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Archive for: June 2011

Texas man dead after plane crash at Sundance Airpark

The pilot of a small plane died after his plane crashed at Sundance Airpark near Piedmont.

A Texas man is dead after a plane crash at the Sundance Airpark southeast of Piedmont on Thursday.

According to Oklahoma City Fire Chief Mike Walker, the plane’s pilot was the only passenger and was found dead upon arrival of emergency crews. The emergency call was received at 1:47 p.m. on Thursday and emergency crews responded to the plane crash that took place on the north end of the runway about 300 yards east of Sara Road.

The pilot has been identified as Ronald Arthur Merks, 57, of San Antonio, Texas. Merks was alone on the airplane and had been hired to fly the plane from Oklahoma City to Texas.

The Federal Aviation Administration has identified the airplane as a single-engine, fixed wing Lancair plane registered to a man in Kentucky.

“We do know that the pilot took off (from) Willey Post Airport headed towards Sundance Airpark…not sure if mechanical problems or wind, or what caused him to come in (at a) steep angle. (The plane) landed quite hard into ground next to run way.”

The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the crash.

Greg Evans also contributed to this story

High heat to remain as June turns into July

The sign in front of Piedmont First Baptist Church showed temperatures at 102 on Thursday afternoon.

Thursday became the 11 day this month to hit triple digit temperatures as a heat wave continues to force central Oklahoma residents indoors and out of the path of the sun.

The temperature sign in front of Piedmont First Baptist Church read 102 degrees and the National Weather Service’s predicted high for the day was at least 101, with a forecast calling for temperatures to reach 102 tomorrow and a heat index as high as 105 over the weekend.

The American Red Cross is warning area residents to take precaution during the high temperatures to make sure your family is safe this summer. The following heat safety tips are especially important as the heat weave persists:

  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol. Eat small meals and eat more often.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day. Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors, and use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles. Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.

Excessive heat and humidity is not just uncomfortable—it can lead to a life-threatening situation. Know the signs for each of these conditions and what to do if they occur.

Heat Cramps
These are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen. They are caused by exposure to high heat and humidity and loss of fluids and electrolytes. Heat cramps are often an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat.

Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion typically involves the loss of body fluids through heavy sweating during strenuous exercise or physical labor in high heat and humidity.

Signs: cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion.

What to do:

Move the person to a cooler place. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If the person is conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition.

If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.

Heat Stroke
Also known as sunstroke, this is a life-threatening condition in which a person’s temperature control system stops working and the body is unable to cool itself.

Signs: hot, red skin that may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting; and high body temperature.

What to do:

Heat stroke is life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.

Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by giving care as you would for heat exhaustion. If needed, continue rapid cooling by applying ice or cold packs wrapped in a cloth to the wrists, ankles, groin, neck and armpits.

Shelter offers dogs a hope for a better future

Lori Robinson established the Haven of Hope Rescue Foundation last year in an effort to help neglected dogs. The facility, which is located west of Piedmont, has helped nearly 80 dogs find permanent homes since last October. Robinson is pictured here with Hercules.

Lori Robinson blames her father for her love of dogs. As a child she can remember her dad bringing in abandoned dogs and taking the time to reunite them with their owner or find a new home.

That compassion for neglected dogs has led Robinson to finally living her life’s dream of opening a rescue shelter and last year she, along with a circle of friends and family, founded the Haven of Hope Rescue Foundation.

Robinson, and her high school sweetheart Richard Jones, live in a farm house west of Piedmont and have constructed a building to house abandoned dogs. The rescue foundation was officially launched last year and since that time she estimates that as many as 80 dogs have been cared for and provided long term housing for. The foundation’s facility is able to care for dozens of dogs that have been neglected as they are given medical care, nurtured back to health and placed with a family willing to adopt the dog.

“There are literally hundreds of shelters out there and it’s still not enough,” Robinson said.

In its first year of operation, Robinson said the foundation has relied on the support of a close group of volunteers to construct the kennels and the shelter. But with such a large need, she said there is an effort to get the community more involved.

“A lot of our stuff is self-funded and we realize we can’t do that long-term,” Robinson said. “We need the support of individuals, whether it’s a $10 donation, a bag of dog food or bedding.”

Robinson said the recovery of a neglected dog is both physical and mental. The foundation seeks medical treatment for rescued dogs but it also takes great care in teaching dogs to reunite with other dogs and humans. Part of that mental care can be found through the foundation’s foster program where people who can’t adopt a dog long-term are able to provide temporary housing.

“We need a lot of people that can do a lot of different things and fostering is one thing we need,” Robinson said. “Fostering is like an extension of our program. If you were take one of our dogs, you would be giving him a loving environment. Our facility is better than the alternative and we do a really good job, but it’s not the same as spending the evening in front of the TV with someone’s hand rubbing your back. That’s really a critical thing.”

For those interested in donating to the foundation or finding out more information, visit www.havenofhoperescue.com. Robinson said the foundation is hoping to grow in the community and become an outlet for area residents that share a passion for dogs.

“We are very committed to our mission and this is one of those things I have been wanting to do since I was four-years-old,” Robinson said. “There is just such a great need.”

Piedmont student named to academic all state

Justin Richert

Piedmont High School senior Justin Richert was recognized as one of the state’s top students this month after being named one of 100 Academic All-State award recipients.

Sponsored by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, the academic all-state award is given to 100 Oklahoma seniors. This year’s winners come from 78 different schools across the state and were selected from almost 600 nominations. Richert was honored at the foundation’s award banquet last month, where he received a $1,000 merit-based scholarship and a medallion.

Richert, a National Merit Commended Scholar and class valedictorian, was a three-time state qualifier and two-time world qualifier for the Odyssey of the Mind competition. He also is a member if National Honor Society and served on the technology committee for Piedmont’s charity week.

Richert is active in Crossings Community Church’s worship band and student leadership group, Expedition, and volunteers as a Little League basketball and soccer coach. He plans to attend Oklahoma State University.

David L. Boren, chairman and founder of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, describes the selection of the scholars as “Oklahoma’s most rigorous academic competition.” To be nominated for Academic All-State, students must meet one of the following criteria: an American College Test (ACT) composite score of at least 30; a Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) combined critical reading and math score of at least 1340; or be selected as a semi-finalist for a National Merit, National Achievement or National Hispanic Scholarship.

Academic All-Staters are nominated by their principals or superintendents and are selected on the basis of academic achievement, extracurricular activities and community involvement, as well as an essay submitted by each nominee.

Williams wants July 14 decision on grocery store contract

Jeff Williams

Jeff Williams, owner of Williams Foods, said time is running out for the city to honor its end of a contract before he seeks legal action against the city.

Williams was hoping to receive an answer from the city council Monday on how the city would pay Williams Foods $1.9 million in construction costs for the new Piedmont grocery store but after meeting in executive session to discuss the issue, the council made a motion to have the city attorney contact Williams’ attorney.

Williams said his attorney is now communicating with the city’s attorney and that he would present the city with options for repayment and was looking for a final decision by its July 14 meeting.

“We are going to give (the city) options by the July 14 meeting, but I need a decision by July 14,” Williams said. “It will be almost a year by then since (the contract was signed) and this thing has been dragged on long enough. I am prepared to do what I need to do in order to protect my company.”

Last year, the city agreed to pay $1.9 million in construction costs for the new Williams Foods grocery store on Piedmont Road. The council decided on a 3-to-2 vote to issue bonds to pay for the incentives, using two cents sales tax from the store to pay back the bonds. However, a court ruled that issuing the bonds required a 4/5 vote (four votes) from the council.

Since then, three new members have joined the

council and each has expressed reservations about paying the construction costs.

Last month, Williams presented the new council with options for paying back the $1.9 million, including using a portion of the sales tax received from the store. Williams also asked the council to reconsider the use of bonds and offered to donate $100,000 to the Piedmont Police Department if the council voted to issue bonds.

“We wanted to show that we are in this for the long haul and that we support this community,” Williams said. “But that (donation) only stands if the bond is issued.”

Sales tax projections from city hall show that by using a portion of the sales tax collected from Williams Foods to pay back a bond, the city still stands to make an additional $148,000 in revenue during fiscal year 2012.

During the last election campaign, several candidates campaigning for the council and mayor’s office said they were concerned with the city’s agreement to pay incentives to Williams Foods. When the new council was voted in, many of the newly elected members continued to express concerns over the contract and had requested that an attorney other than David Davis review the contract. Davis, the city’s attorney at the time, responded by announcing his resignation.

During a presentation by Williams to the council last month, council members continued to express hesitation and at least one councilman said he had yet to review the contract, which is a public document and had been presented to the council in that evening’s agenda packet.

However, Williams said the city has had more than enough time to come to a decision on how to honor the contract and that without the incentives it would not have been possible to build the $4.7 million grocery store.

“I was a man of my word, and I built the nicest store for Piedmont,” Williams said.

City manager’s contract reviewed, no action taken

City Manager Clark Williams

The Piedmont city council met in executive session on Monday to discuss the contract of City Manager Clark Williams but took no action after returning to open session.

According to a city councilman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, there are some members of the council that would like to sever ties with Williams. No vote was taken on Williams’ contract, but the council member said he would not be surprised to see a vote taken in the near future concerning Williams’ future.

Williams declined to offer any comment on the executive session, except to say that he would continue to do his best for the city and the council. Williams was present for the majority of the executive session but emerged from the executive session while the council continued to meet.

BASKETBALL: Wildcats filling the gaps, moving forward

1-6. The Piedmont Wildcat boys basketball team went 21-6 and reached the state tournament last season. Much of last season’s success came from the experience of four senior starters, and next year’s team has a lot of work to do to keep up that level of success.

“We’re in a reloading mode, having lost four seniors,” assistant coach Jason Esau said. “A lot of what we’ve been doing is just seeing what we have. There have been some struggles with chemistry, but that will come with playing together. When you have four new starters, it’s a whole different world.”

Last year’s group of seniors had been playing as a unit for a long time, and that experience isn’t something that can be replaced overnight.

“We’re trying to get our chemistry,” Collin Bricker said. Bricker will be the lone returning starter from last season. “We’re trying to learn how to play together. We’re playing hard, and just focused on building that chemistry.”

Piedmont has had three teams competing in summer leagues over the past few weeks; varsity, junior varsity and freshman. The leagues have given coaches a chance to evaluate who will be a Wildcat uniform next season.

“The varsity has been playing in the Edmond Memorial league, the junior varsity has been in the Edmond Santa Fe league and the freshmen have been playing at Bishop McGuinness,” Esau said. “The varsity team lost their first three, then won four and split their last two (last week). The varsity is definitely a process, right now, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised at our junior varsity and freshman teams. We have a lot of good kids coming up who will help us in the future.”

Esau said that having three teams able to go to camps and attend summer leagues is a real sign of the success of Piedmont’s basketball program.

“Making state last year was a great thing,” Esau said, “but having kids come out, in the numbers they are, is one of the biggest signs of our success. When we started six years ago, we had one team that was able to go to a team camp.”

This year, the team went to the Oral Roberts University team camp in Tulsa. The team spent Thursday through Saturday in Tulsa and each of the three teams played seven games. The schedule was against many schools from Classes 6A, 5A and 4A.

“Team camp gives us a chance to get away and bond as a team,” Esau said. “The kids get to make memories, and the coaching staff gets a chance to evaluate our personnel. When we walk away on Saturday, Ryan (Wagner) and I will have a better idea of what way we will go next season.”

Piedmont’s three teams played a total of 21 games over the course of three days. The varsity and junior varsity teams went undefeated at the camp and the freshman team only lost one game. The varsity squad beat two state qualifiers from last year; Verdigris and Victory Christian. Victory Christian handed the Wildcats their first loss of last season, and getting revenge on the Conquerors home court made the camp that much sweeter.

Piedmont’s games started as early as 9 a.m. and ran as late as 9 p.m.

“We are really excited and encouraged by the progress our kids have made this summer,” Coach Ryan Wagner said. “We brought 32 kids with us, and the great thing was that they all performed. We have a lot of inexperienced guys on our teams right now, but they are finding where they fit. I could definitely see the benefits of our labor from the last month (at summer league).”

Wagner said that Bricker averaged a double-double at the ORU camp and has been ‘the guy’ for the team. Hunter Kirton and Christian Foster have taken over the guard positions and Wagner says they have done a great job in running the Wildcats’ system. Wagner said that Blake Robinson showed a lot in the paint over the three day camp.

“Things are going pretty good right now,” Kirton said. Kirton saw court time last season at the point guard position behind Jimmy Guerra. “Our hard work now is going to pay off during the season. We lost a lot of talent last year, and we’re going to have to hustle and work a lot harder. Replacing the shooting and scoring off of last year’s team is going to be tough.”

Burn ban issued in Canadian County

County residents planning to shoot off any Independence Day fireworks early will need to hold off as the Canadian County Board of Commissioners has declared a burn ban until July 1.

In a resolution dated June 27, the commissioners have declared it illegal to purposefully set any fire, including fireworks, campfires, bonfires or fires to burn trash and debris, until 9 a.m. on July 1. Public planned fireworks displays will be allowed with adequate fire supervision.

Citing extremely dry conditions, the county commissioners have said that if conditions do not improve the ban may be extended.

Area Girl Scouts holding food drive for Hamil family

The Girls Scouts of Western Oklahoma will be holding a boxed or canned food drive through July 15 for the family of Ryan and Cole Hamil.

Christine Woolston, sister of Ryan and Cole’s mother, and a new Daisy Troop Leader in Edmond, said her young children continue to ask her everyday where their cousins are and are trying to understand why they can’t see them and play with them. Ryan and Cole were both killed in the May 24 tornado that hit Piedmont.

Woolston had been getting requests from Girl Scout volunteers asking what they could do to help the Hamil family. Last week, Woolston spoke with the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma and told them the family was in need of boxed or canned foods.

“Christine will be the go between for the scouts and the Hamil family,” Susan Bohl, chief operations officer for the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma, said. “We’ll work with her to get the food and she will take it to the family.”

Those wishing to donate food to the family are urged to bring their donations to the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma Council at 6100 N. Robinson in Oklahoma City between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Friday. In Edmond, items can be dropped off at 3008 Talon Rd.

If more food is collected than is needed, the remaining food will be donated to the Red Cross to help other families affected by the May 24 tornado.

For more information, call the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma at (405) 528-4465 or visit their website www.gswestok.org.

Golfers tee off at chamber tournament

The Piedmont Chamber of Commerce held its 7th annual golf tournament on June 24.

Nearly 20 teams enjoyed a great day for golf at the Piedmont Chamber of Commerce’s seventh annual golf tournament at the Surrey Hills Golf Club. The event is one of the largest fundraisers for the chamber and golfers will have an opportunity to win a variety of prizes.

Tim Prince tees off at the Piedmont Chamber of Commerce golf tournament on June 24.

Piedmont Chamber of Commerce golf tournament.

Brien Stewart tees off at the 7th annual Piedmont Chamber of Commerce golf tournament.

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