bosslady

DEATHS

Jewell Anne Scrivner, 58

Born September 12, 1962

Died February 24, 2021

Harry Tim Tudor, 67

Born June 15, 1953

Died February 23, 2021

Toni Lea Guinn, 50

Born January 30, 1971

Died February 22, 2021

Patricia Joan Stewart, 61

Born January 9, 1960

Died February 21, 2021

Harriet Maxine Newlon, 97

Born September 11, 1923

Died February 21, 2021

CLICK TO SEE MORE >>

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

THINGS TO DO

Thursday, February 25, 2021, 9:13 AM

Brianna Douillard

Brianna Douillard, 31, of Muskogee, was convicted on Feb. 11 of stealing $1,600 from McAlister’s Deli. On Feb. 20, around 9:30 p.m., police say they saw her pour a liquid on and set fire to a pile of clothing outside the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, 401 S. 3rd St.

When an officer went to stamp out the fire, he reported he detected the presence of an accelerant on the clothing.

Police did not record a motive for the alleged arson.

Douillard received a two-year suspended sentence for her embezzlement.

Prosecutors filed a motion to revoke the suspension of that sentence yesterday.

She faces a preliminary hearing for felony fourth-degree arson on March 3.

She is also facing misdemeanor trespassing charged from January in McIntosh County.

https://muskogeenow.com/story_images/1614265522.jpg https://muskogeenow.com/convicted-embezzler-charged-with-trying-to-burn-down-oklahoma-music-hall-of-fame

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Thursday, February 25, 2021, 9:03 AM

Steven Loyd Tomblinson III

Steven Loyd Tomblinson III, 26, of Muskogee is charged with three felonies in Muskogee County District Court after an altercation in the Muskogee County Jail where two detention officers were injured, according to documents filed with the case.

According to an affidavit, Tomblinson allegedly punched officer Caleb Fields, causing a cut over his right eye, and during the ensuing scuffle, officer Steve Minnick’s head struck a concrete block, causing him a concussion.

After Tomblinson was subdued, he also allegedly threatened supervisor Morgan Thompson, saying he would kill her and cut up her body.

Tomblinson was convicted earlier this month of a felony, knowingly concealing stolen property in a 2012 case, and sentenced to five years suspended.

Fields’ injuries required stitches.

https://muskogeenow.com/story_images/1614265208.jpg https://muskogeenow.com/inmate-injures-two-jailers-threatens-third-in-fight

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021, 8:30 AM

House Bill 1236 sponsored by House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, and Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore, and House Resolution 1005 sponsored by Rep. Jay Steagall, R-Yukon, are scheduled to be discussed before the full body of the House today. The two pieces of legislation are focused on strengthening Oklahoma’s state sovereignty through an assertion of rights outlined in the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

HB 1236 creates a new law stating that the Oklahoma Legislature may review any federal executive order, federal agency rule or federal legislative action to determine constitutionality. Upon recommendation from the Legislature, the Attorney General will review the action to determine constitutionality. Additionally, it precludes a publicly funded organization from implementing any action that restricts a person’s rights or is deemed unconstitutional.

HR 1005 is a resolution asserting Oklahoma’s sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. It provides guidelines for federal government agencies and agents that operate within, or whose actions have an effect on, Oklahoma and its citizens.

The House is scheduled to convene today at 1:30 p.m. The date and time for floor discussion of these two pieces of legislation is subject to change.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2021, 12:41 PM

A measure allowing social media users to sue for damages against any social media website that censors a user’s political or religious speech was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee today. State Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, authored Senate Bill 383 to eliminate selective censorship of opinion on social media and to ensure free speech is treated fairly.

“There have been cases where social media posts discriminate against conservative views and social media platforms censor or delete posts supporting those views,” Standridge said. “Nonviolent political posts are being censored just for having a differing opinion and citizens should be able to have a chance at civil recourse.”

Under SB 383, users in the state could sue any owner or operator of a social media website that purposely censors a user’s political or religious speech. The measure applies to deleted posts or the use of algorithms to suppress such speech. The websites would be immune from liability if any censored posts called for immediate acts of violence or enticed criminal conduct. It would also exempt posts involved in bullying minors, false impersonation or those from an inauthentic source. The measure does not apply to individual users who censor the speech of other users.

Users above the age 18 could seek damages of a minimum of $75,000 per intentional deletion or censoring of that user’s speech, along with actual damages and punitive damages if aggravating factors are present. The prevailing party may also be awarded costs and reasonable attorney fees.

“Selective censoring of opinion on social media should not be prevalent in a country where freedom of speech is a fundamental right,” Standridge said. “While it is important to keep the internet safe by censoring violent or other criminal content, censoring posts solely for a differing political opinion is wrong. This measure will protect free speech.”

The bill now heads to the Senate floor.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2021, 11:33 AM

Jade Day

Today the National Organization for Rare Disorders announced this year’s Rare Impact Award honorees. The group will be honored for their exceptional work benefiting the rare disease community in a virtual event streaming on June 28. The Rare Impact Awards program is part of the Living Rare, Living Stronger NORD Patient and Family Forum, an annual conference that brings patients and families, advocates, health care professionals and other supporters together for learning, sharing and connecting.

Among the awards are Rare Impact Award, of which patient advocate Jade Day of Muskogee is a recipient.

“I am beyond humbled to receive this award. I never intended for my work with the rare diseases community to be recognized,” Day said. “I am just passionate about what I do for patients and families, including my own. It took dedication and years of hard work advocating, lobbying and pushing for change for those with rare disorders on tribal, state and federal levels.”

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Tuesday, February 23, 2021, 7:45 AM

Oklahoma House of Representatives Utilities Committee Chair Rep. Garry Mize, R-Guthrie, announced Monday his committee intends to hold hearings to examine the storm’s effect on utility bills and identify measures to prevent astronomically high utility bills after future storms.

The hearings are part of multiples steps announced by state leaders to examine the aftermath of last week’s storm.

“Every single county in our state was affected by last week’s winter weather,” Mize said. “Our constituents are worried about the storm’s impact on their utility bills, and as their elected officials, we need to understand how prepared or unprepared Oklahoma was for this storm and what, if any, policy changes should be implemented in preparation for future storms.”

House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, joined Gov. Kevin Stitt and other elected leaders.

“All 101 House members are working to connect our districts with necessary aid in addition to taking calls from constituents who are very concerned about increased utility bills,” McCall said. “In addition to efforts in our districts, we have an obligation to examine the situation at the legislative level, as well. The House will conduct hearings on the matter to ascertain what needs to be done going forward. I appreciate the leadership of Chairman Mize and the Utilities Committee for reviewing this matter for our constituents.”

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charlies chicken

Monday, February 22, 2021, 8:30 AM

Two days remain for registered voters in Muskogee County to apply for absentee ballots to be mailed to them for the March 2, 2021 Special Bond Proposition Election for Warner School District I-74, County Election Board Secretary Kelly Beach said today.

Applications for absentee ballots must be in the hands of the County Election Board no later than 5 p.m. on Tuesday, February 23, 2021, to be processed.

Any registered voter eligible to vote in the election may vote by absentee ballot without stating a reason, Beach said. Absentee voters may apply in person at the County Election Board office or may send their applications by mail, fax, e-mail or online at www.ok.gov/elections.

Early In-Person Absentee Voting for the March 2, 2021 election will be on February 25th & 26th in the County Election Board Office from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. For more information on absentee voting, contact the County Election Board at 400 W. Broadway St., Rm. 120. The telephone number is (918) 687-8151. The County Election Board’s fax number is MuskogeeCounty@elections.ok.gov.

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Friday, February 19, 2021, 7:47 AM

As of Feb. 18, the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System has given the COVID-19 vaccine to 5,119 veterans. A total of 3,995 veterans have received their first shot and 1,124 veterans have received both shots.

Veterans 65 years and older are encouraged to contact 888-397-8387 to request a COVID-19 vaccination appointment.

Additionally, all veterans are encouraged to visit the national VA “Keep Me Informed” website and indicate if you want to receive the vaccine: https://www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine/stay-informed. To access the tool, veterans will need an upgraded My HealtheVet account. To upgrade your account, please call us at 918-577-3824 or toll-free at 888-397-8387 Ext. 3824.

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highers bonding

Thursday, February 18, 2021, 8:23 AM

Legislation to expand protections for victims of violence passed the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee on Wednesday with a vote of 8-0.

House Bill 1948, authored by Rep. José Cruz, D-OKC, expands the definition of family or household member used in the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act and the Domestic Abuse Reporting Act to include persons not otherwise related by blood or marriage.

The change is an effort to extend protections to victims of abuse beyond family members.

“The law as it is written is too narrow to meet the standards Oklahomans have when it comes to protecting victims of violence,” Cruz said. “It’s necessary common-sense legislation that’s overdue to protect all victims.”

The legislation enjoyed bipartisan support in committee and is now available to be heard on the House floor.

“When it comes to protecting Oklahomans, especially victims of abuse, there are no politics,” Cruz said. “I appreciate this committee for supporting this legislation, and I look forward to earning the vote of my colleagues on the House floor.”

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021, 10:29 AM

President’s Day and an unprecedented winter storm have delayed Muskogee trash pickup by two days, according to Stephen Morton, Muskogee’s assistant director of public works.

“We ask that citizens be patient,” he said just now. “Our guys are working a couple of extra hours every day to try to catch us up.”

Citizens should put their trash containers on the curb at the scheduled time anyway, because it’s impossible to predict when workers will make it to a given location, he said.

“If your trash pickup day was today, under normal delay circumstances, you could safely wait until Friday to put your trash out,” he said. “But because we’re working extra to catch up, they should put it out today.”

If you can’t get your container to the curb, or if you’re missed, you should call the Public Works Department at 918-684-6333.

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steve money

Wednesday, February 17, 2021, 8:12 AM

Cherokee Nation casinos and businesses are extending their temporary closures through Friday as the region continues to face utility shortages and inclement weather.

Casino closures are being extended through 1 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 19. This impacts all 10 entertainment destinations, including nine Cherokee Casinos and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa.

Other business operations, including cultural sites, will resume normal operating hours on Friday morning. All employees who were scheduled to work during the extended closure will be paid for their shifts.

“We are working diligently to assess current conditions and are doing our part to ensure the safety and well-being of the communities we call home,” said Chuck Garrett, CEO of Cherokee Nation Businesses. “While our doors remain closed, we want to extend a special thanks to those in the field battling these outages and our essential employees who continue vital work during this time.”

The reopening date and time is subject to change, as CNB continues to evaluate weather and energy conditions.

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locke law office

Monday, February 15, 2021, 12:22 PM

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter today is reminding Oklahomans looking to do business in the state that the price gouging statute is in effect statewide with the ongoing state of emergency due to the winter weather that continues to impact the state.

The Emergency Price Stabilization Act, also referred to the state price gouging statute, prohibits an increase of more than 10% for the price of goods or services after a declared emergency. The statute automatically triggers after the issuance of a state or federal emergency declaration.

Attorney General Hunter said the statute allows his office to pursue charges against individuals or businesses that engage in price gouging.

“The majority of Oklahomans typically look to help their neighbors in times of need, including times of emergency like we are experiencing with the frigid weather,” Attorney General Hunter said. “However, there are some that look to benefit and seen opportunity when others are struggling. I want to warn those looking to gouge unexpecting Oklahomans by making them pay exorbitant prices for goods or services that they will face charges if an investigation proves they are in violation of the state’s price stabilization act. While record cold weather continues to impact our state, I encourage Oklahomans to pay attention and not pay inflated prices if they encounter them.”

For more information or to report a complaint, individuals are encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit by phone at (405) 521-2029, or email at consumerprotection@oag.ok.gov.

With record cold temperatures, and more snow in the forecast, officials are encouraging people to stay home. If individuals need to travel, they can check road conditions with the interactive map provided by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, here: https://bit.ly/3jXMhZ9.

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diamond finance

Monday, February 15, 2021, 11:30 AM

After more than 1,400 members of East Central Oklahoma Electric Cooperative have joined a Facebook group decrying what they say are exorbitant bills and false usage numbers and MuskogeeNOW.com reported that they have no recourse about the issues because as a cooperative, East Central does not fall under the corporation commission’s oversight, members wanted to know what they could do to get the cooperative back under oversight, which could help regulate meters and billing practices.

There is an eight-step process to getting East Central back under state guidelines, Katherine Russell, public relations manager at the co-op, said today.

Step 1 - 5% of Members would sign and submit to the Cooperative an initiative petition in paper form to place the Cooperative under the Oklahoma Corporation Commission regulation

Step 2 - The Cooperative will tentatively establish a date for a member meeting to present the petition for vote by the members approximately 180 days from the date the petition is returned

Step 3 - The Cooperative would validate the member signatures to determine if the 5% minimum is confirmed

Step 4 – If the petition is confirmed, the Cooperative will confirm the member meeting date for voting on the petition, and will deliver notice of this meeting with a ballot between 21 and 45 days prior to the meeting

Step 5 – If the Cooperative mails information about the proposition for regulation other than the notice of the election and ballot, the cooperative shall include in such mailing any information submitted by petition signed by not less than 1% of the Cooperative’s members

Step 6 - The members will be allowed to vote by delivering their ballots either in person at the member meeting or by mail

Step 7 - The 5% quorum will be counted from both those attending and delivering their ballots in person and the mail ballots received

Step 8 – A simple majority of votes in favor of regulation is required for approval. Upon approval, the Cooperative will notify the Oklahoma Corporation Commission of the approval within 10 days

Source: 17 Oklahoma Statue §158.27(E)(1-4)

Five percent of current users would be 1,267 members. The cooperative currently has 25,340 members, Russell said. More than 1,400 members are also members of the Facebook group.

Resubmitting to state oversight would mean members have an authority to appeal to when their bills double or triple with no explanation. Currently, there is no such authority, meaning the cooperative can do as it sees fit.

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speedway grille

Monday, February 15, 2021, 9:51 AM

Xavier Hunter

Xavier Dupree Hunter, 26, of Muskogee is charged in Muskogee County District Court with child sexual abuse after an event that allegedly occurred Aug. 12, 2020, according to documents filed with the case.

On that date, around 6 a.m., the victim, a 17-year-old female reported waking up with her shirt lifted, her bra exposed and her touching Hunter’s penis as he was masturbating and standing over her. She reported to police that she was unaware of anything that might have happened to her prior to her waking up.

There is a warrant for Hunter’s arrest.

https://muskogeenow.com/story_images/1613404081.jpg https://muskogeenow.com/man-charged-with-sex-assault-on-teenager

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Friday, February 12, 2021, 1:38 PM

Kaylee Bryson

Muskogee racing sensation Kaylee Bryson, 19, is making a big transition from dirt tracks to pavement later this year.

Bryson, who races for Toyota Racing Development, will race pro and super late models in the Northwest this spring for Racing Dynamiks. She will pilot the No. 8 JBL Toyota Camry.

“This opportunity means the world to me,” Bryson told SpeedSport.com. “I’ve always dreamed to make it to NASCAR. It will definitely be a change from driving for Keith Kunz in the Midget, but I’m super pumped and grateful.”

She will making her racing debut on April 3 at South Sound Speedway in pro late model competition.

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Friday, February 12, 2021, 10:15 AM

If you get your electricity service through East Central Oklahoma Electric Cooperative like thousands in the Muskogee area do, you have absolutely no way to dispute or get a resolution if your bill doubles or triples. Electric cooperatives in Oklahoma are not subject to the state Corporation Commission due to a law that allows them to opt out. East Central opted out of Corporation Commission oversight, so customers cannot complain to the state.

A private Facebook group created by disgruntled customers shows that many bills over the last year or so have doubled and even tripled, with many customers placing blame on “smart” meters, to apparently deaf company ears.

Many of the customers have done experiments, shutting off their electric devices — including heaters on the coldest days of the year — and data from their smart meters shows their usage actually increasing during that time period.

“It’s like they’re assuming we are using more because it’s cold,” one member said. “There is no way those are actual readings.”

Another customer tried increasing usage significantly one day to test the meter, and their meter showed only a two-kilowatt-hour increase.

This user saw an increase in electricity usage when her house was empty, compared to the day before, when her house was occupied.

East Central issued a letter on Feb. 5, acknowledging some billing issues and claiming to have addressed them, but the issues have continued until at least today.

Anna Politano, a spokeswoman for Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives, said that group does not regulate cooperatives.

“We care about people,” she said. “People need to be safe in their homes with heating for winter conditions. We represent Oklahoma’s 30 cooperatives as a group. On situations like this, we try to work with the cooperative, making them aware of what the issues are and trying to help them resolve them.”

She said she is reaching out to East Central for answers today.

Representatives of East Central have not responded to requests for comment.

“I’ve been made aware of the recent billing increases to East Central Electric Customers in my district,” State Rep. Avery Frix (R) - Muskogee, said just now. “I’m in the process of making several inquiries to help resolve the situation as well as reviewing the governing statutes.”

Meanwhile, customers are getting a literally cold reception from the cooperative.

One customer said he was threatened, with a company representative telling him essentially to shut up and pay the bill about which he was complaining or “freeze to death.”

The Facebook group’s administrator posted the following in response to our request for comment:

ECOEC members are being overcharged, some by hundreds of dollars each month. Most have smart meters but some don’t. There is a history of many of us calling in to complain and until Mike O’Shaughnessy and I formed this group, the blame for the excessively high bills (a few have been more than a thousand dollars - for a single month) was put onto the homeowner. Every. Single. Time.

In January, as ECOEC first took notice of this group, they backtracked and said there was a “software error” that was responsible for incorrect billing going back to October but they’re refusing to acknowledge those who have had billing issues (and inflated kwh usage) going back much further. In addition, only a percentage of members got a credit for the “software error” and could be as little as $13 on a $700+ bill.

Families in this group are suffering. They have turned their heat down, are putting their kids in winter coats indoors so they don’t go into debt using their heaters, closing off entire sections of their homes so they don’t have to heat them, forgoing essentials like food so they can afford their electric bills, taking second jobs to pay their electric bills, etc. With all of that said, it doesn’t seem to matter what is done to curb these bills. The kwh usage seems to be completely arbitrary, often showing peak usage hours between midnight and the 4am or even middle of the day when homeowners are outside of the home at work. We’ve even seen homeowners posting their bills that show higher than average usage when they’ve been gone for days or weeks at a time on vacation.

It is extremely troubling and this is a humanitarian crisis, especially with the weather happening this week.

ECOEC is refusing to address this and we have an online anonymous drop-form set up for anyone who has inside information to share. We have since learned of some troubling allegations concerning the GM, Tim Smith regarding the pay and “perks” of his job and have heard there is also a culture of fear amongst many employees. It’s alleged they all must sign NDAs before taking a position there.

Mike was in contact with the GM for a little bit and was requesting specific information but was only getting some of the things requested and piecemeal. The bylaws state Tim Smith basically gets to decide what information he releases.

-Admin

The only way for the cooperative to be put back under state oversight (which would allow the state to audit and address overbilling complaints) would be for the cooperative’s members to vote to go back under the Corporation Commission. Cooperative members also can vote to replace leadership.

Politano called and said an East Central representative will call before noon. When they do, we will update here.

UPDATE: Billy Moore, public relations officer with East Central, said the cooperative is not ignoring these complaints.

“We are addressing these. We offer them a meter exchange if they think the meter is wrong, where we do a reading, take their meter out, replace it with a different meter, test the old meter and in two weeks, we do a reading to see if there is any difference,” he said just now. “If we find that, we will credit them back their money.”

The cooperative also has a third-party company that tests the meters, and the cooperative has been in contact with the developer of the meter, asking that, if there is an issue with the meters, what would cause it, he said.

“We are trying to find out if it’s on our side or where it is,” he said.

Regarding the customer who was allegedly threatened by an employee, Moore said all calls to the cooperative are recorded.

“If that individual would like to call me and give me a time and a phone number for the call, I can listen to it,” he said. “If that happened, we will take appropriate actions.”

The cooperative will not cut off service to members during dangerous weather circumstances, he said. He said he did not have a temperature at which cutoffs are ceased, but if the weather was “unsafe,” the cooperative will not shut off members’ service.

He also promised to call back and provide MuskogeeNOW.com with a procedure where members could start the ball rolling to vote the cooperative back into oversight of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

“We’re not just sitting here waiting for them to call us. We are calling people every day, talking to them about their usage. Some of these folks are not in that Facebook group, they’re just members who called in with questions, we’re trying to work out information with them and figure out what’s going on.”

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Friday, February 12, 2021, 8:20 AM

Bacone College dedicated its new Warrior Gym floor in the Palmer Center during spring convocation.

Director for the Center for American Indians Aaron Adson offered a Native prayer and blessing.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Beverly Smith, Student-Athlete Alize Ruiz, and Student Government President Janay Wilson offered comments to the college community.

The new floor features the college’s Medicine Wheel logo at center court.

The Medicine Wheel, designed by Art Director Emeritus Ruthe Blalock Jones (Shawnee-Delaware-Peoria), is an integral part of Bacone College’s identity and mission related to educating American Indians.

The Medicine Wheel features buffalo tracks symbolizing good fortune, a tipi design representing a camp, home, and spiritual sanctuary, and flame of knowledge.

“This is our college, our home court, and we want you to protect it as well as show good sportsmanship,” Clark said to the men’s and women’s basketball teams and the college community during the dedication.

The Bacone College Warriors have been hosting home games this season at the Muskogee Civic Center. The first home game at Palmer Center Gym on the new floor is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday.

Visit www.baconeathletics.com for COVID-19 restrictions for attendance.

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Thursday, February 11, 2021, 7:55 AM

You can laugh as loud as you want. Elf the Musical will stream to Muskogee-area homes this weekend so fans of local arts can enjoy the work of local actors and singers from the safety of their homes.

Two dates are available for you to watch the stream:

  • Sunday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m.

Tickets are available here.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021, 10:15 AM

Prince McJunkins

Prince McJunkins, 59, a former Muskogee High School quarterback, is the second MHS quarterback to die this week. McJunkins, who played until 1979, when he went on to star at Wichita State, died in a Tulsa hospital of COVID-19-related complications.

McJunkins, a pioneer of the mobile quarterback style that is popular today, confused and confounded defenses by not only standing and passing, but scrambling, passing and picking up yards with his legs.

“He was soft-spoken, polite, respectful and just a good human being,” one loved one said today. “He was a wonderful person.”

Services are pending at House of Winn funeral home.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021, 9:33 AM

The Cherokee Nation administered its 10,000th dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to Cherokee citizens falling within the tribe’s Phase 1 and Phase 2A priority distribution plan, including frontline health care workers, first-language Cherokee speakers, and Cherokee elders.

“From Day 1 of the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine arriving in the Cherokee Nation, we have prioritized Cherokee speakers, Cherokee elders and our health care workers who have been on the frontlines protecting all of us during the worst health crisis we’ve seen in generations,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “I appreciate our Health Services team for working so tirelessly to provide this vaccine to the most vulnerable in our communities. They have been effective and efficient in this process, and their work is saving lives every day.”

Nearly 60 percent of the tribe’s allotted COVID-19 vaccines have been provided to first-language Cherokee speakers, Cherokee National Treasures, and Cherokees elders since the first doses arrived on Dec. 14, 2020.

“This milestone for our health system is one we are excited to celebrate,” said Cherokee Nation Health Services Executive Director Dr. R. Stephen Jones. “It’s an encouragement to our health teams to have vaccinated this many of our staff, Cherokee speakers, National Treasures, elders and now even more groups as we have entered phase 2A of our vaccine distribution plan.”

Cherokee Nation’s Phase 2A is ongoing and includes teachers working for the Cherokee Nation, Cherokee Nation child care workers, food distribution program employees and other critical staff, as well as Cherokee citizens 55 and older.

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Monday, February 8, 2021, 8:17 PM

Muskogee students don’t have to go to school on Tuesday due to inclement weather that has made roads slick.

Teachers, however, may have to take sick days to stay home.

“They should contact their Principal if they have any questions as they would be able to clarify any of those questions,” district spokesman Steve Braun said just now when asked to clarify messages to teachers that told them they must take “the appropriate day” if they wish to stay home and teach virtually. Asked to clarify again, he said “Teachers should contact their Principal if they have any concerns or questions regarding tomorrow.”

Teachers, however, said that means they have to take either sick or one of their two or three personal days, even though school is not in session.

“They expect us to be there or take a personal day,” one teacher said. “I don’t understand making us report when we can teach virtually. How can they expect teachers to drive from out of town and with small children under those conditions?”

UPDATE, 10:26 P.M.: A school worker, whose identity has been verified, but who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal from the district, said this:

I work for Muskogee Public Schools as a Secretary. We are considered support staff, we also would have to drive on those same roads that teachers would be travelling on to “report” to their building. If “technically” teachers can work virtually, “support staff” can not as we would not get paid as we are hourly.

It’s ridiculous and if busses wouldn’t run due to inclement weather, then staff whether a teacher, administrators, janitor, secretaries, child nutrition, and so on, shouldn’t be required to report either.

My safety comes first!

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Sunday, February 7, 2021, 8:11 PM

Steve Gann

Steve Gann, quarterback of Muskogee High School’s last state championship football team, has passed away at the age of 51.

Gann, who, along with running back Glenn Bell, led the team to the 1986 state championship victory, later had two daughters, Carlee Gann and Paige DeMasters, with his then-wife Nikki Gann.

Gann spent his entire life in Muskogee, recently struggling with diabetes and liver failure, which took his life.

Funeral arrangements are pending with Cornerstone Funeral Home.

Close friend Heila Schulz Newman, who says she and Gann were lifelong best friends, said arrangements are being made today.

“The world suffers today,” she said. “He was the walking epitome of Jesus’ love. The kindest heart. If you knew him you loved him; he had the most infections laugh and never saw the bad in anyone.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Steve was a friend of mine, and one of the nicest people I ever had the pleasure to know. When I was a nerd at Muskogee High School, he had no incentive to reach out and be my friend. He was a popular guy, quarterback of the football team, and I was just some dork. But he reached out, and we were friends from then until he died. Muskogee is a worse place without him.

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Thursday, February 4, 2021, 7:33 AM

The Gadugi Portal, a centralized database aimed to better connect Cherokee Nation citizens with tribal services, is now live for citizens to manage or update essential information, such as a name change or new mailing address.

The Gadugi Portal can be found at https://gadugiportal.cherokee.org/.

The online database allows every tribal citizen to take charge of their personal information, ensuring it is correct and up to date with just a few clicks, rather than multiple applications.

Once a citizen registers and updates their address, that data will be shared in the registration citizenship database and across all departments, including tag offices, housing, health services and others. Previously, a Cherokee Nation citizen completed a paper form or faxed in a request for a change of address, and had to provide similar updates to various departments.

“The Cherokee word ‘gadugi’ means working together to improve our tribal community. This portal signifies our Cherokee spirit and the dedication of every Cherokee Nation employee working together for the betterment of our citizens,” said Chief of Staff Todd Enlow. “We hope that this portal will make accessing tribal services easier and less complicated.”

In addition to the Gadugi Portal, the Cherokee Nation also launched the Cherokee Warriors Database as part of the portal to connect thousands of Cherokee veterans across the globe with tribal services and other opportunities.

Veterans can register with branch of military, years of service and upload their military service documents (DD214s). The data is verified by the tribe’s Office of Veteran Affairs and citizens are identified across all other Cherokee Nation departments.

For assistance with the Gadugi Portal registration process, email support-gadugiportal@cherokee.org.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2021, 12:57 PM

Jarron Deajon Pridgeon

Jarron Deajon Pridgeon, 24, of Muskogee is charged in Muskogee County District Court with six counts of first-degree murder after a slaughter yesterday on Indiana Street.

In addition, he is charged with another felony count of shooting with intent to kill, and a felon of possession of firearms after conviction or during probation.

Pridgeon is charged with murdering Javarian K Lee and five children. He is also accused of shooting Brittany Shakeria Anderson in the head.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2021, 8:29 AM

Mustafrouc Miller is a free man after his trial ended last Friday in a case where he was found not guilty of domestic abuse, not guilty of kidnapping and guilty with a $200 fine for obstructing a police officer.

The alleged victim signed a no-prosecution affidavit at the time of the alleged offense, and did not testify at a preliminary hearing.

During testimony, two police officers testified that when they arrived at the defendant’s motel room, they saw him laying on top of a woman, belly to back, restraining her. Later, after body cam video was shown, one officer changed his story to say it wasn’t belly-to-back, and “you could say that he was laying next to her.”

The alleged victim then told jurors Miller didn’t kidnap her, didn’t hurt her and she was there of her own free will. The couple didn’t answer the door when police knocked, she said, because they were high on methamphetamine.

Prosecutor Larry Edwards then pleaded with the jury to still find Miller guilty on domestic assault and battery and kidnapping and send him to prison for at least a year, even though it seems to be a minor case. The jury, however, found him innocent on those charges.

“If the case is so minor, why are you trying to convict this guy with no criminal history of a felony?” defense attorney Matt Price asked. The cost of a criminal trial can be exorbitant, with subpoenas, prosecutor time, paying 24 people to be in the potential jury pool, paying the defense attorney with OIDS funds, paying a court reporter for a preliminary hearing and a two-day trial, and other miscellaneous costs. In the end, Miller ended up with a $200 fine, while costs for the case, according to ODCR, were $1,352.25, not including most of the costs listed above.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2021, 7:32 AM

Madasin Lee Morris

Madasin Lee Morris, 18, of Muskogee, is charged in Muskogee County District Court with a felony after allegedly publishing photos of a 14-year-old girl.

Court documents state that Morris allegedly published four “sexually explicit” photos of the girl to social media, where “unknown people” on her friends list were able to view them.

Morris is also alleged to have directly sent the photos to a juvenile witness.

The events occurred on Jan. 25.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2021, 5:55 PM

A donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, has stepped forward to ensure the funeral expenses for the victims of the mass murder today will be covered.

“I don’t want my name out there; I’m not doing it for that,” the donor told MuskogeeNOW.com. “I just want to make sure those precious babies are taken care of.”

Several GoFundMe accounts have been set up, but the donor has made those moot.

MuskogeeNOW spoke with funeral homes aware of the offer to confirm that it is valid.

Police also released the names of the victims just now:

  • Jalaiya Pridgeon 1 year old
  • Jaidus Pridgeon 3 years old
  • Harmony Anderson 5 years old
  • Neveah Pridgeon 6 years old
  • Que’dynce Anderson 9 years old

The adult victim was Javarion Lee, 24 years old (DOB 09/10/1996). He was the suspect’s brother.

The mother to the children, Brittany Anderson, is in a Tulsa hospital in stable condition at this time. Friends and family report she has regained consciousness and is talking.

There were also three children in the home that were not injured.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2021, 7:06 AM

The mass murder occurred at 903 Indiana

Muskogee Police are reporting that one man and five children have been shot to death inside a Muskogee house. A woman has life-threatening injuries, and a suspect was shot at by police as he fled the scene.

Around 1:30 this morning, police arrived at 903 Indiana after a report of multiple people shot.

The suspect was still at the scene, holding a firearm, police say. Police fired one shot, which missed the suspect. The suspect, whose name police have not yet released, was apprehended after a foot pursuit.

The man and four of the children, none of whose names have been released, were dead when police arrived. A fifth child died en route to a Tulsa hospital.

More information will be released today.

Police line the street at the scene.

UPDATE 9:30 A.M: A woman named Nicole Anderson posted on Facebook that the woman victim was Brittany Anderson, her sister, and was shot in the head and is in critical condition. The shooter, she said, was the brother of the man who died in the mass murder. We are working to confirm these details and others. Police have not released any names of victims or the suspect.

Jarron Deajon Pridgeon is the suspect in the mass murder.

UPDATE: 12 PM: The suspect is Jarron Deajon Pridgeon, 25, according to law enforcement sources. He was convicted of felony assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, threatening to perform an act of violence and malicious injury to property in 2019 and received a three-year deferred sentence.

Brittany Anderson is fighting for her life at a Tulsa hospital.

The woman victim’s name is Brittany Anderson. We are withholding the names of the children. Though other news sources have published their photos, we are declining to publish them.

Police say all the people involved lived in the house.

UPDATE 2 PM: Muskogee Public Schools have counselors from Green Country Mental Health on site at Creek Elementary School, where the children attended, to help any students or staff who may be struggling with this devastating news, said Steve Braun, public relations for the schools.

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Monday, February 1, 2021, 8:31 AM

More people have died in Oklahoma from COVID-19 than died from the 911 attacks and the Oklahoma City bombing combined.

Legislative Democrats are scheduled to hold a memorial at the Oklahoma State Capitol on Monday to honor more than 3500 Oklahomans who have died from COVID-19.

The legislators are asking the public to join virtually via the Oklahoma House Democrats Facebook page (www.facebook.com/oklahousedems).

WHAT: Legislative memorial to honor victims of COVID-19

WHEN: Monday, Feb. 1, 6:00 p.m.

WHERE: Oklahoma State Capitol Southside steps

“Too many Oklahomans have experienced the pain of losing a family member or friend to Covid-19 over the past year, but state leaders have provided few opportunities for collective healing,” said Rep. Merleyn Bell, D-Norman. “My Democratic colleagues and I believe it is important to show our fellow Oklahomans across the state that they are not grieving alone. Their pain is felt by each of us and their loss is at the forefront of our minds as we begin this legislative session.”

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Friday, January 29, 2021, 3:40 PM

Leroy Jemol Smith

Leroy Jemol Smith, 51, who is accused of raping at least five women in the 1990s in Muskogee, is now being held without bond in the Muskogee County Jail after District Attorney Orvil Loge refiled a case against him earlier this month.

Smith had been charged before, but was released after the United States Supreme Court ruled last July that Oklahoma has no jurisdiction over Native Americans enrolled in federally recognized tribes on Tribal reservations. Most of Muskogee lies inside the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation, while some lies inside the Cherokee reservation.

Once Smith had been released, the federal government declined to prosecute him, citing that the federal statute of limitations had expired. The Creek Nation vowed to bring him to justice, but no motion was ever taken.

Loge re-filed his case this month, according to victims, because Smith was not a registered member of a federally recognized tribe when the crimes were committed; only after did he register. The state’s statute of limitations has expired, too, but an exception to that statute is made for cases where DNA evidence is used to later identify a suspect.

A new technique of DNA testing identified Smith as the perpetrator of at least one of the rapes, The state alleges. One of the victims of the serial rapist has since died.

Smith has a sounding docket on February 16 at 10 a.m.

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