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Cherokees file embezzlement charges against ex-foundation director

The Cherokee Nation filed charges this week against former Cherokee Nation Foundation Executive Director Kimberlie Gilliland for embezzlement and fraud.

The Cherokee Nation Office of the Attorney General filed criminal charges in Cherokee Nation District Court against Gilliland, seeking jail time and fines. Former AG Diane Hammons has been appointed as a special prosecutor for the case.

The Cherokee Nation Foundation, represented by attorney Ralph Keen Jr., has also filed a civil case in tribal court, seeking a repayment by Gilliland of $232,000 in funds in addition to punitive damages.

“It is the duty of the attorney general to safeguard the assets of the Cherokee Nation,” Attorney General Todd Hembree said. “During this investigation, we uncovered fraud and corruption that cannot, and will not, be tolerated in our organization.”

The charges stem from a more than two-year investigation involving irregularities in Gilliland’s salary, travel, spending and awarding of foundation scholarships. Gilliland was appointed to serve as executive director in 2009 and served until 2013.

For more information, visit http://www.cherokee.org/attorneygeneral/Home.aspx.

Friday, July 29, 2016, 5:59 AM

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End-of-summer bash starts tonight at the Martin Luther King Center

The Martin Luther King Community Center in downtown Muskogee is wrapping up the summer with a bash tonight and tomorrow, according to Derrick Reed of the center.

Tonight, there is a free giveaway of t-shirts and prizes from the Muskogee Fraternal Order of Police. Tomorrow, there is a free barbecue, guest speakers, three-on-three basketball and more.

The events are free and run from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Friday, July 29, 2016, 5:55 AM

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Catch Muskogee guitar ace tonight before she heads to Berklee

The Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame will host Millisa Henderson tonight at 8 pm at the Frisco Depot, 401 S. 3rd in Muskogee.

Millisa is the 2016 recipient of the Berklee Lollapalooza Endowed Scholarship, a four-year, full-tuition award that will bring Henderson to Berklee in the fall.

Henderson, an 18-year-old guitarist who began taking lessons in 2009, has been lead guitarist/vocalist for rock bands Insane Audio and Signs of Warning, and guitarist for the Muskogee High School Jazz Band and the Pride of Muskogee Marching Band. She has also been a member of Guitarchestra, a Tulsa, Oklahoma-based orchestra that performs rock arrangements of classical pieces.​ Henderson was awarded second place – out of 900 entries – in the 2015 Queen of Strings competition. Also a vocalist and pianist, her performances cross genres including rock, funk, and fusion. She is currently working on an EP of original music.

Henderson attended Berklee’s Guitar Sessions in 2013 and the Five-Week Summer Performance Program in 2014 and 2015.

“After being on campus, taking classes with incredibly talented teachers, and discovering other young people with my same love of music, I knew becoming an undergraduate at Berklee was something I really wanted to do,” she said. “I feel that the key to a sincere, lifelong music career is through music education and study at an esteemed school.”

Doors open tonight at 7:30. Admission is $5 and all ages are welcome!

Thursday, July 28, 2016, 5:09 AM

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Top fugitive captured

James Dean was captured in Tulsa this week

Fugitive apprehension agents with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ Inspector General’s Office apprehended one of the department’s top 15 fugitives on Monday.

James Dean, 30, walked away from the Tulsa Transitional Center on July 5. He was serving time for possession of a firearm.

Agents tracked Dean to a hotel near East 51st Street South and South 129th E. Ave., where they found a room registered under the name of his girlfriend, Nicole Dutra.

After agents surrounded the room, Dean surrendered without incident and was taken into custody. Dutra was also arrested for harboring a fugitive.

Dean was placed on the DOC Top 15 Fugitive list because of his weapons charge and because of his known affiliation with the Irish Mob prison gang.

Corrections Director Joe M. Allbaugh commended the work of fugitive agents with the Inspector General’s Office, who have brought in 90 fugitives who have attempted to unlawfully leave state custody since January. Eight have been on the department’s list of 15 Most Wanted Fugitives.

“I am proud of the agents with the Inspector General’s Office, who continue demonstrating their effectiveness and ability to apprehend those who pose a danger to the public,” Allbaugh said. “Agents work around the clock, gathering intelligence and staking out areas of interest to ensure safety on the streets and within our state’s prisons.”

Thursday, July 28, 2016, 5:03 AM

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Crashes killed 50 in June, OHP reports

Preliminary information from the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety shows 50 traffic-related fatalities in June 2016, compared to 66 in the same month last year.

43 of the fatality victims were Oklahoma residents.

The number of fatalities on each type of roadway: state highway, 16; county road, 11; U.S. highway, 10; interstate highway, 6; city street, 5; turnpike, 2.

28 of the fatality victims were drivers; 11 were passengers; four were pedestrians; seven were motorcycle operators.

The daily fatality numbers include five deaths on Sundays; six on Mondays; eight on Tuesdays; 11 on Wednesdays; seven on Thursdays; seven on Fridays; six on Saturdays. There were four days in the month of June with no reported fatalities.

According to police reports, three fatalities were alcohol-related.

There were 12 female victims and 38 male victims.

None of the victims was age 20 or younger. The 36- to 40-year-old age group had the most fatalities with eight, followed by the 56- to 60-year-old age group with five.

Logan County led the state with a total of four fatalities, followed by the following counties with three fatalities each: Canadian, Mayes, Pontotoc, Tulsa and Wagoner.

Some 33.3 percent of those who died in traffic collisions were not wearing safety belts at the time of the crash.

For additional statistics, please visit the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office website: www.ohso.ok.gov.

Thursday, July 28, 2016, 4:57 AM

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Area man charged with multiple counts of molesting 11-year-old girl

Luther Don Hyslope

Luther Don Hyslope, 54, of Webbers Falls has been charged in Muskogee County District Court with four counts of child sexual abuse, according to court documents filed in the case.

The details of the case are too graphic to repost here. The 11-year-old victim told police that the suspect touched her chest, mouth, buttocks and vagina with his mouth and penis, and then described graphically what happened when the act was completed.

The multiple events occurred in a home in a Webbers Falls and in a black Chevrolet pickup, the girl told investigators.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016, 8:52 AM

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House explodes by Tahlequah

A house just east of Tahlequah exploded around an hour and a half ago, according to authorities working the scene.

At least one person is believed to have been inside the house, which was leveled by the explosion, heard all across the county.

Tahlequah Fire Department, Cherokee Nation Emergency Medical Service and the sheriff's office are on the scene, along with the ATF and state fire marshal.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016, 8:46 AM

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Longtime Muskogee teacher speaks at the DNC

Cedric Johnson speaks at the Democrat National Convention.

Cedric Johnson, longtime teacher in Muskogee schools, represented Muskogee at the Democrat National Convention today as delegate votes were counted, eventually nominating Hillary Rodham Clinton as the Democrat nominee for president.

Johnson spoke briefly on the national stage:

Eight years ago, I was glued to the television in my home in Muskogee, Oklahoma as the first African-American accepted the nomination for president of the United States. I watched that moment on TV and I knew our world had changed forever and had changed for the better. Tonight, eight years later, we are taking a step forward for equality. The late Jake Simmons, Clara Lupa would be equally as proud tonight. May God continue to bless the United States of America.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 6:06 PM

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Fort Gibson woman dies in wreck

Johnie Oakball, 66, of Fort Gibson is dead after a crash one mile east of Fort Gibson late yesterday, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Oakball was a passenger in a 2010 Dodge Caliber west on US 62 by 2-mile Road. A 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse driven by Regan Thompson, 19, of Fort Gibson failed to yield while coming off of 2-mile Road, according to the patrol.

The two vehicles collided, sending Thompson and Bret Adams of Tahlequah, who was driving the Dodge, to the hospital.

Oakball was pronounced dead at the scene.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 7:27 AM

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Council waits on hiring new city manager

The city council voted to enter negotiations with current assistant city manager Mike Miller, according to councilors spoken to after the vote.

If the city and Miller are able to come to an agreement on the details of his employment, the council will meet again to approve or deny him as city manager.

After that, assuming he is hired for the position, he will enter a probationary period, during which current Interim City Manager Roy Tucker will hand over responsibilities slowly.

If the arrangement doesn't work, Tucker will continue to manage the city, the councilors said.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 7:18 AM

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Muskogee man charged wth raping 13-year-old girl

Paul Wilson

Paul Wilson, 18, of Muskogee is charged in Muskogee County District Court with forcing a 13-year-old girl to have sex with him after also having oral sex with her.

Consensual sex is still illegal when a person is 13 years old, because they have not reached the age where it is legally possible for them to form consent to sexual acts, according to Oklahoma law.

Wilson is alleged to have forced her several times to have sex with him between December of 2014 and December of 2015. He was 17 at the time, but is being charged as an adult in the crimes.

Monday, July 25, 2016, 9:12 AM

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City to decide on new manager behind closed doors tonight

Mike Miller may be hired as city manager tonight.

The Muskogee City Council is set to meet tonight behind closed doors to decide whether to hire assistant city manager Mike Miller as city manager.

Miller has been serving for six months as assistant to Interim City Manager Roy Tucker, who is also the city attorney.

The move comes as a surprise, because the council last talked in public about the process of hiring a city manager at a council retreat, where no consensus was reached on how to proceed with the process.

Between then and now, however, numerous "council communication luncheons" were held, where the matter was discussed and apparently several city councilors then asked Tucker to put the hiring of Miller on the agenda. A "council communication luncheon" is an event where councilors meet, but the meetings are not open to the public because they don't constitute a quorum of the council, even though council business is discussed.

Several city employees and counselors have described Miller as competent and likable.

The process of hiring him, however, has irked Councilor Marlon Coleman, who has spoken out about the process, but is unavailable to comment for this story.

Tonight's agenda:

  • Renewal of an interlocal agreement with Hilldale Public Schools to provide law enforcement and school resource officer functions for the district's campuses within the city's municipal boundaries.
  • Approved resolutions declaring the following parcels of property as surplus to the needs of the city and authorize conveyance of said property as follows: 1116 Tamaroa St. to Jerry Washington in the amount of $363; 214 Kinsley St. to Clark G. Gilford Sr. on behalf of Blood Bought E.T. Church of God in Christ Inc. in the amount of $363; 936 S. G St. to Andrew K. Eaton on behalf of Yaffe Iron and Metal Co. Inc. in the amount of $363; 934 S. E St. to Gary and Angie Ellis in the amount of $363; 228 N. 12th St. to Lynette Elles as part of the incentive properties program.
  • Proposal from Ron Drake Consulting for services related to downtown revitalization.
  • Amendments to the city's affirmative action plan for fiscal year 2017, Council Policy 3-1-1.
  • One-year cooperative agreement with the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame and Museum Inc. for fiscal year 2017, with public funds totaling $15,000 for operating costs. 
  • Appointment of Mike Combs to a four-year term on the Wellness Initiative Committee beginning Aug. 1.
  • Ongoing membership with the Oklahoma Municipal League for fiscal year 2017. 
  • Appointment of Ward I Councilor Patrick Cale to a two-year term on the City of Muskogee Foundation Board beginning Aug. 1.
  • Convening an executive session pursuant to 25 O.S. § 307B.1 to discuss the appointment of Mike Miller as city manager and, if necessary, take appropriate action in open session.
  • Convening an executive session pursuant to 25 O.S. § 307B.2 to discuss negotiations with International Association of Fire Fighters Local 57 and, if necessary, take appropriate action in open session.

Monday, July 25, 2016, 8:36 AM

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Record high temperatures put Muskogee under heat advisory

Record-breaking temperatures in the Muskogee area today have led the National Weather Service to declare a heat advisory for Muskogee. Right now, at 4:30 p.m., the 100-degree temperature outside feels like 111 degrees, with 40 percent humidity.

Tomorrow is predicted to be cooler and rainy.

Today, the combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a dangerous situation in which heat illnesses are possible, the weather service stated:

Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible... reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Never leave anyone in a closed... parked vehicle. Temperatures inside can reach over 150 degrees quickly... resulting in heat stroke and death.

Pets can also succumb to the effects of excessive heat. Ensure pets have adequate drinking water and a shady place to rest.

Sunday, July 24, 2016, 2:29 PM

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Tahlequah man works for Senate Indian Affairs in Washington

TAHLEQUAH - Cherokee Nation citizen Chase Goodnight, a Tahlequah native, is spending the summer interning with the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C.

Throughout his internship, Goodnight is gaining experience working on pervasive issues in tribal communities and legislative affairs.

“The work this committee is doing has a huge impact on Indian Country,” he said. “My internship is helping me to develop a better understanding of how the committee supports the Senate and how constituent concerns are used to impact policy.”

In 2014 he was awarded the Cherokee Nation Businesses scholarship through the Cherokee Nation Foundation and is currently in his third year at the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

Friday, July 22, 2016, 8:07 AM

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Pilot, air force airman killed in plane crash near Enid

A 55-year-old man and his 25-year-old pilot are dead after the private airplane they were flying in crashed to the ground yesterday, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Randall Lee Harris, of Owasso was the pilot and Lt. Dale Bryan Shillington of Vance Air Force Base in Enid was the passenger.

Harris was flying a 1993 Runyan Skybolt 300 fixed wing plane and attempted an aerobatic maneuver, the patrol reported. He apparently lost control of the plane and never regained it, crashing into the ground in an open, private field.

Both men were pronounced dead at the scene from massive injuries. Both men were pinned in the airplane for an hour before they were extracted.

Friday, July 22, 2016, 8:03 AM

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Check out local art, artists on Saturday

Spray paint artist Brandon Phillips will be creating art live during the Art Crawl on Saturday.

Dozens of food vendors, artists, artisans and others will gather in downtown Muskogee on Saturday for the Art Crawl.

The event will happen on the east side of Main Street between the Columbus Street overpass and Okmulgee Street, with parking available to the east.

In addition to art vendors and food, there will be music and an art competition.

The free event starts at 6:30 p.m. and ends at 9:30 p.m.

More information.

Thursday, July 21, 2016, 5:28 AM

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Breastfeeding week aims to inform, support

Sisters April Wright and Annie Stevenson breast-feed their babies.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is promoting World Breastfeeding Week August 1 through 7. Studies have shown that breastfeeding provides children with the nutrients they need to help with development and to build a strong immune system. Breastfeeding not only provides ideal nutrition for babies but also has long-lasting positive effects for mothers.

Based on the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System data from 2013, 82.7 percent of Oklahoma mothers began breastfeeding their babies after birth. While most new mothers start out breastfeeding, many Oklahoma mothers do not exclusively breastfeed for six months or continue for up to two years of age as recommended by the World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund.

Data provided in The Oklahoma Toddler Survey from 2014 indicates that although the numbers are improving, only 34 percent of mothers were breastfeeding at six months and 17 percent of mothers were breastfeeding at 12 months or more. This does not meet the Healthy People 2020 Breastfeeding Objectives aimed to increase the proportion of infants who are breastfed at six months to 60.6 percent and at one year to 34.1 percent.

“Breastfeeding not only provides nutrition for the baby but has long-lasting positive effects for the mother as well,” says Rosanne Smith, breastfeeding coordinator, Women, Infants and Children Service. “By supporting mothers throughout their breastfeeding journey, each of us has the opportunity to build a brighter future leading to healthier kids and healthier families.”

The recently published Lancet Breastfeeding Series review shows evidence of the health and economic benefits of breastfeeding. Children who are breastfed have decreased infections, lower dental malocclusions and higher intelligence when compared to children who are not breastfed. Mothers who breastfeed have a decreased chance of breast cancer, improved birth spacing and also have less risk of developing diabetes and ovarian cancer.

Local health department clinics will be providing various activities to recognize and encourage breastfeeding mothers and also to teach expectant women, family members and the community the importance of breastfeeding, and how the practice can lead to a healthier tomorrow.

For breastfeeding support and information, call the Oklahoma Breastfeeding Hotline toll free at 1-877-271-MILK (6455) or visit the Oklahoma breastfeeding website at http://bis.health.ok.gov.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016, 8:06 AM

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Deaths page is now updated and available

Our deaths and obits pages have had problems for awhile, stuck in the old design of the site, which made them hard for everyone to view.

We have finally updated the feature, combining death notices and obituaries into one page, called "Deaths". You can find them in a link at the bottom left of this page.

More importantly, our new program automatically updates the death notices/obituaries as the funeral homes do, so you're sure to get the latest information about your friends and loved ones. The records will be as complete and comprehensive as possible.

Death notices are a big deal for most news sources, so we're proud to be able to provide them for you in the easiest-to-view fashion.

Right now, you'll see the 15 most recent notices. In the coming days, we'll add the ability to search and to go farther back in the records.

Oh, and as always, our death notices and obituaries are published free of charge - we don't believe in adding to grieving families' financial burdens by charging them to publish their loved ones' life stories.

You can access the death notices/obituaries page here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016, 9:36 PM

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National Review calls for Coburn to replace Trump

As the Republican National Convention continues, a name from Muskogee is popping up in national publications and at the convention to serve as a lightning rod for those in the party who don't want Trump: Dr. Tom Coburn, former congressman and senator from Oklahoma.

After the convention shut down a possible anti-Trump revolt yesterday, the national conservative magazine National Review reiterated its stance that Coburn could pass convention muster, would solve the "Trump problem" and could still be done legally - and that Coburn had apparently indicated he would be willing to serve, even after rejecting the idea of running for president initially.

The magazine outlined how that could still happen, even after the anti-Trump revolt was put down yesterday:

Two steps: 1) Delegate petitions to put his name in nomination. 2) Delegate abstentions on the first ballot. . . . Moreover, even the GOP’s own rules on the binding of delegates does not disallow abstentions. Here is the standing rule: “If any delegate bound by these rules, state party rule or state law to vote for a presidential candidate at the national convention demonstrates support under Rule 40 for any person other than the candidate to whom he or she is bound, such support shall not be recognized.” In other words, if your state’s primary would require than any vote cast by a delegate be cast for Trump, that delegate may not (on the first ballot) vote for Cruz, or Rubio, or anybody else. But note that while it precludes a vote “for any person other than the candidate to whom he or she is bound,” it does not preclude a decision not to vote at all. This is both common sense and a basic tenet of representative government. There is no known theory of small-‘r’ republican government that allows an organization to count a vote as cast when it hasn’t been cast at all.

You can read more here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016, 7:51 AM

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Don't freak; the person you're seeing may be an assessor

Appraisers from the Muskogee County Assessor's office are currently doing visual inspections of property throughout the county, according to County Assessor Dan Ashwood.

Assessors will look at around 12,000 pieces of property this year, he said.

The workers are covering the eastern part of Muskogee and outlying rural areas.

"Don't be alarmed if you see a vehicle driving slowly through your neighborhood and taking pictures," he said. "The appraisers' vehicles will be marked, and they will be wearing identification badges."

Some may need to measure outbuildings, carports, porches, additions or pools for the appraisals, he said.

If you have more questions, call the Assessor's office at 918-682-8781.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016, 7:34 AM

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