A look back at the first half of 2020, top stories that made the news

The first half of 2020 was busy with trips, community meetings, honorings and more. This week, we bring you just a few of the people and events that made headlines during the first six months of 2020.

It’s open for argument, but our vote for the top five stories between Jan. 1 and June 30 are as follows:

No. 1: Former area resident remembers Alfred P. Murrah building bombing.

Many can remember where we were at 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995. We can remember what we were doing and who we were with. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the OKC bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building.

It was a beautiful ordinary day. Some were teaching school, some were working on the farm, some were in meetings, some were children, and a younger generation of adults weren’t born yet.

I was in a special education workshop in Woodward when a call came that the federal building in Oklahoma City had been blown up. The meeting wrapped up very quickly and we headed to the safety of our homes. Days were spent in shock watching television reports. The question continued—how could this happen in the Heartland of Oklahoma?

I interviewed former Carmen resident, Rockie (Moser) Yardley, son of the late Betty and Max Moser, who was raised in Carmen. At the time, he was with the Edmond Police Department as a bomb disposal technician. He was in the police building 12 miles north of the Alfred P. Murrah Building. He thought workers had dropped an air conditioner on top of the building as there was a big boom and the building shook. He looked out the window and could see smoke downtown. He turned on the tv and quickly knew, as a bomb tech, this was a very large bomb site. He called his partner and told him to bring their equipment downtown.

They arrived downtown to mass confusion. In an hour, a call came that there was possibly a second bomb. Everyone was evacuated and their squad went into the building. They couldn’t find a bomb, but found a shipping box in the Commerce office area. Common military markings would indicate it was inert. However, they believed this was a live bomb! They secured it in an OKC bomb vessel thinking it was a tow missile. They later determined it was inert and was being used in a sting operation.

The first day was spent in victim recovery. They were pulling out people all over the building.

The last live person was rescued at 7 that evening. A total of 168 people died and three unborn children. There were hundreds of injuries and many emotional scars.

They had been told the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) didn’t have anyone in the building but 20 minutes into the rescue, a man was holding up a sign on the 9th floor indicating he was ATF. He was rescued.

A fortunate situation happened in the investigation when one of the bomb techs was working on an auto theft case down the street near the Regency Towers Apartments. He heard the boom and went outside. A lady had just pulled up near the apartments and was going to run in and get her paycheck. Her child was in the car. An axel came flying down the street and destroyed her car. Neither the child or the lady were hurt. The bomb tech knew there was a confidential number on that axel. He found it and took it to the authorities. They were able to track the vehicle down to the Kansas rental where the Ryder truck was rented by McVeigh.

The mission of the recovery team was to get everyone home, find out who did it,and see them prosecuted. They were able to see this goal accomplished.

The second day, they were divided into teams. Yardley was with Team 5 Bomb Squad. They began taking everything out of the building and set up sifting stations. Initially, they were searching for parts of the truck, devices, and explosives used in the bomb. Items were then taken into trucks and resifted to look for evidence. There were 90 teams of federal agents brought in the sift. The US Marshals were in charge of security. They had cans of orange spray paint to paint a large circle around each piece of evidence they found. FEMA also brought in lots of equipment.

Initially, they were not prepared for a major disaster. Immediately, there was a wonderful outpouring of support from Oklahomans. Food, clothing, water, and medical supplies began coming in. As they were digging, their shoes and clothes were shredded apart from the rough concrete. They could go to the supply tent and get those. If they said they needed chainsaws—50 would show up. The Dallas Cowboys showed up and brought steak dinners for workers. However, Yardley missed that meal.

Yardley said he almost took away one of the symbols of the bombing. There was an old American elm tree that had been damaged and had a large piece of metal in it. He had cut about 2” into the tree when someone told him they wanted to leave it for the memorial. After 2 or 3 days, they were not thinking about a memorial. He stopped cutting and the tree was saved. The tree now stands as a symbol of resilience and strength.

Yardley recalls the rescue dogs had an important duty. They were trained to rescue people in the rubble. Those dogs were trained to find live bodies. They got depressed when there weren’t any people to be found. Their handlers asked workers to hide in boxes so the dogs could find someone, which helped lift the dogs’ spirits. Their paws became sore and damaged from crawling in glass and jagged concrete. A call for hunting boots was made and suddenly pallets of hunting boots appeared! There was a triage area for dogs and the OSU Vet School took care of them. Later, they used cadaver dogs to search for bodies. Dog food companies sent huge amounts of food for the dogs.

Governor Keating and his wife Kathy were there every day. Agencies began putting up flags, which was very nice. Yardley questioned the governor about where the Oklahoma flag was.

Within an hour, an Oklahoma flag was waving.

There was discussion that the Journal Record Building on the north of the federal building would be destroyed. Yardley asked if he could write on it. He used red spray paint and painted:

4-19-19 Team 5

“We search for the truth.

We seek justice.

The courts require it.

The victims cry for it.

And God demands it!”

The words drawn in red spray paint on the side of a condemned building are one of the most powerful statements from the OKC bombing. He credits God for the words and feels that he was just the messenger. The words are as powerful as when he wrote them. The building is now the site of the OKC Memorial Museum. He returns every few years with other members of the bomb squad to repaint it. It is now painted in black. He just wishes he would have written neater!

Later, their team was across the street near a destroyed restaurant when Yardley reached in to retrieve a suspicious piece of metal. At that exact time, the building collapsed. His partner grabbed his collar and pulled him out as debris was falling around his feet. That was the closest call he had.

Billy Graham and President Clinton came to OKC for a memorial service the week after the bombing. The workers were told to shut down for the memorial, but their team wouldn’t quit until everyone was found and home. There was one time in the search when everything did shut down. Rescue workers could see the stripes of a Marine uniform in the rubble. Everything shut down and was in total silence as a group of Marines came and took the body across the street to the medical examiner. There were lots of tears then.

As the search was winding down, there were three bodies that were buried under a very large concrete slab. The families were allowed to come in and say goodbye. They knew if they tried to move the slab, the whole building would come down and endanger many lives. The families said not try to move it. The slab was spray painted and covered. When the building was demolished, they were able to retrieve the victims.

A memorial was held when the recovery was closed. Yardley’s wife, Julie, and their three-year-old son, Max, came to the ceremony. Yardley had worn a flag bandana around his helmet to keep it from rubbing sores. He wrapped his bandana around his son’s neck and gave him a flower. A photographer took their photo that is used in many of the memorial pictures as he bent to kiss young Max.

Yardley expressed appreciation for the Salvation Army. They were there until the last workers walked out. He feels the unsung heroes were the demolition and heavy equipment operators.

They never got credit for all they did. They built an elevator to help get to the upper areas.

They worked tirelessly and were so great in their jobs. A New York City crew came to help with investigation of the destroyed cars. They could cut up a car in 20 minutes. Many fire departments and rescue workers from all over helped in the recovery.

When asked whether he thought the right person was prosecuted, Yardley said he did. He kept praying there would be a foreign terrorist found involved and not one of our citizens. The bombers had to know there was a daycare in the building because there were always kids’ pictures on the windows. Just 20 minutes before the explosion, the day care children had been out on the playground this would have been an even greater loss. Timothy McVeigh confessed. He lit the fuse and went to his car that was parked northeast of the YMCA. He wanted total destruction. Yardley is no longer amazed at man’s inhumanity to fellow man.

Former Methodist minister Nick Harris was across the street east in the First United Methodist Church when the explosion happened. He and the church secretary were thrown against the wall in the office. He ran across the street and began helping people on the scene.

When he returned to the church, the sanctuary was almost destroyed but a row of Easter lilies from the Sunday before remained on a ledge. The stained-glass windows and lobby area were almost destroyed. The crumbling lobby was taken over by rescue workers who needed a place to pile bodies and body parts pulled from the mangled building. The church has now been restored.

Ross Harris, who graduated from Cherokee, is one of Yardley’s cousins. His office was not far from the Murrah Building. Right after the explosion he rushed over and rescued many people.

Yardley is amazed that ordinary citizens jumped in and risked their lives to save strangers.

Ron Kephart of Carmen was on the fire department as the chief medical officer at Will Rogers Airport. He was on duty and felt the explosion. He thought an aircraft had blown up. When he looked toward downtown, he realized it was something else.

They headed toward downtown and passed Community Hospital and people were already lined up to give blood! They arrived at St. Anthony’s Hospital, which looked like a war zone. Victims were brought in by ambulance, in pickups, and private cars. They were doing triage in the hallways to determine extent of injuries.

Then, Kephart and three other firefighters went downtown north of the Murrah Building and staged up. They had bunker gear sent from the airport. A triage center was on the east and most were sent to St. Anthony’s. Later that night, on the north face, the body of an agent was found.

Kephart was working east of the survivor tree near a Greek restaurant when they got two people out of the basement.

In the Journal Record Building, they had a firefighter down. A marble slab broke loose and covered him. They were able to get him out.

Kephart’s group began working decontamination. They had to scrub boots and equipment. Bodies were contaminated and rescuers had to clean up after working with them.

A firefighter from England, Paul Burns, came and bunked at the fire station with them. He was an explosive expert who had worked in Ireland. He was a great asset and instructed workers to look on the tops of surrounding buildings for fragments. The whole area was a huge crime scene.

Kephart said everyone did what they had to do. FEMA and the fire chief made a joint effort in recovery. New York City firefighters came and had experience dealing with terrorism. The FBI handled much of the investigation since it was a federal building. It was a team effort.

The hardest part for everyone was working the daycare centers and getting the toys out.

There was a huge area for equipment that was like a hardware store. The Oklahoma Standard was evident in anything they needed being there and ready.

One day, they were getting ready to go in and a  man asked where they were working, they said on the second or third floor. He handed them a bouquet of flowers and asked them to put the flowers on his wife’s grave!

Kephart’s wife, his son and a friend had gone downtown and started to pull in front of the Murrah Building, but someone took their spot. They pulled around and parked a block south.

They were just getting out of the vehicle when the bomb exploded. They would have been critically injured or killed if they had not pulled around to the south. His son, Harry Jr., had hearing loss from the explosion, but his hearing has improved with time.

My family and I visited the site about a week after the tragedy. We were amazed at the rescue and work that had been done. A fence had been put up to establish a safety boundary so the workers could do their job. Messages and teddy bears were hung on the fence. A few weeks later, Carmen-Dacoma High School students visited the site on a field trip. I was so moved when a student, Gregory Robinson, hung his graduation tassel on the fence and other students and teachers left messages of love and prayer.

The following year, I took a group of students to the site on April 18, 1996. The children from the daycare and other survivors were there practicing for the memorial the next day. The bells rang 168 times. It was one of the most emotional times I have experienced.

In the past twenty-five years, I have visited the Oklahoma Memorial, the museum, and the downtown area. We have been there to witness a wedding under the survivor tree, the stillness of the reflection pool on a summer evening, and the rebuilding and redeveloping of the area.

Now we realize young adults and students do not know the story. There are always questions of how this could happen in Oklahoma. We must work to remind others in the power of forgiveness and what Oklahoma Strong really means!

No. 2: Community comes together to hear update on correctional center.

Citizens of Helena and the surrounding communities gathered at 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 9, at the Timberlake High School Auditorium to hear from Representative Carl Newton, Mayor Garett Powell and Warden Rick Whitten on what can be done to help prevent the shutdown of the James Crabtree Correctional Center.

Mayor Powell welcomed the crowd and then turned the microphone over to Newton.

Before giving an update and answering any questions, Newton turned the microphone over to Terry Pederson, the wife of Senator Roland Pederson. She read the following letter from the senator, “I want to apologize for overextending myself today. Rarely do I schedule any meetings on Sunday. So when I agreed to come to this town hall meeting last week, I didn’t bother to look at my calendar. Over two months ago, I agreed to go to an educators meeting February 9, not realizing it was on a Sunday. It just seemed like a long way off. On Friday when I received the reminder of the educator’s meeting I realized I had two meetings at the same time on the same day. It was too late to reschedule either one. I asked my wife to attend this meeting today and she respectfully agreed. Please allow her to listen for me to your concerns and questions.

In preparation for today’s meeting, I met with Department of Corrections Director Crow on Thursday. He was very complimentary of Crabtree, especially of the work ethic and efficiency of the personnel here. He said that was not the case in some of the other facilities across the state. That will go a long way in determining the future of any of the institutions in Oklahoma, in my opinion.

Again, I apologize for not being here in person today. I feel very positive about the future of Crabtree in Helena.

Rep. Newton and I have a great working relationship and we will work together to keep everyone informed about any further developments. If you have specific questions for me, please contact my office at 405-521-5630 or email me at roland.pederson@oksenate.gov.”

This all began when during a press conference Governor Kevin Stitt announced he was looking into closing some of the older facilities.   

Newton thinks the facility has a better chance at staying open than it does closing, but he expressed it is better to be proactive than to sit by and watch decisions made without our input.

Statutorily, the director of the Department of Correction can make the decision to open or close a facility. He is under the appointment of the governor. He is also works alongside Secretary of Public Safety Chip Keating.

The idea of the meeting was to give information to the public to add to a letter on the impact James Crabtree Correctional Center has made on the lives in Northwest Oklahoma and also for those to share their story.

Newton then turned the microphone over to Warden Whitten who presented facts about the prison.

“Northwest Oklahoma is different than any of the rest of Oklahoma. Their work ethic, the pride in work the people take is a big reason that for at least 20 years this facility has operated in the black financially,” Whitten said.

He presented the financial facts and they are as follows:

• Payroll: FY 2018, $8,486,574; FY 2019, $8,270,129; and FY 2020, $4,747,407 (sixth month’s worth.)

Not every employee lives in Alfalfa County, but they are spending money buying fuel and food while in Helena.

“Every dollar spent turns over seven times before leaving the area,” Whitten said.

• Operational budget: FY 18, $1,566,574; FY 19, $1,586,838; and FY 20, $1,619,671 (complete year.)

• Water is bought from Helena: FY 18, $141,300.20; FY 19, $132,950.60; FY 19, $72,299.80 (sixth months worth.)

• Sewer through City of Helena: FY 18, $132,470.68; FY 19, $126,115.24; FY 20, $58,456.02 (sixth months worth.)

• Trash from Meno: FY 18, $65,469.60; FY 19, $72,016.56; FY 20, $36,008.56 (sixth months worth.)

• City Sales Tax: July 1, 2018-December 31, 2018, $32,484.18. During that same time period the City of Helena collected a total of $67,305. July 1, 2019-December 31, 2019, $32,837.13. During that same time period the City of Helena collected a total of $64,795.

• County sales tax: July 1, 2018-December 31, 2018, $21,656.12; July 1, 2019-December 31, 2019, $21,891.42.

• Cost of incarceration per inmate: medium inmates, $52.358 per day; and minimum inmates, $48.19 per day.

Despite a financial impact, there would be direct and indirect impact on the town and school with families leaving.

The two most important items that Whitten asked for the community to do is to pray and write letters.

Newton opened the floor up to the community to ask questions and the questions varied from the government motive, if the state would subsidize the town to help with the loss of the prison, the amount of staff and if there was a plan to make JCCC more viable.

The motive is a financial move for the state. Currently JCCC is housing 1175 inmates.

Whitten spoke on the concern that he has heard that some of the prisons on the list are the ones that weren’t built to be prisons. Crabtree wasn’t initially built to be a prison but there are eight housing units with five already being built for prisons and three were there prior to the prison.

Some of the talk is to move inmates to Diamondback Prison near Watonga, but the problem in the past with that location is they had trouble staffing it.

As a legislator at the capitol, Newton said that a letter sitting on his desk has the biggest impact, followed by the phone calls and lastly, the emails.

One question asked was what is the most important thing to express in the letters.

Newton said, “I think you express the idea that we do a good job up here making sure we are spending the state dollar wisely. But you guys have your own stories about Crabtree. You have your own unique stories. He is looking at economics first so talk about the prison operating in the black and then tell your story.”

A retired employee talked about the way the maintenance crews and employees out there have taken care of the facility. It may be older, but it looks good.

Currently Crabtree staffs roughly 140 people. The state caps the amount of hiring at 68 percent staff and Crabtree is currently sitting at 62-64 percent.

“The biggest challenge we face is not recruitment, but retention. We are working hard to hold onto our employees,” Whitten said.

“There are a lot of people who work there, not because they have to, but because they want to.”

The prison is taking steps everyday to make it run better. One of the steps is contracting with doctors to come to the facility instead of using lots of man power to transport inmates to and from.

The prison has an educational department, substance abuse treatment on both yards and chaplain program.

“We do what we can to lower recidivism,” Whitten said.

Approximately half of the employees hired come from outside of the county.

Another impact that the closing of the prison could have is that the inmates are counted on population for Helena and the county. This would hurt when the money is divided among populations.

The time line is unknown at this time.

The community is encouraged to invite Governor Stitt to come tour the facility and be greeted by the town.

Community members are encouraged to contact the following individuals by mail, email or phone calls:

• Honorable Governor Kevin Stitt

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd.

Oklahoma City, OK, 73105

405-521-2342

Stitt has no email but comments can be left on his website.

• Director Scott Crow

Oklahoma Department of Corrections

3400 Martin Luther King Blvd.

Oklahoma City, OK 73111

405-425-2506

scott.crow@doc.ok.gov

• Secreatary Chip Keating

2300 N. Lincoln Blvd, Room 212

Oklahoma City, OK 73105

405-521-2342

chip.keating@gov.ok.gov

No. 3: Former Speaker of the House honored with sign in Cherokee.

A special ceremony was held on June 9 honoring former Speaker of the House Jeffrey Hickman in Cherokee.

A sign was placed at both ends of Cherokee that read, “Hometown of Jeffrey W. Hickman Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives 2014-2016”.

Hickman is a graduate of Cherokee High School. He then went on to attend the University of Oklahoma where he earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism.

He spent seven years working in higher education at The University of Oklahoma, where he served as university press secretary, public affairs special projects coordinator and as an assistant to the president and to the athletic director.

Hickman was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2004, Hickman served as Speaker of the House for three legislative terms, from 2014-2016, but was unable to seek re-election due to legislative term limits.

Prior to his election as Speaker, Hickman served as Speaker Pro Tempore and chairman of the Revenue and Taxation Appropriations & Budget Subcommittee, Public Safety Appropriations & Budget Subcommittee, and Insurance and Retirement Committee.   

In 2017 Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin appointed Hickman to the State Regents for Higher Education board in May 2017, serving a nine-year term ending in 2026.  The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education is the constitutional coordinating board for Oklahoma colleges and universities, responsible for allocating state funds, setting admission standards and academic policies.

Recently Hickman was hired by Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association as their next president and CEO.

Prior to that he worked for Great Salt Plains Health Center where he was the chief communications, facilities and compliance officer.

During Hickman’s lifetime, he has worn several different hats. He has been involved with his family’s farming operation in Alfalfa and Woods counties since childhood, and is now the fifth generation in his family to own and farm land near Dacoma and Cherokee in northwest Oklahoma. He served as vice president of Omni Media Group in Woodward, Fairview Savings & Loan board of directors, The Commons – United Methodist Retirement Community board of trustees, and the United Way of Northwest Oklahoma board.

Hickman’s father, Steve, and brother, Jeremy, are still involved in the community of Cherokee with both them being employed by Cherokee Public Schools.

Jeffrey and his wife, Jana, live in Fairview and have two daughters and a son.

Present at the ceremony were family, co-workers, community members and members of the Oklahoma House of Representative and Oklahoma Senate.

No. 4: Kimminau reflects on Guatemala trip.

For the first time, the lights are on in Sillab, Guatemala. Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives – in partnership with Colorado’s electric cooperatives and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s philanthropic arm, NRECA International – brought first- time electricity to the isolated village near the Belize border in the region of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala.

Twenty volunteer linemen, including AEC’s own Bryan Kimminau, spent two weeks at the project site building powerlines and wiring 42 structures, including one elementary school and four churches. The project consisted of some 40-plus poles in approximately 6.5 miles of line and four transformers installed by the linemen. Each home received four lightbulbs, two light switches and two electrical outlets.

Now completed, the power lines will belong to a local utility, ADECORK (Associación Para Desarollo Communitario Rax Kiche; translation: Association for Community Development Rax Kiche). ADECORK will carry the responsibility of generating and distributing electric power to Sillab. The utility operates a small hydro plant with a capacity of 75 kilowatts (kW).

The locals live in extreme poverty conditions without running water, plumbing and food refrigeration. The villagers depend on farming operations for economic sustainment; they produce corn, beans, cardamom seeds, and some vegetables.

Kimminau says he was positively impacted by this mission and came home with a changed outlook on life. The first day the people of Sillab made a big impression on Bryan. “The people gathered around us as the pastor for us. The men also prayed aloud. The women wept, not because they were happy or sad, but because they were spiritually moved. They realized what a blessing the electricity was going to be.”

The trip was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it truly humbled Bryan. It was a privilege to use the linework trade to make a positive difference in the lives of the people of Sillab. Their simplicity, joy, and friendship were truly a gift. Bryan got close to a handful of kids that followed them from house to house as he helped wire the homes. “If you dropped something, you weren’t fast enough to pick it up – one of the kids would pick it up for you. They watched and learned as we worked. The interpretor explained everything to them. When we moved on to the next house, they were right there with us and knew what to do.

The staff and board of directors at AEC supported Kimminau’s participation in the project.

The co-op is proud of Bryan Kimminau for selflessly giving of his time for an extended period of time to help our neighbors in Central America. This is a powerful way to display one of the cooperatives’ core principles, “Concern for Community,” at home and across the borders.

When asked if he would go again if given the chance, Bryan replied, “Absolutely! In a heartbeat! I plan to apply for it again next year.”

Electric cooperatives have a long-standing tradition of bringing lights where there are none. More than eighty years ago, cooperatives brought power to rural America and its countryside; given its origins, electric co-ops are willing and well positioned to help other areas that do not have access to electric power.

“Bringing electricity to remote areas in developing countries takes electric cooperatives back to their roots,” says Chris Meyers, general manager of the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives. “It reinforces our commitment to improve the quality of life for local communities at home and abroad. Access to electricity will bring economic empowerment, better access to health care and education and enhanced safety for these villagers. It’s a life-changing gift.”

Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives have established a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, The Oklahoma Energy Trails Foundation, to support this cause; four projects have been sponsored since 2016. All contributions to the Foundation are tax-deductible. Collectively, Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives have made possible 578 first-time electric connections in six villages in Central America and South America. A special thanks to Studio1441.com for supplying the pictures for this article.

No. 5: Terrel inducted into Hall of Fame.

Shawn Terrel, president of United Country Auction Services and owner/broker of United Country Real Estate | Kansas City Auction and Realty, was recently inducted into the Oklahoma State Auctioneers Association Hall of Fame. The honor is given by a vote from fellow members of the OSAA.

Terrel is a veteran auction professional with nearly 30 years of experience and over 4,000 auctions under his belt. As the president of United Country Auction Services, he oversees the management and operations of the largest integrated real estate and auction company in the United States. He is a graduate of both the Missouri Auction School and the Texas Auction Academy and is an instructor for the Certified Auctioneers Institute (CAI) at Indiana University. Terrel said receiving the honor of being inducted in the hall of fame came as a complete surprise.

“The auctioneers on the hall of fame committee that are inducting you tend to have a lot of longevity and set the standard in the industry,” said Terrel. “To be recognized by my peers in the auction business is a reward in itself. It was a special moment to be presented the honor by two men I admire very much, auctioneer Leroy Hendren, and my long time mentor and a 50-year veteran auctioneer, Perry Wiggins. It was an emotional experience.”

Terrel said he has been present for many other auctioneers who have been inducted into the hall of fame and didn’t know it was his turn until they started talking about his childhood and early parts of his auctioneer career. Ultimately, he was happy to be surrounded by fellow members of OSAA, an organization he respects deeply.

“You have people you respect in the industry that are giving you accolades. It was a great moment,” said Terrel. “Being a member of your states auction organization is much more than who has the most auction sales, more importantly, it’s about people who have given back to the auction industry. We are seeing a lot of transition in the auction business. Within these state organizations, the education and networking are all becoming increasingly important to auctioneers and the auction industry as we move towards advancements in technology and new ways to conduct our business.”

Learn more about Terrel and United Country Auction Services at www.UCAuctionServices.com.

January

Karlie Snow, Freshman, was chosen as the Aline-Cleo November Student of the Month.

• Bryan Kimminau reflects on Guatemala trip.

• Tanner Bowman, Cherokee, was awarded a $500 scholarship from the Alfalfa County Retired Educators.

• Representative Carl Newton and Senator Casey Murdock were present for a Town Hall style meeting at the Fairview Community Center.

• The Cherokee Chiefs were the 2019 Cherokee Invitational Tournament Champions after defeating Burlington 43-23 in the championship game. This was the first tournament title since 2015 and third in tournament history.

The Burlington Lady Elks took home runner-up in the tournament. Cherokee Lady Chiefs finished in fifth place with the consolation trophy.

• BHS rehires Dr. Croft for 2020-2021.

• The Masonic Lodge of Cherokee made a $1,000 donation to the Dakota Smith Love Fund.

• Fairview Savings and Loan Association presented a $500 contribution to Cherokee Public Schools. The donation is intended for the school district to use in a way to directly impact and further the education of its students.

• Alfalfa County U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that Mandy Parks of McWillie was elected to represent her local administrative area (LAA) during the recent county committee election. Troy Shepard of Helena will serve as the first alternate.

• The Cherokee Lady Chiefs finished in second place after falling to Lomega in the championship game. They defeated Timberlake and Burlington to advance to the finals.

Burlington Elks took home the runner-up trophy after defeating Kremlin-Hillsdale, Cherokee and then fell to Ringwood in the championship.

The Cherokee Chiefs took home the third place hardware after defeating Lomega in overtime.

• Aline-Cleo Lady Cougars takes second place in the 2020 Billings Tournament.

• Aline-Cleo Lower Elementary Spelling Bee Champion is Jenna Dyer,  Lower Elementary Runner-up is Emily Wallace, Upper Elementary Spelling Bee Champion is Jozlin Campbell and Upper Elementary Runner-up is Kassie Irwin. Jozlin and Kassie now have the chance to compete at the Regional level in Clinton on February 4.

• Karson Leyland and Kylee Weve were crowned homecoming king and queen prior to the basketball game against Timberlake on Friday, Jan. 17.

February

• The Aline-Cleo Elementary Academic Team qualified for state by placing fourth at the regional tournament held at Vici on January 11.

• Fire departments from Cherokee and Burlington were called to a structure fire in Cherokee at approximately 11:30 a.m., Friday, Jan. 31. Cherokee Fire Department was assisted by Burlington Fire Department, Cherokee Police Department, Alfalfa County Sheriff’s Department and Alfalfa County EMS. A&B Fire Department was called to assist but was cancelled before they arrived on scene.

• On January 25, Burlington 4H group entered three categories at the West District 4H talent show in Fairview. Lauren Thomason was entered in the individual class. She sang “Favorite Things” from the “Sound of Music”. She placed third. Thomason and Savelina Ofiu entered the small group class. They sang “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” from “Annie”. They placed second. Thomason, Ofiu, Rebecka Carlson, Morgan Matzke, Kaycee Matzke, Remington Farney, Emma Schupbach, Rylee Sims and Mylee Sims were entered in the large group contest. They were the Elkettes and they sang the song “Roar” by Katy Perry. They placed first in their competition.

• Preston Pierce, a senior at Timberlake, recently competed in the OBCA State Free Throw contest.

Pierce won the northwest regional competition in Woodward by making 114 out of 120 free throws. Winning this event qualified him to shoot at the state meet in Moore where he made 90 out of 90 free throws in three rounds of head-to-head competition.

During competition he made 40 out of 40 in a shoot-off to earn the first spot in the finals over Evan Barber from Southmoore who made 39 out of 40 in the loss.

Pierce faced off against Evan again in the championship during halftime of the Thunder game on January 15.  Pierce won by making 19 out of 20 in front of a packed Chesapeake Arena.

• On Saturday, January 18, Western Equipment hosted nearly 100 students from high schools in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico in its Amarillo location for the inaugural Ag Tech Open Invitational.

The results and prizes awarded are listed below:

• Top Five Winners (Parts ID): Dustin Frazier, Timberlake High School, 8” Vise.

Citizens of Helena and the surrounding communities gathered at 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 9, at the Timberlake High School Auditorium to hear from Representative Carl Newton, Mayor Garett Powell and Warden Rick Whitten on what can be done to help prevent the shut down of the James Crabtree Correctional Center.

• Laney Neal and Alec Judd were crowned Timberlake’s homecoming queen and king.

The state FFA officer team of the Oklahoma FFA Association conducted their 2020 Goodwill Tour, in which they visited the Cherokee FFA Chapter, at 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, January 21.

• Elizabeth Webster signs a letter of intent to join the Northwestern Oklahoma State University track team. Pictured are her parents, Ryan and Jenny Webster; sister, Josie; and coach Bryce Schanbacher

First Baptist Church in Cherokee welcomed their new pastor to the town in November.

Bryan Laramore was called to serve the church after spending over 10 years at First Baptist Church in Ames.

Shawn Terrel, president of United Country Auction Services and owner/broker of United Country Real Estate | Kansas City Auction and Realty, was recently inducted into the Oklahoma State Auctioneers Association Hall of Fame. The honor is given by a vote from fellow members of the OSAA.

On February 7 and 8, approximately 150 Oklahoma auctioneering families & companies gathered in Oklahoma City for the Oklahoma State Auctioneers Association (OSAA) Annual Winter Convention & Trade Show.

The participants competed in bid calling, ring work, auction advertising and attended educational seminars.

Wiggins’ Auction Managers attending the event were Kim and Vicki Wiggins Allen, Jeff and Debbie Crissup, Kendall and Debbie Decker, Megan and Clay Albright and Perry Wiggins.

Jeff Crissup, the 2016 Pro Bid Calling Champion, competed in the Champion of Champions Contest and Kendall Decker competed in the Pro Bid Calling Contest. In the auction advertising competition, Wiggins Auctioneers’ Team won four categories: Website design and content; Newspaper; Stationary; and Postcard Brochure.

• Timberlake Tigers, Burlington Elks, Burlington Lady Elks and Cherokee Chiefs clinch district championships.

• Megan Ryel, senior, was chosen as the Aline-Cleo December Student of the Month.

Peyton Rauch, freshmen, was chosen as the Aline-Cleo January Student of the Month.

Burlington Public School held their 2019-2020 spelling bee on Feb. 5.

The results are as follows:

• First and second grade: David Reimer, champion; and Garrett Sims, runner-up.

• Third and fourth grade: Carleigh Hill, champion; and Trinity Wade, runner-up.

• Fifth and sixth grade: Hope Olson, champion; and Cash Dotson, runner-up.

• Seventh and eighth grade: Hailey McCullough, champion; and Trevor Hankey, runner-up.

• Northwest Technology Center students placed at the Regional SkillsUSA Contest earlier this week.  The contest was held in Fairview.   Placing included:  Colton Brown, 2nd place, Myles Nixon, 5th place and Paden Porter, 6th place.  Harley Bynum also competed in the regional contest.  These students are all enrolled in the Automotive Technology Program at NWTC-Alva Campus.  Ron Rader is their instructor.  They are pictured above (l to r):  Rader, Brown, Nixon, Porter and Bynum.  Brown will go on to compete at the State Contest in April.

Former Carmen resident Erica Goss Irlbeck was recognized from the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. She is a professor in Agricultural Communications. Bob and Margaret Goss attended the ceremony last Wednesday.

• Kade Chace was presented his 2019 Class B All-Star football jacket.

• The Mat recently held their ribbon cutting ceremony courtesy of Cherokee Main Street. The Mat is located at 219 South Kansas in Cherokee.

Oklahoma State Representative Carl Newton and Oklahoma State Senator Casey Murdock, as well as field representatives for United States Senator James Lankford, Tanner Roberts, and United States Senator Jim Inhofe, Ryan Sproul, were present at the first installment of Eggs & Issues for 2020, Jan. 31 at the Fairview Livestock Auction.

March

• The Masonic Lodge of Cherokee gave a $1,000 donation to the cross fund. The Masons presented the check to Keith Smith. The Ministerial Alliance and the community are working together to help raise money to build an 80’ cross on the south end of Cherokee.

• The Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association announced today that its board of directors has chosen former Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives Jeffrey W. Hickman as the organization’s next president and chief executive officer. Hickman, who currently serves as chief communications and facilities officer for Great Salt Plains Health Center and is a fifth generation northwest Oklahoma farmer, will succeed Joe Neal Hampton, OGFA’s president and CEO for the past 48 years, who is retiring on June 30.

Great Plains Bank recently announced the hiring of Grant Wilber to serve as an agricultural and commercial lender in the Enid market.

Kale Campbell placed first place at the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts contest.

Diamond T Angus, Cherokee, recently re-enrolled in the American Angus Association®’s MaternalPlus® program as a commitment to making genetic improvements in lifetime cow herd productivity. Breeders participating in MaternalPlus are keenly focused to better evaluate herd reproductive performance, the number one profit driver in the cow-calf industry.

• Remington Farney loves making blankets and she wanted to donate them to be used for foster children. She wants them to feel loved, have a sense of security, warmth and comfort.

• The Cherokee High School boys’ basketball team was named the 2020 Class A Boys Basketball Academic Champions. They had the highest average grade point average in Class A boys basketball.

Leslie Collins, DNP, MS, RN, of Cherokee, served as Nurse of the Day for the Senate on Wednesday.

County farmer Levi Johnson, directed $2,500 to Timberlake FFA through America’s Farmers Grow Communities, sponsored by the Bayer Fund.

The State Board of Education approved a cessation of activities for all accredited public schools in Oklahoma due to the coronavirus.

The decision came during an emergency meeting at 4 p.m., March 16.

• Keep Oklahoma Beautiful (KOB) with OGE Energy Corp. (OGE) has announced 2020 Great American Cleanup – Oklahoma’s OGE Growth & Start-Up Grant Winners.

The OGE Growth grants recipients announced were the Town of Carnegie, Okeene Historic Preservation Group, Harrah Chamber of Commerce, Town of Reydon, Town of Fargo, Fort Sill Apache Tribe, Plaza District Association, City of Muskogee, Adair County Trash Off, Greater Tenkiller Area Association and Save the Illinois River Association, and Garber 4-H

• Governor Kevin Stitt announced he has issued an executive order declaring an emergency in all 77 counties to provide public health officials, health care providers, state agencies and small businesses support as a result of the national spread of COVID-19.

• Payton Ream signed to play golf at Southwestern Christian University. Ream is the son of Aaron and Shanna Ream and Robert and Kayla Fleer. His coach is Matthew Guffy.

April

• The State Board of Education unanimously approved an order that implements a Distance Learning Plan to complete the 2019-20 school year for Oklahoma students without reopening school buildings. The approval comes as numbers grow for positive COVID-19 cases in the state.

As Alfalfa Electric plans and responds to the COVID-19 threat, we must think of the health of our members and employees. There is a strong possibility that AEC will postpone or cancel our 84th Annual Meeting. The AEC Board of Directors will make the final decision shortly after this publication goes to print. With that said, AEC would still like to share some of the information about your co-op and the Annual Meeting.

United States Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) released the following releases after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded $228,272 to four community health centers located in Oklahoma’s Third Congressional District.

Third District Community Health Centers receiving funding include: Fairfax Medical Facilities, Fairfax: $56,896; Great Salt Plains Health Center, Cherokee: $61,777; Panhandle Counseling and Health Center, Guymon: $53,783; Shortgrass Community Health Center, Hollis: $55,843.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced on April 13, the first case in Alfalfa County from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Recently Haven Davis was named the 2020 Miss ACRA Rodeo Queen at the American Cowboys Rodeo Association Finals held in the Built Ford Tough Arena, Tulsa Fairgrounds.

• Brady Sidwell, owner and principal of Sidwell Strategies LLC, of Enid, has been appointed to serve on the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Oklahoma City Branch Board of Directors.

Rotary Club of Cherokee recently delivered hand sanitizer to area businesses.

• Anthony Ramirez, senior, was chosen as the February Student of the Month at Aline-Cleo High School.

May

Twelve graduating seniors from Alfalfa County will be recognized by their respective schools for their outstanding scholastic achievement in being named valedictorian and salutatorian.

• Jami Jantz was named the 2020 Magnificent Mom. She was nominated by her daughter Haylee.

Eleven eighth graders were set to be recognized for being named valedictorians and salutatorians of their respective classes at Cherokee, Burlington, Timberlake and Aline-Cleo.

Service – an act of helpful activity; to help or aid others.

Volunteer – a person who performs a service willingly and without pay.

Leader – a person who leads.

These three terms personify Ethan Sacket, a senior business administration major at Northwestern Oklahoma State University who has been honored with this year’s deSERVING Ranger Award from the Service Learning and Civic Engagement (SL/CE) program.

• Kale Campbell of the 4-Him 4-H placed first in the nationwide Judging Pro online livestock judging contest in the senior division which was held in April. He is the son of Kyle and Gina Campbell of Jet.

• Denny Henderson was the guest speaker for the City of Cherokee Memorial Day Service.

• The Northern Oklahoma College Board of Regents rehired NOC President Dr. Cheryl Evans at Wednesday’s regents meeting at NOC Enid.

June

• Emergency crews from Alfalfa County searched for a downed aircraft on May 31. At 7:14 p.m. Alfalfa County 911 received a report of an aircraft that went down one mile north and two west of the Cherokee airport. The aircraft had ran out of fuel. Crews from Alfalfa County Sheriff’s Department, Cherokee Police Department, Cherokee Fire Department, Alfalfa County EMS, Burlington Fire Department, Air Evac and A&B Fire Department assisted with the call. After over an hour of searching the downed aircraft was found along with the pilot who was able to walk away from the crash.

• Dane Wilber and Cassandra Berry were named directors of the Pioneer Spirit Foundation at the board meeting held May 20th, replacing retiring directors Tom Evans and Rozella Hadwiger.

Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) released the following information after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded $736,276 to four HRSA-funded community health centers:  Fairfax Medical Facilities, Fairfax: $196,069; Great Salt Plains Health Center, Cherokee: $258,679; Panhandle Counseling and Health Center, Guymon: $141,739; Shortgrass Community Health Center, Hollis: $139,789.

Twelve Northwestern Oklahoma State University graduates have been selected as the 2020 Outstanding Seniors.

This year’s Outstanding Seniors include Megan Brown, Colton Budy, Julia Buckingham, Aleysa Franz, Alondra Galindo, Chanel Martin, Aaron Pierce, Katelyn Pierce, Jacqueline Ruhl, Alysson Stewart, Joni Welch and Tiffany Willson.

The Cherokee Police Department recently hired a new officer who brings over a decade’s worth of experience to the police department.

Lloyd Cross was hired previously at a city council meeting and then started with the police force on June 5.

Thirty-nine children spent the day fishing Saturday, June 6 at the annual fishing derby held at Bonham Pond, near the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge headquarters.

A special ceremony was held on June 9 honoring former Speaker of the House Jeffrey Hickman in Cherokee.

A sign was placed at both ends of Cherokee that read, “Hometown of Jeffrey W. Hickman Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives 2014-2016”.

Peewee Kimminau was named the 2020 Alfalfa County Top Pop. He was nominated by his daughter Katelyn Hague.

Check back next week for the second half review of 2020.

Leave a Comment