OKLAHOMA CITY –There is only one week left for Oklahomans who sustained damages from the May 5 through June 22 storms to apply for state and federal disaster assistance.
Residents and business owners in the 45 counties approved for Individual Assistance have until August 26 to seek assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
The designated counties are Adair, Atoka, Beckham, Bryan, Caddo, Canadian, Carter, Cherokee, Choctaw, Cleveland, Coal, Comanche, Cotton, Delaware, Garvin, Grady, Hughes, Jefferson, Johnston, Kiowa, Latimer, Le Flore, Lincoln, Logan, Love, Marshall, Mayes, McClain, McCurtain, McIntosh, Murray, Okfuskee, Oklahoma, Okmulgee, Ottawa, Pittsburg, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Pushmataha, Rogers, Seminole, Stephens, Tillman, Tulsa and Wagoner.
To date, more than $47.5 million has been provided to Oklahoma disaster survivors. This assistance includes $16.9 million in funding for disaster related housing needs and other disaster related expenses, more than $19.9 million in SBA loans, and more than $10.6 million in payments to policyholders with the National Flood Insurance Program.
SBA has issued 1,546 applications for low-interest disaster loans to homeowners and businesses. More than $18 million has been approved for homeowners and more than $1.8 million has been approved for business owners rebuilding after the storms.
There have been more than 10,720 total registrations for assistance. There are several ways to register for assistance. Call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. Or go online to www.DisasterAssistance.gov using a computer, tablet or smartphone.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.
The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) prepares for, responds to, recovers from and mitigates against emergencies and disasters. The department delivers service to Oklahoma cities, towns and counties through a network of more than 350 local emergency managers.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/femaregion6 and the FEMA Blog at http://blog.fema.gov.
The public is invited to hear State Auditor Gary Jones who will be the featured speaker for the Tuesday, September 8, meeting of the Okmulgee County Republicans.
In addition to being the State Auditor, Gary is a former State Chairman of the Republican Party. He was also the whistleblower who helped the FBI bring down a group of very corrupt state politicians several years ago.
Gary has a unique perspective of the cost of government and what can be done to dramatically lower costs. From that perspective, Gary will explain his proposal that Oklahoma adopt a new format for our state government that could save millions of dollars annually.
It's a proposal that stirred quite a desire for debate at the June Republican State Committee meeting. We invite you to be one of the first outside of Republican State Committee members to hear about the idea that will ruffle so many legislators' feathers.
The September 8 meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the OSU Student Union Building. OSU is located at 1801 E 4th Street in Okmulgee.
Pursuant to the Notice of Regular Meeting properly filed and posted as required by law, a regular meeting of the Board of County Commissioners of Okmulgee County was held August 10, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. in the County Commissioners Office at the Okmulgee County Courthouse. Present were Robert Hardridge, Chairman; James Connors, Vice-Chairman; Ron Ballard, Member. Becky Thomas, County Clerk, was present to take minutes.
The Board approved the minutes of August 3, 2015. Motion, Ballard; Second, Connors. Vote: Ballard, yes; Connors, yes; Hardridge, yes.
The Board approved the monthly reports for the following: Sheriff’s Office for the month of June 2015; Election Board for the month of July 2015. Motion, Ballard; Second, Connors. Vote: Ballard, yes; Connors, yes; Hardridge, yes.
The Board approved the following Blanket Purchase Orders:
Mack Truck Sales, TCR
Auto Zone, B-2
The Oil Pit, Sheriff’s Service Fee
O’Reilly Auto Parts, Sheriff’s Service Fee
Brown Printing, Court Clerk Revolving Fund
Motion, Connors; Second, Ballard. Vote: Ballard, yes; Connors, yes; Hardridge, yes.
The Board approved the following Utility Permit:
ONEOK Gas Transportation, for gas line in District #1
Motion, Ballard; Second, Connors. Vote: Ballard, yes; Connors, yes; Hardridge, yes.
The Board approved the surplus of 2014-2015 Fiscal Year Highway monies to the 2015-2016 Fiscal Year as follows: Highway Cash Personal Services, $5,241.88; Highway Cash Maintenance & Operations, $6,569.02; County Bridge & Road-105 Fund, $29,106.17; CRT Highway Fund, $14,330.09; TCR Highway Fund, $10,200.82. Motion, Ballard; Second, Connors. Vote: Ballard, yes; Connors, yes; Hardridge, yes.
The Board approved the Tower/Ground Lease Agreements with Frosty Towers, Inc. and TEAM (Tower Erecting and Management) for the County-wide digital radio and repeater system. Motion, Ballard; Second, Connors. Vote: Ballard, yes; Connors, yes; Hardridge, yes.
The Board approved the reimbursement claim for expenditures of the District Attorney’s Office for the month of July 2015, in the amount of $1,988.51. Motion, Connors; Second, Ballard. Vote: Ballard, yes; Connors, yes; Hardridge, yes.
The Board approved the reimbursement claim for the Election Board Secretary’s salary for the month of July 2015, in the amount of 3,101.07. Motion, Connors; Second, Ballard. Vote: Ballard, yes; Connors, yes; Hardridge, yes.
The Board approved the payment of the following claim: P.O. #481 to the Twin Hills Fire Department out of the TCR Highway Fund, in the amount of $12,400.00. Motion, Ballard; Second, Connors. Vote: Ballard, yes; Connors, yes; Hardridge, yes.
The meeting adjourned at 9:19 a.m. with a motion by Connors and a second by Ballard. Vote: Ballard, yes; Connors, yes; Hardridge, yes.
A three-car auto collision on Main Str. in Okmulgee ended with a busted storefront door windows at a local business.
According to the Okmulgee Police, one vehicle hit another, vehicle two, that ended up striking a third vehicle that was a black Chevy Avalanche and pushed it into a a set of double doors busting the glass panes at Ausbrook’s Used Cars.
The driver of vehicle the second vehicle was transported to the hospital and it is unknown the extent of their injuries. The accident is still pending investigation for the cause of collision.
Photos by Paul Orosco - ONN
This past Tuesday night the Okmulgee County Republicans held their regular monthly meeting with Pam Pollard, President Oklahoma Federation of Republican Women as the special guest speaker.
Pollard spoke about "The Politics Surrounding Israel - The Real Story". Pollard recently returned from a trip to Israel with a group hosted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The group toured not only religious sites, but other areas impacted by the Palestinian conflict, including an Israeli hospital close to the border. They were also briefed by an Israeli General and a member of Parliament and many came away with a different perspective of the situation in that area than what the U.S. media portrays.She relayed very informative facts and showed interesting slides about Israel.
She said, "...her purpose was to understand Israel's right to be a nation." She said there are many political issues and life is sometimes difficult in thist deeply religious historical country.
She said she saw first hand and became educated about the religious Israel and Historical Israel.
Pollard told the group that the Israelis have an advanced robust defense system in place such as their "Iron Dome."
"The youth at age 18 are required to join the military and there are no exceptions for them not to join," said Pollard. "There is always a military presence around the borders."
You want to be an entrepreneur? Well, let’s get started! Potential small business owners will benefit from “Entrepreneurship Basics Series,” a four-part series to provide basics for establishing a business. The September event will take place Thursday, September 10th from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at the We Watkins Technology Center, 7892 Highway 9, Wetumka. Registration is $15 per person and participants may register online at www.reiwbc.org.
The first workshop in the series will help you answer these questions: Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? Will your idea work? How do you get started? Participants will work through the characteristics necessary to become a successful entrepreneur. Other discussions will focus on business structures, financials and registering your business. Additionally, tips will be shared on how to write a business plan, which is essential in getting a business off the ground and growing.
Presenters will include John Blue, Manager, Indian Business Development, Muscogee Creek Nation; Julie Stovall, Vice President, First United Bank, Holdenville; and Christina Culver, REI Women’s Business Center Coordinator.
“This is your opportunity to learn about approaches for starting a business and whether or not it’s right for you,” said Christina Culver, REI WBC Coordinator. “We are here to help guide you and you won’t want to miss this unique workshop!”
Running once a month from September through December, others topics in the series will include:
· Marketing Your Business
· Introduction to Digital Marketing
· Funding Options and Financials for Start-Ups
Event partners include Wes Watkins Technology Center, Okemah Chamber of Commerce, OSU Extension, Henryetta Chamber of Commerce, and REI Women’s Business Center, funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
For more information about this event, call Christina Culver at 800-658-2823. In addition, visit www.reiwbc.org or facebook.com/REIWBC for a calendar of upcoming trainings.
Photo by Paul Orosco - ONN
Ryan Olson has a mission when he left Okmulgee on Saturday. From Coney Island, New York to Long Beach, California, the Columbus Ohio native is attempting to walk 2800 miles, coast to coast. The goal of Olson is to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Olson, who has asthma, states that walking coast to coast has always been a dream of his, a “poor man’s Mount Everest, if you will”, but decided that if he was going to do it, why not do it to the benefit of others. “I do have asthma, so if I had chosen the American Lung Association, that would have felt a bit self serving, that I was doing this for my own cause. So while I wear my breast cancer awareness bracelet, donate my hair to locks of love, I chose MDA because it felt, well, I am using my muscles for those who can not, it felt like it just made the most sense,” states Olson.
Olson will begin his 100 day journey in Coney Island, New York, a destination he will be reaching after a two day Greyhound Bus ride. Olson is currently residing in Okmulgee and working at the Dollar General in Beggs. The goal is to cover 28 miles a day, for 100 days, following a route that will lead him through the Great Plains and into the west, crossing near the Grand Canyon, a ‘must see’ stop for Olson.
As for his food and lodging, Olson states that he is budgeting himself to no more than 10 dollars a day and plans to do a lot of camping.
“The kindness of strangers is my best plan but I have been packing this pack for 3 months and I have it narrowed down to what I need and what I don’t. I’ve gotten good at stretching the basics and my dollar,” says Olson of his day to day plan.
In that pack, a laptop, a video camera, and a digital camera to document his journey. Olson will be posting daily videos to his YouTube Channel as well has his Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat accounts.
This is not Olson’s first attempt at a long distance walk, he completed a trial run from New York to his hometown of Columbus, Ohio where he covered approximately 800 miles in just 21 days.
To follow his progress, visit his Twitter - @FeetofEndurance, his Instagram - pedestryan, or his Snapchat - pedestryan. To donate to the Muscular Dystrophy Association or to his journey, visit gofund.me/yppt5n8
Photos by Paul Orosco - ONN
The Okmulgee Public Schools Board of Education met on Tuesday, August 11, for a regular meeting. Tod Williams, Rod Wiemer, Mike James, Mark Tuggle, and Marcus Jeffrey were all in attendance. Item A on the consent agenda was the consideration of the minutes of special meetings held on June 26, June 30, July 13, July 16, and July 23. All minutes were approved by the board. Item B was the consideration of monthly encumbrances/expenditures including General fund purchase orders and payroll, building fund purchase orders, child nutrition fund purchase orders and payroll, Bond Fund(F31, 32,33, and 35) purchase orders. All purchase orders and payroll were approved by the board of education.
Item C was the consideration of School Rental Requests, the first being that of the rental of Harmon Stadium to the OJF on September 5, 2016. The request was approved. Item G was the discussion, consideration, and vote regarding the renaming of the activity fund designated “Senior Class of 2015” to “Freshman Class of 2019”, which was also approved.
School reports list included the Superintendent’s report, Gifted and Talented report, and a program report for the Okmulgee School Band.
Supt. Williams began the report with a special thanks to Second Baptist Church for providing breakfast for staff and faculty on the first day of school. Williams also gave the preliminary numbers for the first few days of school, stating that the Okmulgee Primary school had 456 children, 314 in the Elementary, 289 in the Middle School, and 403 in the High School, a total of 1,462, a number which is expected to increase in the coming weeks .
Williams also spoke on a new City Grant, Safe Routes. This grant is in the beginning stages and Williams states that the end goal will hopefully be more sidewalks leading to the Okmulgee Schools. Meetings for this grant will begin in the upcoming weeks.
The bond issue that had been passed in March was also touched on, stating that in March the District had zero smart boards. The bond money was used to provide every classroom within Okmulgee Schools a smart board as well as backup bulbs and equipment in the case of burn-outs.
Next up was the report from the Gifted and Talented Summer Program. The elementary program averaged 20-25 children with a focus on science. The group participated in tours of OSUIT, including their prosthetics department and a trip to the Chesapeake oil and natural gas program. During the children’s time at the prosthetic department, the children got to experience the feeling of wearing a prosthesis as well as cast an impression to display how the limbs are modeled. “OSUIT has been very willing to help and provide for our gifted and talented students. We have many students that began with this program in the third grade, have continued with us, and are now in the eighth grade. Trips to OSUIT are part of the reasoning behind that,” states Renee Dove, who also spoke on the middle school gifted and talented program. “There were not as many participants as the elementary program, but we had a steady and consistent group of 7. These children are the future of Okmulgee and we tried to engage them by creating a survey of the oldest businesses in the area, asking them ‘How can we improve Okmulgee?’”.
Rusty Helms, band director of Okmulgee Schools, gave the report on the middle and high school bands. The Okmulgee Band has been upgraded to a 4A in competition and is currently sitting at 80 members in beginning band, 50 in seventh grade, and 40 in the eighth grade band. Instruments that had been sent off to be cleaned have been returned, as have the uniforms that were on loan from Durant. The band will now be using brand new uniforms with a red, black, and white design, with the full band in red and black and the drum major sporting the full white uniform. Helms hopes to debut the uniforms at the first home game of the football season. Uniforms were purchased by the bond funds that were passed in March, as well as the construction of a new state of the art band room. A smart board has been installed in the band room as well and new technology allows students to record themselves and let Helms listen to their progress from home. New instruments were purchased to enhance the band as well provide the children without the means of purchasing a new instrument to still participate in band. It was announced that the 3rd annual BullDog invitational will be held on September 26 at Harmon Stadium. Area bands have been invited to compete in this invitational against the Okmulgee Bulldog band. Helms also announced plans for a trip to Orlando, Florida from April 5-11, that will include Disney World and a trip to Universal Studios.
Next up was the Action Agenda, item 4A, the consideration of accepting and granting transcript credits to students successfully completing academic programs through Green County Technology Center for the 2015-2016 school year. This item as approved by the board, as was item B, the consideration regarding authorization to utilize the 1080 instructional hours option in lieu of the traditional 180 day calendar for 2015-2016, and Item C, an update to support personnel paydays. The update is for support workers who are paid for hourly extra work. These workers will now have 3 days to submit their time sheets and their pay will be received within 10 working days, rather than the end of the month.
The Board discussed utilizing ProvidaStaff as a service contract vendor for Fiscal Year 2016. ProvidaStaff will provide a speech therapist for Okmulgee Schools. Williams stated that this is the first time in eight years that a staffing company would be used as Okmulgee has been successful having qualified applicants for these support positions. This item was passed by the board with all members voting in agreement. Item E was the discussion, consideration, and possible action to consider the services of Barlow and Associate for consultations of school finances and other matters for the FY 2016. Williams recommendation was that a conference call be had with Barlow and Associates to discover the objectives of the company and vote once a proposal was made. The board also voted in favor of this suggestion.
At 6:49, the board voted to enter executive session to discuss multiple items including resignations, coaching and other duties, employment of certified staff, and employment of support staff for the FY 2016. The resignations of Pocahontas Meyer, Marcia Pinkston, Jennifer Mason, and Clayton Vaughn were all accepted. The employment of certified staff, including Michael Crosby, Hillary LeDoux, Aaron Wilson, and Kirk Ruth was also approved. Crosby will be taking the position of OHS Social Studies/World History, LeDoux will be an OPS Second Grade teacher, Wilson will be employed as a teacher in the virtual classroom, and Ruth will be the newest OMS math teacher. Support staff includes Chetoya Johnson for OHS Para/Multi Class and Ivan Pedigo as bus driver.
Item 8 on the agenda was the discussion of new business. It was recommended that FUND 804 be renamed OEF Project Support instead of OHS Youth Alive and FUND 886 be renamed District Leadership Team instead of OHS Flower Fund. The meeting was adjourned at 7:59 p.m.
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me (Matthew 25:40). Thus set the tone for Tuesday's Lions Club meeting with Christie Baldridge, Executive Director for Deep Fork Community Action Foundation, Inc. When most of us think about social service agencies, we tend to think about programs for the poor, but this is not entirely a true picture now. Of course, growing up as a kid, all of my friends were poor, we just didn't know it because we were all in the same boat.
Christie came to Okmulgee in 1997 from Boulder, Colorado via Southeastern Oklahoma State University (Durant), where she was a scholarship student on the Rodeo Team as a team roper. She has a degree in Psychology and a degree in Business Administration. She briefly worked for the Police Department before going to work for the Creek Nation for five years. Six years ago, she was hired by Deep Fork and has risen through the ranks to her present position of Executive Director, which she has held for the past 2 1/2 years.
Deep Fork Community Action Foundation, Inc. (DFCAF) exists today as a direct result of the Federal Economic Act of 1964, and is a successful part of the "War on Poverty" initiated by President Lyndon Johnson. The agency was created as a single county program covering Okmulgee County in January 1966. In 1968, DFCAF grew to include McIntosh County. In 1983, Hughes and Okfuskee Counties also merged with DFCAF through the direction of the Department of Commerce. Hughes, McIntosh, Okfuskee, and Okmulgee Counties now form the base service area from which Deep Fork Community Action Foundation draws its members for its Board of Directors.
Fifty years in operation, DFCAF is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization with 18 employees at four county offices. DFCAF is monitored annually by each of the major funding sources that pay for the programs operated by DFCAF. Some of the programs are: Housing; self-help housing; weatherization program; emergency solution grant, assisting those that are homeless or almost homeless; Child and adult care food program; prescriptions for Oklahoma; social services (Section 8 application assistance, free income tax preparation for those earning under $65,000 per year [IRS VITA Certified Site], utility payment assistance, rent/mortgage assistance, and fingerprinting service [required for teachers, nursing home workers, etc.].
So you see, Deep Fork is much more than just a "gimmie" agency, and they strive to be good stewards of taxpayers' monies. It is "people helping people help themselves".
Pictured top: is Lion President Beth Flud, Christie Baldridge, and Program Chairperson Lion Cassandra Northington.
(Photo and information provided by Dean Craig)
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Employment and Training Department will host a hiring event from 9 a.m.-3p.m. on Friday, Aug. 21 at the MCN Education and Training Building. The event will search for qualified team members for the Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers that is under construction at the Tulsa Hills Shopping Center in Jenks, Okla.