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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.
SUPPORT OUR TROOPS — REMEMBER OUR VETERANS
By Sean McDaniel, Mustang Public Schools superintendent
Thank God Oklahoma has some of the brightest and most passionate legislators on the planet! If not for legislators who ask sincere questions, ask for input from those who would be most affected by proposed legislation and take action to advance or in some cases halt legislation, many, many lives might be altered in a very negative way.
During the 2014 legislative session, Rep. Katie Henke took on a fight that she could have just as easily turned down. In a professional and diplomatic manner she penned and promoted House Bill 2625, and in doing so took on not only several of her counterparts and colleagues in the Legislature, she took on the leadership of the state Department of Education as well.
The stakes were high. Hundreds and hundreds of Oklahoma’s third-graders would have been retained based upon a single assessment and/or their failure to meet any number of possible exemptions. Proponents of this “one-size-fits-all” mandate espouse that third-graders should be retained if they are unable to demonstrate that they can read at grade level. They typically use a variation of the slogan: “If they can’t read, they can’t do anything else.”
The slogan, though, is incomplete. It’s a no-brainer that reading is important. What most proponents fail to acknowledge is that reading skills are developed over time with sound instruction and a commitment from parents and teachers to an intensive process that results in reading proficiency. To place a deadline at the conclusion of third grade equates to a complete lack of understanding of the vast amount of research that speaks to the development of reading skills. Certainly, a third grade end-of-year assessment can add to the body of evidence that should be considered when discussing the retention of a student, but to use a single assessment as the end-all is dangerous.
In Mustang, a very straightforward and simple exercise was conducted in order to determine the potential impact of the third grade retention law. Because educators understand that reading is a developmental process and that students progress at varying rates, the results of the exercise surprised no one. Progress for all 2012-13 fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders in the Mustang district who scored unsatisfactory on the third grade reading test when they were in third grade were examined.
A total of 89 students from the three grades scored unsatisfactory when they were third-graders on the third grade reading test. These 89 students, along with their parents, would have faced the real possibility of retention and many of them would have been retained. Fast forward to 2012-13. Fifty-four of the original 89 students who scored unsatisfactory as third-graders scored at least limited knowledge on the state assessments as fifth-, sixth- or seventh-graders. In fact, 23 students of the original 89 scored proficient or advanced as fifth-, sixth- or seventh-graders. Additionally, of the 35 students who scored unsatisfactory as third-graders and again as fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders, 24 of them actually showed progress at a 41 point average growth rate from their original unsatisfactory score as third-graders to their unsatisfactory score as fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders.
At the very least, what this data seems to suggest is that students do indeed progress at varying points in time, particularly when sound instructional strategies are in place and effective instruction is occurring. When making decisions about retention, academic progress is a significant piece of the conversation and must be considered; however, it is a piece that was missing entirely from the third grade reading law.
An important question to ask is what has been done for the 35 students who scored unsatisfactory as third-graders and again as fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders in 2012-13 – particularly the 11 students who have not shown progress? The answer to this very important question is critical. In Mustang, like in many other districts, there are individual learning plans in place for every single one of these students. Teachers and administrators, along with members of each schools’ support staff, know exactly what the areas in need of improvement are for each child. Teachers receive training on research-based strategies that are being incorporated in the classroom for each child and these strategies are monitored for effectiveness and modified or changed as necessary.
The truth is, every struggling student was very likely identified by a team of educators as far back as kindergarten and a variety of measures have been and will continue to be taken until each student is proficient in reading. It is not an accident, nor is it a coincidence, that students continue to show progress in Mustang. The idea that one single pass or fail score based upon a single assessment, at a single point in time in the spring of a student’s third grade year determines whether or not to retain a child is not the answer. HB 2625 is the answer, as it places the decision whether or not to retain back into the hands of the educators and the parents.
We are grateful for legislators like Katie Henke who do more than simply take up a cause. Anyone can do that. Rep. Henke took up a cause, provided evidence to support the cause and fought until she had persuaded others that this cause was worth the fight. Thanks to her and to others who studied and listened carefully, Oklahoma students are the winners.
By Traci Chapman
For the seven men on Mustang Fire Department’s blue shift, their last weekend shift was an unusually busy one, but one of their last calls was the most surprising.
They helped bring a new life into the world.
The call came in at 1:25 a.m. Monday, Capt. Andy Willrath said. The crew – Deputy Chief Roy Widmann, Willrath, firefighters Buddy Corbin, Paul Smith, Tom Lewis, Eric Halter and new volunteer firefighter David Williams – headed out to Arbor House, located on North Clear Springs Road, where a couple had pulled over when the woman went into active labor.
“They were on their way to the hospital when it was too late to get there,” Willrath said. “The dad was attending to mom when we got there.”
As the group worked to help, Willrath realized he knew the father, an Oklahoma City paramedic who attended school with him. The father was at work in Oklahoma City when his wife called him. After rushing home and picking up mom and the couple’s older child, they were off, although they didn’t get far. The baby was crowning when they arrived at Arbor House.
“We suctioned the baby’s airway, clamped the cord, and the father got to cut the cord,” Willrath said.
Mother and baby eventually did make it to Canadian Valley Hospital, where both were doing fine Monday afternoon, firefighters said. It was an experience none of them would soon forget, they all said Monday evening.
“What a weekend – it started out with a fire, literally went to fireworks (for July 4 holiday) and ended up with a birth,” Willrath said.
By Traci Chapman
About 80 Oklahoma National Guard soldiers headquartered in Mustang were welcomed home Monday after a six-month deployment to Afghanistan.
Battery A, 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery, 45th Field Artillery Brigade was sent last September to support coalition forces in Afghanistan. The unit returned to Oklahoma July 8 and were formally welcomed during a ceremony attended by National Guard officers, family members and area residents, held at Mustang Armed Forces Reserve Center.
While in Afghanistan, soldiers provided route security and served as convoy escorts during several missions, Oklahoma National Guard officials said. Members of Battery B, 171st Target Acquisition Battery and 120th Forward Support Company were also deployed with forces headquartered at MAFRC. Battery A was commanded by Capt. Sean Bryant of Edmond.
Battery A forces made history Jan. 16 when they provided “indirect artillery fire support” to coalition forces in Afghanistan. Using the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, MAFRC soldiers fired two rockets in support of Task Force Duke, destroying a communications repeater sight, officials said.
A repeater sight is used to assist insurgents in their fight against coalition forces, officials said.
This combat operation support was the first time since Operation Desert Storm an Oklahoma Army National Guard Unit fired rockets, officials said. Battery A’s launcher crew included gunner, Spc. Joshua Hale of Chickasha, driver, Staff Sgt. Steven Stanley of Carnegie, and launcher, Chief Sgt. Matthew Schoolfield of Ninnekah.
During Desert Storm, the unit fired 903 rockets, officials said. Hale’s father, Spc. Chad Hale, and Sgt. Richard Schoolfield, Schoolfield’s father, were part of the unit’s Desert Storm deployment, which deployed 429 National Guard soldiers during the Gulf War.
Mustang’s guard was replaced last month by its sister unit, Battery B, 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery.