Saturday, Jan. 7th
State Population Tops 4 Million Residents
New numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show that the number of people living in Oklahoma has topped the 4 million mark. Data shows that Oklahoma was 10th among the 50 states for population growth with nearly 27,000 people migrating to the Sooner State between July of 2021 and July of 2022. The Oklahoman reports that Oklahoma is one of just four states to have a population between 4 million and 5 million residents. By the way, Florida leads the list of states where people are moving to with nearly 318,000 relocating to the Sunshine State with Texas second with more than 230,000 transitioning to the Lone Star State. On the other end of the spectrum, California tops the list of states where people are leaving with more than 340,000 people headed elsewhere with New York second with nearly 300,000 residents leaving.
Gubernatorial Inauguration Ceremony Set
Officials are making final preparations the inauguration of Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt. The event will be held on Monday as the governor prepares to begin his second term in office. Also at the state capital this week officials announced leadership roles in the State House of Representatives. State Rep. Brad Boles of Marlow will be chairman of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee. State Representative Dick Lowe of Amber will serve as an assistant whip and State Representative Toni Hasenbeck of Elgin will serve as a presiding officer.
State Tax Revenues Hit Record Level
2022 was a record-breaking year for gross tax receipts being deposited into the state's bank account. State Treasurer Randy McDaniel says the state received an all-time high of nearly $17.5 billion in various tax revenues. That's nearly 15 percent higher than the previous year. The website OK Energy Today reports that combined sales and use taxes brought in $7 billion; gross income tax collections were $6 billion; gross production taxes on oil and natural gas were $2 billion; corporate tax collections were about $1 billion; motor vehicle tax collections were $870 million; and medical marijuana taxes brought in nearly $55 million which was down about 17 percent compared to 2021.
OSBI Seeks Info on Garvin County Cold Case
The OSBI is re-opening a nearly 20-year cold case regarding the murder of a woman in Garvin County. 30-year old Sheila Ann Deviney died in fire in her Maysville home on Jan. 6th of 2004. The medical examiner's office ruled her death a homicide and that she died from burns and smoke inhalation. Persons who may have information about the death of Deviney are asked to reach out to the OSBI anonymously by calling 800-522-8017 or by sending an e-mail to email@example.com
A private memorial service will be held for Dorothy Williams, 96, of Chickasha. Arrangements are with Ferguson Funeral Home.
Friday, Jan. 6th
Chix Fire Department Continues Updating Fleet
The Chickasha Fire Department continues efforts to replace some of its older fire trucks and ambulances. The city council this week approved the purchase of a new brush truck. The city received four bids from three vendors which ranged from $154,000 to $193,000. A bid of nearly $180,000 from Emergency Vehicle Sales from Oklahoma was approved. $154,000 of that will be reimbursed by Grady County ARPA Funds.
City Council OKs Air Show Promoter
The council this week also approved a proposal to contract with a firm to bring in performers for the city’s annual Wings and Wheels Air Show in June. The council authorized officials to contract with David Schultz Air Shows at a cost of just under $6,000. That's the same company the city has worked with for the air show over the last several years.
Grant for Safety, Medical Supplies Approved
The panel also accepted a OneOK Emergency Responder Grant of nearly $2,400 for the police department to purchase safety and medical supplies for employees, citizens, and volunteers.
Prescribed Burns Scheduled for Wildlife Refuge
Prescribed burns at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge are expected to wrap up this weekend. Officials say weather conditions have been favorable for the burns. They are conducted under a strict set of guidelines and weather conditions in order to provide for public and firefighter safety and to limit potential smoke impacts. The burns are not held if weather conditions do not meet the guidelines. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service uses prescribed burns to restore and revitalize refuge eco-systems; reduce the potential for catastrophic wildfires; and to control invasive plant species. They also help to preserve and maintain natural environment processes which support various plant communities and promote forage for bison, elk, and deer.
USAO Student to Study Overseas
A USAO student will be studying abroad after receiving a scholarship from the State Regents for Higher Education. Yukon junior Chelsea Fuston received the Brad Henry International Scholar funds named for the former governor. Fuston will spend the spring trimester studying at Swansea University in Wales. It's not the first time that Fuston has had the opportunity to study internationally. She has taken part in USAO-organized trips to Belize and Italy. After graduation she plans on pursuing a law degree and a master's degree in public policy. Fuston says she's passionate about how policies and laws impact people particularly those who are underserved and unrepresented.
Grant to Library to Help with Early Literacy
A new grant for the Chickasha Library will help purchase materials to support early literacy programs. The library received a $2,000 Ready-2-Read grant from the State Department of Libraries and Friends of Libraries in Oklahoma. The grant comes from ARPA funds and is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The materials are designed to enhance pre-reading skills for infants, toddlers, and pre-schoolers.
Harry ‘Cowboy’ Ellis
Funeral service for ‘Cowboy’ Ellis, 69, of Lawton was held at 11:00 a.m. today (Friday, Jan. 6th) at the Friendship Pentecostal Holiness Church in Lawton. Arrangements were with Brown-Thomas Funeral Home.
Funeral service for Dovie Clouse, 89, of Moore and formerly of Chickasha will be held at 1:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9th at Ferguson Funeral Home.
Thursday, Jan. 5th
Verden Citizens Aid in Arrest of Suspect
Responsible for School Lockdown
Verden schools were locked down for a couple of hours Wednesday after Verden police received information that a dangerous suspect may be hiding somewhere on the middle school campus. Police Chief Jason Cox says the situation began to unfold very early Wednesday morning when a police officer tried to make a traffic stop on a vehicle that did not have a tag. The driver of the vehicle managed to hide for a short time before the officer was able to locate the vehicle. Officials found a weapon and some drugs in the car and arrested the driver, 48-year old Jerrell Wayne Quisenberry of Chickasha. Quisenberry told police that a passenger in the car fled on foot. Later in the morning, authorities interviewed Quinsenberry's girlfriend who told them the suspect called her and said he was somewhere at the middle school and needed a ride. The lockdown was issued around 9 a.m. while authorities searched for the suspect. The lockdown was lifted just before noon after authorities were unable to find anyone. Later in the day, Chief Cox said that parents and grandparents of Verden students received information that the suspect was in Chickasha and Cox notified Chickasha police. Officials arrested William Preston Dehart in broad daylight in a residential neighborhood in the area of 15th and Florida, which is just a few blocks away from the Chickasha Middle School and USAO. DeHart, believed to be a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, was wanted in Garfield County (Enid) and he was taken there. Quisenberry was charged in Grady County District Court with possession of a firearm after former felony conviction. Despite his criminal history his bond was only set at $10,000 and he is already back out on the streets.
Chix High School Students to Have Virtual Learning Friday
A water line break discovered at Chickasha High School is forcing some changes for high school students later this week. Students will be in the classroom today but Superintendent Rick Croslin says that high school students will have virtual learning tomorrow. Students at all other schools in the district will still be in the classroom on Friday. Croslin said repairs to the water line will get underway tomorrow and are expected to be completed over the weekend. High school students should be able to return to classrooms on Monday.
Bullock Memorial Center to Hold MLK Jr. Day Benefit
A Chickasha group will honor the legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. later this month. The Bullock Memorial Center will be serving a meal on Martin Luther King Junior Day on Monday, Jan. 16th. They'll be serving chicken wings, beans, cornbread and dessert for a $15 per person donation from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day. Proceeds will help the non-profit center promote its mission to educate and inspire younger generations. For information contact Bullock Memorial Center Foundation co-chair Charlotte Oliver by calling 405-274-6268 or Bruce Alexander at 405-650-4521.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $72.84 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $77.84.
Natural gas is $4.17 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,854 and silver is $23.67.
A memorial service for Robert ‘Bob’ Wade, 73, of Chickasha will be held at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 7th at Ferguson Funeral Home.
Funeral service for William ‘Billy’ Brooks, 46, of Lindsay will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday Jan. 9th at Vimy Ridge Baptist Church. Arrangements are with Ferguson Funeral Home.
Wednesday, Jan. 4th
'Separation Agreement' OK'd for Suspended Chix Police Chief
The City of Chickasha is looking for a new police chief. Last night the Chickasha City Council approved a separation agreement with Chief Kathryn 'Dee' Rowell who had been on administrative leave for more than three months. Following a closed-door session that lasted nearly 30 minutes the panel approved the agreement and to resolve all pending matters. Among those pending matters were a discrimination complaint that Rowell filed against the city with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and information resulting from pending investigations. The measure passed with a 7-0 vote. City officials did not say why Rowell was suspended other than it was a personnel issue and they could not comment. Rowell was the city's first female police chief. She led the department for 3 1/2 years after being hired in March of 2019. She previously spent 32 years with the Ft. Worth, Texas police department and rose through the ranks to serve as a captain and command 200 other officers. Assistant Chickasha Police Chief G.G. Music has been serving as interim chief since Rowell's suspension.
Rock Island Railroad Mill Building Property Sold to Developer
The council also approved the sale of city-owned property near the Rock Island Railroad Depot to a developer who has promised a multi-million dollar investment in that area. The council first approved declaring as surplus the property where the Mill Building is located adjacent to the depot and the leg lamp. The council then approved a bid of $130,000 for the parcel of land from Chet Hitt and his Victor Valley Mortuary Company. Hitt approached the city last month with a proposal to invest $5 million in the depot area to build a distillery, a restaurant, and make other improvements in the continuing development of that area.
Re-zoning Requests Approved
The council also approved a re-zoning proposal for vacant property at 17th and Iowa. Property owner Elsie Wilkerson asked for the change in order to sell the property to an individual who wants to build a small drive-through convenience store there. The council also approved re-zoning property at 1420 N. 16th from industrial to residential for Buffie Howe in order to build a home. There are more than 100 acres in that area and much of the acreage will still be allowed to be farmed.
Other City Council Notes
The council also authorized the transfer of a police department handgun to retired police Sgt. Kori Brewer per the city's collective bargaining agreement with the police union. Brewer recently retired after 20 years of service and is now a deputy with the Grady County Sheriff's Office. The council also presented fireman Mike Peek with a 25-year service pin and certificate from the Oklahoma Municipal League for his long service.
Trio of Elected Officials Sworn In
Three Grady County Elected Officials took their oaths of office yesterday.
District Judge Kory Kirkland led the swearing in ceremony at the Grady County Courthouse Monday. Taking their oaths were Assessor Bari Firestone and new county commissioners Gary Bray and Zach Davis. All will serve four-year terms.
Wanted Suspect Arrested After Shooting His Mother
An Anadarko man was arrested for shooting his mother over the weekend. 21-year old Malackhi Wolfe has been formally charged with felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon and using a firearm with the serial number removed. The Lawton Constitution reports that Anadarko police arrested Wolfe after shooting his mother in the stomach on New Year's Eve. On-line Caddo County court records indicate that Wolfe was wanted for a previous weapons charge. A felony arrest warrant was filed in September for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Wolfe remains in the Caddo County Jail as bond has has not yet been set.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $76.93 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $82.10.
Natural gas fell to $3.99 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,868 and silver is $24.62.
Alda Joyce Updegrove
A graveside service for Alda Joyce Updegrove of Cement will be held at 2:00 p.m. Friday. Jan. 6th in the Cement Cemetery. Arrangements are with McRay Funeral Home.
Tuesday, Jan. 3rd
Chix City Council to Consider 'Separation Agreement'
with Suspended Police Chief
The Chickasha City Council will go behind closed doors tonight to discuss a separation agreement with police chief Dee Rowell. Rowell has been on paid administrative leave since late August but officials have not indicated why she was suspended. Rowell has filed a discrimination complaint against the city with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Panel to Consider Land Sale for Proposed Downtown Development
The council will consider selling the surface rights of property near the Rock Island Railroad Depot to a developer who wants to invest more than $5 million around the depot area. Chet Hitt presented proposal to the council last month which included building a distillery, a restaurant, and a gift shop in the area. This particular tract includes the Mill Building next to the depot. The council must first deem the property surplus with Hitt offering $130,000 for that property.
Public Hearings Also Scheduled
The council will also hold several public hearings, including one to consider changes to the city's land development code. A public hearing is also scheduled for a rezoning request at 1627 West Iowa for applicant Elsie Wilkerson. Wilkerson has been trying unsuccessfully to sell the lot on the southeast corner of 17th and Idaho on vacant property which used to be laundromat. Wilkerson told the planning commission recently she has an interested buyer that would like to open a small drive-through convenience store to serve the school, hospital and doctors’ offices nearby. A public hearing will also be held for a rezoning request at 1420 N. 16th Street for applicant Buffie Howe. There are 116 acres that Howe would like to re-zone from industrial to residential use to build a home. The planning commission has recommended that both re-zoning proposals be approved.
Grady County Officials Sworn In
Two new Grady County Commissioners and the current county assessor were all sworn in to office this morning. District One Commissioner Zack Davis and District 3 Commissoner Gary Bray - along with County Assessor Bari Firestone all took their oaths of office from District Judge Kory Kirkland prior to this morning's county commissioners meeting. Davis defeated incumbent Commissioner Mike Walker and Bray defeated incumbent Commissioner Ralph Beard in last year's elections.
Fatal Crash Near Lindsay Under Investigation
One person died and a passenger was hospitalized after an SUV ran off the road and overturned near Lindsay. The driver of the SUV, 46-year old William Brooks of Lindsay was thrown out of the vehicle and died at the scene. The passenger, 29-year old Brook Wood also of Lindsay was taken to an Oklahoma City hospital with arm and trunk injuries. The accident happened just before 8:00 a.m. Monday on a county road about three miles south and one mile east of Lindsay. The cause of that crash is still under investigation.
Driver Hospitalized After SUV Rollover in Caddo County
A driver had to be air-lifted to an Oklahoma City hospital after crashing his pickup near Apache over the weekend. 29-year old Shade Nahquaddy of Lawton suffered arm, leg, and internal injuries in the crash that happened about 3:30 a.m. Sunday, New Year's Day. Nahquaddy was eastbound on State Highway 19 west of Apache when for an unknown reason the truck veered off the highway and rolled several times.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $80.26 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $83.46.
Natural gas is $4.47 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,838 and silver is $24.48.
Funeral service for Travis Wallis, 41, of Chickasha was held at 10 a.m. this morning at Ferguson Funeral Home.
Funeral service for Linda Schmidt, 73, of Chickasha was held at 1:00 p.m. this afternoon at the First Church of the Nazarene. Arrangements were with Ferguson Funeral Home.
Donna Mealer Chappell
Funeral service for Donna Chappell, 58, of Lindsay will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday Jan. 4th at Ferguson Funeral Home.
Funeral service for Michelle Mendoza, 31, of Lawton is pending with Brown-Thomas Funeral Home.
Monday, Jan. 2nd
No news due to holiday.