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By Daniel Lapham,
The United Way of Canadian County announced its goal to raise $163,000 at the 2014 Campaign Kickoff event last Thursday at the Czech Hall in Yukon.
More than 15 partner agencies handed out information to community members as they ate lunch and listened to the presentation from United Way leaders.
Kimari Ranney, Canadian County coordinator, said she is excited about the goal this year and knows the community will respond. The 13 “Pacesetter” organizations, partners that pledge to get a head start on the goal, gave the program a boost.
“Our Pacesetters have raised $68,948, giving us a huge push toward our goal,” Ranney said.
United Way of Canadian County was founded in 2002 by local volunteers seeking a unified solution to critical needs in the community. Now serving more than 40,000 county residents annually, United Way funds programs focused on “successful kids, strong families, healthy citizens, independent living and community preparedness.” Seventeen local partner agencies currently partner with the United Way.
“Our programs cannot function without the United Way and all of you,” said John Schneider, Youth and Family Services.
Anyone interested in giving to the United Way of Canadian County can donate online at www.unitedwaycanadiancounty.org.
In addition to online giving, there are many ways to give to United Way.
United Way’s Leadership Giving program gives individuals the opportunity to partner with United Way to help generate change in the community.
Workplace Campaigns are a way companies all over Canadian County come together in generous support of United Way by raising money at work.
United Way leaders said the organization is also in need of volunteers.
By Rachel Brocklehurst,
The motto “Learning From the Best” is more than a motto at the Mustang Police Department.
Lt. Jim Davis was promoted to the rank of captain on Sept. 11 at a reception in the Police Community Room.
“I want to facilitate a way for improvements from the Chief Department,” Davis said when asked what he hopes to improve about the city of Mustang. “I also hope to maintain improvements on community relations.”
At the beginning of this process, Davis applied for the position of captain. As a rule, you have to have at least four years of experience as a lieutenant within the department before you can apply for captain. Another key rule is that whoever the next captain is, is under the chief’s prerogative because he’ll know what he’s looking for in a captain.
“My favorite part of being involved in Mustang Police Department is the people in this city,” Davis said. “Between emergency services and officers, everyone is on one sheet of music and it’s the police department’s job to keep the community safe.”
Not only will he be trying to have smooth continuity between the people in this city, but some other highlights that he touched on wanting to establish are to increase the size of the Mustang Police Department, enhance training opportunities for officers and have day-to-day operations with the police department.
“I’m happy that I get to serve with the best law enforcement agency in Canadian County,” Davis said.
By Daniel Lapham,
The Mustang City Council approved two contracts Tuesday night, one for new telecommunications equipment for city facilities and another for new lighting installation along East Thunderbird Way.
Finance director Janet Watts presented two bids to the council, one from Chickasaw Telecom Inc. for $87,324.33 for equipment and services for five years, and the other from Travis Voice and Data for $84,833.33, which included only the first year of support.
“We recommend going with the lowest overall bidder, Chickasaw Telecom,” Watts said.
Ward 6 Councilman Jess Schweinberg asked how much the city had budgeted for the new equipment.
“We budgeted $85,000,” Watts said. “Chickasaw Telecom gave us an $87,000 bid, but agreed to provide for our needs for our budget amount by taking our old equipment in trade. I purchased that equipment in 1989.”
After unanimous approval of the telecommunications contract, the council approved an agreement with Oklahoma Gas and Electric for new lighting along East Thunderbird Way. Assistant City Manager Justin Battles told the council the offer came in under the budgeted $45,000 for the project.
In other business the council declared “Trick or Treat” night in Mustang to be Friday, Oct. 31, and declared September as “Pain Awareness Month.”
Ward 3 Councilwoman Linda Bowers was the only vote against the declaration, voicing her feelings that the designation should be more positive.
“I think it would be better to proclaim it health and wellness month or something like that rather than something negative,” she said.
The last business took place in executive session as the council discussed a current Canadian County District Court lawsuit between the Quail Lake Estates Homeowners Association and the city of Mustang. No information was presented on the case in the open meeting.
By Daniel Lapham,
Plans for Mustang’s new indoor baseball and softball practice facility are moving forward after the Mustang Board of Education recently approved a bid that will allow Timberlake Construction to move forward.
After much discussion on the plans and alternates to the plans, the board approved the bid for a 91-foot by 95-foot multi-use facility. The building is a part of the $1.225 million bond issue approved by voters in February.
‘I just want to see the most utilization of the space we are getting for the money,” said Board President Chad Fulton. “Could we have gotten more space with a metal building for the same price?”
The approved bid is for a concrete block building with a brick façade on visible parts of the building that will match the current football and other athletic facilities.
“We could not have gotten a bigger space for the money with a metal building, because once you dress up the exterior it is going to actually cost more,” said a representative for Timberlake Construction. “What we are proposing is comparable to Edmond North.”
School Staff gave an update on the two other bond projects approved earlier in the year. Bids are expected to be in for the new ROTC facility in October and surveys are being done to determine what size ag. barn will meet the district’s needs.
In other business the meeting began with awarding the “Enthusiasm Award” to students in each grade who embody the character trait of enthusiasm.
By Rachel Brocklehurst,
The Mustang 4-H Livestock Club and FFA had an ice cream social Tuesday evening at the Pavilion at Wild Horse Park.
“Not only do I love being around the kids, their parents, but I love watching the kids grow and excel as well,” said FFA teacher Randy Harris. Harris has been the FFA teacher for 34 years. Danny Griffin also instructs the program.
“The students are involved in a number of activities through the FFA,” said Harris. “We have everything from parliamentary procedure to Quiz Bowl contests to speeches.”
Showing livestock is a big part of FFA.
“The students are able to show sheep, swine, cattle and goats,” Harris said. He added that the teachers not only help the students select their animal, they also help with purchasing the animal.
Students have to be enrolled in Ag education classes before they can join the FFA.
“The FFA is an extension of class and it’s helped students gain scholarships to major universities,” said Harris. “We teach more leadership skills now than in the past and the students are able to take what they’ve learned in the classroom and apply those aspects to their show animals.”
Mustang’s 4-H Livestock Club has been running for more than 30 years.
“I love seeing the kids grow in general, but I also like it that their public speaking skills improve when they’re in 4-H as well,” said 4-H principal Jeanne Devous.
Devous has been involved with the 4-H for nine years. Like the FFA, the 4-H also does speeches, livestock judging and livestock showing, along with multiple robotic workshops.
“Students can also learn cooking and sewing,” said first-year 4-H educator Summer Riggins. “The 4-H Livestock Club is more than just livestock. I’ve only been here one year, but I’ve already noticed how helpful 4-H is for bringing students out of their shell,” she said.
“Most students start showing in the 4-H Club and are able to develop interview skills,” said Devous. “The 4-H Club has a day for presentations and interviews.”
Students can be in both 4-H and FFA. Cloverbuds 4-H start out at ages 4 to 8 and 4-H ages are 9 to 19. For more information on Mustang’s 4-H Club, call 262-0155.
By Daniel Lapham,
Throughout history there have been moments of tragedy that have shaken society to its core and shaped the future of every individual alive from that moment on. Sept. 11, 2001, was one such day. Now, 13 years after two planes were flown into the World Trade Center Towers in New York City, another into the Pentagon and a fourth into a field in Pennsylvania, Mustang community members remember where they were on that morning and reflect on how that day changed their lives forever.
Mustang City Manager Tim Rooney said on this anniversary of that tragic day, the city will fly all U.S. flags at half-staff to show respect to all those victims and heroes who lost their lives that day.
“At the time, I was assistant city manager in Owasso, Okla.,” Rooney said. “Other than confusion as to how this could be happening, I remember an overwhelming feeling of grief – while not knowing numbers immediately, certainly knowing that many, many lives were lost. My mom worked for the state of Pennsylvania at the time, and as a result of one of the planes going down there, I was pretty much concerned with her well-being. I also remember traveling to an Oklahoma Municipal League conference the next day in Oklahoma City and how somber it was.”
Mustang Fire Chief Carl Hickman said he remembers that day vividly, watching as the towers fell on the rescuers sacrificing their lives for others.
“I had just walked into my office at the fire station in Sulphur,” he said. “The first tower was being shown on television. I saw the second airliner hit the building and realized something just wasn’t right. I remember watching as the first tower collapsed and thinking to myself, ‘Everyone in that building, including those firefighters we saw running into the building, just died.’”
With the passage of time, the magnitude of this event continues to serve as a beacon lighting the path to freedom and sacrifice.
“We must always keep our guard up and never again become complacent,” Hickman said. “Freedom is at the very core of our nation, and it must be defended at all costs. We must bring to justice those willing to do harm to our citizens and/or our country.”
Rooney echoed Hickman’s sentiment, urging other public officials and leaders to use this anniversary as an opportunity to reflect the core principles of patriotism and unite regardless of one’s political affiliation.
“I think these events remind us that we can take nothing for granted. I distinctly remember how united our country was after those attacks,” Rooney said. “It didn’t matter if you were a Republican, a Democrat or an Independent. We were all Americans. While I certainly hope nothing like that happens again, I do hope our country, our political parties and our government become more united with a sense of purpose and responsibility to those we govern like we did immediately following 9/11.”
Looking back can sometimes serve as a way to show a clearer path into the future. Chuck Foley, Mustang chief of police, said he was shocked by such a fatal security breach aimed at an entire nation. He was driving back to Oklahoma after completing 10 weeks of training at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.
“I had just spent 10 weeks near the nation’s capital, witnessed many security measures before 9/11, visited the Pentagon, now just to realize it wasn’t enough and how vulnerable we are without a strong domestic security and intelligence effort,” Foley said. “We are just as vulnerable today as we were 13 years ago and we need to be hyper-observant of things and train to prevent any form of attack.”
Looking forward to Mustang’s future leaders, Mustang Public Schools Superintendent Sean McDaniel said education and honoring the memory of those who died that day are a priority.
“Mustang commemorates 9/11 a number of different ways across the district,” he said. “Some examples of the commemoration include lessons in social studies and history classes that provide discussion opportunities for students. At the middle and high school level, students view the news clips from that day and discuss the topic. The events of 9/11 are covered through the lens of the topics like history of the Middle East, terrorism in general, the Gulf War, and the expansion of terrorist groups abroad and at home. At the intermediate and elementary levels, the concept of heroism is discussed and there is discussion that is led about being a hero in your community and what that means.”
The emotional reality of those who remember this tragic day can serve as a living lesson to those who are studying these events now as history with the personal connection.
“I cannot look at a plane flying over a downtown area without thinking of that day,” McDaniel said. “I fly frequently and for several years after 9/11 I could not get on a plane without feeling some level of anxiety. I have completely changed in my view of what a hero is. There were so many heroes on planes on 9/11 that, by their actions, saved lives on the ground. There were countless heroes in the towers who took action that saved lives even at the risk of losing their own. There are many, many family members of those lost on 9/11 who are heroes to others today because of the way they continue to live their lives despite the tragedy that they endured. These people are examples of my heroes.”
Earlier this week Mustang residents were asked through social media to post their memories of where they were on 9/11.
Susanne Biddle Langwell – “In the hospital. I had just given birth on 9/9 and was waiting to be discharged. My son’s birth announcement is in the 9/11 paper.”
Ashley Whitworth – “A freshman in college, I woke up to frantic teammates trying to call their loved ones back in Manhattan. It was my 19th birthday, too. Just insane, sad, still very shocking to this very day!”
Jaclyn Price – “I was sitting in history class my sophomore year at Mustang High School. My teacher turned on the TV and we watched it live.”
Ron Herendeen – “Not so much as what I was doing on the day of, but three days later I flew to Washington, D.C., to assist with the relocation of the individuals who were impacted when the plane crashed into the Pentagon.”
Kelsi Dawn Mortenson – Although she was only a toddler, she still remembers that day vividly. “I watched the second plane hit and watched as the towers fell on TV. I was only 2 1/2 when it happened. I will never forget the horrible attack.”
By Daniel Lapham,
Despite the rain, families from across the metro braved the weather to be a part of the 38th annual Western Days celebration in Mustang last weekend.
Chamber of Commerce Director Renee Peerman said the attendance was a little light but the event still counts as a success.
“It went better than we expected, especially after we closed up Friday night’s activities and the skies opened up,” she said. “On Saturday morning we were waiting to see what we were going to do with the parade. The parade had never been canceled before so no one wanted to be the one to cancel it. Because of the rain about a third of the entrants did cancel, but with 65 percent of the entrants ready to go, the cannon sounded and the rains let up.
“We had all of our food vendors show up, more than ever before, and we had more businesses register for our booths than ever before, but because of the weather about half canceled,” she said.
The attendance was lighter than the average estimate of past attendance nearing 30,000, but at the end of the day when packing time came, smiles were abundant.
“There was a lot less attendance than normal, because a lot of people just don’t want to get their kids out in weather like that,” she said. “Overall we feel like it went really well. We got all of our events completed. The car show did have a lot of activity across the street at the Baptist Church.”
The revenue generated by Western Days was less than normal, but most vendors and participants seemed pleased, Peerman said.
“Generally it’s not a large fundraiser for the chamber, but it helps our businesses out,” she said. “It’s a lot of work but it’s worth it. The businesses that stuck it out seemed to be happy with the weekend as they were packing up. I did see a lot of people out there all day.”
The carnival sponsored by the Kiwanis Club seemed to have been hit the hardest by the weather and the fact they had to move locations from where they had been in past years.
“I think the carnival had a pretty low attendance due to the weather and the location change because the property owner did not want the carnival on his property this year.”
Winners were announced earlier this week for the weekend’s competitive events. The Western Days Chili Cook-Off saw winners in three categories. The People’s Choice winners were MyChurch in first place, Nature Boy in second and All America Bank in third. The Most Popular chili went to Cornerstone Bank, with Tom & the Tailgaters ringing in a close second and MyChurch rounding out at third place. The third category for the cook-off was left to the judges, with INTRUST Bank bringing home the top prize in the Judge’s Choice pick, Bank of Commerce coming in second and Coldwell Banker SELECT at third.
The highlight of the Western Days festivities was a little damp, but Mustang’s parade winners refused to let the rain dim their shine. Parade entrants were split into categories for their shot at top pick. The Sweethearts of the Rodeo claimed first place in the Round-Up Club/Equestrian category. Next up on the parade route, the Drill/Cheer/Walking first-place spot was claimed by Mustang High School varsity pom. The Student Float category’s top spot was claimed by 4-H and FFA, the Mustang High School varsity cheer came in second and the Mustang High School swim team placed third.
In the Commercial Float category, the Mad Hatter Par-Teas came in first, the Chisholm Tails at second and Main Edge Realty tied with Coldwell Banker SELECT for third.
Chisholm Heights Baptist Church floated into first place in the Nonprofit Float category, followed by MyChurch in second and Western Oklahoma Girl Scouts in third.
The Vehicle category was dominated by New U Nutrition, with Mrs. Doolittle’s Pet Stay ‘n’ Play coming in second place.
Friday morning’s kickoff event challenged local businesses to paint their storefronts in Western Days themes. The art was then judged with winners in three categories. Small Business was won by Friends of the Animal Shelter, LD’s Café placed second and Out West Paint & Body came in third.
In the Intermediate Business category, HeartStrings took the blue ribbon, Bank of Commerce placed second and Papa Murphy’s placed third.
The Large Business category saw a first-place win by Coldwell Banker SELECT, second place by Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers, and third place by All America Bank.
The Best Dressed Employees competition was won by Friends of the Animal Shelter, with Coldwell Banker SELECT coming in second and All America Bank coming in third.
The Pet Show included winners in four categories. The Best Trick went to Freda, Most Exotic went to Dutch, the Best Dressed Cat was Jax, and the Best Dressed Dog was Ricky.
The Best Dressed Cowboy and Cowgirl competition divided contestants up into age groups. Cowgirls 0 to 2 years – first place went to Kenslee Baird, second place to Seryah Warren and third place to Vanessa Fraire.
Cowboys 0 to 2 years – Mason Jakob Pack took first, Nathan Trupe took second and Judah Williamson in third.
Cowgirls 3 to 5 years old – Bella Estostook first, Karlee Argo came in second and Justice Deemer came in third.
Cowboys 3 to 5 years old – Colt McKinley placed first, with Waylan Hill placing second.
Cowgirls 6 to 8 years old – Cali McKinley took first, with Macy Yocum coming in second.
Cowboys 6 to 8 years – Ben Estos took first, followed by Cooper Stephens in second.
Cowgirls 9 to 12 years winner was Payton Stephens.
By Daniel Lapham,
The Canadian County Excise Board met with county commissioners, officers and department heads last week to discuss and clarify proposed changes to the 2015 fiscal year budget.
The meeting was requested to ensure everyone was on the same page before the official budget is presented for approval at the Sept. 23 excise board meeting.
Concerns from one department head about sheriff’s deputies being allowed to drive patrol cars home and for personal use were raised. Court Clerk Marie Ramsey-Hirst said the use of tax dollars to purchase gas, insurance and provide maintenance on patrol cars for personal use bothers her.
Part of the requested increase from Sheriff Randall Edwards is an additional $110,000 to cover increased fuel costs. Edwards defended his decision to encourage deputies to use their cars for personal use. He said studies show that continuous visible presence of law enforcement in communities lowers crime.
“We are the 24th safest out of 77 counties in the state and we are the fourth largest,” Edwards said. “It’s about getting the biggest bang for the buck.”
This was the second time concerns were raised regarding the sheriff’s department budget. A heated exchange took place at an Aug. 25 meeting between District 2 Commissioner David Anderson and Edwards.
Anderson had questioned the sheriff on how much of the county’s general fund is being spent to operate the sheriff’s office. Edwards took exception to the argument.
Thursday’s special meeting was requested by the excise board in order to hear from all parties.
County Clerk Shelley Dickerson presented the adjustments to the excise board and commissioners. The proposed budget contained adjustments that would balance the budget, leaving a positive balance of $7,509. The changes would provide for a 3 percent raise to all county employees who receive their check from the general fund, and would cut $57,681 out of the sheriff’s budget and $16,929 out of the assessor’s budget. The proposed changes also would provide for a $1,200 raise for the fair board secretary as well as a payment to the Central Oklahoma Water Resources Authority, known as COWRA, and to the Canadian County Historical Museum for insurance.
The majority of the cuts to county departments would help provide for the cost of living raise for 334 county employees, and would cost $256,383.
Officials from two other departments offered areas they were willing to cut. The excise board recommended the additional funds should be placed into the county’s reserves, bumping the appropriated 8 percent reserves to a possible 8 1/2 percent surplus.
Anderson and District 3 Commissioner Jack Stewart suggested the one-time fee paid to COWRA should be taken out of the use-tax fund.
“We have the funds in there and we have set those funds aside for one-time expenses,” Stewart said. “This would definitely fit.”
In addition to the COWRA payment, Dickerson said Wanda Armold, Election Board secretary, recently told her the department would not need $12,500 that had been budgeted for special elections. A spokesman from the Gary E. Miller Children’s Justice Center said the center would pay $30,000 into the general fund to cover the center’s portion of an audit completed earlier this year.
“I know you are working on this, but I would really like to see you work on your reserves,” Linda Ramsey, excise board chair, told the commissioners. “Take the additional funds and put them into the reserve fund.”
By Daniel Lapham,
Canadian County commissioners sparred Monday morning over how to fill a first deputy vacancy left by the recent retirement of Theresa Ramsey.
District 1 Commissioner Phil Carson presented paperwork and a proposal to his fellow commissioners asking them to consider appointing Audre Knott, second deputy, to the vacant position and allow him to hire someone new for the second deputy position.
“I want to get things fixed before the end of my trip here,” Carson said. Carson is stepping down from the commissioner position following the November general election.
“Audre is already doing the job for first and second deputy positions and she is still being paid a salary for the second deputy position,” Carson said. “The salary for both positions is already budgeted through the end of the year, so I would like to see her compensated.”
David Anderson, District 2 commissioner, disagreed that filling the position now is the right approach. Because Carson is leaving his seat as chair of the commission in 90 days, Anderson said it would be in the best interest of the incoming commissioner to have a say in the selection of the commissioner’s first deputy position.
Carson’s seat will be taken by either Marc Hader or Justin Atkinson, who will face off in November.
“Before we go ahead and hire someone for this position permanently, I would like to see what some of the larger counties in the state are doing,” said Jack Stewart, District 3 commissioner. “I would like to see what responsibilities they are giving to their first deputies and how that fits with what we are doing and where we are heading down the road. I think as one of the fastest growing counties in the state, we are going to be making some changes.”
In the past Carson said he would have just made the appointment and not consulted the other commissioners.
“I am reaching out here in hopes you will see it my way,” Carson said.
Anderson said he was not comfortable making a permanent hire at this time.
“I am not convinced that Audre is the best qualified person for the job,” he said.
Stewart suggested a temporary fix as a compromise.
“I would like to see us go ahead and move Audre up as ‘acting’ first deputy,” Stewart said. “Then hire a temporary individual part time for the second deputy position. Then when the new commissioner comes in we can have time to evaluate our needs and make changes as necessary.”
One idea suggested was to contact Canadian Valley Technology Center to see if any students match the current needs and could be used on an internship basis.
No formal action was taken at the meeting. County Clerk Shelley Dickerson said she would gather further information and start the paperwork with Carson to move Knott into the first deputy position on a temporary basis.
By Daniel Lapham,
The Yukon and Mustang Girl Scout troops will host a free Father/Daughter Wacky Olympics event from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday at Sunrise Park, 550 S. Yukon Parkway in Yukon.
All current Girl Scout members and any girls interested in joining Girl Scouts can bring their dad and join in on the fun, said Lora Bedford, Yukon and Mustang Troop 547 leader.
“We are expecting about 50 girls based on previous years attendance,” she said. “The event is free for everyone and if girls who are not currently in a troop want to join a troop in their area, they can sign up on the spot. We have a form and our troop coordinator will take it from there. The membership is $15 to join through the end of next October.”
Bedford said the Mustang and Yukon Girl Scout troops hold a father/daughter event that varies throughout the years and this year the event coordinator thought it would be a great way to kick off the year.
“We think this will be a great way to show our girls what kind of fun they can expect over the next year,” she said.