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Archive for: December 2010

FELDER: A civilized election is just what we need

Ben Felder, News Editor

Each time an election season begins it’s always an interesting time for reporters as we make contact with candidates who are seeking to knock off an incumbent.  This is usually the time when we get to hear about how horrible a job the incumbent has done and what a political newcomer can do better.

The upcoming Piedmont School Board elections on Feb. 8 feature three challengers taking on two incumbents.  But while we kickoff the start of yet another campaign season, early signs point to the fact that this election might lack the type of anger, outrage and political venom that has come to define politics on every level.

This week’s Piedmont-Surrey Gazette features a news story (page 3A) on the five candidates, specifically the three challengers, vying for two school board seats and in my initial discussions with Dr. Tamra States, Jimmy Spivey and Aaron Chester I found a refreshing theme.  So far, all three challengers say they are simply looking to serve their community.

“I’m not upset with anybody,” Spivey told me over the phone, “I just think I have a lot to offer.”  That statement was echoed by each one of the three challengers, two of which are seeking an elected position for the first time.  As the campaign season heats up we may begin to see some more defined differences between the candidates, but for now, there are signs that we may be in for a civil campaign which will mean a much needed breath of fresh air for voters who have grown accustomed to political mud slinging from school council elections all the way up to the White House.

2010 has been the year when “common folk” have taken on the task of running for office in an effort to improve their communities and country.  The Tea Party has been the most noticeable place where everyday Americans have said, “enough is enough.”  But the campaigns of the Tea Party were often motivated by anger, and while some of that anger was, at times, justified, it’s nice to see three candidates for school board simply say they are looking for an opportunity to serve.

Let’s face it, we have it pretty good in the Piedmont school district.  We have an affluent district with our biggest obstacle being how to handle the fact that hundreds of families each year are looking to move into the district.  Each school board challenger expressed their love for the district, each moving here because of the schools, and said they wanted to continue the district’s progress.

Communities build their foundation on the support of residents and the drive by people to get involved in roles of service.  It’s great to see three residents who want to get involved, along with the two current members who have embodied that spirit.

Feb. 8 will be an important day for a district faced with many hurdles but we should appreciate the fact that our strong district continues to benefit from dedicated parents who want to get involved.  A civil and professional campaign season will only serve as another feather in the district’s cap.

Now, if only we could get that same sense of civility in the upcoming mayoral election.

Three challengers enter school board races

Aaron Chester

The filing period for the Piedmont School Board’s two open seats is over and a total of five district residents have thrown their name into the two races set for election on Feb. 8.

In School Board Seat No. 1, incumbent Stanley Nance and Dr. Tamra States have filed.  In the race for Seat No. 4, incumbent Alan Blankenship, Jimmy Spivey and Aaron Chester have filed.

Dr. States, owner of Piedmont Chiropratice, said her reason for running is because she wants to make a “great school district even greater.”

“The main reason I decided to run is I have three children in the school district and I want to contribute to their education,” States said.  “I originally (moved) to Piedmont because of the school district.  I just want to be a part of guiding it for the next five years of its growth.

Tamra States

States said she has no agenda and no “axe to grind” as she runs against incumbent Nance, but is looking to serve the community.  States is a current member of Piedmont First Baptist Church and former president of the Kingfisher Chamber of Commerce.

Two new comers are running for board seat No. 4, and like States, both say they are simply looking to get more involved in the school district.

“I’m not upset with anybody and I just think I have a lot to offer,” Spivey said about his decision to run.  “I Just thought I could use my expertise in that area, I have my contacts at the state and federal level that would be advantageous.”

Spivey is a former school board member from Henton where he served two terms.

Chester has been a resident of Piedmont since 2002 and is the father of two elementary-aged students in the district.  As a general manager for Stryker Orthopedics, Chester said he wants to bring his business experience to the school board.

Jimmy Spivey

“I don’t see any big changes that need to be made with the district,” Chester said, “but with any business or organization you can always improve.  I want to volunteer my time and talents and what I have learned from the private sector to help us improve.”

The School Board elections will take place on Feb. 8 and is open to all eligible voters living within the Piedmont school district.

McEvoy celebrates 100 years

Former Piedmont resident Tom McEvoy celebrated his 100th birthday at his home in the Trail Ridge Assisted Living facility in Oklahoma City.

Last Saturday friends and family gathered to give a toast to the toastmaster, as Tom McEvoy celebrated his 100th birthday at his home in the Trail Ridge Assisted Living facility in Oklahoma City.

“I never thought I would live as long as I did,” McEvoy, a former resident of Piedmont, said.  “But here I am.”
Born Dec. 2, 1910, in Calumet, McEvoy went on to graduate from the University of Oklahoma in 1937 and became a pharmacist, working in several Oklahoma towns.  In 1962, McEvoy was invited to join the public speaking club Toastermasters, and has been a member ever since of the club’s local chapter, which is now named for him.

“I was flabbergasted when they asked me to join,” McEvoy said.  “I’ve been a Toastmaster ever since.”

McEvoy no longer makes it to the regular meetings, but he will still actively recruit new members, recommending to anyone that they consider joining.  In 1969, McEvoy won the Oklahoma Toastmaster’s speech contest and has severed several leadership positions within the organization, including district governor.

McEvoy says his 100 years of life have been a “blessing” and can still recall many of the details from his younger years, including how his first pharmacist job out of college paid $80 a month and how the Chevrolet he purchased in 1939 set him back $700.  McEvoy married his wife, Ursala, an immigrant from war-torn Germany, in 1972.  Ursala passed away a few years ago, but McEvoy continues to look back happily on his 35 years of marriage.

“She was a good woman,” McEvoy said.  “We always told people if they could just be half as happy as we were they would make it.”

McEvoy and his wife were living in Southwest Oklahoma City when he retired and he says the couple moved to Piedmont nearly 15 years ago.  In a newly built home in the growing Piedmont community, McEvoy suffered a stroke just five days after moving and was in the hospital for three months.

“I was out working in the yard and got to feeling dizzy,” McEvoy said.  “I just went into the house and just collapsed.  I was in bad shape but was taken care of.”

McEvoy says he developed many close friendships in the Piedmont community during his recovery and retirement.  Now living in an assisted living facility, McEvoy said he looks back fondly on his time in Piedmont and the people he met.

“It was a lot smaller when we moved there,” McEvoy said.  “But it was growing fast, and like us, people wanted to be there.”

Voters approve school bond in a landslide

Piedmont school district voters approved a $19.45 million bond on Tuesday that will help construct a new school for the district’s fifth- and sixth-grade students. This rendering shows the new school, which is scheduled to be complete for the start of the 2012 school year.

Piedmont school district voters have said yes to a $19.45 million bond issue which will construct a new fifth- and sixth-grade school scheduled to open in time for the 2012 school year.

According to the Canadian County Election Board, 76.38% of the 597 voters who cast a ballot approved of the bond measure.  Because of the school district’s current bond structure, the approved bonds will be issued following the current bonds nearing completion.  That means tax rates will not go up because of the bond’s passage.

School district officials have said a new school was necessary because of rapidly growing numbers at the elementary school level.  Next year the district will be forced to use portable classrooms to house additional middle school students but the new school, once complete, will help reduce overcrowding.

“We are  very excited about this,” superintendent James White said.  “We are very thankful to our patrons who showed such a big support for our school district.  We are really excited.”

White, who is in his first year as superintendent, said the construction of the new school will be the first in what might be many more projects, which might include a new performing arts center, athletic facilities and additional schools.

“I don’t see our enrollment going down,” White said.  “Our long term goals and plans show that more construction is going to be needed.  As we approach becoming a 5A school in the near future we will need to address more growth.”

Construction of the new school is scheduled to begin in the spring and should be open in time for the start of the 2012 school year.  The location of the school will be near the intersection of Washington Ave. and 7th St., close to the Skyline housing development.

Food Bank suggests 12 Days of Giving

Volunteers load boxes of food at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. Each week the food bank provides enough food to feed more than 77,000 hungry Oklahomans. The majority of those served by the Regional Food Bank are children, seniors living on fixed incomes, and working families who cannot make ends meet.

Submitted by the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma

Tis’ the season of giving, and the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma needs help more than ever to meet increased demand for food this winter, which is up 14 percent compared to the same time last year.

To help meet this need, the Regional Food Bank is turning to the community for help.  Here are 12 ways to give that are sure to spread holiday cheer:

1.    Make a tax-deductible donation.  Instead of gifts this year, consider making a donation in someone’s honor.  Thanks to a match campaign from Chesapeake Energy, all donations in December will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $250,000.  Every dollar donated will provide 14 meals to those in need.  Make a donation at regionalfoodbank.org, call 405.972.1111 or make a $10 donation by texting OK to 27722 (data and message rates apply).

2.    Volunteer. Whether it’s sorting food donations or packing Food for Kids sacks, the Regional Food Bank could not serve the community without volunteers. Last fiscal year, more than 20,500 volunteers donated 64,000 hours of service to the Regional Food Bank, which saved the nonprofit more than $1 million in labor.

3.    Advocate. Go to regionalfoodbank.org and visit the take action/advocate page to send a note to local representatives and let them know that hunger is an important legislative issue.

4.    Join Governor-elect Mary Fallin. Visit feedoklahoma.org and join Governor-elect Fallin in fighting hunger through the Feeding Oklahoma food and fund drive.

5.    Help the Regional Food Bank win $1 million. Visit walmart.com/fightinghunger and vote for the Regional Food Bank before December 31 to help the nonprofit win up to $1 million.

6.    When hunger ends learning begins. One in five children in Oklahoma struggles with hunger every day.  A $200 donation provides a backpack of food every weekend throughout the school year for one child through the Regional Food Bank’s Food for Kids program.

7.    Collect cans and cash. Food and fund drives help Regional Food Bank meet the needs of people in the community and can provide a greater diversity of foods.  Items most needed this holiday season include: canned meat, canned vegetables, canned fruits, canned tuna, peanut butter and rice and beans.

8.     Fight Senior Hunger. Oklahoma is ranked as the 10th worst state in the nation for senior hunger. Learn how you can help by calling 405.600.3153.

9.     Get connected. Follow @rfbo on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook at facebook.com/regionalfoodbank.

10.   What’s the Dealio? Looking for great deals, like free food?  From now until December 31st, a $5 donation will be made to the Regional Food Bank for every card purchased at select retailers or online at dealiocard.com.

11.  See 12 miles of lights a dancing. Visit the Downs Family Christmas, located at 2900 72nd Ave. S.E. in Norman, from 6 to 10 p.m. through January 2nd to see the best synchronized Christmas light show in town!    The show is free, but food and fund donations for the Regional Food Bank are encouraged.

12.  Become a Partner in Hope. By making a five year giving commitment, you become a Partner in Hope and help provide the Food Bank with its only sustainable funding source. Call 405.600.3155 for more information.

BASKETBALL: Girls and boys teams reach tournament finals

The Lady Wildcats escaped with a 35-32 victory and won the Lake Keystone Classic championship.

Both Wildcat basketball teams made it to the championship round of the Lake Keystone Classic over the weekend. The girls faced Webster in the finals and the boys were matched up against Victory Christian.

The boys team was in for a big test against the Class 3A No. 4 team Victory Christian. The game was a real challenge for the Wildcats, who matched up well against the Conquerors.

Piedmont hung around the whole game, but could never make that final charge. The Wildcats stumbled for the first time this year, losing 59-45.

The Lady Wildcats faced off against upset minded Webster, who had taken down Class 4A No. 13 Cushing in the semi-finals. Piedmont held onto a 10 point lead at halftime, but Webster charged back in the second half. The Lady Wildcats escaped with a 35-32 victory and a Lake Keystone Classic championship.

Going into their last week before the holiday break; the Lady Wildcats’ record sits at 5-0 while the Wildcats fell to 4-1. There is still more Wildcat basketball to played before the break, as Piedmont will travel to El Reno on Friday.

(Find more information on the Lake Keystone Classic tournament in this week’s (Dec. 16) Piedmont-Surrey Gazette.)

Hundreds gather for Christmas Tree Lighting

Mayor Mike Fina pulled the switch to turn on the city’s official Christmas tree near the Piedmont Service Center.

Hundreds of Piedmont residents gathered on Friday evening for the annual Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony.  The event began inside the First Baptist Church, where local students performed Christmas songs and dance routines.  The ceremony then moved outside where Mayor Mike Fina pulled the switch to turn on the city’s official Christmas tree near the Piedmont Service Center.

Jeff and Jewel Horn, of Piedmont, were some of the hundreds of guests in attendance for the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting.

Hundreds of Piedmont residents gathered on Friday evening for the annual Mayor's Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony.

The Piedmont High School Honor Choir was one of several acts during the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony.

The Dance and Cheer Extreme Team was one of several acts during the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony.

Five candidates file for School board race

The filing period for the Piedmont Public School District School Board seats is over and a total of five residents have thrown their name into the two races.

In School Board Seat No. 1, incumbent Stanley Nance and Tamra States have filed.  In the race for Seat No. 4, incumbent Alan Blankenship, Jimmy Spivey and Aaron Chester have filed.

The School Board elections will take place on Feb. 8 and is open to all eligible voters living within the Piedmont school district.

Girls Basketball: Lady Wildcats beat Noble

Piedmont used the potent inside force of Miesha Stevenson and Lindsey Kerby in the first half to put away Noble on Tuesday night. The Lady Wildcats cruised to a 56-28 victory.

“We played harder and quicker on defense tonight,” Davie Owen said. Owen scored the first points of the game. “We’re doing great on offense right now, and I think we’re right where we need to be.”

Noble was limited to just six points in each of the opening quarters thanks to that defensive intensity. Add in a dedication to the boards, and this team is definitely headed in the right direction. The Lady Wildcat defense was a constant source of frustration for Noble. Piedmont had built their lead to 31-12 by halftime.

With the game firmly in their control, the Piedmont reserves got to see a lot of playing time in the second half.

“We came out with a lot of energy,” Coach George Wagner said. “We came out flat last night in the tournament and made it a point tonight. I’m pleased with our defensive effort. We didn’t give them many easy baskets.”

With the positives, there are still things that Piedmont will need to improve upon as they get into the rougher portions of their schedule.

“We’ve been lackadaisical with the ball,” Wagner said.

“We have to improve on that. But every girl is contributing when they get on the court. We have a real tough game on Thursday against Okmulgee, it will be a test.”

The Lady Wildcats were paced by Stevenson with 13, Sarah Parker and Ashley Almond each had eight, Kyle Boggess had six, Kerby and Courtney Miller both had five, Owen chipped in four, Kristin Hager had one, and Jennifer Foister had one.

“It’s still early in the season, but we are getting all of our parts working together,” Wagner said.
The Lady Wildcats return to Mannford on Thursday where they will face Okmulgee in what should be their most difficult match up in this young season.

Boys Basketball: Wildcats cruise past Noble

From tip-off, it was easy to see that the Wildcats had come out to make a statement on Tuesday night. Their statement was they can put up the same kind of numbers as any other team in the state. Piedmont beat Noble 83-47 with the starters resting for much of the second half.

Piedmont’s first points came off of a Jacob Swigart lay-up and free throw. It really set the tone for the game as Piedmont pounded the paint and took advantage of the Bears.

“We had good intensity today,” Swigart said. “Higher than our past couple games, and what we should have. We showed some of what potential we have today.”

Through out practice, the Wildcats have focused in on their pressure defense. Noble got the full force of those lessons as they turned the ball over, what seemed like every other time, down the floor.

“We’ve been talking about the difference between playing hard and competing recently in practice,” Coach Ryan Wagner said. “Competing is when you play to win. Just playing hard isn’t good enough.”

Piedmont competed on every possession, even as they stretched their lead to 38 before a late bucket pulled the halftime score to 50-14.

“We’re unique this year,” Wagner said. “If you have those four senior guys show up and then add in (Collin) Bricker, it causes a lot of problems for opponents.”

The Piedmont starters only scored 10 combined points in the second half, as the younger guys got experience against a Noble team that was still playing hard. While Noble was able to close the gap some in the fourth quarter, the game was long over by the time the final buzzer sounded.

The Wildcat starters combined for 47 while the bench added 32. That much production from the rest of the team will be vital if the Wildcats ever run into severe foul or injury trouble that forces Piedmont to go to its bench.

“We were frustrated with how we played (in Mannford on Monday),” Wagner said. “We came out and executed our game plan. I’m pleased with how our seniors played.”

Piedmont travels to Mannford on Thursday for their second round match up against Cleveland. The Red Tornadoes will be a big test for the Wildcats.

“Cleveland has a bunch of tough guards and they’re big,” Wagner said. “We’re going to have to play a real good game against them.”

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