Saturday, February 3rd
Former Pharmacist Wants Life Sentence Commuted
Jerome Ersland is back in the news again. The former Chickasha pharmacist is serving a life sentence after being convicted of killing a teenager who tried to rob the Oklahoma City pharmacy where Ersland worked back in 2009. Ersland has been granted a rare hearing with the state pardon and parole board. Ersland is 66-years old and says he'll likely die in prison. He's not eligible for parole until 2049, when he would be 97 years old. The hearing will be held in April. The website NewsOK.com reports that Ersland called his conviction an injustice. The Oklahoma County district attorney's office says they'll protest the commutation. Should the parole board recommend commutation, it will be sent to the governor who will make the decision.
Social Media Reports Fatal Flu Case in Grady County
A flu death is reported in Grady County. Unconfirmed social media posts indicate an Amber man died from the flu this week. The state health department would not confirm the report. A spokesman said they only release county flu deaths in Oklahoma and Tulsa counties. Any deaths outside the metro areas are grouped in a region. Grady County is part of 14 counties in southwest Oklahoma. There have been 39 confirmed flu cases in Grady County since September.
Sen. Inhofe Stops in Chickasha
Oklahoma U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe was in Chickasha yesterday meeting with local business leaders. He discussed topics that included this week's State-of-the-Union Address from President Trump to the economy. He thinks the president might have conceded too much in his compromise with Democrats to allow more children of illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens...in exchange for Trump's plans to increase military spending.
Worries Grow over Missing Special Needs Couple
A Silver Alert is still in effect for a special needs couple missing from their Norman apartment. 59-year old Robert Osbourn and 57-year old Bertha Peppiat have not been seen since Tuesday. Robert has autism and kidney problems. Peppiat is developmentally disabled and can't read or write. Neither has a driver's license, nor do they have a car. Their caregiver says they typically aren't gone for more than an hour without checking in. Neighbors are concerned about their safety as well. The couple was last seen near a 7-11 store at NW 24th and Robinson. If you come in contact with the couple or know where they are, call Norman police or local law enforcement.
Candidates for Governor will be Forum Guests
More Oklahoma gubernatorial candidates are bringing their campaigns to the region. Three of them are part of an on-going forum at USAO in the coming weeks. Republican candidates include Lt Gov. Todd Lamb and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett. Lamb will address the forum on Tuesday, Feb. 20th and Cornett on Monday, March 5th. Democrat and former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson will be at the university on Tuesday, March 6th. All of the forums are open to the public. Candidates will discuss their ideas and take questions from the audience. All programs are in the USAO Ballroom starting at 7 p.m. The forums are part of USAO's Nita Giles Public Policy Programs.
Sheriff's Office Posts Most Wanted List
Each week, the Grady County Sheriff’s Office issues a list of individuals who have outstanding warrants. Here’s Public Information Officer Lisa Hatchett.
If you have information regarding any of these individuals, contact the Sheriff’s office.
Talk Show Topic
Here's what we're talking about this weekend. Dentist Dr. John Phillips is this week's guest on our KOOL Konversation. He'll talk about his upcoming Dentistry from the Heart campaign, providing some free dental services, which is Friday, Feb. 9th. Find the link on this website under the Community Tab.
Friday, February 2nd
Chix Schools' Special Ed Director Re-instated
Pam Huggins, director of Special Education for Chickasha schools, will soon be back at work. Last night, the Chickasha school board rejected a recommendation to fire Huggins following a 10 ½-hour hearing over a course of two days. The vote was 4-0 to reject the recommendation. Board member Julie Badgett-Sinn did not attend last night's meeting. School board vice-president Doug Brown said Badgett-Sinn was ill. Administrators had called for Huggins’ termination, alleging she failed to report the abuse of a special needs student. One of the most dramatic moments of last night's proceedings came from Sharita Brown, a special needs teacher who was testifying on behalf of Huggins. She had an exchange with the district’s attorney, regarding Tammy Fincher. Fincher was supposed to testify against Huggins, but did not show up during the course of the two-day hearing.
O'Carroll said Fincher signed an affidavit saying there were two or three people who witnessed mis-treatment of a high school special needs student. Huggins had this reaction after the board's decision.
We asked for comments from school board vice president Doug Brown and assistant Superintendent Cindy Schmidt, but both declined comment. School attorney Richard O'Carroll said the decision was not what the administration wanted, and was disappointed Fincher did not testify. O’Carroll and said the school board decision was a prudent one.
Optimist Club Serves Pancakes on Groundhog Day
The Chickasha Optimist Club Groundhog Day Pancake Day is underway. They're flippin' flapjacks at Epworth United Methodist Church until 1 o'clock this afternoon. It’s all-you-can-eat pancakes, sausage, milk, coffee and orange juice. Tickets are $5, with proceeds benefitting the club's youth projects.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $65.80 a barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $69.65.
Natural gas is to $2.85 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,348 and silver is $17.13.
Thursday, February 1st
Hearing for Suspended Chix School Employee to Resume
A special meeting of the Chickasha school board will continue later today. The panel will consider if the district's director of special education should be fired. Pam Huggins was placed on leave in December, over allegations of failure to report child abuse. Earlier this week, Huggins testified she was never told of any allegations of abuse of a special needs high school student by a teacher. Former interim Superintendent Cindy Schmidt and high school Principal Michelle Pontikos both said Huggins had knowledge of some problems between the student and the teacher. Several individuals are expected to testify on Huggins’ behalf during the hearing. Among them are Bill Wallace Principal Tressia Meeks and retired educator Robyn Morse. The hearing will resume at 5 o'clock this afternoon at the Chickasha Middle School Auditorium. We will video stream the hearing on this website. Go to the “Sports” tab, scroll down to “Chickasha Sports”, then click on the Chickasha school logo.
Four Injured in Crash
Four people are hospitalized following a crash at a Chickasha railroad crossing. Three people were taken to an Oklahoma City hospital, one of them flown by an air ambulance. A child was among those hurt. The accident happened just after 2 p.m. Wednesday, on U.S. Highway 81 just north of U.S. Highway 62 where a pick-up and a van collided on the rail crossing. No details of the crash have been released. The accident remains under investigation by the Chickasha Police Department. The names of the injured have not been released, and their conditions are unknown. See video of the crash site on our Facebook page.
Minco Voters to Decide $15 Million School Bond Issue
In Minco, school district voters will decide if a new middle school should be among millions of dollars of improvements for the district. Two bond issues which total about $15 million will be on the ballot in March. Superintendent Kevin Sims said that in addition to a new middle school, the district would also build a new cafeteria which will double as a safe room. If the plans are approved, the elementary school would move to the current middle school. A single drop-off and pick up point would be created to improve campus security. Proceeds would also be used to buy Chromebooks for all students in grades 4-12 and three years of text books. The district would also buy five new school buses, a 15-passenger van, a truck for the agriculture program, and other vehicles. A town hall meeting on the plans will be held Sunday, Feb. 18th. The special bond election will be March 6th.
New Ag Educator Joins Grady County OSU Extension
There's a new face at the Grady County OSU Extension Office. Shiann Burns is the new agriculture educator for the center. Burns joined the extension office last week, and fills a spot that became available when David Nowlin returned to full-time duty in Caddo County. Nowlin was splitting time between the Anadarko and Chickasha extension offices for the past year. Burns grew up in Madill on her family's commercial cow-calf operation and was active in 4H and FFA. She credits her interest in pursuing an agriculture career to not only her family, but her ag educator in Madill, David Sorrell.
Burns earned her bachelor's degree in animal science from Oklahoma State and is finishing her master's degree from New Mexico State University. She has worked for the USDA agriculture research stations in Stillwater and Miles City, Montana.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $64.73 a barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $69.05.
Natural gas is $2.99 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,341 and silver is $17.20.
Wednesday, January 31st
Resident Helps Police Solve Auto Burglaries
A series of auto burglaries near USAO may have been solved with the help of local resident. A homeowner called police last Friday, when he discovered someone rummaging through his vehicle. A Chickasha police affidavit indicates the homeowner pulled a gun on the man, who had a knife, and told him to leave, which he did on foot. Officers arrested the alleged suspect a few minutes later. The police affidavit also indicates authorities found a bag belonging to the suspect had which had a number of items which had taken from other auto burglaries in the area of 21st and Grand. Police arrested 23-year old Douglas Bruce Littlecalf, who lives in that area. Littlecalf has been charged with a felony count of burglary. He’s being held in the Grady County Jail in lieu of a $20,000 bond. Littlecalf was on probation after pleading guilty last year to misdemeanor counts of larceny, domestic assault and public drunk.
Governor Issues Burn Ban for Western Oklahoma
Dangerous wildfire conditions lead Gov. Mary Fallin to implement a burn ban for all of western Oklahoma. The ban covers the 40 counties west of I-35 and is effective through Feb. 16th. Grady County Fire Department spokesman Buddy Myers says there haven't been any major fires in the area last couple of weeks, and credits the awareness of residents concerning the high fire danger.
Myers says there was a controlled burn on 400 acres near Rush Springs earlier this week. A silo fire near Pocasset is being allowed to burn itself out, though fire officials are keeping a close eye on it. Welders are asked to take precautions to prevent sparks that may lead to fires. Outdoor cooking is allowed with propane or natural gas grills, but the grills must be on a solid surface.
Traffic Accident Hospitalizes Two People
Two pick-ups collide north of Pocasset and sends two people to the hospital. The accident happened just before noon Tuesday at U.S. Highway 81 and CR 1240 which is about a mile north of Pocasset. The highway patrol says both vehicles were northbound on the highway, when one pick-up had slowed to turn, and was rear-ended by the other. The two people in the trailing pickup were hurt. A passenger, 81-year old Lois Thompson of Ringling, was air-lifted to an Oklahoma City hospital where she was last in critical condition. The driver, 71-year old Jerry Henderson of Fox, was taken by ambulance to an Oklahoma City hospital, where he was admitted in fair condition. The driver of the other truck, 32 year old Eric Schatte of Oklahoma City was not injured.
Prom Boutique To Open
Prom season will be here before you know it. A group from USAO wants to help young ladies who may not be able to afford expensive gowns. The 8th annual Prom Boutique will allow the girls to choose dresses, shoes, and accessories for their prom for free. USAO Student Services welcomes contributions from the general public. Dean of Students Nancy Hughes says they have given away more than 80 dresses over the last three years. The boutique will be held Saturday, March 3rd from 10:00 a.m. to noon at the USAO Student Center. It's first-come, first-served. If you would like to contribute to the prom boutique, contact USAO Student Services.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $64.50 a barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $69.02.
Natural gas is $3.19 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,346 and silver is $17.23
Tuesday, January 30th
Hearing to Fire School Special Ed Director to Continue
Allegations of abuse of an autistic student at Chickasha High School were aired during a special school board meeting last night. The information was part of lengthy testimony presented during a six-hour hearing. The hearing was to determine if Pam Huggins, the district's special education director, should be fired for failure to report child abuse. Former interim superintendent Cindy Schmidt is recommending Huggins be terminated. Schmidt said that Huggins knew a para-professional instructor bent the student’s fingers backwards; threw a large medicine ball that hit the student in the face; and stood on the student’s foot for not throwing away some trash. Huggins later testified she was not told of the incidents. Also testifying for the district were high school principal Michelle Pontikos, and assistant high school principal Kim Nelson. Attorneys Richard O'Carroll, representing the school district, and Bret Burns, representing Huggins, got testy at times throughout the hearing. Burns alleged that Schmidt, Pontikos, and Nelson were retaliating against Huggins, because of her concerns with the Personalized Learning Curriculum at the high school. O'Carroll challenged many of Burns questions, saying they weren't relevant to the failure to report child abuse allegation. Huggins also presented testimony, saying the incidents of the alleged abuse were never reported to her. She said she was told of some situations between the student and the para-professional, but did not consider them to be serious enough to be considered child abuse. Woody Glass, another attorney for Huggins, said Huggins followed district policy, and that she did not report the incident to DHS because she didn't suspect abuse. Burns asked the school board to dismiss the charges against Huggins, but no such motion came from the panel. About midnight, the school board opted to recess the meeting, and return Thursday to continue. Several witnesses are to testify in support of Huggins when the meeting re-convenes at 5 p.m. Thursday.
Parole Denied for Mom Convicted of Killing Child
A Grady County woman convicted in the 1997 death of her 13-month old daughter has again been denied parole. The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board denied parole to 41-year old Mary Ann Leadford last week. Leadford was convicted of first-degree murder in connection with the death of her daughter, Tessa. Prosecutors said Leadford allowed her husband, James Patrick Malicoat to violently beat the toddler over the course of 19 days. Leadford was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole, but the recent ruling is at least the third time she has been denied. Malicoat was convicted of first degree murder in the case and was given the death sentence. He was executed in 2006.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $65.56 a barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $69.46.
Natural gas is $3.63 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,347 and silver is $17.22
Monday, January 29th
Suspended School Employee Hearing Set Tonight
There's another special meeting of the Chickasha Board of Education tonight. The panel is to consider a recommendation that Pam Huggins, director of special services, should be fired. It's alleged Huggins failed to report child abuse of a special needs student. Opening statements are scheduled for school administrators and Huggins, or their attorneys. There is also time for rebuttal and questions from school board members. The statements are scheduled to be made in public. However, the board may opt to go to a closed-door session for negotiations. The school board is also to formally act on the resignation of former transportation and maintenance director, Pete Bush, who stepped down during a special meeting last week. The meeting will be video-streamed on this website. Look under the Sports tab for the Chickasha Sports link, then click on the Fightin’ Chick logo.
Crash Shuts Down Turnpike
Westbound lanes of the H.E. Bailey Turnpike northeast of Chickasha were shut down for a couple of hours this morning. A car and a salt-water tanker were involved in a crash. The interstate was closed between mile markers 84 and 83, just before the exit ramp on highway 62. The roadway was closed just after 4 a.m. and re-opened just before 6 am. The highway patrol says at least one person was injured, but it wasn't clear how serious the injuries were. Details of the crash have not yet been release.
Driver Critical Following Weekend Accident
The driver of a car that crashed north of Verden over the weekend remains in critical condition this morning. 18-year old Brent Durbin-Daniel of Lawton suffered head, arm, leg, and internal injuries. He was air-lifted to an Oklahoma City hospital. The accident happened about 9:45 a.m. Sunday about one-half mile north of Verden on CR 2750. The highway patrol reports that Durbin-Daniel lost control of his car. It ran off the road and hit a concrete bridge, then rolled into a creek bed.
Proposal Would Shift Stem Region Control to Career Tech
A proposal to allow Oklahoma's career tech system to expand high-level math and science classes will be heard by state lawmakers this spring. The measure has the support of Greg Winters, superintendent of Canadian Valley Technology Center. SB 880 would shift oversight of the group that creates what are known as STEM regions to career tech. Winters tells KOOL/RANCH News
Currently, oversight of these STEM regions is the responsibility of a group known as the Coalition for the Advancement of Science and Math Education in Oklahoma. That group’s Director Ben Robinson supports the move. He says STEM programs have been growing quickly, and the coalition doesn't have the means to continue overseeing it. He said having career tech monitor the development of the STEM regions means they'll be able to reach more areas, help more students, and be more beneficial to industry.
High Bond Set for Child Sex Abuse Suspect
A Tuttle man charged with child sexual abuse remains in jail on bond that was set at six figures. Jimmy Ray VanBuskirk had his initial appearance on the charge in Grady County District Court last week. A judge set VanBuskirk's bond at $150,000. Prosecutors allege VanBuskirk assaulted a 9-year old boy at a Tuttle home several times over the last four years. VanBuskirk's next court appearance is Feb. 22nd to announce his attorney, with a preliminary hearing conference on March. 7th.
Special City Council Work Session Set
A special work session is scheduled for the Chickasha City Council tomorrow. The panel will hear a presentation from the Oklahoma Municipal Assurance Group. The informal session is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday at city hall.
Arts Festival Schedules First Meeting
Chickasha's Rock Island Arts Festival will reach a milestone this year. 2018 will mark the 10th year for the event. The weekend features arts, music, and food, and is scheduled for Sept. 28th-30th this fall. The Chickasha Area Arts Council will have its first meeting for the festival tomorrow night. The meeting is open to the public, and officials welcome new ideas to expand the event. The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the old Head Start school at 7th and Arkansas.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $66.14 a barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $70.52.
Natural gas is $3.50 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,350 and silver is $17.33
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