Friday, July 31, 2020

Vian Announces Delay in Return to School

As cases of COVID-19 continue to increase across the area another Sequoyah County School has decided to push back their school start date.

Vian Public Schools announced Friday that they "have decided to delay the start of the school year." 

The first day of school for Vian students will now be August 24. Teachers will report August 17. 

On Thursday the school announced that they have been collaborating with local health professionals to "create a plan that will allow school to resume safely for students and teachers."  Parents and families are encouraged to read the plan together and discuss the educational options that are available to each student. 

"Our goal is to keep safety first during this challenging time. We are confident that our Wolverine Pride will continue to grow as we work together to stay healthy and return to school together," officials stated.

If you have questions, concerns, or would like more information, you can call the office of your child’s school between the hours of 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. each weekday. 

The school is currently working to create Purple/Gold rotation lists that will be shared with families soon. 

The Vian Public School 2020-2021 Educational Plan can be viewed at

KXMX News Staff

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Controversial State Question 805 Will Be on Nov. Ballot

On Wedneday the Oklahoma State Supreme Court ruled that State Question 805 does qualify for the November, 3 ballot. 

Supporters garnered enough petition signatures to allow a vote on the controversial criminal justice question. The question, if passed, will mandate that past non-violent criminal offenses will not be admissible in court when criminals are facing new charges and crimes. 

Opponents of the passing of 805 say that it is "just silly" that a criminals past history of committing crimes will not be allowed to be heard in court. 

Proponents, or those in favor of the measure , say that "the enhanced penalties are currently used to increase prison sentences for offenders and eliminating this for non-violent offenders will save taxpayers up to $18 million per year."

Sarah Edwards, President of Yes on 805, said, "Our state is wasting money doling out sentences for nonviolent offenses that are out of proportion to the crimes." She also stated that, "mental health and substance abuse treatment, education and job training are better investments."

Critics of 805, including several district attorneys within the state, note that Oklahomans need to consider the public safety consequences of passing State Question 805. Plus, they say the state has already made significant strides in reducing its incarceration rate.

Frank McCoy, News Staff

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Sallisaw Requires Mask to Enter City Buildings

Starting tomorrow, Saturday, August 1 the City of Sallisaw will require masks to be worn before entering  city buildings. The mask requirement will apply to any citizen or city employee entering all city buildings.  

Sallisaw City Manager Keith Skelton said, "To be proactive in dealing with the COVID-19 virus, we are taking these steps for the health and well-being of our citizens and protection of our employees."  

In addition to City Hall and the various field department buildings, the requirement will also apply to the Police Department, Fire Department, Library and buildings located at the City Airport. 

Skelton stated, "We ask all citizens to follow the guidelines set out and to wear a mask entering any city building."

Skelton noted that city employees will also be wearing masks as much as possible while performing their duties. 

"As a city, we must continue to provide services no matter what happens during the COVID-19 event. Masks will help reduce the risk of infection, providing some safety assurance for our employees," Skelton said.

Frank McCoy, News Staff

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Thursday, July 30, 2020

Orphaned Otter Spreading Joy

Angela and Gary Cox with Steve the Otter

It’s an “otter-ly” wonderful life at one Sallisaw residence.

“Steve,” an orphaned otter is currently being rehabilitated by Gary and Angela Cox of Sallisaw and is quickly becoming a viral, social media sensation. The six-month-old otter is a rambunctious bundle of energy for the couple, but they say they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Gary Cox, owner of the Sallisaw Veterinary Clinic, has been a veterinarian for 40 years and says rehabilitating wild animals is an important part of the couple’s lives and it gives animals a chance at a normal life in the wild. 

The Coxes said river otters are a lot like ferrets, but they love spending time in the water and are “always playing.” 

Watching Steve run around the couple’s rural home you can’t tell he is a wild animal. He has made himself right at home with the Coxes, and they have fallen in love with him. When he curls up on Gary's lap he looks like he was meant to be there.

Angela has been posting about Steve on Facebook and her adventures bring more than a few laughs, which she says is the point of it all. “If I can just entertain people and get their minds off what’s going on in this world, then I have succeeded,” she said. “I think God brought Steve into our lives to help us spread joy,” she added. “When you do good things, good things will happen,” she said.

Hundreds of people, and the number is growing daily, are following Steve's antics and when you read their comments it is clear how much joy he is bringing to people of all ages. Many have commented that Steve is a bright spot in their day-to-day lives that they look forward to.

Daily videos and photos posted by Angela show Steve playing in the creek, learning to fish, snuggling (or biting) Gary and also interacting with the couple's Great Danes, including 189 pound Stark.

To follow Steve’s adventures with the Coxes, visit and follow Angela Polasek-Cox’s Facebook page. Her followers come from Las Vegas, New York City and even as far away as Scotland. 

Baby otters, which are called pups, normally stay with their mothers for at least six months, or until the matriarch has another litter. Unfortunately for Steve, his mother was hit by a car. He was taken to another wildlife rehabilitator in Poteau, then was sent to the Cox home.

The Coxes take Steve to a creek near their home every day so he can practice swimming and just be an otter. “He used to follow me to the creek (when he was little) but now he leads me to it,” Gary Cox said. Back at the Cox home, the little otter has a kiddie wading pool and even a “hot tub” to play in. The couple catch fish in the creek to feed Steve every day. 

The Coxes have been rehabilitating animals for years and they have taken care of all kinds, including bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, owls, skunks, possums, alligaters, deer, bears and more, Gary Cox said.

While visiting with the Coxes and Steve, a small fawn that is also being rehabbed wandered onto the deck and was immediately greeted by Steve.

When asked what will happen when Steve is ready to return to the wild, Gary Cox said, “He can get in the creek (near their property) any time if he wants to leave,” but Steve looks pretty happy right where he is.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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Sallisaw Delays Start of School to Aug. 24

Sallisaw Public Schools has decided to delay the start of school until Aug. 24. Citing the recent increases in COVID-19 cases around the area, Superintendent Randy Wood said the postponement will give teachers and students plenty of time to get up and running for the new school year, even if virus fears force classes to be held virtually.

“Several factors led to this decision,” Wood said, “but the biggest reason is because there is a good possibility school will have to be held virtually. We wanted to make sure the teachers and students are fully prepared.”

Wood said the school system will be meeting with each student to find out what their needs are and how best to assist them.

Sallisaw schools also has a Virtual Academy for students who opt to attend strictly virtual classes, Wood said.

“This delay gives us a little more time to prepare and make sure we are ready and the students are ready,” Wood added.

Teachers will report Aug. 10 as scheduled, so they can receive additional technology training and to help with preparing and distributing Chromebooks to students.

The school system urges patience as school officials continue to work through this difficult time. More information will be released as it becomes available.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Locals Help CN Develop New Language Department

Sequoyah County Native,
 Howard Paden

Marble City Native
Wyman Kirk

Tahlequah Resident
Jeromie Hammer

The Cherokee Nation is establishing a new language department that will directly oversee the tribe’s Cherokee Immersion School, a team of translators and the Cherokee language master apprentice program. The new department will focus on language preservation and perpetuation, and generating more proficient second-language Cherokee speakers.

Howard Paden, a Sequoyah County native and the tribe’s current Cherokee language master apprentice program manager, has been named executive director of the new language department. Wyman Kirk has also been named administrator of the Cherokee Immersion School, and Jeromie Hammer has been named as principal.

All three are Cherokee Nation citizens and each have been learning the Cherokee language for at least two decades.

“In order to save and perpetuate our Cherokee language, it is essential for our Cherokee language programs to be together in one department and in one location so that we can share resources, share the Cherokee language and work together on the same objective, which is making sure our language not only survives, but thrives,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “These leaders have been chosen because they not only speak Cherokee, but because they have a wealth of Cherokee culture and historical knowledge that will serve our speakers and language learners well. These programs will soon all be housed in the new Durbin Feeling Language Center.”

Paden began working for the Cherokee Nation in 2003 with the tribe’s Indian Child Welfare department, where he worked for family reunification. While working with ICW, Paden spearheaded new language initiatives including employee language classes, family cultural and language packets and a Cherokee cultural camp for foster families across the country. In 2014, Paden was assigned to develop and design what became the Cherokee Nation’s Cherokee language master apprentice program, an adult Cherokee language immersion program that pairs novice learners with master-level, fluent Cherokee speakers. He designed the master-apprentice program based on his experiences in a similar Spanish program he and his wife encountered while serving as missionaries in Bolivia and attending the Universidad de Idiomas, or the University of Languages.

“Unfortunately, we’re losing upwards of a hundred fluent Cherokee speakers a year,” Paden said. “We recently lost seven alone in one month, three of them from COVID-19. We’re at a crossroads, so we must make language our priority and get our citizens behind this critical effort to continue saving our language. I believe the Cherokee Nation and Chief Hoskin are putting all of the pieces into place to help us teach new generations of Cherokee speakers how to use and pass along this beautiful tradition.”

As administrator of the Cherokee Immersion School, Kirk will be responsible for the development, implementation, supervision and evaluation of educational and student services.

Kirk, a Cherokee Nation citizen, was raised in Marble City in Sequoyah County and currently resides in Cherokee County with his wife and two sons. As a child, he grew up in a Cherokee language-speaking home, and this influence paved a road for his passion in teaching and preserving the Cherokee language.

Kirk graduated from Northeastern State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in English. He also received a master’s degree in cultural anthropology from Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind. He has more than 25 years of experience in Cherokee history and language curriculum development as a coordinator for strategic intelligence, assistant professor, lecturer, cultural specialist and independent contractor. Most recently, he worked as an instructor for Cherokee language courses in the Department of Cherokee and Indigenous Studies at Northeastern State University.

“I am humbled and honored at the opportunity to be involved in this very meaningful language work at the Immersion School. Chief Hoskin has proven that language is a priority and knowing that this won't be just ‘me’ or just Immersion doing this, but rather the full weight and resources of the Cherokee Nation, all of us together, making this work. Being part of that, I am definitely looking forward to,” Kirk said. “First and foremost, we want to bring a Cherokee-centric focus to the school. This goes beyond language into something else, something deeper. The idea for the school has always been to develop our children into Cherokees. We want them to embody our behaviors, our ways of thinking and doing, and to do so with our language as the foundation. For this to happen, we will need to incorporate those concepts into everything we do and how we do it.”

Hammer, of Tahlequah, has served as a coach and administrator at the Cherokee Immersion School since 2009. Hammer has a bachelor of science in health and human performance, as well as a master’s degree in education administration from Northeastern State University.

In September 2019, Hoskin announced the Durbin Feeling Language Preservation Act, which allows the tribe to make the largest investment into its language programs in Cherokee Nation history.

The act transferred Cherokee Nation Businesses’ former Cherokee Casino-Tahlequah building to the Cherokee Nation for the new language center, which is named in honor of first-language speaker Durbin Feeling, often referred to as a modern-day Sequoyah. Feeling wrote the Cherokee dictionary and is the single-largest contributor to the Cherokee language since Sequoyah.

The act also included an additional $5 million from Cherokee Nation Businesses’ dividends to renovate and expand the Durbin Feeling Language Center, which will house all of the language departments under one roof. Another $1.5 million is also included for operational costs associated with the language program’s expansion. 

The Cherokee Nation’s Cherokee language programs include a translation office, community and online language classes, the Cherokee language master apprentice program, language technology = and now the Cherokee Immersion School. The goal of these language programs is to preserve and grow the Cherokee language in both spoken and written forms.

For more information on Cherokee Nation’s language programs, visit

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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


Unsolicited Shipments of Seeds Impacting Oklahomans

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (ODAFF) has received numerous reports from Oklahomans saying they have received unsolicited seeds from foreign countries. These seeds are sent in packages usually stating that the contents are jewelry.

This act is known as agriculture smuggling. Although these items appear to be harmless, there is a potential of hidden threats in these seeds that could seriously threaten U.S. agriculture and our natural resources. Unsolicited seeds could be invasive, introduce diseases to local plants or be harmful to livestock.

The ODAFF has asked that OSU Extension Offices be used as a drop-off point for citizens who received the seed packets.

If you receive a package of these seeds that you did not order, please follow the following instructions:


*Place all the contents of the package, including the seeds and the original packing material in a zipper-type plastic bag. Please write your name and city on the outside of the bag.

*Send an email to or, stating your location and that you have received a package.


*Dig up the seeds or the sprout, knock off any excess soil, double-bag the contents and place in a box or mailer. Write your name and city on the bag.


Choose from one of the following options:

*Drop off the seeds at the Sequoyah County OSU Extension at (918) 775-4838. Please call the office to schedule an appointment.

*Mail the seeds to Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, C/O Agriculture Smuggling Seeds, 2800 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City OK 73105

*Drop off the seeds in person at the front desk of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, 2800 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City OK 73105.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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Vian Peace Center Temporarily Closing

The Vian Peace Center will be closed for the next two weeks to give the owners some much needed rest and allow them time to see how the center can financially keep going.

The Peace Center receives no regular payment and no volunteers get paid. It is simply a small group that tries to self-fund the food pantry and library.

Over the past two months, the center has helped more than 11,000 people through food distribution, with a lot of great volunteers and of groups and it offers special thanks for the Evening Shade community building, the Brushy community building, as well as RICO and Sarah E. Cowett. 

Center officials also thank the Cherokee Nation for renting a lift and allowing it to help with the Cherokee boxes and the Eastern Oklahoma Food Bank for its donations of meats, canned goods and produce. The center also wants to point out that E.O. Smith and Daryl Legg provided $1,500 to help with fuel costs over the past four months.

Officials with the Peace Center will announce soon when the property can safely and financially reopen.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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Pastors Alliance Gathering School Supplies

The Sallisaw Pastors Alliance is once again gathering school supplies for area students.

The school supply drive will be similar to last year’s, with donated supplies being gathered by local churches. The supplies will be given out to teachers so they can give supplies to any student in need.

“Teachers are really excited” about this year’s drive, said Austin Carrigan, a pastor at United Faith Church in Sallisaw. He said anyone is welcome to drop off school supplies, and the best way to donate is to contact a member of the Pastors Alliance or your local church and find out what supplies are still needed and where they can be dropped off.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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Vian Boots & Badges Blood Drive July 31

Vian’s first responders are looking for citizens to support their efforts through blood donation with the Oklahoma Blood Institute. Those who give at the Boots & Badges blood drive Friday, July 31, will provide blood needed to save local lives, such as those that firefighters and law enforcement officers save every day.

Healthy adults are urged to give blood at Marvin’s IGA on the bloodmobile from 1-6 p.m. All donors will receive a special-edition Boots & Badges T-shirt and their choice of one free entry voucher to Frontier City Theme Park or Science Museum Oklahoma in Oklahoma City or two free entry vouchers to Safari Joe’s H20 Water and Adventure Park in Tulsa, to be redeemed at

By giving blood at this drive, donors will show their support for the firefighters and law enforcement officers who serve their community.

The Oklahoma Blood Institute is also offering FREE COVID-19 antibody testing for blood donors ages 18 and up at this blood drive. Test results will be mailed post-donation. Donation appointments are needed to allow for recommended social distancing. Appointments for the blood drive may be made by calling or texting Greg at (479) 652-2362 or by visiting

COVID-19 has taken a tremendous toll on the blood supply, and the Oklahoma Blood Institute has an immediate need for eligible blood donors of all blood types.

“Vian’s first responders see the daily need for blood firsthand when the people they rescue require life-saving treatment,” said John Armitage, M.D., president and chief executive officer of the Oklahoma Blood Institute. “We can’t say enough about the service our police officers and firefighters provide, and we owe it to them to do our part in making sure blood is available in emergency situations.”

*Please note that 16-year-old donors must weigh at least 125 pounds and provide signed parental permission; 17-year-olds must weigh at least 125 pounds and folks and over must weigh at least 110 pounds. Must be 18 or older to receive the antibody test, which has not been reviewed by the FDA and is not intended for diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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Water Association Not Accepting Walk-in Payments

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sequoyah County Water Association will not be taking payments at the office until further notice. 

Customers are asked to use the association's drop-box, over-the-phone payment system, online payment center or payments can be mailed. 

The association is also warning customers to NOT put cash in the drop-box, because those payments will not be posted to any account. All payments must be received in full by the 10th of the month to avoid disconnection.

For details, visit

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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


Vian, Webbers Falls Town Halls Close Temporarily

The mayors of Vian and Webbers Falls have announced that their town halls will be closed until further notice because of COVID-19 concerns. 

Vian Mayor Dennis Fletcher said the closures are necessary to stop the growing infection rates.

For assistance in Vian, contact the Town Hall at (918) 773-8110.

If you need assistance in Webbers Falls, please use the drive-through or call (918) 464-2920 for city business, (918) 464-2280 for ECOWA business or (918) 464-2540 for the court clerk.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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Mission: Ambition Seeks to Help Local Unemployed.

Mission: Ambition is a new initiative being launched for the benefit of those who are unemployed and seeking job or education opportunities within Sallisaw and the Sequoyah County area. 

Several community leaders came together last week to discuss unemployment within the county. According to statistics provided by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission almost 2,500 individuals have filed for unemployment benefits since March of this year. According to organizers the goal behind Mission: Ambition is to provide citizens with immediate access to job and educational opportunities within the county.

The program will include access to job postings, training and education for those who have a desire to move forward in their career or college enrollment goals. George Bormann, Economic Director for the City of Sallisaw said, "Too many individuals are under the impression that no one is hiring. But that couldn't be further from the truth."

Bormann added, " has 203 current job openings as of today within a 25 mile radius of Sallisaw and 55 job openings in a 10 mile radius."

Marty Green, Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce Executive Director said, "The group hopes to have an event in the near future to highlight many of those openings. We are very excited to be part of this group and to get the good news out to citizens."

Carl Albert State College and Indian Capital Technology Center will be providing information and options for those who desire to grow their careers or maybe even charter a completely different career field. Additional sponsors include TRAC Staffing, The Mix 105.1, NHS Sequoyah, Sequoyah County Times, City of Sallisaw and Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce.

The group is working to plan an event, possibly a drive through job/education opportunities fair in which participates will receive information on job postings, resources, educational opportunities and training available for those seeking employment.

Frank McCoy, News Staff

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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Court Clerk's Office Closed Temporarily

The Sequoyah County Court Clerk's office will be closed to the public starting Wednesday, July 29 and will remain closed until August 3 or possibly longer.

Court Clerk Vicki Beaty stated Tuesday evening that the decision to close was made due to concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19. "We are sorry for this inconvenience but must maintain the safety of the public and our employees," Beaty said.

Customers can still file by mail or email and check the status of cases online at

Payments can also be made online, by mail or deposited into the drop box in front of the Sheriff's Department.

KXMX News Staff

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Monday, July 27, 2020

Thursday Event to Raise Human Trafficking Awareness

Thursday is World Human Trafficking Awareness Day and Sequoyah County local organizers have planned an event designed to bring awareness to the problem and provide parents with support to protect their children.

The event will be hosted by Stacie Rogers and Sarah Neal and will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday at Stanley W. Tubbs Memorial Library in Sallisaw. Organizers urge folks to come out and support the cause. 

“We want to get the word out” about the prevalence of human trafficking and how to keep your children safe, said Christen Gerrid. “A high number of people don’t know how to protect their children (especially on social media),” she said. “People who are preying on kids on social media are always watching,” she noted before adding a scary statistic: “Every 30 seconds a child goes missing.”

Gerrid also noted that Sallisaw’s proximity to Interstate 40 means danger could be right around the corner, something everyone should be aware of.

The event is open to everyone and those in attendance are asked to wear blue and yellow, colors that represent awareness for the cause, and anyone is welcome to bring signs.

For more information, visit “Be Their Voice” on Facebook, which is where folks can message organizers if they need to. There is also more information at, which even offers a free, hour-long training session for parents on keeping their children safe.

*Please note that the “Be Their Voice” page, the time of the event is wrong. The event will not be held Thursday morning. It will be at 6 p.m.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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