Okmulgee Primary and Okmulgee Elementary School to
celebrate International Walk to School Day on October 8, 2014
Okmulgee Primary and Okmulgee Elementary School will join schools from around the world to celebrate International Walk to School Day on October 9th.
Approximately 200 students from Okmulgee Public Schools will be walking and rolling to school along with parents, teachers and community leaders.
The event will begin at 7:15am. Okmulgee Primary Students will start at the Brock Gym parking lot and the Okmulgee Elementary Students will start at Red Francis Park.
Walk to School Day events raise awareness of the need to create safer routes for walking and bicycling and emphasize the importance of issues such as increasing physical activity among children, pedestrian safety, traffic congestion and concern for the environment. The events build connections between families, schools and the broader community.
For additional local information, please contact Tammy Smith at 918-758-2030
McClendon excited about film premiere
Once ‘average’ student enjoying incredible career in stage and film
By HERMAN BROWN
Okmulgee Times editor
David McClendon will attend this weekend’s Southern California Film Festival in Huntington Beach. The Okmulgee native is on hand for the premiere of his short film ‘El Camino Real.’
McClendon directed the drama which stars Dahlia Waingort, Rey Gallegos and Stephanie Erb.
“It’s a short film for preparation - and now I am in pre-production for a feature,” the director said. “It’s the same story, but expanded. Hopefully, we’ll begin shooting in the next nine months or so.”
McClendon’s ‘El Camino Real’ tells how Elena (Dahlia Waingort) makes the fateful decision to leave her husband and one child to travel to Mexico to be with her dying father.
“Being undocumented, she is forced to make her way back across the border to the U.S. as best she can … unaware that out-of-control wildfires block her path home.”
The script for the film is based on a true story that happened in Southern California.
“In 2007, there were wild fires along the border (of California and Mexico). After the fire went away, they found 11 bodies. Nine of those bodies were undocumented workers. It’s loosely based on the story of one of those. She’s a woman – she and her husband had lived in San Diego for a dozen years. They raised their children. She had gone across the border (to California to live) and came back (to visit her dying father in Mexico).”
The woman was trying to slip back into California when she died with 10 others in the wild fires.
“In doing research for this, we learned there is a subculture in our country. I am not talking about the people you see standing by the box stores looking for work. There are people that are in the schools with our children. They live in the neighborhoods.
“In this film, there is a couple who has lived here 10 years and they are raising their children who don’t even speak Spanish. As good Americans, they are involved in their church and school. But the only difference is that they are undocumented and the documents they do have are false. Her father is ill and we believe Edward James Almost is going to play the dad. So we are very pleased with that. He’s an artist and is dying. So she (his daughter) and her son who is 10 go across the border to be with him in Baja, Mexico. It’s the first time (back to Mexico) since she left. So her son is exposed for the first time to this rich, wonderful culture. Certainly it is clear why everyone goes down there.”
Once the father passed away, the son is helped across the border and back into California.
“He can do it legally because he is an American citizen,” McClendon explains. “Their best friends, who are Caucasians, help him across the border. She, on the other hand, has to hire a coyote – a human smuggler – to take her across. So they get across the border but they get trapped by the fire.”
Those attending the film festival will see the powerful story at a time when the issue is in the headlines on a daily basis.
“It’s very much a love story,” he said. “It’s not a political movie. So, what do we do (as a nation about the undocumented living in the shadows)? These people are already here. And they are participating (in the American way of life).”
The film was shot in LA, San Diego and in rural areas of San Diego County.
El Camino is the Spanish word for ‘the road.’ The key crew members include David McClendon as Director/Producer with the screenplay by Jennifer Silva Redmond and Russel Redmond. Carmen Cabana is Cinematographer and Robert Mark Morgan is Production Designer. The Editors are Kern Saxton and John Rosenberg and the Executive Producer is Pat Thomas.
From the ‘it’s a small world’ department, the Casting Director (Ricki Maslar) is a long time friend and former college classmate of McClendon from his St. Gregory days in Shawnee.
Maslar is known as the Queen of indie (independent) film casting. She has a resume that is a mile long and always growing. She even cast her buddy, David, for a film once upon a time.
“I did a hideous movie many years ago that she got me involved in,” he said – too embarrassed about the project to share the film’s title.
McClendon and Maslar were recently reunited for the El Camino Real project. It happened in an interesting way.
“When I was doing this film and I was still out in Colorado, I ask a friend of mine who I should get as a casting director. He said ‘Ricki Maslar.’ So Maslar cast the short (film) and she’s doing the feature. She is one of my best friends ever! We had classes together at St. Gregory’s and she played my wife in a play. As a matter of fact, I dated her roommate. Now, all these years later, we are working together again.”
The director recently returned to Okmulgee to attend his Class of 1969 class reunion. The trip gave him a chance to see many of his lifelong friends. It also provided an opportunity to reflect on the community that helped to shape him into the man he is today. McClendon remembered his high school days and some of the lessons he learned while a student at OHS. It was, in many ways, a launching pad for the career he has enjoyed.
“I was certainly first exposed to Arts while being here,” he said. “One of the biggest influences I had was Floyd Moyer, the music teacher who taught us about the power of art … and then Howard Hudson (the English, Speech and Drama teacher). If it hadn’t been for him … There’s an old Zen proverb that states: When the student is ready, the teacher appears … and I have been blessed in that respect. Whether it be Moyer; whether it be Howard Hudson; that they see something and you as a person are ready to absorb what they have. And then you go on to the next thing.”
McClendon was in the percussion section of the OHS band. This also turned out to be a life-long gift from OHS.
“I played drums,” he said. “I still do as a matter of fact. It’s good therapy. I continue to have them up in my study.”
“And working with Hudson, you learn about the power of language and imagery and that sort of thing. They prepared me pretty well for college, although my poor sister who came after me … Mr. Henry Hudson used to use me as an example of someone in high school who was pretty average. Once I got to college, I was on the Dean’s List and that sort of thing. Then, literally, the world open to me in college!”
“Still talking about Okmulgee, one of the things I’d have to say, being here this past weekend for our (Class of 1969) reunion … probably you find particularly in any profession, but certainly in mine, yes you prepare yourself, you train, you work hard, but you have to make yourself the best you can be because nobody does the work the way you do it. There are people smarter. There are people more talented and more gifted. But one of the things I got out of Okmulgee and particularly the way we were raised with our mom and dad was once I got into the professional world – this world of working with people that I had seen in movies and TV, but the key was I could get stuff done. There was that sense of honor and truth that we learned here, that doesn’t exist very much in other parts of the world.”
McClendon remained mostly in the background during his high school years. He was there and he was learning … but he was never in the spotlight in plays or high-profile performances.
“There was nothing that I’d say ‘boy, wasn’t I swell,” he explains. “I was average. I was absorbing. Probably one of the things that I learned most was (with) Hudson, we did all these contests (around the state). So we were all over the place and therefore we worked very hard and had to learn things.”
The experience prepared him for the success in college. After graduation, McClendon followed the family tradition of attending St. Gregory’s College in Shawnee.
“I went first to St. Gregory’s because all of our family went there before me. I was the last in the line to go there.”
McClendon then moved on to the University of Oklahoma in Norman.
“Going into undergraduate school, I really didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. I didn’t really say ‘OK, this is going to be my life’ until my junior year.”
He was motivated to take that career path by two things.
“Well, A it felt good ... B, there were those profs at OU, particularly, that said ‘you can do this!’ They encouraged (me) and made me aware of what it would take if I did want to do it.”
McClendon was told of important programs that would be critical to success in his field.
“You are not finished,” he was told. “Once you are finished of what OU has to offer you; you need to go on and study and mentor with professionals. There was a consortium of professional training programs done with Yale and other schools and Ohio was one. I went to several of them and interviewed and got a sense of it. There was a guy named George Sherman who had been a Broadway director and stuff. The program was at Ohio and I decided to go there. As a result of that, we were exposed to all kinds of people. There was a guy named Craig Noel, who was artistic director at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, which one of the most prominent theaters in the world, actually. I listened to him and said ‘that’s the guy. That’s where I am going to go!’ This was my second year of a 3-year program. So I wrote him and contacted him and I ended up going there after graduate school. I ended up staying there for a dozen years and became the associate artistic director for the place.”
During his time in San Diego, McClendon worked on numerous incredible projects.
“We did American Playhouse,” he recalls. “We did certainly major theater working with major actors. It was a very prolific and busy time.”
After rehearsals on Sundays, McClendon would ‘catch the red eye’ flight to New York City to conduct Monday auditions. He was looking for actors for the theater in San Diego.
“On Monday night, I’d be back on a plane to the West Coast to begin rehearsals the next morning. So, there were many years of that kind of wonderful excitement.
“After that, I started doing free-lance … and during when I was at the Globe, as well. I worked all over the place. One of the benefits of that time was in my work you can pretty-much live anywhere you wanted that has an airport. So my wife and I decided we wanted to move. We always loved the Rocky Mountains. So we bought a few acres up in the Rockies to raise our children. We lived there for 18 years until they were out and on their own. As a matter of fact, we just sold the place about a year ago. Now we are living in LA.”
McClendon remains a very happy and a very busy man.
“I continue to do a lot of theater,” he said. “I also teach.”
His new passion is filmmaking. In fact, he has launched his own production company - ‘Work With Me Films.’ He came by the name in an honest way.
“Forever – I mean going back to probably OU – I always, as a director, I would say (to his actors) “just work with me, please! Please - just work with me! It probably really started when I was a kid here in Okmulgee.”
A friend was very familiar with McClendon’s often-used phrase. He suggested it would be an appropriate name for McClendon’s production company.
The Okmulgee native is working with some talented people in LA.
“As a director, I love working with people that can do things you can’t do- whether they be designers or composers or certainly actors or cinematographers,” he said. “I have put together an incredible team. Collaboration is the key, just as long as you are smart enough to collaborate.”
Just Work With Me Films has several films in development stages. The staff will move forward with those scripts as well as turning ‘El Camino’ into a full-length feature film.
There is a chance McClendon might film one of his future projects in Oklahoma – maybe even right here in Okmulgee.
“There are projects that we have that could be shot here,” he said. “One we’ve been working on takes place in a small town at a funeral home. It comes from all those years I was in undergraduate school and I would come and sometimes help out (at the family’s funeral home in Okmulgee).
The script would spotlight some the characters that would go through the funeral home. Big brother Jimmy might have to make room for little brother, David, if the project becomes a reality. And Okmulgee might have another link to Hollywood and the movie industry.
As for McClendon, he is walking the red carpet this weekend and enjoying the spotlight at the film festival. Howard Hudson may have been right about him all those years ago. But this once average student has developed into one of the great success stories to come out of Okmulgee High School.
For More Information:
Visit David McClendon’s production company web site at:
You can watch the trailer for ‘El Camino Real’ and also learn more about the Okmulgee native’s company.
From Preston to Preston ... with love
Superintendent Mark Hudson delights boy with surprise gift
By HERMAN BROWN
Okmulgee Times editor
Preston School employee Cassie Jones recently received an e-mail from the school web site. A woman in Colorado was writing in hopes of obtaining a school spirit t-shirt for her son.
“Hello... my name is Jamie and my son's name is Preston,” the mother wrote. “On a recent Google search for all things 'Preston' your school's website came up as well as your spirit shirts. It just so happens that pirates were one of his first loves, and to some degree 10 years later, still are. I was wondering if I could purchase one of your spirit shirts even though we live in Aurora, CO. If so, I'd happily pay for the t-shirt and shipping. I like the orange style in Youth XL. Please let me know if this request can be fulfilled.
Cassie sent the e-mail to Preston superintendent Mark Hudson.
“I forwarded it on to Mr. Hudson because he was the one doing these particular shirts” she said. “I wasn't sure what his idea was to fulfill this request; we've never had one of these before. But I knew he would handle it.”
The superintedent showed he has a kind heart. He honored the request and sent off a package to Jamie Thomas and her son, Preston. And he did so for free - as a gift to a special young man out in Colorado.
Jamie Thomas was shocked and thrilled when the gift arrived at her home. She quickly fired off a message to the superintendent. Here’s what the newest fan of the Preston Pirates had to say:
“First of all, thank you again for sending my son, Preston, your high school's mascot t-shirt. Boy, were we surprised when we opened the package and found a very nice hat, too! After reading your letter, I was speechless that I had been talking with the Superintendent of Schools about ordering a t-shirt and that you then sent it as a gift to my son ... all because of 'Preston'.
He is proudly wearing his t-shirt and hat - which he proceeded to wear all night and wants to wear to school again today. He kept saying to me "Mom, I love it!”
“I've also shared with my family and friends on Facebook as I thought it would ring 'close to home' for those who live in a small town in northeastern Colorado called Otis, my husband's hometown. It sounds very familiar to Preston with around a population of 500, one elementary and high school (GO BULLDOGS!), one gas station, one stop light, bank, Mom's cafe and SITO (OTIS spelled backwards) Truss Company. Most of my husband's family and friends work at these places and both of his parents are retired and still living in Otis, as well as his sister and her family, so we visit often. His mom was a school teacher at the high school for 30 or 35 years!
“Your generosity in this situation has proven that small town values do exist - and that people do still go out of their way for little acts of kindness. Believe me that I will continue to share this story with everyone I know.”
Jamie posted this heartwarming story on her Facebook page - for all her friends to see.
"I had stumbled upon Preston, OK while surfing the web a couple of weeks ago and found this high school's website... Preston Pirates. Hmmm... I know a 10 year old boy who would love this t-shirt!
“I contacted the school via email and received a phone call from a gentleman (Mark Hudson) letting me know that he'd be happy to send me a t-shirt but had to order them first and that he'd call me when they came in. I got another phone call from Mark earlier this week for my address. When I asked how much I owed him for the shirt and shipping, he said nothing and that he wanted to send this to my son as a gift.
“Reading through the letter, I noticed the name and position in the upper right-hand corner, as well as the smile on (my) Preston's face. My faith in humanity has been refilled. Shout out of thanks to Mark Hudson for fulfilling this wish and 'GO PIRATES’!"
Ironically, the Thomas family passed through the area in early June. They were on the way to a wedding in Arkansas. This was months before the Colorado family formed the new bond with Preston.
“We stayed a night in Sand Springs and then headed towards Fort Smith via Muskogee,” the mother said. “Should we travel your way again, we'll definitely stop!
Jamie also shared her family’s feelings about the Preston superintenent.
“Mr. Hudson has the biggest heart I've met in a long time,” she said.
For Cassie Jones, this little story has a sweet ending thanks to her boss reaching out to a family he has never met. He made that little boy’s day with those gifts.
“Needless to say, I was just as moved as these people were,” Cassie said. "Administration and teachers can get so discouraged with budget cuts, A-F Report Cards, and testing. I'm proud to be from a place that can put those issues aside for a moment and really show the heart of a small school and community."
The Google map indicates Aurora, CO and Preston, OK are 712 miles apart. However, Jamie Thomas might tell you these communities are a whole lot closer - thanks to the friendly gesture by Superintendent Mark Hudson.
The Local Angle
By HERMAN BROWN
Okmulgee Times editor
Donna Craddock came rushing into the editorial department with exciting news.
“Ronnie hit his first home run,” she said.
My colleague from our advertising department was talking about her baby brother, Ron Gardenhire - the shortstop of the New York Mets.
The date was June 30, 1982. The previous night, Gardenhire stroked a two-out two-run home run off of Expo pitcher Ray Burris. That initial blast came in the seventh inning at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.
“You’ve got to put something in the newspaper,” the proud sister insisted.
I was the sports editor at the time, so I dug up all the details and wrote my first Ron Gardenhire story.
I have written many more ‘Gardy’ articles over the last 32 years. In fact, it seems I’ve penned something on the Okmulgee native after each major milestones of his career. Donna Craddock made sure of that! She has always been Ronnie’s biggest promoter.
“Ronnie’s doing great as a manager,” Donna told me back in 1990. “You need to do something on him!”
That request (demand?) led to me writing about Gardy leading the Orlando team to the AA playoffs - for which he won the Co-Manager of the Year award in the Twins minor league organization.
Within a couple of months, I was writing about Ron’s promotion to the Major Leagues as the third base coach. That came on Nov. 14, 1990.
A year later, I wrote about our local hero when the Twins won the World Series over Atlanta in 7 games.
In 2001, the Okmulgee High School graduate (Class of 1975) managed the Twins for nine games while Tom Kelly took leave to be with his ill father. This was the first indication of how respected Gardy was in the Twins’ front office.
The most enjoyable article I wrote about Ron came on Jan. 4, 2002 when he was named the manager of the Minnesota Twins. I was invited to participate in a national teleconference for Ron’s first press conference as the manager. I didn’t really know what to expect from him in such a stressful event. However, he did an incredible job of charming reporters with his wit and wisdom. I could not have been more proud of his ‘performance’ during that press conference.
I came up with an idea in March to charter a bus to Kansas City for Ron’s first game as a manager. I purchased about 60 tickets from KC for the season-opener - and then offered
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them to Okmulgee fans to come support our favorite baseball guy. Mayor Gary Kelley rode along and presented Ronnie with a “Ron Gardenhire Day” proclamation prior to the game.
The City of Okmulgee later honored Gardy by renaming a street in his honor. The road leads down to Bateman Park, where Ronnie played his high school baseball.
I’ve had a front-row seat to so many Ron Gardenhire moments. One of my favorites was when Ronnie called me to ask a favor. He wanted me to come over to Ralph’s Barber Shop to snap a photo of him with Ralph and the two Kovarik boys. He was leaving town that day and needed a couple of color prints of him and the Kovarik trio.
“Can you get the prints back to me right away?,” he asked. I assured him I could have them there in just a few minutes.
Ron sat in the barber chair and his friends and fans stood behind him for the photo. I took the picture and rushed back to my office to make the prints. He returned to the barber shop minutes later and gave him two copies. Ronnie autographed one copy for Ralph for the barber shop.
I found out later why he wanted the second photo. He insisted his three dear friends at the barber shop autograph it for him. He took that photo back to Minnesota and hung it on the wall in his office. It’s a safe bet he’s the only baseball manager with an autographed photo of three barbers on display in his office. What he was saying with this act was that these friends were every bit as important to him as he was to them.
Ron Gardenhire left Okmulgee long ago to make his mark in the baseball world. But, not in all those years, did Okmulgee leave him. He often told national media about being that regular guy from little old Okmulgee, Oklahoma.
That is what is so refreshing about Okmulgee’s best ambassador. He was proud of his Okmulgee ties and never tried to be anything but the man he is.
The people in Minnesota love him just as much as the folks back who live in the 74447 zip code. That included Twins owner Jim Pohlad - who said the following:
“He connected with me and our family way more than any single person in our entire career as owners of the team. He's just a special guy. He's loved. He's loved by us.”
I couldn’t agree more, Mr. Pohlad. Okmulgee feels exactly the saw way.
A few days ago, I wrote my latest article on a Ron Gardehire milestone. It was about the September 29, 2014 decision to remove him as manager.
It may have been my latest - but surely not my last. I can not wait for the day when my phone rings and Donna Craddock is on the other end of the conversation. I’m guessing it will sound something like this:
“You’ve got to put something in the newspaper,” the proud sister will insist.
There are more Ron Gardenhire chapters to write.
I’ll be honored one of these days to report on the hiring of this wonderful man to manage another Major League team.
Okmulgee is blessed to have such a stand-up guy to proudly call this place home.
Please turn to Page 5A for more about Ron Gardenhire’s career.
• Hometown heroes
Okmulgee is a better place to live because of ... Robert ‘Bobby’ Hardridge. This man has dedicated much of his adult life to service to others. He put on a military uniform to defend our nation. He came home and protected us as a Okmulgee fire fighter. He has served on the Muscogee Creek National Council and currently serves on the Okmulgee County Commission.
If you know someone who should be as one of our Hometown heroes, please call the Okmulgee Times newroom and give us the information.
OSDH Monitoring Ebola Situation in Dallas
No Immediate Threat Exists To Oklahoma Residents
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is reassuring the public that no immediate threat exists to Oklahoma residents from the Ebola case confirmed at a hospital in Dallas. At this time, the case is isolated and transmission of the disease cannot occur without direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected patient. OSDH officials will continue to work with hospitals and provide up-to-date communication, guidance and tools to ensure the safety and well-being of citizens.
Since the Ebola epidemic escalated in West Africa this summer, the OSDH began communicating status updates and CDC guidance to Oklahoma healthcare providers and hospitals.
"We will continue to work with medical providers and hospitals regarding the use of screening procedures to rapidly identify any potential cases of Ebola virus disease to ensure that appropriate infection control procedures are implemented", said Dr. Kristy Bradley, State Epidemiologist. “These are the same procedures that hospitals are prepared to use on a daily basis.”
As part of the state's public health emergency preparedness program, Oklahoma's hospitals have been putting measures in place to handle a variety of emerging infectious disease threats.
"We are confident that our healthcare system can effectively respond to a case of Ebola virus disease. The case in Texas is a reminder to hospitals to review and exercise their plans", said Bradley.
Governor Mary Fallin reminded Oklahoma residents that they should not be concerned about traveling to Texas or making any changes to their normal daily routine.
“I am confident that health officials in Oklahoma have taken appropriate precautions and are prepared,” said Fallin. “We need to remain vigilant to the threat of Ebola, but there is certainly no reason to panic.”
Bradley stated that in the event a suspected case of Ebola is identified, the OSDH will rapidly assist in shipping specimens to the CDC for laboratory testing, ensure the patient is isolated, and begin tracing of close contacts that may have been exposed to the infected person. Ebola is a serious disease, but modern healthcare infection control practices and the standard public health procedures routinely used to control other serious infectious diseases will contain Ebola.
For more facts about Ebola, please visit www.health.ok.gov
JOAN LEE (TYLER) FULTON
Joan Lee (Tyler) Fulton, born September 30, 1933 in Houston to Arthur Edwin and Hattie Lee Tyler, entered the gates of Heaven on the wings of angels and butterflies, on Wednesday, September 3, 2014, in Okmulgee, OK.
Joan is survived by her husband of 60 years, Charles Edward Fulton, sister Faye L. (Tyler) Cross and numerous nieces and nephews in the Willis and Montgomery areas. Joan is also survived by many Fulton family members in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.
Joan attended high school in Willis, graduating in 1952 and stayed in contact with many of her high school friends.
Joan was always a free spirit, living her life the way she wanted. Joan loved to laugh and always saw the funny side of everything. The messes she would get into would make everyone laugh.
She loved playing dominos and cards, watching Andy Griffin, movies and having popcorn and coke with a chocolate bar.
She loved to sit in her swing, morning, noon or evening with coffee and iced tea and was always ready to sing a song. She could sing. Joan will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her and loved her.
She leaves a huge hole in our hearts.
Joan's family held a private celebration of Joan's life.
BENNIE RUTH DELONIA
Bennie Ruth Delonia, 78, retired school teacher, a resident of Okmulgee, OK. died Thursday, October 2, 2014.
Arrangements are pending with House of Winn Funeral Home.
Frances Louise Dunagan
Frances Louise Dunagan, 88, of Okmulgee passed away on Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014 at Highland Park Manor in Okmulgee.
She was born on Nov. 29, 1925 in Okmulgee to Sam and Nola (Mitchell) Martin.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 8 in the chapel at the McClendon Winters Funeral Home.
Young Actors Take the Stage in Okmulgee
A Review for the Times
Young Okmulgee-area actors took to the stage and wowed the audience at a show presented Thursday evening at the Rowe Family life Center at the First Methodist Church. Actors ranged in age from 6 to approximately 14. Roles appropriate for the age of the actor were assigned, and a cohesive cast was the result. Their teamwork would rival that of the best sports teams.
Versatility was demonstrated, as the show was mostly dialogue, but they also sang a little and danced a iittie. No one lost character, and no one forgot a line, or if they did, it wasn't obvious. Applause was enthusiastic.
On the technical side, the young actors took care of their set changes, their props, their costume changes, and their lighting. Curtain calls were styled like those in professional theatre. No adult assistance was needed to present the show.
Okmulgee's young actors performed like Broadway professionals. Director of the group is Ms. Kirsten Jackson.