Friday, September 29, 2017

Under 30 Honorees Include Vian Resident

Pictured, from the left, are Cherokee Nation employees and 2017 NEXTGEN Under 30 honorees Nicholas Kirk and MaKenley Barton, Principal Chief Bill John Baker, and Cherokee Nation employee and 2017 NEXTGEN Under 30 honoree Stephanie Remer. Not Pictured is Cherokee Nation Businesses employee and 2017 NEXTGEN Under 30 honoree Madison Carey.

Employees from Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses were recently named to 2017s NextGen Under 30, an annual program that honors individuals who demonstrate professional leadership and extensive service to their communities.

Four employees from the tribe and its business arm received the recognition. They are:

-Media/Public Relations: Cherokee Nation Communications Graphic Designer Stephanie Remer of Vian
-Health care: Cherokee Nation Businesses Financial Analyst Madison Carey of Tulsa
-Health care: Cherokee Nation Health Services Administrative Officer MaKenley Barton of Stilwell
-Sports and Fitness: Cherokee Nation Male Seminary Recreation Center Personal Trainers Supervisor Nicholas Kirk of Tahlequah

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said, “Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses have long employed some of the state’s best and brightest young leaders. The four honorees to win this annual award perfectly exemplify the workplace values we stress within our tribal government and business ventures. Their success as individuals and in their respective career fields helps ensure our success as a tribe is possible. This honor is well-deserved, and I look forward to their continued contributions to the Cherokee Nation and northeast Oklahoma.” 

NextGen Under 30 honors the growing influence of young millennial leaders in the state. This year, fewer than 190 Oklahomans 30 years or younger were recognized across 16 categories, from arts to education and from finance to sports and fitness.

Winners will be honored at an awards ceremony in Norman on Oct. 20. They were selected by a panel of business and civic leaders following a competitive application process.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Cherokee Council Turns Down Easement by One Vote

The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council voted 8 to 8 Thursday on a resolution authorizing a grant of easement for a transmission line right-of-way across the Arkansas River to Plains and Eastern Clean Line Oklahoma LLC.

E.O. Smith of Vian, District No. 5 tribal council member, said the easement proposal was voted down by one vote when Joe Byrd abstained, which counted as a no vote.

“But they said it will be brought back,” Smith said.

Smith had said earlier he hoped the proposal would be tabled for more study, and that he was getting numerous calls on the proposal, some for and some against.

Smith said he decided to vote no on the proposal, and Brian Warner of Sallisaw, District No. 6 tribal council member, also voted against the resolution.

The easement is for a planned transmission line for wind-generated electricity from western Oklahoma to western Tennessee. Sequoyah County commissioners and governments in both Oklahoma and Arkansas have spoken out against the transmission line.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Sallisaw Proclaims October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Sallisaw Mayor Jim R. Hudgens signed a proclamation Friday making October Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Sallisaw. At the signing, in front from the left, are Cindy Smith, investigator with the Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Office; Lt. John Owens with the Special Victims Unit at the Sallisaw Police Department; Hudgens; City Manager Clayton Lucas; Police Chief Terry Franklin; and Laura Kuester, Help-in-Crisis executive director. Also present, in no particular order, are Det. Lance Yoakum, Det. Blake Brunk, Lt. John Weber, Capt. Jeff Murray and Officers Mark Rutherford, Tucker Martens, Beau Welch and Todd Carr, all from the Sallisaw Police Department; Jennifer Griffey from the district attorney’s office; Sarah Ridinger from the sheriff’s office; Donna Owens and Shawna Morris from the Childrens Advocacy Center; Kim Harlin, HIC Court Advocate; and Brandi Timmerman, Cherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare.

Sallisaw law enforcement officers and assistance agencies kicked off Domestic Abuse Awareness Month, in October, on Friday with a proclamation signing at Stanley Tubbs Memorial Library in Sallisaw.

Lt. John Owens is head of the Sallisaw Police Department Special Victims Unit (SVU) and Mayor Jim R. Hudgens signed the proclamation making October Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Sallisaw. 

Owens pointed out that domestic abuse is the second highest crime reported in the city. Cindy Smith, investigator with the Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Office, reported Oklahoma is no longer among the top three states reporting domestic abuse, indicating progress against the crime is being made.

Owens said the police department’s unit raises funds to help those who find themselves in domestic abuse situations. The Special Victims Unit can provide safe lodging, food and even transportation out of the situation if needed.

To fund the assistance a barbeque dinner will be held Oct. 20 at the Sallisaw Civic Center. More information about the event will be released later.

Smith said the Sequoyah County Coordinated Community Response Team, SVU, Help-in-Crisis Center and One Fire from the Cherokee Nation will sponsor a spaghetti luncheon from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 13 at the Sallisaw Civic Center.

“This year it will be different,” Smith said. “This year the meal is free! The community has given so much to us over the years, we want to give back during this October.”

Other events include a rally at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the gazebo followed by a glow-stick walk through downtown Sallisaw. Sequoyah County Commissioners are also expected to sign a proclamation designating October as Domestic Abuse Awareness Month in the county.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Charlie's Chicken is Chamber Member of the Month

Larry Randolph, left, accepts the plaque for his business, Charlie’s Chicken, being named the Chamber’s Business of the Month for September. Jeff Mayo, right, the chamber’s vice president, presents the plaque.

Dr. Robert Duncan was the guest speaker at the Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce 
Membership Luncheon at Dwight Mission on Wednesday.

Charlie’s Chicken of Sallisaw was named the Sallisaw Chamber Member of the Month for September at the chamber’s membership luncheon Wednesday. Larry Randolph, owner with his wife, Lucy, accepted the award that was presented by Jeff Mayo, chamber vice president.

Randolph said, “I appreciate everybody who has worked real hard, and I thank you very much.”

Mayo announced the chamber’s upcoming events which include the Kerr Lake Bassnanza on Nov. 4, and Evviva on Nov. 18 at the Roland Cherokee Casino. For information on the chamber events contact the chamber at 918-775-2558.

The Sequoyah County Boys & Girls Club is holding a Block Party and Duck Drop as a fall fundraiser from 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Sallisaw Park on Sallisaw Creek on the city’s west side.

Rubber ducks will cost $100 for 20 ducks, $25 for five ducks and $5 for a single duck. The owner of the first duck across the creek finish line will win a Yeti cooler.

The event also includes hot dogs, sno cones, popcorn, drinks, a bouncy house, live music, giveaways and raffles.

Dr. Robert Duncan, Dwight Mission executive director, was the guest speaker at the meeting, which was held at Dwight Mission.

Duncan spoke about “Moving into Our Future,” the future projects at the mission. He related how the Heritage Center is being remodeled, which includes external remodeling, a stair tower and an elevator. Phase 2 of that project will include interior remodeling and adding adult lodging and an operations area.

More lodging is to be added, Duncan said, and will include RV parking, camping sites and a tiny house site.

Expanded programs will include more summer camps, and monthly meetings for church and other groups, for men, women and youths. A new focus will be on monthly craft programs, school day trips, retreats and meetings.

Duncan said a new program will be for children in foster care. Fundraising will be held so that about 100 children in foster care will be able to go to summer camp, an adventure they may not be able to experience otherwise.

Duncan said, “I think we can be a force for change in the lives of young people.”

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Fair Retires, But Will Support Hospital in ‘Any Way’

Mary Beth Fair, after serving Sequoyah Memorial Hospital in Sallisaw for over 41 years, officially retired on Friday.

She was honored by her colleagues at a retirement reception on Sept. 17.

Fair retired as head of the hospital’s radiology department and was the Corporate Compliance Officer for the hospital.

Fair said she began her association with the Sallisaw hospital when she was born there. As an adult she graduated from Sparks School of Radiologic Sciences in 1975, and while in school she worked at Sequoyah Memorial as a student technologist. At graduation she was hired as a fulltime employee and began working on July 5, 1976.

Mrs. Carrie McClure was the hospital administrator at that time.

Fair said, “Mrs. McClure was such a great role model. She was always checking on the patients and their families, making sure everyone was being taken care of.”

Fair said two others who helped her along her career path and to whom she will always be grateful for their support are the late E.B. Sanders and Lanny Magness.

“Mr. Sanders wrote a letter of recommendation on my behalf to enter the radiology program,” Fair said. “Mr. Lanny Magness, manager of Walmart in 1975, worked with my school schedule so I could continue my store employment.”

At the hospital Fair began as a staff technologist but quickly became department manager. In 2009 she began to divide her time between imaging administration and the Corporate Compliance Officer.

“I enjoyed compliance because this allowed me to work with all the staff, patients, family members and physicians to improve all areas of Sequoyah Memorial,” Fair said. “The hospital is proud to be a four out of five-stars facility.”

Fair is a member of the American Registry of Radiologic Technology and the Association for Medical Imaging Management. She has also served as a clinical educator for the radiology programs at Bacone College in Muskogee and Carl Albert State College in Sallisaw and Poteau.

At the reception honoring Fair, John Cripps, chair of the hospital board, noted that Fair began her career when the hospital only had x-ray equipment. But during her tenure at the hospital the department has grown to include other services including mammography, CT scanning, sonography, MRI and bone density scanning.

Cripps said Fair was instrumental in bring the department from analog into the digital age.

Debbie Knoke, the hospital’s recently retired administrator, also praised Fair. She noted that not only was Fair born at the hospital, so was her youngest son, Zachary.

Knoke said, “Beth has a unique caring relationship with this hospital. She is truly a servant to SMH and has served so very well. She will be missed by all.”

Current administrator Julie Ward spoke about Fair’s desire to improve the mammogram services.

“She was instrumental in the hospital being awarded the Susan B. Komen grant,” Ward said. “Beth is irreplaceable when it comes to the compliance officer. She has such a gift when working with and helping people.”

Cripps presented Fair with a plaque honoring her years of dedicated service to the hospital. The hospital auxiliary presented the hospital with a check for $2,500 to go toward the mammography project in honor of Fair.

Fair said, “My work at the hospital was a privilege to serve the community – God’s plan for my life – and now I will spend more time with family and I have plans to travel. But I will be here ready to support our community hospital in any way.”

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

For more news stories stay tuned to The MIX 105.1 or visit


Police Seeking Suspect Involved in Shootout

A be-on-the-lookout for, or BOLO, was issued early Friday for a 46-year-old man believed involved in a shootout with Stilwell police.

The man was identified as T.J. Cain. He is described as five feet, seven inches tall and weighing about 160 pounds. He has brown hair and green eyes. Police said he is considered to be armed and extremely dangerous. If seen, persons are advised to contact 911 immediately.

The shooting was reported to have happened at about 5 a.m. Friday. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) has been asked to assist in the investigation. They reported the fugitive may be wounded after exchanging gunfire with Stilwell police and one of the officers believed he may have hit the man.

The OSBI reported officers were looking for a vehicle believed involved in a drive-by shooting when they spotted the vehicle but the driver would not stop. The driver led officers on a pursuit, then crashed the vehicle. The suspect then jumped out and ran from police, firing at them as he ran.

No officers were injured in the shootout. 

Cain was able to get away and a BOLO for him was issued at about 10 a.m. Friday.

A warrant for his arrest for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon has also been issued.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Boy Scout Troop 731 Selling Popcorn for Fundraiser

Scouts from Boy Scout Troop 731 in Sallisaw are selling popcorn products as a fundraiser. The Scouts are, from the left, Nathaniel Mainord, 2nd Class Scout; Matthew Mainord, Star Scout and patrol leader; Cale Abbott, Star Scout and senior assistant patrol leader; 
and Christopher Sommer, Scout.

Members of Boy Scout Troop 731 in Sallisaw are selling popcorn as their major fundraiser of the year.

Their popcorn products include microwave popcorn on up to large colorful canisters of already popped corn, in amazing flavors. The flavors range from extra buttery microwave corn to roasted summer corn, to cheese, to cinnamon to caramel to chocolate. Prices range from $10 to $50 and, on average, 70 percent of every dollar goes back to the Scouts.

The money is used for scouting adventures, to help the Scouts serve their communities and help them grow into strong young men.

In addition this fundraiser also includes a program that sends popcorn to the military serving overseas for a donation of $25.

The Scouts’ moms, Nan Stites and Elaine Sommer, were helping the Scouts sell the popcorn. To place an order contact Stites at 918-781-3565. She said the Scouts will be selling their popcorn products at a Sallisaw business on an upcoming Saturday. Sommer is the fundraising coordinator and said the last day to order popcorn is Oct. 9.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

For more news stories stay tuned to The MIX 105.1 or visit


Some Health Department Employees Facing Furloughs

Due to an estimated budget shortfall of more than $10 million dollars, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has announced a series of actions to reduce spending immediately.

The cutbacks include putting employees at county health departments, including the Sequoyah County Health Department in Sallisaw, on furlough for one day per two-week pay period, through June. Jill Larcade, OSDH regional director, said 10 of the 16 employees at the county health department will be taking furlough days.

“We will arrange the furlough days so it has the least impact on our clients,” Larcade said, “and make it easy on our employees. We are going to try not to let the furloughs impact our services.”

The agency is experiencing continued revenue shortfalls due to loss of federal funds, increased costs of providing services and reductions in the annual state appropriation.

“Since federal funds are nearly 60 percent of the OSDH budget, reductions in federal funds at the same time we are experiencing state budget shortfalls make for a perfect storm,” said Julie Cox-Kain, OSDH Senior Deputy Commissioner.

“We are grateful to the Legislature and governor for trying to minimize budget cuts to the department. Between SFY 2017 and 2018 the OSDH only received a 2.8 percent reduction in state funds,” said Cox-Kain. “However, the cumulative annual reduction in state appropriation to the OSDH since 2009 is 29.24 percent.”

Starting with the Oct. 30 pay period, OSDH personnel will be furloughed one day without pay during the two week cycle. No employee making $35,000 per year or less will be affected, but all other personnel will be subject to the furlough. The Oct. 30 effective date is required by law to provide staff with a 30-day notice. The furlough is a short term measure until long term budget reduction can be enacted and has been approved through June 30, 2018. 

In addition, a Voluntary Out Benefit Offer (VOBO) is being prepared to reduce staffing levels statewide. The plan is not yet finalized but will be announced to employees in the coming weeks. 

The current budget reductions taken by OSDH are independent of any additional budget cuts for SFY ’18 that may occur as a result of legislative action during the special session.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

For more news stories stay tuned to The MIX 105.1 or visit


Walk or Bike to School Day on Oct. 4

Liberty Elementary and Eastside Elementary Schools in Sallisaw are celebrating Walk to School Day on Oct. 4 by encouraging parents, grandparents, school educators, and city and community leaders to meet in the parking lot of Scott’s Furniture at the corner of Choctaw and Sioux streets at 7:30 a.m. and walk with their children/students to school.

Refreshments will be provided.

“Walking to school is a simple way for kids to fit extra physical activity into their day,” said Tricia Wall of People Inc. “Every step adds up to healthier children. Encouraging healthful living while your kids are young will teach them healthy habits that will stay with them for life.” 

Last year, thousands of students, parents and teachers participated in Walk or Bike to School Day, including hundreds of Oklahomans at more than 70 schools across the state. This year, Shape Your Future is encouraging even more students, parents and teachers to participate. Walk or Bike to School Day is an easy way for kids to get their recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Plus, the day highlights the need for policies and projects that support safe, active communities — like sidewalks, bicycle lanes, crosswalks and walking trails.

Regular physical activity not only helps reduce childhood obesity, it helps strengthen kids’ brains, boost the immune system, improve sleep and reduce stress. This results in fewer absences and disciplinary problems. Aside from improved physical and mental health, active students also gain improved self-confidence and self-esteem.

Additionally, Shape Your Future is providing several ways participants can walk n’ roll on their way to school on Oct. 4:


On the way to school, bring the whole family along. Make the day a community event by inviting friends and neighbors to participate too. Or, see if your school has a walking school bus program. If they don’t, volunteer to start one! Learn more about how to get going at


If you live too far from school or don’t have access to safe routes, designate a starting point for you and your family to park. Then, get the show on the road and walk or bike from there.


Host an event at your school, like a “walk n’ roll” parade. Have it during a school assembly, and let students become “walk stars.”


Don’t stop at just one day! Try walking to school once or twice a week. Form a healthy habit and help get in 60 minutes of daily physical activity by starting your day being active!

On October 4, adults can join the movement by walking or biking to work! Put your helmet on and put the pedal to the pavement on your way to work. It’s a great way for you to get your recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity. Plus, you’ll avoid traffic jams and save money on gas!

Shape Your Future supports TSET’s mission to improve the health of every Oklahoman. TSET’s program, grant and research efforts focus on reducing the leading causes of preventable death, cancer and cardiovascular disease. TSET is focused on creating healthy environments where Oklahomans live, work, learn and play by making the healthy choice the easy choice.

For more information about Walk and Bike to School Day and for healthy tips and resources, visit Connect with Shape Your Future on Facebook or Twitter (@ShapeFutureOK) to enter contests, share photos and videos, and access other exciting tools.

The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations working towards shaping a healthier future.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

For more news stories stay tuned to The MIX 105.1 or visit


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Mayberry, Bennett Visit at State Capitol

State Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw) this month hosted constituent Christian Mayberry, his mother and several family friends at the state Capitol.

Mayberry was injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident four years ago that resulted in a traumatic brain injury.

“Christian Mayberry is a walking miracle and a testament to the power of Jesus,” said Bennett. “He was expected to die or be completely disabled the rest of his life. Through the love and persistence of his mother, and through many prayers, Christian has recovered and shares his testimony of the blessings of Jesus with others.”

During his visit, Rep. Bennett gave Christian a tour of the Capitol, including a chance for him to sit in the speaker’s chair and be the boss for a day.

“I enjoyed the visit with Christian, his mother Kim, and their friends,” said Bennett. “It was a blessing to host them at the state Capitol for the day.”

John Bennett represents Oklahoma House District 2. He can be reached at (405) 557-7315 or

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

For more news stories stay tuned to The MIX 105.1 or visit


Tribal Council to Vote on Clean Line Energy Easement

The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council is expected to vote Thursday on a resolution authorizing a grant of easement for a transmission line right-of-way across the Arkansas River to Plains and Eastern Clean Line Oklahoma LLC.

The easement is for a planned transmission line for wind-generated electricity from western Oklahoma to western Tennessee. Sequoyah County commissioners and governments in both Oklahoma and Arkansas have spoken out against the transmission line.

Members of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council are also against the resolution.

But E.O. Smith of Vian, District No. 5 tribal council member, said, “This vote was tabled last time. I hope they table it again.”

Smith who has been in office just a little over a month, said he has been researching the Plains and Eastern Clean Line proposal and resolution, and would like to do more research.

“I want to do what’s right,” Smith said. “I am torn up about this.”

Smith said he has received numerous phone calls both for and against the resolution. 

“It’s not 50 (percent for) and 50 (percent against) by any means,” Smith said, “but the last two calls I got were both for the resolution.”

Most callers are against the resolution, Smith said.

“I don’t know how to vote,” Smith said. “I would like to see more research.”

Brian Warner, District No. 6 tribal council member, is against the resolution.

“My constituents are against this for various reasons, and I stand for my constituents,” Warner said. “The bulk don’t want it.”

Warner said he is for sustainable, renewable energy, but fears imminent domain by a private company would be a “slippery slope,” and lead to landowners having to give up easements which they don’t want to do.

“I don’t trust them,” Warner said. “I am against this and I still have that view. I hope we nix this.”

The resolution includes a promise of restitution for the easement across the Arkansas River in Muskogee County. The Plains and Eastern Clean Line Oklahoma plans are for the line to cross northern Sequoyah County if easements can be obtained.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

For more news stories stay tuned to The MIX 105.1 or visit


Governor Appoints Jack Thorp as District Attorney

Gov. Mary Fallin announced Wednesday she is appointing Jack Thorp as district attorney for District 27, which covers Adair, Cherokee, Sequoyah and Wagoner Counties.

He replaces Brian Kuester, who resigned to serve as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.

Thorp of Wagoner will serve as district attorney for the remainder of Kuester’s term, which expires in January 2019.

“Jack Thorp has been a prosecutor for nearly 20 years and has extensive jury trial and courtroom experience in prosecuting complex cases,” said Fallin. “He is mindful of the critical nature of public service, and has exhibited a dedication to serving the public. He will serve the people of Adair, Cherokee, Sequoyah and Wagoner Counties well as district attorney.”

Kuester, elected district attorney in 2010, recommended Thorp, who currently serves as his top assistant, to replace him.

“He has played a critical and vital role in creating a district attorney’s office in which the people of this district can place their trust,” Kuester wrote in a letter to the governor. “His reputation is impeccable among the honest, law-abiding people who know him.”

Previously, Thorp worked five years as a Tulsa County assistant district attorney, heading up one of its five felony teams and managing more than 2,000 felony cases a year. Before that, he was a deputy prosecuting attorney in the Fifth District, which covered Franklin, Johnson and Pope Counties in Arkansas.

Thorp earned his law degree from the University of Arkansas and earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Ark.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Auditions for ‘The Odd Couple’ Are Oct. 2

Remember “The Odd Couple,” the hilarious stage play by Neil Simon that went on to be on television, twice!?!

It’s back but with a twist. The characters are female. Oscar is now Olive and Felix is now Florence. And it’s local. The play, “The Odd Couple (female version)” will be performed by the Fort Smith Little Theatre Nov. 9 through 18.

Want to get in on the act? You are fortunate, because open casting auditions will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 2 and callbacks will be on Oct. 3 at the theatre, located at 401 N. 6th St. in Fort Smith.

The play calls for two males, ages about 30 and 45, and six females, ages 25 through 50. This version of the play will be directed by Eric Wells.

Simon’s female version of “The Odd Couple” has Olive Madison, a slobbish divorcee, and Florence Unger, a stickler for neatness, clashing and crashing with each other and into hilarity. Simon is always hilariously entertaining.

The theatre’s phone number is 479-783-2966.

Fort Smith Little Theatre is Arkansas’ oldest continuously running all-volunteer community theatre. Established in 1947, the Fort Smith Little Theatre has been entertaining crowds for over 60 years.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

For more news stories stay tuned to The MIX 105.1 or visit


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Students Hospitalized After Ingesting Unknown Substance

Vian Police Chief Mark Fisher was at Vian High School Tuesday investigating an incident that sent two students to the hospital after they allegedly ingested an unknown substance on Monday.

Fisher said, “It’s all still under investigation. It may be later this afternoon before I know anything.”

Fisher said he was trying to find out what the students ingested to make them so sick they were taken to the hospital on Monday. One was released Tuesday but the other remained hospitalized under observation at Sparks Regional Medical Center in Fort Smith.

Toxicology tests may also uncover the unknown substance, Fisher said.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Bennett Files Bill to Save Lunches

State Rep. John Bennett this week filed legislation to protect senior citizens and the disabled who receive assistance through the Department of Human Services (DHS).

House Bill 1073 would require DHS to fully fund the Advantage Home and Community-based Waiver Program that allows aging adults to be cared for in their homes.

It also would require full funding for senior nutrition programs and for Developmental Disability Service Programs. Ensuring these programs are fully funded at the state level also ensures they receive federal matching funds.

The funding cuts are forcing the closing of the Haskell Nutrition Site on Friday.

“DHS knows they can threaten programs for our most vulnerable instead of digging deeper into their administrative budget and finding greater efficiencies,” said Bennett (R-Sallisaw). “This legislation will ensure our most vulnerable state residents are served with the taxpayer dollars that were intended for them.

“Our senior citizens have sacrificed and paved the way for this current generation and the ones coming behind it. It is only right they are shown respect and appreciation, and that we extend to them the same level of commitment they’ve shown to us,” Bennett continued.

“I would encourage all of those who want to protect funding for our seniors and disabled to contact their state representative and encourage them to support House Bill 1073,” he said. 

Bennett said he has long supported auditing agency budgets to help find duplication, waste and efficiencies. Until those audits are completed, he will continue to draft and support legislation to line-item services for vulnerable children and adults.

John Bennett represents Oklahoma House District 2, which is Sequoyah County. He can be reached at (405) 557-7315 or

In August the Oklahoma Department of Human Services announced that planned reductions totaling about $30 million over the course of the next fiscal year to a number of programs serving vulnerable children and adults. Those programs include the senior nutrition program which served 64,086 meals in Sequoyah County last year. 

A spokesman for the Sequoyah County Nutrition Program confirmed on Tuesday that the Haskell Nutrition Site was to close on Friday due to funding cuts. The Haskell Nutrition Site is the smallest served in the area.

Stacy Turner, director of the Eastern Oklahoma Development District Area Agency on Aging in Muskogee, said in July she did not know how her agency or the Sequoyah County Nutrition program will handle the cuts.

The Area Agency on Aging is the pass through agency through which federal, state and local funds provide resources or referrals for older persons, age 60 and older, in the Adair, Cherokee, McIntosh, Muskogee, Okmulgee, Sequoyah, and Wagoner counties service area.

Turner said the cuts to her agency only will be $194,420. Her total budget is $1,497,850 for seven counties.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Kuester Takes Office as U.S. Attorney

Brian J. Kuester took the oath of office on Monday to become the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.

Kuester was nominated by President Donald Trump on July 19 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Sept. 14. He took the oath of office from Chief U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Oklahoma Ronald A. White.

“The challenges faced by federal, state, and local law enforcement officials have never been tougher. I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to work through these challenging times with the dedicated professionals in the United States Attorney’s Office as we work alongside the agencies in the Eastern District of Oklahoma that work to protect the public and uphold the United States Constitution,” Kuester said.

As U.S. Attorney, Kuester is the top-ranking federal law enforcement official in the Eastern District of Oklahoma. The district serves 26 counties from Adair to McCurtain County on the East and Wagoner to Love County on the West. He oversees a staff of 35 employees, including 13 attorneys and 22 non-attorney support personnel. The office is responsible for prosecuting federal crimes in the district, including crimes related to terrorism, public corruption, child exploitation, firearms, and narcotics. The office also defends the United States in civil cases and collects debts owed to the United States.

Kuester served as the district attorney for Oklahoma’s 27th Prosecutorial District immediately preceding his appointment as U.S. attorney. He was elected in November 2010 and re-elected in 2014. District 27 is comprised of Adair, Cherokee, Sequoyah, and Wagoner Counties and has a staff of 50. Prior to becoming DA, Kuester worked as staff counsel for Allstate Insurance Company from 2008 to 2010. From 2003 to 2008, Kuester was an assistant district attorney for the Tulsa County district attorney. While there, he prosecuted a broad variety of cases including murder, robbery, burglary, drug trafficking, and child abuse. He also served as the Director of Crimes Against Children in 2007 and 2008. From 2000 to 2003, he was an associate attorney for Robinett Osmond, a Tulsa civil litigation firm. He received his law degree from the University of Tulsa College of Law in 2000. He has been a member of the Oklahoma Bar Association since September2000 and is admitted to practice in the Federal Districts for the Eastern and Northern Districts of Oklahoma.

Kuester told the media that his first assistant, Jack Thorp, will assume District 27 district attorney duties until Gov. Mary Fallin appoints someone to the office.

Prior to attending law school, Kuester, a native of Missouri, was a police officer, serving the Fulton and Springfield, Mo., police departments for nearly seven years combined. He received a B.S. in Criminal Justice Administration in 1990 from Central Missouri State University. Kuester resides in Wagoner County with Laura, his wife of 22 years, and three children.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Woman Killed in I-40 Crash Monday Night

A Florida woman was reported killed in a crash at 8:16 p.m. Monday on Interstate 40 about one mile west of Webbers Falls.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) reported Yvonne Joyner, 56, of Dover, Fla., was pronounced dead at the scene by Muskogee County EMS. She reportedly suffered head and internal and external injuries in a crash with a semi-truck.

The OHP reported Christopher Joyner, 37, of Dover, Fla., was driving a 2012 Chrysler 200 and was exiting the Muskogee Turnpike onto I-40 going east when he failed to negotiate the turn. He entered traffic too early and hit the side of 2016 Freightliner driven by Adrian Russell, 47, of Lake Havasu, Ariz. He was not injured. Joyner’s Chrysler then ran off the road to the right and rolled one a half times, coming to a stop on the driver’s side. Yvonne Joyner, a passenger in the Chrysler, was pinned for about 30 minutes before being freed by the Webbers Falls Fire Department with the Jaws of Life. 

Christopher Joyner was transported by Pafford EMS to St. Francis Hospital in Muskogee where he was treated and released.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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