Holiday cash winners announced

If you have a Magic Holiday Giveaway ticket with the number 021962 from Dillard's, you won $10,000.

You should call the Chamber of Commerce at 918-682-2401.

If no one claims that prize, the alternates are:

  1. 559497 from Hughes Lumber
  2. 217917 from Creek Nation Casino
  3. 254204 from Save-A-Lot
  4. 394487 from Charlie's Chicken East
  5. 134541 from Bob Loftis Furniture
  6. 202986 from Creek Nation Casino
  7. 897940 from Orscheln Farm and Home
  8. 801333 from Un-Earthed Treasure
  9. 493713 from Golden Corral
  10. 463794 from FFO Home
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Comments are the bane of my existence

Comments are really hard to do. The reasons are myriad, but I'll tell you the top reason why comments suck:

Spammers.

If I ever meet a spammer in person, I will exhaust every cuss word I know. Twice.

Adding the ability for readers to comment means opening the site to end users. It means a screen door on the submarine, if you will.

It's easy enough to take the text a reader enters and publish that text at the end of a story. That part is childishly simple. But not everyone wants to read comments, so I hide them by default, providing a link for those who are interested. Even that part isn't really hard.

What's really hard is preventing spammers from overwhelming the system with ads for viagra, penis enhancement pills, canadian pharmacies, porn and other junk. They have little programs called robots that go to sites that allow comments and they enter in tons and tons of comments on each story, hoping, I guess, that some bored person will read them and click on one of the links. They're scum of the earth, and I mean that literally, not figuratively.

I've tried lots of strategies to stop the spammers from co-opting the comments here. I've tried using e-mail verification, meaning when you sent a comment, the system sent you an email, and when you clicked on the link in that email, the system realized you were a real person and allowed your comments. That worked for awhile, until the service that hosted my sites shut them all down, thinking that we were spammers because of the sheer volume of emails we were sending out as spammers tried to get their spam through the system.

Then I tried Facebook comments, but Facebook's servers are so overloaded that loading this page slowed to a crawl as Facebook's servers tried to keep up.

Then I tried a captcha system, which is a tiny image that contains text, and the user types in the text, verifying that they are a real person. That worked for awhile, until I tried to move the system to a new database.

Most recently, I recoded the entire comments system, using a new captcha system AND email verification (readers would only have to verify their email once, then they would forever be accepted as a real person). That worked until I realized that some Android and Windows users couldn't comment (and NO ONE at the VA could) because of the way their computers handled JavaScript, which was the language I was using to make sure the comments could just load on the page without forcing you to go to a new page after you commented.

You wouldn't believe the emails I got from users who couldn't comment. They were NOT kind about their ability to not comment on a site they're using for free. But I digress.

I'm working YET AGAIN on comments, and hopefully this time they'll work for everyone, even the grumpy ones. We wouldn't be having such problems if spammers would do evolution a favor and jump off a cliff.

But I mean that in a sweet way.

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Fifteen-year-old girl reports rape by adult

A 15-year-old Muskogee girl has reported being raped by an adult suspect, according to Muskogee Police.

The girl said her boyfriend, who is an adult (18), has consensual sex with her. Under Oklahoma law, that is illegal; the age of consent is 16.

The boyfriend's friend, who is 19, forced the girl to have sex with him, too, she reported.

It is unclear at this time whether arrests have been made in the case.

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Fort Gibson man hurt in wreck

David Perry, 26, of Fort Gibson was taken to Tahlequah City Hospital with internal injuries after the F-150 he was driving east on US 62 about half a mile east of Fort Gibson drove into the center median and ran into an embankment.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is investigating the cause of the accident, during which no one else was injured.

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Flu vaccine available in homes

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that influenza activity continues to increase in the United States and most of the country is now experiencing high levels of influenza-like illnesses. As such, the CDC continues to recommend influenza vaccination for people who have not yet been vaccinated this season. Muskogee County EMS has announced it is offering flu vaccines to persons who are homebound or who are unable to schedule an appointment with their doctor or attend any of the local flu shot clinics due to their homebound condition, and who are not being cared for by a home health agency. Anyone 18 years of age and older is eligible to receive the vaccine, with a special emphasis placed on the elderly and those with chronic health problems.

Muskogee County EMS (ambulance) paramedics will go the home of the person and administer the flu vaccine. The goal is to reduce the number of serious illnesses or deaths related to influenza in Muskogee County. Muskogee County EMS has received the support of the Oklahoma State Department of Health and has been recognized as the first ambulance service in Oklahoma to offer this program.

There will be no fee to persons with Medicare Part B (EMS will bill Medicare). For persons without Medicare Part B, the cost is $25.

To schedule an appointment or for more information, please call Muskogee County EMS at 683-0130

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Bondswoman arrested, charged with embezzlement

Muskogee bondswoman Monica Reece has been arrested and booked into the Muskogee City/County Jail on a charge of embezzlement.

Reece, who formerly wrote bonds for Advantage Bail in Muskogee, is accused of stealing more than $1,000 from Advantage Bail between July of 2013 and December of 2014.

According to an affidavit signed by the Muskogee Police, Reece charged suspects a fee for posting a bond for them, but only turning a portion of the fees in - or keeping all the money. Then, according to the affidavit, she wouldn't enter the bonds into the bonding company's system.

Read the case here

Read the affidavit here

Reece is being held on a $10,000 bond.

Filed under: Local Crime Exclusive
This story has been revised 1 time
  • By Leif Wright on Monday, December 15, 2014 at 2:08:45 p.m. (VIEW)
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Husband and wife win weight-loss challenge

Tommy and Cindy Anderson of Muskogee won the MuskogeeNOW.com Fitter By Christmas Weight-loss challenge this weekend.

The challenge, which was to see who could lose the largest percentage of body fat over three months, drew more than 150 contestants, whose combined weight was more than fifteen tons.

The Andersons, who had already embarked on a weight-loss program before the challenge, used diet and moderate exercise to lose body fat, weight and inches around their bodies.

"This is amazing," Tommy Anderson said. "We didn't think we'd both win."

The Andersons received prizes from Arrowhead Mall, Dillard's, NuAge Medical Spa, In Joy Massage, Karen Lambert Hair Dresser and the Muskogee Chamber of Commerce.

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Muskogee High School gets virtual holographic tools

Muskogee High School is expecting the delivery and set up of an exciting new tool in its Project Lead the Way Biomedical Sciences program - zSpace, a virtual-holographic tool which will allow students to dissect a virtual heart and much more. (Picture the movie "Ironman" scenes where the hero grabs holograms out of mid-air and moves them around.)

Biomedical Instructor Curt Denton said MHS will be the first high school in Oklahoma to utilize this high-tech system.

See the system in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TwBtZC4ES0

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Police make several arrests in dual home invasions

Muskogee police have arrested several suspects in the home invasions of Muskogee woman Joy Vogel in late November.

Vogel's house was broken into on Nov. 22 and Nov. 24.

A joint investigation between the police department Investigations Division, the Special Investigations Unit and the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force resulted in the arrests of four juveniles, whose names were released because they are being charged under the Youthful Offender Act.

The arrests were of Xavier Taylor, 17, Darius Lockett, 17, Demetray Payne, 15, and Tremonte Evans, 15. The boys were booked on complaints of robbery with a firearm, and may face additional charges.

UPDATE: According to the Sheriff's Office, the suspects' names are spelled Trevonte Bernard Evans, Dayarizes Eugene Lockett, Xavier Taylor and Demetrion Payne.

Filed under: Local Crime Exclusive
This story has been revised 1 time
  • By Leif Wright on Friday, December 12, 2014 at 7:38:08 p.m. (VIEW)
This story has 3 comments
lawman, on Saturday, December 13, 2014 at 8:07:31 a.m., said:
No no, there names are still. Spelled wrong. Its thug, dumbass, idiot and stupid. That's their names. Just waiting to hear someone get on here and say that these are good boys.
ytsur, on Monday, December 15, 2014 at 8:38:37 a.m., said:
you put it nicely compared to what I want to say about this lowlifes.
ytsur, on Monday, December 15, 2014 at 11:15:58 a.m., said:
I am being told there are four more suspects in this case, any truth to this? Supposedly already apprehended, just asking.

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Local winery honors God, science and Muskogee

Quick. And no Googling: What was the first miracle Jesus worked in the Bible?

If you said "keeping the party going by turning water into wine," you get a gold star. And you should go see Pastor Rev. Bob Wickizer at his church - Grace Episcopal Church - or his winery, Pecan Creek Winery on Fern Mountain Road, about five miles past The Castle.

"I'm going to get t-shirts printed up at some point," he said. "They're going to say 'Life is too short to make crappy wine.'"

Wickizer, who has been pastor at Grace since 2010, entered the clergy late in life.

"I was a physicist in Silicon Valley," he said. "When I told my wife I wanted to enter the clergy, her initial reaction was 'but I don't want to be poor!' It took a little convincing, but here we are."

Wickizer has been a hobbyist wine maker for quite some time, he said. Only recently did he team up with DI Wilkinson of Muskogee to turn his hobby into a business.

"Oklahoma grows great grapes," he said. "The reason many of the wines made here are subpar is because of sanitation - microorganisms can ruin a wine quicker than anything."

The pastor took the scientific acumen he used to build multiple clean rooms - facilities where even dust particles must be limited to outrageously low levels - and applied it to making wine that he believes represents a true love of the art.

"Sanitation, sanitation, sanitation," he said. "Nothing can be overlooked if you want great wine."

Yesterday, Wickizer and his crew were filtering nearly complete wine from one container to another, using an array of filters with varying degrees of tolerance. Taking great care, he and the crew slowly pumped the wine from one container - marveling at the wonder of cold weather that helps in the purification process by forcing some solids to cling to the sides of the container - into a final storage area.

"I still consider myself a scientist," he said. "And I apply that to this."

And customers are starting to realize the great care put into the wines.

"Oh, that's good," one early customer said yesterday as she tasted a dry red with a woody finish. "That's real good."

The winery's wines are available at area liquor stores - including Muskogee Beverage and at the Castle - and range in price from $8 to $16. You can also buy them directly at the winery, where tastings are a routine part of business.

"We're planning a lot of expansion," Wickizer said. "We want a business that benefits and celebrates Muskogee. Right now, we buy grapes from around the area and make them into the wine until our vines start producing the quality we're looking for."

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This story has 1 comment
ytsur, on Friday, December 12, 2014 at 9:00:08 a.m., said:
great story, thanks

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Missing teen found; man charged with second-degree rape

A Muskogee girl missing since September has been found in Fort Smith Arkansas, according to the US Marshal and Sheriff's Office.

The girl, 16-year-old Sabrina Jewell and her infant, was reported missing September 7.

Tonight, the US Marshals Service of Western District of Arkansas arrested Garrett William Dobbs, 21, who is wanted on a second-degree rape warrant.

"The apprehension of this sexual predator is a testament to the commitment the members of the U.S. Marshals fugitive task force have to their pursuit of violent fugitives," Sheriff Charles Pearson said. "The Muskogee County Sheriff's office has been a proud member of this task force for four years now. During that time, the worst of the worst Muskogee county fugitives have been pursued and apprehended with minimal to no cost to the tax payer. I look forward to our continued partnership and relentless pursuit of Muskogee County's most violent fugitives."

A joint fugitive investigation had revealed that hobbs was suspected to be in Hackett, Arkansas. He was located at an apartment complex in Fort Smith, where he was taken into custody and the girl and her infant were remanded to the custody of the Arkansa Department of Human Services.

Filed under: Local Crime Breaking News Exclusive
This story has 1 comment
ytsur, on Friday, December 12, 2014 at 9:01:06 a.m., said:
good to know another low-life off the streets, good job guys!

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Arson may be linked to thumb chopping, police say

A fire yesterday at the Country Club apartments may be linked to a home invasion where one man was stabbed in the buttocks and another had his thumb cut off, according to Muskogee Police Sgt. Michael Mahan.

"The current resident (of the apartment) is Michael Tomlinson," Mahan said. Tomblinson is related to two of the suspects in the home invasion, father and son Steven Tomblinson Jr., who was arrested yesterday, and Steven Tomblinson Sr., who was arrested today.

"The fire is being investigated with the possibility of being retaliatory in nature," Mahan said. "We are in the initial stages of the investigation."

The fire, which was on the front entry of apartment 102, was quickly extinguished by a neighbor and a maintenance worker before it was able to spread into the interior of the apartment. No one was injured in the blaze.

Accelerants appear to have been used, Mahan said. Two male suspects were seen leaving the location of the fire, one wearing black clothing with a black rag over his face, and another wearing tan "Carhart style" jacket with blue jeans.

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Third arrest made in thumb-chopping assault

There has been a third arrest in the case of the victim who had his thumb severed.

Steven Tomblinson Sr. (age 41, Muskogee resident) was arrested on 12-10-14 at 11:45 a.m. and booked into the Muskogee County Jail on one count of Assault and Battery with a Deadly Weapon. Tomblinson was located hiding in an attic at 1111 North C. Street yesterday and was taken into custody without further incident. Tomblinson Sr. is believed to be the suspect who wielded the machete used in the attack.

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Local author to sign books Friday

Jonita Mullins, author and publisher of Journey to an Untamed Land, will be signing her book on Friday, December 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Winter Skate Gift in Honor Heights Park. The gift shop carries the novel, which is set in Mayes County, Oklahoma, as well as other books and photography by Mullins.

Mullins has researched and written about Oklahoma history for the past ten years. She is a native of Oklahoma and seeks to bring its rich heritage to life through her writing. Journey to an Untamed Land is her third self-published book.

Mullins is available for presentations on the story behind Journey to an Untamed Land. Contact her at Jonita.Mullins@gmail.com. Her books are available for e-readers at Amazon. Her print books also can be ordered from her website, okieheritage.com.

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  • By Leif Wright on Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 9:17:56 a.m. (VIEW)
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Students, educators donate more than $7,000 to United Way

Muskogee Public Schools students held penny drives to raise money for the 2014 United Way Campaign, and principals competed to gather the most pledges for the organization.

Creek Elementary took top honors in both drives - raising more than $1,524 and winning an ice cream party for students, and raising more than $680 in pledges from staff, earning Principal Rick Hoos tickets to a ZZ Top concert and a three-night stay at the Cherokee Nation Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

Lake Area United Way supports many programs in the area, which in turn support Muskogee Public School students, striving to change lives for the better.

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Cherokees can now prosecute federal cases

An attorney with the Cherokee Nation can now prosecute criminal cases occurring on Indian land in federal court after being sworn in as a tribal special assistant United States attorney.

Cherokee Nation Deputy Attorney General Sara Hill received the oath of office Wednesday in Tulsa from the Northern District of Oklahoma United States Attorney Danny Williams Sr.

Osage Nation Attorney General Jeff Jones was also sworn in, making them the first two tribal special assistant United States attorneys in the state.

"Indian Country can present challenges for prosecution. Certain crimes that are committed on Indian Country in the Cherokee Nation are prosecuted in tribal court, and others must be prosecuted by the United States," said Hill, of Tahlequah. "I am honored that the United States and the Cherokee Nation have given me an opportunity to serve in this capacity, and hopefully the endeavor leads to safer communities."

With nearly 15 tribes in the Northern District, Williams said the two tribal special assistant United States attorneys will help staff and prosecute more cases.

"Starting the SAUSA program will allow our office to expand and bring more cases, and will also forge better and deeper relationships with our tribes, particularly the Osage and Cherokee Nation," Williams said.

Hill will serve a three-year term as a special assistant United States attorney.

"When an offense occurs in Indian Country, the Cherokee Nation and United States Attorney's Office want a seamless and coordinated response," said Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden. "Having Ms. Hill serve in this role will expand our ability to enforce justice in our tribal jurisdiction. This is a historic day for us as a tribal government, and this appointment enables us to better protect Cherokee citizens."

Hill will continue representing the Cherokee Nation Office of the Attorney General in tribal courts in addition to her new appointment. She joined the tribe's Attorney General's office 10 years ago after earning her law degree from the University of Tulsa.

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Arrests made in thumb-chopping assault

Muskogee police released the following about the assault where a Muskogee man lost a thumb:

Two individuals have been arrested in the assault where the person's thumb was cut off that we talked about yesterday. They are as follows:

Steven Tomblinson, age 20, white male, Muskogee resident

Shannon Burns, age 41, white female, Muskogee resident

We are still investigating and there is the potential for further arrests in this case. No motive has been established at this time.

Sgt. Michael Mahan

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EXCLUSIVE: Fire hurts two in Muskogee this morning

Two men are being transported to a Tulsa hospital with life-threatening injuries after a house fire this morning, according to Rebecca Williamson of Muskogee County EMS.

The men were involved in a house fire at East Side Boulevard and Lawrence street at 8:30 a.m.

The cause of the fire or the extent of the men's injuries are not known yet.

UPDATE: Fire marshal Ray Bob Daniels said the occupants of the house had allegedly been squatting there for a time and stealing electricity from the next-door neighbor.

"We don't have a cause yet, but it started here at the back of the house," he said. "The house is a total loss."

The fire may have been caused by electrical problems, cooking meth or something else, he said.

UPDATE: Police have no evidence of the fire being caused by a meth lab, according to Sgt. Michael Mahan.

"Officer Jody Standridge observed the fire, and when he got there, there was a burned man on the lawn," Mahan said. "He dragged the man away from the fire, and when other officers arrived, they observed three other subjects walking away from the fire, one of whom was also injured."

Two of the subjects had warrants, so they were arrested, and the two injured subjects were taken to the hospital. At this time, the possible electricity theft is being investigated as a crime.

Filed under: Local Breaking News Exclusive
This story has been revised 2 times
  • By Leif Wright on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 12:43:08 p.m. (VIEW)
  • By Leif Wright on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 1:52:59 p.m. (VIEW)
This story has 2 comments
savedbygrace, on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 9:41:54 a.m., said:
I think every police officer in the city was there this morning. I saw it as I was driving my kid to school.
lawman, on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 2:13:13 p.m., said:
Good job Jody. Very proud to have someone like you on the police department.

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Western Swing virtuosos to play here tomorrow

The Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame will host The Round Up Boys Thursday, December 11th at 7 pm at The Frisco Depot, 401 S. 3rd in Muskogee. Admission is $5 and all ages are welcome.

The Round Up Boys were Founded in 1989 by Bob Fjeldsted in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Primarily known for their Classic Country & Bob Wills music. It's the music your Mom and Dad loved - stuff that made Tulsa famous.

Since their start, the band has performed at events ranging from music festivals to private concerts, including The Rich Mountain Country and Swing Festival, The National Day of the American Cowboy Festivities, American Heritage Music Festival and Mayfest, opening for Joe Diffie. They also regularly perform at The Gospel Barn in Ochelata, The Broken Arrow Senior Citizens Center and Cains Ballroom in Tulsa.

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Advantage Controls named top workplace

Muskogee-based Advantage Controls was recently ranked 19th on Oklahoma's list of top workplaces among companies employing 125 people or less. Oklahoma City-based newspaper the Oklahoman compiled the list as a result of an extensive survey process conducted by the firm Workplace Dynamics.

The employee survey asked a broad range of questions, including topics such as working conditions, employee engagement, wages and benefits, communication and leadership, among other issues. The results were published in a special "Top Workplaces" segment of the Sunday, December 7 Edition of the Oklahoman.

Advantage Controls, founded in 1994, manufacturer's electronic controllers, pumps and systems used in industrial water treatment. Earlier this year, Advantage Controls received the Governor's Award for Excellence in Exporting as well as the recipient of the 2014 Business and Industry Excellence in Exporting Award. In 2013, they were recognized by the Oklahoma Department of Labor for Entrepreneurial Excellence.

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