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DEATHS

Anthony "Pee Wee" Roberts, 33

Born September 13, 1987

Died May 5, 2021

Mary J. Risor, 77

Born September 2, 1943

Died May 5, 2021

Bob Hutson, 70

Born August 14, 1950

Died May 5, 2021

Billy Monroe Sampson, 71

Born July 9, 1949

Died May 5, 2021

Shirley Wainman, 85

Born January 28, 1936

Died May 5, 2021

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

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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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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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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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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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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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Friday, March 19, 2021, 2:10 PM

Muskogee County District Attorney Orvil Loge has ruled that the four officers who shot and killed 17-year-old Farrah Rauch on Feb. 28 were legally justified in doing so.

Rauch aimed a firearm at two officers and fired at one during a foot chase after she and her 17-year-old partner had stolen a car and attempted to steal another one. Officers returned fire, and eventually Rauch fell to the ground.

As officers approached her, she did not respond to any commands, but leaned up on her side and aimed her weapon at a police officer, who fired five shots at her. Another officer fired five rounds, another fired three rounds and another fired two rounds, after which, Fauch laid down and died.

The officers acted properly within the scope of their jobs at the Muskogee Police Department, Loge ruled.

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Friday, March 19, 2021, 2:04 PM

Joshua Woods, 36, of Muskogee was shot and killed on Aug. 24, 2020 in his house, according to a report by District Attorney Orvil Loge.

Woods and his wife were arguing, and his wife reported that he was on Klonopin and steroids and was aggressive.

Woods’ step-son yelled at Woods to “get the fuck off her,” and when he did, Woods approached him, calling him a “little faggot” and grabbing him. When he did, the step-son fired a pistol he had retrieved from his room earlier in the argument for protection. He fired three shots, and Woods collapsed after the third.

“I find (the step-son) lawfully defended himself,” Loge said, “and decline to file criminal charges.”

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Friday, March 19, 2021, 10:24 AM

Jacklyn Dobson, 24, of Tahlequah was killed late last night when the bicycle she was riding was struck by an unknown car, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Dobson was riding on US 62, three miles west of Tahlequah around 10 p.m. when a white vehicle struck her, the patrol reported.

She was flown by helicopter to Saint John Medical Center in Tulsa, where she was pronounced dead.

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Thursday, March 18, 2021, 9:54 AM

Last year, Muskogee Police Department personnel responded to more than 43,800 requests for assistance – from violent felonies to traffic complaints to criminal investigations to mental health crisis interventions and animal complaints. To maintain a consistent and professional response, the department relies on comprehensive, up-to-date policies, according to public information officer Lynn Hamlin.

Recently, the Muskogee Police Department was recognized by the Lexipol Connect program for achieving gold level for consistently and effectively disseminating policies to officers, issuing timely policy updates as laws change, and ensuring officers are trained on policies. Lexipol is the nation’s leading content, policy and training platform for public safety agencies; the Connect program tracks the Muskogee Police Department performance on five metrics proven to measure success in policy management.

“Policy and regularly training on policy is crucial to the success of the department. We are proud to be recognized by Lexipol Connect for continuously improving professionalism and safety,” said Chief of Police Johnny Teehee.

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Thursday, March 18, 2021, 9:51 AM

Tera Cuny-Baker

Bacone College has hired Tera Jay Cuny-Baker, Hunkpati Dakota and Oglala Lakota, as Head Women’s Basketball Coach.

Cuny-Baker, originally from South Dakota, was a four-time American Indian Higher Education Consortium-American who became the first women’s player to have her jersey retired by Oglala Lakota College after she scored 1,008 career points.

“We are proud to have Mrs.Tera Cuny-Baker join Bacone College to lead our women’s basketball team as the head coach,” President Dr. Ferlin Clark said. “Her outstanding college career, teaching and coaching experience, and her cultural knowledge, will contribute to our mission of educating American Indian students.”

Cuny-Baker has been a teacher and basketball coach for 10 years after earning her bachelor’s degree at OLC followed by her masters in education. Cuny-Baker is currently working on her dissertation for a doctorate degree. She is a wife and a mother to five children, she said, and when not enjoying down time with her family or coaching, she loves to go to pow wows and hike.

“I am beyond excited to be a part of the Bacone family,” she said. “I look forward to helping rebuild the women’s basketball program to be competitive and successful both on and off the court while instilling traditional values. Wopila!”

The Lady Warriors finished the 2020-2021 season 8-9 overall, and have several ranking players including Alize Ruiz, who is No. 2 in Division 1 in Offensive Rebounds per Game, No. 3 in Division 1 in Total Rebounds per Game, No. 5 in Division 1 in Defensive Rebounds per game, and No. 15 in Division 1 in Points per Game. Illeana Frenchman ranks No. 17 in Division 1 in 3-pt Fg Made per Game, and Za’Riah Griffin ranks No. 23 in Division 1 in Assists per Game.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021, 10:01 AM

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Health, in partnership with Indian Health Service, will offer first-doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to all Native Americans 18 years and older, non-Native family members and caregivers of Native households.

The event will be held March 26 through 27 at Tulsa’s Expo Square, River Spirit Expo Center at 4145 E. 21st Street in Tulsa. Individuals must book an appointment by March 24 either online at www.creekhealth.org/covidvaccine or by calling the Tribe’s Vaccine Information Line at 918-758-3601.

“Native Americans have been disproportionately affected by this pandemic, and we are committed to helping Native people and their loved ones,” said Shawn Terry, Muscogee (Creek) Nation Secretary of Health. “We have administered nearly 21,000 first and second doses of COVID vaccinations to healthcare employees, frontline workers, Muscogee elders, citizens and high-risk patients. We are pleased to partner with IHS to make an additional 4,000 vaccines available to a broader population.”

The pandemic has hit Native American communities hard. A CDC report confirms COVID-19 incidences more than triple among Native Americans. “The results are not just the lingering effects of the illness but the heartbreaking loss of elders, our tradition keepers and language speakers,” said Terry. “Protecting tribal generations starts with building a COVID-19 defense. The vaccines have been tested in large clinical trials to ensure they are safe and effective.”

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Tuesday, March 16, 2021, 7:33 AM

Steve Bashore

The Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday adopted a resolution encouraging the National Rifle Association to relocate its headquarters to Oklahoma.

Rep. Steve Bashore, R-Miami, and formerly of Muskogee, author of House Resolution 1007, said with the group’s recent announcement that it is moving its incorporation status from New York to Texas, he felt now would be a perfect time to extend the invitation. The group’s headquarters is actually in Fairfax, VA, but it has operated as a New York-based nonprofit since its founding in 1871.

“Our citizens and our state Legislature have an obvious love and appreciation for our Second Amendment right to bear arms,” Bashore said. “With the association’s announcement, we want to extend a welcome and open invitation to relocate to our firearm-friendly state.”

Bashore said about 80,000 people attend the NRA’s annual conferences and approximately 5.5 million members in the association.

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Monday, March 15, 2021, 10:10 AM

A bill that would prohibit the courts from extending the terms of tenancy failed the House on a vote of 26-51.

House Bill 1564 by Rep. Tom Gann, R-Inola, would have allowed a landlord to immediately apply to a sheriff for enforcement of the right to possession upon the entry of a judgment. The measure limits the amount of a late payment fee to 15% of the monthly rent. The measure provides that the provisions in the Oklahoma Residential Landlord and Tenant Act are enforceable even during a catastrophic health emergency.

“This was not a matter of trying to deny someone tenancy, but about reestablishing the rule of law and not the rule of judges,” Gann said. “This ensures contracts and the Constitution remain in place even during a pandemic.”

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