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DEATHS

Linda Sue Welch Platt, 74

Born August 25, 1946

Died April 16, 2021

Aileen Pitts, 89

Born November 26, 1931

Died April 11, 2021

Viola Piggee, 88

Born February 11, 1933

Died April 10, 2021

Juanita June Frazier, 91

Born June 17, 1929

Died April 10, 2021

Robert Fox, 85

Born February 3, 1936

Died April 9, 2021

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Our death notices and obits are always free to the families and funeral homes.

THINGS TO DO

Friday, April 16

Weekly Job Fair

Sunday, April 18

Five Civilized Tribes Museum
Five Civilized Tribes Museum

Friday, April 16, 2021, 8:05 AM

Attorney General Mike Hunter today released a statement after the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals granted a 45-day stay of the state’s case against death row inmate Shaun Bosse, while the attorney general’s office prepares to file a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ruling means Bosse will stay in state custody on Oklahoma death row, rather than be transferred to federal custody, which was previously mandated by the Court of Criminal Appeals.

The attorney general is arguing the state should have jurisdiction over Bosse, a non-Indian who murdered a Chickasaw family, and other non-Native Americans even if their crimes were committed on tribal reservation lands.

“I want to commend Solicitor General Mithun Mansinghani and Assistant Attorney General Caroline Hunt for their exceptional arguments in front of the court today,” Hunter said. “They illustrated precisely why a convicted murderer like Shaun Bosse should remain on Oklahoma death row, and why he doesn’t deserve the chance of a retrial. The 45-day stay will allow us time to file for a further stay from the U.S. Supreme Court so they have time to consider whether to grant us the opportunity to argue our case. The McGirt decision has created confusion across governments, and many unanswered questions that can only be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Attorneys with the Attorney General’s Office have already drafted the request for a further stay from the U.S. Supreme Court and plan to file it in the coming days.

It was unlikely Bosse would have been released even without the stay, since federal prosecutors have already filed murder charges against him.

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Friday, April 16, 2021, 8:05 AM

Attorney General Mike Hunter today released a statement after the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals granted a 45-day stay of the state’s case against death row inmate Shaun Bosse, while the attorney general’s office prepares to file a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ruling means Bosse will stay in state custody on Oklahoma death row, rather than be transferred to federal custody, which was previously mandated by the Court of Criminal Appeals.

The attorney general is arguing the state should have jurisdiction over Bosse, a non-Indian who murdered a Chickasaw family, and other non-Native Americans even if their crimes were committed on tribal reservation lands.

“I want to commend Solicitor General Mithun Mansinghani and Assistant Attorney General Caroline Hunt for their exceptional arguments in front of the court today,” Hunter said. “They illustrated precisely why a convicted murderer like Shaun Bosse should remain on Oklahoma death row, and why he doesn’t deserve the chance of a retrial. The 45-day stay will allow us time to file for a further stay from the U.S. Supreme Court so they have time to consider whether to grant us the opportunity to argue our case. The McGirt decision has created confusion across governments, and many unanswered questions that can only be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Attorneys with the Attorney General’s Office have already drafted the request for a further stay from the U.S. Supreme Court and plan to file it in the coming days.

It was unlikely Bosse would have been released even without the stay, since federal prosecutors have already filed murder charges against him.

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servpro

Thursday, April 15, 2021, 8:35 AM

Cherokee Nation leaders gathered with community members in Bell on Wednesday to celebrate the official signing of the Wilma P. Mankiller and Charlie Soap Water Act, new legislation proposed by Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and unanimously approved by the Council of the Cherokee Nation earlier this week.

The act will inject at least $2 million in additional funding each year into the Cherokee Nation’s efforts at eliminating barriers to clean water access in the reservation. The act will also develop expert recommendations and help find solutions to remedy any deficiencies that negatively impact the health, safety and overall quality of life of Cherokee citizens.

“The Wilma P. Mankiller and Charlie Soap Water Act is a move in the right direction to ensure that everyone on the Cherokee Nation Reservation will be free of any barriers to accessing clean, safe water,” Chief Hoskin said. “Addressing individual and community infrastructure needs is critical. Although the Cherokee Nation invests substantial funding every year into improving water systems in Cherokee communities, we must expand our efforts and continue studying, identifying, and addressing the issues of our water systems. The Wilma P. Mankiller and Charlie Soap Water Act allows us to do that not only by identifying Cherokee citizens who continue to struggle with access to clean water, but by also providing the additional funding we need to ensure access to quality water systems for our Cherokee communities.”

The act is named in honor of former Principal Chief Wilma P. Mankiller and former Executive Director of Community Service Charlie Soap, who worked to create and improve water access in communities now serviced by the Cherry Tree Rural Water District, including the historic Bell water line in Adair County. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the historic Bell water line project, which Mankiller and Soap began planning as community organizers under the administration of former Principal Chief Ross Swimmer in 1981.

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Thursday, April 15, 2021, 8:35 AM

Cherokee Nation leaders gathered with community members in Bell on Wednesday to celebrate the official signing of the Wilma P. Mankiller and Charlie Soap Water Act, new legislation proposed by Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and unanimously approved by the Council of the Cherokee Nation earlier this week.

The act will inject at least $2 million in additional funding each year into the Cherokee Nation’s efforts at eliminating barriers to clean water access in the reservation. The act will also develop expert recommendations and help find solutions to remedy any deficiencies that negatively impact the health, safety and overall quality of life of Cherokee citizens.

“The Wilma P. Mankiller and Charlie Soap Water Act is a move in the right direction to ensure that everyone on the Cherokee Nation Reservation will be free of any barriers to accessing clean, safe water,” Chief Hoskin said. “Addressing individual and community infrastructure needs is critical. Although the Cherokee Nation invests substantial funding every year into improving water systems in Cherokee communities, we must expand our efforts and continue studying, identifying, and addressing the issues of our water systems. The Wilma P. Mankiller and Charlie Soap Water Act allows us to do that not only by identifying Cherokee citizens who continue to struggle with access to clean water, but by also providing the additional funding we need to ensure access to quality water systems for our Cherokee communities.”

The act is named in honor of former Principal Chief Wilma P. Mankiller and former Executive Director of Community Service Charlie Soap, who worked to create and improve water access in communities now serviced by the Cherry Tree Rural Water District, including the historic Bell water line in Adair County. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the historic Bell water line project, which Mankiller and Soap began planning as community organizers under the administration of former Principal Chief Ross Swimmer in 1981.

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speedway grille

Wednesday, April 14, 2021, 7:42 AM

Legislation filed in the Oklahoma Senate would help manage the financial burden facing ratepayers due to extreme price spikes in utility and energy bills in the wake of the February winter storm.

Through the process of securitization, Senate Bill 1049 and Senate Bill 1050 both would allow ratepayers to lower their monthly costs associated with the weather event and lengthen the period of time the increased costs could be paid out, said Sen. James Leewright, R-Bristow, chair of the Senate’s Business, Labor and Commerce Committee, and chair of the Senate Select Committee created to study this issue.

Leewright said it’s estimated that Oklahoma utility ratepayers are obligated for approximately $4.5 billion in increased energy costs associated with the February winter storm. Without action, ratepayers would face dramatic increases in their energy bills, and those bills would be due immediately in large sums.

“Doing nothing to help ratepayers manage that debt load is not an option. If we do nothing, families and seniors on fixed incomes could be faced with choosing between paying their February energy bill or paying for food and medicine,” Leewright said. “If we do nothing, small businesses could be forced to make layoffs or cutbacks to pay their energy bills. Securitization is the best path forward to help families manage the extreme costs related to the storm, and help small businesses manage the impact as they continue to recover from the pandemic.”

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firstar bank

Tuesday, April 13, 2021, 10:36 AM

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma announced that Kenneth Gene Morgan a.k.a Kenny Morgan of Muskogee, Oklahoma was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment and 3 years’ supervised release for Mail Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341 and Tax Fraud, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7206(1). Morgan was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $442,883.66 to Direct Traffic Control, Inc. and restitution in the amount of $119,467.87 to the Internal Revenue Service. The charges arose from an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Information to which Morgan entered a guilty plea alleged in Count One that from August 15, 2016 through on or about March 22, 2017, in the Eastern District of Oklahoma and elsewhere, Morgan devised a scheme to defraud Direct Traffic Control, Inc. by diverting insurance claim funds received by Direct Traffic Control, Inc. through the U.S. Mail into his personal bank account. Specifically, on February 15, 2017, Morgan knowingly took and received from an authorized depository for mail an envelope, containing a check in the amount of $303,619.55, addressed to Direct Traffic Control, Inc. and Kenny Morgan.

The Information further alleged that on or about April 15, 2018, in the Eastern District of Oklahoma and elsewhere, the defendant, willfully made and subscribed a false 2017 Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, which contained and was verified by a written declaration that it was made under the penalties of perjury, and which he did not believe to be true and correct as to every material matter, in that he knowingly reported Adjusted Gross Income of $176,564.00, whereas, he then and there knew that the Adjusted Gross Income failed to report approximately $208,563.35 of income.

Morgan was ordered to surrender to the United States Bureau of Prisons by noon on May 1, 2021 to begin serving his sentence of imprisonment at a facility to be designated by BOP.

The Honorable David C. Joseph, U.S. District Judge from the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, who is temporarily assigned to the Eastern District of Oklahoma, presided over the sentencing hearing. Assistant United States Attorney Douglas Horn represented the United States.

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sarah ladd

Tuesday, April 13, 2021, 7:45 AM

The Senate gave final approval Monday to legislation that will help speed up the process of issuing and renewing commercial driver licenses (CDLs) in Oklahoma. Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, is the principal Senate author of House Bill 1059 that she says addresses numerous problems that are bogging down tag agents and will bring the state in line with federal law.

“House Bill 1059 introduces several changes to help make the process of getting or renewing REAL ID compliant and non-compliant licenses, especially CDLs, more efficient by allowing tag agencies to process them rather than just the Department of Public Safety (DPS). This will help companies and industries get more drivers on the road while also reducing the number of people standing in lines at DPS,” Garvin said. “The pandemic and introducing REAL IDs have created a perfect storm that has overwhelmed DPS and tag agencies. These changes will help address some of the issues and help get licenses processed faster.”

HB 1059 removes provisions that currently allow commercial learner permit holders to take a CDL knowledge and skills test without training. This change reconciles state statute with federal law set to go into effect in 2022. The measure also authorizes local tag agencies to issue renewals, replacements, change of addresses, and downgrades of REAL ID compliant and non-compliant Class A, B or C licenses, making the process more efficient for customers. It authorizes agents to review identification documents for REAL ID compliant and non-compliant CDL’s. The bill further allows agents to issue a REAL ID compliant and non-compliant ID card to a customer even if their license is expired or suspended as long as they have an existing DPS driver license file. Currently, the requesting person must have a valid unexpired license to get an ID from an agent. Third Party Examiners (non-DPS CDL examiners) will be allowed to test anyone with a CDL permit whereas currently they can only administer drive tests to their own students. Finally, the bill removes the cap on fees designated examiners may charge to administer a Class D skills test.

The measure, by Rep. Brad Boles, R-Marlow, has the support of DPS and the State Chamber. It now goes to the governor’s desk for his final approval.

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diamond finance

Monday, April 12, 2021, 8:24 PM

Judge Robin Adair sustained Leroy Jemol Smith’s motion to dismiss four felony rape counts against him from the 1990s, conceding that legal issues surrounding his case were fodder for a higher court.

He overruled the district attorney’s argument that he could be tried for four rapes in Muskogee in the 1990s because he was not a member of an Indian tribe when the rapes were committed.

According to the DA, new DNA evidence identified Smith as the rapist, which allowed him to be tried for them, even after two decades. Smith, however, is registered 1/128th Indian, and registered with a tribe in 2003.

He was earlier released on a McGirt motion, then a federal judge ruled he could not be tried federally because the statute of limitations had expired. The chief of the Creek Nation vowed that the tribe would try him, but it never did.

Though Smith’s motion to dismiss the charges was sustained, today’s ruling will now be appealed by the state to a higher court.

He will not be released from jail.

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Monday, April 12, 2021, 8:29 AM

In December of 2019, Fayetteville officer Stephen Carr was ambushed and executed sitting inside his patrol car. Officer Carr was parked at the police station waiting for his partner to return to the vehicle when this happened.

After that ambush Muskogee Chief Johnny Teehee began looking at what his department could do to add security for officers. After lots of research and working together with the city manager, Mike Miller, it was decided that fencing the back parking lot of the police department would provide the added security they were seeking. The department announced yesterday that the project is now complete and it has an added level of security for officers.

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Monday, April 12, 2021, 8:29 AM

In December of 2019, Fayetteville officer Stephen Carr was ambushed and executed sitting inside his patrol car. Officer Carr was parked at the police station waiting for his partner to return to the vehicle when this happened.

After that ambush Muskogee Chief Johnny Teehee began looking at what his department could do to add security for officers. After lots of research and working together with the city manager, Mike Miller, it was decided that fencing the back parking lot of the police department would provide the added security they were seeking. The department announced yesterday that the project is now complete and it has an added level of security for officers.

https://muskogeenow.com/muskogeenow.png https://muskogeenow.com/police-finish-fence-around-parking-lot

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Friday, April 9, 2021, 9:11 AM

A bill designed to give home health care companies the ability to hire shift workers instead of live-in aids passed the House Health and Long Term Care Committee recently and is now available to be taken up by the full House.

Senate Bill 42, by Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa, and Dave Rader, R-Tulsa, would allow private home health care companies to schedule workers for four- to eight-hour shifts rather than the 24 hours now prescribed in law.

“These workers would still have to pass background checks and would still have to be trained by a Registered Nurse,” Dills said. “COVID showed us that many of our seniors who were forced to stay at home during the pandemic just need occasional help, such as with bathing, making meals or with transportation. Not every senior needs 24-hour assistance. This gives our seniors freedom to choose and greater flexibility as well as lower costs for their care.”

Dills said more health care workers are needed to meet the needs of an aging population in the state and the nation. Statistics show that 10,000 baby boomers reach the age of 65 every year, with 90% wanting to age in place, and yet 75% of those have multiple health issues with which they need help. There is an expected shortage of about 450,000 health care workers despite this being one of the fastest-growing fields.

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locke law office

Thursday, April 8, 2021, 11:56 AM

State Rep. Avery Frix, R-Muskogee, just issued the following letter addressing a spike in many families’ utility bills stemming from the February winter storm:

I’ve talked to a number of people from our district who have questions about the higher utility bills they anticipate after February’s unprecedented low temperatures and snow and ice that blanketed our state for days. The arctic storm not only hit Oklahoma but much of the country, and therein lies the problem.

Normally during a severe weather event, we could borrow power from neighboring states as part of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP). Unfortunately, since we were all in the same predicament, there was no power available to borrow, and the storm also affected the energy facilities. Many customers were hit with rolling blackouts in an effort to conserve energy and protect the grid. The storm also caused natural gas demand to rise dramatically, which, combined with the severe supply issues, caused a significant escalation in prices. In some cases around the state we saw natural gas prices rise over 30,000% per dekatherm.

The total bill Oklahoman’s are facing is estimated to be in the range of four to five billion dollars before any federal government aid, which we are expected to receive. Without legislative intervention, these costs could be directly passed on to utility customers, resulting in energy bills of thousands of dollars. To avoid this, the Legislature has been actively discussing actions to reduce the costs to customers while protecting state utilities.

First, we are conducting a thorough review of regulated utility purchasing decisions as well as market manipulation and price gouging reports. We’ve asked state Attorney General Mike Hunter to begin investigating as well.

If it is determined that utilities must pay the remaining cost after federal aid, it has been suggested costs be spread out over time with low interest rates. To do this requires legislation setting up a securitization program the state would oversee. This state entity would include expenses in bond payments from customers, and it would be limited to overseeing bonds for the 2021 arctic storm. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission would set the amount to be included in the bonds as well as complete an audit of all expenses before recovery from customers is started. The goal is to reduce immediate bill impact by delaying collection and then spreading costs over time. The investigatory proceeds could also be used to offset the cost of bonds.

We also are working on the issue of unregulated utilities, which sometimes lack the financial capability to carry debts. In order to help affected Oklahomans, the Legislature is looking to set up a loan program to help these unregulated utilities pay off storm debts over time so their customers are not hit with one large utility bill. We also are discussing potential legislation to address this issue. I and other lawmakers are working to make sure Oklahomans are not stuck with extremely high utility bills, and that we have a better plan in place moving forward.

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family time rentals

Thursday, April 8, 2021, 9:39 AM

Citing a desire to avoid interaction with the federal government, the City of Eufaula’s official Facebook account today posted a “Grant Alert” that stated the city would no longer apply for any grants.

“Although this may impact the speed of future progress it will help ensure that 100% of the project money is being paid for by Eufaula, and not supported by outside entities such as the federal government.”

A woman who answered the phone at the city said she assumed the city manager posted the post, but could not confirm that until he returns from a meeting.

The post also cited “prevailing campaign rhetoric” for its stance on grants.

The city manager has not yet returned a call for comment.

UPDATE: The city manager updated his post, stating that the new policy is because of positions taken by new city councilors, and if they want the policy to change, they can change it.

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Thursday, April 8, 2021, 7:28 AM

The Cherokee Nation presented more than $6.3 million to 107 school districts during the tribe’s annual Public School Appreciation Day held in a virtual format Wednesday. This year’s disbursement is the largest since the tribe began its annual contributions in 2002.

Aside from the millions of dollars the Cherokee Nation provides to the state of Oklahoma for education funding each year through the tribal-state gaming compact, the Cherokee Nation also allocates 38 percent of its annual car tag revenue directly to education. Each school district makes the decision on how to use the funding for their schools. In the past years, schools have used the funds to cover anything from teacher salaries, facilities, operations, technology improvements or school programs. Many schools also used tribal car tag dollars to respond and recover from the impacts of COVID-19 over the past year.

During Wednesday’s event, Bunch also announced that the Cherokee Nation will soon begin providing a virtual tutoring service for all students within in the tribe’s reservation in grades K-12, regardless of whether they are a tribal citizen. The Cherokee Nation will offer the service through Varsity Tutors, a company committed to assessing every student’s unique needs and learning styles and connecting them with a tutor best fit to work with the student. Cherokee Nation will work directly with schools in the tribe’s reservation to offer the tutoring service to students, and more details about this program will be announced at a future date.

Muskogee County received $591,366.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 10:17 AM

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a letter sent to MuskogeeNOW.com by Chris Cummings. It is his opinion.

There is a very legitimate-sounding scam going around. You may receive a phone call saying that you are eligible for a 50% discount off of your DirecTV bill for the next 2 years. You don’t have to bundle other services, it was a deal they are offering to customers. According to the story I heard, it was due to a partnership with eBay and eBay is trying to break away from PayPal (1st alarm - as I believe PayPal is an eBay company) and going to their own credit cards and payment options. The caveat is, you have to pay the first 8 months up front with an eBay credit card (2nd alarm). But, wait, there’s more. If you don’t have an eBay credit card, well, you can go purchase an eBay gift card at any retailer for the amount of 8 months times your discounted rate (in my case, $560.00).

DING-DING-DING- 3rd alarm. Now that the full 3-alarm scam alert sounded in my head, there was no doubt left that this was a full-blown, well-developed scam.

So, to let you know how real this appeared to be, I am very skeptical when it comes to things like this, so I’m already on alert. When I call the number back, I get the traditional AT&T intro (tones included), they have current information about my bill – the amount I paid and when I paid it, and programming package information.

I did give them the PIN number to my account because, at this point, I actually believed I was talking to AT&T/DirecTV. When I was transferred to the billing account rep, the eBay caveat came into play and my spidey sense started screaming. I declined the offer and since I had already given them my PIN, I called the REAL AT&T/DirecTV and changed my PIN before any harm could come. Since they already have my phone number and now have my PIN, they could make changes to my account.

AT&T noted my account and verified nothing untoward had been done in the 5-minutes since I terminated the call with the scammer. I was told there was already an investigation into this scam. I told the account rep that it sounds like there was a data breach - she did not confirm nor deny, just re-stated that there is an investigation in progress.

So, if I as an IT professional was initially convinced this was legit, others may be also. Please, scrutinize every offer and remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it generally is. There may be other AT&T services targeted with this scam as well

Chris Cummings

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treasure chest

Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 7:30 AM

With only an estimated 2,500 fluent Cherokee speakers worldwide, Cherokee Nation’s investment in the preservation and promotion of the Cherokee language has never been more important.

A new exhibit at John Ross Museum is providing a closer look at how that investment has been implemented in classroom settings, from the Cherokee Immersion School to the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program, and everything in between.

CWY 101: Cherokee Language Preservation in the Classroom runs through Dec. 31 and is part of the tribe’s bicentennial celebration honoring the impact of Sequoyah’s historic literary achievement.

“After Sequoyah revealed his syllabary 200 years ago, literacy in Cherokee Nation increased at an astounding rate,” said Krystan Moser, manager of cultural collections and exhibits for Cherokee Nation. “However, the Cherokee language was gradually spoken less over the time and within 100 years of the syllabary’s introduction, concerns grew that the language would eventually be lost forever.”

The exhibit examines Cherokee Nation’s efforts to reverse the decline in fluent speakers, such as the introduction of language courses as early as 1941 by former Cherokee Nation Principal Chief J.B. Milam. It also features a look at the present-day Cherokee Immersion School and the 2019 Durbin Feeling Language Preservation Act, which provided an additional $16 million to support language preservation, the largest language investment in Cherokee Nation history.

“Keeping our language alive is an important part of preserving our culture for the next generations,” Moser said. “We look forward to offering a variety of programs and exhibits throughout our yearlong celebration of the syllabary, and hope the public will join us to learn more about Cherokee Nation’s language preservation efforts and opportunities.”

The John Ross Museum highlights the life and legacy of John Ross and houses exhibits and interactive displays on the Trail of Tears, Civil War, Cherokee Golden Age and Cherokee Nation’s passion for education. The museum is housed in an old, rural school building, known as School #51, and sits at the foot of Ross Cemetery, where John Ross and other notable Cherokee citizens are buried. It is located at 22366 S. 530 Rd. in Park Hill, Oklahoma.

For information on Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism, including museum operations, please call (877) 779-6977 or visit www.VisitCherokeeNation.com.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2021, 9:17 AM

Aaron Laconsello

Aaron Laconsello, who murdered Dakota Lane, 4, on Nov. 9, 2010, will have a hearing at 10 a.m. today on his motion for post-conviction relief based on the McGirt case, according to court documents.

Laconsello murdered Lane with a pair of scissors after breaking into the boy’s home and assaulted Lane’s mother with the weapon, too.

He was convicted on May 31, 2011 and has been in prison since on two life sentences.

On March 5 of this year, he appealed for post-conviction relief based on the McGirt decision, contending that the state of Oklahoma did not have jurisdiction to convict him of murder, since he claims to be a member of the Cherokee Nation, and the murder was committed in the Creek reservation.

His case will receive a hearing in front of Judge Robin Adair today at 10 a.m.

If his case is dismissed, it will fall under federal jurisdiction. Assistant US Attorney Doug Horn has not yet returned calls for comment on whether his office would pursue Laconsello’s case if it is dismissed.

UPDATE 10:30 a.m.: District Attorney Orvil Loge had the following statement:

“Aaron Laconsello will not be released from prison,” he said. “The case has been passed to May 11.” Loge said he is expecting “the US attorney to indict him and return him for trial.”

Horn said he could not comment on an individual case that has not been filed.

“We are working closely on a daily basis with all of the DAs who are affected by McGirt,” he said. “We’re trying to make sure any defendant impacted by McGirt, where their cases are overturned and federal charges are evident, does not get released, on a case-by-case basis.”

Because any specific case that hasn’t been filed would still technically be in the investigation stage, he said, he is not allowed to comment. If and when charges are filed, he could comment then.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2021, 7:50 AM

The Cherokee Nation and Oklahoma Air National Guard broke ground Monday at the future site of 21 new homes for eligible Cherokee veterans and their families.

The project is part of the Cherokee Veterans Housing Initiative through the U.S. Department of Defense Innovative Readiness Training program. Plans for the new Mige Glory Addition include a total of 21 new homes over the next three years, with the first seven new single-family subsidized homes to be built in the first year along with the necessary infrastructure to support the housing addition.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said it was exciting to be at the groundbreaking ceremony Monday surrounded by construction equipment and pipes already in the ground. It is expected that housing pads and framing will be visible in the coming months.

“We know that the need for improving housing in Northeastern Oklahoma is great and that the need for our Cherokee population is even greater,” Hoskin said. “We should do everything we can to serve our Cherokee veterans, because they have served us and this great Nation. That’s where this housing project comes into play. It could be that our veterans are currently living in housing that just doesn’t meet their needs and these homes will better meet that need. We also know there are jarring statistics on veteran homelessness, and that is why we focused on this project over the past few years. Disproportionally, Native veterans are among the homeless veteran population and the more we can do in the area of housing, whether it’s emergency rental assistance or this type of long-term housing solution, the better, and we should keep focusing on solutions for this problem. Partnering with these military units, we have the tools and talent to make a big difference.”

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dragonfly dojo

Monday, April 5, 2021, 7:36 AM

Betty Wells, 78, of Gore was killed in a single-vehicle wreck this weekend, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Wells was driving her 2006 Ford Focus southbound on Country Road Indian Road “at a high rate of speed,” the patrol reported, when she failed to negotiate a left curve and departed the roadway to the right, overturning at least once.

She was transported by Cherokee Nation EMS to WW Hastings hospital in Tahlequah, where she was pronounced dead.

The cause of the wreck is cited as unsafe speed on a curve.

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Thursday, April 1, 2021, 8:11 AM

Attorney General Mike Hunter yesterday filed a motion requesting the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to rehear the state’s case against Shaun Bosse, a non-Indian who allegedly murdered a Chickasaw family, after the court ruled the state did not have jurisdiction to prosecute him due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma.

In the petition, Hunter writes a rehearing is warranted because the court overlooked arguments and authority offered by the state and reached a conclusion that conflicts with the state’s post-conviction statutes.

Attorney General Hunter said the request has nothing to do with challenging tribal sovereignty.

“This is about fighting to ensure justice for victims of not only the brutal crimes committed by Shaun Bosse, but also those being revictimized by fallout from the McGirt ruling,” Attorney General Hunter said. “We continue to believe the state has jurisdiction over non-Native Americans on tribal reservation lands, even if the federal government also has jurisdiction. Exclusive federal jurisdiction only applies to Native Americans.

Current understanding of the courts is that the federal government and the tribes have sole jurisdiction over crimes committed by or against Native Americans inside the boundaries of Native reservations.

“We also believe that prisoners who were convicted long ago and have sat on their claims for years cannot suddenly raise them today under Oklahoma law,” Hunter said. “Not only will this re-traumatize victims and their families, it creates the possibility these offenders will go free because the federal statutes of limitations have expired, or retrials are compromised because of issues with witnesses and evidence over a long period of time. The ruling by the Court of Criminal Appeals ignores statutory language surrounding criminal appeals, which is why we are asking the court for a rehearing.”

The attorney general is also asking the Court of Criminal Appeals to stay the ruling for rehearing.

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021, 8:18 AM

Leroy Jemol Smith of Muskogee was allegedly identified by DNA tests in a string of serial rapes in Muskogee in the 1990s. He was charged with the rapes, and then he was released after the McGirt ruling that the state has no jurisdiction over Indians involved in crimes inside an Indian reservation.

The federal government could not prosecute him because its statute of limitations had passed. The Creek Nation vowed to prosecute him, but didn’t.

Muskogee County District Attorney Orvil Loge filed four rape counts again on Smith, this time saying case law establishes that Smith was not an Indian when the rapes were committed.

“The Ninth Circuit held that for the federal government to have jurisdiction ... a defendant ... must have been an Indian at the time of the charged conduct.”

Since Smith only became a member of an Indian tribe after the alleged rapes occurred, Loge is arguing that the Oklahoma state court system has jurisdiction to try him for the rapes.

Loge’s argument states that there is a two-prong legal test for whether someone is an Indian at a particular time, at least for the purposes of McGirt: they must have some Indian blood, which never changes, and they must be a member of a federally-recognized tribe. Smith, he said, may have had the blood at the time, but he did not have membership in a tribe until after the rapes occurred.

Smith became a member of the Choctaw Nation in 2013, 20 years after the first rape and 18 years after the final rape. He is 1/128 Indian, according to his CDIB card.

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021, 7:54 AM

A destination for locals and tourists alike, downtown Tahlequah is home to several Cherokee Nation cultural and historic sites near the iconic Capitol Square. This week, the tribe announced a new project that will connect those sites and nearby resources.

A Cherokee art park and cultural pathway are being constructed to enable pedestrians to safely travel between the Cherokee National History Museum on Muskogee Avenue and the Cherokee National Prison Museum on Choctaw Street, as well as several additional sites, including the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum, Cherokee Arts Center, Kawi Café and Spider Gallery.

“This is a real opportunity to invest in our capital city and showcase a unique collection of cultural and historical resources that are very much a natural draw for visitors,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “The pathway will serve as a tourism anchor and downtown destination. The First Lady, January Hoskin, and I love Tahlequah and we love Cherokee art, which makes this project near and dear to our hearts. We know this improvement will amplify all of Cherokee Nation’s strategies to share our culture with our fellow citizens, Tahlequah community members and guests from all over the world.”

The project will enhance pedestrian accessibility with new walkways and add features such as a public gathering space, art displays, a chalk wall, new landscaping, outdoor lighting and park-like furniture.

The project is slated for completion in late summer 2021.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2021, 8:41 AM

In an effort to clearly define the roles of both the state and federal government, the full Senate adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 6 on Monday.

Authored by Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, the resolution renews the state Legislature’s commitment to preserving and reasserting its powers and authority over the responsibilities granted to states under the United States Constitution as specifically protected by the 10th Amendment.

It also urges the Oklahoma federal delegation to support the Constitution and limit federal action to only those areas granted to the federal government, reserving all other areas of action to the state.

“The founders of our nation crafted the Constitution to limit the powers of the federal government and protect the powers of the states,” Bergstrom said. “Alexander Hamilton described this as forming a ‘double security to the people.’ However, over time, the federal government has frequently claimed to itself rights and powers that the Constitution has reserved to the states and the people.”

In fact, Hamilton favored a very powerful federal government and weak state governments.

The Oklahoma resolution calls for the creation of a National Federalism Task Force to convene a series of federalism summits to develop plans for restoring and maintaining divisions in the powers, roles and responsibilities of the general government and the states.

“SCR 6 is a first step toward pushing back against the federal government’s overreach,” Bergstrom said. “The Oklahoma State Legislature is calling upon all other states whose leaders desire to protect their state’s powers, citizens’ rights and governing voice to participate in a task force to develop plans for restoring appropriate divisions of powers and roles between the states and federal government.

“We must push back on Washington’s encroachment of the authority rightly belonging to Oklahoma and other states in the union.”

Rep. Jay Steagall, R-Yukon, is the House author for the measure.

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Monday, March 29, 2021, 8:49 AM

Boyd Christie, 56, of Tahlequah was killed in a motorcycle wreck on March 26 just north of Tahlequah, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Christie was riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle westbound on Oklahoma Highway 82 around 2 p.m., when a 2015 Chrysler 200 driven by Sidney Hair, 22, of Hulbert failed to stop at a stop sign on Elm Grove Road, the patrol reported.

Christie’s motorcycle struck the car and he was thrown into a ditch, where he died.

He was wearing a helmet.

The Patrol has not yet determined the condition of Hair at the time, but declared the cause of the wreck as failure to stop at stop sign.

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Saturday, March 27, 2021, 8:21 AM

Joseph Elliott, 87, of Muskogee was killed on March 23 when his vehicle was rear-ended in Fort Gibson, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Elliott was westbound on US Highway 62 when a car driven by Kevin Anderson, 26, of Fort Gibson rear-ended him, according to the patrol. Anderson was not injured.

Both drivers were wearing seatbelts.

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Friday, March 26, 2021, 11:48 AM

Agents from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation have arrested the wife of Ada Pastor David Evans in connection with his death. Kristie Dawnell Evans, 47, was taken into custody yesterday, after allegedly confessing her role in her husband’s death to agents. Last night, agents also arrested 26-year-old Kahlil Deamie Square in connection with David Evans’ death. Kristie Evans is being held in the Pontotoc County Jail and Square is in the Cleveland County Jail.

The investigation began on March 22, when the Ada Police Department requested OSBI assistance with a homicide. Just after 1 a.m., Kristie Evans placed a 9-1-1 call stating an intruder had entered her home at 1420 Northcrest Drive and shot her husband. When officers arrived at the residence, they found 50-year-old Pastor David Evans with a gunshot wound. He died at the scene. The Ada Police Department requested a full investigation by the OSBI.

Based on evidence collected and interviews conducted, Kristie and Square were identified as suspects. Yesterday morning, Kristie met agents at the Ada Police Department where she allegedly confessed and was immediately placed into custody. Law enforcement were able to locate Square at a residence on South Harrah Road in Newalla., Cleveland County. Just after 11 p.m., Square was taken into custody without incident.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2021, 8:08 AM

David Wayne Atchison, 51, of Wagoner is charged with two felonies and three misdemeanors after he allegedly attempted to elude Muskogee police officers on March 21, possessed a firearm while committing that felony, impersonated a police officer and resisted an officer while possessing a controlled, dangerous substance, according to documents filed with the case.

After officers tried to pull Atchison over for an alleged traffic violation, he reportedly refused to pull over and stop. Once officers were able to stop him, they discovered him to be in possession of a Smith and Wesson .9 millimeter pistol and a clear baggie with a crystal substance inside.

Atchison allegedly presented officers with a Wagoner County badge and a Veterans Affairs badge and claimed to be an officer with those agencies.

After officers handcuffed him, Atchison also allegedly attempted to run off.

He faces a sounding docket at 10 a.m. in Muskogee County District Court.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2021, 1:48 PM

Muskogee’s mask mandate has been lifted by the city council, with a few exceptions.

Masks must still be worn indoors on city property.

Outdoors and in area businesses, masks are not required by the city, but business owners can still require masks if they desire, according to City Councilor Traci McGee.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2021, 7:35 AM

Bacone College will host a benefit golf tournament May 1 at Cherokee Springs Golf Club in Tahlequah to support its new golf program.

The tournament cost is $150 per individual or $500 for a team of four. Sponsorships are also available.

The program features both men’s and women’s teams. Funds raised will go to team gear, travel and future tournaments.

To register or donate, call 918-360-1514.

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Monday, March 22, 2021, 7:51 AM

Cherokee Nation is offering free Wi-Fi at 35 drive-up locations throughout its reservation. Cherokee Connect, the tribe’s universal connectivity initiative, is focused on serving as a broadband resource and deploying connectivity that fills the gap for Cherokee households currently lacking internet access.

“As we continue working toward the long-term goal of delivering affordable, reliable broadband, we know there is an urgent need for citizens to safely connect,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “These sites are now available for families to apply for assistance, elders to get access to telehealth and our students to pursue their education. The way we live now depends on our ability to connect. It’s my hope that these sites can bring a sense of comfort to people, while we continue to push forward with our broadband plan and bridge the digital divide that burdens northeast Oklahoma.”

The self-contained, wireless-driven Cherokee Connect technology allows Cherokee citizens to drive up within 100 feet of the signage, remain in their vehicles and connect to the internet, ensuring they are safely socially distanced while completing necessary online tasks. Simply connect to the “Cherokee Connect” network, accept the terms and conditions and then begin browsing the web.

Currently, 26 Cherokee Connect sites are available for public use, and the remaining locations will be complete over the next several weeks. The Cherokee Nation focused on conveniently locating the sites throughout the reservation with a special emphasis on easy access for those living in rural areas. Cherokee Connect locations are available in the following communities:

Adair County: Chewey, Stilwell, Westville Cherokee County: Hulbert, Tahlequah Craig County: Vinita, Welch and White Oak Delaware County: Grove, Jay, Kansas, Kenwood and West Siloam Springs Mayes County: Adair, Pryor and Salina Muskogee County: Fort Gibson, Muskogee and Warner Nowata County: Nowata and South Coffeyville Rogers County: Catoosa, Chelsea, Claremore and Oologah Sequoyah County: Roland, Sallisaw and Vian Tulsa County: Sperry Washington County: Ochelata and Ramona

“Most of our kids live up the river which is a dead zone. There are kids who have never been on the Internet at home their entire lives,” said Steve Sands, President of the Chewey Community Center, which is slated to get a Cherokee Connect Wi-Fi site. “Now, they can come here and use the Wi-Fi, and see what everyone is doing or stay engaged, and their parents can use it while their kids play.”

The tribe has also launched a new website, connect.cherokee.org, where citizens can find the exact location of a Cherokee Connect site, take a connectivity survey, and learn more about Cherokee Nation’s broadband efforts and federal broadband subsidies for low-income households on tribal lands.

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