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Coalition joins worldwide stop-smoking effort

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Canadian County’s anti-smoking coalition has gone international in its efforts to help residents become tobacco-free.

Canadian County Against Tobacco partnered with Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust and Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline to support World No Tobacco Day, set for May 31.

“World No Tobacco Day is an annual day of awareness sponsored by the World Health Organization that highlights the health risks associated with tobacco use in order to end the tobacco epidemic for good,” said Jenny Kellbach, Canadian County Health Department tobacco prevention coordinator.

According to Centers for Disease Control and state health department figures, smoking directly or indirectly is part of diseases suffered by 16 million people across the country. In Oklahoma, more than 6,200 adults die each year as a result of smoking – their own or someone close to them.

“Tobacco kills more people than drugs, alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, homicides and suicides combined,” coalition member Karen McKeever said. “But it isn’t just about the numbers of loved ones we’ve lost – it is also about illnesses, disability and reduced quality of life due to smoking.

“It is about missing a daughter’s wedding, a grandchild’s first steps or even your own wedding anniversary,” she said. “World No Tobacco Day provides an opportunity to take back those special moments by setting a quit date on May 31 and quitting for life.”

CDC official said reducing smoking worldwide by 20 to 25 percent could translate to 100 million premature deaths by 2020.

“If the current trends of smoking continue, approximately 8 million people worldwide will die each year from tobacco use by 2030,” Kellbach said.

Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline offers free quit coaching for all Oklahomans throughout the year, Kellbach said. Since 2003, the helpline has helped more than 250,000 Oklahomans stop smoking, she said.

“The Helpline offers free services, including ‘quit coaching,’ a customized plan to help quit, online support and a free starter kit of patches, gum or lozenges,” she said.

To contact Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, call 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit www.OKhelpline.com. For more information about Canadian County Against Tobacco, contact Kellbach at (405) 422-6447.

Discovery yields 120 pounds of marijuana

Pot 2

A Sunday check at a Canadian County truck stop ended with the discovery of about $650,000 in marijuana, officials said.

Canadian County Undersheriff Chris West said deputies contacted a truck driver at TA Truck Stop, Morgan Road and Interstate 40, early Sunday. After “smelling the strong odor of marijuana coming from one of the vehicles on his car hauler,” deputies obtained the truck driver’s consent to search a 2013 Chevrolet Impala the man was hauling from Los Angeles to Memphis, West said.

“Once inside the vehicle, deputies quickly found several bundles of high grade marijuana that was concealed behind the car’s dashboard,” West said. He said they found about 120 pounds.

“It was everywhere – behind the dash, in the bumper, in the doors,” he said.

West estimated the marijuana’s street value at about $650,000.

After investigating the truck driver and the car itself, deputies determined the car was a rental and the truck driver – who was not identified – was not arrested or detained, West said.

Investigators have uncovered information concerning the individual who rented the vehicle and they expect to present a complaint to the Canadian County district attorney’s office “shortly,” West said.

“Until we have an arrest or charges, we won’t release any more information about what we’ve discovered, but we expect this to move pretty quickly,” he said.

Storm shelters approved

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By Traci Chapman

City Council on Tuesday accepted a $1.057 million multi-hazard mitigation grant that will provide individual safe room rebates to about 525 Mustang property owners.

The grant, administered by Federal Emergency Management Agency, will assist property owners who applied for the program between September and December 2013, said Robert Coleman, Mustang community development director.

City staff will attempt to notify all applicants of their program status via mail and telephone before Saturday, May 24, Coleman said.

“This presents a unique opportunity to help alleviate some of the potentially disastrous situations we’ve witnessed in the past,” Mayor Jay Adams said. “The city wants to do everything it can to enable its citizens to shelter in place, and this a major step never seen before in Mustang.”

In 2013, Mayor Adams proposed a much smaller city-funded grant program; it failed to receive council endorsement.

The Mustang Individual Safe Room Grant Program is patterned after similar efforts in other communities and the statewide SoonerSafe ISR Program administered by Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. Those who are selected and deemed eligible must fulfill certain requirements. If they do so, they could be reimbursed up to 75 percent of their safe room costs, up to a maximum of $2,000, Coleman said.

Anyone who applied for the program should be careful to follow all guidelines so they do not inadvertently do something that invalidates their application, Coleman said.

“Federal grants come with many stipulations and requirements,” he said. “It will be very important for the awardees to make sure they follow all requirements from the city, ODEM and FEMA during this process; those that don’t risk losing the possibility for any potential reimbursement.”

Among those requirements would be informational meetings where applicants’ attendance is required, Coleman said.

Mustang officials received 829 applications by the sign-up deadline; 39 of those properties were determined to be ineligible because of flood hazard area guidelines, Coleman said.

“Approximately 40 citizens chose to forego their eligibility and purchase an ISR prior to the award announcement,” Coleman said.

City officials then used a “web-based number generator” to randomly select 525 property owners for the award from those eligible properties remaining on the list, he said.

Anyone who applied for the grant before the Dec. 31, 2013, deadline should receive some kind of status update in the mail by this weekend, officials said. Anyone who applied and has not received a postcard or letter from the city by then should call 376-9873, Coleman said.

Anyone not initially selected would remain on an alternate list. Should anyone from the original list be deemed ineligible or decline to participate in the program, city officials would make random selections for replacements from the alternate list. Anyone participating in the program must file their participation agreement by the end of June, Coleman said. Participants must then obtain a building permit for the shelter by August and documentation the shelter has been installed must be turned into the city by the end of January 2015, he said.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do with a small staff in a very short time,” Coleman said.

Mustang officials were also approved of the city’s eligibility to recoup up to $30,000 in administration costs associated with the program, the community development director said. A part-time temporary employee, hired for the duration of the grant program, was expected to be hired soon, he said.

“Interested applicants should contact the city of Mustang human resources department during normal business hours,” Coleman said.

Firefighters ‘fill the boot’

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By Traci Chapman

Mustang Fire Department will hit the streets this weekend to raise funds for muscular dystrophy.

Firefighters will take part in the annual “Fill the Boot” campaign May 24-26 at the corner of state Highway 152 and Mustang Road. About 20 to 25 firefighters will be on hand all three days drumming up donations for the fight against the muscular disease, Deputy Chief Roy Widmann said.

The cause became personal to Mustang firefighters a long time ago, Widmann said. It was about 25 years ago when one of the department’s volunteers, volunteer assistant chief Curtis Kuhlman, contracted the disease when he was about 60 years old.

“It became personal for us then, as Curtis was a well-liked, well-respected volunteer,” Widmann said.

The group raised about $6,367 last year and hopes to surpass that this year, they said.

Fill the Boot began more than 50 years ago. Firefighters across the department take part in the event, raising thousands of dollars annually to help fight muscular dystrophy, find treatments and a cure for a wide range of neuromuscular diseases.

 

 

 

Special Olympics – Meet the Athletes May 22

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Mustang had 43 athletes participate in this year’s summer Special Olympics, held in Stillwater last week

Athletes train for months and work hard to be part of the games. Although they are all very different, they share one very important trait, their teachers and parents say – they are dedicated and hard-working.

As part of an ongoing series, here are some of them:

Jonathan Renchen

Jon is 13 years old and is in seventh grade at Mustang North Middle School.

Jonathan Renchen

Jon was born with arthrogryposis and has had many surgeries. He lost his mom when he was 20 months old. He has been a member of the Miracle League and during the summer he swims with his favorite coach, Renee Boatman. He loves going to museums, taking summer classes at OCCC and loves to paint, write poems and write songs. He is very creative and enjoys playing Xbox with his friends, as well as Transformer and Avenger movies. Pizza is his favorite food.

Jon wanted to join Special Olympics since he was very young. He participates in track and field, shot put and softball throw, but bocce and bowling are his favorites. Over the past five years, Jon has accumulated 20 gold, 10 silver and five bronze medals he keeps on his “Wall of Fame.”

Jon lives with his grandparents, Donald and Shirley Renchen. His dad is Wesley Renchen. His brother, Zane, attends Canyon Ridge Intermediate School.

Kaci Marie Richardson

Kaci is 16 years old and is in 10th grade.

She loves pizza and tacos and began participating in Special Olympics when she was 8. She competes in bowling, basketball, softball throw and 50-meter run. She has received lots of ribbons and medals but her biggest joy is just participating, her mom, Margaret said.

Kaci Richardson

Kaci’s siblings are Tara, Amiee, Angiee, Brian and Suzie. She has 12 nieces and nephews who are also a big part of her life.

More athletes will be profiled in the May 29 issue of the Mustang News. Check our website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram often for on-the-scene updates of Thursday’s Special Olympics action.

 

Student suspended, arrested after alleged threats

By Traci Chapman

Mustang school administrators last week praised students who helped avoid what they said could have become a serious situation.

Events began Monday, May 12, when students approached administrators at Mustang High School, reporting threats allegedly made by a 15-year-old male student. The youth told others he was “planning to harm other students and himself on the last day of school,” Superintendent Sean McDaniel said. A school resource officer – also a Mustang police officer – was advised of the threats and Mustang Police Department investigators joined the query into the matter.

After the student’s parents were contacted, the youth was kept at home pending an investigation. Police arrested the 15-year-old on a complaint of planning or endeavoring to commit a violent act, a felony. The student’s name was not released because he was a juvenile.

“Our investigation led us to believe this was a credible threat, which resulted in the arrest,” Detective Camie McNeil said. “At this time, we have no evidence that this juvenile ever brought a weapon onto school property.”

School officials said students’ action in telling administrators about the threat was exactly the right way to handle the situation.

“I am so grateful to the Mustang PD for their response and thankful for our students who reported what they heard to administrators,” McDaniel said.

 

McDaniel – Third-grade assessments don’t tell whole story

Sean McDaniel

By Traci Chapman

State assessments do not give a clear picture of Mustang third-graders’ reading abilities, Mustang school district officials say.

“This is the first year that the modified test was not allowed for special needs students who are on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP),” Superintendent Sean McDaniel said Tuesday. “The scores of students on IEP’s were included with all other scores.

“Additionally, the state department included in its reporting that was released on Friday all of the students who meet one of the good cause exemptions that they have allowed,” he said. “The reporting is inaccurate.”

According to state test results, 67.5 percent of Mustang third-graders taking the test – 516 of 765 students – showed proficiency. One hundred students in Mustang were assessed as unsatisfactory on their test results. State data indicated another 116 Mustang third-graders demonstrated limited knowledge on the reading assessment. McDaniel said results were preliminary, a fact not emphasized by state officials.

For the first time, third-graders with an unsatisfactory reading score on the state test will not be allowed to move forward to fourth grade unless they meet what state officials deemed “good cause” exemptions.

“They must demonstrate the ability to read at a second-grade level or higher or they must have another significant reason for the unsatisfactory test result,” Oklahoma Department of Education spokeswoman Tricia Pemberton said.

Exemptions include students with disabilities assessed under different guidelines, those who demonstrate “an acceptable level of performance” on a different standardized reading test and students who have had less than two years of English and are not yet proficient, state officials said. Teachers can also provide a portfolio of a child’s work to prove that individual can read at the necessary reading level.

“Mustang has already identified more than a dozen students who meet one of the good cause exemptions and we anticipate we will have several more,” McDaniel said. “It will take us a few days to review the data provided by the state department and remove the students from the list who meet one of the exemptions.

“Once an evaluation of the preliminary results is completed, Mustang will have a much lower number of students who may be retained,” the superintendent said. “Even that list will be preliminary as students will still have opportunities to meet exemptions and promote to the fourth grade.“

Mustang’s teachers have been working with struggling students for months, and sometimes over a period of years, McDaniel said.

“Mustang teachers and principals identified third-graders who were at risk of being retained when they entered the third grade and in some cases as far back as kindergarten and have been working with them intensively,” he said. “Each student has a detailed instructional plan in place that we believe will lead to reading and academic proficiency.”

Only two of Canadian County’s six independent school districts could post 80 percent or more of its third-grade students were considered proficient in reading.

Results of the tests were released Friday. In Canadian County, the area’s two smallest independent school districts posted the best results. Calumet had 17 of 20 students test as proficient on the reading exam, while 16 of Union City’s 19 test-takers achieved the same result.

Other county schools tested as follows:

uEl Reno- 56.4 percent proficient, 21.2 percent unsatisfactory;

uPiedmont – 75.9 percent proficient, 9.8 percent unsatisfactory;

uYukon – 75.1 percent proficient, 9.1 percent unsatisfactory;

uBanner – 65.2 percent proficient;

uDarlington – 83.3 percent proficient; and

uMaple – 76.5 percent proficient.

Students testing in the unsatisfactory range for Darlington and Maple were not provided, and no data at all was released for Riverside School, except the fact 18 third-graders took the test there.

Of the 532 school districts across Oklahoma, only 62 of them scored 80 percent proficient or higher and students in only one district – Coleman Public Schools, located in the southern part of the state – received 100 percent proficiency. The district had 10 third-graders take the exam, according to Department of Education records. Oklahoma City Public Schools posted a 44.8 percent proficiency. More than 1,000 of the 3,608 third-graders who took the test there scored in the unsatisfactory range, state officials said.

Several administrators, including McDaniel, were critical of the way the results were released. Both state and district officials said results were given to the media about 60 minutes after districts themselves received them.

“As stressful as the actual testing may have been for our third-graders, their teachers and parents, the idea that this information has been released to parents prior to our district having had the opportunity to evaluate the data and knowing that this data is only preliminary and not an accurate account of our third-grade scores is sickening,” McDaniel said. “The state department has routinely released scores to districts prior to a public release for the purpose of review and accuracy checking.”

McDaniel said the early release was poorly handled not just for the district and its teachers, but also for some parents, who were startled to learn their child would automatically be kept back – which was not the case with many of Mustang’s students, he said.

“It has caused undue and additional stress on children, parents and teachers,” the superintendent said. “Parents received phone calls Friday informing them that their third-graders scored unsatisfactory on the reading test.

“This message was received by many to mean that their child would have to repeat the third grade,” McDaniel said. “What we are finding today is that many of the students meet one or more of the good cause exemptions and will not be retained.”

While some students were already known to have met the threshold to pass through to fourth grade it would take some time to identify others, something the superintendent said he was sure would be the case – and something that would have been made clear before test results were released, had the state department given districts more time to evaluate the scores. Several administrators from districts around the state, including Oklahoma City, Tulsa and others, agreed.

“Additional students will have acceptable portfolios and they will not be retained,” McDaniel said. “Had the state department provided even 24 hours of notice to districts, we could have kept many families and teachers from having to endure the traumatic weekend that they just went through.”

Parents have a state resource to go to with questions. State Department of Education has set up hotlines, manned by OSDE literacy staff and REAC3H coaches. Lines will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, through May 23. The number to call is 521-3774.

 

 

Athletes get ready to shine

special olympics pep

By Traci Chapman

It’s the biggest fundraiser and event of the year, but Special Olympics is much more than that to the athletes who participate in it.

Cherie Miller should know. An active member of Mustang Boomer Booster Club for nine years, Miller is the teacher representative for athletes for Mustang High School, dorm room sponsor at the games and coach. While Miller clearly gives a lot to her athletes, she said she gets much more than she receives.

Cherie Miller

“These athletes’ hard work and determination are clearly seen through the smiles on their faces,” Miller said. “For me, it’s worth every minute.”

Mustang has 43 athletes traveling to Stillwater Wednesday for this year’s Special Olympics games. Each of them bring with them enthusiasm and dedication everyone around them can see, Miller said. Boomer Boosters are the force behind the athletes, making it possible for the athletes to travel to the games, she said.

“This is a local organization which operates as a source to help handicapped athletes and parents raise money to participate in special Olympic activities,” Miller said. “The fundraisers we help conduct not only assist in covering the costs of the Special Olympics experience but are also designed so that the athletes are provided an opportunity for social interaction through parties, dances, etc.

Gregory Green

Athletes compete in track and field, bowling, bocce, basketball, equestrian and other events. While the physical benefits of training and exercise are clear, Miller said the opportunities extend beyond – helping to increase athletes’ self-confidence and positive self-image.

“I feel one of the best things it brings is an opportunity for increased community understanding, acceptance and respect of individuals with disabilities,” Miller said.

Mustang High School was the site of a special pep rally Monday night, and students and teachers gathered at the school’s commons Wednesday for a special send-off. Thursday is the busiest day for athletes, with most of the competitive events held that day, as well as a Thursday evening dance.

Athletes will be housed at Oklahoma State University, with events taking place at Stillwater High School due to construction going on at OSU, Miller said.

Receiving their gifts at the pre-Special Olympics pep rally.

“It’s a great opportunity for them and it’s a wonderful experience for us – it’s just something you never forget,” Miller said.

Special Olympics – Meet the Athletes May 15

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Special Olympics kicks off Wednesday and Mustang has 43 athletes headed to the games for the annual competition.

Athletes train for months and work hard to be part of the games. Although they are all very different, they share one very important trait, their teachers and parents say – they are dedicated and hard-working.

Here are the athletes:

Casey John Cozart

Casey is 13 and in seventh grade. He loves music and dancing. VeggieTales, SpongeBob, Elmo, the Muppets and most Disney Pixar movies are his favorites, especially Toy Story. He loves jumping on the trampoline and being outside.

Casey Cozart

Casey has competed in the games since he was 8, running the 50-meter run and softball throw at Weatherford Regional and at the state Special Olympics. He is also a bowler and loves playing all sports and is a good basketball shooter.

Casey’s parents are Peggy Thompson and John Cozart. Other family members include siblings, Michael and Jessy Thompson and his cat, Goober, who jumps on the trampoline with him.

“He is the most loving little guy I know,” his dad, John, says.

Darylyn Clemons

Darylyn is a 20-year-old senior at Mustang High School. She loves, really loves hockey, attending all of the Oklahoma City Barons games and watching games at home whenever she can’t be there in person. She loves Mexican food, pizza, singing and watching Barney.

Darylyn Clemons

Darylyn competes in the 50-meter dash and softball throw, having won medals in both events over the years. She loves the opening ceremonies, spending time with her friends and the dance during Special Olympics.

Darylyn’s parents are Christy and Mark Clemons and brother, Kylee Clemons.

 

 

 

 

Tanner Flowers

Tanner is 30 and he loves spending time with his nieces, McKenzie, 9, and 6-year-old Dakota.

Tanner Flowers

Tanner loves Mexican food, going to the movies, playing his Xbox and Thunder games.

He has been an athlete for seven years, throwing the discus, softball and running the 50-yard and 100-yard dashes. Tanner has won 11 medals and especially loves the Thursday night dance held during the games.

Tanner’s parents are Linda and Jerry Flowers. His brother, Adam, is a lieutenant with Canadian County Sheriff’s Department.

“We are very grateful for the Mustang Special Olympics group,” Tanner’s mom, Linda, said. “It gives Tanner the opportunity to participate in social activities and have friends he can interact with.”

 

Grace Gitzendanner

Grace is 9 years old and in second grade.

She loves macaroni and cheese and her favorite cartoon is “The Regular Show.” She watches Despicable Me every day, her parents say.

Grace Gitzendanner

This year is Grace’s first competing in Special Olympics, although she has bowled before and has a third-place ribbon in bocce ball.

Grace’s parents are Joseph and Brandie Gitzendanner and her siblings are Christin, Caleb, Jacob and Sarah.

 

Gregory Green

Gregory is a 13-year-old seventh-grader. He moved with his family to Mustang in 2005. Gregory loves the weather and he loves trains – being outside is one of his favorite things, as is eating. One highlight Gregory had this year was meeting Mike Morgan.

Gregory green

This is Gregory’s second year participating in Special Olympics. He placed first earlier this year in bowling and he competes in track and field events.

Gregory’s parents are Greg and April Green and his siblings are Brianna, Autumn and Isiah.

“We think it is a great opportunity for Gregory to socialize with peers and have fun,” his parents said.

 

 

Charlie Jarman

Charlie is 11 and is in fourth grade.

He is blessed with many grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who love him. His nanny keeps him after school, and they have a lot of fun. Charlie loves music and he is learning to play the piano. He always wants to play outside and enjoys running fast and swinging as high as he can. He loves space and is always looking at the stars.

Charlie Jarman

Charlie has been participating in Special Olympics for three years and his favorite activity is track.

Charlie lives with his dad, Nick, and his stepmom, Denise. His mom’s name is Crystal. He has two brothers, Thomas and Tyler, and a little sister, KT.

Tucker McCallie

Tucker is an 8-year-old second grader. He likes Max and Ruby. His favorite foods are chips and dip and ice. He loves to ride in the car.

Tucker McCallie

This is Tucker’s first year in Special Olympics and he will participate in the 25-meter walk.

His lives with his mom and dad, Rebecca and Bobby McCallie, and he has a brother, Brody, and two sisters, Ashton and Adyson.

 

 

CVTC’s Winters honored

Dr. Greg Winters, Superintendent

Canadian Valley Technology Center’s Dr. Greg Winters has been named Superintendent of the Year by Oklahoma School Public Relations Association.

Winters chairs the Oklahoma CareerTech state marketing committee and has been an active supporter of communications and marketing efforts throughout the state. He is completing his 39th year in education.

Winters, a Piedmont resident, has been the technology center’s superintendent for the past six years. He is one of only two to have served as superintendent at three different technology center districts.

Following the May 31, 2013 tornado, which destroyed Canadian Valley’s El Reno Campus, Winters led the charge to relocate 19 full-time programs, several dozen short-term courses and 130 faculty and staff. School started on time just 75 days after the storm.

The El Reno Campus will be rebuilt over much of the next two years with an anticipated fall 2016 grand re-opening, thanks to the successful passage of a recent multi-million dollar bond issue. Only the school’s Business and Industry Services division could relocate to the El Reno site just a few months after the storm.