Saturday, May 28th
Stitt, Legislative Leaders Trade Barbs
Regarding Proposed State Budget
In a rare instance of in-party bickering made public, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt and leaders of the state house and senate argue over some components of the state’s $9.8 billion budget. All are members of the Republican party. The governor criticized the spending plan sent to him by the legislature on May 16th. The Oklahoman reported that Stitt said the entire proposal was put together by backroom deals. He also said some of the proposed tax-relief measures were inadequate for Oklahoma families and called for a special session to hammer out an agreement. The Oklahoman also reported that House Speaker Charles McCall was disappointed and appalled at the governor's accusations that state lawmakers were making backroom deals and were pandering to special interest groups. While state lawmakers did over-ride six of the governor's vetoes the house held up an over-ride vote on the two tax relief proposals that were vetoed, both of which will be revisited in the special session that begins June 13th. However, McCall was quoted as saying lawmakers aren't doing it for the governor because legislators work for the people of Oklahoma and not Stitt. The governor vetoed proposals to give sales tax rebate checks to tax payers and to eliminate the sales tax on vehicle purchases. Stitt favors the elimination of the sales tax on groceries and cutting individual income taxes. McCall wants to amend the special session to include all tax relief options not just those proposed by the governor. The amendment would have to be approved by a two-thirds majority of both the house and senate.
Toddler Hospitalized After Being Hit by SUV
A toddler was airlifted to an Oklahoma City hospital after being struck by an SUV. The two-year old boy was hit in a private driveway west of Elgin yesterday afternoon. The highway patrol reports that the child was running in between parked vehicles and ran directly into the path of the SUV, driven by 61-year old Paula Ackley of Cyril. The child suffered head and trunk injuries and was last reported in good condition.
Couple Faces Animal Cruelty Charges for Neglected Horses
A Ft. Cobb couple is charged with animal cruelty after their neighbor provided investigators with video of horses that were allegedly neglected. 72-year old Judy Wall and 64-year old Kenneth Wall are both facing three counts of animal cruelty. They are out of jail after each posted a $5,000 bond. The Lawton Constitution reports that deputies with the Caddo County Sheriff's Office were called out to a home between Ft. Cobb and Carnegie where horses appeared to be neglected. It's alleged that Kenneth Wall shot one horse and hauled it off. Judy Wall said the horse was old and had worms. Judy also said other animals also had worms. Judy Wall is also facing a misdemeanor charge of assault after its alleged she attacked the neighbor who confronted her about the mistreated animals.
Town of Cement Celebrates 120 Years
There are big goings-on in Cement today as the community celebrates its 120th birthday. The celebration is held on Memorial Day weekend every five years. According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, the town was named by workers at the nearby Acme Cement and Plaster Company. The company had hoped to make cement from indigenous rock. Instead, the crushed gypsum was used for plaster to build houses. One of the town's claims to fame is that outlaw Jesse James and his gang left some of their bounty at Buzzard's Roost east of town. Stories also imply that Frank James lived in Cement before he built a home near Fletcher in 1906. The celebration is put together by the Cement Community Association. Activities start with a parade at 10 o'clock this morning. Downtown stores will be open and there will be other vendors and food trucks. The Cement Historical Society and Jesse James Visitor Center will be open. The party concludes with a street dance to start at 7 o'clock.
USAO Wins First Game of NAIA Softball World Series
The USAO Drovers won their opening round game of the NAIA Softball World Series in Columbus, Georgia Friday. The Drovers defeated Oregon Tech 3-0 – scoring all three runs in the top of the 7th inning. Pitcher Emily Cerny tossed a three-hit shutout and struck out 11 batters. USAO plays Mobile, Alabama in a second-round game today.
Funeral service for Gregory Gibson, 39, is pending with Brown-Thomas Funeral Home. Gibson was born in Altus and recently passed away in Seattle, Washington.
Friday, May 27th
Governor, Lawmakers Wrangle Over Tax Cut Proposals
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has vetoed parts of the proposed $9.8 billion budget sent to him by state lawmakers. The Oklahoman reports that the governor has called lawmakers into a special session next month to eliminate the sales tax on groceries and also cut individual income taxes. The governor has an issue with a sales tax rebate plan that legislators did include in the budget plan. Stitt called it a political gimmick in an election year. The governor also vetoed a proposal that eliminated the sales tax on all vehicle sales. State lawmakers are expected to attempt to override the vetoes today which is the final day of the legislative session. Two-thirds of both the state house and senate are needed to over-ride any vetoes.
Bills Addressing Protests of
Property Tax Assessments OK'd
Among the bills passed by the legislature is one dealing with the protests of property tax assessments. State Representative Dick Lowe (R-Amber) says protests by mainly energy companies have had a negative impact on school districts as the protests have held up critical funding needed by schools.
Lowe said the compromise legislation included support by a number of groups that normally don't agree with each other.
The bills deal with protests of tax assessments on property valued at $3 million or more.
One Hospitalized After Car-Cow Collision
A car runs into a herd of cattle standing in the middle of a highway which sent one person to the hospital. The accident happened on State Highway 9 west of Anadarko about 10:15 last night. The highway patrol said the driver of the car hit one of the animals. Injured was 68-year old Janine Lonewolf of Edmond who was a passenger in the car. She was taken to an Oklahoma City hospital with a head injury and was admitted in good condition. The car was driven by 50-year old Dana Lugo-Vargas of Anadarko who was not injured. Another passenger, 39-year old John Jones of Anadarko, also was not injured. The report did not indicate if the cow survived. The accident closed the highway for about an hour.
Talk Show Topics
Here's what we're talking about this weekend. Zelda Sullivan with the Oklahoma Blood Institute is our guest on the KOOL Konversation. She'll discuss the on-going need for blood donations and how you can help. On Real Estate Today are State Representative Dick Lowe (R-Amber) and State Senator Lonnie Paxton (R-Tuttle) to talk about some of their work at the state capital. Find podcasts of both programs under the Community tab on this website.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $114.09 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $117.40.
Natural gas is $8.89 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,863 and silver is $22.31.
USAO Softball World Series Game Rained Out
Rain in Columbus, Georgia yesterday washed out three of four first-round games in the NAIA Softball World Series. Among those games was the USAO Drover contest with Oregon Tech. The game was re-scheduled to start at 11:00 a.m. CDT today.
Thursday, May 26th
Dr. Don Hess to Retire After Lengthy Career
Dr. Don Hess is retiring. Hess has helped thousands of patients over a 50-year career - all at Grady Memorial Hospital. Hospital administrator Kean Spellman said Hess has been a great leader but is an even better person.
The reception will be Saturday, May 28th from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the USAO Ballroom. Hess will continue to serve in an administrative role with the hospital.
State Supreme Court OKs Ratepayer Bonds for Utilities
The Oklahoma Supreme Court has signed off on more than $2.2 billion in ratepayer bonds for three utility companies. Those companies are seeking approval to raise their monthly rates in order to recover costs associated with record-breaking cold weather that occurred in March of 2021. The court approved $725 million in bonds for Public Service Company of Oklahoma; nearly $1.5 million in bonds for Oklahoma Natural Gas; and $95 million in bonds for Summit Utilities. The decision follows a previous favorable ruling for OG&E for nearly $1 billion in bonds. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has already approved the plans. The website OK Energy Today reports that one justice expressed reservations about the new law that was used to allow the utilities to get financial help. The justice said that Oklahomans will be saddled with financial obligations and there's nothing he can do about it. Each utility will be increasing their monthly rates over a period of several years to re-coup enormous costs they experienced due to circumstances that stemmed from that lengthy cold spell.
Former Chickasha Fire Chief Dies
Former Chickasha Fire Chief Bill Harris has died. Harris was 91 when he passed away Monday. Harris spent about nine years as fire chief and retired in 1980. Prior to serving with the fire department he spent a short time with the police department. He also owned a trucking business and was a home builder. A private graveside service was held yesterday at the Ninnekah Cemetery. Arrangements were with Sevier Funeral Home.
Road Repairs to Impact Traffic on H.E. Bailey Turnpike
Traffic on a section of the H.E. Bailey Turnpike is down to one lane due to a road improvement project. The area being repaired is southwest of Chickasha from mile marker 80 to mile marker 62 at the Cyril and Sterling gate. Officials with the state department of transportation say the speed limit will be reduced and there will be a rough driving surface for the duration of the project.
Chix Library Offers 'Oceans of Possibilities' Reading Program
The Chickasha Public Library will once again offer a summer reading program for students. This year's theme is "Oceans of Possibilities." The programs are for students from pre-school through young adult. The program offers more than reading as there will also be science and engineering experiments, group games, ocean-related crafts, and art projects. The summer reading program begins Thursday, June 2nd and it is a free program. Registration is underway and that can be done using the Beanstalk app or in person during regular library hours.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $110.33 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $114.03.
Natural gas is $8.97 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,851 and silver is $21.85.
USAO Softball Team Competes in NAIA Softball World Series
The USAO Drovers are in Columbus, Georgia for the NAIA Softball World Series. The Drovers are the No. 5 seed in the 10-team tournament. They are scheduled to play the No. 4 seed Oregon Tech Owls. Both teams have won titles - the Drovers won in 2018 and Oregon Tech won in 2011. Oregon Tech finished runner-up in the NAIA Softball World Series last year. The Drovers are in their third Softball World Series in the last five years.
Wednesday, May 25th
Injured Teen Speaks Out About Lake Chickasha Fight
One of the teenagers injured in that fight at Lake Chickasha last week is talking about what happened. The 17-year old tells KFOR-TV that he was attacked while trying to help a fellow student. It was reported that the fight was initially between a Chickasha football player and a Verden baseball player. The teen's mother, Jennifer Warren, told KFOR that videos of the melee shows her son trying to separate two individuals fighting and that he was jumped by six boys. Warren said her son was kicked and stomped in the face and knocked unconscious. He suffered a concussion, whiplash, a scratched eye, and a broken tooth. The teen said he had a feeling something bad was going to happen last Thursday night. One of his friends was repeatedly being harassed by a student from Chickasha High School and they were going to meet to settle the dispute. Warren's son said he said he wanted to be there to help break up a fight if one occurred. Chickasha police did arrest one teenager in connection with the incident. Warren said the City of Chickasha (which owns and operates Lake Chickasha) and Chickasha Public Schools need to take the situation seriously. She said the students who attacked her son should get counseling and pay the medical bills. Verden School Superintendent Mickey Edwards issued a statement saying violence is unacceptable and there's nothing more important than the safety of their students - before, during and after school. Chickasha School Superintendent Rick Croslin previously issued a statement saying that the district does not condone the actions of anyone who were part of the fight. He also said the school is cooperating with the police investigation and will cooperate toward a resolution of the matter.
Festival of Light Could Expand Under Proposal
A proposal to expanded electrical service at Shannon Springs Park for Chickasha's Festival of Light will be discussed during a special city council meeting tomorrow night. The panel will consider giving city hall the authority to go out for bids to install new lines north of the dam at the park. The Festival of Light has pledged upwards of $120,000 pay for the project. If approved, the work is expected to be completed in time for this year’s festival when it starts in November. It's expected to allow for more light displays and other events to the more than the estimated two million lights that are already part of the popular holiday attraction. This will be the 30th year for the festival.
New Physician Joins CaresFirst Team
A new doctor has joined team at Chickasha’s CaresFirst Wellness clinic. Dr. Terry Lakin will be seeing primary care patients - including family and occupational medicine. He has more than 10 years of service in the field. Lakin earned his doctorate's degree from the University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine. He also holds a master’s degree in Public Health from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences out of Bethesda, Maryland. Lakin is a U.S. Army veteran and joined the Army after receiving his doctorate's degree. He served as a Squadron Flight Surgeon while deployed to Afghanistan and was a Chief Family Practice Physician and Chief of Primary Care at a medical facility at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
New Rush Springs Watermelon Queen Named
There's new royalty in Rush Springs. The community has selected Taylor Abbott to be the queen of this year's Watermelon Festival. She was one of three finalists vying for the post. Taylor is 17 years old and will be a senior at Rush Springs High School. She is the daughter of Josh and Sarah Abbott. She'll spend the next couple of months promoting the festival which will be held at Rush Springs Jeff Davis Park all day on Saturday, August 13th.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $109.77 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $113.56.
Natural gas is $8.80 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,859 and silver is $21.84.
A graveside and memorial service for George Durington, 67, of Lindsay will be held at 10:00 a.m. Friday, May 27th at Chickasha's Fairlawn Cemetery. Arrangements are with Sevier Funeral Home.
Tuesday, May 24th
Some Details Emerge About Lake Chickasha Brawl
Chickasha police are continuing their investigation of a fight that included adults and juveniles that occurred at Lake Chickasha. The brawl broke out last Thursday night and may have been a graduation party that got out of hand. Confidential sources tell KOOL/RANCH news that students from Chickasha and Verden schools were involved. An unknown number of participants were taken to the hospital to be treated for injuries and at least one unidentified student was seriously injured. Sources say that the video of the fight was graphic and that the student is at home recovering. Chickasha School Superintendent Rick Croslin issued a prepared statement saying that the district is working with local authorities in their investigation, that the district does not condone the actions of anyone involved, and they will fully cooperate towards a resolution. Police said at least one person was arrested but did not indicate if the individual was an adult or a juvenile. Police continue to ask anyone who may have information about the incident to contact Chickasha police by calling 405-222-6051.
Arrest Made in 25-year Old Child-Stealing Case
A 25-year old cold case of a child stealing incident out of Chickasha may have been solved. Authorities in Tennessee recently arrested Teresa Louise Tiner Kennedy. A warrant for her arrest was issued in May of 1997 after it was alleged Kennedy disappeared with a three-year old child. Court documents available from 1997 say there was a custody dispute between Kennedy and her estranged husband. The husband was granted custody of two children in December of 1996. Grady County Undersheriff Gary Boggess said Kennedy was arrested by the FBI in Tennessee earlier this month. KOOL/RANCH News has reached out to the FBI for information on Kennedy's arrest but we have not heard back from them. The child, now 28 year’s old, was still believed to be living with her mother. Kennedy was extradited back to Grady County where she has been arraigned on the felony child stealing charge and was released on a $50,000 bond. She is scheduled to be back in court on June 22nd for a preliminary hearing conference.
Fuel Prices Continue Climb; Oklahoma has Lowest Price
Gasoline prices continue climbing nationwide. Triple-A's fuel price report for the week shows the average price for a gallon of regular was up another 11 cents to $4.59. That's $1.55 more than a year ago. Matt Skinner with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission says there's a bit good news for fuel prices in the Sooner State.
Despite the high gas prices officials say many families will be hitting the road for the long Memorial Day Holiday weekend. GasBuddy says in its annual summer travel survey that 58 percent of Americans intend to have a road trip. Most say they'll spend between three and five hours travelling by car.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $110.29 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $113.42.
Natural gas is $8.74 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,861 and silver is $21.88.
Funeral service for Edsel Pool, 97, of Chickasha will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, May 26th at Ferguson Funeral Home. He was a U.S. Army veteran who served during WWII and was assigned to the Island Queen B-25 bomber and stationed in New Guinea.
Funeral service for Edilynn Card, 86, of Chickasha will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday, May 27th at College Heights Baptist Church. Arrangements are with McRay Funeral Home.
Monday, May 23rd
Chix Police Continue Probe of Brawl at Lake Chickasha
Several people were reportedly injured during a brawl that took place at Lake Chickasha over the weekend. Chickasha police said officers were called to an undisclosed hospital where several individuals were being treated for injuries. In a press release issued by police Saturday afternoon authorities said they were made aware of the brawl when individuals began sharing videos taken during the fight. Investigators say they believe both adults and juveniles were involved and they are working will local school officials to try to identify some of those involved. One person was arrested but that individual was not identified. It also wasn’t disclosed if the person arrested was an adult or a juvenile. Authorities are asking anyone with information about the altercation to contact Chickasha police by calling 405-222-6051.
Some Voting Precincts Changed, Some Closed;
Voters Urged to Check Status Before June Election
The June 28th primary election is about a month away. There are some county commissioner elections in the region, specifically in Grady and Caddo counties. Republicans and Democrats will be casting ballots in some state house and senate races. There are also a number of candidates for governor, attorney general, and U.S. House and Senate seats. Grady County Election Board Secretary Katrina Hughes said many voters will be casting ballots in new precincts. Hughes said the 2020 census led to the re-drawing of precinct lines. She also said that a number of precincts have closed. Hughes says thousands of new voter identification cards were recently mailed out.
Hughes recommends that voters should check those cards to see if their precincts have changed. Registered voters can also go to the state election board website to find out if there has been a change. That website is: elections.ok.gov
Individuals can also call or stop by their county election board office to find out if there have been any changes.
State Legislative Session Coming to a Close
State lawmakers are preparing to wrap up the 2022 legislative session this week. State Representative Brad Boles (R-Marlow) said a few of the highlights of the nearly $10 billion budget being considered by the governor includes pay raises for state troopers - their first in seven years. Employees with the Department of Corrections and Pardon and Parole will also be getting pay hikes. Boles touted a plan that would put an additional $5 million per year over the next five years into the fund to make improvements to county roads and bridges. That would eventually raise the cap on those funds from the current $125 million per year to $150 million per year. This is the fund that allowed for the recent construction of new roadways in and around Ninnekah. Boles also said the budget proposal includes more money in the state's Rainy Day Fund which will increase that fund to $2.6 billion which is the most in state history.
Special Session Called to Consider ARPA Funding
State lawmakers were called into a special session last week to determine how the state should spend nearly $2 billion in federal stimulus funds. The Oklahoman reports that the special session appears to put lawmakers and not the governor in control of deciding which projects get funded with this round of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Lawmakers gave initial approval to bills that would create a fund to hold the stimulus dollars and move the first allotment of $930 million. However it could be several months before any final decisions are made. The special session will resume later this year.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $113.23 per barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $112.55.
Natural gas is $8.08 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,868 and silver is $22.12.