•HEF selects applications for grants
The Henryetta Education Foundation selected Henryetta School teachers' applications for class project grants on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Board members visited Henryetta classrooms and presented checks along with plaques and balloons to the teachers.The Board selected 10 of the 19 applications, based on the recommendations of Chelsea Cook and the ratings by three judges.Those selected and their projects are:Ginny Holder, Life SkillsScience for Little Learners, $841.87;Cheryl Boatner, and Stephen Lane, Walking with Dinosaurs, $1997.50;Kelly James, Blast Off!, $946.83;Mechelle Johnson, Literacy Listening Center, $830;Felicia McGowin, Non- Fiction in the Classroom, $427.20;Laura Hood, Organizing Our Path to Reading, $910.96; Ashley Burton, ReadingRocket, $996;Lisa Ward, ReadingLiteracy Program, $992.31;Brenda Dodson and Debbie Wion, To the Core with Reading, $1175.57;Andrea Spurlock, The More That You Read, The More Places You’ll Go, $262.43.This totals to $9380.67.Other teachers who applied were Lucresa Stout and Lori Mulliniks, Donna McFerran, Andrea Guynes and Alecia Eastridge, Mrs. Glover and Mrs. Wilkerson, Lisa McAfee, Stacy Bullard, Kathy Snyder, Connie Adams and Belinda Harelson.
•Voters Approve Motel Excise Tax
Voters in Henryetta have approved, by a large margin, a 5 percent motel excise tax.
The excise tax will be charged to those who rent a hotel or motel room in Henryetta.
On Nov. 12, registered voters in the city limits of Henryetta cast a total of 323 ballots. Those who were for the proposition cast a total of 275 votes. The figure represents an 85.14% approval figure.
Those who voted against the proposal with No votes amounted to 48 citizens or 14.86% of the total in ballots cast.
The revenue collected with the tax will be earmarked for the promotion of tourism,
At a glance:
A 5 percent excise tax for those who rent a hotel or motel room in Henryetta:
For/Yes votes: 275 (85.14%)
Against/No votes: 48 (14.86%)
Total votes cast: 323
•Henryetta Chambers Cowboys Ball
Saturday night, November 2 the Annual Cowboy Ball, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, was held in the newly renovated dome of what is now the Days Inn, formerly Henryetta Inn and Dome/Holiday Inn.
The public was pleasantly surprised and pleased at the changes in what used to be Henryetta’s most favorite place to have parties, meetings and weddings, the Holidome.
The main course of sliders and bologna bathed in delicious barbeque sauce was catered by Aaron Ruth from Chair Crushers. The committee in charge of the Ball cut expense corners by preparing trays of cheese chunks, melon chunks, straw- berries, pickles, grapes and tomatoes. They also had plenty of tortilla chips and salsa on hand. The dessert table was laden with chocolate covered strawberries and little cakes. It was all top-notch and very good eating! The Cowboy Ball committee did a quality job.
For entertainment the Round Up Boys band provided top quality music for listening or dancing. Several couples got out there and tried that western swing and there was some good boot-scootin’ going on.
Everyone had a good time. The older folks enjoyed the vintage songs the band played and sang.
Highlight of the evening was the auctioning off of the oil pastel portrait of Jim and Sharon Shoulders. Artist Mary Warden donated another Shoulders painting to the Chamber of Commerce to be used to help raise funds for the Cowboy Park on Main Street.
The bidding started at a couple of hundred dollars but in a very short length of time a bid of $800.00 was heard and the bidder was Sharon Shoulders. She said she had already made up her mind to buy the portrait but admits she doesn’t know where she is going to hang it.
Last Wednesday’s Free-Lance was filled with pictures of the event, thanks to photographer Allen Gardner! He did a great job.
HAS NEW LIFE
Many thousands of dollars have gone into making the for- mer Holiday Inn into a motel that everyone can be proud of. Zack Patel has shown his faith in Henryetta by totally renovating the deteriorating old motel and turning it into a thing of beauty. It was a pleasure to walk into the spacious lobby and be greeted by all new furnishings, carpet and restrooms. Tile throughout the establishment has been thoroughly scrubbed or replaced altogether. Guest rooms are second to none in furnishings and cleanliness.
The Cowboy Ball is the first civic function held in the Dome in many years. As we made our way around the corner into the familiar big room, we were reminded of the luaus we had there back in the early ‘90s. Tables laden with good things to eat greeted us as we entered the Dome. I remember the first luau the Beautification Committee held there. The late Rheba Withrow was chairman of the committee, if my memory serves me correctly, and there was a genuine roast pig on the serving table. It was awesome! Members of the committee were charged (by Rheba) with keeping costs down, so every- one brought appropriate side dishes suitable for a real Hawaiian Luau. The less we spent on feeding people, the more money was made for things like Christmas decorations. When Rheba passed away the impetus went out of the committee and somehow was never regained by those in charge back then.
At the beginning everyone got into the spirit. Some folks wore grass skirts, some sarongs and most of the men dressed in their favorite Hawaiian shirts, complete with shorts and sandals. There was definitely a tropical island atmosphere in the dome.
We all had a good time. The first luau featured about 10 prominent Henryetta citizens, all men, in drag.
We couldn’t stop laughing. Those pictures are still in captivity at the Chamber of Commerce office, but videos of all the luaus are in the possession of Charlotte Klutts, who is back at the Okmulgee Times and has promised to loan them to me to get videos made for all to enjoy.
The next couple of luaus were hilarious with well- known business people dress- ing up and pretending they were famous personalities. I believe the luaus were the most fun I have ever had. And we raised money for city beautification at the same time.
Maybe the dome will get to hold some more good times for us. I hope so!
• Burglars strike P&MW again to steal motor, truck and trailer
Burglars have once again targeted the Pump and Motor Works business on north Highway 75.
Okmulgee Police Chief Joe Prentice said his department is investigating an overnight break-in and theft at the site. The incident was discovered on Thursday morning. Prentice believes the break-in happened late at night on Wednesday, Oct. 23 or in the early-morning hours of Thursday, Oct. 24.
“The Okmulgee Police Department received a report of a burglary that had occurred at the Pump and Motoar Works located on north Highway 75,” the police chief said. “Officers responded and were advised that unknown suspects entered the property by apparently driving through the gate.
Once inside, the thieves stole a large electric motor. The motor was apparently hauled away on a truck and trailer owned by the company which was stolen at the same time.
The incident occurred sometime between 7:00 PM on Wednesday and 5:59 AM on Thursday. Investigators believe the incident may have occurred closer to midnight.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact the police department at 918-756-4980.
• Showpiece brings pride to town with competition results
The Okmulgee High School band ‘The Showpiece of Okmulgee’ has finished another strong season representing the Okmulgee Bulldogs.
The band started their season by hosting their ‘first ever’ marching contest at Harmon Stadium. A total of 11 bands were in competition that day - with the Checotah High School band winning first place.
The OHS band would like to thank everyone who supported and donated to the Okmulgee Bulldog Invitational. The event will be scheduled again next year for the last Saturday in September.
The next weekend, The Showpiece competed in the Glenpool Marching Contest. The OHS Bulldog band came in third overall out of 19 bands. This was a new record for The Showpiece at the Glenpool contest.
The band then attended the OBA 3A State Marching Contest in Moore. Out of 26 bands, the Okmulgee band was not only a state finalist, but came in 10th place overall. The OHS band has now been a state finalist for four years in a row.
More recently, the Bulldog band attended the OSSAA Regional Marching Contest. The Showpiece received perfect scores (highest scores possible) straight ones (superior rating) for the 2013 marching season.
“The band has now received a Superior rating for four years in a row,” said OHS band director Rusy Helms. “The band will now be diligentely working toward an OSSAA Sweepstakes Award. To win this incredible award, the band must obtain Superior ratings in both marching band and Superior ratings at the district and state level of concert band, along with Superior ratings at state in sight reading.
In the spring, the OHS band will be performing in San Antonio, Texas. The apprearance will be in April 2014 with the Bulldog concert band.
“Any help and contributions to help support these fine young musicians is greatly appreciated,” Helms said.“We will be representing Okmulgee schools in the finest fashion as we travel to San Antonio in the spring.”
Okmulgee pharmacy break-in may be linked to 3 similar incidents
4 businesses are targeted over weekend in
Okmulgee, Henryetta, Weleetka & Wetumka
The Okmulgee Police Department is actively investigating a weekend burglary at a local pharmacy. Meanwhile, police departments in Henryetta, Weleetka and Wetumka are probing what appears to be a series of related crimes.
Okmulgee Police Chief Joe Prentice provided some basic information related to the local incident.
“We did take a report on a burglary at the Discount Pharmacy,” Chief Prentice said.
The alarm call came in at 1:35 AM on Sunday, Oct. 19th.
“We responded to an alarm there and discovered that unknown person(s) had broken the glass in the front door to gain entry and stolen several bottles of pills,” the police chief said. “There are no suspects at this time.”
Down in Hughes County, Wetumka Police Chief Joe Berry issued a statement on what appears to be other cases related to the Okmulgee incident.
“During the early morning hours of Oct.19 and Oct.120, the Tyler Drug store on North Main was burglarized. The suspects smashed out the front door glass and made entry into the front of the store.
“The suspects were viewed on surveillance cameras taking (2) large plastic totes into the store. The suspects spent an approximate 2 minutes inside the store before coming back out the front of the store.”
The vehicle involved that was viewed on the video tape. It appears to be a black or dark blue Chevy Traverse SUV type vehicle.
“Three suspects are viewed in the video,” the Wetumka Police Chief said. “Two of them were wearing black hoodies and the third is wearing a lite blue hoodie. The driver of the vehicle stayed in the driver's seat and never exited the vehicle”.
Chief Berry said his department has learned that these individuals are part of a pharmacy burglary crime spree spreading down thru south central Oklahoma.
“Pharmacies in Okmulgee, Henreytta and Weleetka have also been burglarized by the same individuals,” he said. “Wetumka Police are working close with OSBI, OBN and the other police departments to apprehend and bring these suspects to justice.”
Chief Berry spoke with Tyler Drug owner Howard Tyler earlier this week.
“He said no inventory was taken - but it appeared all that was taken was drugs.”
Okmulgee City Manager Fired
The employment fate of Okmulgee City Manager Bob Baxter was decided Thursday afternoon during a special meeting of the Okmulgee City Council.
Council member Everett Horn made a motion to terminate the contract of the city manager. The motion was approved by a 3-1 vote, including votes to terminate by Horn, Chris Azbell and Mayor Steven Baldridge. Rob Robertson opposed the firing with his vote. Council member Terry Bemis was absent and did not cast a ballot.
Mayor Baldridge provided the following statement concerning the termination action:
“The time has come for the City to move in another direction in terms of its management,” the mayor said. “Our goal is to bring greater transparency and openness to make our city government more responsive to our citizens. The Management style of the current City Manager does not align with the majority of the City Council’s philosophy and goals.
“We are looking forward to new opportunities in industry, tourism and retail. Our City is at a cross roads and in order to have growth and success, change is necessary. We ask for your patience and prayers as we grow Okmulgee together.”
As for Baxter, he is upset and disappointed over his termination. His take on the action was that he was never given any reason for being fired. Baxter added that he would like to know the reasons for the termination. He feels that “it is political.”
Suspect jailed for sex acts with 12 year-old girl
Sheriff’s deputy finds duo in car near Henryetta
A 21-year-old man has been arrested in Okmulgee County on complaints of rape, sodomy, and providing alcohol to a minor.
The suspect has been identified as Larimie Dobson. The victim is a 12-year-old girl who will not be identified.
The Okmulgee County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident and will file a complete investigating report with the District Attorney’s Office. It will be up to DA Rob Barris as to whether formal charges are filed in the case.
Sheriff Eddy Rice issued a press release detailing how the incident was discovered on the western edge of Henryetta - just outside the city limits.
OCSO Deputy Tristan Walker was on patrol in the area of Holly Road and Hope Hill Road. The deputy encountered a vehicle “suspiciously parked” on a dead end road during the early-morning hours of Saturday, Oct. 12.
After approaching the vehicle, Deputy Walker noted there were two occupants inside the vehicle. Upon contact with the male half, the deputy made observations that were consistent with someone who had been consuming alcohol.
A juvenile was also noted to be sitting in the front seat of the vehicle.
After further investigation, Deputy Walker identified the male as Larimie Dobson and noted that he was 21 years of age. The female juvenile was finally determined to be 12 years old. According to the report, she admitted to having sexual relations with Mr. Dobson. The suspect was later placed under arrest and booked into the Okmulgee County Jail.
The jail booking document indicated Dodson was being held on complaints of the following:
• Rape (3 counts)
• Sodomy (1 count)
• Public Intoxication, and
• Providing Alcohol to a Minor.
Dodson was due to make his initial court appearance Tuesday afternoon in district court. Judge Cynthia Pickering was expected to set a bond on the complaints and announced the defendant’s next court appearance.
Okmulgee man arrested on several charges
A 31-year-old man faces a series of complaints following an incident on Oct. 8 in Okmulgee.
The suspect has been identified as Allen Len Young. He was taken into custody and placed in the Okmulgee County Jail on felony complaints of DUI (first offense), Burglary (First Degree), and misdomeanor complaints of resisting an officer, obstructing an officer and assault and batter.
Police Chief Joe Prentice outlined the details of the incident. According to the report, an OPD Officer received a report of a crash in which the driver had fled. While investigating the crash, citizens reportedly directed officers attention to a male and identified him as the driver.
“The male ran from officer and had to be pursued on foot,” the police chief said. “He was ultimately taken into custody and resisted officers at that time.”
According to the arresting officers, the suspect was intoxicated and combative throughout the contact.
“Officers also discovered that he had reportedly knocked and then forced his way into a residence in the area prior to officer’s arrival on the scene,” Chief Prentice said. “The two female occupants of that residence reported they were able to force him out of the residence, presumably due to his level of intoxication.”
Young will learn this week what, if any, formal charges will be filed in the case by the Okmulgee County district attorney’s office.
Office of National Drug Control Policy Awards $ 125,000 to Local Coalition to Prevent Youth Substance Use in Okmulgee County
(Washington, D.C.) – Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), announced $19.8 million in new Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program grants to 147 communities and 19 new DFC Mentoring grants across the country. The awards announced today are in addition to the $59.4 million in continuation grants simultaneously released to 473 currently funded DFC coalitions and 4 DFC Mentoring continuation coalitions. Okmulgee County Consortium was one of the grant recipients and will receive $ 125,000 a year for 5 years in DFC grant funds to involve and engage their local community to prevent substance use among youth.
The DFC Program provides grants of up to $625,000 over 5 years to community coalitions that facilitate citizen participation in local drug prevention efforts. Coalitions are composed of community leaders, parents, youth, teachers, religious and fraternal organizations, healthcare and business professionals, law enforcement, the media, and others working together at the local level.
The Okmulgee County Consortium will specifically work to address underage drinking and misuse of prescription drugs.
The DFC Program was created by the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997 and reauthorized by Congress in 2001 and 2006. Since 1998, ONDCP has awarded nearly 2,000 DFC grants to local communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, Palau, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia.
For more information about the Office of National Drug Control Policy or the Drug Free Communities Support Program, visit: www.WhiteHouse.gov/ONDCP
• Unidentified local resident dies in crash at Head Start
Police chief unsure what caused the vehicle to run off US 75
By HERMAN BROWN
Okmulgee Times editor
An unnamed Okmulgee area man died Tuesday during a mid-morning automobile accident. The one-vehicle crash was at the Okmulgee Head Start and Early Head Start program on the north end of town.
Numerous police and fire vehicles were parked along the busy U.S. 75 as the investigation was conducted at the scene.
Police Chief Joe Prentice said the Ford Explorer was south-bound on the highway when -for some reason - the vehicle left the pavement and struck a ‘Do No Enter’ sign in the center media. The impact was about 350 feet north of where the vehicle came to a final rest.
“I think he tried to get back onto the road,” Chief Prentice said. “He went back in a southwestern direction and came across the road and off on this side.”
The Ford struck a school speed limit sign and knocked it to the grass. The Explorer continued southwestward and then smashed into the outer area pipe fence that protects the school’s playground.
“That is a strong fence,” said Chief Prentice.
The vehicle never got close to the second fence that encloses the playground on the north end of the Head Start building.
Chief Prentice is not sure why the driver ran off the road at the start of the accident. He indicated it might be from a medical issue he was experiencing.
“But we won’t know that until we hear from the medical examinder,” he said.
The police chief was unsure of any children were on the playground at the time of the accident.
The investigation is continuing in the case.
• Tulsan charged with dumping and burning 44 animal carcasses
OCSO deputies bring comfort to owner of service dog
A Tulsa man has been charged Thursday in Okmulgee County district court with two misdemeanor counts of dumping and burning the carcasses of 43 animals.
The defendant in the 2-count charge is Lonnie Wayne Martin, 50, of Tulsa.
Okmulgee County Special Judge Cynthia Pickering His bond set the defendant’s bond at $2,500 during a hearing on Wednesday.
According to court documents, Martin faces misdemeanors of (Count 1) Dumping debris on public/private property on or between September 11, 2013 and Sept. 12, 2013, by deliberately dumping debris, animals with glowing substance, and setting numerous animals on fire on public property located at 120 Road and Herrick Road; and (Count 2) obstructing Public Right-of-way on or between September 11, 2013 and Sept. 12, 2013, defendant places debris on the road and set it on fire, obstructing the roadway.
The charge, CM-2013-814, was filed by District Attorney Rob Barris. Assistant DA David K. Pierce is also working on the case.
A list of witnesses have been endorsed for the State of Oklahoma, including OCSO deputies Patrick Hale and Robert Heath, Phillip McArthur of Tulsa, Kim Yung of the Beggs Supermart and Ronnie Hart of Broken Arrow.
In a related note, Okmulgee County Sheriff Eddy Rice tells how an alert deputy turned a bad story into something far more positive. Here is what unfolded:
The OCSO Deputy Patrick Hale was at his residence at 10 p.m. on Sept. 12 when he observed a vehicle displaying suspicious behavior and decided to investigate the situation further.
Deputy Hale contacted the on-duty deputies with the Okmulgee County Sheriff’s Office and then drove his patrol car to intersection of North 120 and Herrick Roads. Deputy Hale observed a fire in the intersection and later determined that there were over 40 dog carcasses, 3 cat carcasses, and a rabbit carcass lying on a tarp in the roadway, and that the carcasses had been set on fire.
Deputy Hale and other arriving deputies extinguished the fire and were able to locate identifying carcass tags on the animals. The carcasses were properly disposed of OCSO deputies as well as local farmers and District 1 workers that night.
Further investigation by OCSO Investigator Robert Heath revealed that the animal carcasses came from a pet crematorium in Tulsa. The animals had been contracted to be destroyed by Pets at Peace, owned by Phillip McArthur.
During the investigation, it was also learned that "Otis", a golden retriever service dog was improperly disposed of, and his family was expecting his remains to be returned within 5-10 days.
Investigator Heath made contact with Mr. McArthur and learned that he had sub-contracted the disposal of the animals because his incinerators and freezers were broken and no longer in service. The identity of the subcontractor was learned and a subsequent interview was set up. Investigator Heath has since completed the investigation and has turned it over to the Okmulgee County District Attorney's Office for a filing decision.
On Sept. 20, Deputy Hale and Deputy Scott Ray met with the owner of "Otis" the service dog and presented him with the cremated remains. Once the deputies learned of Otis' service to his family, they went back and reclaimed the remains and had them properly cremated and stored in an urn.
OCSO Sheriff Eddy Rice is very proud of his deputies for going above and beyond the call of duty to make sure this situation was handled properly.
• Couple escapes burning residence early on Tuesday
By HERMAN BROWN
Okmulgee Times editor
A wood-frame home on Okmulgee’s east side was heavily damaged in an early-morning blaze on Tuesday, Sept. 24. The fire apparently broke out at about 5 a.m. at 1333 East 8th Street.
Daniel Nimrod Harder and his wife Ariane Harder escaped the blaze. However, they are heartbroken at the loss of several of their family pets.
“We lost four cats and four dogs,” said Harder. “We couldn’t get them all out. We did save some puppies and our dog, Pepper.”
Ariane Harder discovered the fire burning in the kitchen. She screamed at her husband, who was asleep in an upstairs bedroom.
“I grabbed my gun and came down stairs,” the husband said. “I thought she was being attack by a burglar. But I got down there and saw the kitchen on fire. You can’t shoot a fire!”
Tom Hart is a neighbor a couple houses to the west. He is the one who reported the fire. He was up early getting ready for work. He looked out his window and saw the flickering reflection of the flames. At first, he thought the reflection was a police car emergency lights. However, he quickly realized that the color of the reflection was not from emergency lights. He also noticed a dog “going crazy” barking.
“I knew something was not right,” Hart said. “When I saw it was a fire I called the police to report it. I could not remember the fire (department) number, so I called the police to report it.”
Hart saw the man and woman needed some clothes. He took his wife’s robe to Ariane Harder to borrow.
The fire fighters came from nearby Eastside fire station to battle the blaze. It appears that the fire did the most of the damage from the back section - burning its way toward the front. It is too early to get a specific damage estimate, but there is major damage to the home.
The woman’s SUV was parked next to the house when the fire broke out. It caught on fire. The husband got in it and drove it away from the burning residence. Even so, there was quite a bit of damage to it - and also damage to the front of his pickup.
When the fire fighters had extinguished the blaze, they returned to the station. OFD Fire Marshal Rick Chisum remained on the scene to investigate the fire.
A chaplin was also on the site to comfort the family.
Meanwhile, the renters will have to find a new place to live. They were expecting assistance from the local chapter of the America Red Cross.
Driver arrested following car accident in Okmulgee
3 complaints lodged against female suspect
The Okmulgee County Sheriff’s Office made a motor vehicle stop Saturday that resulted in the arrest of the arrest of a 35-year-old female driver.
The suspect has been identified as 35-year-old Angela Ann Burney. She is the (now former) Director of Twilight & Virtual Schools for Okmulgee Public Schools.
The woman was arrested on complaints of Driving Under Suspension, Driving Under Influence, and Possession of CDS (controlled dangerous substance).
OCSO Deputy Tristan Walker made contact with Angela Burney near the intersection of Kern and Eufaula Streets in Okmulgee after he was dispatched to the area in reference to an auto accident. He observed the vehicle Ms. Burney was driving in the ditch and she refused any medical treatment due to the accident.
While talking to her, Deputy Walker noted that she had slurred speech and an unsteady gate. During the subsequent scene investigation, Field Sobriety tests were administered and Ms. Burney was arrested on the complaints of DUI and DUS.
During a vehicle inventory, Deputy Walker also found several pills that were suspicioned as schedule 4 drugs. The pills were seized as evidence and will be sent to the OSBI Lab for proper drug analysis and identification.
Superintendent Tod Williams said Monday morning that Burney is no longer an employee of the Okmulgee Public Schools.
• Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology Receives 2014 Military Friendly Schools Designation
OSU Institute of Technology was named to the 2014 Military Friendly Schools list, which honors the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country that best embrace America’s military service members, veterans and spouses as students and ensures their success on campus.
“This is OSUIT’s second consecutive year to achieve this coveted listing,” said Dr. Bill R. Path, OSUIT president. “We are proud of this distinction, and we know this speaks directly to our mission to serve veterans, one that we have been dedicated to since the university’s inception in 1946.”
After World War II, Oklahoma State University created a vocational-technical training facility for veterans to study under the G.I. Bill in Okmulgee at the site of a wartime veteran’s hospital. The facility offered courses for students geared towards preparation for immediate employment.
Today, there are 130 veteran students enrolled at OSUIT using their G.I. Bill benefits in order to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree, said Chenoa Worthington, the school’s veteran’s benefits coordinator and Student Veterans Association sponsor.
“The original mission to serve the nation’s veterans is still central today,” said Worthington. “We’re committed to continuing this legacy of offering technical, direct-to-workforce degrees and a job placement rate that makes our veterans immediately successful upon graduation.”
Now in its fifth year, Victory Media compiled the 2014 list of Military Friendly Schools through extensive research and a data-driven survey of more than 10,000 schools nationwide approved for VA tuition funding. The survey results that comprise the 2014 list were independently tested by Ernst & Young LLP based upon the weightings and methodology established by Victory Media. Each year schools taking the survey are held to a higher standard than the previous year via improved methodology, criteria and weightings developed with the assistance of an Academic Advisory Board consisting of educators from schools across the country.
“Inclusion on the 2014 list of Military Friendly Schools® shows OSUIT’s commitment to providing a supportive environment for military students,” said Sean Collins, Vice President at Victory Media and a nine-year Navy veteran. “The need for education is growing and our mission is to provide the military community with transparent, world-class resources to assist in their search for schools.”
The Military Friendly Schools website, www.militaryfriendlyschools.com, features the complete list, interactive tools and search functionality. The 1,868 colleges, universities and trade schools on this year’s list exhibit leading practices in the recruitment and retention of students with military experience. These schools have world-class programs and policies for student support on campus, academic accreditation, credit policies, flexibility and other services to those who served.
• Henryetta woman dies after crash on US 75
Other vehicle was Oklahoma County sheriff’s patrol unit
SCHULTER - A Henryetta woman has died of her injuries following a 2-vehicle accident on U.S. Highway 75 in Schulter.
The crash occurred at 3:38 p.m. on Wednesday (Sept. 18) at the Lavender Road intersection on U.S. 75.
A private sedan was involved along with an Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Department patrol unit.
The first vehicle was a 1996 Toyota Tercel driven by Lori Ann Artussee, 46 of Henryetta. There was one passenger in the Toyota: Jamie Artussee,15, of Henryetta.
The second vehicle was a 2011 Dodge Charger driven by Steven Abernathy, 44 of McLoud. A passenger in the Dodge was Patrick Lynn Smith, 28 of Okmulgee.
Lori Ann Artussee’s vehicle was stopped east-bound on Lavender. She was attempting to cross US 75 and then go north-bound on the Beeline. According to the report, Artussee failed to yield to the south-bound deputy and was struck by the Dodge Charger.
The woman’s vehicle crossed the median into north-bound traffic. The Toyota then came back into the median and came to rest.
After hitting the Toyota, the deputy’s vehicle came to rest on the shoulder.
Lori Ann Artussee was transported from the scene by Life Flight medical helicopter. She was flown to St Johns in Tulsa. She suffered head, trunk external, trunk internal, arm and leg injuries. She was admitted in critical condition - but died at noon on Thursday.
Her 15-year-old passenger was also transported by Life Flight to St Johns with head and leg injuries. She was treated and released.
Deputy Abernathy was transported by Okmulgee County Sheriffs Department to Henryetta Memorial Center with leg injuries. He was treated and released.
The deputy’s passenger (Patrick Lynn Smith) was transported by Okmulgee County EMS to Henyretta Medical Center with head injuries. Smith was treated and released.
Prior to the accident, Smith was being held in the county jail on two counts of second-degree burglary, possession of CDS, possession of a firearm after felony conviction of a felony, tampering with a security camera or system, and a misdomeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.
He has been in jail in Okmulgee on those charges since July 26. Because he was in custody here, he failed to appear for August 16, 2013 for a preliminary hearing conference in Oklahoma City. Smith was due in court on charges of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and attempting to elude a police officer. The bond was $16,000.
Smith was also wanted in Oklahoma County on a charge of possession of a dangerous controlled substance (meth). His bond was $3,000 for that charge.
Smith had remained in the local jail to make a scheduled plea appearance on Monday, Sept. 16. The deputy was dispatched to Okmulgee Wednesday to return Smith to Oklahoma City to face his charges there.
The accident was investigated by Trooper Jamie Guinn of Troop B of the Tulsa County detachment. Assistance was provided by Lt. Derek Burton and Lt. Vern Wilson both of Troop B in Tulsa, Trooper Matthew Ledbetter of Troop B Creek County Detachment and Trooper Scott Hart of Troop B Okmulgee county detachment.
Beggs teen drowns in boating accident
Victim wasn’t wearing life jacket when
thrown from boat at Dripping Springs Lake
An Okmulgee County teen was killed in a tragic boating accident Tuesday (Sept. 17) on Dripping Springs Lake.
The victim has been identied as Darrell “Drew” Aldridge, 19 of Beggs.
Okmulgee police the victim drowned after being thrown from a boat Tuesday afternoon.
Police Chief Joe Prentice said two young men were fishing in a boat at the time of the fatal accident. They were on a creek at the far southwestern end of the lake.
“The boat hit something in the water and one of the men was thrown into the water,” the police chief said. “We received a report of a possible drowning at Dripping Springs Lake shortly after 4 p.m.”
Several agencies responded to the scene to render assistance.
“At some point the young man went under water and never resurfaced,” Chief Prentice said.
A recover team located the body of the victim in about 8 feet of water. A local funeral home then transported the body to be transferred to the medical examiner’s office in Tulsa.
The victim’s friends spoke with a KOTV’s New on 6 reporter after the tragedy. They remembered a popular person whose life was taken too soon.
Aldridge just turned 19 on August 31. He graduated from Beggs High School in May, and started college at the OSU Institute of Technology this fall.
Drew was known for his love of FFA and tending to his show pigs.
“He grew up in the show barn,” Beggs agriculture teacher Derrick Markes told the TV reporter. “As soon as he was able to walk, he was in the show room showing pigs himself,”
The teen hoped to one day follow in the footsteps of Markes.
“What he wanted to do and his ultimate goal was to actually become an ag teacher,” the Beggs teacher said.
His other passion was playing football for the Beggs High School. He was a very talented offensive and defensive lineman. He was also the kicker for Beggs on field goal and PAT kicks. His play on the line and as a kicker helped the Golden Demons to the playoffs each year in was in high school.
Aldridge didn't know how to swim - and he wasn't wearing a life jacket. Now, through Aldridge's death, his teacher says there's an important life lesson to be learned.
“I know hindsight, if Drew was here today, he would be passionate about putting those life jackets on. It is important," his former FFA teacher said.
Drew’s father also wanted to tell everyone how important it is to always wear a life jacket when in or around the water.
Okmulgee man arrested on child pornography charges
An Okmulgee man was arrested after the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said he sent multiple images of child pornography to an undercover agent.
According to OSBI, agents arrested Robert Farrill, 51(d.o.b. 5-24-1962) , on Thursday after serving a search warrant on his home in the 300 block of North Taft about 8:30 a.m.
During the execution of the search warrant, an on-site forensic preview of computer-related devices was conducted. That preview revealed more than 100 images of child pornography stored on just one device, OSBI said.
Farrill was booked into the Okmulgee County Jail on three counts of distribution of child pornography, one count of aggravated possession of child pornography (100 images or more), and one count of violation of the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act.
He made his initial appearance Thursday afternoon in Okmulgee County district court. Bond was set at $105,000. Oklahoma Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force members from the Edmond Police Department helped with today’s warrant, as did officers with the Okmulgee Police Department. OSBI agents will continue to investigate this case.
• ‘Suspicious homicide’ incident being probed by OSBI agents
Local man’s body found in car on NSU campus
The OSBI is investigating after the body of an Okmulgee man was found Sunday on the campus of Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.
The body has identified as 48-year old Anthony George Scott.
NSU campus police were called at 4 p.m. about a body inside a car, parked next to the NSU football stadium.
Emergency medical personnel arrived and determined the man was dead.
Authorities said they are waiting on the medical examiner to perform an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.
The OSBI said this is a investigation at this time.
• Beggs police chief arrested in gun incident
Beggs Police Chief Wesley Fish was arrested Saturday after deputies received a call saying a man was holding a woman by the throat with a gun to her head.
By The Associated Press
TAHLEQUAH — An Oklahoma police chief has been arrested for allegedly holding a gun to his wife's head during an argument.
Beggs Police Chief Wesley Fish was released from the Cherokee County jail on bond Tuesday. Undersheriff Jason Chennault said the 48-year-old Fish was arrested Saturday near Lake Cookson after deputies received a call that a man was holding a woman by the throat with a gun to her head.
The Tulsa World reports witnesses told deputies Fish held the gun to his wife's head and threatened to kill her, then pointed it at a witness who Fish believed was video-recording the encounter.
Fish was arrested on complaints of feloniously pointing a firearm, making terroristic threats, domestic assault and battery with a deadly weapon and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
He posted $35,000 bond Tuesday, according to Cherokee County Jail records.
• Train depot due demolition over safety concerns
Nostalgia not strong enough reason
Okmulgee’s massive effort has failed to save the historic Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad depot. The depot structure is due to be demolished, according to Okmulgee city attorney Michael R. Vanderburg.
The Okmulgee Historic Preservation Commission reluctantly, but unanimously voted on August 20, 2013, to approve an application from the BNSF Railway Company to demolish the structure of the depot.
“They had little choice,” Vanderberg said in a letter to the editor. “The evidence presented showed that the building was collapsing of its own weight, its floors were rotted away, and the roof and eves were falling both inside and outside of the interior space.”
The city attorney added that past efforts to secure the building had not been completely successful, and the property was dangerous to the public and a detriment to the area.
“In fact, children were seen playing in and among the debris of the structure yesterday, and at least one adult has suffered a career ending injury following an accident inside of the building,” the letter said. “At least 2 pieces of litigation were filed involving this dangerous and dilapidated structure.”
Multiple attempts to preserve the building had been unsuccessful - and no funds were available to do the necessary repairs, estimated to be in excess of $400,000. Such efforts would only to create a building that had no present use to the railroad and no public or charitable entity was able to take on the liability and maintenance of the building.
“The depot had been discussed and examined by city staff, representatives of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, the BNSF Railway, and outside engineers and surveyors,” Vanderberg said. “None were able to find a way to rehabilitate the building and return it to a reasonable use.”
Public safety had to be given more importance than the emotional attachment many have from their memories of its last uses in passenger train service, a service discontinued decades ago.
“It was a regrettable decision, but a necessary one,” the city attorney said. “The safety of the public, especially of the area's children has greater value than nostalgia.”
• Chief Tiger, 4 others named in lawsuit
Plaintiff claims there was ‘abuse of power’ and cover up
Muscogee Creek Nation Principal Chief George Tiger and four other tribal employees have been named has defendants in a civil suit filed Aug. 19 in Okmulgee County District Court.
Besides the principal chief, the other defendants have been identified as Kendra Root, Molly Moore, Roger Wiley and Dennis Northcross.
The plaintiff in the case is Johnna Townsend, who has been identified as a former tribal employee who later became a consultant for the chief and others in the Creek Nation.
The suit outlines the parties to the suit as follows:
- Kendra Root is one of Tiger's step-daughters. She also is an employee of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, working for the tribe's Attorney General's office.
- Molly Moore is another of Tiger's step-daughters. She is also is an employee of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
- Roger Wiley is the Attorney General for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
- Dennis Northcross is the Captain of Patrol for the Lighthorse Tribal Police of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
Chief Tiger told the Tulsa World that he has not read the lawsuit and would not comment on it.
“My focus is going to be just continuing to work on the positive things for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation,” he told the Tulsa newspaper.
According to the document filed in district court, the following are the factual allegations in the lawsuit:
10. George Tiger's philandering was a poor choice - a moral failure too often perpetrated by the charismatic men communities count on for leadership. It was, however, his decision to use and abuse his power as the Principal Chief of the tribe to supplement and cover up for his indiscretion that took his actions from foolish to actionable.
11. Johnna Townsend is Muscogee (Creek) from a storied traditional family. Today she can see how her actions were also immoral. She was a single mother with a young child who allowed herself to be seduced by and fall in love with George. She certainly has regret and guilt about participating in the affair with Tiger, but those feelings are not the damages she seeks.
12. Tiger and Townsend's affair was tumultuous. Johnna was in love. She felt betrayed when George would cut off contact with her for a couple of days to avoid detection - or more likely the overexposure - of his affair by his family and tribe. When George would re-initiate contact, Johnna responded as would many scorned women, with pain and emotion.
13. In order to manipulate and manage Johnna, George would tell her that he was miserable at home with his wife and that he intended to live with Johnna ... soon. George regularly pleaded with Johnna that if she would just "give me some time" he would take care of things so that they could be together every day.
14. Johnna had been fired from her job with the tribe and Molly Moore was put in Johnna's old position there. Especially as a single mother, Johnna needed a new job and began pursuing opportunities out of state.
15. George didn't want Johnna to take a job out of state, so he convinced her to become a consultant, as he had been before becoming the Chief. He assured her that he could help her secure consulting positions within their tribe and with others.
16. George delivered on his promise to get Johnna consulting contracts, including one with Brad Fox of the Housing Division of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. He also signed a contract to have her consult for him, personally.
17. However, at some point a few months into the Housing Division contract, George's family members found out about it. Kendra Root and/or Roger Wiley of the Attorney General's office then caused the Housing Division to cancel the contract with Johnna.
18. Johnna continued to consult with George. He would discuss with her issues he was facing as Chief and Johnna would enlighten him about the grass roots perspective on the matter. Johnna suggested areas where she believed George should take action in order to better serve and endear himself to the people. Johnna also generated several ideas about industry where the tribe might be able to expand. Their personal relationship, however, remained turbulent.
19. At times, during the arguments between George and Johnna, in response to George's assurances, Johnna would tell George that she was going to go ahead and tell his wife, Frances, about their ongoing affair in order to expedite the time that Johnna and George would be able to be together in a more normal relationship. George would then physically assail Johnna, wrestling her to the floor and wrenching her phone from her hands. Even then, Johnna would listen to George's continued apologies and assurances and let love win out in her actions, even if all logic pointed toward her being toyed with.
20. During the stress of the tumultuous relationship, Johnna had a particularly difficult evening of dealing with her poor decisions wherein she ended up arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. At this time, George stepped forward and showed what Johnna could only believe was real love and devotion. He helped her get admitted into an in-patient rehabilitation center and to deal with her issues related to that treatment.
21. At this point, George also began to regale Johnna with more in-depth stories about their not-too-distant future lives together. He was concerned that he would be removed from office for whatever reason - although he would not explain for what reason he believed he was going to lose his position - but he needed certain fallback provisions for his potential post-Chief life.
22. Johnna had told George about an idea she had to establish a foundation that would have cross-tribal focus on directing resources and opening opportunity for individual native peoples who were being underserved through the bureaucracy of the modem tribal structure. George told Johnna that he saw this idea as an opportunity for them to go public with their relationship and, if he lost his office then he would help her run the foundation. They even began promoting the foundation to other tribal leaders.
23. Throughout this time period, Molly was intermittently harassing Johnna. She would text her cruel messages and follow Johnna's car. Molly, at some point, took out a false Protective Order against Johnna and then dismissed it. She also told lies about Johnna to Johnna's clients.
24. Just before July 4, 2013, Johnna began getting repeated text and voice messages from what she understood to be Molly, Kendra or Frances. She eventually responded and confirmed for them that her affair with George had continued long past when they thought it ended. George was eventually brought into the conversation and he denied the continued relationship with Johnna. During the joint conversation George also told Johnna that he was going to stay in his marriage.
25. When Johnna next talked to George in private, he told her that their relationship needed to take a "quiet period" for a few months, that he could not yet leave his marriage and that they could no longer talk on the "private" phones he had obtained for them. However, he assured her that he would continue to talk with her by his office phone. George also insisted that Johnna not discuss their relationship with others and that he would continue to send her money.
26. Johnna finally saw the situation for what it was - a fraud. She realized that she had been a game for George and that keeping their 'secret" throughout their relationship was causing her such emotional turmoil that she had lost her identity.
27. George continued to talk to Johnna, telling her that he would help her support her young child. Johnna told George repeatedly that it wasn't about the money, that she was hurt and confused and that she couldn't take it anymore.
28. Soon thereafter, Johnna was driving to Bristow with her child in her car when she saw Kendra following behind her car. Shortly thereafter, Molly came around both of them and slowed down in front of Johnna’s car. Molly and Kendra continued to sandwich Johnna in between their cars. Johnna was afraid and called the police, who were waiting at Johnna's destination when she arrived. Molly and Kendra continuing to attempt to intimidate her.
29. Johnna called the police and was told to get a Protective Order, which she did.
30. Johnna then had a subpoena issued to have George called to court for the hearing on the Protective Order. She took the subpoena to the Lighthorse department to be served on George pursuant to statute. Captain Northcross talked to Johnna about the subpoena and then took her into a holding room. He told her that he needed to go talk to someone else and left the room, locking Johnna inside. Captain Northcross eventually came back and released Johnna from the room, allowing her to leave the building. He said that he would serve the subpoena.
31. The Lighthorse decided not to serve the subpoena as they are obligated under statute. They instead delivered the subpoena to the Attorney General's office. In his attempt to further cover up for the personal misdeeds of George and Kendra, his employee, Attorney General Wiley then issued a letter explaining that he would not allow the Lighthorse to serve the subpoena.
32. George also terminated the contract with Johnna without following the terms thereof.
COUNT 1: ASSAULT AND BATTERY
33. The actions as described above of George, Kendra and Molly were made with the intent of making a harmful and offensive contact with the person of the plaintiff and/or with the intent of placing the plaintiff in apprehension of such a contact.
34. Plaintiff remained in continuous apprehension 'from the time of the first offensive contact, or apprehension thereof, the named defendants made upon her throughout the time in question.
35. The plaintiff did not consent to any of the harmful and offensive contacts, or apprehension thereof, of the named defendants.
36. The named defendants' intentional actions resulted in harmful and offensive contact with the plaintiff, or apprehension thereof, on multiple occasions.
37. Due to the defendants' actions the plaintiff suffered severe emotional and physical harm.
COUNT 2: INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS
38. Over the course of time, Tiger continuously and systematically inflicted severe emotional distress upon the plaintiff through his intentional and deliberate actions.
39. All of Tiger's actions committed against the plaintiff occurred in what should have been a caring relationship between a Chief and a vulnerable tribal citizen, a single mother 20 years his junior. Instead Tiger intentionally created a labyrinth of lies and confusion, of physical violence and secrets in which the plaintiff was in intermittent fear.
40. Tiger's actions were extreme and outrageous and went beyond all possible bounds of decency. These actions were atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized society.
41. Tiger's actions were with the intention of inflicting emotional distress upon the plaintiff. Tiger succeeded at this task.
42. Tiger's actions and conduct intentionally and recklessly caused severe emotional distress to the plaintiff beyond that which a reasonable person could be expected to endure.
43. The plaintiff suffered severe emotional distress due to Tiger's actions, including physical illness and harm, mental anguish, worry, anger, and fright.
44. Tiger's actions towards the plaintiff were not only intentional and reckless. Tiger committed these actions against the plaintiff with full knowledge that the plaintiff was a single mother in a fragile emotional state. Tiger preyed upon the vulnerabilities of the plaintiff with full knowledge that he was creating an environment where she was dependent upon him.
45. Root, Moore, Wiley and Northcross also acted in a manner that was extreme and outrageous and went beyond all possible bounds of decency with the intention of inflicting emotional distress upon the plaintiff. The plaintiff suffered severe emotional distress due to their actions.
COUNT III: BREACH OF CONTRACT
46. In December of 2012, the plaintiff and Tiger entered into a written contract for consulting services.
47. George breached the contract by terminating the contract in contravention of the terms of the contract.
48. The plaintiff has performed all conditions precedent to recover under the contract and has not excused Tiger's breach.
49. As a result of Tiger's breach of the contract, the plaintiff has sustained (damages including but not limited to the amount of lost earnings and employment benefits and the amount of damages for mental and emotional distress or anguish.
COUNT IV: TORTUOUS INTERFERENCE WITH CONTRACT
50. Root, Moore and Wiley had a duty not to interfere with the plaintiffs contracts. Root, Moore and/or Wiley breached that duty.
51. The plaintiff suffered damages due to the named defendants' breach of their duties.
COUNT V: FALSE IMPRISONMENT
52. Northcross exercised restraint of the plaintiff in a bounded area without justification or consent.
53. The plaintiff suffered damages due to Northcross's tortuous actions.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, the plaintiff prays that this Court award a judgment against the defendants for an amount in excess of the jurisdictional minimum amounts of this Court; a judgment against the defendants for the costs of litigation, including a reasonable attorney's fee; and any and all other relief as this court deems appropriate according to equity, justice and the evidence presented.
Anthony L. Allen OBA# 19738
ALLEN & WISNER
101 W. Broadway
Muskogee, Oklahoma 74401
23-year-old Okmulgee dies in car wreck
Local woman hospitalized with injuries
An Okmulgee man is dead and a woman is injured after a two-vehicle collision on the Indian Nation Turnpike in Pittsburg County.
Jeremiah Dial, 23, of Okmulgee died at the scene of the accident at 1:37 p.m. on Friday. The crash happened just north of the 77 mile marker on the Indian Nation Turnpike, according to a report by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
Dial was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Amber Sands, 27, of Okmulgee.
Sands was reported to be driving at a slow rate of speed when her vehicle was struck from behind by a vehicle driven by Ray Mollett, 61, of Rush Hill, Mo.
Sands was pinned for 45 minutes before she was freed by the McAlester Fire Department, the report states. She was transported by medical helicopter to the McAlester Regional Health Center, where she was listed stable condition with head injuries and internal and external trunk injuries.
Sands and Dial were not wearing seatbelts, the report states.
Mollett was not injured in the accident and was wearing a seatbelt.
Chief Norman believes foes are ‘overreacting’
Rumors fail to present accurate picture of dog pound operation
By HERMAN BROWN
Okmulgee Times editor
Police Chief Steve Norman believes a local animal rights group is overreacting to conditions at the Henryetta dog pound. While there are issues with the facility, he contends that some reports floating around town do not paint an accurate picture of the situation.
“I have evidence that proves some of the statements they have made are just no true,” Chief Norman said Friday. “The one (rumor) that we have been euthanizing dogs at the pound is untrue. I have the documents for the last four or five months showing where we paid Town and Country Vet. It shows how many dogs have been euthanized.”
The police chief said that some of the pictures don’t paint an accurate account. He points to photos taken of the (empty) water bowls - noting the pictures were taken in dog runs that didn’t have animals in them.
Another more disturbing photo is of a dead animal at the dog pound.
“The dead animal in a trash bag was picked up by police at the request of a citizen whose animal had died. They (police) didn’t have anything to do with it. They brought it to the pound and dropped it off. What we do with our animals that pass away at the pounds is we take them over to the transfer station which is right there close to the pound. We don’t just throw them in trash cans. Obviously we were aware that a dog had died because it had been bagged up. There was no other animals in that run, that pen.”
The transfer station was closed at the time the dog was picked up so it was taken to the pound.
“He was going to put him in the transfer station on Monday morning,” the police chief said. “It was just that she went down there before he did and took a lot of those photos.”
Chief Norman admits that Henryetta has had a lot of problems with ticks at the pound. However, his department did not ignore the situation.
“Another statement she made to Fox (TV reporter) was the vet had given us some flea and tick spray that we were using. That’s wrong. I have the invoice where we paid $110 for tick spray for the pound back in May. He did not give us anything. We purchased it on his recommendation - and it has been used. We have pictures of the bottle where it has been used. But the ticks are bad. I don’t deny that. They are bad.”
The police chief is not happy with the deception surrounding the pound.
“Some of the statements they are making are just not true,” he said. “We do not go down there and euthanize animals. I don’t know where that came from. They also say we are unwilling to work with HART, which is not true. I brought that up with one member of HART. The City is responsible to pay to feed and water and pick up and clean the pound. And that’s what we do. I have logs where the animal control (officer) has gone down there and done those things. Those were provided to Fox (TV) and they reported that.”
To see improvements at the pound might take some help from local volunteers.
“If we could work out a deal where we had a hold-harmless agreement with HART and the city council was OK with it, maybe some of those HART volunteers would like to come down and check out the pound. If they feel like ‘well, I have the time, I’ll just go ahead to wash it out.’ If it not up to their standards, maybe they can volunteer to do that.”
Chief Norman is also upset over a recent incident in which he said a member of the Okmulgee County Humane Society went to his home and snapped photos of his house and of his 7-year-old son. Police later stopped the woman to question her activities. The unidentified woman provided an explanation that the police chief does not believe.
“I’m not buying what she was selling,” he said. “I know what she was doing because my 7-year-old ran in and told me! So it’s really hard for me now to try to come up with a plan, personally, with HART. I’ll let the council members do that.”
The disagreement over the conditions at the pound might have a simple solution.
“They would like a nicer facility,” he said. “But, unfortunately, that is the facility we have now. Their argument is that it has not been cleaned and the animals are not being fed and watered. That is just untrue. It may not be up to what their standards are. And when I brought that up to one member of HART, they immediately said “It’s your job - it’s not our job to do it. It’s our city tax dollars that pay for it.” I said I don’t disagree with that. It’s our job to feed, water and clean out those pens down there. However, if it is not up to your standards, maybe you would like to volunteer to come down and help to bring it up to whatever your standards are. However, you are going to have to understand that the city is probably not going to spend a ton of money down there. If you think it can be cleaned out a little better, maybe you’d like to volunteer to help clean it a little better. But it kind of is what it is. It is an outside facility and it is not climate controlled.”
In a related topic, Chief Norman said he is not upset with the coverage of the issue. His only concern is that it be fair and tell both sides.
“As long as you report both sides, that’s fair,” he said. “Just because someone makes allegations or has a picture, that doesn’t always tell the entire story. In something like this emotions run high and I’ve talked to several people about this. They don’t want any kind of explanation. Their only intention is to dramatize it as much as humanly possible. When I try to explain some of the things or produce some of these documents that show we are not euthanizing these animals, here are the receipts or invoices from Town and Country that show he has been euthanizing these animals, they don’t want to hear it. It is really hard to get those folks to understand that when they have no intention of finding out what the city’s side it.”
The topic will be addressed this week at the Henryetta City Council session, which is open to the public.
Jail altercation returns focus to overcrowding
Two inmates receive very minor
injuries while guard’s pants cut
Two Okmulgee County Jail inmates suffered minor injuries during an altercation on Sunday.
An officer was also assaulted during the incident. The officer’s trousers were cut - but he did not receive any injuries.
The altercation happened at 12:50 on Sunday afternoon. Officials believe it was due to chronic overcrowding at the facility.
The victims said one of the assailants was planning an escape. However, the claim has yet to be confirmed by investigators. Two homemade knives were recovered from two inmates at the time of the incident.
According to information from the jail authority, several inmates were involved in the altercation. The inmates who suffered the minor injuries did not require any outside medical treatment.
The names of the assailants and the persons injured in the altercation are being withheld at this time, pending investigation.
Galian Murphy (Chief of Security) will be conducting a full investigation of the specifics. Reports will be turned over to the District Attorney’s Office by Monday, August 19, 2013. It will be up to the DA to determine if the inmates will be prosecuted.
In a related note, Okmulgee County jail administrator John Martin spoke with the Okmulgee Times Monday afternoon about the incident. Martin shared some of his concerns with the overcrowding at the jail.
The total count was 313 inmates as of 8 a.m. Monday, August 12th. The jail was built was 154 persons. The State Jail Inspector allows 226 maximum.
Martin described the jail as being “grossly overcrowded.”
The administrator said the issue of overcrowding is not simple.
“I don’t know if people know how the overall system works,” he said. “As the jail, we don’t have complete control over who comes and goes. Not casting blame on anyone - but we are overcrowded and I’m doing all I can with the resources I was given.”
With the rise in crime, more people are being arrested and locked up in jail. The constant inflow is much faster than the release of inmates. The district attorney and judges are required to prosecute and sentence the criminals. Because the state prisons are full, many of the DOC inmates are being kept on county jails. They await openings in the state facilities - and those waits are becoming longer each month.
“We want to do everything to keep the public safe,” Martin explains. “As the administrator of the facility, my hands are pretty-much tied (and) so is the board of trustees. I just everyone to know that we are trying to do the best job that we can.”
Martin contacted each member of the Jail Trust Authority to inform them of Sunday’s incident. He is working to keep them informed of the situation.
He is also working with DA and “hopes we can get charges filed,”
He wants to see that 313-prisoner total drop dramatically. One method is to have the DOC and federal prisoners moved to the state intake center or other such location.
“We have 24 DOC contracts and 18 for the federal marshals,” he said. “Tulsa County had DOC problem with transporting. DOC was transporting around 13 (Okmulgee County inmates) during the month. That number is now down to about 5. One month they did not transport any.”
Martin provides a breakdown on their individual status:
• DOC Contract (separate from general population) - 24
• DOC Ready (Ready for transport to Lexington) - 29
• No J&S (cannot transport without J&S) - 11
• County Sentenced (24 flat time) - 56
• Federal Contract - 18
• Holds for Creek Nation, City of Beggs, Okmulgee, Dewar, Morris and Henryetta
Pre-Trial Detainees - 175
“This allows people to judge for themselves,” Martin said. “Some people think we have 300 contract inmates making a million dollars.”
The high number of prisoners has placed a heavy burden on the county jail funding ledger. That is a concern, along with the safety factor for the inmates themselves and the jailers who work inside the facility.
It has been almost a year since a representative from the Jail Inspection Division conducted an inspection of the Okmulgee County Jail. The OCJ inmate population was over their official capacity by thirteen (13) inmates.
The jail officials were put on notice that an action play was needed to solve the problem.
“You have sixty (60) days from the receipt of this notice to correct the deficiency,” the JID director warns in a letter dated Sept. 24, 2012.
The recommended plan of correction is due by Nov. 26, 2012.
According to the certified letter,“It is recommended that the facility attempt to reduce overcrowding by transferring inmates to another county jail if possible, use of ankle bracelets, bond reductions and early release program.”
Despite the warning, the state has taken no action to force jail standard compliance. The Okmulgee County Jail has continued to face an “emergency situation” due to a cronic overcrowding issue. The facility regularly exceeds the 226-inmate capacity.
County officials did huddle for a meeting to address the situation. There were discussions about the problem and how and why it happens. But there were no solutions found to end the overcrowding. Almost a year later, an incident unfolds involving inmates armed with homemade knives. Other inmates were attack and a guard dodged injury during a possible escape attempt.
Without a succesful jail population reduction plan, the next incident could lead to tragedy.