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.
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.
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation offices will be closed Friday, Aug. 14 to allow all employees an opportunity to participate in the Employee Appreciation Day.
The Roy Leblanc Invitational Rodeo, held August 7-9, saw thousands of people disregarding triple digit temperatures to enjoy the 60th year of Rodeo fun. In addition to the rodeo itself, Okmulgee residents were treated to the annual parade that included trail riding clubs from across the nation, many of who competed in the rodeo games, which began at 8:00 p.m. nightly.
Results of the rodeo were announced as each competition was completed. In BareBack Riding, Carl Barnes of Tulsa placed first with Michael Ferring of Tulsa and Rodrick Hunt of Houston, Texas tying for second. In the Steer Wrestling competition, first place was tied between Casey Richards of Houston, Texas and Lloyd Goodman of Beaumont, Texas. Chase Crain, Muskogee, placed third, with Ben Goodman of Cheeks Texas in fourth, Tony Burton of Oklahoma City in fifth, and Bobby Harrison, also of Beaumont Texas, in sixth.
Calf Roping’s first place was given to Derrick Traylor of Houston Texas, second to Trey Goff of Tulsa, third to Glen Jackson of Pawnee, fourth went to Anthony Jordon of Tulsa, fifth to Troy Pierce of Tulsa, and sixth was to J Demery of Beggs, Ok.
In the Junior BreakAway Roping, Anthony Craig of Preston took home the nights first place honor, with Jarvis Demery of Beggs placing second. The Ladies Steer Undecorating competition saw Denise Tyus of Conway Arkansas take first place, Stephanie Haynes of Hempstead Texas placed second, Megan Byrd of Houston Texas placed third, and Renae Thierry of Oklahomy City placed fourth. Only one person placed in the Bull Riding competition, Ryan Roberts, who hails from right here in Okmulgee.
In Junior Barrel Racing, Autumn Perry of Tulsa placed first, Demin Goff of Stigler earned the second place slot, and Kendra Tyus of Conway Arkansas placed third. In Ladies Barrel Racing, first placed belonged to Corianna Burkhalter of Oklahoma City. In second place we had Betsy Bramwell of Stillwater, third is Kanesha Jackson of Hempstead Texas, fourth is Michelle Baccus of Tulsa, fifth was given to Destiny Foster of Tulsa, and Stephanie Haynes, from Hempstead Texas, placed sixth.
The Pony Express Champions title went to the County Boyz located out of Oklahoma City. Thanks again to the participants of the rodeo as well as all of those who came to show their support for the legacy that is the Roy LeBlanc Invitational Rodeo. Hope to see you all again next year!
Photo by Allen Gardner - ONN
“LONE MAN’S LAND” was produced and co-directed by Morris H. S. Graduate Ezra Gentle
and written and co-directed by Sand Springs resident Sheilah Bright
Okmulgee County has turned out another talented filmmaker in Ezra Gentle, who nurtured his filmmaking talent at Morris High School and polished it at the University of Oklahoma. His film, “LONE MAN’S LAND”, comes to the Orpheum in Okmulgee on Sunday, Aug. 16, at 2 pm. Admission is $5 for all seats. The film’s premiere showing was in Boise City, and it will have a 2-day run at the Circle Theatre in Tulsa ahead of its Okmulgee showing.
Sheilah Bright of Sand Springs wrote the story and co-directed the film with Ezra. A question and answer session will follow the showing.
The story takes place in the community of Kenton in the Panhandle, which was once called “No Man’s Land”. The little community of ranchers has a population of 20 and is so far west that it operates on Mountain Standard Time. Only the strong have survived in the Panhandle, and now their cowboy way of life is under attack from cattle corporations.
Ezra’s grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Lewis, are residents of Okmulgee.
The University of Arkansas School of Law Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative has joined with the Farm Credit of East Central Oklahoma, the Wallace Center at Winrock International (Washington DC), Morse Marketing Connections (MMC), and the Choctaw Nation, Muscogee (Creek) Nation along with Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative to offer an important “bootcamp” workshop for southern eastern Oklahoma August 13 in the Student Center Conference Room at The College of The Muscogee Nation, 2170 Raven Circle Okmulgee, Ok.
You will hear the latest on food safety regulations and GAP certification, crop insurance and risk management tools, and will be given hands-on experience in what are called “one page” financial, risk assessment and business plan tools. We will also provide information on new markets in the region and how your operation can participate in food hubs that are growing in number across the country as a way to link small, beginning, mid-sized, remote and new producers and their operations into new markets.
The in-person workshop will begin at 12:00 pm with light refreshments and conclude by 5 pm. The workshop will cover the following information:
- “One Page” Financials
- “One Page” Business Planning
- “One Page” Risk Assessment
- Food Safety Regulations Update and GAP Overview
- Risk Management and Crop Insurance Policy Updates
- Choctaw Nation Update on Promise Zone, Food and Agriculture Plans
- Muscogee Creek Nation Update on Food and Agriculture Plans
- Food Hubs & Other New Markets
- New and Old Legal Issues Facing Producers
In addition to the in-person workshops, a “One Page Cost Benefit Analysis Tool” webinar workshop will also be offered. It will be at least one hour long and will be on Thursday, Aug 20. The webinar requires registration to participate. Please use the link below to register:
This workshop is sponsored through the support of the USDA Risk Management Agency and each of the participating sponsors.
Thank you to the Choctaw Nation for their generous support at each of our locations. Thank you to the Muscogee Creek Nation for their generous support at our final location. Please Attend and Tell Others Who Might Be Interested! See you there!
Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, organized exclusively for charitable, educational and scientific purposes.
Many may have noticed that the intersection of 8th Street and Wood Drive is getting a makeover. "For years I've heard complaints about the lack of flow at the intersection of 8th and Wood. This plan to expand began years ago and we tried, unsuccessfully, to create a solution that would please everyone," states Okmulgee Public Works Director Rick Miller.
A study of the intersection has been done by traffic engineers and Miller believes that, finally, a solution had been found. After coordinating with Oklahoma Department of Transportation to keep highway traffic moving at optimal speed with minimal hindrance, it has been decided that the East and West lanes of traffic will receive an expansion.
The lanes traveling east to west are currently 4 lane intersections with lanes designated for traffic that move either straight or into a right turn. The traffic is impaired by cars who wish to make a left turn either north or south. The new intersection will have three east bound lanes that will contain a designated left turn lane as well as the already established right turn lane and straight bound lane. The study done by ODOT shows that the changes will improve the flow of traffic in all directions.
In addition to the physical changes in the intersection, the traffic light sensors will be getting an upgrade in an ongoing effort to replace the original sensors placed in the ground with video monitoring sensors. These sensors will not only aid in the improved flow of traffic but will also withstand shifts in the ground or less than favorable weather conditions that had previously prevented the sensors from operating properly.
Completion of the project is slated for October.
The Mvskoke inspired mural painted by Creek artist and muralist Yatika Starr Fields is quite a site to see at night now in downtown Okmulgee. Lights have been installed and an information marker erected at the site.
The project was commissioned by the Muscogee Creek Nation located southwest of the MCN Council House in Okmulgee.
The project was a weeklong event that began on April 6 during OrangeFest. The mural depicts a combination of history of Okmulgee, Homage to Muscogee Culture and past artist of Muscogee Creek descent.
Tayler and Kyleigh Williams of Little Rock Arkansas enjoying the parade. - Photo by Laura Rosbrugh
The smell of Indian tacos and the sounds of music filled the square in downtown Okmulgee today as spectators lined up for the Roy LeBlanc Rodeo Parade. The parade attendants braved the Oklahoma sun, with temperatures in the triple digits.
The crowd was not disappointed as the parade began with two dance teams leading several of the riders from the invitational rodeo. Hundreds of horses, dressed in their best, from Oklahoma and across the United States pranced, played and dazzled the crowd.
Rodeo performances begin each night at 8:00 p.m. at the Bob Arington Rodeo Arena on Highway 75 in Okmulgee.
Photos by Laura Rosbrugh - ONN Reporter