DEATHS

Paul Edward Turley Sr, 80

Born April 24, 1938

Died September 19, 2018

Clentis Daniel Jarrard, 79

Born August 13, 1939

Died September 19, 2018

David P. Peters, 86

Born January 28, 1932

Died September 18, 2018

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

THINGS TO DO

Friday, September 21, 2018, 9:20 AM

If you’re 57 years old in Stilwell, Oklahoma, congratulations, you’ve beaten the odds.

That’s because, according to a Washington Post story, Stilwell is the worst city in the nation for life expectancy, topping out at 56 years old on average.

Poverty, poor healthcare availability and obesity are just some of the causes, according to the Post. Nationally, life expectancy averages around 79 years. But don’t feel safe just because you aren’t living in Stilwell. Oklahoma is the fourth-worst state in the nation for the very same reasons. Only Alabama, West Virginia and Mississippi are worse.

“We are failing our fellow Oklahomans,” said Jason Nichols of Tahlequah, who is running for Congress against Markwayne Mullin. Stilwell is in the Second District. “We can no longer settle for the status quo if we want to reverse this trend. Health care shouldn’t be a privilege afforded to a select few.”

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madewell wireless 1527798880

Thursday, September 20, 2018, 11:27 AM

A few days ago, I wrote a story that was critical of Saint Francis Hospital and the way they’re managing the Muskogee hospital — a public trust facility leased to Saint Francis.

Yesterday, a flurry of emails inside the Saint Francis system included one from their in-house counsel breathlessly showing screenshots of a Muskogee Phoenix article reporting on my arrest in April in McIntosh County. The email implied that news of my arrest could be used to discredit my reporting in the future. It also stated that the counsel believed I had been fired “for cause” from the Muskogee Phoenix.

So let me clear some things up right now before they get too excited about the possibilities.

First, I was in fact fired from the Muskogee Phoenix in 2009, but it was not “for cause.” Instead, I made fun of a local politician in my private life, not at the newspaper. That’s it. That’s the whole reason then-publisher Larry Corvi and current executive editor Ed Choate gave when they fired me.

“We can’t have a member of our editorial board making fun of our senator,” Corvi explained. “We are terminating your employment.” I mean, why would a newspaper care about the First Amendment? Instead of suing them for wrongful termination (political speech is one of the very few reasons an employer cannot legally fire an employee in Oklahoma), I decided beating them would be better, so I started MuskogeeNOW.com the very next day, and today, this site boasts a daily average readership of 47,000 people — compared to less than 5,000 according to the Phoenix’s most recent available circulation numbers.

Now, onto the arrest, which I have never addressed publicly. On April 14 of this year, I was arrested in McIntosh County and charged with two felonies: child abuse by injury and assault with a dangerous weapon. I was also charged with misdemeanor domestic assault. The Phoenix, probably still stinging from the fact that a one-man operation has been outperforming their entire staff for nine years, gleefully reported the fact that I was arrested and charged. And Facebook lost its collective mind, going on and on about what a horrible person I was and how awful it was that I had done these things. The problem with that is, I didn’t do those things.

I am not guilty of a single thing I’m accused of doing. Because the case is the subject of ongoing litigation and because it is the centerpiece of a divorce and custody battle, I can’t discuss the details or explain what actually happened — which does not in any way resemble the version of those events that appears in the accusations against me. My lawyer still doesn’t want me to make a statement at all, but I felt it was necessary because Saint Francis seems so intent on using this situation to discredit the reporting of the truth about themselves.

Of course I get the delicious irony of the guy who runs MuskogeeMUGS and reports often on criminal charges on MuskogeeNOW himself being arrested. The rumor mill — and especially social media — LIVE for that kind of thing.

“Why didn’t you publish your own mug?” That’s a question people ask sarcastically all the time. I didn’t publish my own mug because McIntoshCountyMUGS hasn’t published mugs for years due to a lack of cooperation from the jail. Believe me or don’t, but if I had been arrested in Muskogee County, I would have published my mug, just like everybody else’s.

“Why didn’t you report on your arrest?” I get that question a lot, too. There are a lot of arrests I don’t report on, for one reason or another. The fact is, the arrest happened in McIntosh County, south of I-40, no one other than me was physically injured during the alleged incident. Also, I had just gotten out of jail, was suffering from a massive concussion that took a full month to start getting better and I wasn’t thinking very straight at the time because of it. By the time my head cleared from the concussion, my attorney had advised me that talking about the case publicly was a Very Bad Idea, so I continued my silence, even in the face of all the lies, rumors and attacks that have been dogging me since that day.

But when shady corporations start playing even shadier games (and attacking my character to shut me up is, believe me, the LEAST of the shady things you’re going to hear about Saint Francis’s mode of operations), it’s time to clear the air. Believe what you want about my arrest — it doesn’t affect me. But do not, for a second, think that me being falsely arrested and accused of crimes affects my ability to uncover and report stories that other media outlets refuse to cover for fear of losing advertising revenue. I’ve been a journalist for 30 years, and during that time, I have never been found to be deficient in my reporting, editing or publishing.

Attack my character all you want. I’m used to it, having been a journalist for so long. But my reporting is honest and accurate. When I do make mistakes, I confess them in the same stories in which the mistakes were made — which is more than one can say about ANY other news source.

The last resort of those trying to hide something is to attack the person who’s exposing the thing they’re trying to hide. The best defense against such attacks is to take that weapon away from them by talking about it openly, which is what I’ve done here. Now, when I continue to expose how Saint Francis is doing their very best to rape Muskogee and steal all the medical industry revenue that rightfully belongs here to help this community, they should just focus on the issue at hand instead of trying to divert attention to the person who’s shining a light on them.

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twist and shout

Thursday, September 20, 2018, 9:46 AM

Clients Jarrard, 79, of Muskogee was killed yesterday in a wreck east of Fort Gibson, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Jarrard was driving a 2008 GMS pickup westbound on US 62 just west of Six Mile Road when his pickup left the roadway on the right, striking a culvert, rolling the vehicle end-over-end twice and ejecting Jarrard, the patrol reported.

Jarrard was taken by Muskogee County EMS to the Fort Gibson landing zone for helicopter transport to Tulsa, but he died en route to the helicopter.

The cause of the wreck is unknown. Jarrard was not wearing a seat belt.

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jordan bonding

Wednesday, September 19, 2018, 9:01 AM

A child was hit by a car this morning on Okmulgee.

The child is being transported to Tulsa by EMS and is “alert,” according to Muskogee police.

More details as they become available.

UPDATE: The child is stable.

There do not appear to be any violations by the driver of the vehicle, Nathan Esterline, 30.

Police say the investigation is ongoing.

Independent witnesses said the child looked east, but not west and ran into traffic. The vehicle was traveling east in west bound lanes.

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steve money

Wednesday, September 19, 2018, 9:01 AM

A child was hit by a car this morning on Okmulgee.

The child is being transported to Tulsa by private vehicle and is “alert,” according to Muskogee police.

More details as they become available.

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tj hamilton

Tuesday, September 18, 2018, 10:30 AM

The colorful Oklahoma Lions Mobile Health Screening Unit, featuring murals of Oklahoma, will be located at New Jerusalem Baptist Church from 9 a.m. until noon on Saturday, September 22, to offer free screenings to Muskogee residents for several serious health problems. The screening unit is being sponsored by Muskogee Noon Lions Club. The church is also sponsoring a health fair, with displays and food demonstrations in the church fellowship hall. Volunteers from the church and Lions Club will staff the screening unit.

Free health screenings and information on obesity, tests for glaucoma, diabetes, cholesterol, visual acuity, basic lung functioning, and high blood pressure are all included. Bone density screening is available, usually for women over 40 years old.

The Lions will provide screenings only, not diagnoses. The results will be given to the person being screened to take to a personal health care provider.

Since its debut in May 1993, the $200,000 Oklahoma Lions health screening unit has visited many of the more than 200 Lions Club communities throughout Oklahoma. The Screening Unit is a joint project of the Oklahoma Lions Clubs and BlueCross BlueShield of Oklahoma, Integris Health, and Advanced Body Scan.

The screening unit is funded in part by the Lions Annual Cowboy Cadillac ticket sales. The ticket sales also fund the Eye Bank and the Oklahoma Lions Meadows of Hope which provides homes for children. These are currently being sold by club members. The grand prize is a new 2018 G150 Ford crew cab truck.

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nuage medical spa

Monday, September 17, 2018, 9:03 AM

When Muskogee’s hospital was leased out, first to Capella, later to Saint Francis, the lease agreement — thousands of pages long — sought to ensure Muskogee would retain an active and vibrant hospital for residents all over the region. Doctors and patients of the hospital say Saint Francis, which took over the lease in 2016, is not abiding by that contract.

Specifically, Saint Francis is accused of using the Muskogee hospital as not much more than a hub to send patients to its Tulsa hospital instead of treating them here, which decreases the tax base and reduces the need for locally-based doctors, who also contribute to the tax base in Muskogee.

“Each doctor who lives in a community ends up being worth around 1.5 million dollars annually to the local community,” one official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said. “They hire people, they pay mortgages and taxes, they spend their money here where they live instead of somewhere else and then commuting here.”

Saint Francis has encouraged doctors to commute here from Tulsa several times a week instead of moving here, numerous doctors and local officials said. In addition, the hospital is alleged to have canceled arrangements with non-Saint Francis clinics in favor of clinics the hospital system owns or agrees with, even canceling a hospitalization agreement with one local clinic simply because that clinic offers procedures related to birth control — something Saint Francis’s Catholic ownership shuns.

Most telling, however, are the numbers. From April 2016 to March 2017, Muskogee County EMS transported 1,432 patients from Muskogee to Tulsa. The same period during the next year — April of 2017 to March of this year, there were 2,119 transfers — a 50 percent increase. Similarly, in the first quarter of 2017, there were 414 transfers. In the first quarter of this year, there were 551 — an increase by more than a third. These numbers are only those patients being transported via ambulance, not any that arrive there from here in other modes of transport.

“EMS is telling us they will have to buy one unit specifically to keep up with transfers from here to Tulsa,” one official told MuskogeeNOW.com. “If you watch while you’re driving to Tulsa on the turnpike, you will almost never not see a Muskogee County ambulance either coming or going.”

Saint Francis has told officials who questioned in the increase in transfers that it is largely due to shutting down the mental health portion of the Muskogee hospital. However, mental health transports cannot account for the sheer size of the increase.

“Muskogee is becoming an ambulance depot for Tulsa,” one official complained.

The risk, several told MuskogeeNOW.com, is that the quality and availability of care in Muskogee is decreasing to the point that patient care is suffering and becoming nonexistent in certain circumstances. Meanwhile, Saint Francis is allegedly playing hardball with the Muskogee Hospital Foundation, trying to do an end run around them to get ad valorem taxes reduced. Formerly, the hospital paid more than a million dollars yearly, which helped fund schools in Muskogee. That was negotiated down to $800,000, and Saint Francis is asking for even less, which takes money directly away from schools.

Saint Francis has asked the city to sell the hospital to it directly, which would free it from the many guarantees to the city that are currently binding it via the lease agreement. So far, the city has refused to sell, but officials say the Saint Francis system is doing everything it can to force the city’s hand, including threatening to move all its services to the east side location on Harris Road and Main Street, which is not bound by the lease agreement.

Meanwhile, the system continues to ship patients to Tulsa instead of treating them here, and officials and doctors are worried that trend will continue to increase.

Saint Francis has not returned a message requesting comment for this story.

Do you have a story about your experiences with Saint Francis (good or bad)? Tell us. Text or call 918-869-1482 or email news@muskogeenow.com.

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american pie

Monday, September 17, 2018, 8:41 AM

The Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System is now giving free flu vaccines to Veterans at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center and outpatient clinics.

An appointment is not required. Just stop by your primary care team on a walk-in basis.

Veterans enrolled in VA health care can also get a flu shot at Walgreens, and the information will be automatically added to their VA health record.

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rachel gilstrap state farm

Friday, September 14, 2018, 7:13 AM
Kayla Ann Jones

Kayla Ann Jones, 26, of Muskogee and Rachel Jean Stevens-Jones, 29, were both sentenced to two concurrent 20-year sentences for abusing and neglecting a five-year-old boy in their care less than a year ago.

Rachel Stevens-Jones

On Dec. 8, 2016, police were called when the boy was taken to a children’s clinic in Muskogee with horrific injuries. The child at that time was suffering from lesions on his face, and had begun to have severe seizures, and it was determined that he had several broken bones that were in various stages of the healing process, he has had two strokes during his time in the hospital, and had developed a staph infection. Investigators learned from other children in the home that the toddler was frequently kicked in the genitals by the women until he was bleeding, struck with belts head and hands, would have his eyes duct taped shut, and would be tied up with rope.

The child was beaten so severely that he had multiple broken bones in different stages of healing, but the swelling was so bad that x-rays missed several more broken bones that were revealed later. The child had been tied up, duct taped over the eyes and had been locked in a room. The child had also been hit on the hand with a hammer.

The women both pleaded no contest and Judge Mike Norman on Sept. 15, 2017 sentenced both women to two 20-year sentences each, to run concurrently.

Yesterday, Norman suspended those sentences, allowing the women to leave prison and live in Broken Arrow and Fort Gibson, respectively.

“This is disgusting,” a friend of the family said yesterday after the sentences were suspended. “They are horrible monsters who show no remorse.”

Both women were incarcerated at Mabel Bassett prison, where they were involved in church programs. Stevens-Jones was assessed to have a “moderate” risk of re-offending, while Jones was assessed to have a low risk. Jones will live with her parents in Broken Arrow and work with her father laying cable lines. Stevens-Jones will live in Fort Gibson and does not have a job lined up yet.

Here are the Department of Corrections reports on the women:

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secret desires

Thursday, September 13, 2018, 9:25 AM

If you’ve never had the experience of gushing and squishing grapes between your toes, you have a golden opportunity this weekend at Pecan Creek Winery, 8510 W. Fern Mountain Road.

The Muskogee winery has been hosting the grape stomp each year, and this year it’s bigger than ever, with wine tasting, vendors, a food truck a photo booth and a kids’ zone.

Admission to the event, Saturday, is free, and the grape stomp contest will be held at 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and five p.m. The contest is $5 for a two-person team.

A Lucy lookalike contest is 3:15 p.m., and a free tour of the winery will happen at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. A private tour of Barrel and Tank Tasting with the winemaker is at 5:30 p.m. and costs $25, or $15 for Barrel Club Members.

The event will also host an art class with Gwynn Lacrone, Jewelry Making with Kelly Raney and wine glass painting classes all day.

For more information, visit the winery’s page.

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concorde loan

Thursday, September 13, 2018, 8:52 AM

The Muskogee Youth Agency Connection is hosting a family fun fest on Saturday at the Muskogee Civic Center.

The event, which is free, runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is designed to help attendees find careers, education and other options for youths from 16 to 25. Armed services recruiters, workforce representatives, information on GED programs, temp agencies and local employers will all be there to help young people navigate the sometimes-complicated process of getting their lives on track.

In addition, the first 400 attendees will receive a free t-shirt. The event will also have free food, games and giveaways, which include bicycles, gift cards and gift bags.

The Muskogee Fire Department will also be on hand to teach proper car seat installation, the police department will offer free child fingerprints and healthcare providers will also be on hand.

The Muskogee Youth Agency Connection promotes positive youth development by gathering multiple community partners to serve adolescents and young adults.

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fish hut

Tuesday, September 11, 2018, 9:45 AM

The Oklahoma Public Employees Association PAC recently announced it was endorsing State Rep. Avery Frix (R - Muskogee) in the State House District 13 race.

The group endorses candidates it believes have supported state employees and retirees or whose candidacies demonstrate improving state employees lives is a top priority for them.

“We endorse Rep. Frix because his voting record shows a commitment to improving state employment and state agency services,” director Sterling Zearley said. “We look forward to helping him win in November and working further with him on issues important to sate employees.”

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jim and ems

Tuesday, September 11, 2018, 9:40 AM

Muskogee will be holding its eleventh annual national day of remembrance for murder victims on Tuesday, September 25, 2018, at 6 p.m. at the Dr Martin Luther King Community Cente, 300 West Martin Luther King Street. This event is open to the public, anyone interested and all who have been affected by homicide are welcome.

This year’s guest speaker will be Lora Schlitz from Oklahoma Crime Victims Compensation Fund. Master of Ceremonies is Pastor Rodney Mattox of Oasis Community Church. Other speakers are Pastor Michael Webber and District Attorney Orville Loge.

In 2007, Congress designated September 25 as the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. The day selected is the day Lisa Hullinger was murdered. Her parents formed Parents of Murdered Children following the 1978 murder of Lisa while she was studying in Germany.

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cooper furniture

Monday, September 10, 2018, 5:05 PM

The family of a local child whose face was smashed and lip cut all the way through at a Muskogee daycare is being told the daycare did nothing wrong, according to the family’s attorney, Steve Money.

The family received a message from DHS stating that “we closed the investigation with a finding of unsubstantiated.” The family is supposed to receive a letter next week to that same effect.

Doctors who examined the girl said the daycare’s story did not explain the massive extent of her injuries and urged police and DHS to investigate further, but those pleas — at least to DHS — apparently went unheeded.

“This is ridiculous,” Money said today. “If a neighbor had called DHS to report this as an injury in the child’s home, the parents would have been arrested and the child placed in state custody.”

Over the years, numerous families have contacted MuskogeeNOW with those exact complaints about DHS, but because the agency maintains secrecy, it doesn’t respond to specific details of cases and therefore isn’t accountable to the public.

“At some point, DHS needs to be held accountable for their abuse and routine disregard of the rights of parents and caregivers,” Money said. “And their ‘unsubstantiated’ findings as in this case.

“Maybe they did not read the same medical report that I did,” Money, who also has a medical degree, said. “If they did read it, they didn’t understand it. I’ll be glad to explain it to them.”

DHS does not respond to requests from the media.

“The parents are appalled by this finding, or lack thereof,” he said. “It’s a travesty.”

If you have had experiences with DHS, please either text MuskogeeNOW (981-869-1482) or email (news@muskogeenow.com).

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family time rentals

Monday, September 10, 2018, 10:13 AM

Former Muskogee Martin Luther King Center director Lansing Lee died yesterday. He was 65.

Lee was the executive director of the Muskogee Association for the Advancement of People with Developmental disabilities from 2003 to 2005, then he was the director at the Martin Luther King Center, where he organized activities, recruited programs and created cultural contracts, from 2005 to 2010. He ended his career at Lansing Lee and Associates, where he developed grants for local law enforcement agencies, small cities and towns and nonprofit organizations. He was instrumental in securing important grants for Muskogee.

Lee graduated Muskogee High School in 1971 and Langston University in 1975. He was instrumental in the reorganization and preservation of the Muskogee chapter of the NAACP two years ago.

Services are pending at the Keith D. Biglow Funeral Home.

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elite divorce service

Monday, September 10, 2018, 9:00 AM

Members of the public have another way to share their input on the regulation and implementation of medical marijuana in Oklahoma courtesy of a new e-mail address announced by the Oklahoma Senate Pro Tem-designate and the Oklahoma House Speaker.

Last week’s meeting of the legislative working group on medical marijuana implementation appointed by Pro Tem-designate Greg Treat and Speaker Charles McCall featured a public comment period. Nearly two dozen citizens signed-in to speak during the public comment period of the meeting.

“The public comment period was successful and beneficial for members of the committee. Since there is not enough time during meetings to accommodate everyone who wants to speak, we are setting up an e-mail address to accept public comment on the implementation of medical marijuana,” said Treat, R-Oklahoma City. “The goal of this working group is to solicit input from stakeholders on all sides of the issue and adding public commenting into the process will serve to make the committee’s recommendations more robust. At the end of the day, the Legislature is working to ensure the successful and safe implementation of State Question 788 in accordance with the will of the voters.”

“Lawmakers in the legislative working group are seeking a path forward to implement State Question 788 in a way that conforms to the desires of voters who passed the law,” said Speaker McCall, R-Atoka. “To do that effectively, the working group needs as much input as possible from citizens – supporters, advocates, patients, health-care providers, public safety and law enforcement officers and even those who have concerns. I would encourage all Oklahomans who have an interest in this issue to use this opportunity to share input and have their voices heard.“

Public comment can be sent to sq788@oksenate.gov. Messages received at that address will be shared with the members of the working group, who are working to develop recommendations on a permanent regulatory framework for the implementation of State Question 788. The working group meets each Wednesday at the Capitol.

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3 rivers auto collision

Thursday, September 6, 2018, 11:31 AM

Pizza Inn started in 1958, when two Texas brothers opened the first Pizza Inn in Dallas. To celebrate 60 years of service, the brand known as “America’s Hometown Pizza Place” is giving away a 1958 Ford Fairlane Skyliner hard top convertible to one of its lucky PizzaInn Rewards members.

The car will be available for inspection on Saturday, Sept. 8 at the Muskogee Pizza Inn, 1107 N. York. There will also be live radio coverage and giveaways. The car will be at the location from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“We are proud to have served so many loyal fans over the last 60 years and want to give back something extra special,” said Denise Pedini, executive vice president of Pizza Inn. “It’s our way of saying thank you for being a part of our family for 60 years.”

On Sept. 23, a winner will be chosen by an independent third party out of a random draw of all current Rewards members. Customers are encouraged to sign up for Pizza Inn Rewards to have the opportunity to win the 1958 Ford Fairlane Skyliner. See pizzainn.com/rewards for official rules.

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locke law office

Thursday, September 6, 2018, 9:29 AM

A pair of brothers has been issued a license to grow marijuana in Muskogee — the first issued in the city, they believe — and they’re working on big plans.

Wesley and Aaron Lewis plan to grow up to 100 strands of marijuana at 420 N. Main St., the former DHS building on the east side of the road, across from Arrowhead Mall.

“Yes, we’re aware of the significance of the 420 address,” Sherri Lewis said today. “We plan to grow, process and dispense there, as soon as the processing and dispensing licenses come.”

The group has been investing in and studying cannabis operations in Colorado for the last five years, and plans to start growing in two weeks, she said.

“We have learned a lot,” she said. “We will be growing hydroponically, and we plan to start dispensing in November or December, but we might be selling seedlings before that.”

The brothers already have a processor lined up and an edibles maker with a culinary degree, who has been practicing with cannabis-infused foods in Colorado.

“The dispensary will have public and private entrances,” Lewis said. “There will be parents who don’t want to come in the public entrance, and the private entrance will be by appointment only.”

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servpro

Wednesday, September 5, 2018, 10:11 AM

Cherokee Nation is beginning renovations to the Saline Courthouse in Rose. The rural district courthouse was one of nine built in the late 1800s by the Cherokee Nation and is the only one remaining today.

“For too many years this structure has been inaccessible to the community, and it is time that we give this project the time, attention and resources it deserves,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “It is vital that we continue our steadfast commitment to preserving these historic sites and bring new life to the places that have been deep-rooted throughout the history of the Cherokee people.”

Working with the Saline Preservation Association, Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism developed a master plan to restore, preserve and modernize the structure for future use by the public.

Necessary renovations include repairing interior walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors. Exterior renovations vary from siding and window repairs to fresh paint and trim work. In addition, the plan includes efforts to modernize the building’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing, ensure ADA accessibility, and add new parking.

The work is being performed by Builders Unlimited, a TERO-certified company. The project is being managed by Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism and is slated to be complete in spring 2019.

“We are pleased to be in a position to support this preservation project so that this structure may once again serve the people within the community,” said Shawn Slaton, CEO of Cherokee Nation Businesses. “We look forward to this site joining our other tourism destinations and educating future generations about the history and culture of the Cherokee people.”

Throughout the years, CNB and the tribe have completed several projects to ensure the stability of the structure until final plans could be made. That work included a structural assessment, porch and chimney restoration, roof stabilization, remediation of lead-based paint, and preservation of the spring house.

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ace television and appliance

Tuesday, September 4, 2018, 9:35 AM

Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Miss Cherokee second runner-up Madison Shoemaker, Miss Cherokee Whitney Roach, Miss Cherokee first runner-up Meekah Roy, Principal Chief Bill John Baker and 2017-18 Miss Cherokee Madison Whitekiller.

Whitney Roach, a Northeastern State University sophomore from Tahlequah, is the 2018-19 Miss Cherokee.

Roach, 20, was crowned Saturday during the annual leadership competition at Cornerstone Fellowship Church in Tahlequah.

As Miss Cherokee, Roach will represent the Cherokee Nation as a goodwill ambassador to promote the government, history, language and culture of the tribe for the next year. She also receives a $3,000 scholarship.

“The role of Miss Cherokee has long reflected the best qualities of our Cherokee youth, and I believe Whitney Roach will admirably fulfill her duties as a Cherokee ambassador,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Whitney will travel across not only Oklahoma, but the United States, educating people of all ages and from all walks of life about the Cherokee Nation, its people, its culture and its history. She will no doubt leave a lasting impression, and I look forward to working with her.”

Roach is the daughter of George and Lisa Roach. She is majoring in cellular and molecular biology at NSU and hopes to one day be a physician for the Cherokee Nation.

Roach competed against six other young women for the Miss Cherokee crown. The Miss Cherokee Leadership Competition judges contestants on their use of the Cherokee language, cultural and platform presentations, and responses to impromptu questions.

“That moment I was announced as the new Miss Cherokee, there are literally no words to describe it,” Roach said. “It was unreal. I’ve been involved in the Cherokee Nation my whole life. I grew up here. I grew up working the powwow, I was in Tribal Youth Council and the choir, and all of those experiences really made me into the person I am today.”

For her cultural presentation during the Miss Cherokee Leadership Competition, Roach presented a story, “The Legend of the Kingfisher.” Her platform is the preservation of traditional stories.

“I picked the preservation of traditional stories because I grew up with all these stories that were told to me to help me learn morals and important lessons,” Roach said. “That’s honestly what shaped me into who I am. I don’t see as many Cherokee storytellers as there once were, but hopefully now there will be one more person to share more of our heritage, our culture and our stories.”

Miss Cherokee first runner-up was Meekah Roy, 21, of Salina, who earned a $2,000 scholarship. The second runner-up was Madison Shoemaker, 20, of Muskogee, who earned a $1,000 scholarship.

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Monday, September 3, 2018, 7:30 AM

The Dillard’s store in Muskogee — an anchor store for Arrowhead Mall since its opening — will close forever in May of 2019, according to notice received by the store’s employees this weekend.

The contract the store signed with the mall is up in May of 2019 and it will not renew, according to employees.

Sears, the other major anchor at the mall, closed a few years ago and will be replaced by the US Post Office soon. The mall’s third anchor, JC Penney, has announced no plans to leave the Muskogee location.

“The problem is low sales because Muskogee has significantly lower household income than the state average,” Cliff Casteel of OkieCountry Radio said on Sunday. “People can’t afford things here compared to other cities. Muskogee needs more good-paying jobs.”

Dillard’s has not responded to requests for comment.

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Monday, September 3, 2018, 7:17 AM

Several wrecks across the Muskogee area injured and killed multiple people over the weekend, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

On Friday, Robert Carroll, 63 of Claremore was killed just west of Porter when the 2013 Mazda car he was driving southbound on State Highway 51B turned toward Porter and was struck by a 2017 GMC PK driven by Garrett Childress, 31, of Coweta, the patrol reported. Failure to yield was cited as the cause of the wreck. Childress was not injured.

On Saturday, Daisha Miles, 26, of Muskogee was hurt when her 2003 Ford Escape went off the left side of US 266 three miles east of Hitchita after she fell asleep, according to the patrol. When the vehicle left the road, it hit a tree and she was pinned inside, later freed by the Checotah Fire Department. She was flown by helicopter to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, where she was admitted in stable condition with head, trunk external and internal and leg injuries. Miles was wearing a seatbelt.

On Thursday, Steven Goforth, 30, of Wagoner was killed while walking along County Road 724 in Wagoner County, just east of Wagoner. Goforth was walking around 8:45 p.m. when a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by Candice Buttrey, 19, of Broken Arrow struck him and Jamie Goforth, 41, also of Wagoner. Steven Goforth was transported by helicopter to Saint John’s Hospital in Tulsa, where he later died. Jamie Goforth was taken by Wagoner County EMS to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, where she was admitted in stable condition for internal injuries. Buttrey was not injured. Pedestrians in the roadway was cited as the cause for the wreck.

On Sunday, Paula Watson, 73, of New Boston, Texas was killed when she was a passenger on a 2012 Harley-Davidson motorcycle driven by Toni Lindsey, 57, of New Boston. The motorcycle was eastbound on County Road 116 in McIntosh County four miles east of Eufaula around 12:30 p.m. and failed to negotiate a curve, running off the right side of the roadway, striking an embankment, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. Lindsey was flown by helicopter to Saint John’s Hospital in Tulsa with head, internal, arm, and leg injuries and was admitted in critical condition. Watson was pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of the wreck is still under investigation. Neither woman was wearing a helmet.

On Friday, four juveniles were hurt just north of Warner in Muskogee County when the 1996 Dodge 2500 pickup they were riding in was traveling westbound on 133rd Street “at a high rate of speed” and departed the roadway to the right to avoid another vehicle that was making a left turn onto the street. The pickup hit a ditch and rolled, ejecting a 16-year-old female under the vehicle. The 17-year-old male who was driving was transported to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa with arm and trunk external injuries. He was treated for his injuries and released. The 16-year-old female was transported to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa with arm and trunk external injuries. She was treated and released. A 15-year-old female was transported to Saint Francis with head, arm and trunk external injuries and admitted in stable condition. An 11-year-old male was transported to Saint Francis with arm and trunk external injuries and treated and released. Unsafe speed was cited as the cause of the wreck.

Another juvenile — a six-year-old girl — was hurt on Sunday when the ATV she was riding on hit a car in Keefeton around noon. The ATV was being driven by a 14-year-old male from Muskogee with the six-year-old and a three-year-old passenger. Neither the driver nor the three-year-old were hurt. The ATV was eastbound on 117h Street when it failed to negotiate a left turn onto 21st Street, hitting a Ford F250 pickup there in the right front door. The injured girl was transported to Saint Francis Hospital in Muskogee with leg injuries, then transported to Saint John’s Hospital in Tulsa, where she was admitted in stable condition.

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Friday, August 31, 2018, 8:43 AM

A little girl severely injured at a Muskogee daycare this month suffered injuries inconsistent with the daycare’s story that she ran into another child, according to doctors who examined her.

The girl was hurt earlier this month at the Champions Daycare, 306 S. B Street, to the extent that her eye socket was broken and her lip was completely split in two. Reports that her teeth were broken above the gum line are unconfirmed at this point.

Following a DHS investigation, but before the doctors compiled their report, the daycare has stayed open.

Meanwhile, according to the family’s attorney, Steve Money, the doctors who examined the girl said the “degree of trauma does not match the history provided” by the daycare. The damage was so severe that a Muskogee urgent care facility turned the girl away and directed the daycare to take her to the emergency room instead. In the report, The doctor who examined the girl “does not feel (the) degree of trauma matches (the) history provided. He mentioned that the distance of the orbital fracture location to oral trauma and lacerations seems larger than the head of a 6 year old. Also the degree of damage from blunt trauma appears to be more than what could be done from bumping heads while running or running into each other.”

The doctors notified DHS and the Muskogee Police to “investigate further,” based on their findings. Meanwhile, the daycare remains open.

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Friday, August 31, 2018, 8:00 AM

State Sen. Dewayne Pemberton

State Sen. Dewayne Pemberton has been appointed to chair the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education. Senate Pro Tempore-designate Greg Treat announced he tapped the Muskogee Republican for the position last week.

Pemberton, who was elected to serve in the State Senate in 2016, has previously served as a member of the Senate Standing Committee for Education, as well as the Appropriations, Energy, and Agriculture & Wildlife committees. Pemberton said he’s looking forward to his new leadership role on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.

“I am honored to have been chosen to chair the Senate Subcommittee on Education,” said Pemberton. “This is a great opportunity to serve in a capacity where my passion for education can make a real difference. I look forward to this new responsibility and am ready to get started as soon as possible.”

Pemberton holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Arkansas and earned his Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Northeastern State University. He later earned a principal and superintendent certification from Oklahoma State University. Prior to his service to the Senate, Pemberton served in various roles as coach, teacher and administrator in many Oklahoma school districts.

Pemberton represents Senate District 9, which includes Cherokee and Muskogee Counties.

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Thursday, August 30, 2018, 9:31 AM

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released preliminary data indicating an increase of more than 200,000 cases of sexually transmitted diseases reported between 2016 and 2017. Nationally, there are 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis; Oklahoma’s health officials report the same alarming increase.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reports there were 31,779 cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis diagnosed in 2017, an increase from 29,716 reported in 2016. The most significant increase was found in the number of syphilis cases with an increase of 36.5 percent in one year. Reports indicate an increase of nearly 20 percent in the number of gonorrhea cases. Cases of chlamydia increased as well with a total of 21,752 cases.

“Implementing Expedited Partner Therapy in Oklahoma is a huge victory and we are excited about improving treatment outcomes to help reduce rates of re-infection and adverse outcomes,” said STD Nurse Consultant Ivonna Mims. “This scientifically proven method can ensure more Oklahomans have the availability of appropriate treatment for their partners.”

Oklahoma joins many states in implementing the EPT program as a method of preventing re-infection of gonorrhea and chlamydia between partners. The program was implemented in the state’s 78 county health department clinics, and eight clinic sites at the OKC-County Health Department and the Tulsa Health Department. Reports indicate 99 percent of patients who received EPT had no reported re-infections within 30-90 days of the initial treatment.

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are curable with antibiotics, yet most cases go undiagnosed and untreated — which can lead to severe health effects including infertility, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth in infants, and increased HIV risk. Prior studies suggest a range of factors may contribute to STD increases, including socioeconomic factors like poverty, stigma and discrimination; and drug use.

To reduce the spread of STDs, health officials encourage regular testing as part of a person’s regular health care routine. Many cases go untreated because they are undiagnosed. To help prevent contracting an STD, it is important to have protected sex, using a new condom for every sexual encounter every time. Reducing the number of sexual partners and avoiding the use of shared needles also is important.

For more information about testing or treatment, contact a county health department, a health care provider or the OSDH HIV/STD service at (405) 271-4636 or online at http://hivstd.health.ok.gov/.

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Thursday, August 30, 2018, 9:28 AM

Sheriff Rob Frazier donated a 2010 Dodge Charger to Connors State College Police Department. The vehicle, a fully equipped patrol car with emergency lighting, siren, prisoner transport partition and weapon mount was pulled from service in May after the Sheriff Office replaced many of the older vehicles with new Ford Explorers.

The 2010 Dodge Charger was surplused and would have been stripped of emergency equipment and auctioned off.

“This is a good-running vehicle, it may have some high miles on it but it’s clean and runs well.” said Sheriff Rob Frazier. “Connors P.D. was in need of a vehicle and since we are fortunate that the citizens of Muskogee County provided us new cars, we thought let’s pay it forward and give them a vehicle.”

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Wednesday, August 29, 2018, 9:29 AM

Taylor Lee Cosby

Taylor Lee Cosby, 23, of Fort Gibson is charged in Muskogee County District Court with six felonies, including embezzlement and knowingly concealing stolen property in a case where she is accused of stealing more than $53,000 worth of jewelry from her employer, Zales.

Between July 19 and Aug. 23 of this year, Cosby is accused of stealing multiple items of jewelry and then selling them to multiple pawn and jewelry shops in the Tulsa area, according to documents filed with the case.

Cosby was arrested on the charges Aug. 23 and booked in to the Muskogee County Jail at 4 p.m.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2018, 8:47 AM

A 2010 Ford F-150 pickup ran into the back of a Muskogee school bus this morning around 7:45, according to Muskogee Police.

The bus was making a turn to the west onto Georgia Street from Country Club Road and was struck in the back. The driver of the F150 was cited for following too closely.

No one in either vehicle was injured, the police reported.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018, 11:09 AM

The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office has notified the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office they would be awarding a grant of more than $60,000 to aid in efforts to reduce violent crimes.

The Safe Oklahoma Grant is for the use for overtime hours and the purchase of body cameras. This is the second year the Sheriff’s Office has received money from the Attorney General’s Office.

“We are grateful for their continued support and the very generous funding they’ve given.” Sheriff Rob Frazier said.

Almost half, $30,000, of the money will be used to purchase body cameras for deputies.

“We had already begun the process of evaluating cameras and talking about ways to pay for them. We had applied for the grant but didn’t know if we would receive it. So, when they sent us the award letter late Friday afternoon, we were overwhelmed.” Frazier said.

The rest of the money, more than $32,000.00 will be used to pay deputies overtime to work in high crime rate areas.

“These areas are anywhere in the county, from the city limits of Muskogee to areas off I-40. Just anywhere we see an increase in violent crimes. The state’s giving us the money to bring the crime rate down and we plan to do just that.” Frazier said.

Muskogee County hosts a higher than normal crime rate for other counties the same size. According to Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation statistics, in 2017 Muskogee County had a violent crime rate of 39.4 per 1,000 residents and a population of just over 68,000.

This is the second grant the Sheriff’s Office has received this year. In July the Sheriff’s Office received a nearly $50,000 grant from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality to hire an enforcement officer to enforce environmental crimes. The Sheriff’s Office has also taken in more than $4,000 in private donations in the last month.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018, 6:14 AM

The Muskogee City Council rolled back controversial provisions of a proposed municipal ordinance on medical marijuana last night.

The original proposed ordinance caused concern among several medical marijuana advocacy groups, attorneys and residents due to a proposed home inspection requirement for home growers as well as limitations on what equipment could be used.

Before voting on the measure. Assistant City Attorney Matthew Beese addressed the council, outlining some changes to the proposed ordinance.

Beese explained that after studying the legal environment surrounding State Question 788, he and City Attorney Roy Tucker decided to strike all mention of home growing from the proposed statute.

“It looked to me like the various lawsuits that have been filed surrounding 788 factored into their thinking,” said local attorney Nathan Hendrickson, who was present at the meeting. “I knew there was a near certainty litigation over the ordinance as it was written. I think the city made the right move in saying in effect that 788 appeared to take a ‘less is more’ approach to regulation, and that should be the city’s guidepost moving forward.”

The ordinance as now proposed will regulate cannabis-related businesses in much the same way as any other new business in Muskogee.

However, Beese reminded the City Council that the state statute will certainly change, so the municipal ordinance will almost certainly change in the future.

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