Bobby (Bob) Wilks, 84

Born September 20, 1937

Died August 17, 2022

Richard Glen Byrd, 60

Born September 1, 1961

Died August 16, 2022

Larance S. Hill, 67

Born October 20, 1954

Died August 15, 2022

Joan Ann (Benge) Gladd, 87

Born December 28, 1934

Died August 14, 2022

Linda McDonald, 79

Born July 20, 1943

Died August 14, 2022


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

Thursday, May 12, 2022, 7:57 PM

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was delayed because the victim, Billy Arnett, was a friend of mine. We used to play music together, and he was a good friend. I apologize for the delay.

Fort Gibson musician and singer Billy Arnett, 48, died yesterday in Taft after a single-vehicle wreck in which his pickup overturned two-and-a-half times, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Arnett was driving his 1997 Ford F-150 pickup eastbound on Old Taft Road toward Muskogee when it departed the roadway to the right at Martin Luther King Boulevard in Taft, over-corrected, then departed the roadway to the left, overturning 2.5 times, the patrol reported.

Arnett was pronounced dead at the scene at 11:57 a.m. by Muskogee County EMS.

The pickup was equipped with seatbelts, which were not in use. The patrol is still trying to determine the cause of the wreck.

Arnett was a locally-known singer, songwriter and guitar player who entertained thousands at various venues throughout the area with his country and red dirt songs. The Billy Arnett Band was popular in local and area casinos and clubs, and his albums were beloved by numerous fans throughout the area.

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Thursday, May 12, 2022, 7:33 AM

The governor today signed into law the Stephen Bernius Memorial Act, which expands domestic abuse language in state law determining who can obtain a protective order.

House Bill 4374 by Rep. Ross Ford, R-Broken Arrow, was inspired by a tragedy in Ford’s House district last year that resulted in the death of Stephen Bernius. He was killed by a man he’d rented a room to but to whom he was not related.

“This young man lost his life because the statute specified a person must be directly related to obtain a protective order,” Ford said. “We need to be able to protect people from anyone who might be threatening harm. Broadening this definition could stop someone else from being killed.”

The bill modifies the definition of “family or household member” as used in the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act and the Domestic Abuse Reporting Act to include persons not related by blood or marriage living in the same household. It provides a definition of “living in the same household” to mean persons who regularly reside in the same, single-dwelling unit; persons who resided in the dwelling within the past year; or persons who have individual lease agreements where each person has their own private bedroom and shares the common areas.

Ford said Bernius’ mother asked him to run the legislation after her son was killed.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, Bernius lost his job and was in fear of losing his house, so he rented out two of his bedrooms to gain some income. One of the tenants started threatening Bernius and others in the home. Bernius tried to get a protective order against the individual but was told he couldn’t because he was not related to him by blood or in a relationship with him.

Several days later, the disgruntled resident met Bernius at the door of his home, shot him multiple times and killed him.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2022, 7:26 AM

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner are creating a $500 monthly transition stipend for Cherokee youth who are “aging out” of the foster system. Cherokee Nation is also providing a one-time COVID-19 impact payment of $1,000 to the tribe’s more than 80 current foster families.

The announcement of the two new programs was made as Cherokee Nation leaders gathered to sign a proclamation declaring May as Foster Care Awareness Month.

The Fostering HOPE pilot program will provide a $500 monthly stipend to eligible Cherokee Nation citizens who are aging out of the Cherokee Nation or State of Oklahoma foster care systems upon turning 18 years old. Eligible citizens in the state’s foster care system must reside within the Cherokee Nation Reservation. There are no residency requirements for citizens who are in the Cherokee Nation foster care system.

Participants must be employed, actively seeking employment, or working toward career training or a degree program within the first two months of participation in order to continue in the program. Monthly stipends can begin the month a participant turns 18 years old and end at age 21. Those who are actively working toward a career training or degree program at age 21 may remain in the program until age 23 or until their training or degree is complete.

As part of their participation, Cherokee Nation citizens enrolled in the Fostering HOPE program will meet with a program counselor every two months, complete financial wellness curriculum four times per year, and must meet other eligibility requirements as outlined by the tribe. The pilot program will begin June 1 with enrollment ceasing Dec. 31, 2024.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2022, 8:18 AM

Gage Ford

Gage Ford, 23, of Muskogee, who was convicted late last month in Norman of viciously beating his then-pregnant girlfriend to the point that doctors didn’t know if she would survive, was charged yesterday in Muskogee County District Court with beating another girlfriend here — who also was pregnant at the time — while on bond in the case in which he was convicted.

In the case filed yesterday, Ford is alleged to have bashed a Muskogee woman’s head against a car window, then tackled her to the ground in October of last year. The victim was pregnant at the time.

Ford is currently awaiting placement in an Oklahoma prison, so any trial stemming from the new charges would have to take place in coordination with whatever prison Ford ends up in from his Norman conviction.


Tuesday, May 10, 2022, 8:04 AM

The Five Civilized Tribes’ inter-tribal council has released a rare joint statement on a US Senate candidate running to replace retiring Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma:

“It is disheartening to see a candidate who seeks to represent Oklahoma echoing shameful anti-tribal rhetoric that is altogether based on fearmongering and half-truths. Senate candidate Alex Gray needs to know that Oklahoma is strongest when our tribal nations are treated with respect and when elected leaders commit to working with us, rather than wasting resources and working to divide our state over issues that have been settled time and time again. That means tribal nations should always be at the table, and our sovereignty should always be respected. Candidates who seek to restrict our rights and disestablish our reservations, after the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed twice that they have always existed, do not deserve to represent our state. Mr. Gray and those who continue to seek to undermine tribal sovereignty are actually undermining all Oklahomans.

The facts are clear. Since the McGirt decision, tribal nations have focused on expanding our criminal justice systems to prosecute crimes, support victims and protect everyone on our reservations. Federal courts are also doing their part to ensure justice is served. As tribal nations, we are proud of our record of success in working closely with federal, state and local partners to meet our critical public safety priorities. Mr. Gray’s claims to the contrary are misleading at best.

Unfortunately, some politicians and candidates for office continue to create division and undermine cooperation by refusing to work with tribes as partners or by promising to attack established tribal sovereignty. Our hope is that those people, including Senate candidate Gray and Oklahoma Gov. Stitt, take time to better understand tribal history, which in Oklahoma pre-dates statehood. Then, they should focus on how we can work together moving forward. That would be the courageous and bold action to take as a candidate and as a political leader.”

  • Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.
  • Muscogee Nation Principal Chief David Hill
  • Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Chief Gary Batton
  • Seminole Nation of Oklahoma Chief Lewis L. Johnson
  • Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill

It is rare for the tribes to get involved in non-tribal politics, but with attacks on the McGirt opinion recognizing the continued existence of the Native reservations that consume most of eastern Oklahoma, their solidarity in opposing those attacks has produced unified opposition to those who seek to break those treaties and undo the progress the tribes have made.

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Monday, May 9, 2022, 7:35 AM

The Cherokee Nation is opening applications for emergency utility assistance starting Friday, May 6.

The Emergency Utility Assistance Program aims to assist eligible Cherokee Nation citizen households affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with utility payments.

Assistance may be used to cover a portion of past-due utility payments, current and future utility payments, and utility deposits. The tribe can assist with natural gas, propane, water or electricity. The payment will be made directly to the utility company and the applicant must upload the utility bill they wish to receive assistance on with the online application.

Applications to apply will be available starting May 6 only on the Gadugi Portal. Deadline is Friday, June 3.

The Cherokee Nation will utilize funds from the Emergency Rental Assistance Program from the U.S. Department of Treasury.

To be eligible for the program at least one household member must be a Cherokee Nation citizen.

Those eligible must live within the Cherokee Nation Reservation and household income may not exceed 80 percent of the area median income.

For questions regarding eligibility or assistance with applications, email or call 918-453-5464.

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Sunday, May 8, 2022, 6:34 PM

The City of Muskogee just released the following:

As residents start the clean-up and assessment process around town, the City of Muskogee would like to offer our bulk waste pick up service for free during this time. We will pick up and haul off large items that you need to dispose of such as carpeting, drywall, furniture, etc. To schedule a pick up, please call (918) 684-6333. Thank you.

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Friday, May 6, 2022, 8:13 AM

Attorney General John O’Connor is joining a coalition of state attorneys general submitting a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas opposing the Biden Administration’s attack on the First Amendment. The creation of a “Disinformation Governance Board” violates the constitutional freedoms that state attorneys general are responsible for defending, O’Connor alleges.

The board, however, according to its official charter, is an advisory board for the Department of Homeland Security. “Its function is to protect national security by disseminating guidance to DHS agencies on combating foreign misinformation and disinformation. Specific problem areas mentioned include false information propagated by human smugglers encouraging migrants to surge to the Mexico–United States border, as well as Russian-state disinformation on election interference and the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

The board does not have any jurisdiction and doesn’t monitor America-based disinformation, only foreign-based, and then it will form a list of best practices to suggest to DHS.

“President Biden is deliberately suppressing Americans’ First Amendment rights,” O’Connor incorrectly stated. “Every Oklahoman and American has the right to express their opinion and beliefs without fear of censorship. The Disinformation Governance Board is entirely un-American, and I will vigorously oppose every attempt by Biden to silence those who oppose his political views.”

The board, which got its start under former President Donald Trump, not Biden, has no enforcement authority and is not in place to police political speech of Americans.

The attorneys general argue that this government watchdog agency would abridge a citizen’s right to express their opinions and disagree with the government, furthering self-censorship rather than protecting freedom of speech.

The letter states that “the Disinformation Governance Board, by its very existence, and almost certainly by design, threatens to ‘enforce silence’ when Americans wish to express views disfavored by the administration. Contrary to the letter’s statement, the board has no enforcement ability or authority.

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Thursday, May 5, 2022, 4:07 PM

Bradley Wayne Morris

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma announced today that Bradley Wayne Morris, age 36, of Muskogee was found guilty by a federal jury of two counts of aggravated sexual abuse in Indian Country and two counts of abusive sexual contact of a child in Indian Country. Based on the verdicts, Morris is facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years up to life imprisonment.

During the trial, the United States presented evidence that between January 2018 and February 2020, Morris touched and penetrated the child victim’s genitalia with his fingers on multiple occasions, touched her breasts, and had her to touch his penis. The victim, who was under twelve years of age at the time of the abuse, further testified the defendant would show her adult pornography and ask her to suck on his finger.

The guilty verdicts were the result of an investigation by the Muskogee Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma prosecuted the case because the victim in this case is a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe and the crimes occurred in Muskogee County, within the boundaries of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Reservation, and within the Eastern District of Oklahoma.

The Honorable John F. Heil, III, U.S. District Judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma in Muskogee, presided over the trial and ordered the completion of a presentence report. Sentencing will be scheduled following completion of the report. Morris was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal pending the imposition of sentencing.

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Thursday, May 5, 2022, 8:11 AM

After several flash flood warnings during the night, the National Weather Service just issued a new flash flood warning for the area lasting until 10:30 a.m.

Many roads across the area are flooded, and the weather service warns everyone to not drive into standing water under any circumstances.

Muskogee County Commissioner Ken Doke made this statement earlier:

We have had an unreal amount of rainfall. Radar shows that we still have hours of heavy rainfall left before it’s over. At this time, there is no access in or out of Gooseneck Bend. All routes are currently flooded; including Country Club, York Street, Smith Ferry, 53rd, Sallie Brown, etc. In fact, the number of roads across the county that are flooded and impassable are too many to count. Earlier today, the river levels were of little concern. Now, it has our attention. I’m getting messages from friends in Muskogee saying that their homes are flooding (from flash flooding). I’m sure that’s the case for many people across the county right now. Power is out in some areas in FTG. In lieu of the circumstances, the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) has been activated.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2022, 4:09 PM

Clayton Eugene Spencer

Clayton Eugene Spencer, 24, of Muskogee was sentenced to a total of 50 years in prison this week after he was convicted of two counts of shooting with intent to kill and possession of a firearm after former conviction of a felony.

On June 22, 2021, Spencer fired at several people at 2401 W. Okmulgee, with one victim referenced as a witness in a case involving a relative of Spencer’s.

According to testimony at the trial, someone told Spencer there were children in the car, and he said “fuck them kids” back and continued shooting.

No one was killed, but one person was injured.

“This defendant was on probation for assaulting a detention officer when he decided to pull out a semi-automatic rifle and open fire on the two female victims in this case,” District Attorney Larry Edwards said. “There were multiple children at the scene. The defendant obviously has no regard for human life. I am thankful that he is off the streets.”

Spencer’s sentences will run concurrently, the longest of which is 15 years.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2022, 7:46 AM

WARNING: This story contains depictions and descriptions of violent assaults.

Gage Ford

Ally Stephens

Gage Ford, 23, of Muskogee has been convicted of two felony counts of assault and battery by force or means likely to cause death and one misdemeanor count of assault and battery against a pregnant woman stemming from two events in Norman in October 2020 where he kicked the victim, Ally Stephens, repeatedly in the stomach, telling her to “get rid of it,” referring to the baby with which she was at the time pregnant.

Ford’s bail was set at $1,500 instead of the $30,000 the DA requested, and he was out of jail the same day. Sixteen days later, Stephens was in the hospital with severe injuries.

On Friday, he was convicted of the felonies and jurors recommended 76 years in prison, cumulatively, for Ford.

Police said the beating left Stephens’ eyes so swollen that she could not see properly to write her own statement and had to request a friend write the statement, which she also had trouble signing because she couldn’t see. According to nurses, Ford had grabbed Stephens by the hair, pulled her to the ground and beaten her there, including again kicking her in the stomach.

Another alleged victim of Ford testified he had also exhibited the same violent behavior with her. Ford has a child with the second victim, as well.

The baby was later born healthy, although doctors feared the beating could have killed it.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 27.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2022, 8:08 AM

The Muskogee Parks and Recreation 2022 online Azalea Banner Auction is open for bidding this week through the shutoff time of 7 p.m. on Friday, May 6. The banners can be viewed and bid on here.

All 100 banners will close out at that 7 p.m. Friday time, and sales are final. The auction site will ask potential bidders to sign up and enter card information before taking bids on the banners, but anyone can go on and view the art without bidding or registering. If you do bid, bids start on each banner at $25 and bids must be placed in $10 increments. A maximum bid can also be placed and the site will contact you via message if you’re outbid.

Proceeds from the Azalea Banner Auction go the Muskogee Parks and Recreation Park Development Fund and to the project partner, Muskogee Art Guild. This original Muskogee public art and Azalea Festival project has been held annually since 1991.

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Monday, May 2, 2022, 8:42 AM

Harlie Gray, 71 of Muskogee was killed in a wreck yesterday on the Muskogee Turnpike, a quarter mile south of mile marker 9 just north of Coweta, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Harlie was driving a 2003 Nissan Altima on the highway, which it collided with a 2016 Jeep Cherokee being driven by Kyle Ross, 25, of Wagoner, who was not injured.

Coweta EMS pronounced Harlie dead at the scene. The patrol is still investigating the cause of the wreck and whether Harlie was wearing a seatbelt. Airbags deployed in both vehicles.

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Friday, April 29, 2022, 8:13 AM

Four people are dead in a collision between a pickup and a van in Watts late last night, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

The van was carrying 10 passengers, two of whom died, along with the driver, a 24-year-old female from Westville whose name has not yet been released.. The passengers who died were juveniles. In addition, three of the juveniles were critically injured, and all 10 were injured in some capacity.

All of the people in the van were from Westville.

The pickup’s driver, Larry Valentine, 61, of Caney Hill, Arkansas, was killed in the wreck and his passnger, Asa Valentine, 25, was critically injured and admitted to Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Mo.

The cause of the wreck is under investigation. Also under investigation is whether seatbelts were used in either vehicle.

The wreck occurred at US 59 and Bakery Feed Mill Road in Watts.

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Thursday, April 28, 2022, 6:48 AM

The governor signed Senate Bill 1100 on Tuesday, approving the first of its kind ban that prohibits nonbinary classifications on state birth certificates.

Under the bill, the biological sex designation on Oklahoma birth certificates may only be male or female, outlawing the use of “X” or any other symbol to represent a nonbinary designation.

“People are free to identify however they’d like to, but our official state documents need to include factual information, including the correct biological sex designation,” Bergstrom said. “I’m glad Oklahoma is leading the nation on this issue and making it clear that we are following the science – not just the social whims of some in this country.”

The law does not address the dilemma of intersex people — those who are born with both kinds of genitals — a condition that affects up to 1 out of every 100 births. Under this law, parents are now required to choose a gender for an infant born with both a penis and a vagina.


Wednesday, April 27, 2022, 9:59 AM

Elizabeth Ann Jones, 47, of Muskogee is facing a felony charge of second-degree burglary after she allegedly broke into her estranged husband’s home by prying his back door open with a crowbar, according to documents filed with the case.

She had in her possession at the time flammable material, a lighter and a “makeshift weapon,” according to an affidavit filed by police.

Jones was observed inside the house by police officers, who arrested her, and after advising her of her Miranda rights, she allegedly told them she forced her way inside the house, and was waiting for her husband, who is dating her adult daughter.

She was apparently arrested without incident.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2022, 9:23 AM

State Senator George Young, D-Oklahoma City, is saying two new bills that passed the Senate yesterday, House Bill 2974 and House Bill 2976, will confuse some voters and intimidate others, with the intent to suppress votes.

“The first, House Bill 2974, would require that any address with 10 or more registered voters on record be sent to the district attorney and law enforcement for further investigation. This unfairly targets large households and families who share a home, discouraging eligible citizens from registering to vote in fear of an inquiry.”

Many low-income voters live in large groups so they can afford a single-family residence. Young fears the bill unfairly targets that group with intimidation by law enforcement a direct consequence of registering to vote.

“HB 2976 is a bit more insidious in that it requires cooperation between the federal, district and municipal court systems to help denote felons on the voter roll,” he continued. “This bill presents two problems. First, the continued labeling of individuals as felons who have completed their debt to society and are eligible to vote. Second, it promotes the thought that those who have been convicted and completed their sentence have lost the right to vote indefinitely.”

Former felons who have finished their sentences in Oklahoma are eligible to register to vote.

“These pieces of legislation are part of the psychological warfare against voting, particularly among our most vulnerable electorate members. Oklahoma is among the worst states for voter participation and voter registration in reference to our total population. We must pass bills that encourage voter participation and cease voter suppression.”

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Tuesday, April 26, 2022, 10:48 AM

Kyle Owens, 26, of Oktaha is charged in federal court with murdering Stephen and Benjy Hill on Saturday in Owens’ front yard, firing somewhere upwards of 20 shots at them, according to documents filed with the case.

According to a neighbor, Stephen Hill was holding his hands up in the air when he was shot.

Owens’ wife allegedly told him to not shoot them because it would send him to jail.

After the shots that killed Stephen Hill, the neighbor then called 911, during which call more shots were heard.

Another neighbor reported hearing Stephen Hill say something to the effect “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, it was a joke,” before three gunshots rang out. Owens’ wife had previously told police that the Hills had tried to run her off the road. Several children were inside Owens’ house when the fatal shots were being fired.

Investigators found 28 spent shell casings in the front yard.

Owens is charged in federal court because he is a member of the Cherokee Nation.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2022, 8:41 AM

Resigning educator Rhonda Barron of Bacone College has alleged a toxic work environment, neglect and indifference on the part of administration to a crumbling Bacone.

The allegations, made in a resignation letter sent yesterday, echo earlier reports of financial woes and unlivable conditions in the college’s buildings.

The letter says the college can’t get credit at local stores “because they know you don’t pay your bills.”

In addition, faculty and staff, she alleges, are forced to choose sides in ongoing power struggles.

Bacone has not returned calls and texts for comment.

The letter is reproduced below.

Without regret, I am submitting my letter of resignation. In the 22 years I have been an Educator, I have never experienced the lack of transparency I have experienced at Bacone College.

Since the day I walked into Bacone, I felt the protective need to safeguard all that Bacone stood for. The history behind Bacone and the Native Indian students that have come here since 1880. Since the day I walked into Bacone, I have also been immersed in a political power struggle that has affected students and staff alike. This fight was not mine. I was constantly being approached to side against the administration at that time (Ferlin Clark’s). From the very first day, it felt like an explosive place to work. Since the removal of Dr. Clark, it has only grown worse. (More details of current administration abuse will be sent to appropriate agencies.)

I can no longer stand by and see the injustice I have witnessed here. From the lack of resources to the mismanagement of students, finances, and staff. The deceit is deep. I am ashamed for not stepping up earlier and saying something sooner.

To the Board: You are responsible for making Bacone something to be proud of. I am embarrassed to tell people I work at Bacone. The buildings are rotting in front of our eyes, yet we still charge students to live in substandard buildings with mold. The library can’t get library software to actually check out books and half the collection has been left to decay in the basement of Samuel Richard’s Hall. Bacone can’t get credit at local stores because they know you don’t pay your bills.

You have the power to step up and see what is happening, yet I have never met any of you. You fail as a board of Directors. You have not invested in making Bacone a better place to work and attend as students. I frankly don’t understand what purpose you do serve. You hear what you want to hear, but you do not come and see what you would see.

As a Chickasaw Citizen and a proud Native American, I choose to stand up now and say something when I see something.

A detailed letter of the abuse going on at Bacone will be submitted to the Chickasaw Times and to the Chickasaw Nation immediately following the submission of this resignation letter.


Rhonda Barron

UPDATE 9:31 a.m.: Bacone Interim President Nicky Michael said she is aware of the letter, but can’t comment on personnel matters. She did, however comment on some of the non-personnel allegations that were made in the letter.

“We’ve managed through all this in the short time I’ve been in office,” she said. “It’s not easy, and it’s been hard work, and we have a long way to go, but we’re doing it. We got the gym roof fixed, that was a big problem with the gym floor, because it had leaks. Once they rebuilt that floor a few years ago, the leaks still made it buckle. But we’re getting that fixed.”

Mold did turn out to be a problem, she said, but that is also being addressed.

“We tested all the buildings to see how they rated on the mold scale, one dorm, we had to close that so students wouldn’t be in that environment,” she said. “We are working on a campaign to build the Posey Dorms again. We’ve got pledges and incoming money from tribes, federal grants and private donations that have carried us through this semester.”

Facing the college’s problems head-on is a tough job, but she is confident the school is headed in the right direction.

“What I want to say is we’re really grateful to the donors and communities, and we’re turning this around and looking forward to a positive summer.”

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Monday, April 25, 2022, 5:28 PM

The Oklahoma Election Board today denied an effort by candidate Matt Price to challenge the eligibility of District Attorney Larry Edwards.

Price’s challenge alleged that Edwards wasn’t eligible to run for the office he now holds, saying he wasn’t registered to vote in the district in time.

The election board, however, ruled that Edwards was in fact registered in time and his candidacy is therefore legitimate.

“As your current Muskogee County district attorney, my number one priority is the protection of the citizens of Muskogee County,” Edwards said just now. “Rather than focusing my attention on the first day of a three-week jury docket and preparing to try cases, I was forced to appear in Oklahoma City on a frivolous attempt to get me stricken from the ballot. As expected, the State Election Board listened to the facts of the case and ruled that I was within the law to appear as a candidate. It was unfortunate that the board’s time was wasted on a meritless issue at taxpayer expense.”

The board ruled this afternoon in Edwards’ favor.

“Election integrity is of the utmost importance to me,” Price said after the ruling “As your next District Attorney, I will always seek to make sure the rules are followed like I have done today. I will move forward to victory on Election Day by continuing to serve my hometown.”

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Monday, April 25, 2022, 1:25 PM

Kyle Lee Owens

Kyle Lee Owens, 26, of Oktaha has been arrested for two shooting deaths over the weekend in Oktaha.

The shootings killed Benjy and Stephen Hill, father and son, who friends and neighbors indicated might have had an ongoing feud with Owens.

Owens is Native American, so the case has been taken over by the FBI. No charges have yet been filed in federal court against Owens, and the FBI has not returned calls for comment.

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Monday, April 25, 2022, 7:21 AM

Avery Michael Rogers, 40, of Wagoner was killed on Saturday around midnight about five miles north of Wagoner, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Rogers was walking around E 690 Road and S 297 Road when he was struck by a 2008 Chevrolet Silverado driven by Richard Blackburn, 53, of Wagoner, according to the patrol. Blackburn was not injured.

Rogers was taken to the Wagoner Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The cause of the collision is under investigation, but the patrol did report Blackburn’s condition as normal.


Friday, April 22, 2022, 9:26 PM

At least two people are injured dead in a shooting north of Oktaha, Muskogee County EMS has confirmed just now.

There are very few details about the shooting, but we are acquiring information as we can. So far, no names or patient details have been released. Helicopters are standing by for patients.

We will update when more information becomes available.

UPDATE, 9:45 p.m.: The two victims are dead, according to law enforcement services. Because either a victim or the suspect are Native, the case has been turned over to the FBI. We will contact them for information in the morning.

No names are available yet.

UPDATE 9:55 p.m.: A suspect is in custody, according to law enforcement.

UPDATE 10:16 p.m.: Neighbors are reporting that Benjy and Stephen Hill, father and son, were the victims. No law enforcement agency has confirmed that yet, but multiple civilian sources have said those are the victims.

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Friday, April 22, 2022, 8:01 AM

The first tribe to charter Bacone College, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians have continued their pace-setting role in education by creating the UKB Fellowship at Bacone College.

This fellowship program makes the UKB the first among tribal nations to support their students in this creative way.

UKB Chief Joe Bunch, UKB Assistant Chief Jeff Wacoche and UKB Education Director Dr. Hannah personally delivered a $50,000 check to be used for five $10,000 scholarships for future Bacone students.

“This show of support to Bacone and to UKB students shows the depth that small tribal nations are willing to make to benefit their citizens’ education,” said Interim President Dr. Nicky Michael. “We pledge to work with and keep tribal nations at the heart of everything we do and we are extremely grateful to the leadership of UKB.”

The goal of the Tribal Fellowship Program is to raise up the next generation of leaders for the tribe.

“It’s a wonderful time to be a Bacone Warrior. I am honored to be working with a team that has nothing but the best interests for Bacone College,” said UKB Chief Joe Bunch.

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Friday, April 22, 2022, 7:59 AM

The Cherokee Nation is contributing funds to the Griffin Promise Autism Clinic and recently announced a partnership with the Pervasive Parenting Center in an effort to lauch the Cherokee Nation Autism Initiative. The announcement was made by Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. as he officially proclaimed April 2022 as Autism Awareness Month in the Cherokee Nation.

The Pervasive Parenting Center is a not-for-profit organization that provides assistance to families in eastern Oklahoma affected by autism and other developmental disabilities. The center partners with Cherokee Nation’s HERO project through the tribe’s behavioral health department, and the HERO project provides counseling and support services for families with children from newborn to 21 years of age who are citizens of a federally recognized tribe.

As part of the tribe’s partnership with the Pervasive Parenting Center, the center will provide training for the Cherokee Nation Early Childhood Unit, Child Development Center, the Cherokee Immersion School staff, as well as in the primary and secondary education settings. It also provides resources to professional staff and parents for children with autism and will act as a continued resource for Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health on a consulting basis. The partnership will also provide autism screenings for children and support groups for parents and caregivers.

The Griffin Promise Autism Clinic, whose mission is to provide hope and resources to individuals with autism, as well as their caregivers, also received a $2,000 contribution from the Cherokee Nation as part of the tribe’s recognition of Austism Awareness Month.

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Thursday, April 21, 2022, 7:33 AM

Rep. Anthony Moore, R-Clinton, today received passage of Senate Bill 1697 through the House. The bill, authored by Sen. Darcy Jech, R-Kingfisher, in the Senate, would require all applicants for a medical marijuana commercial grower license and commercial grower licensees to file with the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority a bond in an amount of no less than $25,000 for each license sought or held that covers the land where the licensee will conduct grow operations.

The bill raises the bar of entry for people in the business or wanting to get into the business, requiring them to pay the state $10,000 more than the combined yearly salary of a minimum-wage worker.

The bill also allows for OMMA to require a higher amount for the bond if it decides to.

“As we strengthen our medical marijuana laws to ensure only legitimate businesses are in operation, we need to make sure these business owners have some skin in the game,” Jech said. “I’m thankful my colleagues saw the necessity of this measure, and I’m excited to see it go to the governor’s desk for his consideration.”

SB1697 will now be sent to the governor’s desk for review and approval.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2022, 8:58 PM

No one will officially confirm this, but officials in a position to know have confirmed that an inmate has died at the Cherokee County Jail today.

The inmate, reported by fellow inmates to be in his 20s, died today, after complaints about health were allegedly ignored. Again, no official would confirm the reason at this late hour, but an official in a position to know confirmed that the death did occur.

We are pursuing this, but may not be able to get solid information until the morning.

According to a fellow inmate, the man was 22 years old. Housed in “H” Pod. The man had apparently been urinating on himself, the inmate said, which led him to be put in lockdown. He wouldn’t eat on Sunday, the man said, and the man asked for medical help and was denied.

Asked about that on Wednesday morning, a jail administrator said, “You shouldn’t believe everything inmates tell you.”

UPDATE 8:20 a.m.: The Cherokee County Jail has confirmed that a man did die, and has notified his family, though it is not releasing the man’s name.

The administrator MuskogeeNOW spoke to said there were no obvious signs of impending death, and the inmate had no medical history that indicated death was imminent.

Jail officers found the man’s body during spot checks.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is investigating.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2022, 7:28 AM

Muskogee attorney Chad Locke has filed his candidacy to fill the associate district judge seat being vacated by the retirement of Norman Thygeson.

Locke has been practicing law in Muskogee since 2006, at first with his father until the elder Locke’s retirement.

Locke is on the board of the Five Civilized Tribes Museum, and is also licensed to practice law with the Cherokee Nation, the Creek Nation and federal court. He has also served on the boards of Kids’ Space, the Muskogee Little Theater, Downtown Muskogee and Monarch.

So far, the only other person to file for the seat is Special District Judge and former District Attorney Orvil Loge. The election is in November.

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Monday, April 18, 2022, 6:35 AM

Bricktown Brewery, a full-service restaurant featuring made from scratch food and a variety of craft beers, will open in Muskogee today.

Guests at Bricktown Brewery in Muskogee can expect to enjoy “Local Beer, Great Food and Truly Friendly Service” which are hallmarks of the Oklahoma City based company.

The new Bricktown Brewery in Muskogee will be serving comfort food classics prepared from scratch, shareable plates, crafted burgers, hand-built sandwiches, artisanal pizzas, salads, and desserts. The restaurant will be pouring craft beers from Muskogee and surrounding areas, as well as its award-winning beers from Bricktown Brewery, along with a full bar.

Hours of operation will be Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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