Saturday, Aug. 19th
State Broadband Office Works to be more Transparent
Efforts to increase the transparency of efforts to get high-speed internet service to rural Oklahoma are underway. The Oklahoma Broadband Office has introduced a new inter-active on-line map which details the availability of the service. Broadband office director Mike Sanders says it is a way for individuals to track improvements once federal grant funds are provided to the state. The website OK Energy Today reports the state map offers information and functions that are not available in either of two maps overseen by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The state office map shows internet service availability in state legislative and congressional districts. It allows users to search addresses; view served, underserved, and unserved locations; see reported internet speeds by location; and see areas that are getting upgrades through federal grants. The state broadband office map and both FCC maps can be viewed on the website: map.broadband.ok.gov
Teens Face Charges for Alleged Church Break-in
Two teenagers are facing burglary charges for allegedly breaking into a Chickasha church. Brayden Scott Miller of Chickasha and Deacon Everett Craddock of Ninnekah – both 18 years old - were arrested by Chickasha police Thursday afternoon. KSWO-TV cites Grady County court documents which indicate the burglary occurred in June. The arrest affidavit indicates both teens admitted to breaking a window to get inside the un-named church. The youth said they thought the building was empty and wanted to explore. Video surveillance showed two masked men going through the church. It wasn't clear how investigators identified Miller and Craddock as the suspects. Both are charged with second degree burglary. Craddock is being held on a $25,000 bond and Miller is being held on a $15,000 bond.
Native American Artists Sought for Norman Art Show
A call is going out to Native American artists to apply to take part in a fall exhibit in Norman. The Jacobson House Native Art Center will have a juried art show which will run during much of September and the first part of November. The exhibit is simply called 21st Century, and there is an open call for artists which runs through Aug. 30th. Artists should be 21 years old, a current resident of Oklahoma or Indian Territory, and be a member of one of the 39 federally and state-recognized tribes in Oklahoma. Most art mediums qualify. Artists whose works are accepted will be notified by Sept. 3rd if they are selected, and those artists will receive a one-year patron-level membership with the Oscar Jacobson Foundation. The opening reception will be Sept 8th and the show will run through Nov. 11th. For information contact the Jacobson Native Art Center in Norman by calling 405-366-1667 or visit the website: jacobsonhouse.art
Blanchard Bluegrass Festival Resumes Tonight
The distinct sounds of banjos, fiddles, and guitars and unique harmonies of bluegrass music is wafting through Blanchard this weekend. The Blanchard Bluegrass festival opened at Lions Park last night and continues this afternoon and will wrap up this evening. It's a free event and individuals should take lawn chairs and blankets – and also sunscreen as the sun and heat will impact festival goers in the early hours. Some of the groups include Honey Creek Pass; Bazemore Bluegrass; Cynthia Ridge; and Riley Gilbreath at Lone Star Blue. Other groups include The Horn Family; Southbound Mule, and Graystone Bluegrass. Food trucks and t-shirt vendors will be on hand. The festival resumes at 4 o'clock this afternoon.
Funeral service for Betty Pruitt, 94, of Chickasha will be held at 10:00 a.m. Monday, August 21st at Ferguson Funeral Home. She was a teacher for Ninnekah and Tuttle schools.
Friday, Aug. 18th
Former Coach Pleads Guilty to Child Sex Crime Charges
Former girls basketball coach Ron Akins pleaded guilty to a number of sex crimes in Grady County District Court yesterday. Akins was charged with 10 felonies including rape, attempted rape, and lewd or indecent acts to children under 16 years old. During the 15-minute hearing Akins told District Judge Kory Kirkland that he entered the plea because he was guilty. Two victim impact statements were submitted. One was read by Assistant District Attorney Morgan Lankford written by a victim who was a 13-year old 8th grader at Friend School when Akins forced himself on her several times. Now 28 years old, she said she suffers from deep emotional scars that she will carry with her the rest of her life. Akins received sentences ranging from 10 to 15 years in prison on the 10 counts and will serve them concurrently. After prison, the now 56-year old Akins will serve 25 years of probation and will have to register as a sex offender. An attorney for the victims said a federal lawsuit also filed in connection with the case could go to trial in late December or early January.
Teens Charged with Theft from Tuttle Middle School
Some Tuttle teenagers are facing charges after breaking into the Tuttle middle school and stealing some laptops and computer monitors. Our partners at KWTV News 9 report that the break-in took place last month - but investigators had little information to go on as the individual seen on video surveillance wore a mask. Police got a break in the case when a teacher was able to buy one of the laptops from a suspicious Facebook profile. Authorities said the seller was a middle school student who implicated two other students. They said they decided to break in to the school because they were bored. All but one of the stolen items has been recovered. Two of the teens will go through the Grady County juvenile court system and the other was turned over to tribal authorities.
Proposed PSO Rate Increase Discussion Continues
Now a follow-up to a story we had earlier this week about the state corporation commission considering a rate hike request from Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO). The agency took no action on the proposal this week as commissioners say they are taking the matter under advisement. The website OK Energy Today reported that an administrative law judge initially recommended the panel approve the rate increase. Corporation Commission Chairman Todd Hiett called it a complicated issue. A representative of the Oklahoma industrial Energy Consumers, one of several groups still opposed to the increase, called it a mess. Officials with the American Association of Retired Persons are okay with the $155 million rate hike request, saying the organization is looking out for its customers.
Longtime Chix Business Woman Succumbs to Pneumonia
Longtime Chickasha businesswoman Lynette Johnson has passed away. Johnson and her husband Bill were the owners and operators of Johnson's Wrecker Service for many years. She also was a director for Mary Kay Cosmetics and was awarded the company's prized pink Cadillac. Johnson died August 4th at the age of 92 from pneumonia. A memorial service will be held at 2:30 tomorrow afternoon at Bible Baptist Church. The family requests that memorial contributions be made to The Shriner's Hospital or St. Jude's Children's Hospital.
Cars and Coffee at the Leg Event is Tomorrow
Car, truck, and motorcycle enthusiasts will unite tomorrow morning for the monthly Cars and Coffee at the Leg gathering. Anyone with a classic car, truck, bike, muscle car, modified, street rod, UTV or anything with two, three or four wheels are invited to take part. It's not a car show, just an opportunity for enthusiasts to show off their vehicles and talk about their hobbies. It's free and open to the public and there is free coffee and donuts while it lasts. It's from 8 to 11 tomorrow morning at the Rock Island Railroad Depot and the leg lamp downtown Chickasha.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $80.39 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $84.12.
Natural gas is $2.62 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,923 and silver is $23.14.
Thursday, Aug. 17th
Former Coach Expected to Plead Guilty to Child Sex Crimes
Ron Akins, the former Ninnekah and Friend girls basketball coach charged with committing sex crimes against his players, is expected to plead guilty to those allegations today. Akins was arrested more than two years ago after players accused Akins of raping and molesting them. One of the alleged victims said she took complaints of Akins to law enforcement in 2015 when she was 13 years old but no action was taken until other victims came forward years later with similar stories. 14 victims eventually came forward to say Akins raped or molested them. Akins is formally charged with 10 felonies. Akins waived his right to a jury trial recently and is to appear in court this afternoon to enter a guilty plea. Our partners at KWTV News 9 report that Akins could be sentenced to 15 years in prison which would be followed by 25 years of probation. Victim impact statements are also expected to be read in court today.
Chix Educational Leaders Provide Updates in Forum
Leaders of Chickasha’s three educational institutions discussed their missions during an education forum hosted by the Chickasha Chamber of Commerce yesterday. Chickasha school superintendent Rick Croslin, USAO President Kayla Hale, and Canadian Valley Technology Center Superintendent Gayla Lutts all addressed the forum held at USAO. All spoke of their efforts to prepare students for their futures. Croslin gave an update on the improvements going on at the high school football field and other projects that are part of a bond issue approved by school district voters last year.
Hale, who just began her presidency at USAO earlier this month, said there is a record number of incoming freshmen this year and many of them are the first in their families to go to college. She wants to provide support for them.
Lutts discussed the technology center’s efforts to offer courses to get students prepared to enter the labor force to fill the numerous openings available in critical career fields including nursing, heat and air, and others. She also touched on the $75 million bond issue that will be decided in a special election next month. If passed the proposal includes about $23 million in upgrades at the Chickasha campus and the construction of a $50 million public safety training facility at the El Reno campus.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $79.38 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $83.45.
Natural gas is $2.59 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,927 and silver is $23.07.
Wednesday, Aug. 16th
CV Tech District Voters to Decide Bond Issue
Voters in parts of Grady, Canadian, and Oklahoma counties will go to the polls next month to decide a huge bond issue for the Canadian Valley Technology Center district. It's a $75 million proposal which officials say will benefit the Chickasha and El Reno sites. Superintendent Gayla Lutts said the Chickasha campus would get some extensive improvements as many buildings are almost 60 years old. At El Reno the proposal would build a stand-alone public safety training facility. If approved, there would be slight increase in property taxes. Ad valorem taxes on a $100,000 home would increase about $30 per year. The special election is scheduled for September 12th and the proposal needs a super-majority of 60-percent approval to pass. If approved the new tax would begin after a current bond issue is paid off next year.
Lawmakers Want AG Opinion Regarding
County Sales Tax for Rural Ambulance Service
A couple of state lawmakers in the region want Oklahoma's attorney general to provide an opinion regarding the distribution of county sales tax revenue to support private companies which provide a public service. The question relates to a proposition approved by Garvin County voters in 2021. It called for the county to set aside sales tax funds for ambulance service in areas that did not previously have those services. State Rep. Cindy Roe (R-Lindsay) and State Sen. Jessica Garvin (R-Duncan) want the attorney general to comment. Roe said constituents didn't realize that private ambulance services would NOT be allowed to tap into that sales tax fund. She says sales taxes which have been collected for those services remain untouched - even though there is a dire need for them in rural areas. Roe said there are similar situations in other counties. Garvin said she and Roe are working with district attorneys to come up with a solution and that Oklahomans should not have to worry about losing life-saving services over a technicality.
Chix Firefighters Hold Fundraiser for Breast Cancer Awareness
Chickasha firefighters are having a fund-raiser to aid in breast cancer awareness. The firefighters are teaming up with Wing Ts for a pink t-shirt campaign. Captain Jimmy Blue said firefighters have traditionally worn pink duty shirts during October which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and that they wanted to do something different.
The t-shirt design includes the pink breast cancer awareness ribbon and the Chickasha firefighters logo. Proceeds from t-shirt sales will benefit the local Second Base Savers which is a breast cancer awareness group. T-shirts can be purchased at Wing Ts through Aug. 25th. Blue said orders have to be turned in early because there is a big demand for pink t-shirts this summer due to the success of the Barbie movie.
FFA Groups Receive STEM Grants
A number of regional FFA programs are the recipients of STEM grants from Public Service Company of Oklahoma and its parent company American Electric Power. More than $35,000 in grants were awarded to state FFA chapters. Among the regional chapters receiving grants are Carnegie, Fletcher and Elgin. The grants ranged from $300 to $2,500 and are for science, technology, engineering, and math projects. Since 2018 the AEP Foundation has awarded nearly $210,000 to Oklahoma FFA chapters.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $80.99 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $84.89.
Natural gas is $2.66 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,937 and silver is $23.10.
A graveside service for Eugene ‘Gene’ Howard, 95, of Marlow will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday, August 18th at the Marlow Cemetery. He worked in the oilfield and was a truck driver. Arrangements are with Ferguson Funeral Home.
Funeral service for Suzette ‘Sue’ Fogle, 67, of Ninnekah will be held at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, August 19th at Vimy Ridge Baptist Church in Rush Springs. She was a drilling consultant for her family's oilfield company. Arrangements are with Ferguson Funeral Home.
Tuesday, Aug. 15th
Chix Has Lots of New Construction for First Half of the Year
More than $9 million in construction projects were approved within the City of Chickasha for the first half of this year. Reports from the city's Community Development Department show that 82 building permits were approved between January and June. 21 of those were in the commercial sector including both new and remodeling projects. 61 were either new home construction or residential remodeling projects. The value of new construction is actually much higher than the $9 million figure. Many of the projects listed on the reports do not show their estimated values. The monthly building reports can be seen on the City of Chickasha's website.
Suspected Impersonator Arrested
A Caddo County man is in custody for impersonating a doctor, a police officer, and stealing a vehicle. Media reports cite court documents from October of last year which allege Zachry Brent Bailey of Apache tricked a man into giving Bailey his vehicle. The Apache Police Department first investigated the case and a warrant had been issued for Bailey’s arrest. Reports also say Bailey is tied to a case in Texas where he was found driving a used police car and may have been preparing to impersonate an officer. Some media outlets have compared Bailey's actions to those depicted in Leonardo de Caprio's movie, ‘Catch Me if you Can.’
Veterans Groups to Provide Info at CV Tech
Military veterans and their families needing help obtaining benefits or other assistance will be able to meet with a number of veteran-related service groups in one location next month. Canadian Valley Technology Center will host a one-day event which will feature the state department of veterans affairs; VA medical services; VA Behavioral Health Services; Women's veterans services; and legal and educational services. The Grady County DAV Chapter 17 will be on hand as will as representatives from the VFW and American Legion. Veterans should mark their calendars for Thursday, Sept. 7th from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. for the program to be held on the Chickasha campus of the Canadian Valley Technology Center.
Philanthropist Kay Neill-Wint Passes Away
Chickasha native Kay Neill-Wint has died. She was a corporate lawyer in California, owned and managed a famous Hollywood night club, and returned to her hometown of Chickasha where she was a philanthropist and supported numerous community projects. Neill-Wint was 76 years old when passed away last week following complications from neck surgery. After her career as a lawyer she purchased and managed The Hollywood Palace which had hosted numerous television shows over the years and became one of Hollywood's best live music venues. She received the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year award in 1991. Kay married Phil Wint in 2002 and the couple later moved to Chickasha. She served on the board of directors for the Grady County Historical Society, was a member of the Salvation Army advisory board, and the USAO Foundation board of trustees. She and Phil helped to establish USAO's Neill-Wint Center for Neurodiversity which helps students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. A memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25th at Chickasha's First Christian Church. Arrangements are with Sevier Funeral Home. Memorial contributions may be made to USAO's Neill-Wint Center for Neurodiversity.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $82.51 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $86.21.
Natural gas is $2.79 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,935 and silver is $22.55.
Monday, Aug. 14th
State Panel to Continue Proposed PSO Rate Hike Discussion
For about the last year a rate hike request for Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) has been under scrutiny. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has been wrangling with PSO since a nearly $295 million rate increase was introduced last fall. The proposed rate hike has been revised downward to nearly half that amount which is now at $155 million. The website OK Energy Today reports that an administrative law judge is recommending that the rate hike be approved. If the commission approves PSO customers would see a nearly $3.60 per month increase in their bills. The rate hike has the support of the commission's public utilities division, the state attorney general, and AARP. Several groups opposed the agreement including the Oklahoma Industrial Energy Consumers, the Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma, The U.S. Department of Defense, The Alliance for Electrical Restructuring, and Wal-Mart. The commission will discuss the increase in a meeting tomorrow.
Union Contract Discussions Set for Chix School Board
Contracts with the three labor unions within the Chickasha school district will be considered by the board of education tonight. Contracts with the Chickasha United Teachers Association, the Chickasha Association of Support Employees, and the Chickasha Organization of Professional Administrators will be reviewed. For the teachers union, officials say they have negotiated raises and an additional year to the pay scale which would increase teacher salary costs by $1.3 million. For support employees, a negotiated agreement includes a 75-cent per hour raise and also adds a year to the salary schedule adding an additional $400,000 to the total support employee salary expense. Officials are recommending a $34 per day raise and adding another year to the pay scale for administrators which would increase the salary costs for that area by $210,000. The panel will also consider a bond bid package from CMS Willowbrook at a cost of nearly $912,000 to handle the construction management for projects at Lincoln Elementary, the middle school, and Grand Elementary. The school board meets at 6 o'clock tonight at the school administration building.
Record Melon Highlights Rush Springs Festival
A new record was set at the Rush Springs Watermelon Festival on Saturday. The heaviest watermelon checked at 225 pounds which breaks the previous record by 11 pounds. The monster was grown by Garen Bratcher who said the melon almost didn't make it through the season.
The melon breaks the previous record of 214 pounds of a melon grown by the Miller family in 2012. The Bratchers have been growing watermelons since the 1940s
Duncan Bypass Improvements Begin
Motorists traveling in the Duncan area will have some road construction work to contend with over the next few weeks. The Duncan Bypass will be narrowed to one lane in some areas due to a resurfacing project. Overland Corporation was awarded the $4 million work order by the Oklahoma Transportation Commission. The project is getting underway this morning and traffic will be down to one lane for about the next six weeks. It includes the bypass from just east of U.S. Highway 81 to Elk Avenue, intersections at Highway 81, Bois D'arc Road, Beech Avenue, and Elk Avenue.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $83.19 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $86.81.
Natural gas is $2.77 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,946 and silver is $22.77.