Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Cherokee Heritage Center Offers Class Promoting Traditional Trade Era Clothing

Registration is now open for the Cherokee Heritage Center’s trade era clothing class on Sept. 14. The Saturday workshop is part of a series that provides hands-on learning opportunities designed to preserve, promote and teach traditional Cherokee arts.

The class will be led by Cherokee National Treasure and CHC Education Director Tonia Weavel. An expert in the field, Weavel will guide participants through making various items, including trade era shirts, skirts and leggings.

The class is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and costs $40.

For more information or to RSVP, please contact Tonia Weavel at 918-456-6007, ext. 6161, or by email at Early registration is strongly recommended as class size is limited.

The Cherokee Heritage Center is the premier cultural center for Cherokee history, culture and the arts. It is located at 21192 S. Keeler Drive, Park Hill.

KXMX News Staff

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CASC Offers Free Tuition to High School Juniors

The value of concurrent enrollment has been a given to the officials of Carl Albert State College for many years. The statistics speak for themselves: 86 percent of LeFlore and Sequoyah county students who take college courses while they are in high school will continue their education the following year as a first-time freshman student. Less than 30 percent of local students who do not take concurrent courses while in high school will begin college after their graduation. That is a difference of more than 50 percent. 

For this reason, CASC has offered free tuition to qualified high school juniors and seniors for many years and expanded its course offerings into area high schools through the use of Zoom technology. 

At CASC, qualified high school seniors are eligible to enroll in up to 18 tuition-free-hours for the year, and qualified high school juniors can enroll in up to 12 tuition-free-hours for the year.

“In recent years, through the leadership of our local and state legislators, we have received partial reimbursement rates for the concurrent education program geared towards high school seniors. We have taken it upon ourselves to extend financial incentives to high school juniors, as well,” said Dr. Jay Falkner, CASC President. “Thanks to a new pilot program from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, our fellow colleges and universities are beginning to expand their concurrent enrollment offerings to now include high school juniors. 

“Up until now, CASC has incurred the cost of up to six hours of tuition for high school juniors each semester. We’ve done this because we know how important it is to get our local students in the educational pipeline and thinking about college long before they graduate. We’ve seen first-hand the positive impact our investment has made in our communities and are thrilled about the new pilot program from the OSRHE,” he said.

CASC’s fall classes begin on Aug. 12, and students can enroll through Aug. 16. High school juniors and seniors who are interested in taking advantage of this program can contact their high school counselor or call the CASC Admissions office for more information at 918-647-1300. 

KXMX News Staff

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Moffett School Forced to Postpone Back to School Date

Temporary classrooms that will be used when 
Moffett students return to school on Aug. 12.

Moffett School Superintendent Greg Reynolds announced Wednesday that the decision has been made to postpone the first day of classes until Aug. 12. 

Moffett School administration, teachers, parents, members of the community and countless other have worked diligently attempting to repair the damage caused by the historic flood of May 2019.

The setback in the date was caused by four temporary classrooms and new air conditioning units being delivered later than was originally expected, according to Reynolds.

"We apologize to all parents that this late start date may affect negatively but we feel it is in the best interest of the students," stated Reynolds.

A hygienist has tested the surface and air quality in the school and has deemed everything safe for the return of students.

Reynolds said that although the flood has caused a lot of work, it has also been a blessing in many ways.

"The surrounding communities, volunteers, and staff have really banned together to help in the restoration of our school," said Reynolds. "All donations and volunteer help has been greatly appreciated. No words can express how thankful we all are at Moffett School.

Reynolds went on to add that although the work has been exhausting, he believes that Moffett will come back better than it was prior to the flood.

He also stated that the phones lines to the school are currently down but they hope to have them working soon.

Parents with questions or concerns are encouraged to stop by the school between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.

KXMX News Staff

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Sheriff’s Office Recovers Over Half Million Dollars in Stolen Property.

George Erin Richardson             Andrew Blackshere

The Sequoyah County Sheriff's Department has arrested two male individuals and recovered over $500,000 worth of stolen property after acting on a tip of a suspicious vehicle.

According to Sequoyah County Sheriff Larry Lane, a call came in from a concerned citizen regarding a suspicious truck pulling a trailer. The caller stated that the truck was pulling out of a driveway that it did not belong in. 

Lane and Deputy Jeff Neighbors went to the residence and found that the owners were not home. After looking around the residence they discovered outbuildings that appeared to have been burglarized and had a large amount of items removed from them. 

The observant individual who had spotted and reported the suspicious truck and trailer  had been able to provide the tag number of the truck so Lane and Neighbors enlisted the help of Sheriff's Investigator Gene Wheat and began tracking down the owner of the truck. The owner was located and interviewed and authorities began tracking down more suspects and working to recover stolen items.

"Over the next 72 hours, Neighbors and Wheat worked relentlessly, tracking down leads in three counties, to recover as much of the property as possible," stated Lane

Items recovered were mainly antiques and collectibles, along with jewelry, guns, tools, an antique motorcycle and numerous antique clocks (some of which are pictured above). 

"One of the clocks was valued at $27,000 and an antique bicycle was worth $1800 and approximately $350,000 worth of jewelry was recovered as well," Lane said.

Sheriff Lane went on to say, "These people stole a huge amount of property. We were very lucky that a good citizen noticed the suspicious truck and got the tag for us. Without that information we would have had a very hard time tracking down the suspects and property."

Most of the property had already been sold to legitimate businesses and people that had no knowledge that the items were stolen.

"All of these people and businesses cooperated with us and helped us get the items back," said Lane.

Charged in the theft were George Richardson, 42, of Gans and Andrew Blackshere, 24, of Gans.

Lane added that more arrests are expected as the investigation continues.

Richardson had been arrested previously on July 16 after he was caught on video surveillance stealing a purse and bluetooth speaker from a vehicle in the Sallisaw Walmart parking lot on July 1. Blackshere is also named in the affidavit included with the filing. He was described as "being a look out" for Richardson during the theft.

During the investigation of that case it was discovered that Richardson was a non-compliant sex offender out of Oklahoma County and that he also had a felony warrant out of McClain County. 

Richardson had also been implicated as the suspect in a phone theft from a residence on July 15. 

As a result of the theft at Walmart and the following investigation, Richardson was arrested and charged with one felony count of burglary in the third degree, one felony count of larceny from the house and one felony count of failure to register as a sex offender. 

He was released on an $8,000 bond on July 18 prior to being arrested again, along with Blackshere ,for theft by the Sequoyah County Sheriff's Office.

KXMX News Staff

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

US-64 Narrowed East of Roland

As part of an ongoing bridge repair project on US-64 between I-40 near Roland and SH-64D near Moffett one lane of eastbound US-64 will be shifted from the current configuration on the westbound lanes back onto the existing eastbound lanes by Wednesday morning. 
Drivers should use caution as traffic adjusts.
East and westbound US-64 will remain narrowed to one lane in each direction in this corridor until further notice.
This project is repairing two eastbound bridges damaged by the historic flooding in May. A $588,000 emergency repair contract was awarded to Bridgeco Contractors Inc. to address the significant erosion and damage caused by the flooding. The project is expected to complete by late August, weather permitting. Incentives are in place to expedite the work.
Drivers should be alert to traffic shifts and reduced speeds in the corridor.

KXMX News Staff

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Adult Learning Center Offers Free Classes

Do you need your GED? Do you want to brush up on your math skills?

The Sallisaw Adult Learning Center is offering free classes for anyone in Sequoyah and Adair counties.

The center, 312 S Walnut, is an authorized GED test site with year-round open enrollment. It has been affiliated with Sallisaw Public Schools for more than 40 years, Beverly Sizemore, a teacher at the center, said.

Sizemore said Tuesday that the site offers one-on-one tutoring and a computer lab for studying.

The goal at the adult education center, Sizemore said, is to serve 100 people per school year. Last year, the center served 80.

The Sallisaw Adult Learning Center is one of the first 10 such programs in Oklahoma. It serves students from age 18 up into their 70s. Sizemore said the center does accept students ages 16-17 but their parents are required to sign and notarize a form giving the teen their permission.

Sizemore said morning classes are from 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday. Morning classes are led by teachers Judy Blair and Pam Davis. Sizemore teaches evening classes which are from 4:30-7:30 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays.

For more information, call (918) 776-0976 during class hours.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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Muldrow Walking Group Prepares to Start Stepping

The Cherokee Nation Public Health division is sponsoring a community walking/running group in Muldrow.

Area residents are welcome to participate in the group, which will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays  at 8 a.m. from Aug. 13 through Oct. 31 at the Muldrow City Park.

The group is an effort to promote better health, said Mary Owl, Cherokee Nation public health educator. The goal is to walk at least two miles, Owl said. The original goal for the group was to build up to a 5K (3.1 miles), but with the summer heat in full force, organizers chose to shorten the walking/running distance.

Owl said the group is free to anyone, and you don’t have to be Native American to participate. Owl pointed out that for safety reasons, children under age 15 must have an adult with them to participate.

Participants are eligible for small incentives, such as pedometers and other devices, Owl said.

For more information, contact Owl at (918) 774-1400, extension 1560.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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Muldrow Man Captured After Fleeing Police

Mark Hunter

A Muldrow man who fled from officers last week has been taken into custody, according to Muldrow Police Chief George Lawson.

Lawson said Tuesday that Mark Hunter was arrested after a search of his brother’s property. He now faces fleeing charges.

On July 25, Muldrow police attempted to serve Hunter with outstanding warrants for burglary and malicious injury to property. When officers went to Hunter’s home, they saw the suspect sitting in a car. 

When police officers tried to stop him from driving off, Hunter fled on foot, Lawson said. 

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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Monday, July 29, 2019

Fill the Bus Event Planned for Moffett Schools

United Way of Fort Smith Area is partnering with Firstar Bank in Roland for “Fill the Bus for Moffett Schools.” 

A school bus will be parked at Firstar Bank in Roland on Saturday August 3rd. Volunteers will be on hand to accept donations of school supplies from 9am to 5pm. 

“We are very excited to be partnering with parents of Moffett Schools and FirstStar Bank for a special Fill the Bus event,” said Eddie Lee Herndon, United Way of Fort Smith Area President. Herndon went on to say, “The Moffett community and schools were greatly affected by the flood and there is a great need. This is another opportunity as a community to give back to the students at Moffett to help them get off to a great start in school. I hope everyone will take the opportunity to stop by FirstStar and drop off needed school supplies this Saturday.” 

Dave Richards, President, Firstar Bank-Roland said, “We are excited to be teaming up with United Way of Fort Smith Area for this event.” 

In addition to the supplies collected at this Saturday, Firstar Bank is also donating computers to Moffett Schools.
It is the hope of United Way of Fort Smith Area and Firstar Bank that this donation will help the students and teachers at Moffett start school with confidence and give them the literal tools they need to succeed.

KXMX News Staff

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CN to Celebrate 67th Cherokee National Holiday during Labor Day weekend

The Cherokee Nation will host the 67th Cherokee National Holiday Aug. 30 – Sept. 1, when more than 100,000 visitors travel to Tahlequah to experience the annual celebration of history, culture and art.

This year’s event features more than 50 activities, including an intertribal powwow, a parade, arts and crafts vendors, music and a variety of competitions.

The theme for this year’s Holiday is “Rising Together” and is represented in commemorative artwork by Cherokee National Treasure Dan Mink. “Rising Together” signifies each Cherokee’s role in the continued progress of building a bright future.

“The theme for the 67th Cherokee National Holiday is quite fitting,” said Principal Chief-elect Chuck Hoskin Jr. “Today we find Cherokees living in every state of this country and all across the world. For a people who have been counted out many times before, I believe it speaks to the heart and the resolve of the Cherokee people that, in 2019, we are still here, more than 370,000 citizens strong. We are working hard each and every day to build a healthier foundation for our Cherokee families. We strive to preserve our language and our culture for future generations. And we are doing all of this collectively, because we know the Cherokee Nation is better off when we, as Cherokees, rise together.”

The Cherokee National Holiday commemorates the signing of the Cherokee Nation Constitution in 1839, which reestablished the tribe’s government in Indian Territory after forced removal from the Cherokees’ original homelands in the Southeast.

This year’s Holiday celebration features activities for all ages, including traditional games such as Cherokee marbles, a cornstalk shoot and a blowgun competition. Other sporting events include chunkey, a stickball social game and exhibition games, horseshoe pitching, softball, a golf tournament, the 5K Holiday Run and a three-on-three basketball tournament.

“Each year, the Cherokee Nation Holiday serves as a homecoming for many Cherokee Nation citizens who travel from across the world to participate in activities,” said Cherokee Nation Community Tourism Manager Bayly Wright. “This annual celebration of Cherokee history and culture provides something special for everyone to see and experience.”

Several marquee events are set for the 67th Cherokee National Holiday. The annual parade travels down Muskogee Avenue in historic downtown Tahlequah and is the only parade to be announced in both Cherokee and English. It begins at 9:30 a.m. at the corner of Crafton Street and Muskogee Avenue. For those unable to attend, the parade will be broadcast in the Cherokee language on KTLQ AM 1350 radio.

Following the parade, Principal Chief-elect Hoskin will give his first State of the Nation address at the Cherokee National Peace Pavilion, just east of the Cherokee National Capitol building in downtown Tahlequah.

The Cherokee National Holiday Intertribal Powwow is one of the most popular events of the weekend. This two-night event provides more than $35,000 in prize money for southern strait, northern traditional, fancy, jingle and other dance categories. The powwow begins with gourd dancing at 5 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday, and grand entry at 7 p.m. both nights.

Also scheduled are the Jason Christie Children’s Fishing Derby, traditional food demonstrations, art shows, a quilt show, an open-house event at the Cherokee Nation W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex, and the Cherokee culture, plants and symbology garden tour.

For a complete list of events for the 67th Cherokee National Holiday, visit

KXMX News Staff

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Assistant DA Leaving for CASC Job

Jordan Pace

The Sequoyah County assistant district attorney is leaving that position to take a job at Carl Albert State College.

Jordan Pace said he has been an assistant DA for two years, and has only been in Sallisaw for about six months.

Already an instructor at Carl Albert, Pace is going to be the school’s compliance officer.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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FEMA Extends Deadline For Disaster Aid

It isn’t too late for Oklahomans impacted by May’s devastating floods to apply for federal assistance.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s has set Aug. 14 as the new deadline to apply for individual aid.

As of July 23, 121 families in Sequoyah County have registered for FEMA aid. Of those applications, 63 of them were referred to the US Small Business Administration (SBA) for home and/or personal property damage. Thirty of the applications were referred to the SBA for physical damage to business property and 12 were referred for economic injury only (no physical damage to business property).

Also in Sequoyah County, as of July 23, 10 families have been approved for a total of $714,300 in home loans.

Louise Porter, SBA public information specialist with the Office of Disaster Assistance, said this data does not include disbursed funds, nor does it indicate the amount of loans that have been denied. There is also no data on how many cases have been referred back to FEMA’s Other Needs Assistance Program.

“I think there is still a lot of money on the table for Oklahoma,” Porter said.

To register with FEMA or for more information, go to or call (800) 621-3362.

For help with SBA loans, people can apply for a low-interest disaster loan by visiting the SBA’s secure website, Flood victims can get more information on SBA disaster assistance by calling the agency’s customer service center at (800) 659-2955 or by emailing

Steve Rutherford, Sequoyah County’s Emergency Management director, said Oklahoma Emergency Management, FEMA and his department have reached an agreement on removing flood debris in Moffett. County Commissioner Ray Watts will have a crew available, as well as other groups, to haul off the debris, Rutherford said Monday.

In other flood recovery news, Sallisaw resident Robert Morris said that the $3,000 in proceeds from the recent gospel singing event in town was presented to the Moffett Relief Fund over the weekend.

There are already plans for another gospel fundraiser, this time in Gore. Morris said organizers are trying to find a suitable location for the celebration. If you know of any available sites in Gore, please reach out to Abundant Life Church in Sallisaw.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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Earn Tickets and Save Lives by Giving Blood

Help save the lives of local patients by donating blood this summer!

Oklahoma Blood Institute will hold a blood drive with Walmart Sallisaw on Friday, August 2, from 2 to 6 p.m. Each blood donor will receive a trendy “Summer Vibes” t-shirt and a voucher for free admission to their choice of Frontier City, Science Museum Oklahoma, or Safari Joe’s H2O Water and Adventure Park in Tulsa.*

“Summer is a particularly challenging time for the blood supply,” said John Armitage, M.D., Oklahoma Blood Institute president and CEO. “We are so proud to partner with fantastic local attractions -- and to welcome a new partner, Frontier City. Frontier City, Science Museum Oklahoma, and Safari Joe’s are all great places to have fun this summer, and they have generously provided us another way to thank our donors for their life-saving gifts.”

Oklahoma Blood Institute relies on donations from approximately 1,200 donors each day to meet the needs of patients statewide. One blood donation can save as many as three lives.

Only ten percent of people in the United States who are eligible to give blood actually do. Whole blood can be donated every 56 days. Platelet donations can be made as often as every 7 days, up to 24 times a year.

If donors opt not to take the t-shirt, Oklahoma Blood Institute will make a monetary donation to Global Blood Fund for blood center assistance in developing countries.

As a non-profit blood center, Oklahoma Blood Institute’s generous donors provide every drop of blood needed for patients in more than 160 hospitals, medical facilities, and air ambulances statewide.

Appointments are not required but can be made by calling or texting Greg at 479-652-2362 or visiting

KXMX News Staff

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The State’s Role in Education Funding, By State Rep. Jim Olsen

State Rep. Jim Olsen

One of the reasons I pursued office was because of the state of our K-12 education system in Oklahoma. Education is critical to the future of our children, families and state as a whole. 

The majority of parents in Oklahoma choose traditional public education for their children. In order for our children to be ready for a 21st century job market, our school system must establish a strong foundation for our children. 

There are several ingredients essential to an effective education: discipline, order, respect for authority, obedience, and love of truth, as well as curriculum that is academically challenging, historically accurate, patriotic, and honoring of the Bible’s ethics and morality. 

The shared commitment of parents, teachers and administrators to these values is crucial, as are sufficient financial resources that make education possible. Most of these values are taken care of at the local level and within the classroom. Some of the financial resources are taken care of at the local level as well through ad valorem, or more commonly property taxes. Another portion of schools funding comes from the federal government. 

At the state level, there are two kinds of financial resources. There is apportioned, or “off the top,” and appropriated money. The Legislature has no control over the apportioned money, as set by statute. The appropriated money is what the Legislature has control over. 

I’m pleased to report great news as far as this part of the picture! This year, the Legislature appropriated money to accomplish a number of our goals we set for this session. We passed a $1,200 pay raise for teachers and designated $74 million to the classroom. 

Overall, over the last two years, the Legislature has increased education appropriations by over 26%. This is a strong demonstration of our commitment to bettering common education! Year by year, we will continue to increase our financial support for common education as we are financially able. 

Now that the Legislature has initiated its part regarding funding, let’s work together as a community to ensure other critical ingredients to educational success and the timeless values that will ensure our success are fostered, protected and allowed to flourish. If we honor the values of the Bible and God, He will honor us and bless our efforts in the education of our children! 

Rep. Jim Olsen represents District 2 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes portions of Seqouyah County.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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Webbers Falls Delays Start of School

Officials at Webbers Falls Public Schools have pushed back the start of the school year to Sept. 3 because of continuing efforts to rebuild and recover after the May 2019 flood disaster.

Paula Turley, secretary to the Webbers Falls superintendent, said crews are still putting up sheetrock in several school buildings. The work is almost completed, she said.

Turley said that pushing the start date back a month would not affect the end of the school year, which will end in May as usual. “We won’t be going to school into June,” she said.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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Longtime CEO leaving Boys and Girls Club

Noreen Reininger, left, is shown with other staff members
at the Boys and Girls Club in Sallisaw.

Noreen Reininger, chief executive officer of the Sequoyah County Boys and Girls Club, is leaving her position after 13 years with the agency. Her last day is Wednesday, July 31.

Hired in 2006 to be the agency’s chief financial officer, Reininger was named CEO three years later.

“Without a doubt, this is the best job I’ve ever had,” Reininger said in an interview Friday. “I really loved working with the kids and watching them grow up,” she said. “I’m going to miss that the most.”

“Everything has a season, and it’s just my time to go,” Reininger said, adding that she is embarking on a career change by moving into the medical administration field. She will begin her quest by taking a medical coding class soon. Ideally, Reininger said, she and her daughter, an occupational therapist, can someday open up a practice together.

During her tenure at the Boys and Girls Club, Reininger successfully managed six campuses, improved and managed the budget and led many fundraising events, in addition to managing all club employees.

Reininger said she will continue to support the Boys and Girls Club through fundraisers and other events, so she won’t be completely gone from the agency. “I’m leaving it in great hands,” she said. Laura Kuykendall, the new CEO, “will keep everything running smoothly.”

Lindsie Dyer, president of the Sequoyah County Boys and Girls Club, said that during her years of service, Reininger has acted as not only a boss but also a mentor, a nurse, a teacher and more for the club members in Sequoyah County. “Whatever the problem is, Noreen has always had an answer that was always approached with the most positive and caring attitude,” Dyer said.

“Noreen has always been very passionate about the children we serve in our clubs and the feeling is definitely mutual,” Dyer said, adding, “To be honest, I don’t know who will feel this transition more: Noreen, the club members or the staff.” 

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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