Our Chickasha Schools Academic Persons of the week is Deanna Dixon
Tune in to hear Deanna’s story!
Saturday, March 24th
Decision Expected Monday on Suspending
Chickasha School Classes if Teachers Walk Out
The Chickasha Board of Education will decide on a proposal to give the school superintendent the approval to suspended classes if district teachers join a statewide walk-out in protest of low teacher salaries. It's one of several issues to be discussed in a special meeting of the school board on Monday night. The board will consider whether to give the superintendent the authority to suspend classes if it's believed that student safety would be endangered by the lack of adequate staff to provide supervision to students. The school board is also expected to give the superintendent authority to determine if sporting events and other extra-curricular activities would be held if a walk-out occurs. The board may also approve a resolution supporting teachers and encouraging state lawmakers to find a dedicated source of revenue for teacher salaries.
School Board Statement Expected on Resignations
The school board is also expected to release a public statement regarding the recent resignations of two employees who were initially suspended. Former technology director Greg Hackney and bus barn administrative assistant Stacey Crutchfield were among several employees suspended in December. Officials never indicated why they were suspended. Both Hackney and Crutchfield were allowed to resign. The board is also expected to approve the resignation of Jason Finch, who was originally fired in December over allegations that he mistreated a special needs student. Finch was allowed to return to work after those allegations were unfounded.
Teachers Union Proposes its Version of Proposed Pay Hikes
Now, more about the proposed statewide teacher strike which is less than 10 days away. Officials with the Oklahoma Education Association have proposed its own plan for lawmakers to consider when it comes to teacher raises. OEA representatives say they would like to see a 5 percent gross production tax, and tax increases on cigarettes, alcohol, motor fuel, and wind generation. The plan also calls for a new hotel-motel tax and expanded casino games they say would raise nearly $905 million, which would give teachers a $10,000 pay increase over a three-year period.
OEA Plan Criticized by State Group
One group has already announced its opposition to the OEA plan. The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs released a statement saying the OEA revenue road map leads to a dead end. The group said it hits vulnerable, low and middle-income working families and small business owners, and allows wind corporations and Native Americans tribes selling cigarettes to keep cash subsidies they don't need.
Youth Rodeo Continues at Grady County Fairgrounds
Youth rodeo competitors from across Oklahoma and neighboring states are in Chickasha this weekend looking to earn points that will qualify them for what might be considered the state playoffs in their respective events. It's the final stop of the regular season for both the Oklahoma high school and junior High school rodeo associations. About 250 competitors hope to turn in top times and scores. In the boys all-around, Austin Christensen of Laverne has a sizeable lead over Trevor Hale of Perryton, Texas. In the girls all-around, Chaley Hext of Canadian, Texas leads Kathryn Todd of Tuttle by a mere 12 points although both should qualify for state. Both Hext and Todd are former national junior high all-around champions. Hext won last year, and Todd won in 2013. Also competing are former United States team roping champions Rowdy Jones of Tupelo and Braden Johnson of Fox. Oklahoma's junior high team won a national title in 2016 and the high school team last won a title in 2014. By the way, the state high school rodeo finals will be held in Chickasha for the first time later this spring. Events are being held both today and tomorrow at the Grady County Fairgrounds.
Talk Show Topics
Here's what we're talking about this weekend. The Chickasha Public School Foundation will have its annual fundraising gala later this spring. Executive Director Jen Jantzen is this week's guest on the KOOL Konversation to talk about the Foundation and how it helps teachers and students in the school district. There is a link to that progarm on this website. You'll find it under the Community tab.
Friday, March 23rd
Wildfire Threat High Again Today
Local and state officials are warning that today will bring a threat of more wildfires. Much of extreme western Oklahoma is under a fire weather watch or red flag fire warning for the third straight day, as temperatures are forecast to be in the 80s, and winds of 30 miles per hour and higher are likely. Dozens of firefighters were called out to a huge wildfire in the Blanchard and Bridge Creek area yesterday that charred between 60 and 100 acres. Buddy Myers with the Grady County Fire Department said as many as 80 firefighters and 40 trucks from about a dozen departments helped to get things under control with minimal damage. A couple of storage sheds and at least two vehicles were damaged or destroyed, but no homes were damaged and there were no injuries. A controlled burn was said to have sparked that fire. The Red Cross set up at a staging area to provide water, energy drinks, and food for the fire crews. Reports that a large fire south of Velma in Stephens County burned about 1,200 acres around an area known as Convict Hill. Air support was brought in to fight that fire. There are some burn bans in far western Oklahoma, and Canadian County has a county-declared ban. Official are urging Oklahomans to postpone any burning until weather conditions improve. There are forecasts for rain late this weekend and into next week.
Crash Critically Injures One; Two Kids OK
A car crash near Anadarko critically injures a woman, with two small children suffering minor injuries. The accident happened about 8:45 p.m. Thursday, about a mile-and-a-half west of Anadarko on Park Road. 32-year-old Tearina Conner of Moore was air-lifted to an Oklahoma City hospital with leg, trunk, and internal injuries. An 8-year old boy and a 6-year old girl were taken to an Anadarko hospital where they were treated and released. The Highway Patrol reports that Conner was driving east on Park Road, when the car went off the road, hit a mail box, a culvert, a utility pole and a fence, then rolled an undetermined number of times.
High School, Jr. Hi Rodeo-ers to Compete in Chickasha
A big weekend in Chickasha, as about 250 youth will rodeo at the Grady County Fairgrounds. Members of the Oklahoma High School Rodeo Assocation, and the Oklahoma Junior High School Rodeo Assocation will compete for points, in hopes of qualifying for the state competitions in their respective groups later this year. Jeff Todd of Tuttle is the president of the High School rodeo association, and says they have memberships from three states.
Several former national all-round champions will be competing, and all three rodeo arenas at the fairgrounds will be used. Rodeo events start at 5 o'clock this afternoon and at 10 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free and open to the public.
Injured Police Officer, Family Headed to a Thunder Game
A special treat for a Chickasha police officer and his family. Sgt. Matt Schoolfield, and his wife and children will be courtside at tonight's Oklahoma City Thunder game. Schoolfield will also be recognized during the game as being a safety partner with one of the Thunder's corporate sponsors, Enable Midstream. Just last week, company officials were in Chickasha to personally present the honor to Schoolfield, and to give a contribution of $1,500 to the police department. Schoolfield suffered a serious arm injury after being shot last September.
Sheriff's Office Warrants Issued
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, you're asked to contact the sheriff's office.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $64.30 a barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $68.91.
Natural gas is $2.61 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,347 and silver is $16.54.
Thursday, March 22nd
State Rep Continues Effort to Repeal Energy Tax Cuts
State lawmakers continue their discussion of how to raise money to pay for teacher and state employee pay increases. Representative David Perryman, D-Chickasha has long supported a roll-back of tax cuts provided to oil and gas companies in recent years. In his weekly media column, Perryman writes that the tax cuts provided not only to energy companies - but also to high-wage earners over the last 10 years - have cost the state nearly $1.5 billion every year. He says that amount alone would pay for salary increases for teachers, school support employees, and state workers. Perryman also writes that a Republican gubernatorial candidate supports a tax hike on oil companies. He writes that State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones says if Oklahoma citizens have to pay a 5 percent income tax rate, why shouldn't oil companies have to pay 5 percent gross production tax? Perryman suggests state lawmakers do what it takes to make Oklahoma better for its citizens.
Firefighters Contain Blaze in Dibble
A large fire in the Dibble area yesterday kept some families out of their homes. A 911 call alerted McClain County authorities to the fire about 4:00 p.m. Wednesday. Several homes were threatened but none were damaged. Officials went door-to door in an attempt to notify residents of the threat, but found no one at any of the homes. One resident who arrived while crews were beating back the fire was allowed to get his pets and a few valuables. Jesse Edgmon thought his house would go up in flames, but crews snuffed out the fire in time. Volunteers with the Dibble Fire Department were among some 20 units from five agencies called out to suppress the flames. They managed to get it under control within an hour and residents were allowed back in their homes about 6 p.m. About 150 acres of grassland was burned.
Handyman Accused of Sexting Teen
A Rush Springs man is accused of sexting messages to a 14-year old girl. 44-year old William Chad Puckett is faces two felony counts of lewd or indecent acts to a child. A warrant had been issued for Puckett's arrest last month, after it’s alleged he sent text messages that were sexual in nature to the middle school student. He was arrested earlier this week. Puckett is a friend of the girl's family, and had been at their home doing some remodeling work. While there, investigators alleged Puckett flirted with the girl and touched her buttocks. Prosecutors have also filed a charge of possession of a firearm after conviction against Puckett. He remains in jail in lieu of $110,000 bond.
Second Incest Suspect Pleads Guilty to Lesser Charge
The second woman accused of incest out of Stephens County has pleaded guilty to lesser charges in connection with the case. 26-year old Misty Spann is the daughter of Patricia Spann. They were married in Lawton two years ago. The daughter has pleaded guilty to a charge of attempting to obtain by false pretenses. She may not have to spend any time in jail. A judge issued her a 10-year deferred sentence, to include two-years of supervised probation. She originally pleaded guilty to the incest charge last November, where she also received a 10-year deferred sentence, but withdrew her guilty plea. Her mother, Patricia Spann, pleaded guilty to incest last week, and was sentenced to 10-years in prison with all but two years suspended. She will also have to register as a sex offender.
Filing Period Opens Soon for County, State, Fed Offices
In just a few weeks, candidates will be flocking to county and state election boards to file for public offices which will be up for election this fall. The three-day filing period will be Wednesday, April 11th through Friday, April 13th. Grady County offices up for election include County Commissioner District 1, currently held by Windell Hardy and County Commissioner District Three, currently held by Ralph Beard. The office of county treasurer, currently held by Robin Burton, and county assessor, currently held by Bari Firestone are also up for election. State offices up for election include all state representatives. Also this year, the top two offices in state government will be on the ballot, those of governor and lieutenant governor.
Donation Completes Fence at Verden Separate School
The efforts of a Chickasha woman who is preserving African-American history in the region got an unexpected gift this week. Some new electronic security gates were installed to complete a metal fence that surrounds the Verden Separate School. The school was the first phase of a project started by local historian Loretta Jackson. The funding for the gates provided by an organization called Tribal Administrative Services. Kellie Lewis of Chickasha is a consultant with the group.
The gates are solar-powered, and can be put on a timer. Jackson was ecstatic when she found out about the project, and is thankful for Lewis' help.
Veteran County Clerk Deputy to Retire
A long-time deputy with the Grady County Clerk’s office is retiring. Georgia Ferrell has been the county's purchasing agent for many years. It's a very detailed job with many responsibilities, according to County Clerk Sharon Shoemake. It includes searching for vendors and equipment items, maintaining accurate inventory records, and making sure offices follow competitive bidding laws. A retirement celebration to thank Ferrell for her 20 years of service will be held Friday, March 30th from 2:00 p.m to 3:30 p.m. inside Courtroom No. 1 at the courthouse.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $65.17 a barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $69.47.
Natural gas is $2.64 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,334 and silver is $16.52.
Wednesday, March 21st
State School Sup't Asks for OSBI Probe of Chix Schools
The State Department of Education is calling for the OSBI to investigate grade tampering and other allegations within Chickasha Public Schools. State Superintendent Joy Hoffmeister has asked the OSBI to conduct a criminal investigation into allegations of grade-tampering and changing attendance records. A statement posted on the state department of education's website discusses the agency's recent investigation into the allegations. Brad Clark is an attorney for the state agency.
State officials also found high levels of school personnel log-ins. Hoffmeister said the allegations are extremely troubling, and require the OSBI to look into them. She said the integrity of student records must never be compromised, and academic honesty is of paramount importance. She said the school district's lack of oversight appears particularly disturbing, and the consequences may be far-reaching and affect many students and families. A statement released from Chickasha schools says they welcome a criminal investigation by the OSBI or the district attorney. The school statement said neither Hoffmeister nor anyone from her office had been in recent contact with them,and it was unclear how Hoffmeister reached her conclusion.
One Dead in Cyril Crash
A deadly car crash in Cyril last night. The highway patrol repots a Lawton woman died when her car ran off the road and hit a culvert. 26-year old Devon Manigault died in the crash that happened about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday at the intersection of State Highway 19 and US Highway 277. The trooper investigating the crash says Manigault was traveling east on Highway 19 and failed to stop at a stop sign. The car went airborne before hitting the culvert.
Update: Man Accused of Killing his Father Surrenders
Now an update to the story we aired yesterday, about a man wanted for killing his father. 37-year old James Kyle Brooks is in custody, after Stephens County officials issued a warrant for his arrest. Reports indicate that Brooks surrendered to police in Newcastle last Friday and that he is now in the Stephens County Jail. Brooks was wanted for the August, 2012 shooting death of his father, Timothy Brooks, which occurred in Marlow. Investigators say James Brooks shot and killed his father, and staged the home to make his father's death appear to be a suicide. Investigators also say James Brooks had taken out a half-million dollar life insurance policy on his father.
12-year old Leads Police on Pursuit
Law enforcement groups are surprised to find out who was at the wheel of a high-speed pursuit in the Tuttle area yesterday. Reports indicate that a 12-year old boy led authorities on a chase that topped 100 miles per hour. State troopers and police from Tuttle and Mustang were involved. The pursuit began about 2:00 p.m. Tuesday in Mustang when police got a call about an erratic SUV driver. The chase went south on Highway 4 through Tuttle and ended a few minutes later near the junction of Highway 4 and the H.E. Bailey Turnpike. Authorities say the SUV had been stolen out of Oklahoma City.
Drought-affected Producers May Apply for Fed Loans
Farmers and ranchers who have lost crops or livestock because of the drought may be eligible for emergency loans from the federal government. Here is Mark Jackson with the Grady County Farm Service Agency.
Jackson said the amount of the loan will be based on the dollar amount of the actual loss. Loan applications for producers in both Grady and Caddo counties are being processed in the Anadarko FSA office.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $63.40 a barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $67.42.
Natural gas is $2.67 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,316 and silver is $16.28.
Tuesday, March 20th
Man Accused of Killing His Dad; Saying it was Suicide
A bizarre story out of Stephens County, where authorities are looking for a man they say shot and killed his father, then tried to make his death look like a suicide. Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for 37-year old James Kyle Brooks of Blanchard, who is charged with murder in Stephens County. Brooks is accused in the 2012 death of Timothy Brooks, who was found dead in his Marlow home. Investigators allege that James Brooks had taken out a $500,000 life insurance policy on his father without his knowledge.
Lots of Interest Shown in Storm Shelter Rebate Plan
Nearly 170 people have shown interest in a plan that may help them purchase and install storm shelters. Grady County Emergency Management Agency Director Dale Thompson was happy with last week's turnout of applicants interested in obtaining a rebate from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Thompson said there were 93 applications taken in Chickasha, 55 in Tuttle, and 21 in Rush Springs in meetings last week. Thompson was hoping for about 225 applicants, but said there is still time for anyone interested in the program to submit documents. Applications must be in by next Friday, March 30th, then officials will spend a couple of months certifying the applications before actually applying for the FEMA grant. Thompson is hoping to get word by mid-July that the county has been approved. For information, see the Grady County Emergency Management Facebook page or call 405-222-2339.
Loans Available for Some Businesses Impacted by Drought
Some small businesses in Oklahoma and nearby states which have suffered losses of income because of the drought are now eligible to apply for federal disaster loans. The U.S. Small Business Administration says these economic injury disaster loans can be used to offset losses that began Nov. 15, 2017. The loans are available to businesses in a number of primary Oklahoma counties which include Grady, Caddo, Comanche, Stephens, Garvin, McClain, and Canadian counties. Small businesses in Oklahoma and Cleveland counties are also eligible as they are in neighboring counties. A press release from the agency indicates the loans are available to non-farm businesses, agriculture co-ops, and nurseries, however are not for businesses primarily engaged in farming and ranching. Officials say eligibility covers the economic impacts on businesses which are dependent on the farmers and ranchers who have suffered production losses due to drought. Loans of up to $2 million are available for a term of up to 30 years, and have an interest rate of just under 3.4 percent for businesses and 2.5 percent for private, non-profit groups. Applications can be made on-line at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela Deadline to apply is Nov. 8th.
Renovations Complete on Historic USAO Building
A long-empty building at USAO will be open this fall to house students who will be attending the university. Robertson Hall, which has been closed since 1984, has been undergoing renovations for nearly a year. That work is now complete, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held early next month. Contractors had to follow some strict guidelines while making repairs, because the campus is in an area designated as a National Historic District, and the building had to be restored largely to its original condition. The work was financed through USAO capital funds and a private gift through the USAO Foundation. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 3rd.
Easter Egg-dyeing Tips
Easter is less than two weeks away. If you plan on decorating or dying Easter eggs for the kids, Susan Routh with Grady County OSU Extension recommends getting them in the next few days.
Routh said eggs should be refrigerated at least a week before you boil them. After boiling, she says to let them cool before you dye them. That will prevent the eggs from absorbing any dye.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX down to $62.06 a barrel.
London-based Brent crude down to $66.05.
Natural gas is $2.65 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,312 and silver is $16.27.
Monday, March 19th
Deadly Crash Involves Semi, Motorcycle
U.S. Highway 81 just south of Chickasha was shut down for a couple of hours Sunday night, when a motorcycle rider dies after being hit by a semi. 35-year old Jason Reagor of Arkansas City, Kansas died in the crash. It happened about 8:30 p.m. at the intersection of Highway 81 and Pikes Peak Road. The state trooper investigating the accident reports that Reagor was southbound on the highway and had slowed to turn west. He was hit from behind by a semi driven by 42-year old Allen Rainey of Wichita, Kansas. Rainey was not injured. The crash remains under investigation.
Minco Schools Change Calendar for Teacher Pay Raise Issue
School districts across the state are making plans for a proposed teacher strike on April 2nd. Teachers are threatening a walk-out unless state lawmakers come up with a plan to increase teacher pay. In Minco, school superintendent Kevin Sims says the board of education last week passed a resolution supporting raises for teachers, and also took action to allow its instructors to be part of a rally at the state capital.
Sims says its the most stressful period he's had to deal with in his 25 years as a school administrator.
Senator Concerned About Inaction on Teacher Pay Hikes
One state senator says he's frustrated that lawmakers can't come up with a teacher pay raise. Sen. Darcy Jech, R-Kingfisher says he was hopeful the senate had enough bi-partisan support to pass the plan last week, which would have provided a 12.7 percent pay hike for teachers. In a press release, Jech says he hopes lawmakers can still find common ground, and cooperate on a compromise that will provide teachers and state employees a long-overdue pay raise. He says they are committed to continue to work toward a solution that will deliver a responsibly-funded pay raise.
Reinforcements in Place Due to Wildfire Threat
While parts of Oklahoma did get a little rain yesterday, it wasn't enough to diminish the threat of wildfires, particularly in the parched western sections. Fire danger runs high again today, with west winds gusting to 40 miles per hour. Officials with the state forestry service are calling in reinforcements to help if any fires erupt in the next few days. The agency has activated the South Central Forest Fire Compact, which will bring in resources from Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Kentucky. Federal and state fire-fighting aircraft and county wildland task forces are also on standby if needed. Additional fire trucks, bulldozers, and personnel are being mobilized into two suppression groups and pre-positioned in areas under the most severe fire threat.
Truckers Get Temporary Delay with Hours-of-Service Rule
Livestock haulers have another three months before any changes will be made regarding the Electronic Logging Device mandate. The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration says it will be mid-June before any changes are considered for the hours-of-service rule. Shiann Burns with Grady County OSU Extension says one agriculture group is against the proposed change.
Burns said the beef board will continue its work against the proposed changes.
Energy and Metals
Crude oil on the NYMEX is $62.24 a barrel.
London-based Brent crude is $66.21.
Natural gas is $2.69 per million BTUs.
Gold is $1,311 and silver is $16.29.
Filing Period Opens Soon for County, State, Fed Offices
In just a few weeks, candidates will be flocking to county and state election boards to file for public offices which will be up for election this fall. The three-day filing period will be Wednesday, April 11th
through Friday, April 13th. Grady County offices up for election include County Commissioner District 1, currently held by Windell Hardy and County Commissioner District Three, currently held by Ralph Beard. The office of county treasurer, currently held by Robin Burton, and county assessor, currently held by Bari Firestone are also up for election. State offices up for election include all state representatives. Also this year, the top two offices in state government will be on the ballot, those of governor and lieutenant governor.
Injured Police Officer, Family Headed to a Thunder Game
A special treat for a Chickasha police officer and his family. Sgt. Matt Schoolfield, and his wife and children will be courtside at tonights' Oklahoma City Thunder game. Schoolfield will also be recognized during the game as being a safety partner with one of the Thunder's corporate sponsors, Enable Midstream. Just last week, company officials were in Chickasha to personally present the honor to Schoolfield, and giving a contribution of $1,500 to the police department. Schoolfield suffered a serious arm injury after being shot last September.