Saturday, April 30, 2016

CASA for Children Hosts Community Lunch & Learn

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) will hold a lunch & learn for prospective CASA volunteers at noon May 3 at Roma’s Italian Restaurant at 1600 W. Tatham Ave. in Sallisaw.

Jenny Crosby of CASA for Muskogee, Sequoyah and Wagoner Counties, said, “Every day in the United States, 1,900 children fall victim to abuse and neglect. CASA for Children is a local non-profit organization that recruits, trains, and supports citizen volunteers to advocate for the best interests of these children both in the courtroom and community.”

Crosby explained that CASA volunteers are advocates empowered directly by the courts to offer judges the critical information they need to ensure that each child’s rights and needs are being attended to while in foster care. For many abused children, a CASA volunteer is the only adult presence in their lives.

The CASA program will host an information session for persons interested in obtaining information about CASA or learning what steps are necessary to become a volunteer. This meeting will be held over lunch at Roma’s Italian Restaurant on May 3. Meals will be provided by the CASA for Children Program.

Crosby said no previous education or experience is required to volunteer. The only prerequisite is that volunteers be at least 21 years of age.

Crosby said, “We welcome volunteers from all cultures, professions, ages and ethnic backgrounds.”

For more information about CASA or to request an application, call (918) 686-8199 or email A child is waiting for your help!

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Work Day, Yard Sale Planned at Old School

Members of the Old Sallisaw High School Association will hold a work day at the park from 9:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. May 7.

During the work day they will be accepting donations for the association’s June 4 yard sale to raise funds to finish the old school property as a park.

Others may sell items at the yard sale by leasing their own space for $10. They must provide their own table.

At the yard sale association members will also have a bake sale, lemonade stand, nachos, beverages, t-shirts and bricks. The bricks are for the memorial brick walk in front of the rotunda.
They invite everyone to “Clean out your closets” to help raise money and finish the park.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Cheater Charged

Colton Dwayne Cheater, 25, of Muldrow, whose run-in with law enforcement on April 21 caused Gore Schools to close for the day, now faces multiple charges in Sequoyah County District Court, Sallisaw.

Cheater was charged Thursday in district court with first-degree burglary, domestic abuse-assault and battery, leaving the scene of an accident involving damage, obstructing an officer, threatening to perform act of violence and unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance without a prescription.

According to the police officer who arrested Cheater, the suspect was hiding from police after wrecking his car the night before, and barricaded himself in his ex-girlfriend’s mobile home in Gore. The incident evolved into a stand-off in the early morning hours of April 21, which resulted in Gore School cancelling classes for the day. 

According to police, Cheater, using a cell phone, threatened his ex-girlfriend over the nights of April 20 and 21, then broke into her mobile home. Police tracked Cheater down by tracing the cell phone. During the stand-off police reported Cheater also threatened them.

Sheriff Ron Lockhart eventually talked Cheater into coming out of the mobile home. Cheater surrendered at 7:45 a.m. April 21, after a standoff of about two and a half hours.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Longest Walk Participants Take Break at Brushy Lake

Kid Valance, in back, and Arthur Jacobs, in front, are just two of the 30 participating in The Longest Walk 5, a Native American project to declare war on drugs, alcoholism and domestic violence. The 30 walkers and runners are spending Thursday night at Brushy Lake Park, north of Sallisaw, and will leave for Fort Smith on Friday morning. The walk started on Feb. 12, and the group plans to be in Washington, D.C., on July 15. This walk is being led by Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement. Valance is the captain of the runners and Jacobs writes about the walk for Native News Online.Net on his laptop computer.

Hundreds of American Indians and supporters gathered Feb. 12 at the Barona Indian Reservation in San Diego County, California, when The Longest Walk 5 kicked off. (Photo Courtesy of Arthur Jacobs)

About 30 Native Americans and supporters are taking a break from a 3,600-mile walk at Brushy Lake Park Thursday and Friday morning.

The Longest Walk 5, according to the organization’s information, “is a 3,600 mile spiritual journey across America calling attention to, and seeking guidance on, drug-related issues and domestic violence, which are causing extensive devastation and suffering on Indian Reservations and within communities throughout the United States.”

The walk kicked off on Feb. 12 in California, and walkers plan to be in Washington, D.C., by July 15.

Dave Frebolt of San Jacinto, California, and his wife, Lois Taylor, said the group is on the 75th day.

“About 30 are going all the way,” Frebolt said. “Some just walk for a day, some for a week, some longer. We’ve had as many as 200.”

In Oklahoma, Dawne DuShane of Tahlequah and two other members of the Cherokee Nation have joined the walk.

DuShane said, “I want to aid in the effort to stop drug addiction and domestic abuse.”

Frebolt said the group depends on the kindness of those along the way for food and shelter. The City of Sallisaw was donating their brief stay at Brushy Lake Park. Tribes and others along the way often make monetary and other donations, he said.

“We survive by donations,” Frebolt said. “The hospitality is overwhelming from everyone.”

Frebolt, who is not Native American, said he decided to participate in the walk because is a retired drug dealer, and spent seven years in prison for drugs.

“I decided I needed to give back to society for those years and for the lives damaged. It’s a way to clear the conscious and help everybody.”

Frebolt said, “Every day is a life-changing experience.”

Kid Valance, originally of Winchester, Ky., was asked to be the run captain of the journey. He said runners have kept the run going from the Pacific Ocean and plan to continue all the way to Washington.

“That’s special,” he said.

Valance lost a nephew to drugs, which is one of the reasons he is participating. Also a singer and songwriter, Valance said he wrote a song for the walk, “To Be Here (a Blessing).”

“Dennis (Banks) asked me to write the song since I lost my nephew,” Valance explained. He said Banks understands the loss because Banks lost a granddaughter as the result of domestic violence.

Drugs, alcohol and domestic violence are often intertwined, Frebolt said. The men said the group is sometimes approached by those addicted or involved in domestic violence. The group will offer help or “We just tell them to pack up and come along with us.”

Frebolt said the walkers and runners “crow hop” along less well-traveled roads. He explained some walk, or run, for five or so miles, then others take their place. The group plans to make about 20 miles a day. Their next stop will be in Fort Smith. Cars and trucks carry those not walking or running, food, tents, camping supplies and other items.

The group’s information states that, along the way on the long journey, they will host forums on the issues, visit with those involved in the war on drugs, alcohol and domestic violence, and gather information to prepare the next generation of Native Americans and community leaders to battle the addiction and abuse ills.

“On our quest we tirelessly search for ways to support, uplift and empower our troubled relatives, who are trapped in the hell of addiction, so they can begin a path toward healing their mind, body and spirit,” their information declares.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Judge, Mrs. Parker to Be at Library

Judge Isaac and Mary Parker will present a program on 19th century life in Fort Smith at noon today (April 27)  at Stanley Tubbs Memorial Library in Sallisaw.

The Parkers won’t really be there of course, but re-enacting what the Parkers’ frontier life was like will be Floyd and Sue Robison.

Floyd Robison recently became president and CEO of the Friends of the Fort, a support group at the Fort Smith National Historic Site. Both Robisons serve on the Fort Smith Historical Journal Board of Directors, and the April issue of the journal features an article Sue wrote on Mary Parker’s life in Fort Smith and her life after her husband’s death.

Floyd Robison began volunteering at the Fort Smith National Historic Site more than 14 years ago, and a park ranger asked if he would portray Judge Parker in the site’s courtroom. He hasn’t put down the gavel since that day. Floyd portrays Judge Parker in the night courts presented at the historic site.

Floyd then convinced Sue to join him as Mrs. Mary Parker to help serve cake at a birthday party thrown for Judge Parker at the Fort Smith Museum of History about nine years ago. As a couple, the Robisons have been tour guides on the Museum of History’s Haunted Trolley for eight years, presented local history to thousands of school children at the museum and met with hundreds of visitors to Fort Smith.

Both Fort Smith natives, the Robisons are retired. Floyd worked 35 and a half years at ABF in the overcharge department at ABF headquarters in Fort Smith. Sue spent 33 years in media and public relations before the couple retired together a little over two years ago.

Those planning on attending the presentation are asked to RSVP to the library at 918-775-4481.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Cherokee Nation Honors Veterans

The Cherokee Nation honored two World War II veterans and a Korean War veteran with the Medal of Patriotism during the April Tribal Council meeting.

Cruce Lansford, 89, of Tulsa, Lewis Sutton, 96, of Moore, and Junior Phillips, 81, of Vian received the medal from Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden acknowledging their service to the country.

Seaman Lansford was born June 25, 1926, in Porum and enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1944. Lansford attended basic training in Galveston, Texas, and was shipped to Manus Harbor in the Seeadler Islands, seven months after they were secured from the Japanese.

Lansford was stationed on the USS Harry Lee, an amphibious ship that carried troops and landing boats to areas of conflict. Lansford helped land troops on the islands of Luzon and Iwo Jima right before the American flag was raised. Lansford was honorably discharged in 1946 and received numerous medals, ribbons and stars for his service.

“I appreciate the Cherokee Nation and the honor that they have given me, and I’ll remember it as long as I live,” Lansford said.

Master Sgt. Sutton was born Jan. 7, 1920, in Muldrow and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1941. Sutton and a friend were sent to baker’s school at Fort Sill. He was then sent to weapons school near Killeen, Texas, where he learned about all types of guns, grenades, explosives, mines and tank destroyers.

After weapons school, he was sent to Camp Kilmer, N.J. Sutton then went to Normandy for combat where he led a tank destroyer company. Sutton’s first large battle was the Argentain and Falaise Gap Battle that lasted eight days. When the Germans started the Battle of the Bulge, Sutton and his company were sent to Belgium. After the Battle of the Bulge, Sutton’s company crossed the Rhine River and headed to Munich, Germany. He was there when the victory in Europe was declared on May 8, 1945.

In 1946, Sutton re-enlisted and spent 20 months in Korea. Once stateside, he was an instructor at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Sutton was then moved to Fort Hood, Texas, and promoted to master sergeant. Sutton eventually retired in 1962. In addition to the Army Commendation Medal, Sutton received the Good Conduct Medal with two bronze loops, American Defense Service Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one silver service star and World War II Victory Medal.

Petty Officer Phillips was born May 7, 1934, in McIntosh County and joined the Navy two months before he graduated high school in 1952. After becoming a seaman apprentice, Phillips became an aviation apprentice where he served as the flight engineer on patrol planes. He ran every control on the plane except the throttle. Phillips trained pilots from Panama, Cuba, Jamaica, England, France, Argentina and America to operate personal transport planes.

In 1955, he was stationed in the Philippines and then served on the aircraft carrier USS Essex. Phillips participated in Operation Blue Bat. It involved 14,000 men who were supported by a fleet of 70 ships in the Mediterranean Sea. The operation ultimately caused Soviets to retreat from Lebanon.

Then, the Phillips and the USS Essex traveled through the Suez Canal and participated in Operation Formosa Strait by supplying munitions to Taiwan, which was engaged in conflict with China.

Phillips was honorably discharged in 1961 and received numerous awards for his military services. In 2012, Phillips was honored by graduating from Warner High School, 60 years to the day that he would have graduated had he not volunteered to serve his country.

Each month the Cherokee Nation recognizes Cherokee service men and women for their sacrifices and as a way to demonstrate the high regard in which all veterans are held by the tribe. 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.

To nominate a veteran who is a Cherokee Nation citizen, call 918-772-4166.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Two Hospitalized after Motorcycle Crash

A motorcycle crash north of Roland Friday sent two individuals to the hospital.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) reported Harry Harvey, 50, of Pocola and Ashlyn Harvey, 19, of Pocola, were both listed in stable condition.

The OHP reported Harry Harvey was driving a 2008 Suzuki motorcycle north on Swon Road when he lost control and laid the motorcycle down on its side and slid for about 225 feet. Harry Harvey went through a piped cable fence before coming to a stop in a ditch.

He was sent by Tulsa Lifeflight to Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, Ark., where he was admitted and listed in stable condition with head, internal trunk and arm injuries. Ashlyn Harvey was transported by Fort Smith EMS to Sparks Regional Medical Center in Fort Smith and admitted in stable condition with leg injuries.

The OHP reported the cause of the crash, which occurred at about 10:30 p.m. Friday, was unsafe speed.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Cherokee Employees Volunteer for State Cleanup

Employee volunteers from Cherokee Casino Sallisaw clear trash
and debris from alongside U.S. Highway 59 in Sallisaw.

Employees from Cherokee Nation Businesses (CNB) and Cherokee Nation Entertainment (CNE) are once again celebrating the spring season by volunteering in a statewide initiative to make Oklahoma cleaner, greener and more beautiful.

“We live in such a beautiful part of this country. It is an honor to be responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of the two-mile stretch of Highway 59 South, near our casino,” said Amber Nelson, marketing manager, Cherokee Casino Sallisaw. “Many of our team members drive that route every day and feel proud each time they see the Adopt-A-Highway sign with our name on it.”

Joining Oklahoma Department of Transportation and Keep Oklahoma Beautiful for the 28th annual Trash-OFF, employees from the tribe’s corporate and entertainment properties are clearing trash and debris from alongside local roadways. 

Trash-OFF is Oklahoma’s signature event in the Great American Cleanup, the nation’s largest community improvement program. Each spring, Trash-OFF brings together thousands of volunteers working to improve the state’s appearance and the safety of its roads.

The official Trash-OFF cleanup day is April 23, but the annual effort is held from March 1 through May 31. CNB and CNE employees are volunteering throughout the month of April and May.

“The Trash-OFF is a great way to unite communities and show pride in Oklahoma,” said Melody Johnson, ODOT Beautification coordinator. “We are fortunate to have so many caring people pitch in to keep our land grand.”

In an effort to beautify local communities, CNB and CNE have additional cleanup days scheduled throughout the year. All eight of CNE’s Cherokee Casinos and Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa have separate CIT teams that also participate in ODOT’s Adopt-A-Highway program.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Doctor Arrested

A doctor wanted on drug charges in Sequoyah County was arrested early Tuesday in Georgia.

An arrest warrant was issued for Dr. William Kerry Smith April 12 following a year-long investigation by the Sallisaw Police Department and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics (OBN).

Mark Woodward, spokesman for OBN, said Smith, of Pembroke, Ga., is facing 40 counts of distributing controlled prescription drugs outside the course of legitimate business. The charges were filed April 12 in Sequoyah County District Court.

“The investigation found evidence Dr. Smith was prescribing controlled substances to individuals who had not demonstrated a legitimate medical need for the drugs," Woodward said.

Woodward says the investigation began in December 2014 and involved illegal prescribing in both Oklahoma and Arkansas. The 40 counts against Smith involve unlawful prescriptions written for painkillers including Hydrocodone and Oxycodone, as well as the anti-anxiety drug Xanax.

Woodward said Smith will be extradited to Sequoyah County where he will face the charges in district court.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Gore Schools Recognized for Improved Grades

Gore Elementary School and Gore Upper Elementary School were among 36 schools recognized for their efforts to improve school grades.

Gov. Mary Fallin recognized the teachers, staff, students and parents of 36 schools for their efforts to improve their school grades in Oklahoma’s A-F School Report Card.

The schools were presented with the Governor’s Spotlight on Academic Achievement Award. Recognized schools included elementary, middle, junior and high schools.

“This award speaks to the most important value of our state – hard work,” said Fallin. “It is not easy to see the significant academic gains that you all have shown, so I think it is very important to recognize your efforts.

“Every child in Oklahoma deserves to have a high quality education. The students, teachers, administrators and parents at these schools serve as an example how to improve academic performance in schools.”

The Oklahoma Legislature adopted the A-F School Grading System to provide incentives to schools that challenge their students to reach high levels of college and career readiness.

Fallin said Oklahoma’s A-F grading system is an important measure for administrators, teachers, parents and other school patrons. These grades allow teachers and administrators a way to compare their schools with others, while providing insight on how they can improve. The grades also let parents know how the schools are performing, while showing other school patrons what is needed to help their schools proper.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Tax Credits: Only the Best Survive

Submitted by Rep. John Bennett 

In the final six weeks of the legislative session, House members continue to decide bills on the House floor as well as work on the state budget for the next fiscal year.

Tax credits are an issue garnering much discussion when it comes to the budget.

While we don’t want to take away those credits that are actually generating jobs, higher income and therefore higher tax revenue for our state, we are taking a look at other credits that may not be giving the state a great return on our investment.

I’ve been told that tax credit reform could give us $200 million more to put into next year’s budget, but we want to be judicious and fiscally responsible in our consideration of each item.

One proposal would cap at $25 million a tax rebate for gross production taxes for oil wells operated at financial risk. I’m looking into the pros and cons of this to see if it will actually net the state revenue. I don’t want to hamper oil production at a time the industry is just starting to show signs of a rebound.

There are many other tax credits on the table, and we will take a look at each one.

In the meantime, many bills are still making their way through the legislative process.

Senate Bill 1552, which I co-authored, would result in the revocation of licenses for physicians performing abortions received a do pass recommendation from the House Public Health Committee and has been co-authored by a number of other legislators. It deserves a vote on the House floor. We must protect the life of the unborn, and this is just one more bill that would help us ensure the preservation of life.

Several other measures were signed last week that deserve a mention.

The governor signed House Bill 3102, which expands the number of hours an adjunct teacher can teach in Oklahoma classrooms.

Adjunct teachers are those who have not gone through the teaching certification process, and therefore are limited to how many hours they can spend teaching students. This bill expands the hours from 90 to 270.

Our goal in Oklahoma is to have a highly qualified, certified teacher in each of our classrooms. Unfortunately, we have a statewide teacher shortage. This measure allows a professional to teach a subject matching their expertise. This gives our school districts more options to better meet the needs of their students, and it allows our business community to play a role in servicing our schools.

Another measure signed into law last week was Senate Bill 1342, which modifies the Taxpayer Transparency Act. The change allows Oklahomans to see all federal funds received by state agencies and track how the monies are used. This helps legislators as well as we draft the state’s budget. As we consider agency needs, we must have an honest picture of all funds received, not just those doled out by the state.

Several of the constitutional carry bills I co-authored are still alive on the Senate side. One is House Bill 3098, which would allow law abiding citizens, who can legally purchase firearms, the right to carry them openly without a license. Over 20 states offer some type of constitutional carry to its citizens. I want Oklahoma to be one. Another is House Joint Resolution 1009. This would send to a vote of the people the decision to approve or reject a proposed amendment to the state constitution that clarifies the types of arms and ammunition and the manner in which citizens may keep and bear them. The bill also specifies that no law shall impose registration or special taxation upon the keeping of arms including the acquisition or transfer.

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Tenkiller Park Clean-up Day Is Saturday

The Tenkiller Park Partners will be heading up Tenkiller State Park’s annual Clean-up Day from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday.

The park partners will be providing a hot dog lunch for all participants and will also hold a drawing for prizes during lunch.

Trash bags will be available at Shelter 1 for pick up and all full bags collected by individuals should be brought back to the shelter to be counted. Aluminum cans will be collected and saved to help fund the Greater Tenkiller Area Association’s fireworks show display.

For more information call 918-489-5641 or email

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Main Street Promises a Hot Time in the Old Town

It will be “A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight,” or actually on Friday and Saturday in Sallisaw. That’s when the Hot Pickin’ Finger Lickin’ Barbecue and Band Fest will be held in downtown Sallisaw, sponsored by Sallisaw Main Street.

This hot time includes a variety of live music and a barbecue cook off that guarantees toe tapping and good eating.

The event kicks off at noon Friday when Sallisaw Main Street members will begin offering Indian tacos in front of the library for a mere $5.

Toe tapping begins at 7 p.m. Friday when a variety of bands begin playing. This year’s bands include Crossroads, the Rebel Ridge Rascals, Whiskey Revolver, and Matt Garland and the Shotgun Reunion. The music will continue at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

“I think the bands are going to be real good,” said Margaret Perry of Sallisaw Main Street. Perry encourages festival goers to bring their lawn chairs to relax and enjoy the music.

The finger lickin’ commences at 11 a.m. on Saturday. That’s when barbecue tasters’ kits will be available for $7. The kit entitles the taster to sample all the wares of the barbecue cook off competitors, and includes a ticket so the taster may vote for the People’s Choice winner. The People’s Choice winner gets $200 and a huge trophy. The cook off winners, decided by a judge’s panel, get $200 for first, $150 for second, $100 for third and $50 for fourth. A Let’s Get Sauced contest has been added this year, for the best tasting sauce, and that winner gets $100. 

Perry said Sallisaw Main Street provides between 500 and 600 pounds of pork butt for the cook off, and competition for the Peoples’ Choice award is intense.

“They all want that trophy. This is a real fun event, and the barbecue is outstanding,” Perry said.

Vendors will also have booths at the event for those who need a little shopping along with the food and the music. The Lawbreakers and Peacemakers, a western re-enactment group from Van Buren, will also be performing in front of the library.

For more information about the Hot Pickin’ Finger Lickin’ Barbecue and Band Fest contact Perry at 918-790-3315.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Gore Schools Closed for Day Thanks to Standoff with Felon

“He didn’t want to go back to prison,” reported Gore police after ending a standoff with a convicted felon Thursday morning.

Gore police and Sheriff Ron Lockhart reported Colton Dwayne Cheater, 25, surrendered to police at about 7:45 a.m. Thursday after an all-night search that concluded with Cheater barricaded in the bedroom in his ex-girlfriend’s mobile home.

Gore Officer Eric Cope reported Cheater apparently wrecked his vehicle at about 11:15 p.m. Wednesday north of Gore on State Highway 100. He then called his ex-girlfriend to tell her about the wreck, and left the scene. Cope was at the scene when the woman arrived to retrieve a car seat. Cope said she reported that Cheater had called her back and asked her to come pick him up.

“He said he was outside Gore walking around. He said he was cold,” Cope reported.

When the woman refused, he threatened her over the phone, Cope said.

Cope said he traced the cell phone and found that Cheater was behind the trailer park where the woman’s mobile home was parked. Cope and another officer searched the trailer park but did not find Cheater. When they went back to the mobile home they spotted Cheater running up on the porch, breaking down the door and fleeing into the house. He then barricaded himself in the bedroom.

That was at about 5:15 a.m., Cope reported.

Cheater refused to come out of the bedroom and threatened the police officers too, Cope said.

Although Cheater’s threats were hard to understand, Cope said that “He basically did not want to go back to prison. He’s been to prison twice.”

Gore police called Lockhart at 6:30 a.m. who was able to talk Cheater out of the bedroom. Cheater surrendered at 7:45 a.m., and was taken to the Sequoyah County Detention Center in Sallisaw where he is being held until Gore police file charges against him. Cope said he was working on the charges Thursday afternoon.

“He faces a lengthy list of charges,” Cope said.

According to Sequoyah County Court Records, Cheater has two felony convictions – for second degree burglary in September 2011 and lewd molestation in March 2013 – and two misdemeanor convictions.

He is due back in Sequoyah County District Court in Sallisaw on May 8 for a Rule 8 Review. A Rule 8 review is done by a judge to determine if an offender is financially able to pay fines and fees. A quick review of the available records indicates Cheater owes more than $3,000 in fines and fees, and has paid about $940.

The incident resulted in Gore School officials closing school for the day for safety.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Mr. Pat Comes Back

The newly-refurbished Mr. Pat floats, tied to a barge on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System at Lock & Dam 14 south of Muldrow. Mr. Pat is the Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tow boat that facilitates the movement of a 150-foot barge, housing a crane used for major repairs on the five lock and dams on the navigation system in the Tulsa District. (Photo by Preston L. Chasteen)

The Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently returned their maintenance tow boat, Mr. Pat, to service, after receiving major refurbishment upgrades at Ensley Engineers Yard in Memphis, Tenn.

The four-deck, 82-foot long vessel facilitates the movement of a 150-foot barge, housing a crane used for major repairs of the five lock and dams on the Oklahoma side of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigations System (MKARNS).

In Oklahoma, the MKARNS is managed and maintained by the Tulsa District.

Refurbishment of Mr. Pat included two new engines boasting a combined 2,000 horsepower.

Each engine drives a five and a half inch shaft, 20 feet long, which propels a five-blade, 66-inch prop.

“The boat performs really well now that the horsepower has been increased. Before the boat was always in a struggle, it was in a struggle just pushing itself around,” said Capt. Kelly Youngblood.

The new electronically-controlled engines replace the old air control system and offer a greater degree of responsiveness. All engine diagnostics were upgraded to provide immediate data read-out, available for viewing on digital control panels.

The tow can hold 24,000 gallons of diesel fuel for operations, and at the rate of 1,700 rpm’s, can consume up to 40 gallons of fuel an hour, per engine. However, at idle, the fuel consumption rate can be as low as three gallons an hour.

Mr. Pat’s electrical systems are supported by two 105 kilowatt generators. One is used as a primary and one as a backup should the need arise.

Youngblood and a crew of four can sleep on the boat which provides the crew access to three bathrooms, two showers and a full kitchen. Living amenities are supported with 2,500 gallons of fresh water divided amongst two 1,250 gallon water tanks.

“The only thing that stops us from working is a lot of wind and a lot of current,” said Youngblood.

As recently as 2014, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation reported that the Oklahoma portion of MKARNS supported waterborne commerce totaling 5.7 million tons of cargo with a value of $2.56 billion to the economy. Youngblood said Mr. Pat and crew are an integral part of maintenance operations along the Tulsa District portion of this economically important inland water way.

The vessel is permanently housed out of the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Terminal, near the navigation project office in Sallisaw.

Youngblood and his crew aboard Mr. Pat not only support the five lock and dam systems in the Tulsa District from W.D. Mayo L&D 14 near Muldrow to Newt Graham L&D 18, but also will dispatch to perform maintenance in other districts when needed.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Allred Pleads Guilty

Jeffrey Scott Allred, 42, former minister at the Journey Church in Sallisaw, pleaded guilty to an embezzlement charge Wednesday morning in Sequoyah County District Court in Sallisaw.

Allred was sentenced by Associate District Judge Kyle Waters to a four-year deferred sentence. He will be on probation for four years and must report to his probation officer in Sequoyah County once a month.

During the hearing Allred admitted he used the church’s credit card for unauthorized purchases. The guilty plea was part of a plea agreement that included that restitution be made to the church. The restitution has been paid in the amount of $68,000.

The original embezzlement charge said the amount was less than $10,000. A civil suit, filed by the church in district court, asked for no less than $50,000. The civil suit was dismissed on Tuesday.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hetherington Honored

Carl Albert State College (CASC) officials on Friday issued a tribute to Jerry Hetherington of Sallisaw. Mr. Hetherington died in Tulsa on April 14. He served as a CASC regent for 33 years.

The tribute reads: 

The passing of Jerry Hetherington will be felt by the entire region as his family and friends remember an incredible man.

Gary M. Ivey, CASC president, said, “Along with Jerry’s immediate family, the Carl Albert State College ‘family’ will never be the same without Jerry. Jerry has faithfully served as ‘CASC Regent Hetherington’ for 33 years.”

Gov. George Nigh appointed Hetherington as a CASC Regent in 1983 to succeed Delores Mitchell of Sallisaw, and Regent Hetherington has served Carl Albert State College ever since. In honor of his service and commitment to help make Carl Albert State College a premier community college, he was inducted into the CASC Hall of Fame in 2004. 

Ivey said, “Regent Hetherington was a driving force behind the establishment and expansion of CASC's Sallisaw campus. The Flag Plaza at the Sallisaw campus bears his name. As a member of the Sallisaw Committee for Excellence, he has spearheaded the efforts to provide numerous scholarships over the years to Sequoyah County students attending CASC at Sallisaw. CASC would not be the outstanding community college it is today without the dedication of Jerry Hetherington. He loved this college, and gave of himself in every way possible in order to make sure we were able to provide a high quality education to students across our region.

“Jerry is not someone you can replace,” Ivey said. “He was a pillar in the community, and set a standard for others to only hope to reach. Jerry was a football player at the University of Oklahoma and had a world of opportunities ahead of him. The opportunity he chose to be a leader in our communities was certainly good for all of us. Regarding his career, Jerry has led the success of Sallisaw Lumber for 41 years.” 

Ivey concluded, “Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to Jerry’s wife, Georgia Ollie Hetherington, and son Jarret Hetherington. Words are not available to express how much the Carl Albert State College family loved Jerry, and how very much he will be missed.”

Mr. Hetherington, 67, died April 14 in Tulsa. He was born Aug. 24, 1948, in Fort Smith, Ark., to Thomas Lester and Hazel (Walden) Hetherington. 

He played football at OU from 1966-1970, and owned Sallisaw Lumber for 41 years in addition to serving on the CASC Board of Regents.

Survivors include his wife, Georgia (Ollie) of the home; son, Jarret and wife Teri Hetherington of Sallisaw; grandchildren, Taren and Alex Madding, and Seth Morgan; two great-grandchildren; brother- in-law, Dan Ollie; and numerous cousins, other relatives, loved ones and friends.

Private services were held. In his honor contributions may be made to the Carl Albert Development Foundation Jerry Hetherington Scholarship.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Gray Hearing Continued for Sixth Time

For the sixth time, the preliminary hearing for a Muldrow woman, charged with conspiracy and other crimes, was continued Tuesday in Sequoyah County District Court in Sallisaw.

“I’m going to pass it one time,” Special District Judge Larry Langley told attorneys Tuesday morning at the beginning of the preliminary hearing for Angela Gray, 41.

Gray is charged with conspiracy, child endangerment by driving under the influence, and selling or furnishing alcoholic beverages to a minor, all felonies. The charges were filed Aug. 31 by the Sequoyah County District Attorney’s office after a mistrial on previous charges.

Gray is accused of allegedly covering up the ATV crash on Sept. 1, 2013, south of Muldrow that left Christian Mayberry with severe brain trauma. 

Mayberry and many others were on hand to testify at Tuesday’s preliminary, but Assistant District Attorney Michael Ashworth asked Judge Langley if Gray’s preliminary could be combined with two other defendants in the case, Kyle Brannon and Joey Gray, Angela Gray’s son. Ashworth argued that since all three face the same charges, the witnesses would only be asked to testify once in a combined preliminary hearing rather than three times in three preliminary hearings. Brannon and Gray allegedly helped clean up the area after the ATV crash.

Judge Langley accepted Ashworth’s argument and reset the preliminary hearing, for all three defendants, for 1:30 p.m. May 31.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Restitution Discussed in Allred Alleged Embezzlement Case

A restitution amount is being discussed by the prosecution and defense attorneys in a criminal embezzlement case in which the minister is charged with embezzling from Journey Church in Sallisaw.

Jeffrey Scott Allred, 42, is charged with embezzling less than $10,000 from the church. He was charged on Nov. 13 in Sequoyah County District Court in Sallisaw. But a civil case, filed by the church in the same court on Sept. 28, asks for no less than $50,000.

However, the civil case was dismissed Monday and listed as “settled.” Allred’s attorney, Craig Cook of Fort Smith, was unavailable for comment on Tuesday afternoon.

Associate District Judge Kyle Waters is to hear what both parties decide at a disposition docket in district court on Wednesday, and then decide what will occur next in the criminal case.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Sallisaw Woman Suffers Burns in House Fire

A house fire Saturday in Sallisaw sent one woman to the hospital with burns on her hand and arm.

Sallisaw Fire Chief Anthony Armstrong said Monday he did not have a report on how the elderly woman was doing.

He said it is believed the fire was started by a pan of grease on the cooking stove and the woman burned her hand and arm when she tried to put the fire out.

Armstrong said a neighbor called the fire in and helped the woman escape from the home. The fire department was dispatched at about 3:35 p.m. to the fire at 216 S. Adams. Armstrong said 12 firefighters responded to the call and had the fire under control in about 15 minutes. Firefighters remained on the scene for about 45 minutes until the fire was extinguished.

He said the kitchen was burned out and the rest of the house suffered heavy smoke damage. The house is unlivable, and has an estimated $30,000 in damages, he said.

Armstrong said the Red Cross was alerted to help the woman with clothing and other necessities

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Gray Preliminary Hearing Set to Start on Tuesday

The preliminary hearing for a Muldrow woman, accused of leaving the scene of an ATV crash that left a teenager with a severe brain injury, is set to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Sequoyah County District Court in Sallisaw.

Angela Gray, 41, is charged with conspiracy, child endangerment by driving under the influence, and selling or furnishing alcoholic beverages to a minor, all felonies. The charges were filed Aug. 31 by the Sequoyah County District Attorney’s office in Sequoyah County District Court, Sallisaw, after a mistrial on previous charges.

According to the new set of charges, Gray is accused of "conspiring. . .to commit the crime of child endangerment, or in the alternative leaving the scene of accident, by agreeing to alter the truth of the accident and create a story to exonerate Angela Gray from any criminal wrong doing or exposure by altering the scene of the accident and cleaning up the beers, removing an ice chest of beer from the ATV, moving the location of Christian Mayberry at the scene and moving the ATV from the scene prior to law enforcement's arrival to investigate the scene of the accident."

Gray is accused of allegedly covering up the ATV crash on Sept. 1, 2013, south of Muldrow that left Christian Mayberry, with severe brain trauma. Mayberry has been undergoing rehabilitation ever since.

In a jury trial in July, in which Gray faced a charge of failure to stop at an accident resulting in non-fatal injury, the jury deadlocked on that charge and a mistrial was declared. Jurors told District Judge Jeff Payton that, based on the testimony, they could not decide who was driving the ATV at the time of the crash. Gray testified Mayberry was driving and Mayberry testified Gray was driving.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Ashworth, who tried that case, said he would retry the case. At that same trial Angela Gray was found not guilty of contributing to the delinquency of minors. 

Angela Gray also faces a civil suit, filed by the Mayberrys, in district court.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Sallisaw Police Seek Shoplifting Suspect

Sallisaw police are seeking an arrest warrant for an Arkansas man after he led officers on a pursuit Saturday.

Arrested as a result of the investigation was an Alma, Ark., woman who was a passenger in the male suspect’s pickup truck. Amanda Leann Wiggins, 24, (above) was booked into jail on a grand larceny charge. 

Sallisaw Police Chief Terry Franklin said officers found a large amount of stolen goods in the pickup truck.

Franklin reported Sallisaw police were called to the Walmart store on Ruth Street Saturday afternoon in reference to a shoplifter. Store officials said the suspect was driving a maroon Ford pickup truck with an Arkansas tag.

Police spotted the truck driving south on Cedar Street and attempted to stop the truck, but the male driver accelerated and continued south on Cedar. At the south end of Cedar the suspect drove through a locked gate and across a pasture before coming to a stop. He then jumped form the truck and fled on foot. Wiggins, a passenger in the pickup truck, was taken into custody.

Franklin said Sallisaw police have also received inquiries from other police agencies who are also looking for the suspect.

Franklin said, “We are requesting an arrest warrant and charges are pending against the driver.”

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Gift-card Car Buy Attempt leads to Arrest

A California man is being held without bond in the Sequoyah County Jail after Sallisaw police found him in possession of alleged illegal drugs, a loaded firearm and stolen or fraudulent gift cards.

Sallisaw Police Chief Terry Franklin reported Griffin Taylor gave officers a fake ID when he was arrested Thursday, but his fingerprints led to his true identity after his arrest.

Franklin reported, “On April 14 Sallisaw police officers responded to the Auto Finders car lot on East Cherokee Street in Sallisaw in reference to a suspicious male trying to purchase a vehicle with a large amount of gift cards. When officers arrived they made contact with a male subject who had a handful of gift cards. The subject was taken into custody and a search of his back pack revealed trafficking weight of black tar heroin along with methamphetamine, a loaded firearm, and multiple gifts cards believed to be stolen or fraudulent.”

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Candidates File for Office

The filing period for the 2016 election concluded at 5 p.m. Friday.

Following are the candidates for federal, state and county offices.

The candidates for U.S. Representative District 2 are: Democrat-Paul E. Schiefelbein, 57, of Tahlequah, and Joshua Harris-Till, 26, of Tahlequah; Republican-Markwayne Mullin, 38, of Westville (Mullin is the incumbent), and Republican-Jarrin Jackson, 30, of Claremore; and Independent-John McCarthy, 46, Afton.

Candidates for state offices are:

-State Representative-District 2: Democrat-Tom Stites, 60, of Sallisaw; and Republican-John Bennett, 41, of Sallisaw (Bennett is the incumbent).

-State Representative-District 15: Democrat-Ed Cannaday, 75, of Porum (Cannaday is the incumbent); and Republican-Don Herrold, 65, of Stigler. 

On the local level, candidates file at the Sequoyah County Election Board in Sallisaw. 

-County Clerk: Democrat-Julie Haywood, 39, of Sallisaw. (Haywood is the incumbent and since she did not draw an opponent, she will automatically return to office.)

-Court Clerk: Democrat-Vicki Beaty, 59, of Roland (Beaty is the incumbent and since she did not draw an opponent, she will automatically return to office.).

-County Commissioner-District 2: Democrat-Steve Carter, 62, of Gore (incumbent), and Bob Warren, 59, of Gore.

-County Sheriff: Democrat-Ron Lockhart, 53, of Sallisaw (incumbent), and Roy Coleman, 61, of Muldrow; and Republican-Greg Peters, 41, of Muldrow, and Republican Larry Lane, 47, of Vian.

The statewide primary election will be on June 28, and the primary runoff election, if needed, will be Aug. 23. The general election is Nov. 8.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Friday, April 15, 2016

County Students Awarded Scholarships

The Cherokee Nation Foundation (CNF) announced scholarship recipients for the 2016-17 academic school year. CNF is awarding $136,000 to 15 high school graduates and 56 current university students.

“We want to commend all of our applicants for their hard work and dedication to academic success,” said Janice Randall, executive director of Cherokee Nation Foundation. “Our awardees each showed tremendous potential, and they are a wonderful representation of the Cherokee Nation. We look forward to seeing all they will achieve.”

Scholarship recipients from Sequoyah County are:

-Anna Fine, Central High School, Cherokee Scholars

-Gary Trajan Lattimore, Central High School, Cherokee Scholars

-Dalton Sharp, Muldrow High School, Cherokee Scholars

Applications were evaluated based on academic achievement, community and culture involvement, and future plans to serve the Cherokee people.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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