Norma Lee Harris, 87

Born June 12, 1933

Died December 1, 2020

Rita G. Oakley, 69

Born December 12, 1950

Died December 1, 2020

David Lee Beebe, 73

Born August 20, 1947

Died December 1, 2020

Jody Whitaker, 56

Born March 3, 1964

Died November 29, 2020

Joe Roosevelt Wallace Sr., 80

Born September 15, 1940

Died November 27, 2020

Joann Bishop, 78

Born May 16, 1942

Died November 27, 2020

Calvin Gene Taylor, 94

Born August 18, 1926

Died November 27, 2020

Sharon Kay Smythe, 78

Born May 5, 1942

Died November 27, 2020


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


Thursday, December 3

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Thursday, December 3, 2020, 8:31 AM

Candidates for the Board of Education in all Muskogee County school districts will file their Declarations of Candidacy beginning at 8 a.m. on Monday, December 7, and continuing Tuesday and Wednesday, Muskogee County Election Board Secretary Kelly Beach said.

Beach said the official filing period ends at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, December 9. All candidate filings will occur at the Muskogee County Election Board office, 400 W. Broadway, Rm: 120, in Muskogee, Beach said.

The Board of Education positions at stake will be filled at the Board of Education Primary Election scheduled February 9, 2021 and the Board of Education General Election on Tuesday, April 6, 2021. If only two candidates file, the position will be filled at the general election. If more than two candidates file, a primary election will be held. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the total votes cast in the primary election, the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes will meet in the general election.

Candidates may file for the following offices: Office number 1 for Braggs, Fort Gibson, Gore, Haskell, Hilldale, Midway, Muskogee, Oktaha, Porum, Warner, and Webbers Falls School Districts. Also, candidates my file for office 2 for the Wainwright School District.

For more information, contact the Muskogee County Election Board at (918) 687-8151.

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Thursday, December 3, 2020, 7:44 AM

State Rep. Avery Frix, R-Muskogee, commented on the announcement that Muskogee has been designated as one of nine Centers for Workforce Excellence under the Oklahoma Works Together program. The program establishes a local, industry-based workforce model that can be used to help existing businesses find workers and attract new industry to the state.

“Muskogee and the Port of Muskogee is a key entryway into the state of Oklahoma with many beneficial assets to area residents and employers,” Frix said. “This designation and its alignment between workforce and education will allow us to continue to expand the number of jobs we offer and to attract additional business and industry to our area of the state. This in turn will benefit our local economy, that of our entire region and our great state.”

The Muskogee County CWE brings together education, industry and community partners to provide a talent pipeline for current and prospective industry. The designation will build on the area’s longstanding collaborative partnerships and coordinated workforce delivery system, and includes representation by employers, industry-led associations, educational institutions, training providers, workforce partners, tribal governments, state agencies, and non-profit organizations.


Wednesday, December 2, 2020, 2:18 PM

Muskogee Public Schools students will continue doing their work remotely until Dec. 14, according to schools spokesman Steve Braun.

Braun says he will shortly update the Muskogee Public Schools web site, which currently says virtual work extends until the 11th.

The district will continue meal service during this extended week of virtual instruction. Families must contact a site by 9 a.m. to reserve a meal to be picked up from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. that day.

The days are extended to try to stem the tide of COVID-19, which has been ravaging Muskogee and the area.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2020, 8:09 AM

Billy Joe McCarter

Billy Joe McCarter, 60, of Porum is charged in Muskogee County District Court with felony stalking after several incidents involving his ex-wife and dogs, according to documents filed with the case.

According to an affidavit by the Porum police, McCarter’s wife has a valid protective order against him, forbidding him from having any contact with her or the couple’s dogs. The wife called police when she discovered her husband following her, turning down a street beside her house, then turning around, extinguishing the lights in his vehicle and parking where he could surveil her and the house.

In another incident, a friend of the wife’s said she observed McCarter following the wife, so she asked her husband to follow the wife home, then she called 911 to report the incident. Porum police also reported being flagged down by the wife at a gas station on a third incident where she alleged that McCarter was following her in a silver flatbed pickup. Police observed the pickup drive away from the area from half a block away.

In a fourth incident, a Porum police officer pulled over McCarter in a silver flatbed pickup for rapidly flashing brake lights near the wife’s house.

When pulled over, the affidavit states, McCarter told police he was there to throw food over the fence to his dogs, though the protective order specifically included the dogs and McCarter was told to have no contact with them.

McCarter is currently also facing felony charges of domestic abuse by strangulation.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2020, 7:38 AM

Daryl McLemore

Muskogee police have issued a silver alert for Daryl McLemore, 48, who was last observed wearing a green hoodie, light-colored jeans and gray Nike shoes.

McLemore is missing from the 1600 block of E. Broadway since about noon yesterday, the alert stated.

He has stage 4 cancer, walks with a cane and is without his medication, the alert stated.

Please contact the Muskogee police Department at 918-683-8000 or Crime stoppers at 918-682-COPS (2677) if you see a subject matching this description.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2020, 7:34 AM

Stephen Newman

After receiving a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, agents from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Internet Crimes Against Children Unit secured an arrest warrant for 33-year-old Stephen Newman of Poteau. Newman was arrested by the McAlester Police Department on November 20 on one charge of Procuring Obscene Material, which is a felony.

The case originated when the OSBI received a cyber tip from the exploited children center that originated with an Idaho Task Force and involved online chats between Newman and an underage female in Idaho. Law enforcement in Idaho secured a search warrant for the email account associated with the cybertip. The IP address checked back to a residence in the 700 block of S. Saddler in Poteau, Okla. Newman was a listed as a resident of that address.

During the course of the OSBI investigation, a search warrant was secured for all electronic devices in the home. Based on the evidence obtained and analyzed by agents, an arrest warrant was issued for Newman on November 10, who was believed to be in the McAlester area. Officers with the McAlester Police Department arrested Newman at a residence in the 500 block of E. Polk in McAlester. He was taken to the Pittsburg County Jail on a $100,000 bond.

The OSBI investigation is ongoing. If you have a child that you believe had an inappropriate experience with Newman, contact the OSBI at (800) 522-8017 or

If you suspect a child is being sexually exploited, contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children immediately at 1-800-THE-LOST or

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Monday, November 30, 2020, 7:30 AM

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections locked down all facilities after more than 20 inmates were assaulted at three male prisons Friday afternoon.

Several of the injured were transported to hospitals.

When the assaults occurred at North Fork Correctional Center, Jess Dunn Correctional Center in Taft, and Oklahoma State Penitentiary, staff quickly responded by securing all inmates inside their cells.

ODOC staff and agents with the Office of the Inspector General are investigating what sparked the altercations.

All facilities systemwide are secure.

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Friday, November 27, 2020, 12:56 PM

Seth McKibben apparently fell asleep at the wheel this morning around 2, crashing his pickup truck into a fence a highline pole, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

McKibben, 24, was eastbound on County Road 1100 just east of New Texanna Road in McIntosh County, when his 2003 Chevrolet Silverado departed the roadway to the right and struck a fence and highline pole, the patrol reported.

He was transported by Checotah EMS to Saint Francis Hospital in Muskogee, where he was admitted in stable condition with trunk internal, external and leg injuries.

His pickup was equipped with seatbelts, which were not in use. Airbags also did not deploy.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2020, 3:46 PM

Jim Harris, left, poses with friend Donnie Madewell

Jim Harris, 68, owner of Charlie’s Chicken West, has passed away from a combination of pneumonia and COVID-19, according to family and friends.

Harris, ex-son-in-law of Charlie’s Chicken founder Charles Randolph, had ownership in multiple businesses across this part of the state. He went to the hospital last week with chest pains, and was later diagnosed with the diseases that claimed his life.

“He was just a great guy,” Donnie Madewell, a longtime friend, said. “He is sure going to be missed.

Harris was also a partner in Muskogee stalwart Hamlin’s El Toro.

UPDATE: Harris’s daughter, Holly Stern, called to add some details.

“He had multiple COVID tests, all negative,” she said. “At first, the doctors said one thing, then another, that it was a sinus infection, the pneumonia, but it wasn’t until the sixth test that they realized it was COVID.”

Harris was in the hospital for 14 days.

“He was a great philanthropist for our community,” she said. “He gave to pretty much everyone, but he really enjoyed helping children; not just one, but whole teams. He wanted to give where it would help the most people.”

Harris, who opened the Charlie’s West location in 1981, also had ownership in Kilharen’s Lodge before it was sold to Timothy Baptist Church, and in JL’s Barbecue in Pryor.

He was a freemason and a shriner. Locally, his favorite group to support was the Future Farmers of America.

“He was very active in FFA in high school,” Stern said. “He held several offices.”

But his lasting legacy will be in the family he left behind.

“As good a businessman and philanthropist as he was, he was an even better father and grandfather,” she said, sniffing back tears. “And he always treated our employees as family.”

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Wednesday, November 25, 2020, 8:49 AM

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. signed an executive order Nov. 18 establishing the Cherokee Nation Advisory Committee on History and Culture to help ensure Cherokee art, history, and culture are presented in an accurate and authentic way.

The creation of the advisory committee is one of the arts and cultural initiatives supported by Cherokee Nation First Lady January Hoskin.

“As Cherokees, we have a duty to ensure Cherokee art, history, and culture thrive for the next seven generations. It has been a goal of this administration to ensure that the needs and perspectives of Cherokee artists, historians, and cultural advocates are considered in future initiatives of the Cherokee Nation. This executive order will set up a committee so we can do that, and it will enhance the great work we already do across the reservation and across the country,” Hoskin said. “I want to thank the First Lady of the Cherokee Nation, who has been a major force behind this effort. It is important to her that across the Cherokee Nation, those in our communities are involved in our art and culture so that artists have even more access to opportunities to share our beautiful story with the world.”

The committee will be made up of six Cherokee Nation citizens with substantial experience in their respective communities as artists, historians, and cultural and community advocates. To serve in those position, Hoskin appointed inaugural members including artists Victoria Vazquez and Jane Osti; historians Jack Baker and Catherine Foreman Gray; and cultural and community advocates Dawni Squirrel and Tommy Wildcat.

The members will serve from January 2021 to December 2022, with the option for renewal in January 2023 for a two-year term.

The objectives of the advisory committee are to provide guidance and feedback on matters related to the identification and acquisition of historic sites, public art, collection and care of Cherokee Nation’s art and artifacts, the Cherokee National Treasures program, historic and cultural events, museum exhibitions, books and publications.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2020, 8:45 AM

Georgia-Pacific’s Muskogee Mill has presented Chief Derrell R. Jones and the entire Muskogee Fire Department with a $2,000 Georgia-Pacific Bucket Brigade grant to express its gratitude for the support and resilience the department displayed during the mill’s 2019 fire.

“The Muskogee Fire Department’s quick response and heroic actions kept a dangerous situation from tragic results, and words cannot express our appreciation for the support and dedication displayed not only during the fire but as we continue to rebuild our facility,” said Amy Borovich, Muskogee facility manager. “We hope this grant will help fund some of the ongoing efforts of the fire department to keep the Muskogee area safe.”

Immediately following the May 2019 fire, the mill began recovery efforts, united in its commitment to rebuild while continuing operations. With construction nearly complete, now is a natural time for the mill to celebrate and thank the Muskogee community for its support.

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Monday, November 23, 2020, 7:33 PM

The Muskogee City Council has passed a mask mandate in the city due to surging COVID-19 infections in the city and statewide.

Muskogee citizens are required to wear masks in public.

There are no penalties assigned yet for non-compliance, but non-compliant citizens will be warned to wear masks in public.

Masks have been shown to decrease transmission rates of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, which has killed more than 250,000 people in the United States this year. The masks do not provide significant protection to the wearers, but do help non-symptomatic wearers from transmitting the disease to others.

The council will revisit possible penalties for noncompliance later. The County Commissioners earlier declared a state of emergency in the county due to the disease.

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Monday, November 23, 2020, 1:59 PM

Muskogee County Commissioners have declared a state of emergency in the county and have issued a COVID advisory.

Masks are now required by everyone in county buildings, and CDC guidelines are “strongly recommended” everywhere else, according to County Commissioner Ken Doke.

“The basis for this action is increased infections and hospitalizations in comparison with the shrinking availability of healthcare resources,” Doke said.

The city will tonight take up a sixth motion for a mask mandate. The previous five have failed to pass.

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Monday, November 23, 2020, 10:53 AM

Workers begin installation of solar panels.

The Muskogee Civic Center is getting a major upgrade with a solar power system designed to reduce utility-sourced electricity and advance environmental and sustainable energy practices.

The City of Muskogee and ArrowPoint Solar announced the project kickoff date of November 23, which will continue into the holidays.

“We would like to have the solar installation complete in three weeks or less, weather permitting,” said Kelly Hoyt, Project Manager of ArrowPoint Solar. “However, because of the holidays, it may fall into the week of Dec 14.”

The move is part of ongoing efforts to make the building energy independent, Civic Center general manager John Cruz said.

“Last year we upgraded the building to LED light system and today we start the solar panel project, reassuring the City of Muskogee commitment to sustainable energy,” Cruz said. “It is another opportunity to market our facility to the entertainment industry.”

The project consists of 892 solar panels and approximately 330.040kw place in the rooftop of the early 1960s building structure. “Enough to power any size music production in the multi-purpose building” said Cruz.

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Monday, November 23, 2020, 9:47 AM

Ernest Couch

A silver alert has been issued by the Muskogee Police Department for a missing 73 year old male believed to be in imminent danger.

Ernest Couch was last seen on Sunday 11-22-2020 at approximately 7:30 pm. He is a 73 year old white male approximately 5’10” and weighs 165 pounds. He has white hair and blue eyes and a full beard. He was last seen by the staff at the nursing home he resides in at approximately 7:30 pm, he was wearing blue Adidas sweat pants with white stripes and a grey shirt with blue sleeves.

Couch suffers from dementia and diabetes. He left the nursing home on foot in an unknown direction of travel.

Contact the Muskogee Police Department at 918-683-8000 or Crime Stoppers at 918-682-COPS (2677) if you see a subject matching this description.

UPDATE: Police report he has been found safe.

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Friday, November 20, 2020, 10:16 AM

A number of students from Braggs are under investigation by the Muskogee County district attorney after an incident that led to multiple suspensions.

No officials will go on record about the nature of the incident, but concerned parents have said it was sexual in nature, multiple boys attacking another boy.

“The Muskogee County District Attorney’s Office received an investigative report regarding an incident that occurred at Braggs Public Schools,” DA Orvil Loge said just now. “The matter involves juveniles and therefore information will not be released. Should anything be filed that is public record I will advise accordingly.”

Multiple law enforcement officials confirmed that an incident occurred, but none would give details.

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Friday, November 20, 2020, 8:59 AM

Sara Harris, 21, of Muskogee and Christie Day, 27, of Muskogee were both hurt yesterday around 11:15 p.m. in a single-car wreck 8 miles south of Braggs, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Harris was driving a 2011 Chevrolet Silverado northbound on Oklahoma Highway 10 when she failed to negotiate a left curve, the patrol reported. Her pickup departed the roadway to the right, hit a tree and the women were pinned inside the pickup for around 20 minutes.

Harris was flown by helicopter to a Tulsa hospital with leg injuries. Day was transported to the same hospital by Muskogee County EMS with trunk internal injuries. Both women’s conditions were reported as stable.

Both women were wearing seat belts, and the cause of the wreck was listed as unsafe speed for curve.

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Thursday, November 19, 2020, 7:35 AM

Jerry Dwayne Martin

Jerry Dwayne Martin, 50, of Fort Gibson is charged with felony driving under the influence, third and subsequent after he allegedly tried to elude police and ran into a guardrail on Nov. 16.

Officer Zach Adams with the Fort Gibson Police tried to stop Martin at N. Lee Street and E. Ash Avenue around 5:30 p.m. that day after being dispatched to a report of a reckless driver in the area. He reported that Martin crashed into a guard rail at the intersection of W. Elm and W. Railroad.

“As I approached the vehicle and activated my emergency lights, it backed away from the guard rail and drove away,” Adams reported. “I got behind the vehicle and activated my siren and ordered Jerry to stop the vehicle via my PA system. Jerry did not stop the vehicle and continued to drive until we arrived at (his) residence.”

He has been convicted of DUIs twice in the last two years, once in 2018, for which he received a one-year suspended sentence, and again in June of this year, for which he received a two-year suspended sentence.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2020, 8:27 AM

The Cherokee Nation has operated drive-through COVID screening and testing opportunities at its health centers around the Cherokee Nation reservation from the beginning of the pandemic.

Cherokee Nation Health Services has been awarded a $4.1 million Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics for Underserved Populations grant through the Native American Research Centers for Health and the National Institutes of Health to assist with COVID-19 testing and contact tracing efforts.

The grant project is known as Cherokee PROTECT and unites tribal, academic and community partners under the leadership of the Cherokee Nation to focus on COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and education in underserved rural populations

“From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cherokee Nation has implemented our response by relying on medical science, facts and compassion. Because of this, our approach to slowing and stopping the spread of COVID-19 in our communities has been at the forefront of governmental and health care response not just in Oklahoma, but in all of Indian Country,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “Providing ample testing in our communities has been a focus of this approach and we’ve made great strides in our fight against the virus by not only ensuring we have plenty of COVID-19 tests on hand, but by also providing an abundance of safe and easy to access testing locations throughout Northeast Oklahoma. This new funding will provide us with even more opportunities to protect our Cherokee families and help change the course of this pandemic.

Cherokee PROTECT will allow Cherokee Nation Health Services to expand its existing strengths and infrastructure by increasing COVID-19 viral and antibody testing for clinical care and enabling community-based COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and education within Cherokee Nation Public Health.

“Throughout the Cherokee Nation reservation in northeast Oklahoma, we continue to see confirmed COVID-19 cases and community spread,” said Dr. Sohail Khan, director of Health Research with Cherokee Nation Health Services and project lead for the Cherokee PROTECT program. “Many residents have a statistically higher chance of contracting severe COVID-19 symptoms due to underlying medical conditions. This vulnerability is compounded by economic and geographical barriers. Cherokee Nation Health Services has already begun to combat these issues through extensive testing and contact tracing efforts, and the addition of more than $4.1 million in grant funding will only allow us to make greater strides in these areas.”

The Cherokee PROTECT program will also use grant funding to identify barriers and facilitators to COVID-19 testing within the Cherokee Nation to help inform a tailored, educational effort to increase testing and contact tracing while decreasing the spread of the virus, and will implement a rigorous evaluation to ensure quality improvement and sustainability.

Cherokee Nation Health Services has reported about 4,500 positive cases of COVID-19 in its health system as of Nov. 16.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2020, 8:12 AM

Ronna Brown

Ronna Bernice Brown, 39, of Muskogee is charged in Muskogee County District Court with one felony count of terrorism hoax and five misdemeanors, driving under the influence, transporting an open container, threatening to perform an act of violence, attempting escape and obstructing an officer.

On Nov. 14, police pulled her over around 9:30 p.m. at Sallie and Choctaw streets, believing her to be intoxicated. Police state she was unsteady on her feet, had slurred speech and showed indications of intoxication on state tests. Brown also had an open container of beer in her vehicle, police stated.

While officers were attempting to book her in the Muskogee County Jail, they said Brown attempted to escape several times by getting up and walking toward the door. As police took her to the hospital for COVID testing, they say she pulled away and tried to walk away quickly.

Police said Brown told officers she was COVID-positive and began coughing in their direction when they tried to put a mask on her. The officers also said Brown threatened to have officers’ families killed. Brown is also accused of trying to kick out the side window of the police cruiser she was in.

She is being held on a $10,000 bond pending court on Dec. 1.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2020, 11:37 AM

The Azalea Banner Auction is online only this year due to covid. Bid wars open noon Sunday, November 22 and go through 7 p.m. the night of Black Friday, November 27.

You can view now to pick out your favorites from the 100 banners.

Entry bid for banners is $25 and bids are in $10 increments. Payment will be with credit/debit cards online at checkout.

Pickup will be Monday and Tuesday November 30 and December 1 at the Scout House in the southeast corner of Spaulding Park. A mail option is available for out of town customers for $10 additional for shipping and handling at checkout.

Proceeds go the Muskogee Parks & Recreation Park Development Fund with contributions to Muskogee Art Guild and to the Friends of Honor Heights Park .

You can look and bid here.

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Monday, November 16, 2020, 10:36 AM

Paul Mullican, 62, was found dead yesterday around 2 p.m. near South 40th Street south of Muskogee by family members, according to Undersheriff Greg Martin.

“He went for a walk on Saturday, but didn’t return,” Martin said just now. “His family was worried, so they went looking and found him yesterday in a wooded area.”

Mullican was lying in a small creek that divides two properties.

“There wasn’t much water, but that’s where he was found.”

Mullican, who had some disability issues, did not appear to have been the victim of foul play.

“We are waiting for the medical examiner to determine,” Martin said. “But there is no evidence to indicate it was homicide.”

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Monday, November 16, 2020, 9:17 AM

Muskogee’s Historic Roxy Theater and the Three Rivers Museum and Heritage Center are taking special care to make the fourth-annual Muskogee’s Polar Express Pajama Party both fun and covid-safe this year.

“The kids have missed so much this year so we have been working diligently to make this an event the kids and parents can attend and feel comfortable knowing we have taken every precaution,” Angie Watson-Rush, Executive Director of the Three River’s Museum, said, “We want them to come healthy and leave healthy.”

The event, which features a simulated train ride on a bus, takes the participants from the Three Rivers Museum to the Roxy Theater to watch the motion picture Polar Express, and then back to the North Pole (Three Rivers Museum) to meet Santa, while re-creating pivotal scenes from the movie.

Muskogee High School volunteers from the Alpha Adelphi sorority will be dressed as elves to help the children on and off the buses and to their seats in the theater and the lineup to take pictures with Santa at the North Pole at Muskogee’s Three River Museum and Heritage Center.

The holiday decorated three hundred and twenty seat ROXY Theater provides ample room for social distancing with a renovated sound system to transport the viewer into the movie’s reality. The motion picture, starring Tom Hanks has become a classic cult holiday movie for children.

Dates for the event are November 27, 28 and December 4th and 5th.

Tickets can be purchased through

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Friday, November 13, 2020, 8:25 AM

State Rep. Avery Frix, right, and DHS Director Justin Brown stand with Joy Sloan and Melissa Shofner with Green Country Behavioral Health Services in Muskogee.

State Rep. Avery Frix, R-Muskogee, recently invited Oklahoma Department of Human Services Director Justin Brown to Muskogee to tour Green Country Behavioral Health Services.

“We discussed having more embedded workers in the community and how we could potentially make that happen,” Frix said. “This would benefit those throughout our community who need the services DHS provides.”

Director Brown also joined Frix and other community leaders for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Fostering Hope, a nonprofit in Muskogee that provides foster children with clothing, care items, books and other supplies when they are placed in foster care.

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Thursday, November 12, 2020, 3:25 PM

Muskogee Public Schools will go all-virtual starting Monday, Nov. 16, due to a surge in COVID-19 cases and related absences from both students and staff, according to Superintendent Dr. Jarod Mendenhall.

“In the month of October, across the district we saw 31 students test positive for COVID-19. Through the first 11 days of November our positive student cases totaled 32. These positive cases have resulted in 433 students to be either quarantined due to direct contact or self-isolated due to a positive test,” he said. “The impacts of COVID-19 has put a strain on both our certified and support staff. Forty-five staff members are currently out due to a COVID-19 related absence. Across the district we currently have six staff members who have tested positive. Of the 45 staff members who are currently out, 36 are certified staff members.”

The district is scheduled to return to in-person instruction on Dec. 7.

“During these three weeks away from the school building we will continue to provide meals for students. Information regarding that service can be found at,” he continued. “Obtain contact information for your students’ teachers and develop a plan for the coming weeks. Our staff will report to work as normal unless under quarantine.”

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Thursday, November 12, 2020, 12:32 PM

Donnie Baker

Famed Tahlequah attorney Donnie Baker died this morning of COVID-19, according to family and friends.

Baker, brother of former Cherokee Chief Bill John Baker, was a longtime attorney in the Tahlequah and Muskogee areas, winning big cases and gaining acquittals for many clients. His win rate made him the go-to attorney for many people accused of major crimes.

His niece, Nikki Baker, was a longtime prosecutor in Muskogee County under former DA John David Luton.

Multiple friends said they saw Baker last week and he “was fine,” they said. Family friends reported he was in Oklahoma City in intensive care this morning when he passed.

The virus has surged through Oklahoma in the last several weeks, with record-high numbers of infections and hospitals across the state running out of beds to treat its victims. Though other states are implementing mask mandates to help prevent the further spread of the disease, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt says he will not issue one, instead advising citizens to keep distance from each other, wash hands and wear masks when social distancing isn’t possible.

It is unclear where or when Baker contracted the virus.

Muskogee County has had a total of 2,832 cases of COVID-19, with a total of 28 deaths. There are currently 375 active COVID cases in the county, with the caveat that there are some duplicates on the official list.

A Muskogee mask mandate failed in the City Council this week, but Mayor Marlon Coleman has said he will propose another one next week.


Thursday, November 12, 2020, 7:37 AM

Muskogee’s Historic Roxy Theater is joining with the “4 a Cause” organization to help raise money for the family of Aubri Moore.

Aubri, fourteen, has been diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma and is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments at Saint Jude’s Children Hospital in Memphis Tennessee.

Formed in May of 2020, “4 a Cause” is an online group of more than 2,000 members that focuses on raising money to help families in need. Events that are held to raise money often feature members dressed as costumed superheroes to greet and uplift the spirits of children going through difficult times and major health challenges.

Muskogee’s Historic Roxy Theater is conducting a special movie screening of the blockbuster motion picture Aquaman, starring Jason Momoa, and will donate a dollar of each ticket sold to the Moore family.

There will be two showings of the movie on Saturday, Nov. 14, with one at 4 p.m. and another at 7 p.m.

Muskogee’s Characters 4 A Cause group will be there dressed as Aquaman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Mera to greet guests and help in supporting Aubri with additional fundraising and related activities.

There will also be a box to leave cards and notes of encouragement to Aubri. Doors open at 3:30 p.m. and full concessions will be available for moviegoers. Movie tickets can be purchased in advance online or by calling 918-684-6366.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2020, 9:45 AM

Dr. Nicole Been

One of Bacone College’s own – an alumnus and a vice president – was named as a Native American 40 Under 40 by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development Center on Tuesday.

Dr. Nicole Been, a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation originally from Okemah, Oklahoma, is the college’s vice president of strategic initiatives and special projects. She is a graduate of Bacone College, Baylor University, and Oklahoma State University. Been is also the co-founder of the Been Foundation, a non-profit organization that targets youth with socioeconomic challenges.

Been joins two more Bacone College administrators who have been named as a Native American 40 Under 40: William Lowe and Mary Jo Pratt. Lowe is the college’s human resources director, also a Bacone College alumnus, who was honored in 2011. Pratt is the chief financial officer and vice president of finance who was honored in 2016.

“I’m humbled and honored to join a group of phenomenal Native American and Alaska Native leaders,” Been said, “and I am thankful to have this opportunity to represent my family, my tribal town, and the MCN.”

The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development Center says the 40 Under 40 winners “have exemplified leadership, initiative, and especially during COVID-19, resiliency, and dedication towards their communities and businesses.”*

Bacone College President Dr. Ferlin Clark says Been’s successes and contributions to Bacone College’s path toward becoming a tribal college are especially appreciated.

“Dr. Been has been instrumental in our tribal relations and special projects which move us closer to becoming recognized as a tribal college,” he said. “We congratulate her on this much-deserved award.”

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Tuesday, November 10, 2020, 7:39 AM

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. announced on Saturday a new plan that will explore the history of Cherokee Freedmen. The goal of the plan is to provide a better understanding of Cherokee Freedmen history and enhance how those voices are represented within the Cherokee story.

“Cherokee Nation is a better nation for having recognized full and equal citizenship of Freedmen descendants,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “Cherokee society will be further enriched, and the cause of equality enhanced, by celebrating Freedmen history and art as part of a whole and complete Cherokee story.”

In 1863, Cherokee Nation passed an act to abolish slavery in the Cherokee Nation, and later those freed slaves and their descendants were granted “all the rights of native Cherokees” through the Treaty of 1866. A federal court and the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court declared in 2017 that descendants of Freedmen are full Cherokee citizens under the law.

The Cherokee Freedmen Art and History Project is slated to begin in January 2021 and will harness continued conversations and collaboration with Cherokee Freedmen community advisors to elevate the voice of Cherokee Freedmen.

The project will include comprehensive research for historical materials, references, documents and images, as well as an assessment of current interpretations at all tribal sites. Cherokee Nation will utilize the assessment to identify gaps in its representation and storytelling, and develop new content that shares the Freedmen perspective throughout tribal history.

The collaborative content will help educate tribal citizens and the general public through special projects, including a feature exhibit at the Cherokee National History Museum in 2022.

Chief Hoskin also signed an executive order on equality, reiterating Cherokee Nation’s commitment to equal protection and equal opportunity under Cherokee law. The order directs the tribe’s executive branch to determine whether barriers to equal access to services exist, to remove such barriers, and to establish plans for outreach to Cherokees citizens of Freedmen descent.

“I appreciate Cherokee Nation’s commitment to equality for all citizens and commend Chief Hoskin on his efforts to reach out to Cherokee citizens of Freedmen descent. Telling the Freedmen history is a wonderful thing,” said Cherokee Nation citizen Marilyn Vann, president of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes.

Chief Hoskin announced the Cherokee Freedmen Art and History Project and the executive order on equality at the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribe’s virtual conference on Nov.9.

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Monday, November 9, 2020, 8:13 AM

Tiy Salazar

Tiy Salazar, 21, of Muskogee is charged with felony assault and battery with a dangerous weapon in Muskogee County District Court, according to documents filed with the case.

According to an affidavit filed with the case, on Nov. 4, around 11:30 a.m., Salazar got into a physical altercation with the woman and cut and stabbed her in the face and hand with a broken glass bottle.

He was arrested on that date and is in the Muskogee County Jail on a $7,500 bond. He faces a sounding docket at 9 a.m. on Nov. 30 in judge Robin Adair’s courtroom.

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