Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sonic Holds Fundraiser for Student and School Safety

The Bearacade is an easily installed door blocking devise that can be used on school doors.

Denise Norvell of Sallisaw’s Sonic Drive In is on a mission.

“Kids are my future,” she said, “and I want teachers and the kids to be safe.”

As school intrusions and shootings became more frequent, Norvell said she thought about her grandkids, who attend Central School.

“I got a little stressed,” Norvell said. “So I did some research.”

What Norvell found was a company with the same passion – children’s safety.

The company is Bearacade in Ohio. It makes the Bearacade® Lockdown Response System, an easily installed door barrier system that can prevent a hostile intruder.

Norvell found the system costs about $2 per student, or $60 per classroom door. She took her idea to Central School officials. She wanted a Bearacade for every classroom door at Central Schools. So did the school officials.

As a result, on Thursday, June 1, Sallisaw’s Sonic Drive In will kick off its first School Safety Campaign.

Sonic Drive In will be taking donations of all amounts for Central School’s Bearacades. For customers giving at least a $2 donation, Sonic will be passing out coupons for a free Route 44 drink.

“This is so doable,” Norvell said. “The Bearacade is so simple, a kindergartener can do it.”

The device blocks the door at the bottom, while an under-door extension tells those outside the door, such as first responders, that the door is blocked and those inside are safe.

According to the company, “Once in place, the patent-pending Bearacade® can withstand 4,800 pounds of external force! That’s 10 times the strength of a traditional lock set. Lightweight, easy to store, and quick to deploy Bearacade® is ideal for all interior doors that can be used as a safe haven when evacuation is not possible or too dangerous to attempt. Getting out and away is the first, best action. If you cannot get out, Bearacade® is an added option…an added layer of safety.”

So far, donors have given enough that seven Bearacades have already been purchased, but Norvell said 44 more are needed for Central School. Sonic will be taking donations all day on Thursday, and handing out information and donations forms if requested.

Norvell doesn’t plan to stop at Central School. She wants Bearacades in every school in the county.

“I thought it was amazing, and I became passionate about it,” Norvell confessed. “I would love to see it throughout the whole county, in every school.

“Businesses can sponsor a door,” Norvell said. “A Van Buren company heard about it and sent me a $120 check for two doors. If every parent came by and gave us $2 that would get it done. That would be amazing.”

Check donations can be made out to Central Schools PTO, Norvell said.

Norvell asks patrons to think about the children.

“It would be earth shattering if it was your child,” she said about the unthinkable. “You want the teacher and the kids safe.”

Norvell suggested, “You can’t just open your heart. Sometimes you’ve got to open your hand.”

Norvell concluded that a Bearacade on every school door in Sequoyah County, “would be a great relief!”

The Bearacade is an easily installed door blocking devise that can be used on school doors.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Home Destroyed in Friday Fire

A Friday fire destroyed a mobile home south of Sallisaw Friday morning.

Brent Rural Fire Department was assisted by Sallisaw Fire Department firefighters, reported Sallisaw Fire Chief Anthony Armstrong.

The cause of the fire is believed to have been a defective electric cook stove and the loss was estimated at $75,000.

The renters, Justin Isaac and Sadie Price, were able to escape and were not reported injured in the blaze. The doublewide home is owned by Danny Cox of the Brent Community. Armstrong said the Red Cross was contacted to assist Isaac and Price.

The home is on South 4613 Road, Armstrong said

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Absentee Voters Told to Get Ballots Soon

Less than a week remains for registered voters in Sequoyah County to apply for absentee ballots to be mailed to them for the June 13 Sallisaw and Muldrow Special Elections, Cindy Osborn, Sequoyah County Election Board secretary, said.
Applications for absentee ballots must be received by the county election board no later than 5 p.m. June 7 to be processed in time for the election.

Absentee voters may apply in person at the county election board office or may send their applications by mail, fax, or e-mail. An online version of the form may be filled out and submitted electronically at Any registered voter eligible to vote in the election may vote by absentee ballot without stating a reason, Osborn said, however absentee voters can activate certain special conditions in the following circumstances:

• Registered voters who are physically incapacitated and voters who care for physically incapacitated persons who cannot be left unattended may apply for absentee ballots only by mail, fax, e-mail, online or via an agent who is at least 16 years of age and who is not employed by or related within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity to any person whose name appears on the ballot.

• Registered voters who are confined to nursing homes in the county may apply by mail, by fax, by e-mail, online or via an agent who is at least 16 years of age and who is not employed by or related within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity to any person whose name appears on the ballot.

• Military personnel, residents of Sequoyah County living overseas, and the spouses and dependents of each group may apply only by mail, by fax, or by e-mail. For more information and instructions, military and overseas voters may visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program website:

For more information on absentee voting, contact the county election board at 110 E Creek Ave., Sallisaw, 74955. The telephone number is 918-775-2614. The county election board’s fax number is 918-775-1205.

For additional election-related information, visit:

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Police Searching for Counterfeit Check Writer

Sallisaw Police detectives are requesting assistance in identifying a suspect in a forgery case.

Sallisaw Police Chief Terry Franklin said the suspect wrote a $620 counterfeit check to the Walmart store in Sallisaw on May 7.

“Then she went to the Walmart in Poteau and did the same thing,” Franklin said. “Our agencies are working together on this case.”

Franklin said the woman has a tattoo above her left wrist. 

Anyone with information about the woman is asked to call the Sallisaw Police Department at 918-775-4141 and ask for a detective, or leave a name and phone number so they may be contacted.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Tribe Donates Money for Backpacks

Cherokee Nation officials show the donation made to backpack programs in the tribe’s 14-county area. The officials are, from the left, Tribal Councilors Dick Lay, Curtis Snell and Jack Baker; Chuck Hoskin Jr., Secretary of State; Tribal Councilors Janees Taylor and Shawn Crittenden; Victoria Vazquez, Tribal Council Deputy Speaker; Joe Byrd, Tribal Council Speaker; and Tribal Councilors Buel Anglen, Harley Buzzard, Keith Austin and Wanda Hatfield.

The Cherokee Nation recently donated $75,200 to 20 area organizations, including three in Sequoyah County, that participate in backpack programs which provide students with everything from school supplies to nutritious weekend snacks.

Members of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council distributed the checks to 20 churches, schools and other organizations in Sequoyah, Adair, Cherokee, Craig, Delaware, Mayes, Muskogee, Nowata, Rogers and Washington Counties.

Sequoyah County churches receiving funds are Hillside Pentecostal Church - $856.13; Lee’s Chapel Assembly of God, $1,177.17; and The BOD Church, $642.09.

Currently the programs partnering with the tribe serve 2,458 students, of which 57 percent are Native American.

The tribe donated the funds from the Cherokee Nation’s donations and charitable contributions budget. This year partnering programs received $53.51 per enrolled Native American student served.

Chuck Hoskin Jr., Cherokee Nation Secretary of State, said, “These community organizations provide an invaluable service to our local communities. The Cherokee Nation takes great pride in identifying good community partners and helping these quality organizations make a great impact within their community. I want to commend these organizations for their service and the Tribal Council for meeting this need in the communities through allocation of tribal dollars.”

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sequoyah County Gets Disaster Aid

Sequoyah County has been approved for disaster assistance following the severe weather of April 28 through May 2.

Gov. Mary Fallin on Friday announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved the state's request for disaster assistance for 18 counties related to the severe weather that that occurred April 28 – May 2.

The approval means federal funding is available to assist municipalities, counties, rural electric cooperatives and the state with infrastructure repairs and costs associated with responding to the storm.

Disaster assistance is approved for Adair, Beaver, Caddo, Cherokee, Cimarron, Craig, Delaware, Haskell, Kiowa, Lincoln, Logan, Mayes, Muskogee, Ottawa, Pittsburg, Sequoyah, Texas and Washita counties.

The storms caused extensive flooding in eastern and central Oklahoma, and widespread snow and high winds in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Three tornadoes occurred on April 28 and 29, including an EF-2 tornado near Cameron. The weather created treacherous travel conditions, road closures and power outages.

Damage assessments indicate the storm resulted in more than $12.7 million in infrastructure damage, debris and response costs.

Fallin also requested a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster declaration for Cherokee and Haskell counties. That request was approved Monday. It provides SBA low-interest disaster loans for homeowners and business owners to replace any property damaged by the storm that was not covered by insurance or other assistance programs. 

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Pervasive Parenting Offers Autism Screening

The Pervasive Parenting Center (PPC) now provides autism screenings to families in eastern Oklahoma. The service is offered free by appointment.

Kodey Toney PPC director, said, “Thanks to training from the Oklahoma Autism Center, and a donation from the Cherokee Nation, the PPC will now offer screening services for Haskell, Latimer, LeFlore, and Sequoyah Counties in eastern Oklahoma.”

They can also provide screenings, by appointment, to anyone at their office in Poteau.

Toney said early identification and early intervention are key to ensure optimal outcomes for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. The first steps in the process are awareness and screening.

Families should be aware of the developmental milestones that children typically reach around certain ages as well as warning signs that could possibly indicate risk for ASD or other developmental delays Toney said. Screening provides families who have concerns about their child's development to quickly and efficiently find out if their child is at risk for ASD and needs further assessment.

Screening is not the same thing as diagnostic evaluation and cannot identify whether a child does or does not have autism, Toney said. Instead, screening is a tool, or stepping stone, that can determine what the next step should be.

“If you have concerns about your child's development,” Toney said, “screening can show possible risk for Autism Spectrum disorder or other delays and what sort of further assessment may be needed. All screenings include resources and referrals to help the family take the next steps toward providing for their child's long-term developmental health.

“This is something that is needed in the area,” Toney said. “We have some screening resources in the area, but they are very limited, and have become harder to access. This is something that we can offer and bring it to the families if necessary.”

According to the Center for Disease Control 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with the neurological disorder. Autism Spectrum Disorder affects children’s social and language skills.

The PPC was created to help families in eastern Oklahoma find resources available for people with disabilities. For more information, or for an appointment call (918) 647-1255, or email

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Sallisaw Man Charged with Arson and Endangering Human Life

A 27-year-old Sallisaw man was booked Wednesday into the Sequoyah County Detention Center in Sallisaw for second-degree arson and endangering human life.

Kyle Martin-McGowan refused to allow firemen access to his burning home on Wednesday. McGowan is owner of the K7 Cattle Ranch near Akins.

According to the investigating deputies, when area fire departments arrived at about 3 p.m. Wednesday, McGowan told the firemen he set the house on fire and he did not want them to put it out. The report indicates McGowan stood on top of a gate and ordered the firemen off the property, then grabbed a report away from Maple Fire Chief Shawn Fuller, who was trying to record information about the incident.

Firemen then called sheriff’s deputies to assist. They found McGowan sitting on the back of a truck, watching the home burn.

When asked what he was doing, McGowan reportedly told the deputies, “Watching my house burn, what does it look like.” He also told the deputies he started the fire.

After McGowan was arrested, the fire departments extinguished the fire. They reported no one was inside the home at the time of the fire.

McGowan was released on Wednesday on a $30,000 bond, according to jail records.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Authority Donates $5 Million for OHP Academy, Services

The Department of Public Safety announced Thursday it will hold an Oklahoma Highway Patrol Academy early next year thanks to funding from the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA). 

The announcement was made at the state Capitol during a news conference, and announced by State Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw) Thursday.

Bennett stated, “After much negotiations we will have a Trooper Academy and the 100 Mile restriction will go away, and the driver’s license testing offices will stay open. Thank you to OTA for stepping up to the plate and working with the Legislature and OHP to ensure we have an Academy. We appreciate our Troopers, and all our Boys in Blue!”

In announcing the funding, House Majority Leader Rep. Mike Sanders (R-Kingfisher) said at a press conference, “I’d like to thank the Turnpike Authority and Director Tim Gatz for making this happen. I also appreciate House leadership and Oklahoma Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Thompson for helping to facilitate this arrangement. 

“One of the top priorities of state government is protecting our citizens,” said Sanders. “The Oklahoma Highway Patrol was unable to fund an academy this year to hire new troopers. Currently, 790 troopers protect more than 112,000 miles of Oklahoma roads. Having new troopers on our roads will help keep Oklahomans safe.”

Bennett, the chair of the House Public Safety Committee, echoed the thanks to the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority for the $5 million that will fund up to 30 recruits for the next trooper academy. The money will fund the academy, future training, equipment, salary and benefits for the troopers for a year.

“I want to thank the Turnpike Authority for working with us when we are in dire need of a trooper academy to help keep our highways and turnpikes safe."

Bennett recalled a story from Pres. Ronald Reagan in which he asked people to imagine a thin blue line separating people and all of the things they love and hold dear from all of the things that threaten harm.

“These boys in brown are part of that thin blue line that keeps all the bad things from getting to all of the good things we enjoy in life,” said Bennett.

OHP officials said earlier that the crisis in state funding could cancel the academy, and predicted cutbacks would limit OHP services. OHP troopers were also limited to 100 miles in their patrols.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Sallisaw’s New Fire Truck Will Be ‘Big Greg’

With the department's new pumper-tanker truck are Sallisaw Assistant Fire Chief 
Steve Padgett, left, and Fire Chief Anthony Armstrong.

Sallisaw’s new 3,000-gallon pumper-tanker truck will carry the name of Greg Walters, Fire Chief Anthony Armstrong said.

“Greg was instrumental in getting funding from the Cherokee Nation and U.S. Department of Agriculture,” Armstrong said. “So we’re having a sign made that says ‘Big Greg’ that we’re going to put on the new pumper-tanker.”

Walters, of Nicut, is also a volunteer firefighter.

Armstrong said the new truck cost a total of $217,299. Of that, $50,000 was from the Cherokee Nation, $50,000 was from the Department of Agriculture, and $117,299 was provided by the City of Sallisaw.

The pumper-tanker was needed, Armstrong explained, because it will transport 3,000 gallons of water to areas where firefighters often don’t have enough.

Armstrong said, “It will help on rural fires, and on fires on the interstate with semis and other vehicles. It is always a safety concern to firefighters when there is not enough water.”

The new truck, a 2017 model, will pump 1,250 gallons minute, and it joins a fleet of eight other fire and rescue trucks at the Sallisaw Fire Department.

Armstrong and Assistant Chief Steve Padgett flew to Texas on Tuesday to pick up the new truck from Fouts Bros. and drove the truck back on Wednesday. Thursday night Sallisaw firefighters finished the truck by adding hoses and other equipment.

“The truck is now in operation,” Armstrong said Friday.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Sallisaw Pool Opens Saturday

The Sallisaw Swimming Pool opens for the season on Saturday.

Admission is the same as last year, $1 per person. An individual season pass is $20 per person. A family pass is $40 for a family of three or more.

The pool operating hours are from 11 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; 1 to 4:45 p.m. and 7 to 8:45 p.m. on Saturdays; 1 to 4:45 p.m. on Sundays; closed Mondays; and from 1 to 5:45 p.m. on holidays

The phone number at the pool is 918-775-2080.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Embezzlement Suspect to Be in Court Wednesday

A Muldrow woman’s future may be decided at a hearing set for Wednesday in Sequoyah County District Court, Sallisaw.

Carolyn Louise Hignite, 45, was arrested March 27 for the embezzlement of $427,699 from her employer, Anchor Financial Services in Roland. Her next scheduled court appearance is on Wednesday before Judge Kyle Waters on his felony disposition docket. At that time it will be determined if attorneys are ready to go to trial.

Hignite is free on a $5,000 bond. She was released March 28.

Hignite’s arrest resulted from an investigation by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI). Anchor Financial Services reported the alleged embezzlement to the Sequoyah County District Attorney, who requested the OSBI investigate the case.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Steak Contest Served Up at Diamond Daze

The Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce reports 25 contestants have signed up for the High Steaks Rollin’ contest.

The contest will be held June 3 during the Diamond Daze festival at the Sallisaw High School complex.

Diamond Daze, sponsored by the Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce, will be held June 1 through 3. Admission is $5 per carload on June 1, $10 per person on June 2, $5 per carload until 5 p.m. on June 3 and $10 per person after 5 p.m. For information log on to or call the chamber office at 918-775-2558.

The High Steaks Rollin’ contest is sponsored by Guardian Angels Animal Care Inc. Entrants were able to save $30 on the entry fee of $160 by donating a 25-pound bag of dog food, which will be used to feed homeless dogs.

The contest is sanctioned by the Steak Cookoff Association (SCA), and the winner gets $1,000, a trophy and entry into the SCA Steak World Championship. Second place gets $700, third gets $500, fourth gets $350, and fifth gets $200. Winners in the appetizer contest get $250 and a plaque for first and $100 for second.

The High Steaks Rollin' contest does not offer steak tasting to festival visitors, but many other food vendors will be available to keep hunger at bay during the festival.

Other fun activities at the festival include a carnival, and Friday Family Night armbands for the carnival are available now at the Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce.

Also on the schedule are a 5K run, arts and crafts, pony rides, helicopter rides, a car show, and entertainment nightly on the Diamond Daze Stage featuring local talent and well-known artists Craig Morgan and Phil Vassar.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Diamond Daze Car Show Spotlights Many Classes

Sallisaw’s Diamond Daze on June 1-3 features entertainment by renowned country artists Craig Morgan and Phil Vassar, and a wide variety of other entertainments including the Battle of the Bands, helicopter rides, pony rides, games and rides on the carnival midway, arts and crafts, and fun foods.
One of the longest running facets of Diamond Daze is the annual car show, which offers first and second place trophies and cash door prizes.

The car show will be held June 3 at the Sallisaw Middle School, and features classes for nearly every type of vehicle, including motorcycles, trucks, etc.

Classes are for original cars from all years, for pre-1940 cars, cars of the 40s, cars of the 50s, cars of the 60s, cars of the 70s, cars from 1980 to 1994, cars from 1995 and up, imported cars, Tri 5’s 55-57, Corvettes, Camaros and Firebirds, Mustangs, original trucks, pre-60s trucks, trucks from 1960-87, trucks from 1988 and up, 4 x 4 all, those under construction, Rat Rods, street rods, muscle cars, Mopars, SXS/UTV, special interest and all motorcycles.

Special awards include $200 for Best of Show; $50 for Best Paint; $50 for Best Interior; $50 for Best Engine; $50 for Best under Construction; $50 for longest distance; $50 for Tallest Truck; $50 for Club Participation; and $50 for Lowest Truck.

The awards will be presented at 3 p.m. Registration will be from 8 to 10 a.m. on June 3, and is $20 the day of the show. The first 25 entries on the day of the show will receive a free T-shirt.

The car show is sponsored by Chandler Collision Center. For show information call 918-776-0606. For information about Diamond Daze contact the Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce at 918-775-2558.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sallisaw Memorial Day Service Is at 11 a.m. Monday

Members of American Legion Carnie Welch Post 27 in Sallisaw are preparing for the annual Memorial Day Service at the Sallisaw Cemetery.

The service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at the cemetery gazebo.

Bill Mowzakis, Post 27 commander, said Steve Carter, Sequoyah County Commissioner, District 2, will be the guest speaker. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army.

Frank Sullivan III is the master of ceremonies for this year’s service, and Mowzakis will welcome the congregation. The Post 27 Women’s Auxiliary will post the colors.

Bill Brown will give a patriotic reading, followed by Margaret Rothers who will lead the Pledge of Allegiance. The National Anthem will be led by Jerry Baze and Mowzakis.

James Cheater will then give the invocation, and Baze will lead the singing of “I’ll Fly Away” and “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.”

The service will conclude with the 21-Gun Salute by the Post 27 Honor Guard and the playing of “Taps” by Margaret Wood. The public is invited to attend the ceremony.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Vian Woman Dies from Injuries

A Vian woman has died from injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident on April 14, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported Wednesday.

The OHP reported Barbara Brannon, 55, of Vian died at about 8 pm. May 12 at St. John’s Medical Center in Tulsa.

According to the OHP report, Brannon was driving a 2007 black Kawasaki motorcycle on U.S. Highway 64, about .04 mile east of Vian when she hit a deer that ran from the south side of the road to the north. The motorcycle struck the deer, which was killed, and laid over on its side then slid to a stop in the westbound lane. Brannon was thrown from the motorcycle and suffered head injuries. She was flown to St. John’s in Tulsa by Tulsa Life Flight and admitted in critical condition.

The accident was investigated by OHP Trooper Steven Crooks. He was assisted by the Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Department, Vian Police Department, Pafford EMS, and Tulsa Life Flight.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sequoyah to Be Inducted into Hall of Fame

The inventor of the Cherokee syllabary, Sequoyah, is among those Oklahomans selected for the 90th class of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

Sequoyah, who resided in Sequoyah County from 1829 to 1844, and the late Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher of Chickasha, an Oklahoma civil rights activist, will be inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame.

Also to be inducted are Justice Tom Colbert of Sapulpa, the first African-American Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court; Congressman Tom Cole of Moore, an eight-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives; Bob Funk of Piedmont, founder of Express Employment Professionals; Shannon Miller of Edmond, gold-medal winning Olympic gymnast; Phil Parduhn of Edmond, chairman of Pelco Products Inc. and Pelco Structural LLC; Hal Smith of Ardmore, originator of Hal Smith Restaurants; and Carrie Underwood, originally of Checotah, Grammy-winning country music star.

Induction into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame is the highest honor the state can bestow upon an Oklahoman. This year’s nine honorees will join 683 individuals who have been inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame since 1928.

Grammy winner Vince Gill and Emmy and Tony winner Kristin Chenoweth will serve as masters of ceremonies for the event. Gill and Chenoweth are both Oklahomans and both in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame Banquet and Induction ceremony will be held Nov. 16 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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