January, 2014

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Local man’s dream sets sail

jeff-casey

By Traci Chapman

It’s a long way from Mustang, Oklahoma, to the Sundance Film Festival, but that’s exactly where Jeff Robison spent last week.

Robison is one of the writers and producers of “Rudderless,” the William Macy-directed film selected to close out the festival, held last week in Park City, Utah. With a top-billed actor selecting his film as his directorial debut, Robison said the movie was another step in a dream job for him and writing partner Casey Twenter. It was a dream that started when both men were very young, Robison said.

“I’ve always loved movies,” he said. “I remember watching the 1933 version of King Kong, when I was about 4 years old.

William H. Macy and Jeff Robison (Photo/courtesy)

William H. Macy and Jeff Robison (Photo/courtesy)

“I’ll never forget bawling when King Kong falls off the Empire State Building, and I was connected with movies even then, they were something magical,” Robison said.

That was back when Robison was a boy from Mustang, a 1990 Mustang High School graduate who said he knew he wanted to do big things – he just didn’t have it all mapped out at that point.

“I went to Northwestern for one year and graduated from OSU in 1995,” he said. “My major was education, and I knew that was a good way to go.”

Where his education took him was back home, teaching for five years at Mustang Valley Elementary, alongside teachers who had taught him several years before.

“It was a great learning experience – some of the best teaching times I had,” Robison said. “Pam McLaughlin was the best boss I ever had, the teachers were the best I ever worked with, some of the best women I ever knew.”

From Mustang Valley, Robison moved to Putnam City Middle School, then Piedmont Middle School and Piedmont High School, teaching and coaching “pretty much everything but soccer, baseball and swimming.” He also coached his children’s teams, utilizing his own athletic experience as a MHS basketball player.

But while he loved teaching, Robison said movies were always in his blood, something that simmered under the surface until he got married. It was then Robison decided he needed to write a “legitimate” script. He bought software and a screenwriting bible and took his best shot.

“I wrote this script without really knowing what I’m doing,” he said.

While nothing came from that first effort, a chance meeting would spark Robison’s writing career. Enter Casey Twenter, who had his own Canadian County ties.

“We met at a fantasy football draft,” Robison said. “We started talking about movies and developed a friendship from there.

“It was the first time I’d met a friend I could really bounce ideas off without feeling idiotic,” he said.

rudderlessposter

Twenter lived in Oklahoma City, after getting a cross country scholarship from University of Central Oklahoma. He met his wife, Cristi – a Yukon High School graduate – and got a job at Hallmark. The couple now have a daughter, Kaitlyn, who is 8. Robison’s family was also growing – with wife, Jeni, he had two children of his own, Grace, 7, and Jake, who is now 6, he said.

Their families were the partners’ greatest inspiration and biggest concern as they moved from writing part time to a full-time effort, Robison said. Throughout the difficult decision to give up teaching to pursue his dream, his mom was instrumental in giving him the push he needed, he said. A secretary with Lakehoma Elementary for 25 years, Jill Thomson knew just what to say and do to keep her son believing in himself and his goals, he said.

“My mom has always believed in me – she’s been so supportive, has millions of friends, a lot of Mustang people, and there’s a community of Mustang friends who have been incredibly supportive,” Robison said. “Mom’s kind of been the ring leader for that.”

Even with so much strong encouragement, working toward their goal was nerve-wracking, Robison said. There were several stops and starts, times when the pair thought they had something that would sell and nothing materialized.

“It can be a frustrating business,” he said. “We would get down and I would say, ‘Dude, we’re in Oklahoma City, we’re not going to get anything.’”

The partners didn’t let the low times discourage them completely, however. The two would write and write, generating scripts in almost every genre, from horror to romantic comedies and dramas. Twenter would pound on doors looking for backing and the pair started meeting with known actors, people like Keith Carradine, Laurence Fishburne and Rob Schneider.

“We were ecstatic – these guys were actually meeting with us,” Robison said.

The excitement didn’t last for long after Robison and Twenter discovered they couldn’t raise funds to make their movie. But instead of being the end of their dream, two events would soon prove to be a turning point for the men.

“We were pretty depressed about the situation – I’m still teaching, he’s still in advertising – and I said, ‘Let’s make something else,’” Robison said. “You go to the movie store and it’s lined with horror movies, so we decided to go that route and make our own movie.”

the jogger poster

The end result was “The Jogger,” a 2013 thriller written and directed by Robison and Twenter. On the first movie set the pair had ever stepped on, they filmed the production over 15 days, mostly in Edmond, Robison said. The film won Best Narrative at the LA Indie Film Fest, Kansas City Film Festival and the Tulsa United Film Festival, and has garnered positive reviews from critics and viewers alike on online sites. That was a turning point, but there was one other – when a chance call led to the pair’s biggest connection to date – William H. Macy.

“Ironically, Casey calls Creative Artists Agency and magically – it was a fluke – he got the agent of William H. Macy directly on the phone,” Robison said. “We had read Macy wanted to start directing, so we changed our strategy to try to get him to direct, so we sent the agent the script.

“I was at parent teacher conference in Piedmont the next week, and Casey is calling and calling and texting me, telling me to look at my email,” he said. “I told him, ‘I’m going to tell you right now if this is a joke I’m going to drive to Kansas City and we’re going to get into a pretty big fight.

Grace and Jake Robison with Felicity Huffman (Photo/courtesy)

Grace and Jake Robison with Felicity Huffman (Photo/courtesy)

“The next we knew we were sitting in William H. Macy’s house in L.A., eating dinner with him and his wife and daughters – I had two bites of chicken and could barely talk,” Robison said.

After four years of trying to get the movie going, by May the movie was in production and cast and crew were told it would be screened at Sundance. The dream was a reality.

“We can’t yet do this full time, but we now have something tangible we can hold onto and believe in,” he said.

Rudderless is only the beginning, Robison said. The partners have about 20 scripts finished and are constantly working on more. The pair hopes Oklahoma film incentives will allow them to shoot their next film this summer.

“It’s been a fascinating journey,” Robison said. “I understand how blessed I am to be able to live this dream, even for a year or two, of course, we want to do this for the rest of our lives.”

Mount defends ‘abusive’ letters, requests

mount requests

By Traci Chapman

Ward 6 Councilman Don Mount has submitted more than 71 letters and open records requests to Mustang city managers in the last 18 months.

Mount says he has sent the correspondence and requests in the process of being a conscientious councilman; some of his fellow council members and city staff say it has been a campaign of abuse and intimidation.

“Your continuing insinuations, allegations and charges of intentional misdoings on behalf of Ms. Watts (finance director Janet Watts), the previous leadership and the city of Mustang as a whole are tantamount to bullying and will not be tolerated by this office or any other office of the city of Mustang,” City Manager Tim Rooney wrote in a Sept. 20, 2013 email to Mount. “If you feel strongly, individually, that you have information and documentation that indicates malfeasance on behalf of anyone in this organization, I encourage and welcome you to take necessary legal action to pursue justice.”

Don Mount

Don Mount
(click photo to read entire email exchange between Mount and Mustang News)

“I am disturbed about your so-called ‘findings of many allegations of wrongdoing’ in my letters, however I am also pleased to know that you have the qualifications to ‘render these kinds of judgments,’” Mount said in a Jan. 28 email responding to questions about his interactions with fellow council members and city staff. “I shall continue to exercise my rights as to free speech and if any public officials makes a statement or publishes a statement that I choose to question, I shall do so.”

Mount was elected to the Ward 6 seat in 2011, after he defeated incumbent Katherine Callahan in a runoff election marked by what officials called “low turnout.” A February primary that year only drew a total of 85 voters; Mount collected 108 ballots, compared with 72 cast for Callahan in the runoff.

City officials said issues began to crop up soon after his election, but they spiked after City Manager Mike Rutledge resigned in February 2013. Upon taking the position of interim city manager, Justin Battles was “deluged” with information requests, certified letters and emails about city practices, his performance and a variety of other problems, Rooney said.

“When a person holds himself out, in a public meeting, to be an authority, expert or makes a bold statement about something that he knows nothing about, I will ask him for proof or supporting evidence of his statement,” Mount said in a July 26 letter to Battles. “‘Just like you did about construction estimates not being furnished because, THE BOND CONTROLS THAT.’

“When you said that, in open meeting, I then will question it,” the councilman continued. “I do not know why you provided the entire ‘transcript’ and I doubt that you just recently made a copy of the materials, but to answer my own question, the reason you provided it all was probably because you did not know what it was.”

Issues continued when Rooney took the helm as city manager in August. Rooney and council members said Mount did not take part in the hiring process, something Mount disputed, in part.

“In your vast accumulation of “my letter” you should find one dated April 30, 2013 to Mr. Battles wherein I told him I could not be available,” Mount said in his Jan. 28 email to the News. “Also on that same day, at 6:35 p.m. Mr. Battles called me about the special meeting for that day.

“I will not detail every event relative to this matter but one such major happening was the fact that my wife was having ‘strokes’ and of course I shall always make that my first priority,” Mount continued. “I am terribly sorry if this does not please you.”

The councilman’s April 30 letter to Battles detailed four reasons for not attending the employment sessions, set as a special meeting that evening. In advising Battles he would not be available for the meeting, Mount stated: “1. Curtailment and not allowed to ask all of my questions of candidates; 2. Selective audience allowed to be present in the executive meetings; 3. I have already received all the information that I need to know about the golf course and restaurant in El Reno (not relevant to subject at hand); and 4. Lack of receipt of timely notice required by law, of the special meeting.”

In checking city records, staff posted the meeting notice according to state public meeting requirements; Battles could not have called Mount at 6:35 p.m. because the meeting began at 6:30 p.m., officials said.

When asked if it is important for council members to be a part of the city manager hiring process, Mount did not respond.

Rooney’s hiring seemed to accelerate the councilman’s letters, emails and open records requests. The city manager said his staff has been deluged by requests that have kept them from their regular duties.

September 2013 was a month in which Mount sent 14 emails, letters and requests for information to Rooney and his staff. According to city records, requests ranged from a Sept. 5 letter asking for bank statements as of June 30, 2013 for “20 different bank accounts” to several missives concerning clean-up expenses and FEMA reimbursements made to Mustang as a result of the May 31 storm. It was at that time Rooney said he “struck back” at what he called the bullying and harassment of his staff.

 “The staff of the finance department and this organization needs to move forward in closing out the books for 2013 – which needs to be completed by Sept. 30, 2013,” Rooney told Mount in his Sept. 20, 2013 email to the councilman. “That needs to be our focus over the next 10 days and I am going to be certain to afford them that opportunity.

“Unless directed to do so by an action of the entire city council, I will not be responding to any more of your emails or letters regarding your need for clarity and understanding on FEMA related reimbursements,” he continued.

Tim Rooney (Photo/courtesy)

Tim Rooney (Photo/courtesy)

“I do appreciate your permission to contact the state of Oklahoma, as if I needed it,” Mount responded in a Sept. 21 email. “I like your threat wherein you state, ‘you are the only member…This must stop.’

“It truly frightens me when I am threatened by anyone so why don’t you just proceed right ahead on and do what you think is best,” the councilman continued. “What ever it is that I do, that you will not tolerate will not keep me awake at night and I suggest that you proceed with your corrective measures.”

In response to Rooney’s statement the finance department needed to finish closing out the city books as of Sept. 30 and would hold off on responding to Mount’s document requests until that was completed, Mount said, “I realize that you already know that I did not address the most important statement made by you in your email to me. I admit that initially I was just considering holding on to it until a more opportune time, date and venue.

Invoking portions of the Freedom of Information Act, Mount stated, “Since you have invoked the ‘negative compliance and published notice that you intend to violate the law,’ I, Don Mount as one member of the entire city council DIRECT YOU to comply with all open record request including but not limited to FEMA related reimbursements documents and any and all other open record request in accordance with and in compliance with the laws of the great state of Oklahoma. Please take notice.”

Rooney said while he didn’t have an issue with any council member asking questions and requesting information, it was the tone of those communications and the fact the city manager said Mount had a good deal of the information already in his hands.

“A lot of these things have been items Mr. Mount already had in his possession,” Rooney said. “They were concerning items he had voted on as a councilman – a lot of times voting in favor of them.”

“I suppose that when you were employed and came to Mustang as city manager, that my hopes and expectations were much too great,” Mount wrote to Rooney in a Jan. 11 email. “I thought perhaps you would be the Messiah that Mustang needed so badly, at least those were the kind of thoughts I had.”

While disputes between the councilman and city manager have been frequent, Mount’s “disdain” for anyone who displeases him has been made very public, Mayor Jay Adams said. Through a series of letters to the editor, Mount waged what Adams called a “personal campaign,” while also emailing fellow council members, Rooney, City Attorney Jonathan Miller, staff and outside contractors about a myriad of issues that displeased him.

“I just picked up my council book and started thumbing through the agenda items when I came upon agenda item commentary, item H-1,” Mount stated in a Jan. 4 email to Miller. “I immediately dropped the book and ran into the bathroom, looked in the mirror to see if the word ‘stupid’ was written on my forehead.

“The reason that I had to check this out is because of the longevity of this item, the handling of it and the professional people associated with it,” he continued.

Miller replied there were no issues or illegalities with the agenda item. Mount voted, along with his fellow council members, in favor of the item, a request to send out for bids the Wild Horse Park baseball and soccer complex concession and restroom project.

“It is becoming more and more difficult for me to sit in the mockery of a formal council meeting,” Mount wrote to fellow council members in an Oct. 2 email. “Perhaps the new city manager thinks that he has an equal voice, consideration, rights and discussion privileges as does a city council member.

“I think that early in the new city manager’s tenure, it should be explained to him exactly what his duties and responsibilities are,” Mount concluded.

Mount has alleged wrongdoing by the city on several occasions, even after Miller and others have stated there was no illegal activity.

“I am not able to understand why the city will not abide by the law and go ahead and spend the money to properly do this job,” Mount stated to Miller in a Jan. 4 email. “I am not able to understand why the city of Mustang wants to circumvent the law.”

“We still believe that the handling of this matter from the inception to date, is a deliberate and intentional gross violation of the Public Competitive Bidding Act by the City of Mustang,” Mount stated to Rooney in a Jan. 11 letter.

Rooney said staff conferred with Miller and bond counsel on the issue – an electrical switch accidentally left off the original Town Center remodel contract.

“There was no problem, no issues with legality or bidding,” the city manager said, pointing to emails from officials advising a change order on the project was appropriate.

“I still enjoy what I some time refer to as Cinderella stories or fairy tales,” Mount stated in a Sept. 18 email to Rooney concerning the city budget. “In my opinion, the report is distorted, misleading and does not make disclosure of the true facts.

“This report does not consider any related costs for any of these, nor does it give any consideration to the cost of insurance,” he continued. “I see reports like this and I am reminded of what the great Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13, verse 11; ‘When I was a child, I spake as a child, I thought as a child; but when I be came a man, I put away childish things,’ therefore I no longer believe in fairy tales.”

“Because you do not like the report or do not understand it does not mean it is ‘distorted, misleading, and does not make disclosure of the true facts.’ In fact, you include figures in your email that are not reimbursable and are directly misleading,” Rooney replied on Sept. 20.

“I am not on any kind of witch hunt and I am not trying to uncover any thing,” Mount stated in a Jan. 21 email to the News. “I probably put forth more effort in trying to do a good job on behalf of the citizens than most elected officials do.

“I am an elected official that represents the Citizens who elected me and I bow down to no man,” he continued.

“In your fourth paragraph, your bold and positive statement is totally without merit, but to answer your question – statements made in the commentary give reason,” Mount stated in his Jan. 28 email to the News. “The documents give reason. The lack of documents give reason and further I do not choose to make full disclosure of all things at this time.”

The “fourth paragraph” was a query about a Jan. 21 agenda item, in which council approved the purchase of five replacement vehicles for Mustang Police Department, on which Mount was the lone vote cast against the expenditure. “Why did you vote against the purchase of the five new police cars at last council meeting,” was the question asked of the councilman.

Presgrove living the dream with OU cheer squad

Taylor Presgrove

By Kyle Salomon

When Taylor Presgrove earned a spot on the University of Oklahoma cheerleading team as a sophomore, the last thing she could picture happening was becoming the captain as a senior.

Two years later, that’s exactly where she sits. Presgrove is the cheer captain on this year’s OU cheerleading team that performs during OU athletic events such as football, basketball and wrestling.

Presgrove is a 2010 Mustang High School graduate. She has lived in Mustang all of her life and she started cheering at a young age. She knew that’s what she wanted to do from day one.

“I started cheering when I was in sixth grade,” Presgrove said. “It was the first year I was in middle school, and it was the first year we were allowed to cheer. I had done gymnastics since I was little, like 4, and I got tired of doing that, so I switched to cheer. It was a little bit easier and less hard on the body.”

Most cheerleaders who are serious about the sport will join a select team or gym and compete in state and national competitions as they grow up. Presgrove was no different.

The Mustang native joined Tribe Cheer in Oklahoma City when she first started competing competitively. She then switched to Twist and Shout in Edmond for her competitive cheer as well as school cheer for Mustang.

Presgrove participated in competitive cheer into her high school years, but stopped her senior year at Mustang.

When Presgrove made the switch from gymnastics to cheerleading, she said it was an easy decision at the time.

“I really liked tumbling,” she said. “I had gotten pretty good at it doing gymnastics, and it was a lot of fun. But then gymnastics takes way too much time. I would be there after school until around 10 p.m. Even when I was in grade school I would do that. We would have a competition every weekend.

“I didn’t have much of a social life, and I knew cheer wouldn’t take up as much of my time and I could still have the tumbling aspect with it so I made the switch.”

As she was growing up, Presgrove wasn’t afraid to try new things. She said she always welcomed new and fun activities to try.

Presgrove gave horseback riding a shot a couple of times, she went to numerous different types of art classes, she got into photography for a while and she would swim a lot and played a lot of golf.

In her freshman year at MHS, Presgrove was on the golf team for the Bronco girls.

“I liked cheer, but I wanted to do everything else as well, so I wanted to try everything I could,” Presgrove said. “So I had a lot of hobbies growing up. I wanted to experience everything as much as I could.”

Presgrove said she was an OU fan growing up and when she was in high school, she and her father would go to the OU football games. She said the whole time during the games she would always watch the cheerleaders.

“I always told myself I wanted to do that,” she said. “I knew I wanted to stand on the sidelines at OU football games and be a part of the cheerleading team. My dad would always tell me to watch the game, but I just wanted to watch the cheerleaders.”

Despite being an OU fan all of her life and wanting nothing more than to be a cheerleader on the Sooners cheer squad, Presgrove earned a full-ride cheerleading scholarship to Oklahoma City University. She accepted the scholarship and went to be a part of the OCU cheer team her freshman year in college.

The itch to be an OU cheerleader and OCU not having football was too much for Presgrove as she decided to make the switch from OCU to OU her sophomore year.

However, the decision to transfer to OU was only the first step toward her dream of becoming an OU cheerleader. The next hill to climb was to make the squad.

Presgrove had been going to auditions for the OU cheer squad since she was a junior in high school. She said she had a friend who was a year older that was trying out as well, so Presgrove decided to go with her and put her name in the hat for a couple years down the road.

Once a month Presgrove would go down to Norman to participate in auditions where they would learn cheers from the OU cheer team and would put their tumbling skills on display for the OU coaches to see.

The Oklahoma cheer coaches would keep track of each girl practicing in the auditions. If they liked what they saw, they would invite the girls to tryouts. There would be roughly 150 girls at the auditions and only around 50 would get called back to tryouts.

“The year that I tried out we had a three-day tryout,” Presgrove said. “The first day we just learned a bunch of different routines and we would show it back to the coaches, and then there was one cut. Each day there was a cut and if you make it through the three days without getting cut, you’re on the team.

“It was a fun process, but it was so nerve-racking. I was really scared. Even around the audition time I couldn’t eat because I was so nervous. It’s not only how good you are, but how you look as well. The coaches wouldn’t just judge you based on your ability, they would judge your looks, too.”

After tryouts last year the girls voted individually on who they wanted to be the captain on the squad. Once the votes are in, the coaches will take the girls with the highest amount of votes and bring them in for an interview. After the interviews the coaches make the decision on who will be the captain starting with the new football season.

The OU coaches decided to name Presgrove the cheer squad captain for the 2013-2014 academic year.

“I was so excited,” she said. “Our coach sat the three of us down who were up for captain and told us that I was captain and the other two girls were co-captains. I called my dad right away and told him and he was really excited, which made me even more excited. It was really awesome.

“There is not that many captains in OU cheer history, so to be a part of that group is a real honor.”

Presgrove said her time on the OU cheer squad has been full of memorable experiences, but none will compare to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans when Oklahoma defeated Alabama.

“Oh yeah, the Sugar Bowl, there is no question,” she said. “It was my last football game to cheer and to win against Alabama was the best way to go out.”

Fellow Mustang 2010 graduate Bronson Irwin played a major role as a starting offensive lineman in the Sooners’ success this year and their victory over the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl.

Presgrove said she ran to find Irwin after the game was over.

“I finally found him and I ran and jumped on him,” she said. “It was such an awesome experience. It’s hard to really put into words because we are both from Mustang and to get to experience something like that was just really awesome. It was the last OU football game for the both of us to be a part of so to go out like that was really special.”

Presgrove is scheduled to graduate in December of this year with a bachelor’s degree in administrative leadership. She plans on doing pharmaceutical sales when she is done with school.

When asked to describe herself in one word, Presgrove took a minute to think about the question.

“Loving,” she said. “I’m a loving person. I love my family and friends and I absolutely love everything that I do. I think that is the one word that would describe me the best.”

You can reach Kyle Salomon at [email protected]

Sacrifice, honor should not be forgotten

Rescue 5 headings to the World Trade Center on 9/11. (Photo/courtesy Remembrance Rescue Project)

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.

column shots.qxd

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.

Mount/Mustang News Jan. 28, 2014 email exchange

Donal Mount
As stated on Page 1A of the Jan. 30, 2014 issue of the Mustang News, the following are Jan. 28, 2014 email communications between Ward 6 Councilman Don Mount and Mustang News Editor Traci Chapman. See the News’ Thursday edition and the related story for more information.

(Emails are exactly as sent/received)

—–Original Message—–
From: Traci Chapman [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 9:41 AM
To: [email protected]
Subject: Additional Questions
>
> Mr. Mount,
>
> I have a couple of additional questions as I wrap up my story for publication on Thursday.
>
> 1. I have reviewed a large bulk of the letters you have submitted to > city officials and have found there are many allegations of wrongdoing, but they seem to be generally rather unspecific and I am unaware of any actions taken against anyone at the city for wrongdoing? Are there specific allegations you are making against anyone? If so, could you please detail these and advise what backup information you have?
>
> 2. I understand you took no part in hiring City Manager Timothy Rooney (did not participate in his interviews, etc.). Is there a reason why you did not participate in this process? Is the hiring of a city manager something all members of the council should be a part of?
>
> 3. You seem quite critical of Mr. Rooney and Interim City Manager Justin Battles, both in the statements made in your letters, as well as the tone with which I’ve heard you address them at council meetings? Do you have specific objections to the performance of these individuals?
>
> 4. Why did you vote against the purchase of the five new police cars at last council meeting?
>
> If you could please respond sometime today, I would be most appreciative. I apologize for not sending this email yesterday; we’ve had several breaking news items that I had to address before I got back to this story.
>
> Thank you,
> Traci Chapman
On 2014-01-28 13:33, Don Mount wrote:
> Dear Ms. Traci Chapman:
> I am delighted to talk with the press and I will again answer your questions.  I am sorry that you missed your other deadline on 1/21/14 when you emailed me with your questions and were on a deadline then.  I am pleased that you have “reviewed a large bulk of my letters”.  I am disturbed about your so-called “findings of many allegations of wrongdoing” in my letters, however I am also pleased to know that you have the qualifications to “render these kinds of judgments”  I shall continue to exercise my rights as to free speech and if any public officials makes a statement or publishes a statement that I choose to question, I shall do so.  I also notice your ability to use words like “generally rather unspecific” in classifying words or things that you accuse me of having said.  I am sure that perhaps you are unaware of a lot of things because I have not observed your being around for any length of time.  In your second numbered paragraph I must tell you that “again” you are terribly wrong in your so-called “understanding” with respect to hiring City Manager Timothy Rooney.  I was a part of that process to a point.  In your vast accumulation of “my letter” you should find one dated April 30, 2013 to Mr. Battles wherein I told him I could not be available.  Also on that same day, at 6:35 p.m. Mr. Battles called me about the special meeting for that day.  I will not detail every event relative to this matter but one such major happening was the fact that my wife was having “strokes” and of course I shall always make that My first priority. I am terribly sorry if this does not please you.  I am also displeased with the inference of your third numbered paragraph.  Your ability to detect my being critical of anyone and my “tone” are simply amazing.  I have lived with my dear wife for over fifty-eight years and she still does not have that ability.  I know that you must be an amazing, intelligent young lady to have acquired all of the skills and attributes that you have published in your email today. In your fourth paragraph, your bold and  positive statement is totally without merit, but to answer your question. Statements made in the commentary give reason.  The documents give reason.  The lack of documents give reason and further I do not choose to make full disclosure of all things at this time.  I sure hope that the timing of my email back to you will again meet todays time frames for you because each time they are urgent.  I am glad to learn how busy that you are with all of the breaking news items and I can tell that only you could “address them”.  In closing I will tell you that my thoughts with respect to serving the citizens of Mustang is to gather information and makeing it available to them.  I have every right to request records according to law.  I might suggest to you that you make the acquaintance of professor Joey Senat, Ph. D. OSU School of Journalism and Broadcasting.  I look forward to many more encounters with you.
> Good Luck
> Don Mount
—–Original Message—–
From: Traci Chapman [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 1:18 PM
To: Don Mount
Subject: RE: Additional Questions
>Dear Mr. Mount,
>I am sorry about your wife’s strokes. I hope she has recovered.
>
>Traci Chapman
——– Original Message ——–
Subject: RE: Additional Questions
Date: 2014-01-28 17:06
From: “Don Mount” <[email protected]>
To: <[email protected]>
Dear Ms. Chapman:
>Thanks and no she has not recovered, as if you really care.  You failed to mention the rest of my response so I assume that it passed your critical analysis.  I can hardly wait until Thursday when your publication comes out.
>Good Luck
>Don Mount

County bank closed by FDIC, state banking commission

bou

By Kelly Rupp and Traci Chapman

Bank of Union customers and vendors were surprised last Friday afternoon, when the Oklahoma Banking Commission closed the 113-year-old bank.

Bank of Union had full-service locations in El Reno and Union City, as well as a loan and commercial lending center in Oklahoma City. The three locations were reopened Saturday as BancFirst. Investigators with the FDIC were on-site Friday reviewing records and speaking with bank employees, officials said. FDIC was named receiver of Bank of Union’s assets and liabilities at the time it was closed, at 3 p.m. Jan. 24.

For Bank of Union customers, accounts would be transferred to BancFirst, although they would be able to use their current checks and debit cards, as well as online banking features and ATMs, said Jay Hannah, BancFirst executive vice president. Anyone with a loan at Bank of Union should continue to make their regular payments as scheduled. Loan terms would not change because Bank of Union entered into contracts with those customers. Customers should contact their regular loan officer with any questions they might have, he said.

“I can tell you that we will operate the bank with normal hours, full service, and with the same friendly faces that customers know. We are very happy to be a member of the Union City and El Reno communities,” Hannah said.

Although accounts have been automatically transferred to BancFirst, customers may withdraw their funds from any transferred account without an early withdrawal penalty until they enter into a new deposit agreement with BancFirst as long as the deposits are not pledged as collateral for loans

Bank of Union was chartered on Nov. 13, 1900. Originally located in Union City when it was still a part of Oklahoma Territory, the bank eventually grew to include the El Reno and Oklahoma City locations.

Questions about the bank first became public in June 2013, when Bank of Union was placed under a consent order by FDIC and Oklahoma State Banking Department. In August, the bank entered into an agreement with the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City, Mo., which required it to comply with specific conditions to improve its financial stability. Officials at that time said the bank had approved several loans without proper collateral. As of Sept. 30, 2013, the bank reported it had about $331.4 million in total assets and $328.8 million in total deposits. BancFirst assumed all of the failed bank’s deposits and agreed to purchase about $225.5 million of its assets, said Greg Hernandez, FDIC spokesman.

Bank of Union had an asset ratio of 166 percent last March, according to the FDIC. An asset ratio over 100 percent can be an indication that a bank is under stress and struggling with delinquent loans, officials said. At that time, bank president John Shelley said Bank of Union had undergone a period of rapid growth in assets over the past five years, thanks in part to the booming energy sector and agricultural activity in Canadian County. Because of the economic growth, the bank had grown from $190 million in assets five years ago to $400 million, Shelley said.

Bank of Union is the second FDIC-insured bank in the country to fail this year, Hernandez said.

“The last FDIC-insured institution closed in Oklahoma was First Capital Bank in Kingfisher, which closed on June 8, 2012,” he said.

Bank of Union employees were serving the public as usual on Monday under the BancFirst mantle. Sixty-three people were employed by the bank, 50 of them at the El Reno branch. The status of Michael Braun, who was just recently named interim president and CEO of Bank of Union, was unknown. Braun was given the post after Shelley retired in December.

“Our goal is to recapitalize the bank,” Braun said recently. “You hate to lose a community bank,” he said, referring to numerous city, community and school projects The Bank of Union has helped fund through the years. 

Customers who have questions about the transaction can call the FDIC toll free at 800-405-8251. Information is also available online at http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/bankofunion.html.

Lois Joy Basler

Lois Joy (Streber) Basler age 81, went to be with the Lord on Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. 

Lois Joy Basler

Lois Joy Basler

She was born Sept. 23, 1932 at Tuttle, Okla. to Harry and Nannie (Carter) Streber and grew up in the Tuttle area.  She was a 1951 graduate of Bridge Creek High School.  She lived most of her adult life in the Tuttle/Bridge Creek area, moving to Mustang in 1995.  Lois worked in retail sales, was an avid gardener and seamstress. She also loved to play cards with friends and family.  Most of all she loved being a mother and grandmother.  She was a long time member of First Baptist Church of Mustang.

She was preceded in death by her parents, five sisters – Alice, Daisey, Jennie Belle, Bernice and Georgia; and three brothers – Leonard, Delbert and Raymond. 

Survivors include two daughters, Terri Beard and husband Bob of Stroud, Renee Mixon and husband Alan of Mustang, and one son Kevin Basler of Crescent, Okla.  Also by eight grandchildren and one great grandchild, as well as one sister, Velma Forsyth, and two brothers, Troy Streber and wife Jane, and Harry Streber, Jr. and wife Jean, all living in Tuttle. 

Services will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 31 at First Baptist Church in Mustang, with interment following in Fairview Cemetery, Tuttle, Okla., under the direction of McNeil’s Mustang Funeral Service. Online condolences may be made at www.mcneilsmustangfs.com.

Long’s three-pointer propels Mustang to tourney championship

Mustang sophomore guard Jakolby Long drives the lane for a basket in the Bruce Gray Invitational last weekend. (Photo/Kyle Salomon)

By Kyle Salomon

A late 3-pointer from sophomore guard Jakolby Long saved the day for Mustang in its second tournament championship win of the season.

With five seconds remaining Saturday night in the title game of the Bruce Gray Invitational at Deer Creek High School, Long had the ball on the right wing with an Edmond Memorial defender in his face. Despite the tight defense, the 6-foot-5 sophomore from Mustang rose up and swished a 3-pointer to give the Broncos a one-point lead at 51-50.

Mustang’s defense held the Bulldogs in the final five seconds to secure the victory and the tournament championship for MHS. The 51-50 win over Memorial improved the Broncos record to 12-3 on the season.

In the semifinal game on Friday night, Mustang took on Putnam City North for the second time in less than a week. The Broncos dismantled the Panthers 87-66. In its first game of the tournament on Jan. 23, Mustang hammered Northeast 80-64.

“I thought we played pretty solid throughout the tournament,” Mustang head coach Terry Long said. “I thought our defense in the last game against Edmond Memorial was a lot better than it has been. I was proud of the guys for overcoming adversity in that final game.”

Jakolby Long was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player and senior guard Demarion Love and junior guard Terrell Williams were each named to the All-Tournament team for the Broncos.

Jakolby said it was all about the team’s defense in the title game.

“We just wanted to focus on playing better defense,” he said. “We know that is the key to us getting to March 15, and that is all that matters right now. We just have to keep improving and getting better every day.”

In the championship game against Edmond Memorial, the Broncos got off to a slow start in the first period. Mustang’s defense struggled against the ball movement offensive from the Bulldogs and Memorial was on fire from beyond the arc. Long’s outside shooting was stout as well in the period, keeping the score close at 18-15 in favor of Edmond Memorial after one.

The Broncos defense started to exert itself in the second period as the Mustang guards were making life miserable for the Bulldog guards. The length and athleticism from the Bronco perimeter players gave Edmond Memorial all kinds of fits as Mustang took a 30-25 lead into the halftime locker room.

The third period almost directly mirrored the second as the Broncos D was continuing to suffocate the Memorial offense. The MHS offense was stout and consistent as it put a 15-spot on the scoreboard for the third consecutive period. Mustang led 45-34 after three.

Things got a little dicey for Mustang in the fourth period as they saw their double-digit lead vanish in a heartbeat as Memorial was making a furious comeback on the Broncos. The Bulldogs retook the lead with under a minute to play when Long’s heroics stole the show and gave Mustang the one-point victory.

“I felt good with my shot all night long,” Jakolby said. “I felt like a good look at the basket and when I let it go I knew it was in.”

The Broncos defeated Putnam City North in a district road battle on Jan. 21 by a score of 77-66.

Mustang had 36 rebounds in the game and made 22 out of 32 foul shots. The Broncos also committed 21 turnovers in the game.

Long led the team with 25 points and seven rebounds in the contest.

Mustang took on Edmond North in a district battle on Monday night at home, and will play Choctaw at home Friday night on homecoming night for the Broncos.

You can reach Kyle Salomon at [email protected]

Mustang grad injured in shootout

OHP Trooper Ryan Smith

By Traci Chapman

A Mustang High School graduate was one of two Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers injured in a Jan. 25 fatal shooting.

Ryan Smith was shot in the face and was expected to go home in the next day or two, Capt. George Brown said Tuesday. An eight-year OHP veteran, Smith graduated from Mustang High School in 2002.

Trooper Chris Bunch, who has been with OHP for a year, was also shot, sustaining an injury to his leg. He has been released from the hospital, Brown said.

The troopers were injured in a chase that began on an Interstate 35 service road near SE 29th in Oklahoma City, Brown said.

“The pursuit ended near Interstate 40 and Sunnylane Road in Del City,” Brown said. “At the end of the pursuit, a man exited his vehicle and exchanged fire with the troopers.”

Brown declined to release the identity of the man, who was killed in the incident.

 

Bronco girls take down McGuiness

Mustang sophomore guard Addyson Lawson tries to get around a defender in the Deer Creek tournament. (Photo/Kyle Salomon)

By Kyle Salomon

A strong second half and dominating inside play helped the Mustang girls to a victory against Bishop McGuinness last Friday in the Deer Creek tournament.

Senior center Brooke Irwin led the team with 30 points and 11 rebounds in the Bronco girls’ 59-50 win against the Fighting Irish in the Bruce Gray Invitational last weekend at Deer Creek High School.

The Mustang ladies went 1-2 in the tournament, dropping their overall regular season record to 4-11 on the season. The Broncos fell in day one of the tournament to Edmond Memorial by a score of 52-45. MHS lost its final contest of the three-day event to Enid, 60-54.

“I thought we did some good things throughout the weekend,” Mustang head coach Kevin Kortjens said. “Of course, we are disappointed with the result. You are never happy with a loss. I thought we got some good play from some of our seniors. Brooke Irwin and Tori Shockley both had really solid tournaments, and our young girls played pretty well for the most part.”

Irwin was named to the All-Tournament team for her play throughout the weekend.

Against Bishop McGuinness, the Broncos had the clear height advantage inside. Mustang didn’t full take advantage of that until the second half. In the first period the Broncos struggled offensively to get the ball into the basket. They were getting a lot of good looks around the goal but couldn’t convert when they had their opportunities as McGuinness led 15-11 after the first period.

In the second period the Broncos continued to struggle on the offensive end as Bishop McGuinness was swarming the inside players from Mustang with double and triple teams in the post. The Broncos defense improved drastically in the period as it held the Fighting Irish to 11 points in the frame. The Mustang girls trailed 26-21 going into the halftime locker room.

The Bronco ladies came out and took control of the game in the third period as Mustang’s offense began to roll. Senior guard Tori Shockley made several outside shots to loosen up the tight defense from McGuinness on the Mustang post players. Irwin started taking control of the game as MHS took a 39-38 lead into the final period of the game.

The Broncos dominated in the fourth period as they scored 20 points in the frame behind the inside play from Irwin. Mustang was having more success on the defensive end of the floor as well, forcing Bishop McGuinness into difficult shots on nearly every possession for the Fighting Irish. The Bronco ladies were able to coast to the nine-point victory.

“I thought the difference in our win against Bishop McGuinness was we made the plays down the stretch we needed to make to win the game,” Korstjens said. “We knew we had an advantage inside and Brooke did a really good job of taking advantage of those opportunities.”

The Mustang girls fell to Putnam City North 75-62 in a district road battle with the Panthers on Jan. 21.

The story of the game for the Broncos was turnovers as Mustang committed 38 turnovers in the loss. MHS had 37 rebounds and made 22 out of 29 free throws.

Mustang took on Edmond North in a district home battle on Monday night, and will host Choctaw Friday night on homecoming night for MHS.

You can reach Kyle Salomon at [email protected]