Sunday, August 30, 2015, 5:32 pm

David Villicana-Lopez, 38, of Tulsa is dead after he never resurfaced following a dive off of a stationary boat on Saturday, according to the Oklahoma Lake Patrol.

Witnesses said Villicana-Lopez was struggling in the water as soon as he entered it around 7 p.m., and attempts were made to extract him from the water, but he went under and never resurfaced. His body was recovered today around 2:30 p.m. by dragging operations in 11 feet of water. He was pronounced dead at the scene by Medical Examiner Manny Lopez.

Villicana-Lopez was not wearing a personal flotation device.

Filed under: Local

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Friday, August 28, 2015, 9:19 am

An older white man driving a four-door maroon Pontiac pulled up to a juvenile standing at the corner of 43rd and Gibson at 7 a.m. yesterday and offered the juvenile candy to get into his car, according to Muskogee Police.

The juvenile, who was waiting for a ride to school, ran away and the suspect drove off in an unknown direction.

"Patrol has saturated the area, looking for the vehicle," Officer Lincoln Anderson said just now. "They have not found it as of yet."

If you have information regarding this crime, call Muskogee Police at 918-683-8000.

Filed under: Local Crime

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Friday, August 28, 2015, 7:29 am

BancFirst has announced a statewide contest giving winners the chance to meet Steven Adams, the center for the Oklahoma City Thunder, and spend a day at the Oklahoma City Zoo with a private VIP sea lion show at the zoo's aquatic center.

One winner from each community with a BancFirst location will be selected. Following the aquatic show each community group will meet and have a photo taken with Adams.

Register for your chance to win at any BancFirst location in the state from September 1 through September 10. Each winner will be allowed to bring three guests to the event, but minors must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Filed under: Local Sports

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Thursday, August 27, 2015, 8:14 am

Twenty-nine students in Dr. Ryan Carlton's General Biology class at Connors State College were shocked and surprised today when the college's president, Dr. Tim Faltyn, interrupted their class to give them all free computers. The class was chosen for a pilot program called Connors Connects, which aims to put a computer in the hands of every student on campus.

"This particular class was chosen because the demographics of the class are almost identical to the demographics of our entire student body," said CSC's Associate VP for External Affairs, Dr. Ryan Blanton. "If this program works well for this class, we believe it will work well for all of our students."

Faltyn and Director of IT, Heath Hodges, came up with the idea in response to the demands of creating and maintaining lab spaces for students and classes.

"The vision is to make every classroom you are in an instant laboratory," Faltyn told students. "I don't know of any other college in Oklahoma doing this; but, we don't want to just be first, we want to be the best."

"This program is going to help me further my education and not be limited by a lack of technology," said student John Nelson. "I can now immediately communicate with my professor."

The program also reduces the financial burden for students as electronic textbooks are significantly more affordable than their print counterparts.

"It's going to help me tremendously with the book cost," said student Sarah Patterson. "I have to pay out of pocket for all of my books. I'm really excited."

The pilot program is currently funded by the Connors Development Foundation, directed by Blanton.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015, 7:51 am

The Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame will host an all-star jam session Thursday, August 27th, featuring Curt Hill and Harley Hamm at 8 pm, playing everything from CCR to Led Zepplin and Bob Marley!

Doors open at 7, and the show starts at 8 pm. Admission is $5 at the door and all ages are welcome!

The Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday 10-5 pm. "Live at The Frisco Depot" is presented every Thursday night at 8 pm and features local, regional and national musical acts. For OMHOF's upcoming events, "like" the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame Facebook page or visit: www.omhof.com. To contact OMHOF: (918) 687-0800 or by email: okmusic@omhof.com.

Filed under: Local Entertainment

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Thursday, August 27, 2015, 7:45 am

The eighth annual River Rumba Regatta is happening this weekend at Three Forks Harbor in Muskogee, just over the Arkansas River of Shawnee.

The races start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, with registrations starting at 9. Tomorrow night, the Parade of Boats and House party get started at 6:30 p.m., with live music starting at 8 at the harbor.

The regatta is presented by Muskogee Parks and Recreation, Muskogee Port Authority and Muskogee Exchange Club. Proceeds go to help underserved youth in the Muskogee area.

Filed under: Local Entertainment

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 7:50 am

Muskogee man Terrill White has released his first southern gospel album in almost 19 years. The album, "Delivered", was released on Monday and features many southern gospel favorites.

"I grew up in a small country church where Southern Gospel was a part of every worship service," he said. "Songs such as 'I'll Fly Away' and 'The Old Rugged Cross' were sung from the old red back Church Hymnal and those songs instilled a love for gospel music within me that has followed me for 37 years now."

White has also served as worship director for Trinity Family Worship in Fort Gibson, OK and New Life Center in Muskogee, OK and is currently a member of the Muskogee First Assembly of God Sanctuary Choir where he is a regularly featured soloist.

"Delivered" is available for purchase by contacting White at terrillwhite@gmail.com or via the Square Marketplace at www.mkt.com/terrillwhite. Additionally, the project will soon be available on the Google Play Store and iTunes.

Filed under: Local Entertainment

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015, 9:16 pm

One man is injured in a shooting by the Big Coin laundry, according to emergency workers.

The shooting was at 713 Irving.

All that is known is one man is hurt. Police have just arrived on the scene.

9:23 PM UPDATE: Emergency workers report that EMS is transporting the man "hot" to the hospital in critical condition.

11:13 PM UPDATE Police currently have no suspects, according to officer Lincoln Anderson. One person was shot and transported to Eastar Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

UPDATE, 8:31 AM Aug. 26: The victim's name is Carlos Keys Jr., according to Officer Lincoln Anderson of the Muskogee Police Department.

Filed under: Local Crime Breaking News

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015, 3:25 pm

A church called DestinyChurch of Broken Arrow is looking to expand to Muskogee. Generally, that sort of thing wouldn't be news. What is news, however, is the violent backlash against the church on its Facebook page after its video "Why Muskogee?" started making the rounds.

View the video here:

Changing the Destiny of Muskogee

Will you help us change the Destiny of Muskogee? #DCMuskogee #LovingPeople

Posted by Destiny Church Muskogee on Friday, August 21, 2015

The video, which cites crime, poverty and teen pregnancy statistics for Muskogee, features a narrator who says people who give money to help DestinyChurch create a Muskogee campus will be helping to alleviate those problems, as well as a "racial divide" in Muskogee, by providing a "safe place" for everyone.

"Why not actually build a church there? N. Tulsa has FAR more problems with poverty and crime than Muskogee," asks Tony Spatz. "But it's more dangerous and, well let's be honest, the pocketbooks are smaller."

" I think your video is insulting and condescending," said GA Robinson. "While no community is perfect or without flaws, our community deserves better than your hate filled words. I would never set foot in your house of hypocrisy."

Spatz added:

Isn't it coincidental that now that Muskogee over the last 10 years has pulled itself up by its bootstraps and managed to recruit and sustain new commerce and tourism through chain recruitment, music festivals, Sunday liquor by the drink (no thanks to area churches), and the like,

suddenly "needs" a new out of town church to come in and "save" our poor broken town.

Where we you at back 10-15 years ago when Muskogee was a static community in distress? Oh yeah, no one had money to give back then.

Stay home. We've got this.

Destiny's pastor in Broken Arrow, Mike Goolsbay, was accused in a civil lawsuit of being negligent in not reporting evidence of child molestation at an earlier church, called Grace. Several Facebook commenters mention those allegations, and receive no response.

Muskogee campus pastor Andrew Conley has not returned a call for comment.

4:38 P.M. UPDATE: Pastor Mark Mike Goolsbay, his associate pastor, Jonathan Rivers, Muskogee campus pastor Andrew Conley and Goolsbay's wife, Renae, called MuskogeeNOW on a conference call just now.

"We did not expect the negative response that we got," from the video, Goolsbay said. "That video was intended to be for former members of Church 4:18 and some of our Broken Arrow people who were part of our efforts to relaunch the church there. ... We were not intentionally hitting up strangers for money. This was a communication tool, a loving hand that kind of turned into a horse whip."

The video's message was, in hindsight, a mistake, he added.

"We (should) have shared our vision and our love and what we see as so fantastic about Muskogee before we cited those statistics," he said. "We fell in love with this amazing group of people at Church 4:18 ... we weren't willing to ship them off without doing everything we could to make sure those believers were taken care of."

Church 4:18 dwindled after the founding pastor left and the replacement pastor then left to pastor a growing church in Norman. Church 4:18, Goolsbay said, was in a poor location on Cherokee Street just north of Peak Boulevard, and as membership began to dwindle, the decision was made to rename, relocate and relaunch the church.

"I'm not sure how much money we've spent so far," he said. "But it's more than $50,000" on efforts to relaunch the church.

"We are not asking the Muskogee community to finance this church," Renae Goolsby added. "There isn't anything in this for us financially. If anything, it's a financial sacrifice for our church to do this."

Mike Goolsbay added that he and church members would respond on the Facebook page to any questions, but they would not respond to accusations about the church or any of its members or leaders.

"They can accuse me all day long," he said. "That's just part of it. But if they accuse team members, they're going to get banned. I'm not putting that on staff members or launch team members or another church."

Accusations that Goolsbay covered up a molestation are misstated, he said.

What happened, he said, was that it was brought to his attention that a staff member had sent an email to a juvenile that contained an ostensibly inappropriate phrase.

"I was never aware of any allegations," Goolsbay said. "The email was in 1996 from Aaron, a college student at the time ... it was a matter of ... the email said the student had asked him about practice, and the coach said 'you better be able to get it up. At least I hope you can get it up,' so it was a pretty sophomoric thing. That was why I got sued, but I ended up being released. There was never a criminal accusation or an accusation that I had known of any accusations of child molestation. Because I would have been the first one to take someone's head off."

UPDATE 4:03 AM: Goolsbay called me at 3:29 AM. What follows is a partial recounting of the conversation:

ME: Hello.

GOOLSBAY: I feel like I've given you enough time to correct your article. I think I now have to refer you to our legal ...

ME: What? Who is this?

GOOLSBAY: This is Pastor Mike. We're on the record now. I feel like I've given you enough time...

ME: I updated the article way earlier today.

GOOLSBAY: It still says I was accused of covering up a molestation and I wasn't. And you still refer to me as Mark, not Mike.

ME: Have you refreshed? Because I fixed that a long time ago (turns out, I had missed one reference to "Mark," but had fixed one).

GOOLSBAY: Yes, I've refreshed multiple times. With screenshots. I was not accused of covering up a molestation.

ME: Yes you were. On Facebook, at the very least.

GOOLSBAY: Then at least cite that. Cite your sources. That's Reporting 101.

ME: Have you been to Reporting 101?

GOOLSBAY: Yes I have. I'm a professor of (he listed 'business' something or other that he's professor of. It was 3:30 in the morning, so I didn't get the details. The only thing I could find online is his certification as a physical education instructor from 1992 to 1996). At this point it's just about integrity.

ME: Dude, are you drunk? It's 3 in the morning. I am in bed with my wife and two babies.

GOOLSBAY: No, I'm not drunk. I just feel like I've given you enough time to update the article...

ME: I'm not going to update the article right now. It's 3 in the morning.

GOOLSBAY: I know. I've received weird calls at 3 in the morning, too. I'm just...

ME: I'll update the article in the morning if there's anything to fix. Right now, I'm going back to sleep. Goodbye.

GOOLSBAY: I just feel like...

I hung up.

Filed under: Local

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015, 8:08 am

Muskogee is the seventeenth-best city in Oklahoma to start a business, according to data crunched by NerdWallet, an online financial education site.

According to the site:

Oklahoma has a reputation among entrepreneurs: The Sooner State is friendly, and its blend of economic pluses and perks make it a great place to start a business.

The state offers a range of incentives, as well as low operational costs, a low rate of unemployment and a low cost of living. Oklahoma ranked seventh in the nation for small-business friendliness in a survey of entrepreneurs by Thumbtack and the Kauffman Foundation.

The site analyzed 64 cities with populations over 5,000. Ardmore is the top city on the list, with an average annual revenue of $1.88 million per business, the highest on the list. Glenpool was ranked last (just after Wagoner) with an average of $192,013 per business.

Muskogee missed the top ten, but was still high on the list, with an average per-business annual revenue of $1,152,850. Average revenue was not the only criteria considered; it counted for 20 percent of the ranking. Businesses with paid employees counted as 25 percent, and Muskogee's percentage of businesses with paid employees was 32.69, while Ardmore eked out a slightly higher 33.72 percent.

You can read about the rankings and the methodology used to compile them here.

Filed under: Local Business

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015, 8:03 am

The Three Rivers History Explorers will meet Tuesday August 25th at 7:00 p.m. at Three Rivers Museum, 220 Elgin, Muskogee.

The speaker will be Christopher Price, Director of the Honey Springs Battlefield Historic Site. The public is welcome.

Information: http://www.okhistory.org/sites/honeysprings?full

Or www.3riversmuseum.com

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015, 8:02 am

Muskogee Public Schools will host an open house for the public at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 2 at the new athletic facility located at Muskogee High School, 3200 E. Shawnee Road.

The Muskogee High School Athletic facility was funded by the 2013 bond issue at a total cost of $2,532,053.47. This facility has a total 38,000 sq. ft. space to accommodate site needs. The main area consists of an artificial field for baseball, softball, hitting cages, golf and other athletic events as needed. This facility also incorporated five secure storage areas for storage of equipment for the different programs, six offices and four locker rooms.

"This building is a real gem for our students in athletics," said Maintenance Director and Project Manager Wayne Johnson. "And something that Muskogee Public Schools and our community can be proud of."

The main restrooms were incorporated with individual shower facilities for privacy for a total shower capacity of 16. A weight training room which is 2681 sq. ft. can be used by athletes and employees of the district. As with all new additions, MPS has also built in a safe room to accommodate the occupants in this facility in the event of a significant storm event.

Information: Athletics or public relations, (918) 684-3700, ext. 1613.

Filed under: Local Education

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Monday, August 24, 2015, 1:48 pm

Wesley Dawson, 44, the emergency management director in McIntosh County and a former Eufaula Police officer, is the subject of an investigation into allegations that he sexually assaulted at least one underage girl.

"We can't confirm anything involving that individual," said Jessica Brown, the public information officer at the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. "What I can say is we are investigating reports of the sexual assault of a minor by a member of the county government. We were requested to look into it on August 12."

According to members of the Sheriff's Office and the District Attorney's Office, Dawson is a former Eufaula police officer and current Emergency Management Director.

"Our office would not have anything to do with that case if charges are filed," a spokeswoman at the DA's office said. "We would recuse ourselves."

UPDATE 3:51 P.M.: The McIntosh County Sheriff's Office has now confirmed that Dawson is the man being investigated by the OSBI.

Filed under: Local Crime Exclusive

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Monday, August 24, 2015, 7:40 am

Kassi Burkart, 18, of Park Hill was taken to Tahlequah City Hospital with head injuries after the 2003 Jeep she was driving westbound on 920 Road south of Tahlequah failed to negotiate a curve and rolled several times into a ditch, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Two passengers, 16-year-old males whose names were not released, were pinned in the vehicle until the Cookson Fire Department was able to free them. The juveniles were not injured, nor was a third male juvenile passenger, 15. A fourth passenger is unknown.

None of the people in the Jeep were wearing seat belts. The highway patrol says Burkart was driving too fast for the type of roadway.

Filed under: Local Traffic

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Monday, August 24, 2015, 7:40 am

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 nondrinking 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 nondrinking 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.

Filed under: Local Crime

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Monday, August 24, 2015, 7:33 am

ServPro of Muskogee and McIntosh Counties and Tahlequah was just awarded the "Storm Team of the Year" award at a national convention in Chicago. The Muskogee-owned business was selected out of more than 1,700 national franchises. Owned by A. Carl and Carrie F. Kelley, the business received his and hers Rolex watches in recognition of doubling their volume of business in three and a half years.

Their most recent talents have been focused on the Choctaw Indian Hospital in Talihina, Oklahoma, and the Pleasant View Apartment complex in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The hospital facilities were flooded on May 20 of this year as a result of the recent rains experienced in the Oklahoma area. It is anticipated that the mitigation of the damages caused will be ongoing for another two weeks to thirty days. The Tahlequah apartment complex was destroyed by fire on August 14 of last year as the result of a vehicle having caught fire under the attached awning to the building. The local ServPro Team recently completed the total reconstruction of the 16 unit apartment complex in time for availability to Northeastern State University student's for their Fall semester.

The local franchise was purchased by the Kelleys in September of 2011 and maintain their operating location at the corner of Scott and Highway 62 in Fort Gibson.

Filed under: Local Business

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Friday, August 21, 2015, 8:18 am

The Cherokee Nation will host a hiring fair Tuesday for positions at the new Macy's Fulfillment Center in Owasso.

The company will be looking to fill more than 1,000 seasonal jobs at the hiring fair, which is hosted at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Attendees need to be prepared for an on-site interview.

The new fulfillment center hosted its grand opening earlier this month. Cherokee Nation, the state of Oklahoma and other agencies partnered to attract Macy's to northeastern Oklahoma. As part of the agreement, Cherokee Nation Career Services is handling the recruitment for more than 1,500 jobs at the company's Owasso site.

Interested applicants can pre-apply online at www.macysJOBS.com. For more information, visit the website or call 918-401-2828.

Filed under: Local Business Tribes

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Thursday, August 20, 2015, 7:55 pm

Reporting on this story by Josh Schoenke

A semi rear-ended a pickup on US 69 hauling an empty flatbed trailer, according to witnesses at the scene. The wreck occurred a mile south of Baker's Restaurant. One person is dead.

A red Ford F-350 was hauling a flatbed trailer and a semi was hauling vegetable oil. The semi did not see a car trying to pass the pickup and hit the car, according to witnesses, then plowed into the pickup. All the vehicles left the roadway.

Nine wreckers were called to the scene. No word on who is dead or other injuries.

A dog was found alive in the Ford.

UPDATE: The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reports that the Mack truck was driven by Richard Stanley, 60, of Latham, Illinois, and he was not injured. The Ford was driven by George Thayer, 75, of Wagoner, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Highway Patrol also clarifies and corrects how the accident happened: Stanley's semi was driving southbound on US 69, and Thayer's truck was following a tractor with its flashers on. Stanley's semi rear-ended Thayer's truck and pushed it off the roadway and into a tree. The semi overturned.

The Highway Patrol cites the cause of the wreck as inattentive driving. Thayer was extracted from his pickup by the Jaws of Life from Wagoner and Tallahassee Fire Departments.

Filed under: Local Traffic

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Thursday, August 20, 2015, 7:43 am

Jonathan and Kaitlin Barnes of Muskogee were hurt when the 2001 Suburban they were in rolled on southbound US 69 in Wagoner County just south of Wagoner last night, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Jonathan Barnes, 29, was admitted to Eastar Hospital in Muskogee with head, leg, arm and internal injuries, and Kaitlin Barnes, 25, was admitted to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa with trunk, leg and arm injuries. Both are in guarded condition.

Jonathan Barnes, the driver, was impaired by intoxication and departed the roadway to the right, which caused the vehicle to roll several times, coming to rest on its top, according to the patrol. He was wearing a seatbelt. Kaitlin Barnes was not.

Filed under: Local Traffic

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015, 11:09 am

The Muskogee Police Department has announced the retirement of a nine-year-old officer, and seven-year veteran of the Muskogee Police Department, due to a medical condition that limited his ability to continue to serve the citizens of Muskogee.

K-9 Officer Robbi, a Dutch Shepherd, was officially retired from service on Aug. 8 due to hip dysplasia, common among working police dogs, and has been on medical leave for some time prior to his official retirement. Robbi began his career at the Muskogee Police Department in 2009 after being purchased for $14,500 from Ameri-K9 kennels.

Robbi began his service with Sgt. CB Abel, and was later partnered with Officer Jason Steele; it was while being partnered with Officer Steele that Robbi began to have complications with his hips. Robbi will enjoy his retirement while living with Officer Steele, at his home.

Filed under: Local

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