Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Roland Fire Destroys Workshop, Tractors, Tools

A fire on Roland’s north side Monday destroyed a workshop, three tractors, three lawnmowers and the tools in the shop, then spread to and damaged an adjacent but unoccupied building.

Roland Fire Chief James Edwards said the Roland Fire Department was dispatched at 10:15 a.m. Monday to the fire. Also dispatched were the Muldrow and Liberty Fire Departments.

“When we arrived we found the workshop fully engulfed,” Edwards said. “Then it spread to the adjacent building but we were able to get it stopped.”

Firefighters were on the scene until 1 p.m. Monday.

Edwards said there were no injuries as a result of the blaze, and the owner did have insurance.

Edwards said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The fire was at 402 Garrison Creek Rd., on Roland’s north side.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Lights Out in Motel Room

A bad light at Days Inn in Sallisaw called out the Sallisaw Fire Department and police at about noon Tuesday.

Sallisaw Fire Chief Anthony Armstrong reported the fire department was dispatched to the motel on South Kerr Boulevard because of smoke in Room 208, but no flames.

“As soon as we got in there we could smell it,” Armstrong reported. “It was a fluorescent light ballast that burned out. There really wasn’t any smoke.”

Firefighters shut off the breakers to the room, and Armstrong said the room will have to be out of service until cleaned.

Firemen and police were able to leave the scene before 1 p.m.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Kuester Is Where She ‘Is Supposed to Be’

Laura Kuester

Laura Kuester has only been on the job since August, but she is making things happen, and helping people, at Help In Crisis Inc. (HIC).

Founded in 1980, HIC is based in Tahlequah and has offices and services in Sallisaw and in Adair and Wagoner Counties. Kuester is overseeing the opening of a new office in Wagoner at 4 p.m. on Feb. 6. The Wagoner office is at 901 SE 10th St.

Kuester, HIC executive director, explained HIC services. HIC has a Child Advocacy Center in Sallisaw, also called Childrens Safe Haven, which offers aid to children who may be victims of child abuse. The team there also does forensic interviews which may be used in prosecutions.

The primary purpose of HIC is to help all victims of domestic violence, and Sallisaw has a domestic violence advocate, Kim Harlin, who helps victims survive and even escape an abusive relationship, and a sexual assault advocate, Casey Burlison, who goes to the aid of rape victims, and can contact and provide a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) who may do an exam after a rape.

HIC also has volunteers, Kuester said, who operate a 24/7 hotline, and help with such things as outreach events, letting people know that help is available.

Kuester said that, in 2016, Sequoyah County had 165 domestic violence cases filed, 21 sexual assault cases filed and 8 stalking cases filed in district court.

“And that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “So many cases don’t get filed.”

Kuester referred to a case that just came to her attention on Monday, when a young lady, pregnant, was treated at a hospital in Tahlequah. 

“She was black and blue,” Kuester said.

But the young lady did not want help from HIC.

“She said she was too scared of what he would do to her. Stuff like that happens every day.”

There are those who would like to make others aware of domestic violence, how often it takes place and how to cope with it or even make it vanish. Kuester said the Community Response Team (CRT) and others advocate for community awareness. Their next project is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM). Kuester said teams will be going to county schools and Carl Albert State College in Sallisaw to hold panel discussions on dating violence.

Kuester said she loves her job at HIC.

“I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be,” she said. “I’m helping people with healthy relationships.”

The HIC mission is “to eliminate family violence and sexual assault through education, counseling, support and prevention services.”

Kuester has a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Missouri State University. She received a Professional Counseling License in 2000.

Kuester lives in Wagoner County with her husband, Brian, and their three children. Husband Brian was the district attorney for Sequoyah, Cherokee, Wagoner and Adair Counties until he was appointed the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Voters Should Apply Early for Absentee Ballots

Voters in Sequoyah County who want to have absentee ballots mailed to them for the Feb. 13 annual school and Sallisaw elections should apply now, Sequoyah County Election Board Secretary Cindy Osborn said.

Although the county election board can accept applications for absentee ballots until 5 p.m. on Feb. 7, Osborn urged voters who want to vote by absentee ballot to apply early. 

Absentee ballot application forms are available at the county election board office at 110 E. Creek in Sallisaw. An online version of the form can be filled out and submitted electronically at www.elections.ok.gov. A print form can also be downloaded at that address.

Ballots must be in the hands of County Election Board officials by 7 p.m. on Feb. 13 to be counted.

Osborn said any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot in any election in which he or she is eligible to vote. However, a voter must be registered and reside at an address within the geographical boundaries of a school district or a municipality to be eligible to vote in school district or municipal elections. It is not necessary to give a reason for voting absentee.

“While anyone can vote absentee without giving a reason, the law still provides several advantages to absentee voters in some categories,” Osborn said.

By stating one of the following reasons on their applications, absentee voters can activate special conditions that make it easier for them to use absentee ballots. The reasons are:

• Voters who are physically incapacitated and voters who care for physically incapacitated persons who cannot be left unattended may vote absentee. They may apply only by mail, by fax, by email, 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.

• Voters who are confined to nursing homes in the county may vote absentee. An Absentee Voting Board actually goes to the nursing home a few days before the election, sets up a small polling place and allows these persons to vote under circumstances similar to those at a regular precinct polling place. They may apply only by mail, by fax, by email, 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 and residents of the county living overseas and the spouses and dependents of each group are eligible to receive absentee ballots. These voters may apply only by mail, fax, or by email. Military personnel should contact the Voting Service Officers in their units for application forms and additional information or visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program website (www.fvap.gov/oklahoma) for more information and instructions. Residents of Oklahoma living overseas can obtain the same materials from any U.S. military installation and from U.S. embassies and consulates as well as on the FVAP website. 

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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CASC Online Ranks #5

BestColleges.com has named Carl Albert State College as one of the best online community college for 2018.

Over 600 community colleges offer online programs, and CASC has been ranked #5. 

BestColleges.com released the following statement regarding CASC’s online programs, “At CASC’s virtual college, students have access to flexible and affordable education. CASC offers both degree and certificate programs, and students take courses delivered both asynchronously and synchronously. Students can take general education coursework in English, history, math, and the humanities.”

The statement continued, “The school also offers an associate of arts, an associate of science, or an associate of applied sciences degree online in either an eight-week or a 16-week format. Online areas of study include business administration, computer technology, psychology, sociology, social science, child development, and general studies. In addition to online associate degrees, students can earn certificates online in child development. The college offers distance learning in some states in concert with the NC-SARA-a state agreement designed for virtual colleges. CASC has one of the lowest tuition rates in the nation.”

For information regarding the CASC online programs, contact Coordinator for the Virtual Campus Sarah Brown at 918-647-1471 or email her at sbrown@carlalabert.edu.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Third Annual Night to Remember Planned

Two local non-profit organizations are joining forces for the third annual A Night to Remember for people with special needs in the eastern Oklahoma area. 

Special Olympics Oklahoma – Area 10 and Pervasive Parenting Center will host a formal dance from 5 to 8 p.m. on April 7 at the Reynolds Center in Poteau. This is open to all individuals with special needs from ages 14 (or 8th grade) and up regardless of where they are from. 

The dance will be sensory friendly with little-to-no flashing lights and a section for attendees to visit if they become over-stimulated or overwhelmed. 

One partner, or buddy, will be allowed to attend per person. 

“The event is being held to provide a formal social event for individuals with special needs around our area,” said Tanna Weaver, Special Olympics Oklahoma – Area 10 representative.

“After individuals leave high school, the opportunities to interact with others become very limited. By holding events like this, we hope to provide opportunities for special need individuals to get out, socialize, and make new friends,” Weaver said.

“This is a really cool opportunity for everyone,” said Kodey Toney, director of the Pervasive Parenting Center. “We had seen many of these events taking place, and when the Special Olympics presented us a chance to help out we jumped at it. I think it will be a fun event for those who may not be so comfortable to go to other dances, and will allow them to enjoy a night just for them.”

Registration for the dance is at Eventbrite at www.eventbrite.come/a-night-to-remember-tickets-22281566766.

The deadline to register is March 24. For more information contact Tanna Weaver at 918-658-5381 or tannaweaver@msn.com.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Parenting Center Awards Grants

The Pervasive Parenting Center (PPC) recently donated more than $600 to help purchase assistive technology for two local schools. The funding was granted to Panama and Pocola Schools.

Panama School used the funds to purchase a document camera to help with visual learners, as well as the visually impaired. They also bought a new printer for the special education classroom. Pocola used the funding to help purchase weighted blankets for their classrooms.

As funds are available, school districts in LeFlore, Sequoyah, Latimer, and Haskell Counties can apply for classroom grants to assist with purchasing supplies for their special education classrooms. To date, the center has donated more than $2,000 in grant funds throughout eastern Oklahoma.

The schools had to explain in less than 200 words what the grant would be used for and why they were necessary. A committee, made up of PPC board members, approve the awards based on need.

“We understand that budgets are tight in schools,” said Kodey Toney, director of the Pervasive Parenting Center. “This is especially true in the special education departments. We feel this is a little way of giving back to the community and helping the children in our local schools. We’re here to help families, schools, and especially the students,”

The PPC is a non-profit organization that launched in January 2014 to help families in eastern Oklahoma find resources available for people in eastern Oklahoma diagnosed with autism and other disabilities. They are partially funded by a grant from the U. S. Department of Education, but the funding for the classroom grants come from donations and fundraisers.

For more information contact Toney @ 918-658-5076 or ktoney@pervasiveparentingcenter.org. Visit the website at www.pervasiveparentingcenter.org.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Burn Ban Issued by County

A burn ban was issued for Sequoyah County by county commissioners Monday morning.

The ban will be effective for eight days or until cancelled, said Steve Rutherford, Sequoyah County Emergency Management director. The commissioners will revisit the issue next Monday.

Rutherford said the county’s fire chiefs asked for the burn ban after fighting grass fires over the weekend.

“Even though we had rain last week, the wind picked up and it dried out fast,” Rutherford said.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Hospital CEO Has a Dream – A New Hospital

David and Heather Palmer of Ampco Electric Inc. in Sallisaw accept the Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce Member of the Month Award, presented by Chamber President Jeff Mayo, right, on Wednesday at the chamber’s monthly luncheon meeting. 

Julie Ward, Northeastern Health Systems (NHS) CEO at NHS Sequoyah Hospital in Sallisaw, told members of the Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, “I have a dream.”

Ward said her dream is to have a bigger and better hospital building in a new location. She explained to the chamber members at the chamber’s monthly membership meeting on Wednesday at People Inc.

Ward said the Sallisaw hospital building is old, and current rules and regulations are that the local hospital will receive higher reimbursements if it is 25 miles or more away from another hospital. Ward said Sallisaw’s hospital is 24 miles from Sparks Medical Center in Fort Smith. Another mile to the west would mean more money for the Sallisaw hospital.

Ward asked that the chamber members not think she was crazy when she said, “I want a new hospital. I want a critical access hospital.”

Ward said a recent loan will help the four-star Sallisaw hospital make some improvements. Renovation will begin next week on an improved front entrance and information area that will direct visitors to the correct areas. That will be complete in six to eight weeks, she said.

A new partnership with Cherokee Health Partners will provide a cardiology department, to be open in three months. 

Ward thanked the community and businesses for supporting the purchase of new 3D mammography equipment, which equips the hospital with the best equipment available. The equipment will be ready to go in March, she said.

She said other physicians and their services available are two neurologists, an endocrinologist, two general surgeons, and, to be available soon, a new pain management physician who will be helping patients manage pain without the use of opioids.

Ward said the hospital is also hoping to soon have the services of a pediatrician.

Ward announced the hospital’s Home Health service just received a five-star rating, the highest available. That means, she said, “The hospital and the home health service are the best in the U.S.”

Ward said she wanted to clear up that NHS did not buy the hospital. The hospital is still a public trust. NHS “just helps with the management,” she said.

Chamber President Jeff Mayo announced that Ampco Electric, owned by David and Heather Palmer, is the Chamber Member of the Month. The Palmers accepted the award and thanked the chamber. The Palmers founded their company in 2007 in McCurtain, then moved to Sallisaw in 2011. David Palmer said they are planning to expand into the Tulsa area.

Mayo announced the Chamber’s 70th Anniversary and Annual Recognition Banquet will begin at 6 p.m. Feb.17 and will be held at the Sallisaw Middle School. The chamber will not hold a luncheon meeting in February due to the banquet.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Bridge Rehab Begins near Moffett

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) announced Friday that the rehabilitation of five bridges along the U.S. Highway 64 corridor just west of the Arkansas River near Moffett has begun.

ODOT asked drivers to be alert to workers and equipment near the roadway on US 64 as work begins on the project to rehabilitate the bridges. Future lane closures will be announced as they are scheduled.

The first portion of work will address areas underneath the east and westbound US-64 bridges over Grand Avenue, just west of the Arkansas River. Other bridges included in this project are three overflow structures on westbound US-64 in this area. Work is expected to complete in spring 2019.

The Oklahoma Transportation Commission awarded the nearly $6 million contract for this project to Haskell Lemon Construction Co. of Oklahoma City in October.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Texas Man Faces Trafficking Charge for Cocaine

Deputy Steve Jenkins found an alleged 616 grams of cocaine 
in a Texas man’s vehicle on Jan. 10. 

A Texas man was charged last Wednesday in Sequoyah County District Court, Sallisaw, with aggravated trafficking in illegal drugs.

Nikorn Sisouvong, 35, of Carrolton, Texas, is accused of possession of one pound and six ounces, or 616 grams, of cocaine.

Sheriff Larry Lane stated that Deputy Steven Jenkins and K9 Officer JOI seized the cocaine during a traffic stop on Jan. 10. The estimated street value of the cocaine is about $50,000.

Sisouvong was released Jan. 11 on a $25,000 bond. He is to be arraigned on Jan. 24, according to court records.

According to Deputy Jenkins report, filed with the charges, Sisouvong was stopped at about 3 p.m. on Jan. 10 at Mile Marker 299 near Vian for failing to signal a lane change. Jenkins reported Sisouvong appeared extremely nervous when questioned, and refused to allow Jenkins to search the vehicle. He did comply when Jenkins asked if his narcotics K9, JOI, could do an air search around the vehicle.

Jenkins reported the dog hit on the passenger door and the trunk of the vehicle, and Jenkins was able to conduct a probable cause search. Jenkins reported he found vacuum-sealed bags of a white powdery substance that field tested positive as cocaine in a backpack in the floor board.

Jenkins said that Sisouvong, during an interview at the sheriff’s office, told the deputy he was to be paid a “few thousand dollars to transport the cocaine to Fort Smith.” But the suspect “wasn’t willing to give any names of who was paying him or where exactly he was supposed to drop the substance off at.”

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Kidnapping Charge Filed Against Vian Man

A 25-year-old Vian man was charged Wednesday in Sequoyah County District Court in Sallisaw with kidnapping and domestic abuse – assault and battery.

Thomas P. Young Jr. is accused of confining his girlfriend against her will from Dec. 25 to Jan. 12 and of beating her with a horse whip and punching and slapping her repeatedly.

Young pleaded not guilty to the charges on Wednesday and the case was placed on Associate District Judge Kyle Waters Feb. 14 disposition docket.

According to the investigator’s report filed with the charges, the 23-year-old female victim, also a resident of Vian, told investigators that the suspect was “high on methamphetamines” on Dec. 25 and accused the victim of “sleeping with other men.” On Dec. 25 the suspect, according to the victim, hit her so hard on the left side of her face that she fell to the floor and “her ears were ringing.”

The victim told investigators the suspect “threatened to hurt her if she tried to leave and she believed he would as he had in the past.” The victim said she tried to leave, but the suspect would not let her, and one time grabbed her as she tried to run out the door. She said the suspect then dragged her into the bedroom and “began hitting her with a horse whip and a rope.”

The investigators reported there were numerous bruises on the victim and a large lump as the side of her head.

The victim told investigators that on Jan. 12 the suspect said the victim could go to her father’s house, which she did and from there she contacted police.

Sheriff deputies arrested Young at his mother’s home on Jan. 12.

The kidnapping charge is punishable by imprisonment for up to 20 years. The assault and battery charge is punishable by imprisonment of up to four years and a fine of $5,000.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Vian Student Receives Computer from Cherokee Marshals

From the left, Cherokee Nation Community Resource Investigator Shawnna Eubanks, Cherokee Nation Marshal Shannon Buhl and Tribal Councilor E.O. Smith, of Vian, visit with Vian High School senior Morghan Taylor , in front, about her new desktop computer.

The Cherokee Nation Marshal Service recently surprised seven high school students with new desktop computers to use for both high school and college studies.

Sequoyah High School freshmen Anna Johnson and Ricky Ross, Hulbert High School senior Jamie Keener, Watts High School senior Brendon Garriot, Westville High School senior Jessica York, Kansas High School junior Daris Glass and Vian High School senior Morghan Taylor each received a computer through the “North Pole Project.”

The Cherokee Nation Marshal Service receives desktop computers each year to present to deserving students who are chosen by their school leaders. The project is a collaboration between the Marshal Service and Broken Arrow Police Department, which originally started the program. A number of law enforcement agencies, including the tribe’s Marshal Service, now participate.

“I plan to go to the University of Oklahoma and major in forensic science, so this is really important to be able to do my work,” said Morghan Taylor of Vian. “Instead of having to go to the library all the time to use the computers, I’ll have one in my own dorm. I am surprised. I didn’t know I was going to get all of this.”

Cherokee Nation Marshal Service Community Resource Investigator Shawnna Eubanks said 2018 marks the seventh year the marshals have worked with the North Pole Project and Broken Arrow Police Department.

“These desktop computers are already loaded with the software and features that students will need to write their papers and complete other homework. In today’s world, it’s crucial that our students have every available resource to succeed in school,” Eubanks said. “That’s why it’s so important for the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service to participate in the North Pole Project and to continue providing students with computers.”

In the past, the Marshal Service has also presented computers to students at Cave Springs, Jay, Salina, Caney Valley, South Coffeyville, Oaks, Chelsea, Catoosa, Okay, Pryor, Claremore, Colcord and Gans high schools.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Muldrow Man Guilty in U.S. Court

A 21-year-old Muldrow man pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Muskogee to two counts of enticement of a minor using a facility of interstate commerce.

The U.S. attorney’s office said Michael Aaron Campbell could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and fined up to $250,000 or both for each count. 

The Indictment alleges that from June 6 until about July 26 Campbell used the Internet to entice a child, whom he believed to be under 16 years of age, to engage in sexual activity for which a person can be criminally charged for second-degree rape.

The Indictment further alleges that from June, the exact date being unknown to the Grand Jury, until July 26 Campbell used cellular communication to entice a child whom he believed to be under 14 years of age to engage in sexual activity for which a person can be criminally charged for first-degree rape, rape by instrumentation and lewd or indecent proposals or acts with a child under age 16.

The charges arose from an investigation by the Muldrow Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security.

U.S. Judge Kimberly E. West accepted the plea and ordered the completion of a presentence investigation report. Assistant U.S. Attorney John David Luton represented the United States.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Sallisaw Candidates Talk of Their Agendas at Forum

About 50 family members, supporters and voters attended the forum Monday evening that featured the candidates for Sallisaw offices.

The candidates are:

-Ward 2 Roena Poindexter (incumbent) and Philip Gay;

-Ward 4 Jonathan D. Richardson and Shannon Vann;

-Mayor Jim Hudgens (incumbent), Ernie Martens and Robert Jamison.

The election is Feb. 13.

Each candidate was given three minutes to introduce themselves and a two-minute closing period. Three questions were posed to each candidate, and they were given between two and three minutes to answer.

Poindexter began the introductions and listed her charitable and volunteer efforts for the city, and reviewed her prior service from 2012 to 2015 on the city commission.

She said she believed, “You should make a positive impact with your time and talents.”

She said she wanted to make Sallisaw “a better place.”

Her opponent, Gay, said his family has been in Sallisaw over 100 years and his grandfather was the county’s second sheriff. He is a 1973 graduate of Sallisaw High School and is retired from Whirlpool where he worked for 37 years.

“I can work with people to get things done,” he said.

Vann said he is a 1986 graduate of Sallisaw High School, he obtained his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1990 from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He reviewed his volunteer efforts and related he is a member of the Sallisaw Improvement Corporation board. He served as the city’s mayor from 2002 to 2014 and reviewed city improvements during that time.

Vann said he wants the best for Sallisaw because, “I plan to be here the rest of my life.”

His opponent, Richardson, said he is a U.S. Army veteran and served in Iraq and Kosovo.

He said, “My story is a story of hope.”

He said he wanted, “positive change, a balanced budget, a strong infrastructure and quality of life for Sallisaw citizens.”

Hudgens reviewed his career, including serving as Sallisaw’s city manager until 2004 when he retired.

He said he and wife plan to stay in Sallisaw.

“I want to continue to help our community,” he said.

Jamison said he is a 1976 graduate of Sallisaw High School and got his law degree from the Tulsa School of Law.

“I want to try to make a difference,” he said, “and build community spirit.”

Jamison pointed to the old Sallisaw High School Rotunda and surrounding area which is now a park, a project which he assisted, and said, “We can do the same thing (for the city) if we pull together.”

Martens said he is a 1979 graduate from Oklahoma State University with a degree in agricultural education, and has served as principal at Sallisaw High School since 1995. He plans to retire this year. Martens reviewed his volunteer efforts for the community.

He said he would, “serve with an unselfish heart.”

Question One asked about the city’s growth, what is holding that growth back and what should be done about it.

Poindexter said the recession of 2008 hit the city hard, and the city is just now recuperating. She said cities vying for businesses and industries are “very competitive,” and the city should be marketed more, emphasizing incentives such as the transportation opportunities available.

Gay said he wanted to work on getting Blue Ribbon Downs back open. He said towns like Poteau and Stilwell are “growing by leaps and bounds,” but not Sallisaw.

“We’ve got to figure out what the problems are. Do a study and find out,” Gay said.

Vann said the city is plagued by “a multitude of factors.” He said companies looking for locations want “a trainable work force, good education, land incentives,” etc. Vann said the city should take of care of businesses already located here.

Richardson said the city faces a few challenges. He said businesses want cities to have a population of at least 10,000. He said the city should have plans, buildings available, should push advertising, work closely with the chamber, and search for entertainment businesses and manufacturers that don’t compete with businesses already here.

Hudgens said, “The recession has hurt us.”

He said companies look for households with higher incomes that are found in Sallisaw. He said the city should improvement the business environment, keep utility costs down and make existing business more profitable.

Jamison said many companies are “looking for qualify of life.” He pointed to Pryor, which started Rocklahoma, a concert, to attract tourists, and now is the home to a new Google plant.

“We should fix up our downtown area. We have to start being proud of it,” Jamison said.

Martens said, “The availability of affordable land is a problem,” along with the 10,000 population requirement. He said the city’s positives should be identified and advertised.

Question 2 was about a recent study that showed city employees’ salaries were 1.5 percent less than employee salaries in peer cities, but benefits were 3 percent higher, and police salaries were 8 percent lower. What would the candidate do to amend that?

Richardson said, “We need to help close the gap on police salaries and pay employees a fair salary.”

Vann pointed out the city has only two revenue sources – sale tax and utility rates and both are limited to some degree. He pointed out that health insurance rates have increased lately, but any increases have to be passed on to the customer.

He said, “The police department salaries need to be addressed immediately.”

Jamison said, “It all comes down to economics. But many citizens are on fixed incomes and can’t afford increases.”

Jamison recommended that tourism be increased and fairs, festivals and concerts be advertised.

“We’ve got to get the income in here,” he said.

Hudgens said the city commission would be discussing salaries at the city meeting in February. He noted the salaries of police and electric department employees were behind, but the city did not have “much room to raise rates.” He said the city must address the inequities in payroll without raising rates.

Gay said the city should concentration on “generating more money, like hosting more concerts.”

Poindexter said, “The council has been working on this to come up with a plan. We have to stay competitive. We are losing employees due to low salaries.”

Question 3 had the candidates identify the single most important threat to the city, and to state where they would like to see the city in five to 10 years.

Martens said an educated work force was necessary for the city. He said he would like to see the city be able to keep the young people and families in the community.

“We must create an environment where our kids and grandkids want to come back here and live,” he said.

Hudgens said the city’s finances were the biggest threat, because they are insufficient to pay for the city’s $33.5 million debt, which is increasing. He said city employees have been asked to improve productivity, which they have. But the city’s infrastructure must be upgraded, including the north electric substation, the wastewater treatment plant, building another water supply and the expansion of Highway 59.

Jamison said the city’s biggest threat was “Complacency!”

“The city is stagnant and can’t draw new business. We’ve got to do something else, create reasons for people to come here. This town deserves more,” Jamison said.

Poindexter said, “The big issue is our work force. We must focus on education, have competitive salaries, hope for growth and for quality of life.”

She said she hoped to see more small business and tourism opportunities in the future.

Gay said, “The town is dying, is full of empty buildings.”

He said the city needed an overpass to the hospital, because trains sometimes block access, and the city needs more businesses.

“I’d like to see the town boom,” he said.

Vann said he most fears a natural disaster.

The city should “look outside the box,” he said, and devise a laundry list of projects. He said most of the city’s debt was for projects approved by the voting citizens.

“Look to the future,” Vann said. “If you don’t invest in yourself, you can’t expect others to invest.”

Richardson said he most fears “Fear!”

“Fear,” he said, “creates fight, flight or freeze.”

He said the city needs good jobs, entertainments, good housing, a good hospital, and improvement projects.

“We need hope,” he said, “and that’s why I’m running for office.”

Closing Statements:

Gay said, “I’m proud of the city I live in and I’d like to be your voice.”

Poindexter said, “We must have a positive attitude and we will be successful.”

Richardson quoted, “’Hope is the only thing stronger that fear.’ Hope is a spark that is contagious.”

Vann said he would focus on the city infrastructure and quality of life issues.

“I’m ready to go back to work for you to meet those challenges,” he said.

Hudgens said, “The difficulty is balancing needs versus wants. It makes it very difficult.” But he said he would work toward the goal of fulfilling the needs.

Jamison said, “We must make ourselves attractive to generate money. We’ve got to work together. We’ve got to shake it up.”

Martens said the city faced many hurdles in the future. But, after quoting from the Bible, Martens said, “My moral compass will drive every decision I make.”

The forum was sponsored by the Sequoyah County Times and The Mix 105.1, and was held at People Inc.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

For more news stories stay tuned to The MIX 105.1 or visit www.kxmx.com


Monday, January 22, 2018

Atchley Had Extensive Criminal Record

Jonathan Duane Atchley

Court records show that Jonathan Duane Atchley, 37, who died from a gunshot wound after an altercation with two Sallisaw Police Officers Sunday night had an extensive criminal record.

Atchley had previously pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of a controlled substance, second-degree burglary and embezzlement, and several traffic violations.

At the time of the shooting Atchley had an active warrant for failure to pay from a domestic dispute case in 2012.

The two officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, as is standard procedure, while the OSBI investigates.

For more news stories stay tuned to The MIX 105.1 or visit www.kxmx.com


One Dead After Officer Involved Shooting

Jonathan Duane Atchley

Officials have now confirmed that the individual shot Sunday night by a Sallisaw police officer did die as a result of the gunshot wound.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) released the following press statement Monday morning about the officer involved shooting in Sallisaw late Sunday.

Sunday night at about 10:45, a Sallisaw police officer stopped a silver Ford Focus in the parking lot of the Northeastern Health Systems-Sequoyah (Sequoyah Memorial Hospital).

The driver, Jonathan Duane Atchley (d.o.b. 5/27/1980) began physically assaulting the officer. A second officer arrived shortly after to assist. Atchley then began fighting with the second officer.

At some point after that second physical altercation, the first officer shot Atchley. Atchley was treated at Sequoyah Memorial, but he died from the gunshot wound.

The Sallisaw Police Department requested OSBI agents investigate the officer-involved shooting. Several agents arrived on scene to interview witnesses, collect evidence, and document the scene. When the investigation is complete, OSBI agents will present a comprehensive, written report to the district attorney. The district attorney will determine if the shooting was justified.

The above information was released at about 9:30 a.m. Monday.

According to the Sallisaw Police Department the officer who shot Atchley will be put on administrative leave by the city manager until the investigation is complete. The name of the officer has not been released.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

For more news stories stay tuned to The MIX 105.1 or visit www.kxmx.com