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Pride heads to state competition

The Pride of Piedmont marching band heads to the University of Tulsa for today’s Oklahoma Bandmaster’s Association state competition. The Pride is set to take the field in preliminary performance at 3:30 p.m.

(Traci Chapman/Gazette)

Good luck!

Piedmont hammers Western Heights, 28-7

Blake Colston

Lucas Richert would have had it no other way.

Playing on his and 14 other Wildcats’ senior night, Richert completed 9-of-23 passes for 203 yards and three touchdowns in Piedmont’s 28-7 win over Western Heights Friday night at Wildcat Stadium.

Richert connected on scoring strikes of 10 yards to Hunter Chism, 50 yards to Delbert Todd and 39 yards to Steffen Funkhouser on a night in which Richert’s completions went for an average of more than 22 yards.

“I’ve gotta give it up to my receivers, I ought to be buying them steak dinners this week,” Richert said. “They went out and made plays for me.”

Trailing 7-0 after a Gerard Giles 5-yard touchdown run gave the Jets (4-4, 1-4) an early lead thanks to a Piedmont fumble inside its own five-yard line, the Wildcats (2-6, 2-3) responded with a scoring drive of their own, capped on Richert’s 10-yard slant pass to Chism.

“The corner was playing cover two so all I had to do was get the outside release then cut back in,” Chism said. “Lucas threw a perfect ball to me. All the props to him and our offensive line.” Read more →

Charges filed in Hill murder case

By Traci Chapman

Formal charges have now been filed in the case of a missing Piedmont-area teen.

On Oct. 16, Oklahoma County prosecutors filed charges against 16-year-old Chadd Raymond and Chloe Thomas, 16, both of Oklahoma City. The pair were arrested earlier this month in connection with the April disappearance of Anne Hill, 16.

Anne Hill

According to documents filed with Oklahoma State Court Network, Raymond was charged with first degree murder, while Thomas is accused of helping Raymond cover up his crime and was charged with accessory to first degree murder.

Investigators have been careful about the release of information in the case. Hill’s body has not been found, although police said Thomas told them on Oct. 10 her version of events on April 11, when the Piedmont-area teen went missing.

During her Oct. 10 interview, prosecutors said Thomas told them Hill came to Raymond’s apartment to see his older brother. The pair had initially told police when interviewed several months ago Hill left the apartment after becoming upset because Raymond’s brother was not there.

Thomas changed her story on Oct. 10, police said. She now claims Raymond allegedly “attacked and strangled” the teen, although the motive for the alleged actions remains unknown, investigators said. Thomas allegedly told police she helped Raymond take Hill’s body in the back seat of her own car to a wooded area. She told police she was not sure of the location, police said.

Oklahoma County prosecutors have handled murder cases in which a body has not been found, although such cases are rare and more difficult to prosecute, Assistant District Attorney Scott Rowland said. Prosecutors have not yet determined what penalty they will pursue against either Raymond or Thomas, he said.

Although both teens are minors under the law, because of the severity of the crimes with which they were charged their names were released, officials said. They will be tried as adults in connection with Hill’s death.

Hill was last seen April 11. Officials with Piedmont Police Department said although she has been listed in media reports as a Piedmont resident, she actually lived in Oklahoma City limits, which necessitated investigation of the case by Oklahoma City police.

Raymond was arrested at his northwest Oklahoma City residence

A criminal probable cause action was filed Monday against Thomas and a miscellaneous criminal case filed against Raymond in Oklahoma County District Court, according to Oklahoma State Courts Network. Both filings were initial steps in moving forward with action against the pair, officials said. District Judge Donald Deason last week denied bail for Thomas; according to court personnel, both remained in jail on Monday.

Media reports have circulated concerning court documents allegedly filed in the case. Oklahoma County prosecutors and investigators both said additional details concerning the now suspected murder and arrests were not yet available.

“The investigation is ongoing,” investigators said. “To protect the integrity of the investigation, we will not be able to discuss further details at this time and appreciate your understanding.”

Hill was an honor student at Casady School and was last seen by her mother when she left her Piedmont area home to see a movie at a friend’s house, Lori Hill said. Hill’s car was found April 16 in Edmond; the teen was last seen in the north Oklahoma City/Edmond area about midnight the night she disappeared, investigators said.

Raymond and Thomas both attended Edmond Public Schools. Last week, the district posted a message concerning their arrest.

“’Edmond Public Schools is shocked and saddened to learn that current student, Chadd Raymond, and former student Chloe Thomas, were each arrested on murder complaints this past weekend in connection with the disappearance of Piedmont teenager, Anne Hill,” EPS posted on its website. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Hill’s family and friends during this extremely difficult time.”

Wardlow asked anyone with additional information that could aid investigators contact the homicide tip line at (405) 297-1200.

Piedmont’s Bingham dedicated to academics, running

Piedmont cross country runner Devin Bingham has goals on the course, but he has bigger aspirations off of it.

“I’m a straight-A student that’s hoping to be valedictorian,” Bingham, just a sophomore, said. “All that’s going as planned so far.”

An analytical kid with a passion for school, math, science and sports, in that order, he rarely does anything without a plan or without first deciding how to do it best.

“I love school. I love learning and I love solving problems,” he said. “That’s why math and science are a lot of fun for me.”

His love of problem solving and learning, translate over to the cross country course, too.

“He analyzes how he runs before I even talk to him,” Piedmont head coach Todd Johnson said. “He comes up and tells me what he ran each mile in and where he messed up. He’s one of those guys that’s easy to work with because he’s already thinking about what he needs to do or what he should’ve done.” Read more →

Piedmont hosts Western Heights in crucial 5A-District II contest Friday

Blake Colston/Gazette
Hunter Chism and Piedmont control their own postseason destiny moving forward.

Blake Colston

Still riding the momentum from its first win of the season over Southeast, Piedmont (1-6, 1-3) welcomes one of Class 5A’s most improved teams to Wildcat Field Friday night at 7.

Western Heights, who a season ago won just one game, has already racked up four wins this season and pressed Deer Creek and Carl Albert before the Antlers and Titans pulled away from the Jets in the second half. A game that before the season looked like an easy win is anything but that this week.

“In the past Western Heights was one of those teams you saw on the schedule and smiled about,” Piedmont head coach Drew Gossen said. “But this year it’s different. Number one they’ve got athletes and down in the trenches they’re a lot better than they’ve been in the past.”

More than just a two-game winning streak is on the line Friday for Piedmont. The Wildcats, Jets, Bishop McGuinness and Guymon all stand at 1-3 in district play with three weeks to go in the regular season. With the top three postseason slots in 5A-District II already spoken for, Friday’s game is a virtual elimination contest for the fourth and final playoff spot. Read more →

Pets and People seeks donations

By Traci Chapman

Yukon’s Pets & People Humane Society needs help – a lot of it.

That’s why the organization is holding its annual auction to benefit homeless and rescued pets. Organizers are in desperate need of items for the auction as they count down to the Nov. 15 event date, Pets and People board member Peggy Nichols said.

“When you’re looking at finding homes for more than 1,200 pets each year, it takes funds,” Nichols said. “Item donations are way down this year, for some reason, and we’re really scrambling.”

Nichols said organizers are at a loss for the shortfall in donations this year, but the bottom line is they need to “rustle the bushes” to get the process kick-started with less than a month to go before the annual event.”

“Normally we have already received at least half of our donations, but they are just trickling in this year,” she said.

This year’s fundraising goal is $25,000, Nichols said. The dinner and auction is set for 7 p.m. on Nov. 15 and will be held at Biltmore Hotel, located at 401 S. Meridian in Oklahoma City.

“This year’s theme is ‘It’s Raining Cats and Dogs,’” Nichols said. “But we need it to rain donations before then.”

Pets & People usually auctions off more than 300 items during the annual event, with everything from unusual items to services. Funds raised help with winter expenses, including veterinary bills, spay and neuter costs and other items, Nichols said.

Tickets for the event are $25, which includes a buffet dinner and refreshments. A cash bar will be available. Donations, including ticket cost, are tax deductible, Nichols said.

Pets & People opened in 1992 and since that time, the organization has saved more than 46,000 puppies, kittens, dogs and cats, Nichols said. The organization rescues pets scheduled for euthanasia from more than 25 metro area animal control facilities, she said.

Adoption fees at Pets & People are $100 for dogs over 20 pounds, $120 for dogs under 20 pounds and $75 for kittens and cats. Adoption fees include vet exams, medical testing, treatment, shots and spaying or neutering, Nichols said. The Pets & People shelter is open from noon to 5:30 p.m. seven days a week and is located at 701 Inla in Yukon.

To donate items for the fundraiser or for additional information, call Pets & People at 350-7387 or go online to www.petsandpeople.com. Event tickets are also available for purchase at Pets & People’s shelter.

Long-time county emergency director to retire

By Traci Chapman

After 10 years leading Canadian County’s emergency management program, director Jerry Smith has announced he will retire.

The long-time director said he will retire in February 2015. Canadian County Commissioners said Smith will be a hard act to follow.

“Jerry has done just an exemplary job for the county, and we’ve been lucky to have him at the helm,” District 3 Commissioner Jack Stewart said. “He will be missed.

Smith, for his part, said the experience has been more than rewarding, and he’s looking forward to his life’s next journey.

Jerry Smith (Traci Chapman/Gazette)

“It’s been a real good job, an experience I’ve really enjoyed,” he said. “I have met a lot of great people, made a lot of friends, and I’ll still be in touch.”

Smith has seen the gamut of emergencies during his tenure, he said.

“It actually is a fun job and I get to work with the best of the best in our county and beyond, but it’s also a challenge,” Smith said. “I’ve seen it all – tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, ice storms.”

Commissioners have pondered how to go about finding a replacement for Smith and have looked at hiring a “replacement in training,” Stewart said. Because Smith has given so much advance notice, the process will be easier and can be addressed in upcoming county budget talks, the commissioner said. Smith said he would write a job description for commissioners’ use in the hiring process.

Smith said he supported commissioners’ plan for hiring someone in training for the sake of continuity. County emergency management deals closely not only with local law enforcement and fire departments, but also state and federal agencies, including Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security, he said. A Red Cross storm shelter grant program was recently undertaken by the county, which falls under the emergency manager’s purview, Smith said.

“There’s such a large range of responsibilities – you need someone who can come in and learn, not ask someone to pick it up in two weeks or a month,” he said.

Smith, 62, was a chief master sergeant in security for the U.S. Air Force Reserves for 32 years, as well as working for 27 years in Tinker Air Force Base’s fire department. He retired from there as battalion chief in 2005.

“I’m going to miss this place and this job, there’s no doubt about it, but it’s a good time to do this,” Smith said.

Communities help food bank efforts

By Traci Chapman

Several local communities recently helped spur an effort that helped provide food for hungry children across Oklahoma.

At the Tulsa State Fair, 76 pigs were donated to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and Community Food Bank of Oklahoma to help fight childhood hunger through Food for Kids and Porks for Packs. Donations came from Oklahoma Farm Bureau, the Pork Council, and FFA students from across the state who were participating in the Swine Competition as part of the FFA’s ‘Feeding Our World, Starting at Home’ campaign.

School children expressed their thanks for communities’ efforts in helping to provide them food through state food banks. (Photo/Courtesy)

Instead of selling to buyers at the Tulsa State Fair, participants from several cities, including some in Canadian County, donated to Oklahoma Food Banks. Participants included Ardmore, Blanchard, Bristow, Calumet, Carnegie, Covington, Dacoma, Depew, Dibble, Edmond, El Reno, Elgin, Elk City, Enid, Erick, Eufaula, Fairfax, Fargo, Freedom, Ft. Supply, Garber, Hinton, Hobart, Holdenville, Jet, Jones, Lahoma, Longdale, Marlow, Mooreland, Morrison, Mountain View, Norman, Okemah, Oklahoma City, Ringwood, Salina, Sayre, Stonewall, Thackerville, Verden, Warner, Willow and Woodward.

The donated livestock is turned into pork sticks that are used as a valuable source of protein in the Food for Kids Backpack Program. More than 18,500 chronically hungry elementary school children rely on this program to provide them with food over weekends and school holidays.

“Pork for Packs and Beef for Backpacks provide protein to chronically hungry children who benefit from Food for Kids,” Oklahoma Farm Bureau executive director Monica Wilke said. “The program uses donated livestock to produce nutritious beef or pork sticks.”

Beef for Backpacks and Pork for Packs are a collaboration among the Oklahoma Farming and Ranching Foundation, Oklahoma Farm Bureau, Oklahoma Beef Council, Oklahoma State University Food and Agricultural Products Center, the Pork Council, Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, Ralph’s Meat Company and Chickasha Meats.

Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma needs 50 head of cattle or pigs annually to provide enough beef/pork sticks for its Food for Kids Backpack Program. Livestock donations are deductible as a charitable donation to a 501(C)3 corporation, pursuant to IRS guidelines. Livestock donation receipt amounts will be based USDA daily market price. A Livestock Owner/Donor Certificate must be completed to receive donation receipt.

Last fiscal year, Oklahoma Food Banks distributed 68.6 million pounds of food and products through a network of more than 1,600 charitable feeding programs and schools in Oklahoma.


For more information on the bank’s programs or how to donate, contact Thad Doye by phone at 405.523.2307 or by email at thad.doye@okfb.org.

Chickasha edges Piedmont in 5A title game

Blake Colston

SHAWNEE —  What was supposed to be a coronation of nearly a decade of dominance, turned into just another near miss for the Piedmont softball program.

Chickasha edged the Wildcats 1-0 Saturday at the Ball Fields at Firelake in the Class 5A state championship game on the strength of Lynnsie Elam’s two-out RBI single in the sixth inning.

“Our girls played their guts out and we lost by one run, on one play,” Piedmont head coach Rick Scott said. “Sometimes it’s just not your turn.”

Elam’s game-winning hit was setup by an infield single from Karissa Duke to lead off the Chicks half of the sixth.  Duke reached base on a close call at first and advanced around to third with two outs.

“The girl (Duke) never should have never been on first base,” Scott said. “She was out.”

Elam’s hit, which just snuck through the left side of the infield, was, according to Scott, never supposed to be allowed to happen either.

“We wanted to walk her, but we just didn’t communicate it quite right,” he said. “Something happened and we didn’t and she got a hit.”

Piedmont, though, had a chance to tie the game or perhaps even take the lead a half-inning later off Chickasha ace Kelsi Gore.

Madison Giggers led off with a double into the right field corner and was sacrificed to third by Sagely McAdoo. But two infield pop-ups sandwiched around a walk, ended the inning and left the potential winning run stranded.

“We should’ve scored the run,” Scott said. “We just didn’t get it done.”

Gore, who pitched a complete game one-hitter to outduel a similar performance from Piedmont starter Kassidy Scott, retired the Wildcats in order in the seventh to  give the Chicks their first state championship in program history. Piedmont, meanwhile, lost its third state title game in the last eight seasons and lost for the first since Sept. 5. The Wildcats entered the game as winners of 21 consecutive games.

“It was a great season,” Scott said. “I’m gonna say this, I wouldn’t take a state championship, I’d rather have these girls and lose, than win one with some other team.”

Southeasy: Piedmont picks up first win of season, 42-20, over Southeast

Blake Colston/Gazette
Piedmont running back Landon White runs into open space Friday night at Douglass High School.

Blake Colston

OKLAHOMA CITY —  Frowns were replaced by wide-eyed grins Friday night at Moses F. Miller Stadium.

A previously winless Piedmont Wildcat squad demolished Oklahoma City Southeast, 42-20, in a game that the Wildats led 42-0 at halftime behind three touchdowns from running back Landon White and two more from wide receiver Steffen Funkhouser.

“I feel like we just put everything together today,” White said after rushing for 52 yards and three scores on nine carries in one half of action. “We realized this was an easier game, but we couldn’t take anything for granted. We had come out here and work hard and we did.”

White scored on runs of 12, five and one yard in a first half completely dominated by Piedmont (1-6, 1-3). Quarterback Lucas Richert was sharp, connecting on 9-of-12 passes for 187 yards and two scores, both to Funkhouser on gains of 71 and 36 yards respectively.

“We took advantage of a couple of opportunities that they gave us and were able to execute,” Piedmont head coach Drew Gossen said of big plays in the passing game. “That was the biggest thing, they gave us opportunities and we were able to execute and got it done.” Read more →

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