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Archive for: January 2011

Piedmont tied for conference lead after win over Guthrie

Collin Bricker prepares to shoot the free throw that would give Piedmont a two point lead over the Bluejays. Bricker had a crucial rebound in the closing seconds to secure the win for the Wildcats

A Guthrie three-pointer in the last four minutes of the game almost took the wind out of Piedmont’s sails, but outstanding performances by Collin Bricker, Jacob Swigart and Keith Vick propelled Piedmont to a 44-42 win over the No. 12 team in Class 5A.

The first half was all Vick and John Stephens. They combined for 17 of the Wildcats 19 first half points. But a few breakdowns on defense saw Guthrie’s hot handed shooters tie the game at the 1:47 mark of the second quarter, then take a halftime lead on a buzzer beater.

Guthrie came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, extending its lead to nine before a Swigart jumper spurred a Piedmont rally. Bricker flew around the court nabbing rebounds and helped set up a Jimmy Guerra three-pointer that tied the game again. Guthrie would take a 34-32 lead into a whirlwind of a fourth quarter.

Another slow start let Guthrie jump out to a big lead, thanks to some sharp shooting from the perimeter. Slowly, the tide started to turn for the Wildcats with a Swigart jumper, then a Vick lay up and a pair of free throws. Down the stretch, all the things that echo through the gym during practice were shown through the efforts of Bricker and Swigart. Battling for the rebound, ball movement, and free throws are what won the game for Piedmont.

Swigart would make a pair of free throws with 30 seconds left to give Piedmont the lead for good.

“I was just thinking about the next defensive set,” Swigart said when asked what was going through his mind as he sank the game winning free throw. “I wasn’t worried about the shot.”

Guthrie would charge down the court and put up a haphazard shot. Bricker pulled down the rebound and got the foul. He sank one of two free throws. A Guthrie desperation toss bounced off the back board and into the hands of Swigart and the Piedmont crowd went nuts.

“We have to stay tough, mentally and physically,” Swigart said. “We can’t go weak like we did at SNU (earlier this month). We have to keep our heads up and go strong.”

“We executed at the end of the game,” Coach Ryan Wagner said. “Out of every time out we had a good possession. That’s not something you get to practice and the kids stepped up and did it. Our game management with four minutes left was outstanding.

“Bricker’s important for what we do,” Wagner said. “For him to execute on offense and on the offensive and defensive glass is key for us.”

Tuesday’s win puts Piedmont in a tie for first place in the Suburban Conference with Guthrie.

Lady Cats pound Guthrie

Davie Owen catches the ball and looks to the hoops during Tuesday’s game against Guthrie. Owen scored five points in Piedmonts win over the visiting Bluejays.

The Piedmont girls team muscled its way to a 43-24 win over the Guthrie Lady Bluejays thanks in large part to a 12 point effort by Sarah Parker. Guthrie came in ranked No. 13 in Class 5A.

Both teams came out in a defensive mind set on Tuesday, both offenses looked to be in slow motion as they combined for just nine points.

However, if the first quarter was slow and plodding, the second quarter was explosive. Piedmont scored 13 points, and responded to an early Guthrie challenge to take the lead for good. Lindsey Kerby put a lot of quality minutes in down in the paint as she helped Piedmont win the rebound battle.

Miesha Stevenson took over in the third quarter, making shots on offense and battling on defense. The lead would steadily build for the Lady Wildcats, stretching their lead to 28-19 at the end of the third quarter.

“This game was really important to us,” said Ashley Almond who scored eight points and was crucial in kick starting the Piedmont attack. “We worked better as a team today, our intensity was better.”

Coach George Wagner was also pleased with the team’s effort and knew win was important following some tough losses in the SNU tournament the week before.

“We lost two at the tournament, came back and played pretty good but lost a tough one to Western Heights,” Coach Wagner said. “We needed something positive to get us back on track.”

Piedmont got something positive on Tuesday, as they won every quarter and the rebounding battle. Coming out with intensity had been a team focus after their flat performance against Western Heights last Friday.

“We knew this was going to be a tough game,” Wagner said. “We had to match their intensity and their aggressiveness. We (limited) our turnovers, played good defense and out rebounded them. And we moved the ball really well. Sarah Parker had an outstanding game, and Kylie (Boggess)’s defense, rebounding, and court awareness were crucial. Ashley (Almond) had another really solid game.”

Tuesday night’s win puts another W in Piedmont’s Suburban Conference record. While there are still a lot of games for the Lady Wildcats to play, beating a good Guthrie team by 19 has to feel good as they look towards this weekend’s tournament.

Candidate Profile: Jimmy Spivey

Jimmy Spivey, pictured with his family, is running for Piedmont School Board Seat No. 4.

Jimmy Spivey says he’s reminded of the importance of education every day as a correctional officer at a federal prison in El Reno, and he is hoping to take that understanding and his previous experience to the Piedmont school board.

“I see offenders on a daily basis that don’t even have a GED,” Spivey said.  “I talk to them and they tell me if they would have had an education they wouldn’t be here.  We have to show kids that education will bring you what you want in life.”

Spivey, a candidate for school board seat No. 4, wants to expand the opportunities education creates in Piedmont.  He moved to Piedmont over two years ago after looking for a new community between Oklahoma City, where his wife works, and his job in El Reno.  After researching school districts, Piedmont was their top choice.

Spivey is a big believer in the district but also believes things can always get better.

“I can always see improvement in anything,” Spivey said.  “I think that’s something we have to strive for.   I want to be here the rest of my life, I love it here.  I think it’s important to have a vision for a community that is growing like Piedmont is and I think there are a lot of areas I can be influential in.”

Spivey is a first time candidate in Piedmont but has previously served two terms on the school board in Hinton.  He believes that previous experience will allow him to hit the ground running, if elected, and will provide him with the knowledge of what it takes to be a successful board member.

“I think my experience as a board member brings a lot to the table,” Spivey said.

One of the areas Spivey said he is experienced in is working closely with community and political leaders to create more resources for schools.  Spivey believes many public school mandates have put an unnecessary burden on school districts, like Piedmont, and he wants to help put more of that money back into the classroom.

“So many mandates are forced upon us that are not funded,” Spivey said.  “Part of my role as a board member would be about meeting with representatives and senators and talking about those regulations.”

In addition to actively communicating with local leaders, Spivey also believes a successful board member should be engaged with school district residents in an effort to hear their concerns and ideas.  It’s a lesson he learned while in Hinton and he is eager to bring that experience in Piedmont.

Spivey also said he has a clear understanding on the importance of programs offered to students in the district and would like to lead the district in not only strengthening existing programs, but looking for possible ways to offer more to students.

“We are very much into what our kids do,” Spivey, a father of three, said.  “We have football players, wrestlers, band students and gifted students.  We are pretty much into everything.”

As the district grows and looks for ways to offer its students more opportunities, Spivey said he understands that funding will be a big issue.  That’s why he believes it is vitally important for the district to have a strong relationship with the local business community.

“We need to be bringing businesses in that will take some of the tax burden off of our residents,” Spivey said.  “I think (as a board member) you have to work with the community leaders, you have to push for economic development.  One thing that people look at when they try to bring their business into a community is schools.   I think that having these great schools is very important to bringing in economic development.”

In addition to helping spur economic development, Spivey has a long list of other areas he would like to focus on, which include expanding the district’s use of energy conservation, increase support staff and initiate substance abuse programs.  Spivey is campaigning on an ambitious platform, but with prior experience as a board member, he believes he will be able to give a position on the board the attention it requires.

“This is not a part time job, this is not a once a month board meeting,” Spivey said.  “It’s something that you strive for and work on all the time.”

Stone Ridge teacher awarded grant for novels

Mrs. Nutter, teacher at Stone Ridge Elementary, received a $241 grant from Oklahoma Educators Credit Union which will help supply Graphic Novels to fifth-grade students.

Sheriff says latest alcohol compliance checks show improvement

Canadian County Sheriffs performed another alcohol compliance check this week and cited four convenience stores selling alcohol to minors.

The To Much To Lose program works to ensure stores in Canadian County are not selling alcohol to our minors.  A total of 16 stores were checked in the latest exercise and sheriff Randall Edwards said he was pleased to find only four stores in violation.

“Although that is still four to many, it is a huge improvement from our initial start-up of this program last year,” Edwards said in a release. Last year’s exercise found nine violators, including Jiffy Trip and City Stop in Piedmont, out of 12 stores checked.

Stores that sold:

Shamrock Mr. C’s (10116 NW 10th, Oklahoma City)

Banner Shell (3156 N. Banner Rd, El Reno)

Cenex (120 S Evans, El Reno)

Loves (1645 E Hwy 66, El Reno)

Stores that did NOT sell:

Bronco Stop (551 E Hwy 152, Mustang)

Mustang Mini Mart (707 E Hwy 152, Mustang)

Filly Food Mart (1705 E Hwy 152, Mustang)

Shell (1601 S. Morgan Rd, Oklahoma City)

Domino Express (2601 S. Country Club, El Reno)

Valero (2506 S. Country Club, El Reno)

Walgreens (1550 SW 27th, El Reno)

Ruddies (1524 S. Country Club, El Reno)

Vickie C’s (1510 Sunset, El Reno)

Mini Max (1101 Sunset, El Reno)

81 Stop (501 N Choctaw, El Reno)

Fastbreak (2009 S Shepard, El Reno)

Representatives discuss budget challenges at local meeting

(L-R) State Representative John Enns, District 41, Canadian County Commissioner Phil Carson, State Rep. Harold Wright, District 57, and State Rep. Rob Johnson, District 22, spoke at Thursday's Legislative Breakfast in Piedmont..

Area representatives gathered on Thursday for the Piedmont Quarterly Legislative Breakfast and spoke to the community about important issues in government.  The state budget shortfall and redistricting process were some of the biggest topics discussed during the session.

State Senator Rob Johnson, District 22, said he was expecting big funding cuts to be made during the next legislative session that could affect nearly every level of the state.

“The focus this year is primarily going to be on the budget but we are still waiting to see the official numbers to see how big a problem we have,” Johnson said.  “There are going to be cuts everywhere.  I’m preparing for a pretty bad situation but I’m hoping it’s not too bad.”

State Representative John Enns, District 41, also said he was preparing for a large budget shortfall that could total $600 million.

“Hopefully the budget hole won’t be that extensive this year but I have heard anywhere between $600 million and $200 million for this year,” Enns said.  “I think $600 million is probably the cap but I can’t guarantee that.  But one thing I can assure you is there won’t be any new taxes.”

Representatives also discussed some of the specific issues they will be working on in the coming months.  Johnson said a focus for him continues to be workers compensation and law suit reform.  The legislature made changes a few years back that he doesn’t believe went far enough and said he will be working on better reform in an effort to spur local business growth.

Enns is serving on several committees, including chair of the Public Health Committee, and said smoking would receive attention this session.

“We are trying to get restaurants and bars to go totally smoke free,” Enns said.  “I will be for that as long as it reimburses the restaurants that put in separate ventilation systems already.”

Representative Harold Wright, District 57, also spoke to the crowd and said he was looking forward to potential changes in education funding that would give increased control to school districts.

“It’s a new day in (education) because we have a new state superintendent,” Wright said.  “We are trying to do away with some of the mandates and I think you might see some further removal of state mandates.  We can’t do anything about the federal mandates but we want to give more local control to (school districts).”

Local representatives speak at a legislative breakfast in Piedmont on Jan. 13.

Wright said the removal of mandates would help offset budget cuts this year, especially since stimulus funds are all but gone and only around $100 million remains in the state’s rainy day fund.

Representatives said redistricting would be a major topic this year and encouraged citizens to become involved in the process by voicing their opinions.  Piedmont city limits overlap into three districts, which some believe puts the city at a disadvantage.   Johnson said the state tries to set districts with around 75,000 people in each, but said some estimates put his district at 100,000.  While he acknowledged his district’s boundaries will change, he is committed to holding onto Piedmont

“My (district) is going to shrink but I promise you Piedmont is going to be in my district,” Johnson said.  “I will guarantee that.”

Canadian County Commissioner Phil Carson was also in attendance and spoke about the local funding shortage.  Carson told the audience that many expenses have doubled in the past year but revenue remains virtually unchanged.  Also in attendance was Matt Wehmuller, newly elected county assessor, Craig Smith, a field representative for Sen. Tom Coburn and Shawn McDavid, a field representative for Rep. Frank Lucas.

The legislative breakfast was sponsored by the Piedmont School Board and Chamber of Commerce.  The next scheduled breakfast is for April 14 at 7 a.m.  Each breakfast is open to the public.

What issues are important to you?

What questions do you have for the school board candidates?  Read today’s blog post.

Chester looking to help district set a vision for growth as board member

Aaron Chester moved to the Piedmont School District nine years ago and is now looking to use his experience in business and growth management in a run for school board.

As a general manager for Stryker Orthopedics, Aaron Chester saw his staff grow from five employees to more than 20 over the course of nearly five years.  That kind of experience has given him the perspective of planning for and managing growth and he is looking to use those skills as a school board member in the rapidly growing Piedmont Public School District.

“I know about managing growth and I know high growth industry and what needs to happen,” Chester said.  “When it comes to setting a vision and helping set policy in relation to growth in (the school district) that’s where I see my fit.”

Chester is one of three candidates running for school board seat No. 4 and said he began to contemplate the decision to run about eight months ago.  His schedule at work does not allow him to volunteer as much as he would like, but Chester believes he can get involved by bringing his business experience to the school board as it works to handle student growth.

Chester grew up in Ardmore, and following high school, attended the University of Central Oklahoma where he received a bachelors in business.  For the past 13 years he has worked in sales management and nine years ago moved his family to Piedmont, mainly because of the school system.  As a parent of two Northwood Elementary students, Chester said he is looking to help lead an already strong school district into the future.

“One of the reasons they have school board elections is because I think some fresh ideas should be injected into the organization,” Chester said.  “I have a different perspective just from what I’ve done differently…my perspective is unique from the business I have been in and possibly that adds to what the school is trying to do.”

Chester said as a school board member he would like to help the district continue to handle its growth and sees a need for expanded facilities, especially at the high school level.

“If you look at where the enrollment is growing, (high school) should be our next consideration,” Chester said.  “I know you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew, but I also don’t see how you can wait.”

Chester said a large number of elementary and middle school students preparing to enter high school places the district in a position where it needs to consider expanding its high school facilities.  In addition to class room space, Chester can envision the school district building new facilities for programs such as band and athletics on the high school campus.

“If you look at the high school now, they are pretty much full, so, to me, I think building around the high school is what we should be prepared for immediately,” Chester said.  “I think the elementary schools are in great shape for now, but we still have growth ready to hit us.”

While Chester wants to see the district continue to build facilities to manage its growth, he is concerned with maintaining fiscal responsibility.  His plan to keep the district’s budget in check will be to outline a strategic plan for each school program area in order to plan and prepare for the future.   He also believes the district may need to look at areas it can increase staff size.

“It’s important that the kids have what they need and I think increasing staff is important for that,” Chester said.  Areas that may be in need of increased staff include computer education and counseling.

Chester sees the role of the school board as that of any other board overseeing a corporation.  It’s not necessarily the day-to-day operations that the board is control of but instead leading the overall vision for the district.

“We would need to be planning for (growth), making sure the district has enough resources and infrastructure,” Chester said.  “We will help set a vision and help set policy and that’s where I see my experience fitting in.”

Next month Piedmont School District residents will be asked to elect two school board members.  In the weeks leading up to the Feb. 8 election the Piedmont-Surrey Gazette is taking a closer look at all five candidates.  This week we continue our in-depth candidate profile with Aaron Chester, who is seeking school board seat No. 4.

Piedmont falls to Weatherford in home dual

AJ Walker wrestles during Piedmont’s home dual against Weatherford.

Tuesday night was a tough one for the Piedmont wrestlers as they fell to the Weatherford Eagles 46-15.

“We didn’t wrestle our best,” Coach Erik Ford said. “They came to wrestle, and gave it to us.”

Hunter Winkle (215 pounds.), Coulton Parker (119 lbs.), Aaron Hane (125 lbs.), and Bryce Henry (130 lbs.) were the only Wildcats to record victories. Both Winkle and Henry managed to pin their opponents.

“We had to start in the middle of their line up, and that’s their strength,” Ford said. “After that, we just couldn’t get anything going.”

Piedmont also added a new wrestler to its line up in the heavyweight division, Lane Denwalt. Denwalt wrestled in his first match on Tuesday and Ford said he was proud of how Denwalt did for his first time out.

Weatherford won four matches by fall, while Piedmont only won two. Other than those matches, the Wildcats were able to hang with Weatherford in almost every match.

Piedmont next wrestles at the District Duals in Blackwell. Blackwell, Douglass, and Star Spencer will face Piedmont in the tournament in hopes of advancing to the state duals in February.

“We have to come out ready to wrestle,” Ford said. “It’s that easy.”

Middle school girls capture second

The Piedmont Middle School eighth-grade girls basketball team placed second in the Weatherford Tournament last week.  The team lost by one to Weatherford in the championship game. They are coached by Kim Priddy and Kyle Barker.

The Piedmont Middle School eighth-grade girls basketball team placed second in the Weatherford Tournament last week. The team lost by one to Weatherford in the championship game. They are coached by Kim Priddy and Kyle Barker.

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