School Board May Stop Paying Part-Time Super
The Chickasha Board of Education has been under fire for several months, allowing Superintendent Dave Cash to take an extended leave of absence, but still pay him $2,500 a month for part-time work. That payment could stop this month. The school board will have yet another special meeting next week, to consider discontinuing the payment to Cash, and to discontinue any obligation he has to provide financial services for the school district. However, Cash would still have his Superintendent Emeritus status, but without pay or benefits.
Long-term Interim School Super May be Hired
The school board may also name a long-term interim superintendent, who would fill the gap left after Cash was allowed to go to work for another company. The panel will go behind closed doors to meet with a candidate for possible appointment. The panel interviewed three candidates for the post last month. Cindy Schmidt has been serving as the short-term interim superintendent. The new interim is expected to serve through the remainder of the school year. The school board has an agreement with Cash that will allow him to return full time to the district in July. The special school board meeting will be held Tuesday night.
More Details on Planned Retail Expansion
KOOL News has learned of a few more details regarding a sales tax rebate incentive proposal between the city and a local developer, regarding the expansion of what could be another retail shopping area. In an e-mail to KOOL 105.5, developer Steve LaForge presented some facts about the proposal. It calls for making improvements to an area south of Grand Avenue, between 4th and 9th Streets. LaForge said the agreement is nearly identical to the one he has with the city for the improvements that have taken place in the Shoppes at Chisholm Trail, which is east of 4th and Grand. LaForge said developers will spend a significant amount of money on infrastructure repairs, which would be made at no cost to the city. That would include the elevation of low-lying areas out of the flood plain, building streets and storm drains with a retention pond, and water and sewer extensions. Also, a new road would be built between 4th and 9th Streets. The proposal calls for the developer to receive a small portion of the sales tax collected on new businesses which locate in the improved area, through the year 2040. The city council will review the proposal when it meets Tuesday night.
Fish, and Turtles, and...Snakes! Oh My!
One of Southwest Oklahoma's newest tourist attractions has only been open about six months, but it's already preparing to add some new features in hopes of drawing more visitors. The Medicine Park Aquarium and Natural Sciences Center will soon include a snake exhibit, as well as a river otter habitat. The new additions are still part of the first phase of construction at the aquarium, which opened last June. Director Doug Kemper says the Snake Shack will initially have the five venomous snakes in the Sooner State, which includes three species of rattlesnakes, as well as copperheads, and water moccasins. Non venomous snakes will be added later. The snakes will be enclosed in a Plexi-glass area. The Otter Habitat will be about 40 feet long and 15 feet wide, and will include a waterfall, a long stream and a pool. In addition, the center is working to develop a wildflower and butterfly garden. Besides the aquarium, there is an area called Turtle Town where visitors can feed several species of turtles. The aquarium is open seven days a week, and welcomes school groups to tour the attraction.
Talk Show Topic
Here's what we're talking about this weekend: The Chickasha High School robotics team has just started its 2018 project. Instructor Brandon Willis, and students Lexi Hendricks and Matthew Thomas will talk about their challenge on our KOOL Konversation program. You can hear that program on this website, under the Community Tab.
Friday, January 12th
Chix City Council to Review Retail Development Plan
A proposal that supporters say would bring more retailers to Chickasha will be discussed by the city council next week. Earlier this month, the council gave City Manager John Noblitt the go-ahead to put together what was being called a sales-tax-rebate incentive that might jump-start the project. Developer Steve LaForge wants to make improvements on property he owns south of Grand Avenue, between 4th and 9th Streets. The proposal calls for LaForge to receive a portion of sales tax receipts from any new businesses that locate in that area, up to $3 million. Officials point out that while the property is in a current Tax Increment Finance District, the proposed agreement would take affect after the TIF expires. It's not clear when that TIF agreement is to end. The proposal states that if no taxable development is added to the tax rolls, the agreement would end in 2030. If there is taxable development, the agreement could be extended to 2040. Details of the proposed agreement are included in a packet of information provided to city council members ahead of the group’s meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 16th. The proposal will be discussed during that meeting.
Pipeyard Firm Needs Easement for Rail Spur
A Colorado-based pipeline company which has announced plans to expand to Chickasha needs a railroad spur to get the project up and running. Officials made the announcement last fall that CTAP, LLC will be developing a rail yard near 4th Street in the north part of the city. When the council meets Tuesday it will consider granting easement to CTAP on two properties in the area for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the spur. CTAP has been around for more than 30 years, providing oilfield casing, tubing, and couplings to drilling locations. The firm has locations in Oklahoma City and Dallas, as well as Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and in the northeast part of the country.
Flu Hits Hard In State
Grady County flu cases have risen dramatically over the last couple of weeks. The state health department reports 21 flu cases in Grady County since the flu season started Sept. 1st. Comanche and Canadian Counties have each had 20 flu cases; Stephens County has had 15; McClain County has had 12; and Caddo County and Garvin Counties have each had seven. Four more people have died from the flu in Oklahoma in the last week. That brings the total number of deaths blamed on the flu to 22 since the flu season started. All 22 deaths are individuals who were over the age of 50. With more than 230 new flu cases reported last week, the total number of flu cases in Oklahoma is now 1,020.
Grady County Sheriff's Most-Wanted
Each week, the Grady County Sheriff's Office issues a list of individuals who have outstanding warrants. Here's public information officer, Lisa Hatchett.
If you have information on any of these individuals, you're asked to contact the sheriff's office.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is to $63.80 a barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $69.26.
Natural gas is $3.08 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,332 and silver is $17.15.
Thursday, January 11th
Alledged Kidnapper Now Faces Witness Tampering Charge
A man accused of kidnapping his girlfriend is facing another charge in connection with the incident. Prosecutors in Caddo County have now charged 38-year old Joshua Lee Wertz with trying to prevent a witness from testifying. Wertz has been in the Caddo County jail since November. He was arrested by Anadarko police after he allegedly kidnapped his girlfriend at gunpoint and forced her into his pickup. He had already been charged with kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon. Wertz is facing up to 20 years in prison if convicted of kidnapping, and 10 years on the weapons charge. The Lawton Constitution reports Wertz is facing an additional 10 years behind bars if convicted of witness tampering.
Judge Disallows Man to Withdraw Guilty Plea
A Caddo County man who pleaded guilty to a murder charge out of Lawton will not be allowed to withdraw his plea. Last fall, 29-year old Joshua Codynah of Apache pleaded guilty to the 2016 stabbing death of a man at a Lawton apartment. Codynah was back in court yesterday wanting to withdraw the plea, but the judge refused. Codynah not only pleaded guilty to murder, but also to burglary, child neglect, and assault with a deadly weapon. The judge also upheld Codynah's sentence of life in prison plus 15 years.
CPD Receives Life-Saving Tourniquets
Some additional life-saving equipment has been donated to the Chickasha Police Department. Several Combat Application Tourniquets were provided to the agency from the Department of Homeland Security. Police say one of these tourniquets saved the life of Officer Matthew Schoolfield when he was injured in a shootout with a man while delivering a search warrant last fall. There is a short training course needed to learn how to apply the tourniquet. Chickasha police are planning to hold the four-hour training with other law enforcement groups as well as civilians.
High Winds Elevate Fire Danger
Fire danger is elevated today because of the fierce winds that are part of a cold front moving through Oklahoma. Randy Cozad is a fire prevention technician with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He says just about all of western Oklahoma is in a near-critical to critical designation for wildfires. His crew stands ready to respond, if needed.
While there are no active county burn bans, Cozad asked individuals to delay any burning of trash, brush, or pastures until the fire danger drops.
Huge Youth Stock Show Set for February
We're about a month away from the largest stock show of the year in this region. More than 2,000 animals are expected for the Southwest District Livestock Show. It is scheduled for the Grady County Fairgrounds Feb. 14th through 17th. Some say the only youth stock that's bigger is the Oklahoma Youth Expo. Cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats will all be paraded through the arena. Youth from 14 counties from basically the southwest quadrant of the state will exhibit. The show pays up to $1,000 for the Grand champion market steer, heifer, market wether lamb, and barrow. While most shows have a grand and reserve champion, this show also has a third place bronze prize that can be up to $250. Animals need to be pre-registered by Feb. 2nd.
Deadline Looms for School Election Voter Registration
Annual school elections are coming up in a few weeks. First time voters who need to register, or those who need to update their voter registration, need to do so by next Friday. Jan. 19th. You can visit your local county election board, or forms are available at most libraries, tag offices, and post offices. You can also download a form from the state election board website, www.elections.ok.gov
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $63.57 a barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $69.20.
Natural gas is $2.90 per million BTUs.
Gold $1,319 and silver is $17.04.
Wednesday, January 10th
Petition Calls for Audit of Chickasha Schools
An initiative petition effort is underway which calls for the state auditor to look into the finances of the Chickasha Public School District. The petition calls for a review of all Oklahoma Public School Resource Center contracts, as well as alleged double-dipping by former school administrators. The petition also calls for a review of alleged nepotism on the part of an un-named administrator. Ruth Bingham is one of the leaders of the petition drive.
The group has until Feb. 5th to gather about 1,100 signatures, which will then be delivered to the state auditor. The next step would be to have the Grady County Election Board determine if there are enough certified signatures before the audit can be ordered. The petition was circulated during last night’s regular meeting of the Chickasha school board, while the panel was meeting in executive session discussing personnel issues.
Chix School Board Members Asked to Resign
There was a call for all the school board members to step down during last night's meeting. Laurie Allen first thanked school board members for their service, then announced:
There was no comment from any of the four school board members regarding Allen’s request. There was an item on the agenda dealing with un-specified resignations, but board president Chris Ludwell said no action would be taken on that issue.
Marlow Mayor Wins GOP Nod for HD 51
Marlow Mayor Brad Boles easily wins Tuesday’s Special Republican Primary election in House District 51. Boles defeated Chickasha restaurant owner Dustin Payne, collecting more than 80 percent of the vote, 942 to 206. Boles will face Democrat Charles Murdock of Marlow in the special election for House District 51 in March.
Lime-Hauling Semi Crashes; Blocks City Street
A semi hauling lime overturns near the Chickasha sports complex Tuesday, blocking a city street for a couple of hours. The accident happened about 5 o'clock last night, near the city's waste water treatment plant. The driver was not seriously injured. Unofficial reports indicate the driver may have been driving too fast. The semi was northbound on Grand Avenue extension when it turned on its side. See a video of the crash on our Facebook page.
City of Chix Begins Employee-of-the Month Program
The City of Chickasha is starting a new program in 2018, publicly recognizing the work of employees. An employee of the month will be selected for their performance. The first honor is presented to Darren Martin, who works in the Community Development Department. A press release from the city states that Martin has a mindset that citizens come first, and that he is always exceeding the expectations of his job. Martin has worked for the city for 30 years -- 27 with the fire department and the last three with Community Development. Martin will be recognized at next week's city council meeting.
FSA County Committee Election Results
Election results are in for county committees that direct the Farm Service Agencies in Chickasha and Anadarko. Mark Jackson with the Grady County FSA office.
Jackson also reminds small-grain producers that Tuesday, January 16th is the deadline to report wheat and other small-grain acreages. Jackson asks producers to at least call by the close of business that day to schedule an appointment, which can be held after the 16th without having to pay a fine.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX up to $62.96 a barrel.
London-based Brent crude up to $68.62.
Natural gas up to $2.92 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,324 and sliver is $17.19.
Tuesday, January 9th
Chix School Board to Meet
The embattled Chickasha Board of Education meets tonight for the sixth time in the last five weeks. School administrators and attorneys have been dealing with the controversial suspensions of school employees. However, there's nothing on tonight's agenda that calls for any action regarding the suspended workers. Pete Bush, Pam Huggins, Stacy Crutchfield, and Greg Hackney were among those suspended last month. Only one of the suspended employees, Athletic Director Yohance Brown has returned. Tonight's gathering is the board's regular monthly meeting, which will allow public comment on matters which are listed on the agenda. One of the items includes the consideration of any resignation that may have been submitted since the panel met last week. It wasn't specified if it may be a school employee or a board member. A few employee resignations will be considered during a closed-door meeting of the board, including a couple of custodians and a para-professional. The board is expected to formally approve the firing of para-professional Jason Finch, who was terminated last month. The school board meets at 6:30 tonight at the school administration building.
County Man Faces Child Sex Allegations
A Grady County man is charged with having sex with a little girl. 31-year old Eric Anthony Smith of Rush Springs is accused of assaulting the child several times over a two-year period, starting when she was just six years old. Records at the Grady County Courthouse indicate that the DHS Child Abuse hotline received a tip about the allegations last week. Smith has been in jail since last Wednesday. Yesterday Smith was formally charged with a felony count of child sexual abuse. He remains in jail in lieu of $250,000 bond. Smith faces up to 25 years in prison if he's convicted.
Special GOP Primary Election Underway
Some Republican voters are going to the polls today to select a candidate for an empty seat in the State House of Representatives. GOP voters are deciding a candidate in House District 51, which includes parts of Grady and Stephens counties, and one precinct in Newcastle, which is in McClain County. Chickasha businessman Dustin Payne and Marlow businessman and Mayor Brad Boles are on the ballot. Polls are open until 7 o'clock tonight. The winner will face Democrat Charles Murdock in a special election in March.
Commissioners OK Under-Sheriff Appointment
As expected, Grady County Commissioners formally approved the appointment of Phil Blevins as Grady County under-sheriff yesterday. Sheriff Jim Weir announced Blevins promotion last week, pending the commissioners' approval. Blevins' was also named a requisitioning officer for the sheriff's office. Commissoners also allowed the sheriff's office to purchase a used SUV. A bid of $20,000 for a 2015 Ford Explorer was approved. The bid from Police Units Unlimited of Shawnee was the only bid that came in.
Fair Board Filing Period Runs Thru Friday
The filing period is underway for three positions on the Grady county Fair Board. One office in each of the three county commissioner districts are up for election. In District One, it’s the seat held by Beth Norvell; in District Two, it’s the post held by Steve Standridge; and in District Three, it’s the office held by Eddie Rathbun. Candidates file at the Grady County Clerk’s Office through Friday. If elections are needed, they will be held Jan. 30th.
Kiowa Tribe Law-Making Body to Meet
The Kiowa Tribe Legislature will hold its monthly meeting this Saturday, January 13th at 9 a.m. at the Kiowa Complex in Carnegie. The meeting will be streamed live on the tribal Facebook page.
Use Your PC to Help Family Budgets
Keeping a close eye on your family finances is a little easier if you use your personal computer. Susan Routh with Grady County OSU Extension says there are several software programs available that can help you keep track of your spending habits.
She also says check your credit report often, which you can do for free on the website, www.freecreditreport.com
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $61.73 a barrel.
London-based Brent is $67.73.
Natural gas is $2.83 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,314 and silver is $17.04.
Monday, January 8th
New Construction Includes Expanding Credit Union
Last month was not a typical December for new construction permits in Chickasha. Numbers were a little better than average, with about a dozen permits approved with a combined dollar value of more than $820,000. Among the permits approved by the city's Community Development Department, a new stand-alone building for Focus Federal Credit Union. The site will be where the credit union's ATM is located, near 1st and Chisholm Drive. Other commercial projects approved were a $116,000 remodel at Wal-mart; $12,000 for McNatt Construction for the new Legends Cafe, which is going in at the old Long John Silver's restaurant; and Calvary Baptist Church was also approved for a $5,000 remodeling project. Seven residential remodel projects were approved totalling just over $72,000. For all of 2017, new construction in Chickasha totaled more than $51 million. The December construction report does not include the anticipated Aldi's grocery store that was announced. Contractors only requested an application for the permit, which is not expected for several weeks.
Grady County Jail to Expand
Another expansion of the Grady County jail is expected to begin soon. Jail administrator Jim Gerlach says they'll be building another facility next to the women's jail that will add another 180 beds. Right now, he said they are waiting on the final approval of the archiect's plans.
Gerlach says it will cost about $3.5 million to construct the new one-story facility. The jail is under the direction of the county's criminal justice authority, and Gerlach says the authority has the cash on hand to pay for the construction. The construction is expected to take about a year and be open in late spring of 2019.
Bomb Threat Clears Store
A bomb threat at the Chickasha Wal-Mart store forced the evacuation of the store Saturday afternoon. Chickasha police say they received a 911 call from an individual who said they placed three explosive devices in the store, and that they would set them off in 10 minutes. Store officials were notified and immediately asked customers to leave, and police arrived to search the building, but found nothing suspicious. Through a press release, police say the call was made from a cell phone that had not been initialized. They are still trying to identify the caller.
More Gubernatorial Candidates Coming to Chickasha
USAO is resuming its effort to bring gubernatorial candidates to the area. Tulsa Republican Kevin Stitt is the next candidate to discuss his reasons for wanting to serve at the state capital. The program will be tomorrow evening at the USAO Ballroom, starting at 7 o'clock. Stitt will offer his platform and will also field questions. The program was developed by USAO history professor Kevin Crow and is part of the university's Nita Giles Public Policy program.
Nominations Due for Chamber Awards
This is the last week to nominate individuals for top awards which will be issued by the Chickasha Chamber of Commerce during its annual banquet next month. Four awards will be announced including Citizen of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, a Living Civic Hall of Fame, and a Legacy Hall of Famer. Deadline for nominations are this Friday.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX up for the week to $61.41 a barrel.
London-based Brent crude was also higher, to $67.62.
Natural gas was lower, to $2.79 per million BTUs.
Metals rose last week, Gold to $1,320 and silver up to $17.20