DEATHS

Arley Leo Hinds, 90

Born March 4, 1928

Died February 14, 2019

Edith Laverne Warren, 97

Born October 31, 1921

Died February 14, 2019

June Ann Drake, 61

Born September 10, 1957

Died February 12, 2019

CLICK TO SEE MORE >>

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

THINGS TO DO

Saturday, February 16

Loureda vs Fletcher Watch Party
SBR Defensive Training
2019 Kids' Space Daddy Daughter Dance
Soulful Hangout
Estate Sale
Tyler Brant
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Zumba with Kaylon
SBR Defensive Training
Oklahoma Kids!
Donut's and Doggy's
ECC Ladies Breakfast
Sideways!!
Murder suicide house
Valentine's Dinner for Two
Oscars Celebration

Education

Friday, February 15, 2019, 9:57 AM

Muskogee Public Schools is planning for the future and asking for the community’s help. Beginning Monday, February 18 the school district is launching a continuous strategic initiative with a community survey.

“Over the next year, this Continuous Strategic Improvement Plan will lead to a five-year vision for our district,” superintendent Jarod Mendenhall said. “This plan will allow our community to have a vision that positively guides our school district and indirectly the community of Muskogee.”

Muskogee Public Schools is working with the Oklahoma State School Boards Association and K20 Center for Education Community Renewal at the University of Oklahoma to facilitate the planning process.

“It is important to our school district and community to develop a plan for the future,” School Board President Keith Biglow said. “Gathering insight from community members during this time will allow the strategic plan to truly be one that impacts our students, our school district and our community.”

The survey will remain open for input from Feb. 18 to April 12 available on the Muskogee Public Schools website at www.muskogeeps.org. Planning teams involving community, business, and school district representatives will use student achievement data, results from the survey, and forums and research to develop a continuous improvement strategic plan.

The school district will host forums for district employees, students, local ministers, and community members. Community forums are scheduled for:

Monday, Feb. 18 – 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. – Martin Luther King Center

Monday, Feb. 18 – 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. – Irving Elementary School

Wednesday, April 3 – 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. – Antioch Church

Thursday, April 4 – 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – Education Service Center

A proposed plan is expected to be presented for school board approval in early 2020.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019, 8:54 AM

Muskogee Public Schools has announced its educators of the year.

“Each of these 13 individuals were selected by their peers as outstanding teachers that display innovation and leadership throughout the day,” said Dr. Jarod Mendenhall, superintendent. “I congratulate these educators on being recognized and thank them for all that they do for our students.”

Educators of the Year:

  • Whitney Adair, Alice Robertson Junior High
  • Corrine Beaver, Pershing Elementary
  • Kelli Chambers, New Tech at Cherokee Elementary
  • Raytosha Craft, Muskogee High School
  • Kimberly Davison, Ben Franklin STEM Academy
  • Rachael Gilliam, Creek Elementary
  • Jacquie Hill, Early Childhood Center
  • Courtney Lamont, Irving Elementary
  • Rhonda Mayes, Grant Foreman Elementary
  • Cindy Metzger, Whittier Elementary
  • Carol Nunley, Sadler Arts Academy
  • Kurtis Rowan, Rougher Alternative Academy
  • Casey Salkowski, Tony Goetz Elementary

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Tuesday, February 5, 2019, 9:49 AM

The Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center will host a creative arts competition for enrolled Veterans Feb. 22 and Feb. 25.

The competition includes categories in the visual arts division that range from oil painting to leatherwork to paint-by-number kits. In addition, there are categories in writing as well as the performing arts of dance, drama and music. Local creative arts competition first place winning entries advance to a national judging process and first, second and third place entries in each category are determined.

Through a national judging process, first, second and third place entries in each category are determined. Selected invitees will be invited to attend the 2019 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in Kalamazoo, Michigan October 28 – November 3, 2019.

For registration and competition information, please contact Deborah Moreno at 918-577-4014. To view entry rules, please visit https://www.va.gov/opa/speceven/caf/index.asp.

The public is invited to view Veteran artwork on Feb. 25, which will be on display in the Main Lobby of the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center, which is located at 1011 Honor Heights Dr. in Muskogee.

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servpro

Tuesday, February 5, 2019, 9:47 AM

Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism is hosting a series of cultural classes to learn the art of making traditional pucker-toe moccasins.

The Saturday workshops are scheduled for March 9, July 13 and Nov. 9 at the Cherokee National Prison Museum from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration costs $35.

In addition to the traditional classes, the program will also offer classes on how to add beadwork to traditional pucker-toe moccasins using two-needle applique. Guests will learn how to add beadwork to the toe and how to edge the flaps. The classes are offered May 4 and Oct. 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration costs $45.

Early registration is recommended and available online at www.cherokeegiftshop.com. Class size is limited to 15 people on a first-come, first-served basis. All materials are provided, and participants are asked to bring their own lunch.

The Cherokee National Prison Museum is located at 124 E. Choctaw St. in Tahlequah.

For information on Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism, including museum operations, please call (877) 779-6977 or visit www.VisitCherokeeNation.com.

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Monday, January 14, 2019, 2:18 PM

Muskogee Public Schools are being accused of violating school policies and possibly Constitutional rights when they searched a 13-year-old African-American girl who other students accused of having drugs. A caucasian girl accused in the same incident was not searched, according to the girl’s mother, Kyla Breshers.

Breshers said the girl was told other students had told administrators she had drugs or knew where drugs were.

“She was in the hallway (at Alice Robertson) and the officer came and asked her name and told her to come with him,” Breshers said. “She was taken to a room and searched by two male officers with no female present and no member of administration present.”

No drugs were found, and the girl’s mother said she has never been in any kind of trouble at the school.

Breshers said she asked the school for the policy on searching students and received a document that stated an adult of the same gender as the student must be present, and a school principal must be present when searches are done.

When she contacted the school board, no one returned her calls, she said. The girl is now having panic attacks and is being harassed by other students asking her where drugs are.

When asked, Steve Braun, spokesman for the schools, issued the following statement:

Muskogee Public Schools does not comment on specific student discipline.

Per School Board of Education Policy – Section JFG:

“Teachers, administrators and school security personnel (school officials) are authorized to detain and search a student where the school official has a reasonable suspicion that the students in in possession of: dangerous weapons, controlled dangerous substance, beverage containing alcohol, electronic paging devices, and missing or stolen property.

Reasonable suspicion means that there must be reasonable grounds to believe that the search will reveal a violation of school rules or produce evidence of unlawful activity.”

Regarding interrogations and searches of students, when a search of a student’s person is deemed necessary due to reasonable suspicion, a person of the same sex as the student will conduct the search per school board of education policy JFG. A certified person of the same sex as the student will also be present if practicable.

The school board policy aligns with Oklahoma Statute 70 section 24-102.

Muskogee Public Schools continues to review its policies and procedures to better create a culture of learning.

Asked whether a person of the same gender as the student was present during the search, Braun replied “we cannot discuss personnel issues.”

In response to questions of what “reasonable suspicion” the schools had to search the girl, Braun said “the issue of reasonable suspicion can be reported by any reliable source which allows for us to search a student or their belongings. Reasonable suspicion can simply be a student, parent, or staff member reporting something to the administration.”

Pressed further, Braun provided this link to the law regarding searching students.

However, that link makes it clear that “the reasonable suspicion should be based on more than a hunch or rumor,” in contrast to the schools’ statements that “reasonable suspicion can be reported by any reliable source.”

The site goes on to say “anonymous tips usually aren’t good enough on their own to justify a search.”

The Supreme Court has ruled that, in certain circumstances, even teachers observing suspicious behavior does not constitute reasonable suspicion to conduct a search of students, who according to the Supreme Court, do not abandon their Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search when they enter schools. In fact, the court specifically ruled that a Texas student should not have been searched when the administration received information that the student was dealing drugs. That search was ruled not reasonable and thus illegal.

The schools did not respond to questions about why the caucasian girl was not searched, stating “We do not comment on student discipline, which means we cannot confirm or deny something in that regard.”

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Friday, January 11, 2019, 9:02 AM

State Sen. Mary Boren has filed legislation aimed at putting more resources directly in the classroom for textbooks and other teaching materials. Her bill also requires that funding allocated for instructional materials is used for that purpose.

Boren, a former educator who has previously worked for both the State Department of Education the State Regents for Higher Education, said Senate Bill 206 would increase the per-pupil amount for textbook and other instructional materials, which includes things like e-books, software and other related materials. The measure would increase that amount from $55 to $200.

“When I worked for the Department of Education in 2001, the state was providing $55 per student. Even though costs have risen dramatically since then, that amount is still just $55—plus, during the economic downturn, districts were given the ability to redirect those funds to other areas,” said Boren, D-Norman. “The combined result is school after school with tattered, outdated and insufficient textbooks and instructional materials and teachers and supporters being forced to plead for donations. If we want our children to be able to compete, they need current textbooks and materials. Forcing teachers and supporters to turn to outside fundraising may help in wealthier districts, but in many communities throughout the state, the resources simply aren’t there and our children are not getting the instructional materials they need to succeed. After looking at other states and visiting with Oklahoma teachers and administrators, it’s clear that $200 is a much more accurate reflection of the actual cost of instructional materials.”

Boren said that since statehood, Oklahoma’s Constitution has required the state to provide textbooks.

“The vision for our public schools was that all children would have an equitable educational opportunity but without adequate state support it cannot happen,” Boren said.

Boren’s legislation would also expand textbook selection committees at the local level to make sure teachers from each school within a district are included in that process.

“Those committees are evaluating material for every grade level, but under the current structure, you may or may not have teachers from all grade levels included,” Boren said. “My language will include teachers from each district’s elementary, middle and high schools on those textbook committees.”

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Wednesday, January 2, 2019, 10:11 PM

Muskogee Public Schools have canceled classes for tomorrow, Thursday, Jan 3, due to inclement weather.

Classes are scheduled to resume on Friday, Jan. 4, according to Steve Braun, director of communications at the district.

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Monday, December 24, 2018, 8:08 AM

Muskogee Science Technology Engineering Arts & Math Center will be hosting the first ever Tinkerfest Saturday, January 12 at 6 p.m.

Enjoy robotics demos, airplane design, constructions and more at the event.

Representatives from Microsoft will be attending the event bringing XBoxes, Surface Tablets, O-Bots and the Microsoft Surface Studio.

Admission is free and food will be provided. Space is limited to the first 150.

To register, visit Muskogee Interactive Arts & Science Center on Facebook or click here.

For more information on how you can sponsor this event, click here.

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Friday, December 21, 2018, 10:58 AM

Hilldale Public Schools Board of education surprised the kids this morning at Hilldale Elementary by dressing as elves and Santa to greet students.

Superintendent Eric Puckett is in the Rudolph costume.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2018, 7:38 AM

Following public outcry about school funding and concern over high administrative salaries, Sen. Ron Sharp filed legislation Friday to make superintendent salaries completely locally funded. Senate Bill 60 would require superintendent salaries and fringe benefits to be paid with only district (ad valorem dollars) and dedicated local funds. The bill would stop any state appropriated dollars from being used for the salaries in order for them to be diverted to the classroom.

“Schools boards already decide how much their administrators make but this bill would ensure that not only will the decision be completely local but the funds for them will be as well,” said Sharp, R-Shawnee. “I think when school boards have to use their local funds for superintendent salaries they’ll be more fiscally conservative and we’ll see more state funds going into the classrooms where they should be.”

SB 60 would apply to those positions coded under the Oklahoma Cost Accounting System (OCAS) as a superintendent or elementary superintendent. It would prohibit the board of education of an independent district or an elementary school district (a dependent district) from entering into a new contract or renewing a contract with a superintendent using state-appropriated dollars for salary or fringe benefits after July 1, 2019.

If a superintendent is also a principal, counselor or part-day teacher, the bill would only apply to the portion of his/her salary that is “coded” as superintendent. Any other job titles would still be paid with state dollars.

“This should also encourage administrative consolidation among districts if local dollars are insufficient to pay for superintendent salaries,” explained Sharp. “It will make these salaries and fringe benefits a 100% local decision as it should be.”

Sharp noted that the legislature does not set or control administrative salaries. It only sets the minimum teacher salary schedule. SB 60, however, would ensure that local districts would not only control the decision but the funds that pay for superintendent salaries.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018, 9:07 AM

Redacted to obscure the student's name.

A Muskogee parent is crying foul after a 14-year-old student at Alice Robertson Junior High School was arrested yesterday on a Dec. 3 citation in front of classmates and then taken to the Community Intervention Center at the back of the Muskogee County Jail.

The student was arrested for too many absences, according to a citation the parents provided MuskogeeNOW.com. The student has a total of 18 partial or whole absences from school this semester. The parent said eight of those were excused by doctor’s notes, and several of the remaining partial absences were simply tardies. Schools can’t comment on specific cases, so they were unable to confirm those claims.

Dan Hall, chief truancy officer with Muskogee Public Schools, said taking a student to CIC is a last resort, rarely used.

“We start off trying to tell the parents there is a problem if a student misses four times during a four-week period,” he said. “If the parents don’t respond, we try to call, and if they still don’t respond, we try to do a home visit or try to catch them at their jobs. If the parents say they’re going to show up to sign a citation and then they don’t show up, we give them another chance to do that, and if they still don’t show after they’ve said they would, we take the student to CIC so the parent has to come get them and then sign the citation.”

Hall said he wouldn’t classify that as “arrest,” though the distinction may not immediately be clear.

“It’s a last resort,” he said. “We really only do it a few times a year when we have exhausted every other effort.”

Parents can face steep fines and even jail time for failing to compel their children to attend school, according to Oklahoma law.

The parent is concerned that the student was arrested in front of his classmates, cuffed and placed into a police car, then taken to “jail” and forced to stay there for hours before the parent could come to get him out.

“They got him out of sixth hour,” the parent said. “They confirmed his name, then told him to turn around with hands behind his back and they cuffed him and took him to jail.”

The parents were warned that the student could be cited for more absences, but they say they were not warned that he could be taken to CIC.

“Parents need to make sure their kids are in school,” Hall said. “We try everything we can to avoid this kind of consequence, but we have to ensure their attendance.”

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018, 8:42 AM

Muskogee Public Schools is on the forefront of educational technology with the 1:1 program providing students with Google Chromebooks to complete homework assignments – but when students are home, their access to high speed internet may be limited. In the coming weeks, thanks to a partnership with T-Mobile, students will now have access to high speed internet.

T-Mobile and Muskogee Public Schools announced today a $1.16 million grant to provide unlimited 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspots for students across the district.

“This is incredible for our students and will close a gap in technology that we otherwise could not have accomplished without T-Mobile,” said Dr. Jarod Mendenhall, superintendent of Muskogee Public Schools. “I am excited that many of our students who did not have reliable, high-speed internet access will now be able to complete homework assignments, do research and be able to stay on track with their studies.”

T-Mobile’s EmpowerED initiative is aimed at bridging the “homework gap” — the uneven playing field that exists when millions of low-income students are unable to access the digital tools necessary to succeed inside and outside of the classroom.

Muskogee Public Schools join other local schools including Tulsa Public Schools and Moore Public Schools as EmpowerED partners – all receiving district-wide grants.

As a participating school district, Muskogee will be provided $200 for each student to cover the cost of their hotspot and 5,800 lines of free high-speed wireless access.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018, 8:38 AM

Gavin White, Hilldale senior and resident of the Native American Student Association, welcomes students to the assembly.

The Hilldale High School Native American Student Association recently celebrated Native American Heritage month with an assembly to honor their native ancestry.

“This has become an annual event,” said Tera Shows, NASA sponsor. “The NASA club plans the assembly and enjoys getting to share who they are with the student body.”

Robert Lewis, Cherokee storyteller, told stories of Cherokee culture using Hilldale students acting as story characters

“I thought the stories were pretty funny,” said Sara Lanning, a junior at Hilldale High School and secretary of NASA.

In addition to storytelling, Hilldale hosted students from Sequoyah High School, who performed a dance exhibition and shared traditional music. Choogie Kingfisher, cultural coordinator with the Cherokee Nation, served as the assembly emcee.

This is the third year for Hilldale to have a Native American Student Association. The group has more than 30 members and is made up from students representing five different tribes. They compete in the Oklahoma Indian and Muscogee Creek Challenge Bowls and participate in cultural learning events throughout the year.

For more information about HHS NASA, contact Shows at 918-683-3253 or by email at tshows@hilldaleps.org.

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Friday, November 9, 2018, 8:20 AM

The Cherokee Nation Foundation is accepting scholarship applications for the 2019-20 academic year. The deadline to apply is Jan. 31, 2019.

“This is an exciting year for us at the foundation, as we are opening up multiple new opportunities established through our matching campaign,” said Janice Randall, executive director of the Cherokee Nation Foundation. “We do our best to make the application process easy to navigate and connect the students to as many opportunities as possible that can help them reach their full potential.”

Once students create an online profile, they have instant access to a one-stop shop for all CNF scholarships. The system also provides students with notifications about upcoming scholarship opportunities and deadlines.

The foundation offers three differently funded scholarships: private, tribal and institutionally based. All applications are evaluated based on academic performance as well as community and cultural involvement and can be found at www.cherokeenationfoundation.org/scholarships.

For more information, contact Cherokee Nation Foundation at (918) 207-0950 or Janice Randall at jr@cherokeenationfoundation.org.

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Friday, November 2, 2018, 6:32 AM

In recognition of November being National Diabetes Month, the Oklahoma State Department of Health is supporting efforts to bring awareness to the impact of diabetes on Oklahoma and its economy.

Oklahoma ranks eighth in the nation for percent of adults diagnosed with diabetes. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate more than one million Oklahomans have prediabetes, and two out of three are unaware they are at risk. Without proper intervention, it is estimated that 15-30 percent of them will develop Type 2 diabetes within five years, leaving them to pay more than double their current health care costs.

“Historically, the prevalence of diabetes has been higher in Oklahoma than in the United States as a whole,” said OSDH Diabetes Program Coordinator Rita Reeves. “The most current information from the CDC indicates the prevalence of Type 2 and Type 1 are increasing among young people.”

Average medical expenses for people diagnosed with diabetes are about $13,700 per year. Patients have a higher rate of being out of the workplace and receiving disability. Nearly 95 percent of cases are Type 2, which can be prevented or delayed through a lifestyle intervention with the CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program. There are 21 programs in Oklahoma that offer guidance from a lifestyle coach to help set goals and adjust factors such as eating healthier, reducing stress and getting more physical activity.

Screening is the first step in preventing and managing diabetes. An online risk test to determine a person’s chance of having prediabetes is available here.

Those who have already been diagnosed with diabetes are encouraged to talk with their health care provider, and ask for a referral to an accredited self-management program, which can be found here.

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Thursday, November 1, 2018, 3:24 PM

Muskogee Public Schools are thinking outside the box — literally — when it comes to considering plans for the future of the district. A long-range planning committee appointed by the school board has been considering ideas that would rearrange which grades attend school at which buildings, and completely rethink how middle schoolers learn.

“None of this is in the plan stage yet,” said Steve Braun, director of public relations at the district. “At this point, they’re trying to get a feel for these ideas; nothing is set in stone.”

The idea being considered would:

  • Move preschoolers out of the current Early Childhood Center to the Harris-Jobe location
  • Move the sixth grade out of elementary schools and to the current Grant Foreman location
  • Move the seventh and eighth grades out of Alice Robertson to Ben Franklin’s current location
  • Move ninth graders out of the high school and to the current Alice Robertson location.

“The thought behind moving sixth-graders out of the elementary schools is there’s a big difference between kindergartners and sixth-graders,” Braun said. “It would allow them to have a school tailored more to their needs.”

Seventh- and eighth-graders would move to a “teaming” model, where groups of 120 students would attend four groups of classes together, which would allow a greater sense of community among the students.

The planning committee is currently investigating the possibilities and working to have solid ideas ready by spring break, possibly as early as February.

“Nothing is set in stone,” Braun stressed. “They’re trying to get a feel for what people think about it and how it would work.”

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Friday, October 19, 2018, 7:19 AM

Eugene Tapahe was awarded the 13th annual Cherokee Art Market’s Best of Show for his black and white collage features 44 compelling photos taken at Oceti Sakowin Camp in Standing Rock, ND. The images were printed on archival watercolor paper using a lithograph print process.

Navajo artist Eugene Tapahe received the Best of Show award for “Never Forget Standing for Unity” at the 13th annual Cherokee Art Market at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa.

The black and white collage features 44 compelling photos taken at Oceti Sakowin Camp in Standing Rock, ND. The images were printed on archival watercolor paper using a lithograph print process.

The Cherokee Art Market, featuring more than 150 elite Native American artists representing 50 tribes, ran Saturday and Sunday. Art forms included beadwork, pottery, painting, basketry, sculptures and textiles. Guests also enjoyed a variety of cultural demonstrations and performances.

With nearly 60 winners in eight classes, the following highlights the Cherokee Art Market 2018 Best of Class winners:

Class 1 – Painting, Drawing, Graphics & Photography

Eugene Tapahe, Navajo Nation, “Never Forget Standing for Unity”

Class 2 — Sculpture

Troy Jackson, Cherokee Nation, “Faith in the Creator”

Class 3 – Beadwork/Quillwork

Ken Williams Jr., Northern Arapaho/Seneca, “Beauty in Dreams”

Class 4 – Basketry

Leona Romero, Tohono O’odham Nation, “Unity Friendship Design”

Class 5 – Pottery

Autumn Borts-Medlock, Santa Clara Pueblo, “Chaco Parrott with Egg”

Class 6 – Textiles B

Phil Singer, Navajo Nation, “Clouds Above the Mesa”

Class 7 – Jewelry

Ric Charlie, Navajo Nation, “Ladies Gold Diamond Set”

Class 8 – Diverse Art Forms

Glenda McKay, Ingalik-Athabascan, “Morning Sun”

Additionally, Martha Berry earned the Culture Keeper Award for “Sageeyah Gold: Honoring the Pollinators & the Humans Who Protect Them.” The Innovator Award went to Billy L. Hensley for “Imoshi,” and Lisa Rutherford earned the Anna Mitchell Award for “Dragonfly Dance.”

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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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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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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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Monday, August 6, 2018, 7:42 AM

Cherokee Nation’s award-winning cultural tourism team is accepting grant applications for its education tours during the fall semester. The sponsored tours provide students an exclusive look at Cherokee Nation’s rich history and culture.

Grants are designated for grades third through sixth at elementary public schools within the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction. They are awarded in the fall and spring, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Three tour options are available:

Cherokee History Tour— Visit Tahlequah’s historic Capitol Square and Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum, Cherokee National Prison Museum, Murrell Home, Cherokee Heritage Center and ancient Cherokee village, Diligwa.

Will Rogers Tour— Visit the Will Rogers Memorial Museum and Dog Iron Ranch.

Civil War Tour— Visit Tahlequah’s historic Capitol Square, Murrell Home and Fort Gibson Historic Site.

Complimentary curriculum is provided to classrooms that receive the grant and is available to teachers upon registration. Curriculum includes a teacher’s guide to prepare students for the education tour as well as a student activity.

Minimum requirements for eligibility for schools include being located within the Cherokee Nation’s 14-county jurisdiction, a majority of the school’s students must hold a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood card, the school’s class size may not exceed tour capacity, and the majority of the school’s students must be eligible for free and/or reduced school lunches.

Schools that do not meet the requirements or miss the deadline may experience the program for a small fee. Special rates are available for seventh through 12th grade and college students.

Applications are accepted through Sept. 23 and are available at www.VisitCherokeeNation.com.

For more information or to book an education tour, please call (918) 384-5930.

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Thursday, July 26, 2018, 8:38 AM

Roger Hilfiger and Joe Mundis, both from the 1963 class from Muskogee Central High School, have announced that there will be a 55th reunion planned for this year at Sequoyah Lodge, formerly Western Hills, on Lake Fort Gibson. The classmates decided a destination reunion at Sequoyah Lodge would be more convenient for many who would like to attend, since many would be coming from outside Muskogee, and no longer have family here in Muskogee to stay with.

The class had 435 people, and is trying to contact as many as possible to let them know of the reunion plans. Mundis and Hilfiger say that of the 435 seniors, they have email addresses for 125, physical mail addresses for 188, with 63 of that class deceased. There are 59 seniors for whom the planners do not have any contacts whatsoever. If there are any seniors from that class that have not been contacted, please contact Roger Hilfiger, 918-869-6926, Joe Mundis, 918-543-4985, or email to muskogeeseniors63@outlook.com to give us that contact information.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018, 10:00 AM

Kaylee Bryson

The Lucas Oil School of Racing and Pippa Mann has announced recipients of the Pippa Mann Scholarship, including Kaylee Bryson, 17, of Muskogee. Kaylee is BoJangles Summer Shootout Series Legends, 2015 Lucas Oil Tulsa Shootout Restricted “A” class champion. The group will participate in an upcoming Lucas Oil School of Racing Basic 2-Day program, while Linscott will participate in an Advanced 2-Day program. Willis recently completed her Basic 2-Day at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park and will continue her training with Mann later in the season.

“I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to continue working with the next generation of up and coming female racers with the Lucas Oil School of Racing”, said Pippa Mann, the first woman to earn a pole at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Helping young women make that first step into open-wheel cars continues to be a personal dream of mine, and I continue to be extremely thankful to the Enersons, and to the School, for providing me with the platform to do just that. With the response rate we’ve had from the first two rounds, we continue to grow this program and the influence it will have on future female racers.”

“In the second year of the scholarship we’ve seen an improvement in both the quantity and quality of applications”, noted Lucas Oil School of Racing Founder and CEO Neil Enerson. “The future of women in racing is getting stronger, and we can’t wait to see how this second group of drivers perform.”

Earlier this summer, Kaylee drove at the NASCAR track in Charlotte Motor Speedway as part of a development program there.

Kaylee will be attending the Sebring International Raceway November 1 and 2, according to her mother, Jessica Bell Gibson.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2018, 11:28 AM

Cherokee Nation Foundation recently hosted 35 high school juniors and seniors at its annual Cherokee College Prep Institute last week.

Students worked closely with 14 university reps from across the nation to explore schools of interest, research scholarship opportunities and navigate the application process.

“For some students, this is their first look at opportunities in higher education, and our staff works hard to help them consider all the possibilities,” said Janice Randall, executive director for CNF. “We teach them about the resources that are available to help them succeed and guide them through the necessary processes so they don’t get overwhelmed. It is beyond rewarding to see them gain confidence throughout the week and take a proactive role in planning for their future.”

The weeklong camp features classroom curriculum developed in cooperation with College Horizons, the U.S. Department of Education and the Princeton Review. Lessons include ACT strategies, essay writing, interview skills and time management.

Outside of the classroom, students worked in small groups and benefited from one-on-one sessions with university recruiters to help them stand out among their peers in the application process.

“CCPI is doing a remarkable job of transforming what once was a shrouded and intimidating process and breaking it down to make it more approachable for the students in a mentor/mentee atmosphere,” said Julian Tamayo, assistant director of undergraduate admissions at Yale. “It is so powerful to see our involvement and guidance have a direct impact on their perceptions and mindset as they begin the next step of their academic journey. We’re all rooting for them and hoping they succeed, and that feeling is what fuels the camp.”

Students stay in traditional dorms throughout the week and have many opportunities to explore the campus to gain a better understanding of what college life is really like. Additional activities include learning to play stickball, movie night, laser tag, a closing reception and a dance.

“Last year’s CCPI was so fun, I knew I had to come back again this year,” said Ty Earp, senior at Welch High School and Cherokee Nation Scholar. “The college admissions process has always seemed so daunting to me, and this week has answered so many questions I’ve had about tuition, application essays and interviews. I feel confident and prepared and am looking forward to what comes next.”

Local students included Grayson Gourd, Fort Gibson High School; Chase Hendricks, Tahlequah High School; Noah HorseChief, Hilldale High School; Ashley Jobe, Wagoner High School; Ryan Jones, Wagoner High School and Summer Jones, Haskell High School.

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Thursday, July 5, 2018, 8:55 AM

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker and 2017 Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program graduates Ronnie Duncan, Lisa O’Field, Larry Carney and Tony Owens.

The Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program is now accepting applications. The two-year language program is centered on a group language immersion experience and only accepts a limited number of applications each year.

“Our language is a part of what makes us who we are as Cherokees, and this program is the foundation of how we will continue to preserve and promote our language,” Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “This program gives individuals the opportunity to be immersed in our language and our culture, and through the hard work of the men and women in that department, we are making strides each and every day toward language preservation.”

After completing the program, students will have 4,000 contact hours with the Cherokee language and spend more than 40 hours each week studying and speaking the language.

“Our program is about more than teaching someone the Cherokee language, it is about naturally absorbing our language and our way of life to the point that it changes the way we see the world and think. The real goal is to activate people that will spread the language wherever they go,” said Howard Paden, program director. “Our learners say it is a challenging program, but every day they push to give them more language. When they graduate, their passion for speaking the Cherokee language is only rivaled by their commitment to share our language.”

In 2014, the tribe began the program as a part of the Cherokee Nation Community and Cultural Outreach department as a way to promote the Cherokee language. Since its inception, the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program has grown into its own department and has graduated six Cherokee speakers.

To apply for the program you must be 18 years or older, be available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., live near Tahlequah or be willing to relocate, and possess a strong desire to learn and cultivate the Cherokee language and culture through teaching.

The deadline for applications is Oct. 1, 2018.

For more information or to apply, call the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program office at 918-207-4964.

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Friday, June 15, 2018, 2:25 PM

Ken Adams, left, and Dr. Ferlin Clark talk about the future of Bacone

Ken Adams, chairman of the Bacone board of trustees, and Dr. Ferlin Clark, the new president of the college, announced today that the college is undergoing a massive downsizing campaign in an attempt to stay open.

MuskogeeNOW.com first reported the college’s financial woes back in March, when students were complaining of substandard living conditions. In April, we reported that staff members were saying the college was in dire straits, while the college denied those reports. In May, we reported the college laying off employees. And later, we reported grave concerns about Clark expressed in an investigative report from a previous college he helmed.

Today, Adams said the college is intending to stay open, while “resizing” the college, which “grew too fast.”

“We are going to reduce our burden by focusing on a smaller group of classes and students,” he said. “We are going to focus on the academic needs of our students.”

Clark added that the school is refocusing on academics, jettisoning athletic programs and one academic program in an effort to cut costs.

Muskogee grocery owner Bill Johnson is buying the entire building that formerly hosted Walmart and has been used by Bacone for several years.

“I plan to move Mini-Max to that building in what is not the library for Bacone,” he said.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018, 9:32 AM

District 6 Oklahoma House Representative and Cherokee Nation Chief of Staff Chuck Hoskin presents Deanna Gordon, a second-grade teacher from Cleora Public Schools, with a $1,000 grant to fund her 'Experiencing Science' project in the fall.

More than 100 teachers from across northeast Oklahoma participated in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math training during Cherokee Nation’s annual Teachers of Successful Students conference. The sixth annual TOSS conference took place June 6-7 in Tahlequah at no cost to the 140 teachers who attended. The two-day training was held at Northeastern State University and included remarks by Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Tribal Councilor and Carl Albert State College Campus Director Bryan Warner, and Chief of Staff and Oklahoma House Representative Chuck Hoskin. It also included teacher workshops on everything from reading strategies and using archery to finding STEM activities on a shoestring budget. “Many schools don’t have the funding to send teachers to fee-based STEM trainings, so the Cherokee Nation is helping these classroom teachers by providing them with free resources,” Tribal Councilor Warner said. “It not only counts toward professional development hours and enhances learning, but also helps students down the line in their jobs and career paths.” The tribe also awarded $10,000 total in Creative Teaching Grants to split among 10 teachers that can be used to start STEM projects in their classrooms in the coming school year. Cleora Public School’s second-grade teacher Deanna Gordon was awarded $1,000 and said she hopes it makes science more interactive for her students. “This grant is going to make it possible to make science different than what comes from the textbook,” Gordon said. “I am working on hands-on science experiments that involve butterflies and things that can get my students active in learning.” The teachers receiving $1,000 grants:

  • Tenkiller Public School’s Tonya Moreno for “Coding Station”
  • Tenkiller Public School’s Samantha Davis for “Wonder Workshop”
  • Pryor Public School’s Jeanine Clark for “A Smart Garden”
  • Tahlequah Public School’s Josh Davis for “Engineering and Energy”
  • Bluejacket Public School’s Tracy Mendez for “Put an A in STEM”
  • Tenkiller Public School’s Sinea Girdner and Joleta Cole for “Butterfly Gardens”
  • Stilwell Public School’s Angie Catron for “A High Altitude Balloon Project”
  • Bluejacket Public School’s Shawn Martin for “STEM Lab Laser Cutter”
  • Justus-Tiawah Public School’s Christy Sterba for “Classroom Robotics”
  • Cleora Public School’s Deanna Gordon for “Experiencing Science”

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018, 9:55 AM

Did you know there are billions of germs floating in the water of community pools, splash pads, and other water venues? Pool chemicals kill most germs within minutes, but some live for days, especially in untreated water sources. The average swimmer introduces a number of dirty items into recreational water including hair, saliva, feces, urine, sweat, and many skin products such as lotions, cosmetics and soaps. The germs in the water can lead to illness in both adults and children.

For these reasons, the Oklahoma State Department of Health encourages everyone to practice healthy swimming behaviors to prevent spreading germs and prevent your family from becoming sick as Oklahomans gear up for a summer of fun in the water.

This week is designated nationally as National Healthy and Safe Swimming Week.

Healthy swimming behaviors can prevent recreational water illnesses such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Shigella, norovirus, and E. coli. RWIs are caused by swallowing or having contact with germs in contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, water play areas, fountains, lakes, or rivers.These illnesses can also be caused by inhaling mists or aerosols from contaminated water. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, skin rash, and wound infections. RWIs can be prevented by taking simple precautions. Healthy swimming behaviors include the following:

  1. Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea. Germs spread in the water and make other people sick.
  2. Shower before you get in the water.
  3. Don’t urinate or defecate in the water.
  4. Don’t swallow the water. Avoid getting water in your mouth to prevent swallowing germs.
  5. Every hour – everyone out. Take kids on bathroom breaks. Wash hands with soap and water after changing diapers and using the toilet.
  6. Diapered children: Children who are not yet toilet-trained should wear swim diapers in the pool and lake. Swim diapers & swim pants are not a substitute for frequent diaper changing and bathroom breaks. Check swim diapers and swim pants frequently, and change them away from the poolside. Wash your child thoroughly with soap and water before swimming, especially the diapered area.
  7. Pool operators: Check the free chlorine level and pH before getting into the water.

Pools: Proper free chlorine levels of 1-3 mg/L or parts per million [ppm] and pH (7.2-7.8) levels maximize germ-killing power.

Hot tubs/spas: Proper disinfectant level of chlorine (2-4 parts per million) or bromine (4-6 ppm) and pH (7.2-7.8) maximize germ-killing power.

Swimming in a well-maintained swimming pool will reduce your likelihood of developing an RWI as many of the germs are killed by chlorine. Avoid swimming in a pool that has cloudy or off-colored water. If you cannot see the main bottom drain, stay out of the pool.

Harmful algal blooms are often present in Oklahoma lakes. These blooms can produce toxins resulting in illness in humans and animals. Direct contact with water containing the blooms can result in a skin rash; eye, ear and throat irritation; asthma-like symptoms; and diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal cramps. Do not swim or participate in other recreational water activities where murkiness or mats due to blue, bright green, red, or brown algae appear in or on the water, or if the water has an unpleasant odor.

For more information regarding waterborne diseases and prevention, please visit: https://go.usa.gov/xN8Dn.

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Monday, May 21, 2018, 10:50 AM

Bacone President Ferlin Clark.

A 172-page investigative report for Diné College, a Navajo Nation-controlled four-year institution in Tsaile, Arizona, concluded that then-president Ferlin Clark used intimidation, bullying, harassment and in some cases even physical intimidation and contact to control his employees and favor students he liked. He was also accused of inappropriate conduct toward female employees.

Some employees said he withheld job-critical information from them to prevent them from succeeding. Others said he physically intimidated them. Still others said he screamed at them inappropriately. Others said he ridiculed them publicly and “treated them with discontent and disrespect in public.” Two employees reported that, except for intervention from other employees, Clark would have initiated physical fights with them.

In total, 35 employees were interviewed for the report, and the conclusion was that not only had Clark violated the school’s policies, he had violated the federal Civil Rights Act.

One employee said Clark had instructed her to reopen closed classes to admit students that were later shown to be his relatives, eluding his brother.

“Jim added that the President told them that he was the President and he doesn’t need to abide by the policies and procedures,” the report states. Clark is also accused of ordering the registrar’s office to release transcripts despite the students in question not paying their debts to the college — an issue that is currently a problem for Bacone, casting doubt on its financial future. The transcripts in question were for friends of Clark, the report states.

Clark was accused by employees of stopping eviction proceedings against relatives and friends. Students and employees who advocated for keeping Clark as president also received money that employees viewed as kickbacks in exchange for their support.

Numerous employees told investigators they were afraid to talk because they feared retaliation from Clark and his cronies. The report concluded that Clark had a management style that “is direct, abrupt and abusive .. insensitive, abrasive and at times domineering ... causing complainants to be fearful each day.”

The report went on to say “there are egregious behaviors by the President that cannot be ignored or dismissed.”

Clark was further accused of “hiring certain females who are not qualified” and of having “suspicious and inappropriate conduct” toward a female employee, including interrupting her for matters unrelated to her duties, closely monitoring her and frequently asking her to private lunch and giving her expensive gifts and asking her to take trips away from school with him.

The president acted “without personal and professional integrity”, the report goes on, saying “a large majority of the problems at Diné College appear to arise from a lack of or poor people management skills by the President.”

Ken Adams, a Bacone board member who was also part of the presidential selection committee that recommended Clark be hired, said “those issues were revealed to the committee. We went through all those articles that had negative comments about Dr. Clark and we did background checks and after much discussion concerning those, we decided that most of those, if not all of those, were not substantiated by actions.”

Asked whether the entire 172-page report prepared at the behest of Clark’s former college was false, Adams said “The search committee concluded that we should hire him. We certainly didn’t ignore those situations.”

Adams also denied that Clark was hired largely because it was believed that his Native heritage would help him establish rapport with Native tribes from whom Bacone is seeking financial lifelines.

“Relationships with the tribes was certainly a part of the discussion,” he said. “There was no ulterior motive. Whoever the person became at the helm was certainly one we felt would need to be able to communicate with the tribes, but it wasn’t a desperate imperative. Frank Willis left the college in dire straits, and we chose the right candidate to succeed him in my opinion.”

You can read the entire report here.

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Monday, May 14, 2018, 3:46 PM

An email sent to a great majority of Bacone staffers, employees and faculty gave them notice that they shouldn’t show up to work today.

The email is as follows:

All employees, staff, and faculty:

Unless you have been notified that you should report to work today, Monday, May 14, you are being placed on lay off(sic) status.

If you have questions as to whether or not you should be at work, please feel free to email me.

The email was signed by Jeanetta Rainwater, director of Human Resources.

Bacone President Frank Willis, who referred questions to Rainwater, did provide a list of people he knew to be still employed at Bacone: “Danny and Ursula in business, Joe in grounds, Dupree, Cristin and a student worker, Virginia and her assistant in academics, all TRIO personnel and Jeanatta.”

Rainwater has not returned calls for comment.

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