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David Deaton

David Deaton

Digital Editor at Oklahoma Welcome

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Wednesday, 19 August 2015 22:40

Oklahoma Pension Fund Earnings Drop

 

 

OKLAHOMA CITY – Each of Oklahoma’s seven public pension funds have seen a significant drop in investment earnings during the past fiscal year, according to a report presented to members of the Oklahoma Pension Commission on Wednesday.

 

The report by the commission’s consultant, NEPC, shows the $28.8 billion invested by the state’s public pensions gained on average only 3.6 percent during FY-15, compared to average earnings of 19.9 percent the previous fiscal year.

The state’s largest pension, the Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System (OTRS), experienced the largest drop in earnings – from 22.4 percent in FY-14 to 3.5 percent in FY-15. In FY-14, OTRS was in the top one percent of best performing public pension systems. In FY-15, it slipped to the 11th percentile.

 

The smallest decrease was in the Firefighters Pension System, which saw returns fall from 17.8 percent in FY-14 to 5.9 percent in FY-15. The second-largest system, the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System, experienced a decrease in earnings from 18 percent in FY-14 to 3.2 percent in FY-15.

 

Combined investment performance for Oklahoma’s pensions in FY-15 was less than half of the average return for the past 10 years. NEPC said the decrease was due to a general decline in the rate of return across the financial markets; however, Oklahoma’s pension plans continued to outperform the majority of their peers.

 

 

FY-14 rate of return

FY-15 rate of return

10-year avg. return

Composite

19.9%

3.6%

7.5%

Teachers

22.4%

3.5%

8.4%

OPERS

18.0%

3.2%

7.0%

Fire

17.8%

5.9%

6.9%

Police

15.4%

3.7%

6.7%

Law

16.4%

4.4%

6.4%

Judges

17.7%

2.8%

6.6%

Source: NEPC

 

 

Treasurer Miller Comments on Pension Earnings Drop

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Treasurer Ken Miller, chair of the Oklahoma State Pension Commission, offered his reaction to the report received on Wednesday showing investment earnings for each of the state’s seven public pension systems in Fiscal Year 2015 were down substantially from the prior year.

 

While the precipitous drop was not unexpected and is similar to investment returns from public pension funds throughout the nation, Miller said the numbers illustrate an underlying reality.

 

“For the past few years, the state’s pensions have atypically exceeded the required funding levels to improve their financial health, but it has been due primarily to unsustainable investment returns,” he said.

“These lower returns are a reminder that we should not veer from the path of fiscal discipline and should, in fact, look for additional avenues to ensure our systems continue on the path to financial health.”

Miller said the state should not dip into the pension funds for other needs and should maintain the actuarially required contribution rate.

 

He has also proposed combining the administrative and investment functions of the non-public safety pension systems under one pension board to reduce expenses, while keeping the funds legally separated. Currently, each of the seven systems has a governing board, staff, consultants and investment managers spending about $100 million per year on overhead.

 

OKLAHOMA CITY - As of August 20, 2015, all Oklahoma public and private schools are to be tobacco-free. The new law will also prohibit anyone from using tobacco in school vehicles and at any school-sponsored or school-sanctioned event or activity, including sporting events. House Bill 1685, also known as the 24/7 Tobacco-Free Schools Act, provides around-the-clock protection from the dangers of tobacco use.

 

 

"Tobacco products are the leading cause of preventable death in the state of Oklahoma," said Governor Mary Fallin. "A lot of tobacco users first form the habit by being around other tobacco users, including friends and parents, when they are young. When I was growing up, it wasn't unusual to see parents – or high school-aged children – smoking or dipping at sporting events and other school functions. This new law pushes tobacco off our school campuses and ensures our children aren't picking up an unhealthy and potentially deadly habit in the very places that should be helping them develop healthy minds and bodies."

 

 

Each year 17,900 youths in Oklahoma try smoking for the first time and 4,200 youths under the age of 18 start smoking daily. The new law aims to help reduce those numbers by limiting exposure to tobacco. Adolescent tobacco users are more at risk than adults for memory loss, depression, cardiac irregularities and long-term dependence. A tobacco-free environment is an important measure to protect the health of Oklahoma's youth.

 

 

"Our children learn behaviors by watching those around them," said Dr. Terry Cline, Cabinet secretary of health and human services and Oklahoma State Department of Health commissioner. "The 24/7 Tobacco-Free Schools Act will help prevent Oklahoma's youth from becoming tobacco's next victims."

 

 

Although e-cigarettes and vapor products are not covered in the new law, schools are encouraged to include those products in their tobacco-free policies. Already, 246 school districts have implemented a ban on e-cigarettes and vapor products, which can mimic conventional cigarettes. Vapor products may also contain nicotine, which negatively impacts adolescent brain development.

 

 

For more information visit the 24/7 Tobacco-Free Schools webpage at: www.ok.gov/health/Wellness/Tobacco_Prevention/24_7_Tobacco-Free_Schools

 

For information on quitting tobacco, call the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or register online at www.okhelpline.com/.

 

According to a press release, If you drink and drive in Oklahoma, beware: The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is joining with law enforcement agencies across the state and throughout the nation for the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign Aug. 21 through Sept. 7.

 

Oklahoma law enforcement agencies will be mobilizing under the State's theme "ENDUI." Law enforcement officers will be aggressively looking for impaired drivers, arresting anyone who is caught driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


"On average there is one alcohol impaired driving-related fatality every 52 minutes across the country," said Col. Rick Adams, Chief of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. "This tragic loss of life can be prevented if we get impaired drivers off our roadways. Driving impaired is simply not worth the risk, so don't take the chance.

 

Any time you choose to drink, make sure you have designated a non-drinking driver. If you do choose to drive impaired, we will be watching and we will arrest you. No warnings, no excuses."


Adams said law enforcement officials are making progress in the fight against drunk driving by working with our safety partners and by arming people with useful tools such as the SaferRide app." The app is available for Android devices on Google Play, and Apple devices on the iTunes store.


"This holiday season, don't make the selfish and deadly choice to drink and drive. If you plan to drink, always designate a non-drinking driver," Adams said.


In Oklahoma in 2014, eight people died in vehicle crashes over the Labor Day weekend. Four of the fatalities occurred in alcohol-related crashes; an additional 28 people were injured in alcohol-related crashes.

 

(STILLWATER, OK) - Season tickets are now on sale for Oklahoma State University Department of Theatre's 2015-2016 main stage season.

 

The department is offering four productions at an extremely discounted rate—you can see all four for less than the price of three if you buy the season ticket package: $32 for general admission, and $20 for students and seniors. To see a season ticket brochure or purchase tickets on line, go to the department's website at http://theatre.okstate.edu.

 

 

"Every year we try to offer a little something for everyone," said Andrew Kimbrough, Head of the Department of Theatre. "For some reason this year we picked plays that are comedies, and all offer a little bit of nostalgia. It's safe to say that these are family friendly productions guaranteed to get a laugh, and probably get you thinking about the odd path that life seems to always take."

 

What I Did Last Summer,a comedy by noted American playwright A. R. Gurney, kicks off the year and runs September 24-26 at 7:30 p.m. with a 2:30 p.m. matinee September 27.

 

The play is set in the summer of 1945 in a vacation colony on the shore of Lake Erie, a short drive from Buffalo, New York. Grace, a mother of two teenagers, has her hands full as her husband is away fighting in WWII. Her 14-year old son, Charlie, fights to cut the apron strings and be taken seriously as an adult. Hoping to earn some spending money for a date with the desirable Bonny, Charlie takes a job with the colony's social outcast, the bohemian artist Anna Trumbull, much to his mother's dismay. Trouble and hilarity ensue as Charlie rebels against his upbringing and battles for Bonny's affections.

 

The second production is a perpetual favorite of the British and American theatre, Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, directed by Lloyd Caldwell and running November 12-14 with a 2:30 p.m. matinee November 15.

The play is set in the English countryside of 1941, where famous novelist Charles Condomine seeks material for his next book. Séances and spiritual mediums are all the rage, so Charles decides to conjure the ghost of his departed wife Elivra with the help of the very colorful Madame Arcati, who may or may not know what she is doing. Elvira shows up, of course, but she doesn't want to leave, much to the dismay of Charles' second wife Ruth. It's Noel Coward at his best, and a cautionary tale about what happens when you get what you wish for.

 

In the spring semester the department presents a brand new play, "The Politics of Dancing!", created by Assistant Professor Jodi Jinks and running February 18-20 with a 2:30 p.m. matinee February 21.

 

Some in the Stillwater community might remember Oklahoma Voices from the spring of 2013, which was the first original production created by Jinks and students. Using original research material and a lot of creativity, the production team created a wonderful homespun production that spoke to the unique lives of many in central Oklahoma.

 

Using many of the same techniques, Jinks will partner with a new group of students this fall and work on brand new material. This time Jinks has decided to explore how the students perceive the contentious landscape of dating and romance in the early decades of the 21st century. She plans to use as a springboard the watershed play A Dolls House, by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, which introduced women's rights and concerns to the modern theatre in 1879. The title comes from the Top 40 hit of 1982 of the same name, written and recorded by the British pop band Re-Flex, and easily found on Youtube.

 

 

Guaranteed to entertain and provoke some thought, "The Politics of Dancing!" promises a fun night of dance, song, and opportunities met and missed.

 

Closing out the year is the always popular production of a musical, and this year it's the hilarious The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin, and directed by B. Peter Westerhoff. The show opens on a Wednesday, April 20, and runs through the Sunday matinee on April 24.

 

The Putnam County Spelling Bee championship is down to the last few rounds as there are only six contestants left, a motley cross-section of misfit mid-American middle schoolers. There's angst and tears, drama and memorable songs in this Tony Award-winning musical send-up of America's most cut-throat competition. Consider yourself warned: audience members have been known to be invited on stage to try their luck at some impossible words.

 

All productions will be mounted in the Vivia Locke Theatre of the Seretean Center for the Performing Arts. Even if you elect not to buy season tickets, the individual show prices are extremely reasonable. The first three shows are $10 general admission and $7 students and seniors. Tickets for the musical in April tend to be a bit more, $12 general admission and $10 students and seniors. Clearly, if you love an evening of live entertainment, the season ticket package is a bargain.

 

For information regarding the season and Department of Theatre productions, call the department's communications specialist Brittany Zerr at (405) 744-6094.

 

 

Oklahoma State University is a modern land-grant university that prepares students for success. OSU has more than 36,000 students across its five-campus system and more than 25,000 on its combined Stillwater and Tulsa campuses, with students from all 50 states and around 120 nations. Established in 1890, Oklahoma State has graduated more than 260,000 students who have been serving Oklahoma and the world for 125 years.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015 15:23

Lottery Warns Oklahomans of Nationwide Scam

 

According to a press release from the  Oklahoma Lottery Commission, they are warning Oklahomans of a new scam circulating throughout the country seeking to mislead consumers into believing they have won a large sum of money.


Recipients receive Facebook and/or text messages from an individual claiming to be with the DC Powerball Lottery Grant. They tell the recipient they've won a large prize that can be claimed within 48 hours at the D.C. Lottery offices after transferring $950 to the scammers.

 

"The information in these messages is not legitimate and is not associated with any officially recognized lottery," said Rollo Redburn, Executive Director. "If any organization asks you to send an up-front payment in order to claim a prize, you should immediately contact a reliable source to verify the information, as it is very likely to be a scam." Redburn also pointed out that when you play a lottery game, Lottery employees "don't know the identity of winners until they come forward to claim their prize."

 

The Oklahoma Lottery security department urges anyone who receives a communication that could be a potential scam to contact the Attorney General's Office (405.521.3921) or the Federal Trade Commission (877.382.4357). If anyone receives messages similar to the above, they can call the lottery to verify the source at 405.522.7700.

 

Prizes exceeding $600 can be claimed at the Oklahoma Lottery Headquarters, any Authorized Lottery Claim Center or by mail. Prizes of $5,001 or more must be claimed through Lottery Headquarters in Oklahoma City.

 

About the Oklahoma Lottery
Net proceeds of all Lottery games are used to support improvements and enhancements for Oklahoma education. More than $685 million has been contributed to education since November 2005 with funds appropriated by the State Legislature to pay debt service on a higher education capital bond issue; to pay support salaries for public schools and for equipment, scholarships and other purposes at our career and technology education institutions.

 

For more information about the Oklahoma Lottery, please visit www.lottery.ok.gov

Thursday, 14 July 2016 17:40

The great and simple Sloppy Joe Recipe

Here is what you will need
1 pound of ground beef
1 medium sized onion (chopped)
½ cup of ketchup
3 Tablespoons of Vinegar
2 Tablespoons of water
1 Tablespoon of brown sugar
1 Tablespoon of dry mustard
1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon of salt
And of course hamburger buns.

 

Here is what you will do

Cook meat and onions in a large skillet, drain off excess fat.
Stir in the other ingredients and heat thoroughly.
Serve on a bun.
Enjoy

 

Oklahoma City— It is a sobering statistic, but a quarter of all the youth who leave foster care without a family in Oklahoma are likely to become homeless. That is the topic in the next installment of the Fall Lecture Series presented by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS). "Risk Factors for Foster Care Youth Homelessness" will be presented Tuesday, September 22 from noon to 1 p.m. at the Oklahoma History Center, 800 Nazih Zuhdi Dr. in Oklahoma City. All lectures are free and open to the public.

 

 

DHS researchers Zohre Salehezadeh, Ph. D., and Brandon Crawford will present their analysis of which youth are likely to become homeless when exiting foster care. Oklahoma was one of 18 sites funded nationally for a project by the Administration on Children and Families. The resulting project seeks to eliminate youth homelessness, particularly among those with foster care experience. Foster care alumni will also share their perspectives during the lecture.

 

 

The Practice and Policy Lecture Series has several events scheduled for fall. On August 25, Dr. Laurence Rubenstein from the OU College of Medicine will present strategies for preventing falls among the elderly. On October 22, Karen Youngblood from the University of Central Oklahoma presents a lecture on multigenerational management. A report on Oklahoma's pre-school population that is school-ready will be the topic of a November 5 lecture, and December 8 will highlight food access and health disparities in Oklahoma City.

 

 

A special workshop will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. October 2 with Matt Paxton from the television show "Hoarders." Paxton participated in a well-received lecture last spring, and will now present a three-hour workshop at the DHS Training Facility, 617 West Rock Creek Road in Norman.

 

 

The Practice and Policy Lecture Series has been developed to provide thought-provoking presentations on Oklahoma's emerging policy issues, trends and best practices. The series is sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services Office of Planning, Research and Statistics and the University of Oklahoma Center for Public Management with the goal of providing the best educational opportunities available in a forum that offers participants an opportunity to question, share and learn from each other. Register to attend by phoning (405)521-3552.

 

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol were called to the scene of an accident on August 18th approximately 11:22 am on US Highway 62, eight and six-tenths of a mile west of Tahlequah in Cherokee County.

 

According to the report a 2002 Ford Explorer driven by Kristina Sparks 48 from Cookson, was westbound on US62 when the vehicle departed the roadway to the left. The vehicle then reentered the roadway overturning one time coming to rest on its wheels.


Sparks was air lifted by Eaglemed to St. John Hospital in Tulsa. She was admitted with head and leg injuries and is listed in stable condition.


She was pinned for approximately three minutes freed by Woodall fire and rescue using spreaders.

 

A passenger, Robert Sparks 51, from Cookson was transported by Cherokee Nation EMS to Tahlequah City Hospital where he was treated and released.

 

Investigated by Trooper Cody Cox assisted by Trooper Aaron Wall both of the Cherokee county detachment.

 

According to a press release from Sen. Bryce Marlatt, he intends to file legislation to give Oklahoma teachers an across the board pay increase in the coming legislative session. Marlatt said the state's teacher shortage has reached a point of crisis, with school administrators across the state struggling to fill teaching vacancies.

 

 

The State Department of Education has received an unusually high number of requests for emergency teaching certifications, which allow candidates who have not completed standard education and training requirements to teach in state classrooms, he said.

 

 

"We have reached a point where a teacher pay raise is not only long overdue, but necessary to address what has become a crisis in our schools," said Marlatt, R-Woodward. "The growing gap between Oklahoma and surrounding states on teacher pay is making it increasingly difficult for Oklahoma schools to recruit teachers, and we are clearly falling behind. It's time for the state of Oklahoma to address the problem before the situation worsens."

 

 

Marlatt said the state's tight budget circumstances call for a creative solution to the issue of teacher pay. He said he will propose a ballot initiative to use funds from Oklahoma's Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), which has a balance of nearly $1 billion, to fund the pay raise.

 

 

With smoking rates having reached an all-time low in Oklahoma, and with the percentage of smokers trending downward, Marlatt said the funds could be used without compromising the mission and progress of TSET.

 

 

"Ultimately, this money belongs to the taxpayers, and I am confident that they would agree that giving our teachers a long overdue raise is the best way the state can utilize these funds right now," Marlatt said. "Before we can competitively recruit the best talent, we have to reach a point where we at least have a teacher in every classroom. This is the reality of how far we have fallen behind on teacher pay. Complaining without offering ideas isn't going to solve this problem – the time has come for us to think outside the box and explore creative solutions to improve teacher pay."

 

 

For more information, contact Sen. Bryce Marlatt at 405-521-5626, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Tuesday, 18 August 2015 15:46

James William Hartsock

James William Hartsock of Fort Smith, Arkansas was born on May 16, 1956 to James and Norman (Thomas) Hartsock in Fort Smith, Arkansas and passed away on August 17, 2015 in Fort Smith, Arkansas at the age of 59 years.

 


James is survived by his companion; Carol Reichard of Fort Smith, Arkansas, two sisters; Patsy Hays of Van Buren, Arkansas and Rachel Hartsock, and three brothers; Acy Hartsock of Bella Vista, Arkansas, Bill Faulkner of Greenwood, Arkansas and Ralph Hartsock of Laughlin, Nevada.

 


James was preceded in death by his parents, one sister; Carolyn Jacobs and one brother; Jimmy Lee Hartsock.

 


Funeral services will be held at 2:00pm., Friday, August 21, 2015 at Mallory Martin Chapel of Spiro, Oklahoma with burial following in New Hope Cemetery.

 

Arrangements have been entrusted to the care and direction of Mallory Martin Funeral Home of Spiro.

 

Condolences can be made online to the family on James' guestbook at www.mallorymartinfuneralhome.com

 

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