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Richard Elmer Phillips age 61, died Sunday, July 13, 2014 after a year-long battle with cancer. He was born May 12, 1953 in Portland, Ore. to Richard Edgar and Beulah Marie (Kirkendall) Phillips.
As a young man, Richard enjoyed fishing off the coast of Oregon. He went on to farm for 12 years and worked for Cascade Diesel in Moses Lake, Wash. He received a degree in computer software engineering from Eastern Washington University, and his degree afforded him the opportunity to work in jobs located in Virginia, Arizona, California and Oklahoma. He currently was employed at Boeing as a software engineer. Richard was a very spiritual and thoughtful man who, with his wife Linda, enjoyed serving in their church callings, such as Boy Scouts and Primary.
He was preceded in death by his mother and sister, Phyllis.
Richard is survived by his wife of 35 years, Linda (Duvall); six sons, David and wife Tara, James and wife Melissa and their daughter, Ellie, Thomas and wife Kristen and their children, Kylie, Sariah and Natalie, Peter and wife Rebecca and their children, Pierson, Nathan, Emmett, Felicity (and one on the way), Paul and wife, Eva and their daughter, Carlie, Richard A. and wife Alyssa and their daughter, Ariana; and one daughter, Gina and her fiancé Travis Johnson. He was also survived by his father, Richard Elmer; brothers, Randall and Craig; sisters, Cherie and Patt; as well as many other family and friends.
Public viewing will be held on Friday, July 18, between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. at McNeil’s
Mustang Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, July 19, at the LDS Chapel, located at 925 W. Kentuck Drive in Mustang, with interment in Rexburg, Idaho.
Adda Leona Bortz was born near Wagoner, Okla. to Fitzhugh and Lydia Lancaster.
Adda was the oldest of six siblings born of Cherokee Indian decent. Her family lived in the country outside of Wagoner until 1928, when they moved to Oklahoma City for work. Adda married Dick Mauldin and had her daughter, Phyllis, in 1941. In 1946, Dick died suddenly in an oil field accident. Adda went to work with her dad, Fitzhugh Lancaster, at Lancaster Grocery Store and had lots of great memories of that time. She then went to beauty school in the early 1950s and opened “Adda’s Beauty Shop” on 34th and Byers in the house her brother Pete built for Adda and Phyllis. She beautified lots of neighborhood ladies for many years there.
In 1973, Adda married Alva Bortz, who she had known from church. They enjoyed years of traveling, gardening, doing woodwork, painting and teaching children’s Sunday school at Central Pentecostal Holiness Church. They moved to Mustang in 1990, where they attended The Bridge. After Alva passed away, Adda moved to The Arbor House in 2005, where she was a much loved member of that community.
Adda was preceded in death by her parents, Fitzhugh and Lydia Lancaster; first husband, Dick Mauldin; second husband, Alva Bortz; sister-in-law, Martha Lancaster; favorite and only son-in-law, Lee Holley; and younger sister, Patricia Geurin.
She is survived by her daughter, Phyllis Holley of Mustang; her granddaughter, Tammy Bales and husband Brian of Mustang; her great granddaughter, Lindsey Pittman and husband Philip; and great great grandson, Carter Pittman of Fort Gibson, Okla.; siblings, Verona Hunter of LaGrange, Texas, Pete Lancaster of Del City, Faye Mathis and husband Leroy of Oklahoma City and Bev Huston and husband Fred of Edmond; a brother-in-law, Ron Geurin of Oklahoma City; many nieces and nephews whom she adored; and many loving friends and employees of The Arbor House of Mustang, along with many loving friends and employees of Crossroads Hospice.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, July 21 at McNeil’s Funeral Home Chapel with Pastor Kenneth McGee of The Bridge Church officiating. Burial will be in Mustang cemetery. Online condolences may be made at www.mcneilsmustangfs.com.
Ronnie Lynn Smith, age 53, of Southlake Texas, passed away on Wednesday, July 9, 2014 of a tragic car accident in Little Rock, Ark.
Ronnie was born on May 19, 1961 in Bentwaters, England to Homer and Sue Smith. He graduated high school from Western Heights in 1979 and continued his education at Southwestern Oklahoma State University with a degree in economics and business. He was married to Christine Aragon on July 23, 2000 in Laguna Beach, Calif. He was employed by Gallo Wine for 20 years and continued his career at China Mist Tea. Ron was a chef at heart and loved spending time in the kitchen. He enjoyed entertaining and spending time with friends and family. Ronnie was an incredibly loving, attentive, and supportive husband and dad. He will be remembered as a wonderfully caring son to his parents. His beautiful mind and heart will be missed and remembered forever.
Ronnie is survived by his wife, Christine and daughter, Lauren; parents, Homer and Sue Smith; sister, Latrisha Elders and brother-in-law, Jeffrey Elders; and nieces, Lauren and Alexa Elders.
He was preceded in death by grandparents, Roy and Flora Willis and Minnie and Homer Smith, Sr.
Funeral arrangements are provided by McNeil’s Funeral Service and will be held at First Baptist Church of Mustang at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 18. Online condolences may be made at www.mcneilsmustangfs.com.
By Traci Chapman
Mustang Fire Chief Carl Hickman in July accomplished something only 961 of his peers have achieved worldwide – designation as Chief Fire Officer by the Commission on Professional Credentialing.
CPC is part of the Center for Public Safety Excellence. The organization announced the chief’s achievement after a July 8 meeting. Hickman is one of only four individuals in Oklahoma named CPC Chief Fire Officer. Mustang’s chief joins Terry Ford with Tinker Air Force Base, Midwest City Fire Department’s Jarett Metheny and Jeremy Moore of Tulsa Fire Department on the “distinguished” list, according to CPC records.
To be designated a Chief Fire Officer, individuals must meet extensive criteria, CPC officials said. CFOs are assessed on their professional development, experience, contributions to their profession, education, community involvement and technical competencies. Hickman and his fellow CFOs were also required to develop a future professional development plan as part of the designation process.
Hickman was surprised during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, when Mustang City Manager Tim Rooney presented him with a framed copy of his CFO designation. Joined by the chief’s wife, Jana Hickman, and several Mustang firefighters, Rooney said the chief was a significant asset not only to the department and city, but also to the community at large.
“Chief Hickman has a rich knowledge of the emergency services profession and has far surpassed critical core competencies for personnel serving in senior fire officer positions,” Rooney said.
Hickman has been a member of Mustang Fire Department for nine years, Rooney said. The city manager also praised Jana Hickman, who Rooney said has been an integral part of her husband’s commitment to Mustang, as well as his success.
“When you work in public service, it’s not just the employee who serves but also their spouse and their children that serve too,” Rooney said. “Many dinners alone, late nights followed by early mornings, and community events that you get sucked into too.”
Rooney took the reins as Mustang city manager in August 2013. He said Hickman was part of a team that made that transition a smooth one.
“I want to congratulate you, Chief Hickman, on your dedication to your profession, your education, and those you serve as an example for following in your footsteps,” Rooney said to the visibly moved chief. “I’ve been with the city only 11 months, but there isn’t a day that goes by that I am not impressed by something that you do or the positive attitude that you bring to the table. Your can-do attitude is unmatched, as is your character.”
“I’ve never experienced this – I’ve got to say that,” Hickman said. “Thank you, thanks a lot for this.”
By Kyle Salomon
The freshman experience can be a roller-coaster ride for first-year college students, even for eight-time state champion Emily Helms.
Helms graduated from Mustang High School in 2013 as the most decorated athlete in the history of Bronco sports. The cross country and track star won eight individual state championships and signed to run cross country and track at Oklahoma State University.
Helms said her first year went well for the most part once she got used to the training regiment of college sports.
“The biggest challenge was dealing with the time management,” she said. “Everything is up to you. You decide when and how much you need to study for your tests, you decide when you do your homework, when you eat, sleep and do your laundry.”
Helms red-shirted as a freshman this past year, but she said she used that time to her advantage.
“I was able to get used to the new training schedule,” she said. “I went from running 40 miles every week in high school to around 60 miles every week in college. I got to run during the winter indoor season. I would say I had an average year, but the most important thing as a freshman is to stay consistent.”
This summer, Helms has been prepping for a bigger role on the cross country team this fall for the Cowgirls squad. The former Lady Bronco said she has been training hard for the cross country season by bumping up her mileage as the summer progresses.
“It’s important to stay injury-free while you’re training,” she said. “I went to the USA junior track meet and competed and then I took a short break. I started training again this week and will continue for the remainder of the summer.”
The USA junior track meet takes place in Eugene, Ore., for high school runners and college freshmen. Helms said it was good for her to get some experience and compete.
“The meet is only for people 19 and under so the older, more experienced college runners can’t compete in the event. It helps a lot mentally going against runners that are more your speed.”
One thing college is always good for is showing someone their strengths and their weaknesses. Helms said she knows what she needs to improve on before she heads back to Stillwater in August.
“Mentally is where I need to make the biggest improvement,” she said. “I need to learn to stay more positive and develop more confidence. I need to become mentally stronger. I believe with more experience I can get to where I need to be.”
When asked to compare high school to college in one word, the word Helms chose to use after several seconds of thought was “freedom.”
By Traci Chapman
Mustang took second place in a national firm’s ranking of safest Oklahoma communities.
The study was conducted by Movoto Real Estate, based in San Mateo, Calif. and was a ranking of communities with populations of 10,000 or more.
“We then used the FBI’s 2012 Uniform Crime Report to find crime data for these places, omitting any that didn’t have data reported to the bureau,” said Chad Stiffney, Movoto public relations associate. “That left us with a total of 40 places across Oklahoma.”
Researchers then took the FBI data and analyzed reported crimes in those 40 communities, concentrating on violent crimes like murder, rape, robbery and assault, as well as burglary, theft and vehicle theft. Crimes were then further classified by murders, violent and property felonies and totals reported, Stiffney said.
“We calculated all of these crime rates based on crimes per 100,000 residents, in order to compare larger and smaller cities fairly,” Stiffney said. “Each place was then ranked with a score from one to 40, with one being the best and safest location.”
Movoto’s rankings were weighted so murders, violent and property crimes were given precedence, Stiffney said. Those classifications made up 30 percent of each city’s score, and total crimes represented 10 percent of the calculation, he said.
Mustang’s second-place listing was the result of its low number of crimes, according to FBI statistics.
“Just 2,639 crimes per 100,000 people,” Stiffney said. “Of those, there were only 160 violent crimes per 100,000 people.”
Of those 160 listed instances, there were no murders, 22 robberies, 17 rapes and 121 assaults, as well as 2,479 property crimes – comprised of 1,807 thefts, 94 vehicle thefts and 508 burglaries, according to the Movoto report and FBI data.
The report’s findings and Mustang’s police chief and department were applauded by City Manager Tim Rooney during Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Rooney said the ranking was a result of the department’s hard work and Chief Chuck Foley’s leadership, the city manager said. For his part, the chief credited his employees, who he said always put the community first.
“The citizens are invested in the community, and my staff is invested in the citizens,” Foley said.
By Traci Chapman
Mustang Board of Education members on Monday agreed to postpone an elective Bible history class that has drawn national attention.
Although no formal vote was necessary, board members did not raise any objections to Mustang Superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel’s suggestion the kickoff of a planned Bible history class be suspended until the spring 2015 semester.
“I remain excited about the course but I have a very difficult time, with the information that we have it puts us in an awkward position,” McDaniel told board members.
The issue was twofold, McDaniel said. After months of communications with Green Scholars Initiative, the entity providing the Bible history class curriculum, a full year’s study content would not be available at least until October, the superintendent said. That would mean students would be starting what had become a controversial class for some individuals and organizations with only a portion of those materials studied by district officials before school began.
Another issue raised throughout the Bible history class discussion was legal protection for the district, should someone file a legal challenge. That was also up in the air as of Monday’s meeting, McDaniel said.
“The Alliance for Defending Freedom agreed to review the curriculum by July 24,” he said.
The review was necessary because of possible gaps in insurance coverage from the district’s pool insurance carrier, Oklahoma School Insurance Group. While it appeared the district would have some coverage in the case of legal action, it appeared it would not in others – and nothing was set in stone, in any case, the superintendent said. If a claim for injunctive relief – asking the class be suspended – was filed, it appeared that would not be covered, while OSIG representatives tentatively believed a claim for damages would be covered, he said.
“They cannot make a determination on coverage until a claim is filed,” McDaniel said. “It’s a roll of the dice and I just don’t think that’s wise.”
For the 178 Mustang High School students who selected the elective as part of their fall semester schedule, those individuals would be given choices to replace it, at least for the fall semester, McDaniel said.
“If we do this now, we can give students time to make another choice,” McDaniel said. “They could elect to take first semester humanities, second semester Bible history – if we do this now we’ll have time to do that.”
While the district’s selection of the Green Scholars Initiative class seemed to be a large part of the stated controversy surrounding the class, it was the very way the initiative structured the elective that appealed to officials, they said. GSI’s course includes virtual tours and access to more than 40,000 historical Biblical resources, McDaniel said.
That technology was the program’s biggest draw, board vice president Jim Davis said.
“The electronics piece – that’s what the whole course really hinges around,” Davis said. “To me that was the selling point with the Green content.”
Officials would continue to review both the ever-changing curriculum and any potential legal issues in coming weeks and months, with an eye toward offering the Bible history class during the spring semester, McDaniel said.
“As high profile as this is, I think it’s smart we hold off and do it right,” Davis said.
Here is a look at my top 30 Mustang High School athletes, Nos. 21-25, starting with No.21.
21. Kiante Miles, senior, football
Kiante Miles blossomed into one of the top players on last year’s football team with his strong play at cornerback for the Broncos. The cover corner has the rare knack to cover receivers like a blanket, but break off his coverage to go make tackles in the run game.
Miles isn’t the tallest player on the roster, but I wouldn’t consider him small. With the speed of a defensive back and the mindset of a linebacker, Miles can be lethal with a full head of steam running at you.
Miles is also one of the leaders on the football team. He’s demanding of himself in the way he approaches the game and he holds his teammates accountable as well to have that same mentality.
If Miles can continue to progress as a football player, he can become not just one of the most feared cornerbacks in the state, but one of the top defenders in the state as well.
22. Gage McBride, sophomore, wrestling
Gage McBride had one of the best freshman seasons in Mustang history in his freshman campaign for the Bronco wrestling team last year for the Broncos.
McBride finished the year strong as he finished in the top five of every tournament he competed in over the last month of the season. He qualified for the state tournament as a freshman, which at his 126-pound weight class is difficult to accomplish.
McBride is one of the several reasons Mustang wrestling has a bright future ahead of it. If the wiry sophomore continues to improve and get stronger as he matures, he is going to be one of the top wrestlers to go down in MHS history.
23. Skyler Fuller, sophomore, baseball
Skyler Fuller is one of the most talented young athletes at Mustang High School. The center fielder and lead-off hitter for the Broncos had a tremendous sophomore year on the diamond.
Fuller was one of the main components in the Bronco baseball team, winning 23 games a year removed from losing 17 seniors to graduation. He helped them to the regional final where they eventually fell at Westmoore.
With Fuller at the top of the lineup and manning the middle of the outfield for the next two years, the Broncos are sitting pretty solid as far as baseball is concerned.
Look for the strength to increase and confidence to soar and for Fuller to become one of the top baseball players in the state.
24. Brandi Hutchison, senior, soccer
Brandi Hutchison has developed into one of the top goalkeepers in the state. Her play down the stretch helped the Lady Broncos soccer team fight through a slew of injuries and get into the playoffs.
Who knows how far Hutchison and the Bronco girls could have gone if it wasn’t for the gale force winds they played in when Edmond North beat them in overtime of the quarterfinal game between Mustang and the Lady Huskies.
Hutchison also plays for the Oklahoma FC club team, where she helped lead them to a state championship this summer.
If the tall, athletic goalkeeper improves like she did from her sophomore to junior season going into her senior year, look out for what the Lady Broncos can do on the soccer field next spring.
25. Trey Edwards, sophomore, wrestling
Yes, Trey Edwards is the younger brother of 2014 Mustang graduate and all-world football player Frankie Edwards, but Trey can hold his own when it comes to sports in his family.
Trey had an incredible freshman season on the wrestling mat for the Broncos last winter. The 120-pounder qualified for the state tournament at a weight where most seniors struggle to have a winning record.
Trey will be one of the mainstays in the Bronco wrestling program for the next several years alongside fellow sophomore Gage McBride.
If Trey continues to develop, he and McBride could team up to be one of the best duos in the history of Oklahoma high school wrestling.
Perhaps Frankie would take Trey on the gridiron, but I’m sure Trey wouldn’t mind having a crack at his big bro on the wrestling mat.
By Traci Chapman
Bands from across the country will converge on Mustang July 22 for Mustang Nightriders’ DCI in the Heartland.
The annual drum corps competition has grown each year since its inception, with this the largest event yet, Mustang High School band director Ryan Edgmon said.
“We have three of the top scoring drum corps in the world at our show here in Mustang, and we have alumni and many friends of our program performing with the 2013 finalist Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corp,” Edgmon said. “The 2013 world champion Carolina Crown is the headliner for our show and will also provide the encore performance after the competition.”
Carolina Crown is based in Fort Mill, S.C. Carolina Crown features 150 members between the ages of 17 and 22 “who aspire to become music educators, performing artist and the leaders of tomorrow,” according to the organization’s website. The group performs nationwide and participates in Drum Corps International competitions.
Other groups taking part include corps from Allentown, Penn., Canton, Ohio, Denver, San Antonio, Portland, Ore., Tempe, Ariz., and Seattle, Wash.
With close to 1,000 students taking part in Mustang middle school and high school band programs, fundraising is key, Edgmon said. All proceeds from the show benefit Mustang High School’s Nightriders marching band, he said. With 4,500 available seats at Bronco Stadium, Edgmon said he hoped to “pack the house” for a day of entertainment by some of the biggest names in drum corps.
“These are a big deal – not just big here, but literally the best in the world, and they’ll be here in Mustang,” Edgmon said. “It really says something about our band program, our kids and our community that they would choose to attend our event.”
DCI in the Heartland will begin at 7:30 p.m. July 23 and tickets range from $15 to $25. All seating is reserved, Edgmon said. Groups of 20 or more receive a $3 discount on value general admission seats; ticket prices will be $5 higher the day of the event.
Tickets are available online at www.dci.org. Additional information is also available on DCI in the Heartland’s Facebook page, located at https://www.facebook.com/DciInTheHeartland.
By Kyle Salomon
New doesn’t always equal better, but in Mustang’s case with its new Little League baseball complex, new does in fact mean better.
After the first full season of spring and summer baseball, the Mustang Little League baseball facility passed its first test as an up and coming complex in the Oklahoma City area.
Mustang Parks and Recreational Director Justin Battles said he was pleased with what the new complex provided for the city in its first year.
“Overall it went well,” he said. “The process is still very green. We are still very much a young park. We still have work to do with concessions and restrooms. We will continue to grow and move in the direction to being what we want it to be in the future.”
Battles said there are always improvements to be made, especially after the first season, but he is happy with where they are in the process.
“We definitely call it a successful start,” he said. “We are going to focus on concessions and bathrooms right now as well as getting shade structures in place, trees planted and more walkways by the start of next spring.”
With the new complex continuing to improve, Battles said he expects the number of teams competing in the Little League will be on the rise.
“We firmly believe if we produce a premier facility, we will see more and more teams come to Mustang to play,” he said. Our goal is to have a complex that people are proud to call their own and enjoy it.”
Another benefit of having a new facility is having the opportunity to attract big baseball tournaments to Mustang. Different state tournaments and even some youth baseball world series tournaments are what Mustang has its eyes set on in the future.
“We definitely would like to see that happen,” Battles said. “Having a lot of teams here and having people here spending money in the city of Mustang would be a great thing. Hopefully, we can get to that point. That is definitely a goal of ours.”
Battles said the goal for the new facility and all the facilities at Wild Horse Park is to provide the citizens of Mustang with a facility they can be proud of and enjoy.
“We want to be a premier park in the state,” he said. “We want the people of Mustang to enjoy the park and have a good experience when they are here, whether it be for sports, on the walking path or on the playground.”
The next project the Parks and Recreational Department is going to focus on will be the youth football field.
Battles said they are still working on the field they have now, but they are not content with the current facility as it sits right now.
“We don’t know what exactly we are going to do yet,” he said. “We just know we are going to make improvements to our youth football facility. That could include improving the current facility or it could include building a whole new facility.”
Battles said the relationship between the city and the Mustang school district is a good one and they are working together to provide the citizens of Mustang with the best facilities in the area.
“Many of the current coaches are in constant conversation with us on how we can work together,” he said. “We have a great relationship with the school district. They are a big part of what we do and I hope we are a big part of what they do.”