Mardi Repasy said that seeing the tornado form in Moore while she was returning home with her husband Matthew to Lawton Monday afternoon was an "unbelievable" sight. "It's just wild, we could see the debris in the air and it was so clear," Repasy said. "God got us through there before it hit. If we'd been 10 minutes later, I don't know." The Repasys were returning from a road trip to Atlanta, Ga. and had been traveling along Interstate 44 when it began to hail heavily near the highway's junction with Oklahoma 277. She said they drove through and when they hit the south side of Moore, the funnel began to form. "We got on going to get away from it," Repasy said. Repasy said that while en route to the Oklahoma City metro area they could see the damage in Shawnee from Sunday's tornado strike. She said it gave them a greater sense of urgency to get away from Monday's oncoming catastrophe.
Written by Staff|
Monday, 20 May 2013 22:53 | Published inLocal
Two Lawton men have been charged in connection with the city's two most recent homicides. Kenneth B. Noles, 18, appeared Monday in Comanche County District Court, where he was charged with second-degree murder in the May 13 shooting death of Jonathan E. Shepherd. He was ordered held in lieu of a $100,000 bond. Klayton J. Kitchens, 23, is charged with first-degree manslaughter in Wednesday's shooting death of Christopher B. Moore. He was released on a $25,000 bond. Noles was arrested Tuesday after witnesses at the shooting at 1304 NW Taylor identified two suspects in the case. Noles was arrested in a traffic stop; a 31-year-old man was arrested at a city hotel. The second man, whom the prosecution says will testify he was with Nobles when Shepherd was shot and left the scene with Nobles, was ordered held on a $5,000 bond as a material witness. Police Chief James Smith last week said the two men had gone to Shepherd's house Shepherd and Noles were next-door neighbors and an argument ensued. Shepherd was shot in the abdomen before the two visitors fled. Police said Shepherd's death appears to be an isolated incident and investigators say there does not appear to be any link between his death and any sort of gang activity.
Fort Sill and the management of Corvias Military Living cut the ribbon on Monday to the Southern Plains Community Center, the first of three Corvias is building to serve military families who live on post. Corvias was formerly known as Picerne Military Housing. This is the 27th community center it has built on the installations where it oversees post housing, but it's the first for Fort Sill, according to Laura Rudicel, communications manager for Corvias. The center, located at 5703 Geronimo Road, boasts such first-class amenities as an Olympic-sized swimming pool with beach entry, a fitness center with an attached playroom for children, a computer lab, an Oklahoma sports-themed video lounge, a Grand Ole Opry Clubroom influenced by Oklahoma country music, a multipurpose room and a full kitchen. The building is 9,500 square feet in area. Guests who toured the facility saw walls covered with historic photos of the 5th Army Band practicing outside the Old Post Chapel in 1913 and others of soldiers clowning around at social functions and cookouts. Photo murals covered the entryway and one wall of the clubroom, where knotty pine paneling and rustic wooden benches lent a folksy atmosphere. Joe Gallagher, deputy commanding general, said he's proud to have Corvias Military Living as Fort Sill's Residential Community Living (RCI) partner.
"I'm curious," McClure said, admitting that she sometimes embarrasses family and friends with her determination to learn as much as she can, whether it be a topic of local interest, a stranger she has met or a point of interest on one of her far-flung travel adventures. McClure knew at age 12 she wanted to be a journalist and spent decades in that pursuit. Although she retired 25 years ago as managing editor of The Cannoneer, Fort Sill's weekly newspaper, she still keeps her hand in writing and journalistic pursuits, and still records commentaries that air on KCCU, Cameron University's radio station. It's all about being curious and asking questions, McClure admits, with a laugh. It also may be a matter of timing: McClure worked for Fort Sill's top brass during the "scary time" of the Berlin Crisis and the Cuban Missile Crisis, she took on reporting duties in an era where women were just starting to move more forcefully into the Army, and she moved into the editor ranks just as the Department of the Army was realizing it needed to modernize post publications to reflect the changing face of the military. In between, she and her late husband Kinley McClure, Lawton's longtime postmaster, participated in changing the face of Lawton as members of The Group, an informal gathering of locals who quietly and methodically overturned segregation in the city in the 1960s.
As yet another hot and dry summer approaches, fire departments throughout Southwest Oklahoma are taking measures to ensure their operations and equipment are in working order following two consecutive summers of continued drought conditions and prolonged 100-degree-plus temperatures that led to several very large and damaging grass and range fires. Chris Jones of the Indiahoma Volunteer Fire Department said his department recently added a second tanker truck with a capacity of 3,500 gallons of water, which is an addition to another tanker already in use that has a 6,000-gallon capacity. "We have a whole lot of water we can use to fight grass fires," he said. Jones said his department is also taking other steps to be better prepared for yet another disastrous fire season, if such a scenario materializes. "We have tried to keep our trucks maintained and have them ready to go," he said. "And we've also had additional training about fighting wildland fires." Indiahoma's fire department was heavily taxed by the Indiahoma-Cooperton grass fire that burned approximately 32,000 acres in western Comanche and eastern Kiowa counties last July. Dale Winham of the Cache Volunteer Fire Department said his department is well-prepared for yet another possible "fiery" summer. "We are making sure all our equipment has been serviced," he said. "And we just put in a water tanker that can carry 1,200 gallons of water and can be used off-road for brush fires."
Throughout its history, the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce's Armed Forces Day parade has closely mirrored developments on local and national levels.
The composition of today's parade would have been unimaginable at the start of the War on Terror, just as the parade route of yesteryear would be unthinkable today. At the war's outset, parade entries staged on University Drive and traveled east on Gore Boulevard. That would be a nightmare now, given the road construction on Gore.
Fortunately, the parade route changed to showcase what the City of Lawton did to Elmer Thomas Park.
Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), the war itself and the budget stalemate in Congress have wrought further changes. Thanks to BRAC, U.S. air defenders and German airmen were marching in the 2013 parade who would have been nowhere near Lawton-Fort Sill in 2002.
Approximately 200 air defenders with the 30th Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Brigade, the ADA schoolhouse brigade, were in Saturday's parade. The lieutenants, captains and NCOs were a mixture of students and cadre assigned to three battalions 1st Battalion, 56th ADA; 2nd Battalion, 6th ADA, and 3rd Battalion, 6th ADA, according to Lt. Col. Ronald Hildner, commander of 1-56 ADA.
This was the second year for German ADA forces to be in the parade. Two of the 16 students marching will be in Class 4-13 of Captains Career Course that starts in June, and the rest are NCOs studying to become 24 Tangos (Patriot missile system maintainers), according to Lt. Col. Stephan Haack, commander of the German Training Detachment at Fort Sill.
In Germany the thinking is "everything that's guided in three-dimensional space belongs to the Air Force and everything that rolls on the ground belongs to the Army," Haack said in explanation of why air defense resides with the German Air Force.
This year marked the first time there has been a Gold Star Family Members booth next to the reviewing stand, a sobering reminder of the toll the war has taken. The idea to have the booth came from Chief Warrant Officer 2 Karen Beattie, a Gold Star spouse assigned to 31st ADA Brigade.
A Gold Star Family Member is an individual who has lost a service member while on active duty. There are more than 230 Gold Star Family Members in Comanche County alone.
"We just want to make sure people know what Gold Star Families are, that in Oklahoma there are 1,100 Gold Star family members. As these soldiers are marching and we're honoring them, we want to make sure we honor the fallen and their families and make sure they're not forgotten," she said.
She said she was devastated when her husband of three years, Sgt. 1st Class Clifford Beattie, died in Iraq almost two years ago. No casualty notification officer came to her door to break the news because she herself was in Iraq when it happened and knew about his death right away.
"We met while we were drill sergeants together at Fort Leonard Wood," (Mo.), said Karen Beattie, a Patriot missile system technician. She is originally from Cook, Minn., and has served in the Army for 14 years.
A number of Army soldiers and wives, primarily from her own brigade, volunteered to help make her booth's presence felt during the parade. People visiting the booth signed gold stars to be given to Gold Star family members at their May 24 reunion on Fort Sill.
A support group meets monthly on the first floor of the One-Stop Center, Building 4700 on Mow-Way Road. Meeting times change, so Gold Star family members who are interested in attending should call Survivor Outreach Services support coordinator Jodi Jordan at (580) 442-4282.
Connie McDonald dropped by the booth to show her support. And yes, her husband, Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, did make the parade. Fort Sill's commanding general and Lawton Mayor Fred Fitch rode together as parade marshals.
Group will try to raise funds for new site in Elmer Thomas Park
It's a recreation plan aimed at youth, so City of Lawton officials said it's only natural to let a youth group assume a leadership role in its development.
The Youth Advisory Council of Lawton Enhancement Trust Authority (LETA-YA) has agreed to become the "face" of a plan to finance and build a skateboard park in Elmer Thomas Park. While the proposal still is in its preliminary stages, LETA-YA members left an organization meeting last week filled with plans to solicit support and bring the community including the skateboarders who would use the new park to a June 12 meeting to launch the process.
The problem isn't determining whether the park is needed, supporters say. The problem will be finding the money at a time when local governments are facing historically tight finances.
Group focuses on park Ward 4 Councilman Jay Burk, who also chairs LETA, and Parks and Recreation Director Kim Shahan said that's where LETA-YA comes into the picture. The group, whose teen-age members represent the city's secondary schools, was created several years ago to be the youth component of city enhancement efforts. The group had been working on a citywide tree planting project, but that effort has stalled because the drought makes it impossible to maintain the trees, Burk said, noting he wanted to give the group another project on which to focus and the skateboard park seemed like the perfect fit.
The idea isn't new. When Lawton opened its 10,000-square-foot skateboard park on the south end of McMahon Park in September 2002, recreation officials at the time said they saw it as the first of such parks that might be added for Lawton youths. When city officials crafted proposals for what became the 2012 Capital Improvements Program, the recreational funding proposal (which voters rejected) included money for a skateboard park.
It's that plan Shahan explained last week when he asked LETA-YA for its support. Shahan didn't come empty-handed. He said a woman in the community met with city officials and offered to provide $50,000, if the City of Lawton would create the skateboard park project.
"It needs to be community-driven, driven by youth," Shahan said, noting that LETA-YA fits the bill of a youth face on a youth project.
It's not that the existing skateboard park isn't used. In the past three years, yearly attendance has ranged between 4,200 and 4,650, while attendance has been 1,145 skaters in the first four months of 2013. But, simple mathematics indicate that even if every skateboarder in the city had access to the park, it wouldn't be large enough.
Shahan said the National Sporting Goods Association and American Sports Data estimate 2-5 percent of the American population are skateboarders. Based on Lawton's population, that means Lawton has almost 2,000 skateboarders and 25 percent (again, based on national statistics) are regular riders. The same formulas allowed Shahan to calculate that Lawton should have about 32,000 square feet of skateboard space for these riders, when it has about one-third that amount available.
Central site, bigger park His proposal: Find a centrally located site for a second park and make it between 16,000 and 26,000 square feet to provide more space for more riders. That would address another problem sometimes cited by skateboarders: The McMahon Park location may be out of reach for teens who aren't old enough to drive, don't have friends who are old enough to drive and don't have enough pocket money to buy LATS passes to ride to and from McMahon Park on Southwest 38th Street.
That leaves some skateboarders to find their own sites and Burk acknowledged those riders draw criticism from residents, business owners and city officials when they create makeshift places that allow them to pursue their sport, often to the detriment of whatever they are using as ramps.
"They're just trying to skate," Burk said, noting that things like guard rails and steps are damaged because those teens don't have a place to ride.
Written by Ty Albin|
Sunday, 19 May 2013 01:20 | Published inLocal
While people may pay more attention to sports, Lawton High School students also have a strong tradition of being handy with words.
LHS sophomore Tiara Amantine recently took first place in the nation in the 10th-grade division of the Daughters of the American Revolution's Junior American Citizen Poetry Contest. Junior Ashley Donovan won second place in the nation in the 11th-grade division of the same poetry writing competition.
Junior Brianna McKiernan earned first place in the state at the Lions Club Speech Contest.
All three are students in English classes taught by Terrance "Doc" Freeman, who has his students sharpen their writing skills by entering various contests throughout the school year. As a result, many of them end up winning.
Armantine said Freeman isn't satisfied with one draft of an assignment. He makes students do multiple rewrites and inspires by example.
"You just want to write like him and be like him," she said.
McKiernan said before she was in Freeman's class, she hated public speaking, which is a strong component of how he teaches composition. She said Freeman inspires her to do her best.
Donovan described Freeman as a teacher you have in high school and can't stand his class but later realize how much of a positive difference he made in your life.
Armantine wrote the poem "One Simple Thread," for the DAR contest, which had the theme "Investing in America's Future."
Her poem was about Betsy Ross and how she sewed the American Flag, which is so important to us today. Armantine connected Ross' actions to her own grandmother, who knits, and her grandmother's dream that Armantine will someday have a hand in knitting America's future.
Donovan wrote a poem entitled "The First Coin of Independence." She researched the first coin authorized by the fledgling Continental Congress in 1776 the Continental Dollar.
"I looked it up and I was like 'this is a really cool coin.' On the back of it, it has 'We Are One' and I just really liked that saying," Donovan said.
Written by Ty Albin|
Sunday, 19 May 2013 01:19 | Published inLocal
Middle School students have until Friday to sign up for several mini-camps at the Great Plains Technology Center that will teach them practical skills in a fun environment.
GPTC will offer morning and afternoon sessions June 3-7 of the following mini-camps 3-D Animation, Health Care Academy, Babysitting Boot Camp, Baking Bonanza and Construction.
Students must be entering the seventh through ninth grades. The cost is one session for $65, or two sessions for $125.
Krystal Brue, camp director, said the camps will focus on practical, age-appropriate skills.
The 3-D Animation camp is new this year, she said.
It will focus on teaching kids how to use computer software to animate characters set to music. Each student will create a YouTube video using the skills learned in the camp.
The Health Care Academy will be an introduction to health care careers, along with some basic medical knowledge.
Babysitting Boot Camp teaches kids fun skills like storytelling, leading songs, and arts-and-crafts. But it also teaches them things like basic first aid and Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
Baking Bonanza will have kids working on creating new sweets every day.
Construction will teach kids building techniques and proper tool use.
Brue said the camps are a way of introducing kids to the tech center, so they will be familiar with what it offers when they have the opportunity to enroll in GPTC's courses when they reach high school.
Written by Staff|
Sunday, 19 May 2013 01:19 | Published inLocal
City Council members will be reviewing an $8.37 million difference between expenditures in the General Fund and the projected revenues needed to finance them when a workshop opens Wednesday on the 2013-2014 budget.
City Manager Bryan Long said that shortfall is prompted by several issues: Growth in expenditures outpacing growth in revenues, a severe deficit in projected utility revenues (notably, water sales) and a change in the way that the City of Lawton's budget is being calculated. Long, who is working through his first budget as Lawton city manager, said his budget equation is simple: Revenues minus expenditures should equal zero. In this case, they don't: They equal a negative $8,378,382 for the General Fund, or the fund that most people consider the city budget when they look at city operations.
The council's task at Wednesday's 1 p.m. workshop in Lawton City Hall will be finding ways to bring revenues and expenditures into alignment. While Long won't publicly reveal his proposals until Wednesday's budget session begins, council members and other city officials have said Lawton is at the point of raising more revenue or doing without city services.
Despite influences outside the budget year, Long said the numbers in his budget summary reflect only the 2013-2014 budget year. Notably missing is something that city budgets have contained for years: An estimated beginning budget balance, or the amount of money that city administrators expect to bring forward into July 1, after the past fiscal year formally closes June 30. Part of the problem is that number is always a "best guess" estimate, set by finance officials who are estimating what will happen weeks if not months before the fiscal year actually ends. That number isn't formal until the fiscal year is audited, meaning the city doesn't have a hard number until months after a new fiscal year begins.
That number isn't in Long's proposed budget.
"The method to get there (balanced) is not as scientific as we would hope," Long said, noting that calculating municipal budgets involves a number of unknown perimeters and, this year, is in a constant state of flux.
But, he's willing to state reluctantly that Lawton has peaked, as far as revenue growth is concerned. And, the disparity between expenditures and available revenues means City of Lawton officials must "look at how we do business."
Revenue projections are not good, he noted. Previous city budgets typically have included a modest growth in sales tax revenue (about 2 percent) because, historically, Lawton has seen growth in sales tax, often more than projected. Tax revenue is leveling out and next year's budget projects $1.35 million less than expected this year and $2.16 million less than projected when this year's preliminary budget was done.
The real issue is the Enterprise Fund, which contains the revenue generated by utilities and the fund that supplements the General Fund. Long is projecting $4,215,499 less in utility revenues than city officials expected to receive this fiscal year when they prepared the budget last spring.
Mardi Repasy said that seeing the tornado form in Moore while she was returning home with her husband Matthew to Lawton Monday afternoon was an "unbelievable" sight."It's just wild, we could see the debris in the air and it was so...
Two Lawton men have been charged in connection with the city's two most recent homicides.Kenneth B. Noles, 18, appeared Monday in Comanche County District Court, where he was charged with second-degree murder in the May 13 shootin...
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) Texas Tech hired Oklahoma State associate head coach Candi Whitaker on Monday to coach its women's basketball team.The former Lady Raiders player returns to her alma mater as the program's sixth coach. The mov...
With their seasons going in opposite directions, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will continue vying for position in the NCAA tournament when the schools begin the Big 12 tournament on Wednesday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Okla...
Fort Sill and the management of Corvias Military Living cut the ribbon on Monday to the Southern Plains Community Center, the first of three Corvias is building to serve military families who live on post.Corvias was formerly know...
HOBART A storm that rolled through the area Saturday night brought some much welcome rainfall to Hobart and other drought-stricken areas of Southwest Oklahoma. However, it also brought an unwelcome guest in the form of lightning ...