DEATHS

Albert Henry Ciccel Sr., 89

Born August 19, 1929

Died October 17, 2018

Irvan LaRoy Johnson , 84

Born February 25, 1934

Died October 17, 2018

Elsworth Lewis, 93

Born October 7, 1925

Died October 16, 2018

CLICK TO SEE MORE >>

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

THINGS TO DO

Thursday, October 18, 2018, 7:14 AM

Cherokee Nation and Muskogee County leaders recently gathered to celebrate the ribbon-cutting on a Fort Gibson road project.

Cherokee Nation committed $125,000 to the Donkey Lane project, which included a 2-inch asphalt overlay.

Along with the asphalt overlay, the project included the repair of drainage issues along Donkey Lane, replacement of drainage pipes, patching and other repairs.

“I’m proud that the Cherokee Nation is able to assist our community partners in improving area infrastructure,” said Tribal Councilor Mike Dobbins, of Fort Gibson. “This 2-mile road improvement will increase the lifespan of Donkey Lane for many more years.”

In fiscal year 2018, the Cherokee Nation contributed $2.8 million in tribal funds to improving more than 54 miles of road within the tribe’s 14-county area.

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Thursday, October 18, 2018, 7:13 AM

The Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System is now able to offer veterans the option to make their own appointments in the following services without a referral from their primary care provider:

  • Audiology
  • Optometry
  • PACT Clinical Pharmacy Specialist
  • PACT Social Worker
  • Podiatry
  • Tobacco Cessation
  • Wheelchair/Amputee Services

The goal of this initiative is to improve clinic access, reduce wait times, and enhance veteran care and satisfaction, according to the VA. If successful, the process may roll out to other specialties.

Veterans can call 1-888-397-8387 to schedule an appointment.

Another new program called ‘Fast Track to VA Cancer Care’ is also available for Veterans with active cancer who are not yet enrolled in VA by calling 1-833-309-1349.

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chris sneed

Wednesday, October 17, 2018, 9:06 AM

After US Rep Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) challenged Democrat lawyer to a physical fight, Mullin’s challenger for the Second District congressional seat said the incumbent representative should be focusing on issues that affect Oklahomans, not on who can beat whom up.

“While he spends his days prodding people on social media, his fellow Oklahomans are struggling with real issues,” challenger Jason Nichols said. “Health care costs, Hunter, threats to Social Security, concerns over Medicare and Medicaid, Oklahoma’s public education system, crumbling infrastructure, inadequate access to high-speed Internet; the list goes on.”

Mullin is a former professional mixed martial arts fighter, and challenged lawyer Michael Avenatti to meet him “on the mat” after Avenatti challenged Donald Trump Jr. to a “three-round mixed martial arts fight,” with proceeds going to charity. Avenatti represents adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Nichols is a popular mayor in Tahlequah and former educator there.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018, 8:56 AM

Jonathan Reed Wray

Jonathan Reed Wray, 36, of Muskogee is charged in Muskogee County District Court with allegedly assaulting an emergency medical worker who was trying to draw his blood after a reported assault.

Wray was being worked on by medical personnel when police arrived at the scene, 300 Rockefeller Dr. (the Saint Francis emergency room), on Oct. 11 at around 5:15 p.m.

Jason Garner, a medical staffer at the hospital, was attempting to draw blood when Wray is alleged to have head-butted him on the left side of his face, according to an affidavit filed with the case. Wray allegedly told Garner he had “already tried fifteen times” to draw blood, but a security guard in the room said Garner was on his second try at the time.

Wray has a long criminal conviction history, including second-degree robbery, assault and battery on a police officer, domestic abuse - assault and battery (second or subsequent offense), assault with a dangerous weapon and multiple drug and other arrests.

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fish hut

Tuesday, October 16, 2018, 2:34 PM

Carl Kelley, owner of Jackson Hewitt franchises in Muskogee, is collecting supplies for hurricane victims after witnessing the devastation firsthand during a management summit there.

“Our team will be leaving early Saturday morning,” Caitlynn Casey said. “Things that we often take for granted such as toiletries, infant necessities — formulas, diapers, wipes — canned foods, water. Additionally, anyone who would find the most convenience in making a monetary donation can be assured it will be used to buy the necessities before leaving Muskogee.”

Donations can be made to the Muskogee office at 2117 Chandler Road from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday or by calling Casey at 918-348-6658 to arrange a drop off time Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.

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nuage medical spa

Tuesday, October 16, 2018, 10:59 AM

State Rep. Avery Frix (R-Muskogee) is presented the Friend of Retired Educators Award by Oklahoma Retired Educators Association President Polly Christian and Finance Chair Matti Palluconi at the association’s annual convention.

State Rep. Avery Frix recently received a Friend of Retired Educators Award from the Oklahoma Retired Educators Association at its annual convention Oct. 3 in Oklahoma City.

The award was given for Frix’ courage, dedication and leadership in advancing the group’s cause of education retirement security, the group said. Frix was one of only two to receive the award.

Frix, who represents Oklahoma House District 13, this year authored House Bill 2985, which would have given retired teachers a 4 percent cost-of-living increase. The bill ultimately failed in the Senate, but Frix said he will revisit the issue in the next legislative session.

Frix also supported House Bill 1340, which gave stipends to state retirees, including teachers, police officers. Stipend amounts depend on a retiree’s years of service and the funding status of the retirement plan of which they are a member.

In addition, Frix supported a teacher pay raise that gave an average of $6,100 pay increase to all Oklahoma public school teachers.

The OREA works with state legislators to protect the Teachers Retirement System.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2018, 10:55 AM

Nominate your favorite veteran as grand marshal for the 15th Annual Muskogee Veterans Parade to be held Saturday, Nov. 10.

The Muskogee Veterans Parade Committee is accepting nominations until Friday. There is no word limit and the veteran can be from any war era. Be sure to include the veteran’s rank and where he or she served.

Send your nomination to Joel Everett c/o Muskogee Parks and Recreation, 837 E. Okmulgee, Muskogee, 74403 or you can email nomination to jeverett@muskogeeonline.org.

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Monday, October 15, 2018, 11:08 AM

Rumors that have been circulating around Muskogee about a veteran committing suicide in the VA Medical Center parking lot are premature, the spokeswoman for the VA said.

“A male was found unresponsive in our parking lot on Oct. 7 at 12:38 pm.,” Nita McClellen, public affairs chief, said. “VA Police were notified and our Emergency Department immediately responded to the parking lot where he was pronounced dead. The medical examiner’s office was notified and took custody of the body. Cause of death is unknown at this time but there are no evident signs of suicide. We are working with local authorities to notify the family.”

MuskogeeNOW.com does not cover suicides unless they’re committed in public or the victim is a public figure. A public parking lot counts as a public place.

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Saturday, October 13, 2018, 3:03 PM

Luke T. Dennis, 29, of Muskogee was found dead today around 10 a.m. by drowning in the Arkansas River, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Dennis entered the water at an unknown time and date. The Muskogee Sheriff’s Office has been looking for him since he went missing.

A private plane spotted his body in the water and volunteers found him. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

UPDATE: The Sheriff has released the following statement: (note, Officer CB Abel’s name is misspelled below):

At around 10:00am this morning, crews with the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office located the body of Luke Dennis in the Arkansas River. Luke has been missing since his truck was located stuck in the Braggs area of Muskogee County early this week. On Friday, crews began searching the area on foot and after nightfall with drones with night vison capability searched from the air. This morning crews began the search on foot and Officer Able from Muskogee Police Department using his personal plane on his personal time came out and searched from the air. Able located the body of Dennis approximately 4 miles south of where the truck was located and lead search teams to his location. The cause of death is unknown and the medical examiner is investigating. The Sheriff’s Office does not suspect foul play. Members of the Tulsa Fire Department, Oklahoma Task Force one, Muskogee County Emergency Management, Reserve Deputies with the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office, and Officer Able of the Muskogee Police Department were instrumental in locating Luke Dennis. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol responded and are now investigating the death as a drowning.

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Saturday, October 13, 2018, 2:57 PM

A man died in a Muskogee road last night, according to Muskogee police.

A witness saw a man lying in the middle of the road at Junction and Elgin last night. The witness stopped to check on the man, who was unresponsive.

A car coming down the road struck the man lying in the road.

When police and EMS arrived, the man was dead.

Police are waiting on a report from the medical examiner before determining whether the man was dead before the car hit him.

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3 rivers auto collision

Friday, October 12, 2018, 2:57 PM

Nick Mahoney of the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office sent the following release:

The Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public help in locating a missing person. Luke Dennis, 29, of Muskogee is missing after his vehicle was located stuck in the Braggs area of Muskogee County. Luke was last seen on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 at around 3:30PM. Luke knocked on the door of a home in the area of 8600 E 63rd St South, explained his vehicle was stuck, asked to use the phone, and called a wrecker.

Upon the arrival of the wrecker, they were unable to locate the vehicle or Luke. However, his gold and silver Ford F-150 was located today (10/12/2018). Luke was last seen wearing tan shorts, a grey t-shirt with a “FILA” logo on the front. One of Luke’s shoes was located at the scene and it believed he still has the other on.

Luke is a white male, 5 foot 8 inches, 180 pounds, blonde hair, and blue eyes.

His cell phone is going straight to voicemail and attempts to “ping” the phone’s last known location are underway. Family and friends say this is out of character for him and he sticks to a normal routine. Luke has no known health, mental health issues, or legal issues.

Luke lives in the City of Muskogee and we are still attempting to determine why he was in the Braggs area.

This is a current and active investigation and nothing has been ruled out.

The public is asked to call the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office at 918-687-0202 if you have seen or heard from Luke Dennis.

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elite divorce service

Friday, October 12, 2018, 9:47 AM

Edward Jones, an brokerage company that boasts six Muskogee locations, is facing a multimillion dollar class action lawsuit for allegedly gouging customers by suggesting investment products that benefit the company, rather than the clients.

The suit, filed in April, alleges that investors were charged unnecessary fees in a “reverse churning” operation. The alleged scheme moved mostly dormant accounts into a fee-based system, where a commission-based model would have better served the clients, the suit alleges. The fee-based programs were proprietary products that the plaintiffs allege concealed the fact that they benefitted the brokerage more than commission-based programs.

The plaintiffs, who describe themselves as “unsophisticated investors,” are bringing the case on behalf of a class of Edward Jones clients who saw their commission-based accounts migrate to a fee-based model from March 2013 through March 2018.

The plaintiffs allege the practice propelled a 36 percent increase in the firm’s “asset-based fee revenue due to the increased investment of client assets into advisory programs”, including $17.2 billion in fees. The firm earned record amounts of money in the five years of the class period.

Edward Jones has acknowledged the suit and said it will “vigorously defend” against it.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018, 9:07 AM

Virgil Glen Seay

Virgil Glen Seay, 51, is charged in Muskogee County District Court with first-degree robbery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and maiming after an altercation in which his brother allegedly ended up with a shattered left eye socket and a gash across his forehead, according to court documents.

On Oct. 3., Muskogee County deputies were called to 3110 Burbank in reference to a domestic dispute. They found Randy Seay next door to the residence, “bleeding profusely from the head and face area,” according to an affidavit filed with the case.

Randy Seay told police his brother, Glen, assaulted him, pulled down his pants and stole $200 from his pocket. The next day, while being interviewed at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Randy Seay told police Glen hit him with a 2x2 wooden board around three feet in length.

Police report Randy sustained a large cut on his forehead around four inches in length and that his left eye socket was shattered, both injuries possibly resulting in permanent disfigurement.

Virgil Seay has previously been convicted of domestic assault and battery by strangulation, for which he received seven years in prison; assault and battery with intent to kill, kidnapping, and possession of firearms after former conviction of a felony, for which he received 10 years in prison; domestic assault and battery, for which he received a year in prison; cruelty to animals for which he received five years in prison; and omitting to provide for a minor child, for which he received four years in prison.

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speedway grille

Wednesday, October 10, 2018, 9:01 AM

Muskogee Little Theatre has filed a lawsuit in Muskogee County District Court against Dickmann Glass, PT Enterprises and RB Weatherman Masonry for almost a million dollars, alleging the three contractors did shoddy work resulting in water leaks every time it rains.

The lawsuit, filed yesterday, asks for $929,790 and possible additional damages, alleging that the glass and windows around the glass of the storefront windows and doors was not installed “with reasonable care and skill,” resulting in leaks that damage the inside of the facility.

The three contractors were subcontracting for M. Ross Incorporated at the time, the lawsuit states.

The facility, at 311 S. Third St., has been open since October 2016 after the City of Muskogee Foundation footed most of the multimillion dollar bill to construct it. Dickmann has “made a number of superficial efforts to remedy the water intrusion issues,” the suit states. It goes further to state that investigation has “revealed that improper design, installation and construction” were the cause of the problems.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2018, 9:23 AM

Paul Turnpaugh, 70, of Braggs drowned in a pond in Braggs last night, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Turnpaugh’s wife reported she was unable to locate him for some time, then found him partially submerged in a pond on their property on E. 63rd Street around 7:30 p.m.

He was under two feet of water, the patrol reported. He was pronounced dead at the scene. He was not wearing a personal flotation device.

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Monday, October 8, 2018, 11:22 AM

Around 15 miles south of Muskogee, Keefeton is a sleepy town with little more than a couple of convenience stores, a church and a fire department. Drivers headed south toward Warner often notice a helicopter sitting on the east side of State Highway 64 — a helicopter belonging to a private company, Tulsa LifeFlight. The helicopter is used to transport ambulance patients by air to hospitals.

The company leases the helicopter pad from the Keefeton Fire Department, which is owned by Muskogee County after it converted from a private nonprofit to a county-owned fire department around a decade ago. The conversion, covered in Title 19 of Oklahoma law, means the fire department became county-owned, and therefore subject to all state laws regarding county entities.

Speck Plunkett, the Keefeton fire chief, expressed confusion about who owned the department.

“We’re not a county-owned department,” he said today. Then, when asked if the fire department was organized under Title 18, which governs private nonprofit fire departments, or Title 19, which governs county-owned fire departments, he said “Oh, we’re Title 19. Absolutely.”

Eastern Oklahoma Development District Director Ernie Moore confirmed that Keefeton Fire Department is a county-owned Title 19 department.

The problem, however, is that the lease between Life Flight and Keefeton does not go through the county, either in bidding or revenue. Specifically, the money paid to the fire department by Life Flight does not go through the county treasurer. Instead, it goes into a private bank account.

“Well, it goes into our general fund,” Plunkett said. “Our board of directors takes care of that. It doesn’t go through the county. It’s not a county-owned fire department.”

When asked to provide a copy of the lease agreement, Plunkett referred MuskogeeNOW.com to Tony Burress, the department’s chairman of the board, who has not returned calls for comment.

The department, like many across the state, petitioned and was approved to shift from a private entity to a county-owned entity so its members could participate in the county pension fund. The department receives county funding and benefits from a tax specifically for it. State law does not provide for county-owned fire departments to have private bank accounts. In fact, an audit report by the Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector on another fire department in the same situation explicitly proclaimed:

Upon becoming a Title 19 fire district, the District can no longer operate independent of the County. Accordingly, there would be no authority for the District to possess bank accounts outside of the County.

Any money collected by the fire district “should be deposited with the county treasurer,” the audit report continues. In addition, any payments made by the district “should be made through the county clerk, utilizing purchase orders ... and ultimately approved by the county commissioners.”

In addition, the report states that Title 19 fire districts can’t lease or rent any property without first going through the county — and being competitively bid, and that revenue from those agreements must go through the county.

“Like I say, the fire department has had its own account for years,” Plunkett said. “If that’s the case (that all money must go through the county), every fire department in Muskogee County is going to be that way.”

Plunkett could not provide a list of other fire departments that maintained accounts and made lease agreements outside of county oversight.

Stephen Wright, the county commissioner over the Keefeton department, said he had no idea anything like that was going on.

“I know they are Title 19,” he said. “I thought all we (the county) was in charge of was basically the sales tax.”

Wright said he will discuss this issue with District Attorney Orvil Loge tomorrow.

Ultimately, money collected from the helicopter pad lease should, according to state law, be subject to public records inspection, as should any money being deposited into or paid out from any bank accounts belonging to the district. So far, access to those records has not been provided.

UPDATE 11:35 A.M.: Burress called back and said the helicopter lease figures were not immediately available, but would be tonight.

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Saturday, October 6, 2018, 7:20 AM

After a MuskogeeNOW.com story brought statewide attention to the issue, State Rep. Avery Frix and State Sen. Dwayne Pemberton have pushed for the state to investigate claims that Jess Dunn Correctional Facility Chief Romon Jones was favoring gang-related inmates and risking the security of the staff and residents of Muskogee and surrounding areas.

In that initial story, we reported officers complained that Jones “palled around” with inmates, especially those associated with the Bloods street gang. He was also accused of changing officers’ reports to favor inmates, telling officers they were lying when inmates contradicted them, allowing illegal cell phones and drugs to circulate throughout the prison and using inmates to do work for his personal home, among other allegations.

This week, Frix and Pemberton interviewed one of the officers who was making complaints, and they reached out to the Department of Corrections, which informed them that Jones has now been suspended with pay pending the outcome of an internal investigation into the matter.

Jones called MuskogeeNOW.com, but first put a female on the phone, who did not identify herself as an employee or friend of Jones. The female first asked for the identities of the people quoted in the story and indicated she might have more to add. When the identities were not given, she handed the phone to Jones, who said he had faced similar allegations at other prisons before, but that he couldn’t comment without talking to his attorney first.

At least a dozen former employees and co-workers of Jones have reached out to MuskogeeNOW since that story ran, repeating the same allegations from either Jess Dunn or the prisons where he has worked before.

“That is the same thing that was going on at LARC several years ago — from 2008 to 2012,” one former coworker said. LARC is Lexington Assessment and Reception Center, a prison in Lexington. “Jones was a lieutenant, but promoted to captain. He was known for the same behavior, but the chiefs at the time turned a blind eye, as did the warden. He was constantly palling around with the Bloods and caused dissension between inmates of other racial groups, as well as the staff. His practices were to give breaks to those Bloods he was in daily contact with and to penalize those outside his group, specifically those of the Aryan Brotherhood.”

Jones denied any affiliation with any gangs, and offered that he was also not guilty of bringing contraband into a prison, an allegation that did not appear in the story.

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Friday, October 5, 2018, 8:42 AM

Cherokee Nation Health Services is offering free flu vaccinations for Cherokee Nation citizens and their families, including non-Native family members living in the household.

Tribal health officials have dozens of vaccination clinics scheduled in October and November at community buildings, local businesses, churches, town halls and health centers throughout the tribe’s 14-county area. For the complete Cherokee Nation flu vaccination schedule, visit https://bit.ly/2P9hp7I.

The flu season typically runs September to March, but each year it peaks during different months. This year the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging early flu shots.

Vaccination clinic dates and locations are subject to change. Check the link above for updates or changes to vaccination schedule.

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Thursday, October 4, 2018, 8:56 AM

Tiffani Shae Perkins, 33, of Muskogee is charged in Muskogee County District Court with felony child neglect after prosecutors say she gave birth to a baby with cocaine in its blood.

The child was placed in intensive care after it went into respiratory distress due to the “large amount” of cocaine in its blood, according to an affidavit filed with the case.

The baby was born in July. Prosecutors filed the case yesterday.

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Thursday, October 4, 2018, 8:41 AM

Raymond Leon Cotten

Raymond Leon Cotten, 57, of Muskogee is charged in Muskogee County District Court with lewd or indecent proposals to a child under 16 — a felony — after a 15-year-old boy told police he asked to have a threesome with the boy and his 13-year-old female friend.

Officers were dispatched to 348 E. Broadway, Apartment 23, in April in reference to a disturbance there. When an officer arrived, “several people” told him Cotten had “made inappropriate comments to a juvenile about he, Cotten and the male juvenile having sex with his female friend, who is also a juvenile.”

The officer saw Cotten come out of his apartment and said he was unsteady on his feet, had slurred speech and smelled of alcohol. The officer arrested him and then the juvenile male wrote a statement accusing Cotten of the lewd proposal.

Though the incident happened in April, the case was filed yesterday.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018, 9:23 AM

Mark Deon Thompson

Mark Deon Thompson, 18, of Muskogee is charged in Muskogee County District Court with first-degree murder after the death of Kevyawna Roshea Jackson-Hall on Sept. 28, according to court documents.

The charges allege that Thompson shot Jackson Hall, inflicting “certain mortal wounds” upon her, from which she ultimately died.

An earlier story reported Jackson-Hall was 18, and the death occurred at 827 S. York, Apartment 22A.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2018, 10:39 AM

Protestors stand on 32nd Street to remind travelers of the injustice they perceive DHS perpetuated in the case of a toddler who was brutally injured at Champions Daycare in Muskogee.

DHS was biased and wrong when they declared no problems at Champions Daycare in Muskogee after a toddler was brutally injured there, the girl’s parents and community members said today as they protested outside DHS’s offices on South 32nd St.

Drivers honked as they sped by, and protestors held signs proclaiming their desire to get Justice for Jay.

The girl’s dad, Desi Lewis, 45, was out on his birthday protesting, when supervisors from DHS came out of the building to ask him to leave.

Attorney Stephen R. Money, left, talks to his client, Desi Lewis, about his interaction with police at the protest.

“They told me the building’s owners were upset and that I was causing problems for the other businesses,” he said. “None of those other businesses were complaining.”

After a little while, he said, Muskogee Police showed up.

“They were great,” he said. “They said as long as I was peaceful, I was fine, and they weren’t going to do anything.”

The protest is based on DHS’s assessment that there were no problems at the daycare leading to the girl’s horrific facial injuries.

“It’s been 53 days now,” Steve Money, attorney for the family, said. “If this child had gone to school like that, Mr. Lewis would have been arrested in 53 seconds and he’d probably still be in jail, and DHS would have taken all the children out of the home. If DHS had spent as much time investigating this case as they did calling the police and trying to get these protestors off the property, maybe there would have been a better outcome.”

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Tuesday, October 2, 2018, 9:17 AM

Cherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare Executive Director Nikki Baker Limore selects an angel off the 2017 Angel Project Tree at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex in Tahlequah

The 2018 Cherokee Nation Angel Project and Elder Angel Tree applications are now available at sites throughout the tribe’s 14 counties, including the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex.

The project provides gifts for Cherokee children, 16 and younger, who live within the 14-county tribal area and meet income guidelines.

This year, the Cherokee Nation Angel Project applications are available online now and at more than 10 application sites starting Oct. 9.

To qualify for the tribe’s income guidelines, applicants must provide proof of income for all household members over the age of 18. For example, a family of three must not exceed $2,127 net income per month, and a family of four must not exceed $2,562 per month.

More than 1,900 children received gifts through the program last holiday season.

The Cherokee Nation is also accepting applications for the Elder Angel Tree at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex in Tahlequah and at all Cherokee Nation Human Services field offices, beginning Oct. 1.

Applications for the Cherokee Nation Elder Angel Tree must be completed with a family or elder advocate and submitted by Oct. 31 to the Cherokee Nation Human Services office at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex in Tahlequah or any of the field offices in the 14-county area. Applications can also be submitted at the tribe’s senior nutrition sites.

Cherokee Nation Angel Project applications will be accepted in person on the dates and times listed below for the following locations:

  • Oct. 9-10: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. – W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex, Tahlequah
  • Oct. 11: 2 to 6 p.m. – Westville Pubic Library, 116 N. Williams
  • Oct. 11-12: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. – Cherokee Nation ICW Office, 1528 N. 166 E. Ave. Suite C in Tulsa
  • Oct. 15: Noon to 6 p.m. – Cherokee Nation Housing Authority, 1003 S. Virginia Ave in Bartlesville
  • Oct. 15-16: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. – Stilwell Armory Building, 421 W. Locust St.
  • Oct. 16: Noon to 6 p.m. – Victory Cherokee Community Building, 1025 N. 12th St. in Collinsville
  • Oct. 17: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. – Sallisaw Civic Center, 115 E. Choctaw Ave.; Noon to 6 p.m. – Cooweescoowee Health Center, 395200 W. 2900 Rd. in Ochelata
  • Oct. 18: Noon to 6 p.m. – Exciting Southeast Church, 432 E. 530 Rd.; Noon to 6 p.m. – Will Rogers Health Center, 1020 Lenape Drive in Nowata
  • Oct. 19: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Vinita Health Center, 27371 S. 4410 Rd.
  • Oct. 22: 1 to 6 p.m. – Three Rivers Health Center, 1001 S. 41st St. East in Muskogee
  • Oct. 23-24: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. – Tsalagi Community Room, behind the Restaurant of the Cherokees in Tahlequah
  • Oct. 24-25: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. – Cherokee Nation Human Services Office, 1501 Industrial Park in Jay
  • Oct. 25: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Cherokee Nation ICW Office, 1528 N. 166 E. Ave. Suite C in Tulsa

Applications for the 2018 Cherokee Nation Angel Tree Project can also be submitted online at https://secure.cherokee.org/angeltree. For more information, call 918-453-6900.

For information on Cherokee Nation Human Services field offices, call 918-453-5627.

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Monday, October 1, 2018, 9:54 AM

NOTE: This story contains language that some might find offensive.

Correctional officers at Jess Dunn Correctional Facility in Taft are hopping mad about the way things are going there, and they’re reaching out to the media and state politicians to help. Several state senators and representatives have received a letter also sent to MuskogeeNOW.com. The correctional officers, known to MuskogeeNOW, have requested anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Jess Dunn is a high minimum security prison just a few miles west of Muskogee that houses mainly medium-level inmates, which includes some violent offenders. The prison has had four escapes so far this year.

Romon Jones, the correctional chief, is in charge of all the correctional officers, but has been causing concern with them instead, according to the letter and subsequent conversations.

Jones is alleged to “pal around” with inmates, mostly those who identify with the Bloods street gang.

“Jones regularly lowers or drops offense reports against the inmates, especially the ones he pals around with,” the letter stated. “He regularly confers with gang shot-callers and acts like one himself. He has two sets of rules: one for the black inmates, the other for the rest.”

Jones, the letter went on, informed officers he believed they were lying on all their reports and that he was going to start getting the “real” story from the inmates instead of officers.

Officers repeatedly find inmates having cell phones (a felony and violation of prison policy), yet the inmates are rarely prosecuted for the phones, one officer told MuskogeeNOW. In one incident reported in the letter, Jones flouted prison policy by trying to drive his personal vehicle onto the prison compound. The attempt caused an argument with officers in control, until Jones ended the argument by commanding them to “open the fucking gate.” Jones is also accused of removing inmates from maximum security lockup, uncuffing them outside the fence and letting them walk unrestrained, which is also against policy.

The letter stated that several large fights involving between 80 and 100 inmates with less than six officers to guard them “got out of hand” and “lasted hours.” The chief finally showed up, the letter states, and did not know how to operate a pepper jet crowd control system. Several inmates were sent to the hospital and reports to the state were doctored to say it was a “small fight” and “controlled.”

“It was anything but small,” the officer said. ”(The officers) were criticized by administration for not using pepper spray. But each pepper spray bottle can affect maybe five inmates, enraging the rest. No officers were injured, which means (they) made the right call.”

Another officer said the chief would have inmates brought to his property to work on his lawn, which is against prison policy. That officer said the chief also “dropped his pants in the quartermaster” and then refused to let it be reported because “it’s only reportable if an inmate calls the hotline,” not if employees are upset.

Officers are forced to allow inmates to walk from destination to destination unrestrained, accompanied by a single or very few officers, according to the officer. If an inmate runs, the officer cannot give chase, because he or she has to watch the rest of the inmates. Instead, the officer must call it in over the radio and hope other officers arrive in time.

The vast majority of seasoned officers have left the prison, the officer reports, leaving unseasoned and barely-trained greenhorns to try to keep inmates in line.

“There are more drugs and cell phones in this prison than on the streets,” the officer said. Perimeter officers are stretched too thin and rarely see drops, the officer said, and dirty staff and lax visitation control means contraband flows freely into the prison.

“Shanks are being found daily,” the officer said, “which could be leading to something. We have people seeking protective custody daily from their debts on the yard from drugs and (other contraband).”

So many inmates are in protective custody, that the administration has directed officers to place inmates in visiting rooms in segregated housing, because the cells are all full, which places already-stretched officers at greater risk, the officer said.

“The visiting rooms have no food passageways, therefore no way to cuff an inmate before opening the door,” the officer said. “The visiting rooms also don’t have toilets or water, just a concrete floor.”

Officers report they have been told to count those inmates as still in their bunks on the regular units.

“We don’t know if Oklahoma City knows or if they are just turning a blind eye, but something needs to be done. This is getting worse, and we need help. Please.”

The Department of Corrections has not responded to a request we made on Friday for comment.

UPDATE: Chief Jones called to comment. At first, a woman was on the phone and asked who the sources for this story were. When she was told the sources’ names wouldn’t be revealed, Jones got on the phone.

“Those are all false charges,” he said. “I was charged with bringing contraband into a penal institution, but it was dismissed. There were allegations of me being a gang member, but those were false too.”

Jones asked whether MuskogeeNOW had spoken to actual people or whether the entire story was based on the email. When it was confirmed that real people were the sources for the story, he again asked who they were, and was told their names wouldn’t be revealed.

“I’m going to talk to my lawyer before I say anything to you,” he said finally.

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Saturday, September 29, 2018, 7:17 AM

Muskogee police are calling a shooting last night first-degree murder after a Muskogee woman was found shot in an apartment at 827 S. York St.

Officers worked to save the victim, but she was later pronounced dead.

They are not releasing the 18-year-old victim’s name until her family has been notified.

Mark Thompson, 18, was arrested as a suspect and taken to jail.

“Thompson will be charged with first-degree murder in the Muskogee County District Court,” Officer Lincoln Anderson said. “He was arrested without incident.”

The district attorney determines all final charges. The shooting occurred at 11:17 p.m. Because the investigation is ongoing, police can’t release any more information, Anderson said.

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Friday, September 28, 2018, 11:49 AM

An explosion at the Fort Gibson post office is under investigation.

Police say around 9:15 a.m. on Friday, September 28, 2018, a package ruptured and there was a minor explosion, causing minor damage to the inside of the building.

People inside the post office were evacuated. Police said no one was hurt.

Police are waiting for the postmaster’s office to investigate.

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Friday, September 28, 2018, 6:22 AM

Muskogee police officers will be at Speedway Grille in Muskogee on Oct. 3 from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. to hang out with citizens.

The “Coffee with a Cop” program is designed to break down any barriers that exist between police officers and the citizens they serve. By removing agendas and allowing opportunities to ask questions, voice concerns and get to know the officers in your neighborhood, the program aims to create harmony between the police and citizens.

Speedway Grille is at 2010 W. Okmulgee. Both officers and command staff will attend.

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Thursday, September 27, 2018, 8:07 AM

The City of Muskogee Public Works is working with APAC Central to resurface several residential streets next month. This is part of the 5-year street maintenance plan to improve and maintain Muskogee’s streets. The street project will begin October 8 and will continue until approximately November 1, 2018.

This project will remove the top two inches of the asphalt street and then crews will overlay new asphalt. Milling removes the old surface and helps to restore the street to its original shape. Thoroughfare roads are treated with this maintenance every ten to 12 years and residential streets are treated at least 30 years after they were newly constructed. The asphalt used for this project will produced locally.

The following streets will be resurfaced:

  • North 15th (MLK to Emporia)
  • North 16th (MLK to Emporia)
  • North 17th (MLK to Emporia)
  • North 18th (MLK to Emporia)
  • North 19th (MLK to North 21st)
  • Emporia (North 12th to Denison)

To learn more about this mill and overlay street project and to receive updates on the street resurfacing schedule, please contact the Public Works Hotline at 918-684-6333, extension 1504.

The $268,540.00 project is a major component of the City of Muskogee’s 5-year street maintenance program. The work will be done with intermediate road closures and the public is urged to use caution and follow all warning signs, lane shifts, and other traffic control measures. There may be instances when the contractor is working directly in front of a property and access may be restricted for a short period of time.

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Thursday, September 27, 2018, 7:53 AM

The Oklahoma Hospital Association recently recognized W.W. Hastings Hospital for vaccinating more than 96 percent of its staff with flu shots and preventing the spread of the common illness.

The tribal hospital is among 47 in the state to meet the association’s annual challenge to vaccinate 96 percent of health care staff during the flu season.

More than 800 staff at W.W. Hastings Hospital were vaccinated.

According to a press release for the Oklahoma Hospital Association, hospitalized patients are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of influenza because their immune systems are often compromised by the illness that caused their admission or by the treatments they are undergoing.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that influenza is responsible for between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses, between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations, and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths annually since 2010.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018, 10:19 AM

The parents of a little girl whose face was cut and broken at Muskogee’s Champions Daycare got nowhere in a scheduled meeting with DHS yesterday, looking for answers.

DHS often sends children to Champions Daycare, and would have to find other arrangements if the daycare was shut down.

“This non-meeting was a joke. DHS refused to answer any of the parents’ questions,” the family’s attorney, Steve Money said. “The parents are not being investigated; they are victims, and are entitled to the information about their child. I literally asked why (Susan McComb of DHS) called the meeting if she wasn’t going to tell them anything. The meeting lasted about eight minutes because it was clear Ms. McComb was stonewalling as has been the case since this tragedy occurred.”

The parents, State Rep. Avery Frix and Oklahoma Speaker of the House Charles McCall have urged more investigation of the daycare — as have two doctors who said earlier that it was not possible for the girl’s injuries to have resulted from the story the daycare told authorities. DHS continues to refuse to re-investigate or release information in the case.

“The history of complaints is on the DHS website and just a few days ago you could see that DHS initially found the complaint ‘substantiated,' but the letter to the parents now says the neglect was ‘unsubstantiated’,” Money said. “You can’t have it both ways. I think there is an incestuous relationship between DHS and Champions and the DHS is covering for them. We’re going to find out.”

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