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The best of us

Do you ever meet someone and think, ‘Wow, I wish I was more like him/her?’

These are the people who inspire us to be someone better, those who go above and beyond for others, thinking of doing for those less fortunate – or just someone with a pure and giving heart. They are the best of us.

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I’ve written before about my mom, and she was one of those people. Taken by cancer far too soon, she was the person who taught me the kind of person I wanted to be – kind, loving, giving. I don’t know that I always succeed, but her example is something to reach for every day.

In a world where people sometimes seem to be overwhelming selfish and petty, there are those bright and shining examples of what we are capable of. It’s easy to get discouraged sometimes because it does seem the world has changed – just look at how our elected “leaders” act, with their bickering and absolute refusal to work with each other. It doesn’t matter your political party, the hatred and contempt leveled between people seems much more intense now than it did when I was a kid. It can be demoralizing, especially when you throw in those people who seem to make life a never-ending drama of negativity and strife. We all know them, we all deal with them – some of us are them.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Because for all of those people there are others. Every time I get down (admittedly, not really that often), I seem to receive a gift – the message that there are truly extraordinary people in this world. This week, that message came in loud and clear in the form of two people – Cindy Baker and Jessica Adams.

Cindy Baker and I have become friends through the more than six years I’ve covered Canadian County District Attorney’s office. In watching the people who work there, it amazes me the strength and fortitude they have in dealing with the worst in human nature – the murders, the rapes, those who steal and lie and destroy. Amidst that there is Cindy, who gives all of her heart and soul to a job that’s clearly become much more than that to her.

Cindy is the victim coordinator assistant for Canadian County. It’s a fancy title for a very straightforward thing – she helps victims as they move through the criminal justice system and beyond. Cindy helps people get funding for and gives support to victims of violent crimes and their families. She is there for them in the darkest days of their lives. But Cindy doesn’t just do her job – she has become a beacon for people who are sometimes struggling simply to hold on.

I’ve been privileged to see Cindy in action for years. Attend a criminal hearing, and it’s a good bet she will be there, offering a hug, comfort and encouragement. She doesn’t do it for praise (although she’s received plenty) – it’s clear she does it because it’s the right thing to do. Monday night it was easy to see what a difference Cindy has made in countless peoples’ lives as they spoke of her guidance and her help and how they couldn’t have made it without her by their side. A simple candlelight vigil probably brought more solace to these people than countless other acts, but it’s her work – and her spirit – that makes a huge difference every single day. She’s the kind of person we should all strive to be.

That can be said for Jessica Adams, as well. A Mustang High School senior, Jessica is one of those people who is constantly looking for someone to help, something to do to make the world a better place. She does it selflessly and without seeking praise, and people gravitate toward her because she truly cares about others. It’s no act.

Look at the teenagers around you. Many of them are focused on their social lives, their friends, their cell phones. Video games are sometimes more important than real-life people. They’re not bad kids – they’re just kids, and there’s no faulting their attitudes. They are young and carefree, and there’s nothing at all wrong with that.

Then there is Jessica. First, she’s working on the Polar Plunge, trying to help Special Olympics athletes. I watched her with those students – she loves them, and they her. She is able to look beyond their disabilities, some severe, and see the special person within. But, she doesn’t stop there. She’s taken the deepest of personal losses and turned it into a way to help even more people as she prepares for a survivors’ dinner for Friday’s Relay for Life. At her relatively young age Jessica instinctively looks for the best in people and life and, in doing so, she shows us the best we can also be.

As we move forward in a year that’s going by far too fast (it’s already April!), I know people like Cindy and Jessica have renewed for me what’s undoubtedly the best resolution any of us can make – to be a better person. To be more like them.

And that’s something worth striving for.

 

 

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Over the upcoming Easter period, many adults will be tempted to give a baby rabbit to a beloved child, godchild, grandchild, niece or nephew. In a few months, our local animal shelters will be, as they are every year, inundated by a flood of cast-off bunnies.  Heartland Rabbit Rescue, which is the only rescue in Oklahoma dedicated to rabbits, asks that everyone who is considering buying a rabbit this year stop and think about three important facts:

First, although rabbits can make wonderful pets, they are naturally fragile and easily frightened. An active child who expects a cuddly pet can terrify or even injure a rabbit.

Second, a well-cared for rabbit should live as long as a dog or cat (10 years or more) and will require just as much attention and specialized veterinary (including spaying/neutering) care as a dog or cat would. No living animal is a prop to “teach” responsibility; they are a commitment and an obligation, one often way beyond the capabilities, capacities and resources of a child.

Third, just as there are countless dogs and cats without homes, so are there numerous rabbits who are languishing in shelters and rescues, often doomed to be killed unless adopted. Never buy a living being – if you wish to share your home with an animal, visit your local rescue organization and adopt in order to save a life.

If you want to make this Easter happy for a child (and for the Easter bunny, too) don’t give a live rabbit, give a stuffed or chocolate bunny instead and make a donation to one of the many excellent local animal rescues on their behalf.

Glenn Lane

Member, Board of Directors

Heartland Rabbit Rescue

www.heartlandrabbitrescue.org

 

More size needed for Big 12 hoops’ teams

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Final Point

By Kyle Salomon,

For much of the year, the nation’s best college basketball conference was thought to reside in the heartland of the country.

Now, after the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, the Big 12 Conference, which started the big dance with seven teams, has seen its large number of tourney participants dwindled to just two heading into the sweet 16 round.

With power schools such as Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State looking to lead the way for the Big 12, many college basketball experts thought the conference would have a strong showing in the tournament, but first-round upsets from OU and OSU and second-round knockouts by Kansas and Texas have tarnished those dreams.

Only two teams remain in play for the big prize. Iowa State and Baylor are headed to the sweet 16 after pulling off two victories in the opening weekend of the dance.

Iowa State won its first-round game with ease, but lost star forward Georges Niang to a broken foot for the remainder of the tournament. Many thought the Cyclones, who finished third overall in the conference standings and won the conference tournament, were going to go down to North Carolina in the second round because the loss of Niang would be too much to overcome.

Instead, ISU pulled it together for at least one more game and got a victory over the Tar Heels, advancing them to the sweet 16, where they will take on Connecticut with a good chance to win.

Baylor has had the definition of a roller-coaster season. The Bears started the season off red hot as they looked like a top 10 national team taking everyone they played behind the woodshed, but midway through the year the wheels fell off and Baylor had to scratch and claw just to get into the NCAA tournament discussion.

The Bears got hot for their stretch run and earned an at-large bid into the big dance. Baylor took down Nebraska in round one and then shocked the country with a 30-point beat-down of higher-seeded Creighton in the second round.

Despite the success of Iowa State and Baylor, the Big 12 has been a disappointment this March. The common theme in all of the conference losses has been the mismatches in the post for the Big 12 teams.

It’s hard to imagine mid-majors and even low-majors having more size than the likes of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, but it’s the truth.

North Dakota State dominated the Sooners in the paint. The Bison controlled the boards on both ends of the floor and took OU out of its run-and-gun style of play.

The Cowboys could never get into a rhythm against Gonzaga. The Zags knew they weren’t going to win an up-tempo style of game against OSU, so they slowed it down and pounded the rock inside to their big guys, who dominated the undersized Oklahoma State frontline.

The average size for a starting frontline in major college basketball is 6 feet 9 inches through 6 feet 11 inches.

Here are the sizes of all of the starting frontlines for the Big 12:

Oklahoma started Ryan Spangler and Cameron Clark in the paint this season. Spangler stands 6 feet 8 inches, and Clark was an undersized 6 feet 7 inches down low for OU.

The Pokes started the season with Michael Cobbins and LeBryan Nash starting in the post. Cobbins stands 6 feet 8 inches, and Nash is 6 feet 7 inches. Cobbins went down halfway through the season with a torn ACL, which knocked him out of the rest of the year. Kamari Murphy came into the starting lineup to replace Cobbins. Like Cobbins, Murphy also stands 6 feet 8 inches.

Kansas had the most talented starting frontline when fully healthy, but that was a rare case this season. Joel Embiid is considered by many as a top five pick in this year’s NBA draft if he decides to opt out early. Embiid struggled with back problems throughout the season, including the entire postseason. Embiid stands at 7 feet. Perry Ellis also starts down low for the Jayhawks. Ellis stands 6 feet 8 inches. When Embiid is out of the lineup, KU went with Jamari Taylor at 6 feet 8 inches.

Texas had good size down low this season, but the Longhorns didn’t have the year they had hoped for in the preseason. Cameron Ridley and Prince Ibeh started in the paint for Texas. Ridley stands 6 feet 9 inches and Ibeh is 6 feet 10 inches.

Baylor has the best overall size out of any Big 12 team, which is probably why they are still alive. The Bears go with Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson in the post. Austin stands 7 foot 1 inch, and Jefferson is 6 feet 9 inches.

Kansas State had a strong season, but its NCAA Tournament appearance came to an end in the first round with a beating at the hands of Kentucky. The Wildcats started 6-foot-11 Brandon Bolden and 6-foot-7 Thomas Gibson in the paint this season.

It’s surprising Iowa State has made it this far in the tournament when you look at its overall size in the post, but they have tremendous guard play, which doesn’t hurt. The Cyclones started Niang at 6 feet 7 inches and Melvin Ejim at 6 feet 6 inches, but without Niang, ISU will go with 6-foot-9 Jameel McKay.

West Virginia did not make the tournament, but had a short run in the NIT. The Mountaineers started Elijah Macon at 6 feet 9 inches and Jonathan Holton at 6 feet 7 inches in the paint.

Texas Tech had a season to forget in Tubby Smith’s first year with the program. The Red Raiders started Clark Lammert and Jordan Tolbert down low. Lammert stands 6 feet 8 inches and Tolbert is 6 feet 7 inches.

TCU had a miserable season in year two in the league and didn’t get a conference win this season. The Horned Frogs started Amric Fields and Devonta Abron in the post. Fields stands 6 feet 9 inches and Abron is 6 feet 8 inches.

The Big 12 is a deep and talented league, but if it plans on having a true national title contender anytime soon, the league needs to get bigger and stronger, not smaller and quicker. Just ask the SEC in football.

Love, loss part of life’s journey

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Love and loss.

It’s strange how two words that sound so alike can be so different. Yet both are so much a part of our lives. Without real love, we can’t suffer true loss, but without loss we don’t always appreciate or remember just how much we have.

We’ve had a lot of loss in our work family lately. From the unimaginable loss of two El Reno teenagers – one, our own Jesse Gorbet – to the sudden death of our friend and co-worker Terri Grubbs, we have had the lesson that life is fragile thrown at us recently more than we’d ever like. But it is through these we also can remember those we’ve lost and how much they’ve brought to our lives.

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I’m ashamed to say I didn’t know Terri well. What I do know is she worked for our sister paper, the El Reno Tribune, for about 30 years, since before some of our staff members were even born. Terri did so many things that brought both of our papers to life, in both El Reno and Mustang – she was an asset to all of us and someone whose work took her far beyond the four walls of the El Reno office. She will be missed.

But the pain of loss also brings us lessons. For me, it was a loss that brought me to this desk writing this column now. My mom was one of those people who gave more than she ever received. She was my inspiration, my moral compass, my best friend. She was the one who told me, more times than I can count, that I should get back into journalism after 20-odd years working as a legal assistant.

After she was gone, I was lost and searching, trying to find ways – any way – to honor her memory and everything she had been. So I took the leap, took a chance and ended up at the Mustang News. Every story I write, every photo I take, I think about my mom and I know she’s happy. And she lives on, not just through me and her grandson and not just through the friends and family who loved her, but funnily enough also in a newspaper she had never even heard of.

Loss may have brought me here, but love is what has made the Mustang News what it is today. It certainly is what’s kept me here and is the reason I look forward to coming to work every day. We are not the same newspaper we were six months ago, we are so different, and I hope, better.

That’s because we have a group of people who love what they do every day. It probably sounds corny, but we like being with each other, we have each other’s backs, we love being a part of this community. We don’t just cover the news or sell ads or work at design – we truly want to make Mustang a better place because it’s our home too. My mom always said you could be judged by the company you keep, and every day I am blessed to work with some of the finest people I’ve ever known – both here in Mustang and in El Reno too.

These changes don’t mean the Mustang News of the past was a bad paper. It was just different. I’ve heard a lot of people say they didn’t realize there are two newspapers in Mustang, and in the past it was true that what you read in one you’d likely find in the other.

While to an extent that’s still true – there will always be stories universally important to everyone in our community – we’d like to think our change in philosophy shows in our content. Sure, we run the crime stories and if someone does something wrong, we’ll cover it. That’s our job. But we now are more about you – what you’re doing, what you like, what you’re interested in, what you’ve achieved.

We are proud of who we all are and what we believe in. We are here to tell the stories of our community’s and our residents’ success, but we are also here to help make that success a reality.

Love and loss. There will always be loss but more importantly there will always be love. And that’s something to cherish every single day.

 

Future is bright for boys’ basketball program

Terrell Williams Five

column shots.qxdDespite the season being cut one-game short of their ultimate goal, there is plenty to be excited about for the Mustang boys’ basketball program.

The Bronco boys’ basketball team finished their 2013-2014 season in the state semi-finals with a loss to Putnam City West and an overall record of 22-7.

“They definitely can take the feeling they have right now into next year, because it’s not a good feeling,” Mustang head coach Terry Long said. “Whatever your weakness is, then you work on it to get better, regardless of what it is.”

The bad news for the Mustang basketball program is it finished one game shy of its ultimate goal this season. The good news for the Broncos is Mustang loses only one player to graduation from their normal rotation.

Guard Demarion Love played his final season of high school basketball with Mustang in 2013-2014. The 6-feet 3-inch wing guard was known for his hustle plays on the Broncos’ squad this season. Love was Mustang’s best overall perimeter defender, using his length and athleticism against opponents’ best perimeter offensive players game-in and game-out.

Love will be missed next year, but Mustang will be considered one of the favorites to bring home the gold ball next season.

The Broncos will return 10 players who played a significant role in the rotation this season for Long and his staff.

Five of those 10 players will be seniors next year for Mustang. Guards Terrell Williams, Isaiah Hammons, Aubrey Johnson and forwards Geoffrey Hightower and Dylan Snyder will enter their last season with the Broncos next year.

Williams will return as the team’s leading scorer next season. His improved play this year helped the Broncos on both ends of the floor in the semi-final run.

Hammons didn’t play much in the final two weeks of the year because of a severe ankle injury he sustained late in the regular season. Hammons showed the ability to guard the perimeter and take the ball to the basket on the offensive end of the court.

Johnson was on his way to having a strong season for the Broncos, but several weeks into the year, the sharp-shooting guard suffered a season-ending broken foot. If Johnson can make a full comeback next season, he will help the Broncos immensely with his outside shooting.

Hightower earned his role as the bruiser for the Mustang boys this season. The 6-feet 5-inch post player adapted his physical style of play to Long’s up tempo game and became a low-post threat for the Broncos.

Snyder was the team’s hustle player inside this year. His tenacity to make plays against bigger and stronger opponents earned him more and more playing time as the season progressed.

The other half of the 10 returnees next season will be juniors. Guards Jakolby Long, Binky Colbert and Kejuan Frazier with forwards Austin Meyer and Bryce Roberts will try and improve their games for next year.

Jakolby Long will be counted on as a team leader next season. The 6-feet 4-inch combo guard provided mismatches all over the court with the quickness to get around defenders on the perimeter and the size and strength to score in the paint.

Colbert showed spurts this season of being a solid player for the Broncos, but needs to be more consistent next year as a reliable scorer off the bench.

Frazier came on late in the year for Long and his staff as an outside shooter for Mustang. He will be counted on to impact the team in every area next season.

Meyer made great strides from his freshman to sophomore season, but will be expected to make similar strides going into next year. The 6-feet 9-inch post player showed improvement on both ends of the floor this season for Mustang.

Roberts was a tough inside defender and rebounder off the bench this year for Mustang. He had the ability with his size to battle down in the paint with bigger opponents. He will be counted on to do the same next season.

Perhaps the most exciting player next year for the Broncos will be guard Curtis Haywood II. The slick 6-feet 4-inch combo wing was ruled ineligible for varsity athletics this season by the OSSAA, but will be able to play next year for Mustang.

Haywood II played junior varsity this season, and showed many signs of being an All-State caliber player when he joins the varsity ranks.

If the Broncos can avoid disastrous injuries next year, there are many reasons for the Mustang community to be excited for this boys’ basketball team one year from now, anything less than a gold ball will be a disappointment.

Long-just what the doctor ordered

When Terry Long became the boys basketball coach at Mustang High School, everyone knew of his track record as a head coach.

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Coming from Oklahoma City Douglass High School, where he had played and coached for more than three decades was not an easy decision.

Long had won numerous state titles in a row at Douglass and was staring down another one the following year when he decided to make a call to Mustang athletic director Chuck Bailey.

Bailey was in the process of searching for a new head boys basketball coach after former coach Alan Green took an administrative position in the athletic department.

Getting a call from Long was exactly what the doctor ordered for Bailey and Mustang. Several days later, Long was named the boys basketball coach at Mustang, and the process to win a state championship was under way.

He started working with his new team that summer following his hire. He immediately said, “We are going to win a state championship. Not in a few years, but now. We are going to win now.”

Now, it was clear that group that summer did not have what it took to win a state championship, but he was beginning to build that expectation in their minds. He wanted to create a state championship or bust mentality, and it worked.

Several players, who played in the rotation the previous years, decided they didn’t want to play for Long and his style.

Sometimes a branch needs pruning in order to grow to its maximum potential. That is what Mustang basketball needed. Players who didn’t fully buy into Long and his coaching style would only make the team worse in the long run.

The 2012-2013 season was Long’s first at Mustang. His team was talented, but young. That didn’t stop him from saying he expected a state championship out of that group.

Now, that team wasn’t good enough to win it all a year ago, but their mindset was being molded and formed the way Long wanted them to think.

They suffered a heartbreaking first-round loss to Bixby in the Jenks regional, which was one of the biggest upsets in Class 6A last season.

At the time, the defeat stung to the core, but looking back on that game, it is exactly what this group needed.

Here we are a year later and the Mustang boys are one win away from going to the state tournament and having a real shot to bring home the gold ball.

The Broncos hosted a regional last weekend at MHS and easily won, giving them a much-awaited rematch with Midwest City.

On paper, Mustang is more talented than any other team in the state of Oklahoma, but the Broncos must prove their worth against the Bombers Friday night in Edmond.

Long has this team playing with a lot of confidence right now, which is what they need going forward.

Even if this team doesn’t win the state championship this season, they are in good hands with Long running the show. This group of Broncos is still young and fun to watch.

If not this year, a gold ball is heading Mustang’s way in the next two years.

Love, friendship bring lifelong gifts to special needs kids and those who help them

Special Olympics – and Special Olympians – can be a magical thing.

But it’s not just a wonderful experience for the special needs children, youth and adults who take part in the games, it’s a chance for others to help those who look at life a little differently, to walk a time in their shoes.

And what a world they can see.

column shots.qxdI know. My brother was “mentally retarded” in the days before it become more politically correct to say “special needs.” I saw first-hand the challenges he faced and the way he and his classmates looked at things. A lot of the best things about who I am are because Steven was my brother. To be part of Special Olympics, to see the drive of Special Olympians is an experience you carry for a lifetime.

In the last week, I was privileged to meet a group of people who have taken a similar journey. This group of students have chosen to take part in Mustang High School teacher Greg Oswald’s Student Assisting Students class. They help special needs students and provide them a link to the rest of the school – something that’s rare because special needs students learn in their own classrooms.

While you could say the SAS students were just getting credit or maybe just thinking of good marks on their college applications, just a few minutes watching the interaction between them showed that wasn’t the case. It was obvious these students chose to do this and they were getting as much – perhaps more – than they were giving to their fellow students.

And that’s how Mustang High School really is, overall. From No Shiver November, where a group of students got together and gathered thousands of coats to help people at City Rescue Mission to the multitude of teams across the school working toward Relay for Life to the SAS students, these teenagers show how much they care for others. In a world where sometimes that seems few and far between, it gives a geezer like me hope – hope for the future, a shining light that shows just how good people can be.

The life of a special needs student can be difficult – lonely, sometimes painful because of slurs and cruelty from others who do not understand them or the challenges they face. At Mustang High School that might go on, but what certainly does happen is a group of guardians care and help those who they, themselves say, “face things we take for granted every day.”

Of course, every program needs a leader and these kids are learning by the example of their teacher, Greg Oswald. A man who lets his actions back up his words, I watched as Greg and his students stood laughing – and freezing – at the edge of a pool last Saturday during Polar Plunge. Their spirit and dedication, as well as Police Chief Chuck Foley and the others who braved the cold to help others, were warm enough to melt the coldest heart.

These people saw how special our Special Olympians truly are – not because they have special needs, but because they are unique, wondrous one-of-a-kind individuals who will change your life if you give them the chance.

Mustang National Guard members continue tradition

By Oklahoma National Guard

More than 20 years ago their fathers left their civilian jobs and put on their military uniforms to help defeat Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Republican Guard.  A couple weeks ago the young men of Battery A, 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery Regiment, 45th Fires Brigade, Oklahoma Army National Guard, carried on the family tradition of taking the fight to the enemy by firing rockets in Afghanistan against insurgent positions.

ok national guard-RecoveredIn late 1990, 429 citizen-soldiers left Oklahoma for the first Gulf War rather anonymously, but came home heroes. The 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery Regiment, was so good that General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. wrote in an article published in May 1991, “They (Reserve Component Artillery Units) are part of the ground attack, with the Oklahomans achieving the highest rate of fire in Third Army.”

In all, they fired 903 rockets and traveled hundreds of kilometers in support of VII Corps in support of offensive operations that helped lead to an overwhelming U.S. victory.

Since 9/11, the 158th has deployed thousands of soldiers to Afghanistan and Iraq, but none of the deployments had the artillerymen firing rockets, they were all security and convoy support missions. That changed on Oct. 14, 2013, when Battery A deployed to Afghanistan to support Regional Command (South) with a field artillery mission.

army air and national guard (1)The soldiers of Battery A were glad to be deploying with the mission they had trained to do, but for the first few months they found themselves, once again, conducting personal security details, route convoy clearance and entry control point operations. Even though their High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers were set up and ready to fire, they didn’t receive a single fire mission for more than eight weeks.

On Jan. 16 that all changed when Battery A’s 1st Fire Platoon launched two rockets on enemy targets in support of Combined Task Force Duke. The rockets destroyed an enemy communications repeater sight used to support insurgent operations against coalition forces.

The launcher crew included gunner Spc. Joshua Hale of Chickasha, driver Staff Sgt. Steven Stanley of Carnegie, and launcher chief Sgt. Matthew Schoolfield of Ninnekah.

For Hale and Schoolfield, this mission has special meaning as it carries on a tradition started by their fathers during Operation Desert Storm.  Hale is the son of Spc. Chad Hale, formerly of Battery B. Schoolfield is the son of Sgt. Richard Schoolfield, formerly of Battery C. The elder Hale and Schoolfield both deployed with the 158th Field Artillery during Operation Desert Storm and fired rockets from their Multiple Launch Rocket Systems.

“The fact that we have soldiers providing fire support in combat in the same battalion that their fathers served with in combat speaks volumes about who we are as the Guard,” said Col. Mike Chase, 45th Fires Brigade commander. “Many units can metaphorically claim to be ‘family’ or a ‘Band of Brothers,’ but as in this case, it’s factual.”

For these men, their efforts in defense of our country will forever be linked through the history of the Oklahoma National Guard, the 45th Fires Brigade and the 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery Regiment.  They are expected to return home later this year.

The 45th Fires Brigade is headquartered in Mustang.

Civility necessary for community

Let’s agree to disagree.

That’s a statement that’s kind of been turned on its ear by the internet and social media. In an age where we can sit at a computer and make statements in an environment where we don’t see the impact of those comments on others, it’s all too easy to forget courtesies that used to be common.

There seems to be a lot of anger in our country, and Mustang’s no difference. There are – and always will be – those people who don’t like it when someone disagrees with their opinion, who can’t take what they perceive to be criticism, helpful or not. Whether it’s a public official who berates others who don’t share his or her views, someone on Facebook or another site that calls others names because they have different beliefs  or a person who ridicules anyone “different,” it all boils down to one thing – bullying. And it doesn’t matter if you physically shove someone or do it with words.column shots.qxd

We all know bullying is a problem in our schools. Look at the news stories, talk to experts who work with kids, and we all know this is a bad phenomenon. We’re lucky in Mustang – so far, no one has died or seriously injured themselves or someone else due to bullying. But it is a reality, and when local residents, adults, conduct themselves this way, how can we convince our children bullying is wrong?

Tuesday’s bond issue became a very heated topic. People both for and against the proposal were very passionate about their beliefs, and that’s great. Different viewpoints are a healthy thing – how else can we learn and grow if we all believe the same thing? There were a lot of debates about the issue and, let’s face it, at a point we have to agree to disagree with some people.

It’s those people who can’t accept that, who decide the answer is to question others’ integrity, call names and just keep on an on, that make discussions ugly. We are, first and foremost, a community. We are neighbors – our kids go to school together, we see each other at Town Center, we sit together at monthly chamber lunches, for some of us we attend each city council meeting. Why, then, can discussions not stay civil?

Last week a man named Glen Nichols died. Most people in Mustang probably don’t know Glen, but they should have. A former El Reno city councilman, Glen was the embodiment of a true community representative, a leader who made his city proud.

When Glen was on council, he asked a lot of questions – and I mean a lot. Glen didn’t just go along with the crowd; he did research, he talked to residents, he told me once it was his “homework.” There were things that frustrated him, issues he didn’t like but I never, in several years covering council, saw him mistreat someone else.

Glen was the kind of person I would like to be, someone who passionately believes in what is right and wrong but an individual that also knows we will never all agree. He was a great person to work with as a reporter – he always answered questions, always gave his time and dedication, and I was honored to become his friend. Glen and his wife Carol are two of the finest people I’ve ever known.

Mustang has its own share of great people – those who care deeply about others, who believe in our community and its potential. They are the norm and not the exception. But we all can do more, be better.

As a journalist, it’s my job to be impartial. I don’t express my political beliefs or weigh in on one side or the other of an issue. Sure, I have my thoughts, but I’d like to think I can separate those from my coverage because that’s what I am supposed to do. That doesn’t give me an excuse, however, when I witness bullying and harassment – and none of us should stand by and allow anyone to behave like that.

This is our community and we owe it to our neighbors, our friends and ourselves to make a stand about what is right, to call out those who are conducting themselves in that manner. We can agree to disagree, but hopefully we can all agree that we are all entitled to express our opinions without fear of personal attacks.

Legion to honor Mustang police, fire

By Don Kuntze, American Legion Post 353

        The 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.  We invite all veterans and their families to join us at our next meeting Feb. 13, 2014.

Legion to honor Firefighter and Police Officer of the Year  Post 353, again this year, has the distinct honor of presenting awards to the outstanding Firefighter and Police Officer in our community.  The presentation will be made at the Feb. 13 Post meeting, held at Mustang Community Center Senior Room.  The public is invited to attend.

Boy Scouts of America celebrate 104 years. The Boy Scouts of America was incorporated on Feb. 8, 1910 under the laws of the District of Columbia. The founders of the Boy Scout of America organization included William D. Boyce, Colin H. Livingstone, Daniel Carter Beard, Ernest Thompson Seton, James E. West, and honorary members former Presidents William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt.

Taps. The Post 353 Honor Guard had the privilege of rendering the final salute to US Army veterans Eugene Jordan, Homer Koch, Dana Avants, and US Air Force veteran Donald Hilbern.

Amazing World War II aircraft facts. Imagine putting all this information together in 1945 without a computer!  On average, 6,600 American servicemen died each month during WWII (about 220 per day).  There were 276,000 aircraft manufactured in the U.S., 43,000 planes lost overseas, including 23,000 in combat and 14,000 lost in the continental U.S. 

The staggering costs of aircraft in 1945 dollars were:  B-17 $204,370, P-40 $44,892, B-24 $215,516, P-47 $85,578, B-25 $142,194, P-51 $51,572, B-26 $192,426, C-47 $88,574, B-29 $605,360, PT-17 $15,052, P-38 $97,147, AT-6 $22,952.

The time from Germany’s invasion of Poland, Sept. 1, 1939, until Japan’s surrender on Sept. 2, 1945, was 2,433 days, and America lost an average of 170 planes per day.

The   B-17 carried 2,500 gallons of high octane fuel and a crew of 10 airmen.  There were 9.7 billion gallons of gasoline consumed and 108 million hours flown.  Our forces fired 460 billion rounds of aircraft ammo overseas.  There were 7.9 million bombs dropped overseas, 2.3 million combat flights, and 299,230 aircraft used 808,471 aircraft engines and 799,972 propellers.

The U.S. lost 14,903 pilots, aircrew and support personnel, plus 13,873 airplanes inside the continental United States.  There were 52,651 aircraft accidents, (6,039 involving fatalities) in 45 months.  Average 1,170 aircraft accidents per month, nearly 40 a day.

It gets worse….almost 1,000 planes disappeared enroute from the U.S. to foreign countries.  But 43,581 aircraft were lost overseas including 22,948 on combat missions (18,418 in Europe) and 20,633 due to non-combat causes overseas.  In a single 376-plane raid in August 1943, 60 B-17s were shot down.  That was a 16 percent loss rate, which 600 empty bunks in England.  In 1942-43 it was statistically impossible for bomber crews to complete the intended 25-mission tour in Europe.  Pacific Theater losses were far less (4,530 in combat) due to smaller forces committed.  The B-29 mission against Tokyo on May 25, 1945, cost 26 Superfortresses. 

On average, 6,600 American servicemen died per month during WWII, about 220 a day.  Over 40,000 airmen were killed in combat, and another 18,000 wounded.  Some 12,000 missing men were declared dead, including those “liberated” by the Soviets, but never returned.  More than 41,000 were captured.  Half of the 5,400 held by the Japanese died in captivity, compared to about 10% in German hands.  Total combat casualties were 121,867.

The U.S forces peak strength in 1944 was 2,372,000 personnel, nearly twice the previous year’s figure.  Losses were huge, but so were production totals.  From 1941-1945, American industry delivered more than 276,000 military aircraft. That was not only for the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, but also for allies as diverse as Britain, Australia, China, and Russia.

                             SUPPORT OUR TROOPS–REMEMBER OUR VETERANS

For more information regarding meetings, activities, or events, please call Commander Paul Ray at 921-5819.