Blog Page
Monday November 20, 2017

okw news logo

OKW News | South East Oklahoma Latest News

David Deaton

David Deaton

Digital Editor at Oklahoma Welcome

Google +


The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) 2010 HR3590, or Affordable Care Act (ACA) or otherwise known as ObamaCare is made up of the Affordable Health Care for America Act, the Patient Protection Act, and the health care-related sections of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act and the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act.


It also includes amendments to other laws like the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act and the Health and Public Services Act. Since being signed into law, additional rules and regulations have expanded upon the law.

The Affordable Care Act’s focus is on providing more Americans with access to affordable health insurance, improving the quality of healthcare and health insurance, regulating the health insurance industry, and reducing health care spending in the US.


The law contains hundreds of different provisions that address different aspects of “the healthcare crisis” in the US.


President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans have vowed to repeal Obamacare.


“For most people, there's no actual need to repeal the mandate because there's no actual need to pay a penalty,” this is according to Kimberly Heath of Poteau.
Heath says her family did without insurance last year because they were misinformed.

“We're covered for next year at a very affordable price. We can even get dental coverage for an extra $50-75/month,” said Heath.

On MSNBC Morning Joe, OK- Senator James Lankford (OK) stated that they want to give relief to people who can't afford the individual mandate by repealing it.

According to Lankford 81 percent of people who pay a penalty in Oklahoma make less than $50,000/year.

But Heath thinks that many Americans just don’t know they qualify for help through a premium tax credit.

According to Heath, an individual making between $13,000 and $48,000 qualifies for the tax credit which can greatly reduce their premiums even bringing some premiums down to $0/month.

Blue Cross & Blue Shield Silver Plans offers some great deals with more coverage than the Bronze Plans.

A family of four making less than $40,000 can qualify for a Silver Plan with no deductible, $5.00 doctor visits and a family maximum out of pocket expense of $2500 for $60/month and dental coverage for an additional $50-75.

“They can get Insurance for less than the penalty if they only know about it and take advantage of it.”

“If they don't make enough to qualify for the premium tax credit, then they should qualify for a penalty exemption due to income or hardship.”

“You can play around with the numbers to see who qualifies by going to the OK Blue Cross -Blue Shield Website or the ACA website or you can also call.”

Most people think they don't qualify for any help because they don't qualify for Medicaid and Oklahoma didn't receive the expansion.

People who would have received Medicaid if Oklahoma had received the expansion may still be out of luck when it comes to healthcare, but they should qualify for an exemption from paying the penalty come tax time.

Check out or and see if you qualify for help with premiums by putting in everyone in the household's income.

You must make above a certain amount to qualify, so if a college students part-time job puts your family's income above the minimum qualifying income you need to add it in.

If you haven’t already enrolled, remember the deadline is December 15, 2017.

Because of an executive order from President Trump, more people may qualify for the tax credit on their premiums. It resulted in insurance companies raising their prices which triggered an automatic increase in the tax credit, too.


*If the tax reform bill passes it does away with the individual mandate which will raise rates.

Sunday, 19 November 2017 21:36

Monty Allen Thacker Obituary

Monty Allen Thacker, loving husband of Ruth Ann Thacker of Howe, OK, passed away November 15, 2017. He was born December 14, 1957, he was 59-years-old.


He proudly served in the United States Air Force. He put a smile on the face of everyone he knew, and will be dearly missed by all.


He is preceded in death by his mother Frankie Thacker, a brother Ricky and father-in-law Harold Fuoss.


Monty leaves behind his father Jim Thacker (Jody Cripps) of OK, sister Alice Wyatt of OK, mother-in-law Betty Fuoss of IN, six wonderful children, Tim Thacker of TX, Ashley Thacker of OK, Kenneth (Shannon) Fink of IN, Anthony (Christin) of AR, SSG Jason Fuoss of MO, and Amanda (Alex) Hood of IN, ten beautiful grandchildren, Zoee, Thomas, Tylor, Carly, Lizzy, Camren, Walker, Alexis, Samantha, and Ethan, as well as many more family members, friends, and loved ones.


Pallbearers will be Tony Fink and Tim Thacker.


Viewing will be held at11:00 AM, Tuesday, November 21, 2017, at Grace Manor Memorial Chapel, Poteau, OK.


Service will follow at 12:00 noon with Pastor’s Larry Stacy and Dr. Don Laughlin officiating.


Interment following service at Loving Cemetery escorted by The Patriot Guard Riders (OK) and American Veterans Motorcycle Club.


Services are under the direction of Grace Manor Funeral Home of Poteau. You may leave an on-line greeting to the family at



According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, an Elk City man was injured in a automobile accident that occurred on November 17, 2017 at approximately 11:37pm on Interstate 40 at the 54 mile marker.The accident was approximately 1 mile east of Foss, OK in Washita County.


According to the report a 2002 Ford Explorer driven by Donnie Riley age 71, of Elk City OK, was westbound on Interstate 40 and fell asleep at the wheel and departed roadway to the left. He then woke up and reentered the roadway and over corrected.

The vehicle then departed roadway to the right and rolled two times.


Riley was transported by Burns-flat EMS to Alliance Health Clinton and was treated and released.


His passenger, Dana Riley 48, of Elk City, OK. Transported by Burns-flat EMS to Alliance Health Clinton then transported by Air Evac to OU Medical Center.


The accident was Investigated by OHP, Washita County Sherriff Department, Foss Fire Department, Air Evac and Burns-flat EMS.

By OICA CEO Joe Dorman


With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we should all take some time to recognize and appreciate those important parts of our lives and the special people who make a difference. I am very thankful for the team at the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy that works every day to improve the lives of all 800,000 kids in our state. I also am appreciative of the board members who dedicate time to serving the organization and the many volunteers who share their time.


As an organization, we decided that we hear too much of the negative and not enough of the good work done by Oklahomans. It was through this discussion that our series of OICA awards was created.


Earlier this year, we decided it would be important to recognize Oklahomans who are making an impact for others through their work. We gave away five awards at our Heroes Ball, with each winner exemplifying what we need more of in this state: Oklahomans who will go above and beyond to help other Oklahomans. The winners of those awards were Craig and Amy Groeschel; Melvin & Jasmine Moran; the Adopt OK Kids segments run by KFOR, KSWO and KTUL; Whiz Kids and Brenda Lene. I am thankful that each of these folks and programs care for their home state and do their part to make a difference.


We also give away other awards, and I was pleased that we were able to announce the winners at our KIDS COUNT Fall Forum earlier this month. We recognized the recipients of the Laura Choate Resilience Award and the Moran Kidizenship Awards. These two awards go to the heart of giving back to the community and show the resolve of the folks who not only won, but also each person who was nominated.


The Laura Choate Resilience Award is given to someone who has experienced trauma earlier in their life, overcome that hardship and gone on to do good for others. The award, named after our board member who was a plaintiff in the original lawsuit which helped create OICA, is given annually. This year, the award went to Thomasine Fife, a counselor who is also a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Thomasine overcame terrible conditions in her childhood and early adult life and is now serving as an inspiration to many people and helping them overcome their own trauma. Thomasine was nominated by her son and delivered a “thank you” speech which brought many tears to the room.


We also presented the Moran Kidizenship Awards. These recognitions go to five young Oklahomans under the age of 19 who are doing great work which helps other kids in the state. Nominees show success with a program they developed or work to improve an existing program. The overall winner was A’Layah Robinson for her work with Lemonade for Love. Her hope is for every foster child to have a bag filled with basic needs. She works in Murray County to see this happen and her work has spread to surrounding counties. Other winners were Maya Carter, Laryssa Nunn, Desi Abney and Raylee Stonecipher. Each of these students has done tremendous work to help improve the lives of others.


I am thankful that each of these Oklahomans shows their caring through their service. If you know of an Oklahoman who deserves that recognition, please check out our awards pages at and submit a nominee who deserves to be honored.


OICA CEO Joe Dorman

About OICA
The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy was established in 1983 by a group of citizens, to create a strong advocacy network that would provide a voice for the needs of children and youth in Oklahoma, particularly those in the state’s care and those growing up amid poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, disparities, or other situations that put their lives and future at risk.

Our mission statement: “Creating awareness, taking action and changing policy to improve the health, safety and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.“


Sunday, 19 November 2017 21:25

I’ll Be There For You

Pervasive Parenting - by Kodey Toney


We (the Pervasive Parenting Center) have recently started something that I’ve wanted to do for several years now. We have begun the Pervasive Peers program in Panama Middle School.


This is a pilot program that we hope will grow throughout the area and into other schools.

This is a peer mentoring group that we have started to bring awareness and acceptance into the schools, and in turn into communities. Each program will be individual in that they get to name their group.


This group of 7th and 8th graders have decided on Panama Ambassadors of Random Kindness, or P.A.R.K. For short. We used the National Honor Society students to start the program.

So far they have gone through disability acceptance training as well as autism basics. The students seemed to really enjoy the autism training, and came away with a better understanding of what their peers on the spectrum may be going through.

For Bully Awareness Month the group learned skits about disability acceptance and performed them in the elementary schools.

They also work in leadership skills, and help to curb bullying in the school.

Several have agreed to volunteer as unified partners for the local Special Olympics program. This will include riding on a float with the Special Olympics athletes during the Christmas parade.

I have to thank Panama Schools for allowing us to start this program in the school. This especially includes Grant Ralls, Jamie Hoffman, Felisha McKensie, and Jennifer Toney. Also, the students have been amazing, so a big thanks to them.


Saturday, 18 November 2017 20:23

Loeva "Lou" Mae Smith Obituary

Loeva "Lou" Mae Smith of Spiro, Oklahoma was born April 26, 1939 in Mannford, Oklahoma to Homer and Beulah (Marrs) Vaughn, and passed away November 18, 2017 in Fort Smith, Arkansas at the age of 78.


She is survived by her husband: Jerry Smith of the home, two special Daughters: Marilyn Williams of Muskogee, Oklahoma and Gail Freeman and husband Lee of Van Buren, Arkansas; one brother: Charles Vaughn of Tulsa, Oklahoma, three grandchildren: Jonathan Freeman, Courtney Hayes and husband Jeremy, Jarrod Williams, and three great grandchildren: Ethan Hayes, Landon Hayes, and Parker Hayes.


Lou was preceded in death by her parents: Homer and Beulah (Marrs) Vaughn; a son-in-law: Jerry Williams; two sisters: Virginia Masse and Wanda Vaughn; and one brother: Doyle Vaughn. She was a long-time resident of the area and was of the Pentecostal Holiness faith.


Graveside Services will be 11:00 a.m., Monday, November 20, 2017 at New Hope Cemetery in Spiro, Oklahoma with Mr. Justin Warren officiating.


Burial will follow under the Direction of Mallory-Martin Funeral Home in Spiro, Oklahoma.


There will be no viewing for Mrs. Smith.


Saturday, 18 November 2017 20:13

Norris Family OBU Story

By Kedrick Nettleton OBU Athletics Communications Intern



For Zach and Caleb Norris, two players on the revamped OBU Men’s basketball team, being a Bison isn’t something new. For them, it’s a family affair; green and gold runs in the blood.


“I took my first steps on the OBU basketball court,” Zach says, as he smiles widely. “So that’s kind of a cool story.”


It turns out that the Norris family is full of cool stories, some of them decades in the making. Both of the Norris boys are looking forward to more than just the action of an upcoming season with their teammates this year. They’re looking forward to playing together as brothers for the first time on the collegiate level – and a year from now, their younger brother will join them on the squad.


They’re also looking forward to continuing an impressive family legacy here at OBU.


The history of the Norris family on Bison Hill stretches back decades. Scott Norris, Zach and Caleb’s father, was recruited to play basketball out of high school, starting his freshman year in 1987. He spent four years here competing under Coach Bob Hoffman. Scott’s junior year as a player saw the Bison ranked number one in the nation. “We had some good teams when I was there,” Scott says, “and some really good people.”


It was during the summer, at one of OBU’s basketball camps, when Scott was working the desk, that he first saw Wendy, the girl that he would eventually go on to marry.


“I hadn’t even talked to her,” he says. “I just looked across the room and saw her, and I told my friend that I was pretty sure that was the girl I was going to marry.”


Both of the sons chuckle when they recall the story. “I guess the rest is history,” Caleb says.


Both Scott and Wendy played basketball at OBU, and when Scott was offered an assistant coaching position after graduating, he didn’t hesitate. Doors kept opening, and in the early 1990s Scott found himself, at 25 years old, coaching the OBU women’s basketball team.


“I always wanted to go into coaching,” Scott says. “It taught me a ton. Not just about basketball, but about being a good human being.”


It was during Scott’s tenure as coach at OBU that both Zach and Caleb were born, and it was after a practice that Zach took his first steps on the OBU court. “It was a great family atmosphere,” Scott says. “We had a great time, had some really good teams, and had some really good players.”


Some of Zach’s first memories are of Oklahoma Baptist. “We were always at the games, hanging out. There’s lots of pictures of us here in the gym.”


So it would seem natural that the Norris boys end up as Bison, and for Caleb, this was true. He never hesitated. “Pretty much as soon as I was offered the scholarship I knew this was where I was supposed to be,” he says.


For Zach, the journey was a little more complicated. After being recruited out of high school to play at Oklahoma Christian, Zach fractured his ankle during the very first game of his sophomore season. What could have been the end of a basketball career turned into a blessing, due partly to his contagious good attitude. “Zach’s always been one of the most optimistic people that I know,” says the boys’ mother, Wendy. “There were times that were tough, but he was really an encouragement to me as I watched him battle back through that.”


His attitude paid off when Caleb gave him the news earlier this year: OBU had offered him a scholarship. The choice to come was an easy one after that.


When asked whether there was any hesitation to come follow in the family footsteps on Bison Hill, both boys laugh. “It was pretty obvious,” Caleb says. “OBU.”


Both parents are thrilled at the way things turned out, but Caleb and Zach are quick to point out that their parents weren’t a factor in the decision. “They would have been obviously thrilled for me to be here,” Zach says, “but it was never a big deal. They never pushed me in any direction.”


“I don’t think it was a natural decision for them,” Scott muses. “But I think they both feel blessed that they had the opportunity to make that decision for themselves.”


Scott and Wendy were tireless in their dedication to their children, in the same way that all parents of athletes are. There were endless tournaments, practices, camps, and games, endless fees and disappointments and successes. A commitment to sports is just that: a commitment. And it’s paid off for the Norris family.


“They weren’t just helping us with sports, they were helping us with life in general. They helped us get an education,” Zach says


The best advice that the Norris boys ever got from their parents? Caleb is quick to answer. “Basketball stays on the court,” he says. “Basketball never really followed us home, even though we were all out on the court together.”

That continues today. “Dad enjoys not having to coach anymore. He comes to games, and he’s just a spectator,” Zach says.


“There’s not many games we don’t go to,” Scott says with a laugh. “I like just being a fan, watching them play together.”


“It’s fun to come to games and see a lot of the same fans sitting in those green seats as when we were players,” Wendy adds. “It’s been a really neat thing to be a part of that OBU family.”


It’s worth noting that two other members of the extended Norris clan were also involved in OBU athletics. Loni Vaughan McIntyre, Zach and Caleb’s aunt, and their cousin, Madison Vaughan, both played softball on Bison Hill.

Having been involved in the OBU sports program for decades, Scott and Wendy have a unique, big picture view of what’s been developing over the last decades, and they are impressed by what they see.


“Having moved to the NCAA, there’s a bit more of a professional aspect to everything,” Wendy says. Both point to the updated facilities as a huge benefit to the program; Wendy thinks laughingly of the “closet” that her team used as a weight room. The expansion of talent, the updated facilities, and the people in charge all point to bright things in the future. “It’s crazy how much it’s grown in the athletic department,” Scott says.


More than anything, though, the overwhelming sense that one has in sitting down with the Norris family is a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation for the role that OBU athletics has played in their lives.

Scott perhaps sums it up best. “We’re just fortunate to have a great family, kids who are healthy, fortunate to have this opportunity. We’re extremely blessed. OBU has been so forgiving and accepting of me, and I love that my kids get to experience that.”


And with any luck, that blessing will continue for years to come.


Norris family photo 002

The Norris Family



Saturday, 18 November 2017 02:30

The week of Nov 13-18 in Review

Here are some things that happened this week in the area


Maidens of Mayhem make donation

The maidens captain Southern Ringya Belle presented a check of $200 to the LeFlore county advocacy center.


The money was raised from the maidens last home game!


The Maidens have a game in Nov 26, 2017 at Skatereation in Poteau. This game will benefit LeFlore county Foster Children's Christmas.





Mason help Serve

Local Masonic lodges Poteau, Spiro and Heavener with the help of JohnRoss and Kellie Christenberry and Kim Robertson helped prepare the plates for Grace Cottege's Night Before Christmas. Over 400 in attendance to the annual event held at the Donald W Reynolds Center in Poteau.




Leflore School students take first in Tournament


Leflore 5th & 6th grade Lady Savages took 1st place in the Hodgen tournament and the Leflore Academic Team won Regionals and is now headed to the State competition.




leflore academic team


Don’t forget about the Holiday Market going on Saturday November 18, 2017 at the Donald W Reynolds Center.

Congratulations to Bailey Oberste, she was crowned Miss CASC on Thursday at the Miss CASC pageant.

misscasc pic1


Donald W Reynolds Center is looking like Christmas.

tree center



Grace Cottage held the annual Night Before Christmas Banquet at the Reynolds Center


Congratulations to Ashlyn Morris, Miss Poteau High School.


The LeFlore County Leadership class traveled to Ft Smith to the Ft Smith Alliance meeting at University of Arkansas Ft Smith.





Press release



Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – Jason Barber, 41, of Bethany, Oklahoma, pleaded guilty  to depriving a pretrial detainee of his civil rights by using unreasonable force, announced Mark A. Yancey, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.


According to charges filed on October 31, 2017, Barber was a ranking Lieutenant and employed as a Correctional Officer during 2014 at the Canadian County Jail in El Reno, Oklahoma. On December 23, 2014, L.T. was an individual held at the jail after an arrest but before conviction of a crime. The charges allege that Barber willfully deprived L.T. of his constitutional right to due process of law when he struck L.T. while participating in a disciplinary hearing concerning L.T. Because Barber was acting under color of law, his unreasonable use of force violated federal criminal law. In the absence of bodily injury, the offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison.


Barber pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Shon T. Erwin. Barber and the government have agreed he should receive a sentence of probation. He could also be fined up to $100,000. He will be sentenced in approximately 90 days.


This case is the result of an investigation by the FBI and the Investigations Division of the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia E. Barry is prosecuting the case. Reference is made to court records for further information.

Friday, 17 November 2017 22:55

Decorating Wisely: Christmas Trees

By Glenda Wise


We had the best time last weekend taking pictures at the Pine Grove Christmas Tree Farm in Charleston. We took family pictures with ALL of our families. My parents, sister and her family, Donnie’s mom and did, his sister and her husband and, of course, our girls. The farm doesn’t technically open until this weekend, but just being there will put you in the holiday spirit. The rows and rows of trees are naturally beautiful and they have a few festive Christmas decorations to give you that extra special holiday spirit. Even if you don’t use a real Christmas tree, I highly recommend you take an afternoon this holiday season and visit the farm. They have hayrides, farm animals, and hot chocolate all at no charge. If you do choose to have a real Christmas tree you should consider purchasing it from them, their prices are reasonable and they are a local family.

Speaking of Christmas are my favorite tips about decorating them for that pro-look.

• If you’re using a real tree or a non-prelit tree, you will need to put the lights on first. The best way to do this is to start from the inside and weave them in and out of each branch. This lights the tree all the way through.
• Next, add your ribbon if using. I like using some ribbon just to fill in holes. When Donnie and I were first married we didn’t have that many ornaments, so ribbon was an inexpensive way to fill the tree.
• Now, the best part! The ornaments. I love getting out all the ornaments from years’ past. When we travel, we try to buy an ornament for our tree, that’s a fun little way to reminisce about past family trips. I keep all of the handmade school ornaments from the girls. I want to say a special “thank-you” to all the teachers that do those projects. They are truly appreciated and priceless.

• Once all the ornaments are on, you can go back and see if there are any empty spots. If so, just add a few berries or other fillers to fill them.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, one more exciting thing happened at the Christmas tree farm! My niece got engaged! It was so sweet, her now fiancé planned it all out. There were signs in the Christmas trees and he got down on one knee, it was awesome!

Page 1 of 533

Latest Events

Sponsored By:
Thanksgiving Day
Thu Nov 23 @12:00AM
Second Chances Holiday Open house
Fri Nov 24 @10:00AM - 06:00PM
Poteau Chamber Lunch & Learn
Thu Nov 30 @12:00PM - 01:00PM