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Thursday June 22, 2017

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David Deaton

David Deaton

Digital Editor at Oklahoma Welcome

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Governor Mary Fallin Announces Appointment to Oklahoma Turnpike Authority

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today announced she has appointed Guy L. Berry to the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.

Berry, of Sapulpa, succeeds Albert “Kell” Kelly, who resigned. Berry will serve on the board pending Senate confirmation next legislative session.

“Guy Berry realizes that maintaining and repairing our turnpikes and transportation infrastructure is important to our citizens and important to Oklahoma’s economy,” said Fallin. “He understands that as Oklahoma’s population grows, it will require a greater commitment to modernize and improve our turnpike system. I have confidence he will ensure the Turnpike Authority is competently and efficiently run.”

Berry has worked the past 36 years at American Heritage Bank in Sapulpa, as president and vice chairman of the board. Before that, he was president and owner of a bank auditing company in Tulsa. He previously worked as a national bank examiner for the U.S. Treasury Department.

“I appreciate Governor Fallin’s trust in me,” Berry said. “I will work to make sure our roads in our turnpike system are safe and well-maintained for our motorists.”
Berry previously served on the Oklahoma Transportation Commission and on the board of directors of both the Oklahoma Bankers Association and the State Chamber of Oklahoma.

He is married to Caroline Berry, and has two children, Elizabeth and Henry.


About the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority
The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority was established in 1947 to construct, operate and maintain Oklahoma turnpikes. Today, Oklahoma turnpikes are the safest and quickest ways to travel across the state. Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is managing multiple renovations throughout the state to maintain and operate the turnpike system to the highest standard. To learn more about the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and recent projects, visit



Submitted by Mike Houck - Assistant AD/Strategic Communications, University of Oklahoma Athletics Department


NORMAN — University of Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley filled the vacant position on his staff Wednesday by hiring Ruffin McNeill as assistant head coach and defensive tackles coach. McNeill, a former head coach at East Carolina while Riley was offensive coordinator there, comes to Norman from Virginia, where he served the 2016 season as assistant head coach and defensive line coach.


"I'm very excited that Ruffin McNeill is joining our coaching staff," said Riley, who was named OU's 22nd head coach last Wednesday after Bob Stoops retired. "Personally, I have a great history with him from our time together at Texas Tech and East Carolina. We're getting an extremely high-quality person and coach. Our team and fans will love the personality and energy he'll bring to our program.


"Ruffin possesses a distinguished record defensively, and I'm excited to see him work alongside defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and the rest of our staff on that side of the ball. I view the defensive line as one of the most important — if not the most important — position groups on the field, and he'll be a big benefit to our student-athletes and to our program as a whole."


Riley indicated that Calvin Thibodeaux, who has spent the last two seasons as OU's defensive line coach, will coach defensive ends. Riley also said he expects to finalize other coaching staff titles in the coming days.


A native of Lumberton, N.C., McNeill served as head coach at ECU, his alma mater, for six seasons (2010-15). Riley was his offensive coordinator for the first five of those seasons before he was hired at OU.


"I had a great experience working for (head coach) Bronco Mendenhall at Virginia and really enjoyed that," said McNeill on Wednesday. "Now having a chance to work for Lincoln, it's a proud moment for me because I'm very proud of Lincoln. It's an exciting moment as well. I've been in coaching a long time and I'm very honored to be joining the Oklahoma family. There's obviously outstanding tradition here and I got to know Coach (Barry) Switzer very, very well. I'm extremely excited."

Prior to East Carolina, McNeill spent 10 seasons at Texas Tech, where he first worked with Riley. During his time with the Red Raiders, McNeill coached linebackers (2000-02), special teams (2003-06) and defensive tackles (2007). He was Tech's interim defensive coordinator in 2007 before being promoted full-time to the spot for the 2008 and 2009 seasons.


McNeill concluded the 2009 campaign as the Red Raiders' interim head coach by rallying No. 21 Texas Tech to a 41-31 victory over Michigan State at the Valero Alamo Bowl with Riley making his debut as offensive play caller.


On Jan. 21, 2010, McNeill was named the 20th head coach in East Carolina history. The next day, he announced Riley as his offensive coordinator. McNeill went 42-34 at ECU and his teams played in four bowl games.


McNeill said his experience and ability to relate to players are perhaps his greatest strengths.


"I've been at every level and have done it a lot of different ways," he began. "I've been fortunate to work with great people. I've had the big-picture view of a head coach, I've been a defensive coordinator and I've been a special teams coordinator, so I think I have some things I bring to the table. I absolutely love coaching the players. I love that part. I'm excited to do that here. Can't wait to get on the field, get in the meeting rooms, talk strategy, talk life. That's what I've always been known for; being a hard worker and a team guy. I believe it's team and family first, last and always. Lincoln and his wife, Caitlin, are family to me. I've known him since he was 18 years old when he was a freshman at Texas Tech.


"I believe in working players harder than they've worked before, but also loving them more than they've ever been loved. That's my base. And I always am clear with my expectations. 'Here's what I expect and why, and here's what we're achieving.' It's not just the 'what,' but it's also the 'why' and the 'how.' I treat the players like they're my sons. Not just my particular group, but the entire team. I'm looking forward to building those relationships here at OU."

In 2014, East Carolina began the season with a 6-1 record and resided in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll for six weeks. ECU used an explosive offensive unit that rated among the nation's top five in passing (third), first downs (fourth) and total yards (fifth). Defensively, only 10 FBS teams were better against the run, as the Pirates allowed just 111.8 yards per game.


East Carolina recorded 10 victories in 2013, which ranks as the second-highest single-season win total in school history. That squad also broke or matched 52 individual and team single-game, single-season and all-time standards, while both sides of the ball combined to rank among the top 15 nationally in 12 statistical categories.

McNeill's coaching career began at Lumberton High School (1980-84) and he went on to work at Clemson (1985-86), Austin Peay (1987), North Alabama (1988), Appalachian State (1989-91, 1993-96), East Carolina (1992), UNLV (1997-98) and Fresno State (1999). He also spent time with the Miami Dolphins as a summer intern in 1996.

Mike Stoops said he's known McNeill for many years and is looking forward to collaborating on defensive schemes together.


"Ruffin brings a ton of experience to the defensive side of the ball, he's very familiar with our league because of his time at Texas Tech and his knowledge will help us keep expanding what we're doing. I've seen his work from afar and from coaching against him, and I appreciate his work ethic and the way he goes about his business. He's a great person as well. He'll be a great addition to our staff and I'm excited to work with him."


McNeill echoed Stoops' comments.

"Mike and I have known each other for quite a while, and in this business you kind of keep up with everyone," said McNeill. "We kept up with each other, even during his Arizona days, just seeing how each other were doing and so forth, and Bob as well. And you obviously know coaches through competition. Mike and I had a great visit yesterday and had dinner last night. We talked coaching philosophy, we talked schemes and we talked life. It went very well. I'm really looking forward to working with Mike."

Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall said Wednesday that OU is getting a gem of person and coach.


"Ruffin McNeill is one of the best people, not only in the world of coaching, but also in the world, period," said Mendenhall. "I've really enjoyed his friendship, the exchange of ideas and the camaraderie that we've had together. Ruff has amazing relationships with anyone he's met. He's got a great football mind. I am appreciative of all the work he put in helping us to begin to make Virginia an excellent football program."


A four-year letterwinner at East Carolina from 1976-80 under legendary head coach Pat Dye, McNeill was a three-year starter at defensive back and was the team captain for two seasons. He helped lead the Pirates to the Southern Conference Championship in 1976 and to an Independence Bowl berth in 1978.

McNeill and his wife, Erlene, have two daughters and a granddaughter. Renata McNeill Petrekin and son-in-law Lincoln Petrekin reside in Coral Gables, Fla., with their daughter Isabella, while Olivia McNeill is a high school teacher and lives in Winston-Salem, N.C.






At 9:50 am on June 14, 2017 the Oklahoma Highway Patrol worked an injury accident that occurred on State Highway 78, approximately .3 miles east of Achille In Bryan County.


According to the report, a 1985 Peterbilt driven by Tommy Dowd 37, of Calera, was traveling north on SH78 entered a curve, and then he departed roadway to the right and overturned before coming to a rest.

Dowd was transported by Air Evac to Plano Medical Center in Plano, Texas. He was admitted in serious condition with Head, leg, arm, trunk internal and trunk external injuries.


The accident was investigation by the OHP and assisted by Bryan County Sheriff’s office, Achille Police Department, and Achille Fire Department.


Medicaid Privatization Plan Jeopardized Millions in Health Care Funds


According to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the  (OHCA) acted to cancel the Request for Proposal (RFP) for SoonerHealth+, the fully capitated, statewide model of care coordination (often called “managed care”) that has been in development for Oklahoma Medicaid’s aged, blind and disabled (ABD) population. The plan represented a partial privatization of the Medicaid system.


A diverse coalition of health care providers, including nursing homes, hospitals, mental health professionals, and both the Oklahoma State University and University of Oklahoma medical centers had expressed concerns about the plan. Health care experts determined that the state plan may have been in conflict with federal rules and regulations, which could have resulted in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds. (Watch: News9: Oklahoma medical centers at risk of losing $650 million in federal funds)

The OHCA announced that the state would not move forward with the Medicaid privatization plan today, saying “the decision was made in the best interest of the state due to the uncertainty surrounding both federal and state funding.”


The Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers (OAHCP), which represents the state’s nursing homes, praised the decision.


“The Health Care Authority and CEO Becky Pasternik-Ikard absolutely did the correct thing by delaying implementation of managed care until we can determine if it is right for the state,” said OAHCP President and CEO Nico Gomez. "I appreciate her and her agency’s wisdom and courage on this issue. It would have been irresponsible to move forward with any plan that put essential medical services at risk as an unintended consequence.”


Gomez also thanked legislators and Governor Mary Fallin for highlighting potential problems within managed care. The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed HCR 1009, a resolution instructing OHCA not to move forward with managed care implementation. Over half of the state Senate cosponsored SCR 14, which contained similar language. Fallin also wrote a letter to OHCA asking the agency to delay the program’s start date.


“We asked our lawmakers to scrutinize this plan and to slow it down if it endangered the state’s health care infrastructure,” said Gomez. “They listened to us and took the right action. We are very grateful to the lawmakers who worked with us to ensure this policy didn’t inadvertently dismantle essential health care services.”


The Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers represents the interest of more than 18,000 residents and 19,000 professionals that work in Oklahoma’s long-term care facilities. The mission of OAHCP is to assist its members in providing the highest quality care to the seniors, individuals with disabilities and vulnerable Oklahomans who live in our facilities. We advocate for the enhancement of that care so that Oklahoma long-term care residents may live in the comfort and dignity they deserve.


For more information please visit



Wednesday, 14 June 2017 14:56

Rusty Petty Obituary

Rusty Petty of Spiro, Oklahoma was born on February 12, 1960 to Virgil Petty and Marilyn (Eastman) Sparks in Iowa City, Iowa and passed away on June 12, 2017 in Fort Smith, Arkansas at the age of 57 years.


Rusty is survived by his wife Barbara of the home, two sons; Ronnie Loyd and wife, Lora of Spiro, Oklahoma, Victor Loyd and wife, Erika of Spiro, Oklahoma, five grandchildren; Ceslie Loyd, Gunner Loyd, Skyler Loyd, Abby Curry and Anna Curry, his mother; Marilyn Sparks, three sisters; Ronda Rylatt and husband, Adrian of Hammond, Louisiana, Roxie Hughes of Lakewood, Colorado and Robin Adams and husband, Ted of Pocola, Oklahoma, one brother; Randy Petty and wife, Robin of Odessa, Missouri.


Rusty was preceded in death by his father; Virgil Petty, step father; Mainard Sparks, and his brother; Rodney Petty. He was a family man. Family came first. He loved the outdoors and hunting, camping, and fishing. He was a member of the Murrow Masonic Lodge #49, he retired as Assistant Chief from the Spiro Fire Department, along with the City of Spiro. He currently worked for the Leflore County District #1.


Memorial service will be held at 2pm, Monday, June 19, 2017 at the First Baptist Church in Spiro, Oklahoma.


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


Condolences can be made to his family on his guestbook online at


Arbuckle: June 12. Elevation normal, water 73 and stained. Largemouth and smallmouth bass good on Alabama rig, crankbaits, jigs, minnows and plastics on docks, in the main lake, points and riprap. Crappie and green sunfish good on jigs and minnows on brush structure, in creek channels, and docks. White bass good on jigs, lipless baits and minnows on docks, the main lake and on points. Report submitted by Jack Melton.


Broken Bow: June 11. Elevation normal, water 73. Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass good on Alabama rig, plastics and spinnerbaits on brush structure, points and standing timber. Crappie crappie good on jigs and minnows on brush structure and standing timber. Report submitted by Dru Polk, game warden stationed in McCurtain County.


Durant: June 13. Elevation below normal, water clear. Largemouth bass fair on bill baits, plastics and spinnerbaits on the main lake and standing timber. Channel catfish slow on chicken liver, punch bait, shrimp and stinkbait on brush structure and the main lake. Crappie slow on minnows and tube jigs on brush structure, the main lake and standing timber. Report submitted by Michael Ward, Park Ranger.


Eufaula: June 11. Elevation above normal, water murky. Striped bass, striped bass hybrids and white bass fair on minnows and sassy shad below the dam. Blue, channel and flathead catfish good on cut bait and live shad in creek channels, main lake and river channel. Crappie fair on jigs and minnows on brush structure and standing timber. Report submitted by Terry Springwater, game warden stationed in McIntosh County.


Hugo: June 11. Elevation above normal, water 73. Blue and flathead catfish good on live bait on rocks and fish are on the nest. Crappie and white bass fair on jigs and minnows in channels, river channel and standing timber. Largemouth and spotted bass fair on buzz baits, jerk bait and spinnerbaits in creek channels, in the shallows and standing timber. Report submitted by Jay Harvey, game warden stationed in Choctaw County.


Konawa: June 13. Elevation normal, water 82 and clear. Largemouth bass fair on buzz baits, crankbaits, plastic baits and topwater lures along creek channels, the main lake, around points and weed beds. Striped bass hybrids and white bass good on crankbaits and live bait in the main lake. Channel catfish good on chicken liver and cut bait in coves and along riprap. Report submitted by Garret Harley, game warden stationed in Seminole County.


Lower Mountain Fork: June 11. Elevation normal, water clear. Rainbow trout good on midges, powerbait, tube jigs and salmon eggs in creek channels and on flats. Report submitted by Mark Hannah, game warden stationed in McCurtain County.


Lower Mountain Fork: June 13. Stocked approximately 3,300 rainbow trout on June 7. Report submitted by April Drake, secretary at the southeast region office.

McGee Creek: June 11. Elevation 5 ft. below normal, water 73 and clear. Largemouth and spotted bass fair on plastics and topwater lures along shorelines and standing timber. Crappie fair on jigs and minnows on brush structure. Report submitted by Larry Luman, game warden stationed in Atoka County.


Murray: June 13. Elevation normal, water 71 and clear. Smallmouth, largemouth and spotted bass fair on Alabama rigs, crankbaits, flukes, jerk baits, sassy shad and topwater lures around brush structure, the main lake, rocks and weed beds. Channel catfish good on cut bait, shrimp and worms around brush structure, along channels, in coves, riprap and rocks. Bluegill, green sunfish and redear sunfish good on minnows, small lures and worms along rocks, sandbars, shallows and weed beds. Report submitted by Jeremy Brothers, game warden stationed in Carter County.


Pine Creek: June 11. Elevation normal, water clear. Largemouth bass fair on crankbaits and plastic baits in coves and the river channel. Channel catfish fair on punch bait and worms along creek channels, the main lake and shallows. Report submitted by Mark Hannah, game warden stationed in McCurtain County.


Robert S. Kerr: June 11. Elevation normal, water murky. Flathead catfish fair on shad along shallows and rocks and noodling in deeper holes. Crappie slow on minnows below the dam and along creek channels. Report submitted by J. D. Stauffer, game warden stationed in Haskell County.


Sardis: June 10. Elevation above normal, water 77 and clear. Largemouth and spotted bass good on buzz baits, grubs, jerk baits, lipless baits, plastic baits and topwater lures around brush structure, points, riprap, rocks, standing timber and weed beds. Blue, channel and flathead catfish good on cut bait, live bait, live shad, shad and sunfish along flats, the main lake, riprap and along shorelines. Crappie fair on hair jigs, minnows and tube jigs around brush structure and standing timber. Report submitted by Dane Polk, game warden stationed in Pushmataha County.


Texoma: June 12. Elevation normal, water murky. Striped and white bass good on flukes, hair jigs, live shad and topwater lures below the dam, in the main lake, around points and riprap. Blue catfish good on cut bait and shad below the dam, around points, riprap, spillway; keep bait on the edge of current. Crappie fair on minnows, jigs and small lures around brush structure, docks and standing timber. Report submitted by Cody Jones, game warden stationed in Bryan County.


Wister: June 11. Elevation above normal, water 77 and murky. Largemouth bass slow on jigs and plastic baits along creek channels and the river channel. Blue and channel catfish fair on cut bait in the main lake. Crappie fair on jigs around brush structure and in the main lake. Report submitted by James Williams, game warden stationed in LeFlore County.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017 14:47

Vence Ella Hart Obituary

Vence Ella Hart of Heavener, Oklahoma (formerly of Blanco, Oklahoma) was born July 4, 1932 in Adamson, Oklahoma to Mark and Lona (Gray) Hart and passed away June 14, 2017 in Heavener, Oklahoma at age 84.


She is survived by:

Nine nieces:
Lona Wilson of Lyman, Wyoming
Cora Smith of Scipio, Oklahoma
Ellen Rogers of McAlester, Oklahoma
Linda Gibson of Batavia, Ohio
Sharron Stitz of McAlester, Oklahoma
Dorothy Lalli of McAlester, Oklahoma
Eunice Paxton of McAlester, Oklahoma
Malinda Hart of Pittsburg, Oklahoma
Rhonda Hart of Lubbock, Texas

Seven nephews:
John Coffey of Heavener, Oklahoma
Mark Coffey of McAlester, Oklahoma
Louie Ellis of McAlester, Oklahoma
Dale Ellis of Haileyville, Oklahoma
Eddy Ellis of McAlester, Oklahoma
Jimmie Ellis of Blanco, Oklahoma
Mark Smith of Las Vegas, Nevada

Numerous great nieces, great nephews, and great-great nieces, and great-great nephews


She was preceded in death by parents, Mark and Lona (Gray) Hart; three sisters, Martha Ellis, Mary Smith, and Tobitha Coffey; three brothers, Floyd, Frank, and Harold Hart.


Vence was a Provider in the Healthcare System and a Seamstress. She enjoyed quilting, spending time with her family, and loved her animals.


Funeral service will be 2:00 p.m., Saturday, June 17, 2017 at the Church of God (Seventh Day) in McAlester, Oklahoma with Elder Wesley Walker officiating.


Burial will follow in Adamson Cemetery in Hartshorne, Oklahoma under the direction of Dowden-Roberts Funeral Home of Heavener, Oklahoma.


Pallbearers: Family

Viewing will be from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., Friday.


To view Ms. Hart’s online guestbook please visit


Wednesday, 14 June 2017 12:50

Alfred W.B. Callahan Obituary

Alfred W.B. Callahan, 78, of Poteau, OK passed away quietly at his home with his wife by his side on June 10, 2017.


Al was born January 8, 1939 to Barney & Audra Callahan in Sallisaw, OK. Al lived in Sallisaw until the age of six.


His family then moved to California where he attended school in McFarland, CA.


After high school graduation Al attended and graduated from Cosmetology College in Hollywood, CA


. Al's occupations include postal worker, hairdresser, insurance salesman, truck driver, Vian Oklahoma police officer; poultry grower and cattleman.


Al was a philosopher of life. He served on the Oklahoma Farm Bureau State Board.


He was president of the LeFlore County Cattleman's Assoc., as well as president of LeFlore County Farm Bureau.


Al was of the Pentecostal faith and had a strong love for the Lord and his son Jesus Christ.


Some of the most important things in life to Al was his family. He dearly loved the little children.


There was always a special place in his heart for his family, faith and friends. He loved going to lunch at Tasty Freeze and then moved on to Buddy's where he had his own special corner - he loved to visit as he never met a stranger. Al was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Clara Ann and brother Bill Callahan.

Al is survived by his wife, Geana; sister in law, Nancy Callahan; nephews, Jason (Linda) Callahan, Marcus (Tonya) Callahan and special brother & sister in law, John & Teresa Batty; other relatives, loved ones and many beloved friends.

Services will be held at 11 am, Saturday, June 17, 2017 at Evans Chapel of Memories, Poteau, OK with visitation from 6-8 pm Friday evening.


Interment will be in Vaughn Cemetery.


You may leave an online message at


The family has chosen to entrust the care of the services to Evans & Miller Funeral Home, POTEAU, OK


According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, OHP Capt. Paul Timmons was one of 228 law enforcement officers graduating June 7 from the FBI National Academy at Quantico, Virginia.


The 268th Session of the National Academy consisted of men and women from 47 states.


Included in the class were members of law enforcement agencies from the District of Columbia, 24 international countries, five military organizations and seven federal civilian organizations.


Internationally known for its academic excellence, the National Academy Program, held at the FBI Academy, offers ten weeks of advanced communication, leadership and fitness training for selected officers having proven records as professionals within their agencies.


On average, these officers have 21 years of law enforcement experience and usually return to their agencies to serve in executive-level positions.


Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe was the principal speaker at the ceremony.


Training for the program is provided by the FBI Academy instructional staff, Special Agents and other staff members holding advanced degrees, many of whom are recognized internationally in their fields of expertise.


Since 1972, National Academy students have been able to earn undergraduate and graduate credits from the University of Virginia due to the university’s accreditation of the many courses offered.


The graduating officers were represented by the class spokesperson, John Richard Russo, Chief of Police, Rutherford Police Department, Rutherford, New Jersey.


A total of 50,141 graduates now represent the alumni of the FBI National Academy since it began in 1935.


Timmons has served 29 years with the OHP. His current assignment is Public Affairs Division Commander.


Wednesday, 14 June 2017 08:56

Klutts receives CASC Scholarship



Poteau, Oklahoma - Carl Albert State College is pleased to announce that Benjamin William Klutts is the recipient of the Vernon Roberts Family Scholarship.


Ben is the son of Kurt and Suzanne Klutts and a graduate of Poteau High School.


His major is General Studies.

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