The U.S. economy added 157,000 jobs in January, a modest gain, and hiring was much stronger at the end of last year than previously thought. But the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent.
How can the unemployment rate rise when the economy also added jobs?
Because the government does one survey to learn how many jobs were created and another survey to determine the unemployment rate. Those surveys can sometimes produce different results.
One is called the payroll survey. It asks mostly large companies and government agencies how many people they employed during the month. This survey produces the number of jobs gained or lost. In January, the payroll survey showed that companies added 166,000 jobs, and federal, state and local governments shed 9,000.
The other is the household survey. Government workers ask whether the adults in a household have a job. Those who don't are asked whether they're looking for one. If they are, they're considered unemployed. If they aren't, they're not considered part of the work force and aren't counted as unemployed. The household survey produces each month's unemployment rate.
Joe Gallagher was never assigned to Fort Sill as a member of its permanent party until now.
On Thursday the Senior Executive Service (SES) equivalent of a two-star general was welcomed as the new deputy to the commanding general of the Fires Center of Excellence.
"This is a dream come true. Never in a million years did I think I'd be able to come back here and serve Fort Sill again. To come back, work for the CG, work for the community what a great opportunity," Gallagher said.
He said he and his wife, Luann, are excited to be back.
"We're proud to be part of the team and the community," he added.
Gallagher has passed through here several times, but always as a student
He was 22 in 1982 when he checked in at the old Gaffey Hall, a World War II-era wooden structure just inside Key Gate that was torn down last year. That was when he came here for Field Artillery Officer Basic Course. He would return for Captains Career Course, Pre-Command Course and various other classes in between. He served the Army 27 years as an artilleryman and retired as a colonel.
"This was always Mother Sill, always where we came back," he said.
His father, retired Lt. Col. Robert Gallagher, was in air defense artillery for 22 years. He went through basic training, advanced individual training and Officer Candidate School here before going to Fort Bliss, Texas, to become an ADA officer.
Gallagher said he's enjoyed going around and seeing places where he hasn't been in a while. He's also looking forward to renewing acquaintances.
His role as deputy to the CG will be to assist Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, commanding general of Fort Sill and the Fires Center of Excellence, in all his initiatives and ongoing work, to help lead the Department of the Army civilians and provide interaction back up to Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Fort Sill's higher headquarters at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., and across to the Army's other centers of excellence.
Before coming here, Gallagher spent three years as an SES staff officer at TRADOC doing operations and plans. Now he gets to step back into a leadership role. The budget crisis will be among the challenges he faces. He's been working with TRADOC and DA on what will have to be done should sequestration occur.
With more than 15 hours before the open of the Mission of Mercy dental clinic, volunteers and patients alike toiled about Thursday afternoon in the Great Plains Coliseum.
Dozens of volunteers scrambled throughout the coliseum, finalizing dental chair arrangements, coordinating efforts and packaging supplies for dentists and patients when the free clinic officially kicks off at 5 a.m. today. Around two dozen members of the Fort Sill Marine detachment were on-hand lending help alongside other volunteers from throughout the state. It's all in effort to make sure the largest single humanitarian effort in the state begins without a hitch. Around 2,000 patients will be given more than $1 million in free dental work over the next two days.
The beneficiaries of that free work waited patiently in the adjacent expo building. Many began lining up in the early afternoon. James Long was the first person on the scene at 7:30 a.m. Thursday. After he arrived at the building, he realized that he didn't need to be there as early as he arrived. The doors were reported to be open at 3 p.m., but he wanted to be in line early enough. He just arrived a little too early.
"I was inclined to leave and come back later," Long said. "But I didn't want to be left out. So I stuck with it."
Long, like many other patients, needs extensive dental work, including several teeth pulled. He doesn't have the money to be able to go to a regular dentist. When he read about the Mission of Mercy coming to Lawton, he knew he wanted to be part of it. Discouraged by the extensive wait times, he decided to stick with substantial time investment because of the benefits he'd receive.
"I didn't want to miss this opportunity," Long said. "I want to get this taken care of since it's free."
Paula Creamer left her golf clubs at home when she toured Fort Sill on Thursday.
The U.S.-based Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour keeps her on the road 30 weeks a year. As a professional, she has won 11 tournaments, including nine LPGA Tour events. She has been as high as No. 2 in the Women's World Golf Rankings, and she was the 2010 U.S. Women's Open champion.
Her trip here wasn't about her, however.
"I come from a military family background, and I'm starting up my Paula Creamer Foundation. It's going to be for the military and their families and the soldiers who are deployed. And I wanted to come out, get some education, watch everybody at work here," Creamer explained.
"It's amazing. I thank my lucky stars every day that I'm able to do what I do, because of the men and women who are here. So being able to give my time and just embrace it in a whole new light is something that I'm very lucky I can do," she said.
She arrived here Wednesday evening with her father, Navy retiree Paul Creamer, in time to have dinner with Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, commanding general of Fort Sill and the Fires Center of Excellence. At 5:30 a.m. Thursday she joined soldiers in Combat Basic Training for their early-morning PT. She then went out on the range to observe a live fire before going to the Confidence Obstacle Course near Quinette Crossing.
Capt. Kapono Aki, commander of C Battery, 1st Battalion, 40th Field Artillery, had 196 basic trainees going through the three main obstacles on the course. The trainees are in week seven of their 10-week boot camp, and this course is a graduation requirement for them. It's the one and only time during basic that they will go through it.
"It's a fun day for the soldiers to build a little personal courage in themselves," Aki said. "It allows the soldiers to build on the Army values they're taught."
Soldiers shouted encouraging words to each other as they took turns on the inverted rope descent, the slide for life and the ladder climb. Aki said that by this point in their training, the soldiers are able to overcome something that was tough for them in the beginning in this case, a fear of heights.
"I've seen a lot in a short amount of time," Creamer said after observing trainees go through all three stations. "It's being around the teamwork and everything around the soldiers and those drill sergeants. It's amazing, just the camaraderie that we all have and becoming one. It really brings you back to a humbling sense of what I do putting a golf ball in a hole at the end of the day.
This time of year when the term "bowl competition" comes up, it's in regard to football, except for two area schools.
Sterling and Altus high schools' academic teams are going to the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association State Academic Bowl being held on Saturday before Super Bowl Sunday.
Both teams fought though district, regional and then area tournaments to advance to state competition, which this year will be held at Redlands Community College in El Reno.
Sterling will be competing in Class 2A, with Altus slotted for Class 5A.
Classification is based on school enrollment.
There are eight teams from throughout the state competing in each classification.
Both teams started practicing as soon as school started, the coaches said, with the OSSAA academic team season ending Saturday.
Sterling has conference competition during September and October and then starts with OSSAA tournaments.
"It really makes for a busy season," said Coach Jessica Frazier.
"Having previously been named district champion and regional runner-up, the Sterling Tigers went into the area tournament determined to make an appearance at the state level after narrowly missing the mark last season when they fell short in the final round," she said.
A felony arrest warrant was issued Thursday for a 30-year-old Altus man accused of shooting a 19-year-old woman Sunday night.
The warrant was issued in Jackson County District Court charging Brent Andrew Robinson with two felony charges related to the shooting: assault and battery with a deadly weapon and possession of firearm after conviction or during probation, according to court records.
Robinson has prior convictions in Jackson County: possession of CDS within 2,000 feet of a school, 2004; malicious injury to property under $2,500, obstructing an officer and assault and battery on a police officer, 2005, according to Department of Corrections records. His DOC contact has been inactive since 2009.
Altus police have been looking for Robinson since he developed as a suspect in the Sunday night shooting of 19-year-old Jaznea Nicole Harris. Harris was shot once in the upper right side of her back. She was first taken to Jackson County Memorial Hospital and later flown to an Oklahoma City hospital for treatment.
Police responded to the Ridgecrest Apartments, 1205 Springfield Drive, Sunday evening shortly before 6 p.m. on the report of shots being fired and a second report of the woman being injured, said Police Chief Tim Murphy.
The heavily tattooed Robinson is described as a black man standing 6-feet, 1-inch tall and weighing approximately 185 pounds.
Police continue to speak with witnesses and gather evidence as they investigate three other shootings in the past week and a half. No injuries were reported with the incidents.
The first drive-by was reported shortly after 4 a.m. Sunday in the 900 block of North Benson and the second followed around 8:30 p.m. in the 900 block of N. York. Murphy has said that residences were struck by bullets but it remains unclear if there is any connection between them.
Students in the Gateway Success Center's Adult Transitional Program had the chance to shine Thursday at the alternative school's "Gateway Starz Shine!" talent exhibition.
"We kept on seeing the talents of our students," said director Rita Poshard.
So she put out the idea of having a talent show for the young adults who are learning to overcome their physical and mental challenges in the Transitional program. A committee of other teachers helped her put the show together.
The students were able to choose any genre of talent they wanted to display. Entries included singing, chalk art, dancing, digital art, rapping, impressions and more.
Poshard said auditions were held shortly after the students returned from winter break.
The best-prepared students were chosen for two talent shows held Thursday, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
The contestants families attended the event and refreshments were served after the shows.
A number of people from the community volunteered their time to act as judges. Donated prizes were awarded to the top three contestants in the morning and afternoon shows.
Aron Thomas, 19, wrote a rap song for the show called "The Falls," about growing up in Wichita Falls, Texas. His friend and classmate Walter Glenn helped him create the soundtrack based on the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" theme song.
Glenn also produced a digital art presentation as his own entry.
Thomas said he has been writing raps since he was 12, but had never performed in front of an audience.
Although one woman suspected of fraudulently obtaining a large amount of money on re-loadable cash cards from two local Walmarts and in Tulsa was not arrested, authorities believe the other woman photographed in Lawton may have been identified.
Lawton police asked for assistance in identifying the women, who allegedly committed the scheme Jan. 19 at both Walmart locations. A few days later, one woman matching half of the duo's description and wearing the same clothing was apprehended pulling the same scam at a store in Tulsa. Now Lawton Police Capt. Craig Akard says authorities working for the Secret Service may have a lead on the other woman's identity. Since the scam has happened at multiple locations in different states, the federal agents have become involved in the investigation. Anyone with information about this scheme should call Crime Stoppers, 355-INFO.
Convenience stores usually are just quick places for snacks, milk or other necessities, but police say one local store was offering an illegal product from behind the counter methamphetamine.
According to a press release from The Lawton Police Department, an employee of Don's Easy Shop, 2515 NW 38th, and one woman inside the store were arrested Tuesday, after LPD Special Operations Officers served a search warrant at the building around 4 p.m.
The search, according to the release, yielded 32 grams of methamphetamine divided into single-gram baggies and $1,498 in cash.
Lawton Police Capt. Craig Akard said officers had received an anonymous tip through Crime Stoppers indicating that drugs were being sold at the convenience store. Akard said numerous customers were coming to the store for the sole purpose of purchasing the meth, which cost about $100 a bag.
After about a two-week investigation, Akard said police had obtained enough probable cause to search the store, but he would not reveal any of the details of what was observed during that time.
Most concerning about the report, Akard said, was the store's location:
"Our concern was that narcotics were possibly being sold across the street from a business often frequented by younger kids," Akard said.
A local burglar who was chased from an assistant district attorney's home at gunpoint two years ago pleaded guilty to a long list of charges Thursday.
Records show Stony McDonald, 36, appeared before Caddo County Associate District Judge Wyatt Hill Thursday and pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree burglary, one count of second degree burglary, possession of a firearm after felony conviction, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting an officer. Stephens County District Attorney Jason Hicks represented the state, but made no recommendation for sentencing as the plea was blind.
McDonald had already been charged in Comanche County and been bound over for trial. Comanche County District Court Judge Mark Smith recused himself from the case in March along with all the other county judges.
McDonald committed a string of northeast Lawton home invasions the evening of Jan. 28, 2011, according to police and court records. One woman reported her daughter seeing McDonald in their kitchen before he grabbed a laptop computer from the table and ran out the back door.
About 15 minutes later, police were called to a burglary at an assistant district attorney's home and were told the victim was chasing the suspect through a field. McDonald first broke into a car parked in front of the house and took a .45-caliber pistol and about $400 in cash.
The prosecutor told police that McDonald came into the house, so he confronted him at gunpoint and McDonald ran out the back door, according to an arrest report. Shortly after the initial call, police Sgt. Troy Durham spotted a man matching McDonald's description and chased him, on foot, into a wooded area near a creek.