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David Deaton

David Deaton

Digital Editor at Oklahoma Welcome

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Wednesday, 20 September 2017 00:10

Gene Allen Skelton Obituary

Gene Allen Skelton of Hodgen, Oklahoma was born November 13, 1952 in Modesto, California to Bill Gene and Betty Jo (Penell) Skelton and passed away September 19, 2017 in Hodgen, Oklahoma at the age of 64.

He is survived by:


His wife:
Melba Skelton of the home

His father:
Bill Skelton of Hodgen, Oklahoma

Six daughters:
Debbie Fell of Tulsa, Oklahoma
Brianna Riddley and husband Phineas of Monroe, Oklahoma
Gwenda Saylor of Poteau, Oklahoma
Jamie Nelson of Bokoshe, Oklahoma
Rachel Skelton of Poteau. Oklahoma
Billie Francis and husband Kendall of Heavener, Oklahoma

Three sons:
Steve Morrison and wife Mandy of Fort Worth, Texas
Marcus Skelton of Poteau, Oklahoma
Gene Allen Skelton II of Heavener, Oklahoma

Numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives, and a host of many friends


He was preceded in death by his mother, Betty Jo Davis and two grandkids, Caden Place and Zarteshia Riddley.


Gene was a member of the Heavener Pentecostal Church of God, Choctaw Country Club, and was self-employed as a Truck Driver. He loved spending time with his family, friends, and enjoyed life to the fullest. Gene was a veteran of the Air Force where he served his country during the Vietnam Era. He was a loving father, son, brother, grandfather, uncle, cousin, and friend. Gene will be dearly missed by many.


Memorial services will be 10:00 a.m., Saturday, September 23, 2017 at the Heavener First Baptist Church with Reverend Brian Harris and Reverend Sonya Nix officiating. Cremation arrangements are under the direction of Dowden-Roberts Funeral Home of Heavener, Oklahoma.


Honorary Pallbearers will be: Gene Allen Skelton II, Phineas Riddley, Kendall Francis, Kenny Dehart, Brian Harris, Gary Fortner, Randy Tarpley, Trevor Pettit, and Marilyn Pledger.


The family with visit with friends on Friday from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at the funeral home.


To sign Gene’s online guestbook please visit


Press Release

Carl Albert State College unveiled the official CASC College Seal on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 at the Costner-Balentine Student Center on the CASC Poteau campus. Guests at the event included two staff members of the late U.S. Representative Carl Albert, Loise Washington and Sara Lane. Oklahoma State Senator Mark Allen also joined CASC regents, administrators, faculty, staff and CASC development foundation trustees at the event. Other special guests included Poteau Mayor Jeff Shockley, Poteau Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Karen Wages, former CASC President Garry M. Ivey and his wife Pam, and Betty Ford who serves as a Field Office Representative for U.S. Representative Marcwayne Mullin.


CASC President Jay Falkner welcomed guests to the ceremony, and unveiled the new College Seal that honors Carl Albert as the namesake of the College. President Falkner explained, “Stigler Printing’s President Linus Williams and Art Director Chase Huggins listened to us explain what we were looking for, and absolutely delivered on our request. The seal depicts a young Carl Albert as the central figure in the seal with Cavanal Hill in the background.” President Falkner continued, “Some institutions have a certain building or monument as their central theme, but for us – we have Carl Albert. We would not be the great college we are if not for Carl Albert.”


During the ceremony, Linus Williams spoke about the designing of the new seal, and CASC Regent Chairman Lavon Williams took a moment to share his thoughts and appreciation of the College’s new seal and the honor of having the College named for Carl Albert. Lane and Washington both spoke about Carl Albert and how proud they were to see all the College is doing to honor and remember him. During the ceremony, it was noted that Representative Albert was passionate about the importance of education and about civil rights, and saw education as “the great equalizer.” Both Lane and Washington spoke of the strengths of Carl Albert and said he was the most honorable man they had ever known. Lane and Washington also shared that Carl Albert would be well pleased with Carl Albert State College.


President Falkner explained that CASC will use the new seal in a variety of ways as part of the College’s continued branding efforts. He also shared that prior to the unveiling ceremony, the former staff members of Carl Albert had the opportunity to tour CASC to see firsthand many of the ways Carl Albert is honored and highlighted across the Poteau campus.



group at Seal Ceremony 002

Photo left to right - Senator Allen, Ron Lawson, Karen Wages, Betty Ford, Lavon Williams, Deanna Reed, Carroll Huggins, Loise Washington, Dwight Spencer, Sara Lane, Buddy Spencer, Jay Falkner, Belva Barber, and Jeff Shockley.


CASC Mission Statement: To provide an affordable, accessible, and exceptional education that fosters student success.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017 10:22

PUES Students of the Week for Sept. 11-14

The Poteau Upper Elementary school is pleased to announce their “Students of the Week” for September 11 through the 14th.

Character Word for September is RESPONSIBILITY

Taking care of one's self and others; to carry out a duty or task carefully

Students of the week are: Betsy Gavina, Caroline Thompson, Spencer Perry, Dawson Lamb, Isaac Cunningham, and Garrett Finchum.


Monday, 18 September 2017 22:51

Health Department Schedules Flu Shot clinics

LeFlore County Health Department Schedules Flu Vaccine Clinics


The LeFlore County Health Department announced today its seasonal influenza vaccination clinic schedule for the upcoming flu season.


Clinics will begin Monday, Oct. 2, 2017.


The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) and LeFlore County Health Department recommend flu vaccination every year for everyone 6 months of age and older. The more people vaccinated, the less the chance that flu will spread in families and communities.

Each year in the United States, flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths. The flu vaccine is the best defense against getting the flu. Flu season usually starts in September or October and runs through April or May.

“It takes about two weeks after vaccination to become fully protected so it is important for everyone in your family to be vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Jill Larcade, administrative director for the LeFlore County Health Department. “Protection from the flu vaccine lasts about six months, so people vaccinated in October should be protected through April of next year.”

Immunization is the safest and best way to protect people at high risk from the flu such as pregnant women, children and people with chronic heart and lung diseases. In addition to getting a flu vaccination, people 65 and older, and those with chronic health conditions, should ask their doctor about being vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia. Pneumococcal pneumonia is a common and potentially serious complication of the flu. Unlike the influenza vaccine, the pneumococcal vaccine does not need to be given every year.

The flu mist will not be available as it is no longer recommended by the CDC.

The LeFlore County Health Department will be providing flu vaccine using the following fee schedule:
• There will be no charge for families whose income is less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level. However, those with health insurance should bring their card. The insurance company will be billed for the vaccine and an administration fee.

• There will be no charge for adults 65 years of age and older. These adults should bring their Medicare Card or other health insurance card.

• There is no charge for children 18 years of age and younger who have no health insurance, whose health insurance does not cover flu vaccine, who are eligible for SoonerCare, or who are Native American or Alaskan natives.
• All others will be charged a fee of $25 to cover the cost of the flu vaccine and the cost of administering the vaccine.

Clinic days and times are as follows: Monday through Friday, 8:00am - 4:30pm.

The LeFlore County Health Department will accept SoonerCare, Medicare, all private health insurance, cash, checks, or credit cards as payment for flu vaccine. For more information about flu clinics at the LeFlore County Health Department, call (918-647-8601).



According to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, early Saturday morning (Sept 16, 2017) an Okmulgee County Sheriff's deputy shot and wounded two people inside a car after a pursuit.

That pursuit ended in the area of Gun Club Road and Mission Road when the suspect, Chris Culberson 34, turned around and drove toward the officer.

The officer fired his weapon several times striking Culberson and a passenger.

That passenger was treated and released from an area hospital.

Culberson, of Duncan, was taken to St Francis hospital in Tulsa where he remains.

The deputy was also taken to the hospital for an ankle injury.

The Okmulgee County sheriff requested OSBI special agents investigate the officer-involved shooting. Numerous agents spent the weekend working to gather information about the incident. Once agents complete the investigation, they will deliver a comprehensive report to the district attorney.

The district attorney will determine if the shooting was justified.

Monday, 18 September 2017 16:08

First National Bank promotes Alicia Castillo

Press Release


Continuing with its commitment to have decisions on loans made by local people, First National Bank has promoted Alicia Castillo from loan processor to mortgage originator.

Castillo, who works at the Poteau branch, can now help homeowners with initial purchases and loan refinances.

Castillo has been employed by the bank for four years and is a lifelong resident of LeFlore County. She is a graduate of Poteau High School and Carl Albert State College where she majored in business administration.
Castillo lives in Shady Point with her husband, Colton, and their two children.

Bank Executive Vice President Chris Ward said, “I'm excited for this opportunity for Alicia and for First National Bank. Alicia is a hard worker with a great personality and attitude. She will make your home purchase or refinance transaction a joyful experience ... guaranteed!”

“I look forward to serving customers in my new role,” said Castillo. “Whether you are looking to purchase or refinance a home, drop by and let me assist you through this process.”

Monday, 18 September 2017 11:04

Heath "Jud" Thomas Obituary

Heath "Jud" Thomas was born May 16, 1970 in Stigler, Oklahoma and passed away September 15, 2017 in Keota, Oklahoma at the age of 47.


Jud is survived by his mother; JoAnn Mooring of Keota, OK, two sons; Leroy Thomas of Keota, OK, Wager Thomas of Keota, OK, one sister; Crystal Mayhall of Keota, OK, two brothers; Marty Thomas of Keota, OK, and Jamie Welch of Carter, OK. He was preceded in death by his grandparents Steve and Lillie Thomas. Jud enjoyed mechanics and working on old cars.


Services will be 2pm, Thursday, September 21, 2017 at Unity Baptist Church in Keota, Oklahoma with Brother Lonzo Lawson and Reverend Brandon Mooneyham officiating. Burial will follow in the Lil Sans Bois Cemetery in Keota, Oklahoma.


Pallbearers will be Jacob Maden, Billy Nichols, Nick Harper, Scotty Carey, Odie Branch, Justin Mayhall and honorary pallbearers will be Marty Thomas, Vince Huggins, Tyre Thomas, Shane Thomas, Doug Mooring, Jamie Welch.


Services have been entrusted to Mallory-Martin Funeral Home in Spiro, Oklahoma.


Viewing will be Wednesday 9am-7pm

Monday, 18 September 2017 15:59

John Trinkle Obituary

John Trinkle, 93, of Huntsville, AR (formerly of Poteau, OK) passed away Saturday, September 16, 2017 in Huntsville. John was born January 12, 1924 in Poteau, OK to Joseph & Cecilia (Huber) Trinkle.


He was a veteran of the US Army and served in Korea.


Graveside services will be 1 pm, Wednesday, September 20, 2017 at Oakland Cemetery, Poteau, OK with Kevin Trinkle officiating.


You may leave an online message at


The family has chosen to entrust the care of the services to Evans & Miller Funeral Home, Poteau, Oklahoma.

Monday, 18 September 2017 15:54

CareerTechs Offer Invaluable Opportunities

By Rep. Rick West


Growing up, I knew a lot of kids who were not sure what they wanted to do after they graduated high school. Some considered a four-year college but couldn’t stomach the cost or time commitment. Others mulled over community college but weren’t sure what they wanted to study. And some folks knew exactly what they wanted for their future. For a lot of those folks who wanted to learn a specific trade, career tech centers were the perfect option then – and they are still a perfect option today.


Kiamichi Technology Center has multiple locations in our part of the state and dozens of programs for interested students. This trade-oriented education is irreplaceable in today’s market. Students can learn everything from welding to culinary arts, and the skills they gain lead graduates to finding jobs quickly after finishing school. Many grads stay in LeFlore County to work. They pay taxes, invest in their neighborhoods and grow their own businesses. Kiamichi’s slogan is “Motivate, educate, elevate,” and that’s exactly what the staff at Kiamichi does. It’s an invaluable resource to our community.


Learning a trade can be a turning point for anyone, but these specialized skills are instrumental for our state’s incarcerated population. Fortunately, the Jim E. Hamilton Correctional Center in Hodgen offers an expansive vocational training program through something called a CareerTech Skills Center. Inmates have the ability to choose from seven different skills, including things like air conditioning and refrigeration to transmission repair.


The skills centers across the state have been part of the Department of Corrections for more than 45 years now. The program started right here at the Jim Hamilton Correctional Center, and it has expanded hand over foot. Education and skill training play crucial roles in achieving success after incarceration, and these programs offer inmates an opportunity to make positive changes in their lives.


Even still, there are plenty of obstacles for inmates leaving prison. These folks have court fines to repay, housing to track down and transportation to arrange. Men and women who are able to obtain a vocational training education are often one step ahead after being discharged, but it doesn’t mean they’re in the clear.


I believe there’s more we can do to help these individuals. Oklahoma has the second highest incarceration rate in the country, and more than half of the state’s inmates are doing time for nonviolent offenses. For men and women who are in prison for driving under the influence, it can cost thousands of dollars to regain a driver’s license. I strongly believe there are penalties to pay for breaking the law, but the current penalties can be unachievable for people who are trying desperately to get back on track.


Maybe we could look at provisional licenses for ex-inmates with jobs. Maybe we could lessen the fees required to reinstate a license. No matter what, we have got to do something to make sure the training these inmates receive doesn’t go to waste because someone cannot get to work.


As always, I’m here if you need me. Our special legislative session begins Sept. 25, and I’ll update you on that in my next article. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out by calling 405-557-7413 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Thanks and God bless.


Monday, 18 September 2017 10:13

Five teens killed in wreck near Tahlequah

According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol a Fatality collision occurred September 17, 2017 at approximately 10:41pm on Welling Road and Welling Bridge, 2.1 miles east and 4.1 miles south of Tahlequah in Cherokee County.


According to the report a 2006 Chevrolet Colorado Pickup driven by Donovan Caldwell 18, of Muskogee and his 4 passengers were all killed when the pickup in which he was driving southbound on Wellington Road, departed the roadway to the right and struck a guardrail. The vehicle then came back onto the roadway, departing the roadway to the left, driving through a railing and off the bridge.

The vehicle fell approximately 35 ft into the river on its top, fully submerging vehicle under water.

All subjects involved were extricated from vehicle by first responders.

Caldwell and his passengers; Jessica Swartwout 18, of McAlester, Drake Wells, 19 of Thackerville, Lily Murphy, 18 of Gentry, AR. and Rhianna Seely, 18 of Salina, OK. Were all pronounced deceased at the scene.

OHP, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department, Welling Fire Department and Cherokee Nation EMS were all dispatched to the scene.

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