative for Okmulgee, and Jim Kennedy, a retired Navy veteran, is the executive "on loan" to assist our local efforts. And Missy stated that, speaking from experience, no one knows at what point they might need to utilize one of these United Way-sponsored agencies, in her case, adoption. Not only once, but twice. And myself, speaking from experience as a former Department of Human Services County Administrator, I can most certainly agree with whoever said "no person stands taller than those who stoop down to help a child". What a marvelous example of unselfishness with two biological children of their own, and adopting two more. So much more than MasterCard--PRICELESS!

Jim Kennedy is a retired Navy veteran and has been with the United Way for the past ten years. He has high praise for all the volunteers, whom they must depend on, and he also stated that every hour you give as a volunteer is also priceless. He was almost boastful in alluding to the fact that the Tulsa United Way is in the top 3% in the Nation for low administrative costs, as only 12 executives are paid by the United Way, which equates to 9.3 cents per $1.00. And, approximately 7,000 hours are spent vetting the process to fairly and equitably dispense these funds to ensure that they are good stewards of the monies collected. More than $26 million was raised in 2015 by over 2,000 volunteers and more than 45,000 donors. Over 500,000 people were helped last year in the six-county area. Some of the agencies receiving financial assistance in Okmulgee County are the Family Resources Center, Homeless Shelter, Okmulgee-Okfuskee County Youth Services, and CASA. Take a look at what your generosity provided: 8,515 Okmulgee County residents received help representing a total community investment of $401,982; 4,198 hours of counseling were provided to 387 young people through Okmulgee-Okfuskee County Youth Services; 75 children received help from CASA; 94% of juvenile offenders who completed Okmulgee-Okfuskee County Youth Services assistance program did not commit another crime; 6,318 domestic violence victims were provided with protective order advocacy by Domestic Violence Intervention Services (DVIS); 1,709 victims of house fires, storms, and floods received assistance from the United Way. So, combining forces and resources allows us to become so much more for our community. Have you made your pledge yet? Please consider doing your part. "WE SERVE".

(Photo and information provided by Dean Craig with excerpts from the United Way pamphlet)

Story by Sgt. Bradley A. Cooney, 145th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

BRAGGS, Okla.—Jana and Matthew Machniak—if seen shopping at the local supermarket with their two children—would appear to be a conventional, everyday married couple.

But underneath that sublime small-town family exterior are two Oklahoma Army National Guard members on the road to mobilize to the Southwest Asia. Their unit, the 1345th Transportation Company, Oklahoma Army National Guard, deployed to Southwest Asia. That means the couple will be going together.

It’s difficult enough for married folks to manage the usual range of weekly duties—getting the kids off to school, soccer practice, appointments—but the Machniaks, just three years into their marriage, say deploying together will be simple. It’s just a matter of faith.

“Faith is the foundation of our relationship,” said Matthew, of Adrian, Michigan, adding he and Jana first met at a church group. “We wouldn’t be together if we didn’t have the same beliefs.”

Shortly before they met, Jana decided to join the Oklahoma Guard and Matthew followed not long after. Their bond grew stronger through their faith in God and service to their county.

“We have always been headed in the same direction since we met,” said Jana of Hydro, Oklahoma. “We have the same goals, which makes it easier.”

When they were told that their unit was mobilizing, they were faced with some tough choices.

“We were given the option for one of us to stay,” said Matthew. “We thought about it in terms of what is best for our family and we both wanted the experience.”

The couple had the support of their leadership during the decision-making process.

“These two soldiers really impressed me,” said Cpt. Dustin Ruth, 1345th Transportation Company commander. “For these two to sacrifice being away from their two young children for an entire year, to put their unit and mission first, says a lot about their courage and conviction. I don’t know many people who would not have jumped at the chance to stay home.”

Matthew is a motor transport operator and Jana is unit supply specialist. The two are in different platoons so their time spent together during a busy pre-deployment training is limited. They make everything work through texts and brief run-ins during their day. Through their dedication to the mission and each other, their bond stays strong.

“We have gone into this with the mindset that when we get to see each other, it’ll be awesome,” said Jana. “When we can’t, at least we know that we are going through it together.”

One very important detail comes to mind during all of this: where will their children be while their parents are off serving our country? The couple’s two children are staying with their grandparents in western Oklahoma during the mobilization.

“Their grandma and grandpa run a farm that they spend a lot of time at,” said Matthew. “So we couldn’t have asked for a better situation to leave them in.”

Through all of this, their children are never far from their thoughts.

“I hope that they recognize that we did this to honor our commitment,” said Jana. “Not only did we do this to keep our marriage strong, we also wanted to keep our commitment and fulfill our duty.”

Matthew agreed. “We will come back with a new appreciation of time with our family, that’s for sure.”

OKLAHOMA CITY –Attorney General Scott Pruitt is once again recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month with several events scheduled throughout the month to raise awareness about domestic violence prevention.

The 9th Annual Domestic Violence Awareness Month Press Conference and Awards Ceremony will take place Thursday, Oct. 13 at 1:30 p.m., in the Blue Room of the Oklahoma State Capitol. The yearly press conference aims to increase awareness of domestic violence in our communities and honor the law enforcement, victims’ advocates, prosecutors and other partners who have gone above and beyond to assist victims of domestic violence. Award winners this year are Jacobi Nichols Whatley, District 21 Assistant District Attorney; Captain James Bell, Northeastern State University Police Department; Evelyn Hibbs, Executive Director of Women in Safe Home; and Brian Reeves, children services volunteer for YWCA-OKC. Following the ceremony, a reception will be held at the Attorney General’s Office to honor the awardees.

 “Domestic violence continues to have a devastating impact on families across our state,” Attorney General Pruitt said. “Through the cooperative efforts of several state agencies and local organizations, our mission this month is to bring awareness to this issue and recognize the many endeavors already taking place to prevent domestic violence with the hope to one day eliminate the tragedy entirely.”

Other events planned in October to recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month include:

October 12th - Domestic Violence Awareness Month Balloon Release –OU/DHS Training Center, Norman at 12pm
 October 27th - DHS Walk to Remember – Sequoyah Building South lawn, 1:00pmOctober 27th - YWCA Wreath of Hope Ceremony – State Capitol, 1:30pm

Also, in what has become a tradition across the state during the month of October, Attorney General Pruitt is inviting Oklahomans to join him in wearing purple every Thursday of the month as a visual reminder to honor those victims who lost their lives and to celebrate survivors of domestic violence. Adding to that tradition, community partners, state agencies and local leaders are being asked to light their homes or businesses purple during the week of October 24-28.

Other agencies and organizations partnering with the Attorney General’s Office to recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month include District Attorney’s Council, Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Native Alliance Against Violence, Oklahoma Department of Human Services, and YWCA.

To report incidents of domestic violence or to seek help, call the statewide 24-hour hotline at 1-800-522-SAFE (7233). For other resources to assist victims of domestic abuse, contact the Attorney General’s Victim Services Unit at (405) 521-3921 or (918) 581-2885.

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