Kathy Jo Vidacak, 60

Born January 19, 1959

Died September 17, 2019

Kathryn Louise Melton, 73

Born December 27, 1945

Died September 15, 2019

Womaluke Lonzoe Cox, 88

Born June 25, 1931

Died September 15, 2019

Lonnie Harold O'Dell, 87

Born March 28, 1932

Died September 15, 2019

R. Steve Walden, 61

Born October 12, 1957

Died September 15, 2019


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


Saturday, September 21

Muskogee MiniCon

Friday, August 23, 2019, 4:56 PM

James Wasson Jr.

James Wasson Jr., 61, has been in prison since July of 1996 after he shot his wife, Amy Wasson in the body and face with a .22-caliber revolver outside what was then the Muskogee Farm and Ranch store, now Orschelin, in 1995.

He shot her on June 30 of that year three times after asking her “How would you like to die today?” The last shot was directly in her face as she lay on the ground from the first two shots.

He was sentenced to 90 years in prison for attempted murder.

Today, the pardon and parole board, stating that Wasson is a model prisoner, has recommended he be released from custody to make room for more prisoners.

According to officials involved in the case, the victim was lucky to survive the shooting. Current Muskogee County District Attorney Orvil Loge has filed opposition letters with the office of the governor, opposed to commuting Wasson’s sentence.

“The jury verdict was clear that he should never be a free man,” Loge said today. “The victim has a legitimate fear of him ever being released; her only satisfaction of peace each and every day is knowing that he is behind bars.”

Governor Kevin Stitt will decide whether to follow the recommendation to commute the sentence, which would free Wasson. His office has not returned calls for comment.

sooner surplus 1541949930

Friday, August 23, 2019, 9:02 AM

Johnathan Zumadio

Johnathan Zamudio, 32, of Glenpool is charged with first-degree murder in the Aug. 20 slaying of Keith Boswell in front of the Family Dollar store at 340 East Side Blvd., according to documents filed with the case.

Zamudio and Boswell were allegedly involved in an altercation inside the store, which spilled outside the store, where Zamudio allegedly stabbed Boswell multiple times.

Police used video from the store to identify him as the suspect.

Boswell later died from the wounds.

Zamudio was previously convicted of three felonies: placing bodily fluid on a government employee in 2008, for which he received a two-year suspended sentence; assault and battery with a dangerous weapon in 2016, for which he received a four-year suspended sentence; and placing bodily fluid on a government employee in 2017, for which he received a two-year sentence in prison.

He is due back in court on September 5 for a sounding docket.

sarah ladd

Friday, August 23, 2019, 8:49 AM

Karl Fontenot

Muskogee-based federal judge James H. Payne ordered yesterday that Karl Fontenot, 55, who has been in prison since he was 18 shortly after a 1984 murder in Ada, be released from prison or granted a new trial within 120 days.

Author John Grisham wrote a nonfiction book about the case called “The Innocent Man,” which was later made into a documentary of the same name. Fontenot confessed to the killing of Donna Denise Haraway after hours of interrogation by Ada police. Eventually he said he had had a dream where he and a friend raped and stabbed Haraway to death, dumping her body south of Ada. Her body hadn’t been found yet, and was not found until after Fontenot was convicted and sent to prison.

She hadn’t been stabbed to death, the remains showed. She had been shot in the head. And her body had been dumped 30 miles north of Ada, not south, as Fontenot had said. Fontenot received a new trial, but the district attorney used his confession — even with the wrong details about the crime — to get a conviction again. He was given the death penalty, which was later overturned to life in prison.

Payne ruled yesterday in a 190-page opinion in US District Court in Muskogee. He eviscerated the prosecutors in the case and police for misconduct, and said evidence about Fontenot’s alibi and other suspects was “solid proof” of his “probable innocence.”

“The Ada Police Department investigators turned a blind eye to many important pieces of evidence, relying instead on witness statements that fit their theory of the case while disregarding much stronger evidence of alternate suspects,” the judge wrote.

big papas

Thursday, August 22, 2019, 12:26 PM

Today, a Muskogee mother was forced by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to give up her children’s Constitutional rights under threat of having them taken away from her.

The mother, whose husband is facing felony charges of child neglect after a young son was burned during what the defense says was a grilling accident, is not herself charged with a crime. Still, DHS workers told her today that her nine- and 11-year-old children would have to submit to forensic interviews at Kids Space without a lawyer or they and the two-year-old who was burned would be taken away from her. The mother was escorted to Kids Space by attorney Steve Money, who represents the parents and the children.

A representative of Kids Space told Money it was against DHS and Kids Space policy to allow attorneys to be present, even in a separate viewing room, while the children are being interrogated.

“I was pretty shocked that someone thinks their policies and procedures outweigh the United States Constitution, but in Muskogee it apparently does. A murderer can have an attorney sitting next to him during an ‘interview,' but in Muskogee a nine- and 11-year-old can’t even have an attorney in the next room,” Money said. “Look, but for this criminal case, mom and the kids would never have been summoned for this interrogation. They call it a ‘forensic interview’ to make it sound nice, but at the end of the day it is an interrogation conducted under color of law — and that makes this subject to all the protections of the law.”

The Constitution’s Fourth Amendment guarantees citizens cannot be unreasonably searched or seized. The Fifth Amendment ensures the right of citizens to not be compelled to testify against themselves, and the Sixth Amendment guarantees citizens the right to be represented by counsel. When Money asked to be present for the questioning of the children, he was blocked, being told that only the referring source (in this case DHS) or law enforcement could observe the questioning.

“My client and her children were summoned to Kids Space yesterday and upon my advice I told them to not go until we had a better feel for what this was about,” Money said. “She got a call and was literally told to be at kids space at 10 this morning or her children would be taken away from her - even though she’s not accused of a crime.”

No law has been found to authorize depriving citizens of their Constitutional right to be represented by counsel during questioning. The Supreme Court has ruled that children have the same Constitutional rights as adults.

“A nine and eleven year old are not allowed to have an attorney present while they’re being interrogated?” Money said. “And their mother is told if she doesn’t subject them to this, she will lose her kids? This isn’t the way things are supposed to be done in America.

“If you have an accident at your house it’s a pitiful state of affairs that you risk losing your children. I guess in Muskogee County if you have a charcoaling accident you risk losing all your children. I’m not sure what happens if your kid runs with a pencil and puts his eye out.”

DHS has not returned calls for comment.

If you have similar stories to share, please text 918-869-1482 or email

diamond finance

Thursday, August 22, 2019, 9:53 AM

A new law goes into effect a week from tomorrow in Oklahoma to protect employees from discrimination at their jobs if they possess medical marijuana cards and test positive for THC. That law, the “medical marijuana patient protection act,” makes it illegal for an employer to refuse to hire or take adverse action against an employee or applicant for possessing a card or for testing positive for marijuana.

Employers can still be punished for using marijuana at work.

Meanwhile, people who are on probation for criminal convictions or deferred sentences are admonished to not use alcohol or illegal drugs. Since marijuana that’s being used by a card holder technically isn’t illegal in Oklahoma, the question is whether the district attorney will prosecute people on probation who have cards and test positive for THC.

“We don’t revoke or penalize testing positive for marijuana if they have a marijuana card,” Muskogee County District Attorney Orvil Loge said this morning. “Technically, it’s still a violation of federal law, but I try to be reasonable.”

People who are on probation and do not have a medical marijuana card but test positive for THC will still face criminal penalties, including revocation of suspended or deferred sentences.

locke law office

Thursday, August 22, 2019, 7:46 AM

Voters in Muskogee County who want to have absentee ballots mailed to them for the October 8th Muskogee Public Schools Special Bond Proposition Election should apply now, County Election Board Secretary Kelly Beach said today.

Although the County Election Board can accept applications for absentee ballots until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, October 2, Beach urged voters who want to vote by absentee ballot to apply early.

Absentee ballot application forms are available at the County Election Board office located at 400 W. Broadway, Room 120. An online version of the form can be filled out and submitted electronically at: A print form can also be downloaded at that address.

Ballots must be in the hands of County Election Board officials by 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.

Beach said any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot in any election in which he/she is eligible to vote. However, a voter must be registered and reside at an address within the geographical boundaries of a school district or a municipality to be eligible to vote in school district or municipal elections. It is not necessary to give a reason for voting absentee.

“While anyone can vote absentee without giving a reason, the law still provides several advantages to absentee voters in some categories,” Beach said. By stating one of the following reasons on their applications, absentee voters can activate special conditions that make it easier for them to use absentee ballots.

The reasons are:

  • Voters who are physically incapacitated and voters who care for physically incapacitated persons who cannot be left unattended may vote absentee. They may apply only by mail, by fax, by email, online or via an agent who is at least 16 years of age and who is not employed by or related within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity to any person whose name appears on the ballot.
  • Voters who are confined to nursing homes in the county may vote absentee. An Absentee Voting Board actually goes to the nursing home a few days before the election, sets up a small polling place and allows these persons to vote under circumstances similar to those at a regular precinct polling place. They may apply only by mail, by fax, by email, online or via an agent who is at least 16 years of age and who is not employed by or related within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity to any person whose name appears on the ballot.
  • Military personnel and residents of the county living overseas and the spouses and dependents of each group are eligible receive absentee ballots. These voters may apply only by mail, fax, or by email. Military personnel should contact the Voting Service Officers in their units for application forms and additional information or visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program website ( for more information and instructions. Residents of Oklahoma living overseas can obtain the same materials from any United States military installation and from United States Embassies and Consulates as well as on the FVAP website.

elite divorce

Wednesday, August 21, 2019, 5:35 PM

An investigation started in Checotah led to a Muskogee County seizure of a cache of stolen property worth an estimated $100,000, according to the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office.

A family in Checotah got hit by burglars and, suspecting they knew who did it, visited the house of their suspects, on Old Taft Road. Finding some of their property there, the family notified Checotah Police, who enlisted the aid of Muskogee County Sheriff’s office.

Yesterday, the sheriff served search warrants on the property at 8605 Old Taft Road and found motorcycles, a zero-turn mower, tools, tool chests, two box trailers and more items.

Arrest warrants have been issued.

secret desires

Wednesday, August 21, 2019, 10:55 AM

Current Fire Marshal Derrell Jones has been appointed Muskogee’s new fire chief after the retirement of Mike O’Dell.

Jones’ family is from Muskogee. He attended Baker University under a basketball scholarship and then Tulsa Tech. He came back to Muskogee to work for his family’s construction business. He joined the fire department in 1985.

He will take the chief role on the last day of this month.

speedway grille

Wednesday, August 21, 2019, 9:07 AM

Sarah Nicole Bravo

Sarah Nicole Bravo, 42, of Muskogee is charged in Muskogee County District Court with exploitation of a disabled adult, according to documents filed with the case.

Bravo is accused of forging checks from the accounts of six disabled adults in her care at a Muskogee house where she was house manager. DHS investigated and referred the case to the district attorney after “numerous checks” were forged and Bravo allegedly withheld money from the adults in her care after she cashed their paychecks.

jordan bonding

Tuesday, August 20, 2019, 10:49 PM

Ronald Boren, a Muskogee music stalwart, has died, according to friends and family.

Boren, who was a longtime supporter and volunteer at Muskogee’s Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, was an early and ardent supporter of the Swon Brothers, who later went to the finals of The Voice and became Nashville recording artists.

Boren’s main gig was as a drummer, but he was proficient in most instruments, including guitar and bass. He advised an entire generation of musicians and played with Muskogee greats such as Harley Hamm and Jim Paul Blair. His influence cannot be overstated.

Early reports suggest he died during open-heart surgery, but those reports have not been confirmed.

Services have not been confirmed yet.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ron was a personal friend and neighbor of mine. That relationship did not affect the coverage of this story.

UPDATE: Boren’s funeral will be at Saint Paul United Methodist Church on Saturday at 10 a.m. Arrangements are being handled by Bradley Funeral Service.

dragonfly dojo

Tuesday, August 20, 2019, 9:33 PM

A child who was waiting on the curb at Whittier Elementary in Muskogee was run over by a car this afternoon, according to Muskogee emergency officials.

The child stepped off the curb, they said, and her foot got run over by a car.

The child was transported to Saint Francis Hospital in Muskogee with non-emergency status.

network command 918

Tuesday, August 20, 2019, 9:31 PM

One person was injured at an assault at Lakeland Shopping Center just now, according to Muskogee Police sources.

According to the police, the victim was walking in the parking lot of Lakeland Shopping Center on East Side Boulevard when an assailant attacked them.

The victim has been transported to the Saint Francis Hospital in Muskogee by Muskogee County EMS.

According to eyewitnesses, two customers were fighting inside the Family Dollar store, when one stabbed the other “several times.”

The suspect, whom police have not yet identified, is still on the loose.

UPDATE 10:54 p.m.: One person has died, according to police. A suspect is in custody. More details when they are available.

Johnathan Zamudio

UPDATE: The victim’s name is Keith Boswell, who died in the attack. Arrested on a complaint of murder was Johnathan Zamudio.

steve money

Tuesday, August 20, 2019, 7:52 AM

The Muskogee Main Post Office will begin operations at its new location, at 505 N. Main St., about half a mile from its current location, effective August 26.

The hours of operation will remain from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., on Saturday, and closed on Sunday. P.O. Box customers will have 24-hour lobby access, seven days a week.

P.O. Box customers may pick up their mail at the current location, 525 W. Okmulgee, until 4 p.m. on August 24.

A complete listing of Post Offices and hours of operation can be found on the Postal Service website:, or customers may call 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777).

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

highers bonding

Monday, August 19, 2019, 1:12 PM

Danielle Sheree Nelson

Danielle Sheree Nelson, 18, of Muskogee is charged in Muskogee County District Court with a felony count of child neglect from an incident in July.

Nelson is accused of leaving her one-year-old child alone in a home in the Country Club area while she and her boyfriend, Jack Ray Driggers, went out joyriding. The alleged joyride resulted in a collision, and Driggers is accused of fleeing the scene.

Police gave Nelson a ride home, when police discovered the child had been left alone, sleeping.

charlies chicken

Monday, August 19, 2019, 7:53 AM

can be made here .

Georgia-Pacific and Oklahoma Gas & Electric have each donated $25,000 to flood recovery efforts in Muskogee County.

The Muskogee-area companies made the donations to the Muskogee County Disaster Recovery Committee during an event at the Oklahoma Festival of Ballooning on Friday night at Hatbox Field. The combined $50,000 will be used to help flood victims in Muskogee County as they work toward long-term recovery.

Georgia-Pacific is the largest private employer in Muskogee with nearly 800 employees at its Muskogee paper mill. OG&E is Oklahoma’s oldest and largest investor-owned electric utility, serving more than 843,000 customers across Oklahoma and western Arkansas, including Muskogee County.

The Muskogee County Disaster Recovery Committee is comprised of local governmental agencies, non-profit and faith-based organizations, and the business community working collaboratively and transparently to help provide long-term and unmet needs of Muskogee County residents and businesses that have been impacted by recent flooding. When donations are made, 100 percent of all funding will be used to help victims in Muskogee County. With the announcement of the GP and OG&E gifts, more than $70,000 has now been raised toward the MCDRC’s stated goal of $250,000.

Thank you to Georgia-Pacific and OG&E for your donations to help flood victims in Muskogee County,” MCDRC Board Member Ken Doke said. “This is a great example of how our community is coming together to help those in need.”

Donations to the flood recovery effort

seasons of greens

Monday, August 19, 2019, 7:48 AM

Allen Spurlock, 59, of Stidham died yesterday around 2 p.m. just west of Hanna, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Spurlock was westbound on a 2001 Harley-Davidson motorcycle on Oklahoma Highway 9, going around a left curve, which he failed to negotiate. He departed the roadway to the right and struck a dirt embankment, rolling twice.

He was pronounced dead at the scene. He was not wearing a helmet.


Saturday, August 17, 2019, 8:34 AM

A school bus full of children was struck by an SUV north of Keefeton around 3:45 yesterday afternoon, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Muskogee County EMS.

The bus was stopped at a stop sign at 20th Street and US 64 half a mile west of Keefeton when a 2008 Mazda SUV driven by Billy Williams departed the roadway to the right and slammed into the bus’s driver side.

Five juvenile passengers were injured, the patrol reported, but all were treated and release for their injuries. Williams was taken to Saint John’s Hospital in Tulsa by Muskogee County EMS with head, arm, internal, external and leg injuries. He was not wearing a seatbelt, according to the patrol. None of the children were wearing seatbelts because the bus did not have any.

sooner surplus 1568389768

Friday, August 16, 2019, 1:04 PM

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and the Oklahoma State Department of Health wants to remind the public that immunizations are important for people of all ages.

Routine childhood vaccinations protect children from 16 serious diseases. The immunization schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is designed to provide immunity early in life before children are potentially exposed to serious diseases. Some vaccines require more than one dose to provide the best protection; it is important to receive each dose at the recommended time.

Dr. Fauzia Khan, director of the OSDH Immunization Service, said vaccines are safe and effective at preventing serious, potentially life-threatening diseases. “While many serious diseases are no longer common in the United States, some still exist and can spread to those who aren’t vaccinated,” said Khan. “This is particularly concerning for infants who are too young to be immunized or even to adults who have health conditions which prohibit them from receiving vaccinations.”

Childhood diseases such as whooping cough, chickenpox and even measles remain in the United States, and can be prevented by vaccines.

It is important for pregnant women to be up to date on vaccinations prior to becoming pregnant, and also to receive recommended vaccines during pregnancy to protect the baby after birth by passing on antibodies. Some illnesses such as the flu are more serious for pregnant women as changes to the immune system, heart and lungs make them more prone to severe illness and puts them at risk of premature labor and delivery.

Receiving a Tdap vaccine during pregnancy provides protection against whooping cough for a mother and her baby.

“The Tdap and flu vaccines are safe to receive during pregnancy,” said Khan. “A 2017 CDC report found Tdap vaccination during the third trimester prevents more than 3 in 4 cases of whooping cough in babies younger than 2 months old.” Whooping cough is a contagious illness causing uncontrollable coughing which can lead to choking or vomiting. Anyone can get whooping cough but it is especially dangerous for infants. Health officials recommend vaccinations for parents, grandparents, siblings and childcare workers who are in contact with infants.

In addition to the routine childhood immunizations, adults need vaccinations to protect against other illnesses such as shingles, pneumonia, tetanus and the flu. For those with conditions such as diabetes, illnesses like the flu can make it difficult to control blood sugar.

Vaccines are also important in preventing adults, especially those over the age of 65, from becoming seriously ill or being hospitalized from a number of illnesses. The CDC provides an adult vaccine assessment tool to help determine which vaccines may be appropriate. The tool can be viewed at For more information about recommended vaccinations for children or adults, contact the OSDH Immunization Service at (405) 271-4073 or visit

pisanos pizza

Thursday, August 15, 2019, 7:44 AM

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. has announced he is calling upon the Cherokee Nation Businesses board of directors to follow the tribe’s lead and implement a wage increase for employees working for the business arm of the tribe.

Cherokee Nation Businesses employs more than 7,560 people and is the board-governed holding company for the tribe’s for-profit businesses. CNB pays a direct dividend of 37 percent of its profits to the Cherokee Nation for services such as housing, health care, education and social services. The remaining 63 percent is reinvested into growing jobs, wages, business development and special projects, such as new health care facilities construction.

“As Chief of the Cherokee Nation, I respect CNB’s status as a wholly-owned business entity of the Cherokee Nation, overseen by a board of directors with the business acumen to balance the very real needs of our Cherokee Nation citizens today, with what will keep our businesses thriving in the long-term. However, it is clear that CNB has experienced tremendous success during the past eight years in large measure due to the dedication of its employees,” Chief Hoskin said. “Accordingly, it seems appropriate in my view for CNB to raise employee wages in a manner consistent with my plan to increase Cherokee Nation government employee wages.”

Last week Hoskin announced that starting Oct. 1 Cherokee Nation’s minimum wage will increase from $9.50 per hour to $11 per hour. All 3,850 government employees, regardless of salary, will receive an increase to their pay in October.

“Raising the entry level wage to at least $11 an hour further enhances our ability to attract and retain great talent at CNB,” said Chuck Garrett, executive vice president at Cherokee Nation Businesses. “In addition to this very attractive wage, all regular, full-time hourly employees are offered a competitive benefits package, including a dollar-for-dollar match up to 6 percent on their 401(k) and participation in a rewarding incentive program. Likewise, employees at CNB have very meaningful career paths.”

Hoskin anticipates CNB to review its budget and develop a fair and sustainable pay increase plan.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019, 8:07 AM

A Wagoner three-year-old nearly drowned on Lake Fort Gibson yesterday, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

The toddler was swimming around 8 p.m. with family members when the father turned away to put bait on a fish hook. The child went under water, and when the father turned around, he started looking for the victim. He found the child just under the water and started doing CPR.

The child was flown by helicopter to Saint Francis Hospital Pediatric in Tulsa and admitted in critical condition.

The child was not wearing a flotation device.

UPDATE: The highway patrol has reported the child has died.

cooper 1557169460

Tuesday, August 13, 2019, 8:14 AM

The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office is teaming up with more than 100 law enforcement agencies across the state to make sure everyone has a safe end to their summer.

The campaign starts on Aug. 14 and runs through the Labor Day holiday, ending on Sept. 2.

Each year, law enforcement from Oklahoma are joined by thousands of personnel from around the nation to participate in this high-visibility enforcement campaign. The goal is simple; keep impaired drivers from killing themselves, and innocent people, on Oklahoma roadways.

According to newly released data from the OHSO, 331 people were killed in alcohol and/or drug-related crashes in 2018. That’s the equivalent of a fully loaded jetliner crashing with no survivors.

While Oklahoma has seen a decrease in the number of people killed in alcohol-related crashes, the number of fatalities reported in drug-related crashes continues to climb.

“These numbers are shocking and they are why it is more important than ever to team up with law enforcement to help solve the problem,” said Paul Harris, director of the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.

Each year, the OHSO works with local law enforcement agencies by providing grants to agencies that have been identified as having traffic-related problems in their areas.

Programs like ENDUI Oklahoma and the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign work to address the growing severity of the impaired driving problem in Oklahoma.

“We want to make sure everyone has the chance to enjoy Labor Day and the end of the summer safely. We want everyone to have a good time, but it’s important to celebrate responsibly,” said Harris.

With the ever-growing popularity of rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft, there really is no excuse to drive under the influence, he said.

“If you’re going to the bars or to the lake, make sure you plan how you’ll get home before you start drinking,” said Harris. “If you’re camping, get all of your supplies before you start drinking to make sure nobody has to go back to the store. If you’re going out on the town, have your rideshare app handy so that you can get home safely.”

ace television and appliance

Monday, August 12, 2019, 9:24 PM

Rebecca Isham

A female daycare worker, whose name has not yet been released, was arrested today after police viewed a video allegedly showing her manhandling a child and putting a blanket over its face, according to Police Interim Public Information Officer Jeramie Garcia.

The daycare, Oak Tree Academy, at 131 N. Anthony St., showed police the footage. There are three possible victims, according to Garcia.

Patrol officers are still at the scene, but Investigations officers are en route.

DHS has been notified.

UPDATE: The suspect’s name is Rebecca Isham. The daycare’s owner said she has been fired.

Attorney Rusty Smith, who is representing Hannah Long, the child’s mother, sent the following statement: “In light of the criminal filings today and the commencement of what is certain to be a complete and thorough investigation by the appropriate authorities, Ms. Long has no comment, at least until those proceedings and the evidence is further developed. But I will say that I expect the evidence to speak for itself and, with respect to ‘proportionality,’ we will proceed forward with a manner that is proportionate to what appears to every parent’s worst nightmare.”

family time rentals

Monday, August 12, 2019, 7:59 AM

The Oklahoma State Department of Health has launched an online appointment application for the federal Women, Infants and Children program. The online application allows potential clients to notify the organization of their interest in receiving services so an agency representative can follow up with them to schedule an appointment.

WIC is a nutrition program for pregnant and postpartum mothers, infants and children younger than the age of 5. More than 50 percent of all infants born in Oklahoma are enrolled for WIC services. The program offers nutrition education, breastfeeding support, nutritious foods and improved access to health care and social services to women and children with low to moderate income. WIC Director Terry Bryce said the online application is a tool to make the enrollment process more convenient. Applicants will be asked to submit their contact information and answer a few questions which will help determine their eligibility.

“We hope this tool will help mothers reduce the time they have to spend in the clinic,” said Bryce. “We will still schedule an appointment to provide services, but this will help speed the application process and coordinate the scheduling of appointments. As a government service, we look for any opportunity to use technology that improves the customer experience.”

Over time, studies indicate the obesity rate for children participating in the Oklahoma WIC program has decreased, and the intakes of iron, vitamin C and B6 have increased. The program currently serves more than 15,800 pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women; more than 17,300 infants and 32,000 children up to the age of 5.

The online appointment application is available here. After completing the form, a representative of the nearest WIC site will contact the applicant. For assistance or to get help in person, those interested can call or walk-in to any WIC office. To find the nearest WIC office, call 1-888-655-2942.

3 rivers auto collision

Friday, August 9, 2019, 9:54 AM

The colorful Oklahoma Lions Mobile Health Screening Unit will be located at New Jerusalem Baptist Church, 1715 Wewoka Street, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 17, to offer free screenings to Muskogee residents for several serious health problems. The screening unit is sponsored by Muskogee Noon Lions Club. The church is also sponsoring a health fair with displays in the church fellowship hall. Volunteers from the church and Lions Club will staff the screening unit.

Lions for a healthy Oklahoma is addressing the most critical health issues in Oklahoma. Free health screenings and information on obesity, tests for glaucoma, diabetes, cholesterol, visual acuity, basic lung function, and high blood pressure are all included. Bone density screening is available, usually for women over 40 years old. Osteoporosis, especially in women over 40 years old, is a critical concern. Glaucoma and diabetes are two of the major causes of blindness and often are not discovered until irreversible damage has occurred. Undetected high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels can be life threatening.

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

The church will also hold its Back to School Bash and Youth Explosion at 5 p.m. For information, all Maryland Guidry, 918-310-3485.

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Thursday, August 8, 2019, 6:59 AM

Cherokee Nation operators Mary Washington, Janice McCarter and Rufina Crittenden visit with Principal Chief-elect Chuck Hoskin Jr. following his announcement that the tribe’s minimum wage will go from $9.50 to $11 per hour starting Oct. 1.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief-elect Chuck Hoskin Jr. announced Wednesday that he will sign an executive order raising Cherokee Nation’s minimum wage to $11 an hour. The tribe’s current minimum wage is $9.50 per hour, already well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Through the increase, fulltime employees currently earning $9.50 per hour will make an additional $3,120 annually. The increases will affect 415 government employees who currently earn less than $11 per hour, including 99 earning the existing minimum wage of $9.50 per hour. Raises will also positively impact 1,382 government employees earning between $11 and less than $15 per hour.

The change to the tribe’s minimum wage is part of Hoskin’s first 100 days of office initiatives. This will be his first executive order as principal chief.

“Our 3,850 Cherokee Nation employees are the backbone of our government. Raising the minimum wage is going to be life-changing for them and their families at a time when the costs of goods and services continue to rise,” Hoskin said. “For months, I have listened to the concerns of our tribal employees and sought guidance from the Council of the Cherokee Nation. I promised them I would put together a plan that is both fiscally responsible and allows employees to rest easier knowing they will be able to better make ends meet. I’m proud this will be one of my first acts as Principal Chief. This pay increase is absolutely the right thing to do, and this is the right time to do it.”

Cherokee Nation employees are also eligible for health, dental and life insurance; a 401k matching plan; paid vacation and sick leave; and other perks such as educational reimbursement and a holiday bonus.

Deputy Chief-elect Bryan Warner said these benefits coupled with the tribe’s new $11 per hour minimum wage will allow the Cherokee Nation to continue being an economic force for the state and an employer of choice for northeast Oklahoma.

“Taking care of Cherokee Nation employees and their families is a responsibility we do not take lightly,” Warner said. “These women and men are on the frontlines of providing vital services to the Cherokee people. When we pay employees a competitive wage, they not only benefit by having more money to pay bills and to put into savings, but the Cherokee Nation as a whole benefits because our quality of life is improved.”

Hoskin announced the minimum wage increase at the new W.W. Hastings outpatient health facility in Tahlequah during a surprise visit with more than 100 employees who will be affected by the change.

“This announcement makes me feel very appreciated. I had tears in my eyes when Chief-elect Hoskin made the announcement, I was so happy,” said Michelle Keys, a Cherokee Nation Human Services clerk. “The employees deserve it. We work really hard and to be appreciated this way, it makes me feel loved. When we received merit raises each year in the past, I always took the lump sum because something would come up where I needed it, like an emergency, and I might not otherwise be able to pay for it. So raising the minimum wage is pretty awesome.”

Hoskin said the Cherokee Nation’s pay increase is possible due to strong financial stewardship of Principal Chief Bill John Baker’s administration over the past eight years.

The executive order will take effect Oct. 1. Funding for the wage increases is part of the proposed fiscal year 2020 budget, subject to approval by the Council of the Cherokee Nation later this month.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2019, 7:39 AM

Stanley Williams, 80, and Christopher Dugan, 21, were both hurt in a head-on collision about five miles west of Muskogee yesterday, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Williams was driving a 2018 Ford Transit van east on Oklahoma 16 and Dugan was driving a 2014 Ford F150 pick west. Williams went left of center, according to the patrol, and Dugan steered to his left to avoid a collision. Williams, however, corrected his vehicle and struck Dugan head-on. Williams’ vehicle then left the roadway to the right, struck some construction equipment and caught on fire.

Both men were transported by Muskogee County EMS to Saint John’s Hospital in Tulsa, where they were admitted with head, arm, leg, internal and external injuries. Both men were wearing seatbelts.

UPDATE: Multiple family members have called to say Williams was driving the truck and Dugan was driving the van. This report is based on the Oklahoma Highway Patrol report, however, and they have not corrected their report to reflect that.

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Tuesday, August 6, 2019, 3:25 PM

Police and ambulances are responding to a possible drowning near 24th and Border Streets.

No other details are available at this time.

UPDATE 3:43 P.M.: EMS confirmed they have transported one patient in critical condition to the Muskogee hospital.

Muskogee Police Officer Jeramie Garcia said officers found the adult male and started CPR until EMS arrived.

The victim was alive when police last saw him and when EMS took him to the hospital.

UPDATE: Aug. 8: The victim passed away en route to the hospital, according to a family member.

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Tuesday, August 6, 2019, 1:40 PM

On Wednesday, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law will present a Community Forum: Know Your Rights Training at the Muskogee Civic Center. This event is open to all members of the community.

Modern-day debtors’ prisons result from the unconstitutional jailing of people who are unable to pay court fines, fees, and costs. Many Oklahomans are at serious risk of being jailed without inquiry into their ability to pay, and are often denied the right to counsel and basic due process protections. Learn about these rights and gain tips for interacting with the judicial and educational systems.

Members of both the Criminal Justice Project and Educational Opportunities Project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law will be present, and a member of the Mexican Consulate will be available for additional questions.

The event is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Muskogee Civic Center, 425 Boston St.

Light snacks and refreshment will be provided.

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Tuesday, August 6, 2019, 8:51 AM

State Rep. Avery Frix (R-Muskogee) today commented on the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Muskogee and the Hotel Muskogee being added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The church, currently named The Praise Center Family Church, at 304 N. 7th; and the Hotel Muskogee, at 26 W. Broadway, were selected by the National Park Service for the designation. The properties also are listed in the State Register of Historic Places.

“I’m pleased these properties in Muskogee were chosen for this recognition,” Frix said. “This will help us preserve these pieces of our local heritage and allow the property owners special protections.”

According to the National Register, the 1923 First Church of Christ, Scientist, is an excellent local example of a late 19th to early 20th Century revival/mission revival-style building and was nominated for architectural significance under criterion c for the year 1923. The building retains its integrity of location, setting, design, materials, and workmanship and still provides the feeling and association of a neighborhood worship center. More about the church can be read here.

The Hotel Muskogee, meanwhile, was built in 1922 and 1923 and opened in 1923. It is listed as locally significant under criterion in the area of social history for the years 1923-1969. The hotel served primarily male sales representatives involved in manufacturing and wholesale distribution. Because of this narrow clientele, the hotel is said to illustrate the gendered nature of a growing “business culture” in America, which changed after 1969.

From the mid-1920s through the 1940s, the Hotel Muskogee represented the link between the nation’s commerce and that of Muskogee and also the segregation of the genders in the business world. The Register lists that the building retains a high degree of integrity of location and setting. More about the hotel can be read here.

The National Register is the Federal Government’s official list of historic properties worthy of preservation. It is authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and part of the National Park Service. Places are selected for the quality of their significance in American history, architecture, archeology or culture, among other reasons.

Properties listed on the National Register qualify for certain federal tax credits and other protections.

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Monday, August 5, 2019, 8:01 AM

Colton Edwards, Phillip Lemont Jones Jr, Jobe Terronez, Jakeydious Key and Jaysea Williams are charged in Muskogee County District Court with conspiracy, conjoint robbery and shooting with the intent to kill after an alleged crime spree in Haskell on the night of July 30.

First, the group is accused of kicking in a door where a teenage girl was alone, stealing money and a television and running the girl over with a car as they left. Then they proceeded to another residence where they allegedly kicked in the door and began shooting at the resident, who was sleeping on a couch beside the door. The house also contained another adult and a child. The shots were fired from an SKS rifle into the couch, according to police.

The break-in victim identified Colton Edwards to police as the shooter. The house’s other resident appeared from the back of the residence and began to return fire. The five men then fled from the residence while the resident continued to fire at them. A black Audi vehicle registered to Terronez was later found on Taft road with bullet holes, a shredded tire, smashed window and blood on the inside.

Police then responded to a call from Saint Francis Hospital in Muskogee for people suffering from gunshot wounds: Jones, Edwards, Williams Terronez and Key. Jones, Williams and Edwards were then taken to the Tulsa Saint Francis, where they underwent surgery.

One suspect told police it was Terronez’s plan to go to that specific address. He also told police three firearms had been thrown from the vehicle while they were fleeing.

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