Jail overcrowding results in media tour
The doors to the Okmulgee County Jail were opened to the media this week by Director John Martin.
Numerous complaints have been made about the conditions in the jail facility . Martin allowed the media to take a tour to get a first-hand look at the chronic overcrowding at the facility.
The situation at the Okmulgee Jail mirrors the crisis facing many jails across the state.
The Okmulgee County Jail was built to house 154 people - with a maximum capacity of 226. Last Tuesday, there were 316 inmates housed in the facility.
"My biggest concern also is health issues,” Martin said. “ Lots of times we have people coming off the street. They might have staph, boils, scabies, and we have to get them cleared medically within 48 hours. If we have any type of outbreak, it spreads much more rapidly in an overcrowded condition.”
On September 22, a fight broke out in the very overcrowded jail. Inmates started a fire in one of the jail pods. Martin said mattresses were burned. The prisoners also broke glass and flooded their area in the barricaded units.
Jail employees used a Taser to gain control of one inmate, who was not identified. The county ambulance service also brought out one prisoner and transported him to the emergency room to be treated for smoke inhalation. It was unclear if this inmate was the same one who had been Tasered.
The Okmulgee County Sheriff’s Department tactical team went inside the jail at noon to get the prisoners back inside their individual cells. The lawmen were armed with non-lethal bean-bag guns and billy clubs.
The incident caused $10,000 in damage and blamed the chronic overcrowding. On that day, the jail held 323 prisoners.
Martin said they used a wall outlet along with toilet paper, writing paper, clothing and Bible pages to start the fire.
“There's supposed to be two per cell but there's, like you know, five or six in a cell,” a woman told the media following the disturbance. “People are sleeping under beds and in walkways; some aren't on mats but on the floor.”
"Remember, when we talk maximum capacity, that's not functional capacity,” Martin commented. “Just because we can hold that many legally, does not mean we function the way the facility was designed to function."
Martin said there's no funding to move inmates to another jail and pay per diem.
The media was allowed to speak with several inmates who aired their complaints.
James Tolbert has been in the jail for the last six months. He stated that the biggest problem is the overcrowding. The pods, built to hold about 26 people, now has as many as 70 persons crammed into the space.
He also complained about the food served.
“I have not had a hot meal since I’ve been here,” Tolbert said.
Carl Wayne Dawson also voiced similar complaints about the overcrowding, food portion size, broken showers, and not enough beds. Many are having to sleep in “boats” on the floor. Each inmate is assigned one mat and one blanket.
“I’ve slept on the floor for the last four or five months,” he said.
In the recent incident at the jail, several of the mats were destroyed but have been reordered. The inmates who set fire to their mats and blankets were without any until new ones arrived.
“And these mats are not cheap,” said Martin.
Also due to the overcrowding, it is hard to keep up with maintenance repairs inside the pods. Moving inmates around is difficult because there is no place to put them to conducted the needed work.
The media was allowed into the kitchen area. Staff and trustees worked around hot steam tables as they prepared trays for the dinner service. That day the kitchen had a meal that included spaghetti and cornbread.
"The jail is not responsible for the overcrowding,” Martin stressed, "We are not putting inmates in here and we are not the authority that can release them. Not only are the inmates having difficulty, but so are the staff.”
Neither the staff nor the budget has been increased to match the influx of prisoners at the jail.
Sheriff Eddy Rice also reminds citizens that the Okmulgee County Sheriff’s Office does not operate the jail.
“It is taken care of by a jail trust which oversees the jail. The sheriff’s office is just one member on a board and we all make the best decision that we can about the jail. There’s nothing we can do about the overcrowding other than working with the judicial circuit - judges, DA - and we cannot stop taking inmates. There is just no other place to house the inmates.”
There is some hope on the horizon. Citizens voted to build a jail annex near the current jail. However, the building will not be complete for at least 18 months to two years.
Driver hospitalized following rollover accident near Preston
A 20-year-old man has been hospitalized following a single-vehicle accident on Friday morning in Okmulgee County.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol identified the driver as Jacob Jones of Mounds.
The accident happened at 7:37 a.m. on U.S. Highway 75 - four-tenths of a mile south of Will Sampson Road.
Jones was alone in a 2006 Chevy truck at the time of the accident. His vehicle was south-bound and was travelling too fast in heavy rain. He lost control and departed the road to right before striking a guardrail. The truck continued south-bound before striking the guardrail two more times. The truck then overturned one complete time and came to rest on its wheels.
According to the report, the driver was ejected an unknown distance from the vehicle during the roll-over.
Jones was transported by Okmulgee County EMS to St Francis Hospital in Tulsa. He was admitted in stable condition with head, trunk internal, trunk external, arm and leg injuries.
The accident was investigated by Trooper Brian Costanza of the Okmulgee County Detachment. He was assisted by Trooper Brian Warren of the Okmulgee County Detachment and Lt Johnny Fairres of Troop B.
OMS library expansion unveiled
By HERMAN BROWN
Okmulgee Times editor
Johnny Whitfield did a million things to enhance education for the students at Okmulgee Middle School. The longtime principal was OMS’ strongest voice to school board members and the superintendent.
If the school needed something to better educate the children, Whitfield made sure officials down at 8th and Muskogee were aware of the situation.
Whitfield is retired now. However, his tireless efforts to improve middle school continue to be realized in 2014.
On Thursday, the former principal attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the OMS library expansion. He was joined there by current and former teachers and also current and former librarians – like longtime middle school librarian Linda Brydges.
Okmulgee Education Foundation president Mary Lewellen was on hand, along with Chamber of Commerce director Rob Robertson and the red-coated Chamber Ambassadors. School board members Mike James, Mark Tuggle, Marcus Jeffrey and Rod Wiemer were also in attendance on Thursday.
Superintendent Tod Williams welcomed the attendees to the mid-morning event. He then shared his memories of how the library expansion became a reality. Williams recalled visiting OMS to get Whitfield’s suggestions for bond issue funding. He wondered if the principal would want doors, windows and a roof and other general improvements.
“He looked at me like I was crazy,” William said.
Whitfield’s top priority for school improvement was an expansion of the far-too-small library.
“When we put one class in there it is full,” he told Williams.
Whitfield was adamant the bond proposal should include library expansion for the middle school. The superintendent toured the tiny space and immediately agreed. Whitfield’s suggestion was quickly adopted by the school board.
Voters later approved the bond issue to fund incredible improvements across the school district. Each project was important to improving the quality of education for Okmulgee students. But, if you ask John Whitfield, the expansion of the OMS library was one of the best projects. The modern new section of the library is a showplace in every way. It will accommodate a much larger group of students – and is state of the art with new book shelves, tables and chairs, Wi-Fi connectivity and charging stations for computers.
“This is just a great, great thing,” the superintendent said. He praised the citizens of Okmulgee for approving the bond to make the library expansion possible.
Whitfield echoed the comments of Williams.
“This is great,” the former principal said. Whitfield then saluted Linda Brydges, now retired, for all the work she did in the library.
Williams explained how the former librarian worked closely with the architect to incorporate the needs of the library into the plans.
“What do we need and how do we need it,” the superintendent asked the small library group. “They gave their ideas to David and he worked it out. You are looking at the end result right here.”
“It’s just really nice,” Mrs. Brydges said on Thursday. “It’s better than I thought it was going to be.”
The current OMS librarian, Courtney Norton, also shared her views about the modern new addition – which more than doubles the floor space of the library.
“I am very excited as everyone else is for what this space is going to do for our students,” she said. The librarian will seek to get more students “back involved in reading” in the modern new section of the library.
Elizabeth Berryhill also shared a few comments.
“I think it is going to be wonderful,” she said. “I think the kids are really going to enjoy it once we get all the little tweaks here and there. For me, I am very proud of it.”
Retired Okmulgee Elementary School principal Linda Moore also addressed the crowd. She said, in part: “This is truly exciting … this is such an environment for kids and such an opportunity …”
Mary Lewellen spent a full decade as a teacher at OMS. Now with the Okmulgee Education Foundation, she works with the foundation to assist the school district with so many contributions and donation. Of the library, she said “this is such a great, great, great addition. I am really tickled for Courtney and all the librarians that will use this facility. The education foundation, we are HERE for YOU!”
The OEF has bought many books over the years – and more recently bought a new set of books for the expanded library. The books are on order and will arrive in the near future.
Architect David Wong also spent a few minutes detailing how the project grew from a design to the incredible finished expansion. He thanked the school and the community for allowing him to participate in the expansion.
“We are investing back in our kids and learning is paramount,” Woo said. “I think it will be here for the next 20 to 30 years.”
The superintendent also recognized Beatrice Thompson, who helped with the design and the colors and other things in the project. She worked with the small team and the architect to get the ‘look’ right in the library.
“I am really excited I could be a part of this whole process,” she said. “I am glad you all love it and that it came together.”
OMS principal Brad Ferguson is excited to see this modern new library available for the students.
“I think it is awesome,” Ferguson said. “I think the faculty and staff are anxious to utilize the space. I think the students are anxious to get into the library. They have been patient. I know that this project is something everyone in this building has taken a lot of pride in and we appreciate the support of the board and the community in making the project happen.”
School board president Mike James also added his thoughts on the topic. He thanked the voters for approving the bond issue that funded this and other school projects. He also noted that he and other board members stand ready to support the facility and staff.
“If there is anything we can do, please give one of us a call,” he said. “I feel like we are a united board and we are working together and everything that we do we want to do is in the best interest of the children of Okmulgee. I just feel like that this (library expansion) is great. I was in here yesterday and I stuck my head in and I thought this was really nice. I want to say this was a long time coming … and we are not done making changes yet. We want to build up this school district. We are the largest school in the county and we want to be the school of choice. I just want to thank the staff and thank you for all the hard work you do. I also want to thank the Okmulgee Education Foundation for being generous – so generous and a supporting resource for the school district!”
The superintendent closed the ‘talking’ portion of the ceremony with some interesting news.
“We’ve already been looking down the road at our next bond issue,” Williams said. “We’ve already got a rolling list of things we know we’ve got to do on the next one … and things we want to do. Here in the next couple of months, the board is going to be sitting down. We’ll go through the big list to figure priorities 1 and 2 … what we need to do, what we have to do … and we can actually shoot our next bond issue, can vote our next bond issue this spring. In the next two months the board will be discussing that a little bit and making some plans, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they say let’s vote another bond issue this spring. I’m saying that first to this group right here because you guys are a core support for this community.
“The thing is: when you look at what we’ve been able to do in four years since we got that bond issue passed, my God what a difference we have made in the physical plant here in the Okmulgee Public Schools. And it is a blessing from God … it is a blessing from the community because they are the ones paying for it, but they’ve got to vote for it first.”
The superintendent is hoping to have broad-based support to help convince voters of the need for passage of the bond issue this spring. He mentioned the need to fix roofs, and to expand the band room at OHS, and to improve the dressing rooms for the softball teams at Bateman Park.
More information will be announced as planning take shape for the 2015 bond issue.
Creek Nation hosting 2nd Annual Indian Fall Festival Nov. 1
Native arts, crafts, sporting events, live entertainment, food vendors and cultural exhibitions are just a few things people will get to experience this year at the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s 2nd Annual Indian Fall Festival on Nov. 1 at the Claude Cox Omniplex.
The Indian Fall Festival, once a major event for Indian Country, was revived last year under the guidance of MCN Principal Chief George Tiger whose goal is to bring back its legacy.
There is plenty to offer at this year’s festival including a new feature for children of all ages. A “Kid’s Corner” will include activities and games, inflatables and face painting.
In addition, the Indian Fall Festival will, once again, host the 2nd Annual Frybread Championship Cookoff and the winner will receive $1,000 in cash.
If you have attended the festival in the past, no doubt you will want to come again. Please feel free to bring additional friends and family. There is no fee to attend and the festival is open to the public.
For more information, please call 918-752-8750 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or, visit creektourism.com.
Okmulgee Chamber to sponsor Candidate Forum
On Monday, October 13th the Okmulgee Chamber of Commerce is hosting a candidate's forum between Selina Jayne Dornan (D) and Roger Thompson (R) , who are vying for the Oklahoma State Senate, District 8. The meeting will be held at the Okmulgee Community Center, 7th and Kern, and begins at 6:30. There will also be a summary of the city proposition concerning the Council House Museum proceeds. Questions will be admitted from the floor. If there are any questions, please feel free to call the chamber office at 918-756-6172.
• Beggs to hold public meeting on trails grant
A meeting regarding a new park project at Beggs Public Schools will be held to discuss the Land and Water Conservation Grant and the Recreational Trails Grant Programs. The meeting is open to the public and will be held at the Beggs High School Cafeteria on October 28, 2014 at 6:00 pm.
• Okmulgee Schools Parent/Teachers Conferences Monday-Tuesday
Parent/Teacher Conferences will be Monday, October 13th and Tuesday, October 14th from 4:00-7:00 P.M.
The Local Angle - October 12th
By Herman Brown
A lot of people talk about supporting our children and our local schools.
Some back up their talk with actions and deeds. For too many people, however, those words are just rhetoric.
I attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday morning for the Okmulgee Middle School library expansion project. It was a reminded of what wonderful things can be accomplished when the public steps up to support a school bond issue.
The voters did an incredible thing a few years ago when they approved that bond issue. OMS students will benefit from the improvement for years to come. So, today, I want to once again thank the citizens of this community for voting to fund this and the other worthwhile projects. But, make no mistake, there is more to be done to bring our beloved Okmulgee Public Schools to the level of excellence our children deserve.
In a related item, I can not begin to express my appreciation to the generous people on the Okmulgee Education Foundation. These folks have done a great deal to enrich and enhance the educational experience of the children in this district. They have funded so many classroom projects or needs over the years. They have also provided finances to send students on field trips that would be impossible otherwise to enjoy.
Mary Lewellen is the president of the OEF. She also attended Thursday’s ribbon-cutting event. She was discussing the foundation’s recent donation to the middle school library to purchase a bunch of books. Mary invited the educators to make requests to the foundation for their projects. Not only did Mary INVITE the teachers to ask for funds, she URGED them to do so.
Okmulgee is so blessed to have an organization like the Okmulgee Education Foundation. The OEF’s sole goal is to improve the education experience of the local students. These folks don’t just talk the talk. They also walk the walk!
• Hometown heroes
Okmulgee is a better place to live because of ... The Okmulgee Education Foundation! See the column above to learn a little about what a wonderful group these OEF is.
If you know someone who should be as one of our Hometown heroes, please call the Okmulgee Times newsroom and give us the information.
A service of celebration of the life of Jimmy L. Moshier will be held 11:00 A.M., Monday, October13, 2014 at the First United Methodist Church in Okmulgee. The service is under the direction of the McClendon-Winters Funeral Home with the Reverend Brian Matthews and Reverend Ed Wingfield officiating.
Mr. Moshier passed away October 8, 2014 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Jim was born on August 19, 1933 in Morris, Oklahoma to Earl and Mary Moshier. On July 20, 1956 Jim married Shirley Lenox. Together they made their home in Okmulgee County.
He graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelors and Masters in Education. He serves in the National Guard and United States Marine Corp. He worked 22 years as a teacher and Associate Director of OSU Okmulgee before retiring in 1986. Jim was a longtime member of the Okmulgee First United Methodist Church.
In his years of service to his community, Jim served on the Salvation Army Board, President of Rotary Club, various Educational Boards, Teacher of the M and M Sunday School Class and many committees of the Okmulgee First United Methodist Church.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Dewey Moshier and his sister, Margaret Wingfield.
Jim is survived by his wife of 58 years, Shirley Moshier; his son Ron Moshier and wife Jean of Tyler, Texas; daughter Cheryl and husband Kevin Rea of Morris, Oklahoma; grandson John Randall Pickett and wife Heather of Richardson, Texas; granddaughter Ashley Bruce and husband John of Norman, Oklahoma; grandson Andy Rea of Tahlequah, Oklahoma; two great granddaughters Patton and Payne Pickett of Richardson, Texas; and many friends, nieces and nephews.
Jim was a loving husband, father, grandfather and faithful friend. His love of God was evident in his daily life. His family brought him much joy and laughter. He was surrounded by his family when he passed from this life into Heaven. He will be forever in our hearts.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the First United Methodist Church of Okmulgee or Morris.
Memories, condolences, photos and videos may be shared with the family on Jim’s Tribute Page of our website at www.mcclendon-winters.com
STEVE DALE MINK
Steven Dale Mink, 55, died October 8, 2014 in Tulsa. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 2 p.m. at the Biglow’s Chapel of Peace (Okmulgee).
Arrangements are under the direction of the Keith D. Biglow Funeral Directors, Inc.-Okmulgee Chapel.
Nathan Wilson, 57, died October 8, 2014 in Okmulgee. Arrangements are pending with the Keith D. Biglow Funeral Directors, Inc.-Okmulgee Chapel.
Robert Manual, 87, of Okmulgee, died October 9, 2014 in Tulsa. Arrangements are pending with the Keith D. Biglow Funeral Directors, Inc.-Okmulgee Chapel.
ROYCE DEAN FINLEY
Royce Dean Finley, 71, a resident of Morris, passed away Tuesday, October 7, 2014 in Muskogee. He was born July 21, 1943 in Boynton to the late Arthur Bailey and Ines Elizabeth (Cazy) Finley. Royce joined the United States Navy on July 13, 1962 and was honorable discharged August 12, 1966. He married Barbara Sue Jacobs on April 28, 1966 in Okmulgee. Royce retired from A & B Distributing in 2005 after 35 years. He enjoyed fishing and hunting and after retirement Royce spent much of his time helping his son at Cane Creek Energy Partners by pumping wells. He was preceded in death by his parents, a brother, Archie Finley and two sisters, Naomi Robinson and Annabelle Keys. Survivors include his wife, Sue Finley, of the home, a son, Bob Finley and wife Sheila of Morris, grandchildren, Justin, Jeremy and wife Heaven, Stephanie and Collin, great grandchildren, Matthew, Jacob, Blake, Shane, Riley and Addison, sisters, Edith Whitfield of Oklahoma City and Jan Riggs and husband Ronald of Guthrie and numerous nieces and nephews. A funeral service will be held 2:00 P.M. Monday, October 13, 2014 at the Calvary Baptist Church with Reverend Richard Manning officiating. Interment will follow in the Morris Cemetery. Casketbearers will be Nelson Reeder, Brian Jones, Ben Schons, Gary Carnes, Bobby Joe Swayze and Dan Boydston. Arrangements are under the direction of the McClendon-Winters Funeral Home of Okmulgee.
Memories, condolences, photos and videos may be shared with the family on Royce’s Tribute Page of our website at www.mcclendon-winters.com
LISA GAY WITTMAN
Lisa Gay Wittman, lifelong Okmulgee County resident, passed away at the age of 55 on Wednesday morning, October 8, 2014 at her home in Nuyaka. Lisa was born April 8, 1959 in Okmulgee to the late Marvin Dale and Hazel Marie (Boren) Coleman. Lisa graduated from Okmulgee High School and was raised in the First Christian Church. She married Tommy Wittman on April 30, 1977 in Okmulgee. Lisa had worked for many years at Kimberly-Clark as a line operator. She was a faithful member of the Nuyaka Baptist Church where she was dedicated to the church youth and enjoyed the time spent at Falls Creek. In earlier years, Lisa was also active in the Nuyaka Riding Club. Lisa’s greatest joy was her grandkids and the time she spent with her family.
She was preceded in death by her parents, brother, Jack Owen Coleman, father-in-law, Jimmie Wittman and a nephew, Ace Harper.
Survivors include her husband, Tommy Wittman, of the home, a daughter, Amy Price and husband James of Nuyaka, two sons, T.W. Wittman and wife Kristen of Coweta and Kyle Wittman of Nuyaka, grandchildren, Morgan, Andrew and Melissa Price and Ethan Thomas Wittman, sisters, Karen Sue Tracy, Sarah Kay Wasson, Myra Jane “Button” Kerns and Cassandra Marie Coleman, all of Okmulgee, her mother-in-law, Wanda Wittman, numerous nieces and nephews and Lisa’s extended church family.
A funeral service for Lisa will be held 10:00 A.M. Saturday, October 11, 2014 at the Nuyaka Baptist Church with Reverend Jarrod Kendall officiating. Interment will follow in the Okmulgee Cemetery. Casketbearers will be Paul Telemchuk, Paul Walker, Kyle Grimmett, David Hostetler, Dustin Ivins and Gary Canaday. Honorary casketbearers will be her grandsons, Andrew Price and Ethan Wittman. The family will receive friends Friday evening from 6:00 P.M.-8:00 P.M. at the McClendon-Winters Funeral Home Chapel. Memorial contributions may be made to the Nuyaka Baptist Church in Lisa’s memory.
Memories, condolences, photos and videos may be shared with the family on Lisa’s Tribute Page of our website at www.mcclendon-winters.com
BETTY JEAN MALY
Betty Jean Maly, longtime Okmulgee resident, passed away Friday morning, October 10, 2014, she was 84 years of age. Betty was born January 15, 1930 in Okmulgee to Charles and Velma (Rolston) Walker. She married Ted Maly on June 14, 1969 in Okmulgee. Betty was raised at Crosstown Pentecostal Church and later became a member at the First Assembly of God Church of Okmulgee and was a faithful member to the women's ministries. Betty also enjoyed traveling and taking cruises. Betty used her time painting pictures, quilting and enjoyed walking. She loved the Christmas holiday and spending time with her family and grandkids. Betty worked at Ball Brothers for several years, then at Montgomery Ward, and she retired from East Central Electric.
Survivors include her husband Ted Maly of Okmulgee, sons Dan Hensley and wife Eleanor of Choctaw, Victor Maly and wife Patti of Williston, Florida, Dennis Maly and wife Robin of Yukon, and Doug Maly and wife Crystal of Okmulgee, daughters Sheryl Dobbs and husband Ron of Oklahoma City, Regina Hensley of Arcadia, Becky Coffman of Moore, Karen Sheets and husband Steve of Yukon, and Barbara Hammer of Sand Springs, sister Lyne Horton and husband Ronnie of Tulsa, and Virginia Schwartz of Portland, Oregon. Grandchildren are Travis Tucker, Tyler Hensley, Thad Hensley, Tennille Hensley, Chris Sheets, Bryan Shelby, Ben Shelby, Megan Marshall and Melissa Johnson. She is also survived by numerous great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents Charles Walker and Velma Lee (Rolsten) Walker, step-mother Marie Walker and a grandson Michael White.
A funeral service will be held at 2:00 P.M. Wednesday, October 15, 2014 at First Assembly of God Church with Reverend Raymond Doke officiating. Interment will follow in the Okmulgee Cemetery. Casket bearers will be Dan Hensley, Doug Maly, Steve Sheets, Paul Brown, Harold Glenn, and Ronnie Whorton. Honorary casket bearers are Doe Rucquoy, Maudie Harrington, Mattie Jane Perkins, Linda Bond, Sharon Martin, Mary Sue Wright, and JoAnn Glenn.
Family will receive friends Tuesday, October 14, from 6 to 8 P.M. Arrangements are under the direction of the McClendon-Winters Funeral Home of Okmulgee.
Memories, condolences, photos and videos may be shared with the family on Tribute Page of our website at www.mcclendon-winters.com
OSUIT partners foundations to assess and enhance mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention programming
OSU Institute of Technology has announced that it is joining The Jed and Clinton Health Matters Campus Program in support of student well-being and mental health. The program is designed to help schools prevent the two leading causes of death in young adults according to the Center for Disease Control— unintentional injuries, including those caused by prescription drug overdoses or alcohol poisoning, and suicide.
OSUIT is among the first 55 schools to join The Campus Program, which is designed to help colleges and universities assess and enhance mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention programming. Participating schools make a four-year commitment to work with The Campus Program to evaluate and identify opportunities to augment these activities on campus.
The Campus Program provides schools with a framework for supporting student mental health, as well as assessment tools, feedback reports and ongoing technical assistance from The Campus Program team. Membership in The Campus Program demonstrates OSUIT’s commitment to promoting emotional well-being and improving substance abuse and suicide prevention programming for all students. The Jed and Clinton Health Matters Campus Program grants a membership seal to all schools that participate in the program.
Dr. Ina Agnew, vice president of student services at OSUIT, said professional organizations like the National Institute for Mental Health are finding students entering college are displaying higher levels of stress, anxiety, eating disorders and other issues, and OSUIT is no different.
“Becoming a part of The Campus Program enables us to access best practices in serving students, potential resources, and opportunities for professional development,” Agnew said. “By identifying ways to strengthen our services, students benefit by having the support and resources they need to cope with the challenges they face while in college. The university benefits from serving students, potentially helping some remain in college who might otherwise drop out.”
The college years are the age when many mental health issues first manifest, and it can be a time of significant stress and pressure, said John MacPhee, Executive Director of The Jed Foundation.
“The Jed and Clinton Health Matters Campus Program helps schools by working with them to survey everything their university is doing to support their students’ emotional health, and find practical ways to augment these efforts in a comprehensive way,” MacPhee said. “We believe that the implementation of a campuswide approach to mental health will lead to safer, healthier campuses, and likely greater student retention.”
OSUIT’s membership in The Campus Program begins with university officials taking a confidential, self-assessment survey on the school’s mental health promotion, substance abuse, and suicide prevention programming. When completed, survey responses are reviewed by The Campus Program team in comparison to the program’s framework—a comprehensive set of recommended practices. Schools then receive customized feedback and suggestions for enhancements, as well as direct support with their planning process. All survey responses and feedback reports are confidential.
"We are thrilled to announce that OSUIT is among the first group of schools in the nation to join The Campus Program and to celebrate them for their recognition of mental health as an essential element of student education, development and maturation,” said Rain Henderson, CEO of the Clinton Health Matters Initiative.
For more information on The Campus Program, visit www.TheCampusProgram.org.
Training workshop prepares Okmulgee's
volunteer literacy tutors for challenges
The new Okmulgee Literacy Council is hosting a free workshop to help volunteer tutors provide one-on-one assistance to adults seeking to improve their reading skills.
Nathan Cross, Volunteer Coordinator for the Council, said the ten-hour training will be held in two parts on October 25 and on November 8. The workshop will give the volunteers the information and materials they need to be successful literacy tutors. In addition to the scheduled workshop dates, there will also be a brief one-hour orientation on October 18 beginning at 9:30 a.m. to acquaint the volunteers and the community with the program.
Available data suggests fifteen percent of Okmulgee County adults over age eighteen may be struggling with reading.
"Imagine if you couldn't read." Cross said. "What would your life be like if you couldn't understand the words in a newspaper, a book, or an instruction manual? What if you weren't quite sure what was written on a medicine bottle or on the warning label?"
Many communities in the state have volunteer literacy councils, but the program that was once available in Okmulgee fell by the wayside many years ago. "It's time to revive it here," Cross said, "especially since the ability to read, write, comprehend, and compute is more critical than ever in our technology-driven economy and culture and has nothing but a positive effect on the entire community.
"One-on-one tutoring has proven to be a successful way to help adults who want to learn to read or learn to read at higher levels.
The training is co-sponsored by the Okmulgee Public Library and the Oklahoma Department of Libraries with Federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Massey's Bar-B-Que is sponsoring lunch during the October 25 workshop.
According to Leslie Gelders, Literacy Coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, "Functional illiteracy is tied to many social challenges including poor health, unemployment, underemployment, and even incarceration. Individuals with literacy challenges face everyday difficulties in reading such things as job applications, advertisements from local businesses, and even sharing a book with a child."
Gelders said more than 3,000 adults were tutored throughout the state last year. ((For many, improving basic reading and writing skills changed their lives."
“We look forward to changing lives in the Okmulgee area," Cross said.
The training will take place at the Okmulgee Public Library located at 218 S Okmulgee, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
To register for the tutor training or to find out about the new literacy program, contact the Okmulgee Public Library at (918) 756-1448.
Creek Nation announces four 2014
MVSKOKE Hall of Fame Inductees
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation proudly announces the 2014 inductees into the 3rd Annual MVSKOKE Hall of Fame, and this year’s inductees include an actor, journalist, community activist and Olympic athlete.
Inductees will be honored at the MVSKOKE Hall of Fame Induction Gala, which is set for Saturday, October 18 at 7 p.m. at the RiverSpirit Event Center, located at 8330 Riverside Parkway in Tulsa.
The MVSKOKE Hall of Fame induction requires that the individual must have brought recognition to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation or have made outstanding contributions to the quality of life and development. The inductee’s achievements may be local, national or international in scope. The hall of fame ceremony took the place of the Living Legends ceremony that was held in previous years.
This year’s Muscogee (Creek) inductees are:
William ‘Sonny’ Sampson Jr.: a full-blood Muscogee (Creek) citizen, who was best known for his work in the motion picture industry for his roles in films such as ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ ‘The Outlaw Josie Wales,’ ‘White Buffalo’ and many others. Sampson also appeared in several television series, documentaries and stage productions.
Peggy Berryhill: A Native American broadcaster and journalist honored for her work in bringing the authentic voice of Native Americans, Indigenous people, women and other minorities in public broadcasting.
Eli Grayson: A retired interior designer and homebuilder. He served as president of the California Muscogee (Creek) Association from 2005 until 2013. Eli’s personal goal as president was the difficult task of uniting all Mvskoke citizens living in California. He believes that our differences made us more interesting and stronger. He worked alongside Ken Taylor and others to bring Mvskoke culture and history to Creeks in California.
The MCN is also recognizing an honorary inductee into the MVSKOKE Hall of Fame this year:
Billy Mills: He is a citizen of the Oglala Lakota tribe, and was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Billy was orphaned at the age of 12 and sent to boarding schools. He graduated from high school at Haskell Indian School. Billy became involved in distance running and earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Kansas and was a three-time All-American in NCAA Division 1 cross-country. After graduating from the University of Kansas, Billy was a Commissioned Officer in the United States Marine Corps and continued training for the Olympic Team. He made the Olympic team in two events, the marathon and the 10,000-meter run. He trained his body, mind, and soul for "Peak Performance." The world witnessed the Greatest upset in Olympic history when Billy won the gold medal in the 10,000-meter race.
"It’s always a special and momentous occasion when we recognize our tribal members who have distinguished themselves and represented Creek Nation,” Principal Chief George Tiger said. “In addition, we will have a special recognition/induction of Billy Mills, a Lakota Sioux, on the golden anniversary of his triumph in the 10,000 meter gold medal win in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Personally, I feel he should be a member of all Tribal nations Hall of Fame. More importantly, the event raises funds for the Muscogee Creek Nation Higher Education Scholarship Foundation and Tourism and Recreation."
The MVSKOKE Hall of Fame Induction Gala offers the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Indian Country and the local community the ability to honor inductees at a black tie and traditional clothing gala.
Okmulgee School board to convene Tuesday
A presentation and public hearing on the 2014-2015 financial budget for Okmulgee Schools will be held before the regularly scheduled session this Tuesday.
The board will meet at 5:45 a.m. for the presentation. The regular school boad meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the Administration Building located 8th and Muskogee in Okmulgee.
Agenda items for consideration during the regular meeting are:
A. Vote to approve contract for Career and Technology Education Programs for the 2014-2015 school year.
B. Discussion and vote to approve adopting the Estimate of Needs as approved by the County Excise Board as the final budget for FY 2015.
C. Discussion, consideration and action regarding declaring as junk / surplus, several old football jerseys. These will be sold as fundraiser items if approved.
D. Discussion, consideration and action regarding the need for a computer server system upgrade, a quote from RoseRock Technologies for a virtual platform, and the goal of engaging a single domain administered via Active Directory for the district – Presentation by Dawn Mowdy.
E. Discussion, consideration and action regarding the need for a content filter computer upgrade, and a quote from Untangle Technologies. – Presentation by Dawn Mowdy.
F. Discussion, consideration and action regarding an update to the 2014 – 2016 Gifted & Talented Local Advisory Committee.
• Discussion, consideration and vote to go into executive session
A. Discussion and vote by Board regarding the employment of Support Staff for the 2014-2015 school year:
a. John Reed – Bus Driver/Maintenance
b. Chance Brown – Paraprofessional
c. Michelle Johnson – Paraprofessional
d. Rachel Scott – Paraprofessional
e. Betty Brinkley – Paraprofessional
f. Brent Scott -- Extra-Duty Coaching: JV/9th Grade Football
g. Fran Colley -- Substitute
B. Discussion and vote by Board regarding the employment of Certified Staff on temporary contracts for the 2014-2015 school year:
a. Joyce Brown -- 5th Grade Teacher on temporary contract
C. Discussion and vote by Board regarding the resignations of the following staff:
a. Katherine Harnden
b. Susan Campbell
After a return to open session the board will take action on the executive session items.
‘Dawes Commission’ preps for DC performances
By HERMAN BROWN
Okmulgee Times editor
Bob Hicks has spent the last two years turning his story idea into the script for a stage play - and later a movie.
The ultra-talented writer and director penned ‘The Dawes Commission’ in 2012. The story is a tribute to Native Americans and their desire to retain their rich tradition and culture. The federal government applied intense pressure on Muscogee Creek citizens in an attempt to convert them to a life like the white men. The Dawes Commission was the agency tasked with that controversial mission.
Bob Hicks first brought this historic saga to life in 2013 in the form of a stage play. He has since partnered with the Muscogee Creek Nation to transform the story from paper to film.
The Dawes Commission was filmed over a six-day period ending on Saturday, May 24. The next phase was the post-production process, which concluded in September.
“It came in at 38 minutes and 54 seconds ... because I could not exceed 40 minutes,” explains Hicks.
The Berryhill family farm west of Okmulgee was the home to most scenes. However, two other locations were used - both within a mile of the farm.
The director was pleased with the performances of his six actors and the small crew that completed the project.
“I was (pleased) ... but the audience will tell you whether they like it or not,” he said. “As for the actors, I think the fact that they performed (first) on stage really helped them. They were not intimidated by the camera and they went about their business like they knew what they were doing. They really had honed their characters by the time the camera was rolling.”
Hicks put together an excellent crew to bring the story to life. It started with assistant director David Mueller. The important job as the cinematographer was handled by James West. The audio (sound) director was Jana Lopez.
“Those were the main ones,” Hicks said. “I had people assigned to them to watch and learn (those duties). And I had a lady coming in as the script supervisor.”
Okmulgee was home to the film’s production office. Hicks rented office space on North Morton next door to Torbett Printing. The staff and crew opened shop in April and worked there until early October.
“After we wrapped (filming), I brought in the editor from California and he was here for three months cutting the film. When he cut the rough cut it was still 48 minutes ... and we had to cut at least 8 more minutes for sure (to get in under 40 minutes).”
The editing process is sometimes painful for the director and the editor. Decisions must be made to reduce the run time of the film to a certain time. In this case, the director was more willing to make the cuts than the editor. The task was to eliminate 8 to 10 minutes from the 48 minutes they had of scenes.
“I had to fight the editor because I was willing to cut but he didn’t want to,” Hicks recalls. “There was a big scene we had with the little girl and I said we can chop that whole thing off. That’s about 3 minutes right there because we have already explained in exhibition what that’s all about, so we don’t need to see it. But he said it was beautifully shot and everybody’s going to love it and we can cut in other places.”
The editor won out over the director and the scene is included in the film.
“We finally got it down so we can keep it,” Hicks said.
The editor completed his work in early September. That pushed Hicks to the next phase of the production.
“After we got the final cut, we had to send it out to California to convert into a format for the movie theater. But when we got it there, we had some sound issues. We had to have it re-mixed again, and luckily the editor lives there so it was easier for him to go over there to do it. Then we had to do some re-coloring too. My eye was on the calendar because we had to have it on their desk (Oscar submission office) by 5 O’clock on Oct. 1.”
The film must be shown on three consecutive days at a commercial movie theater to qualify for the Oscar process. On Sept. 30, the film editor went to the LA area movie theater and picked up the film. He delivered it directly to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences on Wilshire Blvd. The final step came on Oct. 1 when official documents were presented to the Academy to prove ‘The Dawes Commission’ met the qualifications to be considered for an Oscar nomination.
“Our film is in the ‘Short Live Action” category,” the director said. “We’ll be competing against everybody - Germany, Ireland, and everybody else. It’s international (competition) and our film is a small-budget (film) but some of them (in this category) have $1 million budgets.”
Will Bob Hicks’ little movie be an Oscar finalist? The Okmulgee resident won’t know for more than three months.
“January 15 is when they’ll make that announcement,” the director said. “It’s historic because no native tribe has ever done something like this. It’s like the Chickasaws are getting ready to do a feature ... but they went outside (and hired cast and crew and a production company). Here, the Creeks did it within themselves.”
The film was to be shown this weekend (on Saturday) in the movie theater at the Riverwalk Crossing in Jenks. The director planned to be on hand with cast members to meet the audience and to offer a question-and-answer session after the 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. showings.
In a related note, the cast of ‘The Dawes Commission’ has revived the stage show this fall. In fact, the group will present the play twice at Oklahoma City University on Oct. 25, at the Orpheum Theater in Okmulgee on Nov. 1, and possibly for the Chickasaw Nation citizens in Ada on Nov. 8.
Hicks said the performances in Oklahoma will be used to perfect the play prior to the Nov. 12 trip to Washington D.C. They will present ‘The Dawes Commission’ four times during a two-day period. The play will be hosted by the Smithsonian Institute in the nation’s capital.
“We’ll perform on Saturday and Sunday,” he said. “We’ll do two performance both days.”
Once the group returns to Okmulgee, Hicks will ‘retire’ from the play.
“I’ve been dealing with this thing for two years,” he said. “I know when I come back, that’s it for me!”
Hicks will be eager to turn to his next project. However, he will look back with pride and fond memories about an idea that turned into a script, and then a play, and finally a film.
In mid-January, he’ll see if ‘The Dawes Commission’ is a finalist for an Oscar.
October 3, 2014
Officer Sanders responded to a Motor Vehicle Accident in the area of 6th & Muskogee. Faith Gasaway (59) was cited for Disobey Traffic Signal.
Officer Sherman was dispatched to Dollar General in response to a Shoplifter. Demaria Yock (51) was cited for Petit Larceny.
Officer Sanders responded to a Motor Vehicle Accident in the area of 8th & Porter.
Officer Sherman was dispatched to the area of 20th & Oklahoma in response to a truck in the ditch.
Officer Sanders responded to the Creek Nation Medical Center to take a report of a Dog Bite.
Officer Sanders was dispatched to the 100 Blk of E. 4th in response of a Suspicious Subject. Neal Foltz (53) was arrested for Public Intoxication.
Officer Bean responded to the Walmart Parking Lot in reference to a Motor Vehicle Accident.
Officer Spears was dispatched to the 1200 Blk of E. 8th in response to a Disturbance. Jason Smith (22) was arrested for Public Intox.
Sgt. Fuqua responded to McDonald's in reference to a Fight in Progress. A report of Assault was taken.
October 4, 2014
Officer Sherman was dispatched to the 2500 Blk of E. 4th to take a report of a stolen bicycle.
Officer Sherman responded to the Cato's Parking Lot in reference to a Motor Vehicle Accident.
Officer Sanders was dispatched to Walmart in response to a Domestic Disturbance.
Officer Sherman responded to Dollar General in reference to a Shoplifter. Dana Moore (44) was arrested for Larceny of Merchandise from Retailer, Possession of CDS, and Public Intox.
October 12, 2014
Sgt Fuqua was dispatched to the area of 8th & Wood in response to a Disturbance. Jason Smith (22) was arrested for Public Intox, Resisting Arrest, and Assault and Battery on a Police Officer.
Officer Harkrider responded to the 700 Blk of MLK in reference to a Domestic Disturbance.
Sgt. London was dispatched to the 2500 Blk of Old Morris Hwy in response to a hit and run that cause property damage.
October 6, 2014
Sgt. London responded to the 300 Blk of N. Miami in reference to a Peeping Tom. A stalking report was taken.
Officer Blosch was dispatched to the area of 4th & Central in response to a female lying in the roadway. Jessica McBride (37) was arrested for a felony warrant out of McIntosh County.
Officer Cantrell conducted a traffic stop in the area of 10th & Taft which resulted in an arrest. Gerald Deer (35) was arrested for DUI and Transporting Open Container-Beer.
October 7, 2014
Officer Blosch was dispatched to Ausbrooks to take a report of stolen dealer tags.
Officer Harkrider responded to the area of 4th & Grand in reference to a Motor Vehicle Accident.