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Fort Gibson woman dies in wreck

Johnie Oakball, 66, of Fort Gibson is dead after a crash one mile east of Fort Gibson late yesterday, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Oakball was a passenger in a 2010 Dodge Caliber west on US 62 by 2-mile Road. A 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse driven by Regan Thompson, 19, of Fort Gibson failed to yield while coming off of 2-mile Road, according to the patrol.

The two vehicles collided, sending Thompson and Bret Adams of Tahlequah, who was driving the Dodge, to the hospital.

Oakball was pronounced dead at the scene.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 7:27 AM

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Council waits on hiring new city manager

The city council voted to enter negotiations with current assistant city manager Mike Miller, according to councilors spoken to after the vote.

If the city and Miller are able to come to an agreement on the details of his employment, the council will meet again to approve or deny him as city manager.

After that, assuming he is hired for the position, he will enter a probationary period, during which current Interim City Manager Roy Tucker will hand over responsibilities slowly.

If the arrangement doesn't work, Tucker will continue to manage the city, the councilors said.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 7:18 AM

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Muskogee man charged wth raping 13-year-old girl

Paul Wilson

Paul Wilson, 18, of Muskogee is charged in Muskogee County District Court with forcing a 13-year-old girl to have sex with him after also having oral sex with her.

Consensual sex is still illegal when a person is 13 years old, because they have not reached the age where it is legally possible for them to form consent to sexual acts, according to Oklahoma law.

Wilson is alleged to have forced her several times to have sex with him between December of 2014 and December of 2015. He was 17 at the time, but is being charged as an adult in the crimes.

Monday, July 25, 2016, 9:12 AM

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City to decide on new manager behind closed doors tonight

Mike Miller may be hired as city manager tonight.

The Muskogee City Council is set to meet tonight behind closed doors to decide whether to hire assistant city manager Mike Miller as city manager.

Miller has been serving for six months as assistant to Interim City Manager Roy Tucker, who is also the city attorney.

The move comes as a surprise, because the council last talked in public about the process of hiring a city manager at a council retreat, where no consensus was reached on how to proceed with the process.

Between then and now, however, numerous "council communication luncheons" were held, where the matter was discussed and apparently several city councilors then asked Tucker to put the hiring of Miller on the agenda. A "council communication luncheon" is an event where councilors meet, but the meetings are not open to the public because they don't constitute a quorum of the council, even though council business is discussed.

Several city employees and counselors have described Miller as competent and likable.

The process of hiring him, however, has irked Councilor Marlon Coleman, who has spoken out about the process, but is unavailable to comment for this story.

Tonight's agenda:

  • Renewal of an interlocal agreement with Hilldale Public Schools to provide law enforcement and school resource officer functions for the district's campuses within the city's municipal boundaries.
  • Approved resolutions declaring the following parcels of property as surplus to the needs of the city and authorize conveyance of said property as follows: 1116 Tamaroa St. to Jerry Washington in the amount of $363; 214 Kinsley St. to Clark G. Gilford Sr. on behalf of Blood Bought E.T. Church of God in Christ Inc. in the amount of $363; 936 S. G St. to Andrew K. Eaton on behalf of Yaffe Iron and Metal Co. Inc. in the amount of $363; 934 S. E St. to Gary and Angie Ellis in the amount of $363; 228 N. 12th St. to Lynette Elles as part of the incentive properties program.
  • Proposal from Ron Drake Consulting for services related to downtown revitalization.
  • Amendments to the city's affirmative action plan for fiscal year 2017, Council Policy 3-1-1.
  • One-year cooperative agreement with the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame and Museum Inc. for fiscal year 2017, with public funds totaling $15,000 for operating costs. 
  • Appointment of Mike Combs to a four-year term on the Wellness Initiative Committee beginning Aug. 1.
  • Ongoing membership with the Oklahoma Municipal League for fiscal year 2017. 
  • Appointment of Ward I Councilor Patrick Cale to a two-year term on the City of Muskogee Foundation Board beginning Aug. 1.
  • Convening an executive session pursuant to 25 O.S. § 307B.1 to discuss the appointment of Mike Miller as city manager and, if necessary, take appropriate action in open session.
  • Convening an executive session pursuant to 25 O.S. § 307B.2 to discuss negotiations with International Association of Fire Fighters Local 57 and, if necessary, take appropriate action in open session.

Monday, July 25, 2016, 8:36 AM

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Record high temperatures put Muskogee under heat advisory

Record-breaking temperatures in the Muskogee area today have led the National Weather Service to declare a heat advisory for Muskogee. Right now, at 4:30 p.m., the 100-degree temperature outside feels like 111 degrees, with 40 percent humidity.

Tomorrow is predicted to be cooler and rainy.

Today, the combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a dangerous situation in which heat illnesses are possible, the weather service stated:

Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible... reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Never leave anyone in a closed... parked vehicle. Temperatures inside can reach over 150 degrees quickly... resulting in heat stroke and death.

Pets can also succumb to the effects of excessive heat. Ensure pets have adequate drinking water and a shady place to rest.

Sunday, July 24, 2016, 2:29 PM

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Tahlequah man works for Senate Indian Affairs in Washington

TAHLEQUAH - Cherokee Nation citizen Chase Goodnight, a Tahlequah native, is spending the summer interning with the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C.

Throughout his internship, Goodnight is gaining experience working on pervasive issues in tribal communities and legislative affairs.

“The work this committee is doing has a huge impact on Indian Country,” he said. “My internship is helping me to develop a better understanding of how the committee supports the Senate and how constituent concerns are used to impact policy.”

In 2014 he was awarded the Cherokee Nation Businesses scholarship through the Cherokee Nation Foundation and is currently in his third year at the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

Friday, July 22, 2016, 8:07 AM

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Pilot, air force airman killed in plane crash near Enid

A 55-year-old man and his 25-year-old pilot are dead after the private airplane they were flying in crashed to the ground yesterday, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Randall Lee Harris, of Owasso was the pilot and Lt. Dale Bryan Shillington of Vance Air Force Base in Enid was the passenger.

Harris was flying a 1993 Runyan Skybolt 300 fixed wing plane and attempted an aerobatic maneuver, the patrol reported. He apparently lost control of the plane and never regained it, crashing into the ground in an open, private field.

Both men were pronounced dead at the scene from massive injuries. Both men were pinned in the airplane for an hour before they were extracted.

Friday, July 22, 2016, 8:03 AM

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Check out local art, artists on Saturday

Spray paint artist Brandon Phillips will be creating art live during the Art Crawl on Saturday.

Dozens of food vendors, artists, artisans and others will gather in downtown Muskogee on Saturday for the Art Crawl.

The event will happen on the east side of Main Street between the Columbus Street overpass and Okmulgee Street, with parking available to the east.

In addition to art vendors and food, there will be music and an art competition.

The free event starts at 6:30 p.m. and ends at 9:30 p.m.

More information.

Thursday, July 21, 2016, 5:28 AM

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Breastfeeding week aims to inform, support

Sisters April Wright and Annie Stevenson breast-feed their babies.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is promoting World Breastfeeding Week August 1 through 7. Studies have shown that breastfeeding provides children with the nutrients they need to help with development and to build a strong immune system. Breastfeeding not only provides ideal nutrition for babies but also has long-lasting positive effects for mothers.

Based on the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System data from 2013, 82.7 percent of Oklahoma mothers began breastfeeding their babies after birth. While most new mothers start out breastfeeding, many Oklahoma mothers do not exclusively breastfeed for six months or continue for up to two years of age as recommended by the World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund.

Data provided in The Oklahoma Toddler Survey from 2014 indicates that although the numbers are improving, only 34 percent of mothers were breastfeeding at six months and 17 percent of mothers were breastfeeding at 12 months or more. This does not meet the Healthy People 2020 Breastfeeding Objectives aimed to increase the proportion of infants who are breastfed at six months to 60.6 percent and at one year to 34.1 percent.

“Breastfeeding not only provides nutrition for the baby but has long-lasting positive effects for the mother as well,” says Rosanne Smith, breastfeeding coordinator, Women, Infants and Children Service. “By supporting mothers throughout their breastfeeding journey, each of us has the opportunity to build a brighter future leading to healthier kids and healthier families.”

The recently published Lancet Breastfeeding Series review shows evidence of the health and economic benefits of breastfeeding. Children who are breastfed have decreased infections, lower dental malocclusions and higher intelligence when compared to children who are not breastfed. Mothers who breastfeed have a decreased chance of breast cancer, improved birth spacing and also have less risk of developing diabetes and ovarian cancer.

Local health department clinics will be providing various activities to recognize and encourage breastfeeding mothers and also to teach expectant women, family members and the community the importance of breastfeeding, and how the practice can lead to a healthier tomorrow.

For breastfeeding support and information, call the Oklahoma Breastfeeding Hotline toll free at 1-877-271-MILK (6455) or visit the Oklahoma breastfeeding website at http://bis.health.ok.gov.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016, 8:06 AM

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Deaths page is now updated and available

Our deaths and obits pages have had problems for awhile, stuck in the old design of the site, which made them hard for everyone to view.

We have finally updated the feature, combining death notices and obituaries into one page, called "Deaths". You can find them in a link at the bottom left of this page.

More importantly, our new program automatically updates the death notices/obituaries as the funeral homes do, so you're sure to get the latest information about your friends and loved ones. The records will be as complete and comprehensive as possible.

Death notices are a big deal for most news sources, so we're proud to be able to provide them for you in the easiest-to-view fashion.

Right now, you'll see the 15 most recent notices. In the coming days, we'll add the ability to search and to go farther back in the records.

Oh, and as always, our death notices and obituaries are published free of charge - we don't believe in adding to grieving families' financial burdens by charging them to publish their loved ones' life stories.

You can access the death notices/obituaries page here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016, 9:36 PM

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National Review calls for Coburn to replace Trump

As the Republican National Convention continues, a name from Muskogee is popping up in national publications and at the convention to serve as a lightning rod for those in the party who don't want Trump: Dr. Tom Coburn, former congressman and senator from Oklahoma.

After the convention shut down a possible anti-Trump revolt yesterday, the national conservative magazine National Review reiterated its stance that Coburn could pass convention muster, would solve the "Trump problem" and could still be done legally - and that Coburn had apparently indicated he would be willing to serve, even after rejecting the idea of running for president initially.

The magazine outlined how that could still happen, even after the anti-Trump revolt was put down yesterday:

Two steps: 1) Delegate petitions to put his name in nomination. 2) Delegate abstentions on the first ballot. . . . Moreover, even the GOP’s own rules on the binding of delegates does not disallow abstentions. Here is the standing rule: “If any delegate bound by these rules, state party rule or state law to vote for a presidential candidate at the national convention demonstrates support under Rule 40 for any person other than the candidate to whom he or she is bound, such support shall not be recognized.” In other words, if your state’s primary would require than any vote cast by a delegate be cast for Trump, that delegate may not (on the first ballot) vote for Cruz, or Rubio, or anybody else. But note that while it precludes a vote “for any person other than the candidate to whom he or she is bound,” it does not preclude a decision not to vote at all. This is both common sense and a basic tenet of representative government. There is no known theory of small-‘r’ republican government that allows an organization to count a vote as cast when it hasn’t been cast at all.

You can read more here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016, 7:51 AM

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Don't freak; the person you're seeing may be an assessor

Appraisers from the Muskogee County Assessor's office are currently doing visual inspections of property throughout the county, according to County Assessor Dan Ashwood.

Assessors will look at around 12,000 pieces of property this year, he said.

The workers are covering the eastern part of Muskogee and outlying rural areas.

"Don't be alarmed if you see a vehicle driving slowly through your neighborhood and taking pictures," he said. "The appraisers' vehicles will be marked, and they will be wearing identification badges."

Some may need to measure outbuildings, carports, porches, additions or pools for the appraisals, he said.

If you have more questions, call the Assessor's office at 918-682-8781.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016, 7:34 AM

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Pursuit ends in wreck, officer injured

Police inspect the scene of the pursuit end

Bronson Butcher, 32, of Muskogee was arrested last night on charges stemming from a traffic stop that turned into a high-speed chase through Muskogee streets, according to police reports.

Bronson Butcher

Police attempted to stop Butcher for a routine traffic violation when he took off through the streets, police said. During the chase, officers said, he forced several people off the road and struck a police car, injuring an officer inside.

The officer suffered shoulder injuries.

An Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper joined the pursuit and took over as the lead vehicle. Bronson's pickup eventually left the roadway and traveled through a field, where pursuit officers followed. His pickup then struck a ditch and came to a stop. Officers approached the pickup with weapons drawn and commanded the suspect to leave the vehicle. He was arrested without further incident.

Bacon College Campus Police and the Muskogee County Sheriff's Office helped in the pursuit.

Butcher was arrested on complaints of failure to yield from a private drive, failure to wear a seatbelt, driving under suspension, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, eluding a police officer while causing an accident, eluding a police officer while endangering others, running a roadblock, failure to appear on a 2015 felony charge of endangering others while attempting to elude a police officer and assault and battery, failure to appear on another 2015 felony charge of bail jumping.

Butcher has been arrested numerous times since 2011 on charges such as eluding a police officer, failure to appear, failure to pay and probation violations.

Monday, July 18, 2016, 8:03 AM

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Civic center serving as a shelter for those without power

The Muskogee Civic Center is now serving as a shelter for those in the community with no power after yesterday's storm.

The center has partnered with the American Red Cross to provide an air conditioned building, water, snacks, cots and restroom and showering facilities.

Everyone without power or other necessary services is invited to attend.

Friday, July 15, 2016, 6:34 PM

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Deputies, four inmates involved in wreck en route to prison

Sheriff's Captain Tim Everett and deputy Brandon Phillips were transporting four inmates from the Muskogee County Jail to a prison in Lawton when a semi truck pulled in front of them. The vehicles collided, and three of the four inmates were transported to an area hospital, where they were treated and released for minor injuries, Everett said.

The inmates had been in Muskogee on a writ to appear in court, and were being transported back to the prison where they were serving their sentences.

The driver of the semi was not injured.

Friday, July 15, 2016, 2:22 PM

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Weather page fixed

Weather is now readable again.

We redesigned MuskogeeNOW.com some time ago, but several artifacts were left over from the old design.

One of those was the weather page. Yesterday's storms, and the promise of more today, reminded us that it needed to be brought into the new design, so this morning, we fixed our weather page.

Friday, July 15, 2016, 7:03 AM

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High winds wreak havoc in Muskogee

The roof on a store at Curts Center lays in the parking lot

Multiple reports of damage all over the city are pouring in after a storm brought 70-mile-per-hour winds to Muskogee.

Part of the roof on Hobby Lobby at Curt's Center is on the ground, trees are down and large, heavy debris is flying around.

An air conditioning unit lays in front of a store on York Street.

Power is out to numerous houses across the area as the storm has settled in.

No reports of injuries yet, but Muskogee County EMS has been dispatched to several locations.

Police are reporting that power is down all over town. Electric lines and poles are down, there is an overturned semi on the river bridge, roofs torn off, extensive damage at Curt's Mall.

Others are reporting the roof is off at the Bacone Inn. Damage has been reported at Grissom's tractors east of the turnpike.

Email pictures and reports of damage to MuskogeeNOW.

Power poles are in the road at Goosebeck Bend.

A power line is down at Bob Loftis Furniture on Shawnee.

Andy's Convenience Store south of town lost part of its roof.

A semi is turned over on the Arkansas River bridge to Fort Gibson.

A tree is uprooted in Okay.

A power pole in Okay is shattered

UPDATE: The city is reporting a small tornado touched down amid 115 mph winds.

Some injuries have been reported according to Muskogee County EMS: One adult male transported to Eastar with non-life threatening head injury,

One male child transported to Eastar with a non-life threatening laceration,

One adult female transported to a Tahlequah hospital with non-life threatening injuries from a vehicle crash,

Three people (age and sex unknown at this time) who refused treatment / transport from an motor vehicle accident in Haskell.

A tree took out part of a house's roof on North K Street by Irving School.

UPDATE: More thunderstorms are expected later tonight, but are not expected to be as severe, according to the National Weather Service.

Debris covers the courtyard of the Bacone Inn.

Bacone College suffered significant damage, according to spokeswoman Wendy Burton. The Bacone Inn, which houses students and the campus cafeteria, lost most of its roof, but the damage will not postpone the beginning of the school year, she said.

Bacone suffered no injuries.

Thursday, July 14, 2016, 12:16 PM

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Tahlequah man arrested, accused of stealing cattle

A Tahlequah man was arrested Tuesday and charged with embezzlement of 18 head of cattle that were placed in his care by a local rancher.

Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) Special Ranger John Cummings led the investigation along with TSCRA Special Ranger Bart Perrier.

According to Cummings, the suspect Walter F. “Andy” Andrews, 44, Tahlequah was caring for the victim’s cattle from February 2015 to May 2015. The suspect was grazing the cattle on land he was leasing in Cherokee County. Andrews allegedly removed the cattle from the pasture and sold them at local sale barns without the owner’s permission.

During the time the cattle were cared for by Andrews, attempts to view and count the cattle were delayed or impeded. The investigation revealed Andrews sold the cattle in his name and kept proceeds in excess of $25,000 for his personal use. Andrews was arrested by Cummings and booked into the Cherokee County Jail. Andrew’s bond on the felony warrant was set at $10,000.

“This case serves as a reminder for ranchers to remain diligent in seeing and accurately counting their cattle on a regular basis, especially if they are being cared for and grazed on someone else’s property," said Cummings.

Thursday, July 14, 2016, 10:43 AM

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Officials look for man's body on Tenkiller

Dive teams with the Cherokee Nation Marshal's Service are heading back to Tenkiller Lake today to look for the body of Matthew Fagan, whose three friends were arrested yesterday on first-degree murder complaints.

Fagan had been hiking last month with the three men, Michael Snelling, Blake Shamblin and Tyler Leverett. Court documents state Snelling got into a fight with Fagan and according to Leverett, hit Fagan on the head with a ball peen hammer, knocking him out.

Leverett also led officials to an area of the lake where cadaver dogs had already indicated the near presence of a corpse.

Cherokee Nation divers will search that area of the lake for the body, also using an underwater camera robot to continue the search when divers must stop due to exhaustion.

Thursday, July 14, 2016, 6:35 AM

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K9 dogs get ballistic vests

Officers Lynch and Jangus show off Jangus's new ballistic vest

Muskogee Police Department’s K9 officers have received new patrol vests. The vests are ballistic vest that provide the same ballistic protection to canine officers as their human co-workers.

The vests were purchased by the City of Muskogee for the three K9 officers at a total cost of around $2,200. The vests are cut fairly small so the dog can wear the vest during daily patrol duties without excess weight and heat.

This year 62 K9 officers have been killed in the line of duty nationwide, 28 of those deaths were by gunfire.

Sgt. Bill Peters and Indie

Sgt. Chris Dean and Barry

Wednesday, July 13, 2016, 2:20 PM

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