Friday, Dec. 24th
Grady County Commissoners to Consider Burn Ban
Extremely warm and windy conditions will be around throughout the three-day Christmas holiday weekend. Near record-high temperatures are forecast especially today and Sunday – and coupled with dry south winds gusting to 30 mph-plus - that will enhance the threat for wildfires in central and western regions. A number of counties have already implemented burn bans and Grady County could be next. County commissioners will consider a issuing a burn ban when they meet for their weekly meeting Monday morning. Eleven counties have burn bans in effect including Garvin, Stephens, Jefferson, and Carter counties in the south-central part of the state. Five counties in north central Oklahoma and two in the Panhandle also have burn bans in place.
Suspect Arrested in Connection with Caddo County Crimes
A suspect sought in connection with a number of crimes that took place in Carnegie this week is in custody and it’s not his first time to be arrested this year. The Caddo County Sheriff's Office says that 33-year old Clifford Guoladdle is in the Caddo County jail though details of his capture were not available. The sheriff's office posted on its Facebook page that they were seeking the public's help in identifying a man caught on video committing a number of crimes which included rummaging through a number of homes and pouring what was believed to be a flammable liquid on a pick-up and trying to set it on fire. Guoladdle is being held on a burglary complaint for his alleged involvement with these most recent accusations. Carnegie police arrested Guoladdle back in July for drug possession and he’s facing a felony charge in connection with that incident.
Grady Memorial Staff Encourage COVID Vaccinations
Doctors and staff members at Grady Memorial Hospital and the Five Oaks Medical Clinic are again urging individuals to get their coronavirus vaccinations. In a letter addressed to the community and signed by 30 staff members this week, officials say that Grady County is experiencing another steep rise in COVID cases and hospitalizations and that those being treated have not been vaccinated. Officials say all the hospital and clinic doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants have had their shots and they urge everyone else to do so as well - even if individuals had a previous COVID infection or if they are healthy and young. They say it’s especially important because of the rising number of coronavirus variants that are spreading. Officials urge adults of all ages to get vaccinated and ask parents to vaccinate their children as young as five years of age.
EPA Seeks Take-Over of State Enviornmental Issues
A federal agency wants to take over an area being overseen by the State of Oklahoma. Matt Skinner with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission has this report.
The EPA will be taking comment on the matter through the end of January.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $73.79 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $76.85.
Natural gas is $3.73 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,811 and silver is $22.94.
Thursday, Dec. 23rd
'Drive Sober, or Get Pulled Over' Campaign Underway
A lot of families will be on the road over the next week or so celebrating the holidays. Local and state law enforcement agencies will be focusing their attention on getting impaired drivers off the highways. Authorities say the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is in force through Saturday, January 1st. Police departments, sheriff's offices, and state troopers will be watching for impaired motorists. They say not only is drunk driving illegal, it's a matter of life and death. Officials say that in 2019 more than 10,000 people died nationwide in accidents involving drunk or impaired drivers. That's almost one death every hour. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office say the holidays are a special time and ask drivers to commit to keeping the roads free of impaired motorists.
Man Finds Burglary Suspect in Camper
A Minco man surprises a burglar who broke into his camper. It happened Monday when the victim told Minco police he opened the door to his camper to find the suspected thief inside. The victim managed to keep the suspect at bay for a few moments while calling police. The suspect tried to leave but the victim followed him and an officer was on the scene moments later. A probable cause affidavit indicates the officer discovered the camper door had been pried open and its contents were thrown about or some destroyed. The suspect said he broke into the trailer to get out of the cold and he put on some clothing that was being kept inside because his were wet. The officer arrested 36-year old Travis Lee Sneed of Minco on a burglary complaint. Prosecutors have charged Sneed with felony burglary and he remains in the Grady County Jail in lieu of a $10,000 bond.
Anadarko Police Name Robbery Suspects;
One in Custody, One Remains at-Large
In Anadarko, one suspect is in custody and authorities are searching for a second man who robbed two women at a motel. The robbery took place at the Castle Inn on Thursday, Dec. 9th. The Lawton Constitution cites a probable cause affidavit from Anadarko police indicating the victims recognized two of three men who forced their way into their room. One of the men was armed with a knife and they got away with a bank card and a wallet. Earlier this week, arrest warrants were issued for 27-year old Jordan Lee Lindsey and 18-year old Seth Domebo both of Anadarko. Lindsey is in custody but authorities continue their search for Domebo. Lindsey spent some time in jail within the last couple of years after pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery charges stemming from a 2018 arrest. He's being held in the Caddo County Jail on a $50,000 bond. Domebo was previously arrested by Anadarko police about a month ago and is facing a misdemeanor drug charge in connection with that incident.
Salvation Army Nears Red Kettle Drive Goal
Only two days remain in the Salvation Army's Red Kettle bell-ringing campaign. Officials with the Grady and Caddo County Salvation Army say they are very close to their goal of collecting more than $110,000 - all of which will be used to help needy families throughout 2022. Lt. Crystal McFadden said that Santa Claus is expected to take a brief break from his work at the North Pole to visit with children at the Chickasha Wal-Mart tomorrow morning from 9 a.m. to noon. The bell-ringing campaign will end at 6 o'clock tomorrow night.
Chix Firm, Employees, and sub-Contractors
Dig Deep to Help Needy Families
For the second straight year a Chickasha firm has partnered with its employees and subcontractors to help out the Salvation Army. CMS Willowbrook Development Company and its partners collected nearly $25,000 over the past month which will go directly to the Army's programs in the two counties. Workers at 14 jobsites took part. The crews on the Blanchard High School performing arts center project led the way with more than $5,100 in contributions. Running a close second was the crew on the Classen Curve project who brought in more than $5,000.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $72.76 per barrel.
London-based Brent is crude $75.29.
Natural gas is $3.97 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,806 and silver is $22.85.
Funeral for Kathy Harris of Chickasha will be at 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, December 28th at Sevier Funeral Home.
Wednesday, Dec. 22nd
Regional Drilling Permits on the Rise
A number of permits to drill for oil and gas in the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province (SCOOP) play have been given the go-ahead. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission signed off on permits in Grady, McClain, and Canadian counties. The website OK Energy Today reports that Continental Resources received permits to drill five wells on a single pad east of Chickasha on State Highway 19 in section 17 of Township 6 North, Range 6 West. Gulfport MidCon has received permits to drill in two locations - one east of Rush Springs for a two-well pad in Section 31 of Township 4 North, Range 5 West, and another nearby in Section 30 of Township 4 North, Range 5 West. In McClain County south of Blanchard, Warwick Minerva received a permit to drill in Section 6 of Township 7 North, Range 4 West. In Canadian County, Citizen Energy received a permit to drill 18 wells on the same pad southwest of Mustang, and Chaparral Energy received a permit to drill east of El Reno along Route 66.
Caddo County Fire Destroys One Business, Damages Another
One business was destroyed and another had significant damage after a fire in Lookeba on Monday. A number of fire departments were called out to beat back the flames on the historic buildings which were more than 100 years old. The fire destroyed Holly J's Antiques and Treasures while CD's Soups and Sandwiches next door sustained a lot of smoke and water damage. Fire crews were on the scene for about two hours. Our partners at KWTV News 9 reported that the antique store received a $1,000 award from the Keep Oklahoma Beautiful non-profit group just last month. The sandwich shop will have some extensive repairs to make but they hope to reopen in a couple of months. Officials are still looking into the cause of the fire however they don't suspect arson.
Anadarko Awarded Grant for Sewer System Improvements
Some needed water and sewer line upgrades will be possible in Anadarko in the coming months thanks to a large grant. The Association of South Central Oklahoma Governments (ASCOG) has awarded the city a $45,000 grant from its Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP). The city will match that grant which will give the city a total of $90,000 to make the improvements. A post on the city's Facebook page says the city has experienced major infiltration of its sewer distribution system due to ground water and that the problem is worse during times of heavy rainfall. It causes the system to reach capacity for long periods of time. Engineers are recommending that the city replace manholes and concrete liners especially those that have vents and pick-holes in them. Mayor Kelly McGlothin says the city is grateful for the grant and that its one of many infrastructure projects underway.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $71.12 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $73.98.
Natural gas is $3.87 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,789 and silver is $22.62.
Funeral for Jerry Scarbarough, 63, of Chickasha will be at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, December 23rd at Ferguson Funeral Home.
Funeral for Rachel Whitlow, 86, of Ninnekah will be at 2:00 p.m. Thursday, December 23rd at the Ninnekah Baptist Church. Arrangements are with McRay Funeral Home.
Tuesday, Dec. 21st
Grady Memorial Hospital Sees Increase in COVID Cases
COVID numbers are rising across the country and Grady Memorial Hospital officials say it is not any different in this area. Hospital administrator Kean Spellman recently reported a shortage of beds for coronavirus patients and had to transfer one patient to a hospital in south Texas. Spellman said about 95 percent of those hospitalized were not vaccinated. Most coronavirus cases have had the Delta variant. There have not yet been any confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in Oklahoma which is said to be a milder strain but it spreads more quickly. Spellman said that in general the reasons for increases in the coronavirus haven’t changed. People who aren't vaccinated are choosing not to do so. Spellman said the hospital also continues to work with staffing shortages. He said a lot of health care professionals have decided to retire or simply leave the medical field.
Deputy Unhurt in Pursuit Crash; Cold, Wet Suspect Surrenders
A Grady county deputy was uninjured after an accident during a weekend pursuit. And the suspect eventually surrendered after trying to escape by wading across the Washita River in sub-freezing temperatures. Undersheriff Gary Boggess said that Deputies Brittany Mayer and Chris Kennell were both part of the chase in separate vehicles early Sunday morning. Mayer was patrolling near an oil lease in the area of State Highway 19 and Dell Street between Ninnekah and Alex where there had been some recent thefts. She spotted a vehicle without a tag light so she attempted to pull the driver over and that's when the chase began with speeds reaching 85 miles per hour on gravel roads. Kennell joined the pursuit and was behind the suspect vehicle when both came upon a large hole in the middle of the road. The suspect vehicle avoided the hole but because of the blowing dust Kennell didn't see it and crashed his 2020 Dodge Durango into it, causing a flat tire and some under-carriage damage. The entire pursuit lasted about 15 minutes. The unidentified suspect abandoned his vehicle but gave himself up after being in the cold water with air temperatures in the 20-degree range. He told the deputies he tried to get away because he had been drinking. The suspect was turned over to the Lighthorse Police Department and taken to jail in another county. Boggess said the insurance company is still trying to determine if the SUV will have to be totaled.
Chickasha Chamber of Commerce President Steps Down
The president of the Chickasha Chamber of Commerce will be stepping down at the end of the month. Cassandra Ersland-Robnett notified chamber leaders several weeks ago that she would be stepping down in order to focus on her family business. Brad Wilkerson, the chairman of the chamber's board of directors, said the chamber thrived under her leadership. Ersland-Robnett spent three years creating a number of projects that Wilkerson said were beneficial to the community. Among them are the Buy Chickasha campaigns; a Chamber Chatter podcast; Lunch and Learn programs, and the creation of the Successful Women's Breakfast and Video series. Ersland-Robnett thanks all chamber members, the board, and staff members she's worked with during her time. The chamber will undergo a re-organization with Ersland-Robnett's departure. Starting January 1st, Economic Development Council President Jim Cowan will oversee the chamber operations as well as continue EDC work and Festival of Light manager Whitney Palesano will be moving into chamber membership development and a new Festival of Light director will be hired. Cassie Poole will remain as the chamber's marketing manager. A reception for Ersland-Robnett will be Thursday, December 23rd from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the chamber.
USAO Grad Provides Scholarship Endowment
The estate of a USAO graduate has provided a large contribution to the university foundation. The Debra Worley estate has donated more than $330,000 to establish an endowed scholarship in the name of Worley and her late husband, Willis. Both Debra and Willis graduated from the university. Willis graduated in 1980 and would return home to grow his family’s funeral home business. Debra graduated in 1982 and managed many rural Southwest Oklahoma clinics. She finished her career at the Clinics of North Texas Cardiology Department. The scholarship will be awarded to students based on their financial need. The preference is that students be in the business administration program and maintain a 2.5 Grade Point Average.
Groups to Serve Free Christmas Meal Early
A Chickasha organization will be serving free Christmas meals to the community this week. Life Skills Institute and Resurrection House will also send boxes of food home with families. Zack Bowles is the director of the institute and says dine-in and take-out meals will be available on Thursday, Dec. 23rd. Dine-in times will be from noon to 2 p.m. and again from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The take-out meals will be available all afternoon and food boxes will be available while the supply lasts. Bowles said the food is being provided by donations from the community as well as the Regional Food Bank.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $68.61 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $71.51.
Natural gas is $3.83 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,797 and silver is $22.74.
Funeral service for Eldon Fitzpatrick, 80, of Chickasha will be held at 11:00 a.m. Monday, December 27th at New Song Church. Arrangements are with Sevier Funeral Home.
Monday, Dec. 20th
Resignation 'Agreements' Approved
for Suspended Ninnekah School Administrators
Two administrators suspended from Ninnekah Public Schools who were implicated in the molestation scandal involving basketball players have had resignation agreements approved by the school board. The agreements for suspended superintendent Todd Bunch and high school principal David Pitts were approved last week following a closed door meeting of the board. Both Bunch and Pitts are among several defendants named in a federal lawsuit alleging the cover-up of sexual assaults of girls basketball players. The Chickasha Express-Star reported that the terms of the agreements weren't released. Both men were suspended by the school board earlier this year pending the outcome of an investigation into the allegations brought forth by several former basketball players who say they were assaulted by former coach Ron Akins. Akins is facing rape and sexual battery charges in connection with the allegations.
State Leads the Country in Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
Oklahoma leads the country in its number of marijuana dispensaries. With more than 2,100 dispensaries, Oklahoma has almost twice as many dispensaries as next two states combined. Oregon and California together have about 2,500 dispensaries. The study published in The Oklahoman shows there are more than 400,000 total medical marijuana licenses in the state which includes about 385,000 individual licenses. That's up from 365,000 last year and accounts for one in every 13 Oklahomans. The licenses also include nearly 9,500 growers; more than 1,700 processors; more than 100 transportation firms; and nearly 30 laboratories. The study shows that Grady, McClain, Garvin, and Comanche counties each have more than 200 medical marijuana facilities. The number of care-giver licenses was down from just under 2,600 last year to just under 2,000 this year. Medical marijuana tax revenue in Oklahoma has grown from $24 million in 2019 to more than $61 million so far this year (January through November). State and local sales tax revenues have grown from $30 million in 2019 to nearly $76 million in the first 11 months of this year. Nearly 60 percent of the tax revenue goes to disadvantaged public school districts as well as charter schools; about 35 percent goes to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority for regulating the industry; and about 5 percent goes to the state health department for drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Any collections over $65 million will go into the state's general fund.
Two Hospitalized After Car Hits Tree
Two people were sent to the hospital - one with life-threatening injuries - after a car ran off the road near Dibble and hit a tree over the weekend. An unidentified 17-year old girl was air-lifted to an Oklahoma City hospital and admitted in critical condition. She was a passenger in a car driven by 21-year old Austyn Thomas of Lindsay. Thomas was taken by ground ambulance to a hospital where he was admitted in fair condition. The accident happened about six miles southwest of Dibble in McClain County just before noon Saturday. The highway patrol reports that Thomas was northbound on May Avenue when the accident happened. The trooper investigating the crash said some kind of distraction inside the vehicle was the cause of the crash.
HUD Sends $5 Million to Oklahoma Tribes
Several million dollars in COVID-19 relief funds have been awarded to tribal groups in Oklahoma. Each of five tribes will equally share $5 million which comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Officials with the Apache and Kiowa Tribes say they'll use the money for housing upgrades and construction. Officials with the Apache Housing Authority said they will use the money to clean, modify, or replace air ducts in homes. They may also enclose garages to create extra bedrooms, renovate rental units, and even upgrade broadband infrastructure. Officials with the Kiowa Housing Authority said they'll use the funds to build as many as 14 new homes around Carnegie. Other Oklahoma tribes to receive the funds are the Seminole, Seneca-Cayuga, and Modoc Nation.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $70.83 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $73.52.
Natural gas is $3.69 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,797 and silver is $22.35.
No service is scheduled for Mary Vananda, 80, of Chickasha. Arrangements are with Sevier Funeral Home.
A private graveside service for Frances Hackworth, 77, of Verden will be held at 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, December 21st at the Laverty Cemetery. Arrangements are with Sevier Funeral Home.
Funeral for 66-year old Michael Jones of Oklahoma City and formerly of Amber will be at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, December 21st at the Amber Mission Holiness Church. Arrangements are with Ferguson Funeral Home.
Funeral for Angela ‘Angie’ Whitlow, 50, of Chickasha will be at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, December 22nd at Ferguson Funeral Home.