Saturday, July 27th
2nd Alleged Copper Thief Charged
We're continuing to follow-up on the recent arrests made in connection with spools of expensive copper being stolen from oil field locations. The most recent suspect arrested, 47-year old James Brannon Swanson of Blanchard, went before a Grady County judge Friday to hear a formal charge filed against him by prosecutors. Swanson is facing a felony charge of possession of stolen copper. He was released from jail after posting a $5,000 bond. Swanson and 34-year old Steven Hickman of Duncan were both arrested this week, after allegedly taking 80-pound spools of copper from oil field locations near Blanchard. Hickman has been charged with knowingly concealing stolen property. It wasn’t clear if their arrests are connected. Hickman is also out of jail after posting bond. Both suspects are to be back in court August 15th to announce their attorneys with their preliminary hearing conferences set for early September.
'Old' Grady County Jail Now Empty
The top floor of the Grady County Courthouse is now empty after dozens of jail inmates have been moved out of the building and into the newer facilities operated by the Grady County Criminal Justice Authority. The group's new 200-bed facility one block east of the four-story jail recently passed all inspections from the state health department and fire marshal's office. Jail administrator Jim Gerlach said there were 75 inmates being housed in the jail on the top floor of the courthouse. Gerlach said the inmates were moved last week, with some of the inmates were placed in the new annex, while others were taken to the facility right behind the courthouse. County commissioners on Monday are expected to take formal action to close the old jail for good. Plans are to renovate the entire floor, with the possibility of the district attorney's office re-locating there.
American Legion Bikers Have Unique Mission
Two separate groups of motorcycle riders with the same mission will soon meet in the middle of America. And an Oklahoma group of motorcycle enthusiasts will take part. Together, the groups are making a trip of nearly 1,900 miles. They are participating in what’s called the American Legion Centennial Ride. One group will start at the U.S. Mexico border in Texas and the other at the U.S. Canadian border in North Dakota. The groups will be connecting two halves of a banner dubbed “Legacy and Vision.” Oklahoma American Legion Riders are part of the Team Vision group riding north. They will be riding along U.S. Highway 281 which has been named American Legion Highway. They will take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Ft. Sill National Cemetery in Elgin next Saturday. The group traveling from Canada is carrying the Team Legacy banner. Both banners are being signed by post commanders of American Legions along the route. The two parts of the banner will be united when the riders meet in Great Bend, Kansas next Sunday. The banner will then be presented to the American Legion’s National Commander at the group’s national convention next month.
Talk Show Topics
Here's what we're talking about this weekend. The next Leadership Chickasha program will be getting underway in September. Cassandra Ersland, Paul Lewis, Johnny Trammell, and Mary Ann Burruss will discuss the Chamber of Commerce program on our KOOL Konversation. On Real Estate Today with John Mosley, Interim Chickasha School Superintendent Jennifer Stegman and school board president Zack McGill will be talking about the district preparing for the upcoming school year. We have links to both programs under the Community tab on this website.
Friday, July 26th
Man Hides Under Bed of Ninnekah Home
A Ninnekah man is in custody after it’s alleged he broke into an apartment and hid underneath a bed to surprise a woman who lived there. Authorities arrested 31-year old Jesse Evan Newberry after a 9-1-1 call was made to the Grady County Sheriff's Office Tuesday night. A probable cause affidavit from law enforcement indicates the man who owns the apartment has a shop next door. He noticed a suspicious man in the apartment, where his granddaughter and great-granddaughter live. The property owner called his granddaughter and asked if someone was there, and she told him no. After an initial search, they didn't find anybody but following another search a few minutes later, they found the suspect under a bed. The suspect left the home on foot, and the property owner called 9-1-1. En route to investigate, authorities saw a man that matched the suspect's description and took him into custody. The affidavit alleges Newberry eventually admitted to hiding under the bed, wanting to surprise the woman. Newberry is charged with a misdemeanor for breaking and entering. He remains in jail pending a $25,000 bond. Court records indicate the victim asked for and received an emergency protective order against Newberry.
Update on Oilfield Copper Thefts
Now a follow-up to the story we had yesterday about thieves stealing copper from oilfield sites. Grady County Undersheriff Phil Blevins says two arrests have been made in the Blanchard area this week alone, with other arrests made over the last few weeks. Blevins says the crooks are taking large spools of copper in hopes of taking it to a recycling center in exchange for cash. Each spool weighs about 80 pounds and costs about $3,000. One of the suspects arrested this week has already been charged with a felony. Steven Layne Hickman of Duncan is out of jail after posting bond. A second suspect who is in custody, James Brandon Swanson of the Blanchard area, is awaiting his initial appearance after being arrested on complaints of entering with intent to steal copper and receiving, possessing, or transporting stolen copper.
Crews Replacing Leaky Gas Pipelines at CHS
Work crews are on site at Chickasha High School replacing underground natural gas pipelines. A gas leak was discovered by an employee a few weeks ago, so the gas was shut off to the entire campus. There has been no hot water at the school since the leak was detected and Interim Superintendent Jennifer Stegman says there was no water at all yesterday. Stegman says the contractor is able to replace the gas lines without digging.
The school board declared an emergency in order to waive competitive bidding for the project, so the work could be completed before school begins August 15th.
WFEC, Next Era OK Pact for Wind, Solar Energy
An agreement between Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC) and Next Era Energy Resources is expected to result in the development of the largest combined wind, solar, and energy storage project in the nation. The agreement would allow WFEC to purchase 200 megawatts of battery-stored power from a Next Era wind farm in northern Oklahoma. The website OK Energy Today reports that the Next Era Skeleton Creek project will be located in northern Oklahoma in the Garfield, Alfalfa and Major county region. It will eventually have the ability to generate 250 megawatts of solar energy. The first phase for the wind power is expected to be online by the end of this year, with solar power storage not operational until 2023.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $56.02 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $63.39.
Natural gas is $2.24 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,431 and silver is $16.47.
Thursday, July 25th
Copper Theft Suspects Arrested
The theft of copper from oil field and construction sites seems to be on the rise again. Grady County authorities have made two such arrests in the last few days. 34-year old Steven Layne Hickman of Duncan was taken into custody after a spool of copper was taken from an oilfield site near Blanchard late Monday night. Hickman has been formally charged with a felony for knowingly concealing stolen property. He is out of jail after posting a $5,000 bond. Sheriff's deputies made a similar arrest yesterday. In custody is 47-year old James Swanson, who is being held on complaints of entering with intent to steal copper; and receiving, possessing or transporting stolen copper. Details of that arrest were not available this morning.
Okla. Congressmen Schedule Chickasha Stops
Oklahoma U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe and 4th District Congressman Tom Cole will both be in Chickasha over the next few weeks. Sen. Inhofe will be meeting with business leaders on Monday, August 5th. It was previously announced that Congressman Cole will be in town on Wednesday, August 21st. Both lawmakers will have roundtable discussions with the help of the Chickasha Chamber of Commerce. The meeting with Sen. Inhofe will be at InterUrban starting about noon. The gathering with Congressman Cole will be at the Chamber office starting about 11:30 a.m. Space is limited for both events so chamber officials ask that you make reservations early. Cost is $12 per program for chamber members and $15 per program for prospective members.
Chickasha Schools Release Start Times
Classes will start a little later for some students at Chickasha schools for the upcoming school year. Students at Grand Elementary and the Bill Wallace Early Childhood Center will be starting school at 8:30 a.m. which is 15 minutes later than last year. The school day will end a few minutes later with dismissal time set for 3:15 p.m. Start times will remain the same for Lincoln, the middle school and high school. The school day at each of those sites will start at 7:45 a.m. The new times were approved in a special meeting of the school board this week. Chickasha schools will get started on Thursday, August 15th.
Career Techs Prepare for High School Students
In addition to public schools re-opening soon, Oklahoma's career tech schools will be welcoming high school students back to their campuses. Canadian Valley Technology Center in Chickasha and El Reno, and Caddo Kiowa Technology Center in Ft. Cobb are among the career techs in the region that remain open year-round for their adult students in training. However the influx of high school students will swell their classrooms within the next few weeks. A number of career-tech students spent part of their summer in various national competitions, and a Rush Springs native helped Canadian Valley earn a second consecutive award. Ryan Looper, a welding student at the El Reno campus, was part of the six-member team of adult students who brought back another top award in the Chapter Business Procedure competition. It requires students to be proficient with Roberts Rules of Order, to properly conduct meetings.
Actress Returns for More Filming in Grady County
For the second time in a week, a Hollywood actress was in Grady County filming some scenes for her upcoming movie. Bella Thorne and a production crew spent several hours filming at the historic Vivian's Café in Verden Wednesday. Thorne's movie is called Southland. Reagan Elkins, whose local company Intellego Media was serving as the location management firm, says things went well. Thorne was in Chickasha just last week to film a chase scene for the movie.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $55.88 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $63.18.
Natural gas is $2.23 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,439 and silver is $16.57.
Wednesday, July 24th
Fairgrounds Upgrades Bring New Events to the Area
A few years ago, Grady County voters approved the extension of a county-wide sales tax to support the county fairgrounds. Proceeds from that sales tax are paying for the construction of the climate-controlled Event Center which was completed a couple of years ago. Over the past year, the fairgrounds hosted 225 different events with many of them held over several days. Fairgrounds director Andy Maher says the facility is among the best in the state for its size, and considers it to be ranked right behind facilities at the Oklahoma and Tulsa state fair parks. Maher says the Grady County Fair Board, which operates the fairgrounds, wants to keep it that way.
Recently, the fairgrounds has hosted a three-day monster truck show and a three-day professional team roping event. Coming up this weekend are programs with the Oklahoma Horse Show Association and the Oklahoma Appaloosa Horse Club. Coming up next month, the annual Grady County Fair scheduled August 22nd through 24th.
SW Oklahoma Air Quality Improving: EPA
Air quality in southwest Oklahoma is getting better. That's according to a new report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report shows significant improvement in the Wichita Mountains region over the last 20 years. Part of the report is reviewed by the website www.okenergytoday.com
It states that coal-fired power plants in Texas were to blame for haze issues. The EPA, National Park Service, and other agencies monitor visibility trends in most of the country's 156 national parks and wilderness areas. The report stated that air pollutant emissions are declining, despite the claims to the contrary from some environmental groups.
Back-to-School Events Scheduled
Summer vacation will be coming to an end for Oklahoma school children soon. Back-to-school events are scheduled to help students get prepared. The Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma will have a program at its legislative district office in Lawton at the end of the week. Gift cards will be provided to eligible tribal members, and students or parents must have proof of Kiowa Tribal enrollment and a form verifying school enrollment. The gift cards will help with school supplies, clothes, shoes, and backpacks. That program is part of the tribe's Higher Education Grant program. It will be this Friday, July 26th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., at the Kiowa Tribe's District 4 Legislative Office at 219 SW C Avenue in Lawton. Next week, Anadarko Public Schools will have its 8th annual back-to-school expo. It will feature a lot of information for students and parents, with free books, haircuts, physicals for student-athletes, food and some door prizes. That is Thursday, Aug. 1st from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Anadarko's Warrior Fieldhouse. On Saturday, August 10th, there's a community outreach for students in Chickasha schools. Free clothing and personal hygiene packets will be given away, and there's fun and games for the kids. That will be held at Shepherd Street Christian Church at 802 S. Shepherd from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. that day. The outreach will continue Monday, August 12th with free haircuts at the Washita Valley Park Community Building from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Businesses and individuals who would like to help with donations to the Chickasha community outreach are asked to contact Rochelle Bowens by calling 405-408-4408.
OHP Cadet Academy Extends Application Period
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is looking for applicants for its next cadet academy. Originally scheduled to begin this fall, the academy is now scheduled to start next February. A press release from the state Department of Public Safety indicates that candidates who have already moved through the initial phases of the recruitment process will continue. Current candidates will now have the option of selecting up to three areas where they would like to be assigned, once completing the academy. An extended application period is now underway and runs through Saturday, Aug. 31st. Interested individuals might reach out to the highway patrol through social media or by contacting the Department of Public Safety by calling 405-425-7000.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $56.77.
London-based Brent crude is $63.83.
Natural gas is to $2.30 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,426 and silver is $16.56.
Tuesday, July 23rd
Area State Lawmaker Won't Run for Re-election
State Representative David Perryman won't be running for re-election next year. Perryman, who serves House District 56, is in his 4th term at the state capital. The Chickasha Democrat says it’s a struggle being in what he called the Super Minority. Only 24 of the 101 members in the state house are Democrats.
Perryman, who says he is a young 62 years old, wants to spend more time with family and his full-time law practice. He has served as the House Minority Floor Leader the last four years. Perryman will keep his seat through the fall of 2020. Perryman says among his accomplishments is the increase of the state's gross production tax, which he said is a big benefit to school districts.
Escapee Back Behind Bars
An update to a story we had this past weekend, about an escapee from a halfway house. Reports indicate that 29-year old Christopher Coffey is back in custody. Coffey was serving a 10-year sentence for vehicle theft and assault and battery out of Stephens County. He went missing about two weeks ago when he and some other inmates went to a church outing. KSWO-TV reports that Coffey was found by Cleveland County authorities yesterday. No details about the arrest were available.
Suspect Faces Lewd Act Allegation
A Chickasha man is accused of lewd acts with a child. Chickasha police were called to an apartment complex on East Country Club Road to investigate the complaint. A mother told police her eight-year old daughter was the victim. A probable cause affidavit filed by police indicates the suspect told the victim he was going to show her an amusement park ride on his cel phone when the act occurred. The suspect admitted to drinking prior to the incident. Authorities arrested 39-year old Thomas Phillip Brent Love. Prosecutors have charged him with a felony for lewd or indecent acts to a child. Love is out of jail after posting $30,000 bail.
USAO Food Pantry Gets Help
USAO is teaming up with the Regional Food Bank to help fill the campus food pantry. The campus co-op is open to all students who are in need. John Bobb-Semple is with the Regional Food Bank-
USAO started the co-op with a grass-roots effort in 2015. Bobb-Semple said organizers are retro-fitting the space they have to help as many students as they can.
More Ft. Sill Soldiers Back Home
Another unit of soldiers from Ft. Sill has returned from an overseas mission. Members of the 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery are back home after a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan. About 350 soldiers are with the "Dragon Slayer Battalion”. Their homecoming was held just a couple of hours before the return of the "Red Dragons" 3rd Battalion, 13th Field Artillery Division which just completed a 9-month mission in South Korea.
Silver Alert Cancelled
A Silver Alert issued for a man missing from Oklahoma City has been cancelled. Authorities on Monday issued the alert for 63-year old Willie Jordan who went missing from his home earlier this month. The Silver Alert was issued just before noon but Oklahoma City police canceled it a couple of hours later.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $56.22 a barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $63.26.
Natural gas is $2.31 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,418 and silver is $16.44.
Monday, July 22nd
Preliminary Autopsy Shows Chickasha Man
Shot Seven Times in Officer-Involved Shooting
There’s new information today regarding the death of a man who was shot and killed by Chickasha police earlier this year. 47-year old Kevin Capers was shot seven times by police in a confrontation at a Chickasha home back in March. The report from the State Medical Examiner's Office indicates there were five penetrating gunshot wounds, one perforating wound, and one that grazed his back. Police were called to a home where a man was said to have been armed with a knife. Reports indicate that Capers first cut himself and then attacked police. It was reported that as many as three police officers were suspended, pending an investigation. The officers have not been identified, and the investigation is believed to be on-going.
Jobless Rate Steady Despite Loss in Energy Sector
The jobless rate in Oklahoma remained steady from May to June of this year but there were fewer jobs in the oil and gas industry. The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission reports unemployment last month was 3.2 percent, with more than 58,000 people without a job and seeking work through the state agency. Oklahoma has a total labor force of more than 1.8 million people. The oil and gas industry is included in the Mining and Logging sector for employment. There were more than 52,000 jobs in the oil and gas industry in June, which is down 200 from May and down 500 compared to June of 2018.
Ft. Sill Soldiers Return from Deployment
A homecoming celebration at Ft. Sill over the weekend, as nearly 300 soldiers wrapped up a deployment in South Korea. Family and friends were more than happy to make the trip to Ft. Sill despite the 2:30 a.m. reunion Sunday morning. Members of the "Red Dragons" 3rd Battalion, 13th Field Artillery Division spent nine months in Southeast Asia. The homecoming comes just six days before Korean War Rememberance Day. This Saturday marks the 66th anniversary of the armistice that brought to a close the involvement of the U.S. and its NATO partners in Korea.
Congressman Cole Schedules Chickasha Stop
4th District Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole will be in Chickasha next month. Cole is scheduled to have a roundtable discussion with the chamber of commerce and its members on Wednesday, August 21st. Lunch will be provided at a cost of $12 for chamber members and $15 for prospective members. Space is limited so interested individuals should contact the chamber as soon as possible. The program is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m.
Leadership Chickasha Schedules Next Class
Also, the chamber is making plans for its next Leadership Chickasha class. Participants meet one day a month over a seven-month period to learn about business, government, education, and issues that impact the community. The program will be starting in September. Applications are currently being accepted and are available at the chamber office or on-line at www.chickashachamber.com
Blanchard Sets 'National Night Out'
Residents in Blanchard are invited to meet the men and women who serve with the police department. In conjunction with the National Night Out, the City of Blanchard city will have family-friendly activities and a meet-and-greet with police officers. There will be inflatables for the kids, live music, and free hot dogs. Blanchard's National Night Out will be Tuesday, August 6th from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Highway 62 and Jackson in the food truck lot.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $55.63 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $62.47.
Natural gas is $2.22 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,426 and silver if $16.36.