Saturday, April 29th
Rural Lawmakers Work to Build a Better Future for Non-Urban Regions
New policies, procedures, and laws to help spur development in rural Oklahoma are always being considered at the state capital. But there are several factors involved that no one can control including the economy, federal environmental policy, and the weather. The Oklahoman reports that state lawmakers in rural areas gather weekly to discuss issues. State Senator Darcy Jech (R-Kingfisher) whose district includes Caddo County leads a group of rural senators. They agree that agriculture and oil and gas production are at the top of the list but are difficult to manage. Among the areas that are key for the long-term include broadband service. Officials say the service is not just for cell phones. It's needed for modern irrigation systems, fire management, and business needs. Workforce development is also critical. While career-tech centers are doing what they can, Gov. Stitt this year formed the Workforce Transformation Task Force to come up with recommendations. Lawmakers are also considering a bill which would create an Oklahoma Workforce Commission. Health care is also important as officials say there has been a shortage of health care access in rural areas over the last three decades. Economic development is another area of concern. Last year, rural state lawmakers were able to get $250 million in Progressing Rural Economic Prosperity funds approved in an attempt to get new projects started.
There are a couple weekend fundraisers designed to support some good programs and allow individuals to stay out of the kitchen. Today, Chickasha's Bullock Memorial Center will hold a baked-potato fundraiser to support the Juneteenth Celebration which will be held in mid-June. Chickasha hasn't had a Juneteenth celebration since before the pandemic. It runs from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Bullock Center at 917 S. 1st. The donation is $10 per person.
Naples Fire Department
Tomorrow, the Naples Fire Department will hold its community appreciation fish fry. It is free and open to the public but donations are welcome. In addition to the fish fry there will be a silent auction. The event will be from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. tomorrow (Sunday, April 30th). The Naples Fire Department is on the Alex Highway north of State Highway 39.
Talk Show Topics
Candace Smith and Bud Andrus with the Chickasha Antique Auto Club are guests on the KOOL Konversation. Spencer Wizenried, the director of the City of Chickasha’s Parks and Recreation Department is this week’s guest on Real Estate Today. Find podcasts of both programs under the Community tab on this website.
Funeral service for Loretta McGill, 69, of Rush Springs will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 2nd at Ferguson Funeral Home. She was a beautician and cared for individuals with disabilities.
Friday, April 28th
Attorney General Approves Agreement Allowing
PSO to Pursue Purchase of Wind and Solar Farms
Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) and its parent company American Electric Power (AEP) get to move forward with plans to purchase a number of wind and solar farms. If approved, the purchase is expected to eventually lower utility costs for consumers – however that would occur after a brief increase in rates. Oklahoma Attorney General Genter Drummond approved a settlement agreement with PSO allowing the utility to continue efforts to purchase three wind farms and three solar farms. If approved, it is expected to provide nearly 1,000 additional megawatts of power production capacity to the utility. The combined cost of the farms is $2.5 billion. If approved by the Corporation Commission the purchase would increase monthly bills by about $2 per month in 2025, but the following year utility bills would go down about $2.60 per month. The acquisition is also expected to allow PSO to provide more power in times of need.
Efforts to Record Histories of Indigenous Peoples'
Experiences in Abusive Boarding Schools Gets Support
A national project to record the oral histories of survivors and descendants of Native Americans who suffered abuse while attending federal boarding schools as children is expected to begin soon. The Interior Department has announced a partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities to document the experiences of thousands of Native American, Alaska native, and Native Hawaiian students. Many of the boarding schools were said to have sought to 'civilize’ Indigenous students through abusive practices. The Oklahoman reports that the National Endowment for the Humanities has contributed $4 million to the project and will look for other ways to support research, educational programming, and gatherings.
Remains Found in Duncan Identified as Missing Woman
Skeletal remains found in Duncan have been identified as a woman who went missing last summer. 84-year old Margie Pickens was reported missing from her home last June and that began a weeks-long search effort throughout the Duncan area. The Duncan Banner reports the Duncan Police Department confirmed remains found in a field by a utility worker last week were those of Pickens. Foul play is not suspected but the state medical examiner's office will determine her cause of death.
Retiring USAO Prez to Salute Final Graduating Class
This will be a special weekend for USAO's spring graduates as well as university president John Feaver. This will be the final commencement for Feaver who is retiring at the end of the year. Feaver has spent more than 20 years leading the university and said he is proud to have been part of the history of the univeristy and all the changes that have taken place during his tenure. Weather permitting, commencement will be outdoors on the oval tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. The state chancellor for higher education, Allison Garrett, will deliver the commencement address.
4H'er Says Humans, Horses Have A Lot in Common
Did you know that horses have many of the same qualities as humans? Mesa Payne with the Grady County 4H Horse Club says horses are family-oriented, thrive in social settings, and can even suffer from lonliness. Also-
She also said riding horses strengthens a person’s core, trunk, coordination, and balance.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $74.76 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $78.37.
Natural gas is $2.36 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,992 and silver is $25.12.
Funeral service for Kenneth Pogue, 85, will be held at 1:00 p.m. Friday, April 28th at Sevier Funeral Home.
Billy Hare, Jr.
Funeral service for Billy Hare, Jr., 57, of Ninnekah will be held at 1:00 p.m. Monday, May 1st at Ferguson Funeral Home. He owned and operated an oilfield disposals company.
Thursday, April 27th
Big Sign-on Bonuses Offered to New Oklahoma Teachers
State School Superintendent Ryan Walters has announced a proposal to offer new Oklahoma teachers up to $50,000 to work in state classrooms. The bonuses will be offered to early childhood education and special education teachers and they would have to work in the state for five years. Walters said the bonuses would draw teachers from other states and other job sectors to help alleviate Oklahoma's teaching shortage especially in rural areas and high-poverty schools. The Oklahoman reports that the state would use private funds for an out-of-state advertising campaign to promote the program. The State Department of Education said it is financing the program with $8 million in ARPA funds and another $8 million in funds from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Officials say it is a one-time bonus plan and they are already accepting applications for next school year. There's no guarantee that the bonuses would continue after 2024. State Rep. Mark McBride of Norman said while the state is recruiting new teachers - something should also be done to show appreciation to teachers who are already in Oklahoma classrooms.
Grady County VFW In Danger of Losing Charter
A Grady County veterans group is in danger of losing its charter. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 11201 will have a meeting next month to elect new officers and if seven positions aren't filled the post will permanently close. Officials are requesting that all current VFW members attend. The VFW is for any veteran who has served in a war-zone whether they saw combat duty or not. A meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 16th at 6:30 p.m. at the Grady County Veterans Center in Chickasha at 6th and Chickasha Avenue. If there are not enough members to fill the offices the state and national VFW offices will close the post after the state convention in June. The VFW is a community-based organization. For information contact Eric Anderson by calling 405-412-5739.
Three USAO Faculty Members Honored
USAO regents have recognized three faculty members for their work. Chemistry instructor and lab coordinator Thomas Willcock was presented with the Superior Teaching Award in part for his enthusiastic support for his students. Professor of Theatre Arts Katie Davis received the Faculty Service Award for her work in recruiting students and for serving as director of the Davis-Waldorf Performing Arts Series; and Assistant Professor of Environmental Services Dr. David Reed received the Scholarly Activity Award for his prolific and consistent output of peer-reviewed research.
New Date Set for Native Art Center Re-opening
The re-opening of the Jacobson House Native Art Center has been re-scheduled. The event is now set for Saturday, May 20th. Among the collection are photos of several of the Kiowa Six artists from 1929 with their OU art professor Dr. Oscar Jacobsen. There is also a photo of Lois Smoky who is the only female member of the renowned Kiowa art students taught by Dr. Jacobsen nearly 100 years ago. The grand-re-opening of the center will be Saturday, May 20th from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The center is located at 609 Chatauqua Avenue in Norman.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $74.30.
London-based Brent crude is $77.69.
Natural gas is $2.12 per million BTUs.
Gold is $2,007 and silver is $25.29.
A memorial service for Mary Wood, 100, of Chickasha will be held at a later date. Arrangements are with Ferguson Funeral Home.
A graveside service for Peggy Harwell, 91, will be held at 1:00 p.m. Friday, April 28th at Fairlawn Cemetery. Arrangements are with McRay Funeral Home.
Funeral service for Nancy Nichols, 80, of Chickasha will be held at 2:00 p.m. Friday, April 28th at Ferguson Funeral Home.
A graveside service for Loretta Reynolds, 75, of Chickasha will be held at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 3rd at Fairlawn Cemetery. Arrangements are with Ferguson Funeral Home.
Wednesday, April 26th
Admitted Triple Murderer Formally Sentenced
Lawrence Paul Anderson stepped inside a Grady County courtroom for perhaps the last time this week. Anderson was formally sentenced for his admitted role in the brutal killings of three people, including a four-year old girl. Anderson pleaded guilty to three counts of murder, assault, and maiming in a plea deal with prosecutors last month. District Judge Kory Kirkland issued the formal sentence this week - three consecutive life terms without parole and two additional consecutive life terms. Anderson pleaded guilty to killing his uncle, Leon Pye; Pye's four-year old granddaugther Kaeos Yates; and a neighbor, Andrea Blankenship. The killings drew national attention as Anderson cut out Blankenship's heart and tried to make his family eat it.
Vacant Home Destroyed By Fire Torn Down
That fire at a vacant Chickasha home yesterday morning caused so much damage that officials had to demolish the remnants for safety reasons. Chickasha Fire Chief Tony Samaniego said the home was nearly fully engulfed when crews arrived about 4 a.m. Tuesday. The chief said no one was in the home at the time but there was evidence that transients may have been staying there. There were some tense moments as one firefighter nearly fell in to the basement but he was not seriously injured. About a dozen firefighters spent about four hours on site. Samaniego said the fire started from trash barrels near the home where someone appeared to be burning some wire to recycle the copper. The chief did not believe the fire was intentionally set. Samaniego estimated the value of the 1,000 sq. ft. wood-frame home at about $30,000.
Hospital Inks New Contract with Blue Cross-Blue Shield
Grady Memorial Hospital officials say a new two-year contract has been signed with Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Oklahoma. The agreement includes the addition of Blue Advantage PPO which previously was out-of-network for the hospital and the Five Oaks Medical Group. Hospital officials say the contract provides a means for patients to receive local medical care and save money. Grady Memorial will remain in-network with numerous other Blue Cross-Blue Shield programs including Blue Traditional; Blue Choice PPO; Blue Preferred PPO; BlueLincs HMO; Medicare Advantage PPO; Medicare Advantage HMO, and BluePlan 65 Select.
Broadband Expansion Bill Continues Path at State Capital
A bill to expand broadband service to rural Oklahoma passes another hurdle at the state capitol. The state senate unanimously approved HB 1977 with amendments this week. It would require the state Department of Transportation (ODOT) pass emergency rules to provide for broadband fiber conduit for internet service providers for all new construction. State Senator Lonnie Paxton (R-Tuttle) sponsors the legislation in the senate. The website OK Energy Today indicates the legislation will likely end up in a conference committee then return for quick votes in both the senate and house before it can be sent to the governor for his consideration. The amount of broadband funding for Oklahoma is expected to be announced this summer and could exceed $750 million. Proposals to build broadband transmission lines could be accepted sometime next year.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $77.07 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $80.77.
Natural gas is $2.31 per million BTUs.
Gold is $2,009 and silver is $25.28.
John Robert ‘Rob’ Mallouf
A memorial service for Rob Mallouf, 56, of Chickasha will be held at 11:00 a.m. Friday, April 28th at Chickasha’s First Baptist Church. He was car salesman much of his life but he served a short time as the head football coach at East Central University in Ada and led the team to a national championship in 1993. Arrangements are with Ferguson Funeral Home.
Tuesday, April 25th
Two Counties to Get FEMA Assistance for Tornado Damage
McClain and Pottawatomie counties have been approved for federal assistance as a result of last week's tornado outbreak. President Biden approved Gov. Kevin Stitt's request for disaster help yesterday. It includes FEMA funds to supplement state tribal, and local government recovery efforts, as well as grants for housing and home repair grants and low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses. Grady County was not included in the declaration but there was some damage. Here's County Emergency Management Director Dale Thompson-
Thompson encourages property and business owners to report damage on line at www.damage.ok.gov He said it would help give the county a better chance of getting disaster funds but it's not a guarantee. Thompson said residents and business owners can follow the Grady County Emergency Management Facebook page for information.
Chix Fire Crews Dowse Early-Morning Fire
Chickasha firefighters were dispatched to an early morning fire in the north part of town. The fire erupted about 4:00 a.m. at a home at 7th and Illinois Avenue. We don't have a lot of information about the fire but a police officer we spoke to said the home was unoccupied and there were no injuries. Listen to KOOL-RANCH News later today for an update.
'Possible Threat' at Friend School Found Not Credible
A possible threat was reported at Friend School last week. Thankfully, authorities determined that the threat was not credible. The Grady County Sheriff's Office posted information about the incident on its Facebook page yesterday. A post attributed to Sheriff Gary Boggess indicated deputies responded immediately to last Thursday’s incident and an ensuing investigation found no evidence of a credible threat.
Medical Episode Causes Multi-Vehicle Crash
Two people, including a teenager, were last in critical condition after a multi-vehicle accident near Purcell last night – however a Lindsay family involved somehow escaped serious injury. The crash happened just before 6:00 p.m. when a driver suffered a medical episode and crossed the center line of the roadway and hit two oncoming vehicles. In critical condition is 45-year old Gene Blevins of Seminole who suffered the medical issue. The teenager was an unidentified 17-year old girl from Lexington who was driving one of the other vehicles. The family from Lindsay, Kendrick and Jewell Johnson and their two young children were taken to the Purcell hospital where they were all treated and released.
Grady County Jail Website Down Due to Tech Upgrade
For those who check the Grady County Jail's website to see recent arrests there has not been any new arrests posted for the last week. We checked with jail administrator Jim Gerlach yesterday and he said that officials are switching over to a new system. The previous system is being replaced with a new $60,000 software system being installed by Tiger Commissary. Gerlach said they are working on some technical issues and hope to have the website back in operation later this week.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $78.76 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $82.73.
Natural gas is $2.27 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,995 and silver is $25.27.
Elbert ‘Wayne’ Wendling
Funeral service for Wayne Wendling, 88, of Chickasha will be held at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, April 26th at the Alex Southern Baptist Church. He and his wife ran a dairy farm and raisled cattle in the Dibble area. Arrangements are with Sevier Funeral Home.
A memorial service for Becky Cravens, 67, of Chickasha will be held at 2:00 p.m. Sunday, April 30th at Chickasha’s First Christian Church. She worked for the district court judges in Chickasha and Anadarko. Arrangements are with Ferguson Funeral Home.
Monday, April 24th
March Construction in Chix Tops $1 Million
More than $1 million in new construction projects were approved by Chickasha city officials last month. The March building report from the city's Community Development Department shows 20 permits were issued which included 8 commercial and 12 residential projects. The total value of the combined projects was not available as all the information was not provided.
The commercial sector included a new building for Brad Bates at Bate's Truck Repair for $125,000. Commercial remodel permits included one for developer Chet Hitt for the Mill Building at the railroad depot downtown, and one for Willowbrook Construction for Hitt's project at the old Savoy Hotel across the street. Others went to a company called Open Skies Group for work in the 600 block of Chickasha Avenue; one for Grand Assembly of God; one for Wesley Guenther in the 2200 block of S. 4th; one for the City of Chickasha in the 800 block of South 7th; and one for Johnny Torres in the 300 block of Chickasha Avenue.
In residential construction, permits for Home Creations to build four more new homes on Dusky Valley Lane were approved as was one for Shirley Akins in the 3400 block of West Carolina. Residential remodel permits were approved at 14th and Dakota Avenue; two in the 700 block of South 5th; one in the 3400 block of South 4th; one near 17th and Missouri Avenue; and one in the 800 block of South 16th. The value of the new construction approved last month was up about 30 percent from February. For the first three months of the year new construction is about $4.1 million.
Teens Injured in Weekend Rollover
Four Stephens County teenagers were hurt in a weekend traffic accident. The crash happened just before 7:00 a.m. Saturday about eight miles east of Marlow on State Highway 29. The highway patrol reports the car ran off the highway, hit a culvert and a mail box, and rolled an undetermined number of times. Two teens were taken to an Oklahoma City hospital including the unidentified 17-year old driver from Duncan. He suffered head and neck injuries and was last in fair condition. A passenger, 18-year old Camden Propest also of Duncan suffered a head injury and was last in stable condition. Also in the vehicle were 18-year old Brian Zhang and 18-year old Gabriel Cooper both of Marlow. They were taken to a Duncan hospital and were treated and released.
USAO History Book Available
The more than 100-year history of USAO has been compiled in a new book. It's called The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma - Celebrating A Tradition of Different. History professor James Finck has spent the last five years fine-tuning the research done by a previous instructor.
The book traces the early history of the university when it was initially the Oklahoma Industrial Institute and College for Girls, to the Oklahoma College for Women, the transition to co-educational instruction with the Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts in 1965, then to its current name in 1974. The book is available at the USAO Foundation office located in Troutt Hall.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $77.87 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $81.66.
Natural gas is $2.27 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,994 and silver is $25.32.