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When Terry Long became the boys basketball coach at Mustang High School, everyone knew of his track record as a head coach.
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.
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.
I 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.
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.
In 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By Kyle Salomon
When the University of Oklahoma hired Lon Kruger to be its new head basketball coach in the spring of 2011, many people questioned the hire.
Kruger is now in his third season as the head coach of the Sooner program and the result so far is pretty simple – OU men’s basketball is in good hands with Kruger at the helm.
Oklahoma currently sits at 18-7 overall this season with a mark of 7-4 in Big 12 Conference play, which is incredibly impressive considering the Big 12 is by far the best basketball league in the nation this year with teams like Kansas, Texas, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Baylor.
The Sooners are also ranked in the top 25, and look to be building toward a high seed in the NCAA Tournament, which begins in a little more than a month.
Going into the season, there wasn’t much hype surrounding this team Kruger is putting on the hardwood for the Sooner faithful to watch. OU lost its three top scorers from last year’s NCAA Tournament squad, which was beaten in the first round by San Diego State.
Forwards Romero Osby and Amath MBaye and guard Steven Pledger moved on from the Sooner program.
This year was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Kruger’s crew as youth and inexperience headlined the OU preseason.
Kruger signed two junior college big men late in the summer to try and help with the departures of Osby and MBaye, but both players left campus early in the fall for unknown reasons, leaving Gonzaga transfer and Tuttle native sophomore forward Ryan Spangler as the main horse inside.
Spangler has been OU’s biggest surprise this year. His ability to play inside against not just one but two opposing post players has been nothing short of spectacular. He doesn’t light up the scoreboard with points, but his rebounding, defense and overall physical toughness make Oklahoma not just adequate in the paint, but feared.
Spangler does have help down low with senior forward Cameron Clark. Clark is an undersized post player with freakish athleticism that some NBA players would love to have in their arsenal. Clark has improved his outside shooting and his quickness and leaping ability provide mismatches for opposing front lines.
Senior forward and Putnam City West native Tyler Neal has blossomed into a fine player in his final season with the Sooners Neal has the ability to stretch the defense from the four-position with his on-target 3-point shooting. Neal also has shown tremendous toughness going down low and banging with the big bodies in the paint for rebounds.
The other front-court player for the Sooners is junior forward D.J. Bennett. Bennett is a junior college transfer who red-shirted a year ago to put on weight and so he wouldn’t waste a year playing behind Osby and MBaye.
Bennett is still a slender player, but he is long and athletic, which allows him to play solid defense and be an effective rebounder for the Sooners. He is limited on the offensive end of the floor, but has the ability to “wow” fans with his big dunk potential.
Now we move to the backcourt. Oklahoma’s guards are a big reason to be excited about OU basketball, both now and in the future.
Oklahoma rotates five guards in three positions this season. Kruger likes to play three guards in the lineup at all times because of his style of play, which is run-and-gun up-tempo.
No position is more important in college basketball than point guard, and OU has a good one. True freshman Jordan Woodard is an Edmond Memorial graduate who knows how to win basketball games.
He only stands 6 feet tall, but his ability to get to the rim, penetrate defenses and deliver on-point passes are a big reason Oklahoma is where they are today.
Sophomore guard Buddy Hield is probably the most talented scorer on OU’s roster. He has the quickness to get around defenders and the physicality to go through them when needed. He can light it up from beyond the arc and take it to the rim just as well.
Sophomore guard Isaiah Cousins has improved drastically on the offensive end of the floor for the Sooners in the past year. Last season, Cousins was merely an athletic defender who would have had trouble hitting the ocean from a steam liner with his jump shot. This year, he is an offensive threat and his defensive skills have improved as well.
Sophomore guard JeLon Hornbeak has had problems with his foot ever since he has been in the Sooners program. However, when he has been healthy, Hornbeak has shown the ability to score from every spot on the floor as well as defend with tenacity on the perimeter.
Last but not least is true freshman guard Frank Booker. Booker was brought in as a 3-point specialist, but with Kruger’s coaching, he has become an outstanding overall player. Booker can still light it up from 3-point range, but he has developed a solid mid-range game and has improved on the defensive end of the court in a big way.
There is no telling how far this Oklahoma team can actually go once they get to the NCAA Tournament in March, but one thing is certain, with Kruger coaching them, they are not going to beat themselves.
It’s time for people to start getting to know this team as they make their run down the stretch of the season.
By Sean McDaniel
In a Letter to the Editor that was recently printed titled “Reasons to vote No on Feb. 11,” bond election detailed information was provided for readers’ consideration regarding the upcoming school bond election. Information presented in the recent Letter to the Editor are factually false. Accurate information is available below for your review.
MISINFORMATION No. 1
The district is planning to construct two stand-alone facilities “solely out of brick” when steel buildings would suffice and that one will have “16 batting cages.” And “new facilities would be unnecessary if the current gymnasium is upgraded.”
The two stand-alone facilities are line items in the bond election; a JROTC Training and Instructional Center and a multi-purpose baseball and softball training facility. Neither will be constructed “solely out of brick” as stated in the Letter to the Editor. Both will be steel buildings with only a brick façade. There will be seven, maybe eight batting lanes in the baseball and softball facility, not 16 as reported. Recently we solicited estimates to renovate the old P.E. building to see what it would cost to bring it up to code and to make a more safe and useable space for our students. The cost exceeded $600,000 which seems to be an unwise investment considering the age and condition of the building.
MISINFORMATION No. 2
The district “lacks the ability and willingness to properly schedule use of facilities” and the district can use a single building to accommodate JROTC, baseball and softball. These district programs are “not year-round programs.”
All three programs mentioned are year-round programs, including summers. The JROTC alone uses their current facilities for a minimum of 10 hours per day, many times 12 hours per day. Most days the JROTC students are in their current facility until 5 p.m. Many times they are there until 7 p.m. There would be no plausible scenario that would allow for three programs to properly use one facility. Broken Arrow’s “dual-use” facility referenced in the Letter to the Editor is not relevant as BA does not have a JROTC program. Their facility is shared by baseball, softball and cheer programs, none of which have the schedule that the Mustang JROTC program has. The Letter to the Editor reported that the BA facility cost $1.4 million. The $1.4 million was for the metal building only and did not include the construction of locker rooms, office space, storage, flooring, and many other furnishings, fixtures and equipment necessary to make the building functional. The building was constructed in 2004. At today’s costs based on a conservative 4 percent increase in materials and construction, the same 20,000-square-foot building would cost approximately $3.7 to $4.3 million.
MISINFORMATION No. 3
“No business or right-thinking consumer … would ever consider financing…” technology devices like laptops, desktops or IPads “over a five- to 10-year period” and “this being a five-year bond issue doesn’t square with the practice of using lease-revenue bonds,” which implies that district taxpayers will be paying for technology devices for as long as 10 to 15 years. The author states, “I am concerned about the funding of short-lived assets like laptops, tablets, IPads, and similar equipment using long-term bond financing, the terms of which will substantially exceed the life of these type assets by several years.”
The proposed bond is a five-year General Obligation Bond and has nothing to do with lease revenue or long-term financing whatsoever. Everything on this bond election will be paid for in full at the conclusion of five years. At no time has a lease revenue option been discussed by district personnel relative to this bond election. The life cycle of devices in schools is typically seven to10 years. As such, the devices that would be purchased with these bond funds will be in use by Mustang students long after the devices have been paid for which is completely opposite of what the author has stated. It is an excellent investment and is how many districts, including ours, are able to secure more technology for student use. The $1.6 million of technology items identified in the Feb. 11 election will allow us to get the district ahead of the curve with the purchase of literally several hundred devices that students can use in every school. It is a very exciting opportunity.
MISINFORMATION No. 4
“The school district is already maxed out on its General Obligation Bonding capacity at the 10 percent constitutional limit with respect to the Mustang School District Net Assessed Property Valuation.”
The Mustang School District is not maxed out. This is an absolutely false statement. If the district were “maxed” out as the author contends, it could not legally complete the issuance of the proposed bonds as planned. The district has a long-standing history of responsibly maintaining a bond program that allows it to secure funding for capital needs. Every bond proposal goes through a multi-step process of evaluation before it gets on a ballot. The process includes review by bond advisers, bond attorneys and the attorney general’s office.
The Feb. 11 election is about students. It is an opportunity the district has to provide technology and facility upgrades, construct playground equipment, secure equipment for fine arts students and to take a step forward. Honest and open debate is healthy. To purposely mislead others by advancing inaccurate information is unhealthy.
The desire of the Mustang School District is the same as the desire of parents, which is for the students to have the best opportunities and experiences in the classroom and outside of the classroom that are available.
Please consider voting on Feb. 11.
Like many Americans, the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 is instilled in my mind, an event that remains, all of these years later, one of the worst things I witnessed in my life.
It was, for our generation, a loss of innocence of sorts. In speaking to my parents afterward, I realized that what we experienced that day was much like a similar event that occurred many years earlier, on Dec. 7, 1941.
Although the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was concentrated on the U.S. military, many Americans were shocked at the depth of death and destruction on our own soil. It didn’t feel like military action or the declaration of war it would become. The soldiers and sailors who died that day were thought of in much the same way as those lost in the twin towers, the Pentagon or on Flight 93. They were Americans, going about their everyday lives. They were alive and then they were lost – and in that moment our country changed.
As in every tragedy items remain which remind us of that moment in time. In Hawaii, visitors can see the USS Arizona, its sunken form serving as a memorial of the men lost so long ago. Although relatively few of their comrades remain and most of us now living were born long after Dec. 7, 1941, the Arizona allows us to keep the memory of those lost alive.
The same is true for 9/11. We can travel to New York, to Washington, to visit memorials and remember the loss of that day and the resolve that came after. But for those of us in Mustang, we were given a gift earlier this week as an important witness to that day literally rolled into our town.
Rescue 5 and its 12-member squad were stationed in Staten Island. As calls came in about the first plane hitting the World Trade Center, 11 of the squad’s 12 members loaded into the rescue vehicle and sped to the site. Those 11 men would never come home. Their vehicle was heavily damaged but was eventually restored, as a memorial to its company and to the other firefighters, police, rescue workers and civilians who died that day.
On Monday, Mustang students from several schools heard the story of Rescue 5 and were able to see and touch a piece of history from that day. For those students, the events of that day are to them what Pearl Harbor is to most adults alive today – an important part of our history, but something we only know about through the tales of those who were there.
It seems many times we let important things slip away. A horrible thing happens, we call it a tragedy, it is a big news item and then, as time goes on, it fades away – and we oftentimes forget happenings we should remember. Only through remembrance, even when it’s painful, can we learn from past mistakes, grow and honor those who were lost.
Rescue 5’s short time in Mustang served as a reminder of what we lost on 9/11, the honor and sacrifice of those who gave their lives to help others. It’s an important lesson and something we should not forget – and it’s our obligation to remind the generations coming after us of the seminal events that make us Americans and the people who make us proud to be a part of this country.
By Emily Kindiger
January in Scotland…wow!
Compared to the last two months, quite a bit of activity has happened. I will beginning with New Year’s Eve when one of my classmates invited the Modernities students over for a party. I learned very quickly when I arrived in the country that the Scots take their kilt very seriously, and when my friends and I arrived at the party, we were greeted by our hosts completely clad in their clan attire: kilt, sporran, Sgian Dubh (the small knife worn at the knee of the tall sock, pronounced skee-in-doo. Men in kilts is a typical occurrence here but it still took me by surprise to see someone of my own generation, who was not preparing for a wedding, wearing it.
The party was exciting and contained all the usual elements of a New Year’s Eve party with the countdown, everyone singing Robert Burns’ “Auld Lang Syne” and hugs all around from friends, acquaintances and people I had just met at the party. It was a kind goodbye to a wonderful 2013 and a friendly greeting to 2014.
Just a few days after New Year’s, I decided to go to one of the pubs nearby, Jinty McGinty’s, for the live music that plays on Sunday nights, and happened to meet two members of one of my favorite bands. Loving Celtic music, I have enjoyed the band Celtic Thunder for years, and at Jinty’s I was appreciating some impressive fiddling from the first band when I look up and Celtic Thunder’s George Donaldson walks past. About a minute later another band member Colm Keegan walks by. Wide eyed, jaw on the floor, probably with the expression of a 14-year-old at a Justin Timberlake concert, I realized 1) I had a pen and notebook and 2) I somehow, opportunistically, magically had my camera with me. Faking composure and strapping on all the bravery I could muster I introduced myself and learned these two performers really are as friendly and kind as you hope all celebrities are.
So after shaking hands, autographs, pictures, even a hug and one complete expression of elation, I enjoyed some wonderful music and nearly skipped back to my flat, quickly informing everyone I knew who I had just met. George Donaldson got his start performing at Jinty’s (his favorite pub in Glasgow), and when he’s not touring with Celtic Thunder he likes to come home and play.
So after New Year’s and the Jinty McGinty experience, the excitement continued with the start of classes and a visit from my parents and one of my sisters. I had not seen my parents since early September and older sister in over a year, so to have the four of us all in one place was amazing. We almost had the whole family there. I gave them the tour of my school, the botanical gardens, we went to Edinburgh and the castle there, went to the Kelvingrove and Tall Ship/Riverside Museums, to Jinty’s (which was probably my mother’s favorite part of the trip!), to the City Centre and we even all made it to Stirling Castle.
Eight days was too short but I think each of us had a wonderful time. They loved Scotland and I was thrilled to show them around and just see and talk to them. Skype, phone calls/texts and even Facebook make the distance feel shorter, but to see them face-to-face was truly amazing. I am so happy they were able to come.
My first two weeks of January were busy, remarkably fun and astonishing, and now I am back to my regular schedule again and back into the groove of school. I hope everyone back home had a wonderful start to 2014 and that many exciting adventures await you. My next goal: learn about Burn’s Night. All I know so far is that it is a night of celebration commemorating the birthday of the Scottish poet Robert Burns. Wish me luck!
Spring is a time of renewal. What is brown and dreary now soon will be green and lush. Oklahoma truly can be a beautiful place.
There are exceptions to that, though, and they are bad enough to detract from a lot of positive things going on in Mustang. I’m talking about the intersection of state Highway 152 and Mustang Road. I don’t think many of us would say the expanses of concrete – leading to run down and poorly maintained strip centers on either side of Mustang Road – are a reflection of how great our community is and where it’s going.
That’s where Mustang city officials come in. Many of our representatives, on council and on the county level, are far-thinking and progressive, constantly looking at ways to improve our community. From long-time advocates like Mayor Jay Adams to City Manager Tim Rooney, these individuals have stepped up and made a commitment to the city we love.
Work is being done to try to address these eyesores that sit in the center of our community. In addition to elected officials, Mustang is blessed to have staff working for the city who consistently give their all. This has been seen by the members of Mustang’s community development department, headed by Robert Coleman. It’s seen in the work of Mustang Planning Commission. Commissioners, like Mustang council members, are volunteers who are not paid for their work to make the city a better place.
But Mustang’s leaders and staff cannot carry the burden of making our community a better place alone. We need to support and assist these individuals in their attempts to beautify and move things forward. It doesn’t matter if you are a Mustang resident or – like me – a “73064er” living outside the city limits. What happens in Mustang proper affects us all, and many of us who live outside the 12 square miles care about and support the city as much as those who live there.
That commitment has not gone unnoticed, as both the city and Chamber of Commerce have worked to expand their networks, forging partnerships and expanding their view for Mustang – and the entire community.
But back to the 152/Mustang strip centers. What can we do? While in ways the city’s hands are tied in their attempts to force some of the business owners in that area to clean up their act, there are things all of us can do to help support them in that effort. We can work together to develop beautification efforts in the area – maybe planters, perhaps other ideas that could be presented to city staff and council members.
Something, anything would be better than the poorly maintained buildings and huge expanse of gray concrete that cover the center of our city.
Officials are working to make our area a better place – it’s up to us, as a community, to lend them a hand.