Wet weather hurts lawn care businesses

So far this month, Muskogee has had 11.59 inches of rainfall, compared to the May average of 6.08 inches.

It's still below the 1943 record of 16.36 inches, but not really by that far. Especially when you realize May has had 17 rainy days, which is far above the average of 10. That means of the 27 days in March so far, only 10 have been without rain, most of them at the beginning of the month.

Muskogee's ground is completely soaked, and every time it rains now, water immediately starts standing around, soaking the ground even more.

That translates to a horrible spring for the numerous Muskogee-area lawn care businesses, which make their livings doing things the wet ground will no longer let them do.

"We can't mow right now for several reasons," said Vern Faucett of Precision Lawn Care. "Our mowers weigh anywhere between 800 and 1,000 pounds, and if we put them on that wet ground, they're going to leave ruts in the lawn."

Wet grass also plays havoc with mowers, he said, clogging them up.

So while the lawn care businesses look forward to sunnier days, Muskogee's grass continues to grow - in some cases risking being at odds with Muskogee's lawn ordinances, which can penalize residents for having grass that's too long.

There is no immediate solution to that problem, Faucett said.

"It's sooo slow right now," he said. "We just have to wait for the ground to dry out a bit."

The city has not yet returned a call asking for comment on whether it would be enforcing the long grass ordinance in the face of residents' inability to mow during the wet spring.

And it looks to get wetter: the forecast calls for almost two more inches of rain before the month ends on Sunday.

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  • By Leif M. Wright on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at 12:35:01 p.m. (VIEW)

City to collect waste, unused prescriptions

As part of its ongoing efforts to protect area water and enhance home safety, the City of Muskogee will provide a special waste collection day Saturday, June 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Muskogee City-County Fairgrounds where residents will have access to free disposal of household chemical pollutants and waste tires.

This event is free to Muskogee residents who present a current city water bill. The collection day is sponsored by the City of Muskogee Public Works Department Stormwater Management Program.

Acceptable materials include pesticides, oil based paints, used motor oils, solvents, cleaners, acids, poisons, aerosols, fluorescent bulbs, and all types of batteries. Products should be kept in their original containers, if possible. Up to three computers or TV sets per household will be accepted for recycling and a latex paint exchange will be provided. Residents may also dispose of latex paint after solidifying it via air-drying and discarding it in their local curbside trash container. Passenger car, pickup, and large truck tires will be accepted with a 25-tire limit per household.

For safety reasons, select types of waste are excluded from this event. Such types include: pressurized gas cylinders, ammunition, explosives, any containers of unknown substances, tractor tires, large implement tires, tires on metal rims, or tires from commercial shops and dealers. Due to state and federal regulations, no wastes from commercial businesses or agricultural sources will be accepted. Rineco, a third party transport source will be onsite to dispose of fluorescent bulbs from commercial businesses with an applied fee to be directly paid to Rineco Environmental Services.

The Muskogee Police Department will accept pharmaceuticals and prescription drugs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with the exception of liquids and sharp objects.

In the event of a lightning storm, gates will be temporarily closed for the safety of attendees until the storm has passed.

For more information, contact Stormwater Quality Technician, Francie Martin at 918-684-6340 or mmartin@muskogeeonline.org.

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Muskogee woman missing after family says she was arguing with boyfriend

Chelcie Moore of Muskogee has been missing since Friday, according to her family, and she has not been back to see her three children since then.

Moore, 24, told her grandmother on Friday that she was having a horrible fight with her boyfriend, Dugan Darnell, also of Muskogee, according to her brother, Josh Jackson.

Moore's mother, Debra Moore-Adney, filed a police report this morning.

Chelcie Moore is 5 feet tall, 130 pounds, and she was last seen wearing black workout pants and a t-shirt, according to her mother.

On Saturday, Darnell posted the following to his Facebook page:

Ever played a game called MIA? Bye Muskogee my mission is completed here and I have no business left here.

Then, Sunday, he posted this:

Even though we're not together, I still love u and know ur out there hurting as bad as I am. Tomorrow I'm heading out and I'm gonna be gone a really long time and maybe one day where I'm where I want to be we can fall in love one more time with no worries. I love u chalice Lucille Moore.

Friends later commented that he could accompany them to Nashville if he wanted.

Meanwhile, Moore, who posted to her Facebook page fairly regularly, hasn't posted anything since she's been missing, and her phone goes directly to voicemail.

Police have yet to return messages left for them.

If you have any information or have seen Moore, please call the Muskogee Police at 918-683-8000.

UPDATE: The woman has contacted her mother.

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  • By Leif M. Wright on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at 9:26:52 a.m. (VIEW)

MHS wrestling coach to leave

Muskogee High School's Head Wrestling Coach Mikel Delk has announced he will resign his position to pursue a private venture.

Delk, who led wrestlers to a dual state appearance which garnered a silver medal, began at MHS at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.

"We appreciated his leadership with our wrestlers, and thank him for a good season." said Athletic Director Garrett Davis.

The district will be posting the job position on its website in the near future at www.mpsi20.org.

Information: (918) 684-3700, ext. 1764 or ext. 1613.

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Memorial Day is for the people, not the wars that killed them

There's a long-held misconception about Memorial Day - that it's a celebration of everyone who served in the armed forces. It's not.

Memorial Day is a celebration of those who died while serving in the armed forces.

Unlike Veterans' Day, which is a celebration of all who served, today is a celebration of all who died while serving. It is a reminder of the old saying that freedom isn't free. Their sacrifices mean you can disagree with the wars they're fighting while still honoring them for fighting them. It means you can talk in no uncertain terms about how unpatriotic it is for crusty old men to send vibrant young men to fight in battles over goals and causes they don't even understand - and will never have a chance to appreciate.

Many times, the deaths are senseless, unwarranted, unnecessary - but every once in awhile, there is a clear reason: resistance against tyranny. America's wars haven't always been justified or necessary, but that seems a lot less important when you start to realize the reasons behind the war don't matter when you're honoring the men and women who have died fighting it.

Today, as we enjoy our break from rainy weather, as we contemplate the beginning of summer, we should remember that there are thousands and thousands of Oklahomans who aren't enjoying today - or any other day - simply because they answered the call to fight through the fear, to take a bullet, not for the big, faceless idea of patriotism, but for you.

Personally, I disagree with most wars. I think they're senseless losses of life for goals that the people fighting them rarely understand or support.

But even though I usually disagree with the wars, I hold in reverence those who have taken bullets, shrapnel, IEDs, bomb blasts and every other form of death dealt out by wars. I honor them every time I look at my sons and pray they never have to face the horrors of war, that by the time they grow up, we've miraculously found some other way to handle disagreements between nations. I thank those who have died giving me the opportunity to watch my sons grow up into that hopeful future where such deaths are a thing of the past, a terrifying memory of the depths to which humanity can sink.

Today, if you're alive and enjoying the first long weekend of summer, you owe honor to those who can no longer enjoy anything because they were fighting, hoping to provide a peaceful future for you.

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This story has been revised 2 times
  • By Leif M. Wright on Monday, May 25, 2015 at 9:52:37 a.m. (VIEW)
  • By Leif M. Wright on Monday, May 25, 2015 at 9:54:39 a.m. (VIEW)

Connors announces honor roll

Connors State College is pleased to announce the names of students on the President's and Vice President's Honor Rolls.

To qualify for the President's Honor Roll, students must complete at least 12 semester credit hours and maintain a 4.0 grade point average. Recipients of this honor are:

Muskogee County:

Amanda Christine Handley Amanda L Durant Amanda Scott Bobbi Jean Ashford Brandie J Center Brian Lowe Chase Allen Staner Crystal Sweeden David Scott Mcguire Destiny Daniel Towe Devin M Redford Erika L Oneal George Besseris Glenda Mccoy Heather D Chappell Heather Mckenzie Bell Jaci Lorryn Upton Jacob Allen Flournoy Jennifer Faye Coppin John Aaron Adams Johnny Lee Bernal Jordan A Cochran Jr Robert Lee Durham Jr. Kassandra M Hicks Keli L Miles Kelsey Lynn Green Kirk Gregory Kuykendall Kristie Ann Gines Kyla Renee Martin Lacee Nicole Welch Lauren Elizabeth Hatcher Leyla Renea Mccarter Lindsay Marie Dunlap Loren Athens Mary Elizabeth Breen Mary Hicks Mayra Sandoval Myechia Raydawn Gray Nathan Gaddy Parker Wayne Borovetz Petra M Tapia Rachel E Bell Robert Logan Wood Robyn Elaine Roberts Sarah Denise Patterson Selena Diane Williams Stacey Ann Thompson Stephanie E Simpson Steven Michael Odell Talia Lashon Mackey Timothy C Smithson

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New bill would require additional training for reserve officers

Oklahoma's reserve law enforcement officers would be required to complete additional CLEET certified training each year under a new bill passed in the Senate on Thursday morning, according to the bill's author, Sen. Ralph Shortey.

The measure would apply to Oklahoma's more than 3,500 reserve officers who work part time and are not paid for their service. The bill would mandate an increase in basic reserve academy hours to a minimum of 300 hours, up from the current requirement of 240. It would also require reserve officers to complete an additional 15 hours of continuous education training annually, including two hours of mental health education.

Although the law now stipulates all law enforcement officers complete a minimum of 240 hours of CLEET training, there is no requirement for ongoing continuing education annually for reserve officers.

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Tony Goetz locked down

Tony Goetz Elementary School is locked down while police search the premises, according to school district spokeswoman Wendy Burton.

"Police are outside and nearby searching for something," she said. "We were told there is not a crisis inside the school, but we decided to have everyone in class with doors locked until police resolve whatever they're doing."

Unverified reports stated that a parent had brought a gun to the sixth-grade graduation and the gun had fallen out of its holster, but Burton had no knowledge of that.

"Everyone's too busy to talk to me right now," she said.

The gun sighting is not confirmed at this point and should be treated only as a rumor.

UPDATE, 3:09 P.M.: The gun is confirmed, according to Burton. A parent brought a gun, dropped it, picked it up and left the campus, but police were called as a precaution.

UPDATE: the schools sent the following information:

The incident at Tony Goetz today has been resolved, and the lockdown that was in place was lifted at 3:30 p.m. During the sixth-grade graduation assembly, a teacher and two parents witnessed a man drop an item on the floor they believe to have been a gun. Principal David Shouse called for law enforcement assistance and a lockdown was put in place, with students and teachers locked in their classrooms. Witnesses told police they saw the man leave the building, enter a church across the street, and go back to a car outside the school. Upon arrival, Campus Police Chief Dan Hall found the man in question sitting in a car with another man. The men were searched, as was the car, the school and the church. No gun was found, however the man did have a cell phone in his pocket, which the man claimed is what he dropped during the assembly. Muskogee Public Schools can never be too cautious with the safety of our students, and the district and school is grateful to the parents and teachers who keep a watchful eye on our students to keep them safe, as well as our Campus Police Department and the Muskogee Police Department for their quick and efficient response to the call.

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This story has been revised 2 times
  • By Leif M. Wright on Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 3:10:14 p.m. (VIEW)
  • By Leif M. Wright on Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 4:34:10 p.m. (VIEW)

My novel is out today

My new novel, Minister of Justice, was published today. Here is the description from the back cover:

Everybody loved attorney Mike Samuelson.

Well, except for whoever killed him and chopped him into pieces.

The cops are baffled as the killer seems to know all their moves. Mike's brother, Steve, is a reformed fire-and-brimstone preacher who was just mending their minced relationship, but now he must figure out who minced his brother. A strange little man and a high-school beauty whose false claim of rape may have touched off the murder seem anxious to help, but can the unlikely team figure out who the killer is before he realizes they're chasing him?

The novel is already getting rave reviews from advance reviewers, and it has an additional bonus for Muskogee-area readers: it's set in a Muskogee-like town called Tsalagi (speakers of Cherokee will know that means the town is called "Cherokee" in the Cherokee language). The novel's fast-paced action is colored by a coming-of-age story, a midlife crisis and several amateurs working to solve a mystery they believe the police aren't solving.

The novel also focuses on a main character suffering from an Asperger's-type syndrome, who uses his disability to his advantage to help solve the crime.

You can order Minister of Justice in the Kindle format now at Amazon.com for $4.99, or you can order the paperback version for $13.95.

If you order the paperback version from me (PayPal link below), let me know and I'll be glad to sign it before it ships to you.

The paperback version will also be available on Amazon.com later today and is available on BarnesAndNoble.com right now. Local bookstores such as Hastings make their own decisions on which books to stock as they're sent out by publishers, but we'll try to make sure they order it, too.

You can read more about the novel here.


($13.95 from PayPal, free shipping)

And, if you're interested, you can also get my true crime book, Deadly Vows, about a polygamy murder committed by a man from Wagoner, at Amazon.com, too. I think Hastings is sold out of this book, however.

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This story has been revised 5 times
  • By Leif M. Wright on Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 9:01:45 a.m. (VIEW)
  • By Leif M. Wright on Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 9:10:06 a.m. (VIEW)
  • By Leif M. Wright on Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 10:01:37 a.m. (VIEW)
  • By Leif M. Wright on Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 10:02:14 a.m. (VIEW)
  • By Leif M. Wright on Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 10:03:00 a.m. (VIEW)

School bus dilapidation rumors false, schools say; former driver disagrees

Rumors circulating in Muskogee about school buses falling apart around the children they're hauling are false, according to the school district.

Reports of a driver sitting on an upside-down bucket were spawned by one bus that had a bucket behind the driver's seat, said Wendy Burton, spokeswoman for the schools.

"There was a bucket behind the seat," she said, "but it had nothing to do with holding up the seat."

An older bus had to be sent to pick up students after a sensor went out on a newer bus, but the older bus was sound, she said.

"Even though half our fleet are pre-2004 buses, they are safe and mechanically sound," she said. "We have had two or three major repairs done to buses this year, but that's to be expected with older buses."

Maintenance and safety checks are done on the buses daily, she said.

A former bus driver, who spoke on condition of anonymity, disagrees.

"It's so bad," the former driver said. "It's terrible. It's dangerous for the students."

The buses are in a horrible state of disrepair, the former driver said, and the district would rather cover up the problems than address them.

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This story has been revised 2 times
  • By Leif M. Wright on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 9:18:36 a.m. (VIEW)
  • By Leif M. Wright on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 9:19:01 a.m. (VIEW)

Body found north of Harris Road

A man's body has been found near 44th Street north of Harris Road, according to Sheriff Charles Pearson.

"We're waiting on the medical examiner," he said. "But it looks suspicious."

The body is male and appears to be middle-aged, he said.

No more details are available yet.

10:58 A.M. TUESDAY UPDATE: The body is that of a white male, and the death has definitely been ruled a homicide, according to Sheriff Charles Pearson.

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This story has been revised 1 time
  • By Leif M. Wright on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 10:59:02 a.m. (VIEW)

Seatbelt enforcement campaign is under way

Law enforcement agencies across the state will be taking part in the annual "Click It or Ticket" mobilization May 18 - 31, cracking down on drivers and passengers who are not buckled up according to state law.

"Those who choose not to wear a seat belt will feel the heat during this campaign," said OHP Lt. Troy German, statewide occupant protection coordinator. "Motorists should buckle up every time they go out, both day and night - no warnings and no excuses."

Oklahoma law requires drivers and front seat passengers age 13 and over to have a safety belt properly fastened at all times the vehicle is being operated. Children age 12 and younger are required to be properly restrained in the appropriate car seat, booster seat or seat belt, according to the child's age and weight.

"We can't make the decision to buckle up for you, and we hope it won't take getting a ticket to help you remember to fasten that seat belt or buckle your child correctly," German said. "Unless you want to risk a ticket - or, even worse, your life - you must buckle up."

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, seat belts save about 13,000 lives each year.

The nationwide campaign runs through the Memorial Day holiday weekend, when many motorists will be traveling on U.S. highways.

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MHS announces academic all-staters

Muskogee High School is pleased to announce its spring sports athletes who have earned an Academic All-Conference award from the Frontier Valley Conference.

Muskogee High School Academic All-Conference athletes, who earned a GPA of 3.5 to 4.0 last semester are:

  • Baseball - Ethan Davis, Bryson Bell, Talon Watson, Connor Cole, Connor Fleak, Cade Burk and Riley Foster
  • Softball - Carlee Gann, Bailee Hendrickson, Brook Hendrickson, Aubrey Johnson, Kaitlyn Kaiser, Hattie Matthews, Bre Virgin, Kayley Million, Chloe Moore and Dymin Purdin.
  • Girls Soccer - Bailey Tull, Cholanut Arayakoon, Shard Bunkley, Kalen Caster, Montana Cole, Dacia Conway, McKinna Cowan, Sarina Davis, Kendall Few, Iveth Garcia, Karen Gutierrez-Hernandez, Zoe Huffer, Goldie King, Misteigh Melton, Hannah Phillips, Danazia Brown, Demya Brown.
  • Boys Soccer - Jesus Artega, Airi Bravo, Austin Moore, Jose Nava and Chase Soper.
  • Girls Golf - Hannah Jones and Brittany Felts.
  • Boys Track - Luke Leatherman, Christian Maier, Jeremiah Medrano, Andrew Odell, Zane Rasmussan and Hunter Watkins.
  • Girls Track - Demya Brown, Arrianna Steward, Meagan Henningsen, Jayden Williams, Myangel Thomas, Tayla Jackson, Victoria Munzenrider, Amy Perkins, Cierra Lewis and Sydney Rosson.
  • Girls Tennis - Darby Church, Kyra Collins, Emma Eaton, Claire Farmer, Mekinzie Foreman, Aubrey Huckbay, Allie Jiles, Jensen Martin, Camryn Runyan and Abby Wayman.
  • Boys Tennis - Efrain Arteaga, Jared Grooms, Gunner Heath, Cole Whitaker and Seth Chapuis.

    Honorable mention awards for earning a GPA of 3.0 to 3.49 went to:

  • Baseball - Cayden Cockle and Brandon McKay.
  • Girls Soccer - Kariauna Birmingham, Madison Blair, Jasmine Fixico, Journey Jaquez, Alexia McClain, Kaylie McKinney, Kayla Royse and Emily Shackelford.
  • Boys Soccer - John Buckhanan, Nathaniel Castro, Dondre Clark, Trenton Dennis, Manuel Espinosa, Jachai Maxwell, Daniel Rodriguez, Alex Sikes, Jacob Testerman and Jose Villeda.
  • Girls Golf - Alyssa Carrier, Avery Rice and Haley Schuler.
  • Boys Golf - Randall Krech, Andrew Morton, Logan Knight, Rhiley Allen and Lantz Woodburn.
  • Boys Track - Devan McCoy and John Smith.
  • Girls Track - Monica Brown, Dia-Nitta Brown, Danazia Brown, Imari Freeman, Diesha Hendricks, Garicka Jackson, Lilli Joseph, Cierra Lewis, Shauna Logan, Annise McNac, LeRoicia Penney, Tanesha Ryan, Courtney Snook, Myangel Thomas, Jayden Williams, Angelle Wilson.
  • Girls Tennis - Emily Falleur, Brianna Griffin, Ashley Newton and Wren Seabolt.
  • Boys Tennis - Colton Hughart, Jacob Medrano, Nick Brinsfield and Nathan Coffman.

    Information: Athletic Director Garrett Davis, (918) 684-3700.

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    • By Leif M. Wright on Monday, May 18, 2015 at 7:47:25 a.m. (VIEW)

    Help identify veterans at cemetery

    Cemetery officials are seeking assistance from residents to identify veterans who are currently buried within the hallowed grounds of Greenhill Cemetery.

    For the past several years staff kept records of veterans through a newly installed computer system, but unfortunately prior to that records of those whom served were not tracked.

    Once grave sites of veterans are identified, the information will be added to their burial record and placed in the cemetery computer system. Thus far, we have identified a Confederate Veteran as well as a veteran from the Spanish-American War.

    The goal is to mark as many veteran graves as possible this holiday to memorialize those whom served.

    If you have information regarding a veteran buried at Greenhill Cemetery, please contact Sherry or Vernon at 918-684-6215 or email vmartin@muskogeeonline.org.

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    Two-year-old possibly drowned on Illinois River

    Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers are en route to the Illinois River at a bridge one mile east of Tahlequah on US 62, where it is believed a two-yea year-old child has drowned.

    No other information is available at this time.

    UPDATE: The child was found drowned on Sunday at 6 p.m. According to a captain with the Rangers Division of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission, the toddler wandered into the river and was swept downstream in a swift current.

    Capt. Bill James said two women with three children stopped at a gravel bank near the bridge about 4 p.m.

    The women were preoccupied with something and were not watching the children, James said, and the toddler wandered off into the river. The other two children are ages 4 and 5.

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    This story has been revised 2 times
    • By Leif M. Wright on Monday, May 18, 2015 at 6:56:33 a.m. (VIEW)
    • By Leif M. Wright on Monday, May 18, 2015 at 7:17:50 a.m. (VIEW)

    Wreck backs up traffic on Muskogee Turnpike

    Westbound traffic was stopped on the Muskogee Turnpike today for two hours due to a wreck, which blocked both lanes, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported.

    At least one person was flown to a Tulsa hospital by helicopter.

    The turnpike is now open again.

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    Two juveniles rescued from Lake Eufaula

    Two male juveniles were rescued from Lake Eufaula yesterday as they floated on a piece of styrofoam, blown away from the shore by high winds.

    The boys were waving for help from the lake and the Highway Patrol was called.

    Trooper Trey Downum of Troop C was able to acquire a personal boat to help recover the boys.

    The boys were unharmed.

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    Whittier elementary gets Laura Bush grant

    The Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries recently announced that 219 school libraries are being awarded $1,095,000 in grants for 2014. Among those schools is Muskogee's Whittier Elementary, which will receive a grant of $5,000 to expand, update and diversify its library book collection.

    "This grant has helped us tremendously. Without it, because of budget constraints this year, we wouldn't have been able to update our non-fiction section and buy the current, popular books the kids all want to read," said Whittier Librarian Rogena McClain. "And that is especially important because we are going to open our library to our students once a week this summer so they can continue reading during their break. We're very thankful to the Laura Bush Foundation for this grant."

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    MHS staffer under investigation for sexual harassment

    A staff member at Muskogee High School is being investigated for allegations of sexual harassment, according to Wendy Burton, spokeswoman for the schools.

    Failure to identify the staffer is "Only a matter of policy - any personnel matter is protected information, and because it is under investigation right now, we wont give any other info either to avoid compromising the investigation," she said.

    MuskogeeNOW.com was alerted of the case by a concerned parent who identified a specific person as the accused, but because we can't get confirmation officially, we will not report that name.

    "Yes, there is an investigation going on in regard to an allegation of sexual harassment at MHS," Burton said. "At this time, it's all the information I can give."

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    Three hurt in late-night turnpike wreck

    Three people were injured - two seriously - in a late-night wreck on the Muskogee Turnpike near Indian Capital Tech Center last night.

    One woman was flown by helicopter to a Tulsa hospital with life-threatening injuries. A man was transported by Muskogee County EMS to a Tulsa hospital with serious injuries and another man was transported by EMS to Eastar Hospital in Muskogee with non-life-threatening injuries.

    No word on the cause of the wreck yet, and officials have not released the names of the injured.

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