now browsing by category
By Matt Montgomery
The Mustang school board approved a schematic design provided by MA+ Architecture for a storm shelter to be installed at the Mustang Education Center.
The vote was unanimous. The school board had only a couple of questions for MA+ Architecture representatives and they were clerical in nature.
Questions were asked regarding the shelter’s capacity and rating. Heath Tate, an architect with MA+, told school board members the shelter will house about 250 students. He said that number was based on the ICC 500 Storm Shelter Building Code requirements, based on the FEMA 361 guidelines.
The school board also inquired what rating the shelter provides. In the case of a tornado, boasting 250 mph winds, the shelter will hold up against winds and hail at that speed.
“The shelter will be designed for ground wind speeds up to 250 mph in accordance with FEMA 361 and ICC 500,” Tate said. “These are the maximum expected ground wind speeds even from an F5 tornado and is the recommended design wind speed for tornado shelters.”
It wasn’t specified if the walls of the shelter will protect students against debris such as flying trees, cars and other various objects known to take flight during a tornado. An EF-5 tornado, such as the ones which killed residents near El Reno and Moore in 2013, produce winds of more than 250 mph.
By approving this discussion item, the Mustang school board accepts MA+ Architects’ design and agrees for them to move forward with the design development phase for the storm shelter. It wasn’t specified as to when the shelter will be installed.
Mustang Schools Superintendent Sean McDaniel, PhD, said the school board is committed to putting shelters in Mustang schools.
“Our Board is committed to the construction of shelters for every school in the district that is built from this point forward,” he said. ”Our newest schools; Prairie View and Canyon Ridge, were constructed with FEMA rated shelters inside of the school. We are assessing our HS now to determine the best method to fortify areas inside the school.”
He also added how the school district has allocated bond money from its most recent bond election.
“The recent bond election called for $1 million to go toward storm shelter construction at the MEC and the HS campuses,” McDaniel said. “We are projecting roughly 40 percent of that going toward the MEC and 60 percent toward fortification of the HS campus. We anticipate completion of both projects sometime next school year.”
About 70 soldiers returned home Friday to the Army National Guard armory in Mustang, after serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan. They were welcomed home by their families and friends, along with elected officials, including Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, Sens. Ron Justice and James Lankford, as well as Mustang City Manager Tim Rooney and Mustang Fire Chief Carl Hickman. See the full story of what these soldiers went through and what their next steps are, in next Thursday’s edition of the Mustang News.
By Matt Montgomery
When troops return home from active duty with the military, families, community members and friends express joy and excitement. Often times, their arrival back to the states is kept quiet until the last minute, but it was announced Monday that more than 70 troops, stationed at the National Guard headquarters in Mustang, will return home Friday.
Colonel Mike Chase, commander of the 45th Field Artillery Brigade in Mustang, said the troops, who recently returned to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, will make their way to Mustang.
Members of Battery B, 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery, 45th Field Artillery Brigade, Oklahoma Army National Guard, are returning from deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The event will take place at 10 a.m., Friday at the Mustang Armed Forces Reserve Center. The armory is located at 420 South Cedar Springs Lane. Cedar Springs Lane is located on the south side of S.H. 152, between Morgan Road and Sara Road.
Battery B mobilized in May with about 70 Oklahoma Army National Guard Soldiers to include members of Battery B, 171st Target Acquisition Battery (TAB).
The soldiers were tasked to provide artillery fire support to coalition forces using the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), according to military reports. “While deployed, they conducted a number of missions to include force protection and operation of all entry control points. Battery B later transitioned to Kabul, Afghanistan, to provide base defense operations for U.S. Air Force Advisors responsible for training and developing a professional, capable and sustainable Afghan Air Force,” information provided by the Guard said. Battery B is the last Oklahoma Army National Guard unit deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Mustang High School graduate Samantha Spears knows what it’s like to return home from active duty in Afghanistan as she did in 2012.
Spears, a second Lieutenant with the Army National Guard, completed her training in February 2011 and landed in Afghanistan in July of the same year. Spears was stationed at Bagram Airfield in the mountains of Afghanistan.
When she returned home in March 2012, Spears said she had to adjust to civilian life and initially had some difficulty doing that.
“I remember distinctively I had to buy a new car and it was hard because it was almost like flashbacks,” Spears said. “Every time we would go around the base, if it was an area where a lot of the locals worked, they would swarm the truck, looking for handouts, sodas and stuff. All the car salesmen came out, swarmed the truck and I had to leave.”
Spears also said the first time she heard a tornado siren it brought back memories of hearing sirens at the airbase.
But, there were also moments of pleasure for Spears as she got to return home to the welcomed sight of her five-year-old son and husband.
By Matt Montgomery
A Christmas Day motor vehicle accident claimed the life of a Oklahoma City woman south of Mustang.
Diane Mosby, 61 of Oklahoma City, died at the scene of a head-on collision at about 8 p.m. on Christmas.
According to an incident report released by Oklahoma City police, Mosby was driving her white Ford Taurus north on SH 4 in the south lane when she collided head-on with a vehicle driven by Blanchard resident Chad Halstead, 38.
Halstead, who was driving a Ford F-150, was taken to an Oklahoma City hospital with non-life threatening injuries. A six-year-old child, who was a passenger in Halstead’s truck, was ejected from the vehicle. The child was taken to an Oklahoma City hospital and was listed in good condition, according to the report. A front seat passenger in the truck was also taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Mosby’s passenger was also taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, according to the report.
By Matt Montgomery
Some say money is the best Christmas present. In Mustang resident Kathi Mersman’s case, she became a millionaire for Christmas.
Mersman is Oklahoma’s newest lottery millionaire, after winning $2 million playing Powerball.
She bought her Powerball ticket at Cigarette Warehouse on Christmas Eve in Mustang. Mersman matched five of five white balls and added the Powerplay option for an additional $1 per play, which doubled her winnings from $1 million to $2 million.
After taxes, Mersman walked away with about $1.42 Million, taking the lump sum option.
She chose her numbers through the Easy Pick system and said she plans to use her winnings to pay off her house and is planning a vacation.
When it was officially announced the winner of the Powerball had bought their ticket from the Mustang store, the identity of the winner wasn’t immediately known. Oklahoma Lottery officials presented Mersman with her check on Monday.
Cigarette Warehouse owner Lang Du said this is the first time in 13 years of owning her business she has sold a winning Powerball ticket.
“This is overwhelmingly exciting for our customers,” Du said. “I love my customer for winning the big one.”
Du said she hopes this winner will steer in more lottery players to her business.
The winning numbers from Mersman’s ticket were 11, 12, 46, 47 and 50. The Powerball number was 22. Mersman was actually the second $2 million Powerball winner in less than seven days. This is the 43rd time a winner in Oklahoma has won a prize of $1 million or more, the lottery commission reported. Four of those winners have been lucky enough to hit the Powerball jackpot since the Oklahoma Lottery’s launch. Winners have 180 days from the day of the drawing to claim their prize at the Oklahoma Lottery headquarters in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma Lottery reports that all lottery games are used to support improvements and enhancements for Oklahoma education.
By Daniel Lapham
Discussion has begun about possible ballot language for a Feb. 10 vote that could determine how the Gary E. Miller Children’s Justice Center is funded as well as the Canadian County Jail.
Canadian County commissioners are not on the same page as far as possible language to take to voters. Their work was scheduled to resume Tuesday morning, after they recessed their regular Monday meeting. And the clock is ticking, with ballot language needed by next week in order to make the February vote.
An Oct. 31 decision by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt put a halt to the existing means of funding the center through the permanent .35 cent county sales tax. The sales tax has been used to fund the center’s staff, programs, construction of buildings and maintenance. The Canadian County Excise Board voted on Nov. 18 in a joint meeting with the county commissioners to transfer use tax funds from the general fund to the justice center to maintain operations through January, while a permanent solution is sought.
Staff from the justice center, along with Judge Bob Hughey, representatives from the sheriff’s office and members of the public gathered at Monday’s commissioners meeting to hear proposals for ballot language that could offer long-term funding solutions.
District 2 Commissioner David Anderson presented six drafts to District 1 Commissioner Phil Carson and District 3 Commissioner Jack Stewart.
“All of these potential resolutions are simply a starting point,” Anderson said. “We are a long way from anything that is final at this point. This is just a place to start.”
Anderson had earlier proposed the idea of creating a county trust authority that could include the juvenile center as well as the county jail. The proposed authority would determine funding and programs for both entities.
“There just isn’t enough time to work a lot of this out,” Stewart said concerning the development of a trust authority.
“Let me say one thing about the possibility of a jail trust authority. This is not something we are going to resolve in 15 minutes,” Anderson said. “I am the one who introduced the idea, but I think it must be well thought out and we do not have enough time to develop this and answer all of the questions a trust brings up.”
Carson said none of the proposed resolutions offered by Anderson mirror his views.
“I think that the simplest way that we can get the juvenile justice center back into legal operations is what we need to do,” he said. “The voters have voted on this two times. I think the county jail is a separate issue and should not be addressed as a part of this .35 cent tax.”
Carson clarified later that he was referring to the 1996 vote to use the .35 cent sales tax to build and operate the juvenile justice center. The other time, he said, was when voters rejected what was referred to as the “Anderson Plan.” Anderson had proposed redirecting a portion of the sales tax to help fund construction of a county jail. Voters rejected that idea.
“The people spoke clearly each time,” Carson said. “Draft one is a start, but I would like to see wording that will cover things that will cover children in the future. There needs to be language that includes development of programs for kids with developmental disorders that find it challenging to fit into the traditional structure of our public education system. I wish there was wording that could cover these things.”
Carson opposes the use of any of the .35 sales tax for the county jail, while Anderson said this could be a better use of the funds that have seen large increases in reserves. Stewart said he is in the middle and sees some real advantages to being able to transfer “excess funds” into areas where the county may need the additional cash flow.
“We have $6 million in the juvenile justice center account right now,” Stewart said. “We obviously have a tremendous amount of excess funds.”
Anderson said he is cautious not to use the term excess funds because he does not know how that would be defined.
“I do not know what would be considered excess and that is why I did not put that in any of the resolutions,” Anderson said. “Resolution four does say any funds left over could be distributed as deemed necessary by the county.”
Carson said he is against using any of the funds for anything that is not directly under the umbrella of the current juvenile justice center.
“I am totally against that thought,” he said. “As the funding increases, so does the population and in turn the need for bigger and different programs. Right now the need is storm shelters. The way it was voted on twice was for the children of Canadian County and that is the way it should remain.”
The current account holds $2.2 million in a savings, which operates much like a Certificate of Deposit Account (CD), Anderson said.
“We have about $2 million in reserves and we have a little over $1 million in cash in the operating accounts. That is all sales tax. We have $350,000 in the contract revenue account. This is cash money that is on hand. Any of the contracts that we have not collected yet is not included.”
By Traci Chapman
School supplies, backpacks, clothes, a new haircut – these are all things that are part of the back-to-school ritual.
They are also things some families don’t have or can’t afford. The Bread of Life Project recently worked to help change that. The third annual Back to School Bash helped more than 150 students get a good start on school, ready to go and with backpacks full of supplies, founder Kim Yoder said.
“Families who pre-register receive every single school supply on their school’s supply list – even the odd items like earbuds, play dough or baggies,” Yoder said. “Walk-ins are welcome too – we always have plenty of general school supplies to give out as well.”
The bash was held at Mustang Town Center and staffed by a group of volunteers as varied as the people they were helping. From church groups to students to hair stylists, each pitched in to help make families feel at home and get set for school, Yoder said.
“We were really fortunate to have so much help,” she said.
Yoder began Bread of Life Project in 2011. Wanting to help homeless and needy families, Yoder received a phone call from a group of women who wanted to join in on her efforts, she said.
“They had also been feeling led by God to serve the kids and families of our own community missions at home and found my website,” Yoder said. “We met, talked about our similar callings – to be the hands and feet of Jesus by serving our community – and have been together ever since.”
The group met with counselors across Mustang School District, kicking off food backpack and adopt-a-family programs for middle and high school students. As students return to school in August, the group will kick off its fourth year of sponsoring these programs, she said.
“The elementary schools were covered by the Oklahoma Food Bank, but we found out the older kids were falling through the cracks and going home hungry,” Yoder said. “The five of us meet every Tuesday night to pack the backpacks, plan out upcoming events, organize donors, sponsors and volunteers.”
The project’s sponsors and volunteers keep the project, and its various events, going, Yoder said. In addition to the Back to
School Bash, the project offers free financial peace and coupon classes each year, as well as a Christmas party, which for some families is the only holiday celebration they have. Last year, more than 200 people took part in the holiday party, she said. A new “Church Adopt a School Initiative” will begin with the start of school, connecting area churches with children and youth who need a helping hand, Yoder said.
“We rely 100 percent on the generosity of the community and we have never lacked a single thing we have needed; in fact, we always have more than enough,” Yoder said. “We are so blessed that God has chosen to use us in this way and has led so many to help us.”
While Bread of Life has volunteers and sponsors in place, the need is great and more help is always needed, Yoder said. Information can be found on the organization’s website, www.thebreadoflifeproject.com, or its Facebook page, which posts news and events at www.facebook.com/tbolp.
“The amazing thing about our group is that we are all from different churches in the community but we came together and continue to work together as a like-minded team, week after week, to help hungry kids and hurting families in Mustang,” Yoder said.
Bread of Life sponsors/community partners/volunteers
Helling Family Insurance – community partner and donor
Mustang Heights Baptist Church – clothing closet supplies all the clothes for the event
Ferguson Enterprises – provides all the food for the event
Canadian Valley Baptist Church – provides space for meetings, classes and event planning
Underwood Hotshot Service – community partner, donor, provides free storage space year-round
Henry Hudson’s Yukon – holds an annual auction and provides toys for the Christmas party, food for food pantry and school supplies for the back to school event
First Baptist Church of Mustang – Mother’s Day Out does yearly food and school supply drive, VBS does yearly school supply drives, Children’s Church volunteers stuff backpacks and do food drives
United Methodist Church of the Good Shepherd – provides space for events and school supplies
SW Oilfield – community partner and donor
Mustang High School Pon Pom Squad – volunteer at many events
Mustang High School baseball team – generous donors and volunteer at many events
Mustang High School National Honor Society – volunteer at many events
By Traci Chapman
Canadian County Court Appointed Special Advocates this week took its first step back toward its mission – helping children.
On Monday, Associate District Judge Bob Hughey swore in seven new CASA volunteers. The organization is a nonprofit, United Way partner agency that recruits and trains volunteers who work on behalf of children and youth who are involved in the legal system after being removed from their home or being determined as abused or neglected.
CASA volunteers are appointed by the juvenile court judge – in Canadian County, Hughey – and work as independent “fact finders.” CASA advocates represent abused and neglected children, working with the court system and Department of Human Services to make sure all parties have completed information about a specific case.
“The new volunteers have made the extraordinary commitment to ‘speak up’ for these vulnerable children in court and to advocate for them until they reach a permanent home,” CASA board president Debra Roberts said.
Volunteers Alex Corbitt, Viola Dinwiddie, Kathy Islas, Ramona Liddell, Christi McRee, Angela Tunstall and Mary Young completed a 30-hour training program and will work about 10 to 12 hours a month as CASA advocates, Roberts said.
CASA was also recently certified by national CASA, officials said.
“The National CASA quality assurance process is very rigorous, and reflects our commitment to ensure every child we serve has the most powerful volunteer advocate working on their behalf,” National CASA Association CEO Michael Piraino said. “This certification says Canadian County CASA has demonstrated to us a strong capacity to provide excellent services to the abused and neglected children within their community.”
CASA volunteers work on behalf of children throughout the country, and a growing metropolitan area like Canadian County has a particularly strong need for individuals willing to stand up for them, officials said. Locally, there are more than 300 open cases in Canadian County involving the alleged abuse or neglect of children and only a fraction of those are represented by a CASA advocate.
“Canadian County CASA has a need for approximately 100 additional volunteers,” Roberts said.
Anyone interested in working as an advocate is asked to attend an informational meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 11 in Integris Canadian Valley Regional Hospital’s meeting room A/B. CASA’s next training class is slated to begin in late August or early September, officials said.
CASA will also be holding an Aug. 23 fundraising event. A Zumbathon is set from 10 a.m. until noon at Christ’s Church of Yukon, located at 620 W. Vandament. The $10 entry fee will be used solely to support Canadian County CASA, officials said.
For more information about CASA or the August event, contact the county office at (405) 264-5508 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Shawna Bostick, Friends of the Mustang Animal Shelter
We love spending time with our dogs. From cuddling on the couch to taking them with us everywhere we go, just spending time with them makes us happy. Taking a walk or going to the dog park are the typical go-tos for getting our dogs out of the house for some exercise and socialization, but there are many, many more options that you and your dog might find intriguing.
Here is an introduction to some of the fun activities that are available for people and their dogs. Although certain breeds of dogs may overwhelmingly populate some of these, most are open to any type or size of dog.
A fast-paced sport where the dog listens for commands to run an obstacle course. It is great for high-energy dogs of every size. It also helps build confidence in nervous dogs.
Teaching dogs to tap into their natural ability to track scent. They learn to follow a scent trail, and then indicate the object at the end of the trail.
A very fast-paced sport where dogs learn to work in a team of dogs to race, in relay fashion, over jumps, retrieve a ball, and race back over the same jumps, before the next dog in the team can complete the same task. Typically, this is done as a team of four dogs that race side by side against another team of four.
In simplest terms, dogs jump for and catch Frisbees, but for those that compete in this sport, it is much more exciting. Two basic types of competition focus on Distance/Accuracy and Freestyle, where you can see some of the top teams’ jaw-dropping and high-flying tricks.
A sport created for sighthounds, although any breed of dog can take part. It involves chasing a mechanically operated lure over a large area. Think of it as a dog chasing a rabbit through a field.
Volunteering with your dog at places like hospitals, libraries, assisted living centers and with hospice organizations. Before being able to volunteer, the dog and its human are tested and then certified with a therapy dog organization. Good therapy dog candidates are good with people of all ages and dogs of all sizes. They should be well-mannered and quiet with a relaxed temperament, even when in a stressful situation. Volunteering with your dog to bring happiness to people can be hugely rewarding.
Obedience and Rally Obedience
Beyond basic sit and manners training, this training refers to training toward a focus and precision at the competition level.
Teaching tricks and movements that are choreographed into dance performances between the dog and its human.
The dog uses its nose to find rats (in containers) that are hidden in a course of hay bales. The human must correctly read their dog’s signals, and then voice the location of the rats.
Dogs learn to respond to herding commands, and corral sheep, chickens, etc. Typically populated by herding breeds, like border collies, but any dog can learn to herd.
Created for terriers to work their instinct to track and kill vermin that hide underground. The prey, or rat, is protected in a cage at the end of a small tunnel, which the dog must navigate.
A newer sport imported from Germany that is similar to herding. Dogs take and follow commands to direct large balls through a goal.
For dogs that love to pull, harnessed dogs learn to pull weights or other objects.
Dogs jump distances into water to retrieve items. In competition, many dogs jump distances exceeding 20 feet.
Experienced trainers work with their dogs in tracking, obedience and protection. This is not for novice handlers, and you should never try to teach your dog any type of protection behavior without first having an experienced trainer’s supervision.
Most of these sports are available to interested participants locally around the metro and around the state. Some schools offer classes to get you started, but there are also local dog clubs that offer classes to the public. Clubs typically charge less than schools.
Dog sports and training with your dog can be a lot of fun, but there are other benefits too. Besides the obvious exercise and socialization for the dogs, this also gets us humans out of the house for some socializing too; it can be a great way to meet new people. The dogs are challenged physically as well as mentally, so many behavior problems that stem from boredom are helped if not eradicated by regular participation in these types of activities. Even some of the most basic obedience training can do wonders for building confidence in frightened and skittish dogs, really helping them gain the courage to come out of their shell. Perhaps most beneficial is the noticeable increase in the bond that you will build with your dog.
Whether participating in an event once a month, going to class once a week, or whatever you make time to do, you and your dog will enjoy the extra time together, and benefit from the experience.
By Traci Chapman
Mustang Kiwanis Club has a big problem. Its food pantry shelves are bare, yet the need is still there – and growing.
“It’s a very serious situation,” Lila Hoover said. “We have a lot of families and seniors who depend on us, and we don’t have food to give to them.”
Donations have been down over the summer, but that’s when the need actually spikes. In addition to a growing number of seniors who depend on the food bank, families who count on school meals to help supplement their food supply are left fending for themselves, Hoover said. It’s times like this the organization truly needs more and more donations, she said.
“We receive food donations from schools’ harvest drives, but those donations usually don’t come in until late October or middle November,” Hoover said.
The food bank is open from 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. each Saturday. In addition to helping residents in need each week, Kiwanis also provide a special meal at Thanksgiving and Christmas for about 115 families, all of which have students attending Mustang schools, Hoover said. When the organization receives fresh vegetables, it passes those on, in addition to primarily dry and canned goods received from benefactors.
In May, Kiwanis provided food baskets for 41 families, including 47 children and 91 adults. In June, that number dropped slightly – 35 families comprised of 40 children and 62 adults. In just the three weeks of July, the organization has given out 29 food baskets for 37 children and 65 adults.
“We are really seeing a surge in seniors who need help,” Hoover said.
Service is the heart of Mustang Kiwanis Club, Hoover said. Chartered in April 1971, the club has 32 active members. In addition to the food pantry, Kiwanis interacts with the community, particularly with a goal of helping area children, she said. Key Club is a service organization for teens and is a “strong force” at Mustang High School, Hoover said.
“It teaches leadership through service to others,” she said.
Builders Club is like Key Club, but for slightly younger youth, Hoover said. Aimed at providing students with leadership activities that improve self-esteem and increase civic pride and interaction, clubs are active at both Mustang and Mustang North middle schools.
The area’s youngest children are also recognized through a partnership between Kiwanis and Mustang schools. Terrific Kids is an academic and character development achievement program for children between 6 and 12 years of age.
Schoolchildren are not the only recipients of Kiwanis’ work, however, Hoover said. The organization is key in providing a Christmas dinner for area troops headquartered out of Mustang Armed Forces Reserve Center. Last year, about 650 soldiers and their families were treated to the holiday meal and related activities, Hoover said. The organization also sponsors its annual Western Days pancake breakfast, a garage sale aimed at raising funds and twice-a-year carnivals.
“Kiwanis clubs also provide excellent networking opportunities for professionals,” Hoover said.
Mustang Kiwanis Club meets on Saturday mornings at 7:30 a.m. at the old police station, behind Mustang Historical Museum.
Donations can be cash or food items and are tax deductible. To make a donation or learn more about Mustang Kiwanis, call Hoover at (405) 625-3128 or Glen Muse at (405) 376-2695.
“By working together, members achieve what one person cannot accomplish alone,” Hoover said. “When you give a child the chance to learn, experience, dream, grow, succeed and thrive, great things happen.”