Saturday, August 21st
Ninnekah Students March in Support of Former Players
About 30 Ninnekah High School students walked out of class Friday to hold a demonstration to support the alleged victims of sexual assault they suffered from former coaches and to call for changes within the district. The students - supported by parents and other adults - called for the resignation or dismissal of Superintendent Todd Bunch and high school principal David Pitts. Both are named in a federal lawsuit filed against the district after former players came forward saying they were raped or molested when they were in school by coach Ronald Akins, who has been charged with rape and sexual battery. Parent Sandy Smyth, who has two children attending Ninnekah schools, said the march came about after Thursday night's decision by the board of education to allow Bunch and Pitts to remain on the job.
There are reports that some parents may be organizing a petition drive to re-call every member elected to the Ninnekah school board.
Toxic Blue-Green Algae Forms at Shannon Springs Park
Blue-green algae blooms have been found in the pond at Shannon Springs Park. Chickasha Mayor Chris Mosley said officials discovered the toxic algae Friday and warned users to not go fishing or swim in the water or allow pets to swim in or drink the water at the park until further notice. Mosley said the splash pad at the park is safe to use since the water comes from the city’s distribution system and is chlorinated. He said the city’s drinking water is also OK as it comes from the Ft. Cobb Reservoir and is processed at the city's water treatment plant before being distributed. Mosley said city crews from public works, parks and recreation, community development, police, fire, and USW were assisted by the Grady County Fire Department and the county’s Emergency Management Agency to pump the affected water out of the Shannon Springs pond and into Congo Creek. Fire hydrants were flushed in neighborhoods along the creek in attempt to move the water through town and into the Washita River. Go to the RANCH News recorded link to hear an interview with Mayor Mosley.
Blanchard Bluegrass Festival Underway
It looks to be a great weekend for the Blanchard Bluegrass Festival. A number of groups have been invited by the Blanchard Parks and Rec Department including The Hunt Brothers, Clifftop Bluegrass, Southbound Mule, Pearl Grace and Company and others. The 11th annual festival opens at 11:00 o’clock this morning and runs until 10:00 p.m. Admission is free and be sure to take lawn chairs and blankets. Food trucks will on site.
Talk Show Topics
Here's what we're talking about this weekend. Lts. Bobby and Crystal McFarland, the new commanders for the Salvation Army which serves Grady and Caddo counties, are our guests on the KOOL Konversation. On Real Estate Today the guests are State Representative Brad Boles and State Senator Jessica Garvin. We have links to both programs under the Community tab on this website.
A graveside service for Faye Giles, 70, of Mesa, Arizona and formerly of Chickasha will be at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, August 25th at Ft. Sill National Cemetery in Elgin. Arrangements are with Ferguson Funeral Home.
Sarah Ann Dotson
A private memorial service for Sarah Ann Dotson, 81, of Chickasha will be held at a later date. Arrangements are with Ferguson Funeral Home.
Friday, August 20th
GMH Staff Urges Coronavirus Vaccinations
You've heard that the number of COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma is rising again especially the Delta variant. Grady Memorial Hospital administrators and staff issued a letter to the public asking those who have not yet been vaccinated to get their shot(s). The letter is signed by 30 hospital doctors and healthcare professionals. It states that most of the patients who are currently being treated at the hospital with the virus did not get vaccinated. It also indicates that if the influx of patients continues at its current pace they are worried that they won't have enough nurses, doctors, and supplies to take care of everyone. Hospital administrator Kean Spellman said unvaccinated people are going to get the virus and that we are not able to 'mask' or ‘social distance’ our way out of it. He said that there are a lot of people who don't want to get the vaccine because they are afraid there is something in it that's not safe. Spellman says that's total baloney. Individuals can get vaccinated at most pharmacies any day or at the Grady County Health Department on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. or from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
New Salvation Army Commanders Appointed
The new commanders of the local Salvation Army have hit the ground running. Lts. Bobby and Crystal McFarland were assigned to the Grady and Caddo County region just a few weeks ago. They were able to host a two-week summer day camp/vacation bible school for children and Crystal said in a couple of weeks they will host an after-school program for kids.
The Salvation Army has opened a service center in Anadarko which is open a couple of days a month in a site provided by Bethel Baptist Church. The McFarlands have already helped a couple of local families that suffered losses due to fires. They are also making plans for the annual Angel Tree program and the red kettle drive coming up during the Christmas season.
Officials Hope to Save Apache Museum
An effort to rehabilitate a more than 100-year old historic Caddo County museum continues as officials worry that the building may collapse. The Apache Museum was built in 1901 and has been affected by extreme weather events over the last year. Officials say they need about $250,000 to make repairs. Rob Swanda is the president of the museum board. He tells the Lawton Constitution that the north wall of the building began to bulge out after last winter's freezing weather. The rocks that make up the wall can't just be pushed back into place. They have to be removed one-by-one and numbered in order to put them back exactly where they were. The museum board is working with an Altus engineering firm and a brick-and-masonry repair company out of Kansas. Immediate needs include stabilizing the wall with angle braces that are anchored to the sidewalk. Swanda said they are working with the Oklahoma Preservation Society and the National Parks Service to get funding for the project. The museum is on the National Register of Historic Places but is not registered with the state of Oklahoma.
University of Science and Arts Pays Off Some Student Debt
Colleges and universities nationwide are using COVID relief funds to eliminate student debt. At the University of Science and Arts officials have been able to erase more than $770,000 owed by 383 students. The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund went to current and former students who attended from the spring trimester of 2020 through the summer of 2021. A press release from the university said the funds were paid for debt that was owed directly to the institution rather than private loans owed to a lender or for federal student loans owed to the government. Science and Arts president John Feaver said the impacted students will be able to continue their education and focus on their studies.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $63.69 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $66.45.
Natural gas is $3.83 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,783 and silver is $23.13.
Peggy Jo Crutcher
A graveside service for Peggy Jo Crutcher, 86, of Duncan was held at 2:00 p.m. Friday, August 20th at the Duncan Cemetery. Arrangements were with McRay Funeral Home.
Funeral service for Mitchell Johnson of Hobart and Oklahoma City, a U.S. Air Force veteran, will be at noon Saturday, August 21st at the St. Emanuel Baptist Church in Hobart. Arrangements are with Brown-Thomas Funeral Home.
Thursday, August 19th
Former Ninnekah Coach, Teacher Suspended from New Job
After Federal Lawsuit Alleges Sexual Assault of Players
Charles Yackeyonney, a former Ninnekah school teacher and coach named in a federal lawsuit against two school districts and several school officials, has been suspended from his newest job. Yackeyonney resigned from Ninnekah in June and was then hired by Lawton Public Schools to teach social studies at Lawton Eisenhower. He was hired before being named in a federal lawsuit alleging that he and other defendants did nothing to stop the sexual assault of female basketball players at Ninnekah. The Lawton Constitution cites the lawsuit as indicating Yackeyonney was grooming a player for a sexual relationship. The paper reported that one of the 12 Jane Does filing the lawsuit alleged that when she was working at restaurant he left her tips of $100 at least five times and tried to flirt and establish a relationship with her. A statement from Lawton Public Schools said the safety of their students is the district's number one priority and that Yackeyonney has been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation.
Federal Agency Investigates Chickasha Pet Food Plant
A pet food manufacturer in Chickasha is under a federal investigation over allegations that toxic food made at the plant killed or sickened hundreds of pets across the country. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been looking into the work of Midwestern Pet Foods since the first of the year. Recalls of some of the foods made at the plant started last December after numerous animals became sick and/or died due to aflatoxins which is a mold fungus that forms in grain like corn and wheat used to make pet food. While a small level of aflatoxins are allowed the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture reported that some of Midwestern’s products had extremely high levels. Media reports indicate that state ag officials found errors in how the incoming corn was tested. The plant closed briefly after the re-call but has re-opened after state ag officials indicated the company was meeting requirements but authorities say they will monitor the situation to make sure the firm is following procedures they agreed to. The FDA investigation is continuing and the company could face more penalties.
Interviews set for Chix City Manager Finalists
Chickasha Mayor Chris Mosley tells KOOL/RANCH News that the city council will soon interview four finalists for the vacant city manager post. Mosley said a special city council meeting will be held all day Saturday, Aug. 28th for interviews. The finalists and their spouses will spend the weekend in Chickasha with the city council going behind closed doors for formal interviews with the candidates. Mosley has been the acting city manager since January following the resignation of previous city manager John Noblitt who has since been named city manager in Sanger, Texas.
Rock Island Ride Returns for 5th Year
The first weekend in October is about six weeks away and officials are finalizing plans for all the activities that will be held in Chickasha that weekend The Rock Island Arts Festival is the headline event but one of the other main attractions is the Rock Island Ride - a bicycle ride throughout the city and the region. Johnny Trammell is among the organizers for the ride which will include routes for serious riders.
There were more than 300 riders last year. Families can sign up to take part in a 10-mile ride that is all inside the Chickasha city limits. Trammell said cyclists like the Rock island Ride because there is a lot to do when they finish their route. In addition to the arts festival, the Oklahoma Food Truck Championship will be going on with at least 35 current entries. The arts festival is Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Oct. 1st through 3rd and The Rock Island Ride and the food truck championship are both on Saturday, the 2nd.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $65.46 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $68.23.
Natural gas is $3.85 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,790 and silver is $23.37.
Funeral service for Rolland Webb, 84, of Chickasha is pending with Sevier Funeral Home.
Wednesday, August 18th
Minco School Super Address COVID Issues
At Minco Public Schools, Superintendent Kevin Sims says the number of COVID cases is on the rise. Simms posted on his Facebook page that they are not in a panic mode but are monitoring the situation closely. He said that they are quarantining those who have the virus and their siblings and that parents may quarantine their children if they wish. Simms said while masks are not required he is recommending that students wear masks if parents want them to. He said the district is sanitizing and cleaning buildings daily. He said the district will be transparent and open about what they have to do to mitigate the virus as the numbers increase.
Chickasha to Get New Fire Engine
The City of Chickasha will be getting a new fire engine. The city council on Monday approved the purchase of a 2020 model Pierce Enforcer engine at a cost not to exceed $485,000. Fire Chief Tony Samaniego said it’s a demonstrator model that only has about 4,000 miles on it. Samaniego favored a brand new Sutphen engine which would have cost a little more but that the department needs a new engine sooner rather than later. He said the Pierce engine could be delivered as early as this week while a Sutphen model that is currently being built might not be ready for another two to six months or longer.
The council voted unanimously to purchase the Pierce Enforcer and agreed to look at purchasing a Sutphen engine in the future. Samaniego said the new engine will be a traditional red fire engine and that any fire trucks he recommends in the future will also be red.
'Clean Up Chickasha' Campaign Info Released
We have the details today about the Clean Up Chickasha campaign that will be held next week. There will be two sites with the huge roll-off dumpsters that residents and businesses can use. There will be two dumpsters at 6th and Frisco Avenue where items can be taken during the day from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. They will be picked up at the end of the day and returned the next morning. Four of the roll-off dumpsters will be at the city's Public Works Headquarters north of the animal shelter. Those dumpsters will be available from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day. Both sites will accept debris on Saturday, Aug. 28th from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Jim Cowan with the Economic Development Council told the city council this week that the effort is needed to give a good impression to individuals and businesses who may be thinking about re-locating here.
Items that cannot be placed in the dumpsters include hazardous materials, paint, oil, pesticides, tires, and batteries. Cowan said the EDC, Chamber of Commerce, and Waste Connections are working with the Department of Environmental Quality to offer a location in the future to take some of those items. For information about the Clean Up Chickasha campaign follow Keep Chickasha Beautiful on Facebook.
Regional Students Earn American FFA Degree
A number of regional FFA students have earned the top award possible within the national organization. All are recipients of the American FFA degree which is earned by one in every 100 FFA students across the country. From Chickasha they are Marissa Cross, Rianne Tuthill, and Jay Grossnicklaus; from Ninnekah they are Jett Berry, Cammie Stehr, and Mariah Watson; from Verden, Kylee Tallent; From Rush Springs, Destiny Hall; from Union City they are Jamie Schieber and Jason Schieber; from Mt. View-Gotebo it’s Kate Jackson; and from Hydro-Eakly they are Raegan Klassen, Tayten Lierle, Dylan Propps, and Garrett Slagell.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $66.59 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $69.03.
Natural gas is $3.84 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,728 and silver is $23.77.
A graveside service for David Lewis, 68, of Chickasha will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, August 19th at the Ninnekah Cemetery. Arrangements are with Ferguson Funeral Home.
Funeral service for Luiz Brown, 79, of Oklahoma City will be held at noon Saturday, Aug. 21st at Divine Wisdom Worship City in Midwest City. Arrangements are with Brown- Thomas Funeral Home.
Funeral service for Dorothea Eldridge-Hutchinson, 63, of Lawton is pending with Brown-Thomas Funeral Home.
Tuesday, August 17th
Woman Accused of Assaulting Her Mother
A Chickasha woman is accused pulling out her 71-year old mother's hair, hitting her in the forehead, and strangling her. Police were called to a home in the 1100 block of South 14th Street last Thursday to investigate a report of abuse. A police affidavit indicates a 15-year old boy in the home told police that his mother had been drinking and got into a fight with her boyfriend. After the fight, the woman attacked her mother who was sitting in a recliner. The mother only weighs 115 pounds and has multiple health issues and unable to defend herself. Authorities found a wad of the mother's hair in a trash can. Police arrested 42-year old Jennifer Ann Holden and prosecutors have charged her with a felony count of aggravated assault and battery. She remains in jail on a $30,000 bond.
Police Dep't Dispatch Center to get New AC
A new air conditioning system will be installed at the Chickasha Police Department's dispatch center. The dispatch center is in the basement of Fire Station No. 2. Police Chief Dee Rowell said the current system failed the last week of July and that it was 12-15 years old. During last night's city council meeting, Rowell submitted quotes from three contractors and recommended a bid from DeHart Heating and Air Conditioning even though the bid was about $50 higher than the low bid. She said the DeHart bid included a 10-year parts warranty. But City Councilman Clark Van Dyck, who owns a heat and air company, questioned the statement about the warranty and recommended the bid be awarded to another local company.
Van Dyck made a motion to approve the bid from Drennan Heat and Air which was approved by a 7-1 vote. Councilman David Sikes voted against the motion.
Clean Up Chickasha Campaign Set
The City of Chickasha will be having another clean-up campaign next week. Jim Cowan with the city's Economic Development Council discussed the plan during last night's city council meeting.
The EDC and the Chamber of Commerce are working with Waste Connections to coordinate the effort. Cowan said workers picked up more than 58 tons of waste in the spring campaign. Cowan said that effort was a little bumpy but they will be doing things a little differently like picking up the big roll-off dumpsters every night and dropping off new ones in the morning. More details of the plan will be released later this week.
Vacant Home Goes Up in Flames
A vacant Chickasha home was destroyed by fire over the weekend. Crews were called to the blaze at the one-story, wood frame home near 11th Street and Oregon Avenue about 7:30 p.m. Sunday and crews spent about two hours dousing the flames. Fire Chief Tony Samaniego said they were called back before dawn Monday when it appeared the fire re-kindled. Samaniego said the fire started in the kitchen and that the cause is under investigation.
James Meli, III
Funeral service for James Meli, III of Chickasha and formerly of Blair will be at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, August 18th at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Lone Wolf. Arrangements are with Peoples Funeral Home in Lone Wolf. Meli was a U.S. Air Force veteran.
Bob Ramage, Jr.
A wake service for Bob Ramage, Jr., 67, of Cement will be at 6:00 p.m. Thursday, August 19th at Holy Name Catholic Church with a funeral mass at 10:00 a.m. Friday, August 20th at the church. Burial will be in the Ft. Sill National Cemetery on Monday, August 23rd. Arrangements are with Sevier Funeral Home. Ramage spent more than 21 years in the Air Force.
Monday, August 16th
Federal Lawsuit Filed in Connection with
Coach Accused of Sexually Assaulting Players
Two Grady County school districts, several school administrators, and even the Grady County sheriff's office are targets of a federal lawsuit filed in connection with allegations of a high school girls basketball coach accused of having inappropriate relations with players. The Sunday Oklahoman reports that 12 women say they reported the sexual assaults but nothing was ever done about it. The suit alleges a “systemic failure by school staff and administrators to report or investigate the allegations”. One alleged victim reported the coaches' behavior to the sheriff's office back in 2015 but the investigation went nowhere. 54-year old Ron Akins, who coached at both Ninnekah and Friend schools, was arrested in June and charged with rape and sexual assault. Both schools have been named in that lawsuit. Since Akins arrest, the women - named Jane Doe 1-12 - have come forward to provide additional information implicating Akins of inappropriate contact with them. The newspaper reported that Cameron Spaulding, an attorney representing the women, called for the OSBI to lead a sweeping investigation, saying “we can't trust local law enforcement to protect those kids at this school”. The State Department of Education is aware of the accusations and the Oklahoman reported that Ninnekah's standing as a school district could be at risk.
Chickasha Water, Sewer Line Relocations for
Hwy 81 Bypass Expected to Exceed $1 Million
It's expected that the relocation of Chickasha's water and sewer lines due to the Highway 81 Bypass of the city will surpass $1 million. The Chickasha City Council is expected to approve going out for bids for the projects when the council meets this evening. The engineering for the work has already been completed. The anticipated cost to relocate the water lines is nearly $900,000 while the expected cost to move the sewer lines is nearly $250,000. The council is also expected to approve spending nearly $500,000 for a new fire engine. In background information to the council from Fire Chief Tony Samaniego, he said Engine 3 was involved in a traffic accident during the 4th of July weekend. The council declared an emergency earlier this month and officials say they've researched options for a new engine to be delivered within 45 to 60 days of the purchase agreement. Samaniego is recommending the purchase of a 2020 model Pierce Enforcer engine at a cost not to exceed $485,000. In other action, the council is expected to approve a coronavirus response grant of $13,000 for the airport. The group is also expected to select a company to install new air conditioning for the communications area of the police department in the basement of Fire Station No. 2. Officials are recommending a more than $10,000 bid from DeHart Heating and Air Conditioning for that project even though it's $50 higher than the low bid. Officials say the Dehart bid includes 10-year warranty on parts. The city council meets at 6:30 tonight at city hall.
Mask Mandate Returns for City of Anadarko Today
The City of Anadarko is returning to mask mandates today. Officials say due to the recent increase in coronavirus cases in Anadarko and Caddo County individuals will have to wear masks while visiting any city-operated building. That includes city hall, the police and fire stations, the library and city operated museums.
FFA Programs Awarded STEM Grants
A couple of regional FFA programs will benefit from STEM grants from the non-profit foundation of a local utility. Alex and Apache schools will receive a share of more than $38,000 in grants from The American Electric Power Foundation. American Electric Power (AEP) is the parent company of Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO). Grants between $1,000 and $2,500 were awarded to more than a dozen FFA programs. Priorities were given to programs which benefit more than one chapter and that are sustainable over several years.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $68.44 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $70.59.
Natural gas is $3.86 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,778 and silver is $23.53.