DEATHS

Kay Lorraine Pascoe, 72

Born December 21, 1945

Died November 18, 2018

Dorothy A. Byers, 88

Born May 30, 1930

Died November 18, 2018

Louis Lee "Lou" Wheeler, 86

Born May 5, 1932

Died November 16, 2018

CLICK TO SEE MORE >>

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

THINGS TO DO

Monday, November 19, 2018, 7:29 AM

As the number of influenza-related hospitalizations continues to increase, the Oklahoma State Department of Health you to get a flu shot before upcoming holiday gatherings to prevent spread of the illness.

The department reports 71 hospitalizations and three deaths associated with the flu since the season began in September. The highest number of flu-related hospitalizations has occurred among those who are older than 65 years of age, as well as children younger than 5, which are both groups at greater risk of experiencing severe illness and complications due to flu.

“It is important to stay home from holiday gatherings if you have symptoms of influenza, which are fever, chills, body aches, and a cough or sore throat,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley. “It is better to miss out on some holiday fun than risk infecting others. Flu can be especially dangerous for pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and those who have underlying health conditions such as asthma and other lung diseases.”

Flu activity tends to increase between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Getting a flu vaccination is the most effective way to avoid this potentially serious illness.

Vaccinations are available at all county health departments with no out-of-pocket cost, as well as at medical providers and many pharmacies throughout the state. Everyone is at risk for influenza and the flu vaccination is recommended for anyone 6 months of age and older. Parents and family members of babies younger than 6 months of age, and those who live with or care for anyone at high risk for complications from the flu, are especially advised to get the vaccine.

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Monday, November 19, 2018, 6:54 AM

The driver of a semi died on Saturday after the truck he was driving flew off the road traveling south on US 69 just inside McIntosh County, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Pietro Zambuto, 64, of Port St. Lucie, Florida was driving a 2019 Kenworth on the highway around 7 a.m. around six miles north of Checotah when his truck left the road for an unknown reason. The semi became airborne and slammed into a culvert under the road. Zambuto was pinned in the cab of the semi for five hours while rescue services tried to extricate him.

He was pronounced dead at the scene and emergency crews spent the rest of the day working on the wreckage. The cause of the wreck has not yet been determined.

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Friday, November 16, 2018, 9:43 AM

Mark Campbell

Muskogee Police Investigator Mark Campbell was arrested on Tuesday of this week and charged with domestic abuse - assault and battery, a misdemeanor, after his ex-wife, Ashly Campbell, told sheriff’s deputies he hit her.

The deputy who took her statement said he saw swelling around her eye.

Campbell is currently on paid administrative leave from the police department while an internal investigation into the matter is ongoing. The incident allegedly occurred on Nov. 8. Campbell was arrested after the district attorney decided to press charges. He was released from jail on his own recognizance 15 minutes after he was booked in.

He will be back in court on Dec. 12 for a disposition docket, where he will enter a plea in the case.

Arrests and charges do not indicate guilt; Campbell, like all criminal defendants, is innocent until he is proven guilty in court.

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Friday, November 16, 2018, 9:42 AM

Mark Campbell

Muskogee Police Investigator Mark Campbell was arrested on Tuesday of this week and charged with domestic abuse - assault and battery, a misdemeanor, after his ex-wife, Ashly Campbell, told sheriff’s deputies he hit her.

The deputy who took her statement said he saw swelling around her eye.

Campbell is currently on paid administrative leave from the police department while an internal investigation into the matter is ongoing. The incident allegedly occurred on Nov. 8. Campbell was arrested after the district attorney decided to press charges. He was released from jail 15 minutes after he was booked in without bail.

He will be back in court on Dec. 12 for a disposition docket, where he will enter a plea in the case.

Arrests and charges do not indicate guilt; Campbell, like all criminal defendants, is innocent until he is proven guilty in court.

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Thursday, November 15, 2018, 12:22 PM

Suspect Andrew Kana looks at Officer Jarad Jones as Sgt. Ron Yates tells him to show his hand. At the time, Kana was allegedly holding a pistol in the hand the officers couldn't see. Click the image to watch the video.

WARNING: The video above depicts the death of a man. It is by nature graphic.

Muskogee Police have released three videos depicting the fatal shooting of a suspect on Monday inside the I Don’t Care Bar and Grill on Shawnee Bypass. The suspect, Andrew Kana, was wanted on violent felony warrants and attempted to pull a pistol on Sgt. Ron Yates, according to the police. Yates fired his own pistol three times into Kana’s chest area.

Kana died at the scene.

Kana was previously convicted of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, robbery with a dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm after a felony conviction, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and domestic assault and battery by strangulation. He was in the restaurant, meeting with a woman he was accused of attempting to strangle on November 1. In addition to the pistol police found on him, they found a spare magazine in his left hip pocket.

Police went to the location after the woman’s ex-husband told them Kana was meeting there with her. Police were not told that Kana might have been carrying a weapon. Yates arrived first and placed Kana’s left hand into a pair of cuffs, at which point Kana “bladed his body to the right, concealing his right hand behind his right hip,” according to the police statement. “Sgt. Yates because concerned he was reaching for a weapon, so he drew his gun while maintaining a grip on the handcuff attached to Kana’s left arm.”

According to police, Kana told Yates, “You’re going to have to take me out.” Kana is then alleged to have reached behind his right hip and pulled a Glock .380 pistol, swinging it up toward Yates. Yates fired three shots and Kana fell to the floor.

The police department is investigating the case, and will turn over a report and all evidence to District Attorney Orvil Loge, who will determine whether the shooting was justified. Three videos were provided to MuskogeeNOW.com, but the excerpt above contains the relevant portion. Out of respect to the family of Kana and to the officers and other patrons at the restaurant, we are only posting that video.

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Thursday, November 15, 2018, 8:24 AM

A 16-year-old juvenile was critically injured in a wreck late last night north of Warner, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

The juvenile was driving a 2005 Chevrolet Trailblazer westbound on 133rd Street about file miles northeast of Warner when the vehicle departed the roadway to the left, striking a ditch and a fence, rolling over and ejecting the driver.

The juvenile was transported by helicopter to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, where they were admitted in critical condition with head injuries.

The juvenile was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the wreck, the cause of which has not yet been determined.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018, 2:34 PM

Officer Lincoln Anderson released the following information in the shooting on Monday at I Don’t Care Bar and Grill on Shawnee:

“On November 12th at 2pm officers with the Muskogee Police Department attempted to make an arrest on Andrew Kana for several outstanding violent felony warrants. During the course of that arrest the suspect was shot and pronounced dead at the scene.

“While there were 3 officers present at the time of the shooting, only Sgt. Ron Yates discharged his weapon, however Officer Taylor Mills and Officer Jared Jones were present to assist with the arrest of Mr. Kana.

“We expect to have an update along with the body camera footage available to the media sometime on November 15th, however there could be delays to that time line as this is an ongoing investigation. At this time Investigators are working to finish their investigation to submit all of the evidence and reports to the Muskogee County District Attorney’s Office for review. ”

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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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Tuesday, November 13, 2018, 7:47 AM

Justin R. Henderson, 36, of Warner was flown by helicopter to Saint John’s Hospital in Tulsa late last night after the pickup he was driving wrecked on the Muskogee Turnpike, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Henderson was driving a 1998 Chevrolet pickup westbound on the turnpike near Mile Marker 56 east of Webbers Falls when he fell asleep at the wheel, the patrol reported. His pickup departed the roadway to the right and started rolling, striking a fence and coming to a rest on its top.

Henderson was pinned inside the vehicle for 57 minutes, eventually being rescued by Webbers Falls Fire Rescue Department using the Jaws of Life.

He suffered leg and back injuries. He was not wearing a seat belt.

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Monday, November 12, 2018, 2:37 PM

Numerous witnesses are reporting a deadly shooting at I Don’t Care Bar and Grill just now.

Police are alleged to have shot and killed a suspect in the restaurant, though public information officer Lincoln Anderson will neither confirm nor deny any details about the alleged incident.

The witnesses say police shot a suspect with a gun inside the restaurant. We will update when more details are available.

The officer initially at the scene called for other officers, yelling “shots fired! Suspect down! He has a gun!”

UPDATE: A law enforcement official has confirmed the suspect is dead. Only one person was shot, according to another emergency official.

UPDATE: Anderson said all he can release at this time is that there was an officer-involved shooting inside the restaurant and that the suspect was killed. No one else was injured.

Numerous immediate family members have said the victim was Andrew Kana, but officials will not address that pending official notification. One family member identified a car being towed away from the scene as Kana’s car.

UPDATE: Anderson provided the following release:

On November 12th at around 2pm, officers with the Muskogee Police Department were dispatched to the I Don’t Care Bar and Grill to make contact with a suspect that had several outstanding warrants.

When officers arrived they made contact with the suspect, Andrew Kana, who was sitting inside of the restaurant. They attempted to place him in custody for the warrants, once one hand was placed into handcuffs the suspect refused commands for his other hand, pulled a firearm and 1 officer fired at the suspect and struck him in the chest. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.

There were 3 officers present at the time of the encounter, and all 3 will be placed on routine paid administrative leave pending the outcome of this investigation.

Officer body worn cameras were active at the time of the incident and those will be released at a later date after the officers have been interviewed.

Andrew Kana had 4 warrants, 1 from Muskogee County for Domestic Assault by strangulation with no bond, he also had 3 nationwide extradition warrants out of Idaho for Assault and Battery with a dangerous weapon, Possession of a Firearm after a felony conviction, and domestic assault in the presence of a minor child. Those warrants had a $500,000 bond.

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Monday, November 12, 2018, 2:37 PM

Numerous witnesses are reporting a deadly shooting at I Don’t Care Bar and Grill just now.

Police are alleged to have shot and killed a suspect in the restaurant, though public information officer Lincoln Anderson will neither confirm nor deny any details about the alleged incident.

The witnesses say police shot a suspect with a gun inside the restaurant. We will update when more details are available.

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Monday, November 12, 2018, 7:09 AM

A Wagoner police officer shot and killed a man yesterday during an otherwise routine traffic stop, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

Wagoner Police Chief Bob Haley requested the OSBI investigate the shooting, which is fairly standard procedure.

About 9:15 a.m., a Wagoner police officer made a traffic stop on a white Chevrolet pickup truck for allegedly driving erratically. The stop was made at 201 South Inola Avenue.

Elisha Edward Kelley, 52, exited his truck and refused to follow verbal commands, according to the officer. Kelley allegedly became aggressive and charged at the officer. The officer fired multiple rounds with his handgun, striking Kelley multiple times. Kelley was transported to Wagoner Community Hospital, where he died of his injuries.

The OSBI will investigate the incident and provide the investigation to the District Attorney’s Office to determine whether the shooting was justified. The Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine the cause and manner of Kelley’s death.

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Monday, November 12, 2018, 7:03 AM

Gabrielle Crowson

Gabrielle Crowson, 20, of Muskogee was hurt when a vehicle struck her on Country Club Road on Saturday night, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

The collision happened around 7 p.m. Saturday night just north of Sally Brown Road half a mile south of Muskogee, according to the patrol. A 2005 Dodge Durango was northbound on Country Club Road when Crowson allegedly stepped out in front of the SUV.

Neither the driver of the Dodge nor any of his passengers were injured. Crowson was taken to Saint John’s Hospital in Tulsa by Muskogee County EMS, where she was admitted in stable condition with internal injuries.

The patrol cited pedestrian in roadway as the cause of the wreck.

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Monday, November 12, 2018, 6:43 AM

Don McClellan, 42, of Tahlequah was hurt late last night about 2 miles west of Hulbert when his motorcycle hit a deer, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

McClellan was riding his 2018 Harley-Davidson FLHCS westbound on Oklahoma Highway 51 and collided with a deer standing across the roadway, He was transported by Cherokee Nation EMS to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa in stable condition with leg and internal injuries.

The highway patrol cited unsafe speed as the cause of the wreck. McClellan was wearing a helmet at the time of the wreck.

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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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Thursday, November 8, 2018, 7:53 PM

Ashly and Mark Campbell

Muskogee Police investigator Mark Campbell has been accused of assaulting his ex-wife, according to a police report obtained by MuskogeeNOW.

Ashly Campbell said she and Mark Campbell were attempting to reconcile when an argument last night got physical. The argument allegedly started over pictures Mark Campbell had removed from the wall in his house, which she alleged was against an agreement they had made. Ashly Campbell told deputies she was removing personal items from the house after the argument. When she closed the door, apparently a lighted Budweiser sign fell and broke.

When she went back inside to retrieve more items, Ashly Campbell said, “suddenly I felt immense pain to the left side of my face and I fell into the pool table to steady myself.”

Deputies responded to her 911 call, since the residence is in the county, not the city. Nick Mahoney, media officer for the sheriff’s office said the sheriff turned the case over to District Attorney Orvil Loge, who had only just received the case when we asked. He has not had time to make a decision yet on whether there is enough evidence to charge Mark Campbell in the case.

Muskogee Police Public Information Officer Lincoln Anderson did not respond to a request for information on the case. It is unclear whether Mark Campbell has been placed on leave during the investigation or not.

UPDATE 9:18 p.m.: Anderson released the following statement:

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Thursday, November 8, 2018, 11:45 AM

According to Muskogee Police, a juvenile stole a 2003 Ford F-150 this morning around 4:30, then drove it away and wrecked it.

According to family members of the owner of the car into which the truck was wrecked in the Walmart parking lot, the juvenile is 11 years old and got hurt enough to go to the hospital. The truck was flipped after the wreck.

Police say the suspect “has run away” several times and “is out of control.”

Police would not release any more information because the suspect is a juvenile.

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Thursday, November 8, 2018, 7:09 AM

A day of remembering World War I will be hosted on Saturday by Muskogee Public Library to mark the end of The Great War, which ended 100 years ago on Nov. 11.

Several displays will be available to view including “A Day in the Life,” World War I books, “What did it cost” game, the story of the poppy, and patriotic coloring sheets. Stars honoring all veterans will be posted throughout the library. Veterans can claim a star for themselves or a family member can honor them. Staff members are also making poppies to present to veterans and flag pins will also be available.

Knitting workshops are scheduled at 10 a.m. and at 3:30 p.m. in recognition of the knitting effort that involved people of all ages during World War I. Knitting for the troops was a passion across the United States with not only women, but men and children contributing to the effort. Bring your needles and yarn.

Ed Warren will perform World War I music during the noon hour.

A Tasting of World War I foods will be held at 1 p.m. in the Grant Foreman Room. Civilians and troops all experienced deprivation and recipes were created to conserve beef, wheat and other products to help fuel the war. A recipe booklet of World War I recipes will be available.

A display of World War I servicemen and women can be viewed during this entire month. Area persons having a family member or friend who served are welcome to bring in a photograph and/or information, says Debbie Goodwin, head of circulation. This will be similar to the veteran’s display she creates annually for Memorial Day.

People are also welcome to attend the program at 2 p.m. on Saturday and share some information on their World War I patriot. This is in combination with a program being presented on “Researching World War I Ancestors” by Nancy Calhoun, department head of Genealogy and Local History. It is a common misconception that all World War I service records were destroyed by a fire In St. Louis. However, not all is lost and there are other resources for gaining information on those who served in World War I. Those attending will be treated to doughnuts and coffee.

Members of the Muskogee County Genealogical Society and staff members will be present to assist with researching World War I ancestors. Have a cup of coffee and get some expert help during the morning.

Children and youth are also making and offering Blue Star banners to families who have a family member currently serving in the Armed Forces. This tradition originated during World War I and were displayed in the windows of family homes. The Blue Star Service Banner was designed in 1917 by World War I Army Capt. Robert L. Queisser of the 5th Ohio Infantry. His two sons served on the front line. His banner quickly became the unofficial symbol for parents with a child in active military service. The banners can display up to five stars if multiple family members are serving. These are available at the library as long as supplies last. Call to reserve one or stop by the library.

Those attending are welcome to wear period clothing: civilian or military. Live stream events and documentaries will be available to view all day in the Grant Foreman and Glass Room on the second floor.

Christmas cards to sign will be offered through November 14 to be sent to troops currently serving. Over 100 cards have been signed with a goal of 300. Donations of cards are welcome.

Proud editor’s note: My maternal grandfather, Forrest S. Marmor, fought in World War I and left notes he intended to turn into a book on the war. He was very old when I was very young, but I used to love to sit with him and listen to his stories.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2018, 7:56 AM

The Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office received a drone bought with grant money from the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office.

Sheriff Rob Frazier showed off the new drone yesterday. The drone was ordered several weeks ago after the sheriff’s office received grant money from the Oklahoma attorney general’s office.

The drone, a DJI Mavic Pro Platinum, is equipped with a Boson 320 forward looking infrared camera, a 1080p 4K recording camera on a gimbal, a DVR for recording thermal and video simultaneously, a 7-inch LCD monitor that can display thermal images in real time.

The drone has built-in obstacle avoidance, a flight time of about 27 minutes, and can travel up to 2 1/4 miles.

The sheriff’s office began the process of obtaining a drone after it became clear it would benefit public safety of Muskogee County. The drone can assist in search and rescue, manhunts, missing persons cases, and many other aspects of public safety, according to Nick Mahoney of the sheriff’s office.

“The ability to deploy a drone, and especially a drone with thermal imaging gives the sheriff’s office the ability to search an area, search for suspects or escapees, and look for missing children or persons more effectively and safely than we could before,” Frazier said. “With the grant funds we were able to get the drone, extra batteries, a carrying case and some other needed accessories.”

The drone was custom built and the vendor discounted the price to help the sheriff’s office stay under budget.

Deputies are currently enrolled into a drone school, where they will become licensed by the FAA to fly and operate the drone.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2018, 7:22 AM

Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief and U.S. Navy veteran S. Joe Crittenden speaks during the 2017 Cherokee Nation Veterans Appreciation Day event at the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center.

The Cherokee Nation will host its annual Veterans Day ceremony Friday at the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center in Tahlequah. The Cherokee Nation Veterans Appreciation Day event starts at 9 a.m. and includes a wreath-laying ceremony, cultural activities, a resource fair as well as lunch provided to veterans. “The Cherokee Nation takes great pride in honoring the brave men and women who have served our great country,” said Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief and U.S. Navy veteran S. Joe Crittenden. “Reflecting on the sacrifices made gives a much-needed perspective of the cost of our freedom. Thanks to those sacrifices, we are able to come together and show our appreciation, and I hope all veterans are able to attend this special event hosted in their honor.” The Cherokee Nation estimates there are more than 4,000 Cherokee veterans. Native Americans, including Cherokees, are thought to have more citizens serving per capita than any other ethnic group, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. For more information, call the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center at 918-772-4166.

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Monday, November 5, 2018, 8:19 AM

MuskogeeNOW last month reported that the Keefeton Fire Department was likely in violation of state law regarding the keeping and spending of funds separate from county oversight.

A few days later, Muskogee County District Attorney Orvil Loge issued an opinion that agreed; stating that rural volunteer fire departments in the county should close bank accounts independent of the county, and instead process all money through the county treasurer. His opinion was based on the same state audit cited by MuskogeeNOW in our story.

Later, Loge spoke with State Auditor Gary Jones, who told him the state had changed its mind since that audit and no longer considered the opinion in that audit as accurate. Jones then said he would send Loge a letter stating that.

Though the letter has not yet arrived, Loge said when he receives it, he will change his official opinion on the issue. When that happens, the official word will be that rural volunteer fire departments under Title 19 of state law are still independent operators, though under county oversight. That means they will largely operate independently, including their bank accounts.

MuskogeeNOW is reporting this news now instead of waiting for the letter because the previous story mentioned Speck Plunkett is in charge of the Keefeton Fire Department, and since he is also running for county commissioner, it would be unfair to leave that shadow over his campaign while knowing the official opinion on it is set to change, yet not in time for it to be cleared up before the election, which is tomorrow.

So in a nutshell, according to existing standards and state opinions, rural fire departments that are Title 19 (owned by the county) must process all money through the county treasurer. However, the state has changed its mind on that, and when it is official in writing, Loge’s instructions to rural fire departments will change to be in line with that official opinion.

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Monday, November 5, 2018, 8:06 AM

Two area people were injured in a single-vehicle rollover wreck on I-40 late last night, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Angelica Welch, 25, of Checotah was westbound on the interstate when she apparently fell asleep and left the roadway to the right in her 2006 Dodge Ram pickup about nine miles west of Checotah, the patrol reported.

Her passengers were injured, but Welch refused treatment at the scene.

Garrett Harness, 24, of Sulphur Springs, Texas was transported to Saint Francis Hospital in Muskogee with internal trunk injuries. Stephanie Minyard-Rogers, 52, of Henryetta was flown by helicopter to St. Francis Tulsa with unknown injuries.

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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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Thursday, November 1, 2018, 8:28 AM

This piece of candy allegedly had a needle hidden in it, according to the family of the girl who bit into it.

Muskogee police took a report early this morning of a child who found a needle inside a piece of chocolate candy received while trick-or-treating yesterday.

The report was taken on Cincinnati Street between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.

The candy was obtained while trick-or-treating in the Meadows addition.

The specific chocolate was a Reece’s peanut butter cup.

Parents should check all of their children’s candy before allowing them to eat it.

Police are now working to determine what house the candy may have come from.

Fewer than a dozen reports of harmful objects hidden in candy have borne out to be true and not hoaxes in the history of the nation, according to Snopes.com.

UPDATE 11 a.m.: The family says the girl who bit into the candy was a 14-year-old, but the candy was actually obtained by a 12-year-old trick-or-treating. According to the family, the girl who bit the candy was not injured; the needle allegedly hit her tooth.

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Thursday, November 1, 2018, 7:50 AM

The Muskogee Little Theatre is presenting The Bully Plays starting tonight at the theater, 311 S. Third St.

The Bully Plays is a collection of 10-minute plays designed to challenge, inspire and enlighten audiences while helping confront the issue of bullying in a creative way.

The vignettes range from touching to imaginative, powerful, uplifting and funny.

Shows are Nov. 1, 2, 3 and 4 at 7 p.m., except on Sunday, when the show is 2 p.m. You can buy tickets at muskogeelittletheatre.com or at the box office up to an hour before curtain if not sold out.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2018, 8:14 AM

Prisons bursting at the seams while running on skeleton crews have exacerbated problems inherent in housing inmates, according to Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh. To deal with drugs, contraband, overcrowding and a justice system that keeps incarcerating people at a rate nearly unmatched in the nation and the world, the corrections department needs more money, he said.

The state Board of Corrections unanimously approved on Tuesday the Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ 2020 budget request from the State Legislature.

The $1.57-billion request includes $884 million to add 5,200 beds, $91.7 million for inmate hepatitis C treatment, $31.9 million for facility repairs, maintenance and critical needs, and $18.5 million for staff pay raises.

“This request is not a wish list,” Allbaugh said. “This is what we need. Oklahoma continues to send more people to prison, and it costs real money to house, look after, and provide those individuals medical care – all of which we are required to do.”

Tuesday’s vote took place during ODOC’s October board meeting at Northeastern Oklahoma Correctional Center in Vinita.

The request from the state’s fifth-largest agency (by appropriation) comes as it struggles with an inmate population expected to grow 2,367 inmates by 2026. As of Tuesday morning, 1,993 are housed in temporary beds, 975 sit in county jails, waiting to transfer to prison. State facilities were at 113 percent capacity Monday morning.

“We are bursting at the seams with over 27,000 inmates inside 24-facility system – and the state has made little progress on justice reform,” Allbaugh said. “As we’ve said before, reforms passed last session will help slow inmate population growth but do little to unseat Oklahoma as the world’s top incarcerator.”

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018, 1:47 PM

Saint Francis Hospital has proposed to the Muskogee Medical Authority, which controls the lease of the land the hospital currently sits on, that the land be given to Saint Francis instead of continuing the lease, which currently lasts until 2047. The authority unanimously rejected that proposal just now.

The lease is designed to protect Muskogee and ensure healthcare availability here for the foreseeable future. If the hospital owned the land, the protections designed into the lease would cease to be valid and the hospital could do whatever it wanted.

In 2007, the authority sold the hospital’s equipment and operating assets to Capella Healthcare, which then leased the land and buildings, creating the City of Muskogee Foundation with the money it used to enter the lease. In February of 2017, Capella transferred the lease to Saint Francis. As such, Saint Francis is bound by the original lease, which contains numerous protections for the people of Muskogee, who own the land on which the hospital sits.

Those protections include:

  • The hospital must pay annual “in kind” payments equal to ad valorem and real estate taxes; the bulk of those taxes go to fund schools.
  • The tenant must continue to operate the hospital as a general acute-care hospital.
  • They must maintain and expand existing physician and nurse medical education programs.
  • They must maintain quality assurance initiatives and collect patient satisfaction surveys annually.
  • The tenant must maintain the premises and make routine improvements.
  • Any non-routine changes to the buildings or land must be approved by the Medical Authority board.
  • When the lease is up, the tenant must turn over the premises to the authority in as good of condition as it was when the lease began.
  • If the property is damaged by casualty, the tenant must repair it at its expense.
  • If the tenant abandons or vacates the premises — including transferring a substantial portion of its operations, business or personnel somewhere else — the tenant defaults on the lease.

Under the proposal from Saint Francis, however, the authority would transfer the title to the property to Saint Francis, terminating the lease. Saint Francis would invest $50 million in the hospital over the next five years, however, $20 million of that would be money the hospital already spent. Saint Francis would agree to continuing operating the hospital for five years. It would also pay the rest of 2018’s “in kind” payments (the ones that support local schools), but none after that.

Under Saint Francis’s proposal, there is nothing compelling the company to continue operating the hospital after 2023. Under the current lease, it must continue operating the hospital until 2047.

The board voted unanimously to reject Saint Francis’s offer.

“We understand the value of local healthcare and take our role as guardians of the hospital seriously,” said Al Stevens, Authority Board of Trustees Chairman. “After thoughtful deliberation, the Board concluded it would be in the best interest of our community for the Authorityto maintain our current lease with Saint Francis. The Board feels strongly about maintaining local oversight of the hospital, so our community continues to have access to quality care.”

The board couched the vote as a way to protect Muskogee’s interests in the hospital.

“Our hospital is an incredibly valuable asset to the people of Muskogee,” said Jim Blair, Authority President and Ex Officio Board Member, “Not only providing for the health of our residents, but also contributing to our local economy by providing jobs, and educational opportunities. The current lease agreement protects Muskogee residents’ quality of life and our community’s overall economic well-being.”

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018, 9:09 AM

Tobacco, cell phones, chargers and other banned items seized from inside an Oklahoma prison.

Inmates use cellphones in part to bring in contraband such as illegal drugs. Such contraband led to three inmates at Jess Dunn Correctional Center overdosing on synthetic opioids Wednesday night. Security staff and medical first responders were able to save each one with an emergency anti-overdose drug, Narcan.

ODOC Director Joe M. Allbaugh traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to speak with the Federal Communications Commission about using available technology to block cellphone transmission.

“Cellphones in our prisons are used to coordinate drug introduction into every facility,” Allbaugh said Thursday. “Cellphones, as well as drugs, come into prisons through drops, visitation, and even staff members. We do what we can with the resources available, but more must be done before someone dies.”

The agency has been working with the FCC to allow cellphone signal blocking inside state prisons. ODOC has seized 5,914 cellphones to date in 2018, after confiscating 6,873 in all of 2017. 2018’s total is on track to approach 2016’s total of 9,766 cellphones seized, which was the most since 2011.

Wednesday’s series of incidents began just before 10 p.m. at the minimum-security prison for men in Taft. ODOC declined to identify the inmates due to federal confidentiality law requirements limiting release of private health information.

Security staff noticed the first inmate inside his housing unit, blue in the face, with irregular heartbeat and breathing — classic signs of a potential opioid overdose.

Staff immediately began cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and called for an ambulance. They also gave him Narcan through an inhaler, a method known to immediately restore victims’ breathing after an opioid overdose.

Just a few minutes later, staff learned of another inmate unresponsive in another area of the prison, with the same symptoms as the first. They responded, and immediately gave the inmate Narcan via the inhaler.

As the first inmate was coming to, Muskogee County Emergency Medical Services personnel, already onsite due to the first overdose, gave the second inmate Narcan via an injectable. That inmate then began having seizures.

At around 10:15 p.m., a third inmate began having less severe overdose symptoms in the facility’s laundry room, and staff responded, immediately giving him Narcan. Medics also gave him a Narcan injection, and he became responsive a few minutes later.

All three inmates were transported to an area hospital for assessment and treatment. All were back at the facility Thursday morning.

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