Friday, October 30, 2015

Animal Cruelty Case Continued

The case of a former race horse trainer, charged with four counts of animal cruelty, was continued in Sequoyah County District Court Wednesday because his attorney was unavailable.

Robert Dimitt, 57, was arrested Aug. 7 for animal cruelty and is free on a $25,000 bond. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

He was due to be on the disposition docket Wednesday of Associate District Judge Kyle Waters but a court official said Dimitt’s attorney, Donn Baker of Tahlequah, was not available. The hearing was then continued to Nov. 12. In the disposition docket, the judge determines if and when a case should continue.

The charges resulted from an investigation that found dead and mutilated horses in Dimitt’s care and at his farm on Sallisaw’s east side, and eventually spread to Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico where another allegedly mutilated horse was found. It was reported the horses had lost immense amounts of weight and had the bottoms of their hooves cut away. Sheriff Ron Lockhart said Dimitt had about 22 horses in his care and all were recovered by their owners or moved to other trainers.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sallisaw Christmas Parade is Dec. 12; Other Events Announced

Sallisaw’s Christmas Parade, sponsored by the Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce, will begin at 6 p.m. Dec. 12.

This year’s theme is Merry Christmas to Our Heroes, and will honor members of the police department, fire department, sheriff’s office and the military. Judy Martens, the chamber’s executive director, said those planning to have entries in the parade may choose who they wish to honor and interpret the theme however they wish.

Parade entry forms will be available at the chamber office on Nov. 30, the Monday following Thanksgiving. There is no entry fee.

The parade is just one of many events the chamber and city are planning for the holiday.

The annual Sallisaw Christmas Lighting will be held at 6 p.m. on Nov. 19 on the lawn at Stanley Tubbs Memorial Library. The chamber will provide hot chocolate and cookies and Santa Claus will again visit to hear all the children’s Christmas wishes in the library gazebo.

The Mix 105.1 will also be at the ceremony playing Christmas music for the event.

The Sallisaw Merchants Open House will be held Nov. 15.  Sallisaw businesses will be open for business, sharing new holiday designs and d├ęcor for the Christmas season. Many will also be having sales on that day.

The chamber also sponsors the Shop Sallisaw Giveaway to encourage shoppers to support their hometown merchants during the holidays. The Shop Sallisaw campaign starts the week after the lighting ceremony. In the campaign Sallisaw merchants give tickets to all shoppers, who then have a chance, with those tickets, to win real holiday cash on the day of the Christmas parade, Dec. 12. The cash giveaway will be held at noon Dec. 12 on the lawn at Stanley Tubbs Memorial Library in Downtown Sallisaw, weather permitting. If the weather is bad, the giveaway will be moved to the Sallisaw High School gym. Martens said that this year the chamber is hoping to give away more than $6,000.

The Sallisaw chamber also sponsors a store front decorating contest, with trophies awarded for three different areas in town – the west end, the east end and in central Sallisaw. Trophies for that contest will be awarded at the Dec. 9 Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce luncheon meeting.

Martens said she expects to have a calendar of events ready next week for all chamber members. For more information contact the chamber at 918-775-2558.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Chamber Hears about Cherokee Nation Economic Impact

Charles “Chuck” Garrett, Cherokee Nation Businesses (CNB) executive vice president, (center, above) was the guest speaker at the monthly Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce meeting Wednesday at the Cherokee Nation Casino in Sallisaw. Above he visits with Casey Tippet of Casey’s Motor Sports in Sallisaw, left, and Cherokee Nation Tribal Council Member Bryan Warner of Sallisaw.

Garrett spoke to a standing-room-only crowd about the economic impact of the Cherokee Nation in Sequoyah County, the tribe’s 14-county area in Eastern Oklahoma and the state. According to information supplied by Garrett, Cherokee operations in Sequoyah County generates more than $117 million in local production, while supporting 1,039 jobs, including 300 new jobs at the new Cherokee Casino and Hotel in Roland, and $37.4 million in local labor income.

Garrett said CNB has two primary objectives – making the maximum annual dividend for the Cherokee government and to generate jobs. This year’s gross revenue is $930 million, he said. CNB has over 6,000 employees and a diverse portfolio of businesses. He pointed out that not all CNB revenue comes from gaming. Over one-third of CNB revenue is not related to gaming.

In the areas of education and job training, Garrett said over 4,000 students have received scholarships or financial support from the tribe in the last year, totaling over $7.4 million. In addition, the tribe’s Culinary Training Services is located in Sallisaw and a job placement office is at 100 E. Choctaw.

Garrett said the tribe has spent over $100 million for health and health care and $10 million at the Redbird Smith Health Center in Sallisaw.

In addition, Garrett said, the tribe financially supports the maintenance of local roads and bridges, and donated $450,000 to fire departments this year.

“These are the things that keep us safe and our communities sound,” Garrett said.

Garrett said at the present time the tribe is building 24 new houses in Roland and 10 new homes are on the drawing board for Vian.

About the tribe’s ownership and plans for Blue Ribbon Downs, Garrett said, “We’ve got people studying it and thinking about it.”

He said the tribe is operating the training track and has resumed time trials for horses in training. But, he added, “There is no easy answer.” He said the track’s future depends on “If we can create jobs that fit within our mission.”

Garrett concluded that the Cherokee Nation had a $1.5 billion impact on the state’s economy.

He said, “We’re here to stay and make these communities the best they can be for everyone.”

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Halloween Will Be Dry, Weathermen Predict

Trick-or-Treaters rejoice. The rain that weather forecasters predicted for Halloween night has been cancelled.

Halloween on Elm Street in Sallisaw, sponsored by the Sallisaw Police Department, is gearing up to go without umbrellas and raincoats, and with 35 or more booths planned. The event will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday.

Featured this year, along with lots of free candy, will be carnival games for the kids with prizes, a double-slide inflatable with an obstacle course, free cotton candy and photos, and a live broadcast by The Mix 105.1.

So kids, costume up and come on down.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sheriff Locates Woman with Information

Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart said Wednesday the woman was found who gave information about a cold case investigation to a convenience store employee on Monday. The woman asked the store clerk at BJ’s Convenience Store by Fin and Feather Lodge on Lake Tenkiller to call the sheriff’s office and share the information.

Lockhart said, “We found her but the information was two years old.”

Lockhart said he will send out a press release if and when more information becomes available.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Sonic Drive In Honored at Chamber Meeting; Upcoming Events Announced

Sonic Drive In was named the Member of the Month at the Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce Membership Meeting Wednesday. Darren Girdner, left, chamber president, presents the award to Esther Sainer, co-owner and widow of the late Sonic Drive In owner Chuck Sainer, and Denise and Toby Norvell, current owner-operators.

In presenting the award, Girdner said, “Chuck and Esther Sainer moved to Sallisaw in 1973 and Sonic opened its doors in 1974. Helping and being active in the community was always a priority. . .from Chuck doing his work as a Shriner Clown to sending birthday wishes to people in town and all of the other things he did for so many others. He and Esther always did everything they could to make Sallisaw a better place to live and visit.

“Denise and Toby have carried on that tradition,” Girdner said. “Organizations and individuals all over town have benefited from the generosity of the Sainer and Norvell families. From area schools to the Boys and Girls Club to fundraisers for the ill and other events they’re asked to sponsor or to donate to, Denise and Toby have always made it a priority to give back to the community.

“Their kids, grand kids, families, friends and neighbors all live here in Sallisaw and everything they do just makes Sallisaw a better place,” Girdner said. “Every festival, gathering and event brings people to the area, which is only better for everyone in town. Sallisaw is an amazing place to live and to raise families, and with business owners like Denise and Toby, it will only continue to get better.”

Upcoming Events

Among the upcoming events planned by chamber members are the following:

-Bassnanza will be held Saturday at Kerr Lake south of Sallisaw, and is sponsored by the Sallisaw Chamber. The entry fee is $150 per boat and entries close Friday. There is also a $25 Big Bass entry per boat. Bassnanza offers a 100 percent payback and weigh in is at Applegate Cove Boat Ramp and Campground. A free complimentary meal will be offered at the weigh in. For more information call the chamber at (918) 775-2558 or visit Entry forms are available at

-Bryan Warner, Cherokee Nation tribal council member, announced Cherokee District 6 community meetings will be held on Nov. 6 at the new Sallisaw Middle School and on Nov. 10 at the Nicut Community Building. Warner said he plans community meetings throughout his district and welcomes anyone who wishes to visit with him about the Cherokee Nation.

-Stacy Bell, Foster Care Specialist with People Inc., said People Inc. is now working with the Department of Human Services to provide foster care homes for children. A luncheon to explain the program will be held Nov. 11 at People Inc. She said 127 children in Sequoyah County alone were in need of foster care in September but there are not enough foster care homes available. For information call Bell at 918-775-7787 or 918-315-7178.

-The annual Veterans Day Ceremony, sponsored by the Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce, will be held at 11 a.m. Nov. 11 on the lawn at Stanley Tubbs Memorial Library in downtown Sallisaw.

-Joe Peters of Peters Agency said the health care management agency will celebrate 20 years in business at an open house on Nov. 17.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Sallisaw Police Search for Robbery Suspect

Sallisaw police are searching for a robbery suspect who escaped with an undisclosed amount of money from Cox’s Corner Store Tuesday.

Sallisaw Police Chief Terry Franklin said the robbery occurred at about 10:30 p.m. The store is at 523 W. Cherokee, at the corner of Cherokee and Maple Street in Sallisaw. Police said the man escaped on foot but he was caught on a surveillance camera, above.

Anyone with information is asked to call Sallisaw police at (918) 775-4141.

“We appreciate anyone’s help to find the suspect,” Franklin said.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Suspects in Crum Death Face Second-degree Murder

Two Vian men have been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Pliney Dane Crum, 31 (shown above). Crum was found unconscious at his home north of Vian on Sept. 29 and died on Sept. 30 at a Tulsa hospital.

The two suspects charged in his death are Michael Dean Buster, 23, and Kyle Reece Major, 31. Both were charged Oct. 13 in Sequoyah County District Court, Sallisaw, with murder in the second degree. Both are being held in the Sequoyah County Jail in Sallisaw without bond. Major filed a motion this week for a bond reduction.

Buster pleaded not guilty to the charge at his arraignment on Oct. 14. His next court appearance will be on Nov. 18 on Associate District Judge Kyle Waters’ felony disposition docket.

Major entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment on Oct. 21 and his next court appearance will be on Dec. 16 on Judge Waters’ felony disposition docket.

According to the investigators’ reports filed with the charges, Buster was found at the scene, and admitted to killing Crum in a fist fight. He said the two had been drinking and Crum was calling him a name. Buster told investigators he blacked out and when he came to he was sitting on top of Crum hitting him in the head. He said he then went across the road to McQuick’s convenience store and asked that 911 be called because “he just killed someone.” That statement led witnesses to the unconscious Crum and the call for help and law enforcement. Buster was arrested at the scene.

Major was arrested Oct. 1. According to the investigators’ reports, Major at first denied being at the scene, although he did admit he took Buster to Crum’s home, but said he left before the fight. But surveillance tape from McQuick’s store, obtained by the investigators, shows Major leaving Crum’s home just 10 minutes before Buster runs across the street to ask for help. Major eventually told investigators he was at the residence during the fight and related how the fight occurred. He said he told Buster to run for help and that he tried to revive Crum. According to the report, Major said Buster was “freaking out,” and he was afraid Buster would attack him, so he left.

The murder in the second degree charges allege the suspects did cause the death of the victim but that “. . .this conduct was not done with the intention of taking the life of Dane Crum.” It is also noted the crime is punishable by imprisonment for 10 years to life.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Case Against Gore Man Dismissed

The case against a Gore man, accused of 17 counts of rape and lewd molestation was dismissed Friday in Sequoyah County District Court, Sallisaw. The case was filed in June 2014.

Troy Sands, 33, was accused of the rape and molestation of two sisters, who were six and seven years old at the time, between 2008 and 2010.

Assistant District Attorney Stacey Slaughter said the case was dismissed without prejudice, meaning it can be filed again.

Slaughter said, “In depositions about two weeks ago, the girls’ testimony was not as strong as we had hoped. Any time you have delayed reporting, especially where young children are involved, there can be a problem with recollections. We had hoped we had a stronger case.”

Slaughter said if new evidence is uncovered, the case may be refiled.

In the meantime, the motion to dismiss is under the condition that Sands have no contact with the alleged victims or their immediate family.

Sands’ trial on the charges was scheduled to begin this week in district court.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Sheriff Seeks Information

Sequoyah County Sheriff has asked for help in contacting a female who allegedly has important information regarding an ongoing investigation. Earlier this evening a female entered BJ's Convenience Store by Fin and Feather near Lake Tenkiller. The female provided some specific information to the store clerk and asked the clerk to call the Sequoyah County Sheriff's Department and share the information with authorities. The female left the store without revealing her identity. 

According to Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart the information she shared is "very important" but more details are needed. Lockhart is asking the female to please call the sheriff's department as soon as possible. 

"I will make sure that this person remains anonymous," added Lockhart.

The sheriff's department can be reached at 918-775-9155 or 918-775-9156.

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County Honors Fallen Hero; Memorial Is Planned

Flags are at half-staff, yellow ribbons decorate towns, prayers are being said and memorials planned as Sequoyah County residents mourn the loss of one of their soldiers-Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler.

Sgt. Wheeler was mortally wounded in a fire fight with ISIS in northern Iraq Oct. 22 in a raid which freed a reported 70 others who were to be executed the next day.

Sgt. Wheeler is from Roland, and his family flew to Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware to welcome his body back to the United States on Saturday.

Funeral arrangements for Sgt. Wheeler were still pending as of Monday. But his friends and extended family have already begun efforts in his memory.

Roland officials and citizens clothed their town Saturday in American flags and yellow ribbons in his honor.

Flags throughout the county are at half-staff for Sgt. Wheeler, and Sequoyah County Commissioners, at their Monday meeting, stood in silence for Sgt. Wheeler and prayed for he and his family, his wife, Ashely, and four sons.

A Muldrow High School classmate and friend has set up an account to fund a memorial for Sgt. Wheeler at Muldrow High School.

Roland Town Administrator Monty Lenington said town officials, police, firemen and several private citizens spent the day Saturday clothing their town in yellow ribbons and American flags. "It's beautiful," Lenington said. 

Lenington said the town will also hold a memorial service for Sgt. Wheeler but will wait until his funeral arrangements are announced. He said it was his understanding that Sgt. Wheeler will be buried in North Carolina, because he was stationed at Fort Bragg, and his wife and children reside there. 

"We will take our cue from the family," Lenington said.

Lenington said Sgt. Wheeler's brother, Zach, works for the Town of Roland, and has taken time off to mourn his brother.

"They are very, very close," Lenington said. "Whenever his brother came to visit, Zach would take time off to spend time with him. Zach even named his son Josh after him."

Sgt. Wheeler leaves behind one brother, Zach, and four sisters, Rachael, Heather, Tatira and Scotty, and his grandparents, Jack and Lily Shamblin of Roland.

All those who knew him said Sgt. Wheeler was a kind and loving man, who "would give you the shirt off his back." He often provided for his younger siblings, even after he joined the U.S. Army in 1995.

He was respectful but sometimes mischievous, his former classmates at Muldrow High School recalled.

Tranesa Moreland of Roland graduated with Sgt. Wheeler in 1994 and spent much time with Josh and Zach.

"My mom, Darla Lowder, took Josh and his family under her wing. Josh and Zach were special to her," Moreland  said. "I guess I was 8 to 9 when I first met them. Mom took us all to Sunday school and we went to church camp together. All of us would get in trouble on the church bus," Moreland recalled, with a laugh. "We were ornery. He was always ornery. But he would do anything for anybody. He would give his life for anyone."

Moreland said Sgt. Wheeler was liked too.

"He was the happiest person," she said. "He was happy. I can't think of any person who didn't like him."

Now, Moreland wants to honor Sgt. Wheeler. She has set up an account to raise funds for a memorial to be placed on the grounds at Muldrow High School where school officials have already agreed to have the memorial placed.

Anyone wishing to help with the memorial may donate to the Sgt. Joshua Wheeler Memorial Fund at any Firstar Bank. Moreland plans for at least a plaque but hopes for more.

And, if there is any money left over, Sgt. Wheeler's widow, Ashley, has asked that it be donated to Fisher House Foundation, which offers support to military families.

Moreland said she and others are also planning a local memorial service for Sgt. Wheeler for the very best of reasons.

"We are going to do some sort of service here," she said. "Something needs to be done remember him."

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Cherokee Nation Offers Free Flu Shots

Cherokee Nation health officials will be offering free flu vaccinations for Cherokee Nation citizens and their non-Native family members living in the household through November to prepare for flu season.

Health officials have vaccination clinics scheduled this month and the next throughout the tribe's 14-county service area.

In Sequoyah County, staff from the Redbird Smith Health Center in Sallisaw will offer the vaccinations at the following:

-Marble City School 9 a.m. to noon on Oct. 27;

-Roland Schools 9 a.m. to noon on Oct. 29;

-Gore School 9 a.m. to noon on Nov. 2;

-Marble City Nutrition Center 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 3;

-Sallisaw Nutrition Center 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 5;

-Vian Public School 9 a.m. to noon on Nov. 10;

-Sallisaw Public Schools 9 a.m. to noon on Nov. 12 and 13.

The flu season typically runs September to March but each year it peaks during different months. The tribe has vaccinated at least 35,000 people during flu season in recent years.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Area Halloween Events

Halloween on Elm Street in Sallisaw is expanding this year and will be offering treats and carnival games with prizes, all free.

Also available for all the little ghouls and goblins, and every little person in costume, will be a double-slide, obstacle course inflatable, cotton candy, and free photos from Friends of the Library at Stanley Tubbs Memorial Library.

KXMX will also be broadcasting live from the event and will be handing out candy for the little tricksters too. Be sure to stop by and say Hi!

Sponsored by Sallisaw Police, Halloween on Elm Street will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 31, and any organization that wishes may set up a booth to hand out candy or offer carnival games for the youngsters. For more information contact Sarah Roberts at 918-775-4175, at the Sallisaw Police Department.

Also on Oct. 31, Journey Church in Sallisaw will be holding its annual Fall Fest for children of all ages. Fall Fest will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. in the church parking lot and candy and prizes for all will be given away.

Muldrow Church of the Nazarene will be having their annual Trunk n Treat on Oct. 31. There will be games and candy for the kids as well as hot dogs and mini-train rides.

Marble City will hold their Trunk or Treat from 4-6 p.m. Oct. 31 downtown. The Marble City Food Pantry will have a free carnival from 6-9 p.m.

Sallisaw First Assembly of God will have a Trunk or Treat from 5-7 p.m.

Sonic of Sallisaw will be handing out treats on Oct. 31 from 5-8 p.m. and will offer 50 cent corn dogs all day while supplies last.

On Oct. 29, Stanley Tubbs Memorial Library in Sallisaw will hold a story time, crafts and games, with prizes and candy, for youngsters 10 and under. Children are invited to come in costume, hear Halloween stories, make tiny pumpkins, play games and search for prizes throughout the library. For information call the library at (918) 775-4481.

Halloween Trick-or-Treating will take place, as usual, on Halloween evening, which is a Saturday this year, in every town in the county.

In Roland and Muldrow, the little trick-or-treaters may also want to stop by at the fire departments and police stations where treats will also be handed out by firemen and police officers. The Roland Fire Dept. will also have a free chili dinner from 4-7 p.m.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler Awarded Purple Heart

Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler was a hero and a career soldier. The Roland native was killed Oct. 22 in Iraq. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.

Gov. Mary Fallin, at the request of State Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw), has ordered state flags to be flown at half-staff for Sgt. Wheeler’s memorial service. 

The U.S. Army reports his body is to be returned to the United States on Saturday. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said he will be there when Sgt. Wheeler returns.

Carter told the media how Sgt. Wheeler’s death occurred when Iraqi troops fought Islamic militants in Iraq’s Kirkuk province, where it was reported 70 hostages were to be executed. The Department of Defense reported the hostages were saved.

Carter said, “As the compound was being stormed, the plan was not for the U.S. ... forces to enter the compound or be involved in the firefight. However, when a firefight ensued, this American did what I'm very proud that Americans do in that situation, and he ran to the sound of the guns and he stood up. All the indications are that it was his actions and that of one of his teammates that protected those who were involved in breaching the compound and made the mission a success.

“It wasn't part of the plan, but it was something that he did. And I'm immensely proud that he did that,” Carter said.

U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Ok) offered condolences and prayers to Sgt. Wheeler’s family after hearing of his passing. He said, “Master Sgt. Wheeler served our country courageously and selflessly. He put the safety of all of us before his own during his time in Iraq. Christie and I offer our deepest condolences and pray for comfort for the Wheeler family during this difficult time. Our men and women in uniform put their lives on the line every day to ensure our safety and our freedom. May God hold them in his loving hands and safeguard them as they protect us.”

The U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs Office at Fort Bragg, N.C., where Sgt. Wheeler was stationed, provided the following biographical information about the soldier:

Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler, 39, assigned to Headquarters, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C., was killed in action Oct. 22, while deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Wheeler died from enemy gunfire while in combat near Hawijah, Iraq. He was born Nov. 22, 1975, in Roland, and graduated in 1994 from Muldrow High School in Muldrow.

Wheeler entered the U.S. Army as an infantryman in May 1995, completing his initial entry training at Fort Benning, Ga. His first assignment was with Company C, 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, Fort Lewis, Wash. In February 1997, he transitioned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Lewis, Wash., where he served for over seven years as an infantryman, rifle team leader, squad leader, weapons squad leader, and anti-tank section leader, deploying three times in support of combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Wheeler was assigned to U.S. Army Special Operations Command in 2004, and deployed 11 times in support of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wheeler’s military education includes the Basic Airborne Course, Ranger School, Warrior Leader Course, Static Line Jumpmaster, Military Mountaineering Course, Basic and Advanced Demolition Courses, Advanced Urban Combat Training, Advanced Marksmanship Techniques, Close Range Tactical M4 Training, Infantry Advanced Leader’s Course, the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (Level C) Course, Infantry Senior Leader’s, Military Free Fall Course, and the Military Free Fall Jumpmaster Course.

Sgt. Wheeler’s awards and decorations include four Bronze Star Medals with Valor Device, seven Bronze Star Medals, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor Device, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, seven Army Commendation Medals, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, As of 21 Oct., 2015 eight Army Achievement Medals, the Good Conduct Medal (6th Award), the National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Service Star, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with 3 Bronze Service Stars, the Iraq Campaign Medal with 6 Bronze Service Stars, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (3rd Award), the Army Service Ribbon, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Valorous Unit Award (2nd Award), the Ranger Tab, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Expert Infantryman Badge, the Master Parachutist Badge, and three Overseas Service Bars.

He is survived by his wife, and four sons.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Vandals Strike Sallisaw Football Field

Vandals struck the Perry F. Lattimore football stadium during the overnight hours Thursday. The damage was discovered by school officials early Friday morning. 

According to Sallisaw Public School Superintendent  Scott Farmer the damage was minor and non-permanent. Farmer stated that he had reached out to the administration of Poteau Schools and they would be working together to investigate the incident.

The damage included spray painting on a hanging mat, a spray painted sign and other minor damage.

Sallisaw will host Poteau tonight in a 4A-4 district match-up.

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Second Shooting Suspect Sought; One Suspect in Custody

An Asian male is being sought in connection to the shooting of a 42-year-old Fort Smith woman early Thursday.

In a press conference Friday, Sheriff Ron Lockhart said authorities are seeking Anousith Mike Inthavong, 27, (above, top) of Fort Smith. Lockhart said a second suspect is already in custody and is in the Sebastian County Jail where he is being held without bond and awaiting extradition to Sequoyah County. The jailed suspect is Sahalat Patrick Xayavongsa, 29, (above, bottom) also of Fort Smith.

Xayavongsa was booked on assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. A warrant on the same charge has been issued for Inthavong. Inthavong is driving a 2011 silver Toyota Camry with Arkansas tag 466-SKK (see picture at end of story). The suspect is considered armed and dangerous. Lockhart said he has connections in Fayetteville and may be headed there. Anyone seeing Inthavong is asked to contact their local police immediately.

Lockhart said Xayavongsa and Inthavong are believed to be the shooters who left a 42-year-old Fort Smith woman shot and in a ditch on old Highway 64 south of Roland early Thursday.

Investigators reported the woman, identified as Melinda Stepheson, was found at about 4 a.m. Thursday when the property owner was leaving for work and saw the woman in the ditch. She was transported to a Fort Smith hospital where she underwent emergency surgery Thursday.
Lockhart said he has visited with the victim twice but she has trouble speaking due to the injuries to her lungs. Stepheson is still in intensive care and listed in guarded critical condition. Lockhart said she has four bullet holes in her upper torso.

Lockhart said the county sheriff’s department is being assisted by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the Sallisaw Police Department and the Fort Smith Police Department, and they are working four crime scenes – the place where Stepheson was found, the place where Stepheson was shot, the location where bullets went through a home and lodged in the headboard of the sleeping resident and at the home of the jailed suspect.

Lockhart said Stepheson was not shot where she was found. It is believed she was shot about a mile away then driven to where she was found. He added that the suspect in custody “is being very helpful.”

Lockhart said he would not speculate on why Stepheson was shot since one of the suspects is not in custody and he does not want to try the case in the media. “We will not speculate on what caused the shooting. We will leave that up to a court of law,” he said.


Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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