David Deaton

David Deaton

Digital Editor at Oklahoma Welcome

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OKLAHOMA CITY, MAY 197, 2020 — Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) interim Executive Director Rachel Holt today thanked Gov. Kevin Stitt for signing and legislators for unanimously passing a measure that limits placing young teens in detention centers.

House Bill 1282, by Rep. Mark Lawson and Sen. Dave Rader, establishes limits on placing children 12 years of age and under into juvenile detention centers.  The measure, OJA’s only request bill this session, also sets limits for 13- and 14-year-olds admitted to detention.

“I applaud Governor Stitt and lawmakers for their bipartisan support to consider and approve this measure, which will improve our state’s response to juveniles involved in the justice system,” said Holt.  “Oklahoma’s children have the highest rates of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in the nation. One night in secure detention contributes to a child’s ACEs score and can have lifelong consequences.  As Oklahoma continues its momentum as a Top Ten state for juvenile justice, these limits on young children in detention will be powerful juvenile justice reform.”

The House of Representatives approved HB 1282, 87-0, and the Senate passed it, 44-0. The measure takes effect Nov. 1.

In addition, the bill orders OJA to pay 100% of the detention costs for any child in OJA custody awaiting an OJA placement bed.  OJA currently pays 85% of the operating costs for every contracted detention bed.  The fiscal impact would be minimal and covered by unencumbered funds reserved for such expenses, Holt said.

OJA’s placement wait list has been historically low this past year as the agency worked with courts to move children through the adjudication process faster, allow children to receive services in their community, and lower the length of stay in placements.

On May 12, OJA’s governing board updated its State Plan for the Establishment of Detention Services that will further reduce the allocated number of contracted detention beds for the 2021 fiscal year by 37 beds for a total of 229 beds.

“This is a data-driven decision, which will provide efficiency in line with recommendations from OJA’s 2018 Agency Performance Audit by BKD to ‘right-size’ the number of detention beds,” Holt said. “With this new decrease of beds in the 2021 fiscal year, setting limits in detaining 12- to 14-year-olds will allow Oklahoma to have enough available beds in our statewide juvenile detention system for those children who need it.”

OKLAHOMA CITY -- State Rep. Mickey Dollens, D-OKC, released the following statement in response to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s claim to media outlets that the governor had no authority over the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. 

“In less than a month, the governor has gone from ‘give me another week’ to fix Oklahoma’s unemployment system to ‘the governor has no authority,'" Dollens said. "This type of leadership does little to help Oklahomans and falls short of the job Oklahomans elected us to do. 

“Last year, the Legislature gave the governor unprecedented powers over government agencies. This session, media outlets dubbed him ‘the most powerful governor in state history.’ Now, while people suffer, his answer is ‘the governor has no authority?’

“The governor’s comments are a great example of what I have said for the past month. The governor and his administration paint a pretty picture during press conferences and press releases, but it isn’t based in reality, where thousands of Oklahomans are currently struggling to financially survive. The Legislature allocated $50 million to the governor to use to fight COVID-related problems. Perhaps the governor should have put some of those tax dollars into the obviously broken unemployment system instead of stocking up on arthritis medicine and scapegoating responsibility.”

OKLAHOMA CITY – The governor on Tuesday signed into law a bill that strengthens the role of victims’ impact panels in helping to stop driving under the influence (DUI) offenses in Oklahoma and will help reduce the number of repeat offenders.

House Bill 2877, by House Majority Leader Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher, was a request by victims’ impact panel programs currently operating in Oklahoma. It follows up on successful DUI legislation Sanders has passed in 2016 that strengthened prosecution of repeat drunk drivers by creating the Impaired Driving Elimination Act, moving all DUI cases to a court of record, ensuring district attorneys statewide would have access to records of DUI offenses. 

“I’ve fought much of my legislative career to curb the horrible crime of driving under the influence, which leaves death and devastation in its wake,” Sanders said. “This law ensures that those offenders who commit this crime will now have to face their victims or even worse the family members of those victims who were killed as a result of their actions,” Sanders said. “This strategy has proven to be 90 percent effective in our state, and it will save lives.”

Sen. Lonnie Paxton, R-Tuttle, is the Vice Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee and the Senate author of HB 2877.

“This is an important measure that is going to make Oklahoma roads safer and save lives.  We have too many cases of repeat DUI offenders and we’ve got to stop that,” Paxton said.  “House Bill 2877 will also make sure that Oklahoma’s impact panels are legitimate and following all necessary rules and regulations.  I want to thank my legislative colleagues for supporting and Governor Stitt for signing this important public safety measure into law.”

The legislation accomplishes three things:

First, it puts teeth in the enforcement of current statutory requirements for operating a victims’ impact panel. The District Attorney’s Council now will collect information and certify the panels by ensuring they meet all statutory requirements and operate properly. 

Second, the bill ensures that all defendants are being sent to a victim’s impact panel and standardizes the sentencing requirements statewide.

The bill also makes the fee for a victim/offender reconciliation program and Victims’ Impact Panel program a flat $75 instead of the sliding scale that now exists across the state.

Sanders said victims’ impact panels have to pay a $1,000 filing fee and the fee helps offset that and the cost of services provided. Equalizing the fee throughout the state ensures residents in rural areas will have access to such panels without having to make a long drive to attend.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020 09:24

Stimulus Check Scams Alert

By Heather Crandall, RN Public Relations Group

The distribution of $1,200 stimulus checks to Americans has given rise to unprecedented online scams.

The FTC has thus far received 18,235 reports of fraud costing victims $13.44 million; Google reported it is blocking 18 million scam emails every single day; and  150,000 fraudulent stimulus check sites have already launched.

SocialCatfish.com today released a report today on 5 Stimulus Check Online Scams to Avoid based on information from the FTC, FBI and IRS during the Coronavirus pandemic.

  1. ROBOCALL CHECK SCAMS: The scammer will call pretending to be the IRS and ask for your personal financial information. They will claim they need this to deposit the stimulus check into your account and will also ask for a fee to deposit said check. In reality, they want your information so that they can pretend to be you, claim the check for themselves. They can also drain your bank account of your funds with this information and will keep the fee for themselves with no check, in return.

How to Avoid: Do not give out any personal information. The government already has your information on file from when you filed your taxes. The stimulus check will either be automatically deposited into your account or you will get it mailed to your house.

  1. EMAIL AND TEXT SCAMS: Scammers will pretend to be the IRS or federal government by emailing or texting you a link to click to receive your check. If you click on the link your electronic device will get plagued with malware and your information gets stolen.

How to Avoid: Do not click on any links that are emailed or texted to you.  Again, the government already has your information and checks are either directly deposited or mailed.

  1. IDENTITY THEFT SCAMS: If you have not received your stimulus check yet and the official IRS website says otherwise, it could be possible that you are a victim of identity theft. This means that a scammer has found a way to steal your information, like your SSN, and has claimed your stimulus check for themselves.

How to Avoid: If you believe to have been a victim of this kind of fraud, you can report it here.

  1. GOOGLE SEARCH SCAM: Scammers have created copies of the official IRS “Get My Payment” site and have updated their search engine terms so that people conducting google searches for information find these fake sites. Once a person finds their site, they think it is the official IRS website and will enter their information.

How to Avoid: Do not go on any website to get your stimulus check unless it is an official .gov or .ca site and beware of being redirected to a website from a non-reputable news source.

  1. THIRD-PARTY STIMULUS CHECK SCAMS: Scammers have come up with their own stimulus check programs claiming that they can give you additional money along with the government. They will send you letters in the mail, put pamphlets on your car, or send you an email or social media message trying to advertise their program. This happened to a man in Florida who claimed to have gotten an official-looking check of $3,000 mailed to him with a letter. Another example of this is a Costco relief program, claiming to help with groceries and money during this time.


How to Avoid: Only believe in the stimulus check programs announced by the government reported by reputable news outlets. If you cannot find it reported by reputable news outlets, it is s scam.

If you encounter a coronavirus scam, contact local law enforcement or file a complaint with the FTC. For more information on how to get your stimulus check and if you are eligible, visit the legit IRS website 

Tuesday, 19 May 2020 09:00

Haskell County Fatality

According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol a fatality incident that occurred May 18, 2020  at approximately 4:09am on State Highway 31 approximately .2 of a mile east of County Road 1320 eastbound, 2.7 miles east of Kinta, OK in Haskell County.

According to the report, a  2014 Chevrolet Silverado driven by Shawn Pitsco 42, of Ft. Smith, AR was traveling eastbound on SH31 near the intersection of County Road 1320 when a passenger Donna Duncan 38, of Hackett, Arkansas, opened her door to be sick, and fell out of vehicle.

Duncan was transported by Personal Vehicle to the junction of US59 & SH31 in Panama, OK where LeFlore County EMS was located.  Duncan was pronounced deceased by LeFlore County EMS with head and trunk internal injuries.

Pitsco and another passenger Shilow Pitsco 40, of Hackett Arkansas were not injured


The accident was Investigated by OHP, assisted by LeFlore County Sheriff’s Department and LeFlore County EMS.

As of this advisory, there are 5,398 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

There are no additional deaths.

There are 288 total deaths in the state.

On Sunday, OSDH reported 78 new positive COVID cases, for a total of 5,310 positives, and today the agency is reporting 88 new positive COVID-19 cases, for a total of 5,398 positives.

Of today’s new positive cases, 64% were in Texas County, where the agency is partnering with the CDC, businesses and the community on a robust testing and tracing strategy to contain and minimize further spread of COVID-19 throughout this region. More details on this effort can be read here.

Through a partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma and The Caring Foundation, OSDH is deploying Caring Vans providing free COVID-19 testing to underserved communities in Oklahoma City, increasing testing accessibility. COVID-19 testing is open to everyone 16 and older; people do not need to exhibit symptoms to be tested. This week, a Caring Van will be at the Latino Community Development Agency (lcdaok.com). More information can be found here.

COVID-19 testing sites are open in multiple cities in Oklahoma as a result of a cross-county, city and state health system partnership. Visit this page for updated dates and locations.

For more information, visit coronavirus.health.ok.gov.

COVID-19 Oklahoma Test Results

Confirmed Positive Cases


*Total Cumulative Negative Specimens to Date (As of 5/15)


*Total Cumulative Number of Specimens to Date (As of 5/15)


**Currently Hospitalized (As of 5/15)


Total Cumulative Hospitalizations


Deaths in the Past 24 hours


Total Cumulative Deaths


*The total includes laboratory information provided to OSDH at the time of the report. Total counts may not reflect unique individuals. 

**This number is a combination of hospitalized positive cases and hospitalized persons under investigation, as reported by hospitals at the time of the report. The data reflect a change in calculation and should not be compared to prior data. 

Data Source: Acute Disease Service, Oklahoma State Department of Health.
*As of 2020-05-18 at 7:00 a.m.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020 08:49

Headed back to work? Prepare your pets

STORY BY: Sarah Peakheart, DVM, an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at the college’s Veterinary Medical Hospital.

(STILLWATER, Oklahoma, May 18, 2020) — As the state re-opens, Dr. Sarah Peakheart, an assistant clinical professor at Oklahoma State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, has some advice for pet owners on easing into the routine of returning to work.

Remember that our pets are in this pandemic storm with us. They have been our companions and support during social isolation. While pets have benefited from the extra attention (after they got used to us being in the house ALL.THE.TIME.), they now have yet another schedule disruption to adjust to as we head back to work.

Change can be more stressful for some pets than for others. Puppies, kittens and newly adopted pets may be more prone to experience anxiety-related behavioral issues and illnesses. These pets don’t know there is a different “normal” than you being home all day to talk to them, have snacks, go for walks, have snacks, play games, have snacks and show them off at Zoom meetings. Senior pets and those with pre-existing anxiety disorders (e.g. separation anxiety, feline idiopathic cystitis) will also be less flexible with yet another disruption to their days.

Some signs of stress to watch for include changes in sleeping and/or eating patterns, increased activity or attention seeking, increased irritability, destructive behavior, house soiling or a new or recurring illness.

As we prepare to change back to a new normal, prepare your pets for your sudden absence to alleviate their stress:

  • Create their own special safe place: a crate, a room or a gated area. Cats will need a raised hiding/sleeping area, scratching posts and appropriate size (and number) of litter boxes.
  • Rotate toys daily (puzzle treat toys are a great attention-getter for your pet).
  • Use pheromones to create a calming atmosphere: Adaptil® for dogs and Feliway® for cats.
  • Leave pets alone for short periods, slowly increasing the amount of time they spend alone.
  • Set and stick to a routine for feeding, walking and bedtime. Set a schedule you can keep when you return to work.
  • Spend time with them in the evenings as you would after returning to work.
  • Leave the TV or radio on if they have become accustomed to background noise. Try iCalmPet™, Spotify or YouTube for pet-specific music.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about nutritional and possibly pharmaceutical support.

As always, if you see any symptoms that worry you, call your veterinarian. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the OSU Veterinary Medical Hospital remains open to treat emergency cases. The hospital utilizes curbside admission and discharge procedures to protect clients and the college community.

Monday, 18 May 2020 18:10

Dennis Eugene Hamby

Dennis Eugene Hamby of Heavener, Oklahoma was born March 23, 1957 in Poteau, Oklahoma to Raymond and Joyce (Smith) Hamby and passed away May 16, 2020 in Heavener, Oklahoma at the age of 63.

He is survived by:

His wife: Patricia Hamby of the home

One daughter: Amanda Richards and husband Donald of Heavener, Oklahoma

Three sons: Thomas Hamby and wife Stephanie of Salt Lake City, Utah Martin Hamby and wife Mercedes of Rudy, Arkansas Toby Goff and wife Chelsea of Monroe, Oklahoma

One brother: Raymond Dale Hamby of Spiro, Oklahoma

Four grandchildren: Corbin, Kayla, Lauren, and Donald

Numerous other family members and a host of friends

He was preceded in death by his parents and one brother, Norman Hamby.

Dennis was a long-time resident of the area, a truck driver for Overland Transportation, and a security guard for OK Foods. He was a graduate of Spiro High School and a member of Way To Victory Church in Rock Island. Dennis was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, cousin, and friend.

Funeral service will be 10:00 a.m., Tuesday, May 19, 2020 at Dowden-Roberts Funeral Home Chapel in Heavener, Oklahoma with Reverend Daniel Brittain officiating. Cremation arrangements are under the direction of Dowden-Roberts Funeral Home of Heavener, Oklahoma.

Viewing will be from Noon until 8:00 p.m., Monday at the funeral home.

To sign Dennis’ online guestbook please visit www.dowdenrobertsfuneralhome.com

From the Oklahoma State Health Department 


• Through a partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma and The Caring Foundation, OSDH is deploying Caring Vans providing free COVID-19 testing to underserved communities in Oklahoma City, increasing testing accessibility.

• This week, a Caring Van will be at the Latino Community Development Agency (lcdaok.com). 

When: Monday through Thursday, May 18-21 o Hours: 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

 Location: 420 SW 10th St., Oklahoma City, OK 73109

• COVID-19 testing is open to everyone 16 and older; people do not need to exhibit symptoms to be tested.

• OSDH is committed to working closely with public health and community leaders to increase testing capacity, going beyond traditional drive-thru sites to a more mobile model statewide.

• Please visit coronavirus.health.ok.gov for additional COVID-19 testing information.

Monday, 18 May 2020 17:58

Jeff Shockley Obituary

Jeff Wayne Shockley, 64, of Poteau, OK passed away Saturday, May 16, 2020 in Ft. Smith, AR. Jeff was born March 15, 1956 in Ysleta, TX to Melvin & Betty (Nichols) Shockley who preceded him in death.

Jeff was a true leader with a strong spirit and a drive for success of the State, City, and County. Everyone that worked with Jeff became a friend. He was a mentor to new Mayors all across the State. Jeff was a team player and could bring people together. He was elected to Poteau City Council in 1993 serving his ward until elected Mayor in 1999. Jeff served on numerous boards locally and across the state serving many as board of director or chairman. These include Past Chair and Board of Director of the Oklahoma Municipal League, Past Chair and Board Member of Oklahoma Southeast, Past Chair of Kiamichi Economic Development, Mayors Council Oklahoma Board of Directors, Southeast Oklahoma Water Advisory Board, Past Chair and Board Member of the Fort Smith Regional Alliance, Board Member of the LeFlore County Development Coalition, Past Board Member Poteau Chamber of Commerce, Founder of Poteau’s July 4th Event Celebrate America, Community Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners.

Jeff was voted 2006 Oklahoma’s Large City Mayor of the Year, Poteau Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year 2007 and 2012, and Poteau Chamber’s Stewardship Award 1999. While in office, Jeff oversaw the renovation of City Hall and the completion of the Cavanal Expressway. Other milestones that were achieved during Jeff’s administration were: a new Police Station, Fire Department, The Donald W. Reynolds Center, Patrick Lynch Library, new ballfields at PARC, Soccer Fields, The Skate Park on Broadway, new sidewalks on Broadway and Dewey, Welcome to Poteau signs, Stop Signs on Dewey and the Poteau Bull Project. Jeff was very instrumental in growing in Poteau’s signature Poteau Balloonfest. In September 2019, Jeff was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame for City and Town Officials. He was inducted as Carl Albert State College Distinguished Alumni in 2019.

Survivors include his wife Connie of the home; daughter & son in law, Brooke & Paul Mason of Seguin, TX; sons & daughters in law, Tyler & Sidni Shockley of Tahlequah, Taylor & Taylor Shockley of Poteau; 5 grandchildren, Joel, Jenna & Liam Mason, Treven & Holden Shockley; brother & sister in law, Monte Shockley Sr. & Rita of Poteau; sister & brother in law, Mary & David Peevy of Alma, AR; father in law & mother in law, Ike & Barbara Caudell of Poteau; brother in law & sister in law, Ikie & Kathy Caudell of Wister; nephew, Monte Shockley Jr, & spouse Ashley of Poteau; niece, Sarah Adcock & spouse Levy of Claremore; uncle & aunt, Kenny & Grace Nichols of Clint, TX; other relatives, loved ones and friends.

Services will be 2 pm, Wednesday May 20, 2020 at the Donald W. Reynolds Center, Poteau with Rev. Gary Vancil and Jason Lloyd officiating. Interment will be in Oakland Cemetery.

Pallbearers will be Jay Sommers, Jon Pickel, Kevin Adams, Billy Cripps, Stephen Fruen & Greg Russell. Honorary pallbearers will be Marc Bovos, Marty Wages, Ted Sheets, Clay Bennett, Scott Bradshaw & Scotty White.

In lieu of flowers please make donations to your choice of Poteau Area Projects – Chamber of Commerce, PARC or any of the projects so near and dear to Jeff’s heart. You can donate to City Hall and specify project if you would like.

The Donald W. Reynolds Center will be open at 9 am, Wednesday for friends to view until service time if you choose – since the social distancing thing is still so important.

You may leave an online message at evansandmillerfuneralhomes.com

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

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