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Wesley Dale Matney

Wesley Dale Matney, age 66, died Sunday Aug. 10, at the VA Hospital in Oklahoma City. He was born March 2, 1948 in Parsons, KS to Jake and Sarah (Bishop) Matney. Wes was drafted in to the U.S. Army at the age of 18 and served in the 101st Airborne during the Vietnam War, earning 2 Bronze Star Medals, the Vietnam Service Medal with 4 Bronze Service Stars, Army Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal and Vietnam Gallantry Cross. He and his wife Shirley (Moore) moved to the Mustang area in 1976, he served as a volunteer fireman with Mustang and was a diesel mechanic by trade. But the true passion of Wes’ was that for his wife and taking his boys out fishing. He was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers; Ronald and Carl. Wes is survived by his wife Shirley, sons; Darrin of Mustang and Kenneth and wife Susanna of Yukon, five grandchildren; Karissa, Jacob, Amanda, Braiden, David and great-grandchild Jordynn. Also by brother Don and sister Sharon Strong. Services will be 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 13, at McNeil’s Funeral Service with interment to follow at the Mustang Cemetery.
Online condolences may be made to www.mcneilsmustangfs.com

Excitement surrounds Mustang as new school year begins

MPS Three

By Kyle Salomon,

The 2014-2015 school year is under way for Mustang Public Schools, and more than 800 new students and a new elementary school provide the headlines for the new year.

The new school is Prairie View Elementary and will have grades kindergarten through fourth grade. It is the seventh elementary school in the Mustang school district. The new school is located on 59th Street and County Line Road.

Mustang Public Schools Superintendent Sean McDaniel said there is a lot of excitement and several changes surrounding the new school year.

“The biggest single change is the number of new students that will attend Mustang schools. The number of new students has increased to over 800. We expect more to enroll in the next few days. This is not a ‘net’ total, rather just the new kids. We still aren’t sure of the total number of students who may have moved out of the district over the summer. By Oct. 1, which is the statewide official student count day, we will have a pretty good picture of our total enrollment.”

Even though this is the first day of school for the students, the teachers and other faculty have been at school all week preparing for the arrival of the children and the new year. Monday morning, faculty and staff kicked off the new school year together.

“We began the day with a country-style breakfast in the MHS Commons,” McDaniel said. “Administrators, varsity football team members and many high school students served more than 1,000 employees. The place was buzzing. People are excited for the new year. Great things are happening in Mustang. At 8 a.m., we all moved into the MHS auditorium for the celebration of students.”

McDaniel said several Mustang High School students provided entertainment for the teachers.

“MHS students Garrison Brown and Ashley Getz performed a couple of songs, the JROTC presented colors, Mustang Trails second-grader David Farnham led us in the Pledge of Allegiance and then read a poem, the MHS drum line performed, MHS student council president Heidi McDaniel addressed the crowd and thanked teachers for their influence they have had in her life and in the lives of all the students.

“Alyssa Moon and Hayley Bledsoe performed a theatrical poetry reading that also thanks teachers for making a difference. Faculty, staff and students are excited to be back at school. This is an exciting time of year.”

McDaniel said the goal for him, the school board and administration is for Mustang Public Schools to be the premier school district in the state of Oklahoma. He said adding more than 800 students to the Mustang school system is an example of how the district is heading in the right direction.

“Adding more than 800 students to our schools speaks volumes about our school district and our community. Our school board’s vision is to be the premier district in Oklahoma, combined with the vision our city has to be a hometown community, one that is service oriented and is very appealing to people. As a district, we are very excited to welcome new families to our schools. We are proud of the education we offer and believe we are a wonderfully unique district with the best teachers anywhere.”

There are numerous parents who are concerned with the number of students that will be roaming the halls in Mustang Public Schools. Their concerns focus on overcrowded classrooms that could impact the  learning that will take place.

McDaniel said with new schools coming online, that should not be a problem.

“With the addition of two new intermediate centers (fifth- and sixth-grade schools Canyon Ridge and Horizon) and the opening of a new elementary school this year, overcrowded schools won’t be a problem. Our constant challenge for the next couple of years will be to keep class sizes at a manageable level.”

Kyle Salomon is the sports editor at the Mustang News. He can be reached at ksalomon@mustangnews.info.

MHS top-30 athletes: Nos. 1-5, Jayden Chestnut takes top honors

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Sports editor Kyle Salomon did a six-week series of columns releasing his current top-30 athletes at Mustang High School. This is the final week of the series and he is revealing Nos. 1-5.

Here is a look at my final column of the six-week series releasing my Mustang High School top-30 current athletes starting with No. 1.

No. 1 Jayden Chestnut, senior, softball

Jayden Chestnut is not just arguably the best female athlete to ever walk the halls of Mustang High School, she is arguably one of the best athletes period to ever attend MHS.No. 1 Jayden Chestnut

The hard-throwing right-hander has been the ace in the circle since she was a freshman for the Lady Broncos softball program. Year after year she leads the Bronco girls back to the state tournament, making deep runs in her first three years for MHS.

Chestnut is hoping her fourth and final chance at a state championship will end happier than her previous three tries for the elusive ring.

The future Oklahoma Sooners softball player is looking forward to her collegiate career, but she’s got unfinished business at Mustang before she heads south to Norman.

Chestnut has accomplished just about everything you could possibly imagine in the high school ranks, including earning All-American status and pitching a scoreless inning in the Triple Crown All-American Game this summer in Colorado.

However, she has one remaining goal on her mind as she enters her senior season in Mustang, and that is to bring the gold to her hometown.

One thing is for certain, with Chestnut in the circle, you always like your chances.

No. 2 Chandler Garrett, junior, football

Chandler Garrett is probably the most exciting athlete at Mustang High School. The 6-foot-5 quarterback is being recruited by several top-level Division I college football programs around the country and certainly keeps Bronco nation on the edge of its seat every time he takes a snap.No. 2 Chandler Garrett

Garrett took the starting QB job midway through the year last year from three-year starter and senior Frankie Edwards. He led the Broncos to the quarterfinal round of the playoffs, where ice and frigid temperatures halted the Mustang offense against Broken Arrow.

Garrett has the ability to make every throw in the book and can also beat you with his legs out of the backfield. The junior has the ability to run around you like Cam Newton but also has the size to run through you like Blake Bell used to do for the Sooners in the “Bell Dozer” package.

If Garrett makes the type of progression that is expected out of him this coming football season, the MHS football squad is looking at another playoff run that’ll hopefully end deeper than the quarterfinals.

No. 3 Jakolby Long, junior, basketball

Jakolby Long is the LeBron James of the Mustang basketball program. The 6-foot-4 combo guard can run the point guard position, play the two-guard, excels at the small forward position and can even go down in the post and play the four.No. 3 Jakolby Long

The junior has everything you want in a major college Division I basketball player. He can handle the ball, pass from the top of the key, drive to the hoop and dish it to an open teammate or lay it in for an easy two or drain an open outside shot.

Jakolby has trimmed up from last year when he played overweight, according to his father and head coach of the Broncos, Terry Long.

Mustang will be one of the few teams to have a real chance at winning the state title in 6A basketball this season, and if it is going to accomplish that feat, the Broncos are going to need Jakolby to have a big year on the hardwood.

Look for that to occur.

No. 4 Jaci Jones, junior, soccer

Jaci Jones is one of my favorite athletes to watch play her particular sport at Mustang. She approaches her craft with more passion than anyone else at Mustang High School.No. 4 Jaci Jones

Jaci’s love and passion for soccer is limitless. The junior plays both midfield and forward for the Lady Broncos soccer team. She is the one girl on the field head coach Mike Mason doesn’t have to worry about because he knows she is going to bring everything she’s got to the field every day.

Jaci is being heavily recruited by several major college soccer programs across the nation. Whoever is lucky enough to land Jaci is in for a real treat once she steps on campus, but she’s not quite ready for that yet.

Jaci hopes to lead the Bronco girls to a state title by the time her four years are up for MHS. With her in charge of the field for the Mustang girls, that is a definite possibility.

No. 5 Blake Williams, senior, football

When a young man hasn’t played competitive sports in more than a year and is still being highly recruited by Division I colleges to come play football, you know you have a special talent right in front of you.No. 5 Blake Williams

Blake Williams has fought an illness that sidelined him from sports for more than a year, but he is back to return to the gridiron for the Broncos, and he is coming back with a vengeance.

Normally, replacing a guy like Colton Hadlock at the H-back position would be nearly impossible, but then when you see what Williams looks like on a football field and witness his ability in action, you quickly realize that won’t be a problem.

Williams has a body that looks NFL-ready right now. If he has the type of season everyone is expecting of him, watch out for the Broncos this season because there are not many guys in the state who could bring him to the ground.

Kyle Salomon is the sports editor at the Mustang News. He can be reached at ksalomon@mustangnews.info.

High rainfall has effect on local agriculture

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By Daniel Lapham,

After two consecutive years of above average rainfall in June and July and drier than normal conditions in the fall and spring, a regional climate specialist and a Canadian County farmer agree that adaptation and hard work are the keys to continued success in Oklahoma agriculture.

“With the rains that started in late May and continued through June and then July, we are seeing definite improvements to the drought in Oklahoma. The break in the drought has made a big difference,” said Dr. Jeanne Schneider. Schneider is lead meteorologist for the Southern Plains Regional Climate Hub and Great Plains Agroclimate and Natural Resources Research Unit. “I have noticed that the cattlemen and women that sold their cattle during the drought last fall and winter have acquired new stock.”

And if the rains continue, a local farmer believes it is possible for a second hay crop and a really good wheat crop to be harvested. Cody Stine, 23, is a fifth generation farmer with Stine Farms. He said the rains are having a great impact.

“The grass has been great, just like last year,” Stine said. “The wheat stubble has been growing like crazy. At this point we are just trying to stay on top of it. Usually in July we wouldn’t have any grass. It would be all burnt up, but because of the rains it’s still lush and green. We are usually already using our hay to feed to the cows by now.”

Schneider said according to the website drought.gov, conditions have drastically improved, but the dry spell is far from over.

“We have roughly the southeast quarter of the state out of drought, but in southwest Oklahoma and all the way up to northwest Oklahoma and the panhandle we are still seeing extreme to heavy drought,” Schneider said. “The rest of Oklahoma and most of Canadian County is still in what we call a moderate drought. The scale ranges from D0 being no drought to D4 being extreme. Canadian County is currently ranked at a D1.”

To clarify how droughts are measured, Schneider said they are placed into three categories. A meteorological drought is defined as an area that has received less than average moisture over a long-term period. Agricultural drought deals with vegetation and topsoil indicating that moisture levels are too dry to effectively grow most crops. The third kind of drought is the most damaging and severe. This is a hydrologic drought. This occurs when the water supply is affected by a long-term drought and there becomes a decrease in water levels not only in lakes and rivers but also in wells and aquifers.

“The drought.gov data combines all three of these drought types to give us a big picture,” Schneider said. “Basically we are holding our own in the agricultural area, but we are still in a little bit of trouble with our hydrologic area. For Canadian County we are doing OK, but in southwest and northwest Oklahoma we are still in a serious drought. It’s actually scientifically much worse than the Dust Bowl, but we have gotten better with our farming practices so it hasn’t appeared as damaging. This is why last spring the dust storms were back in the panhandle.”

Despite the long-term dry outlook, Stine said his family couldn’t be happier with current conditions and hopes it lasts through the fall and winter.

“Usually you’d have to cut your grass by the Fourth of July,” Stine said. “A lot of people this year are getting hay crops off the crabgrass that has grown up in their wheat stubble. From my standpoint, it is a really good year. If we keep getting these rains there will be a second harvest for sure.”

Whether the rains will continue or we are destined for another dry fall and spring is still uncertain, according to Schneider, but one thing is certain, she said, and that is the increase in the unpredictability and severity of weather patterns.

“I am both a research meteorologist and the lead for the Southern Plains Regional Climate Hub. It is my job to coordinate the research on all of the research dealing with climate change across this region. As a part of this I see all of the data coming from every direction. Climate change is something that has already happened. It’s not something that you can look at one event and say this is it. It is when you put it all together that you see the bigger picture. The data shows us that the changes have been happening since at least 2000. We did not use to see the things we are seeing. For example, we are getting cold fronts in July. Before 2000 you did not see that. This feels good. It’s nice out and we are getting the moisture, but what we are seeing is an increase in extremes.”

Cool weather in July is not a bad thing, but droughts are. What is really happening is a breakdown in the wisdom of the past where there has always been a spring and a fall rain. This is not true anymore.

“I am only 23 so I am young, but I don’t remember it being like this,” Stine said. “I remember it being muddy during planting season. But not like it’s been the last couple of years. It’s been the worst I’ve seen it. In the past you might have had your hail damage or storms, but not like this.”

The changes have been developing slowly but now they are reaching a crescendo, Schneider said. There are no longer regular rain patterns.

“The big change and problem with this is that with these changes we are seeing more flooding events and droughts,” she said. “What we are seeing as indicators for the future is drought punctuated by flood. The variability has increased. Everything indicates that variability is going to continue to increase. So we need to adapt. Not wait to go back to what it used to be. I do believe we have the ability to adapt. I am concerned about this because when I talk to our producers, our farmers and ranchers, they say, ‘We just need to wait for it to go back to normal.’ Well, there is no normal anymore.”

Stine said although he sees the change, he and his family are still seeing results through traditional farming and although it is traditional, there are ways to adapt within tried and true farming.

“We are kinda old-fashioned with our farming,” Stine said. “It’s really hard to go out and turn it around to a no-till farming method. There are a lot of chemicals and equipment that you have to use and that’s not something we are really excited about getting into. It’s kinda hard to change and go a different way of farming. We have been doing this for five generations and it has worked. We can adapt and still do it our way.”

Schneider disagreed with the idea that things can stay the same.

“Everything we have thought we knew for centuries is wrong,” she said. “So if you leave the stubble and plant into that you actually get more water absorption and retention. Having all of that plant matter insulates the soil. It will help to insulate the soil against the extremes. The weather is more dynamic so bad things are happening more often. The more we can do to support that life the better off we are.”

Although no-till is not an option for Stine Farms, Stine said adapting is something farmers have always done.

“We will usually change our patterns and planting times to a different time of year and we will space out our crops differently. We just set it aside and don’t plant everything if it doesn’t sprout. Wheat likes it cool so we couldn’t change up the planting season, but you can fluctuate it within reason. The yields just fluctuate from year to year. It’s just how it is with farming.”

Stine said he has spoken with several farmers that are going to summer crops or canola in order to deal with the fluctuation.

“I have seen a lot of summer crops like hay grazer or millet or a grain crop like milo or beans,” he said.

Schneider said her role is not to tell anyone what they should do, but simply to look at the data and help coordinate every possible resources to provide producers with the best options to adapt and thrive for generations to come.

“I do believe we can adapt but it is not going to be easy,” she said. “We are still figuring it out. That is my job as the lead for the climate hub is to help figure out the best options and to answer the question, ‘How do we adapt?’ It’s all these little things adding up that constitutes climate change. The people that are making it are the ones who have already made changes to modern methods. Going from traditional till to no-till is a solution I have seen work. A healthy soil is a soil that is alive in terms of keeping a biological life inside of it. This is what you see in a prairie that has never been tilled and this is what you strive to achieve with no-till methods.”

Information and additional resources are available to the public through the Natural Resources Conservation Service website at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov. Once there one can select his state to find specific area resources.

“We are trying to figure this out in real time,” Schneider said. “Increasing soil health and developing a soil health plan is a good place to begin. It does take a couple of years to make some of these changes. It is going to take investments, but we are seeing results from those who have made changes. We are not here to tell anyone what to do but to give options. The bottom line is we can no longer treat agriculture as a factory, we must be more adaptable and be able to adjust. We can no longer work on a calendar. This is now a matter of taking advantage of the rains when they come and hunkering down when they don’t. It’s going to be hard for a lot of people. I appreciate that. I know it is going to be hard. But that is the beauty of humankind. We can change, we can adapt, and we must.”

Daniel Lapham is a reporter for the sister paper of the Mustang News, the El Reno Tribune. He can be reached at dlapham@elrenotribune.com.

Softball shows off tradition with annual Alumni Game

AG 10

By Kyle Salomon,

When you think about successful programs in sports at every level, you think about tradition and what it means to that particular program.

Oklahoma head football coach Bob Stoops understood that when he was hired in 1998. He immediately reached out to former Sooner players and coaches and developed a family-like atmosphere and now he is sitting at the top of one of the best college football programs in the country.

Mustang softball understands that as well. Lady Broncos softball has as rich of a tradition as anyone can have when it comes to the level of players that have come out of their program.

One of the best nights of the year for the entire MHS athletic program is the Alumni Game for the Bronco softball team.

Once a year in August, just before the regular season begins, the Mustang softball program brings back as many former players to play the annual Alumni Game against the current Lady Broncos.

They do keep score, but no one cares about the outcome of the contest, it’s all about having a good time and embracing the legacy that is MHS softball.

First-year Mustang head softball coach Bryan Howard said he knew of the history of the program coming in, but the Alumni Game opened his eyes to just how special it really is.

“I was really impressed with the whole day,” he said. “The crowd was unbelievable, the former players that came back to be a part of the event, the current players and coaches all made the night really, really special. It’s important that we honor the past players for their accomplishments here.

“We want them to feel like this is their home that they can come back to whenever they want. We want them to enter the facility through our clubhouse, not the front gate.”

The whole day ended up being a big success for the Lady Broncos softball program. They hosted their annual scramble golf tournament at Crimson Creek in El Reno on Saturday morning, which Howard said was a major success.

The evening festivities got under way at 6 p.m. with Mustang North Middle School taking on Mustang Middle School in a scrimmage. Following the middle school game, the second annual home run derby got under way.

The cost to compete in the derby was $5 for five swings or $10 for 10 swings and anyone could compete. Numerous people participated in the event as former players, current players, parents, families and fans all sent softballs sailing into the night.

Finally, the Alumni Game capped off the night as the alumni team battled the current Lady Broncos on the diamond. There were several blood feuds in the game as sisters competed with one another and even a mother-daughter competition was on display.

Howard said the Alumni Game wasn’t about winning and losing, it was about continuing to build on tradition and to have a fun time together before the regular season starts this week.

“I found myself getting pretty competitive in the first inning, but then I realized this wasn’t about competing like that, it was about having fun and enjoying ourselves for one night,” he said. “We exceeded our expectations as a program with the whole day. I couldn’t be happier.”

The Lady Broncos get their regular season officially started at 4:30 p.m. this afternoon as they take on Putnam City West on the road. They return to action Friday and Saturday as they travel to compete in the Broken Arrow tournament.

Kyle Salomon is the sports editor at the Mustang News. He can be reached at ksalomon@mustangnews.info.

Mustang City Council considers needs of growing city

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By Daniel Lapham,

Mustang’s City Council, along with City Manager Tim Rooney and members of his staff discussed several areas dealing with the municipal government Monday in a special work session at the Mustang Town Center.

One of those areas dealt with the need for capital improvements and how to pay for them. Another area discussed was the cost of buying water from Oklahoma City. Rooney said Mustang can longer afford to “absord” the cost of doing business with the much larger neighbor.

Rooney presented a breakdown of the upcoming rate structure changes to Mayor Jay Adams and members of the council. The fiscal year 2014 to 2015 City of Mustang Budget, which was adopted and approved by the city council on June 3, included a proposed water and sewer rate increase of 7 percent. The rate was proposed to go into effect beginning Oct. 1.

“Revenues and expenditures within the Mustang Improvement Authority that were included in the budget were based on the 7 percent increase occurring in the October billing cycles,” stated Rooney’s utility rate review. “Since the June 3 meeting in which the FY 2014-15 budget was approved, RFP’s (Request for Proposal) for refuse service were also opened.  OEMA, the city of Mustang’s existing refuse contractor, was the low bidder and staff was directed to develop a contract based on the bid submitted by OEMA.”

The action item to accept or decline the contract with OEMA will appear on the Aug. 19 agenda for action by the city council. The bid submitted by OEMA included a proposed $1.50 reduction in the monthly refuse rate. Rooney is proposing an additional fee of $1.50 be added to all customer utility bills as a capital improvement fee. This fee would be used for water and wastewater system capital improvements and would balance out the savings seen from the refuse fee reduction.

Assistant City Manager Justin Battles gave a slide presentation to the council outlining the current and future capital improvement needs. Current projects under way include the 74th Street booster station and County Line water tower budgeted at a cost of $201,743.15, and the Lakehoma Lift Station budgeted at $174,021.

“Any capital improvement fees added to utilities bills could give us a starting point to funding these projects,” Rooney said. “Currently, the city of Mustang has no identified method or revenue to be used for these improvements and this would provide a method to do so.  The cities of Lawton, Edmond and Norman already have this sort of funding in place.”

With the current amount of customers in Mustang, the capital improvement fee would generate approximately $125,000 per year to be used toward capital improvements.

“I don’t think that’s enough, $1.50 just doesn’t look like enough of an increase to meet our capital improvement needs. We need to get these projects going now.,” said Councilman Jess Schweinberg, Ward 6.

In addition to the 7 percent increase in the water and sewer rates for everyone, Rooney recommended the possibility of changing or adding one-time fees for residential, commercial and rental deposits. He also included ideas to encourage responsible customer habits by charging fees for chronic disconnect due to non-payment, account holds, pull meter, illegal hook-ups, stolen meters, tampering and re-reads at the customer’s request.

“Many of these fees have not been changed since the late ’80s or early ’90s, while others are fees that are currently not being charged at all,” Rooney said.

The final change city staff recommended to the council concerning utility rates is to include wording for any future utility-related ordinance that would pass cost increases through to customers.

“While utility rate increases are never popular, they are necessary,” Rooney said. “The city of Mustang cannot afford to not pass along utility rate increases that are passed on to it from Oklahoma City, nor can it afford to continue to fail in addressing capital improvement needs of an aging system.  Staff plans to place an ordinance/resolution with the above referenced fee adjustments on the Aug. 19 agenda for action.”

Daniel Lapham is a reporter for the sister paper of the Mustang News, the El Reno Tribune. He can be reached at dlapham@elrenotribune.com.

Cross country teams ready for fresh start this season

CC Seven

By Kyle Salomon,

As they enter into the 2014 cross country season, there is one word resonating through the locker rooms for the Mustang harriers – “team.”

Both the Bronco boys cross country team and the Lady Bronco harriers graduated numerous key components from last year’s teams.

However, the girls are returning senior Kyra Fuller and junior Jaci Jones, who will lead the way for Mustang. The boys are returning a top-10 individual placer from a year ago, Lance Frost, who is preparing to compete in his senior season for MHS.

The Bronco cross country teams have not been taking the summer lightly. Both squads have been practicing at 7 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Wild Horse Park in Mustang throughout the break. They also took a couple of Saturdays to go out and ride bicycles around Lake Overholser.

Monday afternoon was their first non-morning practice of the year.

Head boys coach Mike McGarry said he was pleased with the work the team put in over the summer.

“Overall, I’d say it was a good summer for us,” he said. “We had quite a few kids come out this summer and really improve their times from a year ago. Another really cool thing we had this summer was a lot of middle school kids coming out to join us for practices. That’s good for the future of the program to have them out there with us.”

McGarry and the rest of the coaching staff put the harriers through a tough workout before they went on their three-mile run on Monday afternoon.

Their first event of the season is Friday night with the 12-hour run that will begin at 7 p.m. and end at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning. The all-night event is a fundraiser for the MHS cross country programs.

The first actual race for the runners will be Aug. 28 in the Mustang Harrier at Wild Horse Park, followed the next weekend with the Western Days Stampede.

Head girls coach Vickie Bailey said she is pushing the “team” aspect this year.

“We have to work as a team this season,” she said. “We had a lot of middle school kids come out and run with us over the summer and that is another example of building a team. We want to have a strong team from the seventh grade through seniors.”

Bailey said the summer practices were a success for the Bronco harriers.

“We had a really good summer. We worked really hard as a group. The team came together and bonded as the summer went along.”

Jaci Jones will be counted on as one of the leaders on the girls squad this fall. She said the team needs to focus on having fun and relaxing.

“Kyra and I are the only two girls returning to varsity from last year’s team, so it’s going to be a lot different,” she said. “We are going to have a lot of inexperience, but if we can focus on having fun as a team, I think we will be fine.”

Jones said the summer months were good for the chemistry of the group.

“We came together this summer. We made sure to stay together during our workouts and I really think that helped us develop a bond.”

Kyle Salomon is the sports editor at the Mustang News. He can be reached at ksalomon@mustangnews.info.

Canadian County candidates answer questions at Redlands

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By Daniel Lapham,

Canadian County District 1 commissioner candidates Marc Hader and Wes Higgins answered questions and laid out their platforms to more than 25 county residents last Tuesday night at Redlands Community College.

Hader, R-Piedmont, and Higgins, R-El Reno, will meet in the Aug. 26 runoff election with the winner taking on Justin Joe Atkinson, D-El Reno, in November’s general election.

In addition to the commissioners race, candidates running for State Superintendant of Public Instruction and U.S. Senate candidate Connie Johnson, D-Oklahoma City, were also present.

But it was the race for District 1 commissioner that drew the most interest and in particular how they would treat the Children’s Justice Center. The center is supported by a one-third cent permanent sales tax that has been generating over $500,000 per month. In the past, some have sought to have the sales tax redirected to help support other areas of county government. Those efforts have met with staunch resistance.

At least 10 different questions regarding the justice center were submitted. The majority of the questions wanted to know if the dedicated sales tax that supports the center should be redirected or cut.

Both commissioner candidates said they had toured the center and each said the staff and administration do an “excellent job” and provide a valuable service to the Canadian County community.

“I don’t know how many kids there are at the center off the top of my head, but I know they are doing a great job,” Higgins, an El Reno Republican, said. “They are in the black and I believe they are doing great with the resources they have been provided.”

Hader appeared to agree.

“I don’t know specifics in terms of the numbers, but I got to do a tour of the facility and it was a positive experience,” Hader said. “I believe it is safe to say that both of your candidates believe in the value of the juvenile justice center and support it.”

Another question addressed the scope of duties expected of a county commissioner.

“Roads are 20 percent of a commissioner’s job,” read moderator Juanita Krittenbrink. “How would you administer the rest of the duties required of your position including management of facilities like the courthouse, jail, etc.?”

“It has been my experience that the smaller or more rural a county is, the more roads and bridges are a part of a commissioner’s job,” Hader said. He said his background as an administrator qualifies him to handle not only the roads and bridges but also the management of all projects and responsibilities of a commissioner.

Higgins agreed that the percentage spent on roads and bridges is higher than 20 percent, but also said he sees many areas that should be addressed immediately in addition to bridges and roads.

“I believe the addition to the jail should be addressed immediately,” Higgins said. “If we broke ground today it would be at least a year before we could move in. We need more space there.”

With a bachelor’s degree in management from Southern Nazarene University and experience in project management, Hader said the future of Canadian County depends on commissioners’ abilities to manage multiple projects and play the role of administrator.

“I have the interpersonal skills necessary to do this job as it becomes more and more of a management position,” Hader said.

Higgins said he is already immersed in county government as the current foreman for District 2 under Commissioner David Anderson.

“My degree is from the school of hard knocks,” Higgins said. “I have run my own business for over 20 years. I am doing many of these things now as District 2 foreman and I believe these things speak for themselves.”

Daniel Lapham is a reporter for the sister paper of the Mustang News, the El Reno Tribune. He can be reached at dlapham@elrenotribune.com.

Time to come out and support our kids Mustang

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Final Point

Today marks the official first day students will be roaming the halls across the district in Mustang Public Schools.

Growing up I always considered the start to a new school year to be a new beginning or a fresh start.

It’s the type of feeling you have when you get to wipe the slate clean and start all over.

For these children that are going back to school, that is very much the case. No matter what happened the school year before, they can come into the new year and build new relationships and repair ones that have been damaged in the past.

As an adult, we don’t quite have the same luxuries as our children because there is no such thing as a summer break from a job, but we can use the start of the school year in almost the same way and support our children and the activities they are involved with through school.

Here in Mustang, we have one of the best overall school districts in the state of Oklahoma. It’s already the fifth largest school system in the state and is still rapidly growing at a pace that would make Usain Bolt look average.

As of right now, there are more than 800 new students to the Mustang Public School system, which is the largest number in the district’s history. The official number of new students won’t be tallied until Oct. 1, which is the official enrollment count day across the state.

With the size of school Mustang has become, there are numerous events that the Mustang community should support.

As the sports editor of the Mustang News, I can certainly tell you about all of the great sporting events that will be taking place starting today, but there are so many more activities and events that are happening outside of the sports world in MPS.

From the Mustang Knight Riders marching band to the FFA, there are many events and activities for the Mustang community to support and enjoy.

As for sports,  the Lady Bronco softball team is always one of the top teams in the state of Oklahoma, and is always in contention for a state title. They begin their regular season at 4:30 today at Putnam City West.

The Mustang volleyball team starts its regular season Friday in a two-day tournament at Bishop McGuinness. The Bronco cross country teams begin the 2014 campaign with the annual 12-hour run that starts at 7 p.m. Friday and concludes at 7 a.m. on Saturday.

And of course, we can’t forget about the football team. The Broncos hit the gridiron for practice this  week and are looking to have another strong season under second-year head coach Jeremy Dombek.

The annual Mustang-Yukon football clash will take place Sept. 6 at Yukon High School. I strongly encourage everyone in the Mustang community to make the short drive up to Yukon to watch the Broncos and Millers tango.

I know we all are busy and have the tendency to get caught up in our everyday, but let’s take a step back from ourselves every now and then and go and support our kids at Mustang Public Schools. To have the community behind them would mean more to them than you could imagine.

Kyle Salomon is the sports editor at the Mustang News. He can be reached at ksalomon@mustangnews.info.

Osborne reflects on summer internship with Mustang News

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By Patrick Osborne,

Well Mustang, it has been a good run. My internship with the Mustang News has ended, and it’s time for me to return to Stillwater and Oklahoma State University.

I learned so much from this experience. Ryan, Ashleigh, Kyle and Kristen, you all welcomed me with open arms from the beginning and made sure to take the time to help me learn all sides of the newspaper business. I’m incredibly thankful for all of you, you made me a better writer this summer.

I came to the office my first day expecting to write solely about sports and work for Kyle, my sports editor. Although during my eight weeks I spent a majority of the time working under him, that was just the tip of the iceberg. The office family made sure to take the time to give me at least a week with each of them so that I could learn their trades.

Ashleigh gave me my most unexpected opportunity to learn. She taught me more than I ever expected to know about how to edit pictures and design ads from scratch. She made it all look so easy and never got frustrated when I had questions.

The last week of my internship, Ryan and Kristen took me under their wings, and gave me a chance to see the business side of running a successful newspaper. They let me tag along with them selling ads, but taught me more than how to just sell adds. They taught me how to connect to people, my readers, and the community.

Finally, there was Kyle. He trusted me and my abilities from day one, and his trust never waivered. He gave me so many opportunities to grow as a writer, and I did my best to take advantage of all of them. I was never treated as an intern with him, but rather a member of his sports staff. He took the time every week to sit down with me and not only edit my mistakes but also discuss with me why he was editing certain aspects of my work so I could grow as a writer.

For my readers, I would like to thank you for all your kind words of encouragement. I hope you enjoyed my writing, or at least found it informative. I truly enjoyed not only writing this summer, but also the connections I got to make with so many wonderful people from my hometown.

This was my first internship experience, and it’s one I will never forget. I fully believe I can take all that I’ve learned this summer back to Oklahoma State with me as a launch pad to continue to grow as a writer.

I am beyond thankful that I was able to write for my hometown newspaper; not many people get the chance to do that I could. So thank you again to the Mustang community and the Mustang News for this wonderful opportunity and experience you provided me with.

Patrick Osborne was the summer intern at the Mustang News.