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Okmulgee in the News


Photo by Allen Gardner - ONN

The people of Henryetta shared in a celebration of remembering our Veteran’s on Saturday when they were visited by the Walking Veteran Thomas Hudson.  Hudson, got  his name "The Walking Veteran" by completing his mission last year to walk across America for the purpose of bringing awareness to the American people, to learn from Veterans and to honor and deliver the message of hurting Veterans to Congress. Hudson started his walk in Las Vegas Nevada on May 2, 2016 and concluded his journey in the Nations capital of Washington DC in November 2016.004

Thomas spent some time in Henryetta visiting schools and talking with Veterans over the past few weeks and brought with him the wagon he pulled on his journey known as the Walking Veteran Wagon. The wagon was  inducted into the Henryetta Historical Society Territorial Museum in Henryetta. During Hudsons walk across America, many people donated special items for Thomas to carry in honor of love ones. All of these items and gifts will also be donated and now have a home as well at the museum for historic preservation.

A parade was held on Saturday that preceded down Broadway Street to 10th to the Henryetta Civic center. Henryetta youth Daniel Cox pulled the wagon as he had been recognized previously by the Walking Veteran for Daniel’s kindness of bringing him water on a hot July day when Hudson traveled through Henryetta. Everyone gathered at the Civic center for a meal and ceremony that included special guest speakers, music and Thomas reviewed his walk across America.  Daniel Cox who was coined the youngest walking Veteran also led the parade. Cox for his kindness on a hot July day when Hudson came to town. Cox was honored with a proclamation in both Henryetta and Arkansas each designating a “Daniel Cox Day.”

Hudson was surprised by a special guest “Cookie” his private duty nurse from Houston, who traveled to Oklahoma for a reunion visit.


See more photos on FacebookPhotos by Allen Garnder - ONN

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Pictured, left to right: President Lion R.C. Morrow, Christopher Coburn, Lion Dr. Tom Alexander, and Tim Hicks.

The Lions Club meeting Tuesday was a two-fold program featuring the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Health with Christopher Coburn, Marketing Manager, and Tim Hicks, Physical Rehabilitation Center Administrator. Chris Coburn is from Muskogee and has previously worked for the Creek Nation and East Central Electric Co-op, bringing 25 years' experience with him to his present position with the hospital which, of course, is the former Okmulgee Memorial Hospital. Tim Hicks is the Administrator of the former George Nigh Rehabilitation Center. An added bit of information is that Shawn Terry is the new Hospital Administrator and has only been on the job less than two weeks, hired from Hillcrest Hospital in Tulsa. Chris and Tim both are excited to be in their respective positions and are pleased with the good leadership, good stability, and positive direction that the Creek Nation seems to be headed.

Almost everyone in the community can use these facilities, they are not just limited to Creek Citizens. Both facilities are Medicare/Medicaid certified and, basically, offer the same services as previously offered, but with a few exceptions. The hospital has closed the home health unit and the proposed expansion of the ER Services is on "hold". All other services are available, including the Hope Unit, Inpatient Senior Behavioral Health Program. In addition, the Creek Nation operates seven clinics in various locations and is continuing work toward completion of the Okemah Hospital project.

The Rehabilitation Center continues to provide speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and cardiac programs, but the amount of in-patient beds is limited. Chris stated that he used the facility for shoulder therapy when he worked for East Central Electric, and his daughter utilized the speech therapy unit. Conditions that may benefit from intensive rehabilitation are: stroke, spinal cord injury, congenital deformity, amputation, prosthetic training, major multiple trauma, traumatic brain injury, fractures, back and neck injuries, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, Parkinson's Disease, hand therapy, and other acute and chronic conditions. The Physical Rehabilitation Center features the region's only Aquatic Physical Therapy program and Okmulgee County's only Outpatient Cardiac Rehab program. Individuals are referred to the Rehab Center from hospitals, private physicians, insurance companies, workers' compensation, health care agencies, as well as individuals and family members. Our Lions Club is also taking referrals for a few more good men and women. "WE SERVE".

Photo and information provided by Dean Craig, with excerpts from the Creek Nation pamphlets.

Ron Goedecke

Ron Goedecke (center) was the guest of Rotarian of the Day Page Hayden and President Felecia Wittman. Ron, who retired from the local USDA NRCS office about a year ago, needed to fence some acreage he bought. He was presented with the problem of how to get this done when there is a ban burn in effect. He designed a simple solution and developed a prototype of the “Bullet Fence” that doesn’t require any welding. He walked the group through his journey as an inventor, from product development, the patent application, manufacturing and marketing. Currently his product is in about 15 stores in Oklahoma and surrounding states, but he is still working the trade shows and admits he is not ready for “Shark Tank” yet. To see a video demonstration of the Bullet Fence, visit his website Bulletfence.com.

Friday February 3, 2017, OCRSEA will host a LEGISLATIVE FORUM! District Legislators Steve Kouplen District 24 and newly elected Scott Fetgatter District 16 along with Senator Roger Thompson will be in attendance!

The Legislative Forum will be held on the campus of OSUIT, STUDENT UNIONS HARLEN ROOM AT 12 o'clock ( noon )!

THE OCRSEA WOULD LIKE TO INVITE ALL RETIRED SCHOOL EMPLOYEES IN OKMULGEE COUNTY TO ATTEND!! (You do not have to be a member). We would also like to extend an invitation to the PUBLIC who would be interested in hearing from our legislators and senator in Okmulgee County!!

If you have questions email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (918)758-8480

By Betty Anderson

Kristin Cunningham, Okmulgee Library Director, reported to the City Council that the Open House for the Library was very nice. She said, “Many people attended and enjoyed the food and the entertainment. The Choir from the Okmulgee High School sang Christmas Carols. We are very thankful for all of the volunteers who came to help.”

Her report indicated that for December 2016 they had $1,291.04 in fines/copies/lost books/ILL’s collected. They had 43 new borrowers, 375 reference questions, 276 items added and 1155 computer patron use. The door count for December was 7310 and the meeting rooms had 76 uses. They also delivered books to Homebound citizens and Nursing Home patients.

She also reminded everyone that the Summer Reading program is just around the corner and that Jeana has already been gathering ideas for this year.

Cunningham will be working on the Viersen grant soon so everything should be set for another great summer.

Also reported was, “Kristin and Jeana will be getting back to weeding areas of the library which is an ongoing process that needs to be done to remove books that are out dated and no longer used. This allows for the books to be shifted on the shelf to make room for new books.”

2017 01 17 Okmulgee Library

By Betty Anderson

The Okmulgee City Council approved a concept design prepared by American Ramp Company for a skatepark to be constructed in Hawthorne Park, review the size and costs of the proposed design phases and to determine the desired project size.

2017 01 17 RickMiller

Rick Miller, Public Works Director, who has been working on the project and doing research, gave these findings. “Based upon research done by the Parks and Recreation Board as well as the Public Works Department, we specified that we wanted a permanent concrete facility rather than a flat slab prefabricated facility with steel features installed on the slab. Research indicated that prefabricated skateparks have proven to be inferior, unpopular, and unable to withstand the rigors of daily use. Though adequate for church, backyard, etc. use, their use is discouraged for long-term use by municipalities.”
Part of the funds has been appropriated from the Community Trust.

Mayor Steven Baldridge said that Hawthorn Park is going to be an awesome feature park for Okmulgee with the skatepark, splash pad and walking trails. The high school can use the trails for track, the elementary school is right there; football practice is there, softball games, tennis courts and sidewalks. “Our kids are going to love it.”


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Picture left to right: Katie Nicholas, Program Chairman Lion Craig Brydges, and Vince Trinidad.

By Dean Craig Okmulgee Lion

Tuesday's Lions Club meeting featured Vince Trinidad, Executive Director of the Tulsa Sports Commission, and his assistant Katie Nicholas, whose title is Sports Development Manager/Assistant Race Director. Vince has been in this capacity for three and a half years, and Katie has five years with the organization. The Tulsa Sports Commission is a Division of the Tulsa Regional Chamber but they primarily work with the recently-completed BMX Racing event, bringing in an estimated $12 million to the Tulsa economy. The event is held during the week of Thanksgiving, and because the Rio Olympics had concluded, most of the Olympic bicyclists attended the Tulsa event because it is the Grand Nationals and the largest BMX race in the world. It attracted riders from 48 states and 26 countries.

So, what is USA BMX? The sport of BMX racing has never been more popular than it is today, with the inclusion of the sport in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games giving it worldwide exposure. There are now more children participating than ever before, and to build on this momentum, USA BMX has a vision to create a first-of-its-kind facility that the sport can call home. In partnership with the City of Tulsa and Tulsa County, USA BMX's dream will soon become a reality. Through the support of the citizens of Tulsa, a 15 million dollar project has been approved on the site of old Drillers Stadium at Expo Square. This new facility will provide an environment for the top riders in the world to train, and for beginning amateur racers to ride alongside their heroes. For the first time, the sport of BMX racing will have a central hub, which brings with it new opportunities for our sport. USA BMX is seeking strategic partners that want to join us in growing opportunities for kids to stay active and for some to strive for competitive excellence on the international stage. Today is a new horizon for BMX and we would love for you to join us for the journey ahead.

The new National Track facility in Tulsa will attract more than 35,000 BMX racers each year. This venue will host local BMX programming each week including local and state races, camps, and youth clinics. In addition, the track will be designed to host national and international races for both amateur and Olympic-level riders, and the facility will house a state-of-the-art training center for elite level BMX Racers of all ages. This one-of-a-kind dual track facility will serve as the home of BMX racing for years to come.

Features of the new USA BMX National Track include: a fully enclosed Olympic caliber BMX dirt track to host National, World Championship, and Supercross events; an amateur BMX track for novice and intermediate youth racers; 4,000 seat arena; Olympic level high-performance training facility; youth programming including camps, clinics, and local race days; bike shop and repair station; retail, food, and beverage outlets.

So, you can see why Vince and Katie are proud to "tell their story" and the fact that the National Headquarters are moving from California to Tulsa, since Southern California was where this all started. But the races have been coming to Tulsa for the past 19 years, so it makes sense to make Tulsa "home" because of the central location and the proposed covered stadium, eliminating weather-related problems. And, it takes 7,000 cubic yards of dirt (valued at approximately $25,000), which is a special kind of dirt to give the proper consistency for the racing track. They are looking forward to having the facility ready for the 2020 Olympic trials. And all of this will be happening in our front yard. We need to support this event and we need to continue to support our Lions Club with a few more good men and women. Think about it! "WE SERVE".
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(Photos and information by Dean Craig, with excerpts from USA BMX Pamphlet)

By Betty Anderson

The City of Okmulgee City Council met and approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Okmulgee and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation allowing for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation to construct a public trail linking 6th St. downtown with the trail already in place at the Municipal Park along with several trailheads within the city limits of Okmulgee. The MOU also states that once the project is completed, the City of Okmulgee will maintain this trail.

The MOU is necessary to the process for Muscogee (Creek) Nation to obtain the required federal funding for the project.

City Manager Roger Ballenger stated that this would allow the Creek Nation to get the 100% funding to do the trail that the City has always wanted to do from downtown all the way to YMCA. This also would involve utilizing the old Nuyaka Bridge to be including in the project. Ballenger stated, “This is very preliminary, we will probably end up doing another MOU.” He added, “I thought it was worth at least starting into.” He informed the Council that it will be a lengthy process.

2017 01 17 Chris AzbellAccording to Chris Azbell, Secretary of the Interior for the Muscogee Creek Nation, “Just to be able to fund this in the future, it has to be on their (MCN) inventory.” He added, “If it’s not on the inventory you can’t even be considered to be funded.” He said they have funded trails in several cities but have never funded one in Okmulgee because it has never been on their inventory and this is the first step to get it on the funding list.
Ballenger said, “I want to make one thing perfectly clear; I want to work with the other partners in town, Parks Committee and Trail Committee, even though they are advisory, we want everybody’s input. We have a lot of work to do. We just wanted to get this done so we could get it on the list so that at least we will be eligible.”

City Attorney Lou Ann Moudy informed the Council that they are not approving the plan, just approving the Memorandum of Understanding.

2017 01 17 Proposed Trail

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By Betty Anderson

Public Works has been busy working on many projects to give the Community Center a much needed make over.

Rick Miller, Public Works Director, informed the Okmulgee City Council that the new roof is now almost completed and that the new laminated wood flooring in the large meeting room is installed. The majority of the improvements are being done by the Property Maintenance Department which has saved a considerable amount of money.

City Manager, Roger Ballenger, said that the cost of the improvements is within the range which they anticipated. Some of the improvements in addition to the roof which are done or will be done are replacing the guttering, painting outside trim, upgrading the building entrance signage, installing a privacy fence around the A/C units, landscaping the front and sides of the building including an irrigation system and removal of a dead tree. It also includes extending the parking area to the north, striping the parking area, adding a driveway to the back door. On the interior they will be replacing flooring in several areas, upgrading all electric outlets in the large room, painting the interior and doing repairs on the front door, walls and ceiling areas. They also will be refurbishing the kitchen with new appliances and fixtures, restoring the cabinets and adding a stainless steel prep table. Additionally, they will do some maintenance repairs on the restrooms.

Miller reported, “Public Works concurrence with the landscaping plan presented is based upon the understanding with Main Street that recurring maintenance of the plantings will be accomplished by contract at the expense of Main Street.”

Heather Sumner with Main Street invited and encouraged the City Council Members to come and view the progress. Mayor Steve Baldridge asked Sumner about potential renters. She informed the council that they are going into an agreement with Crosstown Church to rent it every Wednesday evening. She also reported that Paradigm Pipeline is going to be holding some Pipeline Safety Courses. She has a wedding reception scheduled and several other rentals for the summer. She said, “A few people that have seen some of the renovations from the outside and have called inquiring. The work has been noticed and it is starting to pick up.”

Pictures courtesy of Heather Sumner

Wednesday, 18 January 2017 19:03

Shawn Fritsche Keeps Okmulgee in Compliance

By Betty Anderson

2017 01 17 ShawnFritscheShawn Fritsche, also known as Maverick, who is the Code Enforcement Officer and Safety Coordinator for the City of Okmulgee has a very busy job and is one of the hardest working guys in the city. He issued 3,572 code enforcement violations for 2016 from overgrown properties to living in travel trailer violations to illegal dumping violations and many more as indicated in this report.

Fritsche wrote on his annual report to the City Council, “5900 Informational Flyers were sent out this year to help educate the public and discuss Keep Okmulgee Beautiful Week. During this dedicated week, the City of Okmulgee painted over graffiti at Northeast Rotary Park & 13th Street Bridge, issued 56 free burn permits, & previous to this week Public Works had a successful recycling event.

Many other wonderful events and improvements took place in 2016 that involved Creek Nation, the Chamber of Commerce, OSU-IT, Main Street, and the City of Okmulgee (too many to name).”

2017 01 17 Code Enforcement

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