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Okmulgee in the News

I love the fact that once an individual catches a glimpse of their potential, and they see how much more there is to life and what they hold within themselves – it becomes nearly impossible to get them to settle for less than what they know they are capable of. Think about the athlete who has a ‘personal best’ goal – it’s hard for them to not aim for beating that target! Think of when you were in school, and how the students with a LarabeeHeadshot2history of straight A’s remained diligent in their studies and were disappointed with anything less than high scores in all of their academic pursuits. The talented musician that’s perfected their craft for years – they won’t be satisfied with missed notes and sloppy practices. Once someone’s potential has been unleashed, they desire to do more and more!

So why do some never recognize their potential to begin with? Maybe they need someone else to see it, and then encourage them to work hard reach it. That’s what good coaches and excellent teachers do. It’s what we hope to accomplish as parents. If no one ever tells you there’s more inside of you, only a very few can see it for themselves and are able to reach out and achieve it. Most of us need a cheerleader – we need encouragers and influencers who challenge our thinking and tell us there’s more, or we might in danger of settling for less.

I think that’s part of our challenge here in Okmulgee. So many people have settled for less in terms of what they think our city is capable of. There are some cheerleaders out there that are working hard and see the potential, but we still have a large number of people who really do think Okmulgee’s best days are behind us. I’m tired of that kind of thinking!

When we go through seasons of negativity and hurt, much like Okmulgee recently has with the violent incidents that have taken place, there’s a temptation to just give up and resign ourselves to thinking maybe that’s all we’re capable of. If you’re like me, or you’ve had the opportunity to be around someone who’s caught the ‘Okmulgee Rising’ bug, then thoughts like those seem ridiculous! We’ve only caught a glimpse of what our town is capable of, and we won’t settle for anything less than our best efforts even on our worst days! I know there’s something worth fighting for here in Okmulgee because I’m constantly surrounded by other cheerleaders who know exactly how much more potential there is within our community, and they sincerely believe that we are able to achieve it!

So, maybe if you can’t say the same, you should come hang out with all of us crazies who are excited about how great Okmulgee is, and who believe we’re going full steam ahead to days that will be better than anything Okmulgee has experienced in the past. Warning: there might be work involved. It’s possible that we won’t listen to your complaints without asking you what you plan to do about them. It’s also likely that when you begin doing something, you too will see the amazing potential our city has and you’ll realize what you once settled for when you considered Okmulgee has been far less than what we’re actually capable of. Don’t Settle!

You’re welcome to email me anytime at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

*Additional (and awesome) contributions were made to this article by Kasey Bowers.

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Richard Larabee is an Okmulgee downtown resident. He serves on the board of Main Street, and operates his own business out of the historic McCulloch building in downtown Okmulgee.

(Oklahoma City, Okla.) – The Oklahoma Main Street Center announced today the finalists of the program’s annual statewide awards competition. All finalists will be honored, and the winners announced, at the 28th annual Main Street Awards Banquet, May 9, at the Embassy Suites OKC Downtown/Medical Center Hotel.

“The Oklahoma Main Street Center Awards Banquet celebrates the communities, people and events that make the program thrive,” said Buffy Hughes, Oklahoma Main Street director. “There are 21 competitive award categories representing the Main Street Four Points, and 19 different programs are in the top three of each. We are always excited to see so many projects, events and people highlighted by the local programs. It is a joyful time for all involved in Main Street.”

Each award category falls under one of the “four points” in the Main Street Approach – Organization, Promotion, Economic Vitality and Design. Panels of outside judges for each point review the entries and determine the winners.

The Community of the Year Award will recognize the Main Street program that earned the most quality assurance points during the 2016 calendar year. The top 10 programs (in alphabetical order) include: Altus, Bartlesville, Duncan, Guymon, Hobart, Newkirk, Okmulgee, Ponca City, Prague, and Wilburton. The top program will also be announced at the banquet.

In addition, the top Main Street Program Directors will be recognized at the banquet. Those making the top three this year include Stephen Boyd, Hobart Main Street, Inc.; Melyn Johnson, Main Street Guymon Inc.; and Ed Sharrer, Kendall Whittier Main Street.

The award finalists are:


Premier Partner
Bartlesville – Hilton Garden Inn/Bartlesville
Okmulgee – Street Signs
Ponca City – City of Ponca City

Best Community Education/Public Awareness
Ardmore – “Your Favorite New Place” Billboard Campaign
Duncan – “This Place Matters”
Wilburton – Main Street Week Activities

Best Volunteer Development Program
Durant – Durant High School Service Learning Project
Guymon – Football Families
Hobart – Main Street Design Committee


Main Street Hero
Altus – Shannon Preston
Newkirk – Caryl Morgan
Okmulgee – Richard Larabee
Ponca City – Richard Winterrowd

Best Creative Fundraising Effort
Durant – Dancing with the Stars
Okmulgee – Big Brain Trivia Night
Ponca City – 2016 Battle of the Burger


Premier Special Event Under 1,000 Attendees
Claremore – Food Truck Thursday
Enid – Butterfly Invasion
Enid – Downtown Dogfest

Premier Special Event Over 1,000 Attendees
Collinsville – 15th Annual Hogs ‘n’ Hot Rods
Durant – Trick or Treat on Third Street Carnival
Hobart – 9/11: Never Forget

Best Retail Event
Durant – Dash for Cash
Ponca City – Ladies Night Out
Tahlequah – Ladies Night Out 2016

Outstanding Image Promotion
Enid – Elf on the Downtown Shelf
Enid – Shop the Square & Main Street Menu
Ponca City – The Downtown Flyer

Creative New Event
Hobart – 9/11: Never Forget
Ponca City – 2016 Battle of the Burger
Stockyards City – “Cowboys and Caboodles” Art Show and Sale


Best Placemaking Project
Enid – The Trail Mural
Ponca City – City of Ponca City/Light Poles & Street Signs
Ponca City – Veterans’ Plaza

Best Sustainable Design Project
Enid – Lamp Post Refurbishment
Enid – Mural Program
Ponca City – Veterans’ Plaza

Best Interior Design Project
Enid – Leonardo’s Children’s Museum
Kendall Whittier – The Beehive Lounge
Okmulgee – Park on the Square

Best Façade Rehabilitation Under $10,000
Claremore – Barron Law Firm
Hobart – Krieger Insurance
Newkirk – A Perfect Day

Best Façade Rehabilitation Over $10,000
Bartlesville – Chris Dizmang – CR Anthony Building
Claremore – Main Street Tavern
Newkirk – Newkirk City Hall
Tahlequah – Wilson Building Façade Project

Best Visual Merchandising
Ada – Farm Girl Boutique
Ada – Rustic Ridge
McAlester – Harper and Gray House

Best Building/Business Branding
Durant – Bliss Boutique
Kendall Whittier – The Beehive Lounge
Newkirk – Cheeky Burgers


Best Adaptive Reuse Project
Claremore – Main Street Tavern
Hobart – Frisco Creek Barbeque
Newkirk – Inner Spaces

Best Business Practices
Ada -- Scraptopia
Altus – Belles & Beaux
Durant – With Bump

Best New Business
Kendall Whittier – Calaveras Mexican Grill
Okmulgee – 102 Ristorante
Stockyards City – Prairie Dust Soaps and Stuff

Business of the Year
Hobart – General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute & Museum
Newkirk – Urban Prairie Art Gallery
Ponca City – Lewis Associates Architects, Inc.

The dinner and program will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased from your local Main Street Program for $45.

For a listing of Main Street programs in the state, or for more information about the Oklahoma Main Street Program, please call (405) 815-6552 or visit OKcommerce.gov/mainstreet.

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                                                                                               Photo by Kendall James

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Army National Guard (OKARNG) welcomed a new general officer to its organization Tuesday during a promotion ceremony held at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Brig. Gen. Louis Wilham, resident of Edmond, Oklahoma, was officially pinned to the rank of Brigadier General, making him the newest general officer for the OKARNG.

“It’s a pretty daunting task,” Wilham said. “Many of my mentors and people I've looked up to my whole career have been promoted to the general officer ranks, and they have set extremely high standards for me to try to live up to. I'm truly honored and humbled to now be included in that group.”

Pinning on his star were his two daughters, Taylor and Shelby, who according to Wilham have only known a life of their father serving in the Oklahoma National Guard. Alongside them was Wilham’s wife, Jody, who beamed with pride while watching their daughters pin on her husband’s new rank. Without the support of his family, Wilham said, he never would have gotten to where he is today.

“I would never have been able to achieve even half of what I've done without the love and support of my family,” Wilham said. “My wife Jody and I have just celebrated our 30th anniversary, and she's had to put up with a lot of absences over the years.”

Whether it was his deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008, his state-active duty mission in response to Hurricane Katrina, drill weekends or annual trainings, an unavoidable part of being in the military is the time spent away from loved ones; time that adds up through the years.

“It doesn’t seem like it at the time, but when you add up all the missed days, it turns out to be quite a lot,” Wilham said. “Through it all though, they've been very supportive of not only me, but more importantly, each other.”

The Senate Assembly Room was standing-room only, with leaders from the Oklahoma National Guard, Oklahoma legislatures, fellow Soldiers and Airmen, and adoring family and friends.

“This is a testament of you who you are as an officer,” said Maj. Gen. Robbie Asher, the adjutant general for Oklahoma, as he addressed the filled room. “This is a great day for our state, a great day for our nation, and a great day for the Wilham family.”

Wilham has spent nearly 30 years in the OKARNG. He enlisted in 1987 after being convinced to join by his father-in-law, Master Sgt. (Ret.) James Roe, and then commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1989. Wilham began serving on active duty for the OKARNG in 1997, where he has served in a multitude of command and staff positions in the company, battalion and brigade-levels, including serving as brigade commander for the OKARNG’s 90th Troop Command.

Wilham’s current assignment is the assistant adjutant general for the OKARNG. He also serves as the executive director of the Oklahoma Military Department in Oklahoma City, the state agency responsible for the administration of the Oklahoma National Guard.

For Wilham, reaching a rank among general officers wasn’t one he necessarily thought he would achieve, but one he is grateful for and one that his family is proud of.

“Even without this promotion, I’ve had an extremely rewarding career and have been able to do many great things with the Oklahoma Army National Guard,” Wilham said. “My family is all very proud, but probably none more so than my mother-in-law, Becki. She and my father-in-law have been very supportive.”

When asked what advice he would give to Service Members just beginning their career, he suggested to build a team and rely on that team to accomplish the mission.

“I’ve been extremely fortunate throughout my career in being able to work with a great group of officers, non-commissioned officers and Soldiers, and we have made each other successful,” Wilham said. “‘Mission First, People Always’ is not just a cliché or motto; it truly is the way you need to operate. You must ensure everyone is mission-focused, but you have to care about the people working with you and their families.”

Wilham holds a bachelor’s degree in Law Enforcement Administration from the University of Oklahoma, and a master’s degree in International Relations from Troy University and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College.

His awards include: Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Combat Action Badge, and more.

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The Oklahoma National Guard welcomed the newest general officer to its organization, Feb. 28, 2017, during a promotion ceremony held at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Brig. Gen. Louis Wilham was promoted to the rank of brigadier general where he currently serves as the assistant adjutant general for the Oklahoma Army National Guard, as well as the executive officer for the Oklahoma Military Department, the state agency responsible for the administration of the Oklahoma National Guard. (Photos by Kendall James)

Okmulgee Service League's 2017 will hold their major fundraiser Queen of Hearts Casino Night Saturday, March 4th 2017 7pm at the Okmulgee Elks Lodge.  Tickets are on sale now!casinonights1

Tickets are $25 each and ticket holders' will receive chips for playing craps and blackjack. At the end of the evening the player with the most chips will win a nights stay at the River Spirit Casino hotel, dinner for two at the Fire side grill and two tickets to Brad Paisley live in concert at paradise cove! There will also be a second and third place consolation prize. In addition to the gaming tables there will be a prize wheel, win loose or draw basket auction, 50/50 raffle and a photo booth.

Ticket holders will also enjoy food from the Elks Ladies Auxiliary, and Mrs Laura's Cakes.

Last years fundraiser raised over $20k that went back into the surrounding communities of Okmulgee county. OSL hopes to do that and more again this year they say! You cannot lose at this spectacular benefit event!


Absentee Deadline and Early Voting

The City of Beggs and Liberty Public Schools has called for a Special Election to be held Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Polls will be open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. Early voting dates are Thursday, March 2nd and Friday, March 3rd between the hours of 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, in the Okmulgee County Election Board office.

The last day to request an absentee ballot by is Wednesday, March 1, 2017. Please remember that the sooner you request an absentee ballot the more time you will have to vote and return it to the election board office.

Sample ballots are now available at the Okmulgee County Election Board for voters who want a preview of what in on the ballot.

For more election related information, call the Okmulgee County Election Board at 918-756-2365 or the State Election Board website www.ok.gov/elections.


The Rotary Club was pleased to host the winners of its recent 4-Way Test Speech Contest at its weekly meeting.  Shown with President-Elect Daryl Raley are Okmulgee High School Speech and Drama Coach Skyleen Willingham, 2nd place winner, Kandace Johnson, 1st place winner, Lindzey Lee, and 3rd place winner, Ryon Davis.  Lindzey presented her award winning speech on the 4-Way Test, as applied to Social Media.  A video of her speech will be entered into the District contest, where a winner of a $1,000 cash prize will be announced in late April.  Runner-ups will receive $350 each.  The club thanks all 9 students who participated in the local contest.  All their takes on applying the 4-Way Test were original and well-thought out.


Brenda Brewer, (center) Director of the Okmulgee Homeless Shelter, was the guest of Rotarian of the Day Curtis Bundy (right).  Brenda gave the group an update on the opening of the new Thrift Store on 6th Street.  They are still accepting donations at the new location until a manager is hired and the store can be officially opened.  She also shared statistics on their clients, of which the majority are Caucasian or American Indian between the ages of 31 to 50.   Although every case is different, besides providing room and board and basic necessities, the shelter assists clients in finding employment and permanent housing in addition to coordinating medical or counseling services.  Brenda acknowledges the majority of the homeless cases in our County are a result of drug abuse, many times complicated by mental illness.  Also shown is Rotary President Felicia Wittman.

Lions Clubs world-wide recognizes outstanding individuals by bestowing on them an award that is named for its founder, Melvin Jones. This award is the highest form of recognition and embodies humanitarian ideas consistent with the nature and purpose of Lionism. The recipient of this award becomes a model of exemplary service to his/her club and the community which it serves. The Melvin Jones Fellowship Award is a nation-wide award and requires a $1,000.00 donation to the Lions Clubs International Foundation. On Saturday, February 18, Okmulgee Lions Beth Flud and Dan Anderson were presented the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award by Lions International President, Chancellor Bob Corlew of Tennessee, during the joint Districts 3-K and 3-L Convention celebrating Lions' 100 years of service at the Lake Murray Lodge in Ardmore. They become the 20th and 21st Lions members to be honored by our club with the Melvin Jones Award. "WE SERVE".
(Photo and information provided by Dean Craig).

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Pictured left to right: District Governor Greg Walker, Seminole: Lions International President Bob Corlew; Lion Beth Flud; Past International Director Pat Shurley, Edmond; Past International Director George Hazelbaker, Duncan; and Past International Director Hal Long, Garber.

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Pictured left to right: Lions International President Bob Corlew; Lion Dan Anderson; Past International Director Pat Shurley, Edmond; Past International Director George Hazelbaker, Duncan; and Past International Director Hal Long, Garber.

Okmulgee , Okla. -- The Muscogee(Creek) Nation Emergency Management, Okmulgee County Emergency Management and City of Okmulgee Emergency Management in cooperation with the National Weather Service Forecast Office, Tulsa is inviting area first responders and interested residents to take part in a Basic Storm/Weather Spotter Training Class.

The class will be on Monday, March 6 at 6:30-8:30 pm. and will be held in the Green Country Technology Center, 1100 North Loop 56 in Okmulgee.

This course aims to familiarize residents about the processes associated with providing real-time reports on tornadoes, hail, winds, flooding and hurricane damage. Participants will also learn the public safety and communications practices that may be utilized during extreme weather events.

The SKYWARN weather spotter is a program developed by the National Weather Service in partnership with local citizens and consists of trained weather spotters who report severe or hazardous weather. It is widely regarded as one of the most critical assets to the National Weather Service's warning, forecasting and verification process.

For more information about this course contact: James Nichols at 918-732-7891 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Three groups (Trinity Lutheran Church, Lions Club, and Rotary Club) combined their efforts on Wednesday to build a handicap ramp for Mr. and Mrs. Fred Landgraf, a member of the Trinity Lutheran Church and retired OSUIT groundskeeper (but many people will remember Fred for raising chickens for their egg production).  Along with a little fun, laughter, bantering of each other, and hard work, they managed to complete the project in a timely manner.  What a blessing to be able to help someone who has given so much to this community.  A big THANK YOU to the seven workers who volunteered their time and skills to complete this project.  When a need is known, there are no boundaries.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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Pictured, left to right: R.C. Morrow (Lions Club), Jerry Remington (Trinity Lutheran Church member), Dan Anderson (Lions Club), Pastor Chris Tiews (Trinity Lutheran Church and Lions Club), David Fetgatter (Trinity Lutheran Church and Lions Club), Pastor Charlie Green (First Christian Church and Rotary Club member), and Raymond Kennedy (Lions Club).

(Photo and information provided by Dean Craig (Lions Club).

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