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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.”
By Traci Chapman
Mustang voters in November will consider a five percent motel tax, which officials say could bring needed funds into city coffers – without costing residents a penny.
The measure will be brought to a vote in the Nov. 4 general election, after City Council voted to present the measure to residents. If passed, the tax would be levied only on motels and hotels located within Mustang city limits, an industry officials said they are actively pursuing.
“We have the armory, the healthplex, we have developers seeing a need and wanting to locate here in Mustang,” Mayor Jay Adams said. “This is more an issue it’s coming, rather than something that would bring hotels here.”
With just one, small and outdated motel situated inside Mustang city limits, groups and individuals are forced to seek lodging in Yukon or Oklahoma City. As more and more events are held in the city’s expanding amenities and with a planned December completion of St. Anthony’s healthplex, among others, it is a matter of when – not if – new hotels would be built in Mustang, City Manager Tim Rooney said.
“We have these ball tournaments – people are staying in Yukon, buying dinner in Yukon,” Rooney said. “We need to get these people to stay in Mustang.”
Most communities have implemented lodging taxes, including Yukon and El Reno, both located along Interstate 40.
“I travel a lot in my day job, and I have not stayed at a hotel where I have not paid this tax,” Ward 1 Councilman Matthew Taylor said.
The tax would be solely charged on room sales, which means the implementation would not adversely affect residents’ wallets, officials said. The construction of even one hotel in Mustang city limits could mean “significant” funds for needed projects, repairs or other items not currently attainable with existing revenues, the city manager said.
“One hotel could bring in as much as $5,400 a month in revenue,” Rooney said. “Proceeds wouldn’t need to be earmarked, so council could decide annually how funds are spent.”
Mustang voters have considered – and rejected – a motel tax three times, Rooney said. He believed those failures were at least partially due to residents’ misunderstanding of the tax, he said.
“I will go out and address every group, speak to anyone who wants to know about this, to provide the information people need,” the city manager said.
By Kyle Salomon
Mustang boys soccer completed its first ever summer season in program history last week with a third-place finish in the league.
The Bronco boys had a record of 3-2-1 in their six games they played. All of the games were played at Putnam City and Putnam City North high schools, and 16 different schools from the Oklahoma City area participated in the inaugural season.
Mustang head coach Jared Homer said he thought the summer league went well.
“It was really laid-back,” he said. “We were able to play a bunch of guys and everyone had a really good time doing it. We had 16 teams, so there was a lot of interest in it. After talking with several other coaches, we are definitely going to continue doing it in the future. Hopefully, we can even get more teams to come out and be a part of it.”
The teams competed in pool play for the first four games of the league and then played two tournament-style matches to end the season.
Mustang played Putnam City, Deer Creek and U.S. Grant in its pool. They defeated Putnam City and Deer Creek and lost to and tied U.S. Grant to finish second in their pool.
The Broncos faced their other No.2 seed in the league, Edmond Santa Fe. They fell to the Timberwolves, but responded with a 2-1 comeback win against Putnam City North to take third overall in the league.
The games weren’t the full-length, 80-minute games they play during the spring. The pool play matches were only two 20-minute halves and the tournament games were two 30-minute halves.
“I wanted to get some of the games over at Mustang, but since Putnam City and Putnam City North were the ones who started the league, they hosted all of the games,” Homer said. “Next year, hopefully we can get some games over at our field.”
Homer said since the games were so short and they didn’t have the full roster at all times, it was hard to build team chemistry, but he said they worked on different ways and different formations to try and score more goals.
“We struggled to score the ball last year,” he said. “We experimented a lot with our offensive formations. We want to see what doesn’t work and what does work. It’s really given us coaches a chance to try new things. We were able to get some young kids some experience against other teams as well. You can’t replace game experience.”
Homer said several players stood out to him this summer.
“I thought our goalkeeper Dylan Dean really had a solid summer,” he said. “He did a really good job of protecting the net. He’s a young, athletic, talented kid. We have big expectations for him going to forward.
“Guys like Cutter Smith, J.P. Junglen and Keegan Radichel had really good summers as well. All of those guys have chances to be leaders for us. We expect big things from all of them.”
On another note, with the end of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Homer said he wasn’t surprised at all to see the German team come out on top.
“They were one of the favorites going into the World Cup and they proved why,” he said. “They had the best overall team in the world. They were extremely deep. When you can bring a guy off the bench and he scores four goals in the tournament, that is really impressive.”
By Traci Chapman
Mustang’s community garden will be putting down new roots soon, after City Council on Tuesday approved a location in Wild Horse Park.
Council members voted unanimously to approve the request, which means the garden, administered by Mustang Kiwanis Community Garden and Farmers Market, would be relocated from its current site behind the old Mustang Police Department. That plot is owned by a local developer and has never been a truly permanent option, garden representative Bob Wilson said.
“When there’s a sales opportunity (of the property), we’re gone, so we’ve been leery of making capital improvements,” Wilson told council members. “With this we can reinvest some of our money from our vegetable sales.”
The organization grows a variety of vegetables, about a third of which are sold through farmers markets held throughout the summer, Wilson said. The remaining two-thirds are given to Kiwanis food pantry, Strawberry Fields and other entities that need fresh vegetables and about one-third are given to volunteers and others for their own needs, he said.
Assistant City Manager Justin Battles said he has worked with Wilson and other garden volunteers for about a year in the search for a new garden site. After the farmers market was recently moved to Town Center’s gazebo, officials were certain the Wild Horse Park spot would be most advantageous, Battles and Wilson said.
“We’ve had the market here for about a month,” Wilson said. “It’s been fantastic, sales are much better than they were before.”
The organization has about 20 regular volunteers, a number Wilson hopes to increase with the change in garden location. The new locale could also serve as an educational tool, particularly for children, who could learn more about where food comes from and other lessons, Wilson said. Crops could also be expanded, including a fall pumpkin patch, shrubs, trees, grasses and other items, he said.
“There are a lot of things we could do which would benefit the city and the residents,” Wilson said.
There would be minimal expense to the city to accomplish the move, Battles said. Water sources were located nearby; it would cost “$100 to $200” to purchase piping to extend those to the proposed garden site, he said. The need for fencing to protect the garden could be studied at a later time, the assistant city manager said.
“These are citizens who are investing themselves,” Battles said.
Albert John Cook, age 80, died Tuesday July 8, 2014. He was born Sept. 18, 1933 in Tonica, Ill. to Lewis and Anne (Bruch) Cook.
Al grew up near LaSalle, IL, where the family farmed. Al joined the U.S. Army and served in Germany during the Korean War, where he was awarded the National Defense Service Medal and the Army of Occupation Medal (Germany). After fulfilling his military duties, he returned to farming and raising livestock in central Illinois. In 1971, Al moved to Oklahoma and started Gulfco Industries with an Army buddy, manufacturing oil field equipment. After retiring from Gulfco in 1984, he opened Mustang Tire & Auto until his second retirement in 2002. Al was a 33 degree Freemason and active member of the American Legion for 53 years.
Al was preceded in death by his parents, sister Shirley, and brother Richard.
He is survived by his wife, Paula of 39 years; his children, Cindy Cook, Peggy and husband Steve Byerly, David and wife Beth Cook, Angie and husband Conrad Caldwell and Michael Cook; 11 grandchildren and numerous cousins from central Illinois.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, July 14, at McNeil’s Mustang Funeral Service. Online condolences may be made at www.mcneilsmustangfs.com.
Leonard “Lenny” Wiley Fly II, age 40, of Mustang, died tragically and too soon on July 6, 2014 in Bryan County, Okla. He was born on May 14, 1974 in Fort Dix, New Jersey to Leonard and Wendy (Nork) Fly.
He went to high school at Mustang High. At the time of his death, he was a catastrophe adjuster for Worley Catastrophe, a home inspector with A to Z Inspections, and his true passion, a Women’s NCAA Softball Umpire.
Lenny was an avid outdoorsman, mechanic and self-made “Bob Villa.” Lenny loved music, dancing, inviting everyone in the world over to hang out and softball. But, more than anything else, Lenny’s life was his family. Whether it be cheering his little girls on at gymnastics or coaching his son in multiple sports, Lenny was involved. His gentle spirit, piercing blue eyes and big smile were contagious.
He was preceded in death by grandparents, Shelby and Margaret Fly and Humbert and Hazel Vitalone; great uncles, Percy and Virgil Fly, Thomas William Crumpton and Winfield Lewis; great aunts, Vera, Fly, Helen Fly and Margaret Lewis; a brother, Daniel Fly; and sister, Stephanie Fly.
He leaves behind his wife, Heidi Fly, soul mate and love of his life. He also leaves four precious children, his “lil big man”, Karson (9 months); his princess and Daddy’s baby girl, Jayden (4); his “Cupcake”, Kennedy (8); and his “G-man” and sidekick, Garrett (13). He is also survived by his parents, of Mustang, and his sister, Kristen Brogan. He was more than just an uncle to his many nieces and nephews, especially his “lil helper,” McKinley Cliff-Bowie (7), who he loved and adored like his own.
Viewing will be held at McNeil’s Funeral home in Mustang, on Friday July 11, from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. Services will be held Saturday, July 12, at Chisholm Heights Baptist Church at 11 a.m.
A memorial account in the name of his wife, Heidi Cliff-Fly, has been established at Prosperity Bank for his children. Contact Prosperity Bank for further information.
Online condolences may be made at www.mcneilsmustangfs.com.
American Legion Post 353 of Mustang and Auxiliary Unit 353 meet on the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Mustang Community Center in the senior center room. We invite all veterans and their families to join us at our next meeting, scheduled for Thursday, July 10. For information about meetings and events, contact Paul Ray at 921-5819.
Post 353 scholarships. Congratulations to the Mustang High School graduates who received the Mustang American Legion Scholarships: Jimmy Nguyen, Erica Diebold, Austin Leith, Cole Biermann and Micah Hinton.
Golf tournament. Post 353 will host its annual fundraiser golf tournament on Sept. 27 at Willow Creek Golf Course, 6105 S. Country Club Drive, Oklahoma City. It will be a four-person shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. Two persons and singles are welcome. A catered barbecue lunch will be provided. Please mark your calendar and join us for a day of golfing fun. Watch for ads in the upcoming newspapers. For information, call Doug Gingerich at 641-1075.
2014-2015 officer installation. Officer installation will be held at the July 10 meeting. The incoming officers are Paul Ray – Commander; Don Kuntze – Adjutant; First Vice Commander – John Traffanstedt; Second Vice Commander – Dave Schacher; Finance Officer – John Bishop; Judge Advocate – Gary Shidell; Sergeant-at-Arms – Clarence Marcaurele; Service Officer – Doug Gingerich; Chaplain – Karen Douthit; and Historian – Duane Douothit.
Navajo Code Talker dies. Chester Nez of Albuquerque, N.M., was among 29 tribal members who developed an unbreakable code that helped win World War II. He was 93 when he died and the last of the original U.S. Marine Code Talkers.
Before hundreds of men from the Navajo Nation became Code Talkers, 29 Navajos were recruited to develop the code based on the then-unwritten Navajo language. Nez was in the 10th grade when he enlisted, keeping his decision a secret from his family and lying about his age, as did many others. It’s one of the greatest parts of history that they used their own native language during World War II.
Of the 250 Navajos who showed up at Fort Defiance, Ariz., then a U.S. Army base, 29 were selected to join the first all-Native American unit of the Marines. They were inducted in May 1942. Nez became part of the 382nd Platoon.
Using Navajo words for red soil, war chief, braided hair, beads, ant and hummingbird, for example, they came up with a glossary of more than 200 terms that later were expanded into an alphabet. Nez has said he was concerned the code wouldn’t work. At the time, few non-Navajos spoke the language. Even Navajos who did couldn’t understand the code. It proved impenetrable.
The Navajos trained in radio communications were walking copies of the code. Each message read aloud by a Code Talker was immediately destroyed. The Japanese did everything in their power to break the code, but they never did.
After World War II, Nez volunteered to serve two more years during the Korean War. He retired in 1974 after a 25-year career as a painter at the Veterans Hospital in Albuquerque.
Nez was eager to tell his family about his role as a Code Talker, but he couldn’t. Their mission wasn’t declassified until 1968. The accolades came much later – the Code Talkers are now widely celebrated. The original group received Congressional Gold Medals in 2001, and a movie based on the Code Talkers was released the following year. They have appeared on television and in parades and routinely spoke to veterans groups and students.
Nez threw the opening pitch at a 2004 Major League baseball game and offered a blessing for the presidential campaign of John Kerry. In 2012, he received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas, where he abandoned his studies in fine arts after money from his GI Bill ran out.
Despite having both legs partially amputated, confining him to a wheelchair, Nez loved to travel, meet people and tell his story.
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