Okmulgee in the News
A comedian on TV once had a rant on how binge drinking was bogus. He claimed it was a new cause to scare people into thinking the sky was falling and there was no real harm in drinking alcohol to get drunk. He was wrong. Dead wrong.
Recently a group of professionals worked with the state Epidemiologist to determine the major substance abuse issues in Okmulgee County. Yes we have high levels of underage drinking, yes we have high levels of prescription drug use, but Okmulgee County ranked highest in adult binge drinking. This is drinking with the intent to become intoxicated, and is classified as consuming four dinks in an evening for women and five drinks for men.
America is just now realizing that binge drinking is not the lone town drunk going on a weekend bender. The sad fact is, a large percentage of adults are opting for the lost weekend. New estimates show that binge drinking is a bigger problem than previously thought. More than 38 million US adults binge drink, about 4 times a month, and the largest number of drinks per binge is on average 8. While we do not have data on average drinks for Okmulgee County, we know the Center for Disease Control has Oklahoma is listed as one of the states with the highest consumption per person.
Binge drinking is a public health issue that is about more than just the number of binge drinkers, it is also about the number of times these people choose to go on a binder. The public often see this as a youth issue, and the greatest number of binge drinkers are in the 18-34 year old age bracket, but the age group that binge drinks most often is aged 65 and over. The public perception is this is a condition of low income, and while this is partially true, the income group with the most binge drinkers makes more than $75,000 a year. People who make below $25,000 tend to binge drink more often and will drink the most per binge.
This is not an addiction issue. Most binge drinkers are not considered alcohol dependent. Binge drinkers are people who seem to believe the good times are found in alcohol consumption and the goal of the evening is intoxication. The lesson is learned early, often when the drinker is under the age to legally purchase alcohol, in fact, 90% of alcohol consumed by youth is while binge drinking. This learned behavior follows individuals into adult life, as statistics show more than half of all of the alcohol adults drink is while binge drinking.
Make no mistake about it, you, the taxpayer, is footing the bill for this activity.
The Center for Disease Control estimates drinking too much, including binge drinking, cost $746 per person, or $1.90 a drink, in the US in 2006. These costs include health care expenses, crime, and lost productivity. Binge drinking cost federal, state, and local governments about 62 cents per drink in 2006, while federal and state income from taxes on alcohol totaled only about 12 cents per drink. Drinking too much contributes to over 54 different injuries and diseases, including car crashes, violence, and sexually-transmitted diseases. The chance of getting sick and dying from alcohol problems will increase significantly for those who binge drink more often and drink more when they do.
Alcohol Beverage Laws Enforcement Agent Mike Randol pointed out that the coalition is not looking to prevent drinking or serving alcohol to adults. The problem is a real public health issue that has been identified in the community regarding binge or over drinking, which is often tied to over serving. We tend to talk about the criminal aspect of over serving, but the reality is vendors and party hosts are opening themselves up to a wide variety of legal liability issues when they allow or promote over consumption of alcohol. State assessors are collecting data from every DUI on where that driver got his/her last drink, which can then be traced back to the home or business that over served and then allowed an intoxicated person to drive. If a fatality occurs that establishment or home owner can be held responsible.
Then the question is, “What can we do about it?” Believe it or not you have a community group already working on the issue. The Okmulgee County
Consortium (OCC) has been working on a community driven plan to address the issue of adult binge drinking. OCC Chairman, Cris Campbell states the group has several irons in the fire for this issue. “This issue is rife with problems for addressing adult binge drinking on a local level. We have found several good strategies that have been effective in other states, and we have spent a good deal of time building the capacity in the community to add those strategies.” Campbell said OCC has been assessing the way all restaurants and bars serve alcohol in the county. They have worked with local authorities to gain information on local establishments that over serve customers and they offer free merchant education to clerks and businesses.
Campbell concluded, “You know, here a few years ago we did a community assessment via water bills. The biggest problem identified was not roads, or health access, or even poverty. The biggest problem that people in Okmulgee saw with their own eyes was alcohol consumption. So, this is not news to those of us that live here, we know we have an adult binge drinking problem.” If you would like to find out ways you can help bring about positive changes in your community, call 918-756-1248 and find out how you can be a member of the Okmulgee County Consortium.
(L-R) Raymond Kennedy volunteer for the Okmulgee Humane Society, little Samuel Cook, Veterinarian Gill Graham with Rhianna Roberts. (Photos by Paul Orosco ONN Chief Photographer)
Rhiannan Roberts, granddaughter of Gill Graham an Okmulgee Veterinarian, celebrated her fifth birthday last Saturday and like most kids she enjoyed a party at a skating rink in Tulsa where she had the normal cake and refreshments.
But this year she had a special request when it came to gifts. The selfless girl said that for those who wanted to buy a gift, if they would instead choose a gift for the Okmulgee Humane Society in the way of food for either dogs or cats.
The gifts were gathered at Graham veterinarian and will be delivered to the Humaine Society.
Are you tired of seeing trash along your city streets? Do you cringe when you see someone throw litter out a car window onto the highway? Does litter really bug you? If so, this is the event for you!
The State of Oklahoma has designated the month of April as "Trash-Off Month" as a statewide cleanup day . Clean Your State for a working date! Sharla Stephenson, Marketing Officer for First National Bank is coordinating all efforts for "Our Highway 75 Clean-Up". The date for the clean up is April 20.
Our county needs your help. Trash-Off is a growing success, so why not join in and help beautify your community! If your organization would like to be a team and help clean up Highway 75 please contact Sharla at 918-758-2465.
Sharla Stevenson points out the map of the location for clean up.
(Photo by Paul Orosco ONN Chief Photographer)
[L-R] County Commissioner District 1 Jay Hill, Commissioner Secretary Shelly Stephens, County Commissioner District 2 Bobby Hardridge, Couty Clerk Becky Thomas and County Commisioner James Conners District 3. (Photo by Valerie Rice)
The Okmulgee County commissioners covered a light agenda on Monday March 25. After the regular meeting opened there were no business items to attend to except a Utility permit, out of District 1, for Windstream Communications.
The Board acknowledged a letter from the Okmulgee County Wellness Coalition. The letter said that they were making plans to build a greenhouse on the property next to their community garden. The garden is in its third year and the Board accredited it to be like a good idea.
There was no new business and no claims. The meeting was adjourned.
Sign at new Kabota location
The Okmulgee Kubota Dealer, Stewert – Martin Equipment, hit another milestone yesterday when they celebrated the grand opening of another store location to their system. The new store will be located at 106th and Memorial in Bixby and will be ran by Jonathan Newton who is CEO in charge of the new store. Jonathan is the son of Joey Newton, Stewert – Martin Equipment President.
The new store deals mostly in the construction line of their products.
“We are excited for Jonathan taking on this venture. Kabota is a good company to work for,” Joey Newton said. “I like the saying about Kabota, - There’s only two kinds of dealer’s Kabota dealers and those that want to be Kabota dealers. – We are excited that Kabota would let us be a part of this.”
At the new location, it will be a rental store. There is leasing, sales and rental available.
If you plan to purchase Kabota equipment, remember to keep your purchases local at the Okmulgee store to keep our tax dollars at home. Tax dollars assist in the revitalization of your Okmulgee Hometown!
(Photos by Paul Orosco - Chief Photographer)
(Photo by Paul Orosco - Chief Photographer)
Okmulgee Community Garden founded by Dr. Ed Osborn and the Healthy Lifestyles Committee of the Okmulgee County Wellness Coalition is now in its third year. Okmulgee Community Garden Committee Chair- Bob Seebeck now organizes the garden, along with many other volunteers.
The garden is located at 1202 S. Belmont in Okmulgee west of the Okmulgee Memorial Hospital. Anyone can make application to use a plot throughout the Spring and Summer, no matter what your income is. The goal of the project is for supporting a healthier lifestyle by eating more fruits and vegetables. The garden also has a dual purpose as the overflow is used to donate to other worthy organizations such as the Okmulgee Homeless Shelter and Opengate.
This year they anticipate installing 33 garden plots on the property and each plot will be 4' wide X 32" long. The committee is also working on a grant in hopes that they can build a green house on the west side of the property. This will allow seeds to be started and growing new plants before each season.
There is water available on the property and the garden will be supervised somewhat throughout the week. The Old Tyme Village donated the use of a storage shed where some gardening tools are available when someone is on site.
Anyone interested in having a plot can contact Bobby Howard 918-756-1883 x140. The plots are free and some seeds are available. If you don’t have time to garden your own plot, you can think about helping out in the community plot. All of the produce there will be donated.
For more information visit their website at www.okmulgeegarden.weebly.com
Brenda Brewer the "Lucky Leprechaun" hands over a $200 check to winner Chris Stacey
(Photo by Paul Orosco - Chief Photographer)
The Okmulgee Mainstreet is helping to keep the "green" in Okmulgee in their 2nd annual "Shamrock Search."
Last week shoppers had a right to shop as they carried their passport map entry to the businesses in downtown Okmulgee. Each business would stamp the map. Once they were filled they were turned in to the Chamber on Friday to be entered into a cash prize drawing.
On Friday and Saturday the Lucky Leprachaun (Brenda Brewer) was out and about the downtown square waving and passing out candy and trinkets to the children who came by.
The drawing was held on Saturday at noon.
Creek Capital Street Rods held their 42nd Annual Car, Swap Meet and Craft Show at the Okmulgee Fairgrounds. The Car show wrapped up at 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Approximately 30 cars came out to compete. Visitors enjoyed antique cars and lawn mower races on Saturday. Lots of vender booths and food.
Look for their Chili Cook off of Car show coming to Morris in October.
(Photos by Allen Gardner - ONN Photographer)
(Photo by Paul Orosco Chief Photographer)
Gas prices have led Willie "D" to get a little creative in this economy. Willie who lives off of 13th street in Okmulgee. He has a one of a kind bike that he modified himself. He has altered his bike to best fit his needs with a complete AM/FM radio and a tape deck also.
He uses his bike for his personal transportation because gas is too high for his car. You will see "Willie D" riding his custom bike around Okmulgee from time to time.
Cedar Lake in southeast Oklahoma has produced its second state record largemouth bass in less than one year. The new record was caught Wednesday, March 13 by Dale Miller of Panama, Okla., and weighed 14 lbs. 13.7 oz.
Miller caught the bass at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday on a Hawg Hunter Bait Co. rod set up with an Abu Garcia Revo reel and an Alabama rig. The fish measured 26 1/8 inches in length and 23 inches in girth.
"Last month, I bought a fishing license, and this month I have the state record for the largemouth bass," Miller said.
Miller said when the fish first hit his line and he set the hook, he called for help from his brother, Vonnie, who was fishing with him. He said Vonnie questioned whether there was really a fish on the line.
Miller said they "both about passed out" when they saw the size of the fish. Using their own scales, they weighed the fish, then stopped fishing and began the process of contacting the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to determine if it would officially certify as a state record.
Miller's fish breaks a state record set less than a year ago on Cedar Lake when Benny Williams, Jr. of Poteau reeled in a 14 lbs. 12.3 oz. largemouth on March 23.
"Catching the state record largemouth bass in Oklahoma is a huge deal, but it's even more significant that the state record largemouth has now been caught two springs in a row in less than 12 months' time from the same lake," said Barry Bolton, chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "It speaks to the quality of fishing we have in our state. It speaks to our Florida largemouth bass stocking program. And it speaks to our state's anglers."
In addition to being the second state record from Cedar Lake, the fish adds to a tremendous run of recent Oklahoma bass fishing headlines, including the hosting of the Bassmaster Classic at Grand Lake last month and two 40-plus-pound tournament stringers reeled in during successive recent weekends at Arbuckle Lake.
The last two state record largemouth bass as well as several from the state's Top 20 Largemouth Bass List have been caught in the southern and southeast regions of the state. Fish are cold-blooded, so their metabolisms work faster in warmer conditions and they grow more rapidly. Lakes in the southeast region of the state tend to warm up earlier and cool off later in the year than in other regions, which affords these fish a longer growing season.
According to Gene Gilliland, assistant chief of fisheries for the Wildlife Department, Cedar Lake has been known to produce big largemouth bass for anglers in recent years - not only because of its southeastern location, but also because it has a history of receiving Florida strain largemouth bass through the state's stocking program.
"They grow pretty fast down in that part of the state due to the long growing season," Gilliland said. "Cedar Lake has produced several double-digit fish in the last five years. The U.S. Forest Service played a role in the success story when they renovated Cedar Lake several years ago. This renovation created a "new lake environment" that along with the Florida-strain genetics, long growing season, good habitat and abundant forage has led Cedar Lake to become an outstanding bass fishery."
Anglers who believe they may have hooked a record fish must weigh the fish on an Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture certified scale, and a Wildlife Department employee must verify the weight. For a complete list of record fish and the procedures for certifying a state record, consult the current "Oklahoma Fishing Guide" or log on to wildlifedepartment.com.