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DEATHS

Emmitt Othell Maxey, 79

Born June 23, 1942

Died October 20, 2021

Charles Alonzo Wright, 88

Born December 22, 1932

Died October 19, 2021

Gordon "Jack" Morrow, 87

Born June 1, 1934

Died October 18, 2021

Deann D. Gist, 52

Born March 13, 1969

Died October 17, 2021

Marvin Henry Gilliland, 74

Born November 17, 1946

Died October 17, 2021

CLICK TO SEE MORE >>

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

THINGS TO DO

Thursday, October 21, 2021, 10:07 AM

The Oklahoma State Department of Health today reported that 98 people in Oklahoma have confirmed Salmonella Oranienburg infections, the second highest number of infections of the 37 states currently impacted by a fast-growing outbreak.

Salmonella infection is a common bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract. Infections most frequently occur through consumption of contaminated water or food. Salmonella infection is usually not life threatening and most people recover without treatment after four to seven days.

Texas has the most confirmed Salmonella Oranienburg infections, associated with this outbreak, with 158. Nationwide there have been 652 infections, and 129 people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration conducted a traceback investigation and identified ProSource Inc. as a common supplier of onions imported to many of the restaurants where sick people ate. Investigators are working to determine if other onions and suppliers are linked to this outbreak.

Public health guidance is to avoid eating, selling or serving fresh whole red, white or yellow onions distributed by ProSource Inc. that were imported from Chihuahua, Mexico. Fresh whole onions are often sold in bulk bins in grocery stores and may have stickers on them identifying the brand or where they were grown. If you have unlabeled fresh whole red, white or yellow onions at home, throw them away and don’t eat them.

OSDH requests that individuals experiencing symptoms of a Salmonella infection to please call their healthcare provider and ask if testing is needed. All Salmonella infections are reportable to OSDH and will be investigated.

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Thursday, October 21, 2021, 6:24 AM

Muskogee High School will move to virtual instruction on Thursday, October 21, 2021 following a water line break discovered overnight on campus, according to school spokesman Steve Braun.

All 10th, 11th and 12th grade students who attend MHS will work virtually today, this includes special education students who may typically come in when instruction moves virtual. Rougher Alternative Academy, Roughers Innovations Academy, BOOT School, and all other sites will remain in session as normal. Freshman students who attend a class at MHS should report to the 8th & 9th Grade Academy to complete their virtual MHS instruction.

All MHS students will access their assignments through their individual teachers’ Google Classroom or Schoology. Students failing to log in Thursday will receive an absence for all classes in which they do not log into. Students may email or message their teachers with any questions they may have.

A robocall informing families of this development is scheduled for 7 a.m.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021, 11:38 AM

Former District Attorney and now Special District Judge Orvil Loge swears in his replacement, Larry Edwards as District Judge Bret Smith presides.

Former Muskogee County District Attorney Orvil Loge, who now is a special district judge, swore in his successor, Larry Edwards, at the Muskogee County Courthouse today. Edwards was appointed to the district attorney position by Gov. Kevin Stitt last week.

District Judge Bret Smith had words of wisdom for the new DA, who he said he has known for 30 years.

“As district attorney, you have the opportunity to … embrace medication assisted treatment (for drug-addicted offenders),” he said. “The way we treated them in the past by locking them up and throwing away the key does not work. It destroys families, it destroys homes and destroys lives. As district attorney, it comes from you. Judges are not in the business of brokering deals. It starts with the district attorney telling defenses ‘this is a new way forward; this is a way we can truly make a difference.’”

Edwards, who came to Muskogee from Tulsa as Loge’s first assistant DA, thanked former Assistant DA Nalani Ching, without whom, he said, Loge would have never heard his name to think to hire him as assistant.

Muskogee mayor Marlon Coleman opened and closed the ceremony with prayers.

In related news, Edwards’ assistant Jessie Heidlage will be honored tomorrow at the Oklahoma State Capitol for excellence in action against domestic violence at 1:30 p.m., Edwards said.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021, 8:16 AM

The Oklahoma State Department of Health encouraged all Oklahomans to get the flu shot as soon as they are able this flu season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states COVID-19 vaccines may be administered without regard to timing of other vaccines, meaning the flu shot and COVID vaccine can be safely co-administered the same day.

Previously, a waiting time of two weeks was suggested between administration of the COVID vaccine and any other vaccinations. It is now known adverse side effects are unlikely from co-administration of the COVID vaccine and others, the department reported. It is considered best practice to administer the vaccines in separate limbs if possible.

The flu and COVID have very similar symptoms along with the common cold and seasonal allergies; it is also possible to contract both the flu and COVID at the same time. The CDC and OSDH both recommend getting vaccinated for both the flu and COVID as soon as possible.

For protections against seasonal allergies and other upper respiratory illnesses, continue to wear a mask when social distancing is not possible and wash hands and wipe down surfaces frequently, the department recommends.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2021, 1:48 PM

A big chunk of Chandler Road — between the funeral home and Country Club Road — has been shut down because of a gas leak, according to city workers.

The road should be out of commission until at least 6 p.m. today, according the workers.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2021, 7:13 AM

In honor of Sequoyah and this year’s bicentennial celebration of the Cherokee syllabary, Cherokee Nation has become the first Native American tribe to use motion and facial capture technology to help preserve and promote an indigenous language.

In collaboration with the tribe’s language program, Cherokee Nation Film Office and Original Content today premiered “Sequoyah: Voice of the Inventor for the Bicentennial.”

Filmed at the Cherokee Nation Covid Response Virtual Soundstage, the production brings Sequoyah to life through real-time graphics and the voice and movements of first-language Cherokee speaker Steve Daugherty.

The tribe’s virtual video production implements a combination of video game engine and motion and facial capture technology using a motion capture suit and headset to record body movements, facial expressions and language. Through a live render engine, recorded data was then used to create a walking and talking digital character of Sequoyah.

The production was created using Unreal Engine, the same technology used for major industry productions such as “The Mandalorian” and for popular video games such as Fortnite.

Sequoyah, also known as George Guess or George Gist, introduced the Cherokee syllabary in 1821. The revered Cherokee statesman and linguist invented the first written language among Native American tribes and influenced written languages throughout the world.

For more information and to watch “Sequoyah: Voice of the Inventor for the Bicentennial,” visit https://anadisgoi.com/index.php/culture-stories/724-cherokee-nation-brings-burgeoning-technology-to-language-efforts. Photos and video from behind-the-scenes of the production are also available.

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Monday, October 18, 2021, 7:29 AM

Bryan Hillsberry

Bryan Hillsberry, 48, is charged in Muskogee County District Court with violating a protective order by stalking a Connors State College student while she was at school, according to documents filed with the case.

Hillsberry, owner of Hillsberry Doughgirl Food Truck, was seen by the victim, according to an affidavit filed with the case, lying in the back seat of his pickup truck outside the school. At the time, he allegedly had an AR-15 rifle and a Kimber .45-caliber pistol, the filing states. The victim has an active protective order against Hillsberry out of Wagoner County, filed in March of this year.

When he realized he’d been seen, the affidavit states, he left the area, headed toward Muskogee. The victim gathered friends around her and called police.

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Monday, October 18, 2021, 7:06 AM

A Porum man was hurt in a weekend single-car wreck on New Texanna Road, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Lane Graham, 23, was driving a 2000 Chevrolet Silverado northbound on the road around midnight Saturday morning when he went to sleep, according to the patrol, missed a curve and departed the roadway to the right, before striking a county road sign, then continuing on 300 feet and coming to rest in a field.

Graham was transported by helicopter to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, where he was admitted in serious condition with leg injuries. He was not wearing a seatbelt, and his pickup’s airbags did not deploy, the patrol reported.

In a separate wreck on Sunday, a Muskogee woman and a Fort Gibson toddler were hurt in a separate single-vehicle collision, the patrol reported.

Donna Hamilton, 22, of Muskogee and a four-year-old Fort Gibson boy were passengers in a 2002 Pontiac Sunfire driven by Mark Van-Velzor, 27 of Fort Gibson, who was eastbound on E. 60th St. N and departed the roadway to the right because he was driving too fast to negotiate a left curve, the patrol reported. The car struck a cement bridge face.

Hamilton was transported to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa in fair condition where she was admitted for head and internal injuries, while the toddler was treated and released for his injuries. Van-Velzor was wearing his seatbelt, the toddler was in a child restraint, but Hamilton was not wearing a seatbelt, according to the patrol. Airbags did deploy.

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Friday, October 15, 2021, 7:15 AM

Trafera, a technology provider to K-12 schools, has signed an agreement with the City of Muskogee that will bring around 20 new jobs to the Muskogee area.

“We are excited of the announcement by Trafera to open a location in Muskogee,” said Mayor Marlon Coleman. “Our goal has been to diversify our job opportunities, and with Trafera being one of the largest distributors of technology to K-12 schools, that goal is becoming a reality. Nearly 20 new jobs to start, and a projected job expansion over the next five years puts us light years closer to Muskogee being a place to live, work, and play. I am happy to have been engaged in a process that is yielding positive results for our community.”

Trafera, based out of St. Paul, Minnesota, provides technology hardware and digital lesson plans to schools in Oklahoma and across the country. They plan to use the Muskogee facility as a regional repair center and distribution hub for their company.

“Muskogee presented us a unique geographic opportunity to serve school districts in Oklahoma and surrounding states,” said Scott Gill, Trafera CEO. “We look forward to continuing our mission of creating brighter futures for kids through the use of technology and growing our employee base in Muskogee over time.”

Trafera will occupy an existing 24,000-square foot building at the Muskogee Davis Airport and is expected to bring 20 new jobs to the area within the first year of operation. Trafera offers employees a comprehensive benefits package that includes paid time off, insurance, 401K, employee wellness program, and product purchase discounts.

Trafera company leadership is planning to host a grand opening once the new regional operations facility is ready for occupancy later this year. For more information about Trafera, visit their website at www.trafera.com.

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Thursday, October 14, 2021, 7:37 AM

Tickets are on sale now for a Christmas season musical, Christmas In Killarney, an Irish Christmas Celebration that will premiere at the Muskogee Civic Center on November 30.

Set in Killarney, Ireland in the late 1920s, Christmas In Killarney shows what it means to celebrate Christmas the Irish way, where many of America’s Christmas traditions originated.

Created by the 2009 World Champion of Irish Dance, Scott Doherty, and worldwide touring musician Chris Smith, Christmas In Killarney combines the excitement of Irish dance with the harmonies of traditional Christmas classics.

Tickets for Christmas In Killarney start at $15 and can be purchased at the Muskogee Civic Center box office located at 425 Boston Street in Muskogee or at www.muskogeeciviccenter.com. For more information about this show, call 918-684-6363.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021, 7:28 AM

A Braggs seventh grader was allegedly choked and shoved by a teacher, identified by parents as Susan Kirk, according to parents and law-enforcement officials, last Wednesday, Oct. 6.

The teacher is accused of grabbing the student’s neck and telling them to “shut up.” The student, according to eyewitnesses, said “please don’t squeeze my neck,” to which Kirk is alleged to have squeezed harder and repeated, “I said shut up.” The student, according to the witnesses, said “I didn’t do anything,” and the teacher allegedly shoved the student and told them to go inside the school.

Muskogee County deputies are investigating the allegations, and the acting district attorney has been notified of the investigation.

UPDATE: Kirk was placed on unpaid leave yesterday, pending the outcome of the investigation, according to a source in a position to know, but who asked to remain unnamed.

UPDATE: Undersheriff Greg Martin just released the following:

The Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched on Tuesday, October 12, 2021 to Braggs Public Schools to investigate an incident that occurred on Wednesday, October 6, 2021 at approximately 11:00 a.m. between a teacher and a student.

According to statements taken, a teacher at Braggs school allegedly assaulted a 12 year old male student by grabbing the back of the child’s neck. The child did not require any medical attention. The Department of Human Services has been contacted and made aware of this incident.

The investigative report has been sent to the Muskogee County District Attorney’s Office for review of potential charges.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2021, 7:19 AM

Cherokee Nation is now offering several flu vaccinations to prepare for the upcoming flu season and is open to all citizens of federally recognized tribes, as well as the public.

Beginning today, anyone six months of age or older can receive a flu vaccine at dozens of vaccination clinics held by Cherokee Nation Health Services and scheduled in October, November and December.

For the community vaccination schedule, please visit https://health.cherokee.org/community-flu-clinics/.

Flu season typically runs September to March, but it peaks during different months each year. This year, most of the community events will also offer the COVID-19 vaccine for those ages 12 and older. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the flu and COVID-19 vaccines to be given at the same time.

“Keeping our communities safe from the viruses that cause both influenza and COVID-19 is of the utmost importance as we continue working through the current surge of the pandemic,” said Cherokee Nation Health Services Executive Director Dr. R. Stephen Jones. “These viral diseases will be present in our communities in the coming months, and we must work together to protect each other. I encourage everyone to get vaccinated for both flu and COVID-19 to ensure the well-being of our friends, family and communities.”

Vaccination clinic dates and locations are subject to change.

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Monday, October 11, 2021, 8:42 AM

An Oktaha school bus overturned east of the school near Cemetery Road this morning, according to multiple sources. The bus was carrying seven students and the driver, according to Superintendent Jerry Needham.

“There were no injuries reported,” Needham said. “The children were dispatched either to their parents or to the school. The driver has been sent to get blood tested, although I don’t think there will be anything wrong there.”

The bus left the roadway and overturned, he said, but the cause of the wreck has yet to be determined. Muskogee County EMS checked out all of the students and none reported any injuries.

Needham said he will update MuskogeeNOW.com as soon as more information becomes available.

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Monday, October 11, 2021, 12:04 AM

A tree lays beside a house outside Braggs.

Tornadoes have apparently hit the Braggs and Coweta areas. Coweta High School was apparently hit, and power is out in the area.

Trees and power lines are down in the Braggs area, with numerous houses hit either by tornado or debris, before the storm moved northeast toward Lake Tenkiller.

There are no reports of injuries, though a house in Coweta was lit on fire, apparently by lightning strike.

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Friday, October 8, 2021, 9:47 AM

Muskogee Police Department has teamed up with local faith leaders for the 2021 National Faith & Blue Weekend. The event is a collaborative initiative to build bridges through activities and outreach amongst law enforcement professionals and the communities they serve.

“This is a chance to further enhance our department’s relationship with our community,” said Muskogee Police Chief Johnny Teehee. “There’s not a better place for that to happen than with the faith based organizations of Muskogee. Many cities across the country are emphasizing now, something that we have been doing an exceptional job at for years.”

The event kicked off today with a parade at ECC and Youth Central and continues this weekend:

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Thursday, October 7, 2021, 7:25 AM

Muskogee’s Native American Association will celebrate Indigenous People’s Day at 10 a.m. Monday at the Muskogee Civic Center.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a holiday that celebrates and honors Native American people and commemorates their histories and cultures. It is celebrated across the United States on the second Monday in October. It began as a counter-celebration held on the same day as the U.S. federal holiday of Columbus Day, which honors Italian colonizer Christopher Columbus. Many reject celebrating him, saying that he represents the violent history of the European colonization in the Western Hemisphere, and that Columbus Day is a sanitization or covering-up of Christopher Columbus’ abhorrent actions, such as enslaving Native Americans.

Instead, the Muskogee group will celebrate the rich Native history of America and Oklahoma and the tribes that now inhabit the area. The celebration is free and all are welcome.

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Thursday, October 7, 2021, 7:13 AM

James Overall, 63, of Muskogee was killed yesterday afternoon in a single-car wreck a mile south and west of Taft, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Overall was driving a 2004 Jeep Cherokee Laredo on State Highway 16 around 1 p.m. when it departed the roadway to the right for an unknown reason, the patrol reported, continuing that he over-corrected, departed the roadway to the left, and the vehicle overturned three times, ejecting him.

He was not wearing a seatbelt, and the Jeep’s airbags did not deploy. The patrol is investigating Overall’s condition at the time and the cause of the wreck.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2021, 7:55 PM

Muskogee High School will shift to virtual instruction on Thursday as work continues to repair a broken water line on campus.

All 10th-12th grade students who attend MHS will work virtually Thursday, according to school spokesman Steve Braun. This includes special education students, who may typically come in when instruction moves virtual. Rougher Alternative Academy, Roughers Innovations Academy, BOOT School, and all other sites will remain in session as normal.

All MHS students will access their assignments through their individual teachers’ Google Classroom or Schoology. Students failing to log in will receive an absence for all classes into which they do not log in. Students may email or message their teachers with any questions they may have.

Teachers will receive information regarding expectations for Thursday via email from MHS administration.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2021, 9:47 AM

Muskogee High School is without water after a water line break on campus today, according to school spokesman Steve Braun.

“Classes will remain in-session and in-person Wednesday as work is done to repair the broken water line,” he said. “Portable toilets are scheduled to be delivered to the high school to accommodate students and staff. Lunch will be provided but will have a limited menu at the high school.”

More information will be provided as it becomes available. Parents or guardians with additional questions can contact Muskogee High School at 918-684-3750.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2021, 7:44 AM

Kingdom Living Church, at 24th and Broadway streets in Muskogee, is offering free lunch every day during the week from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The group is offering the lunch as a way to reach out to people who may not be able to afford to eat, according to Pastor Wilma Newton.

For more information, show up at the church during those hours, or call 918-781-9248.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2021, 7:30 AM

Despite significant improvements in reducing infant mortality in Oklahoma in recent years, SIDS-related deaths continue to be the third leading cause of infant deaths in the state. SIDS is the sudden, unexpected death of a baby younger than one year of age that does not have a known cause even after a complete investigation.

The top three causes of infant deaths in Oklahoma are congenital malformations, disorders related to short gestation and low birth weight, and SIDS. There were approximately 36 deaths in Oklahoma due to SIDS in 2019 and 1,250 nationwide.

All babies should sleep on their backs, at least through the first 12 months, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The sleep space could be a crib, Pack and Play, or bassinet. To prevent the risks of suffocation and death, the crib should have a firm mattress with a fitted sheet. There should be nothing else in the crib with your baby, such as blankets, stuffed animals, toys, bumper pads or pillows. Your baby could roll over and suffocate on these things.

Earlier this year, the Consumer Product Safety Commission approved a new safety standard for products used as infant sleep spaces. This new mandatory standard will take effect mid-2022, substantially reducing potentially hazardous sleep products in the marketplace. Related products include inclined sleepers (which position babies at an angle greater than 10 degrees), baby boxes, infant sleep hammocks, handheld carriers, in-bed sleepers and baby loungers.

Infants exposed to smoking – either while in the womb or after birth – have a higher risk of SIDS than infants who are not exposed. Pregnant women who smoke are advised to quit, and care should be taken to keep infants away from any smoke exposure after they are born. For more information on how to quit smoking, call the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, 1-800-Quit-Now (1-800-784-8669).

For more information, please visit www.health.ok.gov using the keywords “safe sleep”, call James Craig at (405) 426-8089, or email jamescc@health.ok.gov.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2021, 7:26 AM

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services has received a federal grant to support law enforcement crisis intervention training. The department delivers CIT training throughout the state, and has trained approximately 1,900 Oklahoma law enforcement officers from 170 different agencies. Awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the grant provides $121,000 per year, for up to five years, to support training expansion, coordination and outreach.

The program is a national, evidence-based law enforcement intervention training to aid in responding to situations involving mental health crisis. It promotes officer safety and the safety of the individual in crisis. Once trained, officers work in partnership with local mental health providers, families, advocacy organizations and others to improve community crisis response and overcome stigma.

Officers participating in the training receive instruction in situations unique to mental health response. It is more than just a first-responder training in that it helps to train officers in community partnership and problem-solving. Research shows that communities utilizing the model have higher success rates in resolving serious crisis situations. The program has been cited as helping to reduce inappropriate incarceration of people experiencing mental illness and providing relief to an overburdened criminal justice system.

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Monday, October 4, 2021, 3:08 PM

NOTE: This story is from the Associated Press via Tulsa’s Channel 8, not from original reporting here.

The COVID-19 patient’s health was deteriorating quickly at a Michigan hospital, but he was having none of the doctor’s diagnosis. Despite dangerously low oxygen levels, the unvaccinated man didn’t think he was that sick and got so irate over a hospital policy forbidding his wife from being at his bedside that he threatened to walk out of the building.

Dr. Matthew Trunsky didn’t hold back in his response: “You are welcome to leave, but you will be dead before you get to your car,'” he said.

Such exchanges have become all-too-common for medical workers who are growing weary of COVID-19 denial and misinformation that have made it exasperating to treat unvaccinated patients during the delta-driven surge.

The Associated Press asked six doctors from across the country to describe the types of misinformation and denial they see on a daily basis and how they respond to it.

They describe being aggravated at the constant requests to be prescribed the veterinary parasite drug Ivermectin, with patients lashing out at doctors when they are told that it’s not a safe coronavirus treatment. An Illinois family practice doctor has patients tell him that microchips are embedded in vaccines as part of a ploy to take over people’s DNA. A Louisiana doctor has resorted to showing patients a list of ingredients in Twinkies, reminding those who are skeptical about the makeup of vaccines that everyday products have lots of safe additives that no one really understands.

When patients tell Dr. Vincent Shaw that they don’t want the COVID-19 vaccine because they don’t know what’s going into their bodies, he pulls up the ingredient list for a Twinkie.

“Look at the back of the package,” Shaw, a family physician in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “Tell me you can pronounce everything on the back of that package. Because I have a chemistry degree, I still don’t know what that is.”

He also commonly hears patients tell him they haven’t done enough research about the vaccines. Rest assured, he tells them, the vaccine developers have done their homework.

Then there are the fringe explanations: “They’re putting a tracker in and it makes me magnetic.”

People who get sick with mild cases insist that they have natural immunity. “No, you’re not a Superman or Superwoman,” he tells them.

He said one of the biggest issues is social media, as evidenced by the many patients who describe what they saw on Facebook in deciding against getting vaccinated. That mindset has spawned memes about the many Americans who got their degrees at the University of Facebook School of Medicine.

“I am like, ‘No, no, no, no, no.' I shake my head, ‘No, no. That is not right, no, no. Stop, stop, just stop looking at Facebook.'”

Dr. Stu Coffman has patients tell him they are scared about vaccine side effects. They don’t trust the regulatory approval process and raise disproven concerns that the vaccine will harm their fertility. He said the most unexpected thing someone told him was that there was “actually poison in the mRNA vaccine” — a baseless rumor that originated online.

He is confounded by the pushback.

“If you’ve got a gunshot wound or stab wound or you’re having a heart attack, you want to see me in the emergency department,” he said. “But as soon as we start talking about a vaccine, all of a sudden I’ve lost all credibility.”

He said the key to overcoming hesitancy is to figure out where it originates. He said when people come to him with concerns about fertility, he can point to specific research showing that the vaccine is safe and their issues are unfounded.

But he says there’s no hope in changing the minds of people who think the vaccines are laced with poison. “I’m probably not going to be able to show you anything that convinces you otherwise.”

And he thinks he could change people’s minds about the vaccine if they could follow him around for a shift as he walks past the beds of the sick and dying, almost all of whom are unvaccinated.

Dr. Ryan Stanton recently had a patient who began their conversation by saying, “I’m not afraid of any China virus.” From that point on, he knew what he was up against in dealing with the patient’s politics and misguided beliefs about the virus.

Stanton blamed people like far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for spreading some of the misinformation that has taken root among his patients. Among them is that the vaccine contains fetal cells. Another said it “is a simple fact that the vaccine has killed millions.”

“In fact,” he said, “that couldn’t be more wrong.”

It’s tough to watch, especially after living through the early surges. On his worst shift last fall, an elderly nursing home patient arrived, close to death. She hadn’t seen her family in months, so staff wheeled her outside in the ambulance bay so her relatives could say their goodbyes from 20 feet away. He snapped a picture of the scene so he could remember the horror.

There was hope after the vaccines arrived, but then came the delta variant and a slowdown in immunizations.

“Really it amazes me the number of people who have this huge fear, conspiracy theory about vaccines and will honest to God try anything, including a veterinary medicine, to get better,” said Stanton.

For Trunsky, the vaccine pushback grew so intense that he turned to Facebook to describe the ire he confronts on a daily basis at his hospital in Troy, Michigan. The post listed eight encounters he had in the two previous days alone in which COVID-19 patients explained misinformation-fueled reasons for not getting vaccines or made demands for unproven treatments.

Example No. 5 was a patient who said he’d rather die than take the vaccine. Trunsky’s response: “You may get your wish.”

He has heard a litany of misinformation about the vaccine: They say it’s not proven and only experimental when in fact it is not. Others tell him the vaccine is a “personal choice and that the government shouldn’t tell me what to do.” He also has heard patients tell them they are too sick and didn’t want to risk the side effects of the vaccine. One young mother told him she wasn’t vaccinated because she was breastfeeding, although her pediatrician and obstetrician urged her it was safe. She had to be hospitalized but eventually got a shot.

Others, though, take out their anger on health care providers. Some threaten to call attorneys if they don’t get a prescription for Ivermectin, commonly used by veterinarians to kill worms and parasites. The drug can cause harmful side effects and there’s little evidence it helps with the coronavirus.

Dr. Carl Lambert hears lots of wild misinformation from his patients. Some comes from the Bible interpretations; some originates from the rapper Nicki Minaj.

Some of it is the stuff of internet conspiracy theories, like there’s a chip in the vaccine that will take over their DNA.

“Impossible scientifically,” says the family physician in Chicago. He also hears patients tell him that the vaccine will weaken their immune systems. He responds: “Immunology 101. Vaccines help your immune system.”

Recently he received a flurry of messages from patients who were worried about damage to their testicles — a rumor he ultimately traced back to an erroneous tweet from Minaj alleging that the vaccine causes impotence.

“And I was like, ‘That’s outlandish. That’s a bit outrageous.' So a lot of just kind of counseling that I did not expect to have to do.”

Some of the misinformation is delivered from the pulpit, he said. People have sent him sermons of preachers saying the vaccine is “ungodly or there’s something in it that will mark you,” a reference to a verse in Revelation about the “mark of the beast” that some Christians cite in not getting vaccinated.

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Monday, October 4, 2021, 7:39 AM

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma announced federal grand juries sitting in Muskogee recently completed two separate August and two separate September sessions and returned 46 felony indictments, including four superseding indictments.

From the four grand jury sessions in August and September, 28 indictments were publicly filed and eighteen remain sealed pending arrest of the charged defendants.

Twenty-three of the unsealed charges involve crimes arising out of Indian Country. Six of the unsealed indictments are for murder or involuntary manslaughter, four are for sex crimes, and the balance contain allegations of assault with intent to commit murder, assault resulting in serious bodily injury, domestic violence, firearms violations, burglary, and robbery (including attempted robbery).

The five unsealed non-Indian Country indictments involve possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, firearms violations, and traveling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.

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Friday, October 1, 2021, 7:17 AM

Oklahoma School for the Blind will be celebrating White Cane Safety Awareness Day on October 13. The school’s event will be held before national White Cane Safety Awareness Day, which is observed every year on October 15. This day recognizes the white cane’s significance in advancing independence for people who are blind and visually impaired.

“White Cane Day recognizes our students’ independence and mobility by celebrating this useful tool and its users,” OSB Superintendent Rita Echelle said. “The White Cane provides a mechanism for individuals who are blind or visually impaired to be on an equal footing with their peers.”

The school will be celebrating in Downtown Muskogee at Mural Park, 230 W. Broadway, at 1 p.m.

The students will walk a 15-minute route utilizing their white canes to navigate the downtown area safely. They will demonstrate proper cane technique, safe street crossings and travel awareness.

Members of the public are encouraged to participate or ask questions.

Oklahoma law requires drivers to completely stop their vehicles 15 feet away from pedestrians who are visually impaired and identified by their use of white canes with red tips or dog guides. People who violate this law are guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to three months or $100 fine or both.

Oklahoma law also stipulates that only blind people may carry white canes with or without red tips. These canes are internationally recognized as mobility aids for people with visual disabilities.

Legal blindness occurs when vision is 20/200 or less in the better eye with the best possible correction, or the visual field is restricted to 20 degrees or less.

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Friday, October 1, 2021, 7:01 AM

Two bridges deemed too rickety to even hold the weight of a school bus have now been completely renovated, according to County Commissioner Ken Doke.

Using funds from the state, the county was able to improve the load limits on the bridges from 3 tons (around the weight of the average car). School buses on average weigh 12 tons. The bridges are now rated at 34 tons.

“We have reduced the number of deficient bridges in Muskogee County nearly by half,” Doke said.

A ribbon-cutting for the new bridges was Wednesday.

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Friday, October 1, 2021, 6:49 AM

Muskogee is a finalist for an environmental excellence award for its participation in the 2021 Great American Cleanup. Muskogee’s project, the Azalea Cleanup, resulted in 220 tons of trash picked up off of the streets of Muskogee.

“I had two elementary schools working along with three churches, a Girl Scout troop, two banks, two bicycle clubs, a sorority, the local newspaper, the Youth Volunteer Corps, two historic neighborhoods and the Chamber of Commerce on the volunteer list,” said Karen Coker, event organizer. “In total, 396 volunteers worked together to clean up Muskogee.”

Muskogee is a finalist in the Great American Cleanup Best Overall category. In addition to 220 tons of trash, the Azalea Cleanup also collected 678 tires, 273 loads of brush and limbs and cleaned up 17 illegal dump sites.

Keep Oklahoma Beautiful will award prizes at a special awards ceremony on November 19.

The Azalea Cleanup occurs every spring. To get your group or organization involved, contact Coker at (918) 684-6200 or email kcoker@muskogeeonline.org.

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Thursday, September 30, 2021, 7:24 AM

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma announced that Neil Shai-Cameron Lewis, age 26, entered a guilty plea to one count of second-degree murder in Indian Country. The crime occurred on March 21, 2020, at a Muscogee (Creek) Nation low rent housing addition located in Okmulgee County. The defendant was homeless and staying with someone in the complex, and during the course of hours, a group of men drank and socialized in an apartment in the complex. They drank to excess and became intoxicated, and the defendant started to become argumentative and aggressive toward the other drinkers.

Lewis then struck one of the men outside of the apartment, and the man was injured enough that EMS and the police were summoned. After attending to the injured man, the police knocked on the door to the apartment where the defendant and the other men had been drinking. Eventually, Lewis answered the door with blood all over him, and the police discovered the victim, Deslin Gouge, who had been beaten severely and was lying on the floor. It appeared that the television set and a coat rack were used as weapons to inflict blunt force trauma on the victim. The victim subsequently died, and while in the county jail, Lewis admitted to another inmate that he was a killer.

The charges arose from an investigation by the Muscogee Creek Nation Lighthorse Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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Thursday, September 30, 2021, 7:19 AM

The Cherokee Nation on Tuesday enrolled its 400,000th tribal citizen and continues to process a historic record number of citizenship applications.

“In the coming months, Cherokee Nation Registration will be adding thousands more tribal citizens whose applications are already pending and awaiting verification, making the Cherokee Nation the largest tribe in the United States. With this growth, we will continue to be an important force for economies, education, health care, quality of life issues, and environmental matters,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “Our citizens are engaging and connecting which is a sign that our Cherokee Nation government is a strong Indigenous voice in Indian Country.”

The tribe’s registration department is continuing to clear a backlog of thousands of remaining citizenship applications pending since the Cherokee Nation announced its COVID-19 relief payments for citizens. At times, the tribe’s registration department has received 2,000 applications for citizenship per week, approximately 10 times the volume typically received.

“Reaching 400,000 Cherokee Nation citizens has really put the tribe’s registration department to the test, but we are determined to provide this important service so that our citizens can obtain the COVID-19 relief assistance they need during this pandemic and continue to stay engaged with their tribe,” said Interim Registrar Derrick Vann. “I want to thank Chief Hoskin and his administration as well as those on our Tribal Council for their support. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to each and every one of our Registration employees for their dedication and the personal sacrifices they have made working additional hours in the evenings and on Saturdays to ensure we are processing citizenship applications as quickly as possible. They have really stepped up during these trying times and it is an honor to work alongside them.”

The Cherokee Nation Registration Department is temporarily closed to in-person services through October and is scheduled to reopen to the public on Nov. 1 to allow staff to continue to focus on clearing the application backlog. A secure vault has been placed in the lobby of the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex in Tahlequah for those who wish to drop off citizenship applications during the temporary in-person closure of registration services.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2021, 7:01 AM

A portion of south Main Street will be dedicated to Avalon Reece, Oklahoma’s first female city council member and the first black female city council member, on Sunday, October 10 at a ceremony in honor of her many accomplishments.

​Reece was a distinguished educator with the Muskogee Public School system for 45 years and was recognized as the first and only female band director for much of that time. In addition to her accomplishments in education, she was elected to serve as a member of the Muskogee City Council in 1972, making her the first black female council member in the state of Oklahoma.

In 1980, she was appointed to the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education and helped establish a scholarship program for aspiring teachers at Langston University. Reece received many local and state honors and was active in numerous professional, civic and community organizations. She served a total of 9 years as a Muskogee City Council member.

​Her legacy will be honored at a ceremony, in the parking lot of St. Mark Baptist Church, located at 1020 S. 2nd Street at 2:30 p.m. where a portion of south Main Street will be dedicated to her posthumously.

For more information on the dedication ceremony, Deputy Mayor Derrick Reed at (918) 235-7596.

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